Ch. Hag_1:1-11. The First Prophecy
1. Darius the king] Lit., Daryavesh. “Daryavesh is a more accurate transcript of the name of the Persian kings than Δαρεῖος (Darius). Darius calls himself in his descriptions Dβryavush, which means the ‘holder,’ or ‘supporter.’ ” Max. Mόller in Pusey’s Book of Daniel, p. 570.
This was Darius the son of Hystaspes, who had deposed the impostor Smerdis and succeeded him on the throne of Persia, and who on his accession returned to the policy of Cyrus with reference to the Jews.
the sixth month] i.e., of the Jewish year. While they had kings of their own the Jewish historians were wont, as we see throughout the Books of Kings and Chronicles, to date events by the years of their reigns. Now that their own monarchy was at an end, they use instead the year of the foreign Sovereign to whom they were tributary. The transition is observable in ver. 8 of 2 Kings 25 as compared with ver. 1. But the months are still those of their own calendar. The sixth month was called Elul after the return from Babylon. (Neh_6:15; 1Ma_14:27.)
by Haggai] Lit., by the hand of, i.e. by his means or instrumentality. And so in ver. 3.
Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel] Both in the history of the return in Ezra (Ezr_3:2; Ezr_3:8, Ezr_5:2) and Nehemiah (Neh_12:1) and in the genealogies of our Lord, Mat_1:12; Luk_3:27, Zerubbabel is called as he is in this book the son of Shealtiel or Salathiel. But in 1Ch_3:19 he is said to be the son of Pedaiah. The probable explanation of the discrepancy is that Shealtiel, who was the elder brother and the head of the family, had no sons of his own, and that consequently his nephew Zerubbabel, who was the eldest son of the younger brother Pedaiah, became the heir of his uncle Shealtiel, and was commonly regarded and described as his son. He was the recognised head of the Jews in Babylon, “the Prince of Judah,” as he is called (Ezr_1:8), at the time when the decree of Cyrus was issued for their return. He bears a leading part in the history of the return, and of the events which followed immediately upon it. He was among the first to respond to the prophetic call of Haggai and Zechariah (Hag_1:12). Many of their prophecies were addressed to him by name (Hag_1:1; Hag_2:2; Hag_2:21; Zec_4:6); and his spirit was specially stirred up by God (Hag_1:14) to promote the reformation of the people and the rebuilding of the temple. He has been described as “a man inferior to few of the great characters of Scripture, whether we consider the perilous undertaking to which he devoted himself, the importance, in the economy of the Divine government, of his work, his courageous faith, or the singular distinction of being the object of so many and such remarkable prophetic utterances.” Smith’s Bible Dict. Art. Zerubbabel. The fact that his name Zerubbabel (“scattered to Babylon,” or “born at Babylon,” Gesenius) was changed, like those of Daniel and his companions, to the Chaldee name Sheshbazzar, as well as his appointment by Cyrus to the office of “Governor,” makes it probable, as has been suggested, that he was in the service of the king of Babylon. In the Apocryphal account of the return from Babylon contained in the first book of Esdras, Zerubbabel who is apparently regarded by the writer as a distinct person from Sheshbazzar (Sanabassar, 1Es_2:12), under whom the Jews returned in the time of Cyrus, is described as one of the young men who formed the body guard of king Darius. The story told is, that three of these young men agreed to compete before the king as to which of them could compose and write the wisest sentence. “The first wrote, Wine is the strongest. The second wrote, The king is strongest. The third wrote, Women are strongest: but above all things Truth beareth away the victory” (1Es_3:10-12). To this third sentence which was Zerubbabel’s, the king and his wise men awarded the palm, and its author, on being invited by the king to name his reward, claimed the fulfilment of the vow which Darius had made on his accession, to build Jerusalem and restore the holy vessels for the Temple. (See the story in full 1 Esdr. ch. 3, 4; and for the additions and variations of Josephus Dict. of the Bible, Art. Zerubbabel.)
