Haggai 2:20
And again the word of the LORD came to Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying,
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(20-23) The Fifth Utterance.—The promise of Haggai 2:6-9 is enlarged. The heathen powers shall be consumed one of another, but the line of Zerubbabel shall stand secure, and be a witness to Jehovah’s faithfulness. Here, as in Haggai 2:6-9, the only satisfactory interpretation is that Haggai was charged with a prediction—purposely vague and indistinct in character—of the extension of God’s kingdom by the Christian dispensation. “Zerubbabel,” the descendant of David, includes in himself Him who was according to the flesh his lineal descendant. Just in the same way in older prophecy “David” is himself identified with that Messiah in whom the glories of the Davidic house were to culminate. (See Psalm 89:19, and comp. Jennings and Lowe, Commentary, Introd. to Psalms 89) It appears as unnecessary to find a literal fulfilment of the prediction of the overthrow of the world-powers, “every one by the sword of his brother,” as of the utterance (repeated from Haggai 2:6), “I will shake the heavens and the earth.” It is true that the empires of Babylon, Persia, Syria, and Greece each in its turn declined and passed away. But in the Roman Empire the world-power was as strongly represented as ever, when Christ came on earth. It was to succumb later on to moral, not to material force. Nothing, in fact, can be extracted from these passages beyond a dim presage of the heathen kingdoms being pervaded by the moral influence of the Christian Church.

Haggai 2:20-22. Again the word of the Lord came unto Haggai — Probably on the same day that he uttered what precedes, from Haggai 2:10; speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah — The same title which is given to him chap. Haggai 1:1; in which character he was the type of the Messiah, to whom the following words chiefly belong. I will shake the heavens and the earth — I will cause great commotions, and bring great things to pass. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms — This is supposed to be spoken of the overthrow of the Persian empire, in Egypt, which, lying near to the Jewish territories, was regarded by them with great awe; and therefore its subversion was foretold to them, to encourage them to go on in the rebuilding of the temple. I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen — Or, of the nations. The strength of the Persians, whose empire consisted of many kingdoms, or nations, was broken in a most remarkable manner by the little country of Greece. Such vast overthrows, both by sea and land, as they received from the Greeks, are scarcely to be paralleled. The horses and their riders shall come down — Shall fall to the earth; every one by the sword of his brother — That is, of his fellow-creature. Perhaps the different nations which should be concerned in these commotions, namely, the Persians, Egyptians, and Greeks, are here called brothers, because they were all idolaters, or worshippers of fictitious gods.2:20-23 The Lord will preserve Zerubbabel and the people of Judah, amidst their enemies. Here is also foretold the establishment and continuance of the kingdom of Christ; by union with whom his people are sealed with the Holy Ghost, sealed with his image, thus distinguished from all others. Here also is foretold the changes, even to that time when the kingdom of Christ shall overthrow and occupy the place of all the empires which opposed his cause. The promise has special reference to Christ, who descended from Zerubbabel in a direct line, and is the sole Builder of the gospel temple. Our Lord Jesus is the Signet on God's right hand, for all power is given to him, and derived from him. By him, and in him, all the promises of God are yea and amen. Whatever changes take place on earth, all will promote the comfort, honour, and happiness of his servants.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.

Hag 2:20-23. Fourth Prophecy. God's promise through Zerubbabel to Israel of safety in the coming commotions.

20. the month—the ninth in the second year of Darius. The same date as Prophecy III (Hag 2:10).

See Haggai 2:10,15. And again the word of the Lord came unto Haggai,.... Or a "second" (s) time, even on the same day as the former:

in the four and twentieth day of the month; of the ninth month Chisleu, Haggai 2:10,

saying; as follows:

(s) "secundo", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; "secunda vice", Burkius.

And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying,
20. again] the second time. R. V.

Ch. Haggai 2:20-23. The Fourth Prophecy

In a short, final prophecy, uttered on the same day as that which preceded it, Haggai addresses Zerubbabel as the Ruler and Representative of the Jewish nation, and the Predecessor and Type of the true King of the Jews. The former prediction (ver. 6, 7) of the shaking of heaven and earth, and the overthrow of mighty nations is repeated. But to Zerubbabel, and in him to the nation which he represented, a gracious promise of safety and distinction is vouchsafed.Verses 20-23. - Part V. THE FOURTH ADDRESS: PROMISE OF THE RESTORATION AND ESTABLISHMENT OF THE HOUSE OF DAVID, WHEN THE STORM BURSTS ON THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD. Verse 20. - Temporal blessings had been promised to the people generally; now spiritual blessings are announced to Zerubbabel as the head of the nation and the representative of the house of David. And again; and a second time; ἐκ δευτέρου (Septuagint). This revelation took place on the same day as the preceding one. In conclusion, the prophet takes away from the city so heavily laden with guilt the last prop to its hope, - namely, reliance upon its fortifications, and the numerical strength of its population. - Nahum 3:14. "Draw thyself water for the siege! Make thy castles strong! tread in the mire, and stamp in the clay! prepare the brick-kiln! Nahum 3:15. There will the fire devour thee, the sword destroy thee, devour thee like the lickers. Be in great multitude like the lickers, be in great multitude like the locusts? Nahum 3:16. Thou hast made thy merchants more than the star so heaven; the licker enters to plunder, and flies away. Nahum 3:17. Thy levied ones are like the locusts, and thy men like an army of grasshoppers which encamp in the hedges in the day of frost; if the sun rises, they are off, and men know not their place: where are they?" Water of the siege is the drinking water necessary for a long-continued siege. Nineveh is to provide itself with this, because the siege will last a long while. It is also to improve the fortifications (chizzēq as in 2 Kings 12:8, 2 Kings 12:13). This is then depicted still more fully. Tı̄t and chōmer are used synonymously here, as in Isaiah 41:25. Tı̄t, lit., dirt, slime, then clay and potter's clay (Isaiah l.c.). Chōmer, clay or mortar (Genesis 11:3), also dirt of the streets (Isaiah 10:6, compared with Micah 7:10). החזיק, to make firm, or strong, applied to the restoration of buildings in Nehemiah 5:16 and Ezekiel 27:9, Ezekiel 27:27; here to restore, or to put in order, the brick-kiln (malbēn, a denom. from lebhēnâh, a brick), for the purpose of burning bricks. The Assyrians built with bricks sometimes burnt, sometimes unburnt, and merely dried in the sun. Both kinds are met with on the Assyrian monuments (see Layard, vol. ii. p. 36ff.). This appeal, however, is simply a rhetorical turn for the thought that a severe and tedious siege is awaiting Nineveh. This siege will end in the destruction of the great and populous city. שׁם, there, sc. in these fortifications of thine, will fire consume thee; fire will destroy the city with its buildings, and the sword destroy the inhabitants. The destruction of Nineveh by fire is related by ancient writers (Herod. 1:106, 185; Diod. Sic. 2:25-28; Athen. xii. p. 529), and also confirmed by the ruins (cf. Str. ad h. l.). It devours thee like the locust. The subject is not fire or sword, either one or the other, but rather both embraced in one. כּיּלק, like the licker; yeleq, a poetical epithet applied to the locust (see at Joel 1:4), is the nominative, no the accusative, as Calvin, Grotius, Ewald, and Hitzig suppose. For the locusts are not devoured by the fire or the sword, but it is they who devour the vegetables and green of the fields, so that they are everywhere used as a symbol of devastation and destruction. It is true that in the following sentences the locusts are used figuratively for the Assyrians, or the inhabitants of Nineveh; but it is also by no means a rare thing for prophets to give a new turn and application to a figure or simile. The thought is this: fire and sword will devour Nineveh and its inhabitants like the all-consuming locusts, even though the city itself, with its mass of houses and people, should resemble an enormous swarm of locusts. התכּבּד may be either an inf. abs. used instead of the imperative, or the imperative itself. The latter seems the more simple; and the use of the masculine may be explained on the assumption that the prophet had the people floating before his mind, whereas in התכּבּדי he was thinking of the city. Hithkahbbēd, to show itself heavy by virtue of the large multitude; similar to כּבד in Nahum 2:10 (cf. כּבד in Genesis 13:2; Exodus 8:20, etc.).

The comparison to a swarm of locusts is carried still further in Nahum 3:16 and Nahum 3:17, and that so that Nahum 3:16 explains the תּאכלך כּיּלק in Nahum 3:15. Nineveh has multiplied its traders or merchants, even more than the stars of heaven, i.e., to an innumerable multitude. The yeleq, i.e., the army of the enemy, bursts in and plunders. That Nineveh was a very rich commercial city may be inferred from its position, - namely, just at the point where, according to oriental notions, the east and west meet together, and where the Tigris becomes navigable, so that it was very easy to sail from thence into the Persian Gulf; just as afterwards Mosul, which was situated opposite, became great and powerful through its widely-extended trade (see Tuch, l.c. p. 31ff., and Strauss, in loc.).

(Note: "The point," says O. Strauss (Nineveh and the Word of God, Berl 1855, p. 19), "at which Nineveh was situated was certainly the culminating point of the three quarters of the globe - Europe, Asia, and Africa; and from the very earliest times it was just at the crossing of the Tigris by Nineveh that the great military and commercial roads met, which led into the heart of all the leading known lands.")

The meaning of this verse has been differently interpreted, according to the explanation given to the verb pâshat. Many, following the ὥρμησε and expansus est of the lxx and Jerome, give it the meaning, to spread out the wing; whilst Credner (on Joel, p. 295), Maurer, Ewald, and Hitzig take it in the sense of undressing one's self, and understand it as relating to the shedding of the horny wing-sheaths of the young locusts. But neither the one nor the other of these explanations can be grammatically sustained. Pâshat never means anything else then to plunder, or to invade with plundering; not even in such passages as Hosea 7:1; 1 Chronicles 14:9 and 1 Chronicles 14:13, which Gesenius and Dietrich quote in support of the meaning, to spread; and the meaning forced upon it by Credner, of the shedding of the wing-sheaths by locusts, is perfectly visionary, and has merely been invented by him for the purpose of establishing his false interpretation of the different names given to the locusts in Joel 1:4. In the passage before us we cannot understand by the yeleq, which "plunders and flies away" (pâshat vayyâ‛ōph), the innumerable multitude of the merchants of Nineveh, because they were not able to fly away in crowds out of the besieged city. Moreover, the flying away of the merchants would be quite contrary to the meaning of the whole description, which does not promise deliverance from danger by flight, but threatens destruction. The yeleq is rather the innumerable army of the enemy, which plunders everything, and hurries away with its booty. In Nahum 3:17 the last two clauses of Nahum 3:15 are explained, and the warriors of Nineveh compared to an army of locusts. There is some difficulty caused by the two words מנּזריך and טפסריך, the first of which only occurs here, and the second only once more, viz., in Jeremiah 51:27, where we meet with it in the singular. That they both denote warlike companies appears to be tolerably certain; but the real meaning cannot be exactly determined. מנּזרים with dagesh dir., as for example in מקּדשׁ in Exodus 15:17, is probably derived from nâzar, to separate, and not directly from nezer, a diadem, or nâzı̄r, the crowned person, from which the lexicons, following Kimchi's example, have derived the meaning princes, or persons ornamented with crowns; whereas the true meaning is those levied, selected (for war), analogous to bâchūr, the picked or selected one, applied to the soldiery. The meaning princes or captains is at variance with the comparison to 'arbeh, the multitude of locusts, since the number of the commanders in an army, or of the war-staff, is always a comparatively small one. And the same objection may be offered to the rendering war-chiefs or captains, which has been given to taphsar, and which derives only an extremely weak support from the Neo-Persian tâwsr, although the word might be applied to a commander-in-chief in Jeremiah 51:27, and does signify an angel in the Targum-Jonathan on Deuteronomy 28:12. The different derivations are all untenable (see Ges. Thes. p. 554); and the attempt of Bttcher (N. Krit. Aehrenl. ii. pp. 209-10) to trace it to the Aramaean verb טפס, obedivit, with the inflection ־ר for ־ן, in the sense of clientes, vassals, is precluded by the fact that ar does not occur as a syllable of inflection. The word is probably Assyrian, and a technical term for soldiers of a special kind, though hitherto it has not been explained. גּוב גּובי, locusts upon locusts, i.e., an innumerable swarm of locusts. On גּובי, see at Amos 7:1; and on the repetition of the same word to express the idea of the superlative, see the comm. on 2 Kings 19:23 (and Ges. 108, 4). Yōm qârâh, day (or time) of cold, is either the night, which is generally very cold in the East, or the winter-time. To the latter explanation it may be objected, that locusts do not take refuge in walls or hedges during the winter; whilst the expression yōm, day, for night, may be pleaded against the former. We must therefore take the word as relating to certain cold days, on which the sky is covered with clouds, so that the sun cannot break through, and zârach as denoting not the rising of the sun, but its shining or breaking through. The wings of locusts become stiffened in the cold; but as soon as the warm rays of the sun break through the clouds, they recover their animation and fly away. Nōdad, (poal), has flown away, viz., the Assyrian army, which is compared to a swarm of locusts, so that its place is known no more (cf. Psalm 103:16), i.e., has perished without leaving a trace behind. איּם contracted from איּה הם. These words depict in the most striking manner the complete annihilation of the army on which Nineveh relied.

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