In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The Fourth Utterance.—The recent season of scarcity is again accounted for and immediate blessings are announced. This address dates about two months later than its predecessor—viz., from the ninth month—scil., Chisleu (November—December), when the early rain would be looked for to water the newly-sown crops. At such a time, especially after the scarcity of the preceding season, there would naturally be great anxiety about agricultural prospects.Haggai 2:10-14. In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month — At which time, as appears from Haggai 2:16; Haggai 2:19, (the materials being collected,) they began to go on again with the building of the temple. Ask now concerning the law — What the law saith in this case. The question was put to the priests, whose office it was to put a difference between holy and unholy, between clean and unclean, Leviticus 10:10 : that is, to be thoroughly acquainted with all the ceremonial laws, and to instruct others concerning them. If one bear, or carry, holy flesh — Part of the sacrifice, legally sanctified, or made holy, by the altar on which the whole was sanctified; in the skirt — In the lap; of his garment — Or in any other cloth; and if this cloth touch any common thing, as bread, &c., shall that become legally holy? And the priests said, No — By the answer of the priests in this, compared with the following verse, we find, that legal holiness was not so easily communicated as legal impurity: for the holy flesh did not make any thing that was touched by it holy; but the touch of a person who was unclean rendered holy things unclean. Thus is vice much more easily contracted than virtue! Broad and easy is the way that leadeth to sin. but narrow and difficult is that which leads to holiness! Then said Haggai — Now a second case is proposed; If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these — Namely, the things mentioned in the former verse, bread, pottage, wine, &c.; shall it be unclean? — Shall that which the unclean person doth touch become unclean? Though a touch of what is holy will not make holy, yet, will not a touch of what is polluted defile? and the priests answered, It shall be unclean — The law was plain in this case: see Numbers 19:11. The least defect is sufficient to make a thing evil, whereas, to make it good and perfect, a concurrence of all good qualities is requisite. So is this people before me — In like manner, saith God, your neglect of my temple, and your disregard of my worships have made you unclean, as if you had contracted legal pollution by touching a dead body; and rendered every thing you undertake, even the sacrifices you offer on my altar, unclean and unacceptable.
In either case, the contrast is between two things, either the temple in that its former estate, and this its latter estate after the captivity, or the two temples of Solomon and Zerubbabel. There is no room for a third temple. God holds out no vain hopes. To comfort those distressed by the poverty of the house of God which they were building, God promises a glory to this house greater than before. A temple, erected, after this had lain waste above 1800 years, even if Antichrist were to come now and to erect a temple at Jerusalem, could be no fulfillment of this prophecy.
In material magnificence the temple of Solomon, built and adorned with all the treasures accumulated by David and enlarged by Solomon, far surpassed all which Herod, amid his attempts to give a material meaning to the prophecy, could do. His attempt shows how the eyes of the Jews were fixed on this prophecy, then when it was about to be fulfilled. While taking pains, through the gradualness of his rebuilding, to preserve the identity of the fabric, he lavished his wealth, to draw off their thoughts from the king, whom the Jews looked for, to himself. The friendship of the Romans who were lords of all, was to replace the "all nations," of whom Haggai spoke; he pointed also to the length of peace, the possession of wealth, the greatness of revenues, the surpassing expenditure beyond those before. A small section of Erastians admitted these claims of the murderer of his sons.
