Haggai 2:18
Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid, consider it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Even from the day.—Better, even to the day. The rendering of the Authorised Version makes the passage quite unintelligible, for in no sense can the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month coincide with the day “that the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid.” The Temple had been founded fifteen years before, in the second month of the second year of Cyrus (Ezra 3:10). The work of building had been carried on intermittently till within two years of the present time. It had then been entirely suspended, and had only been actively taken in hand after Haggai’s address in the sixth month of this year. The force of the passage is sufficiently plain if we render as above. “In order to make the blessings to be announced in Haggai 2:19 appear in strong contrast to the distress pictured in Haggai 2:16-17, the prophet repeats the injunction of Haggai 2:15, but with a larger range of retrospect. The whole period back to the time when the foundation of the Temple was laid in the reign of Cyrus was more or less one of distress on account of the unfaithfulness of the people; for between that time and the present all the efforts that had been made to complete the work were spasmodic and feeble” (McCurdy). The rendering “even to the day” is quite allowable, though the construction is certainly rare.

Haggai 2:18-19. Consider now, from this day and upward — That is, forward. In the 15th verse the prophet exhorted them to reflect upon the calamities they had suffered, from the time the rebuilding of the temple was intermitted. Now he bids them look forward, from the day the building was recommenced, (see Haggai 1:15,) and they would find a visible change in their affairs for the better. Even from the day that the foundation was laid, &c. — The prophet expresses the carrying on of the building as if it were laying the foundation anew, because the work had been so long interrupted; (compare Zechariah 8:9;) but yet there is no doubt to be made that they built upon the same foundation which had been laid some years before, of which we have an account Ezra 3:8, and did not lay a new foundation. Is the seed yet in the barn — Is the harvest already laid up in the barn? or any fruits of the earth gathered in? No, certainly: for this is but the ninth month, (answering to our November,) when no judgment can be formed what will be the increase of the year following; yet, from this time, I promise you the blessing of a fruitful year, as an encouragement to you to carry on the building. Yea, as yet the vine and the fig-tree hath not brought forth — No sign yet appears what vintage you shall have, what store of wine, oil, figs, and pomegranates; yet by the word of God I tell you, you shall be blessed in them all, and have a large produce.

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.From the day that the foundation of the Lord's house - Zechariah, in a passage corresponding to this, uses the same words Zechariah 8:9, "the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built," not of the first foundation, but of the work as resumed in obedience to the words by "the mouth of the prophets," Haggai and himself, which, Ezra also says, was Ezra 4:24; Ezra 5:1. "in the second year of Darius." But that work was resumed, not now at the time of this prophecy, but three months before, on the 24th of the sixth month. Since then the word translated here, from, is in no case used of the present time, Haggai gives two dates, the resumption of the work, as marked in these words, and the, actual present. He would then say, that even in these last months, since they had begun the work, there were as yet no signs for the better. There was yet no "seed in the barn," the harvest having been blighted and the fruit-trees stripped by the hail before the close of the sixth month, when they resumed the work. Yet though there were as yet no signs of change, no earnest that the promise should be fulfilled, God pledges His word, "from this day I will bless you."

Thenceforth, from their obedience, God would give them those fruits of the earth, which in His Providence had been, during their negligence, withheld. "God," said Paul and Barnabas, Acts 14:17. "left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."

All the Old and New Testament, the Law, the prophets and the Psalms, the Apostles and our Lord Himself, bear witness to the Providence of God who makes His natural laws serve to the moral discipline of His creature, man. The physical theory, which presupposes that God so fixed the laws of His creation, as to leave no room for Himself to vary them, would, if ever so true, only come to this, that Almighty God knowing absolutely (as He must know) the actions of His creatures (in what way soever this is reconcilable with our free-agency, of which we are conscious), framed the laws of His physical creation, so that plenty or famine, healthiness of our cattle or of the fruits of the earth or their sickness, should coincide with the good or evil conduct of man, with his prayers or his neglect of prayer. The reward or chastisement alike come to man, whether they be theresult of God's will, acting apart from any system which He has created, or in it and through it.

