Postexilic prophecy begins with Haggai, who received the word of the Lord in the second year of Darius (520 B.C.). The Jews who returned from the exile in Babylonia had encountered formidable obstacles in their efforts to re-establish Jewish life in Judah. The Samaritans had succeeded in blocking the rebuilding of the temple; but after Darius acceded to the throne (522), permission was given to resume the work. At this critical moment, when defeatism and a certain lethargy had overtaken his repatriated countrymen, Haggai came forward with his exhortations to them to complete the great task. The first oracle, an appeal to the Jews, is contained in Hag 1. To this appeal Haggai added a short oracle of encouragement (⇒ Haggai 2:1-9) for the sake of those who gloomily contrasted the former magnificence of Solomon’s temple with the second temple: the Lord would be present in this new abode, and its glory, enhanced by the offerings of the Gentiles, would surpass the ancient splendor.
The prophecy may be divided into five oracles:
The call to rebuild the temple. The economic distress so apparent in Judah is due to the Jews’ neglect of the Lord while they provide for their own needs (⇒ Haggai 1:1-15).
The future glory of the new temple, surpassing that of the old (⇒ Haggai 2:1-9).
Unworthiness of a people, who may be the Samaritans, to offer sacrifice at the newly restored altar. This oracle is cast in the literary form of a torah, an instruction given the people by a priest (⇒ Haggai 2:10-14).
A promise of immediate blessings, which follows upon the undertaking (Hag 1) to rebuild the temple (⇒ Haggai 2:15-19).
A pledge to Zerubbabel, descendant of David, repository of the messianic hopes (⇒ Haggai 2:20-23).
1 On the first day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, and to the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak:
Thus says the LORD of hosts: This people says: “Not now has the time come to rebuild the house of the LORD.”
(Then this word of the LORD came through Haggai, the prophet:)
2 Is it time for you to dwell in your own paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?
Now thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways!
You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; And he who earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it.
Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways!
Go up into the hill country; bring timber, and build the house That I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory, says the LORD.
You expected much, but it came to little; and what you brought home, I blew away. For what cause? says the LORD of hosts. Because my house lies in ruins, while each of you hurries to his own house.
Therefore the heavens withheld from you their dew, and the earth her crops.
And I called for a drought upon the land and upon the mountains; Upon the grain, and upon the wine, and upon the oil, and upon all that the ground brings forth; Upon men and upon beasts, and upon all that is produced by hand.
3 Then Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, and the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak, and all the remnant of the people listened to the voice of the LORD, their God, and to the words of the prophet Haggai, because the LORD, their God, had sent him, and the people feared because of the LORD.
And the LORD’S messenger, Haggai, proclaimed to the people as the message of the LORD: I am with you, says the LORD.
Then the LORD stirred up the spirit of the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, and the spirit of the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people, so that they came and set to work on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,
on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month. In the second year of King Darius,
1  The sixth month in the second year: August/September in 520 B.C.
2  The luxury of the homes of the wealthy with their paneled houses contrasts sadly with the ruined state of the Lord’s house.
3  The remnant of the people: a technical term in Haggai and Zechariah for the returned exiles.