Haggai 1
Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary


Person of the Prophet. - We have no further information concerning Haggai (Chaggai, i.e., the festal one, formed from châg, with the adjective termination ai: cf. Ewald, 164, c, and 273, e; lxx Ἀγγαῖος, Vulg. Aggaeus) than that obtained from the headings to his prophetic addresses (Haggai 1:1; Haggai 2:1, Haggai 2:10, Haggai 2:20), and confirmed by Ezra 5:1, - namely, that he commenced his prophesying in the second year of Darius Hystaspes, and by means of his prophecies caused the work of building the temple, which had been suspended in consequence of the machinations of the Cuthaeans (Samaritans), to be resumed, and in common with the prophet Zechariah, who commenced his labours two months later, ensured the continuance of that work. The extra-biblical accounts of the circumstances of his life have no evidence at all to support them. This is the case, for example, with the statement of Ps. Dorotheus and Ps. Epiphanius, that Haggai came from Babylon to Jerusalem when quite a young men, and that he survived the rebuilding of the temple, and was buried in honour near the burial-place of the priests, to say nothing of the strange opinion which was tolerably general in the times of Jerome and Cyril of Alexandria, and which arose from a misinterpretation of the word מלאך in Haggai 1:13, viz., that Haggai was an angel who appeared in human shape. And Ewald's conjecture, that Haggai had seen the temple of Solomon, cannot be inferred from Haggai 2:3. In that case he would have been about eighty years old when he commenced his labours as a prophet.

2. The Book of Haggai contains four words of God uttered by the prophet in the second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, which had for their object the furtherance of the building of the temple, and in all probability simply reproduce the leading thought of His oral addresses. In the first prophecy, delivered on the new moon's day of the sixth month of the year named (Haggai 1:1-15), the condemns the indifference of the people concerning the building of the temple, and represents the failure of the crops and the curse under which the people were suffering as a divine punishment for the neglect of that work. In consequence of this admonition the building was resumed. The three following prophecies in ch. 2 encourage the people to continue the work they have begun. The second, which was delivered only twenty-four days after the first (Haggai 2:1-9), consoles those who are desponding on account of the poverty of the new building, by promising that the Lord will keep the covenant promise made to His people when they came out of Egypt, and by shaking the whole world and all the heathen, will give the new temple even greater glory than that of Solomon had. The last two words of God were delivered to the people on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month of the same year. They predict in the first place the cessation of the previous curse, and the return of the blessings of nature promised to the church which had remained faithful to the covenant (Haggai 2:10-19); and in the second place, the preservation of the throne of Israel, represented in the person and attitude of Zerubbabel, among the tempests which will burst upon the kingdoms of this world, and destroy their might and durability (Haggai 2:20-23).

In order to understand clearly the meaning of these prophecies and promises in relation to the development of the Old Testament kingdom of God, we must look at the historical circumstances under which Haggai was called by God to labour as a prophet. Haggai was the first prophet who rose up after the exile in the midst of the congregation of Judah that had returned from Babylon, to proclaim to it the will and saving purposes of its God. Between him and Zephaniah there lay the seventy years' exile, and the labours of the great prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. What all the earlier prophets had foretold, and Jeremiah especially, in a comprehensive and most impressive manner - namely, that the Lord would thrust out Judah also among the heathen, on account of its obstinate idolatry and resistance to the commandments of God, and would cause it to be enslaved by them - had been fulfilled. As the ten tribes had been carried away by the Assyrians long before, so had the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem been also carried into exile by the Chaldaeans through Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord had now banished all His people from before His face, and sent them away among the heathen, but He had not cast them off entirely and for ever. He had indeed suspended His covenant with Israel, but He had not entirely abolished it. Even to the people pining in exile He had not only renewed the ancient promises through the prophet Ezekiel, after the dissolution of the kingdom of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, viz., that He would restore the nation to favour again, when it should come to the knowledge of its grievous sins, and turn to Him with penitence, and that He would redeem it from exile, lead it back to its own land, and exalt it to great glory; but He had also caused the might and duration of the kingdoms of the world to be proclaimed through Daniel, and their eventual overthrow through the kingdom of God from heaven. The seventy years, during which the land of Judah was to lie waste and the nation to serve Babel (Jeremiah 25:11), had now passed away. The Babylonian empire had fallen, and Koresh (Cyrus), the founder of the Persian empire, had given the Jews permission to return to their own land in the first year of his sole dominion, and had commanded that the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem should be rebuilt. In consequence of this, a considerable number of the captives of Judah and Benjamin, viz., 42,360 freemen, with 7337 men-servants and maid-servants, led by Zerubbabel prince of Judah, a descendant of David, who was appointed governor in Judah, and by the high priest Joshua, had returned to their homes (Ezra 1:1-11 and 2). Having arrived there, they had restored Jehovah's altar of burnt-offering in the seventh month of the year, and re-established the sacrificial worship prescribed in the law. They had also so far made preparations for the rebuilding of the temple, that even in the second month of the second year after their return they were able solemnly to lay the foundation for the new temple (Ezra 3:1-13).

