Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying,
Hag 2:1-9. Second Prophecy. The people, discouraged at the inferiority of this temple to Solomon's, are encouraged nevertheless to persevere, because God is with them, and this house by its connection with Messiah's kingdom shall have a glory far above that of gold and silver.
1. seventh month—of the Hebrew year; in the second year of Darius' reign (Hag 1:1); not quite a month after they had begun the work (Hag 1:15). This prophecy was very shortly before that of Zechariah.
Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying,
Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?
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).
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:
4. be strong … for I am with you—The greatest strength is to have Jehovah with us as our strength. Not in man's "might," but in that of God's Spirit (Zec 4:6).
According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.
5. According to the word that—literally, "(I am with you) the word (or thing) which I covenanted"; that is, I am with you as I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt (Ex 19:5, 6; 34:10, 11). The covenant promise of God to the elect people at Sinai is an additional motive for their persevering. The Hebrew for to "covenant" is literally "to cut," alluding to the sacrificial victims cut in ratification of a covenant.
my Spirit remaineth among you—to strengthen you for the work (Hag 1:14; Zec 4:6). The inspiration of Haggai and Zechariah at this time was a specimen of the presence of God's Spirit remaining still with His people, as He had been with Moses and Israel of old (Ezr 5:1; Isa 63:11).
For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;
6. Yet once, it is a little while—or, "(it is) yet a little while." The Hebrew for "once" expresses the indefinite article "a" [Maurer]. Or, "it is yet only a little while"; literally, "one little," that is, a single brief space till a series of movements is to begin; namely, the shakings of nations soon to begin which are to end in the advent of Messiah, "the desire of all nations" [Moore]. The shaking of nations implies judgments of wrath on the foes of God's people, to precede the reign of the Prince of peace (Isa 13:13). The kingdoms of the world are but the scaffolding for God's spiritual temple, to be thrown down when their purpose is accomplished. The transitoriness of all that is earthly should lead men to seek "peace" in Messiah's everlasting kingdom (Hag 2:9; Heb 12:27, 28) [Moore]. The Jews in Haggai's times hesitated about going forward with the work, through dread of the world power, Medo-Persia, influenced by the craft of Samaria. The prophet assures them this and all other world powers are to fall before Messiah, who is to be associated with this temple; therefore they need fear naught. So Heb 12:26, which quotes this passage; the apostle compares the heavier punishment which awaits the disobedient under the New Testament with that which met such under the Old Testament. At the establishment of the Sinaitic covenant, only the earth was shaken to introduce it, but now heaven and earth and all things are to be shaken, that is, along with prodigies in the world of nature, all kingdoms that stand in the way of Messiah's kingdom, "which cannot be shaken," are to be upturned (Da 2:35, 44; Mt 21:44). Heb 12:27, "Yet once more," favors English Version. Paul condenses together the two verses of Haggai (Hag 2:6, 7, and Hag 2:21, 22), implying that it was one and the same shaking, of which the former verses of Haggai denote the beginning, the latter the end. The shaking began introductory to the first advent; it will be finished at the second. Concerning the former, compare Mt 3:17; 27:51; 28:2; Ac 2:2; 4:31; concerning the latter, Mt 24:7; Re 16:20; 18:20; 20:11 [Bengel]. There is scarcely a prophecy of Messiah in the Old Testament which does not, to some extent at least, refer to His second coming [Sir Isaac Newton]. Ps 68:8 mentions the heavens dropping near the mountain (Sinai); but Haggai speaks of the whole created heavens: "Wait only a little while, though the promised event is not apparent yet; for soon will God change things for the better: do not stop short with these preludes and fix your eyes on the present state of the temple [Calvin]. God shook the heavens by the lightnings at Sinai; the earth, that it should give forth waters; the sea, that it should be divided asunder. In Christ's time God shook the heaven, when He spake from it; the earth, when it quaked; the sea, when He commanded the winds and waves [Grotius]. Cicero records at the time of Christ the silencing of the heathen oracles; and Dio, the fall of the idols in the Roman capitol.
