Haggai 2:1
In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
II.

(1-9) The Third Utterance.—This utterance treats of the glory which, in a later time, is to attach itself to the sacred spot whereon the returned exiles are labouring. It was intended more especially as a message of consolation to those who remembered Solomon’s magnificent structure, and who now gazed sadly on the humble proportions of its successor.

(1) In the one and twentieth day.—Here, again, the day selected is significant. The twenty-first day of the seventh month (Tisri) was the seventh and last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. This was the festival of harvest thanksgiving, and its occurrence had always been marked by observances of a peculiarly joyous character. Moreover, the sacrifices on this occasion were very numerous—the number prescribed by the Talmud for the first day exceeding that of any other day in the year. Thus the scanty harvest and the small beginnings of the Lord’s House would both be brought into prominence. It would be but natural if feelings of despondency were excited among those who were old enough to remember the Temple of Solomon, with its costly accessories and elaborate ceremonial, and the festive rites wherewith the “joy in harvest” had expressed itself in a more prosperous time. There is no ground, however, for supposing that the prophet was himself one of these aged persons-

Haggai

BRAVE ENCOURAGEMENTS

Haggai 2:1 - Haggai 2:9
.

The second year of Darius, in which Haggai prophesied, was 520 B.C. Political intrigues had stopped the rebuilding of the Temple, and the enthusiasm of the first return had died away in the face of prolonged difficulties. The two brave leaders, Zerubbabel and Joshua, still survived, and kept alive their own zeal; but the mass of the people were more concerned about their comforts than about the restoration of the house of Jehovah. They had built for themselves ‘ceiled houses,’ and were engrossed with their farms.

The Book of Ezra dwells on the external hindrances to the rebuilding. Haggai goes straight at the selfishness and worldliness of the people as the great hindrance. We know nothing about him beyond the fact that he was a prophet working in conjunction with Zechariah. He has been thought to have been one of the original company who came back with Zerubbabel, and it has been suggested, though without any certainty, that he may have been one of the old men who remembered the former house. But these conjectures are profitless, and all that we know is that God sent him to rouse the slackened earnestness of the people, and that his words exercised a powerful influence in setting forward the work of rebuilding. This passage is the second of his four short prophecies. We may call it a vision of the glory of the future house of Jehovah.

The prophecy begins with fully admitting the depressing facts which were chilling the popular enthusiasm. Compared with the former Temple, this which they had begun to build could not but be ‘as nothing.’ So the murmurers said, and Haggai allows that they are quite right. Note the turn of his words: ‘Who is left . . . that saw this house in its former glory?’ There had been many eighteen years ago; but the old eyes that had filled with tears then had been mostly closed by death in the interval, and now but few survived. Perhaps if the eyes had not been so dim with age, the rising house would not have looked so contemptible. The pessimism of the aged is not always clear-sighted, nor their comparisons of what was, and what is beginning to be, just. But it is always wise to be frank in admitting the full strength of the opinions that we oppose; and encouragements to work will never tell if they blink difficulties or seek to deny plain facts. Haggai was wise when he began with echoing the old men’s disparagements, and in full view of them, pealed out his brave incitements to the work.

The repetition of the one exhortation, ‘Be strong, be strong, be strong,’ is very impressive. The very monotony has power. In the face of the difficulties which beset every good work the cardinal virtue is strength. ‘To be weak is to be miserable,’ and is the parent of failures. One hears in the exhortation an echo of that to Joshua, to whom and to his people the command ‘Be strong and of good courage’ was given with like repetition {Joshua 1:1 - Joshua 1:18}.

But there is nothing more futile than telling feeble men to be strong, and trembling ones to be very courageous. Unless the exhorter can give some means of strength and some reason for courage, his word is idle wind. So Haggai bases his exhortation upon its sufficient ground, ‘For I am with you, saith Jehovah of hosts.’ Strength is a duty, but only if we have a source of strength available. The one basis of it is the presence of God. His name reveals the immensity of His power, who commands all the armies of heaven, angels, or stars, and to whom the forces of the universe are as the ordered ranks of His disciplined army; and who is, moreover, the Captain of earthly hosts, ever giving victory to those who are His ‘willing soldiers in the day of His power.’ It is not vain to bid a man be strong, if you can assure him that God is with him. Unless you can, you may save your breath.

