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Haggai was a prophet of God who preached to returned Jews in Jerusalem after exile in Babylon. He preached four prophetic messages, encouraging the former Israelites to complete the reconstruction of the Temple (or construction of the Second Temple), which had been destroyed by the Babylonians in about 586 BC.

Haggai's messages were specifically addressed to the Zerubbabel the governor and to the high priest Joshua, albeit intended for the entire Jewish population [1]. He began to preach in 520 BC after the work to rebuild the Temple had ceased. The work began anew and the Temple was completed during the next four years (520 BC - 516 BC).


Biography

Early Life

Haggai was born in around 550 BC[2] in Babylon under the co-regency of King Belshazzar[3]. When he was about 12 years old, Babylon fell to Cyrus, a Persian, who decreed in 538 BC that the Jews could return to their homeland[4]. Haggai returned home to Judah's land with up to several thousand Jews.

The decree to rebuild the temple of Yahweh was originally enacted upon with excitement by the former Israelites. However, hostility from the local Gentiles led to a temporary ban on the construction[5]. For a period of sixteen years, the Jews were apathetic to any desire to continue the building process, as they focused their efforts on establishing their own lives. This was demonstrative of their apathy towards the things of God. Therefore, a famine came upon the land.[6]

Prophetic Ministry

The Call to Rebuild

On August 29th, 520 BC[7] Haggai received the first in a series of divine messages from Yahweh. He was told give the message to governor Zerubbabel and high priest Joshua, the two leaders of the Jewish people.

Haggai, along with the prophet Zechariah, Zerubbabel and Joshua, played an important role in getting the Temple rebuilt. The rebuilt Temple (also known as the second Temple) lasted five centuries until Herod the Great began to rebuild it in 20 BC[8].

Before the Temple had been rebuilt, Haggai drew a link between Judah's poverty and depressed state of affairs and the sinful indifference in regards to rebuilding the Temple.

The People's Obedience

Zerubbabel and Joshua listened to the words of Haggai and mobilized the people to continue construction of the temple. When God saw their obedience, he spoke through Haggai and told the people he was with them. On September 21, 520 BC, the construction of the temple began again. Haggai joined in alongside the people and helped them as they continued their building.[9]

It took a second decree by Darius of Persia to get the work restarted[10].

Second Message

On October 17th, 520 BC, another message from God came through Haggai. God directed Haggai to give the message to Zerubbabel, Joshua and all of the people of Israel. God's message through Haggai was a call to remember the glory of the former temple, through rhetorical questions. The splendor of the latter temple; however, would be greater than the former as peace and God's glory would come through it.[11]

A Day with Many Messages

About two months later, Haggai received two messages of exhortation. He received them both on December 18th, 520.

Temple Completed

Etymology

The name Haggai (Heb: חַגַּי ) means "festive" of "celebration", which probably means his day of birth was during one of the times of feasting among the Jews in Babylon, where he was born. Being that this was in a time of captivity, the annual feasts in the spring and fall served as times of remembrance for what they had lost.


Verses

  1. Haggai 1:1 (Link)
  2. Compare Num. 4:3 (age of anointed servants) (Link)
  3. Dan. 7:1 (Link)
  4. Ezra 1:1 (Link)
  5. Ezra 4:21 (Link)
  6. Hag 1:2-6,9-11 (Link)
  7. Hag 1:1 See date provided by NLT translation and historical dating for Darius reign (Link)
  8. John 2:20 (Link)
  9. Hag 1:12-15, Ezra 5:1-2 (Link)
  10. Ezra 6:13 (Link)
  11. Hag 2:1-9 (Link)