And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
7. shake—not convert; but cause that agitation which is to precede Messiah's coming as the healer of the nations' agitations. The previous shaking shall cause the yearning "desire" for the Prince of peace. Moore and others translate "the beauty," or "the desirable things (the precious gifts) of all nations shall come" (Isa 60:5, 11; 61:6). He brings these objections to applying "the desire of all nations" to Messiah: (1) The Hebrew means the quality, not the thing desired, namely, its desirableness or beauty, But the abstract is often put for the concrete. So "a man of desires," that is, one desired or desirable (Da 9:23; 10:11, Margin; Da 10:3, Margin). (2) Messiah was not desired by all nations, but "a root out of a dry ground," having "no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isa 53:2). But what is implied is not that the nations definitely desired Him, but that He was the only one to satisfy the yearning desires which all felt unconsciously for a Saviour, shown in their painful rites and bloody sacrifices. Moreover, while the Jews as a nation desired Him not (to which people Isa 53:2 refers), the Gentiles, who are plainly pointed out by "all nations," accepted Him; and so to them He was peculiarly desirable. (3) The verb, "shall come," is plural, which requires the noun to be understood in the plural, whereas if Messiah be intended, the noun is singular. But when two nouns stand together, of which one is governed by the other, the verb agrees sometimes in number with the latter, though it really has the former as its nominative, that is, the Hebrew "come" is made in number to agree with "nations," though really agreeing with "the desire." Besides, Messiah may be described as realizing in Himself at His coming "the desires (the noun expressing collectively the plural) of all nations"; whence the verb is plural. So in So 5:16, "He is altogether lovely," in the Hebrew the same word as here, "all desires," that is, altogether desirable, or the object of desires. (4) Hag 2:8, "The silver is mine," &c.; accords with the translation, "the choice things of all nations" shall be brought in. But Hag 2:8 harmonizes quite as well with English Version of Hag 2:7, as the note on eighth verse will show; see on Hag 2:8. (5) the Septuagint and Syriac versions agree with Moore's translation. But Vulgate confirms English Version. So also early Jewish Rabbis before Jerome's time. Plato [Alcibiades, 2] shows the yearning of the Gentiles after a spiritual deliverer: "It is therefore necessary," says Alcibiades on the subject of acceptable worship, "to wait until One teach us how we ought to behave towards the gods and men." Alcibiades replies, "When shall that time arrive, and who shall that Teacher be? For most glad would I be to see such a man." The "good tidings of great joy" were "to all people" (Lu 2:10). The Jews, and those in the adjoining nations instructed by them, looked for Shiloh to come unto whom the gathering of the people was to be, from Jacob's prophecy (Ge 49:10). The early patriarchs, Job (Job 19:25-27; 33:23-26) and Abraham (Joh 8:56), desired Him.
fill this house with glory—(Hag 2:9). As the first temple was filled with the cloud of glory, the symbol of God (1Ki 8:11; 2Ch 5:14), so this second temple was filled with the "glory" of God (Joh 1:14) veiled in the flesh (as it were in the cloud) at Christ's first coming, when He entered it and performed miracles there (Mt 21:12-14); but that "glory" is to be revealed at His second coming, as this prophecy in its ulterior reference foretells (Mal 3:1). The Jews before the destruction of Jerusalem all expected Messiah would appear in the second temple. Since that time they invent various forced and false interpretations of such plain Messianic prophecies.
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.
8. The silver is mine—(Job 41:11; Ps 50:12). Ye are disappointed at the absence of these precious metals in the adorning of this temple, as compared with the first temple: If I pleased I could adorn this temple with them, but I will adorn it with a "glory" (Hag 2:7, 9) far more precious; namely, with the presence of My divine Son in His veiled glory first, and at His second coming with His revealed glory, accompanied with outward adornment of gold and silver, of which the golden covering within and without put on by Herod is the type. Then shall the nations bring offerings of those precious metals which ye now miss so much (Isa 2:3; 60:3, 6, 7; Eze 43:2, 4, 5; 44:4). The heavenly Jerusalem shall be similarly adorned, but shall need "no temple" (Re 21:10-22). Compare 1Co 3:12, where gold and silver represent the most precious things (Zec 2:5). The inward glory of New Testament redemption far exceeds the outward glory of the Old Testament dispensation. So, in the case of the individual poor believer, God, if He pleased, could bestow gold and silver, but He bestows far better treasures, the possession of which might be endangered by that of the former (Jas 2:5).
The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
9. The glory of this latter house … greater than of the former—namely, through the presence of Messiah, in (whose) face is given the light of the knowledge of the glory of God (2Co 4:6; compare Heb 1:2), and who said of Himself, "in this place is one greater than the temple" (Mt 12:6), and who "sat daily teaching in it" (Mt 26:55). Though Zerubbabel's temple was taken down to the foundations when Herod rebuilt the temple, the latter was considered, in a religious point of view, as not a third temple, but virtually the second temple.
in this place … peace—namely, at Jerusalem, the metropolis of the kingdom of God, whose seat was the temple: where Messiah "made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col 1:20). Thus the "glory" consists in this "peace." This peace begins by the removal of the difficulty in the way of the just God accepting the guilty (Ps 85:8, 10; Isa 9:6, 7; 53:5; Zec 6:13; 2Co 5:18, 19); then it creates peace in the sinner's own heart (Isa 57:19; Ac 10:36; Ro 5:1; 14:17; Eph 2:13-17; Php 4:7); then peace in the whole earth (Mic 5:5; Lu 2:14). First peace between God and man, then between man and God, then between man and man (Isa 2:4; Ho 2:18; Zec 9:10). As "Shiloh" (Ge 49:10) means peace, this verse confirms the view that Hag 2:7, "the desire of all nations," refers to Shiloh or Messiah, foretold in Ge 49:10.
In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,
Hag 2:10-19. Third Prophecy. Sacrifices without obedience (in respect to God's command to build the temple) could not sanctify. Now that they are obedient, God will bless them, though no sign is seen of fertility as yet.
