B oth Haggai and Zechariah throw light on the year 520 and after, when the rebuilding of the Temple was commenced. Haggai was shocked to find that nearly twenty years after Cyrus had allowed the exiles to return, the Temple was still in a ruined state. His description of the poverty of the community (1:6) suggests that the people were too occupied in scraping a bare living to be concerned about it. They used the foundations for sacrifice anyway and were used to seeing them in their burned-out and damaged state. Haggai, however, felt that if they made the effort to rebuild the Temple, God would reward them with the fruits of the earth and the book of Malachi records such blessings in vivid description as if God had opened the windows of heaven. God told Haggai that it would be greater than the old temple. For a detailed description of the Temple read Ezekiel 41-48.
This group of exiles had lived in Babylon which is now Iraq. King Cyrus of Persia had conquered the Babylonians and allowed the Jews to return to their homeland. He told them to build their own Temple but they built an altar and foundation for the Temple and then stopped the work for 16 years. In the year of 520 B.C. Haggai told them it was time for them to finish what they had started. Haggai had showed them that God was angry with them. He cited three examples: Inflation─bad crops─bad weather. Haggai inspired them to get busy on the project and within 4 years it was completed.