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1. Haggai

In a day of profound discouragement and misplaced priorities following the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile, the prophet Haggai sounded a clarion call of rebuke, exhortation, and encouragement to his contemporaries. They had begun to rebuild their own homes and businesses and to establish their statehood as a Jewish community but had been derelict in tending to the construction of the temple and making the Lord the central focus of all their hopes and dreams. The message of Haggai, so effective in shaking the Jews of 520 B.C. from their lethargy, has an abiding relevance for all who fail to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Introduction to Haggai

Historical Context

The prophets Haggai and Zechariah were contemporaries and therefore shared a common historical setting—Jerusalem at the end of the sixth century B.C. That setting may be precisely identified, for no other biblical authors, with the exception of Ezekiel, tied their ministries and messages more closely to a chronological framework.

Haggai dates his first recorded revelation to the first day of the sixth month of the second year of the Persian king Darius Hystaspes (522-486 B.C.). This is the month Elul, equivalent to Ulu of the Babylonian/Persian calendar and corresponding in the Julian calendar to August-September. Prior to the exile the year began in the autumn, but by the exile the Jews adopted the Babylonian calendar, thus locating new year’s day in the spring.1 Haggai’s precise date therefore is August 29, 520 B.C.2 He next refers to the response of Zerubbabel and Joshua to the message of Yahweh, dating that to the twenty-fourth day of the same month, or September 21, (Hag. 1:15). The prophet then assigns his second oracle to the twenty-first day of the seventh month (i.e., Tishri), or October 17, (Hag. 2:1). Finally, he cites the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (Kislev), December 18, (2:10, 20).

Zechariah dates his first vision to the eighth month (Marcheshwan) of Darius’ second year, that is, October-November 520 B. C. (Zech. 1:1). Then, more specifically, he ties his night visions to the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month of the same year (1:7), February 15, 519 B.C., according to modern calendars. Thus all the ministry of Haggai and the first two oracles of Zechariah fall between the sixth and eleventh months of Darius’s second year. Zechariah provides one more date, however, the fourth day of the ninth month (Kislev) of the fourth year of Darius, December 7, 518 B.C. This marked the occasion of his interview with Sharezer, Regem-melek, and other leaders from Bethel (Zech. 7:1).

The strict attention to matters of chronology exhibited by Haggai and Zechariah is characteristic of the annalistic style of history writing employed in Neo-Babylonian and Persian times. The famous “Babylonian Chronicles” with its insistence on documenting every royal achievement to the month and day is a case in point.3 Peter Ackroyd opinion is that the dating formulae of Haggai may be artificial, with no other purpose than to “give a fuller expression to the conviction that the word of the Lord is operative and known in the precise situations of history.”4 No difficulties exist in them, however, sufficient to justify their being taken in any but a prima facie manner. Interestingly, in another place the same scholar argues that “clearly the onus of proof must rest on anyone who disputes the dates [in Haggai].”5

As noted already, Ezekiel, an older contemporary of Haggai and Zechariah, took pains to establish the chronological parameters of his ministry (Ezek. 1:1-2; 8:1; 20:1; 24:1; 26:1; 29:1, 17; 30:20; 31:1; 32:1, 17; 33:21; 40:1). Daniel, also of the same period, did likewise though he was content to speak only of the years in which something significant occurred (Dan. 1:1; 2:1; 7:1; 8:1; 9:1, 10:1). Ezra and Nehemiah, both a half century or more later than Haggai and Zechariah, reflect the same interest in chronological precision (Ezra 1:1; 3:1, 6, 8; 4:24; 6:15; 8:31; 10:9, 17; Neh 1:1; 2:1; 5:14; 6:15; 7:73—8:2; 9:1; 13:6). David Petersen draws attention to the fact that dates now must be in reference to Persian kings since there no longer were kings of Judah to provide that framework.6

The chronological cross-referencing by the biblical authors suggests that they were aware that they were part of an international community. The experience of Exile under Babylonia and the continuing subservience to Persia made it crystal clear that tiny Judah was inextricably involved in the affairs of the surrounding world, no matter how distasteful that might be. It was only natural, then, for her spokesmen, statesmen, and prophets to give account of themselves in terms of the larger geopolitical environment. The history of God’s people would no longer be recorded and recounted in isolation from the remainder of the civilized world. Pieter Verhoef also makes the point that dating of prophetic oracles emphasized the authenticity of the message. However this may be true of the postexilic prophets, it does not account for the absence of such data in earlier prophetic writing.7

That world must now be addressed briefly in order that the message of the postexilic prophets might find contextual moorings.8 They spoke, after all, not abstractly or existentially, but to a people who struggled to find meaning in a chaotic world that threatened to overwhelm them with its political and military might.9 As men of God, they desired to share a word from God that would address the exigencies of a remnant community that was struggling to reestablish itself on the holy soil of Palestine against what must have appeared to be insuperable obstacles. What forces had brought them to the present hour, and what hope did they have for a renewal of the ancient covenant promises and glory? In what kind of world did they live? What were the prospects in light of present realities and in anticipation of future divine intervention?

Less than four decades after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 B.C., it was evident that the balance of power in the eastern world was beginning to shift. As early as the accession of Nabo-polassar as king of the Neo-Babylonian empire, Cyaxares (625-585) had become ruler of Media and all of northern Mesopotamia. He then conquered Persia (in southwest Iran) placing Cambyses over it as governor. Upon the death of Cyaxares, his son Astyages (585-550) succeeded him. The daughter of Astyages was the mother of Cyrus II, vassal of Astyages and ruler of the Persian province of Anshan. Cyrus soon antagonized his grandfather by making an alliance with Nabonidus, king of Babylonia and Astyages’s bitter enemy. The result was a rupture between Astyages and Cyrus and the eventual conquest of Media by the young Persian upstart in 550 B.C.

Meanwhile, Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562), who had conquered and destroyed Jerusalem and deported its leading citizens in July of 586 B.C., had passed from the scene to be followed by Amel-Marduk (562-560), Neriglissar (560-556), and Labashi-Marduk (556). Nabonidus (556-539), whose north Mesopotamian roots and devotion to the moon god Sin were to alienate him from his Babylonian subjects, then took over. Preoccupied as he was by his cult and by foreign travel and trade, Nabonidus left the responsibility of government largely in the hands of his son Belshazzar. It was the latter, as the Bible clearly intimates (Dan. 5:1-31), who fell to Cyrus when Babylon finally capitulated to the Persians on October 12, 539 B.C.

Beginning in 555, the year Cyrus defeated his Median grandfather, he had incorporated Media, Lydia, and Babylonia into his rapidly expanding Persian empire. At last only the city of Babylon itself remained. Its surrender to Cyrus was a foregone conclusion since, according to the so-called “Verse Account of Nabonidus” and other texts,10 Nabonidus had so offended Marduk, chief deity of Babylon, by his impious devotion to Sin that Marduk had determined to turn his estate over to a “shepherd” who would better tend it. That shepherd, of course, was Cyrus.

The biblical version of the rise of Cyrus is quite different, for it is Yahweh, not Marduk, who raised him up (Isa. 44:24—45:7) and who called him to deliver His captive people from Babylonian bondage. That Cyrus was indeed called to do so is clear from the famous Cylinder of Cyrus.11 That it was Yahweh who provided the impulse is attested to in the Old Testament by both the Chronicler (2 Chron. 36:22-23) and Ezra (Ezra 1:1-4).

In 538 B.C. Cyrus issued his decree that the Jews and all other captive peoples could return to their respective homelands. He had begun to organize his vast domain into a system of satrapies further subdivided into provinces,12 and the satrapy of special relevance to the Jewish community was known as Babili eber nari (“Babylon beyond the river”), a huge jurisdiction between the Euphrates River and the Mediterranean Sea.13 Within that satrapy were entities such as Galilee, Samaria, Ashdod, Ammon, and especially Yehud (or Judah).14 Each of these was under a governor who reported directly to the satrap, or administrator of the district of eber nari.

The picture is not entirely clear, but it seems that Yehud, though weak and impoverished compared to its provincial neighbors such as Samaria, was independent of them and not a subdivision. Thus the various Jewish governors could carry their case directly to the satrap in times of difficulty. The first of these governors was Sheshbazzar, leader of the first return from Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:5-11; 5:14). It is likely that he is the same as Shenazzar, a son of Jehoiachin, the last surviving king of Judah (1 Chron. 3:18).15 He held his position evidently for only a brief time, for already in the second year after Cyrus’s decree (536 B.C.) Zerubbabel appears as the governor (Ezra 3:2, 8; cf. Hag. 1:1).

The relationship of Zerubbabel to Sheshbazzar and to the Davidic dynasty is somewhat obscure.16 He is usually described as the “son of Shealtiel” (Ezra 3:2, 8; Neh. 12:1; Hag. 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 23; Matt. 1:12), but in the Chronicler’s genealogy he is the son of Pedaiah (1 Chron. 3:19). Both Shealtiel and Pedaiah were sons of Jehoiachin—along with Shenazzar (= Sheshbazzar?)—so either Zerubbabel was the levirate son of Pedaiah on behalf of Shealtiel17 or (more likely) Shealtiel had died before he could become governor, his younger brother Sheshbazzar taking that role instead.18 Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel and nephew of Sheshbazzar, then succeed Sheshbazzar upon his death. Pedaiah possibly served as foster father for Zerubbabel until he reached his maturity.

Sara Japhet argues that Sheshbazzar was the first governor of Judah but denies that he was related to Zerubbabel or, indeed, to the royal family at all.19 F. C. Fensham says that it is not acceptable to identify Sheshbazzar with the Shenazzar of 1 Chron. 3:18 and that his identification as “prince” (ayc]N`j^ hannas) in Ezra 1:8 proves nothing more than that he was a person raised to a position of authority.20 This is the view also of Joseph Blenkinsopp who admits that Sheshbazzar’s title would be unassailable evidence of his Davidic lineage were it possible to connect Sheshbazzar with Shenazzar. With most modern scholars he concludes that nothing can be known of Sheshbazzar’s identity.21

What is important is that Zerubbabel was a grandson of Jehoiachin and therefore the legitimate heir of the Davidic throne. His appointment as governor allowed his Judean royal descent to coincide with his Persian political appointment. How long he served in that capacity cannot be determined, but he was still governor by 520 B.C. The recent discovery of bullae and seals bearing the names of Judean governors suggests that Zerubbabel may be dated to c. 510, Elnathan c. 510-490, Yeho ‘ezer c. 490-470, and Ahzai c. 447-445.22 Nehemiah, of course, commenced his governorship then and continued on to 433 B.C.

Little is known of the period between the decree of Cyrus (538 B.C.) and the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah (520 B.C.). Evidently Cyrus had laid down a firm political and social foundation, and until his death in 530 B.C. the Persian empire, including Yehud, enjoyed tranquillity and prosperity. Ezra provides the information that in the seventh month of the first year back (537 B.C.) the people, under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua the priest, built an altar on the temple ruins and celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles (Ezra 3:1-7). In the second month of the next year (536) the foundations of the new temple were laid (Ezra 3:8-10). After this the record is virtually silent except for the statement that the adversaries of the Jews began a campaign of harassment, seeking to prevent reconstruction of the house of the Lord. This continued throughout the reign of Cyrus and Cambyses (530-522) into that time of Darius (522-486).

Cambyses, son of Cyrus, was noted particularly for his conquest of Egypt and its absorption into the Persian hegemony. Cambyses also left a negative legacy of mismanagement that left the Empire in a near shambles. His mysterious death was followed by an attempted usurpation of the Persian throne by Gaumata, an official who claimed to be a brother of Cambyses hitherto thought to be dead. Before Gaumata could seize control he was assassinated by Darius Hystaspes and some collaborators, and Darius placed himself in power on September 29, 522.23

The chaotic reign of Cambyses without doubt contributed to the ability of the Jews’ enemies to interdict their work and otherwise make life miserable for them. The succession of Darius changed all that, however, for after he put down various rebellions attendant to his rise to power, he implemented far-ranging and effective political and fiscal policies that brought stability throughout his realm. Within two years all was at peace, except for Egypt. Darius therefore made plans to invade that intractable satrapy and bring it into line, an action that took place in 519-518 B.C. 24

Meanwhile, Judah’s foes, including even Tattenai, governor of the entire eber nari province, hoped to capitalize on Darius’s newness to office by sending a letter warning him about Jewish rebellion (Ezra 5:6-17). Darius immediately made a search of the archives of Cyrus at Ecbatana and verified that the Jewish claims that reconstruction of the temple and city was authorized by Cyrus himself were true. Without further ado the work was resumed and completed by 515 B.C. (6:15). The anticipated march of Darius through Palestine on his way to Egypt in 519 may have done as much as anything to encourage the Jews and frustrate the evil intentions of their neighbors.

This, then, is the setting of the ministries of Haggai and Zechariah. First appearing in the biblical record in 520 B.C., two years after Darius’s accession, they took advantage of the Pax Persiaca to urge their compatriots on to the noble task of Temple building (Hag. 1:2; cf. Ezra 5:1-2). Joyce Baldwin is correct in asserting (contrary to many scholars) that Haggai’s exhortation to build was not a sign of rebellion against a Persian government in disarray, for he was already many months too late for that; rather, he was taking advantage of the peace that ensued after Darius was established.25 From a political standpoint the prospects were never more bright and, said the prophets, never were times more propitious to reestablish the theocratic community so that Yahweh’s ancient covenant promises to His people could find fulfillment.

The biblical texts, though scanty, make it quite clear that the restoration community was small and demoralized. Ezra reckons the number of returnees under Sheshbazzar (or Zerubbabel) to have been 42,360 in addition to 7,337 slaves and 200 singers (Ezra 2:64-65). The number of indigenous Jews is unknown but could not have numbered more than that. John Bright argues that the total population of Judah in 522 B.C. could not have exceeded 20,000, but his estimate is based on a denial that the list of returnees in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 refers to the return under Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel, a denial that is without foundation.26 That it is an account of early return (between 538 and 522) is put beyond dispute by H. G. M. Williamson.27 Some rebuilding must have been undertaken in the Judean towns and villages since their destruction at Babylonian hands, but Jerusalem remained mostly in ruins (Ezra 5:3, 9).

