Biblical commentary the Old Testament/Volume VI. Lesser Prophets/Haggai

Biblical commentary the Old Testament  (1884)  by Franz Delitzsch

Haggai Edit

Introduction Edit

Person of the Prophet. - We have no further information concerning Haggai (Chaggai, i.e., the festal one, formed from châg, with the adjective termination ai: cf. Ewald, 164, c, and 273, e; lxx Ἀγγαῖος, Vulg. Aggaeus) than that obtained from the headings to his prophetic addresses (Hag 1:1; Hag 2:1, Hag 2:10, Hag 2:20), and confirmed by Ezr 5:1, - namely, that he commenced his prophesying in the second year of Darius Hystaspes, and by means of his prophecies caused the work of building the temple, which had been suspended in consequence of the machinations of the Cuthaeans (Samaritans), to be resumed, and in common with the prophet Zechariah, who commenced his labours two months later, ensured the continuance of that work. The extra-biblical accounts of the circumstances of his life have no evidence at all to support them. This is the case, for example, with the statement of Ps. Dorotheus and Ps. Epiphanius, that Haggai came from Babylon to Jerusalem when quite a young men, and that he survived the rebuilding of the temple, and was buried in honour near the burial-place of the priests, to say nothing of the strange opinion which was tolerably general in the times of Jerome and Cyril of Alexandria, and which arose from a misinterpretation of the word מלאך in Hag 1:13, viz., that Haggai was an angel who appeared in human shape. And Ewald's conjecture, that Haggai had seen the temple of Solomon, cannot be inferred from Hag 2:3. In that case he would have been about eighty years old when he commenced his labours as a prophet. 2. The Book of Haggai contains four words of God uttered by the prophet in the second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, which had for their object the furtherance of the building of the temple, and in all probability simply reproduce the leading thought of His oral addresses. In the first prophecy, delivered on the new moon's day of the sixth month of the year named (Hag 1:1-15), the condemns the indifference of the people concerning the building of the temple, and represents the failure of the crops and the curse under which the people were suffering as a divine punishment for the neglect of that work. In consequence of this admonition the building was resumed. The three following prophecies in ch. 2 encourage the people to continue the work they have begun. The second, which was delivered only twenty-four days after the first (Hag 2:1-9), consoles those who are desponding on account of the poverty of the new building, by promising that the Lord will keep the covenant promise made to His people when they came out of Egypt, and by shaking the whole world and all the heathen, will give the new temple even greater glory than that of Solomon had. The last two words of God were delivered to the people on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month of the same year. They predict in the first place the cessation of the previous curse, and the return of the blessings of nature promised to the church which had remained faithful to the covenant (Hag 2:10-19); and in the second place, the preservation of the throne of Israel, represented in the person and attitude of Zerubbabel, among the tempests which will burst upon the kingdoms of this world, and destroy their might and durability (Hag 2:20-23).
In order to understand clearly the meaning of these prophecies and promises in relation to the development of the Old Testament kingdom of God, we must look at the historical circumstances under which Haggai was called by God to labour as a prophet. Haggai was the first prophet who rose up after the exile in the midst of the congregation of Judah that had returned from Babylon, to proclaim to it the will and saving purposes of its God. Between him and Zephaniah there lay the seventy years' exile, and the labours of the great prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. What all the earlier prophets had foretold, and Jeremiah especially, in a comprehensive and most impressive manner - namely, that the Lord would thrust out Judah also among the heathen, on account of its obstinate idolatry and resistance to the commandments of God, and would cause it to be enslaved by them - had been fulfilled. As the ten tribes had been carried away by the Assyrians long before, so had the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem been also carried into exile by the Chaldaeans through Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord had now banished all His people from before His face, and sent them away among the heathen, but He had not cast them off entirely and for ever. He had indeed suspended His covenant with Israel, but He had not entirely abolished it. Even to the people pining in exile He had not only renewed the ancient promises through the prophet Ezekiel, after the dissolution of the kingdom of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, viz., that He would restore the nation to favour again, when it should come to the knowledge of its grievous sins, and turn to Him with penitence, and that He would redeem it from exile, lead it back to its own land, and exalt it to great glory; but He had also caused the might and duration of the kingdoms of the world to be proclaimed through Daniel, and their eventual overthrow through the kingdom of God from heaven. The seventy years, during which the land of Judah was to lie waste and the nation to serve Babel (Jer 25:11), had now passed away. The Babylonian empire had fallen, and Koresh (Cyrus), the founder of the Persian empire, had given the Jews permission to return to their own land in the first year of his sole dominion, and had commanded that the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem should be rebuilt. In consequence of this, a considerable number of the captives of Judah and Benjamin, viz., 42,360 freemen, with 7337 men-servants and maid-servants, led by Zerubbabel prince of Judah, a descendant of David, who was appointed governor in Judah, and by the high priest Joshua, had returned to their homes (Ezr 1:1-11 and 2). Having arrived there, they had restored Jehovah's altar of burnt-offering in the seventh month of the year, and re-established the sacrificial worship prescribed in the law. They had also so far made preparations for the rebuilding of the temple, that even in the second month of the second year after their return they were able solemnly to lay the foundation for the new temple (Ezr 3:1-13).
They had hardly commenced building, however, when the Samaritans came with a request that they might take part in the building of the temple, because they also sought the God of the Jews. Now, when the chiefs of Judah refused to grant them this request, as being a mixed people, composed of the heathen colonists who had been transplanted into the kingdom of the ten tribes and a few Israelites who were left behind in the land, whilst their worship of God was greatly distorted by heathenism (see at 2 Kings 17:24-41), they endeavoured to disturb the work already begun, and to prevent its continuation and completion. They made the hands of the people of Judah idle, as we read in Ezr 4:4-5, frightening them while building, and hiring counsellors against them to frustrate their design, the whole of the still remaining time of Cyrus, and even till the reign of king Darius of Persia, so that the work at the house of God at Jerusalem ceased and was suspended till the second year of the reign of this king (Ezr 4:24). But even if these machinations of the adversaries of Judah furnished the outward occasion for the interruption and suspension of the work they had begun, we must not seek for the sole and sufficient reason for the breaking off of the work in these alone. Nothing is recorded of any revocation of the edict issued by Cyrus during his reign; and even if the letter to Artachsata given in Ezr 4:7. referred, as is generally assumed, to the building of the temple, and the reply of this king, which prohibited the continuation of the building, was issued by Pseudo-Smerdis, this only took place under the second successor of Cyrus, twelve years after the laying of the foundation-stone of the temple. What the enemies of Judah had previously undertaken and accomplished consisted simply in the fact that they made the hands of the Jewish people idle, frightening them while building, and frustrating their enterprise by hiring counsellors.[1]
The latter they would hardly have succeeded in, if the Jews themselves had taken real pleasure in the continuation of the work, and had had firm confidence in the assistance of God. These were wanting. Even at the ceremony of laying the foundation-stone, many of the old priests, Levites and heads of tribes, who had seen the first temple, spoiled the people's pleasure by loud weeping. This weeping can hardly be explained merely from the recollection of the trials and sufferings of the last fifty years, which came involuntarily into their mind at that moment of solemn rejoicing, but was no doubt occasioned chiefly by the sight of the miserable circumstances under which the congregation took this work in hand, and in which they could not help saying to themselves, that the execution of the work would not correspond to the hopes which might have been cherished from the restoration of the house of God. But such thoughts as these would of necessity greatly detract from their pleasure in building, and as soon as outward difficulties were also placed in their way, would supply food to the doubt whether the time for carrying on this work had really come. Thus the zeal for building the house of God so cooled down, that they gave it up altogether, and simply began to provide for their own necessities, and to establish themselves comfortably in the land of their fathers, so far as the circumstances permitted (Hag 1:4). This becomes perfectly intelligible, if we add that, judging from the natural character of sinful men, there were no doubt a considerable number of men among those who had returned, who had been actuated to return less by living faith in the Lord and His word, than by earthly hopes of prosperity and comfort in the land of their fathers. As soon as they found themselves disappointed in their expectations, they became idle and indifferent with regard to the house of the Lord. And the addresses of our prophet show clearly enough, that one principal reason for the suspension of the work is to be sought for in the lukewarmness and indifference of the people.
The contents and object of these addresses, viz., the circumstance that they are chiefly occupied with the command to build the temple, and attach great promises to the performance of this work, can only be explained in part, however, from the fact that the fidelity of the nation towards its God showed itself in zeal for the house of God. The deeper and truer explanation is to be found in the significance which the temple possessed in relation to the kingdom of God in its Old Testament form. The covenant of grace, made by the God of heaven and earth with the nation of Israel which He had chosen for His own peculiar possession, required, as a visible pledge of the real fellowship into which Jehovah had entered with Israel, a place where this fellowship could be sustained. For this reason, directly after the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, God commanded the tabernacle to be erected, for a sanctuary in which, as covenant God, He would dwell among His people in a visible symbol; and, as the sign of the fulfilment of this divine promise, at the dedication of the tabernacle, and also of the temple of Solomon which took its place, the glory of Jehovah in the form of a cloud filled the sanctuary that had been built for His name. Hence the continuance of the ancient covenant, or of the kingdom of God in Israel, was bound up with the temple. When this was destroyed the covenant was broken, and the continuance of the kingdom of God suspended. If, therefore, the covenant which had been dissolved during the exile was to be renewed, if the kingdom of God was to be re-established in its Old Testament form, the rebuilding of the temple was the first and most important prerequisite for this; and the people were bound to pursue the work of building it with all possible zeal, that they might thereby practically attest their desire and readiness to resume the covenant fellowship which had been interrupted for a time. After the people had thus fulfilled the duty that devolved upon them, they might expect from the faithfulness of the Lord, their covenant God, that He would also restore the former gracious connection in all its completeness, and fulfil all His covenant promises. It is in this that the significance of Haggai's prophecies consists, so far as they have regard to the furthering of the work of building the temple. And this object was attained. The building of the temple was resumed in consequence of his admonition, and at the end of four years and a half - namely, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius - the work was finished (Ezr 6:14-15). But at its dedication the new temple was not filled with the cloud of the glory of Jehovah; yea, the most essential feature in the covenant made at Sinai was wanting, viz., the ark with the testimony, i.e., the tables of the law, which no man could restore, inasmuch as the ten words of the covenant had been written upon the tables by God Himself. The old covenant was not to be restored in its Sinaitic form; but according to the promise made through Jeremiah (Jer 31:31.), the Lord would make a new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah; He would put His law into their heart, and write it in their minds. The people, however, were not sufficiently prepared for this. Therefore those who had returned from Babylon were still to continue under the rule of the heathen powers of the world, until the time had arrived for the conclusion of the new covenant, when the Lord would come to His temple, and the angel of the covenant would fill it with the glory of the heathen. Thus the period of Zerubbabel's temple was a time of waiting for Judah, and a period of preparation for the coming of the promised Saviour. To give the people a pledge during that period of the certainty of the fulfilment of the covenant grace of God, was the object of Haggai's two promises of salvation.
So far as the form is concerned, the prophecies of Haggai have not the poetical swing of the earlier prophetical diction. They were written in the simplest rhetorical style, and never rise very far above the level of good prose, although vivacity is given to the delivery by the frequent use of interrogatives (cf. Hag 1:4, Hag 1:9; Hag 2:3, Hag 2:12-13, Hag 2:19), and it by no means infrequently opens into full oratorical rhythm (cf. Hag 1:6, Hag 1:9-11; Hag 2:6-8, Hag 2:22). One characteristic of Haggai's mode of description is the peculiar habit to which Naegelsbach has called attention - namely, of uttering the main thought with concise and nervous brevity, after a long and verbose introduction (cf. Hag 1:2, Hag 1:12, Hag 2:5, Hag 2:19); so that it might be said that he is accustomed “to conceal a small and most intensive kernel under a broad and thick shell.” His language is tolerably free from Chaldaeisms.
For the exegetical literature, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, p. 308; to which add Aug. Koehler's die WeissagunGenesis Haggai's erklärt, ErlanGenesis 1860.

