Haggai 1:1
In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1-11) The First Utterance.—The neglect of God’s House denounced, and declared to be the cause of the prevalent dearth.

(1) Darius the king.Scil., Darius I., son of Hystaspes, who became king of Persia in B.C. 521. The fact that there were still men living who had seen the First Temple (Haggai 2:3), which fell in B.C. 586, sufficiently disproves the absurd theory that Darius Nothus is meant, who did not accede to the throne until B.C. 423-4. Prophecy is now dated by the years of a foreign ruler, for Zerubbabel, though a lineal descendant of David, was only a pechâh, or viceroy of Persian appointment, not a king in his own right.

The sixth month.—That named Elul, corresponding nearly with our September.

In the first dayi.e., on the festival of the new moon, a holy day which had always been marked not only by suspension of labour, but by special services in the Temple (Ezekiel 46:3; Isaiah 66:23). It was thus an appropriate occasion for Haggai to commence a series of exhortations so intimately connected with the Temple. Besides, it appears to have been an ancient custom that the people should resort to the prophets for religious instruction on new moons and Sabbaths. (See 2Kings 4:23.)

Came the word . . .—Literally, there was a word of the Lord by the hand of Haggai, &c. This expression, which occurs repeatedly in this book, indicates that Jehovah was the direct source of these announcements, and Haggai only their vehicle.

The prophet.—See Habakkuk 1:1, Note.

Son of Shealtiel.—Strictly speaking, Zerubbabel was the son of Pedaiah, who contracted a Levirate marriage with the widow of his brother Shealtiel. (See Notes on 1Chronicles 3:17; Jeremiah 22:30; Luke 3:27.)

Governor.Satrap, or viceroy, a term applied in the Old Testament to the provincial prefects of the Assyrian and Babylonian and Persian empires. (See Note on 1Kings 10:15.) Joshua, the high priest, is a prominent character in the prophecy of Zechariah. Haggai addresses Zerubbabel as the civil, Joshua as the ecclesiastical head of the restored exiles.

Haggai 1:1. In the second year of Darius — Namely, the son of Hystaspes, king of Persia. Blair places the second year of his reign five hundred and twenty years before Christ. In the sixth month, in the first day of the month — Therefore, about two months before Zechariah received a similar commission, for the word of God came to him in the eighth month of the same year: see Zechariah 1:1. These two prophets were sent to the Jews chiefly, it seems, to exhort them to go on with the rebuilding the temple. And the historical book of Ezra records, chap. 5., that the rebuilding of the temple was resumed and carried on again through the exhortations and encouragements of these prophets. Unto Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel — And grandson of Jeconiah, who was carried captive to Babylon: see the margin. It is likely that Zerubbabel was regarded with as much respect by the Jews as if he had been their king, being of the royal family of David; but they did not give him the title of king, or invest him with the splendour of royal dignity, for fear of giving offence to the Persian kings, under whose protection they lived, and upon whom they were in a great measure dependant. And to Joshua the son of Josedech — Son of Seraiah, who was high-priest when Jerusalem was taken, and who was slain at Riblah: see 1 Chronicles 6:14; 2 Kings 25:18-21. Haggai seems to have addressed Zerubbabel and Joshua probably in the hearing of the people: see Haggai 1:12.1:1-11 Observe the sin of the Jews, after their return from captivity in Babylon. Those employed for God may be driven from their work by a storm, yet they must go back to it. They did not say that they would not build a temple, but, Not yet. Thus men do not say they will never repent and reform, and be religious, but, Not yet. And so the great business we were sent into the world to do, is not done. There is a proneness in us to think wrongly of discouragements in our duty, as if they were a discharge from our duty, when they are only for the trial of our courage and faith. They neglected the building of God's house, that they might have more time and money for worldly affairs. That the punishment might answer to the sin, the poverty they thought to prevent by not building the temple, God brought upon them for not building it. Many good works have been intended, but not done, because men supposed the proper time was not come. Thus believers let slip opportunities of usefulness, and sinners delay the concerns of their souls, till too late. If we labour only for the meat that perishes, as the Jews here, we are in danger of losing our labour; but we are sure it shall not be in vain in the Lord, if we labour for the meat which lasts to eternal life. If we would have the comfort and continuance of temporal enjoyments, we must have God as our Friend. See also Lu 12:33. When God crosses our temporal affairs, and we meet with trouble and disappointment, we shall find the cause is, that the work we have to do for God and our own souls is left undone, and we seek our own things more than the things of Christ. How many, who plead that they cannot afford to give to pious or charitable designs, often lavish ten times as much in needless expenses on their houses and themselves! But those are strangers to their own interests, who are full of care to adorn and enrich their own houses, while God's temple in their hearts lies waste. It is the great concern of every one, to apply to the necessary duty of self-examination and communion with our own hearts concerning our spiritual state. Sin is what we must answer for; duty is what we must do. But many are quick-sighted to pry into other people's ways, who are careless of their own. If any duty has been neglected, that is no reason why it should still be so. Whatever God will take pleasure in when done, we ought to take pleasure in doing. Let those who have put off their return to God, return with all their heart, while there is time.In the second year of Darius - , i. e., Hystaspis. The very first word of prophecy after the captivity betokens that they were restored, not yet as before, yet so, as to be hereafter, more than before. The earthly type, by God's appointment, was fading away, that the heavenly truth might dawn. The earthly king was withdrawn, to make way for the heavenly. God had said of Jeconiah Jeremiah 22:30, "No man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Israel:" and so now prophecy begins to be dated by the years of a foreign earthly ruler, as in the Baptism of the Lord Himself Luke 3:1. Yet God gives back in mercy more than He withdraws in chastisement. The earthly rule is suspended, that people might look out more longingly for the heavenly.

