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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

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("Jehovah is my portion".)

1. 2 Kings 18:37.

2. High priest (2 Kings 22:4, etc.; 2 Chronicles 34:9, etc.; 1 Chronicles 6:13; Ezra 7:1). In the 18th year of Josiah's reign the king directed him to have the Lord's house repaired out of the money contributed by the people. So faith, fully did the workmen execute their task that no reckoning was made with them of the money entrusted to them. Hilkiah in the course of the repairs "found the book of the law of the Lord, given by the hand of Moses," and being not able to read it himself gave it to Shaphan to read (2 Kings 22:8, etc., margin of 2 Chronicles 34:14). Possibly Moses' own autograph copy, but "by the hand of Moses" may mean only that God gave it by means of him (2 Chronicles 35:6; John 1:17; Galatians 3:19; Exodus 9:35 margin, Exodus 35:29; Nehemiah 10:29).

Still the place where it was found, the temple, and its not having been found before but only brought to light during the repairs, and that by the high priest, identify it with the original temple copy deposited by Moses' command by the side of the ark within the veil (Deuteronomy 31:9; Deuteronomy 31:26). The two tables of the Decalogue were in the ark (1 Kings 8:9); the book of the law by the ark, probably in a chest, securing its safety, attesting its divine authority, and witnessing against Israel's breach of the covenant of which the ark was the symbol. The expression "the book of the law," not a book of laws, must refer to the well known book, the Pentateuch, not to some book then coming to light for the first time. Hilkiah "found" it, not "forged" it under the name of Moses, as rationalists in despite of the text conjecture. Shaphan "read therein" (not the whole, which would require a different phrase, 2 Kings 23:2) to the king.

The threats and curses of the law against transgressors (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28; 29) were prominent in the passages read, and so overwhelmed the king that he tore his clothes. Probably Josiah, owing to the neglect of the law in Manasseh's and Amon's ungodly reigns, had never heard the law read from before. The intimate acquaintance with both its words and truths which the psalmists and prophets long before Josiah's time display establishes the certainty of the Pentateuch's prior existence and of its being the basis of their inspired utterances. Deuteronomy, the repetition of the law in a summary, was the leading portion read, just as at the reading in the feast of tabernacles every seventh year, the year of release, not the whole Pentateuch but lessons from it day by day were read (Nehemiah 8:18; Nehemiah 9:3-5, etc.; Deuteronomy 1:5; Deuteronomy 31:9-13).

"The covenant," and the words "with all their heart and soul" (2 Kings 23:2-3), answer to the same in Deuteronomy 29:1; Deuteronomy 30:2; compare also 2 Chronicles 35:3 with Deuteronomy 33:10. Josiah's final and utter destruction of idolatrous symbols, removal of wizards, and keeping of the Passover were the fruits of his hearing Deuteronomy 16, 18. Allusions also occur to Leviticus 23:5; Leviticus 22:1; Leviticus 22:5; Leviticus 3:2-5; Numbers 8:20-22; Numbers 9:3, in 2 Chronicles 35:1; 2 Chronicles 35:6; 2 Chronicles 35:11-12. Jeremiah's frequent references to Deuteronomy are well known; compare Jeremiah 11:3-5, where he quotes Deuteronomy 27:26.

This correspondence is doubtless due to the prominence given to Deuteronomy in reading the book of the law just then found; the finding and the reading would naturally interest Jeremiah deeply and tinge his prophecies. Josiah read (i.e. caused to be read) "all the words of the book of the covenant found in the house of the Lord," i.e. all the essential parts, "the commandments, statutes, and rights," without the reasons and exhortations, narratives, etc.; just as Joshua (Joshua 8:32-35) did at Ebal and Gerizim. The directions for the reading of the law every seventh year or year of release, also the direction (Deuteronomy 17:18-19) that a copy of the law should be made for the king distract from that of the priests and Levites, imply a paucity of readers and of copies (compare 2 Chronicles 17:9; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Kings 18:5-6).

Shaphan the professional "scribe" read it to Josiah, who as well as Hilkiah probably could not read, for reading and writing were confined to the "scribes," excepting a few who like Moses had learned in Egypt (Acts 7:22). The ignorance of the law which this narrative implies accords with the prevalence of idolatry and of a low state of education ever since Jehoshaphat's alliance with Abab, except in Hezekiah's reign. Hilkiah was employed by Josiah also to consult Huldah the prophetess for him, and to help with Zechariah and Jehiel, "rulers of the house of God," in celebrating the Passover (2 Chronicles 34:20-22; 2 Chronicles 35:2; 2 Chronicles 35:8).

3. 1 Chronicles 6:45.

4. 1 Chronicles 26:11.

5. Nehemiah 8:4; perhaps the same as the Hilkiah in Nehemiah 12:7; Nehemiah 12:21.

6. Jeremiah 1:1.

7. Jeremiah 29:3.

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Hilkiah'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​fbd/​h/hilkiah.html. 1949.
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