Updated: Jun 6, 2021
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I. Haggai’s name means “Festival.”
II. The book was written “In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on
the first day of the month” (Hag. 1:1), which would be 520 B.C.
III. “The Nabonaid Chronicle and the Cyrus Cylinder are our most significant extra-
Biblical sources of information for the events of this period. The Nabonaid Chronicle is a clay tablet now in the British Museum which relates the activities of the last king of Babylon and the capture of Babylon by Cyrus. The Cyrus Cylinder is a baked clay cylinder about nine inches long found in Babylon by Rassam, also now to be seen in the British Museum. It contains an account of Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon and of his policy of allowing captive peoples to return to their native lands and rebuild their ancestral temples. The Persians were humane conquerors. Babylon was not destroyed. The policy of exiling peoples followed by the Assyrians and Babylonians was reversed. Isa. 45:1 points to Cyrus as the agent of the Lord to accomplish the return from captivity. The statement of Josephus (Ant. 11.1.2) that Cyrus had read Isaiah seems to be merely a conjecture on the part of Josephus. The records of Cyrus preserved outside the Bible do not specifically mention decrees in favor of the Jews. Nevertheless, the Cyrus Cylinder makes clear that it was a part of Cyrus’ policy to allow subject peoples to return home and to rebuild their temples. The permission to the Jews alluded to in Ezra 1 would be in
harmony with this policy. Rather than being a believer in the Lord, the cylinder makes quite clear that Cyrus, like most ancient people, was broad-minded on religious questions. He hoped that prayer to all the gods would be offered for him. Under these conditions the first return took place.” (Lewis, Minor Prophets, pg. 54)
IV. Cyrus of Persia issued a decree in 538 B.C. which allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple. The work on the temple began in 536 B .C. When the Jews met opposition from the Samaritans, the work stopped in 534 B .C. and remained untouched for 16 years. It was during this time that God raised up Haggai and Zechariah to compel the people to work.
V. Suggested reading: Ezra 5:1,2; 6:14–16.
VI. From this book we can learn of the contagious nature of the sin of procrastination. One author penned, “The faint aroma of sanctity coming from their altar sacrifices, was too feeble to pervade the secular atmosphere of their life.”