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Haggai & Zechariah
Q(I) Write an introduction to the book of Haggai.
A. Hebrew: In Hebrew the book is titled ygj after the name of the prophet which probably meant "my feast"
B. Greek: In Greek the book is titled AGGAIOS, a translation from the Hebrew, from which we get our English spelling of Haggai
II. AUTHOR: Probably Haggai himself
A. He is given no introduction other than "the prophet" (cf. 1:1; Ezra 5:1; 6:14)
& the substance of his word makes it clear that he was engaged in public proclamation of the prophets ministry.
B. He may have been a returnee from Babylon
C. He may have been a priest
D. Even though the book was written in the third person (e.g., about Haggai) it is possible that Haggai did this to give the impression of objectivity
We don’t even know his age
Haggai lived more then half a centaury after the exile, he lived in the aftermath of the doom.
Very little is known is known of Haggai beyond the precise 5 dates between August & December 520 BC. during which we know a part of his ministry. But it would be a mistake if we confine his ministry only to these 5 months.
It is possible that only these records were kept keeping in mind the larger scheme of things.
Nothing is known about his father & family
Even though we know so little about Haggai, a good deal is known of the time & the circumstances in which he lived.
A. To encourage the returned remnant to move from a resigned satisfaction with their return to the land to an expression of faith by making an effort to rebuild the temple.
B. To encourage the returned remnant toward the reestablishment of temple worship as the nation's main goal
C. To encourage the returned remnant that Yahweh will bless them and the land as they move towards rebuilding the temple
D. To encourage the returned remnant that Yahweh has a future place of importance for them in spite of their past rebellion
Ref: NRSV. Purpose & message of the book.
Haggai & Zechariah preached in Jerusalem around 520 BC in the reign of Darius of Persia. Their message was that the temple was to be rebuilt & the people were to come together in to a purified & a faithful community. The source of hope was that God keeps his promise. When work on the temple was begun, then God will raise the glory of the house of David in Zerubabbel the last known prince of David’s line.
III. DATE: August 29 to December 18, 520 B.C.
A. Haggai preached his sermons during the second year of Darius I (521-486 B.C.)
B. Haggai's messages were preached within a fifteen week period 29 August to 18 December 520 B.C. This is determined from the dates given in Haggai; the biblical dates from Haggai and Zechariah, and Julian calendar dates are provided below in the following chart:6

Year of Darius
Date of New Moon
Equivalent Date, BC
29 Aug.
29 Aug. 520
21 Sept. 520
27 Sept.
17 Oct. 520
27 Oct.
25 Nov.
18 Dec. 520
23 Jan.
15 Feb. 519
4 Dec.
7 Dec. 518

C. It is unknown what happened to Haggai after his last message on 18 December 520. Baldwin writes, "Once Temple building began in earnest he had fulfilled his mission, and, having in Zechariah a successor to continue the work, he withdrew from the scene"7
D. The message in 1:13 does not have a certain date. Chisholm offers the following solution:
"Since the other messages in the book can be dated, the chronological notation of 1:1 may apply to this message as well. However, since the people's positive response to the message came on September 21, 520 B.C. (the sixth month, twenty fourth day; cf. 1:14-15), it could have been delivered any time between August 29 and that date"8
A. First Return: The first return from Babylonian exile was under Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. when Cyrus was King (539-530) (Ezra 1--6)
1. Return of Haggai: This was probably when Haggai returned to Jerusalem9
2. TempleRebuilt: Haggai and Zechariah prophesy and the Temple was completed under Darius I (521-486)
a. Levitical sacrifices were reinstituted on an altar built for burnt offerings (Ezra 3:1-6)
b. The foundation for the temple was laid in the second year of the return (536 B.C.; cf. Ezra 3:8-13; 5:16)
c. Samaritan and Persian resistance ended the rebuilding of the temple for 16 years (until 520 B.C.; cf. Ezra 4:4-5)
d. Haggai and Zechariah prophesy from 520-518 B.C. encouraging the nation to rebuild the temple
e. The Temple was completed in 515 B.C. (Ezra 5--6)
B. Second Return: The second return from Babylonian exile was under Ezra in 457 B.C. while Artaxexes I Longimanus was King (Ezra 7--10)
1. Ezra 7:1 affirms that Ezra arrived in Jerusalem during the reign of Artaxerxes the king of Persia
2. Ezra 7:8 affirms that Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king (Artaxerxes)
a. The is some question as to whether this was in the reign of Artaxerxes I Longimanus (464-423 B.C.) or Artaxerxes II Mnemon (404-359 B.C.)10
b. The evidence seems to be that this was during the reign of Artaxerxes I Longimanus; therefore, the seventh year of his reign would have been 457 B.C.
1) Nehemiah 8:2 identifies Ezra as Nehemiah's contemporary
2) The Elephantine Papyri11 [c. 400 B.C.] mentions Johanan (the grandson of Eliashib [Neh 3:1, 20])12
C. Third Return: The third return from Babylonian exile was under Nehemiah in 445/444 B.C. also while Artaxerxes I Longimanus was king (Neh 1--13).
1. Nehemiah I: Nehemiah's first arrival in Jerusalem was probably in 444 B.C.
a. Nehemiah 1:2 and 2:1 affirm that the events of Nehemiah occurred in the twentieth year of king Artaxerxes
b. Nehemiah arrived the first time in Jerusalem twelve-thirteen years after Ezra arrived
2. Nehemiah II: Nehemiah's second arrival in Jerusalem was probably in 433/432-420 B.C.
a. Nehemiah 13:6-7 reads, "But during all this time I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had gone to the king. After some time, however, I asked leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and learned about the evil ...."
b. Nehemiah left Jerusalem in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes
c. Nehemiah may also have returned to Jerusalem in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes (this is not certain since the text reads, "After some time, ..."
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