Women Prophets

By Lynne Bundesen


Are there any women prophets in the Bible?


Yes. There are seven women prophets of Israel -- Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Esther, and Huldah. There's a very brief mention of Huldah in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. When King Josiah (who began his reign at the age of 8) was 18, he wanted to repair the house of the Lord and give silver to the workmen who could help.

During this process, Josiah's high priest Hilkiah found "the book of the law in the house of the Lord" (2 Kings 22:8). Josiah wanted to understand the law and told Hilkah to talk to everyone he could to help him understand the law that his people had not been following. The two books record the event:

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. (2 Kings 22:14)

And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that effect. (2 Chron 34:22)

Out of everyone, the only one who could interpret the book of the law was the prophetess Huldah, who lived in the college in Jerusalem. (22:14). Now some scholars say that "college" simply means "neighborhood." But why couldn't it mean college, a place of learning? She's the only one who had the interpretation. She must have known something.

There is discussion that Huldah stood in for Jeremiah when he was out of town, that perhaps she was married to him. But what interests me is that she could interpret the Torah, and the people changed.

I've loved getting to know the seven women prophets. When I traveled to Israel as a journalist, I interviewed a woman who was a biblical scholar. She said that the Sancino Talmud lists the seven women prophets of Israel. I got very interested in them at that point and have subsequently run into their names. I painted the names of the women on my wall so I could live with them and see the prophetic thread running through the Bible. It balanced things out: women are equal. In fact, they often have a very special place in prophecy and transformation of the lives of individuals and peoples in the Bible.