Haggai Begins Temple Building
1In 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.”’” 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.
- 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.