Then spoke Haggai the LORD's messenger in the LORD's message to the people, saying, I am with you, said the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)In the Lord’s message.—Or, on the Lord’s mission.Malachi 2:7 "the messenger of the Lord of hosts," and prophesies of John Baptist as Malachi 3:1 "the messenger" of the Lord, who should go before His face. Haggai, as he throughout repeats that his words were God's words, frames a new word to express, in the language of the New Testament; 2 Corinthians 5:20 that he had an embassy from God; "in the Lord's message."
I am with you - All the needs and longings of the creature are summed up in those two words, "I with you." "Who art Thou and who am I? Thou, He Who Is; I, he who am not;" nothing, yea worse than nothing. Yet "if Romans 8:31, God be for us," Paul asks, "who can be against us?" Our blessed Lord's parting promise to the Apostles, and in them to the Church, was, Matthew 28:20. "Lo I am with you alway, even to the end of the world." The all-containing assurance goes beyond any particular promise of aid, as , "I will help you, and will protect you, so that your building shall have its completion." This is one fruit of it , "since I am in the midst of you, no one shall be able to hinder your building." But, more widely, the words bespeak "His" presence in love, who knows all our needs, and is Almighty to support and save us in all. So David says Psalm 23:4, "when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me:" and God says by another Psalm 91:15, I will be "with him in trouble," and by Isaiah Isa 43:2, "When thou passest through the waters," I will be "with thee."
in the Lord's message—by the Lord's authority and commission: on the Lord's embassage.
I am with you—(Mt 28:20). On the people showing the mere disposition to obey, even before they actually set to work, God passes at once from the reproving tone to that of tenderness. He hastens as it were to forget their former unfaithfulness, and to assure them, when obedient, that He both is and will be with them: Hebrew, "I with you!" God's presence is the best of blessings, for it includes all others. This is the sure guarantee of their success no matter how many their foes might be (Ro 8:31). Nothing more inspirits men and rouses them from torpor, than, when relying on the promises of divine aid, they have a sure hope of a successful issue [Calvin].Then; when the people showed their obedience, and the willingness of their minds, then God encourageth them by his prophet.
Messenger; legate or envoy, the Hebrew word signifieth also an angel; but this is not surf, clout to prove their opinion, who dream that Haggai was not a man, but an angel in the form of a man; the word here used (arising from a word that signifieth to send, and paraphrased by a word that primarily signifieth to send as messengers are sent) doth speak an angel from his office and work, as he ministereth before the Lord, and runneth swiftly on his errand; it speaketh not the nature or essence of angels, as they are spirits. The French version (which I use, printed at Rochelle, 1616) reads it, like ours, ambassador. So Haggai was God’s messenger or ambassador to his people; no angel.
In the Lord’s message; as becometh an ambassador. in the words of his master, so Haggai delivered the Lord’s message.
Unto the people; not excluding the governors; but the people are only mentioned, for that the prophet spake to the whole assembly, or because the Lord would encourage them most, who most needed encouragement.
I am with you; a great promise, and which contains all they can need or desire; it insureth God’s presence always with them, and his assistance always to them, and his blessing always upon them. He will be always for, as well as always with them, and then Tatnai, Shethar-bozhal, Sanballat, and all other conspirators with them, shall not prevail to hinder the work. Such a promise as this, see Exodus 3:12 4:11-13 Matthew 28:20 Romans 8:31 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Saith the Lord: this solemn attestation addeth weight to the promise.
in the Lord's message unto the people; not of his own head, nor out of the pity of his own heart merely; but as a prophet of the Lord, having a fresh message from him to carry a promise to them for their comfort and encouragement:
saying, I am with you, saith the Lord; to pardon their sins; to accept their persons; to remove his rod from them; to assist them in the work of building the temple, they were now willing to engage in; to protect them from their enemies, and to strengthen them to go on with the work till they had finished it; a short promise, but a very full one: it was saying much in a little, and enough to remove all their fears, to scatter all their doubts, and to bear them up, and through all discouragements.Then spake Haggai the LORD's messenger in the LORD's message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. messenger] The word is that commonly used for an angel in the O.T., but its first and proper meaning is messenger. In the same way in the N.T., the same word (ἄγγελος) is used generally in its restricted sense for an angel, and occasionally in its wider sense for a messenger (Luke 7:27; Luke 9:52; James 2:25). Haggai is the only prophet who uses this title of himself. It is, to say the least, doubtful whether Moses as a prophet is intended by it in Numbers 20:16. Malachi (“my angel or messenger”) has it for the only name by which we know him, and he uses it of the Jewish priest (Malachi 2:7), and of John Baptist the forerunner of our Lord, and of our Lord Himself, “the messenger of the Covenant” (Malachi 3:1).