The repopulation of the land, at least outside Jerusalem, gave rise to the rebuilding of houses and storage buildings and to the clearing and cultivation of the farmlands. In fact, it was the rapidity and conviction with which this was done that caused Haggai to lament that, by comparison, the house of the Lord was neglected. His burden then was that this inequity be redressed and that the people do all they could in spite of their still rather limited resources to erect a house of the Lord that could provide a suitable expression of His presence among them. Until this was done the restoration would remain incomplete and the gracious promises of the Lord unfulfilled.

Literary Context

The book of Haggai is only one composition among a rather rich corpus of Hebrew literature of the sixth and fifth centuries B.C., including Zechariah, Esther, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Malachi. The transmission of the text, with all the redactional and editorial touches that inevitably attended that process, makes it impossible to recover the ipsissima verba of the prophet with absolute certainty, but clearly there is no reason to think that there were any more than cosmetic changes in the product that left his hands. Haggai, then, can be regarded as an authentic document of the sixth century, whose provenience it professes.28

Language And Style

Unanimous tradition assigns the book of Haggai to the prophet whose name it bears, but since he wrote no other canonical literature, this work is sui generis in terms of a “Haggai corpus.” It is possible, however, to compare Haggai to contemporary literature, especially to Zechariah, and to draw certain conclusions about language and style, both that which is unique to Haggai and that shared by him with others.

Scholars have long debated whether Haggai is composed in only prose. BHK renders it as such, whereas BHS identifies 1:4-6, 7b-11; 2:3b-9, 14b-19, 21-23, as poetry. The matter is not easily decided since elevated prose differs little from “ordinary” Hebrew poetry.29 Driver says that Haggai “lacks the imagination and poetical power possessed by most of the prophets; but his style is not that of pure prose: his thoughts, for instance, not unfrequently shape themselves into parallel clauses such as are usual in Hebrew poetry.”30

Driver’s assessment appears to be borne out by the stylistic devices that appear with regularity. the parallelism of 1:6; the metric rhythm31 of 1:3-6, 8; 2:4-5, 21-23; the use of chiastic framing in 1:4, 9, 10; 2:23; a “dialogue style”32 like that of Malachi in 1:4, 5, 9; 2:11-13; and paronomasia in 1:4 (br@j* hareb, “ruin”) and 1:11 (brh) horeb, “drought”). Haggai does not rise to the literary heights of his colleague Zechariah, but Zechariah deals much more with the lofty themes of apocalyptic, which tends toward colorful imagery and fantastic symbolism.33 Yet Haggai is a delightful piece, one that betrays an author of unusual literary sensitivity.34

Literary Integrity

Scholarly consensus maintains that the book of Haggai was written by its attributive author except, perhaps, for editorial frameworks and minor later interpolations. The delimitation of such frameworks has been most thoroughly carried out by W. A. M. Beuken and Rex A. Mason. Mason, in a sympathetic treatment of Beuken’s work (though he plays down Beuken’s suggestion about a “Chronistic” influence on Haggai), identifies the “editorial framework” as 1:1, 3, 12, 13a, 14, 15; 2:1, 2 (probably), 10, 20.35 Haggai himself is unknown except for his writing and two references to him in Ezra (5:1; 6:14). His name in Hebrew (yG~j^, haggay) means “my feast” or the like, possibly because he was born on a festival day (gj^ hag). Though he is the only Haggai of the Bible, related forms such as Haggi (Gen 46:16), Haggit (2 Sam. 3:4), and Haggiah (1 Chron. 6:30) suggest that it was a popular name. In addition, it is attested in Hebrew seals of the postexilic period and in Phoenician, South Arabic, and Aramaic sources. Names associated with festival days as propitious occasions for birth find parallels in Egyptian and Akkadian texts as well.36

The book of Haggai consists of four addresses of the prophet (Hag. 1:1-15, 2:1-9, 10-19, 20-23), the first of which has two parts (1:1-11, 12-15). This structure will receive attention presently, but for now it is important to consider various viewpoints as to the origin and growth of the composition.

First, it is generally agreed that Haggai himself is responsible for the bulk of the material and that he arranged it according to four addresses set off by chronological notations (1:1, 15; 2:1; 10, 20). But a difficulty already emerges since the second oracle, 1:12-15, is followed and not preceded by the chronological datum, as is the case with the other three. To resolve this anomaly, some scholars have proposed that 1:15 should be divided, with 15b joined to 2:1, to create the full formula of year, month, and day.37 Thus 1:15b—2:1 precedes what then becomes the second oracle (1:15b—2:9). The remainder of 1:15 would be left suspended unless it is recognized that 2:10-19 consists of two fundamentally different messages, 2:10-14 and 2:15-19. J. W. Rothstein, on the basis of Ezra 4:1-5, identified “this people” of 2:14 with the Samaritans, supporting a date of three months after the laying of the temple foundations (2:10). Haggai 2:15-19, however, seems to fit the subject matter of 1:1-11, a period before or at the very beginning of the construction. The chronology of 1:15a should then introduce 2:15-19, requiring a transposition of 2:15-19 and 2:10-14 (and 2:1-9).38 Eissfeldt39 proposes that the twenty-fourth day of 2:18 resulted from carelessness on the part of the redactor who placed that day in the ninth month, in line with 2:10, rather than in the sixth month as the chronological introduction of 1:15a required.

The issues raised in this analysis will receive detailed attention in the commentary, but it is important that the linchpin of the difficulty, the apparent dislocation of 1:15, be explained now since discussion of the arrangement of the book depends on it. The following points should be considered.

(1) Haggai 1:1-15 is one long address subdivided into 1:1-11 and 1:12-15. In light of this, the prophet clearly would want to avoid interrupting his discourse with a chronological note before the second part; hence, he placed it at the end as a kind of inclusio with 1:1 (both second year, sixth month).

(2) The absence of a reference to a year in 2:1 leads one to suspect that the “second year” of 1:15b is doing double duty.40 It provides a year for 1:12-15 and one for 2:1-9 at the same time. The structure is day, month, year (1:15), month, day (2:1).

(3) There is no ancient manuscript variation from the traditional order. The scroll of the minor prophets from the caves of Murabba ‘at, which contains 1:15, shows no evidence of a different tradition.41 The LXX does combine 1:15 with 2:1, separating v. 15 from the section 1:12-15, but this only leads to a confusing blending of mutually exclusive data. The second oracle (2:1-9) could not have been delivered on both the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month and the twenty-first day of the seventh month. This, of course, is one reason that most scholars separate 1:15 into two parts to begin with, connecting v. 15a to 2:15-19 and allowing v. 15b to provide the year as part of the regular formula for 2:1.

Recently H. W. Wolff has dealt with the composition of Haggai by proposing three “growth rings” in the transmission of the accounts.42 The center he calls the “prophetic proclamation” delivered on the prophet’s five appearances (1:4-11; 2:15-19; 2:3-9; 2:14; 2:21b-23). These, he says, were probably collected by a circle of disciples and placed within “sketches of scenes.” The second ring of material consists of such matters as the history of Haggai’s effect on his listeners (1:12b-13), the history that preceded his addresses (2:11-13), and the opposition he elicited (1:2). The outer ring, created by the “Haggai chronicler,” provides introductory information such as setting and chronology (1:1-3; 1:15a; 1:15b—2:2; 2:10; 2:20-21a). In addition, Wolff sees other accretions to the work of the chronicler: the interpolations of 2:5a, 17; the last two words of 2:18; and the first four words of 2:19ab; and LXX expansions at the end of 2:9, 14, 21, 22ba.43

Though justification for seeing different hands at work between the Haggai core and the contribution of the “chronicler” must await detailed treatment in the commentary, Wolff is no doubt correct in his general view of some redactionary process, but his efforts to isolate its stages and the specific contributions of each hand smack of the kind of special pleading inherent in source analysis of any kind. There is nothing in the style, form, vocabulary, and content of the book of Haggai that precludes it from having come entirely as it stands from the prophet himself.44

In his insistence on such a pattern of growth, Wolff is in line with much recent critical scholarship that posits two major ideological traditions in Haggai—that of the oracles and that of the editorial framework. The message of the former (i.e., of Haggai himself) is that the blessing of God depends on the building of the temple. The message of the (later) framework is in line with the theocratic emphasis of P on the continuation of the covenant community in the present and future with little or no eschatological element. Such bifurcation of traditions (and of the composition of the book itself) has little or no objective basis but has been developed primarily as a reflex of an alleged division in postexilic Judaism between a visionary eschatological party and a practical hierocratic party, a view which itself has no clear-cut warrant in the biblical accounts.45

Literary Structure

As noted above, the book of Haggai consists of four addresses (1:1-15; 2:1-9; 2:10-19; 2:20-23), the first of which is subdivided into two sections (1:1-11; 1:12-15), is introduced by a chronological datum except for 1:12-15 where the chronological note follows the pericope. The reason for this, as already proposed, was to avoid a break in what is essentially one message—Haggai’s exhortation to rebuild (vv. 2-11) and the people’s response (vv. 12-14).

In addition, there are the usual formulae of address and transition. Thus, 1:1b notes the reception of the word of Yahweh by Haggai the prophet, a word to be delivered to Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the priest. Verse 12 reports the reaction of the officials and people, v. 13a introduces the second message, v. 13b is that message, and v. 14 is the response to the second message. Following the closing and opening statements about chronology (1:15; 2:1a), there is the formula of reception of revelation (2:1b-2). The third message (2:3-9) follows and then the next chronological note (v. 10a) and reception of revelation (v. 10b). Finally, in reverse order, the word about revelation (v. 20a) and the last statement of chronology (v. 20b) introduce the fifth oracle (2:21-23).

The literary form of the prophetic messages is difficult to categorize. The standard patterns typical of preexilic prophets seem to have broken down,46 resulting in a rather eclectic assemblage of cliches and characteristics. Baldwin,47 however, observes an equal division between the “judgment speech” and the “announcement of salvation” and points out the repeated order of accusation (1:1-11; cf. 2:10-17), response (1:12-14; cf. 2:18, 19), and assurance of God’s triumph (2:1-9; cf. 2:20-23).

The following outline indicates the structure of Haggai to be followed in the commentary.

I. Rebuilding the Temple (1:1-15)

A. Introduction and Setting (1:1)

B. The Exhortation to Rebuild (1:2-11)

1. The Indifference of the People (1:2-6)

2. The Instruction of the People (1:7-11)

C. The Response of God’s People (1:12-15)

1. Their Attitude (1:12)

2. Their Confidence (1:13)

3. Their Work (1:14-15)

II. The Glory to Come (2:1-9)

A. A Reminder of the Past (2:1-3)

B. The Presence of the Lord (2:4-5)

C. Outlook for the Future (2:6-9)

III. The Promised Blessing (2:10-19)

A. Present Ceremonial Defilement (2:10-14)

1. Righteousness Is Not Contagious (2:10-12)

2. Wickedness Is Contagious (2:13-14)

B. Present Judgment and Discipline (2:15-19)

1. The Rebuke of the People (2:15-17)

2. The Prospects of the People (2:18-19)

IV. Zerubbabel the Chosen One (2:20-23)

A. Divine Destruction (2:20-22)

B. Divine Deliverance (2:23)

Distinctive Teaching

At the heart of the book of Haggai is the prophet’s urgent insistence that the postexilic Jewish community get to the work of rebuilding the Temple. As Childs points out, the first (1:1-15) and third (2:10-19) oracles relate the present poverty of the people to the disregard of God’s Temple whereas in the second (2:1-9) and fourth (2:20-23) the promise is reiterated that Israel’s eschatological hope is still valid.48 Though these two great themes may not be viewed in a cause-and-effect manner, Haggai nevertheless makes it clear that present rebuilding is prerequisite to future glory.

Haggai’s distinctiveness lies in his single-mindedness. No other prophecy is so fixed on a specific objective, nor is it likely that any other was so successful in its accomplishment (1:12, 14; cf. Ezra 5:1-2). With his feet firmly planted in the world of the sixth century B.C., Haggai lifted up his eyes and those of his people to the eschaton as well—to the day when the Lord would fill His house with His glory and peace (2:7-9). Faithfulness in the comparatively little details of today will yield incalculable dividends in the tomorrows to come.

Robert Chisholm draws attention to Haggai’s emphasis on God’s continuing love for His people, a love associated with His demand that they rebuild the Temple and otherwise demonstrate their faithfulness. The problems they have encountered are directly attributable to their failures in these respects, for by their neglect the community has borne witness to their covenant disobedience. But, as Chisholm shows, adherence to the prophetic injunction to covenant loyalty would issue in such blessings as the enriching of the eschatological Temple, its being filled with the glory of God, and the restoration of the Davidic dynasty.49

Transmission Of The Text

Well-informed students of Scripture are aware that the original texts of the Bible have long since disappeared. In the case of the Hebrew manuscripts of the OT, what survive are copies of copies multiplied several times over. Complicating matters further are the varying readings attested in ancient versions such as the Greek Septuagint, the Aramaic Targums, Syriac, Old Latin, and many others. Although these frequently agree with the Hebrew Masoretic tradition, sometimes they do not, therefore presupposing a different, non-Masoretic line of transmission. All of these witnesses, Hebrew and non-Hebrew alike, must be consulted in an effort to recover the original text of the biblical composition.

The study of Haggai is largely unencumbered by the problem of textual variation since the ancient manuscripts and versions differ little from the Masoretic tradition. The Dead Sea Murabba ‘Jat scroll of the minor prophets of A.D. 150, for example, offers no improvement on MT Haggai. In fact, Mur differs from MT in only two minor points: in 2:1 (el for beyad) and in 2:3 ( itto for oto).50

The LXX and its generally dependent offspring such as the Pesh. and Vg, do offer some deviations from the MT, particularly by expansions of the MT (2:9, 14, 21, 22), arrangements of verses (LXX 1:9-10 = MT 1:9; LXX 2:1-2 = MT 1:15 + 2:1; LXX 2:15 (last clause) + 2:16 = MT 2:15), and differences of rendering (cf. 1:1, 14; 2:2, and other examples in the commentary). The principal versions generally support the MT and argue strongly, as Verhoef shows,51 against the many alterations of the MT suggested by both BHK and BHS. That this is the case will be demonstrated point by point in the commentary.

