1902 Encyclopedia > Haggai


HAGGAI, the tenth in order of the minor prophets. The name Haggai (*10, Greek 'Ayyaios, whence Aggeus in the English version of the Apocrypha) is usually held to be an adjective meaning festive. But Wellhausen is pro-bably right in taking the word as a contraction for Hagariah (Jehovah hath girded), just as Zacear (Zacchaeus) is known to be a contraction of Zechariah (cf. Derenbourg, His-toire de la Palestine, pp. 95, 150).

The book of Haggai contains four short prophecies delivered between the first day of the sixth month and the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month—that is, between September and December—of the second year of Darius the king. The king in question must be Darius Hystaspis, who came to the throne 521 B.C. Scaliger, Drusius, and other older writers think of Darius Nothus (acc. 424 B.C.) ; but this is impossible, since in chap. ii. 3 Haggai speaks of old men as still alive who had seen the first temple in its splendour before 587 B.C. The language of the prophet suggests the probability that he was himself one of those whose memories reached across the seventy years of the captivity, and that his prophetic work began in extreme old age. This supposition agrees well with the shortness of the period covered by his book, and with the fact that Zechariah, who began to prophecy in the same autumn and was associated with Haggai's labours (Ezra v. 1), afterwards appears as the leading prophet in Jerusalem (Zech. vii. 1-4). We know nothing further of the personal history of Haggai from the Bible. Later traditions may be read in Carpzov's Introductio, pars 3, cap. xvi. On the mention of Haggai in the titles of several psalms in the Septuagint (Psalms cxxxvii., cxlv.-cxlviii.) and other versions, see Koehler's Weissagungen Haggai's, p. 32. These titles are without value, and moreover vary in MSS. Eusebius did not find them in the Hexaplar Septuagint.

In his first prophecy (i. 1-11) Haggai addresses Zerub-babel and Joshua, rebuking the people for leaving the temple unbuilt while they are busy in providing panelled houses for themselves. The prevalent famine and distress are due to God's indignation at such remissness. Let them build the house, and God will take pleasure in it and acknowledge the honour paid to Him. The rebuke took effect, and the people began to work at the temple, strengthened by the prophet's assurance that the Lord was with them (i. 12-15). In a second prophecy (ii. 1-9) delivered in the following month, Haggai forbids the people to be disheartened by the apparent meanness of the new temple. The silver and gold are the Lord's. He will soon shake all nations and bring their choicest gifts to adorn His house. Its glory shall be greater than that of the former temple, and in this place He will give peace. A third prophecy (ii. 10-19) contains a promise, enforced by a figure drawn from the priestly ritual, that God will remove famine and bless the land from the day of the foundation of the temple onwards. Finally, in ii. 20-23, Zerubbabel is assured of God's special love and protection in the impend-ing catastrophe of kingdoms and nations to which the prophet had formerly pointed as preceding the glorification of God's house on Zion. In thus looking forward to a shaking of all nations Haggai agrees with earlier prophecies, especially Isa. xxiv.-xxvii., while his picture of the glory and peace of the new Zion and its temple is drawn from the great anonymous prophet who penned Isa. lx. and Ixvi. The characteristic features of the book are the importance assigned to the personality of Zerubbabel and the almost sacramental significance attached to the temple. The hopes fixed on Zerubbabel, the chosen of the Lord, dear to Him as His signet ring (cf. Jer. xxii. 24), are a last echo in Old Testament prophecy of the theocratic importance of the house of David. In the book of Zechariah Zerubbabel has already fallen into the background and the high priest is the leading figure of the Judean community. The stem of David is superseded by the house of Zadok, the kingship has yielded to the priesthood, and the extinction of national hopes gives new importance to that strict organization of the hierarchy for which Ezekiel had prepared the way by his sentence of disfranchisement against the non-Zadokite priests.
5 Compare for example Jer. vii.

