In Hag 1:1 this address is introduced by a statement of the time at which it had been delivered, and the persons to whom it was addressed. The word of Jehovah was uttered through the prophet in the second year of king Darius, on the first day of the sixth month. דָּֽרְיָוֶשׁ answers to the name Dâryavush or Dârayavush of the arrow-headed inscriptions; it is derived from the Zendic dar, Sanskrit dhri, contracted into dhar, and is correctly explained by Herodotus (vi. 98) as signifying ἑρξείης = coërcitor. It is written in Greek Δαρεῖος (Darius). The king referred to is the king of Persia (Ezr 4:5, Ezr 4:24), the first of that name, i.e., Darius Hystaspes, who reigned from 521 to 486 b.c. That this is the king meant, and not Darius Nothus, is evident from the fact that Zerubbabel the Jewish prince, and Joshua the high priest, who had led back the exiles from Babylon to Judaea in the reign of Cyrus, in the year 536 (Ezr 1:8; Ezr 2:2), might very well be still at the head of the returned people in the second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, i.e., in the year 520, but could not have been still living in the reign of Darius Nothus, who did not ascend the throne till 113 years after the close of the captivity. Moreover, in Hag 2:3, Haggai presupposes that many of his contemporaries had seen the temple of Solomon. Now, as that temple had been destroyed in the year 588 or 587, there might very well be old men still living under Darius Hystaspes, in the year 520, who had seen that temple in their early days; but that could not be the case under Darius Nothus, who ascended the Persian throne in the year 423. The prophet addresses his word to the temporal and spiritual heads of the nation, to the governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua. זְרֻבָּבֶל is written in many codd. זְרוּבָבֶל, and is either formed from זְרוּי בָבֶל, in Babyloniam dispersus, or as the child, if born before the dispersion in Babylonia, would not have received this name proleptically, probably more correctly from זְרוּעַ בָּבֶל, in Babylonia satus s. genitus, in which case the ע was assimilated to the ב when the two words were joined into one, and ב received a dagesh. Zerubbabel (lxx Ζοροβάβελ) was the son of Shealtiël. שְׁאַלְתִּיאֵל is written in the same way in Hag 2:23; 1Ch 3:17; Ezr 3:2, and Neh 12:1; whereas in Neh 12:12 and Neh 12:14, and Hag 2:2, it is contracted into שַׁלְתִּיאֵל. She'altı̄'ēl, i.e., the prayer of God, or one asked of God in prayer, was, according to 1Ch 3:17, if we take 'assı̄r as an appellative, a son of Jeconiah (Jehoiachin), or, if we take 'assı̄r as a proper name, a son of Assir the son of Jeconiah, and therefore a grandson of Jehoiachin. But, according to 1Ch 3:19, Zerubbabel was a son of Pedaiah, a brother of Shealtiel. And lastly, according to the genealogy in Luk 3:27, Shealtiel was not a son of either Assir or Jeconiah, but of Neri, a descendant of David through his son Nathan. These three divergent accounts, according to which Zerubbabel was (1) a son of Shealtiël, (2) a son of Pedaiah, the brother of Shealtiël, and a grandson of Assir or Jeconiah, (3) a son of Shealtiël and grandson of Neri, may be brought into harmony by means of the following combinations, if we bear in mind the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer 32:30), that Jeconiah would be childless, and not be blessed with having one of his seed sitting upon the throne of David and ruling over Judah. Since this prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled, according to the genealogical table given by Luke, inasmuch as Shealtiël's father there is not Assir or Jeconiah, a descendant of David in the line of Solomon, but Neri, a descendant of David's son Nathan, it follows that neither of the sons of Jeconiah mentioned in 1Ch 3:17-18 (Zedekiah and Assir) had a son, but that the latter had only a daughter, who married a man of the family of her father's tribe, according to the law of the heiresses, Num 27:8; Num 36:8-9 - namely Neri, who belonged to the tribe of Judah and family of David. From this marriage sprang Shealtiël, Malkiram, Pedaiah, and others. The eldest of these took possession of the property of his maternal grandfather, and was regarded in law as his (legitimate) son. Hence he is described in 1Ch 3:17 as the son of Assir the son of Jeconiah, whereas in Luke he is described, according to his lineal descent, as the son of Neri. But Shealtiël also appears to have died without posterity, and simply to have left a widow, which necessitated a Levirate marriage on the part of one of the brothers (Deu 25:5-10; Mat 22:24-28). Shealtiël's second brother Pedaiah appears to have performed his duty, and to have begotten Zerubbabel and Shimei by this sister-in-law (1Ch 3:19), the former of whom, Zerubbabel, was entered in the family register of the deceased uncle Shealtiël, passing as his (lawful) son and heir, and continuing his family. Koehler holds essentially the same views (see his comm. on Hag 2:23).
