About this book
The Jews were people that God chose to be his special people. But the Jews forgot God and they did not obey him. And so God sent them to live as slaves in a country called Babylon. After 60 years, they returned to their own country. Even then, they forgot God. But he sent Haggai to speak to them. This book is about the message that God gave to Haggai for them. And it is about what the people did after that.
1-2 Darius was a king. He was the king of a country called Persia. He had been king for 1 year and 5 months. On the first day of the next month, the Lord Almighty spoke to Haggai. (Haggai was a prophet of the Lord.) This is what the Lord said. ‘Everyone says that this is not the right time to build a temple for me.’ The Lord told Haggai that he must speak to the ruler of Judah and to the high priest. The ruler was called Zerubbabel. (His father was called Shealtiel.) The high priest was called Joshua. (His father was called Jehozadak.) 3 So Haggai, the prophet, told Zerubbabel and Joshua what the Lord had said.
4 This was the Lord’s message. ‘You seem to think that it is right for you to live in expensive houses. But you still have not built my temple. 5 But think about what has happened to you. 6 You plant seeds but not many plants grow. You never have enough food to eat. You drink but you are still thirsty. You put on clothes but your clothes do not keep you warm. And the money that you get for all your work is not enough. It is like when you put your money into pockets with holes in them. 7 Think about
what has happened to you!
8 And now, get wood from the hills to build my temple again. I want to look at my temple with pleasure. I want people to worship me there. 9 You thought that many food plants would grow in your fields. But only a few plants grew and that disappointed you. And when you brought your food to your home, I destroyed it. You may ask why I have done this. I did it because your first thought was to build your own houses. But your first thought should have been to build my temple again. And you have not done anything about that. 10 That is why your fields are dry. That is why your plants
do not grow. 11 I have stopped the rains so that nothing will grow. Your plants will not grow. Your cows will not have enough grass to eat. Your vines and your olive trees will have only a little fruit. No young animals will be born. And you will not have any children. For all your work, you will get nothing.’
Verse 1 tells us when Haggai spoke his message. Darius ruled as king over Persia and over many other countries. Judah was one of those countries. It was where the Jews lived. It was their own country, but they were very poor. The Lord said that they had forgotten him. And that was why this was happening. They had chosen to build their own houses. They should have built his temple. He said that they must now build his temple.
12 Some years before this, the people had returned to live in their own country. Zerubbabel and Joshua had returned with them. (Zerubbabel was Shealtiel’s son. Joshua was the high priest and he was Jehozadak’s son.) Now everyone heard the message that Haggai brought to them from the Lord. They were afraid because of what Haggai told them. And they all decided to obey the Lord their God and to worship him. 13 Haggai was the Lord’s prophet. This was Haggai’s message from the Lord: ‘ “I am with you”, says the Lord.’ 14 So the Lord changed what Zerubbabel and Joshua and the people thought. Soon, all the people wanted to build the temple for the Lord. Zerubbabel and Joshua, too, wanted to build the temple. (Zerubbabel was the ruler of Judah and he was Shealtiel’s son. Joshua was the high priest and he was Jehozadak’s son.) They all came and they worked at the temple of the Lord Almighty, their God. 15
And so the work began on the 24th day of that same month. Darius had been king
for more than 1 year and 5 months.
The people heard what the Lord had said to Haggai. And then they were afraid. But the Lord put in their minds the thought that they should obey him. So they started to build his temple again.
1 On the 21st day of the next month, the Lord spoke to Haggai, the prophet. 2 The Lord told Haggai that he must speak to Zerubbabel and to Joshua. (Zerubbabel was Shealtiel’s son and he was the ruler of Judah. Joshua was the high priest and he was Jehozadak’s son.) The Lord also told Haggai that he must speak to all the people. This was the message that the Lord sent:
3 ‘Some of the people will remember that my temple was once very beautiful. You think that it is really not beautiful now. 4 But now, be strong and brave, Zerubbabel! And be strong and brave, Joshua, high priest, son of Jehozadak! And be strong and brave, all you people in this country, and work! Work because I am with you’, says the Lord Almighty. 5
‘A long time ago, my people returned to their own country from Egypt. I promised
them then that I would be with them. And I was with them. I will be with you,
too. So, do not be afraid. And do not think that the work will be too difficult
for you. My Spirit will stay here among you.
6 Soon, people will see that I am a powerful God. Soon, I
will cause the skies and the earth to move. I will cause the sea and the land
to move. 7 I will cause people in many countries to be afraid. They will come to your country and they will bring with them valuable gifts. And I will make my temple beautiful’, says the Lord Almighty. 8 ‘All the silver and gold in the world is mine’, says the Lord Almighty. 9 ‘I promise that this new temple will be more beautiful than the old temple. People will see my temple. And then they will know that I am a great God. I will also make this city a place where there is peace’, says the Lord Almighty.
