Who saw the original Temple? (Hag 2:2-2:3)

“Haggai said.

‘Speak now to Zerubbabel,

The son of Shealtiel,

The governor of Judah.

Speak now

To Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak,

The high priest.

Speak now

To all the remnant

Of the people.’

Say.

‘Who is left among you

That saw this house

In its former glory?

How does it look to you now?

Is it not in your sight

As nothing?’”

Haggai once again spoke to the people of Jerusalem with the same enumeration as in the preceding chapter, Governor Zerubbabel, the high priest Joshua, and the remnant of the people.  Haggai wanted to know who was there who remembered the old Temple, since they would have to be then 70 or 80 years old.  Who remembered the former glory?  How did it look now in ruins, as if it was nothing?

The restoration of Israel (Jer 50:19-50:20)

“‘I will restore Israel

To its pasture.

It shall feed on Carmel.

It shall feed in Bashan.

It shall feed on the hills of Ephraim.

It shall feed in Gilead.

Its hunger shall be satisfied.’

Says Yahweh.

‘In those days,

At that time,

The iniquity of Israel

Shall be sought.

None shall be found.

The sins in Judah,

Shall be sought.

None shall be found.

I will pardon

The remnant

That I have spared.’”

Both Israel and Judah would be restored. In the former northern Israelite kingdom, there would be plenty of satisfying food as four specific places are mentioned here, the Mediterranean costal Carmel area, the Bashan area on the east side of the Jordan River, the Ephraim territory north of the Benjamin territory, and the east bank area of the Gilead in the former Gad and Manasseh territory. No longer would there be any iniquity or sins found in Israel or Judah, even though people would look for them. Yahweh would forgive the sins of the remnant that was spared. All would be good again.

 

The day of destruction for the Philistines (Jer 47:3-47:4)

“At the noise

Of the stamping

Of the hoofs

Of his stallions,

At the clatter

Of his chariots,

At the rumbling

Of their wheels,

The parents do not

Look back

For children.

Their hands are so feeble.

The day is coming

To destroy

All the Philistines.

They will be cut off

From Tyre and Sidon,

From every helper

That remains.

Yahweh is destroying

The Philistines,

The remnant

Of the coastland

Of Caphtor.”

The Philistines were going to hear the hoofs of the stallions of these invaders. They would hear the noise of the rumbling chariot wheels. Parents would not turn back to save their children, because their own hands would be too weak. The Philistines would be destroyed, since they were cut off from any help from the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. Yahweh was going to destroy the remnant of the coastal people, who may have come from the island of Caphtor or Crete.

They all go to Egypt (Jer 43:4-43:7)

“So Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the commanders

Of the forces,

With all the people,

Did not obey

The voice of Yahweh,

To stay in the land of Judah.

But Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the commanders

Of the forces,

Took all the remnant of Judah,

Who had returned

To settle in the land of Judah

From all the nations

To which they had been driven.

This included

The men,

The women,

The children,

The princesses,

As well as everyone

Whom Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Had left with Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

The son of Shaphan.

This also included

The prophet Jeremiah

With Baruch,

The son of Neriah.

They came into the land of Egypt.

They did not obey

The voice of Yahweh.

They arrived at Tahpanhes.”

Jeremiah recounts that Johanan with all his commanders did not obey the voice of Yahweh to stay in Judah. They then took all the remnant of those people who had returned to Judah from the other countries to be with the former governor of Judah, Gedaliah. Thus they took the men, women, children, with the royal princesses and all those that the Babylonian captain Nebuzaradan had handed over to Gedaliah to take care of. This group also included Jeremiah and his secretary Baruch. They all ended up at the Egyptian border town of Tahpanhes. Interesting enough, Jeremiah, who loved Babylon, went to Egypt instead. It did not take 40 years to go from Israel to Egypt in this reverse Exodus.

The letter to the exiles (Jer 29:1-29:1)

“These are the words

Of the letter

That the prophet Jeremiah

Sent from Jerusalem

To the remaining elders

Among the exiles.

It was also sent to

The priests,

The prophets,

Including all the people

Whom King Nebuchadnezzar

Had taken into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon.

This was after King Jeconiah,

With the queen mother,

The court officials,

The leaders of Judah,

The leaders of Jerusalem,

The artisans.

With the smiths

Had departed from Jerusalem.”

Apparently Jeremiah wrote a letter to the elders from the first exile in 598 BCE. He sent this letter, like many of Yahweh’s oracles addressed to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, who went to Babylon during the first exile in 598 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon. It is hard to tell whether this letter still exists in any form or when it was composed, but probably between 598-587 BCE. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jeconiah of Judah had ruled for only a couple of months when King Nebuchadnezzar removed him in 598 BCE in favor of his uncle King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). At that time, King Jeconiah’s mother, the wife of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), as well as the court officials and leaders of Judah and Jerusalem went into exile. With them also went the main artisans and iron workers of Jerusalem. Thus the remnant in Jerusalem was like a puppet government for King Nebuchadnezzar. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 36, not chapter 29 as here.

The future good shepherds (Jer 23:3-23:4)

“‘Then I myself

Will gather the remnant

Of my flock

Out of all the lands

Where I have driven them.

I will bring them back

To their fold.

They shall be fruitful.

They shall multiply.

I will raise up

Shepherds over them.

They will shepherd them.

They shall not fear any longer.

They shall not be dismayed.

None shall be missing.’

Says Yahweh.”

At some future time, Yahweh will gather the remnant of his flock from all the countries that they were driven into. He is going to bring them back into the fold where they will be fruitful and multiply. Moreover, he will then put good shepherd leaders over them. They will no longer fear or be dismayed. No one will be missing. Thus the future good times would have good leaders.

Yahweh will help the house of Jacob (Isa 46:3-46:4)

“Listen to me!

O house of Jacob!

The entire remnant

Of the house of Israel!

You have been borne by me

From your birth!

I carried you

From the womb!

Even to your old age

I am He!

Even when you turn gray

I will carry you!

I have made you!

I will bear you!

I will carry you!

I will save you!”

Second Isaiah has this beautiful Yahweh call to the house of Jacob and the remnant of the house of Israel. He wanted them to listen to him. He reminded them that he had taken care of them since their birth. He had carried them from the womb. Even to their old age, when their hair turns gray, he would be with them since he made them. He would bear them, carry them, and save them because they were special.