The Jews generally were not diverted from looking on to Him who should come. Those five things, the absence whereof they felt, were connected with their atoning worhip or God's presence among them; "the ark with the mercy-seat and the cherubim, the Urim and Tummin, the fire from heaven, the Shechinah, the Holy Spirit." Material magnificence could not replace spiritual glory. The explanations of the great Jewish authorities, that the second temple was superior to the first in structure (which was untrue) or in duration, were laid aside by Jews who had any other solution wherewith to satisfy themselves. "The Shechinah and the five precious things," says one, "which, according to our wise of blessed memory, were in it, and not in the second house, raised and exalted it beyond compare." Another says, "When Haggai saith, 'greater shall be the glory of this later house than the first,' how is it; that the house which Zerubbabel built through the income which the king of Persia gave them was more glorious than the house which Solomon built? And though it is said that the building which Herod made, was exceeding beautiful and rich, we should not think that it was in its beauty like to the house which Solomon built. For what the wise of blessed memory have said of the beauty of the house of Herod is in relation to the house which Zerubbabel built. How much more, since Scripture saith not, 'Great shall be the beauty or the wealth of this latter house above the first,' but the glory: and the glory is not the wealth or the beauty, or the largeness of the dimensions of the building, as they said in their interpretations, for the 'glory' is in truth spoken of the glory of God, which filled the tabernacle, after it was set up, and of the glory of God which filled the house of God, which Solomon built, when he brought the ark into the holy of holies, which is the Divine cloud and the Light supreme, which came down thither in the eyes of all the people, and it is said, 'And it was when the priests came out of the Italy place, the cloud filled the house of God, and the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of God filled the house of God.' And this glory was not in the second house.
And how shall it be said, if so, 'great shall be the glory of this later house above the first?'" The poor unconverted Jew did not know the answer to his question: "Through the presence of God, in the substance of our flesh; through the son given to us, Whose name should be Mighty God." The glory of this temple was in Him Who John 1:14. was made Flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." "There Christ, the Son of God, was, as a Child, offered to God: there He sat in the midst of the Doctors; there He taught and revealed things, hidden from the foundation of the world. The glory of the temple of Solomon was, that in it the majesty of God appeared, veiling itself in a cloud: in this, that same Majesty showed itself, in very deed united with the Flesh, visible to sight: so that Jesus Himself said, John 14:9. "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." This it was which Malachi sang with joy Malachi 3:1, "The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in."
And in this place I will give peace - Temporal peace they had now, nor was there any prospect of its being disturbed. They were quiet subjects of the Persiam empire, which included also all their former enemies, greater or less. Alexander subdued all the bordering countries which did not yield, but spared themselves. Temporal peace then was nothing, to be then given them, for they had it. In later times they had it not. The temple itself was profaned by Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Macc. 1:39, 40). "Her sanctuary was laid waste like a wilderness. As had been her glory, so was her dishonor increased." Again by Pompey (Josephus, Ant. xiv. 4. 4. B. J. i. 7.) by Crassus (Josephus, Ant. xiv. 7. 1. B. J. i. 9. 8), the Parthians (Josephus, Ant. xiv. 13. 3. 4.) before it was destroyed by Titus and the Romans. Jews saw this and, knowing nothing of the peace in Jesus, argued from the absence of outward peace, that the prophecy was not fulfilled under the second temple. "What Scripture says, 'and in this place I will give peace,' is opposed to their interpretation. For all the days of the duration of the second house were "in strait of times and not in peace," as was written in Daniel, "and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again and the fosse, and in strait of time," and, as I said, in the time of Herod there was no peace whatever, for the sword did not depart from his house to the day of his death; and after his death the hatred among the Jews increased, and the Gentiles straitened them, until they were destroyed from the face of the earth."
But spiritual peace is, throughout prophecy, part of the promise of the Gospel. Christ Himself was to be Isaiah 9:6-7 "the Prince of peace: of the increase of His government and of His peace there was to be no end;" in His days Psalm 72:3, Psalm 72:7 "the mountains were to bring peace to the people; there should be abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth; the work of righteousness was to be peace Isaiah 32:17, the chastisement of our peace (that which obtained it) was upon Him" Isaiah 53:5, "great should be the peace of her children" Isaiah 54:13, in the Gospel God would give peace, true peace, to the "far off and the near" Isaiah 57:19. He would extend Isaiah 66:12 "peace to her like a river:" the good things of the Gospel was "the publishing of peace" Isaiah 52:7. The Gospel is described as Ezra 34:25, "a covenant of peace:" the promised king Zechariah 9:10 "shall speak peace to the Pagan;" He himself should be "our peace" Micah 5:5. And when He was born, the angels proclaimed Luke 2:14 "on earth peace, goodwill toward men" Luke 1:79. "The Dayspring from on high visited us, to guide our feet into the way of peace." He Himself says John 14:27, "My peace I leave with you." He spake, that John 16:33 "in Me ye might have peace." Peter sums up "the word which God sent unto the children of Israel, as Acts 10:36 preaching peace by Jesus Christ Romans 14:17. The kingdom of God is joy and peace Ephesians 2:14-15, Ephesians 2:17; Christ is our peace; made peace; preaches peace. God calleth us to peace" 1 Corinthians 7:15 in the Gospel Romans 5:1, "being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord Galatians 5:22, the fruit of the Spirit is love joy peace." Spiritual peace being thus prominent in the Gospel and in prophecy, as the gift of God, it were unnatural to explain the peace which God promised here to give, as other than He promised elsewhere; peace in Him who is "our peace, Jesus Christ."