Rebuilding the Temple

A. Introduction and Setting (1:1)

This note of introduction provides the setting for the first oracle of the prophet (1:2-11 [+12-15]) and identifies him and the immediate recipients of his message. For the date of the oracle and the identification and historical role of Darius, see Introduction to Haggai under Historical Context.


1 In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of YHWH came *through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, as follows: (1:1)

Exegesis and Exposition

Haggai, whose name means something like “festive” or “festival,” appears (apart from self-references in this treatise) only in Ezra 5:1 and 6:14. Most scholars claim that because Haggai’s name appears in the book he could not be its author.52 There are no grounds for such a supposition which, if held consistently, would deny all self-references to the biblical writers as coming from their own pens.53 Since the oracle was transmitted on the first day of the month, a festival day (Num. 10:10; cf. 28:11), the prophet’s name itself was revelatory of the occasion. Some scholars suggest that because Haggai refers to the glory of the preexilic Temple of Solomon (Hag. 2:3), he must have been quite aged at the time he delivered his word to Zerubbabel and Joshua in 520 B.C.54 His very question in 2:3 (“who among you saw this Temple in its former glory?”) suggests if anything, however, that he was not among them, having perhaps been born in the Diaspora.

Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel (see Introduction to Haggai under Historical Context) bears a name clearly attesting to his Babylonian origins (Akkadian zer babili, “descendant of Babylon”). As grandson of the last legitimate king of Judah, Jehoiachin (1 Chron. 3:17-19), Zerubbabel, the chosen “signet” (Hag. 2:23), was qualified in every way to succeed as Davidic king even though under Persian dominion he had to settle for the office of governor. If in the biblical record Sheshbazzar is the same as Shenazzar (again see discussion in the Introduction; 1 Chron. 3:18), Zerubbabel was the second of a line of Jewish governors culminating in Nehemiah.

The term “governor” (Heb. hh*P#, peha) is an Akkadian loan-word (pahatu/pihatu) suggesting an office perhaps not precisely what “governor” conveys but simply an overseer of a jurisdiction within the Persian imperial structure.55 Regardless, his appointment to high position as a Davidide stands in ironic contrast to the humiliation of his grandfather Jehoiachin who, having been the “signet” upon Yahweh’s right hand (Jer. 22:24), was removed and cast aside, none of his sons succeeding him on the throne.

Joshua the son of Jehozadak, here designated the high priest, is mentioned outside Haggai in Ezra 3:2, 8; 5:2; 10:18; Neh. 12:26; Zech. 6:11. The Jehozadak of 1 Chron. 6:14-15 is without doubt Joshua’s father, a fact that establishes Joshua’s Aaronic lineage through Zadok (1 Chron. 6:1-5). Thus the Davidic royal descent as well as that of the Aaronic priests meet in the postexilic age as common recipients of God’s word of hope and promise through Haggai and Zechariah. This dyarchic structure in post-exilic Judaism, spelled out in Zechariah, has profound Messianic and post-biblical ramifications.56

Additional Notes

1:1 The translation “through the prophet Haggai” reflects the Hebrew phrase ayb!N`h^ yG~j^-dy~B=, a formula that occurs also in 1:3; 2:1 (cf. Mal. 1:1) and means literally “by the hand of the prophet Haggai.” Mason suggests, correctly it seems, that the use of this phrase three times in the framework of Haggai’s brief work signifies either history viewed as linked cause and effect or a concern to draw a parallel between the establishment of the first temple and that of the second.57 The use of Haggai as any instrument certainly favors the view that it is YHWH Himself who is effecting the revelation and results.58

B. The Exhortation to Rebuild (1:2-11)

1. The Indifference of the People (1:2-6)


2 Thus says *YHWH of hosts, “These people have said, *‘The time has not come, the time for rebuilding the house of YHWH.’” 3 Therefore, the word of YHWH came through the prophet Haggai saying, 4 “Is it the time for you yourselves to live in your *paneled houses while this house is in ruins?” 5 Now here is what YHWH of hosts says: “Think carefully on your ways. 6 You have sown much but have little harvest, eating with no satisfaction. You have drunk but are not satiated, clothed but without warmth. *He who earns wages does so (only to end up) with a purse with holes.” (1:2-6)

Exegesis and Exposition

In his first oracle—to be classified, perhaps, as a dispute and judgment speech—the prophet chides the returned exiles and their fellow countrymen for putting their own interests ahead of the Lord and the Temple.59 The result, he says, has been calamitous, for the more they sought self-satisfaction the less they achieved it.

To refer to the Jews as “these people” (v. 2) is to imply an alienation, certainly at least in their attitude toward the Lord and holy things (cf. 2:14).60 Never once does the Lord call them “My people,” the normal designation for the nation in covenant fellowship with Him. The displeasure of the Lord finds its immediate source in the fact that the restored community, now well established after eighteen years in the land (from 538 to 520 B.C.; cf. Introduction to Haggai), has postponed any work on the Temple except for the laying of the foundations sixteen years earlier (Ezra 3:8-13). It is true that the work had been impeded by opposition from without (Ezra 4:1-5, 24), but the real cause for delay was an insistence that “the time has not come” (v. 2). F. G. Hamerton-Kelly, with other scholars, attributes the delay in building the Temple to the visionary school of Ezekiel, which saw the rebuilding as sinful since it was not done by God himself, a view that suggests a distinct possibility.61

The speciousness of the people’s excuse is apparent from the fact that, while the Temple work was halted, they had undertaken their own construction activities apace. Not only so, but the houses they built were, in some cases at least, luxurious in their appointments. With obvious irony, the prophet speaks of the rich paneling they have installed, using a term (/p^s*, sapan, “to cover, panel”) that otherwise describes the interior of the glorious temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6:9) and his own magnificent palace buildings (1 Kings 7:3, 7; cf. Jer. 22:14).62 However, Joyce Baldwin’s point, that paneling may not mean luxury but only completion of construction, is certainly cogent, especially in view of the poverty to which the people have been reduced on the whole (cf. Hag. 1:6).63 The real issue, nonetheless, is clear. Members of the postexilic community, far from articulating their faith in the Lord’s gracious restoration and covenant renewal by erecting a place where He might once more dwell among them (cf. 2:4-9), was concerned only for their own well-being. The time for the Lord had not come because the time they needed for their own interests was uppermost in their minds.64

It is precisely at this point that Haggai raises his first interrogation (v. 4) and issues his first challenge (v. 5). The prophet shifts his attention from Zerubbabel and Joshua to the people at large, a fact that explains the second introductory formula of v. 3.65 Using their own word for “time” (tu@, et), suggesting an appropriate or suitable moment (BDB, 773), Haggai turns around the argument of the people by asking whether indeed it was appropriate for them to build their own houses even though they have protested that it was not appropriate to build the house of Yahweh. How could they have so perverted their priorities that the dwelling place of the Lord of hosts (v. 2) could take second place to those of His servant people?

The challenge to them is expressed in the strongest terms. “Think carefully on your ways,” the prophet commands (v. 5). Literally he says, “Set your heart upon your ways,” an injunction calling for the utmost degree of reflection and attention. The same idiom occurs in v. 7 and without an object (such as “ways”) in 2:15, 18. That it is a formula nearly unique to Haggai is clear from the very few attestations elsewhere (Job 1:8; Isa. 41:22). The demand for attention is called for in order that the people might understand the connection between their negligence of God’s house and their total lack of success in everyday life (Hag. 1:6). It is a classic case of cause and effect.

To make his point, Haggai gives four examples of the futility of selfish effort. The people have planted abundantly but for very little return. There may be metaphorical overtones to this statement, but that it should be taken quite literally as well is evident from the next observation by the prophet: they eat and drink but never to the full. Evidently the crops have failed badly and now at the end of August (1:1; cf. Introduction to Haggai under Historical Context), just when the fall harvest ought to be shortly underway, the prospects are gloomy indeed. Even their clothing is inadequate to keep them warm, perhaps because the animals whose hides and hairs were the principal source of raw material were themselves scarce or unproductive.66 Finally, whatever profits did come their way were lost through the holes in their purses. It is entirely possible that these purses were actually pockets or other pouches in the garments, especially if coinage was in circulation by then in Judah, but more likely they were merely bags whose purpose was to carry not only precious metals but other commodities as well (cf. Gen. 42:35; Prov. 7:20).67 The language may be figurative; that is, the more income the people earned the more they lost through inflation and otherwise. A literal use, however, is quite in line with the poverty induced by crop failure and other natural disasters (cf. Hag. 1:10-11). The same inferior or worn-out clothing that failed to warm the body would easily become threadbare and develop holes through which their liquid assets could escape.

The indifference of the people toward holy things has thus been exposed, attested most eloquently by the direful effects of unproductive labor and an economy in shambles. Failure to address their highest priority—the building of an earthly dwelling place for their God—has reduced them to poverty. But Coggins is correct in pointing out that the cause and effect was not mechanistic. Rebuilding the Temple would not per se bring God’s blessing. There must be genuine restoration of worship and service by the people.68 These prophetic reminders should give them reason to pay the closest attention to what God is about to communicate.

Additional Notes

1:2 The epithet “Lord of hosts” (toab*x= hw`hy+) is a favorite of Haggai, occurring elsewhere in 1:5, 7, 9, 14; 2:4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 23 (bis). Here it refers not so much to the armies of YHWH as to YHWH himself.69 He is the Almighty, a description particularly important to the postexilic prophets (Zechariah, 53 times, and Malachi, 24 times) who must encourage tiny and defenseless Judah in the face of the enormous might of imperial Persia.

For the MT aB)-tu# (“a time comes”) with the verb in the infinitive, the LXX reads h{kei (“has come”) reflecting either an original aB* (“has come”) or, more likely, a translation of the infinitive into a finite rendering. This is unnecessary since the infinitive absolute can function as a finite verb (GKC 113y). The LXX (with Vg) also takes tu# (“time”) as the adverb (h)T*u^ (“now”) thus rendering the whole phrase “it has not come, the time. . . .” Although this avoids repeating “time,” the repetition itself is arresting with its staccato effect (cf. the same word in v. 4).

1:4 The grammatical structure <yn]Wps= <k#yT@b*B= (“your paneled houses”), is irregular because—as some LXX MSS., the Targums, and the Vg suggest—one would expect <yb*B=, without the suffix, in apposition to the following passive participle. There is no need for emendation of the participle, because it can function adverbially after the suffixed noun (GKC 118p; 131h, n. 1).

1:6 Both BHK and BHS, on the basis of a few MSS, suggest rK@T^c=y] (“earns wages”) for rK@T^c=m! (lit. “one earning wages”). The result would be, “he who earns wages, earns wages . . .” as opposed to “he who earns wages is one who earns wages. . . .” The meaning is the same in either case, but the juxtaposition of the identical hithpael participles has a pleasing alliterative effect.

2. The Instruction of the People (1:7-11)


7 Thus says YHWH of hosts, “Think carefully on your ways. 8 Go up to the hill-country and bring back timber to build the Temple; I will delight in it and *be glorified,” says YHWH. 9 “You looked for much but instead there was little, and when you brought it home I blew upon it. Why?” says YHWH of hosts. “Because of my house, which is in ruins since each of you runs to his own house. 10 *Therefore, because of you the skies have withheld their dew and the earth its produce. 11 Moreover, I have called for a drought upon the field, the hill-country, the grain, the new wine, the fresh oil, and everything that springs from the ground; also upon man and animal and everything they produce.’” (1:7-11)

Exegesis and Exposition

The urgent exhortation of v. 5 is repeated exactly v. 7, minus the introductory hT*u^ (`atta, “now”). That particle suggests a cause-and-effect relationship—in light of the preceding indictment (vv. 2-6), the people need to reflect on their ways. Though `atta is lacking here in the formula, the sentiment is the same. The indifference of the people (Haggai’s thrust in vv. 2-6) must lead to instruction so that the impasse might be resolved and the work of Temple building begun. There is, in fact, a great deal of repetition between the two sections of the oracle, particularly between vv. 4, 6, and 9-11.70 Whereas in v. 6 the prophet pointed out that the people had sown much (hB@r+h^, harbe) but brought on little (fu*m=, me `at), in v. 9 he says they looked for much (hB@r+h^, harbe) but instead there was little (fu*m=, me `at). Furthermore, they suffered from a lack of food, drink, clothing, and resources (v. 6), a condition attributed to the drought the Lord had brought upon the land (vv. 10-11), the effects of which are again listed in precisely the same order: food, drink, protection, and productivity.

The fundamental cause for this disastrous condition, hinted at in v. 4, is clearly articulated in v. 9: “Because of my house, which is in ruins” (br@j*, hareb, in both places). It is the ruin (hareb) of the Temple that has elicited the drought (brh), horeb, v. 11) with its punitive and devastating results. The command to rebuild (v. 8) is in strong antithesis to the malingerers of Judah, who insisted that the time for rebuilding the house of YHWH had not yet come (v. 2). By argument, by literary structure, and by repetitive and paronomastic vocabulary, the prophet sets the two parts of his exhortation side by side with brilliant effect.71

After the normal introductory formula, “thus says YHWH of hosts” (v. 7a, cf. 1:2, 5; 2:6, 11), Haggai once more urges upon Zerubbabel, Joshua, and presumably the people as well (note the plural pronouns and community participation throughout) that they take to heart in the most serious way their failures in the past and the remedy for those failures about to be announced (v. 7). It is really very simple. They must go up to the hill country (a place of heavy forestation until relatively recent times)72 and bring back timber with which to build the Temple. Lack of any reference to stone or other materials does not demand the hypothesis that the Temple was a wooden structure, for quite clearly there was abundant stone from the demolished Temple of Solomon lying all about. Meyers and Meyers propose that wood was indeed scarce and was used probably used for scaffolding rather than as building material.73 Ezra records the letter of Tattenai, governor of eber nari, who complains to King Darius that the Jews, thanks to Haggai and Zechariah, were already rebuilding the Temple “with great stones and timber” (Ezra 5:8; cf. 6:4).

