One of the minor prophets, probably accompanied Zerubbabel in the first return of the Jew from Babylon, B. C. 536. He began to prophesy in the second year of Darius Hystaspis, B. C. 520; and the object of his prophesying as to excite his countrymen to begin again the building of the temple, which had been so long interrupted. In this he was successful, Darius having granted a decree for this purpose, Ezr 6. The exceeding glory of the second temple was, as he foretold, that Christ "the Desire of all nations" came into it, and made the place of his feet glorious, Hag 2:7-9.
festive, one of the twelve so-called minor prophets. He was the first of the three (Zechariah, his contemporary, and Malachi, who was about one hundred years later, being the other two) whose ministry belonged to the period of Jewish history which began after the return from captivity in Babylon. Scarcely anything is known of his personal history. He may have been one of the captives taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. He began his ministry about sixteen years after the Return. The work of rebuilding the temple had been put a stop to through the intrigues of the Samaritans. After having been suspended for fifteen years, the work was resumed through the efforts of Haggai and Zechariah (Ezr 6:14), who by their exhortations roused the people from their lethargy, and induced them to take advantage of the favourable opportunity that had arisen in a change in the policy of the Persian government. (See Darius .) Haggai's prophecies have thus been characterized:, "There is a ponderous and simple dignity in the emphatic reiteration addressed alike to every class of the community, prince, priest, and people, 'Be strong, be strong, be strong' (Hag 2:4). 'Cleave, stick fast, to the work you have to do;' or again, 'Consider your ways, consider, consider, consider' (Hag 1:5,7; 2:15,18). It is the Hebrew phrase for the endeavour, characteristic of the gifted seers of all times, to compel their hearers to turn the inside of their hearts outwards to their own view, to take the mask from off their consciences, to 'see life steadily, and to see it wholly.'", Stanley's Jewish Church. (See Signet.)
("my feast".) A name given in anticipation of the joyous return from exile. Perhaps a Levite, as the rabbis say he was buried at Jerusalem among the priests. Tradition represents him as returning with the first exiles from Babylon his birthplace, under Zerubbabel 536 B.C., when Cyrus, actuated by Isaiah's prophecies concerning himself (Isa 44:28; 45:1), decreed the Jews' restoration and the rebuilding of the temple, for which he furnished all necessaries. (See CYRUS; EZRA; AHASUERUS; ARTAXERXES; DARIUS.) In spite of Samaritan opposition the temple building went on under Cyrus and Cambyses (Ahasuerus Ezr 4:6); but under the Magian usurper Smerdis (Artaxerxes Ezr 4:7-23) the Samaritans procured a royal decree suspending the work.
Hence, the Jews became so indifferent about it that when Darius came to the throne (521 B.C.), whose accession virtually nullified the usurper's prohibition, they pretended that as the prophecy of the 70 years applied to the temple as well as to the captivity in Babylon (Hag 1:2), they were only in the 68th year, and that, the time not yet having come, they might build splendid cieled mansions for themselves. Haggai first, and Zechariah two months later, were commissioned by Jehovah (Hag 1:1) in Darius' (Hystaspes) second year, 520 B.C., to rouse them from their selfishness to resume the work which had been suspended for 14 years. The dates of his four distinct prophecies are given.
I. (Haggai 1). On the first day of the 6th month of Darius' second year of reigning, 520 B.C. Reproves their apathy in leaving the temple in ruins; reminds them of their ill fortune because of their neglect of God's house. In consequence, within 24 days they began building under Zerubbabel (Hag 1:12-15).
II. (Hag 2:1-9). Predicts that the new temple's glory will exceed that of Solomon's temple; therefore the outward inferiority which had moved the elders to tears at the foundation laying (Ezr 3:10-13) ought not to discourage them. Isaiah (Isaiah 60; Isa 2:2-4), Jeremiah (Jer 3:16-18), and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40-48), similarly, had foretold the glory of the latter house; but the temple then being built so far showed no signs of glory, Haggai shows wherein the glory should consist, namely, in the presence of Him who is "the Desire of all nations." Many object that the Hebrew "desire" (chemdath) being singular, and "shall come" being plural (bauw), the singular must be collective for "desirable things shall come," namely, silver and gold.
But when two nouns come together, one singular the other plural, the verb may agree with the latter. Besides Messiah is "all desires," containing collectively all desirable things in Himself such as they missed in the present temple, splendor, riches, etc. (Song 5:16). The desires of all nations can find their satisfaction in Him alone. He embodies the "good things to come," "to Him shall the gathering of the people be" (Ge 49:10). He comes in His veiled glory to the temple at His first advent (Mt 21:12-14), in His revealed glory at His second advent (Mal 3:1). The glory of the latter house did not exceed that of the former except in Messiah's advent; the silver and gold brought to it scarcely equaled those of Solomon's temple, and certainly all nations did not bring their desirable things to it. The KJV is therefore right. The masculine plural verb implies that the feminine singular noun is an abstract for a masculine concrete.
