In 536 B.C. approximately 50,000 people returned from Babylonian Captivity to Jerusalem under the political leadership of Zerubbabel, the governor. When the people arrived at Jerusalem, they found the temple in ruins exactly as the Babylonians had left it. An altar was built and sacrifices were resumed. Amid shouts of joy and tears for the glory of the past, the foundation of the new temple was laid.
Haggai shows that this time of building is to be a time of festivity a time of joy. His name means the festive one or the joyous one. The book covers a period less than 4 months during the 2nd year of Darius I, in 520 B.C. Because of opposition, the work on the temple had stopped for 16 years. The people had grown hard and did not make any attempt to begin the work again. God sends Haggai and his contemporary Zechariah to encourage the people to rebuild the temple.
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