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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

Haggai - Introduction

Haggai's main concern is the reconstruction of the Temple * in Jerusalem, which was reduced to ruins when Nebuchadnezzar conquered and destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BCE (2 Kings 25 ). His messages, all delivered in the fall of 520 BCE, make a single point: Judah's poor harvests and depressed economy stem from the people's disregard for their religious life, at the center of which is the Temple. By reconstructing the Temple and its ritual practices the people will again experience the divine blessing of agricultural bounty. The belief that God, preeminently present in the Temple, blessed the righteous with plenty was deeply imbedded in Israelite thought (Ps 36.5–9; Joel 2.18–27 ).

Haggai, together with Zechariah and Malachi whose prophecies conclude the Minor Prophets, lived in the post-exilic era, the period following the fall of Jerusalem (587 BCE) and the Babylonian exile (587–538), when the entire Near East was under Persian rule. * The policies of the first Persian monarch, Cyrus, allowed exiles to return to their homelands and govern their affairs with some autonomy (see the texts of Cyrus's decree). Many of the events of this era are recorded in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. It appears from Haggai's speeches, dating to the second year of the reign of Persia's third king Darius (520 BCE), that exiles returning to Judah had rebuilt their own homes ( 1.4 ) but—nearly 20 years after Cyrus had allowed their return—had not yet begun the reconstruction of the Temple. This effort, begun as a result of Haggai's preaching ( 1.12–15 ), was completed five years later in 515 BCE (Ezra 5.1–2; 6.1–22 ).

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