It is alike His Providential agency, whether He have established any such system with all its minute variations, or whether these variations are the immediate result of His sovereign will. If He has instituted any physical system, so that the rain, hail, and its proportions, size, destructiveness, should come in a regulated irregularity, as fixed in all eternity as the revolutions of the heavenly bodies or the courses of the comets, then we come only to a more intricate perfection of His creation, that in all eternity He framed those laws in an exact conformity to the perfectly foreseen actions of men good and evil, and to their prayers also: that He, knowing certainly whether the creature, which He has framed to have its bliss in depending on Him, would or would not cry unto Him, framed those physical laws in conformity therewith; so that the supply of what is necessary for our wants or its withholding shall be in all time inworked into the system of our probation. Only, not to keep God out of His own world, we must remember that other truth, that, whether God act in any such system or no, He Hebrews 1:3. "upholdeth all things by the word of His power" by an everpresent working; so that it is He who at each moment doth what is done, doth and maintains in existence all which He has created in the exact order and variations of their being. Psalm 148:8. "Fire and hail, snow and vapor, stormy wind fulfilling His word," are as immediate results of His Divine Agency, in whatever way it pleaseth Him to act, and are the expression of His will.

18. Resumed from Hag 2:15 after Hag 2:16, 17, that the blessing in Hag 2:19 may stand in the more marked contrast with the curse in Hag 2:16, 17. Affliction will harden the heart, if not referred to God as its author [Moore].

even from the day that the foundation of … temple was laid—The first foundation beneath the earth had been long ago laid in the second year of Cyrus, 535 B.C. (Ezr 3:10, 11); the foundation now laid was the secondary one, which, above the earth, was laid on the previous work [Tirinus]. Or, translate, "From this day on which the temple is being begun," namely, on the foundations long ago laid [Grotius]. Maurer translates, "Consider … from the four and twentieth day … to (the time which has elapsed) from the day on which the foundation … was laid." The Hebrew supports English Version.

See Haggai 2:15. Make you observation from the day when you began to build on the old foundation laid many years ago in the time of Cyrus.

Consider it; let that be the precise day from which you begin your reckoning. By this the prophet excites them to believe and wait, since he doth in the name of the Lord so expressly promise a blessing, and tells them when it shall begin to come unto them, and would have them observe how truly he speaks.

Consider now from this day and upward,.... Or forward; for time to come, as the Vulgate Latin version:

from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month; before observed, Haggai 2:10,

even from the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid, consider it; not from the time it was first laid after their return upon the proclamation of Cyrus, but from the time they began to clear that foundation, and to build upon it; and which having lain so long neglected, the renewal of it is represented as a fresh laying of it: now the prophet, as he had directed them to consider what adversity and calamities had attended them from the time of their neglect unto this time; so he would have them particularly observe what blessings they would enjoy from henceforward; by which it would appear how pleasing it was to the Lord that they had begun and were going on with the building.

Consider now from {k} this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid, consider it.

(k) From the time they began to build the temple, he promises that God would bless them: and even though the fruit has not yet come forth, yet in the gathering they would have plenty.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. from this day and upward] The Jews are again exhorted to fix their attention upon the period of time mentioned in ver. 15. It is first described as, from this day and upward, or backward. Then each limit of the period is more clearly defined. “This day” is “the four and twentieth day of the ninth month,” on which this prophecy was uttered, ver. 10. The “upward” or “backward” extends to the other limit from which the reckoning is to be made, viz. “the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid,” i.e. the day when the actual foundation was completed in the year after their return from Babylon. This is made clearer in R. V. by the substitution of, since the day, for even from the day. This period they are again called upon to “consider,” and to note well the dark cloud of adversity that brooded over it.