In the sixth month - They counted by their own months, beginning with Nisan, the first of the ecclesiastical year (which was still used for holy purposes and in sacred history), although, having no more any kings, they dated their years by those of the empire, to which they were subject (See Zechariah 1:7; Zechariah 7:1) in the sixth month, part of our July and August, their harvest was past, and the dearth, which they, doubtless ascribed (as we do) to the seasons, and which Haggai pointed out to be a judgment from God, had set in for this year also. The months being lunar, the first day of the month was the festival of the new moon, a popular feast Proverbs 7:20 which their forefathers had kept Isaiah 1:13-14, while they neglected the weightier matters of the law, and which the religious in Israel had kept, even while separated from the worship at Jerusalem (2 Kings 4:23; add Amos 8:5; Hosea 2:11). In its very first day, when the grief for the barren year was yet fresh, Haggai was stirred to exhort them to consider their way; a pattern for Christian preachers, to bring home to people's souls the meaning of God's judgments. God directs the very day to be noted, in which He called the people anew to build His temple, both to show the readiness of their obedience, and a precedent to us to keep in memory days and seasons, in which He stirs our souls to build more diligently His spiritual temple in our souls .

By the hand of Haggai - God does almost everything which He does for a person through the hands of people. He commits His words and works for people into the hands of human beings as His stewards, to dispense faithfully to His household. Luke 12:42. Hence, He speaks so often of the law, which He commanded "by the hand of Moses;" but also as to other prophets, Nathan 2 Samuel 12:25, Ahijal, 1 Kings 12:15; 1 Kings 14:16; 2 Chronicles 10:15. Jehu 1 Kings 16:7, Jonah 2 Kings Jonah 14:25, Isaiah Isa 20:2, Jeremiah Jer 37:2, and the prophets generally. Hosea 7:20; 2 Chronicles 29:25 the very prophets of God, although gifted with a Divine Spirit, still were willing and conscious instruments in speaking His words.

Unto Zerubbabel - (so called from being born in Babylon) "the son of Sheatiel." By this genealogy Zerubbabel is known in the history of the return from the captivity in Ezra and Nehemiah Ezr 3:2, Ezra 3:8; Ezra 5:2; Nehemiah 12:1. God does not say by Jeremiah, that Jeconiah should have no children, but that he should in his lifetime be childless, as it is said of those married to the uncle's or brother's widow Leviticus 20:20-21, "they shall die childless." Jeremiah rather implies that he should have children, but that they should die untimely before him. For he calls Jeconiah Jeremiah 22:30, "a man who shall not prosper in his days; for there shall not prosper a man of his seed, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Israel." He should die (as the word means) "bared" of all, alone and desolate. The own father of Shealtiel appears to have been Neri Luke 3:27, of the line of Nathan son of David; not, of the line of the kings of Judah. Neri married, one must suppose, a daughter of Assir, son of Jeconiah 1 Chronicles 3:17-19 whose grandson Shealtiel was; and Zerubbabel was the own son of Pedaiah, the brother of Shealtiel, as whose son he was in the legal genealogy inscribed, according to the law as to those who die childless Deuteronomy 23:5-10, or as having been adopted by Shealtiel being himself childless, as Moses was called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh Exodus 2:10. So broken was the line of the unhappy Jehoiachin, two thirds of whose own life was passed in the prison Jeremiah 52:31, into which Nebuchadnezzar did cast him.

Governor of Judah - The foreign name betokens that the civil rule was now held from a foreign power, although Cyrus showed the Jews the kindness of placing one of themselves, of royal extraction also, as his deputy over them.