Compliance with the command to rebuild the house of YHWH would turn His displeasure (implied in the reversals of Hag. 1:6) into pleasure. The verb expressing this reaction, hx*r` (rasa, “be pleased,” v. 8), conveys the more refined idea of acceptance, of conformity to the mind and will of God (cf. Pss. 147:10; 149:4)74 He would delight in it because it would be an accomplishment of His own will and purposes. What that purpose is may be disclosed in the epexegetical statement that follows, “and I will . . . be glorified.” This Niphal form of db@K* (kabed) appears to bear a reflexive nuance; that is, it suggests the idea that YHWH, whose will is accomplished by the building of the Temple, thereby gets glory for Himself (BDB, 457; GKC 51c). The glory (dobK*, kabod) of God is a circumlocution for His own person and presence, a truth abundantly attested in the OT (Ex. 16:10; 24:16, 17; 33:18, 22; 40:34, 35; Lev. 9:6, 23; Num. 14:10; Ezek. 1:28; 3:12, 23; etc.) The destruction of the Temple had brought the departure of His glory (Ezek. 11:23), but its reconstruction would allow His glory once more to inhabit its sacred precincts (Hag. 2:7, 9; cf. Zech. 2:5, 10, 11).

As though to reinforce His point that the promised glory has been frustrated by Judah’s indolence and self-centeredness, YHWH reiterates that the people had sought much for themselves but with meager results (Hag. 9). In fact, what little they did manage to bring home75 He “blew upon.” The verb jp^n` (napah) is used elsewhere without the preposition b (b, beth) to speak of destruction and judgment (Ezek. 22:20, 21).76 A similar idea (but with the verb bv^n`, nasab) occurs in Isa. 40:7, where the prophet says that the grass and flower wither away because YHWH has blown upon them.

Anticipating their question as to why all these dreadful things have happened, YHWH attributes them to the unfinished state of the second temple (Hag. 1:9d), a dereliction on the part of the community compounded by their running to their own houses while His is unsuitable for habitation (v. 9e). That this is not just a community concern, in which the individual bears no responsibility, is contradicted by the blunt language of the text: lit “you are running, each of you, to his own house.” Amsler is correct in suggesting that “running” figuratively describes the zeal of the people who rush to achieve their own glory before that of YHWH.77 Whereas they should have been about the business of Temple building with all due speed, they moved with alacrity to take care of themselves first.

In a brief chiastic pattern of judgment (v. 9a-b)—cause for judgment (v. 9c-e), judgment (vv. 10-11), the Lord amplifies the reasons and the means for the setbacks the postexilic generation has experienced. All nature has collaborated with Him in withholding its bounties (v. 10), with the result that grievous drought has decimated the land and induced the most severe deprivation and despair. W. J. Dumbrell points out the language of covenant curse in v. 11. Only covenant obedience can turn that around.78 The instruction to rebuild, then, culminates with a most persuasive inducement to do so. As long as the task remains unfinished, the people can continue to expect poverty and lack of fulfillment.

Additional Notes

1:8 The defectively written cohortative d*b=K*a# (cf. Qere) suggests the idea of purpose, such as “that I may be glorified.” The missing h may be explained, with Mitchell, as due to the following a.79 The close connection between this verb and the preceding indicative hx#r+a# makes it most likely that this apparent cohortative is indeed to be construed as indicative, as suggested already by Rudolph. “Die Sinn ist hier vom Imperfekt nicht verschieden.”80 Meyers and Meyers take the ending as an old subjunctive, a reading that does not change the meaning in any case.81

1:10 The alleged dittography (double writing of /K@-lu^) proposed by both BHK and BHS and supported by the LXX is not orthographically a dittograph, nor does its presence detract from the sentence. In fact, it is much in line with the prophet’s thought that it is precisely because of the people’s sins that the ensuing calamities have occurred.

C. The Response of God’s People (1:12-15)

Scholarship is divided as to whether 1:12-15 belongs to 1:2-11 as Haggaic material or should be construed as a separate unit. The argument turns primarily on the question of the editorial framework (see Introduction to Haggai under Literary Integrity for fuller discussion). Rothstein, followed by many other scholars, proposed that v. 15 should be divided, with v. 15a serving as a chronological introduction to 2:5-19, which in the present text is dislocated. This leaves v. 15b to complete the formula for 2:1-9, which otherwise lacks reference to a year. Once this is done, 1:12-14 is allowed to remain part of 1:2-11 because it no longer has a date formula at the end.

It is true that all the other oracles of Haggai are preceded by information as to date (1:1; 2:1; 2:10; 2:20), so that such information at the end of a pericope would appear to be anomalous. And if Rothstein is correct that a new oracle begins at 2:15, one should expect it to have a date, perhaps that of 1:1 5a. This kind of argument, however, overlooks such literary considerations as inclusio or double duty, both of which appear to be involved here.82 The first oracle (1:2-15) thus begins and ends with the date formula, thereby enveloping the passage. The reason is not hard to find. The first date marks the occasion of Haggai’s exhortation and the last its successful outcome. Twenty-three days expired between word and deed, a period bracketed by the dating formulae.

Also to be considered in favor of the unity of 1:15 is the fact that it contains day-month-year in that order and that 2:1 has only month and day, thus lacking the normal pattern. If one observes that the year of 1:15 serves also as the year of 2:1, however, the matter of both the unity of 1:15 and its relationship to 2:1 is resolved. As to the matter of 2:15-19 being a separate pericope in need of an introductory date, the view lacks any convincing objective evidence, as comment on that passage will show.

The position taken here is that the first oracle consists of an address (1:2-11) and a response (1:12-14), bracketed by an introductory (1:1) and concluding (1:15) date formula. This allows the text to make eminent sense as it stands and precludes the need to look for a dislocated oracle on which to append a chronological datum that admittedly looks out of place but on closer examination is very much at home. H. G. Mitchell denies vv. 12-15 to Haggai precisely because they are an account of the reaction to the oracle of vv. 2-11.83 This line of reasoning would deny to the prophets all narrative that refers to themselves in the writings attributed to them, a manifestly unsupportable contention. As Eissfeldt explains, however, “It is only that this prophet, in order to enhance the impression of the complete objectivity of his report, has chosen not the first person but the third person form.”84

1. Their Attitude (1:12)


12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all the remnant of the people obeyed YHWH their God *according to the words of Haggai the prophet, just as YHWH *their God had sent him; and the people became fearful before YHWH. (1:12)

Exegesis and Exposition

The stern rebuke and urgent appeal of the prophet Haggai to the leaders and citizens of the remnant community had their desired effect for they began at once to resume the work of temple construction, a task that had been set aside for sixteen years. The motivation was more than that of fear, though that was a factor to be sure (v. 12). More important was the pledge of YHWH to be with them (v. 13) and the supernatural stirring of their spirits to carry out His mandate (v. 14). Within a month they organized themselves, made their plans, marshaled their labor force, and set about the work (v. 15).

Although Haggai is the only biblical author to refer to Zerubbabel as governor (1:1, 14; 2:2, 21), he fails to do so here and in 2:4, 23. Since he is called “servant” in 2:23, the extra title “governor” would not, of course, be appropriate anyway. The LXX and Vg supply tj^P^ (pahat, “governor of”) in 1:12 and 2:4, though such insistence on uniformity is clearly too rigid. Moreover, the fact that Zerubbabel is not called governor by Ezra-Nehemiah, the Chronicler, or especially Zechariah does not call into question the accuracy of Haggai’s description. He also is virtually the only author to describe Joshua always as high priest (see otherwise only Zech. 3:1, 8; 6:11), but clearly he held that office (cf. Neh. 12:10). The reason for Haggai’s practice of referring to the titles of both Zerubbabel and Joshua lies in the fact that he was addressing them as leaders and through them the people.85 Their leadership credentials must therefore be emphasized.

The people here are called <u*h* tyr]a@v= (se 'ert ha `am), “the remnant of the people.” The notion of a chosen few who would survive both apostasy and judgment to become the nucleus of a restored covenant nation is pervasive in the OT (especially Ezra 9:14; Isa. 10:20-22; 11:11, 16; 28:5; 37:4, 31, 32; 46:3; Jer. 23:3; 31:7; Mic. 2:12; 5:6, 7; 7:18; Zeph. 2:7, 9; 3:13; Zech. 8:6, 11, 12). Though it may not bear that technical sense here (or in Hag. 1:4; 2:2), it certainly anticipates it.86 Stuhlmueller goes so far as to identify the remnant here with the exiles as opposed to the local people who had not gone into exile. He therefore accuses Haggai of siding with Ezekiel against Second Isaiah in promoting the construction of a Temple as fulfillment of the eschatological hope.87 The evidence he adduces is scarcely persuasive.

Additional Notes

1:12 This rendering of the preposition lu^, which is difficult here (cf. the SP, Tg. Ps.-J. reading l [“to”]), takes the preposition in the sense of “in accordance with,” a clearly attested meaning (BDB, 754; GKC 119 aa, n.3).88

The LXX presupposes <h#yl@a& (“to them”) rather than <h#yh@Oa^ (“their God”), but other LXX MSS, Syr, Tg. Ps.-J., and Vg read both (“their God to them”). This latter would smooth out the passage by providing an object to whom or which the prophet is sent. As to the former point—the emendation of “their God” to “to them,” thus leaving the Tetragrammaton to stand by itself—this would be most irregular in Haggai (cf. in this same verse). In any case, the MT poses no difficulty as it stands.

2. Their Confidence (1:13)


13 Then Haggai, *the messenger of YHWH bearing YHWH’s message, spoke to the people: “‘I am with you,’ says YHWH.”

Exegesis and Exposition

Though many scholars argue that v. 13 in an interpolation here89 or is otherwise out of place, the assurance of God’s presence among the people is a most appropriate response to the statement at the end of v. 12 that “the people became fearful before YHWH.”90 Overwhelmed by both the awesomeness of the task that lay before them and the sense that YHWH’s judgment was tantamount to His absence from them in a covenantal sense, they needed to know that their confidence could lie in Him, the one who lived among them.91 The same sentiment is expressed by the prophet in 2:4.

Additional Notes

1:13 Haggai’s self-predication hw`hy+ Ea^l=m^ (“messenger of YHWH”) occurs only here in the book as opposed to his usual ayb!N`h^ yG~j^ (“Haggai the prophet”). It is this fact, more than any other, that suggests to many scholars that the verse is non-Haggaic. Besides the use here, however, the phrase occurs as a prophetic epithet in 2 Chron. 36:15, 16; Isa. 42:19; 44:26. To deny Haggai variation of terminology is highly arbitrary and subjective. Moreover, one should note the combination and word-play (Ea^l=m^, “messenger”; tWka&l=m^, “message”), which in itself would explain the epithet.92 For the consistent use of ak*a&l=m^ in Tg. Ps.-J. for heavenly beings alone, see Kevin J. Cathcart and Robert P. Gordon, The Targum of the Minor Prophets (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1989), p. 178 n. 17.

3. Their Work (1:14-15)


14 So YHWH stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people so that they came and worked on the house of YHWH of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth *(month), in the second year of Darius the king. (1:14-15)

Exegesis and Exposition

YHWH’s assurance that He was with His people finds expression in His supernatural movement among them. Governor, priest, and people alike experienced His gracious intervention and responded to the kindling of their dormant spirits by setting to the work. The occurrence of the verb rWu (`ur) here in the hiphil stem places the initiative for the reawakening of the people in the will and purpose of YHWH himself.93 To be with them is to empower them to work (cf. also 2 Chron. 36:22-23; Isa. 41:2, 25; 45:13 with reference to the motivation of Cyrus to serve YHWH).

The date here reveals that there was a twenty-three day interval between the time the message to rebuild was first proclaimed (Hag. 1:1) and the time of its execution. Various explanations for this delay are offered, the most likely being that the intervening three weeks were right in the midst of harvest time when every hand was needed to bring in the crops, especially in this year of unusual drought (1:11).94

Additional Notes

1:15 The word “month” (vd#j)) is lacking here, but such an omission, particularly when the day of the month has just been cited, is not unusual (cf. 2:1, 10, 18). Those scholars who divide this verse, assigning v. 15a to the following (2:1-9 or 2:15-19), usually suggest that yV!V!B^ (“in the sixth”) is a clumsy interpolation95 and should be dropped, thereby rounding off the first message with a reference only to the day. If, however, v. 15 be retained as a unit, the reference to the month is necessary to balance that of 2:1, where the month clearly is indispensable to the formula.

The Glory to Come

Virtually all students of Haggai agree that 2:1-9 (or 1:15b-2:9) constitutes a single and undivided oracle, though there is difference of opinion as to its placement in the book. Those who regard 1:15 as a unit belonging to the pericope 1:1-15 follow the traditional sequence, whereas those who view 1:15a as the dating formula for the misplaced separate oracle 2:15-19 usually place 1:15a + 2:15-19 before 1:15b-2:9. The rationale for this is discussed in the introduction to chap. 3.

The oracle as a whole contains markedly eschatological language, especially in vv. 6-9. The prophet thus is burdened to show that the unpromising beginning of a second Temple will someday give way to one whose magnificence and glory far transcend those of Solomon’s. YHWH is with His people, he says, and will, in line with His ancient covenant promises, re-enact the Exodus and restoration to such a degree that the Temple will become a place of pilgrimage from all nations and the depository of their tribute. The ferment and war of the nations in their own day will desist, and YHWH will bring in the day of peace.

A. A Reminder of the Past (2:1-3)


1 In the seventh (month), on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of YHWH came *through the prophet Haggai as follows: 2 “Say now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, 3 ‘Who among you who survive saw this Temple in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not like nothing to you?’”

Exegesis and Exposition

The introductory date formula, as suggested above, depends for completeness on the last phrase of 1:15 (“the second year of Darius the king”), which serves as an axis between day-month (1:15b) and month-day (2:1a). Significantly enough, this word of YHWH came on the twenty-first of Tishri (October 17), which was precisely the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles (cf. Num. 29:32-34). Exactly 440 years earlier (Tishri, 960 B.C.) Solomon had finished and dedicated his Temple (1 Kings 6:38; 8:2), to which the prophet is about to compare the one under present construction. Twenty-six days had passed since construction began, and already the differences were becoming painfully evident.

No one would be more aware of the contrast between the respective structures than those old enough to have remembered the Solomonic Temple so ruthlessly destroyed by the Babylonians 66 years earlier. To these Haggai addresses his question, which is not, therefore, altogether rhetorical. “Who among you . . . saw this Temple in its former glory?” That there probably were some survivors is plain from Ezra’s account of the laying of the foundation 16 years earlier (Ezra 3:8-13). Having clearly recalled the Temple of old, many of the elderly burst into tears when they saw its humble replacement (3:12). Now the reaction of those same survivors who still lived was evidently much the same, for Haggai concludes that they viewed the new building as inconsequential compared to the old.