Verses 18, 19. - § 2. On their obedience the blessings of nature shall again be theirs. Verse 18. - Consider now from this day and upward (see note on ver. 15.) For "upward" Jerome has here in futurum, though he translated the same word supra in ver. 15. Such a rendering is allowable, and affords a good sense, the prophet directing the people's attention to the happy prospect in the future announced in ver. 19. But it seems, best to keep to the same interpretation in two passages so closely allied. The prophet bids the people consider the period from the present, the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, when this prophecy was uttered (ver. 10), to the other limit explanatory of the term "upward" or "backward." Even from the day that the foundation, etc.; rather, since the day that, etc. This is obviously the same period as that named in ver. 15, after the foundation was completed, but before "stone was laid upon stone" of the superstructure (comp. Zechariah 8:9). Haggai 2:18After this appeal to lay to heart the past time during which the blessing had been withheld, Haggai called upon the people in Haggai 2:18 and Haggai 2:19 to fix their eyes upon the time which was commencing with that very day. Haggai 2:18. "Direct your heart, then, from this day and onward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth (month); namely, from the day when the foundation of the temple of Jehovah was laid, direct your heart. Haggai 2:19. Is the seed still in the granary? and even to the vine, and pomegranate, and olive-tree, it has not borne: from this day forward will I bless." The twenty-fourth day of the ninth month was the day on which Haggai uttered this word of God (Haggai 2:10). Hence ומעלה in Haggai 2:18 is to be understood as denoting the direction towards the future (Itala, Vulg., and many comm.). This is evident partly from the fact, that only in that case can the repetition of שׂימוּ לבבכם in Haggai 2:18 (end), and the careful announcement of the point of time (from the twenty-fourth day, etc.), be simply and naturally explained, and partly from the fact that min hayyōm hazzeh (from this day) is not explained here, as in Haggai 2:15, by a clause pointing back to the past (like mitterem sūm in Haggai 2:15), but simply by a precise notice of the day referred to, and that in the last clause of Haggai 2:19 this day is clearly described as the commencement of a new era. For there can be no doubt whatever that in min hayyōm hazzeh in Haggai 2:19 the terminus a quo mentioned in Haggai 2:18 is resumed. But the time mentioned in Haggai 2:18, "from the day that the foundation of the temple was laid," etc., and also the contents of the first two clauses of Haggai 2:19, to the effect that there was no more seed in the granary, and that the vine, etc., had not borne, do not appear to harmonize with this. To remove the first of these difficulties, Ros., Maurer, Ewald, and others have taken למן־היּום אשׁר־יסּד as the terminus ad quem, and connected it with the foregoing terminus a quo: "observe the time," which reaches back from the present day, the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, to the day when the foundation of the temple was laid in the reign of Cyrus (Ezra 3:10). They have thus taken למן in the sense of ועד. But it is now generally admitted that this is at variance with the usage of the language; even Ewald and Gesenius acknowledge this (see Ew., Lehrbuch, 218, b, and Ges. Thes. p. 807). למן is never equivalent to עד or ועד, but invariably forms the antithesis to it (compare, for example, Judges 19:30; 2 Samuel 7:6, and Micah 7:12). Now, since lemin hayyōm cannot mean "to the time commencing with the laying of the foundation of the temple," but must mean "from the day when the foundation of the temple was laid," Hitzig and Koehler have taken למן היּום וגו as an explanatory apposition to מיּום עשׂרים וגו, and assume that through this apposition the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, is expressly designated as the day on which the foundation was laid for the temple of Jehovah. But this assumption is not only in direct contradiction to Ezra 3:10, where it is stated that the foundation of the temple was laid in the reign of Cyrus, in the second year after the return from Babylon, but also makes the prophet Haggai contradict himself in a manner which can only be poorly concealed by any quid pro quo at variance with the language, viz., (a) by identifying the words of Haggai 2:15, "when stone was laid to stone at the temple of Jehovah," which, according to their simple meaning, express the carrying on or continuance of the building, with the laying of the foundation-stone, secondly (b), by understanding the statement, "they did work at the house of Jehovah on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month" (Haggai 1:14-15), not according to its natural meaning as relating to their building upon the foundation already laid, but as signifying the removal of the rubbish and the procuring of wood and stone, that is to say, as referring to the preparations for building; and lastly (c), by explaining אשׁר יסּד וגו in Haggai 2:19 as signifying the laying of a fresh or second foundation. These assumptions are so forced, that if there were not a simpler and easier way of removing the difficulty raised, we would rather assume that there had been a corruption of the text.

But the thing is not so desperate as this. In the first place, we must pronounce the opinion that למן היּום וגו is an explanatory apposition to מיּום עשׂרים וגו an unfounded one. The position of the athnach in ומעלה furnishes no tenable proof of this. Nor can the assumption that lemin is synonymous with min be sustained. In support of the statement, "that lemin only differs from min in the greater emphasis with which it is spoken," Ewald (218, b), has merely adduced this passage, Haggai 2:18, which is supposed to exhibit this with especial clearness, but in which, as we have just shown, such an assumption yields no appropriate meaning. למן followed by עד or ועד does indeed occur in several instances in such a connection, that it appears to be used instead of the simple min. But if we look more closely at the passages (e.g., Exodus 11:7; Judges 19:30; 2 Samuel 7:6), the ל is never superfluous; and lemin is simply used in cases where the definition so introduced is not closely connected with what goes before, but is meant to be brought out as an independent assertion or additional definition, so that in all such cases the ל "has the peculiar force of a brief allusion to something not to be overlooked, a retrospective glance at the separate parts, or a rapid summary of the whole, like our 'with regard to,' 'as regards' (Lat. quoad);" and it only fails to correspond entirely to this, "from the fact that ל is only expressible in the softest manner, and indeed in our language can hardly be expressed in words at all, though it quite perceptibly yields this sense" (Ewald, 310). למקצת is also used in this sense in Daniel 1:18 instead of מקצת (Haggai 2:15), whilst in other cases (e.g., in למרחוק in 2 Samuel 7:19) it indicates the direction to a place or towards an object (Ewald, 218, b).

(Note: Koehler's objection to this explanation of lemērâchōq, viz., that with the verb dibber, the object concerning which a person is spoken to, is never introduced with the preposition ל, is groundless. "With verbs of speaking ל yields the same double meaning as אל, according to the context," i.e., it can denote the person spoken to, and the person or thing to which the speaking refers, or about which a person is speaking (cf. Genesis 21:7; Numbers 23:23; Isaiah 5:1; Micah 2:6; Jeremiah 23:9; Psalm 3:3; Psalm 11:1; Psalm 27:8; and Ewald, 217, c).)

In the verse before us, the ל before מן corresponds exactly to the German anlangend, betreffend, concerning, as to, sc. the time, from the day when the foundation of the temple was laid, and is used to give prominence to this assertion, and by the prominence given to it to preclude any close connection between the definition of the time so introduced and what goes before, and to point to the fact that the following definition contains a fresh subject of discourse. The expression שׂימוּ לבבכם, which closes the sentence commencing with למן היּום, and which would be somewhat tautological and superfluous, if the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple coincided with the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, also points to this.

What space of time it is to which Haggai gives prominence in these words, as one which they are to lay to heart, is shown in Haggai 2:19, "Is the seed still in the granary?" etc. That this question is not to be taken in the sense of a summons to proceed now with good heart to sow the summer crops, which were not sown till January, and therefore were still in the granary, as Hitzig supposes, has been pointed out by Koehler, who also correctly observes that the prophet first of all reminds his hearers of the mournful state of things in the past (not "in the present," as he says), that they may thoroughly appreciate the promise for the future. For even if the question to be answered with "no," viz., whether the corn is still in the granary, were to be referred to the present, what follows, viz., that the fruit-trees have not borne, would not suit this, since not having borne is a past thing, even if it merely related to the last year, although there is no ground for any such limitation of the words. And if in Haggai 2:19 the prophet directs the attention of his hearers to the past, we must also understand the chronological datum immediately preceding as relating to the past as well, and must assume that the words from למן היּום in Haggai 2:18 to לא נשׂא in Haggai 2:19 contain a parenthetical thought; that is to say, we must assume that the prophet, in order to set clearly before their minds the difference between the past when the building of the temple was suspended, and the future commencing with that very day, before promising the blessing of God to be enjoyed in the future, directs another look at the past, and that from the time of the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus to his own time, and reminds them once more of the want of blessing which they had experienced from that time forth even to the present time. Koehler's objection to this view cannot be sustained. He says, "The Jews are to observe the time from that day forward, namely, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (backwards); the time from the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus (forwards).... Such a mode of expression seems utterly out of place." But this only affects the erroneous assumption, that the definition "from the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple" is merely a more precise explanation of the previous definition, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, and falls to the ground of itself as soon as these two definitions are separated, as the expression and the matter in hand require. The second objection - namely, that the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus does not suit as a terminus a quo for the commencement of the withdrawal of the divine favour, or for the infliction of a curse upon the people, inasmuch as the Jews were not punished because they laid the foundation for the house of Jehovah, but simply because they neglected the house of God, that is to say, because they desisted from the building they had already begun - is one that would have some force if an interval of at least one or more years had elapsed between the laying of the foundation of the temple and the suspension of the building. But if the work of building was interrupted immediately after the foundation had been laid, as is evident from Ezra 3:10, as compared with ch. 4, Haggai might with perfect propriety describe the whole time from the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus to the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month of the second year of Darius as a time without blessing, without there being any necessity for him expressly to deduct the few weeks which elapsed between the laying of the foundation-stone and the suspension of the work of building, any more than the last three months, in which the work had been resumed again. The last three months could hardly be taken into account, because they fell for the most part in the period after the last harvest; so that if this had proved to be a bad one, the cause would be still in force. The prophet could therefore very properly inquire whether the seed was still in the granary, to which they would be obliged to answer No, because the miserable produce of the harvest was already either consumed for the supply of their daily wants, or used up for the sowing which was just ended. זרע, seed, is not what is sown, but what the sowing yields, the corn, as in Leviticus 27:30; Isaiah 23:3; Job 39:12. Megūrâh equals mammegūrâh in Joel 1:17, a barn or granary, from gūr, ἀγείρεσθαι, congregari. The following words, ועד־הגּפן וגו, are really appended to the thought contained implicite in the first clause: the corn has not borne, and even to the vine, etc., it has borne nothing. נשׂא is indefinite: it has not borne equals has borne nothing. It shall be different in future. From this day, i.e., from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, Jehovah will bless again, i.e., grant a blessing, namely, so that fruitful seasons will come again, and fields and fruit-trees bear once more. There is no necessity to supply a definite object to אברך.

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