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Glory of the New Temple, and the Blessings of the New Era - Haggai 2
This chapter contains three words of God, which Haggai published to the people in the seventh and ninth months of the second year of Darius, to strengthen them in their zeal for the building of the temple, and to preserve them from discouragement. The first of these words (Haggai 2:1-9) refers to the relation in which the new temple would stand to the former one, and was uttered not quite four weeks after the building of the temple had been resumed.
Glory of the New Temple- Haggai 2:1 and Haggai 2:2. “ In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came through Haggai,” viz., to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the nation, that is to say, to the whole of the congregation that had returned from exile; whereas the first appeal was only addressed to Zerubbabel and Joshua (see the introduction to Haggai 1:1), although it also applied to the whole nation. Just as in the second year of the return from Babylon, when the foundation for the temple, which was about to be rebuilt, was laid in the reign of Cyrus, many old men, who had seen the temple of Solomon, burst out into loud weeping when they saw the new foundation (Ezra 3:10.); a similar feeling of mourning and despair appears to have taken possession of the people and their rulers immediately after the work had been resumed under Darius, and doubts arose whether the new building was really well-pleasing to the Lord, and ought to be carried on. The occasion for this despondency is not to be sought, as Hitzig supposes, in the fact that objections were made to the continuance of the building (Ezra 5:3), and that the opinion prevailed in consequence that the works ought to be stopped till the arrival of the king's authority. For this view not only has no support whatever in our prophecy, but is also at variance with the account in the book of Ezra, according to which the governor and his companions, who had made inquiries concerning the command to build, did not stop the building while they sent word of the affair to the king (Ezra 5:5). Moreover, the conjecture that the people had been seized with a feeling of sadness, when the work had so far advanced that they were able to institute a comparison between the new temple and the earlier one (Hengstenberg), does not suffice to explain the rapid alteration which took place in the feelings of the people. The building could not have been so far advance din three weeks and a half as that the contrast between the new temple and the former one could be clearly seen, if it had not been noticed from the very first; a fact, however, to which Ezra 3:12 distinctly refers. But although it had been seen from the very beginning that the new building would not come up to the glory of the former temple, the people could not from the very outset give up the hope of erecting a building which, if not quite equal to the former one in glory, would at all events come somewhat near to it. Under these circumstances, their confidence in the work might begin to vanish as soon as the first enthusiasm flagged, and a time arrived which was more favourable for the quiet contemplation of the general condition of affairs. This explanation is suggested by the time at which the second word of God was delivered to the congregation through the prophet. The twenty-first day of the seventh month was the seventh day of the feast of tabernacles (cf. Leviticus 23:34.), the great festival of rejoicing, on which Israel was to give practical expression to its gratitude for the gracious guidance which it had received through the wilderness, as well as for the blessing of the ingathering of all the fruits of the ground, which ended with the gathering of the orchard-fruits and with the vintage, by the presentation of numerous burnt-offerings and other sacrifices (see my biblische Archהologie, i. p. 415ff.). The return of this festal celebration, especially after a harvest which had turned out very miserably, and showed no signs of the blessing of God, could not fail to call up vividly before the mind the difference between the former times, when Israel was able to assemble in the courts of the Lord's house, and so to rejoice in the blessings of His grace in the midst of abundant sacrificial meals, and the present time, when the altar of burnt-sacrifice might indeed be restored again, and the building of the temple be resumed, but in which there was no prospect of erecting a building that would in any degree answer to the glory of the former temple; and when the prophecies of an Isaiah or an Ezekiel were remembered, according to which the new temple was to surpass the former one in glory, it would be almost sure to produce gloomy thoughts, and supply food for doubt whether the time had really come for rebuilding the temple, when after all it would be only a miserable hut. In this gloomy state of mind consolation was very necessary, if the hardly awakened zeal for the building of the house of God was not to cool down and vanish entirely away. To bring this consolation to those who were in despair was the object of the second word of God, which Haggai was to publish to the congregation. It runs as follows:
“Who is left among you, that saw this house in its former glory? and how do ye see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Haggai 2:4. And now be comforted, Zerubbabel, is the saying of Jehovah; and be comforted, Joshua son of Jozadak, thou high priest; and be comforted all the people of the land, is the saying of Jehovah, and work: for I am with you, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Haggai 2:5. The word that I concluded with you at your coming out of Egypt, and my Spirit, stand in the midst of you; fear ye not.” The prophet, admitting the poverty of the new building in comparison with the former one, exhorts them to continue the work in comfort, and promises them that the Lord will be with them, and fulfil His covenant promises. The question in Haggai 2:3 is addressed to the old men, who had seen Solomon's temple in all its glory. There might be many such men still living, as it was only sixty-seven or sixty-eight years since the destruction of the first temple. הנּשׁאר is the predicate to the subject מי , and has the article because it is defined by the reflex action of the relative clause which follows (compare Ewald, §277, a). The second question, וּמה אתּם וגו , et qualem videtis , In what condition do ye see it now? is appended to the last clause of the first question: the house which ye saw in its former glory. There then follows with הלוא , in the form of a lively assurance, the statement of the difference between the two buildings. כּמהוּ כּאין , which has been interpreted in very different ways, may be explained from the double use of the כ in comparisons, which is common in Hebrew, and which answers to our as - so: here, however, it is used in the same way as in Genesis 18:25 and Genesis 44:18; that is to say, the object to be compared is mentioned first, and the object with which the comparison is instituted is mentioned afterwards, in this sense, “so is it, as having no existence,” in which case we should either leave out the first particle of comparison, or if it were expressed, should have to reverse the order of the words: “as not existing (nothing), so is it in your eyes.” Koehler gives this correct explanation; whereas if כּמהוּ be explained according to Joel 2:2, its equal, or such an one, we get the unsuitable thought, that it is not the temple itself, but something like the temple, that is compared to nothing. Even in Genesis 44:18, to which Ewald very properly refers as containing a perfectly equivalent phrase, it is not a man equal to Joseph, but Joseph himself, who is compared to Pharaoh, and described as being equal to him. Nevertheless they are not to let their courage fail, but to be comforted and to work. Châzaq , to be inwardly strong, i.e., to be comforted, 'Asâh, to work or procure, as in Ruth 2:19 and Proverbs 31:13, in actual fact, to continue the work of building bravely, without there being any necessity to supply מלאכה from Haggai 1:14. For Jehovah will be with them (cf. Haggai 1:13).
