Introduction
The book of Haggai contains a small collection of oracles spoken by the prophet Haggai in 520 b.c. The precise dating is possible in this case because Haggai references the Persian king Darius I (522–486 b.c.) in the opening words of the book: “In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai” (1.1a). Haggai was active as a prophet in the early phase of the rebuilding of Jerusalem (see Ezra 5.1). When Zerubbabel (a returning Judean with a Babylonian name) was appointed governor of Judah under Persian overlordship, both Haggai and his contemporary Zechariah strongly urged the governor to complete the rebuilding of the temple as quickly as possible. The first returnees had rebuilt the altar and laid the temple foundations but also had given priority to building homes for themselves. Only under pressure from these two prophets did serious work begin in the year 520, after lagging for almost two decades. The temple was completed under Zerubbabel in 515.
The two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, also generated a renewal of messianic hope in the Davidic dynasty (Hag 2.20-23; Zech 3.8; 6.9-15). In his final oracle (2.20-23), Haggai subtly suggests Davidic revival by saying that Zerubbabel, who was a descendant of Jehoiachin, the last legitimate Davidic king, is the leader God has “chosen.” Haggai insisted with great nationalistic zeal that improving economic conditions in the ruined land and city were wholly dependent on getting the temple completed. Imagining a rebuilt temple that would outshine Solomon's temple, Haggai insisted that a finished temple was the highest priority and also the key to establishing peace and recovery, because God had promised it.
Outline
The Neglect and Rebuilding of the Temple (1.1-15)
God Will Bless Judah and Its Governor, Zerubbabel (2.1-23)
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