For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Zechariah 9:17. How great is his goodness — Infinite goodness is the fountain of all the good done for his people. And how great is his beauty — How wonderful is the beauty of divine providence in Israel’s deliverance and salvation. Corn shall make the young men cheerful — Plentiful harvests shall make the young men cheerful in sowing, reaping, and partaking of the fruits thereof. And new wine the maids — There shall be such plenty of wine that all, young and old, shall be cheered with it. Or rather, new wine is put here for the grapes which make it, as bread is frequently put for bread- corn, and then the sense will be, that the young men, employed in bringing in the harvest, should rejoice at seeing the great plenty of it, and the young women, occupied in gathering the grapes, should be as cheerful on account of the plenty of the vintage: or that, by the divine blessing, both those who reaped the corn, and those who gathered in the vintage, should thrive and be happy in their respective occupations. Psalm 8:1, and Jacob, "How awful is this place!" Genesis 28:17, and the Psalmist, "How awful are Thy doings!" The goodness and the beauty are the goodness and beauty of God, whose great doings had been his theme throughout before. Of the goodness the sacred writers often speak , since of this we have extremest need. And this He showed to Moses, "I will cause all My goodness to pass before thy face" Exodus 33:19. Of this we know somewhat personally in this life; for beside the surpassing. amazingness of it in the work of our redemption, we are surrounded by it, immersed in it, as in a fathomless, shoreless ocean of infinite love, which finds entrance into our souls, whenever we bar it not out.
Goodness is that attribute of God, whereby He loveth to communicate to all, who can or will receive it, all good; yea, Himself , "who is the fullness and universality of good, Creator of all good, not in one way, not in one kind of goodness only, but absolutely, without beginning, without limit, without measure, save that whereby without measurement He possesseth and embraceth all excellence, all perfection, all blessedness, all good." This Good His Goodness bestoweth on all and each, according to the capacity of each to receive it, nor is there any limit to His giving, save His creature's capacity of receiving, which also is a good gift from Him. "From Him all things sweet derive their sweetness; all things fair, their beauty; all things bright, their splendor; all things that live, their life; all things sentient, their sense; all that move, their vigor; all intelligences, their knowledge; all things perfect, their perfection; all things in any wise good, their goodness."
The beauty of God - Belongs rather to the beatific vision. Yet David speaks of the Beauty of Christ, "Thou art exceeding fairer then the children of men" Psalm 45:2; and Isaiah says, "Thine eyes shall behold the King in His beauty" Isaiah 33:17. But the Beauty of God "eye hath not seen nor ear heard nor can heart of man conceive." Here, on earth, created beauty can, at least when suddenly seen, hold the frame motionless, pierce the soul, glue the heart to it, entrance the affections. Light from heaven kindles into beauty our dullest material substances; the soul in grace diffuses beauty over the dullest human countenance; the soul, ere it has passed from the body, has been known to catch, through the half-opened portals, such brilliancy of light, that the eye even for some time after death has retained a brightness, beyond anything of earth . "The earth's form of beauty is a sort of voice of the dumb earth. Doth not, on considering the beauty of this universe, its very form answer thee with one voice, 'Not I made myself, but God?'" Poets have said:
"Old friends ... shall lovelier be,
As more of heaven in each we see,"
(Christian Year. Morning Hymn.)
"When he saw,
" - God within him light his face."
(Tennyson, In memoriam. T. has "The God.")
And Holy Scripture tells us that when Stephen, "full of faith and of the Holy Spirit," was about to speak of Jesus to the council which arraigned him, "all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel" Acts 6:5, Acts 6:15. It has been said, that if we could see a soul in grace, its beauty would so pierce us, that we should die. But the natural beauty of the soul transcends all corporeal beauty which so attracts us; the natural beauty of the last angel surpasseth all natural beauty of soul. If we could ascend from the most beautiful form, which the soul could here imagine, to the least glorious body of the beatified, on and on through the countless thousands of glorious bodies, compared wherewith heaven would be dark and the sun lose its shining; and yet more from the most beautiful deified soul, as visible here, to the beauty of the disembodied soul, whose image would scarce be recognized, because , "the bodily eyes gleamed with angelic radiancy;" yea, let the God-enlightened soul go on and on, through all those choirs of the heavenly hierarchies, clad with the raiment of Divinity, from choir to choir, from hierarchy to hierarchy, admiring the order and beauty and harmony of the house of God; yea, let it, aided by divine grace and light, ascend even higher, and reach the bound and term of all created beauty, yet it must know that the divine power and wisdom could create other creatures, far more perfect and beautiful than all which He hath hitherto created.