I am with you] Lit. I with you. This short but all-sufficient promise, varied sometimes by the corresponding expression of faith, “God with us,” or by the record of its fulfilment, “Jehovah was with him,” shines out like a bright star in times of darkness and need to individual saints, and to the Church at large in the O.T. It is given to Jacob at Bethel at the outset of his journey (Genesis 28:15); to Moses at the Bush, when called to be the deliverer of his people (Exodus 3:12); to Joshua, when he took up for completion the unfinished work of Moses (Joshua 1:5); to Jeremiah at his entrance on the difficult work of prophesying (Jeremiah 1:8). It was fulfilled to Joseph when sold a slave into Egypt (Genesis 39:2), and when made a prisoner there on a false accusation (ver. 21). It was the battle-cry of the Church when threatened with the invasion of the proud Assyrian (Isaiah 8:10), and the refrain of her song of victory when the Assyrian was overthrown (Psalm 46:7; Psalm 46:11). In the N. T. it finds its full accomplishment in Him who is “Emmanuel, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Here Haggai sums up the promise of all needful resources for the work, and protection from the jealous foes who had so long hindered it, and conveys the assurance of a prosperous issue in the few short words, “I with you, saith Jehovah.”Verse 13. - Then spake Haggai. God hastens to accept their repentance and to assure them of his protection. The Lord's messenger. Haggai alone of the prophets uses this title of himself, implying that he came with authority and bearing a message from the Lord (comp. Numbers 20:16, where the word "angel" is by some applied to Moses). Malachi's very name expresses that he was the Lord's messenger, and he uses the term of the priest (Malachi 2:7), and of John the Baptist, and of Messiah himself (Malachi 3:1). In the Lord's message (1 Kings 13:18). In the special message of consolation which he was commissioned to deliver. The Septuagint rendering, ἐν ἀγγέλοις Κυρίου, "anong the angels of the Lord," led some to fancy that Haggai was an angel in human farm, which opinion is refuted by Jerome, in loc. I am with you (Haggai 2:4). A brief message comprised in two words, "I with you," yet full of comfort, promising God's presence, protection, aid, and blessing (comp. Genesis 28:15; Genesis 39:2; Joshua 1:5; Jeremiah 1:8; Matthew 28:20). Nahum 2:5. "He remembers his glorious ones: they stumble in their paths; they hasten to the wall of it, and the tortoise is set up. Nahum 2:6. The gates are opened in the rivers, and the palace is dissolved. Nahum 2:7. It is determined: she is laid bare, carried off, and her maids groan like the cry of doves, smiting on their breasts." On the approach of the war-chariots of the enemy to the attack, the Assyrian remembers his generals and warriors, who may possibly be able to defend the city and drive back the foe. That the subject changes with yizkōr, is evident from the change in the number, i.e., from the singular as compared with the plurals in Nahum 2:3 and Nahum 2:4, and is placed beyond the reach of doubt by the contents of Nahum 2:5., which show that the reference is to the attempt to defend the city. The subject to yizkōr is the Assyrian (בּליּעל, Nahum 2:1), or the king of Asshur (Nahum 3:18). He remembers his glorious ones, i.e., remembers that he has 'addı̄rı̄m, i.e., not merely generals (μεγιστᾶνες, lxx), but good soldiers, including the generals (as in Nahum 3:18; Judges 5:13; Nehemiah 3:5). He sends for them, but they stumble in their paths. From terror at the violent assault of the foe, their knees lose their tension (the plural hălı̄khōth is not to be corrected into the singular according to the keri, as the word always occurs in the plural). They hasten to the wall of it (Nineveh); there is הסּכך set up: i.e., literally the covering one, not the defender, praesidium militare (Hitzig), but the tortoise, testudo.
(Note: Not, however, the tortoise formed by the shields of the soldiers, held close together above their heads (Liv. xxxiv. 9), since these are never found upon the Assyrian monuments (vid., Layard), but a kind of battering-ram, of which there are several different kinds, either a moveable tower, with a battering-ram, consisting of a light framework, covered with basket-work, or else a framework without any tower, either with an ornamented covering, or simply covered with skins, and moving upon four or six wheels. See the description, with illustrations, in Layard's Nineveh, ii. pp. 366-370, and Strauss's commentary on this passage.)
