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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

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Commentary on Haggai

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1.1–15a :

A report of a divine announcement or exhortation and the people's response to it. This is the first report. It includes an introduction of the divine announcement (v. 1 ), the divine announcement itself (vv. 2–11 ), and a report of the reception of the announcement (vv. 12–15a ).

1 :

The beginning of the book serves as an introduction to the entire book. It deals with the word of the LORD that is associated with a particular prophet of the past, namely Haggai. In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month: The year is 520 BCE, and the day is the 1st of ’Elul (= 29 August, 520 BCE). This date refers to the first divine message reported in the book. The month is the last before the seventh month—i.e., Tishri—with all its appointed festivals and sacred occasions (see Lev. ch 23, esp. vv. 23–36; Num. ch 29 ), the month associated with the building and dedication of the first Temple (see 1 Kings ch 8 ). This date may have connoted a sense of a new beginning to the readers. The second year of Darius, 520, is the one in which he consolidated his control over the empire, after a difficult civil war. This year is mentioned as the time of the renewed beginning of the building of the Second Temple in Ezra 4.24 ; according to Ezra 6.15 , the house was completed in the sixth year of Darius. The second year of Darius is also associated with divine messages reported in the book of Zechariah. The divine message here is not directed to all the people, but to the two leaders, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah and the high priest, Joshua. Thus the book already conveys and legitimates a model of dual leadership. (This was the model of local government of Yehud during the Persian period. It replaced that of the monarchic period that came to an end when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar abolished the kingdom of Judah, and in turn it was replaced by one in which the high priest became the local ruler by the early Hellenistic period.) The divine message reported here concerns building the Temple. Building temples is the prerogative and obligation of kings. The construction of a major temple had to be approved and supported by the king. The book recognizes that the king at the time was Darius (see Hag. 1.1, 15; 2.10 ). Still, the text does not relate the construction of the Temple to Darius, or to any Persian king for that matter (contrast Ezra 1.2; 5.13; 6.14 and see the tone of Ezra ch 6 ). In Haggai, the dual leadership of a high priest and a governor fulfills the expected role of a king. The claim in the text that the LORD encouraged them to build the Temple conveys necessary legitimacy to their leadership and their role as temple builders, as well as to the fruit of their work, the Second Temple. Conversely, the building of the Temple certainly conferred some kingly imagery on the two leaders. Still, the text here unequivocally refers to one as the high priest (see also 1.12, 14; 2.2, 4 ) and the other as the governor (see also 1.14; 2.2, 21 ). On the role of the personage Zerubbabel, see also Ezra chs 3–4; Zech. ch 4 and following notes. Some Jewish traditions claimed that the Darius mentioned here is the son of Esther and Ahasuerus (see Rashi; Ibn Ezra; cf. Lev. Rab. 13.4 ). From a historical per‐ spective, this claim is certainly impossible, but the value of this interpretation does not rest in its historicity, but rather in the way it expresses beliefs and worldviews and responds to questions that the reading of the text may raise. Here this interpretation directly links the ruler who allowed and encouraged the building of the Temple with the Jewish people in general, and in particular their heroine, Esther (cf. Tamar, Ruth, Hannah).

2 :

The text implies that the people thought that there was a correct, prescribed time for rebuilding the Temple, and that such a time had not yet come (cf. 2 Chron. 36.20–23; Ezra 1.1–2 ). In the ancient Near East, temples were not supposed to be built by anyone except royal figures (see above), and they were not supposed to be built at any random time, but at the time favored by the gods. The people's attitude is facilitated by the success they felt in Babylonia, where God's presence was not expressed through the building of a temple.

4–10 :

The basic message is that the presence of the Temple is a necessary condition for the prosperity of the land and the people. Of course, the Temple, to be effective, must be a proper one from a divine perspective. The passages that follow in the book deal with that matter.

13 :

Cf. 2.5; Isa. 40.10; 43.5 .

14 :

Cf. 2 Chron. 36.22; Hag 1.2 n.

15 :

According to the text, the two leaders and the people set to work on the Temple on the 24th of ’Elul, just before the beginning of the seventh month. In a relatively unusual case, the v. includes both the final sentence of the first report and the introduction of the second one (In the second‐…).

1.15b–2.9 :

A report of a divine announcement: The new Temple will be an appropriate “house of the LORD.” The divine message here is addressed to both the two leaders and all the people. It is set on the 21st of Tishri, about a month since the leaders and the people took action, and in the last day of a festival, Sukkot. The text does not address the potential significance of this time of the year for the narrative, but leaves it for the book's readers to discern. The divine message reported here does not deal with the construction of the Temple per se, but with the question of whether the new Temple is an appropriate Temple for the LORD. The underlying issue is the plain incongruity between the expected glory of the house of a king who is sovereign over all and the absolute lack of splendor of a relatively small temple of a minor, poor province (cf. Ezra 3.12–13 ). Can this temple be appropriate? May they expect such a temple to be pleasing to the LORD, even if it has not received the type of legitimating sign seen at the completion of the first Temple (1 Kings 8.10–11 )? Would the LORD be with them in such a case? The report serves to allay these concerns of both the people described in the book and, above all, the readers for whom the book was written, since the incongruity characterized their days too. Further, according to the book, it was the LORD who answered these questions and legitimized the readership's Temple. Still the text recognizes the incongruity and maintains that in the future it will be rectified. At that time the wealth of the world would flow to the house of the LORD of all (vv. 7–8 ). Here the text assumes common, ancient Near Eastern concepts, namely that the wealth of a dominion should flow to the house of the ruler of the dominion, and that the manifestation of the glory of a king relates to the wealth flowing to him from the different nations and places under his dominion.

6 :

This v. is quite remarkable within the prophetic worldview. Usually consolation is predicted for some vague future time, rather than In just a little while longer.

8 :

The expression silver is Mine and gold is Mine was taken by the Rabbis as teaching that gaining silver or gold is not an appropriate goal for mortals. Instead they stressed that Torah and good deeds are such goals. See m. ’Avot 6.9 .

9 :

The LXX adds at the end of the v. a sentence that may be translated as “and peace of soul as a possession for all who build, to erect this temple.”

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