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Introducing the Book of HZM


The Prophets and the Books[1]
 
The books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi have a close relationship and, in many ways, form a set.
 
Haggai and Zechariah are mentioned briefly in Ezra 5:1 and 6:14. They preached during the days of Zerubbabel, the Davidic governor, and Joshua, the high priest; both of whom served under the auspices of Darius the king of Persia.
 
We know nothing about Malachi except what can be deduced from the book. In the diagram below Malachi is located generally before the moral decline in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Malachi may be the prophet’s name, or it could be title given to the book as a wordplay on “messenger” (mal’aki) in 3:1. The heading of the book, like Obadiah and Habakkuk, gives no personal information about the prophet. If it is the prophet’s name, it is also a wordplay on the expectation of the messenger presented in the book.
 
Persian Kings “post-exile” or “the remnant” Judaic Leader
Cyrus (550-530)
Cambyses (530-522)
Darius I (521-486)
Xerxes (486-465)
Artaxerxes (464-424)
Darius II (423-404)
 
 
Haggai/Zechariah
Malachi
Sheshbazzar (538)
 
Zerubbabel (c. 520)
 
Ezra (c. 450)
Nehemiah (c. 445)

 
The book of Haggai has a relationship with the first half of the book of Zechariah, and the second half of the book of Zechariah has broad similarity with the book of Malachi. Haggai and Zechariah 1-8 use a series of dated headings by which to structure the oracles.[2] The dates of Haggai and Zechariah 1-8 are rooted in a foreign power (unlike the dates in Kgs, Chron, or the other prophets). The eight dated oracles are situated across seven dates (the oracles of Hag 2:10, 18 and 2:20 are both delivered on the same day), with an overlap in the ministries of the two preachers. Haggai’s preaching spanned about three and a half months, and Zechariah 1-8 spanned a little more than two years.
 
  Year of Darius Month Day
Haggai 1:1 2nd 6th 1st
1:15 2nd 6th 24th
2:1 2nd 7th 21st
2:10, 18 2nd 9th 24th
2:20 2nd 9th 24th
Zechariah 1:1 2nd 8th --
1:7 2nd 11th 24th
7:1 4th 9th 4th
 
Zechariah 9-14 present two oracles (9-11; 12-14) which, like Malachi, are headed by “an oracle of Yahweh” (Zech 9:1; 12:1; Mal 1:1). Many scholars have seen this similarity, along with mal’aki/messenger, as evidence that the three oracles came from the same source. The reason for separating the book of Malachi is sometimes said to create twelve parts to the collection of collections of prophetic writings called the Twelve—to round it out as a biblical number. The heading of the book of Malachi, however, uses the term “by the hand of” Malachi which may suggest different authors.[3] The similarity of the heading of the oracles creates broad relationship for reading Zechariah with Malachi, but the heading of the book of Malachi which, with its wordplay on “messenger” (as stated above), functions as a “separate book” in the same manner as the other “books” in the book of the Twelve Prophets.
 
In sum, the form of the text as it stands invites a reading of the books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, akin to the other collections within the book of the Twelve Prophets. Moreover, the three books have been edited in such a way that they form a “set,” closing out the Twelve Prophets and the Latter Prophets. Readers are invited to look back at the “former prophets” (Zech 1:4; 7:7) and look ahead to the day of the Yahweh, beyond the confines of early days of the post-exilic community.
 
 
The General Structure of the Book of Haggai[4]
 
Have you considered your ways? Have you considered your God?

A         Words of Challenge

1          It is time to rebuild the house of Yahweh (2nd year of Darius, 6th month, 1st day) (1:1-11)

2          Yahweh stirred the hearts of the leaders and people to response (2nd, 6th, 24th) (1:12-15)

B         Words of Encouragement

3          Yahweh’s presence will be with the people (2nd, 7th, 21st) (2:1-9)

4          Priestly rule and prophetic interpretation (2nd, 9th, 24th) (2:10-19)

5          Yahweh will overthrow kingdoms (2nd, 9th, 24th) (2:20-23)

The General Structure of the Book of Zechariah[5]

How do everyday ethical responsibilities interrelate with apocalyptic vision for those who await the return of the king?

I           Judgment (1-8)

A         A call to repentance (2nd year of Darius, 8th month) (Zech 1:1-6)

            1:2-6 The call to return to Yahweh is set within the historical context of Israel longstanding rebellion against the will of God. This call to repentance serves as a themematic introduction to the visions that follow

B         Eight visions, and several oracles (2nd, 11th, 24th) (1:7-6:15)

            The structure of the eight visions first moves from universal to the temple in five steps, and then back to universal and international.[6]

1          horses patrolling the earth—all the nations (1:7-17)

2          four horns and fours craftspersons—Judah, Israel and Jerusalem (1:18-21)

3          a man with a measuring line—Jerusalem (2:1-13)

4          the ceremony of Joshua—the leaders (signifying his servant, the Branch) (3:1-10)

3:8 The ceremony concerning Joshua the high priest symbolized, for Joshua and company, the coming servant of Yahweh, the Branch. See similar language in Isa 11:1; 53:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15 (cf. Zech 6:12).