Nay, let the highest of all the Seraphs sum in one all the beauty by nature and grace and glory of all creatures, yet could it not be satisfied with that beauty, but must, because it was not satisfied with it, conceive some higher beauty. Were God immediately, at every moment to create that higher beauty at its wish, it could still conceive something beyond; for, not being God, its beauty could not satisfy its conception. So let him still, and in hundred thousand, hundred thousand, thousand years with swiftest flight of understanding multiply continually those degrees of beauty, so that each fresh degree should ever double that preceding, and the divine power should, with like swiftness, concur in creating that beauty, as in the beginning He said, "let there be light and there was light;" after all those millions of years, he would be again. at the beginning, and there would be no comparison between it and the divine beauty of Jesus Christ, God and Man. For it is the bliss of the finite not to reach the Infinite . That city of the blest which is lightened by the glory of God, and the Lamb is the light thereof, sees It, enabled by God, as created eye can see It, and is held fast to God in one jubilant exstacy of everlasting love.
"The prophet, borne out of himself by consideration of the divine goodness, stands amazed, while he contemplates the beauty and Deity of Christ: he bursts out with unaccustomed admiration! How great is His goodness, who, to guard His flock, shall come down on earth to lay down His life for the salvation of His sheep! How great His beauty, who is the ""brightnesss of the glory and the Image of the Father," and comprises in His Godhead the measure of all order and beauty! With what firm might does He strengthen, with what joy does He overwhelm the souls which gaze most frequently on His beauty, and gives largely and bountifully that corn, by whose strength the youths are made strong. He supplieth abundantly the wine, whereby the virgins, on fire with His love, are exhilarated and beautified. But both are necessary, that the strength of the strong should be upheld by the "bread from heaven," and that sound and uncorrupt minds, melted with the sweetness of love, should be recreated with wine, that is, the sweetness of the Holy Spirit, and be borne aloft with great joy, in the midst of extreme toils. For all who keep holily the faith of Christ, may be called "youths," for their unconquered strength, and virgins for their purity and integrity of soul. For all these that heavenly bread is prepared, that their strength be not weakened, and the wine is inpoured, that they be not only refreshed, but may live in utmost sweetness."
make … cheerful—literally, "make it grow."
new wine the maids—supply, "shall make … to grow." Corn and wine abundant indicate peace and plenty. The new wine gladdening the maids is peculiar to this passage. It confutes those who interdict the use of wine as food. The Jews, heretofore straitened in provisions through pressure of the foe, shall now have abundance to cheer, not merely the old, but even the youths and maidens [Calvin].For how great is his goodness! infinite goodness is the fountain of all that good done for this people; the prophet admires it, and suggests what is fit to be done by those that come and view those stones set up for trophies.
How great is his beauty! how wonderful the beauty of Divine Providence in all the great effects of it in Israel’s deliverance and salvation!
Corn shall make the young men cheerful; plentiful harvests shall make the young men cheerful in sowing, reaping, labouring in harvest work, as well as in eating the knits thereof.
And new wine the maids; such plenty of wine, that all, young and old, shall be cheered with it.
And now these are the sweet fruits of temporal salvation, but the fruits of spiritual, shadowed out by these, are much more glorious, refreshing, and worth our praise and wonder.
