Title (Hag 1:1-1:1)

“In the second year

Of King Darius,

In the sixth month,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came by the prophet Haggai,

To Zerubbabel,

The son of Shealtiel,

Governor of Judah.

It also came

To Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak,

The high priest.”

There is a precise date to this prophetic happening, August, 520 BCE, the second year of the great King Darius of Persia (522-486 BCE).  During his reign, he ruled over nearly ½ of the known world, over 50,000,000 people.  The word of Yahweh came through the prophet Haggai, although there is no mention of his family.  Perhaps he was one of those returning from the exile in Babylon.  In the Book of Ezra, chapter 5, Haggai and Zechariah were explicitly mentioned as prophets.  There was also a eunuch servant Haggai in the Book of Esther, but there seems to be no connection to this Haggai.  This Haggai was to prophesize to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, who was the grandson of one of the last kings of Judah, King Jehoiachin (598 BCE).  Thus, he could be in the Davidic line.  He probably died sometime around 520 BCE, sometime around the events described here.  King Cyrus had appointed Zerubbabel to be the Governor of Judah in 538 BCE, when he was among the first exiles sent back to Jerusalem.  Joshua, the son of Jehozadak was the high priest in Jerusalem from 515-490 BCE.

Advertisements

The response of Amos (Am 7:14-7:15)

“Then Amos answered Amaziah.

‘I am no prophet.

I am not a prophet’s son.

But I am a herdsman.

I am a dresser

Of sycamore trees.

Yahweh took me

From following the flock.

Yahweh said to me.

‘Go!

Prophesy to my people Israel!’”

Amos responded that he was not a professional prophet, nor the son of a prophet, nor part of any prophetic group. He was a simple shepherd or herdsman. He loved to take care of sycamore trees. Yahweh had taken him away from his flock and told him to prophesize to the people of Israel. Remember that King David was also a shepherd. Obviously, that was considered a badge of honor to be a lowly shepherd, something that Jesus of Nazareth would also mention.

Amos was told to leave Israel (Am 7:11-7:13)

“Thus Amos has said.

‘Jeroboam shall die

By the sword!

Israel must go

Into exile

Away from his land!’

Amaziah said

To Amos.

‘O seer!

Go!

Flee away

To the land

Of Judah!

Earn your bread there!

Prophesy there!

But never again prophesy

At Bethel!

It is the king’s sanctuary.

It is a temple

Of the kingdom.’”

Amos had said that King Jeroboam II would die by the sword. Amos had also said that Israel would go into exile. Thus, Amaziah, the main priest at Bethel, told Amos to go back to Judah. There he could earn his keep and prophesize. However, he was to never again prophesize at Bethel, since that was the king’s sanctuary, the temple for the northern kingdom of Israel. This northern priest wanted Amos to go south to Judah, since he did not like what Amos was saying.

Yahweh is the cause (Am 3:6-3:8)

“Is a trumpet

Blown in a city,

With the people not afraid?

Does disaster befall a city,

Unless Yahweh has done it?

Surely Yahweh God

Does nothing,

Without revealing

His secret

To his servants,

The prophets.

The lion has roared,

Who will not fear?

Yahweh God

Has spoken.

Who can but prophesy?”

It turns out that the cause of everything is Yahweh. If a trumpet blows in a city, the people are afraid. No disaster comes to a city, unless Yahweh had decided to make it happen. However, Yahweh God revealed his secrets to his servants, the prophets. When the lion roared, people were afraid. Thus, when Yahweh speaks, the prophets must prophesize.

The outpouring of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-2:29)

“Then afterward,

I will pour out

My Spirit

On all flesh.

Your sons,

As well as your daughters,

Shall prophesy.

Your old men

Shall dream dreams.

Your young men

Shall see visions.

In those days,

I will pour out

My Spirit,

Even on the male slaves,

Even on the female slaves.”

This is the outpouring of the Spirit that Peter will later talk about in the Acts of the Apostles. This Spirit will come upon all humans, the young men, the sons, with the young women, the daughters. These young people will prophesize, while the old men will dream dreams. The young men will see visions. Even the male and female slaves will receive this outpouring of the Spirit. In the Jerusalem Bible, this is chapter 3, not the end of chapter 2. However, I will follow the numeration as in the Oxford Bible here.

The idea of an attack (Ezek 38:14-38:14)

“Therefore,

Son of man!

Prophesy!

Say to Gog!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘On that day,

When my people Israel

Are living securely,

You will rouse yourself.’”

Yahweh once again wanted Ezekiel to prophesize to Gog, but I am not sure how Ezekiel and Gog would connect. When the Israelites had returned to live securely on their land, Gog should rouse himself to plan an attack on them. It seemed like Yahweh wanted Gog to attack Israel.

Against Gog (Ezek 38:1-38:2)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Set your face

Toward Gog,

Of the land of Magog.

The chief prince

Of Meshech

With Tubal.

Prophesy against him!’”

This section represents an example of apocalyptic literature. The emphasis in this type of literature is on a future that would be better compared to the sufferings of the present time. This thinking predominated in Second Temple Judaism after the return from the exile. This Messianic hope prefigured a future victory of good over evil. The prophet Daniel and the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse are better examples of this apocalyptic literature. As usual, the word of God came to Ezekiel, the son of man. However, this time he was to prophesize against Gog. Who is this Gog? This is the first mention of Gog in the biblical literature, who clearly was an enemy of Yahweh. There appears to be no historical basis for this Gog from Magog. According to Genesis, chapter 10, Magog was descended from Japheth, the son of Noah. Here Gog is a person and Magog is the land where he comes from. However, in later literature they were usually combined into ‘Gog and Magog,’ perhaps due to the Septuagint Greek translation. Magog might have been a code name for Babylon. There were also other legends about Gog and Magog in the later Greek and Roman times. Both are mentioned in later Jewish and Muslim writings. Meshech and Tubal were 7th century BCE kingdoms in Asia Minor or present day Turkey. Gog appears to be the chief prince of these two kingdoms also.