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Jerusalem in the Achaemenid Period

The Relationship between Temple and Agriculture in the Book of Haggai

Jieun Kim

This is the first book to explore the importance of agriculture in relation to the restoration of the Jerusalem temple in the Book of Haggai during the Achaemenid period. Scholars discussing the rebuilding of the temple have mainly focused on the political and social context. Additionally, the missions of Ezra and Nehemiah have been used as a basis for analysing the economy of postexilic Judah. This has, however, understated the wider socio-economic significance of the temple by disregarding the agricultural capacity of Judah.
The Book of Haggai is primarily concerned with agriculture and the temple. This analysis of Haggai includes an examination of the temple’s reconstruction from a historical and economic point of view, with agriculture playing a central role. Archaeological records are examined and show that prized commodities such as olives and grapes were produced in and around Jerusalem in large quantities and exported all over the ancient Near East.
This book is intended to shed new light on the value of agriculture for the people of Judah and the whole imperial economy. It also presents a new interpretation of the Book of Haggai and a new perspective on the temple economy in Jerusalem.
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In my thesis, I discuss in some detail the relationship between temple and economy in ancient Jerusalem. My main approach is an exegetical study of the Book of Haggai. My text corpus consists of Hag 1:2, 5–6, 7–8, 9–11, 12–14; 2:3, 8–9, 15–19. In my reading of the text I put weight on historical and economic perspectives. I also make extensive use of archaeological reports.

In the introduction, I challenge the current consensus regarding the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple. Scholars have, as a rule, disputed that the temple rebuilding project is twofold aims. In my work, I first show how the renovated temple should form a basis for a self-sufficient economy in Judah. Second, as a semi-autonomous political entity, the temple should strengthen ties between Judah and the Achaemenid Empire. Most scholars dealing with Judean economy pay too little attention to the economic implications of agriculture in Judah. Moreover, they also disregard to a large extent the Book of Haggai as an important agricultural text.

In Chapter 1, I discuss agriculture in the ancient Near East. My main point is that the ancient Near Eastern economy was, above all, agrarian. From very early on, these ancient societies devised wide-ranging and elaborate irrigation systems, maximising use of land for agricultural purposes. With regional specialisation, many of them later demonstrated highly advanced political and economic structures (urbanisation). Similarly, throughout the Iron Age, ancient Israel developed agriculture and...

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