Zerubbabel was pechâh, a Persian governor. The real meaning of this foreign word is still a disputed point.
(Note: Prof. Spiegel (in Koehler on Mal 1:8) objects to the combination attempted by Benfey, and transferred to the more modern lexicons, viz., with the Sanscrit paksha, a companion or friend (see at 1Ki 10:15), on the ground that this word (1) signifies wing in the Vedas, and only received the meaning side, party, appendix, at a later period, and (2) does not occur in the Eranian languages, from which it must necessarily have been derived. Hence Spiegel proposes to connect it with pâvan (from the root pâ, to defend or preserve: compare F. Justi, Hdb. der Zendsprache, p. 187), which occurs in Sanskrit and Old Persian (cf. Khsatrapâvan = Satrap) at the end of composite words, and in the Avesta as an independent word, in the contracted form pavan. “It is quite possible that the dialectic form pagvan (cf. the plural pachăvōth in Neh 2:7, Neh 2:9) may have developed itself from this, like dregvat from drevat, and hvôgva from hvôva.” Hence pechâh would signify a keeper of the government, or of the kingdom (Khsatra).)
In addition to his Hebrew name, Zerubbabel also bore the Chaldaean name Sheshbazzar, as an officer of the Persian king, as we may see by comparing Ezr 1:8, Ezr 1:11; Ezr 5:14, Ezr 5:16, with Ezr 2:2; Ezr 3:2, Ezr 3:8, and Ezr 5:2. For the prince of Judah, Sheshbazzar, to whom Koresh directed the temple vessels brought from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar to be delivered, and who brought them back from Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezr 1:8, Ezr 1:11; Ezr 5:14), and who laid the foundation for the house of God, according to Ezr 5:16, is called Zerubbabel in Ezr 2:2, as the leader of the procession, who not only laid the foundation for the temple, along with Joshua the high priest, according to Ezr 3:2, Ezr 3:8, but also resumed the building of the temple, which had been suspended, in connection with the same Joshua during the reign of Darius. The high priest Joshua (Yehōshuă‛, in Ezr 3:2, Ezr 3:8; Ezr 4:3, contracted into Yēshūă‛) was a son of Jozadak, who had been carried away by the Chaldaeans to Babylon (Ezr 1:11), and a grandson of the high priest Seraiah, whom Nebuchadnezzar had caused to be executed at Riblah in the year 588, after the conquest of Jerusalem (2Ki 25:18-21; Jer 52:24-27). The time given, “in the sixth month,” refers to the ordinary reckoning of the Jewish year (compare Zec 1:7 and Zec 7:1, and Neh 1:1 with Neh 2:1, where the name of the month is given as well as the number). The first day, therefore, was the new moon's day, which was kept as a feast-day not only by a special festal sacrifice (Num 28:11.), but also by the holding of a religious meeting at the sanctuary (compare Isa 1:13 and the remarks on 2Ki 4:23). On this day Haggai might expect some susceptibility on the part of the people for his admonition, inasmuch as on such a day they must have been painfully and doubly conscious that the temple of Jehovah was still lying in ruins (Hengstenberg, Koehler).