Hag 1:1-2:23

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Summary[edit]

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Relationship to Old Testament. Haggai is one of the "Minor Prophets" of the Old Testament. The relationship of Haggai to the Old Testament as a whole, and to the other minor prophets in particular, is discussed at Old Testament: Organization.

Story. Haggai contains a series of five revelations given to the prophet Haggai in 520 BC, mostly prompting the Jews to finish rebuilding the temple. On this occasion the Jews did heed the prophets and finished rebuilding the temple about five years later in 515 BC.

  • Hag 1:1-11: To the Governor and High Priest (29 Aug 520 BC). Neglecting the temple is the cause of unfruitfulness.
  • Hag 1:12-15: To the People (21 Sep 520 BC). "I am with you."
  • Hag 2:1-9: To the Governor, High Priest & People (17 Oct 520 BC). "I am with you" now, and glory in the future.
  • Hag 2:10-19: To the Priests (18 Dec 520 BC). Rebuilding the temple is the cause of blessing.
  • Hag 2:20-23: To the Governor Zerubabbel (18 Deb 520 BC). David’s heir (Christ) will come through Zerubabbel.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Haggai include:

Historical setting[edit]

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Historical Background: Haggai is set at Jerusalem in 520 BC, about fifteen years after the first Jews return to Jerusalem.

The Samaritans were descendants of those left in Judea when the Babylonians carried off the elites and many of the poor. They intermarried with foreigners and were considered by the returning exiles to have a corrupt form of worship.

The first Jews returned from Babylon to Jerusalem in 537 BC under the Persian king Cyrus. They quickly rebuilt the altar and foundation of the temple. But when the Jews would not let the Samaritans participate in rebuilding the temple, the Samaritans were able stop construction before the temple walls were built (Ezra 1-4).

Fifteen years later, in 520 BC during the second year of the Persian king Darius, Haggai and Zechariah begin to prophesy (Ezra 5:1; 6:14). Zechariah 1:2-6 fits timewise between Haggai 2:9 and 10, or between Haggai’s third and fourth recorded revelations. It is helpful to read Haggai in light of Ezra 1-6 and Zechariah 1-8. Malachi is also set in the same general time frame after Haggai and Ezra but before Nehemiah.

A broader treatment of the history of ancient Israel, including Haggai, is found at Old Testament: Historical Overview.

Discussion[edit]

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Hag[edit]

  • Hag: Outline.
A. In the first revelation the Lord reveals that much of the hardship experienced by the Jews at Jerusalem is because they have neglected to finish rebuilding the temple. In the fourth, after construction resumes, he lifts the curse that had thwarted their agricultural and business efforts so the land of Judah will again be fruitful.
B. In the second revelation the Lord promises that “I am with you” as the Jews resume construction of the temple. In the third he again promises that “I am with you.”
C. The third revelation also foretells the future glory of the temple at Jerusalem when the Messiah will visit it during his earthly ministry. The last revelation is directed alone to King David’s descendant Zerubabbel, the governor of Judah under the Persians. Zerubabbel is promised that the future Messiah will come through Zerubabbel’s lineage.
  • On this occasion the Jews did heed the prophets and finished rebuilding the temple about five years later in 515 BC (Ezra 6:15).
  • Haggai and Zechariah both prophesied among the Jews as the Jerusalem Temple was being rebuilt under Zerubbabel (Ezra 5:1; 6:14).
  • Hag: Outline. Haggai is sometimes outlined instead as follows:
  • accussation
  • punishment
  • repentance and blessing
  • Messianic prophecy

1:1-15
1:6-11
1:12-15
2:1-9

2:10-14
2:15-17
2:18-19
2:20-23

Hag 1:1-11: #1 to governor and high priest: Neglecting temple is the cause of unfruitfulness[edit]

  • Hag 1:1-11: Date. This revelation was received on 29 August 520 BC[1] and instructed the people that it was time to finish the temple.
  • The point of this first revelation in Haggai is to tell the Jews that: (1) the Lord considers it improper that the people should all have roofed (cieled) houses while his own house has neither roof nor walls; (2) the Jews have been unfruitful in their agricultural and business pursuits because the Lord has purposefully thwarted them for this reason; and (3) in spite of past difficulties, it is now time to finish the temple.
  • In the first half of this section the people are left to draw the connection between their failure to finish the temple and their unfruitful condition. In the second half the Lord makes this connection explicit.

Hag 1:12-15: #2 to people: "I am with you"[edit]

  • Hag 1:12-15: Date. The Lord gave this second revelation to Haggai on 21 September, 520 BC[2] just three weeks after the Jews at Jerusalem resumed construction of the temple in obedience to his first revelation. In this revelation the Lord gave the people comfort by stating "I am with you."
  • The governor Zerubbabel, the high priest Joshua, and the people respond obediently to Haggai’s first revelation. The Lord encourages them by providing revealed assurance in this second revelation that “I am with you” and by stirring up their hearts.
  • In the first revelation the Lord referred to “this people” (1:2), a derogatory term. But now as they heed the Lord they are “the remnant of the people” (1:12, 14) and “the people” (1:13). “This people” is also used in 2:14 when describing Judah’s situation before construction resumed.