They had hardly commenced building, however, when the Samaritans came with a request that they might take part in the building of the temple, because they also sought the God of the Jews. Now, when the chiefs of Judah refused to grant them this request, as being a mixed people, composed of the heathen colonists who had been transplanted into the kingdom of the ten tribes and a few Israelites who were left behind in the land, whilst their worship of God was greatly distorted by heathenism (see at 2 Kings 17:24-41), they endeavoured to disturb the work already begun, and to prevent its continuation and completion. They made the hands of the people of Judah idle, as we read in Ezra 4:4-5, frightening them while building, and hiring counsellors against them to frustrate their design, the whole of the still remaining time of Cyrus, and even till the reign of king Darius of Persia, so that the work at the house of God at Jerusalem ceased and was suspended till the second year of the reign of this king (Ezra 4:24). But even if these machinations of the adversaries of Judah furnished the outward occasion for the interruption and suspension of the work they had begun, we must not seek for the sole and sufficient reason for the breaking off of the work in these alone. Nothing is recorded of any revocation of the edict issued by Cyrus during his reign; and even if the letter to Artachsata given in Ezra 4:7. referred, as is generally assumed, to the building of the temple, and the reply of this king, which prohibited the continuation of the building, was issued by Pseudo-Smerdis, this only took place under the second successor of Cyrus, twelve years after the laying of the foundation-stone of the temple. What the enemies of Judah had previously undertaken and accomplished consisted simply in the fact that they made the hands of the Jewish people idle, frightening them while building, and frustrating their enterprise by hiring counsellors.

(Note: So much is evident from the account in the book of Ezra, concerning the machinations of the Samaritans to frustrate the building. The more precise determination of what they did - namely, whether they obtained a command from the king to suspend the building - depends upon the explanation given to the section in Ezra (Ezra 4:6-23), into which we need not enter more minutely till we come to our exposition of the book itself, inasmuch as it is not important to decide this question in order to understand our prophet.)

The latter they would hardly have succeeded in, if the Jews themselves had taken real pleasure in the continuation of the work, and had had firm confidence in the assistance of God. These were wanting. Even at the ceremony of laying the foundation-stone, many of the old priests, Levites and heads of tribes, who had seen the first temple, spoiled the people's pleasure by loud weeping. This weeping can hardly be explained merely from the recollection of the trials and sufferings of the last fifty years, which came involuntarily into their mind at that moment of solemn rejoicing, but was no doubt occasioned chiefly by the sight of the miserable circumstances under which the congregation took this work in hand, and in which they could not help saying to themselves, that the execution of the work would not correspond to the hopes which might have been cherished from the restoration of the house of God. But such thoughts as these would of necessity greatly detract from their pleasure in building, and as soon as outward difficulties were also placed in their way, would supply food to the doubt whether the time for carrying on this work had really come. Thus the zeal for building the house of God so cooled down, that they gave it up altogether, and simply began to provide for their own necessities, and to establish themselves comfortably in the land of their fathers, so far as the circumstances permitted (Haggai 1:4). This becomes perfectly intelligible, if we add that, judging from the natural character of sinful men, there were no doubt a considerable number of men among those who had returned, who had been actuated to return less by living faith in the Lord and His word, than by earthly hopes of prosperity and comfort in the land of their fathers. As soon as they found themselves disappointed in their expectations, they became idle and indifferent with regard to the house of the Lord. And the addresses of our prophet show clearly enough, that one principal reason for the suspension of the work is to be sought for in the lukewarmness and indifference of the people.

