Haggai 2:3
Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do you see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Is it not . . .—Better, is not such a (Temple) as this like nothing in your eyes?

2:1-9 Those who are hearty in the Lord's service shall receive encouragement to proceed. But they could not build such a temple then, as Solomon built. Though our gracious God is pleased if we do as well as we can in his service, yet our proud hearts will scarcely let us be pleased, unless we do as well as others, whose abilities are far beyond ours. Encouragement is given the Jews to go on in the work notwithstanding. They have God with them, his Spirit and his special presence. Though he chastens their transgressions, his faithfulness does not fail. The Spirit still remained among them. And they shall have the Messiah among them shortly; He that should come. Convulsions and changes would take place in the Jewish church and state, but first should come great revolutions and commotions among the nations. He shall come, as the Desire of all nations; desirable to all nations, for in him shall all the earth be blessed with the best of blessings; long expected and desired by all believers. The house they were building should be filled with glory, very far beyond Solomon's temple. This house shall be filled with glory of another nature. If we have silver and gold, we must serve and honour God with it, for the property is his. If we have not silver and gold, we must honour him with such as we have, and he will accept us. Let them be comforted that the glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, in what would be beyond all the glories of the first house, the presence of the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lord of glory, personally, and in human nature. Nothing but the presence of the Son of God, in human form and nature, could fulfil this. Jesus is the Christ, is He that should come, and we are to look for no other. This prophecy alone is enough to silence the Jews, and condemn their obstinate rejection of Him, concerning whom all their prophets spake. If God be with us, peace is with us. But the Jews under the latter temple had much trouble; but this promise is fulfilled in that spiritual peace which Jesus Christ has by his blood purchased for all believers. All changes shall make way for Christ to be desired and valued by all nations. And the Jews shall have their eyes opened to behold how precious He is, whom they have hitherto rejected.Who is left among you? - The question implies that there were those among them, who had seen the first house in its glory, yet but few. When the foundations of the first temple were laid, there were many Ezra 3:12. "Many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundations of this house were laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice." Fifty-nine years had elapsed from the destruction of the temple in the eleventh year of Zedekiah to the first of Cyrus; so that old men of seventy years had seen the first temple, when themselves eleven years old. In this second of Darius seventy years had passed, so that those of 78 or 80 years might still well remember it. Ezra's father, Seraiah, was slain in the eleventh year of Zedekiah; so he must have been born at latest a few months later; yet he lived to the second of Artaxerxes.

Is not such as it is as nothing? - o Beside the richness of the sculptures in the former temple, everything, which admitted of it, was overlaid with gold 1 Kings 6:22, 1 Kings 6:28, 1 Kings 6:30, 1 Kings 6:32, 1 Kings 6:35, "Solomon overlaid the whole house with gold, until he had finished all the house, the whole altar by the oracle, the two cherubim, the floor of the house, the doors of the holy of holies" and the ornaments of it, "the cherubims thereon" and "the palm trees he covered with gold fitted upon the carved work 1 Kings 7:48-50, the altar of gold and the table of gold, whereupon the showbread was, the ten candlesticks of pure gold, with the flowers and the lamps and the tongs of gold, the bowls, the snuffers and the basons and the spoons and the censers of pure gold, and hinges of pure gold for all the doors of the temple 2 Chronicles 3:4-9. The porch that was in the front of the house, twenty cubits broad and 120 cubits high, was overlaid within with pure gold;" the house glistened with precious stones; and the gold (it is added) was "gold of Parvaim," a land distant of course and unknown to us. "Six hundred talents of gold" (about 4,320,000 British pounds were employed in overlaying the holy of holies. "The upper chambers were also of gold; the weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold."

