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December 16, 2016

Holy Prophet Haggai

Holy Prophet Haggai (Feast Day - December 16)


As a vessel, Haggai was seen to be full of grace,
As matter, he is crushed by time.
On the sixteenth Haggai inhabited the land of his fathers.

The Holy Prophet Haggai, pronounced as Aggaios in Greek, was of the priestly tribe of Levi, and was born in Babylon when the Jews were held there in bondage. While he was young in age, he left Babylon and returned to Jerusalem with the Jews. He became the first prophet to rise up after the exile (ca. 538 B.C.). For thirty-six years he prophesied with the Prophet Zechariah in the sixth century before the coming of Christ.

He openly prophesied about the return of the Jews to Jerusalem from Babylon, and saw the second Temple being built. However, he upbraided the former exiles for their complacency, truancy and preoccupation with personal comforts while the Temple was still not completed. He therefore admonished Zorobabel the governor, Joshua the high priest, and the people to resume the building, and reinstitute the liturgical calendar, worship, and the observation of feast days, and thus escape the chastisement of the Lord. In this way was the second Temple completed, and using Zorobabel as a type, he foretold that the glory of the second Temple would be greater than the first Temple of Solomon, for within its precincts the much-desired Messiah Christ would preach and teach. "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, says the Lord of Hosts" (Hag. 2:9).

The Prophet Haggai is not only known from his own prophetic book and from two references to him in the Book of Ezra (5:1-2; 6:14), but in the Septuagint the superscriptions of Psalms 145 and 148 are attributed to the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah, wherein it is written: "The Lord builds up Jerusalem, He shall gather together the dispersed of Israel. He healed the broken in heart and binds the fractures together" (Ps. 146:2, 3). Saint Epiphanios believes that the Prophet Haggai was the first to chant "Alleluia" in Jerusalem, which means "praise the Lord."

According to his physical characteristics, he had a full head of hair and in icons is depicted as elderly. He was honorable in his manner, famed for his virtue, and beloved by all. He lived long enough to see one part of the Temple built by Zorobabel. When he died he was gloriously buried next to the tombs of the priests, for he was of the priestly tribe. His name in Hebrew is interpreted as "feast" or "festival."

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Being pure in heart, O prophet Haggai, thou wast an inspired Prophet and servant of God. Therefore, as one that keepeth festival, thou wast taken up to those who keep festival in God. Intercede with Him, O herald of God, that we may all be saved.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Thou didst shine forth to the ends of the world, illumined by the light of the Spirit. Thou didst foretell in types the things that were to come; and wast illustrious in thy life, O wise Prophet Haggai.