|Books of Nevi'im|
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The Book of Haggai (חַגַּי, Standard Hebrew and Tiberian Hebrew Ḥaggay) is a book in the Bible Old Testament and Jewish Tanakh, it is possible that the prophet Haggai wrote this book, however the entire book is written in the third person thus some say that it is more likely that a scribe, or disciple of Haggai compiled his oracles and sayings during or near the life of the prophet. In the Hebrew Bible the twelve Minor Prophets (these are minor because of the length of their books not their importance) are compounded into one book, and Haggai is the tenth according to the order passed down to us by the masorite. In the Christian Old testament it is under the Minor Prophets and is the third to last book.
The Solomonic temple had been destroyed, to the point where we read in Ezra that not even the foundation stood. This was a very significant destruction as we can imagine, but Cyruss decree gave the Israelite people the opportunity to return and rebuild their temple. The decree also included a blank check of sorts to fund the rebuilding, but we see that the people had not taken advantage of this opportunity. Haggais exhortations are focused on motivating the people to complete the work they started with the foundation, eighteen years before.
Haggai gives us lots of internal chronological material, and we can use this to construct a timeline of the book.
|Passage||Darius Reign Year||Jewish Month||Jewish Day||Date on our Calendar|
|Hag 1: 1||2nd||6th||1st||August 29th, 520 BCE|
|Hag 1: 15||2nd||6th||24th||September 21st, 520 BCE|
|Hag 2: 1||2nd||7th||21st||October 17th, 520 BCE|
|Hag 2: 10||2nd||9th||24th||December 18th, 520 BCE|
|Hag 2: 20||2nd||9th||24th||December 18th, 520 BCE|
Haggai is made up of four different messages that were preached over a term of four months. The book opens on August 29th 520 BCE. Haggais first prophecy is against the remnant of Israel who returned from exile for not building the house of the Lord back from the ruins it was in after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 by the Babylonians. There was a decree by Cyrus of Persia in 538 BCE to let the people return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. We see this in the book of Ezra; however, they complete only the foundation and then stop working.
The first message of Haggai is get to work. The people are living in finished, well-constructed homes, and Gods house is still in ruins, with only a foundation begun. Haggai's second message is for the people to be strong. The Israelites faced hardships and were experiencing a drought that Haggai attributes to God as judgment for not continuing the construction of the temple. This is not to say that God desired some sort of vengeance on the people or that God needed the temple. God was simply judging the heart of the people, and He could see that He was no longer their priority. The third message of Haggai was be clean. Sacrifices had not been offered to God in the temple for almost fifty years, and Haggai was telling the people that God would make the sacrifices acceptable again. The fourth message Haggai had for the people was be encouraged. When the foundation was finished the people who knew the former temple wept because the old was so much better then the new. But Christians would say that it is this temple that was the greatest, because God himself in the flesh would walk and teach in this temple. Christians often draw from this that Gods plans are always for the good, and Haggai seems to be pointing to the Messiah (whom Christians believe is Christ) as the fulfillment of the promise of the restoration of the Davidic line of rulers.
Prepared in 2005 for the course BIBL5023 at Acadia Divinity College