Haggai 2:15
And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid on a stone in the temple of the LORD:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) From this day and upwardi.e., backward.

Before a stone was laid . . .—Alluding to the recent resumption of building, not to the laying of the foundations fifteen years previously.

Haggai 2:15-17. And now, consider from this day, &c. — Reflect on what has happened to you, from the time that a stop was put to the building of the temple, after the first foundation of it was laid, till you began again to rebuild it. And upward — Or, forward. He had bid them look back, Haggai 1:5; Haggai 1:7; now he bids them look forward. Since those days — All the time the temple lay neglected. When one came to a heap — Namely, of corn, which seemed likely to produce twenty measures; there were but ten — Only half the quantity expected was found to be produced, through the poverty of the ear. The verse, it must be observed, according to the present rendering, is very elliptical; but if the first clause be explained by the second, which it ought to be, the sense will clearly appear to be this: When one came to a heap for twenty measures; that is, when a person came to a heap of corn on his floor, either of sheaves unthrashed, or of corn unwinnowed, and expected that it would have produced twenty measures after it was thrashed and winnowed, to his great disappointment he had but ten out of it. Such also was the case of those who came to draw out fifty measures of wine from the wine-press. I smote you with blasting —

Burning and scorching winds; and with hail — Which even in cold countries many times destroys corn, fruits, and trees, by its violence; but in those hot countries does it much oftener. In all the labours of your hands — In all that you sowed or planted; yet ye turned not to me — Ye did not lay my judgments to heart, nor consider that they were inflicted for your sin, in neglecting to rebuild my temple, and restore my worship in it.2:10-19 Many spoiled this good work, by going about it with unholy hearts and hands, and were likely to gain no advantage by it. The sum of these two rules of the law is, that sin is more easily learned from others than holiness. The impurity of their hearts and lives shall make the work of their hands, and all their offerings, unclean before God. The case is the same with us. When employed in any good work, we should watch over ourselves, lest we render it unclean by our corruptions. When we begin to make conscience of duty to God, we may expect his blessing; and whoso is wise will understand the loving-kindness of the Lord. God will curse the blessings of the wicked, and make bitter the prosperity of the careless; but he will sweeten the cup of affliction to those who diligently serve him.And now, I pray you - Observe his tenderness, in drawing their attention to it , "Consider from this day and upward." He bids them look backward, "from before a stone was laid upon a stone," i. e., from the last moment of their neglect in building the house of God; "from since those days were," or from the time backward "when those things were," (resuming, in the word, "from-their-being" , the date which he had just given, namely, the beginning of their resuming the building backward, during all those years of neglect) "one came to a heap of twenty measures." The precise measure is not mentioned: the force of the appeal lay in the proportion: the heap of grain which, usually, would yield twenty, (whether bushels or seahs or any other measure, for the heap itself being of no defined size, neither could the quantity expected from it be defined) there were ten only; "one came to the pressvat to draw out fifty" vessels out of the press, or perhaps fifty poorah, i. e., the ordinary quantity drawn out at one time from the press, there were, or it bad become twenty, two-fifths only of what they looked for and ordinarily obtained. The dried grapes yielded so little. 15. consider—literally, "lay it to heart." Ponder earnestly, retracing the past "upward" (that is, backward), comparing what evils heretofore befell you before ye set about this work, with the present time when you have again commenced it, and when in consequence I now engage to "bless you." Hence ye may perceive the evils of disobedience and the blessing of obedience. And now; furthermore consider.

I pray you: he affectionately entreats them to observe.

From this day; this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, Haggai 2:10. And upward, through past years; trace year after year, and your successes and disappointments in them, observe all years past before you would set upon the rebuilding of the temple after you had intermitted it; some years passed, ten, or fifteen, or twenty, or forty, (or more say some,) between your surceasing from the work and beginning to rebuild.

