A Tattered Remain
The sacrificing of animals was only a part of the ritual activities that went on in the original temple. What else went on there? Considerably more.
What happened? I will refer you to 2 Kings 22:1-10 (KJV)
King Josiah took the throne at the tender age of 8 years old around 648 BCE. His advisors took advantage of his vulnerable inexperience sitting in an extraordinarily powerful position. They had wanted to make sweeping changes, but with older, wiser kings occupying the throne, such reforms were impossible. These conspiring men spent a few years teaching Josiah the basics, then indoctrinated him toward their ends. After all, he was elementary school age when he started.
They surely advised him benignly enough at first, but with flattery and subtle manipulation along the way. They laid the groundwork that they could be trusted. After 10 years of preparation (i.e. grooming) Josiah, at 18 years old, had such confidence in these men that “there was no reckoning made with them of the money” taken out of the temple to perform repairs. 2 Kings 22:7 (KJV)
Remember that the winners get to write the history of what happened, so the Biblical account is written from the perspective that everything was in order. But even they thought it was strange to not keep track of the temple silver, so it’s mentioned explicitly if only to say, it was all done “faithfully”.
NO. Absolutely not.
Wisdom in Records
When records are not kept of the dealings of frail and imperfect humans you know that something devilish is afoot. Records are kept of marriages, births, and deaths. But no record is made to document adultery until it is discovered and brought to light.
Men were commanded from the beginning to keep records.
And a book of remembrance was kept, in which was recorded in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration. And by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled. […] And a genealogy was kept of the children of God (and this was the book of the generations of Adam)…
And I also command you that ye keep a record of this people according as I have done, upon the plates of Nephi, and keep all these things sacred which I have kept, even as I have kept them — for it is for a wise purpose that they are kept — and these plates of brass which contain these engravings, which have the records of the holy scriptures upon them, which have the genealogy of our forefathers, even from the beginning.
And after this manner we keep the record, for it is according to the commandments of our fathers.
Adrian Larsen wrote an excellent series on the importance of record keeping and it’s connection to Wisdom. Rather than rehashing his work here, I would refer you to the excellent multi-part series: Against Wisdom.
Given the supreme importance of keeping records, if anyone suggests that they are so trustworthy that their word and a handshake will suffice, it ought to be a gigantic red flag.
Make a full accounting. Write contracts; with expectations, timelines and remuneration explicitly laid out. Those involved sign their names. Witnesses attest. Get receipts. The record keeps everyone accountable and in clear remembrance of what was agreed upon and then what actually happened.
KEEP A RECORD.
WRITE IT DOWN. WRITE IT DOWN. WRITE IT DOWN.
For out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
2 Nephi 12:10
Near identical language is found multiple places throughout scripture, for example:
A Plot Unfolds
Work commenced under Josiah to renovate the temple using it’s silver but no accounting was made.
Repairs on the temple required “carpenters, builders & masons.” However, during the physical (de)construction the high priest, Hilkiah claimed he found a lost scroll called, “The book of the law in the house of the Lord”. Since there was no record being kept of the spending of the temple silver, no would would know don’t know if a bit extra was missing to cover a bribe. The record that do have is clear that there was a connection between the temple money and finding the book.
And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the Lord given by Moses.
They read the “found” text to King Josiah and he was so upset by the contents that he tore his clothes.
Returning to the text of Josiah’s reign, after the king was presented with this book, his sent an envoy of men telling them, “Go inquire of the Lord for me”.
Do you know who this envoy went to?
A woman. A PROPHETESS.
They went to Huldah, the wife of Shallum, who “dwelled in Jerusalem in the college – and they spoke to her to that effect.” 2 Chron 34:22, KJV
Hugh Nibley during a commencement speech at Brigham Young University sardonically reiterated the connection between education and priesthood.
Twenty-three years ago on this same occasion, I gave the opening prayer, in which I said: “We have met here today clothed in the black robes of a false priesthood.” Source
Priests occupied the temple. But once upon a time, so did priestesses. Why should today’s graduation gowns be robes of a false priesthood? Who ought to be wearing the robes of education?