Chap. 1 Edit

Verse 1 Edit

Hag 1:1
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. דּריושׁ 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. זרבּבל is written in many codd. זרוּבבל, and is either formed from זרוּי בבל, 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 זרוּע בּבל, 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. שׁאלתּיאל 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 שׁלתּיאל. 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.[2]
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).

Verse 2 Edit

The prophet begins by charging the people with their unconcern about building the house of God. Hag 1:2. “Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: This people saith, It is not time to come, the time for the house of Jehovah to be built.” העם הזּה, iste populus, not my people, or Jehovah's people, but hazzeh (this) in a contemptuous sense. Of the two clauses, (a) “It is not time to come,” and (b) “The time of the house of Jehovah,” the latter gives the more precise definition of the former, the בּא (to come) being explained as meaning the time to build the house of Jehovah. The meaning is simply this: the time has not yet arrived to come and build the house of Jehovah; for לא in this connection signifies “not yet,” as in Gen 2:5; Job 22:16. A distinction is drawn between coming to the house of Jehovah and building the house, as in Hag 1:14. There is no ground, therefore, for altering the text, as Hitzig proposes, inasmuch as the defective mode of writing the infinitive בּא is by no means rare (compare, for example, Exo 2:18; Lev 14:48; Num 32:9; 1Ki 13:28; Isa 20:1); and there is no foundation whatever for the absurd rendering of the words of the text, “It is not the time of the having arrived of the time of the house,” etc. (Hitzig).

Verses 3-4 Edit

The word of Jehovah is opposed in Hag 1:4 to this speech of the people; and in order to give greater prominence to the antithesis, the introductory formula, “The word of Jehovah came by Haggai the prophet thus,” is repeated in Hag 1:3. In order to appeal to the conscience of the people, God meets them with the question in Hag 1:4 : “Is it time for you yourselves to live in your houses wainscoted, whilst this house lies waste?” The ה before עת is not the article, but ה interr. אתּם is added to strengthen the pronoun (cf. Ges. §121, 3). Sephūnı̄m without the article is connected with the noun, in the form of an apposition: in your houses, they being wainscoted, i.e., with the inside walls covered or inlaid with costly wood-work. Such were the houses of the rich and of the more distinguished men (cf. Jer 22:14; 1Ki 7:7). Living in such houses was therefore a sing of luxury and comfort. והבּית וגו is a circumstantial clause, which we should express by “whilst this house,” etc. With this question the prophet cuts off all excuse, on the ground that the circumstances of the times, and the oppression under which they suffered, did not permit of the rebuilding of the temple. If they themselves lived comfortably in wainscoted houses, their civil and political condition could not be so oppressive, that they could find in that a sufficient excuse for neglecting to build the temple. Even if the building of the temple had been prohibited by an edict of Pseudo-Smerdes, as many commentators infer from Ezra 4:8-24, the reign of this usurper only lasted a few months; and with his overthrow, and the ascent of the throne by Darius Hystaspes, a change had taken place in the principles of government, which might have induced the heads of Judah, if the building of the house of God had rested upon their hearts as it did upon the heart of king David (2Sa 7:2; Psa 132:2-5), to take steps under the new king to secure the revocation of this edict, and the renewal of the command issued by Cyrus.

Verses 5-6 Edit

After rebutting the untenable grounds of excuse, Haggai calls attention in vv. 5, 6 to the curse with which God has punished, and is still punishing, the neglect of His house. Hag 1:5. “And now, thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Set your heart upon your ways. Hag 1:6. Ye have sowed much, and brought in little: ye eat, and not for satisfaction; drink, and not to be filled with drink: ye clothe yourselves, and it does not serve for warming; and the labourer for wages works for wages into a purse pierced with holes.” שׂימוּ לבבכם, a favourite formula with Haggai (cf. v. 7 and Hag 2:15, Hag 2:18). To set the heart upon one's ways, i.e., to consider one's conduct, and lay it to heart. The ways are the conduct, with its results. J. H. Michaelis has given it correctly, “To your designs and actions, and their consequences.” In their ways, hitherto, they have reaped no blessing: they have sowed much, but brought only a little into their barns. הבא, inf. abs., to bring in what has been reaped, or bring it home. What is here stated must not be restricted to the last two harvests which they had had under the reign of Darius, as Koehler supposes, but applies, according to Hag 2:15-17, to the harvests of many years, which had turned out very badly. The inf. abs., which is used in the place of the finite verb and determined by it, is continued in the clauses which follow, אכול, etc. The meaning of these clauses is, not that the small harvest was not sufficient to feed and clothe the people thoroughly, so that they had to “cut their coat according to their cloth,” as Maurer and Hitzig suppose, but that even in their use of the little that had been reaped, the blessing of God was wanting, as is not only evident from the words themselves, but placed beyond the possibility of doubt by Hag 1:9.[3]
What they ate and drank did not suffice to satisfy them; the clothes which they procured yielded no warmth; and the ages which the day-labourer earned vanished just as rapidly as if it had been placed in a bag full of holes (cf. Lev 26:26; Hos 4:10; Mic 6:14). לו after לחם refers to the individual who clothes himself, and is to be explained from the phrase חם לי, “I am warm” (1Ki 1:1-2, etc.).

Verses 7-8 Edit

After this allusion to the visitation of God, the prophet repeats the summons in Hag 1:7, Hag 1:8, to lay to heart their previous conduct, and choose the way that is well-pleasing to God. Hag 1:7. “Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Direct your heart upon your ways. Hag 1:8. Go up to the mountains and fetch wood and build the house, and I will take pleasure therein and glorify myself, saith Jehovah.” Hâhâr (the mountain) is not any particular mountain, say the temple mountain (Grotius, Maurer, Ros.), or Lebanon (Cocceius, Ewald, etc.); but the article is used generically, and hâhâr is simply the mountain regarded as the locality in which wood chiefly grows (cf. Neh 8:15). Fetching wood for building is an individualizing expression for providing building materials; so that there is no ground for the inference drawn by Hitzig and many of the Rabbins, that the walls of the temple had been left standing when it was destroyed, so that all that had to be done was to renew the wood-work, - an inference at variance not only with the reference made to the laying of the foundation of the temple in Hag 2:18 and Ezr 3:10, but also to the express statement in the account sent by the provincial governor to king Darius in Ezr 5:8, viz., that the house of the great God was built with square stones, and that timber was laid in the walls. וארצה־בּו, so will I take pleasure in it (the house); whereas so long as it lay in ruins, God was displeased with it. ואכּבד, and I will glorify myself, sc. upon the people, by causing my blessing to flow to it again. The keri ואכּבדה is an unnecessary emendation, inasmuch as, although the voluntative might be used (cf. Ewald, §350, a), it is not required, and has not been employed, both because it is wanting in ארצה, for the simple reason that the verbs לה do not easily admit of this form (Ewald, §228, a), and also because it is not used in other instances, where the same circumstances do not prevail (e.g., Zec 1:3).[4]
Ewald and Hitzig adopt this rendering, “that I may feel myself honoured,” whilst Maurer and Rückert translate it as a passive, “that I may be honoured.” But both of these views are much less in harmony with the context, since what is there spoken of is the fact that God will then turn His good pleasure to the people once more, and along with that His blessing. How thoroughly this thought predominates, is evident from the more elaborate description, which follows in Hag 1:9-11, of the visitation from God, viz., the failure of crops and drought.

Verses 9-11 Edit

Hag 1:9-11“Ye looked out for much, and behold (it came) to little; and ye brought it home, and I blew into it. Why? is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Because of my house, that it lies waste, whereas ye run every man for his house. Hag 1:10. Therefore the heaven has withheld its dew on your account, that no dew fell, and the earth has withheld her produce. Hag 1:11. And I called drought upon the earth, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon everything that the ground produces, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.” The meaning of Hag 1:9 is evident from the context. The inf. abs. pânōh stands in an address full of emotion in the place of the perfect, and, as the following clause shows, for the second person plural. Ye have turned yourselves, fixed your eye upon much, i.e., upon a rich harvest, והנּה־למעט, and behold the desired much turned to little. Ye brought into the house, ye fetched home what was reaped, and I blew into it, i.e., I caused it to fly away, like chaff before the wind, so that there was soon none of it left. Here is a double curse, therefore, as in Hag 1:6 : instead of much, but little was reaped, and the little that was brought home melted away without doing any good. To this exposition of the curse the prophet appends the question יען מה, why, sc. has this taken place? that he may impress the cause with the greater emphasis upon their hardened minds. For the same reason he inserts once more, between the question and the answer, the words “is the saying of Jehovah of hosts,” that the answer may not be mistaken for a subjective view, but laid to heart as a declaration of the God who rules the world. The choice of the form מה for מה was probably occasioned by the guttural ע in the יען, which is closely connected with it, just as the analogous use of על־מה instead of על־מה in Isa 1:5; Psa 10:13, and Jer 16:10, where it is not followed by a word commencing with ע as in Deu 29:23; 1Ki 9:8; Jer 22:8. The former have not been taken into account at all by Ewald in his elaborate Lehrbuch (cf. §182, b). In the answer given by God, “because of my house” (ya‛an bēthı̄) is placed first for the sake of emphasis, and the more precise explanation follows. אשׁר הוּא, “because it,” not “that which.” ואתּם וגו is a circumstantial clause. לביתו ... רצים, not “every one runs to his house,” but “runs for his house,” ל denoting the object of the running, as in Isa 59:7 and Pro 1:16. “When the house of Jehovah was in question, they did not move from the spot; but if it concerned their own house, they ran” (Koehler). In Hag 1:10 and Hag 1:11, the curse with which God punished the neglect of His house is still further depicted, with an evident play upon the punishment with which transgressors are threatened in the law (Lev 26:19-20; Deu 11:17 and Deu 28:23-24). עליכם is not a dat. incomm. (Hitzig), which is never expressed by על; but על is used either in a causal sense, “on your account” (Chald.), or in a local sense, “over you,” after the analogy of Deu 28:23, שׁמיך אשׁר על ראשׁך, in the sense of “the heaven over you will withold” (Ros., Koehl.). It is impossible to decide with certainty between these two. The objection to the first, that “on your account” would be superfluous after על־כּן, has no more force than that raised by Hitzig against the second, viz., that super would be מעל. There is no tautology in the first explanation, but the עליכם, written emphatically at the commencement, gives greater intensity to the threat: “on account of you,” you who only care for your own houses, the heaven witholds the dew. And with the other explanation, מעל would only be required in case עליכם were regarded as the object, upon which the dew ought to fall down from above. כּלא, not “to shut itself up,” but in a transitive sense, with the derivative meaning to withhold or keep back; and mittâl, not partitively “of the dew,” equivalent to “a portion of it,” but min in a privative sense, “away from,” i.e., so that no dew falls; for it is inadmissible to take mittâl as the object, “to hold back along with the dew,” after the analogy of Num 24:11 (Hitzig), inasmuch as the accusative of the person is wanting, and in the parallel clause כּלא is construed with the accus. rei. ואקרא in Hag 1:11 is still dependent upon על־כּן. The word chōrebh, in the sense of drought, applies strictly speaking only to the land and the fruits of the ground, but it is also transferred to men and beasts, inasmuch as drought, when it comes upon all vegetation, affects men and beasts as well; and in this clause it may be taken in the general sense of devastation. The word is carefully chosen, to express the idea of the lex talionis. Because the Jews left the house of God chârēbh, they were punished with chōrebh. The last words are comprehensive: “all the labour of the hands” had reference to the cultivation of the soil and the preparation of the necessities of life.

