Haggai 1:9
Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Ye looked for much.—Literally, There has been a turning about for much.

I did blow upon itscil., for the purpose of dispersing it. Even the little that was brought into the garner was decimated by God’s continued disfavour.

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.Ye looked - , literally "a looking;" as though he said, it has all been one looking, "for much," for increase, the result of all sowing, in the way of nature: "and behold it came to little," i. e., less than was sown; as Isaiah denounced to them of old by God's word, Isaiah 5:10. "the seed of a homer shall yield an ephah," i. e., one tenth of what was sown. "And ye brought it home, and I blew upon it," so as to disperse it, as, not the wheat, but the chaff is blown before the wind. This, in whatever way it came to pass, was a further chastisement of God. The little seed which they brought in lessened through decay or waste. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. God asks by his prophet, what He asks in the awakened conscience Psalm 39:11. "God with rebukes chastens man for sin." Conscience, when alive, confesses for "what" sin; or it asks itself, if memory does not supply the special sin. Unawakened, it complains about the excess of rain, the drought, the blight, the mildew, and asks, not itself, why, in God's Providence, these inflictions came in these years? They felt doubtless the sterility in contrast with the exceeding prolificalness of Babylonia, as they contrasted the "light bread," Numbers 21:5. the manna, with Numbers 11:5. the plenteousness of Egypt. They ascribed probably their meagre crops (as we mostly do) to mere natural causes, perhaps to the long neglect of the land during the captivity. God forces the question upon their consciences, in that Haggai asks it in His Name, in whose hands all powers stand, "saith the Lord of host." They have not to talk it over among themselves, but to answer Almighty God, "why?" That "why?" strikes into the inmost depths of conscience!

Because of My house which is waste, and ye run - literally, "are running," all the while, "each to his own house" They were absorbed in their material interests, and had no time for those of God. When the question was of God's house, they stir not from the spot; when it is of their own concerns, they run. Our Lord says, Matthew 6:33. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Man reverses this, seeks his own things first, and God withholds His blessing.

"This comes true of those who prefer their own conveniences to God's honor, who do not thoroughly uproot self-love, whose penitence and devotion are shewn to be unstable, for on a slight temptation they are overcome. Such are they who are bold, self-pleasing, wise and great in their own eyes, who do not ground their conversation on true and solid humility."

(Cyr.) "To those who are slow to fulfill what is for the glory of God, and the things whereby His house, the Church, is firmly stayed, neither the heavenly dew cometh, which enricheth hearts and minds, nor the fruitfulness of the earth; i. e., right action; not food nor wine nor use of oil. But they will be ever strengthless and joyless, unenriched by spiritual oil, and remain without taste or participation of the blessing through Christ."

9. Ye looked for much—literally, "looked" so as to turn your eyes "to much." The Hebrew infinitive here expresses continued looking. Ye hoped to have your store made "much" by neglecting the temple. The greater was your greediness, the more bitter your disappointment in being poorer than ever.

when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it—even the little crop brought into your barns I dissipated. "I did blow upon," that is, I scattered and caused to perish with My mere breath, as scattered and blighted corn.

mine house … his own house—in emphatic antithesis.

ye run—expressing the keenness of everyone of them in pursuing their own selfish interests. Compare "run," Ps 119:32; Pr 1:16, contrasted with their apathy about God's house.

Ye, O Jews, you toiled, and were at great cost, as Haggai 1:6.

Looked for much; expected, hoped, promised yourselves a great increase, a plentiful harvest.

And, lo, it came to little; but you saw, discerned, and were sensible that it answered not expectation; all dwindled into a very little, you were losers by all, went backward still.

I did blow upon it: had your little been as the righteous man’s little, you might have lived on it, and rejoiced in it; but it had not such a blessing upon it; it was blasted, and so was weak, and empty, and heartless, it profited little.

Because of mine house that is waste; all this curse on your estate and labour was for your ungodly neglect of my house, leaving it waste.