In confirmation of this promise the Lord adds, that the word which He concluded with them on their coming out of Egypt, and His Spirit, will continue among them. “The word” ( 'eth - haddâbhâr ) cannot be either the accusative of the object to the preceding verb ‛ăsū (Haggai 2:4), or to any verb we may choose to supply, or the preposition 'ēth , with, or the accusative of norm or measure (Luther, Calvin, and others). To connect it with ‛ăsū yields no suitable meaning. It is not the word, which they vowed to the Lord, at the conclusion of the covenant, that they are to do now, but the work which they had begun, viz., the building of the temple, they are now to continue. It is perfectly arbitrary to supply the verb zikhrū , remember (Ewald and Hengstenberg), and to understand the prophet as reminding them of the word “fear not” (Exodus 20:17-20). That word, “fear not,” with which Moses, not God, infused courage into the people, who were alarmed at the terrible phenomenon with which Jehovah came down upon Sinai, has no such central significance as that Haggai could point to it without further introduction, and say that Jehovah had concluded it with them on their coming out of Egypt. The word which the Lord concluded with Israel when He led it out of Egypt, can only be the promise which established the covenant, to the fulfilment of which God bound Himself in relation to the people, when He led them out of Egypt, namely, the word that He would make Israel into His own property out of all nations (Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 7:6; cf. Jeremiah 7:22-23, and Jeremiah 11:4). It would quite agree with this to take 'ēth as the accusative of the norm, and also to connect it as a preposition, if this could only be shown to be in accordance with the rules of the language. But although the accusative in Hebrew is often used, in the relation of free subordination, “to express more precisely the relation of measure and size, space and time, mode and kind” (cf. Ewald, §204-206), it is impossible to find any example of such an accusative of norm as is here assumed, especially with 'ēth preceding it. But if 'ēth were a preposition instead of אתּכם , we should have עמּכם , inasmuch as the use of את־הדּבר , as a parallel to אתּכם , makes the words clumsy and awkward. The thought which Haggai evidently wishes to express requires that haddâbhâr should stand upon the same line with rūchı̄ , so that 'eth - haddâbhâr is actually the subject to ‛ōmedeth , and 'ēth is simply used to connect the new declaration with the preceding one, and to place it in subjection to the one which follows, in the sense of “as regards,” quoad (Ewald, §277, d, pp. 683-4), in which case the choice of the accusative in the present instance may either be explained from a kind of attraction (as in the Latin, urbem quam statuo vestra est ), as Hitzig supposes, or from the blending together of two constructions, as Koehler maintains; that is to say, Haggai intended to write את־הדּבר ורוּחי העמדתּי , but was induced to alter the proposed construction by the relative clause אשׁר כּרתּי וגו attaching itself to הדּבר . Consequently ‛ōmedeth , as predicate, not only belongs to rūchı̄ , but also to haddâbhâr , in the sense of to have continuance and validity; and according to a later usage of the language, עמד is used for קוּם , to stand fast (compare Isaiah 40:8 with Daniel 11:14). The word, that Israel is the property of Jehovah, and Jehovah the God of Israel, still stands in undiminished force; and not only so, but His Spirit also still works in the midst of Israel. Rūăch , in parallelism with the word containing the foundation of the covenant, is neither the spirit of prophecy (Chald., J. D. Mich.), nor the spirit which once filled Bezaleel and his companions (Exodus 31:1., Exodus 36:1.), enabling them to erect the tabernacle in a proper manner, and one well-pleasing to God (Luc., Osiander, and Koehler). Both views are too narrow; rūăch is the divine power which accompanies the word of promise and realizes it in a creative manner, i.e., not merely “the virtue with which God will establish their souls, that they may not be overcome by temptations” (Calvin), but also the power of the Spirit working in the world, which is able to remove all the external obstacles that present themselves to the realization of the divine plan of salvation. This Spirit is still working in Israel (“in the midst of you”); therefore they are not to fear, even if the existing state of things does not correspond to human expectations. The omnipotence of God can and will carry out His word, and glorify His temple. This leads to the further promise in Haggai 2:6-9, which gives the reason for the exhortation, “Fear ye not.”