Verse 12 Edit

The result of this reproof. - Hag 1:12. “Zerubbabel, and Joshua, and the whole of the remnant of the people, hearkened to the voice of Jehovah their God, and according to the words of Haggai the prophet, as Jehovah their God had sent him; and the people feared before Jehovah.” “All the remnant of the people” does not mean the rest of the nation besides Zerubbabel and Joshua, in support of which Koehler refers to Jer 39:3 and 1Ch 12:38, either here or in Hag 1:14 and Hag 2:2, inasmuch as Zerubbabel as the governor and prince of Judah, and Joshua as the high priest, are not embraced under the idea of the “people” (‛âm), as in the case in the passages quoted, where those who are described as the she'ērı̄th, or remnant, are members or portions of the whole in question. The “remnant of the people,” as in Zec 8:6, is that portion of the nation which had returned from exile as a small gleaning of the nation, which had once been much larger. שׁמע בּקול, to hearken to the voice, i.e., to lay to heart, so as to obey what was heard. בּקול יי is still more minutely defined by ועל־דּברי וגו: “and (indeed) according to the words of Haggai, in accordance with the fact that Jehovah had sent him.” This last clause refers to דּברי, which he had to speak according to the command of God (Hitzig); cf. Mic 3:4. The first fruit of the hearing was, that the people feared before Jehovah; the second is mentioned in Hag 1:14, namely, that they resumed the neglected building of the temple. Their fearing before Jehovah presupposes that they saw their sin against God, and discerned in the drought a judgment from God.

Verses 13-15 Edit

This penitential state of mind on the part of the people and their rulers was met by the Lord with the promise of His assistance, in order to elevate this disposition into determination and deed. Hag 1:13. “Then spake Haggai, the messenger of Jehovah, in the message of Jehovah to the people, thus: I am with you, is the saying of Jehovah. Hag 1:14. And Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, and the spirit of Joshua, and the spirit of all the remnant of the nation; and they came and did work at the house of Jehovah of hosts, their God.” The prophet is called מלאך in Hag 1:13, i.e., messenger (not “angel,” as many in the time of the fathers misunderstood the word as meaning), as being sent by Jehovah to the people, to make known to them His will (compare Mal 2:7, where the same epithet is applied to the priest). As the messenger of Jehovah, he speaks by command of Jehovah, and not in his own name or by his own impulse. אני אתּכם, I am with you, will help you, and will remove all the obstacles that stand in the way of your building (cf. Hag 2:4). This promise Jehovah fulfilled, first of all by giving to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people, a willingness to carry out the work. העיר רוּח, to awaken the spirit of any man, i.e., to make him willing and glad to carry out His resolutions (compare 1Ch 5:26; 2Ch 21:16; Ezr 1:1, Ezr 1:5). Thus filled with joyfulness, courage, and strength, they began the work on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of king Darius (Hag 1:15), that is to say, twenty-three days after Haggai had first addressed his challenge to them. The interval had been spent in deliberation and counsel, and in preparations for carrying out the work. In several editions and some few mss in Kennicott, in Tischendorf's edition of the lxx, in the Itala and in the Vulgate, Hag 1:15 is joined to the next chapter. But this is proved to be incorrect by the fact that the chronological statements in Hag 1:15 and Hag 2:1 are irreconcilable with one another. Hag 1:15 is really so closely connected with Hag 1:14, that it is rather to be regarded as the last clause of that verse.

Glory of the New Temple, and the Blessings of the New Era - Haggai 2 Edit

This chapter contains three words of God, which Haggai published to the people in the seventh and ninth months of the second year of Darius, to strengthen them in their zeal for the building of the temple, and to preserve them from discouragement. The first of these words (Hag 2:1-9) refers to the relation in which the new temple would stand to the former one, and was uttered not quite four weeks after the building of the temple had been resumed.

Chap. 2 Edit

Verses 1-2 Edit

Glory of the New Temple- Hag 2:1 and Hag 2:2. “In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came through Haggai,” viz., to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the nation, that is to say, to the whole of the congregation that had returned from exile; whereas the first appeal was only addressed to Zerubbabel and Joshua (see the introduction to Hag 1:1), although it also applied to the whole nation. Just as in the second year of the return from Babylon, when the foundation for the temple, which was about to be rebuilt, was laid in the reign of Cyrus, many old men, who had seen the temple of Solomon, burst out into loud weeping when they saw the new foundation (Ezr 3:10.); a similar feeling of mourning and despair appears to have taken possession of the people and their rulers immediately after the work had been resumed under Darius, and doubts arose whether the new building was really well-pleasing to the Lord, and ought to be carried on. The occasion for this despondency is not to be sought, as Hitzig supposes, in the fact that objections were made to the continuance of the building (Ezr 5:3), and that the opinion prevailed in consequence that the works ought to be stopped till the arrival of the king's authority. For this view not only has no support whatever in our prophecy, but is also at variance with the account in the book of Ezra, according to which the governor and his companions, who had made inquiries concerning the command to build, did not stop the building while they sent word of the affair to the king (Ezr 5:5). Moreover, the conjecture that the people had been seized with a feeling of sadness, when the work had so far advanced that they were able to institute a comparison between the new temple and the earlier one (Hengstenberg), does not suffice to explain the rapid alteration which took place in the feelings of the people. The building could not have been so far advance din three weeks and a half as that the contrast between the new temple and the former one could be clearly seen, if it had not been noticed from the very first; a fact, however, to which Ezr 3:12 distinctly refers. But although it had been seen from the very beginning that the new building would not come up to the glory of the former temple, the people could not from the very outset give up the hope of erecting a building which, if not quite equal to the former one in glory, would at all events come somewhat near to it. Under these circumstances, their confidence in the work might begin to vanish as soon as the first enthusiasm flagged, and a time arrived which was more favourable for the quiet contemplation of the general condition of affairs. This explanation is suggested by the time at which the second word of God was delivered to the congregation through the prophet. The twenty-first day of the seventh month was the seventh day of the feast of tabernacles (cf. Lev 23:34.), the great festival of rejoicing, on which Israel was to give practical expression to its gratitude for the gracious guidance which it had received through the wilderness, as well as for the blessing of the ingathering of all the fruits of the ground, which ended with the gathering of the orchard-fruits and with the vintage, by the presentation of numerous burnt-offerings and other sacrifices (see my biblische Archäologie, i. p. 415ff.). The return of this festal celebration, especially after a harvest which had turned out very miserably, and showed no signs of the blessing of God, could not fail to call up vividly before the mind the difference between the former times, when Israel was able to assemble in the courts of the Lord's house, and so to rejoice in the blessings of His grace in the midst of abundant sacrificial meals, and the present time, when the altar of burnt-sacrifice might indeed be restored again, and the building of the temple be resumed, but in which there was no prospect of erecting a building that would in any degree answer to the glory of the former temple; and when the prophecies of an Isaiah or an Ezekiel were remembered, according to which the new temple was to surpass the former one in glory, it would be almost sure to produce gloomy thoughts, and supply food for doubt whether the time had really come for rebuilding the temple, when after all it would be only a miserable hut. In this gloomy state of mind consolation was very necessary, if the hardly awakened zeal for the building of the house of God was not to cool down and vanish entirely away. To bring this consolation to those who were in despair was the object of the second word of God, which Haggai was to publish to the congregation. It runs as follows:

Verses 3-5 Edit

Hag 2:3-5“Who is left among you, that saw this house in its former glory? and how do ye see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Hag 2:4. And now be comforted, Zerubbabel, is the saying of Jehovah; and be comforted, Joshua son of Jozadak, thou high priest; and be comforted all the people of the land, is the saying of Jehovah, and work: for I am with you, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Hag 2:5. The word that I concluded with you at your coming out of Egypt, and my Spirit, stand in the midst of you; fear ye not.” The prophet, admitting the poverty of the new building in comparison with the former one, exhorts them to continue the work in comfort, and promises them that the Lord will be with them, and fulfil His covenant promises. The question in Hag 2:3 is addressed to the old men, who had seen Solomon's temple in all its glory. There might be many such men still living, as it was only sixty-seven or sixty-eight years since the destruction of the first temple. הנּשׁאר is the predicate to the subject מי, and has the article because it is defined by the reflex action of the relative clause which follows (compare Ewald, §277, a). The second question, וּמה אתּם וגו, et qualem videtis, In what condition do ye see it now? is appended to the last clause of the first question: the house which ye saw in its former glory. There then follows with הלוא, in the form of a lively assurance, the statement of the difference between the two buildings. כּמהוּ כּאין, which has been interpreted in very different ways, may be explained from the double use of the כ in comparisons, which is common in Hebrew, and which answers to our as - so: here, however, it is used in the same way as in Gen 18:25 and Gen 44:18; that is to say, the object to be compared is mentioned first, and the object with which the comparison is instituted is mentioned afterwards, in this sense, “so is it, as having no existence,” in which case we should either leave out the first particle of comparison, or if it were expressed, should have to reverse the order of the words: “as not existing (nothing), so is it in your eyes.” Koehler gives this correct explanation; whereas if כּמהוּ be explained according to Joe 2:2, its equal, or such an one, we get the unsuitable thought, that it is not the temple itself, but something like the temple, that is compared to nothing. Even in Gen 44:18, to which Ewald very properly refers as containing a perfectly equivalent phrase, it is not a man equal to Joseph, but Joseph himself, who is compared to Pharaoh, and described as being equal to him. Nevertheless they are not to let their courage fail, but to be comforted and to work. Châzaq, to be inwardly strong, i.e., to be comforted, 'Asâh, to work or procure, as in Rth 2:19 and Pro 31:13, in actual fact, to continue the work of building bravely, without there being any necessity to supply מלאכה from Hag 1:14. For Jehovah will be with them (cf. Hag 1:13).
In confirmation of this promise the Lord adds, that the word which He concluded with them on their coming out of Egypt, and His Spirit, will continue among them. “The word” (‘eth-haddâbhâr) cannot be either the accusative of the object to the preceding verb ‛ăsū (Hag 2:4), or to any verb we may choose to supply, or the preposition ‘ēth, with, or the accusative of norm or measure (Luther, Calvin, and others). To connect it with ‛ăsū yields no suitable meaning. It is not the word, which they vowed to the Lord, at the conclusion of the covenant, that they are to do now, but the work which they had begun, viz., the building of the temple, they are now to continue. It is perfectly arbitrary to supply the verb zikhrū, remember (Ewald and Hengstenberg), and to understand the prophet as reminding them of the word “fear not” (Exo 20:17-20). That word, “fear not,” with which Moses, not God, infused courage into the people, who were alarmed at the terrible phenomenon with which Jehovah came down upon Sinai, has no such central significance as that Haggai could point to it without further introduction, and say that Jehovah had concluded it with them on their coming out of Egypt. The word which the Lord concluded with Israel when He led it out of Egypt, can only be the promise which established the covenant, to the fulfilment of which God bound Himself in relation to the people, when He led them out of Egypt, namely, the word that He would make Israel into His own property out of all nations (Exo 19:5-6; Deu 7:6; cf. Jer 7:22-23, and Jer 11:4). It would quite agree with this to take ‘ēth as the accusative of the norm, and also to connect it as a preposition, if this could only be shown to be in accordance with the rules of the language. But although the accusative in Hebrew is often used, in the relation of free subordination, “to express more precisely the relation of measure and size, space and time, mode and kind” (cf. Ewald, §204-206), it is impossible to find any example of such an accusative of norm as is here assumed, especially with ‘ēth preceding it. But if ‘ēth were a preposition instead of אתּכם, we should have עמּכם, inasmuch as the use of את־הדּבר, as a parallel to אתּכם, makes the words clumsy and awkward. The thought which Haggai evidently wishes to express requires that haddâbhâr should stand upon the same line with rūchı̄, so that ‘eth-haddâbhâr is actually the subject to ‘ōmedeth, and ‘ēth is simply used to connect the new declaration with the preceding one, and to place it in subjection to the one which follows, in the sense of “as regards,” quoad (Ewald, §277, d, pp. 683-4), in which case the choice of the accusative in the present instance may either be explained from a kind of attraction (as in the Latin, urbem quam statuo vestra est), as Hitzig supposes, or from the blending together of two constructions, as Koehler maintains; that is to say, Haggai intended to write את־הדּבר ורוּחי העמדתּי, but was induced to alter the proposed construction by the relative clause אשׁר כּרתּי וגו attaching itself to הדּבר. Consequently ‛ōmedeth, as predicate, not only belongs to rūchı̄, but also to haddâbhâr, in the sense of to have continuance and validity; and according to a later usage of the language, עמד is used for קוּם, to stand fast (compare Isa 40:8 with Dan 11:14). The word, that Israel is the property of Jehovah, and Jehovah the God of Israel, still stands in undiminished force; and not only so, but His Spirit also still works in the midst of Israel. Rūăch, in parallelism with the word containing the foundation of the covenant, is neither the spirit of prophecy (Chald., J. D. Mich.), nor the spirit which once filled Bezaleel and his companions (Exo 31:1., Exo 36:1.), enabling them to erect the tabernacle in a proper manner, and one well-pleasing to God ( Luc., Osiander, and Koehler). Both views are too narrow; rūăch is the divine power which accompanies the word of promise and realizes it in a creative manner, i.e., not merely “the virtue with which God will establish their souls, that they may not be overcome by temptations” (Calvin), but also the power of the Spirit working in the world, which is able to remove all the external obstacles that present themselves to the realization of the divine plan of salvation. This Spirit is still working in Israel (“in the midst of you”); therefore they are not to fear, even if the existing state of things does not correspond to human expectations. The omnipotence of God can and will carry out His word, and glorify His temple. This leads to the further promise in Hag 2:6-9, which gives the reason for the exhortation, “Fear ye not.”

Verses 6-7 Edit

Hag 2:6-7“For thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Once more, in a short time it comes to pass, I shake heaven and earth, and the sea, and the dry. Hag 2:7. And I shake all nations, and the costly of all nations will come, and I shall fill this house with glory, saith Jehovah of hosts. Hag 2:8. Mine is the silver, and mine the gold, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Hag 2:9. The last glory of this house will be greater than the first, saith Jehovah of hosts; and in this place shall I give peace, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts.” Different explanations have been given of the definition of the time עוד אחת מעט היא. Luther, Calvin, and others, down to Ewald and Hengstenberg, follow the Chaldee and Vulgate, and either take achath in the sense of the indefinite article or as a numeral, “adhuc unum modicum est,” or “it is yet a little thither.” But if achath belonged to מעט as a numeral adjective, either in the one sense or the other, according to the arrangement adopted without exception in Hebrew (for ‘echâd is not an adjective in Dan 8:13), it could not stand before מעט, but must be placed after it. The difference of gender also precludes this combination, inasmuch as מעט is not construed as a feminine in a single passage. We must therefore take מעט היא as forming an independent clause of itself, i.e., as a more precise definition of עוד אחת. But ‘achath does not mean one = one time, or a short space of time (Burk, Hitzig, Hofmann); nor does it acquire this meaning from the clause מעט היא; nor can it be sustained by arbitrarily supplying עת. ‘Achath is used as a neuter in the sense of “once,” as in Exo 30:10; 2Ki 6:10; Job 40:5 (cf. Ewald, §269, b).  מעט היא , a little, i.e., a short time is it, equivalent to “soon,” in a short time will it occur (cf. Hos 8:10; Psa 37:10). The lxx have rendered it correctly ἔτι ἅπαξ, only they have left out מעט היא. The words, “once more and indeed in a short time I shake,” etc., have not the meaning which Koehl. attaches to the correct rendering, viz., “Once, and only once, will Jehovah henceforth shake heaven and earth,” in which the עוד standing at the head is both moved from its place, and taken, not in the sense of repetition or of continuance from the present to the future, but simply in the sense of an allusion to the future; in other words, it is completely deprived of its true meaning. For עוד never loses its primary sense of repetition or return any more than the German noch (still or yet), so as to denote an occurrence in the future without any allusion whatever to an event that has already happened or is in existence still, not even in 2Sa 19:36 and 2Ch 17:6, with which Koehler endeavours to support his views, without observing that in these passages עוד is used in a very different sense, signifying in 2 Sam. praeterea, and in 2 Chronicles “moreover.” In the verse before us it is used with reference to the previous shaking of the world at the descent of Jehovah upon Sinai to establish the covenant with Israel, to which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has quite correctly taken it as referring (Heb 12:26).
On the other hand, the objection offered by Koehler, that that shaking did not extend beyond Sinai and the Sinaitic region, either according to the historical account in Exo 19:16-18, or the poetical descriptions in Jdg 5:4-5, and Psa 68:8-9, is incorrect. For not only in the two poetical descriptions referred to, but also in Hab 3:6, the manifestation of God upon Sinai is represented as a trembling or shaking of the earth, whereby the powers of the heaven were set in motion, and the heavens dropped down water. The approaching shaking of the world will be much more violent; it will affect the heaven and the earth in all their parts, the sea and the solid ground, and also the nations. Then will the condition of the whole of the visible creation and of the whole of the world of nations be altered. The shaking of the heaven and the earth, i.e., of the universe, is closely connected with the shaking of all nations. It is not merely a figurative representation of symbol, however, of great political agitations, but is quite as real as the shaking of the nations, and not merely follows this and is caused by it, but also precedes it and goes side by side with it, and only in its completion does it form the conclusion to the whole of the shaking of the world. For earthquakes and movements of the powers of heaven are heralds and attendants of the coming of the Lord to judgment upon the whole earth, through which not only the outward form of the existing world is altered, but the present world itself will finally be reduced to ruins (Isa 24:18-20), and out of the world thus perishing there are to be created a new heaven and a new earth (Isa 65:17; Isa 66:22; 2Pe 3:10-13). But if the shaking of heaven and earth effects a violent breaking up of the existing condition of the universe, the shaking of all nations can only be one by which an end is put to the existing condition of the world of nations, by means of great political convulsions, and indeed, according to the explanation given in Hag 2:22, by the Lord's overthrowing the throne of the kingdoms, annihilating their power, and destroying their materials of war, so that one falls by the sword of the other, that is to say, by wars and revolutions, by which the might of the heathen world is broken and annihilated. It follows from this, that the shaking of the heathen is not to be interpreted spiritually, either as denoting “the marvellous, supernatural, and violent impulse by which God impels His elect to betake themselves to the fold of Christ” (Calvin), or “the movement to be produced among the nations through the preaching of the gospel, with the co-operation of the Holy Spirit.” The impulse given by the preaching of the gospel and the operation of the Holy Spirit to such souls among the nations as desire salvation, to seek salvation from the living God, is only the fruit of the shaking of the heathen world, and is not to be identified with it; for the coming of the chemdth kol-haggōyı̄m is defined by וּבאוּ with the Vav consec. as a consequence of the shaking of the nations.
By chemdath kol-haggōyı̄m most of the earlier orthodox commentators understood the Messiah, after the example of the Vulgate, et veniet desideratus gentibus, and Luther's “consolation of the Gentiles.” But the plural בּאוּ is hardly reconcilable with this. If, for example, chemdath were the subject of the clause, as most of the commentators assume, we should have the singular וּבא. For the rule, that in the case of two nouns connected together in the construct state, the verb may take the number of the governed noun, applies only to cases in which the governed noun contains the principal idea, so that there is a constructio ad sensum; whereas in the case before us the leading idea would be formed, not by kol-haggōyı̄m, but by chemdath, desideratus, or consolation, as a designation of the Messiah. Hence Cocc., Mark, and others, have taken chemdath as the accusative of direction: “that they (sc., the nations) may come to the desire of all nations - namely, to Christ.” It cannot be objected to this, as Koehler supposes, that to designate Christ as the desire of all nations would be either erroneous, inasmuch as in the time of Haggai only a very few heathen knew anything about Israel's hope of a Messiah, or perfectly unintelligible to his contemporaries, especially if the meaning of the epithet were that the heathen would love Him at some future time. For the latter remark is at once proved to be untenable by the prophecy of Isaiah and Micah, to the effect that all nations will flow to the mountain of God's house. After such prophecies, the thought that the heathen would one day love the Messiah could not be unintelligible to the contemporaries of our prophet; and there is not the smallest proof of the first assertion. In the year 520 b.c., when the ten tribes had already been scattered among the heathen for 200 years, and the Judaeans for more than seventy years, the Messianic hope of Israel could not be any longer altogether unknown to the nations. It may with much better reason be objected to the former view, that if chemdâh were the accusative of direction, we should expect the preposition 'el in order to avoid ambiguity. But what is decisive against it is the fact, that the coming of the nations to the Messiah would be a thought completely foreign to the context, since the Messiah cannot without further explanation be identified with the temple. Chemdâh signifies desire (2Ch 21:20), then the object of desire, that in which a man finds pleasure and joy, valuables. Chemdath haggōyı̄m is therefore the valuable possessions of the heathen, or according to Hag 2:8 their gold and silver, or their treasures and riches; not the best among the heathen (Theod. Mops., Capp., Hitzig). Hence chemdath cannot be the accusative of direction, since the thought that the heathen come to the treasures of all the heathen furnishes no suitable meaning; but it is the nominative or subject, and is construed as a collective word with the verb in the plural. The thought is the following: That shaking will be followed by this result, or produce this effect, that all the valuable possessions of the heathen will come to fill the temple with glory. Compare Isa 60:5, where the words, “the possessions (riches) of the heathen (chēl gōyı̄m) will come to thee,” i.e., be brought to Jerusalem, express the same thought; also Isa 60:11. With the valuable possessions of the heathen the Lord will glorify His temple, or fill it with kâbhōd. Kâbhōd without the article denotes the glory which the temple will receive through the possessions of the heathen presented there. The majority of the commentators have referred these words to the glorification of the temple through the appearance of Jesus in it, and appeal to Exo 40:34-35; 1Ki 8:10-11; 2Ch 5:13-14, according to which passages the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle and Solomon's temple at their dedication, so that they identify kâbhōd (glory) with kebhōd Yehōvâh (glory of Jehovah) without reserve. But this is impracticable, although the expression kâbhōd is chosen by the prophet with a reference to those events, and the fulfilment of our prophecy did commence with the fact that Jehovah came to His temple in the person of Jesus Christ (Mal 3:1).