Before a stone was laid upon a stone; the prophet meaneth either before they began to lay one stone upon another in the foundation laid in Cyrus’s time, or before they began to lay the foundation of the walls of the courts and outward edifices.

In the temple; either strictly taken for the house of God, or more largely for the rest of the buildings about the house: this tacitly reproves their sloth; it was the temple they neglected, which they did long for in Babylon.

Of the Lord; so much the greater their sin, for that it was the Lord’s temple was slighted. And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward,.... This being their case, and they so polluted with sin, particularly through their neglect of building the temple; they are most earnestly and importunately entreated to "lay" it "to their hearts", to ponder it in their minds, and thoroughly consider how it had fared with them from this twenty fourth day of the ninth month, in which the prophet was sent unto them to encourage them in their work, and upwards or backwards, for some years past: even

from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the Lord: the foundation of the temple was laid quickly after the Jews returned from Babylon, upon the proclamation of Cyrus, Ezra 3:10 but, through difficulties and discouragements they met with, they desisted from the work, and went no further; a stone was not laid upon it; or, as the Targum, a row, or course upon course, until this time: and now all the intermediate space of time between the first laying the foundation of the temple, and their present going to work upon it, the prophet would have them take particular notice of; how it had been with them, as to their outward circumstances; whereby it would appear, they had sinned, and the Lord had been offended with them.

And now, I pray you, consider from this {h} day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD:

(h) Consider how God plagued you with famine before you began to build the temple.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. The A.V. is a little obscure. The verse may be rendered more clearly thus:

And now consider, I pray yon, from this day (the 24th day of the ninth month, on which the prophet was speaking, ver. 10–18) and upward (that is backward), from (the time when) not yet stone was laid upon stone in the temple of the Lord.

This is the other limit from which the reckoning is to be made, the time when the foundation of the temple had been laid, but no further progress in building had taken place, no “stone upon stone” had been added. It answers to the clause in ver. 18, “from the time when the temple of the Lord was founded.”

15–19. The great moral lesson of the Book is again inculcated. Let them fix their attention on the long period of their neglect of God and His House; the eighteen years that had intervened, between the laying of the foundation of the Temple and the 24th day of the ninth month of the second year of Darius, on which this prophecy was uttered. Let them lay to heart the fact that it had been throughout a period of distress and dearth, of gloom and darkness. Let them note the bright contrast, the plenty and prosperity, which their return to God and care for His House and worship should immediately introduce. “From this day will I bless you, saith the Lord.”

