Saturday, August 3, 2013

Study of Haggai for Tuesday Elul 1 (Aug7)

In preparation for Wednesday's study of Haggai we would like to post a few notes and suggestions.
Click on the event on the calendar at the end of the blog to get details of the study location.
Glenda Schroedel will lead the study and the selected theme is "Consider...Amend Your Ways".

NET© 1:5 Here then is what the Lord who rules over all says: ‘Think carefully about what you are doing.  10 tn Heb “Set your heart upon your ways” (see 2:15, 18); traditionally “Consider your ways” (so KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB)

1:5 ועתה כה אמר יהוה צבאות שׁימו לבבכם על דרכיכם
1:5 "Consider your ways" Literally this is "put your heart on your roads" (BDB 962, KB 1321, Qalimperative, also in v. 7; 2:15,18). They were urged to check their personal and collective motives for the inactivity in rebuilding the national Temple.

First suggestion, read the book of Haggai. It is only two chapters and will not take long.

I. A call to build the temple ch. 1
        A. Haggai’s first challenge 1:1-6
        B. Haggai’s second challenge 1:7-11
        C. The Israelites’ response 1:12-15
II. A promise of future glory for the temple 2:1-9
III. A promise of future blessing for the people 2:10-19
IV. A prophecy concerning Zerubbabel 2:20-23

Title and Writer
Notes on Haggai    Dr. Thomas L. Constable

The title of this prophetic book is also the name of its writer. Haggai referred to himself as simply “the prophet Haggai” (1:1; et al.) We know nothing about Haggai’s parents, ancestors, or tribal origin. His name apparently means “festal” or possibly “feast of Yahweh.” This is appropriate since much of what Haggai prophesied deals with millennial blessings. His name is a form of the Hebrew word hag, meaning “feast.” This has led some students of the book to speculate that Haggai’s birth may have occurred during one of Israel’s feasts.[1] Ezra mentioned that through the prophetic ministries of Haggai and Zechariah the returned Jewish exiles resumed and completed the restoration of their temple (Ezra 5:1; 6:14; cf. Zech. 8:9; 1 Esdras 6:1; 7:3; 2 Esdras 1:40;Ecclesiasticus 49:11). Haggai’s reference to the former glory of the temple before the Babylonians destroyed it (2:2) may or may not imply that he saw that temple. If he did, he would have been an old man when he delivered the messages that this book contains. In this case he may have been over 70 years old when he prophesied. However it is not at all certain that the reference in 2:2 implies that he saw the former temple.

Historical Background
Notes on Haggai    Dr. Thomas L. Constable

The Babylonians, led by King Nebuchadnezzar, destroyed the city of Jerusalem, including Solomon’s temple, in 586 B.C. and took most of the Jews captive to Babylon. There the Israelites could not practice their formal worship (religious cult) as the Mosaic Law prescribed because they lacked an authorized altar and temple. They prayed toward Jerusalem privately (cf. Dan. 6:10) and probably publicly, and they established synagogues where they assembled to hear their Law read and to worship God informally.

King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jewish exiles to return to their land in 538 B.C. At least three waves of returnees took advantage of this opportunity. The first of these was the group of almost 50,000 Jews that returned under the leadership of Sheshbazzar, and Zerubbabel who replaced him, in 537 B.C. (Ezra 1:2-4). Ezra led the second wave of 1,700 men plus women and children (perhaps about 5,000 individuals) back to Jerusalem in 458 B.C., and Nehemiah led the third wave of 42,000 Israelites back in 444 B.C. Haggai and Zechariah appear to have been two of the returnees who accompanied Sheshbazzar, as was Joshua the high priest, though Haggai’s name does not appear in the lists of returnees in the opening chapters of Ezra.

During the year that followed, the first group of returnees rebuilt the brazen altar in Jerusalem, resumed offering sacrifices on it, celebrated the feast of Tabernacles, and laid the foundation for the reconstruction of the (second) temple. Opposition to the rebuilding of the temple resulted in the postponement of construction for 16 years. During this long period, apathy toward temple reconstruction set in among the residents of Judah and Jerusalem. Then in 520 B.C., as a result of changes in the Persian government and the preaching of Haggai, the people resumed rebuilding the temple.[2] Haggai first sounded the call to resume construction in 520 B.C., and Zechariah soon joined him. Zechariah’s ministry lasted longer than Haggai’s. The returnees finished the project about five years later in 515 B.C. (cf. Ezra 1—6). One way to calculate the 70-year captivity is from the first deportation to Babylon in 605 B.C. to the year temple reconstruction began, 536 B.C. Another way is to count from the destruction of the temple in 586 B.C to the completion of temple restoration in 515 B.C.

Notes on Haggai    Dr. Thomas L. Constable

Haggai delivered four messages to the restoration community, and he dated all of them in the second year of King Darius I (Hystaspes) of Persia (i.e., 520 B.C.). Ezekiel and Daniel had probably died by this time. Haggai’s ministry, as this book records it, spanned less than four months, from the first day of the sixth month (1:1) to the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (2:20). Haggai’s ministry may have begun before 520 B.C. and continued a few years after it.[3] But that is speculation. In the modern calendar these dates would have been between August 29 and December 18, 520 B.C. This means that Haggai was the first writing prophet to address the returned Israelites. Zechariah began prophesying to the returnees in the eighth month of that same year (Zech. 1:1). Haggai was the most precise of all the prophets in dating his messages.

The precision in dating prophecies that marks Haggai and Zechariah reflects the annalistic style of history writing that distinguished Neo-Babylonian and Persian times.[4] Ezekiel, who was probably an older contemporary of these prophets, was the third most precise in dating his prophecies, and Daniel, another contemporary, also was precise but not as detailed. Likewise Ezra and Nehemiah, who wrote after Haggai and Zechariah, showed the same interest in chronological precision.

Probably Haggai wrote the book between 520 and 515 B.C., the year the returnees completed the temple. Lack of reference to the completion of the temple, while not a strong argument for this view, seems reasonable since mention of the completion of the temple would have finished off the book nicely.

VI. CHRONOLOGY OF THE PERIOD (taken from The Minor Prophets by Dr. Theo Laetsch, published by Concordia, p. 385.)
Darius' Regnal
1Hag. 1:1-11Haggai rouses the people into activity
24Hag. 1:12-15The people begin to build
Hag. 2:1-9The latter glory of God's temple

Zech. 1:1-6Zechariah begins to prophesy
24Hag. 2:10-19God will begin to bless
Hag. 2:20-23Messiah's kingdom established after overthrow of world powers

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