Haggai 2:4
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Haggai 2:4-5. Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel — Do thou and all the rest of you exert yourselves, and proceed in rebuilding the temple with spirit and pleasure; for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts — And will enable you to bring the work to a happy issue. According to the word that I covenanted with you — I will fulfil to you what I promised to your ancestors, namely, that I would be their God, and that it should be well with them, if they obeyed my voice; that I would keep them from evil, and moreover, bless and prosper them; (see the margin;) and so will I act toward you upon the same conditions, namely, your obeying my voice. So my Spirit remaineth — Rather, So my Spirit shall remain among you, namely, as a source of strength and courage, of wisdom and understanding, of zeal and fervency, to carry you through this work. Fear ye not — Let no discouraging fears or apprehensions have place in your minds, or weaken your hands.

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.Yet now be strong ... and work - They are the words with which David exhorted Solomon his son to be earnest and to persevere in the building of the first temple 1 Chronicles 28:10. "Take heed now, for the Lord hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong and do" 1 Chronicles 28:20. "Be strong and of good courage, and do." This combination of words occurs once only elsewhere 2 Chronicles 19:11, in Jehoshaphat's exhortation to "the 2 Chronicles 19:8. Levites and priests and chiefs of the fathers of Israel," whom he had set as judges in Jerusalem. Haggai seems then to have adopted the words, with the purpose of suggesting to the down-hearted people, that there was need of the like exhortation, in view of the building of the former temple, whose relative glory so depressed them. The word "be strong" (elsewhere rendered, "be of good courage") occurs commonly in exhortations to persevere and hold fast, amid whatever obstacles. . 4. be strong … for I am with you—The greatest strength is to have Jehovah with us as our strength. Not in man's "might," but in that of God's Spirit (Zec 4:6). In this juncture, though old men weep for the disproportion of the two temples, yet now be strong; be of good courage yourselves, O Zerubbabel, and thou, O Joshua, and encourage others by your example, animate each other, that all the people of the land may take heart with you.

And work; forthwith set about the building of the temple.

For I am with you, both to defend you from enemies, to supply you with necessaries, to bless and accept you: see Haggai 1:1.

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord,.... Take heart, be of good courage, do not be dismayed at these things; though, the building may be contemptible in the eyes of some, nevertheless go on with it manfully and vigorously; let, none despise the day of small things; for from these low beginnings great things will arise, and glorious things will follow, as hereafter predicted; see Zechariah 4:9 attend this, work diligently, desist not from it, continue to preside over it, and encourage the people in it; let not thine heart faint, or thine hands be slack; act the part of man, of a good man, and of a governor:

and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech the high priest; do not be disheartened at what the ancients think and say concerning this temple, in which thou art to officiate as a high priest; and as a type of him who shall come into this house, and so give it a glory the former never had; continue to give the necessary instructions to the builders, that everything may be done in proper order, and to answer their end and use in the service of the priesthood; faint not, nor be discouraged, but act according to thy character, and show thyself worthy of the office with which thou art invested; consider in whose name thou actest?, whose priest thou art, and in whose service thou art employed:

and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord; let not your hearts sink, or spirits fail, at hearing what the more ancient among you say of the difference between this and the former building, which your eyes never saw; do not desist from your work on this account, but go on with it; consider what God has done for you, in bringing you out of captivity, and into your own land, and to the enjoyment of your civil privileges; consider the obligations you lie under to build a house for God; that this is not only a piece of gratitude, and shows a sense of mercies received; but that it is for the glory of God, for your spiritual profit and advantage, and for the use and good of future posterity; quit yourselves therefore like men, and be strong; see Joshua 1:6,

and work; that is, continue working, for they were at work; but there was danger of their leaving off working, being discouraged at what the ancient people said; and therefore they are exhorted to go on in their work, and go through it, and finish it; for so the word here used signifies, "and do" (e); that is, the work thoroughly and effectually; or, as others render it, "and perfect" (f) the work begun, and leave it not unfinished. Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, connect this word with the beginning of the following verse, thus, "and do the word, or thing, which I covenanted with you", &c. Haggai 2:5; that is, observe the law, and do the commandment then given; but very wrongly: nor is it only to be considered as directed to the people, but to the prince and priest also; for they had all work to do in the house of the Lord, as all ranks and degrees of men now have in the church of Christ; of which that house was typical: the prince or civil magistrate, not to prescribe laws and rules to be observed in it, which only belongs to Christ, who is the sole Head, King, and Lawgiver; but to attend the service of it, to protect and defend it, to promote the interest of it, and distribute cheerfully to the maintenance of its ministers, and to the necessities of the poor saints. Priests or ministers of the word are to work; they are to labour in the word and doctrine; in preaching the Gospel; administering ordinances; governing the church; comforting saints; reproving vice, and refuting error: deacons are to do their work, in taking care of the poor, and minding the secular affairs of the church: and all private Christians are to work, to labour in prayer for the good of it; to hear the word, attend on all ordinances, and hold fast the profession of their faith; all which is to be done in the strength and grace of Christ, without dependence on it, or seeking justification and salvation by it; encouraged, as the Jews are here, with the promise of the divine Presence:

for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts; to help in every service, and to protect from all enemies; and this makes the work and service of the Lord's house pleasant and delightful, and secures from all doubts and fears, faintings and misgivings of heart. This is to be understood of God the Father, the Lord of armies above and below; and if he is for and with his people, they have nothing to fear from those that are against them; or to be discouraged in his service. The Targum wrongly interprets this of the Word of the Lord, since he is meant in the next verse Haggai 2:5.

(e) "et facite", V. L. Munster, Pagninus, Montanus, Burkius. (f) "Perficite", Piscator, Tarnovius, Varenius, Reinbeck.

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and {b} work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:

(b) That is, go forward in building the temple.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. and work] Lit., do, so David says to Solomon, “be strong and be alert, and do,” 1 Chronicles 28:20. The use of this word, “to do,” absolutely, is frequent in Hebrew, often of Almighty God as the agent, the context defining what is done. See Psalm 22:31; Ezra 10:4; Isaiah 44:23; Amos 3:6.

Verse 4. - Be strong. This is repeated three times for emphasis' sake. The same exhortation was given by David to Solomon before the building of the first temple (1 Chronicles 28:10; comp. Joshua 1:6, 7, 9). Haggai seems to suggest comfort in the thought that such admonition was needed at that time as well as now when they are so depressed (comp. Zechariah 8:9). And work; literally, and do; ποιεῖτε: facite, The word is used absolutely, as often (camp. Isaiah 44:23; Amos 3:6, and note there). Here it means, "Work on bravely, finish what you have begun." I am with you (see Haggai 1:13, and note there). The consciousness of God's presence gives confidence and strength. Haggai 2:4"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? Haggai 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. Haggai 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 Haggai 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 Genesis 18:25 and Genesis 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 Joel 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 Genesis 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, 'Ash, to work or procure, as in Ruth 2:19 and Proverbs 31:13, in actual fact, to continue the work of building bravely, without there being any necessity to supply מלאכה from Haggai 1:14. For Jehovah will be with them (cf. Haggai 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 (Haggai 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" (Exodus 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 (Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 7:6; cf. Jeremiah 7:22-23, and Jeremiah 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 Isaiah 40:8 with Daniel 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 (Exodus 31:1., Exodus 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 Haggai 2:6-9, which gives the reason for the exhortation, "Fear ye not."

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