Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

- Haggai

by Dr. Robert Utley



A. Named after its preacher.

B. His name means “Festival” (BDB 291). The yod or “I” at the end may be an abbreviation for YHWH; if so it could mean “festival of YHWH” (BDB 291, cf. 1 Chronicles 6:30) or the PRONOUN “my,” which would also refer to YHWH.


A. This book is part of the “latter prophets” (Ecclesiasticus 49:10).

B. It is part of “the Twelve,” a grouping of minor prophets (Baba Bathra 14b):

1. like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, they fit on one scroll

2. they represent the twelve tribes or the symbolic number of organization

3. they reflect traditional view of the books chronology

C. The order of “the Twelve,” or Minor Prophets, has been linked by many scholars to a chronological sequence. It is obvious that Haggai and Zechariah are paired historically.


A. This is a series of four sermons (Haggai 1:13).

B. It is not poetic. It is summarized sermons.


A. Haggai is mentioned in Ezra 5:1; Ezra 6:14 and Zechariah 8:9, where he is linked with Zechariah. He was probably a returnee from exile.

B. He is also mentioned in two non-canonical books, I Esdras 6:1; 7:3; II Esdras 1:40; and quoted in another, Ecclesiasticus 49:11 (cf. Haggai 2:23).

C. Jerome (4th century A.D.) says that he was a priest, but this is a misunderstanding derived from Haggai 2:10-19.

D. The Modern commentators Ewald and Pusey suggest that Haggai 2:3 implies that he saw Solomon's Temple, which would make him 70 or 80 years old at the time of writing (i.e. 520 B.C.).

E. Cyril of Alexandria (5th century A.D.) mentions a general opinion in his day that he was an angel. This is from a misunderstanding of the Hebrew term “messenger” in Haggai 1:13.

F. The Septuagint attributes several Psalms (cf. Ps. 112, 126, 127, 137, 146-149) to Haggai and Zechariah.

G. All of Haggai's four sermons are recorded in the third person which implies

1. a common literary technique

2. a scribe or editor


A. Haggai was a post-exilic prophet along with Zechariah, his contemporary.

B. The book is dated from the first day of the sixth month (Haggai 1:1) until the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (Haggai 2:10, Haggai 2:20) of the second year of Darius I Hystaspes (521-486 B.C.). Therefore, the date is 520 B.C. This was four years before the second Temple was finished in 516 B.C., and fulfills the prophecy of Jeremiah (cf. Jeremiah 25:11-13; Jeremiah 29:10) regarding the seventy years of exile which began in 586 B.C.

VI. CHRONOLOGY OF THE PERIOD (taken from The Minor Prophets by Dr. Theo Laetsch, published by Concordia, p. 385.)

Darius' RegnalYearYear B.C.MonthDayTextContent
25206Aug/Sept/Oct1Haggai 1:1-11Haggai rouses the people into activity
24Haggai 1:12-15The people begin to build
7Oct/Nov 1Haggai 2:1-9The latter glory of God's temple
8Nov/Dec ?Zechariah 1:1-6Zechariah begins to prophesy
9Dec/Jan24Haggai 2:10-19God will begin to bless
Haggai 2:20-23Messiah's kingdom established after overthrow of world powers
51911Feb/Mar24Zechariah 1:7-8Zechariah's night vision
Zechariah 6:9-15The crowning of Joshua pre-figuring the Messiah's priesthood
45189Dec/Jan4Zechariah 7:8Repentance urged; blessing promised
651612Mar/Apr3Ezra 6:15Dedication of Temple
? Zech. 9-14After dedication of Temple

VII. LITERARY UNITS They can be outlined by the prophet's sermons.

A. First Sermon, Haggai 1:1-11: Rebuild the Temple!

B. The leaders and people respond: Haggai 1:12-15

C. Second Sermon, Haggai 2:1-9: The Temple size is not the issue!

D. Third Sermon, Haggai 2:10-19: God's blessings will flow if the people obey and rebuild the Temple

E. Fourth Sermon, Haggai 2:20-23: The Universal Reign of the Messiah foreshadowed in Zerubbabel.


A. The book focuses on the rebuilding of the Second Temple which had been neglected for several years

1. cf. Ezra 5:16 (1st year - under Sheshbazzar)

Haggai 2:0. Ezra 3:8-13 (2nd year - under Zerubbabel)

B. God's promises of immediate physical blessings and future Messianic blessings are linked to the rebuilding of the Temple (i.e., restoration of Mosaic Covenant, which Haggai alludes to several times, cf. Haggai 1:6; Haggai 2:17).

C. The size and majesty of the Temple was not the issue. God's presence (a theme started in Genesis, Exodus and emphasized in Joshua and Judges) which it symbolized was the true glory!