Go up into the hills, fetch timber and rebuild the House;
and I shall take pleasure in it and manifest my glory there, says the Lord.
Haggai, whose name means “the festive one” or “my feast is Yahweh,” is the first prophet to deliver oracles to the Jews after their return from exile in Babylon. His main concern is the re-building of the Temple, which the Babylonians destroyed during their conquest of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. When the Jews got home from exile around 539 B.C., they set out to restore all they had lost, including the Temple. But after a while, they became preoccupied with their own “home improvement” projects. Instead of rebuilding God’s house, they sank their time and money into building up their own comfy homes. God was not pleased to see his own abode in shambles, so he allowed a drought and “blasted” whatever harvest the Jews brought in [1:9]. Speaking through Haggai, God tells Zerubbabel, the governor of Jerusalem, and Joshua, the high priest, to get their butts moving on the temple if they want to see the land restored to abundance.
Haggai’s message seems to have been effective: Three weeks after he delivered his oracle, the people set to work on the Temple (ever seen construction begin that quickly?). Four years later, it was finished, and although it was not as swank as the first one, its glory actually surpassed it [2:9].
Haggai is the one of the Minor Prophets and wrote his oracles in 520 B.C. He is a contemporary of the prophet Zechariah.