Tag Archive | Haman as king Jehoiachin Coniah

Why Choose Huldah?

 Related image

by

Damien F. Mackey

“Most biblical commentators are puzzled that King Josiah chose Huldah to read and interpret the newly found scroll since the prophets Jeremiah and Zephaniah were both active at the time, Jeremiah being the more prominent of the two male prophets. Traditional commentators reason, the male prophets have books included in the canon but Huldah doesn’t. Therefore, it is assumed, she must have not been as renowned as the men”.

Robin Cohn

 

Introduction

 

We read in two virtually identical accounts, in 2 Kings 22:14-20 and Chronicles 34:11-28, about the consultation of the prophetess Huldah in relation to the discovery of a scroll of the Book of the Law uncovered during a repairing of the Temple in the time of King Josiah.

 

Here is the narrative of it from 2 Kings 22:14-20:

 

So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.

And she said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read:

Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.

But to the king of Judah which sent you to enquire of the Lord, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, as touching the words which thou hast heard;

Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord.

Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.

 

That King Josiah would send five of his top officials to consult Huldah the prophetess is a testimony to her greatness and her oracular importance.

Bobby Valentine has not missed this point in his fine article, “Huldah Who? The Forgotten Ministry of a Lady Prophet”: http://stonedcampbelldisciple.com/2006/06/27/huldah-who-the-forgotten-ministry-of-a-lady-prophet/

 

In response to the discovery of the “book of the Law” Josiah is alarmed. But he is not foolhardy. He needs to know if this work is authentic . . . If it is “true.” What Josiah does next fits well with what we know from Assyrian parallels of Esarhaddon and Nabonidus. When the king receives an oracle or an omen he would “double-check” it with another “god.” Josiah has just received bad news (an omen!) and wants to know if it is really the word of the Lord. So he “double-checks” so to speak with the Prophet Huldah.

So Josiah sends five men to “inquire of Yahweh.” Not just any men but some of the, if not the, most important men in the nation. It might pay to reflect on who these men are for just a moment:

1) Hilkiah the High Priest. The highest spiritual leader in the country.

2) Ahikam son of Shaphan. The Shaphan family is important in Judah. Ahikam is father of Gedaliah who becomes governor (2 Kgs 25.22)

3) Abdon (nothing known of him)

4) Shaphan the Secretary. He is basically the secretary of state or chief of staff for the king.

5) Asiah the king’s attendant.

These men are important in ancient Judah both theologically and politically. We should not miss this fact. ….

[End of quote]

 

After learning of the scroll, Josiah requested the prophetess Huldah to verify that it was the word of God.

What?

Why choose Huldah, who appears to be otherwise unknown in the Scriptures?

And why a woman? Why not one of the male prophets?

 

Robin Cohn has written on this, in “Rabbi Huldah” (http://robincohn.net/rabbi-huldah/):

 

Most biblical commentators are puzzled that King Josiah chose Huldah to read and interpret the newly found scroll since the prophets Jeremiah and Zephaniah were both active at the time, Jeremiah being the more prominent of the two male prophets. Traditional commentators reason, the male prophets have books included in the canon but Huldah doesn’t. Therefore, it is assumed, she must have not been as renowned as the men. ….

 

Bobby Valentine goes even further, referring to St. Paul’s sanction against women (op. cit.):

 

….

Where to Begin?

I have long been fascinated by the enigmatic figure of Huldah. I discovered Huldah in 1988 in an “OT” Survey class reading through the Bible. We never actually discussed her and I am not sure we could have done so. But I never forgot her.  She has been a poltergeist floating in my mind for nearly 20 years! Here was this woman placing a stamp of authenticity on Scripture, interpreting it and exercising authority over men . . . all at the same time! I did not know what to do with her. Since then I have been involved in many discussions regarding women in Scripture. Invariably I am told a woman never exercised authority over men with God’s approval because Paul forbade it. I then ask, “What about Huldah?”

The response is almost (without exception) “Huldah Who?”

 

This article from Patheos also discusses prophetess Huldah in relation to the rðle of women (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2014/04/female-voice-and-the-prophetess-huldah/):

 

Female Voice and the Prophetess Huldah

 

April 11, 2014 ….

 

There has been a lot of talk lately about gender equality and whether women have real voices in the church vis a vis the all male priesthood. Of course, the standard position of church leaders is that women are equally valued and that their perspectives are given full and appropriate consideration given the divinely ordained channels of revelation to the regularly constituted authorities. But somehow this rhetoric that “women are equally valued and listened to” has not been able to allay the growing perception and opinion of many that women are unequal to men at both institutional and theological levels in [significant] ways.

