Book of Haggai
The Book of Haggai, often called simply, Haggai, is an ancient Jewish writing canonized into the Minor Prophets section of the Nevi'im. Christians place it in their Old Testament. 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, and is longer than the English translation of the Book of Obadiah.
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.
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 most of the works in 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.
I have several translations of this book from various bibles, and have read the NIV translation.
- Like most books which are claimed to be the work of a god and of utmost importance to the world, this book has no 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 an giant expensive temple. Not much has changed, 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). Why is he mad? What would a god need with a 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 because they're afraid of him (1:12).
- Yahweh demands that his new house be even more extravagant than this last house (2:9).
- Yahweh explains how he will defeat any foreign invaders (2:21-22), but, of course, all throughout history, Judea was routinely wiped out by invaders.
- Yahweh claims that all the silver and gold belongs to him (2:8). What would a god need with money?