3. Who is left … that saw … first glory—Many elders present at the laying of the foundation of the second temple who had seen the first temple (Ezr 3:12, 13) in all its glory, wept at the contrast presented by the rough and unpromising appearance of the former in its beginnings. From the destruction of the first temple to the second year of Darius Hystaspes, the date of Haggai's prophecy, was a space of seventy years (Zec 1:12); and to the first year of Cyrus, or the end of the captivity, fifty-two years; so that the elders might easily remember the first temple. The Jews note five points of inferiority: The absence from the second temple of (1) the sacred fire; (2) the Shekinah; (3) the ark and cherubim; (4) the Urim and Thummim; (5) the spirit of prophecy. The connection of it with Messiah more than counterbalanced all these; for He is the antitype to all the five (Hag 2:9).

how do ye see it now?—God's estimate of things is very different from man's (Zec 8:6; compare 1Sa 16:7). However low their estimate of the present temple ("it") from its outward inferiority, God holds it superior (Zec 4:10; 1Co 1:27, 28).

Who is left among you? there are surely some that are of that age as to have seen the temple which our father’s sins, God’s just displeasure, and the Chaldean malice burnt; who are they? and where may they be found? This question implieth there were such, and by Ezra 3:12,13 it appears there were many, for the cries and sobs of them equalled the shouts of the younger, who rejoiced to see the foundations of the second house laid.

That saw; took notice of it then, and remember it now, that were of such age and knowledge as to remember what was standing in its glory one hundred and fifty years ago, if some conjecture aright, but, what is nearer to truth, who remember some fourscore years past, who are about one hundred years of age.

This house; the house of God, the temple built by Solomon.

In her first glory; in the stately structure of it, in the rich adornings of it, in the unparalleled skill and curiosity of its workmanship, when it was the glory of the world.

How do ye see it now? do you see the same glorious structure going forward? have you expectation of one equal to the former temple? You cannot but recall the former to mind, and make your judgment of this by that.

Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? do you not judge this second nothing comparable with the first? you are ready to say, (in proverbial speech,) It is nothing to it.

Who is left among you? there are surely some that are of that age as to have seen the temple which our father’s sins, God’s just displeasure, and the Chaldean malice burnt; who are they? and where may they be found? This question implieth there were such, and by Ezra 3:12,13 it appears there were many, for the cries and sobs of them equalled the shouts of the younger, who rejoiced to see the foundations of the second house laid.

That saw; took notice of it then, and remember it now, that were of such age and knowledge as to remember what was standing in its glory one hundred and fifty years ago, if some conjecture aright, but, what is nearer to truth, who remember some fourscore years past, who are about one hundred years of age.

This house; the house of God, the temple built by Solomon.

In her first glory; in the stately structure of it, in the rich adornings of it, in the unparalleled skill and curiosity of its workmanship, when it was the glory of the world.

How do ye see it now? do you see the same glorious structure going forward? have you expectation of one equal to the former temple? You cannot but recall the former to mind, and make your judgment of this by that.

Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? do you not judge this second nothing comparable with the first? you are ready to say, (in proverbial speech,) It is nothing to it.

Who is left among you? there are surely some that are of that age as to have seen the temple which our father’s sins, God’s just displeasure, and the Chaldean malice burnt; who are they? and where may they be found? This question implieth there were such, and by Ezra 3:12,13 it appears there were many, for the cries and sobs of them equalled the shouts of the younger, who rejoiced to see the foundations of the second house laid.

That saw; took notice of it then, and remember it now, that were of such age and knowledge as to remember what was standing in its glory one hundred and fifty years ago, if some conjecture aright, but, what is nearer to truth, who remember some fourscore years past, who are about one hundred years of age.

This house; the house of God, the temple built by Solomon.

In her first glory; in the stately structure of it, in the rich adornings of it, in the unparalleled skill and curiosity of its workmanship, when it was the glory of the world.

How do ye see it now? do you see the same glorious structure going forward? have you expectation of one equal to the former temple? You cannot but recall the former to mind, and make your judgment of this by that.

Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? do you not judge this second nothing comparable with the first? you are ready to say, (in proverbial speech,) It is nothing to it.

