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Bible Commentaries
Haggai 1

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Haggai 1:0


Haggai Begins Temple BuildingThe Command to Build God's HouseBecause the People Have Neglected the Temple, God Has Punished ThemThe LORD's Command to Rebuild The TempleThe Summons to Rebuild the Temple
Haggai 1:1-6Haggai 1:1-11Haggai 1:1-6Haggai 1:1-8Haggai 1:1-11
Haggai 1:7-11 Haggai 1:7-11
Haggai 1:9-11
The People's Obedience The People Obey the LORD's Command
Haggai 1:12-15Haggai 1:12-15Haggai 1:12-15aHaggai 1:12-15Haggai 1:12-15a

* Although they are not inspired, paragraph divisions are the key to understanding and following the original author's intent. Each modern translation has divided and summarized the paragraphs. Every paragraph has one central topic, truth, or thought. Each version encapsulates that topic in its own distinct way. As you read the text, ask yourself which translation fits your understanding of the subject and verse divisions. In every chapter we must read the Bible first and try to identify its subjects (paragraphs), then compare our understanding with the modern versions. Only when we understand the original author's intent by following his logic and presentation can we truly understand the Bible. Only the original author is inspiredreaders have no right to change or modify the message. Bible readers do have the responsibility of applying the inspired truth to their day and their lives. Note that all technical terms and abbreviations are explained fully in the following documents: Hebrew Grammatical Tems, Textual Criticism, and Glossary.

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Haggai 1:1-6 1In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2”Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'This people says, “The time has not come, even the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt.”'“ 3Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4”Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?” 5Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways! 6You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.”

Haggai 1:1 “In the second year of Darius the king” Darius I Hystaspes claimed the throne of Persia after the suicide of Cambyses II, the son of Cyrus II (522 B.C.). Cambyses killed himself because of the revolt of an imposter from Egypt (Gaumata). Darius, the son of Cambyses' general, was with the army when this occurred. He reigned from 522-486 B.C. From all documents we learn that he was friendly to the Jews and an effective ruler. The second year is assumed by most modern scholars to be 520 B.C. See Brief Historical Survey of the Powers of Mesopotamia.

“on the first day of the sixth month” Haggai is very specific in his dating of his four separate prophecies. It is interesting to note that this first prophecy occurred on the festival of a new moon (cf. Numbers 10:10; Numbers 28:11-15; 1 Samuel 20:5; 2 Kings 4:23; Ezra 3:5; Isaiah 1:13-14; Ezekiel 46:1, Ezekiel 46:3, Ezekiel 46:6; Hos. 1:13; Amos 8:5; Colossians 2:16). See Special Topics below.


SPECIAL TOPIC: Ancient near Eastern Calendars

“prophet” See Special Topic: Prophecy (OT).

“Haggai” See Introduction, Authorship.

“Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel” Zerubbabel is a Babylonian name which means “born in Babylon” (BDB 279). He is called the son of Shealtiel in Ezra and Nehemiah and in Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27. However, in 1 Chronicles 3:19 his father is listed as Shealtiel's brother. This can possibly be explained by adoption or Levirite marriage. Zerubbabel was in the line of David. Historical evidence seems to imply that he was the nephew of Sheshbazzar (see fuller notes at Ezra 1:8; Ezra 5:14-16). Both were of the royal line of David (cf. 2 Kings 24:0, grandson of Jehoiachin).

“governor of Judah” This term (BDB 808, cf. Malachi 1:8; Nahum 2:7, Nahum 2:9) seems to mean a ruler of one of the many provinces of the satrap or district called “the province beyond the river.”

“Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest” Joshua was the grandson of Seraiah, the high priest who was killed when Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C. (cf. 2 Kings 25:10-21; 1 Chronicles 6:14). He was of the family of Zadok, the family of priests which David put in authority in the Temple. The name “Joshua” is the same Hebrew word as “Jesus,” which means “YHWH saves” or “Salvation is from YHWH” (BDB 221).

“saying” Since Haggai consists in a series of sermons this VERB (BDB 55, KB 65) appears often in the book:

1. Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT, Haggai 1:1, Haggai 1:2, Haggai 1:3, Haggai 1:13; Haggai 2:1, Haggai 2:2, Haggai 2:10, Haggai 2:21

2. Qal PERFECT, Haggai 1:1, Haggai 1:2, Haggai 1:7; Haggai 2:6, Haggai 2:7, Haggai 2:9, Haggai 2:11

3. Qal IMPERFECT, Haggai 1:13; Haggai 2:12, Haggai 2:13(twice),14

4. Qal IMPERATIVE, Haggai 2:2, Haggai 2:21

Speaking was the mechanism of creation (cf. Genesis 1:0). Speaking is part of the image of God (cf. Genesis 1:26-27). It forms the basis for interpersonal relationships. YHWH is not like the lifeless idols that do not speak. He is the God of revelation. He seeks fellowship. He desires communication, which is always a two-way street. He initiates and expects an appropriate response!