If his attitude to Zerubbabel forms a link of connexion between Haggai and the prophets before the captivity, his post-exile standpoint is characteristically marked in the central importance which he attaches to the temple. The prophets who spoke under the shadow of the first temple held quite another language. To Isaiah and Jeremiah the religion of Israel and the holiness of Jerusalem have little to do with the edifice of the temple. The city is holy because it is the seat of Jehovah's sovereignty on earth, exerted in His dealings with and for the state of Judah and the kingdom of David. The proof that Jehovah's throne is in Jerusalem lies in the history of what He has done for His people, or, if a visible pledge is needed, it must be sought not in the temple but, in accord-ance with antique ideas, in the ark (Jer. iii. 16) or in the altar with its sacred flame (Isa. xxix. 1; xxxi. 9). But, in the desolation of Jerusalem, the extinction of the political life with which all religion had till then been inseparably bound up gave a new meaning to the old prophetic doctrine that the service of Jehovah is the true vocation of Israel—a new significance to the ruined temple and all its ordinances of worship. " The holy and beautiful house where our fathers praised Thee" (Isa. lxiv. 11) was a chief thought of the sorrowing exiles (Lamentations, passim), and to one anonymous writer the Lord's vengeance on Babylon appears eminently as vengeance for His temple (Jer. I. 28). The great prophet of the captivity—the author of Isa. xl.-.xvi.—pictures the Israel of the restoration no longer as an earthly state but as a world-priesthood, a mediatorial people gathered round the sanctuary and holding forth amidst the nations the true pattern of the knowledge and service of the living God till all the ends of the earth shall look to Him and be saved. Under the limitations of the old dispensa-tion neither seer nor people could separate the realization of this great conception from the restoration of the visible centre of Israel's worship in the temple at Jerusalem. The prophet had pointed to Cyrus by name as the rebuilder of Jerusalem and the founder of the temple (Isa. xliv. 28; lii. 11); and the captives whose hearts were touched by his burning words, and who availed themselves of the decree of that monarch (536 B.C.) to repeople the desolate places of Judah, looked for the speedy advent of the time when the glory of Jehovah displayed in His house on Zion should draw to Jerusalem the willing homage of all nations (Isa. IvL; Ix. 7; Ixvi. 1-6). The actual experiences of the returning exiles fell as far short of these bright hopes as the Israel of Zerubbabel and Joshua fell short of the ideal regenerate nation to which the prophet had promised the heritage of Jehovah's glory. Scarcely was a settlement effected when difficulties and misfortunes began to thicken about the little colony. The anger of the Lord seemed still to rest on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah (Zech. i. 12), whose inhabitants soon ceased to find favour from the Persian court, and had to struggle with penury and famine as well as with the hostility of their neighbours. Amidst such discouragements the first zeal soon grew cool, and the work of rebuilding the sanctuary lay practically untouched till Haggai arose sixteen years later.

What had actually been effected during these years for the restor-ation of the temple is a question of some difficulty. It seems safest to start from the explicit contemporary evidence of Hag. ii. 18 (of. ii. 15 and Zech. viii. 9) which gives the ninth month of the second year of Darius—after Haggai had begun to preach—as the date when the temple was founded by Zerubbabel and Joshua. On the other hand, the book of Ezra, in its present shape as edited and partly composed by the much later author who wrote Chronicles, con-veys the impression that large gifts for the temple were offered by the leading Jews on their first return (Ezra ii. 68, 69), that the foundation of the house was laid by Joshua and Zerubbabel in the second year of the return (ch. iii.), and that the work was thereafter interrupted by the opposition of the Jews' enemies till the reign of Darius. It appears probable, however, that the Chronicler has somewhat dislocated the order of events, especially by taking the official correspondence in ch. iv. to refer to the temple, whereas it really refers to the building of the city walls. This oversight might readily involve the antedating of the foundation ceremony described in iii. 8-13, which seems to be identical with that which Haggai speaks of, since the actors are the same, and the chief feature in the description which does not belong to the usual liturgical scenery of the Chronicler recalls Hag. ii. 3, Zech. iv. 7-10. Again, the verses Ezra ii. 68, 69 seem really to refer to a collection made in the time of Nehemiah, having been transcribed from a history of that period (part of which is preserved in the canonical book of Nehemiah) along with the ancient list which occupies the first part of Ezra ii. But they are not part of the list, as appears from a comparison of Ezra ii. 62—iii. 1 with Neh. vii. 64—viii. 1. If this criticism is just, the Tirshatha of Ezra ii. is Nehemiah, not Zerubbabel, and the usual arguments for identifying the latter with Sheshbazzar—whom Cyrus, according to an Aramaic source preserved in Ezra v., appointed governor and charged with the restoration of the temple— fall to the ground. Sheshbazzar was presumably a Persian official; and the first hope of the Jewish colony, in accordance with Isa. xliv. 28, lx. 10, was, no doubt, that the Persians would effect the re-storation without effort of theirs. This hope was frustrated, Shesh-bazzar presumably having taken up his task with the usual conscientiousness of an Oriental governor, that is, having done nothing, though the work was nominally in hand all along (Ezra v. 16). The advancement of Zerubbabel to the governorship may have given Haggai his opportunity.