Verses 8-9 Edit

Jehovah can fill this house with glory, because the silver and gold which the heathen nations possess belong to Him. By shaking all kingdoms He can induce the nations to present their treasures to Him as gifts for the glorification of His house. Thus (the promise closes with this in Hag 2:9), the later glory of this house will be greater than the former was. Hâachărōn might be regarded as belonging to habbayith hazzeh, in the sense of “the glory of this latter house;” and the majority of the commentators have taken it so, after the Itala, Vulgate, and Peschito. But it is quite as admissible to connect it with kâbhōd, in the sense of “the later glory of this house,” inasmuch as when one substantive is determined by another which is connected with it in the construct state, the adjective belonging to the nomen regens follows with the article (cf. 2Sa 23:1; 1Ch 23:27; and Ewald, §289, a). This is the rendering adopted by Michaelis, Maurer, Hitzig, and others, after the lxx. According to the first construction, the distinction would be drawn between a former and a later house; according to the second, simply between the earlier and later glory of the same house; and the passage would be based upon the idea, that through all ages there was only one house of Jehovah in Jerusalem existing under different forms. Hag 2:3 is decisive in favour of the second view, for there an earlier glory is attributed to this house, and contrasted with its present miserable condition. The first or former glory is that of Solomon's temple, the later or last that of Zerubbabel's. The difference of opinion as to the true rendering of the words has no material influence upon the matter itself; except that, if the latter view be adopted, the question so often discussed by earlier writers - namely, whether by the second temple we are to understand the temple of Zerubbabel or the temple as altered by Herod, which many have erroneously taken to be the third - falls to the ground as perfectly unmeaning. The final glory of the temple will also be a lasting one. This is implied in the closing words of the promise: “And in this place will I give peace.” “This place” is not the temple, but Jerusalem, as the place where the temple is built; and the “peace” is not spiritual peace, but external peace, which does indeed in its perfect form include spiritual peace as well. This is perfectly evident from the parallel passages, Mic 5:4, Joe 3:17, and Isa 60:18.
If we also take up the question as to the fulfilment of this prophecy, we must keep the two features quite distinct - (a) the shaking of heaven and earth and all nations; (b) the consequence of this shaking, the coming of the heathen with their possessions to the glorification of the temple - although they both stand in close connection. The earlier commentators were no doubt generally right, when they sought for the fulfilment in the establishment of the new covenant through Christ; they simply erred in referring the predicted shaking of the nations and the promised glorification of the temple in too one-sided and exclusive a manner to the coming of Christ in the flesh, to His teaching in the temple, and to the establishment of the kingdom of heaven through the preaching of the gospel. They were thereby compelled, on the one hand, to force upon the prophecy a meaning irreconcilable with the words themselves, and, on the other hand, to seek for its fulfilment in historical particulars to some extent of very subordinate importance. Even the predicted nearness of the time (“it is a little while”) does not suit the exclusive reference to the establishment of the new covenant, or the founding of the Christian church. The period of 520 years, which elapsed before the birth of Christ, cannot be called a little or short time, as Calovius supposes, “in comparison with the time that had passed since either the promulgation of the law or the promulgation of the protevangelium,” inasmuch as five hundred are not מעט in relation to fifteen hundred, and the proposal to go back to the protevangelium is evidently merely a loophole of perplexity. Nor can מעט היא be explained on the hypothesis that the measure of time here is not a human one, but the divine measure, according to which a thousand years are equal to one day. “For whoever speaks to men, must speak of things according to a human method of thinking; or if he do not, he must make it clear that this is the case. The prophet lays stress upon the brevity of the time, for the purpose of comforting. And only what is short in the eyes of men is fitted for this” (Hengstenberg). The shaking of the heathen world did not first begin with the birth of Christ, but commenced shortly after the time of Haggai. It is true that under Darius Hystaspes the Persian empire was still standing at the summit of its power; but its shaking began under his successor Xerxes, and came very plainly to light in his war against Greece. “Even then there were forebodings that the time of this empire would soon be accomplished, and the rapid conquests of Alexander gave fulfilment to this foreboding. And even his power, which seemed destined to last for ever, very speedily succumbed to the lot of all temporal things. Inde (says Livy) morte Alexandri distractum in multa regna, dum ad se quisque opes rapiunt lacerantes viribus, a summo culmine fortunae ad ultimum finem centum quinquaginta annos stetit. The two most powerful kingdoms that grew out of the monarchy of Alexander, viz., the Syrian and Egyptian, destroyed one another. The Romans now attained to the government of the world; but at the very time when they appeared to be at the summit of their greatness, their shaking had very considerably advanced” (Hengstenberg). The circumstance that the prophet mentions the shaking of heaven and earth before the shaking of all the heathen, cannot furnish any valid ground for objecting to these allusions; nor can it force us to the conclusion that the words are only to be understood as denoting “great political shakings, whereby the power of the heathen would be broken, their pride humbled, and so the susceptibility for salvation be evoked among them.” For even if such events do shake the world, and are poetically represented as earthquakes, even if they were regarded by the nations as heralds of the approaching destruction of the world, because the impression they produced upon the mind was as if heaven and earth were falling to pieces; all this does not satisfy the words, which do not express the subjective emotion, but announce real facts. The shaking of heaven and earth, of the sea and of the dry land, is indeed partially effected by violent earthquakes and wonderful signs in the sky, and was typified by such judgments as the flood; but it is only fully accomplished at the breaking up of the present condition of the world in the destruction of this heaven and this earth.
The prophet mentions at the very outset the utmost and the last that God will do, to clear away all existing hindrances to the completion of His kingdom in glory, and then passes on to the shakings of the world of nations which prepare the way for and lead on to this result, just as Micah in Mic 4:1-13 comes back from the most remote future to the less remote, and then to the immediate future. For the shakings of the heathen, by which their power will be broken and the dissolution of heathenism and of the ungodly power of the world will be effected, do not reach their end with the coming of Christ and the establishment of the Christian church: but just as the kingdom of the world maintains its standing by the side of the kingdom of heaven established by Christ upon the earth, until the return of our Lord to judgment; so does the shaking of the heathen and of the kingdoms of the nations continue till every power which rises against the Almighty God and His Christ is broken, and the world which has been thrown into confusion by the sin of men, and is made subject to corruptibility on their account, shall perish, and the new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, for which we are looking, shall be established (2Pe 3:12-13).[5]
But if the shaking of the heathen commenced before the coming of Christ in the flesh, and will continue till His second coming in glory, we must not restrict the fulfilment of the predicted moral consequences of this shaking - namely, that the heathen come and consecrate their possessions to the Lord for the glorification of His house, to the conversion of the heathen to Christ, and their entrance into the Christian church - but must also regard the desire for the living God, awakened by the decay of heathendom and its religions, which was manifested in the adoption of Judaism by the more pious heathen, as a prelude to the fulfilment which commenced with the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles, and must include not only the presentation of dedicatory offerings τῶν ἀλλυφύλων and of gifts ἔξωθεν ἐθνῶν, with which the temple was adorned according to Josephus, de Bell. Jud. ii. 17, 3, but also the presents of king Artaxerxes and his counsellors, which Ezra received on his return to Jerusalem to carry with him for the temple (Ezr 7:15.).[6]
Yea, even the command of king Darius Hystaspes to his vicegerent, which no doubt reached Jerusalem after our prophecy had been uttered, not only to allow the work at this house of God to continue, but also to deliver to the elders of Judah what was required for the building as well as for the requirements of the daily sacrificial worship out of the moneys raised by taxation on this side the river (Ezr 6:6-10), may at any rate be regarded as a pledge of the certain fulfilment of the divine promise uttered by Haggai.
But whilst the honour paid to the temple of Zerubbabel on the part of the heathen and heathen princes by the presentation of sacrifices and dedicatory offerings must not be overlooked, as preludes to the promised filling of this house with the riches of the Gentiles, we must not look to this outward glorification of the temple at Jerusalem for the true fulfilment of our prophecy, even if it had exceeded Solomon's temple in glory. This first took place with the coming of Christ, and that not in the fact that Jesus visited the temple and taught in it, and as the incarnate Logos, in whom the “glory of Jehovah” that filled the temple of Solomon dwelt in its truest essence as δόξα ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, glorified the temple of stone with His presence, but by the fact that Christ raised up the true temple of God not built with human hand (Joh 2:19), i.e., that He exalted the kingdom of God shadowed forth in the temple at Jerusalem to its true essence. We must draw a distinction between the substance and form, the kernel and the shell, of the prophecy. The temple, as the place where the Lord dwelt in the midst of Israel in a visible symbol of His gracious presence, was the seat and concentration of the kingdom of God, which had its visible embodiment in the temple so long as the old covenant lasted. In this respect the rebuilding of the temple that had been destroyed was a sign and pledge of the restoration of the kingdom of God, which had been broken up through the banishment of Israel among the heathen, and the attitude of those who returned from exile towards the building of the temple was a sign of their internal attitude towards the Lord and His kingdom. If, then, the old men who had seen the temple in its former glory wept aloud at the laying of the foundation of the new building, because in comparison with the former it was as nothing in their eyes, this mourning was occasioned not so much by the fact that the new temple would not be so beautiful and majestic a building as that of Solomon had been, as by the fact that the poverty of the new building set before their eyes the wretched condition of the kingdom of God. This true or deeper ground for their mourning, which might very well give rise to the question whether the Lord would restore His former gracious relation to Israel, or at any rate would restore it now, is met by the divine promise published by Haggai to the people, which attaches itself in form to the existing circumstances, and accordingly promises for the future a glorification of the temple which will outshine the glory of the former one. If we look at the thought itself which is expressed in this form, it is the following: The Lord will one day exalt His kingdom, which is so deeply degraded and despised, to a glory which will far surpass the glory of the kingdom of God at the time of Solomon, and that by the fact that all the heathen nations will dedicate their possessions to it. This glorification of the house of God commenced with the introduction of the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus Christ preached, and of which He laid the foundation in His church. And whilst the stone-temple at Jerusalem built by Zerubbabel and splendidly finished by Herod fell into ruins, because the Jews had rejected their Saviour, and crucified Him, this has been carried on through the spread of the kingdom of God among the nations of the earth, and will be completed at the end of the course of this world; not, however, by the erection of a new and much more glorious temple in Jerusalem, but in the founding of the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God upon the new earth, after the overthrow of all the powers of the world that are hostile to God. This holy city will have the glory of God (ἡ δόξα τοῦ Θεοῦ = כּבוד יהוה), but no temple; because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. Into this holy city of God will the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour, and the heathen who are saved will walk therein (Rev 21:10-11, Rev 21:22-24). Thus the promise covers the entire development of the kingdom of God to the end of days.
This was the sense in which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb 12:26-27) understood our prophecy. In order, namely, to give emphasis to his admonition, not to expose themselves to still severer punishment than fell upon those who hardened themselves under the Old Testament against the incomplete revelation of God, by rejecting the far more perfect revelation of God in Christ, he quotes our prophecy, and shows from it (Heb 12:26), that at the founding of the old covenant only a comparatively small shaking of the earth took place; whereas for the times of the new covenant there had been predicted a shaking not only of the earth, but also of the heaven, which indicated that what was moveable was to be altered, as made for that purpose, that the immoveable might remain. The author of this epistle consequently brings out the fundamental thought of our prophecy, in which its fulfilment culminates, viz., that everything earthly must be shaken and altered, that the immoveable, i.e., the βασιλεία ἀσάλευτος, may remain, or in other words, that the whole of the earthly creation must perish, in order that the kingdom of God may be shown to be immoveably permanent. He does not, however, thereby represent the predicted shaking of heaven and earth “as still in the future,” as Koehler supposes; but, as his words in Heb 12:28 (cf. Heb 12:22), “Wherefore we, receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace,” clearly show, he takes it as having already commenced, and looks upon the whole period, from the coming of Christ in the flesh till His coming again in glory, as one continuum.

