In 2 Kings 23:24, the high priest Hilkiah plays an important role in discovering a lost 'Book of the Law' in the Temple of Jerusalem:

Josiah purged the consultation of ghosts and spirits, with the household gods, idols, and all the other horrors to be seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, so that he might carry out the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had found in the house of the Lord.

Later, in Daniel 13 (accepted as canonical by Catholics and the Orthodox but considered apocryphal by most Protestants), the heroine Susanna is described as the daughter of Hilkiah:

In Babylon there lived a man named Joakim, who married a very beautiful and God-fearing woman, Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah; her parents were righteous and had trained their daughter according to the law of Moses. Joakim was very rich and he had a garden near his house. The Jews had recourse to him often because he was the most respected of them all.

Question: The Bible mentions several people with the name Hilkiah. Was Susanna the daughter of the same Hilkiah mentioned in 2 Kings 23?

1 Answer 1


The proposition is unlikely (assuming Susanna was a real person and not a fictional character). Here is the Chronology:

  • Josiah reigned from about 639 BC to 608 BC. Hilkiah the High Priest during the early part of the reign of Josiah was already a mature, possibly old, man at the start Josiah' reign.
  • The story of Suzanna is placed in the period of the Babylonian captivity which lasted from 605 BC (Nebuchadnezzar's first campaign) to 538/7 BC when Cyrus issued his famous decree recorded in Ezra 1.
  • However, many Jews returned under the leadership of Ezra in the 7th year of Artaxerxes Longimanus in 457 BC.

Thus, theoretically, the story of Suzanna could have occurred anywhere in the period 605 BC to 450 BC or even later. The tenor of the story suggests the latter part of this period due to relative wealth of foreigners compared with the dismal captive state under Nebuchadnezzar.

Thus, it appears that that High Priest Hilkiah during the reign of King Josiah is very unlikely to be the father Hilkiah of Suzanna.

  • Canonical Daniel begins in the 3rd year of Jehoiakim... Not long after Josiah's death... And in Susanna's story, Daniel is "a young boy" so the tenor of the story does not place it near the end of the Exile . Daniel 13:45 :As she was being led to execution, God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel." Oct 16, 2023 at 23:09
  • @DanFefferman - good points. However, these same facts also suggest that Hilkiah was already quite old during Josiah's reign. I think there is at least a generational gap of 1 generation here which prevents the OP's suggestion.
    – Dottard
    Oct 16, 2023 at 23:24
  • Also. 2 Kings first mentions Hilkiah in the 18th year of Josiah's reign, which is more than half the way through it. If my math is right, we can be certain that Hilkiah served 13 years under Josiah. He could easily have survived the King, who died in his late 30s. Meanwhile Susanna is described as married with children when Daniel is still a "boy." – Oct 16, 2023 at 23:25
  • @DanFefferman - that is one of the facts that makes the historicity of Suzanna almost impossible - Daniel only went to Babylon as a man - he was never a boy in Babylon.
    – Dottard
    Oct 17, 2023 at 0:33
  • Canonical Daniel identifies him and his companions as children or young men, (1:4) apparently unmarried, which could mean quite young. And the story of Susanna ends with the claim that it was this episode that first brought Daniel fame. But I don't dispute the idea that the story is probably fictional, and the style is completely different from the main story. It reads like a fairy tale to me. My real question is whether the story intends to portray Hilkiah the high priest as Susanna's father. I should have made that clear. Oct 17, 2023 at 3:02

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