The period which they are to consider is first described in ver. 15–17, and then again, with a view to impress the lesson, in ver. 18, 19, the limits of time being now more clearly defined, and the promise of blessing introduced.Verse 15 - The prophet bids the people look backwards, and consider how their neglect had been visited by scanty harvests; their own experience would teach them this lesson. From this day; viz. the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, when this address was delivered (ver. 10; comp. ver. 18). And upward; i.e. backward. He bids them go back in thought fourteen years when they first intermitted building. Before a stone, etc. This does not mean before the building was first begun, but before they began to build on the foundation already laid. Nineveh will share the fate of No-Ammon. - Nahum 3:8. "Art thou better than No-amon, that sat by rivers, waters round about her, whose bulwark was the sea, her wall of sea? Nahum 3:9. Ethiopians and Egyptians were (her) strong men, there is no end; Phut and Libyans were for thy help. Nahum 3:10. She also has gone to transportation, into captivity; her children were also dashed in pieces at the corners of all roads; upon her nobles they cast the lot, and all her great men were bound in chains." התיטבי for התיטבי, for the sake of euphony, the imperfect kal of יטב, to be good, used to denote prosperity in Genesis 12:13 and Genesis 40:14, is applied here to the prosperous condition of the city, which was rendered strong both by its situation and its resources. נא אמון, i.e., probably "dwelling (נא contracted from נוא, cf. נאות) of Amon," the sacred name of the celebrated city of Thebes in Upper Egypt, called in Egyptian P-amen, i.e., house of the god Amun, who had a celebrated temple there (Herod. i. 182, ii. 42; see Brugsch, Geogr. Inschr. i. p. 177). The Greeks called it Διὸς πόλις, generally with the predicate ἡ μεγάλη (Diod. Sic. i. 45), or from the profane name of the city, which was Apet according to Brugsch (possibly a throne, seat, or bank), and with the feminine article prefixed, Tapet, or Tape, or Tepe, Θήβη, generally used in the plural Θῆβαι. This strong royal city, which was described even by Homer (Il. ix. 383) as ἑκατόμπυλος, and in which the Pharaohs of the 18th to the 20th dynasties, from Amosis to the last Rameses, resided, and created those works of architecture which were admired by Greeks and Romans, and the remains of which still fill the visitor with astonishment, was situated on both banks of the river Nile, which was 1500 feet in breadth at that point, and was built upon a broad plain formed by the falling back of the Libyan and Arabian mountain wall, over which there are now scattered nine larger or smaller fellah-villages, including upon the eastern bank Karnak and Luxor, and upon the western Gurnah and Medinet Abu, with their plantations of date-palms, sugar-canes, corn, etc. היּשׁבה בּיארים, who sits there, i.e., dwells quietly and securely, on the streams of the Nile. The plural יארים refers to the Nile with its canals, which surrounded the city, as we may see from what follows: "water round about her." אשׁר־חיל, not which is a fortress of the sea (Hitzig), but whose bulwark is sea. חיל (for חילהּ) does not mean the fortified place (Hitzig), but the fortification, bulwark, applied primarily to the moats of a fortification, with the wall belonging to it; then, in the broader sense, the defence of a city in distinction from the actual wall (cf. Isaiah 26:1; Lamentations 2:8). מיּם, consisting of sea is its wall, i.e., its wall is formed of sea. Great rivers are frequently called yâm, sea, in rhetorical and poetical diction: for example, the Euphrates in Isaiah 27:1; Jeremiah 51:36; and the Nile in Isaiah 18:2; Isaiah 19:5; Job 41:23. The Nile is still called by the Beduins bahr, i.e., sea, and when it overflows it really resembles a sea.

To the natural strength of Thebes there was also added the strength of the warlike nations at her command. Cush, i.e., Ethiopians in the stricter sense, and Mitsraim, Egyptians, the two tribes descended from Ham, according to Genesis 10:6, who formed the Egyptian kingdom before the fall of Thebes, and under the 25th (Ethiopian) dynasty. עצמה, as in Isaiah 40:29; Isaiah 47:9, for עצם, strength; it is written without any suffix, which may easily be supplied from the context. The corresponding words to עצמה in the parallel clause are ואין קצה (with Vav cop.): Egyptians, as for them there is no number; equivalent to an innumerable multitude. To these there were to be added the auxiliary tribes: Put, i.e., the Libyans in the broader sense, who had spread themselves out over the northern part of Africa as far as Mauritania (see at Genesis 10:6); and Lubim equals Lehâbhı̄m, the Libyans in the narrower sense, probably the Libyaegyptii of the ancients (see at Genesis 10:13). בּעזרתך (cf. Psalm 35:2) Nahum addresses No-amon itself, to give greater life to the description. Notwithstanding all this might, No-amon had to wander into captivity. Laggōlâh and basshebhı̄ are not tautological. Laggōlâh, for emigration, is strengthened by basshebhı̄ into captivity. The perfect הלכה is obviously not to be taken prophetically. The very antithesis of גּם־היא הלכה and גּם־אתּ תּשׁכּרי (Nahum 3:11) shows to itself that הלכה refers to the past, as תּשׁכּרי does to the future; yea, the facts themselves require that Nahum should be understood as pointing to the fate which the powerful city of Thebes had already experienced. For it must be an event that has already occurred, and not something still in the future, which he holds up before Nineveh as a mirror of the fate that is awaiting it. The clauses which follow depict the cruelties that were generally associated with the taking of an enemy's cities. For עלליה וגו roF .se, see Hosea 14:1; Isaiah 13:16, and 2 Kings 8:12; and for ידּוּ גורל, Joel 3:3 and Obadiah 1:11. Nikhbaddı̄m, nobiles; cf. Isaiah 23:8-9. Gedōlı̄m, magnates; cf. Jonah 3:7. It must be borne in mind, however, that the words only refer to cruelties connected with the conquest and carrying away of the inhabitants, and not to the destruction of No-amon.