Verse 10 Edit

Return of the Blessings of Nature. - Hag 2:10. On the 24th day of the ninth month of the same year, that is to say, exactly three months after the congregation had resumed the building of the temple (cf. Hag 1:15), and about two months after the second prophecy (Hag 2:1), a new word of the Lord was uttered through Haggai to the people. It was now time, since the despondency which had laid hold of the people a few weeks after the recommencement of the building had been dispelled by the consolatory promises in vv. 6-9, and the work was vigorously pursued, to confirm the people in the fidelity which they had manifested, by bestowing upon them the blessing which had been withdrawn. To this end Haggai received the commission to make it perfectly clear to the people, that the curse which had rested upon them since the building of the temple had been neglected, had been nothing but a punishment for their indolence in not pushing forward the work of the Lord, and that from that time forth the Lord would bestow His blessing upon them again. The ninth month (Khislēv) corresponds very nearly to the period between the middle of November and the middle of December, when the sowing of the winter corps, that commenced after the feast of tabernacles, was finished, and the autumnal rain (early rain) had set in, so that in the abundant fall of this rain they might discern a trace of the divine blessing.

Verses 11-14 Edit

The word of God was as follows: Hag 2:11. “Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Ask now the priests for instruction, saying, Hag 2:12. Behold, one carries holy flesh in the lappet of his garment, and touches with his lappet the bread, and that which is boiled, the wine, and the oil, and any kind of food: does it then become holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Hag 2:13. And Haggai said, If one who is unclean on account of a corpse touches all this, does it become unclean? And the priests answered and said, It does become unclean. Hag 2:14. Then Haggai answered and said, So is this people, and so this nation before my face, is the saying of Jehovah; and so is all the work of their hands, and what they offer to me there: it is unclean.” In order to impress most earnestly upon the hearts of the people the fact that it was through their sin that they brought upon themselves the failure of crops that had hitherto prevailed, viz., as a punishment from God, the prophet proposes two questions concerning holy and clean for the priests to answer, in order that he may make an application of the answer they give to the moral condition of the nation. Tōrâh in Hag 2:11, without the article, is used in its primary signification of instruction, and is governed by שׁעל, accus. rei: to ask a person anything, for to ask or solicit anything from him. The first question has reference to the communication of the holiness of holy objects to other objects brought into contact with them: whether, if a person carried holy flesh in the lappet of his garment,[7] and touched any food with the lappet, it would become holy in consequence. Hēn, behold, pointing to an action as possible, has almost the force of a conditional particle, “if,” as in Isa 54:15; Jer 3:1 (cf. Ewald, §103, g). “Holy flesh” is flesh of animals slain as sacrifices, as in Jer 11:15. Nâzı̄d, that which is boiled, boiled food (Gen 25:29; 2Ki 4:38.). The priests answer the question laid before them quite correctly with “No;” for, according to Lev 6:20, the lappet of the dress itself was made holy by the holy flesh, but it could not communicate this holiness any further. The second question (Hag 2:13) has reference to the spread of legal defilement. טמא נפשׁ is not one who is unclean in his soul; but, as Lev 22:4 shows, it is synonymous with טמא לנפשׁ in Num 5:2; Num 9:10, “defiled on a soul;” and this is a contraction of טמא לנפר אדם, or טמא לנפשׁ מת, in Num 9:6-7, “defiled on (through) the soul of a dead man” (Num 6:6; Lev 21:11 : see at Lev 19:28), hence one who has been defiled through touching a dead body. This uncleanness was one of the strongest kinds; it lasted seven days, and could only be removed by his being twice purified with sprinkling water, prepared from the ashes of the red cow (see at Numbers 19). This question the priests also answered correctly. According to Num 19:22, he who was defiled by touching a dead body made everything unclean that he touched. The prophet now applies these provisions of the law to the ethical relation in which the people stood to Jehovah. “So is this people before me, saith Jehovah.” הגּוי is quite synonymous with העם, as in Zep 2:9, without any subordinate meaning of a contemptuous kind, which could at the most be contained in hazzeh (this), but in that case would apply to hâ‛âm just as well. Kēn, ita, refers to the substance of the two legal questions in Hag 2:12 and Hag 2:13. The nation, in its attitude towards the Lord, resembles, on the one hand, a man who carries holy flesh in the lappet of his garment, and on the other hand, a man who has become unclean through touching a corpse. “Israel also possesses a sanctuary in the midst of its land, - namely, the place which Jehovah has chosen for His own abode, and favoured with many glorious promises. But just as no kind of food, neither bread nor vegetables, neither wine nor oil, is sanctified by the fact that a man touches it with his sanctified garment, so will all this not be rendered holy by the fact that it is planted in the soil of the land which surrounds and encloses the sanctuary of Jehovah. For though the land itself becomes a holy land in consequence, it cannot spread this holiness any further, nor communicate it to what grows upon it. All that Israel raises on its holy land, whether corn, wine, or oil, remains unholy or common. No special blessing rests upon the fruits of this land, on account of the holiness of the land itself, so as of necessity to produce fruitfulness as its result; nor, on the other hand, does it in itself communicate any curse. But if, as experience shows, a curse is resting notwithstanding upon the productions of this land, it arises from the fact that they are unclean because Israel has planted them. For Israel it utterly unclean on account of its neglect of the house of Jehovah, like a man who has become unclean through touching a corpse. Everything that Israel takes hold of, or upon which it lays its hand, everything that it plants and cultivates, is from the very first affected with the curse of uncleanness; and consequently even the sacrifices which it offers there upon the altar of Jehovah are unclean” (Koehler). Shâm, there, i.e., upon the altar built immediately after the return from Babylon (Ezr 3:3).

Verses 15-17 Edit

The prophet explains these words in Hag 2:15-19 by representing the failure of the crops, and the curse that has hitherto prevailed, as a punishment from God for having been wanting in faithfulness to the Lord (Hag 2:15-17), and promises that from that time forward the blessing of God shall rest upon them again (Hag 2:18, Hag 2:19). Hag 2:15. “And now, direct your heart from this day and onward, before stone was laid to stone at the temple of Jehovah. Hag 2:16. Before this was, did one come to the heap of sheaves of twenty-(in measure), there were ten: did he come to the vat to draw fifty buckets, there were twenty. Hag 2:17. I have smitten you with blasting, and with mildew, and with hail, all the work of your hands; and not one of you (turned) to me, is the saying of Jehovah.” The object to which they are to direct their heart, i.e., to give heed, is not to be supplied from Hag 1:5, Hag 1:7, “to your ways” (Ros. and others), but is contained substantially in Hag 2:16 and Hag 2:17, and is first of all indicated in the words “from this day,” etc. They are to notice what has taken place from this day onwards. נמעלה, lit., upwards, then further on. Here it is used not in the sense of forwards into the future, but, as the explanatory clause which follows (from before, etc.) clearly shows, in that of backwards into the past. Mitterem, literally “from the not yet of the laying ... onwards,” i.e., onwards from the time when stone was laid upon stone at the temple; in other words, when the building of the temple was resumed, backwards into the past; in reality, therefore, the time before the resuming of the building of the temple: for min and mitterem cannot be taken in any other sense than in the parallel מיּום which precedes it, and מהיותם which follows in Hag 2:16. The objection which Koehler raises to this cannot be sustained. מהיותם, from their existence (backwards). Most of the modern commentators take the suffix as referring to a noun, yâmı̄m (days), to be supplied from Hag 2:15; but it appears much simpler to take it as a neuter, as Mark and others do, in the sense of “before these things were or were done, viz., this day, and this work of laying stone upon stone,” etc. The meaning is not doubtful, viz., looking backwards from the time when the building of the temple was resumed, in other words, before the point of time. בּא commences a new sentence, in which facts that they had experienced are cited, the verb בּא being used conditionally, and forming the protasis, the apodosis to which is given in והיתה. If one came to a heap of sheaves of twenty measures (se'âh is probably to be supplied: lxx σάτα), they became ten. A heap of sheaves (‛ărēmâh as in Rth 3:7), from which they promised themselves twenty measures, yielded, when threshed, no more than ten, i.e., only the half of what they expected. They experienced just the same at the pressing of the grapes. Instead of fifty buckets, which they expected, they obtained only twenty. Yeqebh was the vat into which the juice flowed when pressed out of the grapes. Châsaph, lit., to lay bare, here to draw out, as in Isa 30:14; and pūrâh, in Isa 63:3, the pressing-trough, here a measure, probably the measure which was generally obtained from one filling of the winepress with grapes (lxx μετρητής). Hag 2:17 gives the reason why so small a result was yielded by the threshing-floor and wine-press. Jehovah smote you with blasting and mildew. These words are a reminiscence of Amo 4:9, to which passage the last words of the verse also refer. To the disease of the corn there is also added the hail which smote the vines, as in Psa 78:47. ‘Eth kol-ma‛ăsēh, all the labour of the hands, i.e., all that they had cultivated with great toil, is a second accusative, “which mentions the portion smitten” (Hitzig). The perfectly unusual construction אין־אתכם אלי does not stand for אין בּכם א, non fuit in vobis qui (Vulg.), nor is אתכם used for אתּכם, “with you;” but אין־אתכם either stands for אינכם, the suffix which was taken as a verbal suffix used as an accusative being resolved into the accusative (cf. Ewald, §262, d); or it is the accusative used in the place of the subject, that is to say, את is to be taken in the sense of “as regards,” quoad (Ewald, §277, p. 683): “as far as you are concerned, there was not (one) turning himself to me.” אלי, to me, sc. turning himself or being converted; though there is no necessity to supply שׁבים, as the idea is implied in the word אל, as in Hos 3:3 and 2Ki 6:11.

