In the book of Zechariah Zerubbabel has already fallen into the background and the high priest is the leading figure of the Judean community.
Haggai and Zechariah explained the delay by the failure of Judah to rebuild II.
There is also a more definite subordination of the royal authority to the priesthood (so too in the writings of Ezekiel, q.v.); and the stories of punishment inflicted upon kings who dared to contend against the priests (Jehoash, Uzziah) point to a conflict of authority, a hint of which is already found in the reconciliation of Zerubbabel and the priest Joshua in a passage ascribed to Zechariah (ch.
Nehemiah naturally gives us only his version, and the attitude of Haggai and Zechariah to Zerubbabel may illustrate the feeling of his partisans.
Haggai's reproofs touched the conscience of the Jews, and the book of Zechariah enables us in some measure to follow the course of a religious revival which, starting with the restoration of the temple, did not confine itself to matters of ceremony and ritual worship. On the other hand, Haggai's treatment of his theme, practical and effective as it was for the purpose in hand, moves on a far lower level than the aspirations of the prophet who wrote the closing chapters of Isaiah.
It was therefore natural that Haggai and Zechariah should urge the speedy building of the temple, in order that the great king might be fittingly received.
Greater weight must be laid upon the independent evidence of the prophetical writings, and the objection that Palestine could not have produced the religious fervency of Haggai or Zechariah without an initial impulse from Babylonia begs the question.
It is strange that neither Haggai nor his contemporary Zechariah mentions or implies any return of exiles from Babylon, and the suggestion has accordingly been made that the return under Cyrus described in Ezra i.-iv.