The name Haggai is derived from a word that means “a festival.” No genealogy accompanies his name. Twice in Ezra (5:1; 6:14) he is called “the prophet” and is associated with Zechariah in motivating the people to rebuild the temple.
Haggai began his ministry in Jerusalem on the first day of the sixth month of the second year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia. The first Persian ruler, Cyrus, had allowed an expedition of detainees to return to Judah to resettle the land and rebuild the temple (538 b.c.). Economic conditions were so deplorable that the task of rebuilding was halted and not resumed for a number of years. When Darius ascended the throne (522 b.c.), war broke out in many sections of the empire. After two years of strenuous campaigning, peace was restored. It was at this time that Haggai encouraged the people under the dual leadership of the governor, Zerubbabel, and the high priest, Joshua, to begin rebuilding.
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