The contents and object of these addresses, viz., the circumstance that they are chiefly occupied with the command to build the temple, and attach great promises to the performance of this work, can only be explained in part, however, from the fact that the fidelity of the nation towards its God showed itself in zeal for the house of God. The deeper and truer explanation is to be found in the significance which the temple possessed in relation to the kingdom of God in its Old Testament form. The covenant of grace, made by the God of heaven and earth with the nation of Israel which He had chosen for His own peculiar possession, required, as a visible pledge of the real fellowship into which Jehovah had entered with Israel, a place where this fellowship could be sustained. For this reason, directly after the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, God commanded the tabernacle to be erected, for a sanctuary in which, as covenant God, He would dwell among His people in a visible symbol; and, as the sign of the fulfilment of this divine promise, at the dedication of the tabernacle, and also of the temple of Solomon which took its place, the glory of Jehovah in the form of a cloud filled the sanctuary that had been built for His name. Hence the continuance of the ancient covenant, or of the kingdom of God in Israel, was bound up with the temple. When this was destroyed the covenant was broken, and the continuance of the kingdom of God suspended. If, therefore, the covenant which had been dissolved during the exile was to be renewed, if the kingdom of God was to be re-established in its Old Testament form, the rebuilding of the temple was the first and most important prerequisite for this; and the people were bound to pursue the work of building it with all possible zeal, that they might thereby practically attest their desire and readiness to resume the covenant fellowship which had been interrupted for a time. After the people had thus fulfilled the duty that devolved upon them, they might expect from the faithfulness of the Lord, their covenant God, that He would also restore the former gracious connection in all its completeness, and fulfil all His covenant promises. It is in this that the significance of Haggai's prophecies consists, so far as they have regard to the furthering of the work of building the temple. And this object was attained. The building of the temple was resumed in consequence of his admonition, and at the end of four years and a half - namely, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius - the work was finished (Ezra 6:14-15). But at its dedication the new temple was not filled with the cloud of the glory of Jehovah; yea, the most essential feature in the covenant made at Sinai was wanting, viz., the ark with the testimony, i.e., the tables of the law, which no man could restore, inasmuch as the ten words of the covenant had been written upon the tables by God Himself. The old covenant was not to be restored in its Sinaitic form; but according to the promise made through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31.), the Lord would make a new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah; He would put His law into their heart, and write it in their minds. The people, however, were not sufficiently prepared for this. Therefore those who had returned from Babylon were still to continue under the rule of the heathen powers of the world, until the time had arrived for the conclusion of the new covenant, when the Lord would come to His temple, and the angel of the covenant would fill it with the glory of the heathen. Thus the period of Zerubbabel's temple was a time of waiting for Judah, and a period of preparation for the coming of the promised Saviour. To give the people a pledge during that period of the certainty of the fulfilment of the covenant grace of God, was the object of Haggai's two promises of salvation.

So far as the form is concerned, the prophecies of Haggai have not the poetical swing of the earlier prophetical diction. They were written in the simplest rhetorical style, and never rise very far above the level of good prose, although vivacity is given to the delivery by the frequent use of interrogatives (cf. Haggai 1:4, Haggai 1:9; Haggai 2:3, Haggai 2:12-13, Haggai 2:19), and it by no means infrequently opens into full oratorical rhythm (cf. Haggai 1:6, Haggai 1:9-11; Haggai 2:6-8, Haggai 2:22). One characteristic of Haggai's mode of description is the peculiar habit to which Naegelsbach has called attention - namely, of uttering the main thought with concise and nervous brevity, after a long and verbose introduction (cf. Haggai 1:2, Haggai 1:12, Haggai 2:5, Haggai 2:19); so that it might be said that he is accustomed "to conceal a small and most intensive kernel under a broad and thick shell." His language is tolerably free from Chaldaeisms.

For the exegetical literature, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, p. 308; to which add Aug. Koehler's die WeissagunGenesis Haggai's erklrt, ErlanGenesis 1860.