The lineage of David is still in authority, connecting the present with the past, but the earthly kingdom had faded away. Under the name "Sheshbazzar" Zerubbabel is spoken of both as the "prince" and the "governor" Ezra 5:14, of Judah. With him is joined "Joshuah the son of Josedech, the high priest," whose father went into captivity 1 Chronicles 6:15, when his grandfather Seraiah was slain by Nebuchadnezzar 2 Kings 25:18-21. The priestly line is also preserved. Haggai addresses these two, the one of the royal, the other of the priestly, line, as jointly responsible for the negligence of the people; he addresses the people only through them. Together, they are types of Him, the true King and true priest, Christ Jesus, who by the resurrection raised again the true temple, His Body, after it had been destroyed .

THE BOOK OF HAGGAI Commentary by A. R. Faussett

INTRODUCTION

The name Haggai means "my feast"; given, according to Cocceius, in anticipation of the joyous return from exile. He probably was one of the Jewish exiles (of the tribes Judah, Benjamin, and Levi) who returned under Zerubbabel, the civil head of the people, and Joshua, the high priest, 536 B.C., when Cyrus (actuated by the striking prophecies as to himself, Isa 44:28; 45:1) granted them their liberty, and furnished them with the necessaries for restoring the temple (2Ch 36:23; Ezr 1:1; 2:2). The work of rebuilding went on under Cyrus and his successor Cambyses (called Ahasuerus in Ezr 4:6) in spite of opposition from the Samaritans, who, when their offers of help were declined, began to try to hinder it. These at last obtained an interdict from the usurper Smerdis the Magian (called Artaxerxes in Ezr 4:7-23), whose suspicions were easy to rouse. The Jews thereupon became so indifferent to the work that when Darius came to the throne (521 B.C.), virtually setting aside the prohibitions of the usurper, instead of recommencing their labors, they pretended that as the prophecy of the seventy years applied to the temple as well as to the captivity in Babylon (Hag 1:2), they were only in the sixty-eighth year of it [Henderson]; so that, the proper time not having yet arrived, they might devote themselves to building splendid mansions for themselves. Haggai and Zechariah were commissioned by Jehovah (Hag 1:1) in the second year of Darius (Hystaspes), 520 B.C., sixteen years after the return under Zerubbabel, to rouse them from their selfishness to resume the work which for fourteen years had been suspended. Haggai preceded Zechariah in the work by two months.

The dates of his four distinct prophecies are accurately given: (1) The first (Hag 1:1-15), on the first day of the sixth month of the second year of Darius, 520 B.C., reproved the people for their apathy in allowing the temple to lie in ruins and reminded them of their ill success in everything because of their not honoring God as to His house. The result was that twenty-four days afterwards they commenced building under Zerubbabel (Hag 1:12-15). (2) The second, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month (Hag 2:1-9), predicts that the glory of the new temple would be greater than that of Solomon's, so that the people need not be discouraged by the inferiority in outward splendor of the new, as compared with the old temple, which had so moved to tears the elders who had remembered the old (Ezr 3:12, 13). Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel had implied the same prediction, whence some had doubted whether they ought to proceed with a building so inferior to the former one; but Haggai shows wherein the superior glory was to consist, namely, in the presence of Him who is the "desire of all nations" (Hag 2:7). (3) The third, on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (Hag 2:10-19), refers to a period when building materials had been collected, and the workmen had begun to put them together, from which time forth God promises His blessing; it begins with removing their past error as to the efficacy of mere outward observances to cleanse from the taint of disobedience as to the temple building. (4) The fourth (Hag 2:20-23), on the same day as the preceding, was addressed to Zerubbabel, as the representative of the theocratic people, and as having asked as to the national revolutions spoken of in the second prophecy (Hag 2:7).

The prophecies are all so brief as to suggest the supposition that they are only a summary of the original discourses. The space occupied is but three months from the first to the last.

The Jews' adversaries, on the resumption of the work under Zerubbabel, Haggai, and Zechariah, tried to set Darius against it; but that monarch confirmed Cyrus' decree and ordered all help to be given to the building of the temple (Ezr 5:3, &c.; Ezr 6:1, &c.). So the temple was completed in the sixth year of Darius' reign 516-515 B.C. (Ezr 6:14).

The style of Haggai is consonant with his messages: pathetic in exhortation, vehement in reproofs, elevated in contemplating the glorious future. The repetition of the same phrases (for example, "saith the Lord," or "the Lord of hosts," Hag 1:2, 5, 7; and thrice in one verse, Hag 2:4; so "the spirit," thrice in one verse, Hag 1:14) gives a simple earnestness to his style, calculated to awaken the solemn attention of the people, and to awaken them from their apathy, to which also the interrogatory form, often adopted, especially tends. Chaldaisms occur (Hag 2:3; 2:6; 2:16), as might have been expected in a writer who was so long in Chaldea. Parts are purely prose history; the rest is somewhat rhythmical, and observant of poetic parallelism.