5          The lampstand and the two olive trees—the temple (4:1-14)

6          the flying scroll—the whole land (5:1-4)

7          woman Wickedness in a basket transported from Jerusalem to Shinar—international (Babylonia or Shinar) (5:5-11)

8          the four chariots—all the earth (6:1-15)

C         Fasting and hope (4th year, 9th month, 4th day) (7-8)

1          fasting for selves (7:1-7)

2          hard-hearted oppressors (7:8-14)

3          the restoration of the city of God (8:1-17)

4          fasting turned to celebration (8:18-23)

II         The Shepherd-King (9-14)

A         The return of the shepherd-king for the scattered sheep (9-11)

B         The shepherd is struck down but he will return (12-14)

 

The General Structure of the Book of Malachi[7]

Fighting with God’s people about God’s covenantal will

A         Six arguments: prophetic declaration, rebuttal by (hypothetical) auditors, and the prophet’s refutation.

(1) The Lord’s covenantal love for Israel (1:2-5)
Declaration—I loved you… (1:2)
Refutation—How have you loved us? (1:2)
Rebuttal—but Esau I hated! (1:3)
(2) Accusation against corrupt priestly practices (1:6-2:9)
Declaration—If I am [your] father, where is my honor? If I am [your] master, where is my respect? (1:6ab)
Refutation—How have we despised your name?  How have we defiled you? (1:6c-7a)
Rebuttal—And when you present a blind [animal] for sacrifice, there is no evil! Or when you present crippled or diseased [animal], there is no evil! (1:8)
(3) The infidelity of Judah (2:10-16)
Declaration—Judah has broken faith; Yahweh no longer accepts your tears and offerings (2:11)
Refutation—But you say, Why not? (2:14)
Rebuttal—Indeed [The One] hates divorce! (2:16)
(4) The Lord’s messenger of judgment is coming (2:17-3:5)
Declaration—You have wearied Yahweh with your talk. (2:17a)
Refutation—How have we wearied him? (2:17b)
Rebuttal—See! I am sending my messenger … (3:1)
(5) Devotion to the Lord (3:6-12)
Declaration—Return to me, so that I may return to you. (3:6-7ab)
Refutation—How can we return? (3:7c)
Rebuttal—Surely you are robbing me! (3:8a)
2nd Refutation—How have we robbed you? (3:8b)
2nd Rebuttal—bring the full tithe into the [Temple] storehouse! (3:10a)
(6) The day of reckoning is coming (3:13-4:3)
Declaration—Your words against me have been harsh. (3:13a)
Refutation—How have we spoken against you? (3:13b)
Rebuttal—It is futile to serve God! (3:14a)
2nd Refutation—What profit [is there] that we have kept his charge? (3:14-15)
2nd Rebuttal—Once again you will see the difference between a righteous and a wicked one … (3:18-19 [4:1])

B         Two appendices (4:4-6 [3:22-24]),

Remember the Torah of Moses (4:4)

Elijah is coming before the day of the Lord (4:5-6)




[1] Materials based on my own reading, and Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, and ABD on Hag, Zech, and Mal.
[2] This table is adapted from Carol Meyers and Eric M. Meyers, “Haggai, Book of,” ABD, 3: 21. These dates span c. Aug 520 bce to Dec 518 bce. Moreover, Hag 1-2 and Zech 7-8 maintain about a dozen and a half literary similarities; these may create a framing effect to link Hag and Zech together (see the list in Carol Meyers and Eric M. Meyers, “Zechariah 1-8,” ABD, 6: 1061).
[3] See Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, 491-94; Hill, ABD, 4: 485.
[4] Based on my own reading, and Childs, Introduction, 463-71; Meyers and Meyers, “Haggai, Book of,” ABD, 3: 20-23.
[5] Based on my own reading, and Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, 472-87; Carol Meyers and Eric M. Meyers, “Zechariah 1-8,” ABD, 6: 1061-65; David L. Petersen, “Zechariah 9-14,” ABD, 6: 1065-68.
[6] For full chiastic views see Meyers and Meyers, ABD, 6: 1063-64; also see examples cited in Bullock.
[7]  Based on my own reading, and Childs Introduction, 488-98; Andrew E. Hill, “Malachi, Book of,” ABD, 4: 478-485; idem. AB; Petersen OTL; Rendtorff 1983; Rendtorff 2005. Disputation structure adapted and modified from Hill, Anchor Bible, xxxvi; also see 26; cf. 34-37; Andrew Hill’s rhetorical outline.


Also see
introduction to the prophets, and see bibliography on the prophets.

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