Priests of the Bible 11 Hilkiah
As with our last Bible priest (Azariah), the priest we are looking at now (Hilkiah) will be remembered (if he is remembered at all) for just one thing and, in the eyes of some, not that big a deal. Hilkiah was he who found the Book (the Book of the Law) when repairing the Temple and, as we will see, it was a pretty significant deal.
Also, as with the Azariah significant story, the main character, or at least the one people who do know it, remember, is not a priest but a king, in this case King Josiah, the last good king of Judah. Josiah followed two bad kings: Manasseh and Amon that left the land in a sorry state, and after him was followed by Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah, after which there was no more kings and the Exile of Judah to Babylon. We read the story, which is but part of the Josiah record, in 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34. Both begin with words to the effect: “Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem 31 years and he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord,” and continue to give an account of his good works that back up this statement.
Finding the Book of the Law, and some scholars think it was Deuteronomy, where it talks of blessings that follow obedience to God and cursing that follows disobedience, was to have a huge impact on the fortunes of the Southern kingdom of Judah (the Northern kingdom, Israel, was in exile) and we have Hilkiah to thank for finding it, knowing how important his find was and ensuring his discovery was made known, which once in the hands of Josiah led to a time of national repentance, for under his leadership the requirements of the Law were put into practice. Besides his discovery, we note that Hilkiah could be trusted as he faithfully and effectively oversaw the works restoring the Temple, long neglected, and led the initiative of consulting Huldah, the prophetess, to find out God’s perspective. The positive outcome is these actions led to a national revival and the judgment God had intended was halted, for at least a time. The negative outcome is that the revival was short lived; the national downward spiral resuming after Josiah died.
Hilkiah means “Yah (short for Yahweh) is my portion” of which there are a number in the OT with that name but, given what Hilkiah in our story did, is appropriate. We read in Ezra 7:1-5: “Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, The son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, The son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, The son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest” and we are reminded that Hilkiah is part of a long line of faithful priests, several of which we cover in this series. If there is a lesson to learn, it is the importance of God’s Word (Deuteronomy plus the other 65 books of the Bible) and the importance of hearing and heeding what it says and thus be in line with God’s will.