Who is left among you? there are surely some that are of that age as to have seen the temple which our father’s sins, God’s just displeasure, and the Chaldean malice burnt; who are they? and where may they be found? This question implieth there were such, and by Ezra 3:12,13 it appears there were many, for the cries and sobs of them equalled the shouts of the younger, who rejoiced to see the foundations of the second house laid.

That saw; took notice of it then, and remember it now, that were of such age and knowledge as to remember what was standing in its glory one hundred and fifty years ago, if some conjecture aright, but, what is nearer to truth, who remember some fourscore years past, who are about one hundred years of age.

This house; the house of God, the temple built by Solomon.

In her first glory; in the stately structure of it, in the rich adornings of it, in the unparalleled skill and curiosity of its workmanship, when it was the glory of the world.

How do ye see it now? do you see the same glorious structure going forward? have you expectation of one equal to the former temple? You cannot but recall the former to mind, and make your judgment of this by that.

Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? do you not judge this second nothing comparable with the first? you are ready to say, (in proverbial speech,) It is nothing to it. Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory?.... Not taken away by death, yet alive, and dwelling among them; and who lived before the destruction of the first temple, built by Solomon; and has seen it in all its magnificence; its grand and noble structure; its stately pillars; its carved work, and decorations of gold. This shows that it was not in the times of Darius Nothus, but of Darius Hystaspis, that Haggai prophesied: those who go the former way make these men to have lived near two hundred years at least, which was greatly beyond the common time of man's life in that age; or consider these words as a mere supposition, that, if there were or had been such persons then living, this building, in comparison of the former, must have appeared mean and contemptible unto them: but the words manifestly imply that there were persons among them then living, who had seen Solomon's temple in all its glory; and who are particularly and personally addressed in the following clauses; and of whom there might be several at this time, going the latter way; for the seventy years' captivity are to be reckoned from the fourth year of Jehoiakim, in which the captivity began, and which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 25:1 but it was not until the nineteenth year of his reign that the temple, was burnt by him, Jeremiah 52:12 and the time of Haggai's prophesying being about seventeen or eighteen years after the proclamation of Cyrus, when the seventy years' captivity ended; this shows that it was scarcely seventy years from the time the temple was destroyed; and therefore it may be reasonably supposed there were several ancient persons living that could remember to have seen it; and it is certain that there were a great number of such living that returned from Babylon, who wept when they saw the foundation of the second temple laid, which was but fifteen years before this, Ezra 3:12 some of whom, in all probability, were now alive, yea, it is certain there were, to whom the following questions were put:

and how do ye see it now? is not this that is building very different from that? does it promise anything like it? what ideas have you of it? can you conceive in your minds that it will ever rise up to such grandeur and stateliness as the former? what is your judgment, and what your sentiments concerning it? can you think of it with equal delight and pleasure as of the former?

is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? do not you think that it is not to be mentioned, or once named, in comparison of the former temple? or that a man had as good say nothing at all, as to attempt a comparison of them? or that this building and nothing are alike? and that the one is a nonentity, as well as the other, comparatively speaking, when set in competition with the first temple? and are not you of opinion that the people had as good do nothing, and that in effect they are doing nothing, and all their labour lost, who are working in this house? no answer is returned, nor any waited for: but it is as if the Lord had said, I, who am the omniscient God, the discerner of the thoughts of men, know that these are your sentiments, and these the reasonings of your minds; and but now lest discovering these thoughts of theirs, and speaking out their minds freely as they might, which would tend to discourage the governors and the people in carrying on the work they had engaged in; the Lord by the prophet says to them, as follows:

Who is left among you that saw this {a} house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?