In the confused state of the chronology of the book of Ezra it may also be a question when the Samaritans sought to join the Jews and were repulsed. That the relation of Ezra iv. 1-4 is historical seems to be established against objections which have been taken to it by the reference to Esarhaddon, which A. v. Gntschmidt has vindicated by an ingenious historical combination with the aid of the Assyrian monuments (Neue Beiträge, p. 145). Compare also Jer. xli. 5 for the antiquity of the Samaritan claim to worship with the Jews. But from Ezra v., and especially from Zech. iii., it may be questioned whether the opposition of the Samaritans arose before the time of Haggai and Zechariah. See on the whole question Schräder, '' Die Dauer des zweiten Tempelbaues," in the Studien und Kritiken, 1867.

Such indifference to the undertaking which held a chief place in the first ardour of the returning exiles had a deeper significance than at once occurs to our modern habits of thought. The restoration of the temple and its worship was connected in every mind with the doctrine that the service of Jehovah was the true national vocation of Israel, and the apathy that Haggai rebukes showed the people to have forgotten in the struggle for material welfare their ideal calling as the nation of the true God. His reproofs touched the conscience of the Jews, and the book of Zechariah enables us in some measure to follow the course of a religious revival which, starting with the restoration of the temple, did not confine itself to matters of ceremony and ritual worship. On the other hand, Haggai's treatment of his theme, practical and effective as it was for the pur-pose in hand, moves on a far lower level than the aspira-tions of the great evangelical prophet who inspired the people at their first return. To the latter the material temple is no more than a detail in the picture of a work of restoration eminently ideal and spiritual, and he expressly warns his hearers against attaching intrinsic importance to it (Isa. Ixvi. 1). To Haggai the temple appears so essential that he teaches that while it lay waste the people and all their works and offerings were unclean (Hag. ii. 14). In this he betrays his affinity with Ezekiel, who taught that it is by the possession of the sanctuary that Israel is sanctified (Ezek. xxxvii. 28). In truth the new movement of re-ligious thought and feeling which started from the fall of the Hebrew state took two distinct lines, of which Ezekiel and the anonymous prophet of Isa. xl.-lxvi. are the respec-tive representatives. While the latter developed his great picture of Israel the mediatorial nation, the systematic and priestly mind of Ezekiel had shaped a more material con-ception of the religious vocation of Israel in that picture of the new theocracy where the temple and its ritual occupy the largest place, with a sanctity which is set in express contrast to the older conception of the holiness of the city of Jerusalem (cf. Ezek. xiiii. 7 seq. with Jer. xxxi. 40, Isa. iv. 5), and with a supreme significance for the religious life of the people which is expressed in the figure of the living waters issuing from under the threshold of the house (Ezek. xlvii.). It was the conception of Ezekiel which permanently influenced the citizens of the new Jerusalem, and took final shape in the institutions of Ezra. To this consummation, with its necessary accompaniment in the extinction of prophecy, the book of Plaggai already points.

Exegetical Helps. —The elaborate and valuable German commentary of A. Köhler (Erlangen, 1860) forms the first part of his work on the Nachexilische Propheten. Reinke's Commentary (Münster, 1868) is the work of a Roman Catholic. Haggai has generally been treated in works on all the prophets, as by Ewald (2d ed., 1868 ; Eng. trans., vol. iii., 1878); or along with the other minor prophets, as by Hitzig (3d ed., Leipsic, 1863), Keil (1866 ; Eng. trans., Edinburgh, 1868), and Pusey (1875); or with the other post-exile prophets as by Koehler, Pressel (Gotha, 1870), Dods (1879), and others. The older literature will be found in books of introduction or in Rosenmüller's still useful Scholia. The learned commentary of Marckius may be specially mentioned. On the place of Haggai in the history of Old Testament prophecy, see Duhm's Theologie der Propheten (Bonn, 1875). (W. R. S.)

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