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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Hag´gai. One of the twelve minor prophets, and the first of the three who, after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile, prophesied in Palestine. Of the place and year of his birth, his descent, and the leading incidents of his life, nothing is known which can be relied on. This much appears from his prophecies, that he flourished during the reign of the Persian monarch Darius Hystaspis, who ascended the throne B.C. 521. These prophecies are comprised in a book of two chapters, and consist of discourses remarkably brief and summary. Their object generally is to urge the rebuilding of the Temple, which had indeed been commenced as early as B.C. 535 (), but was afterwards discontinued, the Samaritans having obtained an edict from the Persian king, which forbade further procedure, and influential Jews pretending that the time for rebuilding the Temple had not arrived, since the seventy years predicted by Jeremiah applied to the Temple also, from the time of the destruction of which it was then only the sixty-eighth year. As on the death of Pseudo-Smerdis, and the consequent termination of his interdict, the Jews still continued to wait for the end of the seventy years, and were only engaged in building splendid houses for themselves, Haggai began to prophesy in the second year of Darius, B.C. 520.

His first discourse (Haggai 1), delivered on the first day of the sixth month of the year mentioned, foretells that a brighter era would begin as soon as Jehovah's house was rebuilt; and a notice is subjoined, stating that the address of the prophet had been effective, the people having resolved on resuming the restoration of the Temple. The second discourse (), delivered on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, predicts that the glory of the new Temple would be greater than that of Solomon's, and shows that no fear need be entertained of the Second Temple not equaling the first in splendor, since, in a remarkable political revolution, the gifts of the Gentiles would be brought thither. The third discourse (), delivered on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, refers to a period when building materials had been collected, and the workmen had begun to put them together; for which a commencement of the Divine blessing is promised. The fourth and last discourse (), delivered also on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, is exclusively addressed to Zerubbabel, the political chief of the new Jewish colony, who, it appears, had asked for an explanation regarding the great political revolutions which Haggai had predicted in his second discourse: it comforts the governor by assuring him they would not take place very soon, and not in his lifetime. The style of the discourses of Haggai is suitable to their contents: it is pathetic when he exhorts; it is vehement when he reproves; it is somewhat elevated when he treats of future events; and it is not altogether destitute of a poetical coloring, though a prophet of a higher order would have depicted the splendor of the Second Temple in brighter hues. The language labors under a poverty of terms, as may be observed in the constant repetition of the same expressions. The prophetical discourses of Haggai are referred to in the Old and New Testament (;;; comp.; ). In most of the ancient catalogues of the canonical books of the Old Testament, Haggai is not, indeed, mentioned by name; but as they specify the twelve Minor Prophets, he must have been included among them, as otherwise their number would not be full.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Haggai'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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