You are here

TitleOld Testament Minute: Haggai
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsCorrea, Noe
Series EditorHalverson, Taylor
Series TitleOld Testament Minute: Haggai
PublisherBook of Mormon Central
CitySpringville, UT
KeywordsBible; Haggai (Book); Haggai (Prophet); Old Testament

Show Full Text

Historical Context

The people of Judah were exiled in waves in 597 and 587 BC. When Babylon was overcome by the Persians in 539 BC, the king of Persia was Cyrus, a man open to other faiths and religions.[1] The Cyrus Cylinder, housed in the British Museum, recounts how Cyrus allowed the captives in Babylon to return to their gods and temples.[2] According to the book of Ezra, Cyrus declared, “[Jehovah] God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah” (Ezra 1:2). Years after the first group of Jews had returned to Judah, both Haggai and Zechariah went to support the building of the city walls and the temple (Ezra 5:1; 6:14). These prophets spoke to the people’s lackadaisical efforts to rebuild Jerusalem to its previous glory.

Haggai 1


When King Cyrus died in 522 BC, there was a power struggle in Persia until Darius began to put down the rebellions. Darius was the son-in-law of Cyrus and came to the throne on September 29, 522 BC.[3] Verse 1 is datable to August 29, 520 BC.[4]

Zerubbabel, whose name means “seed of Babylon,” was the grandson of one of the previous kings, Jehoiachin (see 1 Chronicles 3:16–19). Joshua, the high priest, was likely related to Seraiah, the priest before the exile (see 2 Kings 25:18–21).

The returnees had sinned by delaying their efforts to rebuild the temple of Jerusalem (Haggai 1:2). As a response and throughout the book of Haggai, the Lord invited the people to “consider your ways,” or to reflect on their decisions and behaviors (verse 5). On the one hand, the people were saying that it wasn’t time to build the temple, but on the other, they had constructed their own dwelling places. They had forgotten that the Lord provides for the temporal needs of those who are obedient (2 Nephi 1:20). What follows is practically the opposite of the tithing blessings stated in Malachi 3. If the people did take thought to reconstruct the temple, they would not prosper. In reference to the temple tithe, the Lord through Malachi would later declare, “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:11). If the Israelites paid their temple tithes, their harvest would not be devoured. Here in Haggai, the Lord taught that without a temple, their harvest, water consumption, clothes, and wages would not be sufficient for their needs (Haggai 1:6).


The word in Hebrew translated as “consider” more appropriately conveys the idea of “to set, direct, or establish.” The Lord was instructing the people to set their lives in order by getting to work, going to the mountains for wood (in the north), and building the house of God. Repeating the message from the previous verses, the people had sought to have an abundance of goods but had been left with little because they had not tended to the Lord’s house.


After hearing the word of the Lord through His prophet Haggai, the leaders of the people (Zerubabbel and Joshua) obeyed, unlike the leaders in Isaiah and Jeremiah’s day. Seeing the example of their leaders, “the remnant of the people” also obeyed. There is often a struggle for obedience when leaders and followers do not work together. However, leaders carry the most weight. Strong leaders have a great influence on a people’s righteousness or wickedness.

Some of the greatest words of encouragement that the Lord can give are given in this section: “I am with you” (Haggai 1:13). He would say the same to His disciples in the meridian of time (see Matthew 28:20). With the Lord’s presence and the aid of the Spirit, all members of the community came to work on the temple.

Verse 15 can be dated to September 21, 520 BC.[5]

Haggai 2


On October 17, 520 BC,[6] the Lord asked if anyone had seen the temple before it was destroyed. What had been left of the temple and was not being reconstructed did not compare to its previous beauty and glory. Therefore, He commanded the political and religious leaders to be strong because He was with them. To express that having a temple would bring cosmic changes (in the ancient world view), the Lord proceeded to describe the coming glory of the temple in cataclysmic terms: heaven and earth would shake. The words “heaven” and “earth” related to the blessing of the temple. When Jesus was speaking to Peter, He told him he would receive the keys to the kingdom of heaven to bind on earth and in heaven (Matthew 16:19). This binding seal is performed in temples. Certainly the universe shook when these sealing keys were restored.


On December 18, 520 BC,[7] the Lord reminded the people that nothing becomes holy by simply touching a holy object that has been consecrated and set apart for God. Neither were the people holy simply because they were working on the temple. The Lord Jesus Christ taught that the greatest commandments are to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” and “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:30–31). The people may not have been serving each other as true disciples. It is possible that they had not seen the blessings of their harvest because their lives were not consecrated to serving God’s people.


The heavens and earth would shake again (Haggai 2:21; see verse 6), but this time the temple would not be involved. Wars and rumors of war would be the cause of commotion (verse 22). In the year 522 BC, rebellion broke out in Persia after the death of certain political officials and was not quelled until 517 BC.[8] Soon after came the Greco-Persian Wars (499–449 BC). Haggai may have been describing this political turmoil.

Perhaps representing the people as a whole, Zerubabbel would receive a sealing signet ring from the Lord. These seals were used to authorize and endorse communications given by the king.[9] This action may have been foreshadowing the apostle Peter’s receiving of sealing powers from the true Messiah king and the future restoration in modern times of this same authority.[10]

[1] Although we have no direct indication of Cyrus’s religion, his successors were clearly Zoroastrian. See Mario Liverani, Israel’s History and the History of Israel (London, UK: Equinox, 2007), 252–253.

[3] See John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, and Mark W. Chavalas, Comentario del contexto cultural de la Biblia: Antiguo Testamento (El Paso, TX: Editorial Mundo Hispano, 2005), 910.

[4] See J. Scott Duval and J. Daniel Hays, eds., The Baker Illustrated Bible Background Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2020), 680.

[5] See J. Scott Duval and J. Daniel Hays, eds., The Baker Illustrated Bible Background Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2020), 682.

[6] See J. Scott Duval and J. Daniel Hays, eds., The Baker Illustrated Bible Background Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2020), 682.

[7] See J. Scott Duval and J. Daniel Hays, eds., The Baker Illustrated Bible Background Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2020), 682.

[8] See J. Scott Duval and J. Daniel Hays, eds., The Baker Illustrated Bible Background Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2020), 683.

[9] See 1 Kings 21:8; Esther 8:8–10; Jeremiah 22:24.

[10] See Matthew 16:19; Doctrine and Covenants 132:7, 19–20.


Cover of Old Testament Minute: Haggai by Noe Correa

Scripture Reference

Haggai 1:1