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The Book of Haggai
INTRODUCTION TO HAGGAI
I will do the Haggai Commentary similar to my other Commentaries . . . in that
I will bring the verse or verses in the KJV, followed by what
it is saying to me. What I write will be a personal comment,
it is NOT Scripture.
We know nothing of Haggai's parents. He was probably born in Babylon during the captivity, and seems to have been the first prophet sent to the Jews after their return to their own land. The name "Haggai" means "my feast." Supposedly, the name was given to him, anticipating the Jews joyous return from exile. He probably was one of the Jewish exiles, from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi, who returned under Zerubbabel, the civil head of the people, and Joshua, the high priest, 536 B.C., when Cyrus, put into motion the striking prophecies of himself (Isa.44:28; 45:1), granted them their liberty, and furnished them with the necessaries for restoring the temple (2 Chron.36:23; Ezra 1:1-2; 2:2).
For more on Cyrus, see: . . . . . . . . http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4828-cyrus
Haggai was sent especially to encourage the Jews to proceed with the building of the temple, which had been interrupted for about fourteen years. Cyrus, who had published an law empowering the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their city and temple, revoked this law in the second year of his reign, because of evil advice from his court (possibly his son, Cambyses) and other enemies of the Jews. After Cyrus' death, his son Cambyses kept the ban on building, but after the death of Cambyses, Darius, the son of Hystaspes, renewed the permission of the building; and Haggai was sent to encourage his countrymen to proceed with the work. Darius came to the throne about the year B.C. 521, and published his law of permission for the Jews to rebuild the city and temple in the second year of his reign (Ezra 4:24), which was the sixteenth year of their return from Babylon.
Haggai and Zechariah were commissioned by Jehovah (Hag.1:1) in the second year of Darius (Hystaspes), 520 B.C., sixteen years after the return under Zerubbabel, to wake them up from their selfishness to resume the work which for fourteen years had been suspended. Haggai preceded Zechariah in the work by two months.
Five Distinct Messages of Haggai accurately given:
1. The 1st day of the 6th month of the 2nd year of Darius I (Hag. 1:1-11)
2. The 24th day of the 6th month of the 2nd year of Darius I (Hag. 1:12-15)
3. The 21st day of the 7th month of the 6th year of Darius I (Hag. 2:1-9)
4. The 24th day of the 9th month of the 2nd year of Darius I (Hag. 2:10-19)
5. The 24th day of the 9th month of the 2nd year of Darius I (Hag. 2:20-23)
#1. The first (Hag. 1:1-11), on the first day of the sixth month of the second year of Darius, 520 B.C., reproved the people for their apathy in allowing the temple to lie in ruins and reminded them of their ill success in everything because of their not honoring God as to His house.
#2. The result was that twenty-four days afterwards they started building under Zerubbabel (Hag.1:12-15).
#3. On the twenty-first day of the seventh month (Hag.2:1-9), predicts that the glory of the new temple would be greater than that of Solomon's. Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel had implied the same prediction, whence some had doubted whether they ought to proceed with a building so inferior to the former one; but Haggai shows wherein the superior glory was to consist, mainly in the Presence of Him who is the "desire of all nations" (Hag.2:7).
#4.on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (Hag.2:10-19), refers to a period when building materials had been collected, and the workmen had begun to put them together. From which time forward, God promises His blessing; beginning with removing their past sin as to the value of mere outward observances to cleanse from the taint of disobedience as to the temple building.
#5. The fifth (Hag.2:20-23), on the same day as the preceding, was addressed to Zerubbabel, as the representative of the theocratic (government under God) people, and as having asked as to the national revolutions spoken of in the second prophecy (Hag.2:7).
Since the prophecies are all so brief, it is supposed that they are just a summary of the original communications.
Haggai's challenge to the people included: a charge of conflict of interest; call to consider their ways; command to construct the temple; and obedience of the people.
Haggai was a prophet to the restored remnant who returned to Jerusalem after the seventy-year captivity in Babylon. As you study, it is important to consider the historical Books along with the prophetic Books. There is a small group of books that belong together: Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther for the historical record; and Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi for the prophetic section. The Book of Daniel is also important.
Challenge To The People
Haggai and Zechariah prophesied during the same time period, yet their approach was completely different, though they both confronted and encouraged the returned remnant to rebuild the temple and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Ezra 5:1-2 Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. 2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them. (KJV) . . . Both Haggai and Zechariah are mentioned in this historical Book of Ezra, because the two prophets who encouraged the people to rebuild the temple and also helped them do it.
Ezra 6:14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. (KJV)
Haggai is the first prophet that appears in the Name of the Lord of hosts, to awaken, reprove, direct, warn and encourage the governor, the high priest and the people, returning from captivity, to restore the worship of God and to the rebuild the temple. The foundation and the altar of burnt-offering, had been laid seventeen or eighteen years before; but the finishing of the temple was stopped by Cambyses and neglected two years in Darius Hystaspes's time, because of the greed of many, the coldness of some, and the cowardice of others among the Jews. They were concerned only with their private affairs, NOT with the building of God's temple.
The Lord sent His servant Haggai to wake them up! It was their duty to build the temple, and to restore the pure worship of God. Haggai reproves them for neglecting their duty, stating that their sin was what caused the poverty and scarcity which afflicted them the past fifteen or sixteen. He assured them, that as soon as they begin the work, their ground, their cattle, their vines and olives, would bountifully increase. He promised God's Presence with them, and with it a supply of gold and silver, which belong to the Lord, and the Lord did so by the bounty of Darius and the contributions of others.
And though the external glory of this temple was less than that of the first temple, he promised that this second temple would exceed the first in glory, because their expected, longed-for and the blessed Messiah should appear in it. All were good arguments in themselves, so through the co-operation of the Spirit of God, all that was promised came about to his hearers, who set about to do the work.
When opposed by their enemies, who went to Darius to try to get him to renew the ban, Darius instead confirms and enlarged their charter granted by Cyrus, and added severe penalties on all who would dare to hinder this work. See the sixth and seventh chapters of Ezra. And so in four years' time the temple is finished, the feast of dedication is celebrated.
The people returned to Jerusalem after 70 years in captivity to begin rebuilding the temple, but they had not finished. Haggai's message encouraged the people to finish rebuilding God's temple.
The temple lay half-finished while the people lived in beautiful homes. Haggai warned them against putting their possessions and jobs ahead of God. We must put God first in our lives, or His wrath will come down on us in some way.
Contemporary prophet Zechariah (520-480)
Haggai served as a prophet to Judah about 520 B.C., after the return from exile.
Haggai closes with a prediction of many, long wars and seditions to come among the Gentiles, to the overthrow of the enemies of the Jews.
Book of Haggai
Ch.1 . Ch.2 . Home Page