Ye run; did with eagerness carry on your own particular buildings, spared not care or cost for them; you stir not a foot about my house, you run with greatest earnestness about your own.

Every man to his own house, domestic affairs and concerns, in which not one or two, or some few, but every one is culpable, scarce any free from this fault.

Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little,.... They looked for a large harvest, and very promising it was for a while; but in the end it came to little; it was a very small crop, very little was reaped and gathered in: or, "in looking", ye looked "to increase" (x); your substance; had raised expectations of making themselves and families by their agriculture, and by their plantations of vines and olives, and by their trade and merchandise; and it dwindled away, and came to little or nothing; their riches, instead of being increased, were diminished:

and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it; when they brought into their barns or houses the produce of their land, labour, and merchandise, which was but little, the Lord blew a blast upon that little, and brought rottenness and worms into it, as Jarchi; so that it was not a blessing to them, but a curse. So the Targum interprets it,

"behold, I sent a curse upon it:''

or, "I blew it away" (y); as any light thing, straw or stubble, or thistle down, are blown away with a wind; so easily can the Lord, and sometimes he does, strip men of that little substance they have; riches by his orders make themselves wings, and flee away; or he, by one providence or another, blows them away like chaff before the wind:

Why? saith the Lord of hosts; what was the cause and reason of this? which question is put, not on his own account, who full well knew it; but for their sakes, to whom he speaks, that they might be made sensible of it; and in order to that to introduce what follows, which is an answer to the question:

because of mine house that is waste; which they suffered to lie waste, and did not concern themselves about the rebuilding of it: this the Lord resented, and for this reason blasted all their labours:

and ye run every man unto his own house; were very eager, earnest, and diligent, in building, beautifying, and adorning their own houses; taking care of their own domestic affairs; sparing no cost nor pains to promote their own secular interest; running in all haste to do any thing and everything to increase their worldly substance; but sat still, were idle and slothful, careless and negligent, about the house of God and the affairs of it.

(x) "ad rem augendam", Grotius. (y) "exsufflo illud", Vatablus; "efflo illud", Junius & Tremellius; "difflo", Piscator; "difflavi", Drusius, Cocceius.

Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow {i} upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.

(i) And so bring it to nothing.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. Ye looked for much, &c.] Lit. to look (there was looking) for much, and (it came) to little! Emphatic as ver. 6, where see note. A double blight and curse had come upon them. They had looked for much, had expected a plentiful harvest, and perhaps the appearance of the crops had warranted the expectation. But when they came to gather it in they found the actual yield but little, less even perhaps than they had originally sown. Pusey quotes the seed of a homer shall yield an ephah, i.e. one tenth of what was sown, Isaiah 5:10. And when this little was brought home into the garner, even that melted away by mildew or waste or loss. God did but blow upon it with the breath of His displeasure, and lo it was gone, as though instead of solid grain it had been chaff of the summer threshingfloor.

and ye run, &c.] while ye run, R. V., with eager zeal and interest to build and adorn it. See ver. 4. The word run is used in the same figurative way in Psalm 119:32; Proverbs 1:16.

9–11. Having pointed out in ver. 8 the way of amendment and prosperity, the prophet resumes in these verses the expostulation of vv. 4–6, and again insists upon the depressed condition of the people and its cause.

