🔼The name Hilkiah in the Bible
The name Hilkiah occurs in two forms in the Bible, with and without a final letter ו (waw). It's quite common that a name that ends on יה (yah) also occurs with ending יהו (yahu); both are truncated forms of the name of the Lord, יהוה (YHWH). It's possible that this name, irrespective of how it was spelled, sounded like it ended on an "oaw"-sound, and since spelling then wasn't as strictly standardized as it is now, the difference between חלקיה and חלקיהו may be arbitrary. But it's equally possible that the difference between these two forms expresses a subtlety which modern criticism can not fathom (yet).
There are up to nine different men named Hilkiah in the Bible and they occur all late in the narrative. It's possible that the following overlap somewhat:
- The father of Eliakim, who was the chief housekeeper of Hezekiah of Judah. Although his son was quite important, this Hilkiah plays no role in the Bible himself. His name is spelled with the final ו (waw) in 2 Kings 18:18-26, Isaiah 22:20, 36:3, 36:22, and without the final ו (waw) in 2 Kings 18:37.
- The high priest at the time of the famous temple repair and reforms of king Josiah of Judah. During these repairs, the Book of the Law was uncovered and discussed with Huldah the prophetess. This Hilkiah's name is spelled with the final ו (waw) in 2 Kings 22:4-14, 23:4, 23:24, 2 Chronicles 34:9-22, and without it in 2 Kings 22:8-12, 1 Chronicles 6:13, 6:45, 9:11, 2 Chronicles 35:8. Most commentators either state or insinuate that this Hilkiah is the same as the one mentioned in Nehemiah 11:11, but there's no evidence for this.
- The second son (possibly not the second-born) son of Hosah, one of the sons of Merari, who was assigned templar gatekeeper duties when David was king over Israel (1 Chronicles 26:11, spelled with the final ו, waw).
- The great-great-grandfather of Ezra the Reformer (Ezra 7:1). This and the following Hilkiahs are spelled without the final ו (waw).
- One of the men who stood next to Ezra when he read the Law to the people (Nehemiah 8:4).
- The father of Seraiah and son of Meshullam, mentioned in a rather confusing post-exilic priestly genealogy (Nehemiah 11:11).
- One of the priests who returned from Babylon, together with Zerubbabel and Jeshua (Nehemiah 12:7). This Hilkiah was probably the founder of a larger family, the one mentioned in Nehemiah 12:21, of which Hashabiah was the leader.
- The father of the prophet Jeremiah of Anathoth (Jeremiah 1:1).
- The father of Gemariah, whom king Zedekiah sent to king Nebuchadnezzar with a letter, together with Elasah, son of Shaphan (Jeremiah 29:3).
🔼Etymology of the name Hilkiah
The name Hilkiah consists of two elements. The first part is probably derived from the verb חלק (halaq I), meaning to divide, share or apportion:
The second part of our name is יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh. And in between sits the letter י (yod), which serves to create a possessive form: my portion, or portion of.
For a meaning of the name Hilkiah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Yahweh Is My Portion, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Portion Of The Lord, and BDB Theological Dictionary proposes My Portion Is Yah.