HAGGAI, BOOK OF:
By: Emil G. Hirsch
One of the so-called minor prophetical books of the Old Testament. It contains four addresses. The first (i. 2-11), dated the first day of the sixth month of the second year of Darius Hystaspes (520
The second address is dated the twenty-first day of the seventh month, and strikes the note of encouragement. It seems that many had again become despondent; the prophet assures these that God's spirit, in accordance with the covenant made at the time of the exodus from Egypt, is with them. Yet a little while, and
The third discourse is dated the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month of Darius. It is prefaced by questions addressed to the priests concerning certain applications of the law of Levitical purity. The answers of the priests to his questions furnish the text for his exposition of the people's sin in not erecting the Temple. These shortcomings are the reason for the dearth. Their removal, therefore, will bring
On the same day (the twenty-fourth of the ninth month) Haggai addresses another (the fourth) discourse to Zerubbabel, announcing
Contrasted with the flow and fervor of the utterances of other prophets, Haggai's style certainly justifies the rabbinical observation that he marks the period of decline in prophecy (Yoma 9b). He scarcely ever rises above the level of good prose. The critics have found in this a confirmation of the assumption that Haggai wrote and spoke only after having reached a very ripe old age. Certain turns of phraseology are characteristically affected by him: (i. 5, 7; ii. 15, 18a, b); = "and now," introducing an appeal (i. 5; ii. 4, 15). Repetitions of words are frequent: (i. 7, 8); [ (ii. 4a, b, c, 6, 7, 8a, b, 14, 17, 23a, b, c); (ii. 22, twice); (ii. 4, thrice). Haggai loves to recall in one final word the preceding idea: i. 2b, 12b; ii. 5b (), 19b ( )."Variæ Lectiones."
The text is in good condition, and the versions do not exhibit important variants. The Septuagint has additions in ii. 10-15, and several omissions, one (ii. 5) very extensive. "Be-mal'akut" (i. 13) is represented by έν ἀγγέλοις = "be-mal'ake." The Peshiṭta presents the reading "ḥereb" (sword) for "ḥoreb" (drought) in i. 11, and the "hif'il" instead of the "ḳal" in "u-ba'u"—(ii. 7; comp. L. Reinke, "Der Prophet Haggai," pp. 23 et seq., Münster, 1868, on the text of Haggai). Of emendations proposed by modern scholars, the following may be noted: In ch. i. 2 the first should be read ("now"), or, still better, corrected into ("as yet"); the versions omit i. 10. is probably a dittogram of the preceding . For ("their God") in i. 12, the Septuagint, the Peshiṭta, and the Vulgate present ("unto them"), which is preferable. Ch. i. 13 is held to be suspicious as a later gloss (Böhme, in Stade's "Zeitschrift," vii. 215; Nowack, "Die Kleinen Propheten," in "Handkommentar zum Alten Testament," p. 305, Göttingen, 1897). Ch. ii. 5a is grammatically of difficult construction; the Revised Version inserts "remember"; the Septuagint omits it. It is in all likelihood an interpolation (see Nowack, l.c. p. 306). (ii. 6) is doubtful; the Septuagint reads instead of . Wellhausen's observation ("Die Kleinen Propheten," ad loc.), that the verse combines two originally distinct readings, one as the Septuagint has it and the other that of the Masoretic text, with omitted, is probably based on fact. In verse 8 has been taken to refer to the Messiah (comp. the name "Mohammed"); but the allusion is distinctly to the "precious possessions" of the nations; perhaps it should be vocalized "ḥamudot." For ii. 9 the Septuagint has a much more complete text, probably originally included (see Wellhausen, l.c., ad loc.). The Septuagint addition to ii. 14 is partly taken from Amos v. 10, and the whole looks like a gloss. In ii. 16 something seems to have dropped out of the text (see Nowack, l.c. p. 309). (ii. 17) is clearly corrupt; is the better reading proposed (Nowack, l.c.). In ii. 18, from to must be considered as an explanatory gloss by a later reader. At the end of verse 22 some verb seems to be required. Wellhausen supplies "shall fall." Instead of , in reference to the horses' undoing, Grätz ("Emendationes," ad loc.) proposes ("tremble").
The authenticity of ii. 20-23 has been impugned by Böhme (Stade's "Zeitschrift," vii. 215 et seq.) on the ground that (a) differences of expression indicate a different authorship, and that (b) their contents merely repeat Haggai's former assurances; yet this conclusion is not warranted. The concluding discourse is marked in the text as addressed to Zerubbabel alone. This accounts for the repetitions, if there be any; the differences in style are not so striking as to be incompatible with Haggai's authorship.The Historical Background.
It is clear that in 520
Haggai's description reveals the difficulties with which the small community had to contend; drought and dearth (i. 9 et seq., ii. 15) were among them; and the population must have been small. Under these disheartening circumstances, what encouraged the prophet to urge his people to the enterprise? The conditions of the Persian empire furnish a clue to the answer (comp. Isa.lx.); in the impending disruption of the Persian power he sees
In the large Behistun inscription, Darius has left the record of these disturbances, caused by the assassination of pseudo-Smerdis in 521. While Darius was busy fighting the Babylonian usurper Nidintubal, Persia, Susiana, Media, Assyria, Armenia, and other provinces, under various leaders, rose in rebellion against him. These campaigns kept Darius engaged during 520-519, the period of Haggai's first appeals (see Ed. Meyer, "Die Entstehung des Judentums"). Nevertheless, Nowack contends that the predictions in Haggai concerning the great upheavals which, while troubling and overturning all other nations, will result in establishing permanent peace in Jerusalem (ii. 9), are of the nature of eschatological apocalyptic speculations. Haggai, according to him, was the first to formulate the notion of an ultimate opposition between God's rule and that of the heathen nations. The rôle clearly assigned to Zerubbabel in the prediction of Haggai does not seem to be compatible with this assumption. He is too definite and too real a historical personage in the horizon of Haggai to admit of this construction. The "ideal" Messiah is always central in apocalyptic visions.
- W. A. Böhme, in Stade's Zeitschrift, vii. 215 et seq.;
- Dillmann, Jesaja, Leipsic, 1898;
- Duhm, Die Theologie der Propheten, Bonn, 1875;
- Hitzig, Die Kleinen Propheten, Leipsic, 1881;
- Eugene Hühn, Die Messianischen Weissagungen, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, 1899;
- A. Köhler, Die Weissagungen Haggai's, Erlangen, 1860;
- Koster, Het Herstel van Israel in het Perzische Tijdvak, Leyden, 1894;
- Ed. Meyer, Die Entstehung des Judentums, Halle, 1895;
- Nowack, Kleine Propheten, Göttingen, 1897;
- W. Pressel, Kommentar zu den Schriften der Propheten Haggai, etc., Gotha, 1870;
- T. T. Perowne, Haggai and Zechariah, Cambridge, 1888;
- Reinke, Der Prophet Haggai, Münster, 1868;
- Sellin, Serubbabel, Leipsic, 1898;
- George Adam Smith, The Book of the Twelve Prophets, New York, 1901;
- Wellhausen, Skizzen und Vorarbeiten, 2d ed., vol. v., Berlin, 1893.