Haggai 2:4
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, said the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land, said the LORD, and work: for I am with you, said 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. Thus will the mighty city be destroyed, with its men of war and booty. Nahum 2:11. "Where is the dwelling of the lions and the feeding-place of the young lions, where the lion walked, the lioness, the lion's whelp, and no one frightened? Nahum 2:12. The lion robbing for the need of his young ones, and strangling for his lionesses, and he filled his dens with prey, and his dwelling-places with spoil. Nahum 2:13. Behold, O come to thee, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, and I cause her chariots to turn in smoke, and thy young lions the sword devours; and I cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall be heard no more." The prophet, beholding the destruction in spirit as having already taken place, looks round for the site on which the mighty city once stood, and sees it no more. This is the meaning of the question in Nahum 2:11. He describes it as the dwelling-place of lions. The point of comparison is the predatory lust of its rulers and their warriors, who crushed the nations like lions, plundering their treasures, and bringing them together in Nineveh. To fill up the picture, the epithets applied to the lions are grouped together according to the difference of sex and age. אריה is the full-grown male lion; לביא, the lioness; כּפיר, the young lion, though old enough to go in search of prey; גּוּר אריה, catulus leonis, the lion's whelp, which cannot yet seek prey for itself. וּמרעה הוּא, lit., "and a feeding-place is it," sc. the dwelling-place (הוּא pointing back to מעון) in this sense: "Where is the dwelling-place which was also a feeding-place for the young lions?" By the apposition the thought is expressed, that the city of lions was not only a resting-place, but also afforded a comfortable living. אשׁר is to be taken in connection with the following שׁם: in the very place where; and hâlakh signifies simply to walk, to walk about, not "to take exercise," in which case the kal would stand for piel. The more precise definition follows in ואין מחריד, without any one terrifying, hence in perfect rest and security, and undisturbed might (cf. Micah 4:4; Leviticus 26:6; Deuteronomy 28:26, etc.). Under the same figure Nahum 2:12 describes the tyranny and predatory lust of the Assyrians in their wars. This description is subordinate in sense to the leading thought, or to the question contained in the previous verse. Where is the city now, into which the Assyrians swept together the booty of the peoples and kingdoms which they had destroyed? In form, however, the verse is attached poetically in loose apposition to Nahum 2:12. The lion, as king of the beasts, is a very fitting emblem of the kings or rulers of Assyria. The lionesses and young lions are the citizens of Nineveh and of the province of Assyria, the tribe-land of the imperial monarchy of Assyria, and not the queens and princes, as the Chaldee explains it. Gōrōth with the o-inflection for gūrōth, as in Jeremiah 51:38. Chōrı̄m, holes for hiding-places, or caves, not only applies to the robbers, in which character the Assyrians are exhibited through the figure of the lion (Hitzig), but also to the lions, which carry their prey into caves (cf. Bochart, Hieroz. i. 737). This destruction of Nineveh will assuredly take place; for Jehovah the Almighty God has proclaimed it, and He will fulfil His word. The word of God in Nahum 2:13 stamps the foregoing threat with the seal of confirmation. הנני אליך, behold I((will) to thee (Nineveh). We have not to supply אבוא here, but simply the verb. copul., which is always omitted in such sentences. The relation of the subject to the object is expressed by אל (cf. Nahum 3:5; Jeremiah 51:25). הבערתּי בעשׁן, I burn into smoke, i.e., so that it vanishes into smoke (cf. Psalm 37:20). רכבּהּ, her war-chariots, stands synecdochically for the whole of the apparatus of war (Calvin). The suffix in the third person must not be altered; it may easily be explained from the poetical variation of prophetic announcement and direct address. The young lions are the warriors; the echo of the figure in the previous verse still lingers in this figure, as well as in טרפּך. The last clause expresses the complete destruction of the imperial might of Assyria. The messengers of Nineveh are partly heralds, as the carriers of the king's commands; partly halberdiers, or delegates who fulfilled the ruler's commands (cf. 1 Kings 19:2; 2 Kings 19:23). The suffix in מלאככה is in a lengthened form, on account of the tone at the end of the section, analogous to אתכה in Exodus 29:35, and is not to be regarded as an Aramaeism or a dialectical variation (Ewald, 258, a). The tsere of the last syllable is occasioned by the previous tsere. Jerome has summed up the meaning very well as follows: "Thou wilt never lay countries waste any more, nor exact tribute, nor will thy messengers be heard throughout thy provinces." (On the last clause, see Ezekiel 19:9.)
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