POSTED 24 OCTOBER, 2017
Approximate date: 520 B.C.E. (Right, conservative-moderate); 520-400s B.C.E. (Left)
Time period: construction of the Second Temple
Author(s): Haggai (Right, some conservative-moderate); Haggai and/or anonymous other(s) (some conservative moderate, some Left); anonymous (some Left)
Location of prophet/author(s): somewhere in Judah (Right, conservative-moderate, Left)
Target audience and their location: Jewish exiles having returned from Babylon
Theological Summary: Haggai was a post-exilic prophet who was used by God to encourage the returned Jewish exiles to rebuild the Temple (Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14). The name Chaggai means “festal,” “which would suggest that the prophet was born on some feast day” (IDB), probably with an intended connection to one of the three major pilgrimage feasts (Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles). We do not know very much about Haggai’s background. Some have speculated (cf. 2:3) that Haggai was present when the First Temple was destroyed, making him very old by the time his prophecies were delivered. Others, however, doubt this and believe that Haggai was probably a child when he arrived in Judea, having been born in the exile. Neither view should significantly alter our interpretation of the text. Haggai began to prophesy at the time after Cyrus the Great of Persia allowed around 50,000 Jewish exiles to return home to the Land of Israel (Ezra 2:64; Nehemiah 7:66), forming the Persian province of Yehud. Haggai is the second shortest book in the Tanach, after Obadiah.
Haggai’s messages are some of the most precisely dated in the whole of the Tanach, given in a four month period in 520 B.C.E. The two main dates are likely August 29 (first day of the sixth month) and December 18 (twenty-fourth day of the ninth month) as seen in 1:1; 2:1, 10. While these dates can be important to consider, there is a danger of placing an over-emphasis on them, when Haggai’s prophetic ministry surely lasted more than four months.Book_of_Haggai
One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.
Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.
A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.