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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Religious and Theological Issues.

1.

To speak of Haggai is to speak of the temple and its manifold significance (cf. Clines 1993 ). To read the Hebrew phrase, ‘YHWH's house’, and to contemplate a time without such a house presents the problem with which this book is concerned. How is YHWH to be present with the people if the deity's residence is in ruins? To be sure, God could not be encapsulated by the temple, but without that earlier and powerful religious symbol, Israel's notions of both the immanence and transcendence of the deity stood in crisis. Further, Haggai reveals that there was a debate about whether 520 BCE was the time for such a crisis to be resolved, so Hag 1:2 (see Bedford 1995 ).

2.

Haggai refers at numerous points to the weal that will ensue when the temple is rebuilt. Such promises encourage the leaders and the populace to undertake the task of rebuilding the temple. According to this prophetic historical account, Haggai was successful; the temple was rededicated during his period of prophetic activity. One can only surmise about the reaction of the people to the various promises uttered by the prophet ( 2:6–7, 19, 21–2 ). Still, both the exilic Isaiah (Isa 40–55 ) and Haggai offered exuberant rhetoric on behalf of the return and reconstruction of Judah; and both prophets' words remain in the canon even though Jerusalem's gates were not made of jewels and her walls of precious stones (Isa 54:12 ).

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