"Peace and tranquility of mind is above all glory of the house; because peace passeth all understanding. This is peace above peace, which shall be given after the third shaking of heaven sea earth, dry land, when He shall destroy all powers anti principalities (in the day of judgment). - And so shall there be peace throughout, that, no bodily passions or hindrances of unbelieving mind resisting, Christ shall be all in all, exhibiting the hearts of all subdued to the Father."
10. four and twentieth day … ninth month—three days more than two months from the second prophecy (Hag 2:1); in the month Chisleu, the lunar one about the time of our December. The Jews seem to have made considerable progress in the work in the interval (Hag 2:15-18).
In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month; two months and two days after the third sermon, Haggai 2:2.
The ninth month, Heb. Casleu; part of our November and December. Darius; which Darius this was, see Haggai 1:1,15. Haggai: see Haggai 1 3. Haggai 1:14
in the second year of Darius; the same year that all the former discourses and prophecies were delivered in:
came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet; for what he delivered was not his own, but from the Lord; he was only his minister and messenger. The Vulgate Latin version, and so Munster, render it, "unto Haggai the prophet"; and indeed what is said following seems to be directed to him, and he is the only person that put the questions directed to:In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)10. the four and twentieth day of the ninth month] This was in November or December. The people had now for three months (Haggai 1:14-15) been actively engaged in the work of restoration. Two months had elapsed (Haggai 2:1) since they were encouraged, under the depression caused by the comparative meanness of the second temple, by a prophecy of the surpassing glory which should accrue to it. Their constancy in the work is now further rewarded, by a renewed promise of the removal of the blight and famine which their neglect had caused, and of the full return of plenty and prosperity.
10–19. The Third Prophecy
By a reference to the ceremonial law, as officially interpreted by the priests in answer to questions addressed to them, Haggai again impresses upon the people the truth, that the dearth and distress from which they had hitherto suffered was the consequence of their national sin in neglecting to rebuild the temple, and again promises that now that they had put away that sin, and were honestly giving themselves to the work of restoration, the blessing of God should rest upon them. The sanctifying influence of flesh, which by being offered to God in sacrifice had become holy, could only extend, so the priests on the authority of the law declared, to that with which it came into first and immediate contact. Beyond that limit its efficacy did not reach. The thing touched by it was itself made holy, but did not become in its turn a vehicle of holiness to anything beyond. Not so, however, was it with that which by contact with ceremonial uncleanness had become polluted. That which by touching a corpse had contracted defilement was not only unclean itself, but propagated uncleanness, and conveyed it to everything with which it came in contact. So was it with the Jewish nation in the sight of God, as represented by the returned captives. They might argue indeed that they had rebuilt the altar of Jehovah on their first return. But that good act, if it stood alone, even had there been no subsequent disobedience to vitiate it, would only, like the holy flesh making holy the garment in which it was wrapped, have extended its influence a little way. The altar would have sanctified the gift which was offered upon it. On the other hand the sin of the people in neglecting to rebuild the temple, like the touch of the corpse, not only contaminated themselves, but brought moral pollution and consequent blight and disaster upon all the works of their hands.Verses 10-19. - Part III. THE THIRD ADDRESS; THE CAUSE OF THE CALAMITIES WHICH HAD BEFALLEN THE PEOPLE, AND A PROMISE OF BLESSING. Verses 10-17. - § 1. By an analogy drawn from the Law, Haggai shows that residence in