10. four and twentieth day … ninth month—three days more than two months from the second prophecy (Hag 2:1); in the month Chisleu, the lunar one about the time of our December. The Jews seem to have made considerable progress in the work in the interval (Hag 2:15-18).
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying,
11. Ask … the priests—Propose this question to them on the law. The priests were the authorized expounders of the law (Le 10:11; De 33:10; Eze 44:23; Mal 2:7).
If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No.
12. "Holy flesh" (that is, the flesh of a sacrifice, Jer 11:15), indeed, makes holy the "skirt" in which it is carried; but that "skirt" cannot impart its sanctity to any thing beyond, as "bread," &c. (Le 6:27). This is cited to illustrate the principle, that a sacrifice, holy, as enveloping divine things (just as the "skirt" is "holy" which envelops "holy" flesh), cannot by its inherent or opus operatum efficacy make holy a person whose disobedience, as that of the Jew while neglecting God's house, made him unholy.
Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean.
13. On the other hand, a legally "unclean" person imparts his uncleanness to any thing, whereas a legally holy thing cannot confer its sanctity on an "unclean" person (Nu 19:11, 13, 22). Legal sanctity is not so readily communicated as legal impurity. So the paths to sin are manifold: the paths to holiness one, and that one of difficult access [Grotius]. One drop of filth will defile a vase of water: many drops of water will not purity a vase of filth [Moore].
Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.
14. Then answered Haggai—rather, "Then Haggai answered (in rejoinder to the priests' answer) and said" [Maurer].
so is this people—heretofore not in such an obedient state of mind as to deserve to be called My people (Tit 1:15). Here he applies the two cases just stated. By the first case, "this people" is not made "holy" by their offerings "there" (namely, on the altar built in the open air, under Cyrus, Ezr 3:3); though the ritual sacrifice can ordinarily sanctify outwardly so far as it reaches (Heb 9:13), as the "holy flesh" sanctified the "skirt," yet it cannot make the offerers in their persons and all their works acceptable to God, because lacking the spirit of obedience (1Sa 15:22) so long as they neglected to build the Lord's house. On the contrary, by the second case, they made "unclean" their very offerings by being unclean through "dead works" (disobedience), just as the person unclean by contact with a dead body imparted his uncleanness to all that he touched (compare Heb 9:14). This all applies to them as they had been, not as they are now that they have begun to obey; the design is to guard them against falling back again. The "there" points to the altar, probably in view of the audience which the prophet addressed.
And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD:
15. consider—literally, "lay it to heart." Ponder earnestly, retracing the past "upward" (that is, backward), comparing what evils heretofore befell you before ye set about this work, with the present time when you have again commenced it, and when in consequence I now engage to "bless you." Hence ye may perceive the evils of disobedience and the blessing of obedience.
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.
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."
I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD.
17. Appropriated from Am 4:9, whose canonicity is thus sealed by Haggai's inspired authority; in the last clause, "turned," however, has to be supplied, its omission marking by the elliptical abruptness ("yet ye not to Me!") God's displeasure. Compare "(let him come) unto Me!" Moses in excitement omitting the bracketed words (Ex 32:26). "Blasting" results from excessive drought; "mildew, from excessive moisture.
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.
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.
Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.
19. Is the seed yet in the barn?—implying, It is not. It has been already sown this month, and there are no more signs of its bearing a good crop, much less of its being safely stored in the barn, than there were in the past season, when there was such a failure; yet I promise to you from this day (emphatically marking by the repetition the connection of the blessing with the day of their obedience) a blessing in an abundant harvest. So also the vine, &c., which heretofore have borne little or nothing, shall be blessed with productiveness. Thus it will be made evident that the blessing is due to Me, not to nature. We may trust God's promise to bless us, though we see no visible sign of its fulfilment (Hab 2:3).
And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying,
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).
Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth;
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 Hag 2:6, 7); violent political convulsions accompanied with physical prodigies (Mt 24:7, 29).
And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.
22. All other world kingdoms are to be overthrown to make way for Christ's universal kingdom (Da 2:44). War chariots are to give place to His reign of peace (Mic 5:10; Zec 9:10).
In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.
23. take thee—under My protection and to promote thee and thy people to honor (Ps 78:70).
a signet—(So 8:6; Jer 22:24). A ring with a seal on it; the legal representative of the owner; generally of precious stones and gold, &c., and much valued. Being worn on the finger, it was an object of constant regard. In all which points of view the theocratic people, and their representative, Zerubbabel the type, and Messiah his descendant the Antitype, are regarded by God. The safety of Israel to the end is guaranteed in Messiah, in whom God hath chosen them as His own (Isa 42:1; 43:10; 44:1; 49:3). So the spiritual Israel is sealed in their covenant head by His Spirit (2Co 1:20, 22; Eph 1:4, 13, 14). All is ascribed, not to the merits of Zerubbabel, but to God's gratuitous choice. Christ is the "signet" on God's hand: always in the Father's presence, ever pleasing in his sight. The signet of an Eastern monarch was the sign of delegated authority; so Christ (Mt 28:18; Joh 5:22, 23).