HAGGAI, BOOK OF
An inspired book of the Hebrew Scriptures listed among the so-called minor prophets. It consists of four messages from Jehovah to Jews that had returned from Babylonian exile, urging them to finish rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. Also being prophetic, the book foretold such things as the filling of Jehovah’s house with glory and the overthrow of human kingdoms.—Hag 2:6, 7, 21, 22.
Writership and Canonicity. The writer was Haggai the prophet, who personally delivered each message found in the book. (Hag 1:1; 2:1, 10, 20; see HAGGAI.) While most of the ancient Scripture catalogs do not list the book of Haggai by name, it is evidently included in their references to the ‘twelve Minor Prophets,’ the number 12 thus being complete. The Jews have never questioned its right to a place among the Hebrew Scriptures, and the canonicity of the book is definitely established by the quotation from Haggai 2:6 appearing at Hebrews 12:26.—Compare Hag 2:21.
Style. The language is simple and the meaning is made abundantly clear. Thought-provoking questions are sometimes posed. (Hag 1:4, 9; 2:3, 12, 13, 19) The book of Haggai contains strong reproof, encouragement, and hope-inspiring prophecy. The divine name, Jehovah, appears 35 times in its 38 verses, and it is clearly shown that the messages were from God, Haggai serving as His commissioned messenger.—1:13.
Date and Circumstances. The four messages recorded by Haggai were delivered at Jerusalem within about a four-month period in the second year of Persian King Darius Hystaspis (520 B.C.E.), the book apparently being completed in 520 B.C.E. (Hag 1:1; 2:1, 10, 20) Zechariah was prophesying for the same purpose during Haggai’s prophetic activity.—Ezr 5:1, 2; 6:14.
Messages of Lasting Benefit. Among other things, the book of Haggai engenders faith in Jehovah, essential to God’s servants. It shows that God is with his people (Hag 1:13; 2:4, 5), and it also urges them to put his interests first in life. (Hag 1:2-8; Mt 6:33) The book makes clear the fact that mere formalistic worship does not please Jehovah (Hag 2:10-17; compare Isa 29:13, 14; Mt 15:7-9) but that faithful actions harmonizing with the divine will are what result in blessing. (Hag 2:18, 19; compare Pr 10:22.) The writer of the Bible book of Hebrews applies Haggai 2:6 as having a greater fulfillment in connection with God’s Kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ.—Heb 12:26-29.
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HIGHLIGHTS OF HAGGAI
Four messages designed to motivate the Jews to move ahead with the rebuilding of Jehovah’s temple
Written in Jerusalem 17 years after the Jews returned from exile, when temple building had not yet been completed
Message to people living in paneled houses, while Jehovah’s house lies in ruins (1:1-15)
To those feeling that it is not the time for rebuilding the temple Jehovah makes clear that neglect of this work has led to the withdrawal of his blessing, so that harvests are poor and hired laborers receive meager wages
Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the rest of the people respond favorably; they are promised that Jehovah will be with them in the temple rebuilding work; temple work starts
Proclamation that Jehovah will fill his house with glory (2:1-9)
In the view of aged ones who had seen the glory of Solomon’s temple, the new structure seems like nothing
Jehovah urges Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the rest of the people to be strong, not disheartened, to continue with the work, assuring them that the glory of the rebuilt temple will surpass that of the former one
People are shown that neglect of temple rebuilding has made them and all their work unclean before God (2:10-19)
Priests answer questions indicating that holiness cannot be transferred but uncleanness can
Jehovah encourages the people by informing that from the day the temple foundation is laid Jehovah will bestow his blessing, ending the poor harvests
Message to Zerubbabel about Jehovah’s rocking heavens and earth (2:20-23)
When Jehovah rocks heavens and earth, even overthrowing the throne of kingdoms, the enemies will turn their weapons against themselves; thus no power will succeed in blocking temple rebuilding
Jehovah will make Zerubbabel like his own seal ring, thus guaranteeing that his position will be secure regardless of what may happen