«Tyndale Bulletin 51.2 (2000) 295-304. HAGGAI: MASTER RHETORICIAN M.J. Boda Summary Although the prophet among the Book of the Twelve with the fewest ...»
Cf. R.W. Pierce, ‘Literary Connectors and a Haggai-Zechariah-Malachi Corpus’, JETS 27 (1984), 277-89; K.M. Craig, Jr., ‘Interrogatives in Haggai-Zechariah: A Literary Thread?’, in P.R. House and J.W. Watts, eds., Forming Prophetic Literature: Essays on Isaiah and the Twelve in Honor of John D.W. Watts (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), pp. 224-44.
10 Cf. T.W. Overholt, ‘Jeremiah 2 and the Problem of Audience Reaction’, CBQ 41 (1979), 262-73.
11 Although a portion of it is found in Jb. 1:8 and Is. 41:22.
12 Following Whedbee (‘Question-Answer Schemata’) who correctly sees the word ‘ways’ in 1:5, 7 as referring to past activity not future activity. This view is bolstered by noticing that when the phrase ‘consider’ ( )שִׂימו ּ לְבַבְכֶם עַלis used in Haggai (2:15and takes into account past and future, the word ‘ways’ is dropped. The view taken
here stands in contrast to P.L. Redditt, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1995), p. 20; Petersen, Haggai, p. 51; H.G. Mitchell, Haggai and Zechariah (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912), p. 47, who see the second appearance as introducing the imperatives in 1:8 (future action). This second judgement is based on the view that the clause: ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says’ is an introductory phrase not a concluding one. But this view fails to take into account that 1:7a is introducing a declaration: ‘Give careful thought to your ways.’ BODA: Haggai 301 The second strategy unique to Haggai is one often mistakenly identified as evidence of disunity in the book. In Haggai 1 the prophet begins by identifying two different issues relevant to his community. The first issue is expressed through two of the previously discussed rhetorical strategies: quotation and interrogative. Playing off the leitmotif of ‘time’, Haggai is told to express God’s concern over the priorities of the people (1:2-4). Without a smooth transition, Haggai then introduces a second issue by employing his unique reflection idiom: .שִׂימו ּ לְבַבְכֶם עַלThis issue focuses the people’s attention on the hardships they have experienced in recent times (1:5-7). To this point these two issues are not related in any direct way. It is not until the audience passes over the three crucial commands in 1:8 ( )בנה ,בוא ,עלהwith supporting causal phrases ( )כבד ,רצהthat the two issues are linked. This is done in 1:9by picking up the second issue introduced (hardships; 1:5-7) and then asking the crucial question .יַעַן מֶהThis question is used to link the issue of hardship with the initial issue of priorities. What appeared to many scholars as roughness reflecting various layers in the text, actually is evidence of powerful rhetorical technique.13 By not directly linking the two issues, Haggai allows the two to sink in more deeply. It also allows him to tell them what the required response is (1:8) before the final blow is administered in this judgement section.
Haggai employs another technique in his second major speech in 2:1Facing an audience discouraged and possibly also disgruntled by slow progress in the early stages of the project, the prophet begins his positive message with a series of questions (2:3). The first question begins on an objective level, asking who remained of those who saw the former temple. The second question subtly moves the discussion from the objective to the subjective level, sensitively probing the deeply seated attitudes of the people towards the project. The third question takes this a final step and reveals that the prophet understands their subjective reaction, justifying such discouragement. This technique grants the prophet an audience with the people and sets the tone for this crucial message of hope.
Haggai continues this trend of sensitively accommodating his message to his particular audience in the following pericope utilising a fourth rhetorical technique. In 2:10-14, the prophet engages the priests by employing a familiar speech form (the torah ruling) and 13 See n. 2 above.
302 Tyndale Bulletin 51.2 (2000) then using that form as the foundation for his main message.14 Although an odd form for the modern reader to understand, it is designed to draw the priests into dialogue and build a foundation for the following speech to the people as a whole. This torah ruling form also reflects another tendency of Haggai’s rhetoric: that is, to question his audience and thus force them to consider deeply his thrust.
A final technique can be discerned in 2:15-19. This section already contains one of Haggai’s unique strategies in the threefold repetition of the phrase 51.)81,51:2( שִׂימו ּ לְבַבְכֶםBut Haggai strengthens the rhetoric even further by employing another phrase three times: מִן־הַיוֹ ם ּ .)91,81,51:2( הַז ֶּהThe first two occurrences attach the Hebrew word מַעְלָהto the end and have been translated in various ways due to what has been perceived as the awkward flow of this section. The usual translation of this Hebrew construction would be ‘from this day on’ (see 1 Sa. 16:13; 30:25) which many have rejected for this context in Haggai, because the occurrences in this passage are followed immediately by a reflection on the past. To resolve this apparent tension, some have translated this as ‘from this day backward’, representing a unique gloss in the Hebrew Bible.16 A more recent suggestion has been to link מִן־הַיוֹ ם ּ הַז ֶּהwith the verbal phrase ,שִׂימו ּ לְבַבְכֶםwith the result that the people are to reflect deeply from this day on.17 However, this would not apply to the third occurrence of ‘from this day’ which is not linked with ‘give careful thought’ (2:19).