Here is the temper for all Christian workers. Let them realise the duty of strength; let them have recourse to the Fountain of strength; let them mark the purpose of strength, which is ‘work,’ as Haggai puts it so emphatically. We have nothing to do with the magnitude of what we may be able to build. It may be very poor beside the great houses that greater ages or men have been able to rear. But whether it be a temple brave with gold and cedar, or a log, it is our business to put all our strength into the task, and to draw that strength from the assurance that God is with us.

The difficulties connected with the translation of Haggai 2:5 need not concern us here. For my purpose, the general sense resulting from any translation is clear enough. The covenant made of old, when Israel came from an earlier captivity, is fresh as ever, and God’s Spirit is with the people; therefore they need not fear. ‘Fear ye not’ is another of the well-meant exhortations which often produce the opposite effect from the intended one. One can fancy some of the people saying, ‘It is all very well to talk about not being afraid; but look at our feebleness, our defencelessness, our enemies; we cannot but fear, if we open our eyes.’ Quite true; and there is only one antidote to fear, and that is the assurance that God’s covenant binds Him to take care of me. Unless one believes that, he must be strangely blind to the facts of life if he has not a cold dread coiled round his heart and ever ready to sting.

The Prophet rises into grand predictions of the glory of the poor house which the weak hands were raising. Haggai 2:6 set things invisible over against the visible. In general terms the Prophet announces a speedy convulsion, partly symbolical and partly real, in which ‘all nations’ shall be revolutionised, and as a consequence, shall become Jehovah’s worshippers, bringing their treasures to the Temple, and so filling the house with glory. This shall be because Jehovah is the true Possessor of all their wealth. But the scope of Haggai 2:9 seems to transcend these promises, and to point to an undescribed ‘glory,’ still greater than that of the universal flocking of the nations with their gifts, and to reach a climax in the wide promise of peace given in the Temple, and thence, as is implied, flowing out ‘like a river’ through a tranquillised world.

‘Yet once, it is a little while.’ How long did the little while last? There were, possibly, some feeble incipient fulfilments of the prophecy in the immediate future; for, after the exile, there were convulsions in the political world which resulted in security to the Jews, and the religion of Israel began to draw some scattered proselytes. But the prophecy is not completely fulfilled even now, and it covers the entire development of the ‘kingdom that cannot be moved’ until the end of time. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews thus understands the prophecy {Hebrews 12:26 - Hebrews 12:27}, and there are echoes of it in Revelation 21:1 - Revelation 21:27, which describes the final form of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. So the chronology of prophecy is not altogether that of history; and while the events stand clear, their perspective is foreshortened. All the ages are but ‘a little while’ in the calendar of heaven. In regard to the whole of the prophetic utterances, we have often to say with the disciples, ‘What is this that he saith, a little while?’ Eighteen centuries have rolled away since the seer heard, ‘Behold, I come quickly,’ and the vision still tarries.

The old interpretation of ‘the desire of all nations’ as meaning Jesus Christ gave a literal fulfilment of the prophecy by His presence in the Temple; but that meaning of the phrase is untenable, both because the verb is in the plural, which would be impossible if a person were meant, and because the only interpretation which gives relevancy to Haggai 2:8 is that the expression means the silver and gold, there declared to be Jehovah’s. That venerable explanation, then, cannot stand. There were offerings from heathen kings, such as those from Darius recorded in Ezra 6:6 - Ezra 6:10, and the gifts of Artaxerxes {Ezra 7:15}, which may be regarded as incipient accomplishments; but such facts as these cannot exhaust the prophecy.

It must be admitted that nothing happened during the history of that Temple to answer to the full meaning of this prophecy. But was it therefore a delusion that God spoke by Haggai? We must distinguish between form and substance. The Temple was the centre point of the kingdom of God on earth, the place of meeting between God and men, the place of sacrifice. The fulfilment of the prophecy is not to be found in any house made with hands, but in the true Temple which Jesus Christ has builded. He in His own humanity was all that the Temple shadowed and foretold. It is in Him, and in the spiritual Temple which He has reared, that Haggai’s vision will find its full realisation, which is yet future. The powers that issue from Him shattered the Roman empire, have ever since been casting earth’s kingdoms into new moulds, and have still destructive work to do. The ‘once more’ began when Jesus came, but the final ‘shaking’ lies in front still. Every smaller revolution in thought or sweeping away of institutions is a prelude to that great ‘shaking’ when everything will go except the kingdom that cannot be moved. Its result shall be that the treasures of the nations shall be poured at His feet who is ‘worthy to receive riches,’ even as other prophecies have foretold that ‘men shall bring unto Thee the wealth of the nations’ {Isaiah 60:11; Revelation 21:24, Revelation 21:26}.

