Relationship between Temple and agriculture in the Book of Haggai
This thesis examines the relationship between the Jerusalem temple rebuilding and agriculture in the Book of Haggai. The Hebrew text is replete with agricultural terminology. However, very few have seen that this terminology is central to understanding Haggai’s promulgation that the temple must be rebuilt. In Haggai, agriculture provides crucial insights into Judean agricultural economy within the context of the Achaemenid Empire. This study also throws light upon the importance of agriculture as an economic factor in 6th century BCE Judah. In chapter 1, I situate my research within current critical work on Haggai. I show how earlier research primarily has concentrated on the “independent” sub-province of Judah without attempting to understand the Book of Haggai within the political and economic context of Achaemenid Judah. I also discuss methodology. Chapters 2 and 3 give overviews of the pertinent agricultural background for my study. In chapter 2, I survey agricultural developments in ancient Israel and in the ancient Near East. Archaeological excavations and surveys have revealed a considerable agricultural material culture in Judah. The archaeological record shows that olive and vine production was of great economic value in ancient Israel. The olive and the vine belonged among the most important agricultural products, highly sought after all over the ancient Near East. In chapter 3, I discuss Achaemenid imperial administration and economy under Darius. My claim is that Darius’s imperial policy was the same for all the different parts of the empire. Subsequently, I show how Judah constituted a vital part of the larger economic structure of the Achaemenid Empire. In chapter 4, I demonstrate how Judah, together with numerous other subordinate provinces, contributed to the economy of the Mesopotamian Empires. From an imperial, military, and economic point of view, Judah functioned as a buffer zone between the Mesopotamian Empires and Egypt. Accordingly, my interest is in the Judean political and economic situation in the early period of Darius, as described in the book of Haggai itself. Following the introductory chapters, chapters 5 and 6 provide an exegesis of the Book of Haggai. The purpose of my exegetical work is to demonstrate the relevance of agriculture for the Jerusalem temple rebuilding. Attention is particularly paid to terms like “drought” or “desolate” (Hag 1:4, 9, 11), “time” (Hag 1: 2, 4), “house” (Hag 1:2, 4, 8, 9; 2:3, 7, 8, 9, 15, 18), and “build” (Hag 1:2, 8; Hag 2:18). Chapter 7 contains the conclusion of the dissertation. Summing up, this thesis shows the importance of a prosperous temple economy in Jerusalem for all of Judah. Darius wanted to maximise the economic contribution of Judah. However, in his second year (520 BCE), the Judean agricultural economy was depressed because of drought, crop diseases, blight, mildew, and hail (Hag 1:5–6, 9–11, 2:16– 18). For this reason, Haggai encouraged the Judean people strongly to restore the Jerusalem temple. This would be the only possibility to expand the agricultural industry (Hag 1:7–8; 2:3, 8– 9). However, the temple still remained in a bad state (Hag 1:4; 2:3). Instead, the people wanted to rebuild the Davidic dynasty through Zerubbabel (Hag 1:4, 9; 2:4, 5–6). The Judean preference for the Davidic dynasty caused the end of Zerubbabel (Hag 2:20–23).