Lesson 3 of 5
In Progress

Background of Haggai

Haggai prophesies to a group of people who had returned to Judah from Babylonian exile. After Cyrus of Persia 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 (Ezra 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 Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbabel, the Davidic governor appointed by Persia. The temple, 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.