Additional Notes

2:1 The MT preserves the same prophetic formula here as in 1:1 and 1:3 but the Murabba‘at fragment of Haggai (DJD, 2, 184) reads la# (“to”) for dy~B= (“through”). The difference is not significant except that the following imperative (Hag. 2:2), which is addressed to Haggai, would seem to favor la#. Lack of versional difference from the MT, on the other hand, suggests that dy~B= may have become a stereotyped synonym for la#.

B. The Presence of the Lord (2:4-5)


4 “‘Even so, be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says YHWH, ‘and be strong, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and *all you people of the land,’ says YHWH, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ says YHWH of hosts. 5 *‘(In light of) the word which I covenanted with you when you came from Egypt and my Spirit, who even now abides among you, do not fear.’”

Exegesis and Exposition

Once more Haggai speaks a word of encouragement to the leaders and the people, urging them to be strong. He is, of course, not referring to physical strength, for that cannot be commanded. What is in view is an exhortation to boldness and confidence, the kind of charge Moses made to Joshua (Deut. 31:6, 7, 23; Josh. 1:6, 7, 9, 18).96 This can be possible because YHWH will be with them just as He was with Moses and Joshua.

The somewhat veiled allusion to Moses and Joshua (most appropriate in view of the name of the present high priest) becomes more transparent in v. 5 with its reference to the Exodus, covenant, and Tabernacle. The syntax of the text as it stands in the MT is difficult, but the meaning is quite clear. Just as YHWH had been with His people in the ancient days of redemption and election, so much so that they triumphed gloriously over their foes, so He would be with them now. For this reason they had every cause to be encouraged and to “not fear.” The same injunction ar`yT!-la^ (al tra) infuses the language of Isaiah in his anticipation of the second exodus of the restoration from Babylon and the ultimate deliverance of the nation in the eschaton (Isa. 40:9; 41:10, 13, 14; 43:1, 5; 44:2; 54:4). Haggai thus harks back to the past but also, with Isaiah, anticipates future redemption and glory. This provides an entree into the eschatological message of vv. 6-9.

Additional Notes

2:4 The phrase “all the people” as opposed to his usual “all the remnant of the people” (cf. 1:12, 14; 2:2) lends support to the observation already made that Haggai does not use “remnant” (tyr]a@v=) in its technical sense of an elect community but rather to describe the insignificant population that survived the Babylonian captivity (see Exegesis and Exposition on 1:12). By NT times Jra*t* <u^ (“people of the land”) had come to refer to the peasantry, but in the OT it generally speaks of the free citizens.97

2:5 The proposed translation views the truncated beginning of the verse as an elliptical casus pendens, requiring something similar to the phrase in parentheses. This seems preferable to the excision of everything up to and including “Egypt” as proposed by the the LXX. BHS suggests emending rb*D*h^-ta# (“the word”) to tyr]B=h^ tazo (“this covenant”), but this does not improve the sense and has no textual support. Michael Fishbane understands this use of ta# as “formulaic.” He regards it as a substantive or explicative introduction to the regular nominative rb*D*h^ and offers the following interpretive translation of vv. 4-5: “For I am with you…namely/that is to say, [in accordance with] the promise which I made with you when you left Egyp.” Thus, the ta# is a scribal gloss, a conclusion for which Fishbane finds support in the omission of the particle in the LXX.98 The lectio difficilior, though problematic, should nevertheless stand as is. For the accusative particle ta#, as due to attraction to the following relative pronoun av#a&, cf. GKC 117l.99 Meyers and Meyers propose that “the word” is the object of the verb Wcu& in v. 4, resulting in the translation, “do…the word.” The “word” then becomes synonymous with the covenant which follows.100

C. Outlook for the Future (2:6-9)


6 “Thus says YHWH of hosts: *‘It is but a little time until once more I shake the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the dry ground. 7 I will also shake all the nations, and the *precious things of all the nations will come; then I will fill this house with glory,’ says YHWH of hosts. 8 ‘The gold and silver belong to Me,’ says YHWH of hosts. 9 ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than its former glory,’ says YHWH of hosts, ‘and in this place I will give peace,’ says YHWH of hosts.”

Exegesis and Exposition

In this first extended eschatological vision of the book, Haggai, in clearly apocalyptic terms,101 describes the tremendous upheavals that will attend the epiphany of YHWH in the last days. When nature and the nations suffer convulsion, the peoples of the earth will come to recognize the sovereignty of YHWH and render the homage due Him. That will take the form particularly of tribute brought to the new Temple of YHWH, which, in that day of His coming, will be filled with a glory far surpassing that of the Temple of Solomon. Climaxing it all will be the peace of YHWH centered in that glorious place.

Building on the allusions to Exodus, covenant, and divine presence in v. 5, this passage continues the typological parallels introduced there and found in other prophetic language as well, particularly in Isaiah. In fact, the whole panorama of Israel’s history from the Exodus to the first Temple provides the backdrop against which the eschatological revelation of how YHWH will accomplish His redemptive work in the ages to come should be viewed.

Though the phrase ayt! fu^m= tj^a^ dou (`od ahat me `at h) in v. 6 is difficult (lit., “yet once, it is a little”), the objects of the shaking—heavens, earth, sea, and land—appear beyond doubt to draw attention to YHWH’s violent intervention in the past and to suggest that He will do so once more, and in just a little while (cf. Heb. 12:27-28). One particularly thinks of the Exodus-Sinai complex of events. Psalm 68:8 (HB 68:9) describes it as follows:

The earth shook,

The heavens poured down rain,

Before God, the One of Sinai,

Before God, the God of Israel.

Referring to the crossing of the Red Sea, Ps. 77:16-18 (HB 77:17-19) declares:

The waters saw You, O God;

The waters saw You and were in pain;

The depths also trembled.

The clouds poured out water;

The skies sent out a sound;

Your arrows went abroad.

The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind,

The lightnings lightened the world;

The earth trembled and shook.

Though the verb vu^r` (ra`as), used by Haggai to describe the shaking (vv. 6, 7), does not occur in reference to the reaction of the nations to God’s redemptive acts of the past, the narratives do make clear that they were shaken by what they heard and saw. The Song of Moses relates: “The peoples have heard, they tremble” (zg~r`, ragaz, a synonym of ra`as) (Ex. 15:14). As for the leaders of Edom and Moab, “trembling (du^r^, ra`ad) has seized them,” and “all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted” (gWm, mug; Ex. 15:15; cf. Deut. 2:25; Josh. 2:9).

These phenomena will accompany the new exodus and new covenant as well, as both Haggai (2:6-7) and other prophets attest. There will be a shaking of the natural structures (Jer. 4:24; Ezek. 38:20) and of men and nations (Isa. 64:2; Ezek. 38:20; Mic. 7:17). This is clearly eschatological language as Meyers and Meyers point out.102 Verhoef suggests that the terminology here is that of holy war, particularly seen in the hiphil form of the verb.103 These cataclysmic events will cause the peoples to bring their “precious things” to the holy city and temple. Once this has come to pass, YHWH will fill the Temple with His glory.

One immediately recalls the occasion of the filling of the completed Mosaic Tabernacle with the glory of YHWH (Ex. 40:34-35), a filling that climaxed the construction of the edifice and its furnishing with precious objects of gold and silver (25:1-9). Much of this material, it seems, came to the Israelites from their Egyptian neighbors whom they despoiled on their way out of Egypt (3:21, 22; 11:2, 3; 12:35).104 In this respect, at least, “precious things” from the nations contributed to the worship of YHWH.

More conclusive of the parallel being drawn here—especially since our passage specifically refers to it—is the means by which the Temple of Solomon was largely furnished, namely, the tribute of the nations.105 David gained dominion over the surrounding states and from them extracted revenues, particularly in the form of gold and silver (2 Sam 8:7-8, 10-11). These he “dedicated to YHWH” (v. 11). Solomon later used them to beautify the Temple at Jerusalem (1 Kings 7:51; cf. 1 Chron. 29:3-5) preparatory to YHWH’s taking up residence there and filling the place with His glory (1 Kings 7:51—8:11). Thus the “precious things” of the nations came to the Temple, even if not entirely voluntarily, establishing a prototype for that time when they would do so in the even more glorious age to come.

That age in which “the latter glory of this house will be greater than its former glory” (Hag. 2:9) finds description in other prophets as well, (see, e.g., Ezek. 44:4; Zech. 2:5; 14:9-15) but nowhere more extensively parallel to Hag. 2:6-9 than in Isa. 60:4-14. The prophet there describes the coming of the riches of the nations to Zion (v. 5; cf. 61:6; Mic. 4:13),106 riches that include gold and are accompanied by praise of YHWH (v. 6). In that day the kings of the nations will serve YHWH (v. 10), and they and their wealth will be brought captive to Him (v. 11). One result of all this is the beautification of the house of YHWH (v. 7), the place He will glorify with the gifts of the nations (v. 13). Wolf suggests that both “treasure” and “glory” have a twofold meaning—material splendor and personal appearance, the latter here referring to the coming Messiah.107 Elliger combines treasures with glory by proposing that it was the submission of the nations that would glorify God.108 This alone cannot explain the glory of the Temple, however. Verhoef denies that the glory of God is in view at all here, seeing a reference only to the glory of material things.109 This is inconsistent with v. 9, however, where even Verhoef interprets the glory as the presence of YHWH.

The real glory of the eschatological Temple will not consist of material things, not even silver and gold. This may, in fact, be the primary thrust of v. 8 which otherwise appears somewhat disjointed. Rather than suggesting that the new Temple will be full of silver and gold, since it all belongs to YHWH anyway, the point may well be that because all such things are His and are therefore not of value to Him, His own glory that is central.110 This view gains strength in light of the fact that the Zerubbabel Temple, a meagerly and sparsely furnished house of worship to be sure, is nonetheless what is first in view in the eschatological promise. YHWH, after all, said, “I will delight in it and be glorified” (Hag. 1:8). Haggai affirms that its glory will consist not of silver and gold but of His presence (2:4-5), and the glory of that to come will also be His presence in it and among His people (2:7). The essence of that divine habitation and its universal expression will be peace or wholeness (v. 9; cf. Isa. 9:7; 66:12).111

Additional Notes

2:6 Many scholars conclude that this difficult phrase is corrupt. They read with the LXX e[ti a{pax (“yet/still once”), presupposing only tj^a^ dou as original.112 That, however, omits half the statement the prophet is trying to make. Haggai is concerned to point out not only that there will be another shaking of all things but that it is imminent. Meyers and Meyers propose that the feminine pronoun ayt! at the end of the phrase is a copula going with tj^a^, which in turn intrudes into the familiar idiom fu^m= du). This, they conclude, was for the purpose of stressing the imminence of the event.113

2:7 The Hebrew vocable here (tD^m=j#<hD*m=j#) is singular and in the absolute means “desire” (BDB, 326). The predicate is plural, however, so the plain intent of the author is to render “the desired (things) of all nations.” For the singular as representing collectives, cf. GKC, 145b, though the grammar suggests reading here td)m%j& with the LXX. This may, in fact, be a preferable option since hd*Wmj& means “precious things.”114

The Promised Blessing

Many scholars follow J. W. Rothstein in dividing the third oracle (2:10-19) into two sections—2:10-14 and 2:15-19 (see introduction to 1:12-15 in chap. 1).115 They do this because of the assumption that “this people” of v. 14 refers not to Judah but to Judah’s enemies in the land and because of the need to find a pericope to which 1:15a can serve as an introductory dating formula. Since 2:10-14 has such a formula, these scholars argue that 2:15-19 is independent of 2:10-14 and should follow 1:15a.116 The order of the material is, therefore, 1:1-14, 1:15a + 2:15-19, 1:15b-2:9, 2:10-14, 2:20-23. The unity of 1:15 has already been addressed (see introduction to 1:12-15); no need exists for it to be divided once its connection to 2:1 is properly understood.

As to the problem of “this people” of v. 14, Rothstein’s suggestion that it refers to the Samaritans and their allies is wholly without foundation.117 He proposes that 2:10-14 is referring to the opposition to Temple building encountered by the Jews as recorded in Ezra 3:8—4:5, a passage whose setting he dates to 520 B.C. rather than to 536 as Ezra 3:8 demands. Tying Hag. 2:15-19 to 1:15a, he dates that section to the sixth month of the second year despite the fact that the dating formula of 2:10-14 explicitly records the ninth month of the second year. As for the troublesome “ninth month” of 2:18, it is treated either as a gloss or emended to “sixth” in line with 1:15a.

Close scrutiny of these arguments reveals that they have no real substance, nor is there any need to rearrange the text in such a high-handed manner. The following brief points should be considered:

(1) The alleged introduction to 2:15-19, 1:15a, is, as has been argued repeatedly, a necessary part of 1:15b and 2:1.

(2) “This people” is a perfectly appropriate description of the Jews, especially since the term <u* (`am) has already been used by Haggai to describe them (1:2).118 The use of ywGo (goy), though frequently descriptive of foreigners, is also suitable here because it forms part of a poetic couplet and serves as a synonym to`am. Dumbrell argues that “this people” refers to the Jews who had never gone into exile, and it is from these that the remnant of the return are to keep their distance.119 There is no evidence, however, that Haggai ever made such a distinction within the community. Stuhlmueller goes still further and suggests that the `am ha ares (“people of the land”; cf. Hag. 2:4) are identical to “this people” of 2:14, both terms describing the despised indigenous Jews who became Samaritans.120 Again, there is no evidence for such a connection.

(3) The section 2:10-19 reveals a literary unity similar to 1:2-11 and 2:3-9. All three units have a present situation (1:2-4; 2:3; 2:10-14), an exhortation introduced by hT*u^ (`atta) (1:5; 2:4; 2:15), and a promise for the future (1:8; 2:5-9; 2:19b). Form-critically, a strong case can be made for a clear parallel between these sections, one that is hopelessly broken if 2:15-19 is displaced.

(4) There is no support for emending “ninth” (2:18) to “sixth” or for excising it altogether except as an exercise in petitio princeps. Moreover, there is no textual or versional evidence whatsoever in favor of Rothstein’s dislocation hypothesis as a whole. Murabba ’at and all other ancient witnesses agree with the MT throughout as far as the overall structure of the book is concerned.