governor] The foreign name (Pechah) here used for the “Governor” of the Jews is again a badge of their servitude. The word itself is an interesting one. It is first used in the Hebrew Bible in the time of Solomon (1Ki_10:15; 2Ch_9:14) of some “governors of the country” in his outlying dominions who sent him a yearly supply of gold. Even there it is probably a foreign title. “It seems to me most probable,” writes Dr Pusey, “that Solomon adopted the title, as it already existed in the Syrian territories, for it is not said that he ‘placed Pechahs,’ but only that they paid him gold. Thus the name ‘Rajah’ is continued in our Indian dominions.” We next find it when Benhadad after his first defeat is advised to depose the thirty-two subordinate kings who helped him, and to put Pechahs, Syrian Governors, in their place (1Ki_20:24). “Then, still in that neighbourhood, and in part doubtless in the same country, they are in military command in Sennacherib’s army, leading doubtless their own contingent of troops, in his multitudinous host (2Ki_18:24). Sennacherib compares Hezekiah to one of the ‘Governors’ of the subjugated provinces, which he held subdued (Comp. Isa_10:8-9; 2Ki_18:34). Then, in each case joined with Sagans, Pechah is used of Babylonian, (Jer_51:23; Jer_51:57; Eze_23:6; Eze_23:23) and Median (Jer_51:28) governors. Daniel, in recounting the Babylonian governors, places the Pechahs the third, after the Satraps and Sagans (Dan_3:2-3; Dan_3:27). Under Darius, they are not immediately united with the Sagans, but still are enumerated with these only, the Satraps and the haddaberin, ‘privy Councillors,’ Dan_6:8. Somewhat later, (Est_8:9; Est_9:3) the Pechahs are mentioned without the Sagans, but with the Satraps and the ‘princes of the provinces.’ In the times after the captivity there were several such Pechahs, westward of the Euphrates, between it and Judea (Ezr_8:36; Neh_2:7; Neh_2:9), probably the same locality, in regard to which the name was first used under Solomon. Specifically, Tatnai is entitled as ‘Pechah beyond the river,’ Ezr_5:3; Ezr_6:6, who (although apparently he dwelt at Jerusalem, Neh_3:7) is yet, in the same rescript of Darius, distinguished from ‘the Pechah of the Jews’ (Ezr_6:7), whom naturally there was most occasion to mention (Hag_1:1; Hag_1:14; Hag_2:2; Hag_2:21; Mal_1:8; Neh_5:14; Neh_5:18; Neh_12:26).” Pusey, Book of Daniel, p. 567; where also the possible connection of Pechah with Pashah is discussed by Max Mόller.
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say – Not Zerubbabel or Joshua, but “this people.” He says not, “My people,” but reproachfully “this people,” as, in acts, disowning Him, and so deserving to be disowned by Him. “The time is not come,” literally “It is not time to come, time for the house of the Lord to be built” . They might yet sit still; the time for them “to come” was not yet, for not yet was the “time for the house of the Lord to be built.” Why it was not time, they did not say. The government did not help them; the original grant by Cyrus Ezr_3:7 was exhausted; the Samaritans hindered them, because they would not own them, (amid their mishmash of worship, “worshiping,” our Lord tells them Joh_4:22, “they know not what”), as worshipers of the same God. It was a bold excuse, if they said, that the 70 years during which the temple was to lie waste, were not yet ended.
The time had long since come, when, 16 years before, Cyrus had given command that the house of God should be built. The prohibition to build, under Artaxerxes or Pseudo-Smerdis, applied directly to the city and its walls, not to the temple, except so far as the temple itself, from its position, might be capable of being used as a fort, as it was in the last siege of, Jerusalem. Yet in itself a building of the size of the temple, apart from outer buildings, could scarcely so be used. The prohibition did not hinder the building of stately private houses, as appears from Haggai’s rebuke. The hindrances also, whatever they were, had not begun with that decree. The death of Pseudo-Smerdis had now, for a year, set them free, if had they had any zeal for the glory and service of God. Otherwise, Haggai would not blamed them. God, knowing that He would bend the heart of Darius, as He had that of Cyrus, requires the house to be built without the king’s decree. It was built in faith, that God would bring through what He had enjoined, although outward things were as adverse now as before. And what He commanded He prospered Ezra 5–6.
There was indeed a second fulfillment of 70 years, from the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar 586 b.c., to its consecration in the 6th year of Darius 516 b.c. But this was through the willfulness of man, prolonging the desolation decreed by God, and Jeremiah’s prophecy relates to the people not to the temple.
For you, O ye; for you, yourselves; such as ye are (see Zec_7:5). He appeals to their consciences. You can make yourselves comfortable; you have time and means and industry to expend on your own private interests, and can you look with indifference on the house of God lying waste? Your cieled houses; your houses, and those cieled—wainscoted and roofed with costly woods (1Ki_7:3, 1Ki_7:7; Jer_22:14), perhaps with the very cedar provided for the rebuilding of the temple (Ezr_3:7). Septuagint, ἐν οἴκοις ὑμῶν κοιλοστάθμοις, “your vaulted houses,” or, as St. Cyril explains, “houses whose doorposts were elaborately adorned with emblems and devices.” They had naught of the feeling of David (2Sa_7:2), “I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.”