In that true Temple the glory of the Shechinah, which was wanting in the second, for ever abides, ‘the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father’; and in it dwells for ever the dove of peace, ready to glide into every heart that enters to worship at the shrine. Jesus Christ is not the ‘desire of all nations’ which shall come to the Temple, but is the Temple to which the wealth of all nations shall be brought, in whom the true glory of a manifested God abides, and from whom the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and is His own peace too, shall enter reconciled souls, and calm turbulent passions, and reconcile contending peoples, and diffuse its calm through all the nations of the saved who there ‘walk in the light of the Lord.’Haggai 2:1-3. In the seventh month, &c. — For the further encouragement of the people to proceed in rebuilding the temple, Haggai was sent again to them, about a month after he had been sent the first time, to assure them from God, that the glory of this latter temple, how little appearance soever there might be of it now, should be greater than that of the former. This message, or prophecy, of Haggai, was communicated a little before Zechariah was sent to them for the like purpose. Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? — About sixty-six years had elapsed from the destruction of the former temple, (before Christ 587,) to the time when this prophecy was delivered; (see notes on Ezra 6:15, and Blair’s tables;) nevertheless, it appears by this question of the prophet, that some of the Jews there present had seen the former temple when young, before they were carried to Babylon, and could remember what a magnificent building it was. Is it not in your eyes as nothing — That is, in comparison of the former. The words are an elegant Hebraism. We learn from Ezra 3:12, (where see the note,) that when the foundation of the second temple was laid, in the second year of Cyrus, many of the ancient men, that had seen the first house, wept to see how much this second was likely to fall short of the glory of it. Undoubtedly the slender substance of the Jews at this time, and the haste they were in to rebuild the temple, that they might have a place for public worship, made them lay the foundation of it at first of much smaller dimensions than those of the former temple, and also to build it with less strength and magnificence.2:1-9 Those who are hearty in the Lord's service shall receive encouragement to proceed. But they could not build such a temple then, as Solomon built. Though our gracious God is pleased if we do as well as we can in his service, yet our proud hearts will scarcely let us be pleased, unless we do as well as others, whose abilities are far beyond ours. Encouragement is given the Jews to go on in the work notwithstanding. They have God with them, his Spirit and his special presence. Though he chastens their transgressions, his faithfulness does not fail. The Spirit still remained among them. And they shall have the Messiah among them shortly; He that should come. Convulsions and changes would take place in the Jewish church and state, but first should come great revolutions and commotions among the nations. He shall come, as the Desire of all nations; desirable to all nations, for in him shall all the earth be blessed with the best of blessings; long expected and desired by all believers. The house they were building should be filled with glory, very far beyond Solomon's temple. This house shall be filled with glory of another nature. If we have silver and gold, we must serve and honour God with it, for the property is his. If we have not silver and gold, we must honour him with such as we have, and he will accept us. Let them be comforted that the glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, in what would be beyond all the glories of the first house, the presence of the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lord of glory, personally, and in human nature. Nothing but the presence of the Son of God, in human form and nature, could fulfil this. Jesus is the Christ, is He that should come, and we are to look for no other. This prophecy alone is enough to silence the Jews, and condemn their obstinate rejection of Him, concerning whom all their prophets spake. If God be with us, peace is with us. But the Jews under the latter temple had much trouble; but this promise is fulfilled in that spiritual peace which Jesus Christ has by his blood purchased for all believers. All changes shall make way for Christ to be desired and valued by all nations. And the Jews shall have their eyes opened to behold how precious He is, whom they have hitherto rejected.In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month - This was the seventh day of the feast of tabernacles, Leviticus 23:34, Leviticus 23:36, Leviticus 23:40-42. and its close. The eighth day was to be a sabbath, with its "holy convocation," but the commemorative feast, the dwelling in booths, in memory of God's bringing them out of Egypt, was to last seven days. The close then of this feast could not but revive their sadness at the glories of their first deliverance by God's "mighly hand and outstretched arm," and their present fewness and poverty. This depression could not but bring with it heavy thoughts about the work, in which they were, in obedience to God, engaged; and that, all the more, since Isaiah and Ezekiel had prophesied of the glories of the Christian Church under the symbol of the temple. This despondency Haggai is sent to relieve, owning plainly the reality of its present grounds, but renewing, on God's part, the pledge of the glories of this second temple, which should be thereafter. CHAPTER 2