III. (Hag 2:10-19). On the 24th day of the 9th month, when building materials were collected and the workmen had begun to build; from this time God promises to bless them. He rectifies their past error of thinking that outward observances cleanse away the sin of disobeying God, as for instance in respect to the temple building. (Holy flesh of sacrifice sanctifies the skirt in which it is carried, but cannot sanctify anything beyond, as bread: Le 6:27. On the other hand, an unclean person imparts his uncleanness to anything he touches. So ceremonialism cannot sanctify the unclean person, but the unclean defiles all he touches).
IV. (Hag 2:20-23). On the same day as III, addressed to Zerubbabel, the representative of the theocracy, who asked about the national revolutions foretold in II. (Hag 2:7). Judah, whose representative Zerubbabel was, shall remain, as a signet ring secure, while God makes an end of other nations (Jer 46:28). The time occupied by Haggai's prophecies is three months. The temple was completed in the sixth year of Darius' reign, 515-516 B.C. (Ezr 6:14). The style of Haggai is prose-like but pathetic in exhortation, vehement in reproof, and lofty in contemplating the glorious future, Repetitions (e.g., "saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts" Hag 1:2,5,7; 2:4 thrice; "the Spirit" thrice in Hag 1:14) and interrogations impart a simple earnestness of tone calculated to awaken from apathy to solemn attention.
Haggai is referred to in Ezr 5:1; 6:14, and in New Testament, Heb 12:26; compare Hag 2:6-7,22. The final earthly shaking of kingdoms is preparing the way for the "kingdom that cannot be moved." The Septuagint associate Haggai and Zechariah in the titles of Psalm 137; Psalm 145-148; the Vulgate in the titles of Psalm 111; 145; the Syriac in those of Psalm 125; Psalm 126; Psalm 145-148. Haggai according to Pseudo-Epiphanius (De Vitis Proph.) first chanted the Hallelujah, the hymn of Haggai and Zechariah, in the second temple. The Hallelujah psalms belong certainly to the period after the return from Babylon.
A prophet whose writings occupy the tenth place in the collection of the Minor Prophets.
1. The man and his work.
Scripture is silent as to the ancestors of this prophet. He stands as to date at the return from captivity, and his prophecy is mostly occupied with the house of the Lord, the temple at Jerusalem. About the year B.C. 535, by order of Cyrus, under God, the rebuilding of the temple had been begun; but in consequence of the opposition from without, and the Jews' lack of faith as to the purpose of God in restoring them to their land, the building was stayed. It had been lying for some fifteen years in that state when God caused Haggai to prophesy, and charge the Jews themselves with neglect of the house. God had been dealing with them in providence, withholding the fruits of the earth; but they understood it not, until the prophet bade them consider their ways. They had made excuses that the time had not yet come to build God's house; but they were building their own houses. The prophet bade them fetch wood and build the house, and God would take pleasure in it, though it might appear as nothing in their eyes.
Zerubbabel and Joshua at once responded, and the work was commenced with energy and without permission from the heathen authorities. When asked by whose permission they were building the house, they nobly said, "We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth." Letters were sent to Babylon by the governors of the land, and then God so ordered it that formal permission was given to continue the building. By comparing verses 1 and 15 of Haggai 1 it will be seen that in twenty-four days the work was resumed.
Haggai 2. There was encouragement for them, and exhortations to be strong: Jehovah was with them. They were reminded of their deliverance from Egypt, and the prophecy then goes on to the future, when God's purpose will be fully accomplished. God is going to shake the heavens and the earth: "the desire of all nations shall come"
(festive), the tenth in order of the minor prophets, and first of those who prophesied after the captivity. With regard to his tribe and parentage history and tradition are alike silent.
HAGGAI was one of the Jews who returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem in consequence of the edict of Cyrus; and it is believed that he was born during the captivity, and that he was of the sacerdotal race. His prophecy consists of four distinct revelations, all which took place in the second year of Darius, king of Persia, B.C. 520. The prophet reproves the people for their delay in building the temple of God, and represents the unfruitful seasons which they had experienced as a divine punishment for this neglect. He exhorts them to proceed in the important work; and by way of encouragement predicts, that the glory of the second temple, however inferior in external magnificence, shall exceed that of the first; which was accomplished by its being honoured with the presence of the Saviour of mankind. He farther urges the completion of the temple by promises of divine favour, and under the type of Zerubbabel he is supposed by some to foretel the great revolutions which shall precede the second advent of Christ. The style of Haggai is in general plain and simple; but in some passages it rises to a considerable degree of sublimity.