Consider] Lit. set your heart upon, consider both their nature and (as what follows shews) their consequences; both what they are and to what they lead. The expression consider, set your heart, is used by Haggai no fewer than four times in this short book, Hag_1:5; Hag_1:7, Hag_2:15; Hag_2:18.
Ye have sown much, &c.] The expostulation is very abrupt and forcible in the Hebrew, “Ye sowed much, but to bring in little! To eat, but not to satiety! To drink, but not to exhilaration! To clothe (oneself), but not for warmth, to him (the wearer)!” The description refers not to one year, but to many. It coincides with the whole period of their sloth and neglect in the matter of the Temple. It points to a double judgment, dearth and scarcity in the fruits of the ground, and (what often accompanies this, for the same adverse influences which blight the earth are injurious to the human frame) want of power in the body of man, to assimilate and benefit by food and drink and clothing.
he that earneth wages] The judgment is not confined to the fruits of the earth, but extends to all branches of human industry. Disappointment and loss mar all alike. “The labour pictured is not only fruitless, but wearisome and vexing. There is a seeming result of all the labour, something to allure hopes; but forthwith it is gone. The heathen assigned a like baffling of hope as one of the punishments of hell.” Pusey.
Go up to the mountain] The consideration to which they have twice been called is to lead to action and amendment. They are not only to repent, but to bring forth fruits meet for repentance.
the mountain] This is clearly not, as some have thought, the mountain on which the Temple stood, “the mountain of the Lord’s house,” but the mountain from which the timber for building was to be fetched. It might possibly mean Lebanon, from which they were to cause wood to be brought, qui facit per alium facit per se, but the words sound more like a call to immediate personal effort, and then the mountain would be the mountainous neighbourhood generally (hill country, R. V. margin), to which they were themselves to go and bring wood. See Neh_2:8, where “the king’s forest” would seem to have been in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem; and Neh_8:15, where possibly “the mount” means the Mount of Olives.
I will be glorified] “The meaning may be either, ‘I will accept it as done for My glory’; or, ‘I will display My glory in it’ (see ch. Hag_2:9).” Annotated Paragraph Bible, Rel. Tract. Soc.
He shows the real cause of the calamities that had befallen them. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little. Emphatic infinitive, as in Hag_1:6. “To look for much, and behold! little.” They fixed their expectations upon a rich harvest, and they reaped less than they had sown (Isa_5:10). And when they had stored this miserable crop in their barns, I did blow upon it; or, did blow it away, dissipated it as if it were mere chaff, so that it perished. Doubtless, as Dr Pusey observes, they ascribed the meagreness of their crops to natural causes, and would not see the judicial nature of the infliction. The prophet brings the truth home to their conscience by the stern question, Why? And he answers the question for them, speaking with God’s authority. Because of mine house that is waste. The reason already given in Hag_1:4, etc; is repeated and enforced. And (while) ye run. Ye are indifferent to the miserable condition of the house of God, while ye haste with all diligence to your own houses for business or pleasure, being entirely absorbed in worldly interests, or eager only to adorn and beautify your own habitations. Or, your zeal is all expended on your own private dwellings.
Over you. This would be a reference to Deu_28:23. But the preposition is probably not local, but means rather, “on your account,” i.e. on account of your sin, as Psa_44:22. This is not tautological after the preceding “therefore,” but more closely defines and explains the illative. Is stayed from dew; hath stayed itself from dew; withholds not only rain, but even dew (comp. Zec_8:12). On the importance of dew in the climate of Palestine, see note on Mic_5:7. The dews generally are remarkably heavy, and in the summer months take the place of rain. Dr. Thomson speaks of the dew rolling in the morning off his tent like rain. The earth is stayed from her fruit; hath stayed her fruit; according to the threat (Deu_11:17).
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
I called — what the “heaven” and “earth,” the second causes, were said to do (Hag_1:10), being the visible instruments, Jehovah, in this verse, the invisible first cause, declares to be His doing. He “calls for” famine, etc., as instruments of His wrath (2Ki_8:1; Psa_105:16). The contrast is striking between the prompt obedience of these material agencies, and the slothful disobedience of living men, His people.
drought — Hebrew, Choreb, like in sound to Chareeb, “waste” (Hag_1:4, Hag_1:9), said of God’s house; implying the correspondence between the sin and its punishment. Ye have let My house be waste, and I will send on all that is yours a wasting drought. This would affect not merely the “corn,” etc., but also “men” and “cattle,” who must perish in the absence of the “corn,” etc., lost by the drought.
labour of the hands — all the fruits of lands, gardens, and vineyards, obtained by labor of the hands (Deu_28:33; Psa_78:46).