The answer to this dilemma may lie in accepting this passage as a rhetorical masterpiece in which Haggai forces deeper thinking 14 The foundation of this form is seen in Lv. 10:10, 11; Dt. 17:8-13; 21:5; Ezk. 44:23a responsibility demanded of the tribe of Levi in the Torah (cf. R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel: Religious Institutions [New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961], pp. 154, 354). Abuse of this responsibility is cited by the prophets: Mi. 3:11; Je. 18:18; Ezk. 7:26; 22:26; Zp.
3:4. See E.M. Meyers, ‘The Use of tôrâh in Haggai 2:11 and the Role of the Prophet in the Restoration Community’, in C.L. Meyers; M. O’Connor, eds., The Word of the Lord Shall Go Forth: Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman in Celebration of His Sixtieth Birthday (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1983), pp. 69-76; also M. Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon, 1985), p. 297.
15 Notice here the additional phrase ( עַל־דרְ כֵיכֶםfound in 1:5, 7) is left out for it ַּ restricts reflection to the past while in this pericope the reflection is to be past, present and future (see n. 12 above).
16 Cf. E.H. Merrill, An Exegetical Commentary: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), pp. 49, 51, for this argument and Mitchell (Haggai, pp.
73-74) for arguments against.
17 D.J. Clark, ‘Problems in Haggai 2:15-19’, Bible Translator 34 (1983), 432.
BODA: Haggai 303 through introducing multiple thoughts at the same time.18 We have seen this technique in his first speech in which two ideas were presented but left unconnected until the second phase of the speech. Here in 2:15-19, the prophet begins a speech about the future three times, but each time interrupts himself by drawing attention to the past.
The result of this creative rhetoric is that the people are forced to think of the past, present and future simultaneously. It places great emphasis on the present with the repeated reference to ‘( הַיוֹ םthe day’) which is ּ identified as the day of the foundation laying (five times; 2:15, 18, 19).
At the same time, however, the people are to consider the future מִן־הַיוֹ ם ּ ‘( הַז ֶּהfrom this day on’; 2:15, 18) and the past מִטֶּרֶ ם ש ׂו ּם־אֶבֶן ‘( אֶל־אֶבֶןbefore one stone was laid on another’; 2:15). Although more words are linked to the description of the frustrating past, greater emphasis is placed on the anticipated future by beginning and ending with a future time reference and constantly interrupting the full declaration of the future dimension. Most emphasis, however, is placed on the significance of the present day which functions as a linchpin between a past of curse and a future of blessing and calls the people to reflect deeply upon this thought.19 As has been highlighted throughout this article, Haggai is a masterful rhetorician. He consistently expresses his words in ways accommodating to his audience. One consistent value for Haggai, 18 This is similar to but not identical to the view that we have here a parenthetical remark. Cf. D.R. Hildebrand, ‘Temple Ritual: A Paradigm for Moral Holiness in Haggai II 10-19’, VT 39 (1989), 164.
19 The significance of that day is that it is the day of the foundation laying. See the foundational research of R.S. Ellis, Foundation Deposits in Ancient Mesopotamia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968) which has been mined brilliantly by E.
‘Recherches sur le livre de Zacharie’, VT 20 (1970), 25-55; D.L. Petersen, ‘Zerubbabel and Jerusalem Temple Reconstruction’, CBQ 36 (1974), 366-72; Petersen, Haggai, pp.
89-90; B. Halpern, ‘The Ritual Background of Zechariah’s Temple Song’, CBQ 40 (1978), 171-72; R.E. Averbeck, ‘Biblical Temple Building Accounts in Light of Ritual and Structure in the Gudea Cylinders’, Society of Biblical Literature 1991 Seminar Papers (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991), 1-15; and A. Laato, ‘Zachariah 4,6b-10a and the Akkadian Royal Building Inscriptions’, ZAW 106 (1994), 53-69. Prior to publication of Ellis’ 1965 dissertation, which does not make connections between Mesopotamian and Hebrew practices, Bewer, Galling and Petitjean had noted preliminary links between them. Cf. J.A. Bewer, ‘Ancient Babylonian Parallels to the Prophecies of Haggai,’ AJSLL 35 (1919), 128-33; K. Galling, ‘Serubbabel und der Hohepriester beim Wiederaufbau des Tempels in Jerusalem’, in Studien zur Geschichte Israels im Persischen Zeitalter (Tübingen: Mohr, 1964), pp. 127-48; A.
Petitjean, ‘La Mission de Zorobbabel et la Reconstruction du Temple’, Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 42 (1966), 40-71.
304 Tyndale Bulletin 51.2 (2000) displayed in many of the techniques he employs, is that of not allowing the audience from the outset to know where his message is going until it is absolutely necessary. This successfully creates a greater impact on them when the message is clarified.
Although the prophet among the Book of the Twelve with the fewest words, save Jonah, Haggai takes his place among the prophetic tradition as one of their greatest rhetoricians. Among a generation questioning the validity and future of the prophetic voice, Haggai bore witness for the