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Book of the Twelve Prophets of the Tanakh Old Testament
Minor Prophets
Names after the ÖVBE

Haggai ( Hebrew חגי The one born on the feast day ; Greek ᾿Aγγαίος , Latin Haggäus ) was a prophet and author of the book of prophets named after him in the Tanach . According to Hag 1.1, Ezra 5.1  EU and 6.14 EU, he worked around 520 BC. Chr. At the temple in Jerusalem when it was rebuilt, and was thus probably among the Jewish returnees from the Babylonian exile . The book Haggai belongs to the Twelve Prophets in Judaism and thus also to the Old Testament of Christianity .


The main theme of the book is the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. His prophecies date back to 520 BC. Dated, with exact dates. It contains four speeches.

  • 1. Speech ( Hag 1,1–15  EU ), call of God to resume work on the temple
  • 2. Speech ( Hag 2,1–9  EU ), prophecy of the glory of the future temple
  • 3rd speech ( Hag 2,10–19  EU ), promise of God's blessing after the long time of judgment when the people live in holiness again
  • 4. Speech ( Hag 2.20-23  EU ), prophecy of the coming judgment for the rest of the world and the honor of Zerubbabel .


The four speeches in the book Haggai are dated to the exact day (1.1 EU ; 2.1 EU ; 2.10 EU ; 2.20 EU ) and took place in the second half of the year 520 BC. In Jerusalem. The dating system, however, is likely to have been incorporated into the Haggais prophetic script as a secondary element.

The social and economic situation of Judah around 519 BC Chr.

Presumably there was a coalition interested in rebuilding the temple (late summer 520 BC): On the one hand, the priesthood, who could get work again by building the temple; on the other hand the realpoliticians who wanted to use the benevolence of the Persian governor Zerubbabel for their restoration efforts. But there were also weighty reasons that spoke against a re-establishment.

The economic situation in Judah was catastrophic as a result of a lengthy period of drought. The reintegration of returnees also caused problems; Some of the property claims of the returnees had to be decided by a court, so there was considerable social tension. Rather, the population was concerned with securing their own standard of living. ( Hag 1,6.9.10 f.  EU ; 2.16 EU ; Sach 8.10  EU )

There were also theological objections to the construction of the temple: In the desolate situation one did not see the sign of YHWH for the rebuilding ( Hag 1,2  EU ), even Jeremiah had already warned, according to his deuteronomist interpreters, against placing false trust in the temple, and instead the improvement of the social situation demanded ( JerEU : the temple address of Jeremiah). Above all, the prophetic-Deuteronomic groups of those who stayed at home wanted to address social problems first.

Haggai's theological initiative

There was a change in public opinion with Haggai and Zechariah . Realpolitical interests were combined with utopian potential, which the two prophets brought in in connection with the exile prophecy of salvation. Both did an enormous amount of persuasion: The task was to motivate the political and priestly leaders and a large part of the population to build the temple ( Hag 1,2–11  EU ) and ( Hag 2,3–9  EU ; Jehoshua's mention in 2,4 goes back to the Haggai chronicler, who also carried out the dating. See the section on the theological processing of the failed restoration).

Haggai appeared in the first three months of the temple construction (September 29th – December 13th, 520). He probably came from the circles of the former court prophecy and moves in conservative national ideas. For him the temple was a prerequisite for blessing; its absence explains the economic situation ( Hag 1, 2–9  EU ). In addition to the priesthood, the Davidide Zerubbabel, to whom YHWH would promise unconditional assistance, was responsible for building the temple. With the completion of the temple, Haggai connected the hope of a restitution of the Davidic kingship and the earth-shaking intervention of YHWH. At the same time the rejection of Jehoiachins should be paradigmatically withdrawn - ( Hag 2,23  EU cf. Jer 22,24  EU ).

With the concrete act of building the temple, Haggai and Zechariah aroused much more far-reaching hopes for restoration, which quickly turned out to be a dangerous illusion.


The temple restoration as a prophetic project

Ezra 1-7  EU presents it as if the decisive impulse to v already at 538th Started from Cyrus II. In the meantime, the historians have provided evidence that the presentation in connection with Deutero-Isaiah represents a theological narrative of the chronicler who, in embellishing words, profusely eventitledCyrus II as the “anointed of the Lord” ( Isa. 45.1 ff.  EU ).

The reconstruction was started under Darius I and Zerubbabel and Yeshua. The initiative for this project came from the Jewish returnees, who sent a written request to the satrap Tatnai.

The king as a temple builder in the environment of Israel

On the one hand, temple building in the ancient oriental environment is always primarily an initiative of the gods. So it is z. E.g. the epic Enûma-Elîš . On the other hand, this task is also the responsibility of the kings. To R. LUX : "The nexus of power and holiness is not an Arcanum , but rather is designed essentially to public and visualization down. The fact that the respective ruler had a special relationship with the deity should become visible to the whole world. ”According to Christoph UELINGER, this is called“ figurative policy ”.

Ashurbanipal (668–626 BC) carrying baskets for Marduk

The ancient oriental environment has firmly anchored the king as a temple builder in its iconography and epigraphy . The representation of the king as a temple builder - with a carrying basket - belongs to the standard repertoire from the 3rd millennium BC. Until the New Babylonian Empire.

