Background of Haggai
Haggai prophesies to a group of people who had returned to JudahJudah was the name of Jacob's fourth son and one of the 12 tribes. More from Babylonian exile. After CyrusPersian leader who allowed Jewish exiles to return home. More of PersiaPersia was a southwestern Asian country. The Persian empire was a series of empires that occupied what is currently Afghanistan and Iran from 600 B.C.E. forward. Rulers of the Persian empire mentioned in the Bible are Cyrus and Darius. More defeated Babylon, he allowed the exiles to return to Judah in 538 B.C.E. Those who first returned from exile, however, did not have an easy time of it. They met resistance from Samaritans who were living in Judah (EzraScribe who helped establish Jewish practices in Jerusalem after the exile. More 4:1-5). They also experienced economic hardship and agricultural losses (Haggai 1:6; 2:15-17). By 520 B.C.E., when Haggai prophesied, a second wave of exiles had returned to Judah under JoshuaThe successor of Moses, Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan More, the high priestThe high priest was the most powerful priest in the temple in Jerusalem. The high priest Caiaphas held the office during the trial of Jesus. Later, in the New Testament book of Hebrews, the role of merciful high priest is ascribed to the resurrected Jesus. More, and ZerubbabelThe governor of Judah who helped rebuild the Temple after the exile More, the Davidic governor appointed by Persia. The templeThe Jerusalem temple, unlike the tabernacle, was a permanent structure, although (like the tabernacle) it was a place of worship and religious activity. On one occasion Jesus felt such activity was unacceptable and, as reported in all four Gospels, drove from the temple those engaged... More, however, still lay in ruins, destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.E. The book of Haggai spans less than four months in the latter half of 520 B.C.E., when Haggai urged the leaders and people to rebuild the temple. His prophecies seem to have been effective, as over the course of those few months the foundation of the temple was laid. Within five years, the temple was finished and rededicated. Haggai is a contemporary of another prophet, Zechariah, whose prophecies also begin in 520 B.C.E. and continue until 518. Zechariah shares Haggai’s concern for a rebuilt temple.