Hag 2:1-9. Second Prophecy. The people, discouraged at the inferiority of this temple to Solomon's, are encouraged nevertheless to persevere, because God is with them, and this house by its connection with Messiah's kingdom shall have a glory far above that of gold and silver.

1. seventh month—of the Hebrew year; in the second year of Darius' reign (Hag 1:1); not quite a month after they had begun the work (Hag 1:15). This prophecy was very shortly before that of Zechariah.

Speak now; once again acquaint them with what I now impart for their encouragement.

To Zerubbabel, & c.: see Haggai 1:1,12.

Speak now; once again acquaint them with what I now impart for their encouragement.

To Zerubbabel, & c.: see Haggai 1:1,12. In the seventh month,.... The month Tisri, which answers to part of September and part of October:

in the one and twentieth day of the month; being a month, wanting three days, from the time the Jews came and worked in the house of the Lord, Haggai 1:14 it was toward the close of the feast of tabernacles: see Leviticus 23:34,

came the word of the Lord by the Prophet Haggai; the word of prophecy, as the Targum: this was from the Lord, not from the prophet himself; he was only the messenger sent with it to deliver it:

saying; to him the prophet, giving him orders as follow:

In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1–5. The Circumstances out of which the Prophecy arose

1. In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month] It has been pointed out that this was the seventh and last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-36; Leviticus 23:39-43); and it has been suggested that the depressing contrast between the former Temple and the present would be heightened and brought home to the people by the rites and services of the festive season. “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.” Keil’s Minor Prophets, Clark’s Theol. Libr. See also Pusey ad loc.

