Dora Bas Rivka Silver O'H
Readers of the Lost Scroll
Yoshiyahu was only eight years old when he bacame king. When he was 18, he decided that it was time again to have repairs made in the Temple. He told the Kohanim (priests) to collect money and give it to the workmen, as had been done in the time of King Yoash. Chilkiah, the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) told Shafan the Sofer (scribe) that he found a Torah scroll in the Temple. Shafan brought it to the king and read from it, which terrified Yoshiyahu, who tore his clothes. The king instructed his servants to ask a prophet about what they just read. He was concerned that G-d must be angry with the nation for not following what he had heard read from the Torah.
The king's men went to Chulda the prophetess. (They had hoped that a woman prophet might give them a better reply than Jeremiah. Sadly, this was not to be the case.) Chulda said that G-d was going to bring evil upon Judah for being unfaithful to Him. Regarding what the king read, because he softened his heart and tore his clothes, G-d will listen to him, so that he would not witness the destruction in his lifetime. The messengers returned this information to the king.
The question must be asked: What's so shocking about finding a Torah scroll in the Temple? Several explanations are given. One is that his wicked predecessors (Achaz, Menashe, Amon) destroyed Torahs. Private owners no doubt hid theirs, so Yoshiyahu may never have seen one. Another answer is that the Navi doesn't say they found "A Torah," it says they found "THE Torah." What's "THE Torah?" The original manuscript, as it were, that Moses wrote down and from which all later Torah scrolls were copied. (This would be as important and interesting a find as, say, King David's tefillin or Aaron's staff.) In any case, the Torah appears to have been rolled to the Tochacha, the Rebuke in parshas Ki Savo (Deuteronomy chapter 28), which was not taken as a good sign.
A short Insight into II Kings, Chapter 22In the kinnah (lamentation) “Yay'konein Yirmiyahu al Yoshiyahu” that we recite on Tisha b'Av, a verse from our chapter plays a prime role. The verses (8-11) read, “Chilkiyah, the Kohein Gadol, said to Shaphan the scribe, 'I have found a scroll of the Torah in the Temple of Hashem.' And Chilkiya gave the scroll to Shaphan … Shaphan then read it to the King. It happened when the King heard the words of the scroll of the Torah, he rent his garments.”
The Abarbenel explains that it does not seem possible that before finding this Torah that they did not have access to any scroll. After all, the King has a specific mitzva to write a Torah scroll and have it with him and to read from it wherever he travels – day in and day out. In addition, Asa, Yehoshafat and Chizkiyah were very pious men. How is it possible that they did not have access to a Torah? While it is true that Menashe was king for fifty-five years and persuaded the masses to give up the Torah, nonetheless, Menashe did teshuva, perhaps for the last thirty-three years of his reign! How could he lead the people in the teshuva without a Torah scroll?
Rather this scroll that was found was the scroll of Moshe Rabbeinu. Consequently, when it was opened to the passage indicating that B'nei Yisrael would be exiled, the King was terrified about the message that he understood was emanating from this uniquely special Torah scroll.