Verses 18-19 Edit

After this appeal to lay to heart the past time during which the blessing had been withheld, Haggai called upon the people in Hag 2:18 and Hag 2:19 to fix their eyes upon the time which was commencing with that very day. Hag 2:18. “Direct your heart, then, from this day and onward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth (month); namely, from the day when the foundation of the temple of Jehovah was laid, direct your heart. Hag 2:19. Is the seed still in the granary? and even to the vine, and pomegranate, and olive-tree, it has not borne: from this day forward will I bless.” The twenty-fourth day of the ninth month was the day on which Haggai uttered this word of God (Hag 2:10). Hence ומעלה in Hag 2:18 is to be understood as denoting the direction towards the future (Itala, Vulg., and many comm.). This is evident partly from the fact, that only in that case can the repetition of שׂימוּ לבבכם in Hag 2:18 (end), and the careful announcement of the point of time (from the twenty-fourth day, etc.), be simply and naturally explained, and partly from the fact that min hayyōm hazzeh (from this day) is not explained here, as in Hag 2:15, by a clause pointing back to the past (like mitterem sūm in Hag 2:15), but simply by a precise notice of the day referred to, and that in the last clause of Hag 2:19 this day is clearly described as the commencement of a new era. For there can be no doubt whatever that in min hayyōm hazzeh in Hag 2:19 the terminus a quo mentioned in Hag 2:18 is resumed. But the time mentioned in Hag 2:18, “from the day that the foundation of the temple was laid,” etc., and also the contents of the first two clauses of Hag 2:19, to the effect that there was no more seed in the granary, and that the vine, etc., had not borne, do not appear to harmonize with this. To remove the first of these difficulties, Ros., Maurer, Ewald, and others have taken למן־היּום אשׁר־יסּד as the terminus ad quem, and connected it with the foregoing terminus a quo: “observe the time,” which reaches back from the present day, the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, to the day when the foundation of the temple was laid in the reign of Cyrus (Ezr 3:10). They have thus taken למן in the sense of ועד. But it is now generally admitted that this is at variance with the usage of the language; even Ewald and Gesenius acknowledge this (see Ew., Lehrbuch, §218, b, and Ges. Thes. p. 807). למן is never equivalent to עד or ועד, but invariably forms the antithesis to it (compare, for example, Jdg 19:30; 2Sa 7:6, and Mic 7:12). Now, since lemin hayyōm cannot mean “to the time commencing with the laying of the foundation of the temple,” but must mean “from the day when the foundation of the temple was laid,” Hitzig and Koehler have taken למן היּום וגו as an explanatory apposition to מיּום עשׂרים וגו, and assume that through this apposition the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, is expressly designated as the day on which the foundation was laid for the temple of Jehovah. But this assumption is not only in direct contradiction to Ezr 3:10, where it is stated that the foundation of the temple was laid in the reign of Cyrus, in the second year after the return from Babylon, but also makes the prophet Haggai contradict himself in a manner which can only be poorly concealed by any quid pro quo at variance with the language, viz., (a) by identifying the words of Hag 2:15, “when stone was laid to stone at the temple of Jehovah,” which, according to their simple meaning, express the carrying on or continuance of the building, with the laying of the foundationstone, secondly (b), by understanding the statement, “they did work at the house of Jehovah on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month” (Hag 1:14-15), not according to its natural meaning as relating to their building upon the foundation already laid, but as signifying the removal of the rubbish and the procuring of wood and stone, that is to say, as referring to the preparations for building; and lastly (c), by explaining אשׁר יסּד וגו in Hag 2:19 as signifying the laying of a fresh or second foundation. These assumptions are so forced, that if there were not a simpler and easier way of removing the difficulty raised, we would rather assume that there had been a corruption of the text.
But the thing is not so desperate as this. In the first place, we must pronounce the opinion that למן היּום וגו is an explanatory apposition to מיּום עשׂרים וגו an unfounded one. The position of the athnach in ומעלה furnishes no tenable proof of this. Nor can the assumption that lemin is synonymous with min be sustained. In support of the statement, “that lemin only differs from min in the greater emphasis with which it is spoken,” Ewald (§218, b), has merely adduced this passage, Hag 2:18, which is supposed to exhibit this with especial clearness, but in which, as we have just shown, such an assumption yields no appropriate meaning. למן followed by עד or ועד does indeed occur in several instances in such a connection, that it appears to be used instead of the simple min. But if we look more closely at the passages (e.g., Exo 11:7; Jdg 19:30; 2Sa 7:6), the ל is never superfluous; and lemin is simply used in cases where the definition so introduced is not closely connected with what goes before, but is meant to be brought out as an independent assertion or additional definition, so that in all such cases the ל “has the peculiar force of a brief allusion to something not to be overlooked, a retrospective glance at the separate parts, or a rapid summary of the whole, like our 'with regard to,' 'as regards' (Lat. quoad);” and it only fails to correspond entirely to this, “from the fact that ל is only expressible in the softest manner, and indeed in our language can hardly be expressed in words at all, though it quite perceptibly yields this sense” (Ewald, §310). למקצת is also used in this sense in Dan 1:18 instead of מקצת (Hag 2:15), whilst in other cases (e.g., in למרחוק in 2Sa 7:19) it indicates the direction to a place or towards an object (Ewald, §218, b).[8]
In the verse before us, the  ל  before  מן  corresponds exactly to the German anlangend, betreffend, concerning, as to, sc. the time, from the day when the foundation of the temple was laid, and is used to give prominence to this assertion, and by the prominence given to it to preclude any close connection between the definition of the time so introduced and what goes before, and to point to the fact that the following definition contains a fresh subject of discourse. The expression שׂימוּ לבבכם, which closes the sentence commencing with למן היּום, and which would be somewhat tautological and superfluous, if the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple coincided with the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, also points to this.
What space of time it is to which Haggai gives prominence in these words, as one which they are to lay to heart, is shown in Hag 2:19, “Is the seed still in the granary?” etc. That this question is not to be taken in the sense of a summons to proceed now with good heart to sow the summer crops, which were not sown till January, and therefore were still in the granary, as Hitzig supposes, has been pointed out by Koehler, who also correctly observes that the prophet first of all reminds his hearers of the mournful state of things in the past (not “in the present,” as he says), that they may thoroughly appreciate the promise for the future. For even if the question to be answered with “no,” viz., whether the corn is still in the granary, were to be referred to the present, what follows, viz., that the fruit-trees have not borne, would not suit this, since not having borne is a past thing, even if it merely related to the last year, although there is no ground for any such limitation of the words. And if in Hag 2:19 the prophet directs the attention of his hearers to the past, we must also understand the chronological datum immediately preceding as relating to the past as well, and must assume that the words from למן היּום in Hag 2:18 to לא נשׂא in Hag 2:19 contain a parenthetical thought; that is to say, we must assume that the prophet, in order to set clearly before their minds the difference between the past when the building of the temple was suspended, and the future commencing with that very day, before promising the blessing of God to be enjoyed in the future, directs another look at the past, and that from the time of the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus to his own time, and reminds them once more of the want of blessing which they had experienced from that time forth even to the present time. Koehler's objection to this view cannot be sustained. He says, “The Jews are to observe the time from that day forward, namely, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (backwards); the time from the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus (forwards).... Such a mode of expression seems utterly out of place.” But this only affects the erroneous assumption, that the definition “from the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple” is merely a more precise explanation of the previous definition, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, and falls to the ground of itself as soon as these two definitions are separated, as the expression and the matter in hand require. The second objection - namely, that the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus does not suit as a terminus a quo for the commencement of the withdrawal of the divine favour, or for the infliction of a curse upon the people, inasmuch as the Jews were not punished because they laid the foundation for the house of Jehovah, but simply because they neglected the house of God, that is to say, because they desisted from the building they had already begun - is one that would have some force if an interval of at least one or more years had elapsed between the laying of the foundation of the temple and the suspension of the building. But if the work of building was interrupted immediately after the foundation had been laid, as is evident from Ezr 3:10, as compared with ch. 4, Haggai might with perfect propriety describe the whole time from the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus to the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month of the second year of Darius as a time without blessing, without there being any necessity for him expressly to deduct the few weeks which elapsed between the laying of the foundation-stone and the suspension of the work of building, any more than the last three months, in which the work had been resumed again. The last three months could hardly be taken into account, because they fell for the most part in the period after the last harvest; so that if this had proved to be a bad one, the cause would be still in force. The prophet could therefore very properly inquire whether the seed was still in the granary, to which they would be obliged to answer No, because the miserable produce of the harvest was already either consumed for the supply of their daily wants, or used up for the sowing which was just ended. זרע, seed, is not what is sown, but what the sowing yields, the corn, as in Lev 27:30; Isa 23:3; Job 39:12. Megūrâh = mammegūrâh in Joe 1:17, a barn or granary, from gūr, ἀγείρεσθαι, congregari. The following words, ועד־הגּפן וגו, are really appended to the thought contained implicite in the first clause: the corn has not borne, and even to the vine, etc., it has borne nothing. נשׂא is indefinite: it has not borne = has borne nothing. It shall be different in future. From this day, i.e., from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, Jehovah will bless again, i.e., grant a blessing, namely, so that fruitful seasons will come again, and fields and fruit-trees bear once more. There is no necessity to supply a definite object to אברך.