Haggai is referred to in Ezr 5:1; 6:14; and in the New Testament (Heb 12:26; compare Hag 2:6, 7, 22).

CHAPTER 1

Hag 1:1-15. Haggai Calls the People to Consider Their Ways in Neglecting to Build God's House: The Evil of This Neglect to Themselves: The Honor to God of Attending to It: The People's Penitent Obedience under Zerubbabel Followed by God's Gracious Assurance.

1. second year of Darius—Hystaspes, the king of Medo-Persia, the second of the world empires, Babylon having been overthrown by the Persian Cyrus. The Jews having no king of their own, dated by the reign of the world kings to whom they were subject. Darius was a common name of the Persian kings, as Pharaoh of those of Egypt, and Cæsar of those of Rome. The name in the cuneiform inscriptions at Persepolis is written Daryawus, from the root Darh, "to preserve," the Conservator [Lassen]. Herodotus [6.98] explains it Coercer. Often opposite attributes are assigned to the same god; in which light the Persians viewed their king. Ezr 4:24 harmonizes with Haggai in making this year the date of the resumption of the building.

sixth month—of the Hebrew year, not of Darius' reign (compare Zec 1:7; 7:1, 3; 8:19). Two months later ("the eighth month," Zec 1:1) Zechariah began to prophesy, seconding Haggai.

the Lord—Hebrew, Jehovah: God's covenant title, implying His unchangeableness, the guarantee of His faithfulness in keeping His promises to His people.

by Haggai—Hebrew, "in the hand of Haggai"; God being the real speaker, His prophet but the instrument (compare Ac 7:35; Ga 3:19).

Zerubbabel—called also Shesh-bazzar in Ezr 1:8; 5:14, 16, where the same work is attributed to Shesh-bazzar that in Ezr 3:8 is attributed to Zerubbabel. Shesh-bazzar is probably his Chaldean name; as Belteshazzar was that of Daniel. Zerubbabel, his Hebrew name, means "one born in Babylon."

son of Shealtiel—or Salathiel. But 1Ch 3:17, 19 makes Pedaiah his father. Probably he was adopted by his uncle Salathiel, or Shealtiel, at the death of his father (compare Mt 1:12; Lu 3:27).

governor of Judah—to which office Cyrus had appointed him. The Hebrew Pechah is akin to the original of the modern Turkish Pasha; one ruling a region of the Persian empire of less extent than that under a satrap.

Joshua—called Jeshua (Ezr 2:2); so the son of Nun in Ne 8:17.

Josedech—or Jehozadak (1Ch 6:15), one of those carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar. Haggai addresses the civil and the religious representatives of the people, so as to have them as his associates in giving God's commands; thus priest, prophet, and ruler jointly testify in God's name.The time when Haggai prophesied, Hag 1:1. Haggai reproveth the people's delay in building the temple, Hag 1:2-6. He inciteth them to set about it, Hag 1:7-11. He promiseth them, being forward of themselves, God's assistance, Hag 1:12,13. The work is set forward, Hag 1:14,15.

Darius: of this name there were seven, Darius Medus, Hystaspes, Longimanus, Nothus, Ochus, Arsames, Codomanus; one before Cyrus, viz. that Darius which is distinguished from the other by Medus, the Mede; the next Darius was son of Hystaspes, and third king of Persia, (if we leave out Smerdis the cheat, who on Cambyses's death counterfeited the true Smerdis, slain by Cambyses's order, got into the throne, but was discovered and slain at seven months' end,) of whom the text speaketh; unless you can think Joshua high priest through one hundred and forty-four years, and some considerable number of Jews to have lived one hundred and ninety-six years, and the returned captives to have wanted a temple for one hundred and twelve years at least, which incredible things attend them who will have this Darius to be Nothus.

The king; as being the greatest of that time, and by way of eminency above others.

In the sixth month; Elul, answering to part of our August and September.

The word of the Lord; the command or direction what they should do, and reproof for what they had omitted to do.

Haggai: we read nothing of his parentage or country in the Scripture; he doted that thought him an angel.

The prophet; inspired, sent, approved, and assisted of God in his office.

Zerubbabel; whose name speaks either his birth in Babylon, or his interest and power there as some conjecture: probably his birth in Babylon might be ground of trusting him with the government of Judah, to which he had right.

Song of Solomon of Shealtiel; adoptive son to Shealtiel, being of the royal line, probably he was the chief branch thereof, uncle to him; but by nature, or by generation, son of Pedaiah; or else there were two Zerubbabels, sons of two brothers, Pedaiah and Shealtiel.