According to the word] The words “according to” are wanting in the Hebrew, but are properly supplied in A. V. and R. V. It has been proposed to regard the last clause of ver. 4 as parenthetical, and make the beginning of this verse grammatically dependent on the word “do” in ver. 4. It would then read: “Be strong and do (for I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts) the word that I covenanted with you,” &c. But such a construction is harsh and the meaning elicited unsatisfactory. The first clause of ver. 5 is thrown out in the abrupt forcible style of Haggai, and gives the ground both of the foregoing and of the following assurance. The ancient covenant with their fathers is as it were called up before them as a witness to the truth of the present promises: “I am with you saith the Lord of Hosts—(‘see,’ ‘remember,’ or ‘there stands’) the word which I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt!—and my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.” The student of the Greek Testament will be reminded of a somewhat similar construction in St Peter’s address to Cornelius and his company, (τὸν λόγον, κ.τ.λ. Act_10:36).
so my spirit remaineth] Or, and my spirit abode, R. V. Comp. Isa_63:11; Zec_4:6.
Yet once, it is a little while; ἔτι ἅπαξ; Adhuc unum modicum est (Vulgate), The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews (12:26, 27) quotes and founds an argument on this rendering of the LXX. The expression is equivalent to “once again within a little time.” I will shake, etc. Some difference of opinion exists as to the events here adumbrated. All, however, agree in seeing an allusion to the promulgation of the Law on Mount Sinai, which was accompanied with certain great physical commotions (see Exo_19:16; Psa_68:7, Psa_68:8), when, too, the Egyptians were “shaken” by the plagues sent on them, and the neighbouring nations, Philistia, Edom, Moab, were struck with terror (Exo_15:14 :16). This was a great moral disturbance in the heathen world; the next and final “shaking” will be under the Messianic dispensation for which the destruction of heathen kingdoms prepares the way. The Israelites would soon see the beginnings of this visitation, e.g. in the fall of Babylon, and might thence conclude that all would be accomplished in due time. The prophet calls this interval “a little while” (which it is in God’s eyes and in view of the vast future), in order to console the people and teach them patience and confidence. The final consummation and the steps that lead to it in the prophet’s vision are blended together, just as our Lord combines his prediction about the destruction of Jerusalem with details which concern the end of the world. The physical convulsions in heaven and earth, etc; spoken of, are symbolical representations of political revolutions, as explained in the next verse, “I will shake all nations,” and again in Hag_2:21, Hag_2:22. Other prophets announce that Messiah’s reign shall be ushered in by the overthrow or conversion of heathen nations; e.g.. Isa_2:11, etc.; Isa_19:21, Isa_19:22; Dan_2:44; Mic_5:9, etc.
All nations (Luk_21:25, where our Lord refers to the end of this world). But before Christ’s first advent there was a general shaking of empires. Persia fell; Alexander’s dominion was divided and gradually shattered before the might of Rome; Rome herself was torn with civil wars. The faith in the power of national gods was everywhere weakened, and men were prepared to receive the new revelation of one Supreme Deity, who came on earth to teach and save. Now is mentioned the object or consequence of this shaking of nations. The desire of all nations shall come. This is the rendering of the ancient Jewish expositors, the Chaldee Targum, and the Vulgate, which gives, Veniet desideratus cunctis gentibus. Tile words in this case point to a person, and this person can be no one else than the Messiaih for whom “all nations consciously or unconsciously yearn, in whom alone all the longings of the human heart find satisfaction” (Perowne). But there is difficulty in accepting this view. The word rendered “the desire” (chemdath) is singular, the verb “shall come” (bau) is plural, as if it was said in Latin, Venient desiderium omnium gentium. The LXX. translates, Ηξει τὰ ἐκλεκτὰ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν, “The choice things [or, ‘portions’] of all the nations shall come.” The plural verb seems fatal to the idea of a person being spoken of; nor is this objection answered by Dr. Pusey’s allegation that the object of desire contains in itself many objects of desire, or Bishop Wordsworth’s refinement, that Messiah is regarded as a collective Being, containing in his own Person the natures of God and man, and combining the three offices of Prophet, Priest, and King. Every one must see that both these explanations are forced and unnatural, and are conformed rather to theological considerations than to grammatical accuracy. Chemdah is used for “the object of desire,” as 2Ch_32:27, where it refers to Hezekiah’s treasures, and 2Ch_36:10, “the goodly vessels” of the temple (comp. Jer_25:34; Nah_2:9). Nowhere is any intimation given that it is a name applied to the Messiah; nowhere is any such explanation offered of the term so applied. The word is a common one; its meaning is well ascertained; and it could hardly have been understood in any but its usual acceptation without some preparation or further definition. This acceptation is confirmed by the mention of “the gold and silver” in 2Ch_36:8. The Revised Version cuts the knot by rendering, “the desirable things;” Perowne affirms that the plural verb denotes the manifoldness and variety of the gifts. This seems scarcely satisfactory. May it not be, as Knabenbauer suggests, that “the desire of all nations” forms one notion, in which the words, “all nations,” have a predominating influence, and so the plural ensues by constructio ad sensum? The meaning, then, is that all nations with their wealth come, that the Gentiles shall devote their treasures, their powers, whatever they most highly prize, to the service of God. This is what is predicted elsewhere (e.g. Isa_55:5-7, Isa_55:11, Isa_55:13, 17), and it is called, metaphorically, coming with treasures to the temple. To hear of such a glorious future might well be a topic of consolation to the depressed Israelites. (For a further development of the same idea, see Rev_21:24, Rev_21:26.) I will fill this house with glory. There is a verbal allusion to the glory which filled Solomon’s temple at the dedication (2Ch_7:1), but the especial mode in which it is to be manifested in this case is not here mentioned. The previous clause would make the reference rather to the material offerings of the Gentiles, but a further and a deeper signification is connected with the advent of Messiah (as Mal_3:1), with which the complete fulfilment commenced.