Haggai 1:2

NASB, NKJV, NRSV“the LORD of hosts” TEV, NIV“the LORDAlmighty” NJB“Yahweh Sabaoth” NET“The sovereign LORD”

This is a very common post-exilic title. It is used 285 times in all the prophets. It is used in this book in Haggai 1:1, Haggai 1:5, Haggai 1:7, Haggai 1:9, Haggai 1:14; Haggai 2:4, Haggai 2:5, Haggai 2:7, Haggai 2:8, Haggai 2:9, Haggai 2:11, Haggai 2:23. The term “hosts” reflects the military term that means “captain of the armies of heaven” (see Special Topic: Lord of Hosts). It is a title which depicts YHWH in control of all history.

“This people says” This phrase is used in a derogatory sense in Isaiah 6:9, Isaiah 6:10; Isaiah 8:6; Isaiah 28:11, Isaiah 28:14. Here it reflects an excuse that the people were giving, either verbally or by their inactivity, for not rebuilding the Temple. There had been an 18-year lapse since the setting of the foundation by Sheshbazzar (cf. Ezra 5:16). The work continued under Zerubbabel (cf. Ezra 3:8-13), but for some reason, either political pressure from the surrounding nations or the apathy of the Jewish people, work on the Temple had come to a standstill.

Haggai 1:4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate” The VERB “panel” (BDB 706, KB 764, Qal PASSIVE PARTICIPLE) originally meant to “overlay a wall with some type of material.” Often it is used in the OT for the overlay of expensive material (cf. 1 Kings 7:3, 1 Kings 7:7; Jeremiah 22:14). The implication is that they had built extravagant houses for themselves (i.e., personal prosperity) while the Lord's house lay in ruins.

Haggai 1:5 “Consider your ways” Literally this is “put your heart on your roads” (BDB 962, KB 1321, Qal IMPERATIVE, also in Haggai 1:7; Haggai 2:15, Haggai 2:18). They were urged to check their personal and collective motives for the inactivity in rebuilding the national Temple.

Haggai 1:6 Haggai asserts that the poor harvest was directly related to their lack of honoring YHWH in their failure to finish the Temple, which was the cultic center of the national life of the chosen people. YHWH's covenant with Israel had both benefits and responsibilities (i.e., cursings and blessings, cf. Deuteronomy 27-29). This verse is a series of sharp contrasts (cf. NKJV) made up of eight INFINITIVES (two Hiphil INFINITIVES , three Qal INFINITIVE ABSOLUTES and three Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCTS).

Verses 7-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Haggai 1:7-11 7Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways! 8Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says the LORD. 9” You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?” declares the LORD of hosts, “Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house. 10Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew and the earth has withheld its produce. 11I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands.”

Haggai 1:7 See note at Haggai 1:5.

Haggai 1:8 “Go up to the mountains” There is a series of three IMPERATIVES which implores the people to begin the work immediately. Commands to the people:

1. “go up,” BDB 748, KB 828, Qal IMPERATIVE

2. “bring wood,” BDB 97, KB 112, Hiphil PERFECT, but in context it is used as a command

3. “rebuild,” BDB 124, KB 139, Qal IMPERATIVE

God's emphatic affirmations:

1. “that I may be pleased,” BDB 953, KB 1280, Qal IMPERFECT

2. there is a possible manuscript variation:

a. the MT has BDB 457, KB 455, Niphal IMPERFECT, FIRST PERSON SINGULAR (Kethib)

b. the MT editors suggest, BDB 457, KB 455, Niphal COHORTATIVE, FIRST PERSON SINGULAR (Qere) to match #1

The mountains referred to may be related to the king's forest mentioned in Nehemiah 2:8; they are probably not the mountains of Lebanon, which would have been prohibitive because of the extreme cost of transporting the timber.

NASB, NKJV“be glorified” NRSV“be honored” TEV“be worshiped” NJB“manifest My glory there”

This VERB (see above) implies that the restored worship at the central shrine would honor (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 2, pp. 577-587) YHWH. It would visibly demonstrate the restoration of the Covenant God with His covenant community.

See Special Topic following.


Haggai 1:9-11 Haggai 1:9-11 refers to the prophecy of Haggai 1:6. Human effort cannot bring prosperity (cf. Deuteronomy 8:11-20). Human inaction did result in divine inaction (i.e., the regular cycles of nature ceased)!