In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,
In Haggai 1:1 this address is introduced by a statement of the time at which it had been delivered, and the persons to whom it was addressed. The word of Jehovah was uttered through the prophet in the second year of king Darius, on the first day of the sixth month. דּריושׁ answers to the name Dâryavush or Dârayavush of the arrow-headed inscriptions; it is derived from the Zendic dar, Sanskrit dhri, contracted into dhar, and is correctly explained by Herodotus (vi. 98) as signifying ἑρξείης equals corcitor. It is written in Greek Δαρεῖος (Darius). The king referred to is the king of Persia (Ezra 4:5, Ezra 4:24), the first of that name, i.e., Darius Hystaspes, who reigned from 521 to 486 b.c. That this is the king meant, and not Darius Nothus, is evident from the fact that Zerubbabel the Jewish prince, and Joshua the high priest, who had led back the exiles from Babylon to Judaea in the reign of Cyrus, in the year 536 (Ezra 1:8; Ezra 2:2), might very well be still at the head of the returned people in the second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, i.e., in the year 520, but could not have been still living in the reign of Darius Nothus, who did not ascend the throne till 113 years after the close of the captivity. Moreover, in Haggai 2:3, Haggai presupposes that many of his contemporaries had seen the temple of Solomon. Now, as that temple had been destroyed in the year 588 or 587, there might very well be old men still living under Darius Hystaspes, in the year 520, who had seen that temple in their early days; but that could not be the case under Darius Nothus, who ascended the Persian throne in the year 423. The prophet addresses his word to the temporal and spiritual heads of the nation, to the governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua. זרבּבל is written in many codd. זרוּבבל, and is either formed from זרוּי בבל, in Babyloniam dispersus, or as the child, if born before the dispersion in Babylonia, would not have received this name proleptically, probably more correctly from זרוּע בּבל, in Babylonia satus s. genitus, in which case the ע was assimilated to the ב when the two words were joined into one, and ב received a dagesh. Zerubbabel (lxx Ζοροβάβελ) was the son of Shealtil. שׁאלתּיאל is written in the same way in Haggai 2:23; 1 Chronicles 3:17; Ezra 3:2, and Nehemiah 12:1; whereas in Nehemiah 12:12 and Nehemiah 12:14, and Haggai 2:2, it is contracted into שׁלתּיאל. She'altı̄'ēl, i.e., the prayer of God, or one asked of God in prayer, was, according to 1 Chronicles 3:17, if we take 'assı̄r as an appellative, a son of Jeconiah (Jehoiachin), or, if we take 'assı̄r as a proper name, a son of Assir the son of Jeconiah, and therefore a grandson of Jehoiachin. But, according to 1 Chronicles 3:19, Zerubbabel was a son of Pedaiah, a brother of Shealtiel. And lastly, according to the genealogy in Luke 3:27, Shealtiel was not a son of either Assir or Jeconiah, but of Neri, a descendant of David through his son Nathan. These three divergent accounts, according to which Zerubbabel was (1) a son of Shealtil, (2) a son of Pedaiah, the brother of Shealtil, and a grandson of Assir or Jeconiah, (3) a son of Shealtil and grandson of Neri, may be brought into harmony by means of the following combinations, if we bear in mind the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 32:30), that Jeconiah would be childless, and not be blessed with having one of his seed sitting upon the throne of David and ruling over Judah. Since this prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled, according to the genealogical table given by Luke, inasmuch as Shealtil's father there is not Assir or Jeconiah, a descendant of David in the line of Solomon, but Neri, a descendant of David's son Nathan, it follows that neither of the sons of Jeconiah mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:17-18 (Zedekiah and Assir) had a son, but that the latter had only a daughter, who married a man of the family of her father's tribe, according to the law of the heiresses, Numbers 27:8; Numbers 36:8-9 - namely Neri, who belonged to the tribe of Judah and family of David. From this marriage sprang Shealtil, Malkiram, Pedaiah, and others. The eldest of these took possession of the property of his maternal grandfather, and was regarded in law as his (legitimate) son. Hence he is described in 1 Chronicles 3:17 as the son of Assir the son of Jeconiah, whereas in Luke he is described, according to his lineal descent, as the son of Neri. But Shealtil also appears to have died without posterity, and simply to have left a widow, which necessitated a Levirate marriage on the part of one of the brothers (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Matthew 22:24-28). Shealtil's second brother Pedaiah appears to have performed his duty, and to have begotten Zerubbabel and Shimei by this sister-in-law (1 Chronicles 3:19), the former of whom, Zerubbabel, was entered in the family register of the deceased uncle Shealtil, passing as his (lawful) son and heir, and continuing his family. Koehler holds essentially the same views (see his comm. on Haggai 2:23).

Zerubbabel was pechâh, a Persian governor. The real meaning of this foreign word is still a disputed point.

(Note: Prof. Spiegel (in Koehler on Malachi 1:8) objects to the combination attempted by Benfey, and transferred to the more modern lexicons, viz., with the Sanscrit paksha, a companion or friend (see at 1 Kings 10:15), on the ground that this word (1) signifies wing in the Vedas, and only received the meaning side, party, appendix, at a later period, and (2) does not occur in the Eranian languages, from which it must necessarily have been derived. Hence Spiegel proposes to connect it with pâvan (from the root pâ, to defend or preserve: compare F. Justi, Hdb. der Zendsprache, p. 187), which occurs in Sanskrit and Old Persian (cf. Khsatrapâvan equals Satrap) at the end of composite words, and in the Avesta as an independent word, in the contracted form pavan. "It is quite possible that the dialectic form pagvan (cf. the plural pachăvōth in Nehemiah 2:7, Nehemiah 2:9) may have developed itself from this, like dregvat from drevat, and hvôgva from hvôva." Hence pechh would signify a keeper of the government, or of the kingdom (Khsatra).)