The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine – These words, which have occasioned some to think, that God, in speaking of the glory with which He should fill the house, meant our material riches, suggest the contrary. For silver was no ornament of the temple of Solomon. Everything was overlaid with gold. In the tabernacle there were bowls of silver, in Soloman’s temple they and all were of gold 1Ki_7:50; 2Ch_4:8. Silver, we are expressly told, “was nothing accounted of 1Ki_10:21 in the days of Solomon: he 1Ki_10:27. made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones – for abundance.” Rather, as God says by the Psalmist Psa_50:10-12, “Every beast of the forest is Mine, so are the cattle upon a thousand hills: I know all the fowls of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine and the fullness thereof:” so here He tells them, that for the glory of His house He needed not gold or silver: for all the wealth of the world is His. They had no ground “to grieve then, that they could not equal the magnificence of Solomon who had abundance of gold and silver.” All was God’s. He would fill it with divine glory. The Desire of all nations, Christ, should come, and be a glory, to which all created glory is nothing.
“God says really and truly, that the silver and gold is His, which in utmost bounty He created, and in His most just government administers, so that, without His will and dominion, neither can the bad have gold and silver for the punishment of avarice, nor the good for the use of mercy. Its abundance does not inflate the good, nor its want crush them: but the bad, when bestowed, it blinds: when taken away, it tortures.”
“It is as if He would say, Think not the temple inglorious, because, may be, it will have no portion of gold or silver, and their splendor. I need not such things. How should I? “For Mine is the silver and Mine the gold, saith the Lord Almighty.” I seek rather true worshipers: with their brightness will I guild this temple. Let him come who hath right faith, is adorned by graces, gleams with love for Me, is pure in heart, poor in spirit, compassionate and good.” “These make the temple, i. e., the Church, glorious and renowned, being glorified by Christ. For they have learned to pray, Psa_90:17. “The glory of the Lord our God be upon us.”
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
The glory of this latter house … greater than of the former — namely, through the presence of Messiah, in (whose) face is given the light of the knowledge of the glory of God (2Co_4:6; compare Heb_1:2), and who said of Himself, “in this place is one greater than the temple” (Mat_12:6), and who “sat daily teaching in it” (Mat_26:55). Though Zerubbabel’s temple was taken down to the foundations when Herod rebuilt the temple, the latter was considered, in a religious point of view, as not a third temple, but virtually the second temple.
in this place … peace — namely, at Jerusalem, the metropolis of the kingdom of God, whose seat was the temple: where Messiah “made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col_1:20). Thus the “glory” consists in this “peace.” This peace begins by the removal of the difficulty in the way of the just God accepting the guilty (Psa_85:8, Psa_85:10; Isa_9:6, Isa_9:7; Isa_53:5; Zec_6:13; 2Co_5:18, 2Co_5:19); then it creates peace in the sinner’s own heart (Isa_57:19; Act_10:36; Rom_5:1; Rom_14:17; Eph_2:13-17; Phi_4:7); then peace in the whole earth (Mic_5:5; Luk_2:14). First peace between God and man, then between man and God, then between man and man (Isa_2:4; Hos_2:18; Zec_9:10). As “Shiloh” (Gen_49:10) means peace, this verse confirms the view that Hag_2:7, “the desire of all nations,” refers to Shiloh or Messiah, foretold in Gen_49:10.