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Josiah’s scroll

What happened to the scrolls of Moses? 

We now consider a key question: how do we know that the Hebrew Scriptures are 100% kosher? How can we be totally sure that what we read is exactly as God spoke? This is a very pertinent question and, unfortunately, there is no definitive, testable, provable answer. Or, let me put it another way, it’s the same answer to such questions as, Is there a God? or Did Jesus really rise from the dead?

It’s a matter of faith.

As Christians we believe in God, and who He says He is, and in Jesus, and what we’re told he did. That’s what defines us as Christians. The same goes for the Hebrew Scriptures. We say that we trust them, in fact, they’re the tangible bedrock of our faith. But to what extent do we believe them? As the “Old Testament” in our hands is a printed translation of manuscripts originally written mainly in Hebrew, let’s, first of all, focus on those manuscripts.

So we’re back to Moses and his writings. He has completed (with a few additions later on by Joshua) the Torah - the five books of Moses - and the scrolls are kept in a safe place, with the Ark of the Covenant, first in the Tabernacle, then in the Temple of Solomon. We read of this in Deuteronomy:

“Take this scroll of the Torah and put it beside the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, so it will be there as a witness against you.”(Deuteronomy 31:26)

It wasn’t there to gather dust, as we can see:

And Moses commanded them saying, “At the end of seven years, in the appointed time of the year of release, in the Feast of Sukkot when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He will choose, you will read this Torah before all Israel in their hearing.” (Deuteronomy 31:10-11)

What next? Let’s see what happens after the days of Moses and Joshua.

Well, there’s lot of history, during which times the Hebrews fall away in things that really matter to God. They turn to those nations that surround them, people that they are warned against, even encouraged to eliminate, for good reason, it seems. They neglect the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They provoke the God of miracles to jealousy. They turn their backs on the One Who guided and protected them and they demand an earthly ruler, a king. They keep the externals, the sacrificial system, but neglect the internals, a humble and contrite heart. They begin to forget the feasts of their Lord and totally forget His Words, written by human hand on scrolls in the Temple.

Around seven hundred years since the time of Moses, between the Assyrian and the Babylonian invasions, the High Priest made an incredible discovery in the Temple. Something that had been lost for a very long time, was found again! Let’s read:

“And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shafan the scribe, I have found the scroll of the Torah (Teaching) in the House of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shafan and he read it. And Shafan the scribe came to the king and brought back word to the king and said, Your servants have gathered the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of those doing the work, who have the oversight of the House of the LORD. And Shafan the scribe told the king saying, Hilkiah the priest has delivered a scroll to me. Then Shafan read it before the king. And it was when the king had heard the words of the scroll of the Torah (Teaching), that he tore his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shafan, Achbor the son of Micaiah, Shafan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king’s, saying, Go! Inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this scroll that has been found, for the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us is great because our fathers have not heeded the words of this scroll, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” (2 Kings 22:8-13)

It was the Torah. Was this the five books of Moses, placed there all those centuries ago? This is a key question, because if so then we have a direct link between the author of Holy Scripture (Moses) and an incontestable historic event (King Josiah’s actions leading to the discovery of the Torah scroll).

When King Josiah later read out this Torah scroll to all the people from the least to the greatest, was he reading the very words of Moses, written around six hundred years earlier? What a thought!

For the previous article in this series, click here.

For the next article in this series, click here.

To find out what is my favourite book of the Bible, click here.

You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.

 

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