A. Present Ceremonial Defilement (2:10-14)

1. Righteousness Is Not Contagious (2:10-12)


10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of YHWH came to Haggai the prophet saying, 11 “Thus says YHWH of hosts, ‘Ask now the priests concerning the law whether if 12 one carries holy flesh in the corner of his garment and his (garment) corner touches bread, a boiled dish, wine, oil, or any other food, the thing will become holy.’” The priests answered, “No.”

Exegesis and Exposition

The third oracle, constituting 2:10-19, is dated on the twenty-fourth of Kislev (or December 18, 520 B.C.), about three months after the work on the Temple had begun again in earnest (1:15) and two months after its pitifully modest prospect was beginning to become apparent (2:1, 3). A promise of great eschatological blessing has been given (2:6-9), but there is need now for hope for the present hour, for this time forward (v. 19d). Such hope has not been realized up to this point, however, because the restoration community has not met the prerequisites for blessing.121 They have deluded themselves into thinking that holiness is gained merely by association with holy things (vv. 11-12) and have failed to consider that unholy associations render one unclean (vv. 13-14). The bitter experiences of drought and shortage (vv. 16-17; cf. 1:6, 10, 11) should have alerted the people to their sinfulness, but they had not, at least until recent days (v. 17c). Now, however, things will be different, for a spirit of confession and renewal has brought the people to the place of divine favor (v. 19d).

The specific occasion for the oracle is unclear, but it could well have been delivered as a warning against cooperation with the Samaritans and others in the work of the Temple building and participation in the cultus. A hint of this may appear in the account of Ezra (6:6-15), who notes that after the rebuilding had commenced (cf. Ezra 5:1-2) it met with severe opposition from Tattenai the satrap and his friends (Ezra 5:13-17). When the matter came to Darius’s attention, he directed Tattenai not only to desist (Ezra 6:7), but to provide building materials and even sacrificial animals to the Jews for their disposal (6:8-10). Though this gesture of the king was made in good faith and no doubt was so received by the Jews, its use by them would unquestionably be contrary to Mosaic law.

This suggestion clarifies the hypothetical set of questions posed by YHWH to the priests. Eric Meyers makes a convincing case for seeing in Haggai’s appeal to the priests for a tora on the matter at hand a request for a priestly ruling (cf. Mal. 2:7). This would thus be the predecessor of the later rabbinic pesaq dn.122 Can one, merely by laying holy hands on unholy things, make them holy (v. 12)? The answer obviously is negative. The ruling here is based on Leviticus 6:20 (EB 6:27) which teaches that a person can become consecrated by touching consecrated meat. However, there is no teaching there or elsewhere to the effect that anything that touches something else that has become secondarily consecrated is consecrated thereby. Thus, unless the foods mentioned here contacted the meat directly, they would remain profane.123 Even so, the gifts of pagan kings, no matter the spirit in which they are given, cannot become clean and acceptable to YHWH just because they come in contact with the sacred sites and rituals of the covenant people. Such gifts should, therefore, be politely refused. To fail to do so is to render the people themselves unclean (v. 14).

2. Wickedness Is Contagious (2:13-14)


13 Then Haggai said, “If one who is *unclean because of death touches one of these things, will it become unclean?” And the priests answered, “It will be unclean.” 14 Then Haggai responded, “‘Thus is this people, this nation, before Me,’ says YHWH. ‘And thus is every work of their hands; everything they offer there is unclean.’”

Exegesis and Exposition

The second hypothetical case pertains to the converse of the first. Granted, unclean things cannot be rendered clean by virtue of their association with the clean. However, will things that are already clean become contaminated by the unclean? The answer is an unqualified yes. The case specifically in mind is the corruption brought about by contact with a corpse, a state of affairs addressed in Lev. 7:19; 22:4-6 and Num. 19:11-13, 22. Whether one should attempt to link this dead body to someone or something in the immediate context of the passage is questionable and certainly unnecessary. The point is crystal clear that God’s people can pollute and have polluted themselves because of ungodly associations.

All doubt of this is dispelled by YHWH’s indictment that the people are am@f* (tame, “ritually unclean”), as are their deeds and even their sacrifices (Hag. 2:14). The three are linked together, of course, for a sinful man cannot do good works or offer acceptable sacrifices, nor can a righteous man commit evil works and offer improper tribute to YHWH and remain in holiness before Him.

Again, it is impossible to know precisely what called forth these words of denunciation. The context of the book itself would favor the view that it is the people’s self-centeredness and inverted priorities that are in mind (1:2-4, 9), but the language of cult and worship might favor the idea already expressed, that the community had been too tolerant and accepting of the assistance granted to them by their pagan neighbors, assistance that involved even the presentation of sacrificial animals.

Additional Notes

2:13 The translation “unclean because of death” is an expansion of vp#n-ym@f= (“unclean of a person”). This rather euphemistic phrase is an abbreviation of tm@ vp#n (am@f=) (“[unclean] because of a dead person”) (cf. Lev. 21:11; Num. 6:6). The translation proposed here seeks to focus on the uncleanness and not on the particular object by which it is incurred. Fishbane suggests that the prophet asks the rhetorical question in order to establish an analogy between the hypothetical ritual case and the actual situation of the Jews. Moreover, Fishbane says, “For reasons not stated, the people, like those touching a corpse, are impure in the first degree; so that whatever they do or sacrifice is thereby defiled.”124

B. Present Judgment and Discipline (2:15-19)

1. The Rebuke of the People (2:15-17)


15 ‘“Now therefore consider carefully from today and *backward, before stone was laid on stone in the Temple of YHWH. 16 *From that time on, when one came to a heap of twenty (measures), there were only ten; when he came *to the wine vat to draw out fifty from it, there were only twenty. 17 I struck with blight, mildew, and hail all the work of your hands, but *you brought nothing to Me,’ says YHWH.”

Exegesis and Exposition

The moral and spiritual defilement of the community described in the previous passage (vv. 10-14) called for divine retribution and discipline. From the very beginning of their postexilic life, before the foundations of the Temple itself were laid some 16 years earlier, the people had suffered YHWH’s wrath because of their egoistic self-serving (vv. 16-17; cf. 1:6, 9-11). This chastening marked their whole life until Haggai, called by God, urged them to forsake their shortsighted materialism and resume the work of building a house for YHWH.

The language of failed expectation here is very much like that of Haggai 1. They had sown much and reaped little (1:6) and had looked for much but found little (1:9). All this was because YHWH visited them with drought (1:11), a generic term fleshed out in the blight, mildew, and hail of the present passage (2:17). Until Haggai came with his convicting word of repentance, there was no change of heart toward YHWH (v. 17b).

Haggai introduces his rebuke with the same sharp adverbial conjunction hT*u^ (`atta) as he did his adjuration of 1:5 and his word of encouragement in 2:4. It marks a turning point in this third oracle, one that shifts the scene from the present to the past. The prophet asks his hearers to review the span of time from the present moment to the time preceding the laying of the first foundation stones. Though some interpreters maintain that the reference is only back to the resumption of construction three months earlier (2:10; cf. 1:15), the phrase hl*u=m*w hZ#h^ <wYoh^-/m! (min-hayyom hazze wama`ela, “from this day and beyond”), followed by the parallel and intensifying /b#a#-la# /b#a#-<Wc <rF#m! (metterem sum-eben el-eben), “before stone was placed on stone,” gives the impression of the passing of much more than three months.125 Moreover, the shortages that came about because of the Jews’ dereliction antedated the first oracle of Haggai and also therefore the resumption of the building.

These shortages reduced the harvests and food-stores by 50 percent or more (v. 16). The labor of plowing, sowing, cultivating, and harvest, “all the work at your hands” (<k#yd@y+ hc@u&m^-lK, kol-maase yedekem; cf. the similar phrase in 1:11, <y]P*K^ u^yg]y+-lK*, kol-yega` kappaym), was to no avail because of YHWH’s intervention in the form of natural forces of destruction. But neither were YHWH’s strokes of discipline effective, for the people through all those years refused to reciprocate and return anything to Him. This understanding of the difficult phrase yl^a@ <k#t=a#-/a@w+ (lit. “and there was not you to Me”) is preferable in the context where the issue is the people’s stinginess in withholding their produce from YHWH (2:16-19; cf. 1:9-11). Though many scholars draw attention to Amos 4:9, where a similar formula occurs, the resemblance is only superficial, particularly since there is no verb in our Haggai passage.126 Meyers and Meyers draw attention to the chiastic structure of Hag. 2.17, in which the omission of the verb in the fourth colon is a deliberate device to emphasize the pronouns <k#t=a# and yl^a@ which complement the pronouns <r =a# and <k#(yd@y+) in the previous line. More important is their linkage of 2:17 with 1:13: lit. “‘I am with you!’—Oracle of Yahweh,” as compared to “‘nothing [brought] you to Me’—Oracle of Yahweh.”127 On balance it seems best to view the prophet’s condemnation as one having to do not with returning to YHWH but refusing to offer appropriate gifts to Him.

Additional Notes

2:15 hl*u=m*: the translation “backward,” depends on the overall sense of the passage to establish its meaning, because by itself it means “upward” (BDB, 751). Verhoef suggests ultimately that vv. 16-17 must be considered parenthetical to vv. 15, 18-19, the whole passage taking the form of an inclusio in which the opening and closing occurrences of the formula “from this day and forward” serve as brackets. He sees a pattern, then, of looking forward (15a), looking backward (15b-17), looking forward (18). This has the advantage of taking hl*u=m` in its usual sense, but, as Verhoef concedes, plays havoc with <dF#m! (15b), which means lit. “from before.” In other words, 15a and 15b cannot be divided; therefore, hl*u+m`, parallel to <dF#m!, must also refer to the past. Verhoef’s explanation—that this is an antithetical parallelism—is forced.128 The vantage point here is clearly from the present to the past.

2:16 The problematic <t*wyh=m! (a qal infinitive construct with 3 m.p. suffix and prefixed preposition, lit. “from their being”) is idiomatic for something like “from the time they were then.” The LXX reads tivne" h|te (“how was it with you?”), based on a Heb. <t#yy]h$-hm^. The sheer difficulty of the MT is presumptive evidence in its favor.

The phrase hr`WP <yV!m!j& [c{j=l^ bq#Yh^-la# literally reads “to the wine vat to draw out fifty (from) the winepress.” Evidently the winemaking apparatus consisted of both the press (hr`WP) and vat (bq#y). hr`WP, here an adverbial accusative, specifies only the part of the apparatus from which the wine was being taken.129 This is expressed in more general terms in our translation “from it.”

2:17 For the MT <k#t=a#-/ya@w+ (“and there was not with you” [for Me]), the LXX (cf. Pesh.) reads: kaiv oujk ejpestrevyate (“and you would not turn” [to Me]). While this clarifies an otherwise very obscure phrase, the suggested “you brought nothing to Me” seems to express the sentiment well.

2. The Prospects of the People (2:18-19)


18 “Consider carefully from today and backward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, *from the day the Temple of YHWH was founded—think about it. 19 Is the seed yet in the store-house? Indeed, even the vine, fig tree, pomegranate, and olive tree have not produced. Yet from today on I will bless you.’”

Exegesis and Exposition

Throughout most of this section the prophet continues to assess the spiritual profligacy of the nation. This time, however, he does not begin with the initial groundbreaking for the Temple in 536 B.C. (v. 15) but from the renewal of construction exactly three months earlier (v. 18; cf. 1:15). Again, the conclusion is that YHWH has disciplined His wayward people by withholding the blessing of abundant harvest.130

Because it seems unlikely that judgment would continue after the people had obeyed the call of the prophet to repentance and renewal (cf. 1:14), many scholars prefer to emend “ninth (month)” of v. 18 to “sixth (month).” This allows the reference to the laying of the foundation to pertain to the original work of many years earlier in agreement with vv. 15 and following. Once 2:15-19 is separated from 2:10-14 and 1:15a becomes the dating formula for 2:15-19 (see Introduction to Haggai under Literary Context), the transition from 1:14 to 1:15a + 2:15-19 seems most apparent.

All this makes excellent sense if one can be allowed to emend “ninth” to “sixth” or to view it as an interpolation. There is, however, no warrant for that in any MS or versions, all of which uniformly read“ninth.” It seems best to understand the phrase “stone upon stone” of v. 15 as an allusion to the preparatory work described in Ezra 3:8-13, and “founded” (ds^y`, yasad) as referring to the resumption of work recounted in 5:1-5. This is admittedly somewhat arbitrary inasmuch as yasad is the very word used by Ezra in his record of the earliest work on the Temple (3:6, 11). But one must remember that there are no separate Hebrew verbs to distinguish between build and rebuild or even found and refound.131

The phrase min hayyom hazze wama`ela in Hag. 18 is an exact replication of the wording in v. 15, and here as well as there must point to the past: “from today and backward.”132 This may appear to suggest that the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month is identical to the day the foundation of the Temple was laid (or relaid), but this cannot be the case since that occurred on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month (1:14-15). Petersen proposes that this day was the day of the ritual rededication of the Temple, a rededication involving “the ritual manipulation of a foundation deposit.” If this is correct, it would explain nicely the problematic laying of the foundation in the ninth month.133 The better resolution of the difficulty lies in a close reading of Haggai’s prose in v. 18. The passage seen in this light not only is clarified in meaning, but many of the alleged textual difficulties likewise disappear. The following pattern—a somewhat loose chiasm—is suggested:

A <k#b=b^O= an`^-Wmyc! (snu-na lebabekem)

B hl*u=m*w` hZ#h^ <wYh^ /m! (min hayyom hazze wama `ela)

C <yr]c=u# <wYm! (miyyom `esrm …)

B hw`hy+ lk^yh@ dS^y%-rv#a& <wYh^-/m!l= (lemin-hayyom aser-yussad hekal YHWH)

A <k#b=b^l= Wmyc! (smu lebabekem)

Lines A and A envelope the passage with an appeal to give attention, whereas line C, the dating formula (“from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month”), serves as the axis. Lines B and B are clearly paired, “from this day and backward” paralleling “from the day the Temple of YHWH was founded.” The glimpse backward is to the day of the (re)founding. The problematic /m!l= (lemin) of line B rather than l (le) alone, which one might expect, is because of the parallelism to /m! (min) in line B. It might even be preferable to render the line “to the day....”