Verses 20-23 Edit

Renewal of the Promise of Salvation. - Hag 2:20. On the same day on which the Lord promised to the people the return of the blessings of nature, Haggai received a second revelation, which promised to the community the preservation and care of the Davidic monarchy, represented for the time by Zerubbabel, in the midst of the storms that were about to burst upon the power of the world. Hag 2:21. “Speak to Zerubbabel the governor of Judah thus: I shake the heaven and the earth. Hag 2:22. And I will overthrow the throne of the kingdoms; and destroy the might of the kingdoms of the nations; and will overthrow the war-chariots, and those who ride in them: and horses and their riders shall fall, one by the sword of the other. Hag 2:23. On that day, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, will I take thee, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant, is the saying of Jehovah, and make thee as a signet-ring: for I have chosen thee, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts.” אני מרעישׁ does not stand for הנני מרעישׁ, but the participial clause is to be taken as a circumstantial clause: If I shake heaven and earth, I overthrow (cf. Ewald, §341, c and d). The words point back to the shaking of the world predicted in Hag 2:6, Hag 2:7. When this shaking takes place, then shall the throne of the kingdoms be thrown down, and their might be destroyed. The singular כּסּא is used collectively, or rather distributively: “every throne of the kingdoms.” The throne is the symbol of the monarchy, or of the government (cf. Dan 7:27); not in this sense, however, that “the prophet regarded all the kingdoms of the earth as one combined power in contradistinction to the people of God, or as a single power, as the power of the world, which was sitting as mistress at the time upon the throne of the earth” (Koehler). The plural mamlâkhōth does not agree with this, since every kingdom had both a king and a throne. The continuance of this throne rests upon the strength (chōqez) of the heathen kingdoms, and this again upon their military power, their war-chariots, horses, and riders. These are to be overthrown and fall to the ground, and indeed by one another's swords. One hostile kingdom will destroy another, and in the last conflict the heathen hosts will annihilate one another (compare Eze 38:21; Zec 14:13). At that time, when the dominion of the heathen had thus collapsed, Jehovah would take Zerubbabel and set or make him as a signet-ring. The verb ‘eqqach (will I take) simply serves to introduce the following act as one of importance, as for example in Deu 4:20 and 2Ki 14:21. The meaning of the figurative expression, to make Zerubbabel as a signet-ring, is evident from the importance of the signet-ring in the eyes of an oriental, who is accustomed to carry his signet-ring constantly about with him, and to take care of it as a very valuable possession. It is introduced with the same idea in the Sol 8:6, “Lay me as a signet-ring upon thy breast, as a signet-ring in thine arms;” and it is in the same sense that Jehovah says of Jehoiachin in Jer 22:24, “Though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim were even a signet-ring upon my right hand, i.e., a possession from which it would be thought impossible that I should separate myself, yet would I tear thee away from thence.” Hence we obtain this thought for our present passage, namely, that on the day on which Jehovah would overthrow the kingdoms of the nations, He would make Zerubbabel like a signet-ring, which is inseparable from its possessor; that is to say, He would give him a position in which he would be and remain inseparably connected with Him (Jehovah), would therefore not cast him off, but take care of him as His valuable possession. This is the explanation given by Koehler (after Calvin, Osiander, and others); and he has also refuted the various explanations that differ from it. But in order clearly to understand the meaning of this promise, we must look at the position which Zerubbabel occupied in the community of Israel on its return from exile. For we may at the outset assume that the promise did not apply to his own particular person, but rather to the official post he held, from the fact that what is here predicted was not to take place till after the overthrow of the throne and might of all the kingdoms of the heathen, and therefore could not take place in Zerubbabel's lifetime, inasmuch as, although the fall of this or the other kingdom might be looked for in the course of one generation, the overthrow of all kingdoms and the coming of all the heathen to fill the temple of the Lord with their possessions (Hag 2:7) certainly could not. Zerubbabel was (Persian) governor in Judah, and had no doubt been selected for this office because he was prince of Judah (Ezr 1:8), and as son of Shealtiel was a descendant of the family of David (see at Hag 1:1). Consequently the sovereignty of David in its existing condition of humiliation, under the sovereignty of the imperial power, was represented and preserved in his appointment as prince and governor of Judah, so that the fulfilment of the divine promise of the eternal perpetuation of the seed of David and his kingdom was then associated with Zerubbabel, and rested upon the preservation of his family. Hence the promise points to the fact, that at the time when Jehovah would overthrow the heathen kingdoms, He would maintain and take good care of the sovereignty of David in the person of Zerubbabel. For Jehovah had chosen Zerubbabel as His servant. With these words the Messianic promise made to David was transferred to Zerubbabel and his family among David's descendants, and would be fulfilled in his person in just the same way as the promise given to David, that God would make him the highest among the kings of the earth (Psa 89:27). The fulfilment culminates in Jesus Christ, the son of David and descendant of Zerubbabel (Mat 1:12; Luk 3:27), in whom Zerubbabel was made the signet-ring of Jehovah. Jesus Christ has raised up the kingdom of His father David again, and of His kingdom there will be no end (Luk 1:32-33). Even though it may appear oppressed and deeply humiliated for the time by the power of the kingdoms of the heathen, it will never be crushed and destroyed, but will break in pieces all these kingdoms, and destroy them, and will itself endure for ever (Dan 2:44; Heb 12:28; 1Co 15:24).

  1. So much is evident from the account in the book of Ezra, concerning the machinations of the Samaritans to frustrate the building. The more precise determination of what they did - namely, whether they obtained a command from the king to suspend the building - depends upon the explanation given to the section in Ezra (Ezra 4:6-23), into which we need not enter more minutely till we come to our exposition of the book itself, inasmuch as it is not important to decide this question in order to understand our prophet.
  2. 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 , 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).
  3. Calvin and Osiander see a double curse in Hag 1:6. The former says, “We know that God punishes men in both ways, both by withdrawing His blessing, so that the earth is parched, and the heaven gives no rain, and also, even when there is a good supply of the fruits of the earth, by preventing their satisfying, so that there is no real enjoyment of them. It often happens that men collect what would be quite a sufficient quantity for food, but for all that, are still always hungry. This kind of curse is seen the more plainly when God deprives the bread and wine of their true virtue, so that eating and drinking fail to support the strength.”
  4. The later Talmudists, indeed, have taken the omission of the ה, which stands for 5 when used as a numeral, as an indication that there were five things wanting in the second temple: (1) the ark of the covenant, with the atoning lid and the cherubim; (2) the sacred fire; (3) the shechinah; (4) the Holy Spirit; (5) the Urim and Thummim (compare the Babylonian tract Joma 21b, and Sal. ben Melech, Miclal Jophi on Hag 1:8).
  5. Aug. Koehler also assumes that the ultimate fulfilment of our prophecy will not take place till the second coming of Christ, although he is of opinion that, generally speaking, it has not been fulfilled in the manner originally intended. Starting, for example, with the fact that the fulfilment of the events predicted by Haggai and the coming of the day of Jehovah are one and the same, and that according to Mal 3:1; Mal 4:5 the day of Jehovah was to be preceded by the coming of a messenger, to prepare the way for Jehovah to come to His temple, Koehler assumes that the fulfilment of these events ought to have taken place with the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, to establish the new covenant as the Messiah. But, inasmuch as Israel was still without such moral preparation as would allow of the coming of Jehovah being a blessing to it, and rejected its Messiah, there occurred an event in connection with this rejection of Jesus on the part of Israel, which not only put a stop to the fulfilment of the prophecies, the realization of which had commenced with the coming of Jesus, but introduced a partial modification. “The new covenant,” he says, “which was established by the Lord in His incarnation, was not at first a blessing to Israel, but to the heathen world. Instead of setting up His kingdom over the earth, with Zion as the centre, the Lord returned to heaven, and there took possession of the throne above all thrones. But Israel was smitten with the ban, and scattered among the heathen nations. The sacred places which were to be glorified by the valuables of all the heathen, had become unclean through Israel's sin, and were given up to destruction in consequence.” In his opinion there is a coming of Jehovah still in the future. Jesus will return from heaven again, but not till Israel shall have been converted to the Messiah it rejected. Then will the prophecies of Haggai that remained unfulfilled at the first coming of Jesus be accomplished, but in the only way that is still possible, since the former holy places of Israel have been destroyed, and the heathen world has already participated in the new covenant, and has at any rate in part already become the people of God. Consequently the events predicted by Haggai (Hag 2:6-9) have not been fulfilled; for the valuable possessions of all the heathen have not been applied to the glorification of the sanctuary of Jehovah built by Zerubbabel, and there has not been a place of peace created there in the midst of the judgments that were to fall upon the heathen world. But the fault of this rests purely upon Israel. And so also it is in the impenitence of Israel that we have to look for the reason why the shaking of the heaven and the earth, and all the heathen, which Haggai announced as מעט היא, has been postponed for more than 500 years. This is Koehler's view. But if there had really been any foundation in the Scriptures for this view, and the predictions of our prophet had not been fulfilled in the manner intended, the fault would not rest entirely in the impenitence of Israel, but would fall in part upon God Himself, for having sent His Son, not at the proper time, or when the time was accomplished, but too early, namely, before Israel was in that moral condition which would allow of the coming of the Messiah to become a blessing to it, whether God was mistaken as to the proper time for sending His Son, or in His judgment as to the moral condition of Israel. If Koehler had put this clearly to his own mind, he would certainly have hesitated before he built up a view on the basis of an erroneous idea of the day of the Lord which necessarily leads to the denial not only of the divine prescience or the πρόγνωσιη τοῦ Θεοῦ, but also of the supernatural character of the old Testament prophecy.
  6. We must not, however, include the additions to Zerubbabel's temple undertaken by Herod the Great for the sake of beautifying it, because, although Herod was a Gentile by descent, the work was not undertaken from any love to the Lord, but (as Calvin; and Hengstenberg, Christol. iii. pp. 289-90, have already observed) with the intention of securing the fulfilment of Haggai's prophecy, in order to prevent the coming of the kingdom of God, his fear of which was that it would put an end to his earthly sway. His intention is obvious enough from the address communicated by Josephus (Ant. xv. 11, 1), through which Herod endeavoured to win over the people to his plan. After telling them that the temple built after the return of the fathers from exile was still sixty cubits lower than that of Solomon, which he proposed to add, he proceeded thus: “But since I am now by God's will your governor, and I have had peace a long time, and have gained great riches and large revenues, and, what is the principal thing of all, I am at amity with and well regarded by the Romans, who, if I may so say, are the rulers of the whole world,” etc. The allusion to our prophecy, as Hengstenberg says, is unmistakeable here. He tries to prove that all the conditions which it lays down for the glorifying of the temple have now been realized. “All nations,” by whom the building of the temple is to be promoted, are equivalent in his esteem to “the Romans, who are the rulers of the whole world.” He whom God has called to the government has gold and silver enough. And the words “in this place will I give peace” are now fulfilled. The manner in which he strained every nerve to fulfil the words “the glory will be greater,” is evident from §3, where it is stated that “he laid out larger sums of money upon them than had been done before him, till it seemed that no one else had so greatly adorned the temple as he had done.”
  7. Luther: “in the geren of his dress.” The gehren, or gehre, middle high German gêre, old high German kêro (English goar), is a triangular piece, forming the gusset of a dress or shirt, then that portion of the dress in which it is inserted, viz., below the waist, probably derived from the Gothic gáis, and the conjectural root geisan = to thrust or strike (Weigand, Germ. Dict.).
  8. Koehler's objection to this explanation of lemērâchōq, viz., that with the verb dibber, the object concerning which a person is spoken to, is never introduced with the preposition ל, is groundless. “With verbs of speaking ל yields the same double meaning as אל, according to the context,” i.e., it can denote the person spoken to, and the person or thing to which the speaking refers, or about which a person is speaking (cf. Gen 21:7; Num 23:23; Isa 5:1; Mic 2:6; Jer 23:9; Psa 3:3; Psa 11:1; Psa 27:8; and Ewald, §217, c).