(a) For the people according as had been prophesied in Isa 2:2 and Eze 41:1-26, thought this temple should have been more excellent than Solomon's temple, which was destroyed by the Babylonians, but the Prophets meant the spiritual Temple, the Church of Christ.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. Who is left among you? &c.] When the foundations of this Temple were laid in the second year of Cyrus there were many such. Now after sixteen more years, when seventy years had elapsed since the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, the number must have been greatly diminished. Old men of fourscore years or thereabouts they must now have been.

how do ye see it?] Lit., what (i.e. of what kind) do ye see it. Comp. 1 Kings 9:13, where Hiram in displeasure at the cities given him by Solomon exclaims, “what cities are these (pr. quid urbium hoc, Gesen.) which thou hast given me, my brother?”

in comparison of it] These words should be omitted as in R.V. They were inserted in A.V. through a misunderstanding of the Hebrew idiom.

“Besides the richness of the sculptures in the former Temple, everything which admitted of it was overlaid with gold; Solomon overlaid the whole house with gold, until he had finished all the house, the whole altar by the oracle, the two cherubims, the floor of the house, the doors of the Holy of Holies and the ornaments of it, the cherubims thereon, and the palm trees he covered with gold fitted upon the carved work; the altar of gold and the table of gold, whereupon the shewbread was, the ten candlesticks of pure gold, with the flowers and the lamps and the tongs of gold, the bowls, the snuffers and the basons and the spoons and the censers of pure gold, and hinges of pure gold for all the doors of the Temple. The porch that was in the front of the house, twenty cubits broad and 120 cubits high, was overlaid within with pure gold; the house glistened with precious stones; and the gold (it is added) was gold of Parvaim, a land distant of course and unknown to us. Six hundred talents of gold (about £4,320,000) were employed in overlaying the Holy of Holies. The upper chambers were also of gold; the weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold.” Pusey.Verse 3. - Who is left among you! etc. It is quite possible that there should be some old people present who had seen Solomon's temple. Many have thought that Haggai himself was of the number. It was sixty-eight years ago that the temple was destroyed, and we can well believe that its remarkable features were deeply impressed on the minds of those who as boys or youths had loved and admired it. Ezra tells us (Ezra 3:12) that "many of the priests and Levites" [when the foundation first was laid] and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house,... wept with a loud voice." This house. The prophet identifies the present with Solomon's temple, as being adapted for the same purposes, to fill the same place in the national life, built on the same hallowed spot, and partly with the same materials. In the Jews' eyes there was one only temple, whatever might be the date of its erection or the comparative worth of its decorations and materials. First; former, as ver. 9. How do ye see it now? (Numbers 13:18). In what condition do ye see this house now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? The words, "in comparison of it," ought to be omitted, as not required by the Hebrew idiom. Does it not seem in your eyes as if it had no existence? If the injunction of Cyrus (Ezra 1:3, etc.) had been carried out, the dimensions cf. the new temple would have exceeded those of the old; but Zerubbabel seems to have been unable, with the small resources at his disposal, to execute the original design, though even so the proportions were not greatly inferior to those of the earlier temple. But the chief inferiority lay in the absence of the splendour and enrichment with which Solomon adorned his edifice. The gold which he had lavished on the house was no longer available; the precious stones could not be had. Besides. these defects, the Talmudists reckon five things wanting in this second temple, viz. the ark of the covenant, with the cherubim and mercy seat; the holy fire; the Shechinah; the spirit of prophecy; the Urim and Thnmmim. It was, according to Josephus, only half the height of Solomon's-sixty cubits ('Ant.,' 15:11, 1), and it appears to have been in many respects inferior to the first building ('Ant.,' 4:02). Hecabaeus of Abdera gives the dimensions of the courts as five hundred feet in length and a hundred cubits in breadth (double the width of the court of the tabernacle), and the size of the altar as twenty cubits square and ten cubits high (see Josephus, 'Cont. Ap.,' 1:22; Conder, 'Handbook to the Bible,' p. 370). At the conquest of Nineveh the numerous inhabitants flee, and the rich city is plundered. Nahum 2:8. "And Nineveh like a water-pond all her days. And they flee! Stand ye, O stand! and no one turns round. Nahum 2:9. Take silver as booty, take ye gold! And no end to the furnishing with immense quantity of all kinds of ornamental vessels. Nahum 2:10. Emptying and devastation! and the heart has melted, and trembling of the knees, and labour pain in all loins, and the countenance of every one withdraws its ruddiness." Nineveh is compared to a pool, not merely with reference to the multitude of men who had gathered together there, but, as water is everywhere an element of life, also with reference to the wealth and prosperity which accrued to this imperial city out of the streaming together of so many men and so many different peoples. Compare Jeremiah 51:13, where Babel is addressed as "Thou that dwellest on many waters, art rich in many treasures." מימי היא, since the days that she exists. היא equals אשׁר היא, the relation being indicated by the construct state; מן הוא in Isaiah 18:2 is different. But they flee. The subject to נסים is not the waters, although nūs is applied to water in Psalm 104:7, but, as what follows shows, the masses of men who are represented as water. These flee away without being stopped by the cry "Stand ye" (i.e., remain), or even paying any attention to it. Hiphnâh, lit., "to turn the back" (‛ōreph, Jeremiah 48:39), to flee, but when applied to a person already fleeing, to turn round (cf. Jeremiah 46:5). In Nahum 2:9 the conquerors are summoned to plunder, not by their generals, but by God, who speaks through the prophet. The fact is hereby indicated, "that this does not happen by chance, but because God determines to avenge the injuries inflicted upon His people" (Calvin). With ואין קצה the prophecy passes into a simple description. There is no end lattekhūnâh, to the furnishing with treasures. Tekhūnâh, from kūn, not from tâkhan, lit., the setting up, the erection of a building (Ezekiel 43:11); here the furnishing of Nineveh as the dwelling-place of the rulers of the world, whilst in Job 23:3 it is applied to the place where the throne of God has been established. In כּבד the ל might be thought of as still continuing in force (Ewald, Hitzig), but it answers better to the liveliness of the description to take כּבד as beginning a fresh sentence. כּבד written defectively, as in Genesis 31:1 : glory, equivalent to the great amount of the wealth, as in Genesis (l.c.). Kelē chendâh, gold and silver vessels and jewels, as in Hosea 13:15. That there were immense treasures of the precious metals and of costly vessels treasured up in Nineveh, may be inferred with certainty from the accounts of ancient writers, which border on the fabulous.