Egypt is a country in Africa where the Jews were slaves. Now the Jews were living in their own country. They worked for many hours each day. They had to do this to get enough food. They did not have much time to build the temple. There were many things that they needed to build the temple. They did not have enough money to buy these things. But the Lord had always been with his people and he promised to help them. Then they would have the things that they needed to build his temple.
10 Darius had been king for 1 year and 8 months and 23 days. Then the Lord Almighty spoke to Haggai the prophet again. 11 The Lord Almighty told Haggai that he must ask the priests a question about God’s rules. 12 This was the question. ‘A person might be carrying some meat in his clothes. It is meat that he wants to give to God as a sacrifice. His clothes might touch some food. It might be bread. Or it might be food that he has cooked. It might be wine or oil. Or it might be some other food. Would the food that his clothes had touched become holy?’ The priests replied, ‘No.’
13 Haggai asked the priests another question. ‘If you touch a dead person, you become not holy. You know that. If you then touch any of these foods, would they become not holy?’ The priests replied, ‘Yes, they would.’
14 So Haggai answered, ‘That is how I thought about all the people in this country’, says the Lord. ‘I was angry about all the things that you had done. I did not accept your sacrifices. 15 You have now started to build the Lord’s temple again. Try to remember what life was like before that. 16 You wanted 20 pots of grain. But you found that there were only 10 pots. You wanted 50 jars of wine. But you found that there were only 20 jars. 17 I sent bad weather and I destroyed all your work. And the things that you picked from your fields were not good to eat. So you had to waste them. But you still did not return to me. And you did not say that I was your Lord. 18 Today, the 24th day of the 9th month, you have started to build my temple. Now this is what will happen to you: 19 You have not yet picked any seeds or grapes. You have not yet picked any figs or pomegranates. You have not yet picked any olives. But after today, I will be good to you. So then you will have as much as you need of all these things.’
Haggai explained why their lives had been so difficult. They had not done what was right. They had not done the things that the Lord had asked them to do. They had done what they themselves had decided. That is why their lives had been so difficult. But now they want to obey God. And they have started to build his temple. And so God promises that they will have enough food. He promises that they will have happy lives.
20 On the same day, the 24th day of the month, the Lord spoke to Haggai again. This is what he said. 21 ‘Speak to Zerubbabel, who is
the ruler of Judah. Tell him that I will cause the skies and the earth to move.
22 Tell him that I will remove foreign kings. And I will destroy their countries. I will destroy their chariots. And I will kill the soldiers who ride in them. The soldiers who ride on horses will start to kill each other. And they will kill each other’s horses. 23 But I am the Lord Almighty and you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel are my servant. I have chosen you. And so, on that day, I will cause you to be like my special ring. I will keep you safe. And you will rule this country for me’, says the Lord Almighty.
Haggai gave this special message from the Lord to Zerubbabel. The Lord still ruled over everything. But he had chosen Zerubbabel to be his servant. The Lord wanted Zerubbabel to rule Judah on his behalf.
- more powerful than anyone else; someone who has
the power to beat all his enemies; the ruler of everything; all powerful.
- a kind of car that soldiers use to fight. Horses
- a kind of sweet fruit that grows on a tree.
- when someone stops being angry with another
person who has done bad things.
- a hard seed that you can eat; or you can make it
- a fruit. People can use them to make a drink that has
alcohol in it.
- high priest
- the most important priest in the temple.
- when something is right to use because God is happy
about it; all good with nothing bad in it.
- a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
and their children.
- a special name for God that his people use. He will
do what he has promised them. And he does not change. That is what this name means.
- a tree with small fruits (or the fruits
themselves) that people used to make oil. They burned the oil to give them light.
They used it in other ways too.
- when we and God are friends; or, when there is no
- a bright red fruit like an apple.
- a man who gave gifts and burned animals as a sacrifice to God on behalf of the Jews; a man that God chose to be his servant in the temple.
- someone who tells other people what God wants;
or someone who tells other people what God will do.
- something that people gave to God. It could be food or drink or an animal. Some sacrifices were to give thanks to God. People also made sacrifices so that God would forgive them.
- a white metal; it shines and it is very valuable.
- Jews went to this special building in Jerusalem to meet and to talk to God.
- a thirsty person wants or needs a drink.
- a plant that climbs; the fruits are called grapes.
- a drink that has alcohol in it; people make it from
small, sweet fruit called grapes.
- to show God that he is great and that we love
him very much; to give thanks to God.
Joyce B. Baldwin ~ Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries ~ IVP
Pieter A. Verhoff ~ The Books of Haggai and Malachi ~ The New
International Commentary on the Old Testament ~ Eerdmans
The New Bible Commentary Revised ~ IVF
Bible ~ Contemporary English Version, Good News Bible, New
International Version, New Living Translation, The Moffat Translation
© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2009
This version published September 2009
The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.