Haggai, Prophecy of
Haggai, Prophecy Of These vaticinations are comprised in a book of two chapters, and consist of discourses so brief and summary as to have led some German theologians to suspect that they have not come down to us in their original complete form, but are only an epitome (Eichhorn, Einleitung in des A. T. 3:§ 598; Jahn, Introductio in libros sacros Vet. Fied. edit. 2,Viennse, 1814, § 156).
Their object generally is to urge the rebuilding of the Temple, which had, indeed, been commenced as early as B.C. 535 (Ezr 3:10), but was afterwards discontinued, the Samaritans having obtained an edict from the Persian king (Ezr 4:7) which forbade further procedure, and influential Jews pretending that the time for rebuilding the Temple had not arrived, since the seventy years predicted by Jeremiah applied to the Temple also (Zec 1:2). As on the death of Pseudo-Smerdis (the "ARTAXERXES" of Ezra 4 see ver. 24), and the consequent termination of his interdict, the Jews still continued to wait for the end of the seventy years, and were only engaged in building splendid houses for themselves, Haggai began to prophesy in the second year of Darius, B.C. 520.
His first discourse (Haggai 1), delivered on the first day of the sixth month of the year mentioned, denounced the listlessness of the Jews, who dwelt in their "paneled houses," while the temple of the Lord was roofless and desolate. The displeasure of God was manifest in the failure of all their efforts for their own gratification. The heavens were "stayed from dew," and the earth was "stayed from her fruit." They had neglected that which should have been their first care, and reaped the due wages of their selfishness (Hag 1:4-11). The words of the prophet sank deep into the hearts of the people and their leaders. They acknowledged the voice of God speaking by his servant, and obeyed the command. Their obedience was rewarded with the assurance of God's presence (Hag 1:13), and twenty-four days afterwards the building was resumed. The second discourse (Hag 2:1-9), delivered on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, shows that a month had scarcely elapsed when the work seems to have slackened, and the enthusiasm of the people abated. The prophet, ever ready to rekindle their zeal encouraged the flagging spirits of the chiefs with the renewed assurance of God's presence, and the fresh promise that, stately and magnificent as was the Temple of their wisest king, the glory of the latter house should be greater than the glory of the former (Hag 2:3-9). The third discourse (Hag 2:10-19), delivered on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, refers to a period when building materials had been collected, and the workmen had begun to put them together. Yet the people were still comparatively inactive, and after two months we thus find him again censuring their sluggishness, which rendered worthless all their ceremonial observances. 'But the rebuke was accompanied by a repetition of the promise (Hag 2:19). The fourth and last discourse (Hag 2:20-23), delivered also on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, is exclusively addressed to Zerubbabel, the political chief of the new Jewish colony, who, it appears, had asked for an explanation regarding the great political revolutions which Haggai had predicted in his second discourse: it comforts the governor by assuring him they would not take place very soon, and not in his lifetime. As Zerubbabel was prince of Judah, the representative of the royal family of David, and, as such the lineal ancestor of the Messiah, this closing prediction foreshadows the establishment of the Messianic kingdom (see Hengstenberg, Christology, 3, 243 sq.) upon the overthrow of the thrones of the nations (Hag 2:23).
The style of the discourses of Haggai is suitable to their contents: it is pathetic when he exhorts, it is vehement when he reproves, it is somewhat elevated when he treats of future events, and it is not altogether destitute of a poetical coloring, though a prophet of a higher order would have depicted the splendor of the second Temple in brighter hues. The language labors under a poverty of terms, as may be observed in the constant repetition of the same expressions, which Eichhorn (Einleitung, § 599) attributes to an attempt at ornament, rendering the writer disposed to recur frequently to a favorite expression.
The prophetical discourses of Haggai are referred to in the Old and New Testament (Ezr 5:1; Ezr 6:14; Heb 12:20; comp. Haggai 2:7, 8:22). In most of the ancient catalogues of the canonical books of the Old Testament Haggai is not, indeed, mentioned by name; but, as they specify the twelve minor prophets, he must have been included among them, as otherwise their number would not be full. Josephus, mentioning Haggai and Zechariah (Anf. 11, 4, 5), calls them δύο προφῆται. (See generally Bertholdt, Einleitunq, 4, 169; Davidson, in Horne's Introduc. new ed. 2, 972 sq.; Hassc, Gesch. der A. B. p. 203 sq.; Smith, Scripture Testimony, 1, 283 sq.)
Special commentaries on the whole of this prophecy exclusively have been written by Rupertus Titiensis, In Aggaeum (in Opp. 1); Melancthon, Argumentum (in Opp. 2); Ecke, Commentarius (Saling. 1538, 8vo); Wicelius, Enarratio (Mog. 1541); Varenius, Exercitations (Rost. 1548, 1550, 4to); Draconis, Explicatio (Lub. 1549, fol.); Mercer, Scholia (Paris, 1557, 4to); Pilkington, Exposition (London, 1560, 8vo); Brocardus, Interpretatio [includ. some other books] (L. B. 1580, 8vo); Grynseus, Commentarius (Genesis 1581, 8vo; translated into English, Lond. 1586, 12mo); Reinbeck, Exercitationes (Brunsw. 1592, 4to); Balwin, Commentarius (including Zechariah and Malachi] (Vitemb. 1610, 8vo); Tarnovius, Commentarius (Rostock, 1624, 4to); Willius, Commenetatirs [including Zechariah and Malachi] (Brcm. 1638, 8vo); Raynolds, Interpretation (Lond. 1649, 4to); Pfeffinger, Notce (Argent. 1703, 4to); Woken, Adnotationes (Lips. 1719, 4to) Kall, Dissertationes (s. 1. 1771-3, 4to); Hessler, Illustratio (Lunid. 1799, 4to): Scheibel, Observationes (Vratisl. 1822, 4to); Moore, Notes, etc. [including Zechariah and Malachi] (N. Y. 1856, 8vo); Kohler, Erklarung (Erlangen, 1860, 8vo)'; Aben-Ezra's annotations on Haggai have been translated by Abicht (in his Selectae Rabb. Lips. 1705), Lund (Upsal. 1706), and Chytraeus (ib. eod.); Abarbanel's by Scherzer (Lpz. 1633, 1705) and Mundin (Jena, 1719),: Kimchi's by Nol (Par. 1557). Expositions of particular passages are those of Staudlin [on 2, 1-9] (Tüb. 1784), Benzel [on 2, 9] (in his Syntaom. Dissertt. 2, 116 sq.), Sartorius [on 2, 7 (Tüb. 1756), Vesschuir [on 2, 6-9] (in his Diss. Phil. No. 6), Essen [on 2, 23] (Vitemb. 1759). SEE PROPHETS, MINOR.