Governor of Judah; appointed to this by the Persian king, under whose power the Jews were now fallen, and at whose pleasure governors were placed or displaced over the remnant returned out of Babylon, and once at last settled in the land of Judah.

Joshua; a type of the great Deliverer; one Joshua leads them into Canaan, another restores the temple.

Josedech; whose name did portend good to this people, and bespoke God's righteousness; his father Seraiah was high priest and slain by Nebuchadnezzar.

The high priest, by lineal descent according to the law, chief of power in church matters, as Zerubbabel was chief in civil things: to these the prophet is sent to stir them up to the building of the temple.

HAGGAI

THE ARGUMENT

Haggai is the first prophet that appears in the name of the Lord of hosts, to awaken, reprove, direct, exhort, and encourage both the governor, high priest, and people, returned out of captivity, to the restoring and settling the worship of God, to the rebuilding the temple, whose foundations, together with the altar of burnt-offering, had been laid seventeen or eighteen years ago; but the finishing of the temple prohibited by Cambyses all the time of his being viceroy to his father Cyrus, and during his own reign; and neglected near two years in Darius Hystaspes's time, through the covetousness of many, the coldness of some, and the cowardice of others among the Jews, who were all bent on their own private concerns, and pleaded it was not time to set about the building of God's temple, and who in all probability would have deferred it much longer had they been let alone: now therefore the Lord doth, in zeal for his own glory, and in mercy to his people, send his servant Haggai to awaken them to their duty, which was this, the building the temple, and restoring the pure worship of God. He reproves them for neglecting this; tells them this sin was the cause of the penury and scarcity which afflicted them these fifteen or sixteen years past; assures them that, so soon as ever they begin the work, their ground, their cattle, their vines and olives, should wonderfully increase their store; promiseth God's presence with them, and with it a supply of gold and silver, which are his, and he will, as he did by the bounty of Darius and the contributions of others, bring in to them; and though the external glory of this temple were less than that of the first temple, yet this second temple should exceed the first in glory for so much as their expected, longed-for, and the blessed Messiah should appear in it. All which, as they were weighty arguments in themselves considered, so, through the co-operation of the Spirit of God, they prevailed with his hearers, who set about the work; and when opposed by their enemies, who sent to Darius to solicit him to renew the prohibition, he on the contrary confirms and enlargeth their charter granted by the grand Cyrus, and annexeth severe penalties on all that dare hinder this work; all which particularly, and at large, are set down in the sixth and seventh chapters of Ezra. And so in four years' time the temple is finished, the feast of dedication is celebrated, and the final issue answers to the name of the prophet who, sent of God, set it forwards, Haggai, who hath his name from the word that signifieth a feast, as if we should call him Festivus. He closeth all with a close prediction of many and long wars and seditions to come among the Gentiles, to the overthrow of the enemies of the Jews.

HAGGAI CHAPTER 1

The time when Haggai prophesied, Hag 1:1. Haggai reproveth the people's delay in building the temple, Hag 1:2-6. He inciteth them to set about it, Hag 1:7-11. He promiseth them, being forward of themselves, God's assistance, Hag 1:12,13. The work is set forward, Hag 1:14,15.

Darius: of this name there were seven, Darius Medus, Hystaspes, Longimanus, Nothus, Ochus, Arsames, Codomanus; one before Cyrus, viz. that Darius which is distinguished from the other by Medus, the Mede; the next Darius was son of Hystaspes, and third king of Persia, (if we leave out Smerdis the cheat, who on Cambyses's death counterfeited the true Smerdis, slain by Cambyses's order, got into the throne, but was discovered and slain at seven months' end,) of whom the text speaketh; unless you can think Joshua high priest through one hundred and forty-four years, and some considerable number of Jews to have lived one hundred and ninety-six years, and the returned captives to have wanted a temple for one hundred and twelve years at least, which incredible things attend them who will have this Darius to be Nothus.

The king; as being the greatest of that time, and by way of eminency above others.

In the sixth month; Elul, answering to part of our August and September.

The word of the Lord; the command or direction what they should do, and reproof for what they had omitted to do.

Haggai: we read nothing of his parentage or country in the Scripture; he doted that thought him an angel.

The prophet; inspired, sent, approved, and assisted of God in his office.

Zerubbabel; whose name speaks either his birth in Babylon, or his interest and power there as some conjecture: probably his birth in Babylon might be ground of trusting him with the government of Judah, to which he had right.

Song of Solomon of Shealtiel; adoptive son to Shealtiel, being of the royal line, probably he was the chief branch thereof, uncle to him; but by nature, or by generation, son of Pedaiah; or else there were two Zerubbabels, sons of two brothers, Pedaiah and Shealtiel.