Ch. Haggai 2:1-9. The Second Prophecy

The first prophecy had been one of severe rebuke and earnest call to duty. The second is one of encouragement to those, who having promptly obeyed the first, were in danger of being depressed and disappointed by the comparative meagreness and unworthiness of the results of their labours. When the foundations of the second Temple were laid some years before this, we read of the distress which its character and dimensions occasioned, to those of the returned captives who were old enough to remember the former Temple in its glory. The joyous shouts of the younger portion of the assembly, who rejoiced to see the sanctuary of their faith restored, blended strangely with the sad lamentations of their elders, who mourned over the departed splendour of the past. Now that a month of vigorous work was beginning to tell, and the contrast which had been apparent even in the foundations stood out in bolder relief in the rising walls of the edifice; now that many an “ancient man,” laudator temporis acti, had passed his disparaging comment on each new feature of the growing structure, and told with fond regret of the “exceeding magnifical” house (1 Chronicles 22:5) that had once been there, the danger of dejection and discouragement on the part of the people was increased. With the gracious design of counteracting this, Haggai is directed to deliver a prophecy, which stimulates them to carry on and complete their undertaking, not only by the assurance of the divine presence and favour, but by the promise that in God’s good time that house, so mean and despised, should be filled with a glory that should exceed that of Solomon’s Temple in the days of its greatest magnificence.Verse 1-ch. 2:9. - Part II. THE SECOND ADDRESS: THE GLORY OF THE NEW TEMPLE. Vers. 1-5 - § 1. The prophet comforts whose who grieve at the comparative poverty of the new building with the assurance of the Divine protection and favour. Verse 1. - In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month. The seventh month is Ethanim or Tisri, answering to parts of September and Ootober. The twenty-first was the last and great day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34, etc.), when It was the custom to celebrate the ingathering of the harvest. The joyous nature of this festival was sadly marred on this occasion. Their crops were scanty, and they had. no temple in whose courts they might assemble to pay their vows and offer their thank offerings. The building which had begun to make some progress only the mere showed its poverty. Everything tended to make them contrast the present with the past. But God mercifully relieves their despondency with a new message. By the prophet Haggai (see note on Haggai 1:1). At the conquest of Nineveh the numerous inhabitants flee, and the rich city is plundered. Nahum 2:8. "And Nineveh like a water-pond all her days. And they flee! Stand ye, O stand! and no one turns round. Nahum 2:9. Take silver as booty, take ye gold! And no end to the furnishing with immense quantity of all kinds of ornamental vessels. Nahum 2:10. Emptying and devastation! and the heart has melted, and trembling of the knees, and labour pain in all loins, and the countenance of every one withdraws its ruddiness." Nineveh is compared to a pool, not merely with reference to the multitude of men who had gathered together there, but, as water is everywhere an element of life, also with reference to the wealth and prosperity which accrued to this imperial city out of the streaming together of so many men and so many different peoples. Compare Jeremiah 51:13, where Babel is addressed as "Thou that dwellest on many waters, art rich in many treasures." מימי היא, since the days that she exists. היא equals אשׁר היא, the relation being indicated by the construct state; מן הוא in Isaiah 18:2 is different. But they flee. The subject to נסים is not the waters, although nūs is applied to water in Psalm 104:7, but, as what follows shows, the masses of men who are represented as water. These flee away without being stopped by the cry "Stand ye" (i.e., remain), or even paying any attention to it. Hiphnâh, lit., "to turn the back" (‛ōreph, Jeremiah 48:39), to flee, but when applied to a person already fleeing, to turn round (cf. Jeremiah 46:5). In Nahum 2:9 the conquerors are summoned to plunder, not by their generals, but by God, who speaks through the prophet. The fact is hereby indicated, "that this does not happen by chance, but because God determines to avenge the injuries inflicted upon His people" (Calvin). With ואין קצה the prophecy passes into a simple description. There is no end lattekhūnâh, to the furnishing with treasures. Tekhūnâh, from kūn, not from tâkhan, lit., the setting up, the erection of a building (Ezekiel 43:11); here the furnishing of Nineveh as the dwelling-place of the rulers of the world, whilst in Job 23:3 it is applied to the place where the throne of God has been established. In כּבד the ל might be thought of as still continuing in force (Ewald, Hitzig), but it answers better to the liveliness of the description to take כּבד as beginning a fresh sentence. כּבד written defectively, as in Genesis 31:1 : glory, equivalent to the great amount of the wealth, as in Genesis (l.c.). Kelē chendâh, gold and silver vessels and jewels, as in Hosea 13:15. That there were immense treasures of the precious metals and of costly vessels treasured up in Nineveh, may be inferred with certainty from the accounts of ancient writers, which border on the fabulous.

(Note: For proofs, see Layard's Nineveh, ii. 415ff., and Movers, Phnizier (iii. 1, pp. 40, 41). After quoting the statements of Ctesias, the latter observes that "these numbers are indeed fabulous; but they have their historical side, inasmuch as in the time of Ctesias the riches of Nineveh were estimated at an infinitely greater amount than the enormous treasures accumulated in the treasuries of the Persian empire. That the latter is quite in accordance with truth, may be inferred from the fact that the conquerors of Nineveh, the Medes and Chaldaeans, of whose immense booty, in the shape of gold, silver, and other treasures, even the prophet Nahum speaks, furnished Ecbatana and Babylon with gold and silver from the booty of Nineveh to an extent unparalleled in all history.")

Of all these treasures nothing was left but desolate emptiness. This is expressed by the combination of three synonymous words. Būqâh and mebhūqâh are substantive formations from būq equals bâqaq, to empty out, and are combined to strengthen the idea, like similar combinations in Zephaniah 1:15; Ezekiel 33:29, and Isaiah 29:2. Mebhullâqâh is a synonymous noun formed from the participle pual, and signifying devastation (cf. Isaiah 24:1, where even bâlaq is combined with bâqaq). In Nahum 2:11 the horror of the vanquished at the total devastation of Nineveh is described, also in short substantive clauses: "melted heart" (nâmēs is a participle), i.e., perfect despondency (see Isaiah 13:7; Joshua 7:5); trembling of the knees, so that from terror men can hardly keep upon their feet (pı̄q for pūq; it only occurs here). Chalchâlâh formed by reduplication from chı̄l: spasmodic pains in all loins, like the labour pains of women in childbirth (cf. Isaiah 21:3). Lastly, the faces of all turning pale (see at Joel 2:6).

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