The prophet's description passes rapidly from the assault upon the city wall to the capture of the city itself (Nahum 2:6). The opened or opening gates of the rivers are neither those approaches to the city which were situated on the bank of the Tigris, and were opened by the overflowing of the river, in support of which appeal has been made to the statement of Diodor. Sic. ii. 27, that the city wall was destroyed for the space of twenty stadia by the overflowing of the Tigris; for "gates of the rivers" cannot possibly stand for gates opened by rivers. Still less can it be those roads of the city which led to the gates, and which were flooded with people instead of water (Hitzig), or with enemies, who were pressing from the gates into the city like overflowing rivers (Ros.); nor even gates through which rivers flow, i.e., sluices, namely those of the concentric canals issuing from the Tigris, with which the palace could be laid under water (Vatabl., Burck, Hitzig, ed. 1); but as Luther renders it, "gates on the waters," i.e., situated on the rivers, or gates in the city wall, which were protected by the rivers; "gates most strongly fortified, both by nature and art" (Tuch, de Nino urbe, p. 67, Strauss, and others), for nehârōth must be understood as signifying the Tigris and its tributaries and canals. At any rate, there were such gates in Nineveh, since the city, which stood at the junction of the Khosr with the Tigris, in the slope of the (by no means steep) rocky bank, was to some extent so built in the alluvium, that the natural course of the Khosr had to be dammed off from the plain chosen for the city by three stone dams, remnants of which are still to be seen; and a canal was cut above this point, which conducted the water to the plain of the city, where it was turned both right and left into the city moats, but had a waste channel through the city. To the south, however, another small collection of waters helped to fill the trenches. "The wall on the side towards the river consisted of a slightly curved line, which connected together the mouths of the trenches, but on the land side it was built at a short distance from the trenches. The wall on the river side now borders upon meadows, which are only flooded at high water; but the soil has probably been greatly elevated, and at the time when the city was built this was certainly river" (see M. v. Niebuhr, Geschichte Assurs u. Babels, p. 280; and the outlines of the plan of the ground oh which Nineveh stood, p. 284). The words of the prophet are not to be understood as referring to any particular gate, say the western, either alone, or par excellence, as Tuch supposes, but apply quite generally to the gates of the city, since the rivers are only mentioned for the purpose of indicating the strength of the gates. As Luther has correctly explained it, "the gates of the rivers, however firm in other respects, and with no easy access, will now be easily occupied, yea, have been already opened." The palace melts away, not, however, from the floods of water which flow through the open gates. This literal rendering of the words is irreconcilable with the situation of the palaces in Nineveh, since they were built in the form of terraces upon the tops of hills, either natural or artificial, and could not be flooded with water. The words are figurative. mūg, to melt, dissolve, i.e., to vanish through anxiety and alarm; and היכל, the palace, for the inhabitants of the palace. "When the gates, protected by the rivers, are broken open by the enemy, the palace, i.e., the reigning Nineveh, vanishes in terror" (Hitzig). For her sway has now come to an end.
הצּב: the hophal of נצב, in the hiphil, to establish, to determine (Deuteronomy 32:8; Psalm 74:17; and Chald. Daniel 2:45; Daniel 6:13); hence it is established, i.e., is determined, sc. by God: she will be made bare; i.e., Nineveh, the queen, or mistress of the nations, will be covered with shame. גּלּתה is not to be taken as interchangeable with the hophal הגלה, to be carried away, but means to be uncovered, after the piel to uncover, sc. the shame or nakedness (Nahum 3:5; cf. Isaiah 47:2-3; Hosea 2:12). העלה, for העלה (see Ges. 63, Anm. 4), to be driven away, or led away, like the niph. in Jeremiah 37:11; 2 Samuel 2:27.
(Note: Of the different explanations that have been given of this hemistich, the supposition, which dates back as far as the Chaldee, that huzzab signifies the queen, or is the name of the queen (Ewald and Rckert), is destitute of any tenable foundation, and is no better than Hitzig's fancy, that we should read והצּב, "and the lizard is discovered, fetched up," and that this "reptile" is Nineveh. The objection offered to our explanation, viz., that it would only be admissible if it were immediately followed by the decretum divinum in its full extent, and not merely by one portion of it, rests upon a misinterpretation of the following words, which do not contain merely a portion of the purpose of God.)
The laying bare and carrying away denote the complete destruction of Nineveh. אמהתיה, ancillae ejus, i.e., Nini. The "maids" of the city of Nineveh personified as a queen are not the states subject to her rule (Theodor., Cyr., Jerome, and others), - for throughout this chapter Nineveh is spoken of simply as the capital of the Assyrian empire, - but the inhabitants of Nineveh, who are represented as maids, mourning over the fate of their mistress. Nâhag, to pant, to sigh, for which hâgâh is used in other passages where the cooing of doves is referred to (cf. Isaiah 38:14; Isaiah 59:11). כּקול יונים instead of כּיּונים, probably to express the loudness of the moaning. Tophēph, to smite, used for the smiting of the timbrels in Psalm 68:26; here, to smite upon the breast. Compare pectus pugnis caedere, or palmis infestis tundere (e.g., Juv. xiii. 167; Virg. Aen. i. 481, and other passages), as an expression of violent agony in deep mourning (cf. Luke 18:13; Luke 23:27). לבבהן for לבביהן is the plural, although this is generally written לבּות; and as the י is frequently omitted as a sign of the plural (cf. Ewald, 258, a), there is no good ground for reading לבבהן, as Hitzig proposes.
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