In addition to his Hebrew name, Zerubbabel also bore the Chaldaean name Sheshbazzar, as an officer of the Persian king, as we may see by comparing Ezra 1:8, Ezra 1:11; Ezra 5:14, Ezra 5:16, with Ezra 2:2; Ezra 3:2, Ezra 3:8, and Ezra 5:2. For the prince of Judah, Sheshbazzar, to whom Koresh directed the temple vessels brought from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar to be delivered, and who brought them back from Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:8, Ezra 1:11; Ezra 5:14), and who laid the foundation for the house of God, according to Ezra 5:16, is called Zerubbabel in Ezra 2:2, as the leader of the procession, who not only laid the foundation for the temple, along with Joshua the high priest, according to Ezra 3:2, Ezra 3:8, but also resumed the building of the temple, which had been suspended, in connection with the same Joshua during the reign of Darius. The high priest Joshua (Yehōshuă‛, in Ezra 3:2, Ezra 3:8; Ezra 4:3, contracted into Yēshūă‛) was a son of Jozadak, who had been carried away by the Chaldaeans to Babylon (Ezra 1:11), and a grandson of the high priest Seraiah, whom Nebuchadnezzar had caused to be executed at Riblah in the year 588, after the conquest of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:18-21; Jeremiah 52:24-27). The time given, "in the sixth month," refers to the ordinary reckoning of the Jewish year (compare Zechariah 1:7 and Zechariah 7:1, and Nehemiah 1:1 with Nehemiah 2:1, where the name of the month is given as well as the number). The first day, therefore, was the new moon's day, which was kept as a feast-day not only by a special festal sacrifice (Numbers 28:11.), but also by the holding of a religious meeting at the sanctuary (compare Isaiah 1:13 and the remarks on 2 Kings 4:23). On this day Haggai might expect some susceptibility on the part of the people for his admonition, inasmuch as on such a day they must have been painfully and doubly conscious that the temple of Jehovah was still lying in ruins (Hengstenberg, Koehler).

Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built.
The prophet begins by charging the people with their unconcern about building the house of God. Haggai 1:2. "Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: This people saith, It is not time to come, the time for the house of Jehovah to be built." העם הזּה, iste populus, not my people, or Jehovah's people, but hazzeh (this) in a contemptuous sense. Of the two clauses, (a) "It is not time to come," and (b) "The time of the house of Jehovah," the latter gives the more precise definition of the former, the בּא (to come) being explained as meaning the time to build the house of Jehovah. The meaning is simply this: the time has not yet arrived to come and build the house of Jehovah; for לא in this connection signifies "not yet," as in Genesis 2:5; Job 22:16. A distinction is drawn between coming to the house of Jehovah and building the house, as in Haggai 1:14. There is no ground, therefore, for altering the text, as Hitzig proposes, inasmuch as the defective mode of writing the infinitive בּא is by no means rare (compare, for example, Exodus 2:18; Leviticus 14:48; Numbers 32:9; 1 Kings 13:28; Isaiah 20:1); and there is no foundation whatever for the absurd rendering of the words of the text, "It is not the time of the having arrived of the time of the house," etc. (Hitzig).

Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,
The word of Jehovah is opposed in Haggai 1:4 to this speech of the people; and in order to give greater prominence to the antithesis, the introductory formula, "The word of Jehovah came by Haggai the prophet thus," is repeated in Haggai 1:3. In order to appeal to the conscience of the people, God meets them with the question in Haggai 1:4 : "Is it time for you yourselves to live in your houses wainscoted, whilst this house lies waste?" The ה before עת is not the article, but ה interr. אתּם is added to strengthen the pronoun (cf. Ges. 121, 3). Sephūnı̄m without the article is connected with the noun, in the form of an apposition: in your houses, they being wainscoted, i.e., with the inside walls covered or inlaid with costly wood-work. Such were the houses of the rich and of the more distinguished men (cf. Jeremiah 22:14; 1 Kings 7:7). Living in such houses was therefore a sing of luxury and comfort. והבּית וגו is a circumstantial clause, which we should express by "whilst this house," etc. With this question the prophet cuts off all excuse, on the ground that the circumstances of the times, and the oppression under which they suffered, did not permit of the rebuilding of the temple. If they themselves lived comfortably in wainscoted houses, their civil and political condition could not be so oppressive, that they could find in that a sufficient excuse for neglecting to build the temple. Even if the building of the temple had been prohibited by an edict of Pseudo-Smerdes, as many commentators infer from Ezra 4:8-24, the reign of this usurper only lasted a few months; and with his overthrow, and the ascent of the throne by Darius Hystaspes, a change had taken place in the principles of government, which might have induced the heads of Judah, if the building of the house of God had rested upon their hearts as it did upon the heart of king David (2 Samuel 7:2; Psalm 132:2-5), to take steps under the new king to secure the revocation of this edict, and the renewal of the command issued by Cyrus.

Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?
Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
After rebutting the untenable grounds of excuse, Haggai calls attention in vv. 5, 6 to the curse with which God has punished, and is still punishing, the neglect of His house. Haggai 1:5. "And now, thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Set your heart upon your ways. Haggai 1:6. Ye have sowed much, and brought in little: ye eat, and not for satisfaction; drink, and not to be filled with drink: ye clothe yourselves, and it does not serve for warming; and the labourer for wages works for wages into a purse pierced with holes." שׂימוּ לבבכם, a favourite formula with Haggai (cf. v. 7 and Haggai 2:15, Haggai 2:18). To set the heart upon one's ways, i.e., to consider one's conduct, and lay it to heart. The ways are the conduct, with its results. J. H. Michaelis has given it correctly, "To your designs and actions, and their consequences." In their ways, hitherto, they have reaped no blessing: they have sowed much, but brought only a little into their barns. הבא, inf. abs., to bring in what has been reaped, or bring it home. What is here stated must not be restricted to the last two harvests which they had had under the reign of Darius, as Koehler supposes, but applies, according to Haggai 2:15-17, to the harvests of many years, which had turned out very badly. The inf. abs., which is used in the place of the finite verb and determined by it, is continued in the clauses which follow, אכול, etc. The meaning of these clauses is, not that the small harvest was not sufficient to feed and clothe the people thoroughly, so that they had to "cut their coat according to their cloth," as Maurer and Hitzig suppose, but that even in their use of the little that had been reaped, the blessing of God was wanting, as is not only evident from the words themselves, but placed beyond the possibility of doubt by Haggai 1:9.

(Note: Calvin and Osiander see a double curse in Haggai 1:6. The former says, "We know that God punishes men in both ways, both by withdrawing His blessing, so that the earth is parched, and the heaven gives no rain, and also, even when there is a good supply of the fruits of the earth, by preventing their satisfying, so that there is no real enjoyment of them. It often happens that men collect what would be quite a sufficient quantity for food, but for all that, are still always hungry. This kind of curse is seen the more plainly when God deprives the bread and wine of their true virtue, so that eating and drinking fail to support the strength.")

What they ate and drank did not suffice to satisfy them; the clothes which they procured yielded no warmth; and the ages which the day-labourer earned vanished just as rapidly as if it had been placed in a bag full of holes (cf. Leviticus 26:26; Hosea 4:10; Micah 6:14). לו after לחם refers to the individual who clothes himself, and is to be explained from the phrase חם לי, "I am warm" (1 Kings 1:1-2, etc.).

Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
After this allusion to the visitation of God, the prophet repeats the summons in Haggai 1:7, Haggai 1:8, to lay to heart their previous conduct, and choose the way that is well-pleasing to God. Haggai 1:7. "Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Direct your heart upon your ways. Haggai 1:8. Go up to the mountains and fetch wood and build the house, and I will take pleasure therein and glorify myself, saith Jehovah." Hâhâr (the mountain) is not any particular mountain, say the temple mountain (Grotius, Maurer, Ros.), or Lebanon (Cocceius, Ewald, etc.); but the article is used generically, and hâhâr is simply the mountain regarded as the locality in which wood chiefly grows (cf. Nehemiah 8:15). Fetching wood for building is an individualizing expression for providing building materials; so that there is no ground for the inference drawn by Hitzig and many of the Rabbins, that the walls of the temple had been left standing when it was destroyed, so that all that had to be done was to renew the wood-work, - an inference at variance not only with the reference made to the laying of the foundation of the temple in Haggai 2:18 and Ezra 3:10, but also to the express statement in the account sent by the provincial governor to king Darius in Ezra 5:8, viz., that the house of the great God was built with square stones, and that timber was laid in the walls. וארצה־בּו, so will I take pleasure in it (the house); whereas so long as it lay in ruins, God was displeased with it. ואכּבד, and I will glorify myself, sc. upon the people, by causing my blessing to flow to it again. The keri ואכּבדה is an unnecessary emendation, inasmuch as, although the voluntative might be used (cf. Ewald, 350, a), it is not required, and has not been employed, both because it is wanting in ארצה, for the simple reason that the verbs לה do not easily admit of this form (Ewald, 228, a), and also because it is not used in other instances, where the same circumstances do not prevail (e.g., Zechariah 1:3).