Governor of Judah; appointed to this by the Persian king, under whose power the Jews were now fallen, and at whose pleasure governors were placed or displaced over the remnant returned out of Babylon, and once at last settled in the land of Judah.

Joshua; a type of the great Deliverer; one Joshua leads them into Canaan, another restores the temple.

Josedech; whose name did portend good to this people, and bespoke God's righteousness; his father Seraiah was high priest and slain by Nebuchadnezzar.

The high priest, by lineal descent according to the law, chief of power in church matters, as Zerubbabel was chief in civil things: to these the prophet is sent to stir them up to the building of the temple.

In the second year of Darius the King,.... That is, of Persia; he is spoken of as if he was the only king in the world; and indeed he was the then greatest king in it; and therefore is emphatically called "the king". This was not Darius the Mede, as Genebrard; who was contemporary with Cyrus, and partner in the kingdom; nor Darius Nothus, as Scaliger, and those that follow him; since the second year of this Darius was, according to Cocceius, who follows this opinion, one hundred and thirty eight years after the first edict of Cyrus; and so Zerubbabel and Joshua must exercise their office, the one of governor, the other of high priest, such a term of years, and more, which is not credible; and some of the Jews in captivity must have lived upwards of two hundred years; even those who saw the temple in its first glory, before the captivity, and now behold it in Haggai's time, in a very different condition, Haggai 2:3. It seems therefore more probable, according to Josephus (i), and others, that this was Darius Hystaspis, who was chosen king by the nobles of Persia, upon his horse's neighing first as Herodotus (k) relates: the second year of his reign was about seventeen or eighteen years after the proclamation of Cyrus; during whose reign, he being much engaged in affairs abroad, and the reign of his successor Cambyses, the enemies of the Jews, encouraged by the latter, greatly obstructed the building of the temple, and discouraged them from going on with it; but when this king came to the throne, things took another turn, being favoured by him; for Josephus (l) relates, that, when a private person, he vowed, if ever he became king, whatever of the holy vessels were in Babylon, he would send to the temple at Jerusalem; and upon solicitations made to him, the Jews were encouraged to go on with the building of it:

in the sixth month; the month Elul, answering, to part of August, and part of September; which was the sixth, reckoning from the month Nisan:

in the first day of the month; which was the feast of the new moon:

came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet; or, "by the hand of Haggai" (m); by his means; he was the instrument by whom the Lord delivered his word; the word was not the prophet's, but the Lord's; and this is observed, to give weight and authority to it:

unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel: the same who is called Salathiel, Matthew 1:12 according to Kimchi and Ben Melech, he was the grandson of Salathiel; though rather Salathiel seems to be his uncle, he being the son of Pedaiah his brother, 1 Chronicles 3:17 however, he was his heir and successor in the government, and so called his son; See Gill on Matthew 1:12,

governor of Judah; not king; for the country was under the dominion of the king of Persia, and Zerubbabel was a deputy governor under him; so the apocryphal Ezra calls him governor of Judea,

"And also he commanded that Sisinnes the governor of Syria and Phenice, and Sathrabuzanes, and their companions, and those which were appointed rulers in Syria and Phenice, should be careful not to meddle with the place, but suffer Zorobabel, the servant of the Lord, and governor of Judea, and the elders of the Jews, to build the house of the Lord in that place.'' (1 Esdras 6:27)

and, according to Josephus (n), he was made governor of the captive Jews, when in Babylon, being in great favour with the king of Babylon; and, with two more, were his body guards; and he was continued governor by the Persians, when the Jews returned to their land:

and to Joshua the son of Josedech the high priest; who is called Jeshua, and his father Jozadak, Ezra 3:2 his father was carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar, 1 Chronicles 6:15 now, to these two principal persons in the commonwealth of Judea was the word of the Lord sent by the prophet; the one having the chief power in civil things, and the other in things ecclesiastical; and both had an influence upon the people; but very probably were dilatory in the work of building the temple; and therefore have a message sent to them, to stir them up to this service:

saying: as follows:

(i) Antiqu. l. 11. c. 3. sect. 1. and c. 4. sect. 5, 7. (k) Thalia, sive l. 3. c. 84, 85, 86. (l) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 11. c. 3. sect. 1. and c. 4. sect. 5, 7.) (m) "in manu Aggaei", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius. (n) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 11. c. 3. sect. 1. and c. 4. sect. 5, 7.)

In the second year of {a} Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto {b} Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,

The Argument - When the time of the seventy years captivity prophesied by Jeremiah was expired, God raised up Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, to comfort the Jews, and to exhort them to the building of the temple, which was a figure of the spiritual Temple and Church of God, whose perfection and excellency depended on Christ. And because all were given to their own pleasures and benefits, he declares that that plague of famine, which God then sent among them, was a just reward for their ingratitude, in that they condemned God's honour, who had delivered them. Yet he comforts them, if they will return to the Lord, with the promise of great felicity, since the Lord will finish the work that he has begun, and send Christ whom he had promised, and by whom they would attain to perfect joy and glory.