(Note: For proofs, see Layard's Nineveh, ii. 415ff., and Movers, Phnizier (iii. 1, pp. 40, 41). After quoting the statements of Ctesias, the latter observes that "these numbers are indeed fabulous; but they have their historical side, inasmuch as in the time of Ctesias the riches of Nineveh were estimated at an infinitely greater amount than the enormous treasures accumulated in the treasuries of the Persian empire. That the latter is quite in accordance with truth, may be inferred from the fact that the conquerors of Nineveh, the Medes and Chaldaeans, of whose immense booty, in the shape of gold, silver, and other treasures, even the prophet Nahum speaks, furnished Ecbatana and Babylon with gold and silver from the booty of Nineveh to an extent unparalleled in all history.")

Of all these treasures nothing was left but desolate emptiness. This is expressed by the combination of three synonymous words. Būqâh and mebhūqâh are substantive formations from būq equals bâqaq, to empty out, and are combined to strengthen the idea, like similar combinations in Zephaniah 1:15; Ezekiel 33:29, and Isaiah 29:2. Mebhullâqâh is a synonymous noun formed from the participle pual, and signifying devastation (cf. Isaiah 24:1, where even bâlaq is combined with bâqaq). In Nahum 2:11 the horror of the vanquished at the total devastation of Nineveh is described, also in short substantive clauses: "melted heart" (nâmēs is a participle), i.e., perfect despondency (see Isaiah 13:7; Joshua 7:5); trembling of the knees, so that from terror men can hardly keep upon their feet (pı̄q for pūq; it only occurs here). Chalchâlâh formed by reduplication from chı̄l: spasmodic pains in all loins, like the labour pains of women in childbirth (cf. Isaiah 21:3). Lastly, the faces of all turning pale (see at Joel 2:6).

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