Richard D. Patterson134 offers an attractive alternative analysis of vv. 15-19 in which the thrice occurring introductory phrase <k#b=b^l=Wmyc! provides the structure:


<k#b=b^l= an`-Wmyc! (15a)

<k#b=b^l= an`-Wmyc! (18a)

19a-b + Er@b*a& hZ#h^


<wYh /m! (19c)

hl*u=m*w` hZ#h^ <wYh^ /m!

hl*u=m*w` hZ#h^ <wYh^ /m!

<k#b=b^l= Wmyc! (18e)

(15b) + 15c-17

(18b) + 18 c-d


It is clear that lines 15b and 18b are identical and 19c similar to them both (all but the last word). Patterson further observes that a contrast is set up with (1) past days before work was begun on the Temple (vv. 15-17) and (2) the statement concerning the significance of the day of the “founding ceremony” to transforming present conditions into future blessings (vv. 18-19), a significance underscored by the repetition of the introductory formula, the second occurrence of which is formed so as to create an inclusio:


hl*u=m*w` hZ#h^ <wYh^ /m! <k#b=b^l= an`-Wmyc=


<yr]v=u# <wYm!


<wYoh^ /m!l=


<k#b=b^l= Wmyv!


Either approach supports the view that (ma`ela) refers to a backward glance, one focused on the refounding of the temple and subsequent events.

Support for this interpretation appears in v. 19, which indicates that the produce of the land has not yet been forthcoming even though the work on the temple has been underway for some time. This, of course, would not be at all surprising because the harvest was virtually over by the sixth month, the date of the commencement of the work, so one would have no expectation of crops afterward. The interpretation that vv. 15-19 have a future orientation (“from this day forward”) generally holds that there is a backward glance in v. 15b (“one stone on another”) and in vv. 16-17, but understands vv. 18-19 to be present and future. The idea, then, is that the date of the laying of the foundation is the date of the oracle, the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (v. 18), and that the seed has already been sown and the fruit trees give promise of rich production in the season to come.135 However, it is now at the end of December, and, because of the withholding of God’s provision in the year just past, there is little on which to subsist. Nevertheless, things will be different now says YHWH, for “from today on I will bless you” (v. 19). The people have submitted to the word of YHWH through Haggai the prophet, and even though the vestiges of their previous disobedience remain to make their existence most uncomfortable, all this will change. God will begin a new age of prosperity.

Additional Notes

2:18 Though the sense of the passage appears to require a preposition l, meaning “to” or “till,” the text has /m!l=, regularly translated “from” (BDB, 583). It is entirely possible that the form should be split into its separate prepositions and rendered “to (the time) from” or something similar. Thus, “Consider carefully from today and backward … to (the time) from the day the Temple of YHWH was founded (until now).” This would yield a pattern: today—backward, the past—the present. More simply, the l may only be explicative, to be rendered “that is” or the like.

Zerubbabel the Chosen One

A. Divine Destruction (2:20-22)

This fourth and final message of Haggai, an oracle of salvation,136 was received and delivered on the very same day as the third, but to Zerubbabel alone. The language of the passage is unmistakably apocalyptic, as the shaking, the universalism (“the heavens and the earth,” “kingdoms of the nations”), and the overthrow of all human structures attest. It is also the language of holy war137 in which YHWH vanquishes all competing princes and powers and sits enthroned above them on behalf of His own people.


20 Then the word of YHWH came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month saying, 21 “Speak to Zerubbabel governor of Judah as follows: ‘I am about to shake the heavens and the earth. 22 I will overthrow the royal thrones and shatter the strength of the *kingdoms of the nations. I will overthrow chariots and those who ride them, and the horses and their riders will fall, each man by his own brother’s sword.’”

Exegesis and Exposition

The passage focuses on the destruction of all things hostile to the rule of YHWH, a destruction that cannot be separated from the last clause of 2:19 and that explains the abruptness of that clause in its own context. The promise to bless from that very day (v. 19) finds its expression, in other words, in the eschatological hope outlined in vv. 20-23. In terms reminiscent of his second oracle, the prophet speaks of a shaking of heaven and earth (cf. 2:6) and the overthrow and shattering of human kingdoms (cf. 2:7a). Petersen draws attention to the linkage between this passage and the overthrow of kingdoms in the royal (Davidic) Psalms (2, 110) and the destruction of the Egyptian hosts by YHWH in the Red Sea (Ex. 14:23; 15:5). Haggai’s picture, then, is a mosaic drawn from many traditions.138 Though the promise to fill His house with the precious things of the nations and with His own glory (2:7b) is lacking here, it is certainly implied in v.23.

This, however, points up a major difference in the two addresses, for the shaking of the nations in 2:7 results in their bringing tribute to YHWH in His Temple. Here, it is more than a shaking—it is a shattering and defeat of the nations so severe in its results that no one and no thing remains but YHWH and His own sovereign rule.

Additional Notes

2:22 LXX presupposes <yk!l*m= (“kings”) here for tokl*m=m^ (“kingdoms”). This is unsatisfactory, because in the eschaton it is the kingdoms of the world that are overthrown as enemies of the kingdom of God (cf. Isa. 13:9; Dan. 2:44-45), not the kings themselves.

B. Divine Deliverance (2:23)


23 “‘In that day,’ says YHWH of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, My servant,’ says YHWH , ‘and I will appoint you like a signet, for I have chosen you,’ says YHWH of hosts.”

Exegesis and Exposition

Continuing with his focus on the future, the prophet introduces the climax of his message by relating it to “that day” (aWhh^ <wYoB^, bayyom hahu), a favorite phrase in eschatological speech (cf. Isa. 2:11, 17, 20; 3:7, 18; Amos 8:3, 9; Hos. 2:18, 21; and many others). He directs his remarks specifically to Zerubbabel, whom he no longer identifies as governor but as servant.139 The shift is extremely significant, for “servant” in these kinds of settings is loaded with salvific, even messianic, nuances.140 One immediately recalls such usage with respect to David (1 Kings 11:34; Ezek. 34:23), Israel (Isa. 41:8, 9; 44:21; 49:3; Jer. 30:10; 46:27, 28) and the suffering servant (Isa. 42:1; 49:5, 6, 7; 52:13-53:12). When the verb rj^B*, bahar, “chosen”) accompanies rb#u# (‘ebed, “servant”), the redemptive role of the person so designated is enhanced all the more (cf. Isa. 41:8; 42:1; 44:4; 49:7).141

As servant of YHWH, Zerubbabel will be chosen to serve as a signet (<t*oj, hotam), that is, as a seal whose purpose is to reflect and represent the person whose name it bears. Zerubbabel, like a seal inscription, will be the instrument of YHWH who will serve as His vice-regent142 on the earth and attest to His ownership of all upon which He places His signature.143

Since the context indisputably is eschatological in nature, the Zerubbabel of the text cannot be the governor whom Haggai has so frequently addressed. Rather, one must see Zerubbabel as a prototype of one to come who will be YHWH’s servant and chosen vessel. Yet the use of the name Zerubbabel (to the exclusion, one should note, of Joshua) is not without importance, for the point is made thereby that the signet will be of the line of which Zerubbabel is the most visible figure in Haggai’s own generation.144

Of crucial importance is the message of Jer. 22:24-30 regarding the matter. Here the very word hotam occurs again, this time as a ring seal upon the right hand of YHWH. In a hypothetical word of judgment YHWH addresses Coniah (i.e., Jehoiachin; cf. 2 Kings 24:6), the last king of Judah, and says that even if Coniah were His signet (which was not the case) He would remove Him from His hand (Jer. 22:24). As it is, the king is a rejected vessel, one who will be cast out and who might as well be childless since none of his seed will succeed him on David’s throne (v. 30).

Zerubbabel the governor was a descendant of Jehoiachin, most likely his grandson (1 Chron. 3:17-19; Matt. 1:12). Neither he nor any other immediate descendant of Jehoiachin sat on the throne of David, so to that extent the curse on Jehoiachin remained in effect. In what sense, then, can eschatological Zerubbabel serve as the chosen signet of YHWH?

The answer lies in understanding Zerubbabel as a link between the Davidic monarchy that had come to an inglorious end in Jehoiachin and that which would be revived in ages to come.145 When it became apparent that Jehoiachin was banished to Babylon, never to return, hope for the revival of the Davidic rule centered first on his sons and, failing that, on his grandsons. At last, when one of them, Zerubbabel, became governor of Judah, it must have seemed to the restored community that God’s ancient covenant promise—that there would never fail to be a son of David on the throne (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:24-37)—had come to pass.

Hope in Zerubbabel was intensified and confirmed by the message of Haggai’s contemporary prophet Zechariah. He spoke of the servant of YHWH as a branch (3:8) and then of the fact that Zerubbabel, who had begun the work of Temple rebuilding, would finish it (4:9).146 Then, in a remarkable combination of these motifs, Zechariah described one to come who would be named “Branch,” who would build the temple of YHWH, and who would serve as both king and priest upon the throne (6:12-13). This same branch is identified in eschatological texts as a descendant of David (Jer. 23:5; 33:15), the shoot from the stock of Jesse (Isa. 11:1) who will attract all nations to himself (Isa. 11:10). Because biblical theology identifies this one as Jesus Christ (Acts 13:22-23), Zerubbabel becomes a code name for the promised Messiah.147 The despair following Jehoiachin’s rejection is turned to hope in the proclamation of Zerubbabel as the chosen signature of YHWH Himself.

1 Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ., 1964), 38-40.

2 For the establishment of the Julian dates here and elsewhere, see Richard A. Parker and Waldo H. Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C.—A.D. 75. (Providence: Brown Univ., 1956), 30.

3 D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings (625-556 B.C.) in the British Museum (London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1961).

4 Peter R. Ackroyd, “Two Old Testament Historical Problems of the Early Persian Period,” JNES 17 (1958): 22.

5 Peter R. Ackroyd, “Studies in the Book of Haggai,” JJS 2 (1951): 173.

6 David L. Petersen, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8 (London: SCM, 1985), 43; cf. Pieter A. Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 46-47.

7 Pieter A. Verhoef, “Notes on the Dates in the Book of Haggai,” in Text and Context: Old Testament and Semitic Studies for F. C. Fensham. ed. A. Claassen; JSOTSup Series 48 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1988), 263-64.

8 For a good survey of the Middle Eastern world of the sixth-fifth centuries B.C., see A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 1948); Peter R. Ackroyd, Exile and Restoration (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968); G. Buchanon Gray, “The Foundation and Extension of the Persian Empire,” in CAH 4:1-25; G. B. Gray and M. Cary, “The Reign of Darius,” CAH 4:173-228; Edwin M. Yamauchi, Persia and the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990.)

9 Peter R. Ackroyd, “Studies in the Book of Haggai,” JJS 3 (1952): 11-12.

10 James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. 1950), 312-16.

11 ANET, 315.

12 Gray and Cary, “The Reign of Darius,” CAH 4:194-201.

13 Anson Rainey, “The Satrapy ‘Beyond the River,’“ AJBA 1/2 (1969): 51-78; Ephraim Stern, “The Persian Empire and the Political and Social History of Palestine in the Persian Period,” in The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. 1, Introduction: The Persian Period, eds. W. D. Davies and Louis Finkelstein (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 1984), 78-87.

14 The province is called yehuda in Haggai but yehud in the Aramaic of Ezra 7:14 and in extrabiblical bullae and seals. See Carol L. Meyers and Eric M. Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, AB (Garden City: N.Y.: Doubleday, 1987), 13-14.

15 Thus John Bright, A History of Israel, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1981), 362. For a presentation of various views see Sara Japhet, “Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel Against the Background of the Historical and Religious Tendencies of Ezra-Nehemiah,” ZAW 94 (1982): 71-72.

16 For various views see Roddy Braun, 1 Chronicles, WBC (Waco, Tex.: Word, 1986), 52-53.

17 Wilhelm Rudolph, Haggai-Sacharja 1-8—Sacharja 9-14—Maleachi, KAT (Gütersloh: Gütersolher: Verlaghaus Gerd Mohn, 1976), 31.

18 Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, 11.

19 Japhet, “Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel,” 94-98.

20 F. C. Fensham, The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 46.

21 Joseph Blenkinsopp, Ezra-Nehemiah. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1988), 78-79.

22 These approximate dates follow the suggestions of N. Avigad, Bullae and Seals from a Post-Exilic Judean Archive. Qedem (Jerusalem: The Hebrew Univ., 1976), 4:35.

23 There is a lacuna in the calendars at the time of Darius’s accession, but A. Poebel and W. Hinz make a case for this date. Cf. Ackroyd, “Two Old Testament Historical Problems,” 14 n. 9.

24 Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, 141.

25 Joyce G. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (London: Tyndale, 1972), 16.

26 Bright, A History of Israel, 365.

27 H. G. M Williamson, Ezra, Nehemiah. WBC (Waco, Tex.: Word, 1985), 30-32.

28 Samuel Amsler, Agge, Zacharie 1-8, CAT (Paris: Neuchatel, 1981), 14. An extreme position that views virtually nothing as original to Haggai may be found in Francis S. North, “Critical Analysis of the Book of Haggai,” ZAW 68 (1956): 25-46.

29 It is probably impossible to make a sharp distinction between these two modes of speech. Thus R. J. Coggins, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (Sheffield: JSOT, 1987), 36.

30 S. R. Driver, An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1913), 344. Ackroyd (“Studies in the Book of Haggai,” JJS 2, 164) suggests that the oracles of the book were originally couched in poetic form. In a recent study, Christensen not only affirms that Haggai was a poetical (even musical) text, but he sets forth an elaborate prosodic analysis demonstrating this. He concludes that the book consists of three cantos (1:1-14; 1:15-2:9; 2:10-23), all displaying similar concentric architectural design. Duane L. Christensen, “Impulse and Design in the Book of Haggai,” JETS 35 (1992): 445-56.

31 Petersen, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, 32.

32 Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, 18.

33 D. S. Russell, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic (London: SCM, 1964) 90, 122-27.

34 From the standpoint of genre criticism Petersen’s description (Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, 35 of Haggai as “a brief apologetic historical narrative” is quite apposite.

