Haggai is the first of the postexilic prophets. These three: Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi proclaim the word of God in an entirely new age. The former prophets denounced Israel’s sins and announced the imminent Judgment. Now, after the trial of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Exile in Babylon, the Jewish community must rebuild the nation, and this is when the prophets demand that first, the Temple must be rebuilt. It is a fact that the Jews (and this is true for us, too) had to serve God before asking him for the solution to their problems.
Haggai’s message is prophetic in another sense: it initiates a new stage in Sacred History in which the growth of the Jewish people will depend on their faithfulness to the Law and on their worship. The Temple is already the Dwelling place of God among his people. They have to wait also for a mysterious coming of God: that day when he will come to visit his people.
Against those who think only of their own house
1In the second year of the reign of Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, a word of Yahweh was directed to the prophet Haggai for the benefit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.
2“So says Yahweh of Hosts: This people claim that the time to rebuild the House of Yahweh has not yet come. 3Well now, hear what I have to say through the prophet Haggai: 4Is this the time for you to live in your well-built houses while this House is a heap of ruins? 5Think about your ways: 6you have sown much but harvested little, you eat and drink but are not satisfied, you clothe yourselves but still feel cold, and the laborer puts the money he earned in a tattered purse.
7Now think about what you must do: 8go to the mountain and look for wood to rebuild the House. This will make me happy and I will feel deeply honored, says Yahweh. 9You expected much but it turned out to be very little. I blew away what you had piled up. Why? Because my House lies in ruins while each of you goes running home. 10Therefore the heavens have withheld rain, and the earth has not produced anything. 11I sent drought upon the valley and the hills, upon the wheat and the vines, the oil and whatever the soil produces, upon people and animals, and upon any work of your hands.”
12Now, when Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, 13and all the people heard these words of the prophet Haggai whom Yahweh had sent to speak to them, they paid attention to what Yahweh had told them and the people were filled with respect for God.
14Then Haggai, the messenger of Yahweh, passed on to the people this word of Yahweh, “I am with you.” Then Yahweh moved the heart of Zerubbabel, Joshua and all the people, and they began rebuilding the House of Yahweh of Hosts, their God. 15It was the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.
1On the twenty-first day of the seventh month of the second year of the reign of Darius, this word of Yahweh was sent through the prophet Haggai, 2“Give this message to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the high priest, and to all the people:
The glory of the new temple
•3Is there left among you one of those who saw this house long ago in the time of its glory? What do they think of what they see now? Is it not a very little thing? 4But I say to you, Zerubbabel, Joshua and my people: do not be discouraged. Begin to work, for I am with you, says Yahweh. 5Do not be afraid, for my spirit is in your midst.
6Thus says Yahweh of Hosts, within a short while I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the continents. 7Then I will shake all the nations and bring in the treasures of the whole world. I will fill this House with glory, says Yahweh. 8I will have as much silver and gold as I wish. 9The renown of this Temple will be greater than before, and in this place I will give peace,” says Yahweh of Hosts.
•10On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of Yahweh was directed again to the prophet Haggai. 11He should ask the priests to resolve the following case in accordance with the Law: 12“If someone brings consecrated meat wrapped in his cloak, and the edge of his cloak touches bread, cooked food, wine, oil, or any other food, will all these become consecrated food?” They immediately answered, “No.”
13Haggai went on to say, “But if someone becomes unclean by having touched a dead body, and then touches any of these things, will all these become unclean?” This time the priests said, “Yes.”
14Then Haggai addressed them, “So it is with this people and this nation before me, says Yahweh, so with everything they do and all they offer here: all is unclean.
15Pay attention to this from now on: how was it with you before the rebuilding of the Temple was begun? 16You expected twenty sacks of wheat, but there were only ten. You thought of drawing out fifty measures of wine but there were only twenty. 17I spoiled all your work with blight, mildew and hail. Yet none returned to me, says the Lord.
18Pay attention, then, from now on, since the first stone of the Sanctuary of Yahweh was laid. 19See if the wheat, the vine, the fig tree and the pomegranate go on yielding little! From this day on I will bless your olive trees.”
Promises to Zerubbabel
•20The word of Yahweh came again to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the same month, 21“Say to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah: 22I will overthrow the thrones of the kings and destroy the power of the nations. I will overturn the chariot and its driver; the horses and their riders shall tumble down to the ground. They will kill one another. 23On that day I will take you, Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, and for me you will be like a ring on my finger with my initials on it. For I have chosen you, says Yahweh of Hosts.”