This theology is directly related to the covenant curses and blessings of Deuteronomy 27-28! Israel is uniquely bound to covenant obedience to YHWH.

Haggai 1:9 “I blew it away This VERB (BDB 655, KB 708, Qal PERFECT) has both positive (i.e., Genesis 2:7) and negative connotations (i.e., Isaiah 40:7; Ezekiel 22:21). God's activity in the OT is accomplished by means of His Spirit (i.e., wind, breath). Post-exilic Israel's agricultural problems were not a natural cycle, but a divine displeasure!

Haggai 1:10 Note the personification of physical creation! It is controlled by YHWH (“withheld,” BDB 476, KB 475, Qal PERFECT, twice).

Haggai 1:11 “the grain, on the new wine, on the oil” These were the staple goods of the Palestinian economy (cf. Deuteronomy 11:14; Hosea 2:8, Hosea 2:22). YHWH's lack of blessing is directly related to the cursing-and-blessing formula found in Deuteronomy 27:0 and 28 (esp. Deuteronomy 28:51; Joel 1:10). God would continue to withhold His blessing until they honored Him, at which point He would bless them. In the OT YHWH often uses nature to confront or bless His people (cf. Haggai 2:10-19).

Verses 12-15

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Haggai 1:12-15 12Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him. And the people showed reverence for the LORD. 13Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke by the commission of the LORD to the people saying, “'I am with you,' declares the LORD.” 14So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, 15on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of Darius the king.

Haggai 1:12 “Zerubbabel” See note at Haggai 1:1.

“Joshua” See note at Haggai 1:1.

NASB, NKJV, NRSV“obeyed” TEV“did” NJB“paid attention”

This is literally “heard” (BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal IMPERFECT) with the added connotation of “to hear so as to do.” They acted on YHWH's message through Haggai.

“And the people showed reverence for the LORD” Notice that the people had to first respond (i.e., “obey,” lit. “hear,” BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal IMPERFECT and “fear,” BDB 431, KB 432, Qal IMPERFECT) to YHWH in faith and then YHWH blessed them with His presence (cf. 2 Chronicles 15:2; 2 Chronicles 20:17). There is a balance in the Bible between human effort and God's undeserved blessing (cf. Philippians 2:12-13).

Haggai 1:13 Notice the introductory phrase by which the author asserts that YHWH spoke a message to him, which he is passing on in first person. The exact mechanism of the inspiration is not revealed, but that it was a message from God is emphatically stated. The Bible is either a revelation from God or it is a fraud!

“I am with you, declares the LORD” The phrase “I am” is a form of YHWH, the covenant name for God, from Exodus 3:14 (see Special Topic: Names for Deity at Obadiah 1:1). The great affirmation of God's presence with them was an answer to the years that the glory had not been there (cf. Ezekiel 10:19-20). These people desperately needed to hear that God had renewed the covenant (i.e., Genesis 26:3, Genesis 26:24; Genesis 28:15; Genesis 31:3; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 43:2, Isaiah 43:5; Jeremiah 1:8, Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 15:20; Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 42:11; Jeremiah 46:28) and that His glory had returned to His people.

Haggai 1:14 “So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel” As YHWH instigated the revelation to Haggai, so too, He worked (i.e., “stirred up” or “awakened,” BDB 734, KB 802, Hiphil IMPERFECT) in the life of the returning Judean prince, as He did so with many others:

1. Deborah, Judges 5:12

2. Barak, Judges 5:12

3. Pul, King of Assyria, 1 Chronicles 5:26

4. Cyrus, King of Persia, 2 Chronicles 36:22; Ezra 1:1, Ezra 1:5; Isaiah 13:17; Isaiah 41:2; Isaiah 45:13

5. Persian king, Daniel 11:1

6. eschatological army, Joel 3:7, Joel 3:9, Joel 3:12

7. sons of Zion against sons of Greece, Zechariah 9:13

8. kings against YHWH's Messiah, Zechariah 13:7

YHWH is in control of history for His redemptive purposes!

“spirit” The Hebrew term (BDB 924) here means “the person of.” The NT Special Topic below reflects the Hebrew term's usage. See Special Topic following.


“all the remnant” This term (BDB 984, cf. Haggai 1:12) has important theological significance in some texts, but here it refers to all of those who returned to Palestine from Babylonian exile.


“the LORD of hosts” See Special Topic: Lord of Hosts.

Haggai 1:15 Many have assumed a wrong date in Haggai 1:15, but this is possibly related to the length of time (approximately 3½ months) it took to gather the materials for the beginning of construction. The NRSV, JPSOA, and NJB see Haggai 1:15b as starting a new literary unit.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Haggai 1". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/haggai-1.html. 2021.
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