 

So because of my interest in the Old Testament, I thought of another way of testing the church’s rhetoric about the place of women in the church. If the church claims that it values the voices and contributions of women on a par with men, how well does the church listen to the few voices of women that are already found in scripture and enjoy the authoritative seal of belonging to the standard works? Are THEY given full and appropriate consideration in our scriptural and doctrinal discussions? Admittedly, there are not many women figures in scripture and their roles are generally not as substantial as other male characters. But how we deal with these women and to what degree we remember their actions and contributions to scriptural history may tell us something about the place of women in our collective ecclesiastical consciousness.

 

A great example to consider is the prophetess Huldah. Do our Sunday School and church educational lessons do much remembering and memorializing of this key biblical figure? I recently watched the high quality film produced for church education in 2011 about Josiah and the Book of the Law and to my amazement the presentation of the story completely skips over the episode of Josiah’s consultation with Huldah. Most all of the major pieces of II Kings 22-23 are present, including Josiah’s childhood, the discovery of the scroll by Hilkiah, its delivery by Shaphan the scribe to the king, the idolatrous practices of the people of Judah under previous kings, Josiah’s repentance and institution of reform, and his death at Megiddo by the hands of Pharaoh Necho. But Huldah is nowhere to be found.

 

Why is this? What motivated completely removing Huldah the prophetess from the LDS redacted narrative of Josiah’s reforms? She is, after all, a critically important figure in the account and has more speech than any other character aside from Josiah in II Kings 22-23. When Josiah realizes that the people have gone astray after other gods and not followed the laws of the new found scroll of Torah, he instructs his servants to seek an oracle from Yahweh so that perhaps Yahweh’s anger would be averted. These servants then go to visit Huldah and she delivers a lengthy oracle that confirms the validity of the scroll of Torah, underscores Yahweh’s displeasure with the people, and promises Josiah that he will be blessed to die before Yahweh’s wrath breaks out in full (22:15-20).

 

One of the interesting things about Huldah’s oracle is how much it emphasizes that she is a direct representative of Yahweh. Uniquely, the prophetic introduction formula is repeated three times (“thus says the Lord,” vv. 15, 16, 18) and she speaks in first person as though the identification between her and the deity was seamless. In the broader Deuteronomistic narrative, Huldah is about as authoritative as it gets. ….

 

[End of quote]

 

That Huldah and her prophetic words can by no means be brushed aside, but must be taken very seriously indeed, is fully apparent from Bobby Valentine’s explanation of the structural significance of the Huldah narrative, a chiasm which “places [Huldah’s] work as the theological and structural center of the Josiah narrative”:

 

Setting of the Huldah Narrative

 

Huldah is extremely important to the history known as Joshua-Samuel-Kings and also Chronicles. Most of the names we think of when we hear the word “prophet” are not even mentioned by either of these histories. Jonah and Isaiah (“writing prophets”) are mentioned in Kings. Jeremiah is not, to my knowledge mentioned at all. In Chronicles, Isaiah is mentioned as is Jeremiah mentioned briefly as the author of a lament over Josiah (2 C 35.25) and in 2 C 36. 12, 21. He is never mentioned in connection with Josiah’s reform . . . But Huldah is given considerable space (comparatively) by both Kings and Chronicles.

 

As we shall see the Huldah narrative is central not only to the Josiah episode but to the entire structure of Chronicles (where I will spend most of my time). Here is a structural outline that highlights what I mean:

 

  1. Formulaic Introduction (34.1-2) B. Cultic Purification of Judah & Jerusalem (34.3-5) C. Cultic Purification of the North (34.6-7) D. Discovery of the Book (34.8-18) E. Prophecy of Huldah (34.19-32) D’ Implementation of the Book (34.29-32) C’ Cultic Purification of the North (34.33) B’ Celebration of the Passover (35.1-19) A’ Extended Formulaic Conclusion (35.20-36.1)

 

This structure, known as a chiasm (where the structure of the work forms a mirror), places [Huldah’s] work as the theological and structural center of the Josiah narrative. It stresses the authority of the prophetic word and scripture. The king and the people stand under the prophetic word.

 

 

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Wicked Haman Un-Masked?

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

 

Prologue

 

The feast of Purim is when the Jewish people celebrate their deliverance by Queen Esther from the plot to destroy them by Haman. The name of the feast comes from the Hebrew word

 pur פּוּר, referring to the “lots” that Haman had cast to determine the day for their demise. It goes without saying that the Jewish people do not remember said Haman with any sort of affection. During Purim they will relish a pastry called “Haman’s ears” or Oznei Haman  (Hebrew: אוזני המן ), or “Hamantash” (in Yiddish  המן טאש).