(Note: The later Talmudists, indeed, have taken the omission of the ה, which stands for 5 when used as a numeral, as an indication that there were five things wanting in the second temple: (1) the ark of the covenant, with the atoning lid and the cherubim; (2) the sacred fire; (3) the shechinah; (4) the Holy Spirit; (5) the Urim and Thummim (compare the Babylonian tract Joma 21b, and Sal. ben Melech, Miclal Jophi on Haggai 1:8).)

Ewald and Hitzig adopt this rendering, "that I may feel myself honoured," whilst Maurer and Rckert translate it as a passive, "that I may be honoured." But both of these views are much less in harmony with the context, since what is there spoken of is the fact that God will then turn His good pleasure to the people once more, and along with that His blessing. How thoroughly this thought predominates, is evident from the more elaborate description, which follows in Haggai 1:9-11, of the visitation from God, viz., the failure of crops and drought.

Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.
Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.
"Ye looked out for much, and behold (it came) to little; and ye brought it home, and I blew into it. Why? is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Because of my house, that it lies waste, whereas ye run every man for his house. Haggai 1:10. Therefore the heaven has withheld its dew on your account, that no dew fell, and the earth has withheld her produce. Haggai 1:11. And I called drought upon the earth, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon everything that the ground produces, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands." The meaning of Haggai 1:9 is evident from the context. The inf. abs. pânōh stands in an address full of emotion in the place of the perfect, and, as the following clause shows, for the second person plural. Ye have turned yourselves, fixed your eye upon much, i.e., upon a rich harvest, והנּה־למעט, and behold the desired much turned to little. Ye brought into the house, ye fetched home what was reaped, and I blew into it, i.e., I caused it to fly away, like chaff before the wind, so that there was soon none of it left. Here is a double curse, therefore, as in Haggai 1:6 : instead of much, but little was reaped, and the little that was brought home melted away without doing any good. To this exposition of the curse the prophet appends the question יען מה, why, sc. has this taken place? that he may impress the cause with the greater emphasis upon their hardened minds. For the same reason he inserts once more, between the question and the answer, the words "is the saying of Jehovah of hosts," that the answer may not be mistaken for a subjective view, but laid to heart as a declaration of the God who rules the world. The choice of the form מה for מה was probably occasioned by the guttural ע in the יען, which is closely connected with it, just as the analogous use of על־מה instead of על־מה in Isaiah 1:5; Psalm 10:13, and Jeremiah 16:10, where it is not followed by a word commencing with ע as in Deuteronomy 29:23; 1 Kings 9:8; Jeremiah 22:8. The former have not been taken into account at all by Ewald in his elaborate Lehrbuch (cf. 182, b). In the answer given by God, "because of my house" (ya‛an bēthı̄) is placed first for the sake of emphasis, and the more precise explanation follows. אשׁר הוּא, "because it," not "that which." ואתּם וגו is a circumstantial clause. לביתו ... רצים, not "every one runs to his house," but "runs for his house," ל denoting the object of the running, as in Isaiah 59:7 and Proverbs 1:16. "When the house of Jehovah was in question, they did not move from the spot; but if it concerned their own house, they ran" (Koehler). In Haggai 1:10 and Haggai 1:11, the curse with which God punished the neglect of His house is still further depicted, with an evident play upon the punishment with which transgressors are threatened in the law (Leviticus 26:19-20; Deuteronomy 11:17 and Deuteronomy 28:23-24). עליכם is not a dat. incomm. (Hitzig), which is never expressed by על; but על is used either in a causal sense, "on your account" (Chald.), or in a local sense, "over you," after the analogy of Deuteronomy 28:23, שׁמיך אשׁר על ראשׁך, in the sense of "the heaven over you will withold" (Ros., Koehl.). It is impossible to decide with certainty between these two. The objection to the first, that "on your account" would be superfluous after על־כּן, has no more force than that raised by Hitzig against the second, viz., that super would be מעל. There is no tautology in the first explanation, but the עליכם, written emphatically at the commencement, gives greater intensity to the threat: "on account of you," you who only care for your own houses, the heaven witholds the dew. And with the other explanation, מעל would only be required in case עליכם were regarded as the object, upon which the dew ought to fall down from above. כּלא, not "to shut itself up," but in a transitive sense, with the derivative meaning to withhold or keep back; and mittâl, not partitively "of the dew," equivalent to "a portion of it," but min in a privative sense, "away from," i.e., so that no dew falls; for it is inadmissible to take mittâl as the object, "to hold back along with the dew," after the analogy of Numbers 24:11 (Hitzig), inasmuch as the accusative of the person is wanting, and in the parallel clause כּלא is construed with the accus. rei. ואקרא in Haggai 1:11 is still dependent upon על־כּן. The word chōrebh, in the sense of drought, applies strictly speaking only to the land and the fruits of the ground, but it is also transferred to men and beasts, inasmuch as drought, when it comes upon all vegetation, affects men and beasts as well; and in this clause it may be taken in the general sense of devastation. The word is carefully chosen, to express the idea of the lex talionis. Because the Jews left the house of God chârēbh, they were punished with chōrebh. The last words are comprehensive: "all the labour of the hands" had reference to the cultivation of the soil and the preparation of the necessities of life.

Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.
And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.
Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.
The result of this reproof. - Haggai 1:12. "Zerubbabel, and Joshua, and the whole of the remnant of the people, hearkened to the voice of Jehovah their God, and according to the words of Haggai the prophet, as Jehovah their God had sent him; and the people feared before Jehovah." "All the remnant of the people" does not mean the rest of the nation besides Zerubbabel and Joshua, in support of which Koehler refers to Jeremiah 39:3 and 1 Chronicles 12:38, either here or in Haggai 1:14 and Haggai 2:2, inasmuch as Zerubbabel as the governor and prince of Judah, and Joshua as the high priest, are not embraced under the idea of the "people" (‛âm), as in the case in the passages quoted, where those who are described as the she'ērı̄th, or remnant, are members or portions of the whole in question. The "remnant of the people," as in Zechariah 8:6, is that portion of the nation which had returned from exile as a small gleaning of the nation, which had once been much larger. שׁמע בּקול, to hearken to the voice, i.e., to lay to heart, so as to obey what was heard. בּקול יי is still more minutely defined by ועל־דּברי וגו: "and (indeed) according to the words of Haggai, in accordance with the fact that Jehovah had sent him." This last clause refers to דּברי, which he had to speak according to the command of God (Hitzig); cf. Micah 3:4. The first fruit of the hearing was, that the people feared before Jehovah; the second is mentioned in Haggai 1:14, namely, that they resumed the neglected building of the temple. Their fearing before Jehovah presupposes that they saw their sin against God, and discerned in the drought a judgment from God.

Then spake Haggai the LORD'S messenger in the LORD'S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD.
This penitential state of mind on the part of the people and their rulers was met by the Lord with the promise of His assistance, in order to elevate this disposition into determination and deed. Haggai 1:13. "Then spake Haggai, the messenger of Jehovah, in the message of Jehovah to the people, thus: I am with you, is the saying of Jehovah. Haggai 1:14. And Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, and the spirit of Joshua, and the spirit of all the remnant of the nation; and they came and did work at the house of Jehovah of hosts, their God." The prophet is called מלאך in Haggai 1:13, i.e., messenger (not "angel," as many in the time of the fathers misunderstood the word as meaning), as being sent by Jehovah to the people, to make known to them His will (compare Malachi 2:7, where the same epithet is applied to the priest). As the messenger of Jehovah, he speaks by command of Jehovah, and not in his own name or by his own impulse. אני אתּכם, I am with you, will help you, and will remove all the obstacles that stand in the way of your building (cf. Haggai 2:4). This promise Jehovah fulfilled, first of all by giving to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people, a willingness to carry out the work. העיר רוּח, to awaken the spirit of any man, i.e., to make him willing and glad to carry out His resolutions (compare 1 Chronicles 5:26; 2 Chronicles 21:16; Ezra 1:1, Ezra 1:5). Thus filled with joyfulness, courage, and strength, they began the work on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of king Darius (Haggai 1:15), that is to say, twenty-three days after Haggai had first addressed his challenge to them. The interval had been spent in deliberation and counsel, and in preparations for carrying out the work. In several editions and some few mss in Kennicott, in Tischendorf's edition of the lxx, in the Itala and in the Vulgate, Haggai 1:15 is joined to the next chapter. But this is proved to be incorrect by the fact that the chronological statements in Haggai 1:15 and Haggai 2:1 are irreconcilable with one another. Haggai 1:15 is really so closely connected with Haggai 1:14, that it is rather to be regarded as the last clause of that verse.

And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,
In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch [1857-78].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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