The size and prestige of the embassy that sought Huldah’s counsel indicates something about not only the seriousness of the situation but also Huldah’s position and authority in the college. Included were the High Priest (Hilkiah), the father of the future governor (Ahikam), the son of a prophet (Achbor), the secretary of state (Shaphan) and the king’s officer (Asaiah). 2 Kings 22:14
Huldah’s high level of respect as a prophetess is further evident by the fact that she was sought out by the king’s men and not merely summoned. This was an unusual gesture for a ruler to make towards any subordinate. It is likely that Huldah prophesied on many other occasions that were not documented in the Bible, given the trust that was placed in her and her ability to inquire of the Lord.
Huldah sent authoritative word (Thus says the Lord God) back to king Josiah,
…and you have rent your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the Lord. Behold, therefore I will gather you unto your fathers, and you shall be gathered into your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place.
Josiah really was earnest and sincere. He was being manipulated, and the Lord knew that. Because his heart was in the right place the Lord promised that he wouldn’t see all the evil that was about to befall the people.
But the plot was underway and only evil could follow.
In the College
The word for “college” does not remain anywhere in our record after the envoy to seek Huldah’s council. Strong’s concordance identifies the original word as:
The ba (בַּ) portion of the word is literally an article meaning “in”. The miš·neh portion of the word primarily means repetition or secondary, but is also the name of a collection of Jewish oral laws and traditions (tractate) in the Talmud. This is a method of teaching by presenting topics in a systematic order. The description sounds exactly like an secondary school. This is why the word was translated as college. Huldah was in the college.
At the Door
bam·miš·neh is a word closely related to
The ha portion simply means “the”, and it is translated as those who stand at the door of the secondary school.
Hammisneh appears in two interesting and relevant places.
In 2 Kings 23:4 the word ham·miš·neh is used to describe the priests of second order door keepers who expelled the priestesses and ransacked the temple.
And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order (הַמִּשְׁנֶה֙), and the keepers of the door to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven. And he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el.
You might read that bit about Baal (לַבַּ֗עַל), and think it was justified. However, the root word is בָּ֑עַל (ba’al) which means husband. Remember that the record needs to justify what happened, so it’s very likely that the version we are getting was twisted in some way.
This ham·miš·neh is the same group identified by the Lord who will experience His wrath in the whole of the book of Zephaniah (written, as it turns out, “in the days of Josiah”).
And it shall come to pass in that day, says the Lord, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and a howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills. Howl, you inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down. All they that bear silver are cut off.
Did you catch that? The fellowship of priests at the door (ham·miš·neh) are being called out. In the same breath we are reminded that they took the silver. Referencing the unaccounted withdrawals out of the temple treasury? I believe the whole book of Zephaniah is a condemnation of the events recorded in 2 Kings and what The Lord is going to do about it.
The New Testament is written in Greek, so the use of either we couldn’t possibly use the Strong’s concordance to tie the two together, but I find the following verse extraordinarily interesting and possibly related:
Woe unto you lawyers, for you have taken away the key of knowledge, the fullness of the scriptures. You enter not in yourselves into the kingdom, and those who were entering in, you hindered.
Luke 11:52 KJV, Luke 8:17 (RE)
Remember, the difference is those who are at the door of the secondary school and those who are IN the secondary school. It seems those who are at the door still were running the show.
Blood & Horror
Reforms that followed included cutting down not only the sacred Tree in the Holy of Holies and the groves surrounding the temple. Worse than that, many, many people were slaughtered.
…and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.
2 Kings 7:10
“The tree of life was represented in Solomon’s temple. The Asherah tree, and by association wisdom, were the symbol and figures most heated by the Deuteronomist reformers. Her vessels (KJV) or articles (NIV) including the Asherah tree were housed in the temple, but they were dramatically removed and burned in Lehi’s day.” Mormon Kosmokrator p.45
And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.
2 Kings 7:11
All of the years under the reign of Josiah are known as the Deuteronomic Reform, but the actual temple reforms did not begin until they “found” that damn book ten years into it. So, let’s keep in context that all of the reforms first required 10 years of grooming a child king.