 

Quite understandably Haman and his ten henchmen sons, determined to wipe out the Jews, are frequently likened to Adolf Hitler and the ill-fated Nuremberg ten. But did this biblical drama as recorded in the Book of Esther really occur historically?

Or was it what contemporary biblical critics like to refer to (regarding the books traditionally

considered to be historical) as “historical fiction”, or “didactic fiction”?

In other words, a pseudo-history with an important lesson – though not properly historical! An example of this sort of popular attitude has been provided by a Jewish blogger, when referring to “a great historian who claimed that the entire story of Purim is a myth”.

http://www.jewishhistory.org/the-purim-story2/ 

 

The Purim Story: The Rise of Haman

 

On the surface, the Purim story is pure narrative, a story like any other story. The execution [sic] of [Queen] Vashti and the rise and fall of Haman seem like the typical kinds of political intrigue that went on in the ancient world. Only at the end, when the plot has been spun out completely, do we … understand that it is the story of miraculous deliverance.

 

I once read an article by a great historian who claimed that the entire story of Purim is a myth. I was young and foolish then, so thinking I could somehow change his mind, I wrote him a letter.

 

“The Scroll of Esther is a historic book with names, dates, places, and eyewitnesses,” I wrote. “It has been kept alive by a people that is not noted for their naiveté or primitive beliefs, yet you discard it as a historic record. But when someone scribbles something on a cave that you can’t even decipher, that you consider history.”

 

He wrote me back and answered, “Your bias is showing.”

 

[Mackey’s comment: But good luck to this blogger who was not going to be put off so easily by the opinion of an “expert”]:

 

But really, he was just as biased. Like so many in the Western world, he refused to consider the Bible a legitimate record of man, even though all archaeology in the Middle East is based on the Bible. The archaeologists do their excavations according to the Bible’s instructions, and they find what they’re looking for. Nevertheless, the Bible is dismissed as legitimate history.

 

[End of blog quote]

 

However, whilst it is one thing to believe that the story of Esther is a real history, it is quite another thing to demonstrate this.

Who for instance, was Haman?

 

Haman’s Nationality

 

This is a far bigger problem than the traditional view might suggest. Though Scripture can present Haman variously as an “Amalekite”; an “Agagite” (MT); a “Bougaean” (Septuagint); and a “Macedonian” (AT) – and though the drama is considered to be a continuation of the long-running feud between the tribe of Benjamin (started by king Saul, but now continued by Mordecai) and the Amalekites (Agag thought to be an Amalekite name, cf. 1 Samuel 15:8) – the problem with this tradition is that King David had long ago wiped out the Amalekites.

 

“Bougaean” is quite a mystery, though Haman was certainly a ‘Boogey-Man’ for the Jews.

 

And “Macedonian” for Haman appears to be simply an historical anachronism.

 

Perhaps our only consolation is that we can discount “Persian” as being Haman’s nationality, since king Ahasuerus speaks of Haman as “an alien to the Persian blood” (Esther 16:10).

 

But what about a Jew? Surely we can immediately discount Jewish nationality also for Haman. After all, this foreigner – (himself a “king” according to Esther 14:10) – was the Adolf Hitler of the ancient world: a Jew hater!

 

{Though some suspect that Hitler himself may actually have had Jewish blood in his veins}.

 

Surely not Haman, however? No hint of Jewishness there!

 

But, wait a minute. Jewish legend itself is not entirely lacking in the view that Haman may in fact have been a Jew. Let us read what Louis Ginzberg (Legends of the Jews) had to say on this, as quoted by another Jewish writer (emphasis added):

 

Power struggle between Jews

 

Clever Queen Esther takes a chance and manages to create harmony.

 

EUGENE KAELLIS

 

Purim is based on the Book of Esther, the most esoteric book in the Hebrew Testament. …. Its hidden meaning can be uncovered only by combining a knowledge of Persian practices during the Babylonian Captivity, the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great, his Edict (sixth century BCE) and Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews which, despite its name, contains a great deal of relevant and credible history.

 

Using these sources, one can arrive at a plausible interpretation completely in accord with historically valid information. Esther, it turns out, describes an entirely intra-Jewish affair set in the Persian Empire, with the two major antagonists as factional leaders: Mordecai, whose followers advocate rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple, and Haman, also a Jew, whose assimilationist adherents oppose the project.

