Here’s another review from volume 10 of the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, this time on the short book of Haggai. Andrew Hill covers Haggai, along with Zechariah and Malachi, giving continuity to these three closely related books.
One nice feature of Haggai’s ministry is that it can be precisely dated and located in Israel’s history. Haggai was a herald sounding a wake-up call to a community that was spiritually asleep. In particular he wanted to stir them up to rebuild the temple. He emphasised the abiding presence of God’s Spirit. Some key themes of Haggai include:
- A call to reprioritize community life
- Reiteration of promises of blessing and restoration
- Ritual purity for priests and people – they are to be holy
- The prominence of the Davidic line
As with all the commentaries in this series, the authors explain the meaning of a section, and then move to some quick, theological reflection, often linking in other parts of Scripture. So for example, Hill offers helpful comments on putting the significance of the temple into its proper place. He highlights how Haggai makes regular use of the name “Lord of Heaven’s Armies” for God.
On the second chapter, Hill shows how Haggai draws on themes from Ezekiel and Jeremiah’s prophecies in previous times, and overturns Jeremiah’s curse on the Davidic line (Jer 22:24-30), rekindling the messianic hopes that had been dashed by the Babylonian exile. He points out that though the second temple did not outstrip the glory of Solomon’s temple in terms of architectural magnificence, the real glory consists of God’s presence in and amongst his people.
Overall, this has been one of my favourite commentaries in this volume so far. Hill has made effective use of the short space available to make this a good companion to those wanting to do a brief study of Haggai.