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‘The Glory of the Last House’ (Haggai 2:9): Rembrandt and the Prophets Malachi and Haggai

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Chapter Summary

Rembrandt's Temple interiors feature grandiose pillars, fine stone pavements, heavily draped entrances, elaborate staircases, and gold furnishings, all of which convey the material splendor of the complex described in Temple sources. Rembrandt's staging of gospel narratives in Temple settings is related in significant, fundamental ways to the Hebrew prophets Malachi and Haggai, whose prophesies were employed as proof texts to demonstrate that Jesus was the promised Messiah foretold in Hebrew Scripture. Elements lacking in Herod's Temple were known as the Five Prerogatives, which are: fire descending from heaven, the holy ark, holiness, divinity, and the spirit of prophecy. The famous Dutch Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel expressed these rabbinic interpretations in his discussion of Haggai 2:9 in his popular treatise, The Conciliator (1632), a text read by Christians as well as Jews. These discussions of Haggai and Malachi remain essential to Rembrandt's images related to the Second Temple.

Keywords: Haggai; Hebrew Scripture; Malachi; Menasseh ben Israel; Messiah; Rembrandt; Second Temple



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