It was in the second year of Darius' reign, on the first day of the sixth month of it, that a message came from the Lord through the prophet Aggaeus; came to Zorobabel, son of Salathiel,that was governor of Juda, and to the high priest, Josue son of Josedec. And thus it ran: Word from the Lord of hosts to his people, that will not restore his temple, but cry, Too early yet! Listen, the Lord said to them through the prophet Aggaeus, is it not too early yet for you to have roofs over your heads, and my temple in ruins? Think well on it, says the Lord of hosts; here is much sown, and little reaped, nor eating brings you a full belly, nor wine a merry heart; such clothes you wear as leave you shivering, such wages win as leak out at purse's bottom! Think well on it, says the Lord of hosts; up to the hill-side with you, fetch timber and restore my temple, if content me you will, the Lord says, if honour me you will! So much attempted, so little attained; store you brought into your houses withered at my breath; would you know the reason for it? says the Lord of hosts. Because to your own houses you run helter-skelter, and my temple in ruins! That is why the skies are forbidden to rain on you, earth to afford its bounty; ban of barrenness lies on plain and hill, wheat and wine and oil and all the earth yields, man and beast and all they toil to win.
What made they of it, Salathiel's son Zorobabel, and the high priest, Josue son of Josedec, and all the people with them? That voice they could not choose but heed, that message from the Lord their God sent to them by the prophet Aggaeus, and they were sore adread of the divine warning. Yet here was divine encouragement; Aggaeus, the Lord's own messenger, gave them the Lord's own assurance he was at their side. So the Lord put heart into them, governor and priest and people alike; and they set to work building up the temple of the Lord God of hosts.
This was on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius.
Afterwards, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the Lord sent another message through the prophet Aggaeus. To Zorobabel, and Josue, and all the people with them his word was: Tell me, those of you who saw this house in its former brightness, what make you of it now? It is no better in your eyes than a very nothing. Take heart, Zorobabel; Josue, son of Josedec, take heart! And you, too, people of the land, the Lord of hosts bids you put heart into the work; is not he, the Lord of hosts, at your side?
... the promise I gave when you escaped from Egypt; my own spirit shall be among you, do not be afraid.
A little while now, the Lord of hosts says, and I mean to set heaven and earth, sea and dry land rocking; stirred all the nations shall be, hither shall come the prize the whole world treasures, and I will fill this temple with the brightness of my presence, says the Lord of hosts.
Silver or gold, what matters it? the Lord of hosts says. Both are mine! Bright this new temple shall be, he tells you, as never the first was; here, he tells you, his blessing shall rest.
Then, on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in this second year of king Darius, another message came from the Lord to the prophet Aggaeus, bidding him, in the name of the Lord of hosts, make enquiry of the priests upon a matter touching the law. And the question was this: Here is one carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and with this same fold chances to touch bread or broth, wine or oil, or what food you will; does this food become consecrated thereby? And the priests said No. Why then, Aggaeus went on, let some other man touch this food, one that is contaminated by the contact of a dead thing, will the food be defiled? And they answered, Defiled it is.
Then Aggaeus opened his mind to them: Here is a whole people, a whole race, the Lord says, that shews defiled under my scrutiny. Never an enterprise of theirs, never an offering they bring, but is defiled. But now, mark well how you thrive henceforward. Whilst none would be at pains to set pillar on base, here in the Lord's temple, how fared it with yonder twenty-bushel heap of corn? Look closer, and it was but ten bushels. Did you think to press fifty quarts into the vat? There were but twenty. Sirocco I sent and mildew, smote all your crops with hail, and you would not come back to me, the Lord says. Mark well how you thrive henceforward, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, when you laid the foundations of the Lord's temple; mark it well. Not yet has the corn ripened, not yet have vine and fig, pomegranate and olive, had time to blossom; but on all these my blessing lies henceforward.
And this further message Aggaeus had from the Lord, on that twenty-fourth day of the month, for Zorobabel, the governor of Juda : earth and heaven both I mean to set rocking; royal thrones shall be overturned, and the power of Gentile kingdoms brought to nothing; overthrown they lie, chariot and charioteer, down come horse and rider, friend turning his sword against friend; but you, son of Salathiel, says the Lord of hosts, you, Zorobabel, are my servant still; on that day I will take you to my side, keep you there, close as signet-ring; it is a divine choice that has fallen on you, says the Lord of hosts.