After the temple changes were made and other scriptural records were culled we are left with a tattered remain. You can see a list of some of these missing books referenced in the Bible here. Ironically, one of the missing books is titled, Laments for Josiah.
You ought to be asking yourself, “Why was Josiah put on the throne at such a young age?”
His father, King Amon son of Manasseh, was murdered by household servants. King Amon, whose name means “faithful”, is mentioned in Mathew’s genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:10, KJV). Not only was he assassinated, he was maligned in death. He was accused of terrible things; doing evil and being an idolater. The people of the land knew better of their king, and they executed everyone they could identify as having been involved in the murderous plot. In the hopes that Amon’s son would be a man like he had been, the people installed Josiah on the throne.
With What Confidence?
How could the people put young Josiah in charge and have any confidence that things would turn out alright? Well, Josiah’s mother, Jedidah, was still in the picture. She is mentioned by name as the daughter of Adaiah. Given the references available, I tend to believe that Adiaiah, Josiah’s maternal grandfather, was part of the priestly class, descended from the house of Levi. (See 1 Chron. 6:39-43 KJV or 1 Chron 4:11 RE)
You will note here that during this time the genealogy was traced through the maternal line. For example, we know that King Amon’s mother was Meshullemeth , the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah (2 Kings 21:19, KJV).
In a patriarchal world, why mention Josiah’s mother at all? It’s because at the time they didn’t live in a patriarchal world. Josiah was never meant to be taught by the male advisors that surrounded him still at 18 years old. There was some confidence that Jedidah his mother, Amon’s wife and the Queen of Israel would act in her role to teach and prepare the young king.
Just as Huldah was in the college, at the time there was an expectation that his mother Jedidah would oversee his education, training and advise him into adulthood. We know now that’s not happened. But it paints a picture of one of the many sacred responsibilities held by women and mothers.
But why didn’t she? The plot was that she was never meant to.
Consider the power of a beautiful woman to beguile a man. During King Manassah’s reign the high priest, Hilkiah may have approached his fellow priest Adaiah and conspired with him to have his daughter Jedidah dance for the prince. The smitten prince Amon married the daughter of the Levite priest, but was later murdered. Her part of the conspiracy is complete conjecture on my part, but not without precedent. I’m only trying to make it make sense with both what we know happened and what’s missing from what should have happened. Once the priests had direct access to the royal heir by blood they would be able to steer his education and upbringing.
It was a coup. From the very beginning it was a coup.
Promises in Zephaniah
Priestesses were expelled from the temple under Josiah’s reign. The conspiring priests at the door didn’t get any degree of longevity to revel in their victory. As a result of upending the natural order of things, Israel was carried away into Babylon. The time it took to tear down and destroy sacred things took less than a generation. And here we are several millennia later trying to piece back the remnants of the tattered remain.
At the end of Zephaniah (remember, where He first addresses the usurpers) the Lord speaks directly to His daughters who have been displaced. As women, we have rights that are still ours to claim.
Sing, O daughter of Zion. Shout, O Israel. Be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord has taken away your judgments. He has cast out your enemy. The king of Israel, even the Lord, is in your midst. You shall not see evil anymore. In that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear not — and to Zion, Let not your hands be slack. The Lord your God in your midst is mighty. He will save. He will rejoice over you with joy. He will rest in his love. He will joy over you with singing. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of you to whom the reproach of it was a burden. Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict you. And I will save her that halts, and gather her that was driven out. And I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you. For I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, says the Lord.
Zeph. 3:14-20 (KJV), Zephaniah 1:12 (RE)
A Fulsome Restoration
This blog post got far too long to expect anyone to get through in one sitting, so I’ve had to break it in parts.
Now that I’ve laid the groundwork, I’m going to present my theories for what I believe went on in the temple.
It’s been said that, “Civilization began with the Temple as the center of learning, law and culture. The Temple was the original university because it taught of man’s place with God in the universe.” Source
And that matches the tattered remain we’ve been blessed to keep: Huldah, the prophetess, was in the college.