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Haggai Commentary

Introduction to  A Commentary on Haggai

Background Information on Haggai Commentary

In the year 586 BC the city of Jerusalem was reduced to ruins, along with the Temple. The people were led away into captivity (those who weren’t killed), although a few were allowed to remain behind to live in the ruins. They finally moved to Egypt and were not heard from after a generation or so.  Many of the Jews returned to their homeland after the captivity but not all wanted to return.  The prospect of returning to an impoverished land and attempting to rebuild on the ruins of the past had little appeal.  Only a few caught a vision of the pioneer spirit and become serious about the challenges that lay ahead.  
  • 536 BC ─ the first group of about 50,000 return under Zerubbabel. Joshua, the priest, served as the religious leader of the returned people. Haggai returned with this group ……. See my comments on Ezra 2.


  • 457 BC ─ A second group, led by Ezra, consisting of about 2058 persons, returns. Several reforms are instituted, including the problem of inter-marriage with the nations ……. See my comments on Ezra 8-10.


  • 445 BC ─ A third group, led by Nehemiah, returns. Under his leadership the walls are rebuilt ……. See my comments on Nehemiah 2.


Upon the return of the first group (536 BC) work began on the Temple. The altar of sacrifice was restored and the foundation for the new Temple was laid. However, at this point the people ceased their work. The city and houses and wall were all in ruins, the land had been neglected for 70 years and food was scarce. 

Cyrus was succeeded by his son Cambyses (529-522 BC). After this king came Darius I (522-486 BC). Two years into his reign (520 BC), and 16 years after work had ceased on the Temple, God raised up the prophet Haggai “to combat apathy and depression by giving inspired leadership” for the reconstruction of the Temple.  In this book that is called by his name you will meet a man of whom I call “God’s cheer leader.”


God raised up Haggai to challenge the people.  It was after the building had stopped that the name of Haggai appears in Ezra. (Ezra 4:24,5:1) The Key word is─CONSIDER ─which is repeated 5 times in 38 verses.  The expression “The Word Of The Lord” is found 5 times and the statement “Saith The Lord” is quoted 20 times.  This makes the book one of authority.  516 BC


Like Malachi, Haggai uses a number of questions to highlight key issues (see 1:4,9; 2:3,19). He also makes effective use of repetition: “Give careful thought” occurs in 1:5,7; 2:15,18, and “I am with you” in 1:13; 2:4. “I will shake the heavens and the earth” is found in 2:6,21. The major sections of the book are marked off by the date on which the word of the Lord came “to” (or “through”) Haggai (1:1; 2:1,10,20). Several times the prophet appears to echo other Scriptures (compare Hag 1:6 with Dt 28:38-39 and Hag 2:17 with Dt 28:22). All of these scriptures are quoted in full in the main text to this commentary.


The messages of Haggai were given during a four-month period in 520 B.C., the second year of King Darius. The first message was delivered on the first day of the sixth month (Aug. 29), the last on the 24th day of the ninth month.Haggai and Zechariah began to preach in the second year of king Darius, 520 B.C. (see 1:1; Zec 1:1). The Jews were more to blame for their inactivity than their opponents, and Haggai tried to arouse them from their lethargy. When the governor of Trans-Euphrates and other officials tried to interfere with the rebuilding efforts, Darius fully supported the Jews (Ezra 5:3-6; 6:6-12). In 516 B.C. the temple was finished and dedicated (Ezra 6:15-18).


Haggai returned to Jerusalem with the first group of 50,000 persons led by Zerubbabel in 536 BC. It is also possible he did some writing of psalms during this time.   Charles Haddon Spurgeon credits Haggai and Zechariah as being the author/co-author of several psalms (Psalms 138, 146-149) and believes that they were written for the occasion of the Temple dedication. Vol. 7 p 383 The prophet dates his own work very precisely. Haggai 1:1 dates it in the “second year of Darius the king.”  Thus, the prophecy is dated in the year 520 BC. This book consists of four brief oracles, each of which is precisely dated within this year. They were delivered “between August and the last of November in the year 520 BC”


For two decades the Israelites had ignored God’s strong desire for them to rebuild the temple. When they finally responded and got to work God’s sternness melted immediately. “I am with you,” he told them. The Jews were busy building their own houses and were complaining that:The weather was bad (Haggai 1:10)There was not much to eat or drink (Haggai 1:6)Their money did not buy much (Haggai 1:6)God revealed to them that this was not a new plan but that he had planned this more than 1,000 years before when he brought them out of Egypt and that this new temple would be greater than the old one and that his glory would fill it and that the desire of all nations would come to it.  Later the Messiah would come to this temple.

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