Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Jonah.djvu/69

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
37
THE THOUGHT AND STYLE

means that his predecessors had employed, tracing past misfortunes to neglect of a, to him, plain duty, and thus by implication threatening further calamities if this neglect continued, but promising the most tempting blessings if the opposite course were taken. This, it is true, is a rather narrow program for a prophet, but if, as can doubdess be shown, in Haggai's time the future of the little community in Jerusalem and their religion was involved in the question of the restoration of the national sanctuary, he certainly deserves some credit for seeing this, and more for moving the people to take appropriate action. He was not an Amos or an Isaiah; but must not Amos or Isaiah, in his place, have attempted what he undertook? and would either of them have been more successful?

The style of Haggai is usually regarded as prosaic. Reuss, it will be remembered, pronounces it "colourless." No doubt, it is somewhat tame, if the brilliancy of Isaiah or the polish of the great poet of the Exile be taken as the standard. Yet, Haggai was not without the oriental liking for figures, nor are his prophecies as unrhythmical as they have been represented. In describing his style prominence has sometimes been given to the frequent recurrence of "Thus saith Yahweh of Hosts" and "saith Yahweh," or "Yahweh of Hosts," and it has been interpreted as a sign of "the disappearance of the immediate consciousness of inspiration."[1] But these expressions are not peculiar to Haggai. In fact, when the instances in which they have been interpolated (6) are deducted, it will be found that he does not use them as many times in his whole book as Jeremiah does in the twenty-third chapter of his prophecies.[2] It is even more incorrect to represent the use of interrogation as characteristic of this prophet.[3] There are in all six cases. But in the second chapter of Jeremiah, which contains only thirty-seven verses, there are nineteen, or, proportionately, twice as many. There is one expression that may safely be regarded as peculiar to Haggai, namely, "take thought" (lit., "set your hearts"), which occurs no fewer than five times, and, being found in the third as well as the first prophecy, is a

  1. So Nowack, in the introduction to his commentary on the book of Haggai.
  2. The exact figures are 14 to 21.
  3. André, 115.