and how great is his beauty? not as God, nor as man, but as Mediator; as beheld in the covenant and promises; in the Gospel and in the truths and in the ordinances of it:
corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids; by "young men" are meant the same as in 1 John 2:14 believers in Christ, who are lively, warm, and zealous for Christ, his cause and interest; who are active, diligent, and industrious in the discharge of duty; and are strong in Christ, and in his grace; and particularly in the grace of faith, and quit themselves like men: and by "maids" or "virgins" are meant the same; so called because of their chaste adherence to Christ; for their beauty, comeliness, and attire; and for their purity of divine worship and conversation: and the Gospel is intended by "corn" and "new wine"; which is compared to "corn", in opposition to the chaff of human doctrines; and because it contains Christ the bread of life, and is nourishing and comfortable: and to "new wine", not because it is a novel doctrine, for it is the everlasting Gospel ordained before the world was; but because, under the Gospel dispensation, to which this prophecy refers, it is newly and more clearly revealed; See Gill on Zechariah 9:15. The effect of which is, that it makes saints "cheerful", fills them with joy and spiritual mirth; for it is a joyful sound: or, "shall make fruitful" (d); it causes them to grow and increase, and makes them fruitful in every good word and work: or, "shall make them speak" eloquently (e); or cause them to put forth the fruit of their lips, in giving thanks to God for the abundance of grace bestowed upon them: or, "shall" make "them sing" (f), as others; in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. This new wine may be interpreted of the gifts and graces bestowed in great plenty on the day of Pentecost, both on sons and daughters, on servants and handmaids, whereby they prophesied, and saw visions, Acts 2:16 see Ephesians 5:18.
(d) "germinare faciet", Montanus; "progerminare faciet", Burkius; "foecundabit", Castalio; "dicitur de virginibus spiritualibus, quae sunt fructus multi evangelii", Zech. ix. 17. Stockius, p. 654. (e) "Facundas faciet", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Tarnovius. (f) "Cantare faciet", Pagninus, Drusius; so Ben Melech.For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)17. his goodness … his beauty] i.e. either Israel’s (their prosperity, R. V. margin), as thus delivered and honoured by God (comp. Hosea 14:6), or God’s, the exclamation being drawn from the prophet by the consideration of the great things he had been commissioned to make known. “The goodness and the beauty are the goodness and beauty of God, whose great doings had been his theme before.” Pusey, who quotes Osirius: “The prophet, borne out of himself by the consideration of the Divine goodness, stands amazed while he contemplates the beauty and Deity of Christ: he bursts out with unwonted admiration! How great is His goodness, who to guard His flock shall come down on earth to lay down His life for the salvation of His sheep! How great His beauty, who is the brightness of the glory and the Image of the Father, and comprises in His Godhead the measure of all order and beauty!”Verse 17. - His goodness. The goodness, i.e. the prosperity, of Israel or the land. Revised Version margin, "their prosperity." If the affix "his" is referred to Jehovah, the nouns "goodness" and "beauty" must be taken, not as his attributes, but as gifts bestowed by him, the prosperity and beauty which he confers. But it is more suitable to the context to consider the reference to be to the people, who in the next clause are divided into young men and maidens, and to take the "goodness," or goodliness, as appertaining more especially to the former, and the "beauty" to the latter. His beauty (comp. Ezekiel 16:14). (For the Messianic interpretation, see Psalm 45:2; Isaiah 33:17.) Corn...new wine. This is an expression often found to denote great abundance and prosperity. The two are distributed poetically between the youths and maidens (Deuteronomy 33:28; Psalm 72:16; Jeremiah 31:12, 13; Joel 2:18, 19). Make...cheerful; literally, make sprout. It probably refers to the increase of population occurring in times of plenty. This outward prosperity is a symbol of God's favour and the uprightness of the people. In these things, too, we may see adumbrated the spiritual blessings of the gospel, which are, as corn and wine, to strengthen and refresh the soul.
Haggai 2:11. "Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Ask now the priests for instruction, saying, Haggai 2:12. Behold, one carries holy flesh in the lappet of his garment, and touches with his lappet the bread, and that which is boiled, the wine, and the oil, and any kind of food: does it then become holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Haggai 2:13. And Haggai said, If one who is unclean on account of a corpse touches all this, does it become unclean? And the priests answered and said, It does become unclean. Haggai 2:14. Then Haggai answered and said, So is this people, and so this nation before my face, is the saying of Jehovah; and so is all the work of their hands, and what they offer to me there: it is unclean." In order to impress most earnestly upon the hearts of the people the fact that it was through their sin that they brought upon themselves the failure of crops that had hitherto prevailed, viz., as a punishment from God, the prophet proposes two questions concerning holy and clean for the priests to answer, in order that he may make an application of the answer they give to the moral condition of the nation. Tōrâh in Haggai 2:11, without the article, is used in its primary signification of instruction, and is governed by שׁעל, accus. rei: to ask a person anything, for to ask or solicit anything from him. The first question has reference to the communication of the holiness of holy objects to other objects brought into contact with them: whether, if a person carried holy flesh in the lappet of his garment,
(Note: Luther: "in the geren of his dress." The gehren, or gehre, middle high German gre, old high German kro (English goar), is a triangular piece, forming the gusset of a dress or shirt, then that portion of the dress in which it is inserted, viz., below the waist, probably derived from the Gothic gis, and the conjectural root geisan equals to thrust or strike (Weigand, Germ. Dict.).)