 

Ginzberg furnishes substantial evidence that Mordecai and Haman were both Jews who knew each other well

.

[End of quote]

 

From this, and from some other evidences, a total picture began to emerge. Haman, a king as we saw – obviously a sub-king under Ahasuerus “the Great” – was none other than the ill-fated king Jehoiachin (or Coniah), the last king of Judah. Like Haman, he had sons. But neither Coniah, nor his sons, was destined to rule. The story of Esther tells why – they were all slain.

 

Now, king Jehoiachin is a real archaeologically-verified monarch. And so we read, for instance (http://www.biblehistory.net/newsletter/jehoiachin.htm):

 

According to the Bible, Jehoiachin became king of Judah after the death of his father King Jehoiakim:

“Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days.”  2 Chronicles 36:9

A fantastic discovery that verifies biblical events surrounding Jehoiachin’s life was found in the ancient city of Babylon.

Tablets from the royal archives of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon were unearthed in the ruins of that ancient city that contain food rations paid to captives and craftsmen who lived in and around the city. On one of the tablets, “Yaukin, king of the land of Judah” is mentioned along with his five sons listed as royal princes. Below are a few inscriptions found on other such tablets:

10 (sila of oil) to the king of Judah, Yaukin.

2 1/2 sila (oil) to the offspring of Judah’s king,

4 sila to eight Judean men.

 

Another tablet reads:

1 1/2 sila (oil) for three wood workers from Arvad, 1/2 sila each,
11 1/2 sila for eight wood workers from Byblos,  . . .
3 1/2 sila for seven Greek craftsman, 1/2 sila apiece,
1/2 sila to the carpenter, Nabuetir

10 sila to Ia-ku-u-ki-nu, the king of Judah’s son,
2 1/2 sila for the five sons of the Judean king

This evidence matches precisely with the Biblical text found in II Kings 24:10-17 which says:  “At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.

      And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, as his servants were besieging it. Then Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his officers went out to the king of Babylon; and the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner.
None remained except the poorest people of the land. And he carried Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officers, and the mighty of the land he carried into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. All the valiant men, seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths, one thousand, all who were strong and fit for war, these the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon. Then the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.”
     These tablets also indicate that Jehoiachin received twenty times as much food rations as others on the list which indicates that the Babylonians treated him more valuable then other captive kings on the list.
      Archaeology thus indicates that Jehoiachin was treated well by the kings of Babylon whom provided daily food rations for him. This corresponds with the scripture found in 2 Kings chapter 25 verses 27-30:
      “Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. ‘
      He spoke kindly to him, and gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin changed from his prison garments, and he ate bread regularly before the king all the days of his life.

And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life.”

 

[End of quote]

 

 

Revised Era for Haman

 

The exaltation of Haman, by king Ahasuerus (Esther 3:1):

 

“After these events, King Ahasuerus honored Haman son of Hammedatha … elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles”.

 

must be the same event as we read about in 2 Kings 25:27-28:

 

“In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. …. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon”.

 

That gives us some solid fixed dates.

Apparently, then, the Esther drama – typically dated to c. 486-465 BC, during the reign of the Persian king, Xerxes I – must actually have occurred about a century earlier than this, around 560 BC (conventional dates).

Now, “Amalekite” (Greek: Amalikítis) could no longer be regarded as Haman’s nationality, but as a misinterpretation of the epithet by which he, as king Jehoiachin, was best known: “the Captive” (Greek: aichmálotos), of very similar phonetics.

The name “Haman” itself was presumably his Persian name, e.g. from Achaemenes, Persian Hakhamanish]

 

Conclusion 1: Haman was a Jewish King, Jehoiachin ‘the Captive’.

 

Another helpful piece of information is the testimony in the genealogy of Matthew that Jehoiachin was actually the son of king Josiah (1:11), when he is normally considered to have been Josiah’s grandson. This enabled now for his mother to have been the Hammutal, wife of king Josiah, who had also been the mother of Josiah’s other regal sons, Jehoahaz and Zedekiah (2 Kin. 23:31; 24:18; Jer. 52:1).

Hammutal (Hamutal) is a very good likeness for “Hammedatha” of Esther 3:1, otherwise unknown, and presumed to have been the father of Haman. We can now say that she, Hammedatha, was actually Haman‟s mother.

And, interestingly, Kaellis has added that (op. cit.): “Haman’s mother had a Hebrew name”. (That would be the Hebrew name, Hammutal = Hammedatha).

 

Conclusion 2. Haman’s parent, Hammedatha, was king Josiah’s wife, Hammutal.