A Hebrew prophet in Judah and Jerusalem during Zerubbabel’s governorship in the reign of Persian King Darius Hystaspis. (Hag. 1:1; 2:1, 10, 20; Ezra 5:1, 2) “Haggai” may be an abbreviated form of “Haggiah,” meaning “festival of Jah (Jehovah).”
Jewish tradition holds that Haggai was a member of the Great Synagogue. From Haggai 2:10-19 it has been suggested that he may have been a priest. His name appears along with that of the prophet Zechariah in the superscriptions of Psalm 111 (112) in the Latin Vulgate, Psalms 125 and 126 in the Syriac Peshitta Version, 137 in the Septuagint Version, 145 in the Septuagint, the Peshitta, and the Vulgate, and 146, 147 and 148 in the Septuagint and the Peshitta. It is probable that Haggai was born in Babylon and that he returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel and the Jewish remnant in 537 B.C.E. But little is actually known about Haggai, for the Scriptures do not reveal the prophet’s parentage, tribe, and so forth.
Haggai, the first postexilic prophet, joined about two months later by Zechariah (Hag. 1:1; Zech. 1:1), kindled the zeal of the repatriated Jewish exiles for the resumption of temple construction after a halt of some years precipitated by enemy opposition but extended by Jewish apathy and selfish pursuit of personal interests. (Ezra 3:10-13; 4:1-24; Hag. 1:4) Four God-given messages delivered by Haggai during about a four-month period in the second year of Darius Hystaspis (520/519 B.C.E.) and recorded by the prophet in the Bible book of Haggai were especially effective in initially moving the Jews to resume temple-building work. (Hag. 1:1; 2:1, 10, 20; see HAGGAI, BOOK OF.) Haggai and Zechariah continued to urge them on in the work until the temple was completed in Darius’ sixth year, in 515 B.C.E.—Ezra 5:1, 2; 6:14, 15.