We have no express historical account of this occurrence; but there is hardly any doubt that, after the conquest of Ashdod, Sargon the king of Assyria organized an expedition against Egypt and Ethiopia, conquered No-amon, the residence of the Pharaohs at that time, and, as Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 20:3-4), carried the prisoners of Egypt and Ethiopia into exile. According to the Assyrian researches and their most recent results (vid., Spiegel's Nineveh and Assyria in Herzog's Cyclopaedia), the king Sargon mentioned in Isaiah 20:1 is not the same person as Shalmaneser, as I assumed in my commentary on 2 Kings 17:3, but his successor, and the predecessor of Sennacherib, who ascended the throne during the siege of Samaria, and conquered that city in the first year of his reign, leading 27,280 persons into captivity, and appointing a vicegerent over the country of the ten tribes. In Assyrian Sargon is called Sar Kin, i.e., essentially a king. He was the builder of the palace at Khorsabad, which is so rich in monuments; and, according to the inscriptions, he carried on wars in Susiana, Babylon, the borders of Egypt, Melitene, Southern Armenia, Kurdistan, and Media; and in all his expeditions he resorted to the removal of the people in great numbers, as one means of securing the lasting subjugation of the lands (see Spiegel, l.c. p. 224). In the great inscription in the palace-halls of Khorsabad, Sargon boasts immediately after the conquest of Samaria of a victorious conflict with Pharaoh Sebech at Raphia, in consequence of which the latter became tributary, and also of the dethroning of the rebellious king of Ashdod; and still further, that after another king of Ashdod, who had been chosen by the people, had fled to Egypt, he besieged Ashdod with all his army, and took it. Then follows a difficult and mutilated passage, in which Rawlinson (Five Great Monarchies, ii. 416) and Oppert (Les Sargonides, pp. 22, 26, 27) find an account of the complete subjugation of Sebech (see Delitzsch on Isaiah, at Isaiah 20:5-6). There is apparently a confirmation of this in the monuments recording the deeds of Esarhaddon's successor, whose name is read Assur-bani-pal, according to which that king carried on tedious wars in Egypt against Tirhaka, who had conquered Memphis, Thebes, and sundry other Egyptian cities during the illness of Esarhaddon, and according to his own account, succeeded at length in completely overcoming him, and returned home with rich booty, having first of all taken hostages for future good behaviour (see Spiegel, p. 225). If these inscriptions have been read correctly, it follows from them that from the reign of Sargon the Assyrians made attempts to subjugate Egypt, and were partially successful, though they could not maintain their conquests. The struggle between Assyria and Egypt for supremacy in Hither Asia may also be inferred from the brief notices in the Old Testament (2 Kings 17:4) concerning the help which the Israelitish king Hosea expected from So the king of Egypt, and also concerning the advance of Tirhaka against Sennacherib.

(Note: From the modern researches concerning ancient Egypt, not the smallest light can be obtained as to any of these things. "The Egyptologists (as J. Bumller observes, p. 245) have hitherto failed to fill up the gaps in the history of Egypt, and have been still less successful in restoring the chronology; for hitherto we have not met with a single well-established date, which we have obtained from a monumental inscription; nor have the monuments enabled us to assign to a single Pharaoh, from the 1st to the 21st, his proper place in the years or centuries of the historical chronology.")

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