the Holy Land and the offering of sacrifice do not suffice to make the people acceptable, as long as they themselves are unclean through neglect of the house of the Lord. Hence comes the punishment of sterility. Verse 10. - In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month. The ninth month is Chisleu, answering to parts of November and December. It was now three months from the time the people had commenced to build, and two from the day when the second address was delivered. On the weather at this time depended the hope of the yearly crops. Between the second and third address Zechariah's first prophecy wag uttered (Zechariah 1:2-6). Nahum 3:2., by a description of the manner in which a hostile army enters Nineveh and fills the city with corpses. Nahum 3:2. "The cracking of whips, and noise of the rattling of wheels, and the horse in galloping, and chariots flying high. Nahum 3:3. Riders dashing along, and flame of the sword, and flashing of the lance, and multitude of slain men and mass of dead men, and no end of corpses; they stumble over their corpses. Nahum 3:4. For the multitude of the whoredoms of the harlot, the graceful one, the mistress of witchcrafts, who sells nations with her whoredoms, and families with her witchcrafts." Nahum sees in spirit the hostile army bursting upon Nineveh. He hears the noise, i.e., the cracking of the whips of the charioteers, and the rattling (ra‛ash) of the chariot-wheels, sees horses and chariots driving along (dâhar, to hunt, cf. Judges 5:22; riqqēd, to jump, applied to the springing up of the chariots as they drive quickly along over a rugged road), dashing riders (ma‛ăleh, lit., to cause to ascend, sc. the horse, i.e., to make it prance, by driving the spur into its side to accelerate its speed), flaming swords, and flashing lances. As these words are well adapted to depict the attack, so are those which follow to describe the consequence or effect of the attack. Slain men, fallen men in abundance, and so many corpses, that one cannot help stumbling or falling over them. כּבד, the heavy multitude. The chethib יכשׁלו is to be read יכּשׁלוּ (niphal), in the sense of stumbling, as in Nahum 2:6. The keri וכשׁלוּ is unsuitable, as the sentence does not express any progress, but simply exhibits the infinite number of the corpses (Hitzig). גויּתם, their (the slain men's) corpses. This happens to the city of sins because of the multitude of its whoredoms. Nineveh is called Zōnâh, and its conduct zenūnı̄m, not because it had fallen away from the living God and pursued idolatry, for there is nothing about idolatry either here or in what follows; nor because of its commercial intercourse, in which case the commerce of Nineveh would appear here under the perfectly new figure of love-making with other nations (Ewald), for commercial intercourse as such is not love-making; but the love-making, with its parallel "witchcrafts" (keshâphı̄m), denotes "the treacherous friendship and crafty politics with which the coquette in her search for conquests ensnared the smaller states" (Hitzig, after Abarbanel, Calvin, J. H. Michaelis, and others). This policy is called whoring or love-making, "inasmuch as it was that selfishness which wraps itself up in the dress of love, and under the appearance of love seeks simply the gratification of its own lust" (Hengstenberg on the Rev.). The zōnâh is described still more minutely as טובת חן, beautiful with grace. This refers to the splendour and brilliancy of Nineveh, by which this city dazzled and ensnared the nations, like a graceful coquette. Ba‛ălath keshâphı̄m, devoted to witchcrafts, mistress of them. Keshâphı̄m (witchcrafts) connected with zenūnı̄m, as in 2 Kings 9:22, are "the secret wiles, which, like magical arts, do not come to the light in themselves, but only in their effects" (Hitzig). מכר, to sell nations, i.e., to rob them of liberty and bring them into slavery, to make them tributary, as in Deuteronomy 32:30; Judges 2:14; Judges 3:8, etc. (not equals כמר from כבר, to entangle: Hitzig). בּזנוּניה, with (not for) their whoredoms. Mishpâchōth, families, synonymous with עמּים, are smaller peoples or tribes (cf. Jeremiah 25:9; Ezekiel 20:32).
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