and touched any food with the lappet, it would become holy in consequence. Hēn, behold, pointing to an action as possible, has almost the force of a conditional particle, "if," as in Isaiah 54:15; Jeremiah 3:1 (cf. Ewald, 103, g). "Holy flesh" is flesh of animals slain as sacrifices, as in Jeremiah 11:15. Nâzı̄d, that which is boiled, boiled food (Genesis 25:29; 2 Kings 4:38.). The priests answer the question laid before them quite correctly with "No;" for, according to Leviticus 6:20, the lappet of the dress itself was made holy by the holy flesh, but it could not communicate this holiness any further. The second question (Haggai 2:13) has reference to the spread of legal defilement. טמא נפשׁ is not one who is unclean in his soul; but, as Leviticus 22:4 shows, it is synonymous with טמא לנפשׁ in Numbers 5:2; Numbers 9:10, "defiled on a soul;" and this is a contraction of טמא לנפר אדם, or טמא לנפשׁ מת, in Numbers 9:6-7, "defiled on (through) the soul of a dead man" (Numbers 6:6; Leviticus 21:11 : see at Leviticus 19:28), hence one who has been defiled through touching a dead body. This uncleanness was one of the strongest kinds; it lasted seven days, and could only be removed by his being twice purified with sprinkling water, prepared from the ashes of the red cow (see at Numbers 19). This question the priests also answered correctly. According to Numbers 19:22, he who was defiled by touching a dead body made everything unclean that he touched. The prophet now applies these provisions of the law to the ethical relation in which the people stood to Jehovah. "So is this people before me, saith Jehovah." הגּוי is quite synonymous with העם, as in Zephaniah 2:9, without any subordinate meaning of a contemptuous kind, which could at the most be contained in hazzeh (this), but in that case would apply to hâ‛âm just as well. Kēn, ita, refers to the substance of the two legal questions in Haggai 2:12 and Haggai 2:13. The nation, in its attitude towards the Lord, resembles, on the one hand, a man who carries holy flesh in the lappet of his garment, and on the other hand, a man who has become unclean through touching a corpse. "Israel also possesses a sanctuary in the midst of its land, - namely, the place which Jehovah has chosen for His own abode, and favoured with many glorious promises. But just as no kind of food, neither bread nor vegetables, neither wine nor oil, is sanctified by the fact that a man touches it with his sanctified garment, so will all this not be rendered holy by the fact that it is planted in the soil of the land which surrounds and encloses the sanctuary of Jehovah. For though the land itself becomes a holy land in consequence, it cannot spread this holiness any further, nor communicate it to what grows upon it. All that Israel raises on its holy land, whether corn, wine, or oil, remains unholy or common. No special blessing rests upon the fruits of this land, on account of the holiness of the land itself, so as of necessity to produce fruitfulness as its result; nor, on the other hand, does it in itself communicate any curse. But if, as experience shows, a curse is resting notwithstanding upon the productions of this land, it arises from the fact that they are unclean because Israel has planted them. For Israel it utterly unclean on account of its neglect of the house of Jehovah, like a man who has become unclean through touching a corpse. Everything that Israel takes hold of, or upon which it lays its hand, everything that it plants and cultivates, is from the very first affected with the curse of uncleanness; and consequently even the sacrifices which it offers there upon the altar of Jehovah are unclean" (Koehler). Shâm, there, i.e., upon the altar built immediately after the return from Babylon (Ezra 3:3).
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