Verse 9. - 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 ver. 6. "To look for much, and behold! little." They fixed their expectations upon a rich harvest, and they reaped less than they had sown (Isaiah 5:10). And when they had stored this miserable crop in their barns, I did blow upon it; or, did blow it away (ἐξεφύσησα, Septuagint), 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 ver. 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. Haggai 1:9"Ye looked out for much, and behold (it came) to little; and ye brought it home, and I blew into it. Why? is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Because of my house, that it lies waste, whereas ye run every man for his house. Haggai 1:10. Therefore the heaven has withheld its dew on your account, that no dew fell, and the earth has withheld her produce. Haggai 1:11. And I called drought upon the earth, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon everything that the ground produces, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands." The meaning of Haggai 1:9 is evident from the context. The inf. abs. pânōh stands in an address full of emotion in the place of the perfect, and, as the following clause shows, for the second person plural. Ye have turned yourselves, fixed your eye upon much, i.e., upon a rich harvest, והנּה־למעט, and behold the desired much turned to little. Ye brought into the house, ye fetched home what was reaped, and I blew into it, i.e., I caused it to fly away, like chaff before the wind, so that there was soon none of it left. Here is a double curse, therefore, as in Haggai 1:6 : instead of much, but little was reaped, and the little that was brought home melted away without doing any good. To this exposition of the curse the prophet appends the question יען מה, why, sc. has this taken place? that he may impress the cause with the greater emphasis upon their hardened minds. For the same reason he inserts once more, between the question and the answer, the words "is the saying of Jehovah of hosts," that the answer may not be mistaken for a subjective view, but laid to heart as a declaration of the God who rules the world. The choice of the form מה for מה was probably occasioned by the guttural ע in the יען, which is closely connected with it, just as the analogous use of על־מה instead of על־מה in Isaiah 1:5; Psalm 10:13, and Jeremiah 16:10, where it is not followed by a word commencing with ע as in Deuteronomy 29:23; 1 Kings 9:8; Jeremiah 22:8. The former have not been taken into account at all by Ewald in his elaborate Lehrbuch (cf. 182, b). In the answer given by God, "because of my house" (ya‛an bēthı̄) is placed first for the sake of emphasis, and the more precise explanation follows. אשׁר הוּא, "because it," not "that which." ואתּם וגו is a circumstantial clause. לביתו ... רצים, not "every one runs to his house," but "runs for his house," ל denoting the object of the running, as in Isaiah 59:7 and Proverbs 1:16. "When the house of Jehovah was in question, they did not move from the spot; but if it concerned their own house, they ran" (Koehler). In Haggai 1:10 and Haggai 1:11, the curse with which God punished the neglect of His house is still further depicted, with an evident play upon the punishment with which transgressors are threatened in the law (Leviticus 26:19-20; Deuteronomy 11:17 and Deuteronomy 28:23-24). עליכם is not a dat. incomm. (Hitzig), which is never expressed by על; but על is used either in a causal sense, "on your account" (Chald.), or in a local sense, "over you," after the analogy of Deuteronomy 28:23, שׁמיך אשׁר על ראשׁך, in the sense of "the heaven over you will withold" (Ros., Koehl.). It is impossible to decide with certainty between these two. The objection to the first, that "on your account" would be superfluous after על־כּן, has no more force than that raised by Hitzig against the second, viz., that super would be מעל. There is no tautology in the first explanation, but the עליכם, written emphatically at the commencement, gives greater intensity to the threat: "on account of you," you who only care for your own houses, the heaven witholds the dew. And with the other explanation, מעל would only be required in case עליכם were regarded as the object, upon which the dew ought to fall down from above. כּלא, not "to shut itself up," but in a transitive sense, with the derivative meaning to withhold or keep back; and mittâl, not partitively "of the dew," equivalent to "a portion of it," but min in a privative sense, "away from," i.e., so that no dew falls; for it is inadmissible to take mittâl as the object, "to hold back along with the dew," after the analogy of Numbers 24:11 (Hitzig), inasmuch as the accusative of the person is wanting, and in the parallel clause כּלא is construed with the accus. rei. ואקרא in Haggai 1:11 is still dependent upon על־כּן. The word chōrebh, in the sense of drought, applies strictly speaking only to the land and the fruits of the ground, but it is also transferred to men and beasts, inasmuch as drought, when it comes upon all vegetation, affects men and beasts as well; and in this clause it may be taken in the general sense of devastation. The word is carefully chosen, to express the idea of the lex talionis. Because the Jews left the house of God chârēbh, they were punished with chōrebh. The last words are comprehensive: "all the labour of the hands" had reference to the cultivation of the soil and the preparation of the necessities of life.
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