[b-hebrew] "Desire of Women" in Heb. Text of Dan. 11:37

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Nov 13 16:59:41 EST 2006


Dear Gary and Harold,

Both of you are reading these verses with a theological message, and that
theological message may be appropriate for you and those who abide by
your theological beliefs.  That theological message and set of beliefs must
be set aside, however, and the verses interpreted in their proper context to
understand what Haggai was talking about.   Haggai was speaking to a
people who did not know of a third temple, who did not expect a third
temple, who did not expect the Davidic line of kings to be interrupted.   For
these people, the word "Messiah" was not something extra-ordinarily
special.  It was simply a term for God's chosen king at the time.  It would
be as if we were to take the ceremony of the President of the United
States being sworn into office, and then speaking of the Sworn Person
as something special.  In the time of Haggai, this chosen king was not
necessarily a Jewish king -- Cyrus is called "Anointed" (Messiah) by
Ezekiel.   Worldly kings had not given gifts to the Temple.  Cyrus allowed
the people to enjoy their religious freedoms.  This was a general policy as
the Cyrus Cylinder indicates.  It also indicates how much the book of Ezra
reworks the message of Cyrus.  And all this reworking ends up allowing for
people to donate gifts to the Temple, and for the ancient Temple artifacts to
be restored to their original location.  This is not a gift, but a
restoration of
order.  The book of Ezra, written probably at least close to two centuries
after Cyrus,  is not a very good historical book for the period.  It could have
easily incorporated a text relating how Cyrus restored order, whether or not
the Temple artifacts were indeed historically restored, and whether wealthy
Jews in the Persian empire felt the need to go to a poor province in the
far corner of the empire, and donate their gold to a poor reconstructed
Temple who was competing for the favor of the Yahweh worshippers in the
various reaches of the empire with at least two other Temples in the early
Persian period -- the Samaritan temple and the Elephantine temple.  None
of these people were thinking of the history 500 years hence, after the
Persian empire would be conquered by the Greeks and they in turn by the
Romans, or after the Temple would be rebuilt by Herod, or this new rebuilt
grandiose Temple be destroyed.  It is important to keep in mind that
Haggai's prophecies are for these people.  Haggai himself is one of these
people.   To truly understand the meaning of the prophecies it is their reality
and their theological beliefs that must be used.  Sure, you can reinterpret
Haggai, and find symbolism everywhere you want to look, and explain his
prophecies according to your theological world.  There's nothing wrong with
that.  But that's no longer Haggai's prophecy -- it is your prophecy.  Haggai's
message is different, as is his reality, his theology, his concept of what a
Messiah his, his concept of eschatology.  With this reality in place, Haggai
is speaking of the second temple, not of a time thousands of years later.

Yitzhak Sapir



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