Book of Haggai

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The Book of Haggai, often called simply, Haggai, is an ancient Jewish writing canonized into the Minor Prophets section of the Nevi'im while Christians place it in their old testament. It is written in prophetic style in Biblical Hebrew. Hebrew tradition attributes the book to Haggai although it is not explicitly stated that he is the author. In the book, Yahweh says he is angry at the Jews for not yet rebuilding his temple in an even more extravagant manner than before, and threatens to murder them all until they do, but says he will protect them if they do.

Authorship and Dating

Because the prophecy revolves around Haggai, he has been traditionally viewed as the author of this writing. However, there is no actual evidence to support such a belief because the author never explicitly identifies himself, and much the Tanakh appear to be pseudographical.

The dates listed in the work (1:1, 14), correspond to around 520 BCE, and this has traditionally been accepted as the date of the writing. Of course, the work doesn't suggest that it was written at this time, only that the prophecy took place at this time. I'm not aware of any evidence-based dating done on this writing.

Content

In the writing, the author claims to be recording four separate prophecies of the god Yahweh through a man named Haggai (חגי [Chaggay]). The work is set after the fall of the Hebrew temple, but before its rebuilding. Yahweh's message is that he is mad that the Hebrew people have not rebuilt his temple, and he will punish them with drought until they do. When they begin, he demands that the temple be bigger and better than the original temple, and, if they obey him, he will end the drought and keep them safe from invaders.

It is the shortest book in the Tanakh at only around 196 Hebrew words, however, when translated to English, it tends to grow to around 1,100 words, longer than the English translation of the Book of Obadiah.

Status

I have several translations of this book from various bibles, and have read the NIV translation.

Review

Good

  • Nothing.

Bad

  • Like most books which are claimed to contain the words of a god, this book has little practical or philosophical use. At best, historians can use it to understand how priests used the fear of a god to coerce people into building them expensive temples. Not much has changed since then, I'm afraid.
  • Yahweh is so mad that his chosen people have a house and he doesn't that he's caused a drought which has prevented his people from having enough food (1:5-11) to survive. Why is he mad? What would a god need with a earthly house? Also, why would he punish his people for worrying about keeping themselves alive before building an elaborate house for someone who doesn't need it?
  • The whole reason the people begin building a house for Yahweh is because they're afraid of him (1:12).
  • Yahweh demands that his new house be even more extravagant than the previous house he didn't need (2:9).
  • Yahweh explains how he will defeat any foreign invaders (2:21-22), but, of course, all throughout history, Judea was routinely sacked out by invaders.

Ugly

  • Yahweh claims that all the silver and gold belongs to him (2:8). What would a god need with money?

Links

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