(a) Who was the son of Histaspis and the third king of the Persians, as some think.

(b) Because the building of the temple began to cease, by reason that the people were discouraged by their enemies: and if these two notable men had need to be stirred up and admonished of their duties, what will we think of other governors, whose doings are either against God, or very cold in his cause?

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. Haggai 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 Dâryavush, which means the ‘holder,’ or ‘supporter.’ ” Max. Müller 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. (Nehemiah 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 (Ezra 3:2; Ezra 3:8, Ezra 5:2) and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 12:1) and in the genealogies of our Lord, Matthew 1:12; Luke 3:27, Zerubbabel is called as he is in this book the son of Shealtiel or Salathiel. But in 1 Chronicles 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 (Ezra 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 (Haggai 1:12). Many of their prophecies were addressed to him by name (Haggai 1:1; Haggai 2:2; Haggai 2:21; Zechariah 4:6); and his spirit was specially stirred up by God (Haggai 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 (1 Kings 10:15; 2 Chronicles 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 (1 Kings 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 (2 Kings 18:24). Sennacherib compares Hezekiah to one of the ‘Governors’ of the subjugated provinces, which he held subdued (Comp. Isaiah 10:8-9; 2 Kings 18:34). Then, in each case joined with Sagans, Pechah is used of Babylonian, (Jeremiah 51:23; Jeremiah 51:57; Ezekiel 23:6; Ezekiel 23:23) and Median (Jeremiah 51:28) governors. Daniel, in recounting the Babylonian governors, places the Pechahs the third, after the Satraps and Sagans (Daniel 3:2-3; Daniel 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,’ Daniel 6:8. Somewhat later, (Esther 8:9; Esther 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 (Ezra 8:36; Nehemiah 2:7; Nehemiah 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,’ Ezra 5:3; Ezra 6:6, who (although apparently he dwelt at Jerusalem, Nehemiah 3:7) is yet, in the same rescript of Darius, distinguished from ‘the Pechah of the Jews’ (Ezra 6:7), whom naturally there was most occasion to mention (Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:14; Haggai 2:2; Haggai 2:21; Malachi 1:8; Nehemiah 5:14; Nehemiah 5:18; Nehemiah 12:26).” Pusey, Book of Daniel, p. 567; where also the possible connection of Pechah with Pashah is discussed by Max Müller.Verse 1. - In the second year of Darius the king. This is Darius Hystaspes, who reigned over Persia from B.C. 521 to B.C. 486. He is called in the inscriptions Daryavush, which name means "Holder," or "Supporter." Herodotus (6:98) explains it as "Coercer" (ἑρξείης). Hitherto the prophets have dated the time of the exercise of their office from the reigns of the legitimate Hebrew monarchs; it shows a new slate of things when they place at the head of their oracles the name of a foreign and a heathen patenlate. The Jews had, indeed, now no king of their own, "the tabernacle of David had fallen" (Amos 9:11), and they were living on sufferance under an alien power. They had returned from exile by permission of Cyrus in the first year of his occupancy of the throne of Babylon sixteen years before this time, and had commenced to build the temple soon after; but the opposition of neighbours, contradictory orders from the Persian court, and their own lukewarmness had contributed to hinder the work, and it soon wholly ceased, and remained suspended to the moment when Haggai, as the seventy years of desolation drew to an end, was commissioned to arouse them from their apathy, and to urge them to use the opportunity which was afforded by the accession of the new monarch and the withdrawal of the vexatious interdict that had checked their operations in the previous reign (see Introduction, § 1; and comp. Ezra 4:24). The sixth month, according to the sacred Hebrew calendar, which reckoned from Nisan to Nisan. This would be Elul, answering to parts of our August and September. In the first day. This was the regular festival of the new moon (Numbers 10:10; Isaiah 1:13), and a fitting time to urge the building of the temple, without which it could not be duly celebrated. By; literally, by the hand (as in ver. 3), the instrument whom God used (Exodus 9:35; Jeremiah 37:2; Hosea 12:11; Acts 7:35) Haggai the prophet (see the Introduction). Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel; Septuagint, Αἰπὸν πρὸς Ζοροβάβελ τὸν τοῦ Σαλαθιὴλ, "Speak to Zorobabel the son of Salathiel." The temporal head of the nation, the representative of the royal house of David, and therefore with the high priest jointly responsible, for the present state of affairs, and having power and authority to amend it. The name, as explained, and rightly, by St. Jerome, means, "Born in Babylon," and intimates the truth concerning his origin. He is called Sheshbazzar in Ezra 1:8; Ezra 5:14, which is either his name at the Persian court, or is an erroneous transliteration for a synonymous word (see Kuabenbauer, in loc.). The name is found in the cuneiform inscription, as Zir-Babilu. Shealtiel (or Salathiel) means, "Asked of God." There is a difficulty about Zerubbabel's parentage. Here and frequently in this book, and in Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as in Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27, he is called "son of Shealtiel;" in 1 Chronicles 3:19 he is said to be the son of Pedaiah the brother of Salathiel. The truth probably is that he was by birth the son of Pedaiah, but by adoption or the law of the levirate, the son of Salathiel. He was regarded as the grandson of Jehoiachin, or Jeconiah. Governor (pechah). A foreign word, used in 1 Kings 10:15, in Isaiah (Isaiah 36:9) and frequently in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, to denote an inferior satrap or subordinate governor. Strassmaier (ap. Knabenbauer) notes that in Assyrian the word is found in the form pachu, that pichatu means "a province," pachat, "a district." It seems natural, though probably erroneous, to connect it with the Turkish pashah. But see the discussion on the word in Pusey, 'Daniel the Prophet,' p. 566, etc. Instead of "Governor of Judah," the LXX. here and ver. 12 and Haggai 2:2 reads, "of the tribe of Judah." One of the house of David has the government, but the foreign title applied to him shows that he holds authority only as the deputy of an alien power. Judah was henceforward applied to the whole country. The prophecy in Genesis 49:10 still held good. Joshua. The highest spiritual officer (Ezra 3:2, 8; Ezra 4:3). This Joshua, Jehoshua, Jeshua, as he is variously called, was a son of Josedech who, in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, had been carried captive to Babylon (1 Chronicles 6:15), and grandson of that Seraiah who, with other princes of Judah, was slain at Riblah by the Babyloniaes (2 Kings 25:18, etc.). The parentage of Zerubbabel and Joshua is specially mentioned to show that the former was of the house of David and the latter of the family of Aaron, and that even in its depressed condition Israel retained its rightful constitution (see note on Zechariah 3:1). But the wrath of God does not fall upon those who trust in the Lord; it only falls upon His enemies. With this turn Nahum prepares the way in Nahum 1:7. for proclaiming the judgment of wrath upon Nineveh. Nahum 1:7. "Good is Jehovah, a refuge in the day of trouble; and He knoweth those who trust in Him. Nahum 1:8. And with an overwhelming flood will He make an end of her place, and pursue His enemies into darkness." Even in the manifestation of His wrath God proves His goodness; for the judgment, by exterminating the wicked, brings deliverance to the righteous who trust in the Lord, out of the affliction prepared for them by the wickedness of the world. The predicate טוב is more precisely defined by the apposition למעוז וגו, for a refuge equals a refuge in time of trouble. The goodness of the Lord is seen in the fact that He is a refuge in distress. The last clause says to whom: viz., to those who trust in Him. They are known by Him. "To know is just the same as not to neglect; or, expressed in a positive form, the care or providence of God in the preservation of the faithful" (Calvin). For the fact, compare Psalm 34:9; Psalm 46:2; Jeremiah 16:19. And because the Lord is a refuge to His people, He will put an end to the oppressor of His people, viz., Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, and that with an overwhelming flood. Sheteph, overwhelming, is a figure denoting the judgment sweeping over a land or kingdom, through the invasion of hostile armies (cf. Isaiah 8:7; Daniel 11:26, Daniel 11:40). עבר, overflowed by a river (cf. Isaiah 8:8; Habakkuk 3:10; Daniel 11:40). עשׂה כלה, to put an end to anything, as in Isaiah 10:23. מקומהּ is the accusative of the object: make her place a vanishing one. כּלה, the fem. of כּלה, an adjective in a neuter sense, that which is vanishing away. The suffix in מקומהּ refers to Nineveh in the heading (Nahum 1:1): either Nineveh personified as a queen (Nahum 2:7; Nahum 3:4), is distinguished from her seat (Hitzig); or what is much more simple, the city itself is meant, and "her place" is to be understood in this sense, that with the destruction of the city even the place where it stood would cease to be the site of a city, with which March aptly compares the phrase, "its place knoweth man no more" (Job 7:10; Job 8:18; Job 20:9). איביו are the inhabitants of Nineveh, or the Assyrians generally, as the enemies of Israel. ירדּף־חשׁך, not darkness will pursue its enemies; for this view is irreconcilable with the makkeph: but to pursue with darkness, chōshekh being an accusative either of place or of more precise definition, used in an instrumental sense. The former is the simpler view, and answers better to the parallelism of the clauses. As the city is to vanish and leave no trace behind, so shall its inhabitants perish in darkness.
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