Hag 2:1-9: #3 to governor, high priest, and people: "I am with you" now, and glory in the future[edit]

  • Hag 2:1-9: Date. The Lord gave this third revelation to Haggai on 17 October 520 BC[3] and gave further comfort to the Jews at Jerusalem by repeating that "I am with you" and that, even though this second temple might not be as opulent as the first built by Solomon, still the glory of this second temple would be greater than the first.
  • Hag 2:1-9. This third revelation is received during a time of poor harvests on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the harvest festival (See Lev 23:33-43). It was also the anniversary of the dedication of Solomon’s temple (1 Kgs 8:2).
  • Although the Jews in their current, poor condition cannot furnish the temple as richly as Solomon, the Lord again encourages them to work and fear not, for “I am with you” as when you came up out of Egypt (Hag 2:4-5). The encouragement to “be strong” and “fear not” echoes David’s instruction to Solomon regarding construction of the first temple (1 Chron 28:10-20). It also recalls the Lord’s encouragement to Joshua as he prepared to enter and conquer the Promised Land where the encouragement to “be strong” is also repeated three times (Jos 1:6-9).
  • Haggai’s questions to the priests establish that uncleanness is contagious, while holiness is not (2:11-13). The application of this principle to Israel is that so long as Israel neglected the temple, that neglect made every other effort of the people unclean and prevented them from being blessed (2:14-17). Some of the language of verse 17 exactly matches Amos 4:9 where the Lord recounts Israel’s suffering as chastisements specifically intended to convince Israel to return to him. But now, as construction on the temple resumes, the curse is lifted and Israel’s attention to the temple will be a source of blessing (2:18-19).

Hag 2:10-19: #4 to priests: Rebuilding temple is the cause of blessing[edit]

  • Hag 2:10-19: Date. The Lord gave this fourth revelation to Haggai on 18 December 520 BC[4] after the Jews at Jerusalem had been working on the temple in obedience to Haggai's earlier revelations for about three and a half months. In this revelation the Lord explains that their diligence in working on the temple is the cause of economic blessing.

Hag 2:20-23: #5 to governor: David’s heir (Christ) will come through Zerubabbel[edit]

  • Hag 2:20-23: Date. This fifth revelation was received on 18 December 520 BC,[5] the same day as the fourth revelation. This revelation promised that David's heir (Christ) would be born through Zerubbabel's line of descendants.
  • Hag 2:20-23. In the day when the Lord shakes the heavens and the earth (2:21), and overthrows all kingdoms and military power (2:22), then the Lord will establish Zerubbabel as a signet (2:23). A signet ring represented the authority of the king or official who wore it. Zerubbabel was a descendant of David and direct ancestor of Christ (Matthew 1:6-16; Luke 3:23-31). He was also the governor of Judah under the Persians (1:1), presiding over a gathered remnant of Israel. So here Haggai prophesies that the promise to David of a throne over Israel established forever through his seed (2 Samuel 7:8-17) will be fulfilled in the portion of David’s line that passes through his descendant Zerubbabel. When all nations are overthrown, the Davidic throne governing Israel will be established in a descendant of both David and Zerubbabel, namely Christ. (See the Old Testament Institute Manual, Haggai 30-5).

Complete outline and page map[edit]

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A1. #1 to the Governor and High Priest (Aug 29, 520 BC):

Neglecting the temple is the cause of unfruitfulness (1:1-11)
a. the people say it is not time to finish the temple (2)
b. is it time to dwell in roofed houses while the temple is unfinished? (3-4)
c. consider your situation: you are thwarted and unfruitful (5-6)
a. consider the remedy: finish the temple (7-8)
b. the Lord thwarts you because only his house remains unfinished (9)
c. therefore you are thwarted and unfruitful (10-11)

B1. #2 to the People (Sep 21, 520 BC):

“I am with you” (1:12-15)
a. leaders and people obey the revelation and fear before the Lord (12)
b. the Lord says “I am with you” (13)
a. the Lord stirs up the hearts of leaders and people, they begin work (14-15)

B2. - C1. #3 to Governor, High Priest & People (Oct 17, 520 BC):

“I am with you” now, and glory in the future (2:1-9)
a. greater glory of the former temple compared to the present (3)
b. be strong and work, for “I am with you” as at Sinai (4-5)
a. glory of the latter temple shall be greater than the former (6-9)

A2. #4 to the Priests (Dec 18, 520 BC):]]

Rebuilding the temple is the cause of blessing (2:10-19)
• first ruling: holiness does not spread to unholy items (11-12)
• second ruling: uncleanness can spread to otherwise holy items (13)
• application: neglecting the temple made every work of this people unclean (14)
• consider the past: land was cursed while the temple lay neglected (15-17)
• consider the future: the curse is lifted as construction resumes (18-19)

C2. #5 to the Governor Zerubabbel (Dec 18, 520 BC):

David’s heir (Christ) will come through Zerubabbel (2:20-23)

Points to ponder[edit]

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Resources[edit]

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Translations[edit]

  • Amplified • The Amplified Bible, 1987 update
  • NASB • New American Standard Bible, 1995 update
  • NIV • New International Version
  • RSV • Revised Standard Version

Joseph Smith Translation[edit]

The Joseph Smith Translation made no changes to the book of Haggai.[6]

Cited references[edit]

  • Wayment, Thomas A., ed. The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2009. (ISBN 1606411314) BX8630 .A2 2009.

Other resources[edit]

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.

  1. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, __.
  2. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, __.
  3. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, __.
  4. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, __.
  5. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, __.
  6. Wayment, The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament, p. 218-19.


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