Sunday, October 27, 2019

Haggai 1.5b-2.6: Seals and Signets

How do you know it's real? How do you know that you've gotten the word straight from the mouth of the horse...or king...or God? One way is that the one in authority has a stamp, a seal, a signet. When a document bears the proper stamp, seal, or signet, the hearers/readers know that the contents are real and true.

Darius had a seal:
The Darius Seal. 6th century BCE - 5th century BCE. Chalcedony and prase. London: British Museum. 
The cylinder seal is rolled across (and pressed into) the clay or wax that sealed a document. Darius' official seal shows the ruler in a chariot driven by a charioteer and pulled by two horses (two heads are shown but only one body). A lion stands on its back feet facing the chariot, and a lion cub is face-down on the ground under the horses' hooves. Above the scene is a winged sun-disc form that is part  bearded male but also has wings and a tail. There is a ground line on which grow fruit-laden palm trees and vertical inscription panels. The inscriptions, written in Old Persian, Babylonian, and Elamite say: I (am) Darius, the king. The Babylonian translation says, "I [am]Darius, the king. The Babylonian adds "great" before the word king.

Darius was able to use this cylinder to stamp an impression that everyone understood as a sign that the accompanying message was authentic. Interestingly, later in Haggai 2, this idea of a means of identifying authentic messages comes up again. Haggai 2:20-23 says:
20 The word of the Lord came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month: 21Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, 22and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders; and the horses and their riders shall fall, every one by the sword of a comrade. 23On that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, son of Shealtiel, says the Lord, and make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts.

Zerubbabel becomes God's signet ring. Not a stone cylinder but a living human.

Is this Zerubbabel's Temple? See this week's Art&Faith Matters on Facebook.
For additional thoughts on Haggai 1:5b-2:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17, and Luke 20:27-38, click here

No comments:

Post a Comment