The Book of Haggai

I. Title

       The book has the same title in Hebrew as it has in English and Greek translation. The name Haggai (pronounced ha-GUY, with the stress on the second syllable) seems to be an adjective derived from the Hebrew word for "feast"; therefore his name means "festive".

II. Author and Setting

       There are two references to Haggai in the Bible outside of his own book: Ezra 5:1 and 6:14. Haggai's name is often linked with Zechariah (there may even be an allusion to him in Zechariah 8:9), since Zechariah was prophesying about the same time in Judah and Jerusalem.
       He proclaimed the word of God over a five month period in 520 BC. How he came to be in Jerusalem, whether he was an exile or if he had already been there, is unknown. In his book and in Ezra he is referred to as "prophet. He is also called the "Angel of the LORD" -- that is, the messenger of Yahweh, in Haggai 1:13.
       It is possible to date Haggai's prophesies very exactly:

1. The first day of the sixth month of the second year of Darius I (1:1), which would be August 29, 520 BC.
2. The twenty-fourth day of the sixth month of the second year of Darius I, when they resumed work on the second temple (1:15a), which would be September 21, 520 BC.
3. The twenty-first day of the seventh month of the second year of Darius I, which would be October 21, 520 BC.
4. The twenty-fourth day of the ninth month of the second year of Darius I (2:19-20), which would be December 18, 520 BC.

       By 520 BC some of the Jews had been back in Jerusalem for several years. Cyrus had conquered Babylon in 538 BC. He then issued a decree that all of Babylon's captives could return to their homes. Ezra 1-6 describes the first group of Jews to make that trip home. They came at great sacrifice, but also with high hopes; however, when they reached Jerusalem around 536 BC, there was nothing but ruins, poverty, and opposition from the Samaritans and the local population. Consequently, nothing was done about rebuilding the temple between 536 and 520 BC, when Haggai came on the scene. For more information, look at Ezra 5:13-16, where the people had been ordered to rebuild the temple, had even started, but then failed to finish. Read Ezra 1-6 for background.

III. An Outline of Haggai

I. Yahweh's call to rebuild the temple 1:1-15
II. Yahweh's promise to restore the glory 2:1-9
III. Yahweh's blessings on a defiled people 2:10-19
IV. Yahweh makes Zerubbabel his signet ring 2:20-23

Questions on Haggai

1. When did Haggai prophesy?
2. What specific charges did Haggai bring against the people?
3. What encouragement did Haggai give?