35 W. A. M. Beuken, Haggai-Sacharja 1-8 (Assen: van Gorcum, 1967), 28-83; Rex A. Mason, “The Purpose of the ‘Editorial Framework’ of the Book of Haggai,” VT 27 (1977): 414. A strong case for the unity of the book, especially in response to the arguments of T. Andr (Le Prophete Agge, 1895) to the contrary, may be found in H. G. Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912), 28-30. For evidence of the homogeneity of Haggai from a profile of vocabulary frequency, see Yehuda T. Radday and Moshe A. Pollatschek, “Vocabulary Richness in Post-Exilic Prophetic Books,” ZAW 92 (1980): 333-46.

36 Hans Walter Wolff, Dodekapropheton 6. Haggai, BKAT (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1986), 2.

37 So already the LXX, VL, Vg, Syriac, followed by BHK.

38 J. W. Rothstein, Juden und Samaritaner: Die grundlegende Scheidung von Judentum und Heidentum, BWANT 3 (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1908), cited by Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, 112. The demarcation and sequence of the sections accepted by most critical scholars are those of F. Horst: 1:1-14; 1:15a-2:15-19; 1:15b-2:9; 2:10-14; 2:20-23. See F. Horst, Die zwlf kleinen Propheten Nahum bis Maleachi (Tübingen: Verlag von J. C. B. Mohr, 1964), 204-9.

39 Otto Eissfeldt, The Old Testament. An Introduction (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1965), 427.

40 Thus A. S. van der Woude, Haggai, Maleachi (Nijkerk: Callenbach, 1982), cited by Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, 93.

41 P. Benoit, J. T. Milik, and R. de Vaux, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert. II. Les Grottes de Murabba’at. Texte (Oxford: Clarendon 1960), 203-5.

42 Wolff, Haggai, 3-4.

43 As suggested above, the hypothesis of a “Chronistic Milieu” for Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, stressing strong affinities between the books of Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah and these two prophets, was developed especially by Beuken, (Haggai-Sacharja 1-8). For a brief review of his analysis see Coggins, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 27-29.

44 Thus essentially Eissfeldt, The Old Testament, An Introduction, 428-29.

45 For a survey of the matter see Rex Mason, “The Prophets of the Restoration,” Israel’s Prophetic Tradition, ed. R. Coggins, A. Phillips, M. Knibb (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 1982), 140-45. See also Introduction to Zechariah in this volume.

46 Petersen, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, 36-37.

47 Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 31.

48 Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament As Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979), 469.

49 Robert B. Chisholm, Jr. “A Theology of the Minor Prophets,” in A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, ed. Roy B. Zuck (Chicago: Moody, 1991), 418-22.

50 Benoit, et al., Les Grottes de Murabba’at, 184.

51 Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, 19-20.

52 So, e.g., Carol L. Meyers and Eric M. Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1—8, AB (Garden City: N.Y.: Doubleday, 1987), 5.

53 Cf. Otto Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1965), 428.

54 So, e.g., Joyce G. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, (London: Tyndale, 1972), 28.

55 F. C. Fensham, The Book of Ezra and Nehemiah, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 125.

56 See Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, 17.

57 Rex A. Mason, “The Purpose of the ‘Editorial Framework’ of the Book of Haggai,” VT 27 (1977): 414-16.

58 Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, 7.

59 J. William Whedbee correctly sees 1:2-11 as a single text and identifies it rhetorically as a disputation in a question-answer schema. For his excellent analysis see “A Question-Answer Schema in Haggai 1: The Form and Function of Haggai 1:9-11,” in Biblical and Near Eastern Studies, ed., G. A. Tuttle (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 184-94.

60 H. G. May, “‘This People’ and ‘This Nation’ in Haggai,” VT 18 (1968): 193. Cf. Isa. 6:9, 10; Hos. 1:9.

61 R. G. Hamerton-Kelly, “The Temple and the Origins of Jewish Apocalyptic,” VT 20 (1970): 12. For further discussion of this conflict between the alleged “visionary” and “hierocratic” elements of Jewish postexilic life, see the Introduction to Zechariah under Historical Context.

62 “Paneling” or “paneled” (with David L. Petersen, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, [London: SCM, 1985], 48) is preferable to “roof” (Otto Steck, “Zu Haggai 1:2-11,” ZAW 83 [1971]: 362).

63 Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, 40; cf. Rex Mason, The Books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, CBC (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 1977), 16.

64 Thomas suggests that the time to which the people refer is the end of the seventy years predicted by Jeremiah (25:11). This may well be the case if the terminus ad quem is the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C., for the “time” then would be 516, still four years away; D. Winton Thomas, “Haggai,” in IB, ed. G. A. Buttrick et al. (New York: Abingdon, 1956), 6:1041.

65 Cf. Pieter A. Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 53-54

66 For this and other possible causes, see ibid., 61-62.

67 Raphael Loewe, “The Earliest Biblical Allusion to Coined Money?” PEQ, 1955, 147-50.

68 R. Coggins, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 34. Verhoef (The Books of Haggai and Malachi, 63) shows that the judgments here are those associated with covenant disobedience (cf. Lev. 26:26; Deut. 6:11; 28:38, 39).

69 Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, 52; cf. Kenneth L. Barker, “YHWH Sabaoth: ‘The Lord Almighty,’“ in The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation, ed. Kenneth L. Barker (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 109-10.

70 For two important form-critical studies that see vv. 2-8 and 9-11 as complementary or even parallel units, see Klaus Koch, “Haggais unreines Volk,” ZAW 79 (1967): 58; Steck, “Zu Haggai 1:2-11,” 368-72.

71 Whedbee, “A Question-Answer Schema,” 188.

72 Thomas, “Haggai,” in IB, 6:1041; Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 41.

73 Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, 28.

74 W. A. M. Beuken, HaggaiSacharja 1-8, (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1967), 185-86.

75 ty]B^h^ <t#ab@h& (“when you brought it home”) should be understood as bringing the produce to one’s home rather than to the Temple, for, as Petersen (Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, 52) suggests, the Temple was not yet built. For the opinion that the Temple is in view, see Friedrich Peter, “Zu Haggai 1,9” TZ 7 (1951):150-51.

76 Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, 70-71.

77 Samuel Amsler, Agge, Zacharie 1-8, Zacharie 9-14, CAT (Neuchatel: Delachaux & Niestl, 1981), 26.

78 W. J. Dumbrell, “Kingship and Temple in the Post-Exilic Period,” RTR 37 (1978): 38.

79 H. G. Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912), 52.

80 “The sense here is not different from the imperfect.” Wilhelm Rudolph, Haggai-Sacharja 1-8Sacharja 9-14Maleachi, KAT (Gütersloh: Verlaghaus Gerd Mohn, 1976), 29.

81 Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, 28.

82 Ibid., 36-37.

83 Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, 27, 40, 42.

84 Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction, 428.

85 Sara Japhet, “Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel Against the Background of the Historical and Religious Tendencies of Ezra-Nehemiah,” ZAW 94 (1982):82, 84.

86 Mason, “The Purpose of the ‘Editorial Framework,’“ 417-18; Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, 34.

87 Carroll Stuhlmueller, Haggai & Zechariah, ITC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 22-23.

88 Cf. Peter R. Ackroyd, “Studies in the Book of Haggai,” JJS 2 (1951):167.

89 So Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, 55.

90 Ackroyd, “Studies in the Book of Haggai,” 168.

91 Beuken, HaggaiSacharja 1-8, 37-42, notes the terminology of covenant renewal in v. 13.

92 Petersen, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, 56.

93 Stuhlmueller, Haggai & Zechariah, 24.

94 Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, 88.

95 D. Ernst Sellin, Das Zwlfprophetenbuch, KAT (Leipzig: Deichert, 1922), 405-6; and many scholars since.

96 Carroll Stuhlmueller, Haggai & Zechariah, ITC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 26.

97 Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1961), 70-72.

98 Michael Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon, 1985), pp. 49-50.

99 For further discussion of this accusative see Peter R. Ackroyd, “Some Interpretive Glosses in the Book of Haggai,” JJS 7 (1956): 163.

100 Carol L. Meyers and Eric M. Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, AB (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1987), 51.

101 H. F. Van Rooy draws attention to at least eight examples of eschatological terms in this brief passage. See his “Eschatology and Audience: The Eschatology of Haggai,” Old Testament Essays (NS) 1, no. 1, 1988, 59.

102 Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, 52-53.

103 Pieter A. Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 102-3.

104 Herbert Wolf, “‘The Desire of All Nations’ in Haggai 2:7: Messianic or Not?” JETS 19 (1976):97-98.

105 Stuhlmueller, Haggai & Zechariah, 30.

106 Wolf, “‘The Desire of All Nations’ in Haggai 2:7,” 98. Wolf draws attention to the occurrence of Ep^h* (“turn”) in Isa. 60:5, the very verb that occurs in Hag. 2:22 to speak of the overthrow of the nations.

107 Ibid., 101.

108 Karl Elliger, Das Buch der zwolf kleinen Profeten, (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982), 2:92-93.

109 Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, 104.

110 R. T. Siebeneck sees this promise as being messianic but, rightly, only in the sense of the messianic kingdom and not the Messiah Himself; see “The Messianism of Aggeus and Proto-Zacharias,” CBQ 19 (1957): 315-16. Stuhlmueller, (Haggai & Zechariah, 28) flatly states that “this text will receive its fulfillment when the Messiah enters the temple.”

111 “Peace in this place” (Jerusalem) would yield an implied play on words in Hebrew (salom in Yerusalayim), that is, “peace in the city of peace.”

112 H. G. Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912), p. 65.

113 Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, 52.

114 Thus Wolf, “‘The Desire of All Nations’ in Haggai 2:7,” 98; Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, 53.

115 So, e.g., Wilhelm Rudolph, Haggai-Sacharja 1-8Sacharja 9-14Maleachi, KAT (Gutershloher: Verlaghaus Gerd Mohn, 1976), 49-51.

116 For these arguments and a strong rebuttal see Herbert G. May, “‘This People’ and ‘This Nation’ in Haggai,” VT 18 (1968): 190-91.

117 For detailed arguments that “this people” refers to the Jews themselves see Klaus Koch, “Haggais unreines Volk,” ZAW 79 (1967): 52-66; David L. Petersen, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, (London: SCM, 1985), 81-82; R. J. Coggins, Samaritans and Jews (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1975), 46-52.

118 May, “‘This People’ and ‘This Nation’ in Haggai,” 193.

119 W. J. Dumbrell, “Kingship and Temple in the Post-Exilic Period,” RTR 37 (1978), 39.

120 Carroll Stuhlmueller, Haggai & Zechariah, ITC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 36.

121 I. H. Eybers, “The Rebuilding of the Temple According to Haggai and Zechariah,” OTWSA 13-14 (1970-71): 23; Pieter A. Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 115.

122 Eric M. Meyers, “The Use of tr in Haggai 2:11 and the Role of the Prophet in the Restoration Community,” in The Word of the Lord Shall Go Forth, ed. Carol L. Meyers and M. O’Connor (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1983), 71. See also Petersen, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, 73-76.

123 See Michael Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon, 1985), 297.

124 Ibid., 297-98

125 For defense of the earlier (536) date, see (if equivocally) Peter R. Ackroyd, “Studies in the Book of Haggai,” JJS 3 (1952): 2 n. 1.

126 Hans W. Wolff, Haggai (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1988), 65.

127 Carol L. Meyers and Eric M. Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8 (Garden City: Doubleday, 1987), 61-62.

128 Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, 120-24.

129 Oded Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1987), 111-12.

130 Robert P. Carroll, “Eschatological Delay in the Prophetic Tradition?” ZAW 94 (1982): 56. Carroll suggests that here and elsewhere in Haggai the promise is inviolable, but its fulfillment is dependent on the obedience of the people.

131 Eybers, “The Rebuilding of the Temple According to Haggai and Zechariah,” p. 19. Eybers cites B. Gemser to the effect that yasad means not only to lay a foundation but to commence to build or to rebuild (cf. Zech. 8:9).

132 Nearly all commentators understand the formula here to be pointing to the future but, as the present approach is proposing, that presents difficulties in understanding the grammar of v. 19. See, e.g., Joyce G. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, (London: Tyndale, 1972), 52; H. G. Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912), 71: “The construction in this case is the same [as in v. 15b] and the connection perfectly analogous. The passage should therefore be rendered, ‘from the time when the temple hath been founded.’”

133 David L. Petersen, “The Prophetic Process Reconsidered,” Iliff Review 41 (1984):17.

134 Richard D. Patterson, private communication, January 8, 1991.

135 For a full discussion see David J. Clark, “Problems in Haggai 2.15-19,” BT 34 (1983): 432-39.

136 Ralph L. Smith, Micah-Malachi, WBC (Waco, Tex.: Word, 1984), 162. For an excellent literary analysis of the section, see Pieter A. Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 139-40.

137 Gerhard von Rad, Der Heilige Krieg im alten Israel. (Zurich: Zwingli Verlag), 1951, 65-66.

138 David L. Petersen, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, (London: SCM, 1985), 100-101. So also Carroll Stuhlmueller, Haggai & Zechariah, ITC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 37.

139 Sara Japhet (“Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel Against the Background of the Historical and Religious Tendencies of Ezra-Nehemiah.” ZAW 94(1982):77) points out the interesting fact that “this is the only place in the Bible where a prophecy of the End of Days is focused upon an historical figure of the present identified by name.”

140 Rex Mason, The Books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, CBC (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 1977), 25.

141 Georg Sauer, “Serubbabel in der Sicht Haggais und Sacharjas, “Das Ferne und Nahe Wort, ed. F. Maass. (Berlin: Tpelmann, 1967), 203-4.

142 D. Winton Thomas, “Haggai,” IB, ed. G. A. Buttrick, et al. (New York: Abingdon, 1956), 6:1049.

143 See G. L. Knapp, “Signet,” ISBE 4:508.

144 Verhoef, The Books of Haggai and Malachi, 147.

145 So Japhet, “Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel,” 78.

146 W. J. Dumbrell, “Kingship and Temple in the Post-Exilic Period,” RTR 37 (1978): 33.

147 Herbert Wolf, “The Desire of All Nations in Haggai 2:7: Messianic or Not?” JETS 19 (1976): 101-2; cf. R. T. Siebeneck, “The Messianism of Aggeus and Proto-Zacharias,” CBQ 19 (1957): 318; Ralph L. Smith, Micah-Malachi, 163.

Related Topics: History, Introductions, Arguments, Outlines, Prophecy/Revelation, Temple

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