Book of Haggai

Introduction to the Book of Haggai

Book of Haggai
Haggai, painting by James Tissot. SuperStock / Getty Images

Book of Haggai

The Old Testament book of Haggai reminds God's people that he is their first priority in life. God gives his followers wisdom and energy to do the work he assigns them.

When the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem in 586 BC, they destroyed the magnificent temple built by King Solomon and carried the Jews into exile in Babylon. However, Cyrus, king of Persia, overthrew the Babylonians, and in 538 BC, he allowed 50,000 Jews to go home and rebuild the temple.

Work got off to a good start, but after a few years, the Samaritans and other neighbors opposed the rebuilding. The Jews lost interest in the task and instead turned to their own houses and careers. When King Darius took over Persia, he fostered the various religions in his empire. Darius encouraged the Jews to restore the temple. God called two prophets to support them: Zechariah and Haggai.

In this second shortest book of the Old Testament (after Obadiah), Haggai scolded his countrymen for living in "paneled houses" while the Lord's house had fallen into disarray. He also pointed out when the people turned away from God, their needs were not met, but when they honored God, they prospered.

With the backing of the governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua, Haggai motivated the people to put God first again. Work began about 520 BC and was completed four years later with a dedication ceremony.

At the end of the book, Haggai delivered God's personal message to Zerubbabel, telling the governor of Judah he would be like God's signet ring. In ancient times, signet rings functioned as an official seal when pressed into hot wax on a document. This prophecy meant God would honor the line of King David through Zerubbabel.

Indeed, this king was listed in the Davidic ancestors of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:12-13 and Luke 3:27.

Thousands of years later, the book of Haggai holds an important message for Christians. God was not concerned that the rebuilt temple would not be as spectacular as Solomon's. He told his people it would be his house where he would again dwell among them. No matter how humble our service for God, it is important in his eyes. He wants to be our first priority. To help us carve out time for him, he stirs up our hearts with his love.  

Author of the Book of Haggai

Haggai, one of the twelve minor prophets, was the first prophet after the Babylonian exile, followed by Zechariah and Malachi. His name means "festive," implying he was born on a Jewish feast day. The concise, bare bones style of the book of Haggai has led some scholars to believe it is a summary of a longer, more detailed work that has since been lost.

Date Written

520 BC

Written To

Post-exilic Jews and today's Bible readers.

Landscape of the Book of Haggai


Themes in the Book of Haggai

  • If we're not careful, the busyness of our lives can crowd out God. The Jews forgot who saved and sustained them. In today's high-tech, fast paced world, we risk thinking our own priorities top those of God. God calls us to put him first.
    • Building God's kingdom can seem overwhelming, but God's power is invincible. When we step out, he provides the resources we need to get the job done.

    Key Characters in the Book of Haggai

    Haggai, Zerubbabel, Joshua the high priest, Cyrus, Darius.

    Key Verses

    Haggai 1:4:
    "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?" (NIV)

    Haggai 1:13:
    Then Haggai, the LORD’S messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: "I am with you," declares the LORD. (NIV)

    Haggai 2:23:
    " 'On that day,' declares the LORD Almighty, 'I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,' declares the LORD, 'and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,' declares the LORD Almighty." (NIV)

    Outline of the Book of Haggai

    • God commands rebuilding of the temple; the people respond. (1:1-15)
    • God will fill the temple with his glory. (2:1-9)
    • Sin brings disaster; obedience brings blessings. (2:10-19)
    • Zerubbabel is told he will be chosen by God. (2:20-23)

    (Sources: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr, general editor; NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing; Life Application Study Bible, Tyndale House Publishers;

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    Your Citation
    Zavada, Jack. "Book of Haggai." ThoughtCo, May. 4, 2016, Zavada, Jack. (2016, May 4). Book of Haggai. Retrieved from Zavada, Jack. "Book of Haggai." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2018).