Haggai Begins Temple Building
1 In the second year of [a]Darius the king [of Persia], on the first day of the sixth month (Aug 29, 520 b.c.), the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘These people say, “The time has not come that the Lord’s house (temple) should be [b]rebuilt.”’”(A) 3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to live in your [expensive] paneled houses while this house [of the Lord] lies in ruins?” 5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways and thoughtfully reflect on your conduct! 6 You have planted much, but you harvest little; you eat, but you do not have enough; you drink, but you do not have enough to be intoxicated; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns wages earns them just to put them in a bag with holes in it [because God has withheld His blessing].”
7 Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways and thoughtfully reflect on your conduct! 8 Go up to the hill country, bring lumber and rebuild My house (temple), that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says the Lord [accepting it as done for My glory]. 9 You look for much [harvest], but it comes to little; and even when you bring that home, I blow it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house, which lies in ruins while each of you runs to his own house [eager to enjoy it]. 10 Therefore, because of you [that is, your sin and disobedience] the heavens withhold the dew and the earth withholds its produce. 11 I called for a drought on the land and the hill country, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands.”
12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people [who had returned from exile], listened carefully and obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of Haggai the prophet, since the Lord their God had sent him. And the people [reverently] feared the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, spoke the Lord’s message to the people saying, “‘I am with you,’ declares the Lord.” 14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, 15 on the [c]twenty-fourth day of the sixth month (Sept 21, 520 b.c.) in the second year of Darius the king.
The Builders Encouraged
2 On the twenty-first day of the [d]seventh month (Oct 17, 520 b.c., the second year of Darius king of Persia), the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying, 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying, 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this [e]house (temple) in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison? 4 But now be courageous, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord, ‘be courageous also, Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and be courageous, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ declares the Lord of hosts. 5 ‘As for the promise which I made with you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit stands [firm and immovable] and continues with you; do not fear!’ 6 For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Once more, in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.(B) 7 I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the desirable and precious things of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory and splendor,’ says the Lord of hosts.(C) 8 ‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the Lord of hosts. 9 ‘The latter [f]glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and in this place I shall give [the ultimate] peace and prosperity,’ declares the Lord of hosts.”
10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (Dec 18, 520 b.c.), in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Haggai the prophet, saying, 11 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Ask the priests for a ruling: 12 If a man carries meat that is holy [because it has been offered in sacrifice to God] in the fold of his garment, and he touches bread, or cooked food, or wine, or oil, or any [kind of] food with this fold, does what he touches become holy [dedicated exclusively to God’s service]?’” And the priests answered, “No!” [[g]Holiness is not transferrable.] 13 Then Haggai said, “If one who is [ceremonially] unclean because of [contact with] a corpse touches any of these [articles of food], will it be unclean?” And the priests answered, “It will be unclean.” [Ceremonial uncleanness, like sin, is infectious.] 14 Then Haggai answered, “‘So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there [on the altar] is unclean [because they who offer it are unclean]. 15 But now, do consider [what will happen] from this day forward: before one stone was placed on another in the temple of the Lord, 16 from that time when one came to a grain heap expecting twenty measures, there would be only ten; and when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty measures, there would be only twenty. 17 I struck you and the work of your hands with scorching wind, mildew, and hail; yet you did not come back to Me,’ declares the Lord. 18 ‘Do consider from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month; from the day when the temple of the Lord was founded, consider: 19 Is the seed still in the barn? As to the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree—they have not produced. Yet from this day on I will bless you [in the harvest of your crops].’”
20 And again the word of the Lord came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month (Dec 18, 520 b.c.), saying, 21 “Speak to [h]Zerubbabel governor of Judah, saying, ‘I am going to shake the heavens and the earth.(D) 22 I will [in the distant future] overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the [ungodly] nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride in them, and the horses and their riders will go down, every one by the sword of his brother [annihilating one another].(E) 23 On that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, My servant,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you [through the Messiah, your descendant] like a [i]signet ring, for I have chosen you [as the one with whom to renew My covenant to David’s line],’” declares the Lord of hosts.(F)
- Haggai 1:1 Darius the Great ruled Persia (capital city, Persepolis) from 522-486 b.c. He was an avid builder who used paid workers for his projects instead of slaves, a concept which at that time was revolutionary. He was a gifted visionary, and an energetic king whose social and economic goals endured and greatly benefited both his subjects and future generations. He developed efficient highways, standardized coinage, weights, measures, and he promoted religious tolerance and human rights.
- Haggai 1:2 The people of Judah had completed seventy years of captivity in Babylon (Jer 25:11, 12; Dan 9:2). In October 539 b.c., the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon, whereupon Cyrus the Great (founder of the Persian Empire, his reign extended from 559-529 b.c.) issued a decree permitting the Jews to return home and mandating the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 1:1-4). Some 50,000 returned (Ezra 2:64, 65) and shortly thereafter laid the foundation of the temple (Ezra 3:8-10), but when neighboring Samaritans antagonized the Jews, work on the temple stopped and the temple work lay dormant for some sixteen years. It was during the reign of Darius the Great that Haggai and Zechariah rebuked the people and admonished them to complete the temple. The people responded and the temple was completed in 516 b.c.
- Haggai 1:15 Just twenty-three days elapsed from the original prophecy and the resumption of work on the temple.
- Haggai 2:1 During the seventh month three major feast days were celebrated: Feast of Trumpets on the first day, the Day of Atonement on the tenth day, and the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) on the fifteenth day (Lev 23:23-36).
- Haggai 2:3 Solomon’s temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 b.c., some sixty-six years previously.
- Haggai 2:9 I.e. at the Second Coming of Christ.
- Haggai 2:12 The meat is holy of itself and renders the fold of the garment holy by contact, but the garment cannot transfer holiness. The same is not true of a person who has contracted defilement by contact (v 13), so it is easier to be defiled than to be holy.
- Haggai 2:21 Zerubbabel serves as the representative of the Davidic monarchy and covenant and in direct line of the ancestry of Jesus Christ.
- Haggai 2:23 The authoritative seal signifying the fulfillment of the Messianic promises.