The motif of the temple building is often combined with other motifs of royal theology. So the order to build or rebuild a temple can be done by the deity in a dream. It is also often those kings who have proven themselves victorious as warlords; working on the sanctuary is more than just a gesture of thanks! Against this background, it is also to be understood why Zerubbabel's excavation of the foundation stone must have been a royal gesture ( Zech 4,6-10  EU ).

And again and again in the environment the temple construction is linked to the request to consolidate the dynasty. At the end of a building inscription by Nabopolassar it says:

"Mr. Marduk, look at my deeds with joy, and in response to your sublime word, which is unchangeable, may this work, the work of my hands, grow old for ever! As the bricks of Etemenaki are firm for ever, establish the foundation of my throne firmly until distant days! "

- TUAT II, ​​493

This is where the most striking point of contact between the environment of Israel and what, for example, the Deuteronomistic History ( 2 SamuelEU ) elaborates as temple theology in connection with the Davidid dynasty. That this was not entirely undisputed is shown e.g. B. Jeremiah in the temple discourse JerEU .

During the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple, different opinions collide; While Tritojesaja reveals himself to be an opponent of the temple building ( Isa. 66.1 f.  EU in connection with Nathan prophecy, which is critical of the temple) and emphasizes God's sovereignty independent of all human actions and planning, there are other voices who not only support the temple building, but rather rather, hoped that it would revive the Davidic dynasty.

There must have been such hopes in the province of Judah. Only in this way can it be understood why Haggai and Zechariah were so convinced that Zerubbabel, Jehoiachin's grandson, was the person responsible for building the temple. If Zerubbabel is promised the re-election and withdrawal of the rejection of his grandfather within the Haggai basic class, which advertises the temple building in all pieces ( Hag 2.23  EU with motivational reference to Jer 22.24 f.  EU ), then he must too have moved in the common oriental idea, according to which the above-mentioned connection between king and temple belongs. For Haggai 2.23  EU and Zechariah 4.6-10  EU it is the Davidide Zerubbabel who brings out the foundation stone of the Old Temple again.

Temple building as an initiative of the gods

The ancient oriental theology paralleled the creation of the cosmos with the temple building; so was Esagila example, a kind of "navel of the world" as the Enuma Eliš holds. The connection between creation and sanctuary, which is anchored in mythology, suggests that the latter can by no means be at the discretion of man. Temple building is the work of creation, imitation of the gods (imitatio deorum). So there had to be a vote of the gods. With their work, the temple builders ultimately contributed to the stabilization and anchoring of the earthly and cosmic order. Therefore, the order to build a temple is often given by the gods themselves.

Also in Haggai and Zechariah there is a prophetic call to build a temple, which is supposed to tame the chaos. In Haggai, the chain of initiatives “God - King - Temple building by the people” is replaced by the sequence “God - Prophet - Representatives of the people (Zerubbabel [+ Yehoshua]) - Temple building by the people”. This difference is less important when you consider that the other kings also used various prophetic or mantic (oracle) techniques. However, it is not the representatives of the people who use the prophet, but YHWH uses the people's representative through the prophet and thus the people.

The continuity of the place

As in Gen 28,10 ff.  EU , in the ancient oriental environment the temple site is often found with dream faces or special revelations, so also 2 Sam 24  EU . That means that the location of a temple is not at the discretion of the temple builder, i.e. the king. The continuity of the place is also given according to Haggai and Zechariah 4, 6-10  EU .

An attempt at a historical evaluation

According to R. Lux, the construction of the Second Temple remains a prophetic project - otherwise Haggai would not have had to encourage and strengthen Zerubbabel (and Yehoshua?) And the rest of the people (שארית־העם) in such a way. The seal word also fits this assumption well. Perhaps Zerubbabel was actually only entrusted with pacifying the western flank to Egypt, so it was only supposed to stabilize the Judean community. That Haggai had a potential temple builder with this Davidid is only possible from this, but does not have to have been a declared goal of the Persian mission from the outset.

See also


  • Rainer Albertz : The time of exile. 6th century BC Chr. (= BE, 7). Stuttgart 2001, pp. 97-112.
  • Rainer Albertz: Religious history of Israel in the Old Testament period. Part 2: From exile to the Maccabees (floor plans for the Old Testament VIII / 2). Pp. 468-497
  • Rüdiger Lux : The king as a temple builder. Notes on the sacred legitimation of rule in the Old Testament. In: F.-R.Erkens (Hrsg.): Legitimation of rule in the change of times and spaces. Berlin 2002, pp. 99-122.
  • Rüdiger Lux: The Second Temple of Jerusalem - a Persian or a prophetic project? In: Uwe Becker , Jürgen van Oorschot (Ed.): The Old Testament - a history book ?! Historiography and history transmission in ancient Israel (= ABG 17). Leipzig 2005, 145–172.
  • Rüdiger Lux: Prophecy and Second Temple. Studies on Haggai and Zechariah. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2009, ISBN 978-3-16-149830-5 .
  • Hans Walter WolffHaggai / Haggaibuch . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie (TRE). Volume 14, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1985, ISBN 3-11-008583-6 , pp. 355-360 (encyclopedic introduction with research literature).
  • J. Wöhrle: The early collections of the twelve prophet book. Origin and composition (= supplements to the journal for Old Testament science 360). Berlin 2006, pp. 285-385.
  • Erich Zenger (Ed.): Introduction to the Old Testament . 6., through. Ed., Stuttgart / Berlin / Cologne 2006.

Web links

Wiktionary: Haggai  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence