Haggai 2:21
Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.I will shake - Haggai closes by resuming the words of a former prophecy to Zerubbabel and Joshua, which ended in the coming of Christ. Even thus it is plain, that the prophecy does not belong personally to Zerubbabel, but to him and his descendants, chiefly to Christ. There was in Zerubbabel's time no shaking of the heaven or of nations. Darius had indeed to put down an unusual number of rebellions in the first few years after his accession; but, although he magnified himself on occasion of their suppression, they were only so many distinct and unconcerted revolts, each under its own head. All were far away in the distant East, in Babylonia, Susiana, Media, Armenia, Assyria, Hyrcania, Parthia, Sagartia, Margiana, Arachosia. The Persian empire, spread "probably over 2,000,000 square miles, or more than half of modern Europe," was not threatened; no foreign enemy assailed it; one impostor only claimed the throne of Darius. This would, if successful, have been, like his own accession, a change of dynasty, affecting nothing externally.

But neither were lasting, some were very trifling. Two decisive battles subdued Babylonia: of Media the brief summary is given "the Medes revolted from Darius, and having revolted were brought back into subjection, defeated in battle." The Susianians killed their own pretender, on the approach of the troops of Darius. We have indeed mostly the account only of the victor. But these are only self-glorying records of victories, accomplished in succession, within a few years. Sometimes the satrap of the province put the revolt down at once. At most two battles ended in the crucifixion of the rebel. The Jews, if they heard of them, knew them to be of no account. For the destroyer of the Persian empire was to come from the West Daniel 8:5, the fourth sovereign was to stir up all against the realm of Grecia Daniel 11:2, and Darius was but the third. In the same second year of Darius, in which Haggai gave this prophecy, the whole earth was exhibited to Zechariah as Zechariah 1:11, "sitting still and at rest."

The overthrow prophesied is also universal. It is not one throne only, as of Persia, but "the throne," i. e., the sovereigns, "of kingdoms;" not a change of dynasty, but a destruction of their "strength;" not of a few powers only, but "the kingdoms of the pagan;" and that, in detail; that, in which their chief strength lay, the chariots and horsemen and their riders, and this, man by man, "every one by the sword of his brother." This mutual destruction is a feature of the judgments at the end of the world against Gog and Magog Ezekiel 38:21; and of the yet unfulfilled prophecies of Zechariah Zechariah 14:17. Its stretching out so far does not hinder its partial fulfillment in earlier times. Zerubbabel stood, at the return from the captivity, as the representative of the house of David and heir of the promises to him, though in an inferior temporal condition; thereby the rather showing that the main import of the prophecy was not temporal. As then Ezekiel prophesied, Ezekiel 34:23. "I will set up One Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, My servant David" Ezekiel 37:24-25; "And David My servant shall be king over them; and My servant David shall be their prince forever;" and Jeremiah Jer 30:9. "They shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them; and Hosea, that Hosea 3:5. after many days shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king," meaning by David, the great descendant of David, in whom the promises centered, so in his degree, the promise to Zerubbabel reaches on through his descendants to Christ; that, amid all the overthrow of empires, God would protect His sons' sons until Christ should come, the King of kings and Lord of lords, whose Daniel 2:44. "kingdom shall never be destroyed, but it shall break in pieces and consume all those kingdoms, and shall stand fast forever."

21. to Zerubbabel—Perhaps Zerubbabel had asked as to the convulsions foretold (Hag 2:6, 7). This is the reply: The Jews had been led to fear that these convulsions would destroy their national existence. Zerubbabel, therefore, as their civil leader and representative is addressed, not Joshua, their religious leader. Messiah is the antitypical Zerubbabel, their national Representative and King, with whom God the Father makes the covenant wherein they, as identified with Him, are assured of safety in God's electing love (compare Hag 2:23, "will make thee as a signet"; "I have chosen thee").

shake … heavens—(see on [1172]Hag 2:6, 7); violent political convulsions accompanied with physical prodigies (Mt 24:7, 29).

Speak my word, and in my name, saith the Lord.

To Zerubbabel governor of Judah: see Haggai 1:1,12.

I will shake the heavens and the earth: see Haggai 2:6. Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah,.... The former discourse or prophecy chiefly related to the people, for their encouragement in building; this is directed to the prince over them, to support him under all the changes and revolutions made in the world; that he should be regarded by the Lord in a very tender manner, and his government continued, as a type of Christ and his kingdom:

saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; make great commotions, changes, and revolutions in the world, by wars, and otherwise: the Persian kingdom being subdued by the Grecian; the Grecian by the Romans; the Roman empire by the Goths and Vandals; and the antichristian states, both Papal and Mahometan, by the vials of God's wrath poured out upon them, by means of Christian princes: such revolutions are often designed by the shaking of the heavens, especially by earthquakes in the book of the Revelation; see Revelation 6:14.

Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I {m} will shake the heavens and the earth;

(m) I will make a change, and renew all things in Christ, of whom Zerubbabel is here a figure.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 21. - Zerubbabel (see note on Haggai 1:1). I will shake the heavens and the earth. He repeats the prediction of ver. 6 in this chapter (where see note). This is the general statement, expanded and explained in the next verse. 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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