Tag Archives: Huldah

Two Women Leaders You’ve Probably Never Thought About: Miriam & Huldah

19 Dec

ImageMiriam was the sister of Moses and Aaron.  In addition to being a prophet (Exodus 15:20; see the blog on Deborah for clarification on the role of prophets in the Old Testament), Miriam led the Israelites into the worship of YHWH.  In fact, part of a song she composed is recorded in Scripture (see the song of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15).  I have seen Miriam compared to a modern day worship leader.  I think that’s good comparision, but I do not think this particular text lends much support to women in leadership over men.  You see, in verse 15:20 is says that the women followed her lead.  While that is certainly commendable, it is not earth-shattering.  What is surprising, however, is the way Miriam uses her voice to call out the men in leadership.

In Numbers 12, we’re told that Aaron and Miriam began speaking against Moses because they didn’t like his new wife.  Imagine the situation:  a woman calling out a man!  And this wasn’t just any man- it was Moses!  That takes guts.  After all, Miriam’s baby brother was the spiritual an temporal leader of the people of Israel.  We have to presume that Miriam felt she had the position- even the right- to speak out against something she disagreed with.  That’s significant right there.

As it turns out, YHWH was not pleased with Miriam and Aaron’s response to Moses’ marriage.  God calls BOTH Aaron and Miriam to the tent of meeting and reprimands them.  In punishment, Miriam is given leprosy.  Interestingly, the one thing God does not bring up, is the fact that Miriam is a woman.  If she had failed to stay “in her place,” so to speak, wouldn’t YHWH have mentioned it?  He doesn’t say a word about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of women calling out men; rather, he reprimands both Miriam and Aaron for speaking out against a prophet whom YHWH favors.

Moses pleads for his sister to be healed.  God responds, but Miriam still has to spend seven days outside the camp (she was ritually “unclean”).  The text then tells us that the people did not leave their place until she came back into the camp.  Apparently, regardless of her insubordination, Miriam was important enough for the whole camp to wait for her return. Hmmm….

ImageThe next woman I’m going to discuss is virtually unheard of in most Christian circles.  Her name is Huldah and her story can be found in 2 Kings 22.  When Josiah was king, the Book of Law was rediscovered in the Temple.  Upon reading it, Josiah tore his clothes because he knew Israel was not living according to God’s divine decree.  He wanted to understand the Law better, so Josiah charged the priest with the task of finding a prophet who could render the book’s meaning.  The high priest goes to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum.  She apparently lived in the new quarter of Jerusalem.  These men, priests no less, go to Huldah(a woman) to interpret the Law and deliver a message from YHWH.  This is enormously significant.  What’s more, Huldah was married.  The priests did not confer with her husband (as her spiritual head).  Nope.  They did not ask for his opinion after Huldah delivered her message from God.  They simply acknowledged that this woman was anointed by the Holy Spirit as a prophet who spoke on behalf of God.  Then they took her message seriously.  What does this say about women who are anointed by the Holy Spirit as teachers today?