Haggai 2:16
Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the fat press for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Since those days were.—Better, from the time when things were so, or, since such things werei.e., throughout that whole period of neglect up to the date when they resumed the work of restoration. Throughout that period the harvests had grievously disappointed expectation. A heap of sheaves which ought to have contained “twenty “—the measure is not specified—yielded only “ten;” and a quantity of grapes which should have yielded fifty poorahs, only produced twenty. The word poorah elsewhere means a “wine press;” here, apparently, it is the bucket or vessel which was used to draw up the wine. The last clause of the verse must therefore be rendered “When one came to the pressfat to draw out fifty poorahs, there were but twenty.”

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. 16. Since those days were—from the time that those days of your neglect of the temple work have been.

when one came to an heap of twenty measures—that is, to a heap which he had expected would be one of twenty measures, there were but ten.

fifty vessels out of the press—As the Septuagint translates "measure," and Vulgate "a flagon," and as we should rather expect vat than press. Maurer translates (omitting vessels, which is not in the original), "purahs," or "wine-measures."

Since those days; all that while the temple lay neglected, and you were contented with maimed and half worship, men were disappointed half in half.

When one came to a heap, which he expected would prove twenty measures, ephahs, or bushels, or what other measure you please,

there were but ten; it proved but half your hopes; thus your corn failed: but your oil much more failed, and you found but two where you expected five: this barrenness you cannot be ignorant of. Since those days were,.... From the time the foundation of the temple was laid, unto the time they began to work again, which was a space of about fifteen or sixteen years:

when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten; when the husbandman having gathered in his corn, and who was generally a good judge of what it would yield, came to a heap of it on his corn floor, either of sheaves not threshed, or grain not winnowed, and expected it would have produced at least twenty measures, seahs, or bushels; afterward it was threshed and winnowed, to his great disappointment he had but ten out of it; there were so much straw and chaff, and so little grain; or when he came to a heap of grain, wheat, or barley, in his granary, where he thought he should have twenty bushels of it; but when he had measured it, proved but ten; being either stolen by thieves, or eaten by vermin; rather the latter:

when one came to the wine vat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty; by the quantity of grapes which he put into the press to tread and squeeze, he expected to have had fifty measures, or baths, or hogsheads of wine; but, instead of that, had but twenty; the bunches were so thin, or the berries so bad: there was a greater decrease and deficiency in the wine than in the grain.

{i} Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty.

(i) That is, before the building was begun.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. Since those days were] Lit. from their being. We may supply either “days” as in A.V. or “things,” since those things were, i.e. that reprehensible conduct of yours. The R. V. renders happily, through all that time.

when one came] Lit. to come, i.e. there was coming, or one came.

twenty measures] The word “measures” is not in the Hebrew. The LXX. supply seahs, (σάτα), the Vulg. bushels (modiorum). But the word is perhaps purposely omitted, because the prophet wishes to lay stress on the proportion. The heap, which when it was laid in the barn contained twenty measures (what measures they were it matters not for his present purpose), was found by the owner when he came to use it to have dwindled down to ten. The words as they stand are very forcible, “To come to a heap of twenty and there were ten.”

there were] The introduction of the verb “were” is perhaps intended to be emphatic: q. d. “the heap was expected to be twenty, it was (in real existence) ten.” And so again lower down in the same verse.

pressfat] i.e. the lower vat or reservoir into which the must squeezed out from the grapes in the press or upper vat flowed. “From the scanty notices contained in the Bible, we gather that the wine-presses of the Jews consisted of two receptacles or vats placed at different elevations, in the upper one of which the grapes were trodden, while the lower one received the ex-pressed juice. The two vats are mentioned together only in Joel 3:13 :—‘The press (gath) is full: the fats (yekebim) overflow’—the upper vat being full of fruit, the lower one overflowing with the must.… The two vats were usually dug or hewn out of the solid rock (Isaiah 5:2, margin; Matthew 21:33). Ancient wine-presses, so constructed, are still to be seen in Palestine, one of which is thus described by Robinson:—‘Advantage had been taken of a ledge of rock; on the upper side a shallow vat had been dug out, eight feet square and fifteen inches deep. Two feet lower down another smaller vat was excavated, four feet square by three feet deep. The grapes were trodden in the shallow upper vat, and the juice drawn off by a hole at the bottom (still remaining) into the lower vat.’ B. R. iii. 137, 603).” Dict. of Bible, Art Wine-press.

fifty vessels out of the press] Lit. fifty purah. The A.V. supplies the word “vessels” after “fifty,” just as it does “measures” after “twenty,” in the former part of the verse, and then taking the word “purah” to mean the press (as it does in Isaiah 63:3, the only other place in which it occurs), again supplies “out of” before it. This preserves the parallelism between the two parts of the verse. Perhaps, however, “purah” may here mean a liquid measure (LXX. μετρητής); possibly, as Keil suggests, “the measure which was generally obtained from one filling of the wine-press with grapes;” lit. “fifty wine-presses.” The earlier copies of R. V. print vessels in italics, and leave purah untranslated. The mistake however has now been corrected.Verse 16. - Since those days were. The word "days" is supplied. Revised Version, "through all that time," viz. the fourteen years spoken of in ver. 15. Septuagint, τίνες η΅τε, "what ye were;" the Vulgate omits the words. When one came to an heap of twenty measures. The word "measures" is not in the Hebrew: it is supplied by the LXX., σάτα (equivalent to scabs), and by Jerome, modiorum. But the particular measure is of no importance; it is the proportion only on which stress is laid. The prophet particuiarizes the general statements of Haggai 1:6, 9. The "heap" is the collection of sheaves (Ruth 3:7). This when threshed yielded only half that they had expected. There were (in fact) but ten; καὶ ἐγένετο κριθῆς δέκα σάτα, "and there were ten measures of barley." The press fat; the wine fat, the vat into which flowed the juice forced from the grapes when trodden out by the feet in the press. A full account of this will be found in the 'Dict. of the Bible,' arts. "Wine press" and "Wine." Fifty vessels out of the press. The Hebrew is "fifty purah." The word purah is used in Isaiah 63:3 to signify the press itself, hence the Authorized Version so translates it here, inserting "out of," and supplying "vessels," as "measures" above; but it probably here denotes a liquid measure in which the wine was drown. LXX., μετρητάς (equivalent to Hebrew baths). Jerome, lagenas; and in his commentary, amphoras. They came and examined the grapes and expected fifty purahs, "press measures," but they did not get even half that they had hoped. There were but twenty. Knabenbauer suggests that the meaning may be - looking at the crop of grapes, they expected to draw out, i.e. empty (chasaph), the press fifty times, but were egregiously deceived. 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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