“For thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Once more, in a short time it comes to pass, I shake heaven and earth, and the sea, and the dry. Haggai 2:7. And I shake all nations, and the costly of all nations will come, and I shall fill this house with glory, saith Jehovah of hosts. Haggai 2:8. Mine is the silver, and mine the gold, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Haggai 2:9. The last glory of this house will be greater than the first, saith Jehovah of hosts; and in this place shall I give peace, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts.” Different explanations have been given of the definition of the time עוד אחת מעט היא . Luther, Calvin, and others, down to Ewald and Hengstenberg, follow the Chaldee and Vulgate, and either take achath in the sense of the indefinite article or as a numeral, “adhuc unum modicum est,” or “it is yet a little thither.” But if achath belonged to מעט as a numeral adjective, either in the one sense or the other, according to the arrangement adopted without exception in Hebrew (for 'echâd is not an adjective in Daniel 8:13), it could not stand before מעט , but must be placed after it. The difference of gender also precludes this combination, inasmuch as מעט is not construed as a feminine in a single passage. We must therefore take מעט היא as forming an independent clause of itself, i.e., as a more precise definition of עוד אחת . But 'achath does not mean one = one time, or a short space of time (Burk, Hitzig, Hofmann); nor does it acquire this meaning from the clause מעט היא ; nor can it be sustained by arbitrarily supplying עת . 'Achath is used as a neuter in the sense of “once,” as in Exodus 30:10; 2 Kings 6:10; Job 40:5 (cf. Ewald, §269, b). מעט היא , a little, i.e., a short time is it, equivalent to “soon,” in a short time will it occur (cf. Hosea 8:10; Psalms 37:10). The lxx have rendered it correctly ἔτι ἅπαξ , only they have left out מעט היא . The words, “once more and indeed in a short time I shake,” etc., have not the meaning which Koehl. attaches to the correct rendering, viz., “Once, and only once, will Jehovah henceforth shake heaven and earth,” in which the עוד standing at the head is both moved from its place, and taken, not in the sense of repetition or of continuance from the present to the future, but simply in the sense of an allusion to the future; in other words, it is completely deprived of its true meaning. For עוד never loses its primary sense of repetition or return any more than the German noch (still or yet), so as to denote an occurrence in the future without any allusion whatever to an event that has already happened or is in existence still, not even in 2 Samuel 19:36 and 2 Chronicles 17:6, with which Koehler endeavours to support his views, without observing that in these passages עוד is used in a very different sense, signifying in 2 Sam. praeterea, and in 2 Chronicles “moreover.” In the verse before us it is used with reference to the previous shaking of the world at the descent of Jehovah upon Sinai to establish the covenant with Israel, to which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has quite correctly taken it as referring (Hebrews 12:26).
On the other hand, the objection offered by Koehler, that that shaking did not extend beyond Sinai and the Sinaitic region, either according to the historical account in Exodus 19:16-18, or the poetical descriptions in Judges 5:4-5, and Psalms 68:8-9, is incorrect. For not only in the two poetical descriptions referred to, but also in Habakkuk 3:6, the manifestation of God upon Sinai is represented as a trembling or shaking of the earth, whereby the powers of the heaven were set in motion, and the heavens dropped down water. The approaching shaking of the world will be much more violent; it will affect the heaven and the earth in all their parts, the sea and the solid ground, and also the nations. Then will the condition of the whole of the visible creation and of the whole of the world of nations be altered. The shaking of the heaven and the earth, i.e., of the universe, is closely connected with the shaking of all nations. It is not merely a figurative representation of symbol, however, of great political agitations, but is quite as real as the shaking of the nations, and not merely follows this and is caused by it, but also precedes it and goes side by side with it, and only in its completion does it form the conclusion to the whole of the shaking of the world. For earthquakes and movements of the powers of heaven are heralds and attendants of the coming of the Lord to judgment upon the whole earth, through which not only the outward form of the existing world is altered, but the present world itself will finally be reduced to ruins (Isaiah 24:18-20), and out of the world thus perishing there are to be created a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:10-13). But if the shaking of heaven and earth effects a violent breaking up of the existing condition of the universe, the shaking of all nations can only be one by which an end is put to the existing condition of the world of nations, by means of great political convulsions, and indeed, according to the explanation given in Haggai 2:22, by the Lord's overthrowing the throne of the kingdoms, annihilating their power, and destroying their materials of war, so that one falls by the sword of the other, that is to say, by wars and revolutions, by which the might of the heathen world is broken and annihilated. It follows from this, that the shaking of the heathen is not to be interpreted spiritually, either as denoting “the marvellous, supernatural, and violent impulse by which God impels His elect to betake themselves to the fold of Christ” (Calvin), or “the movement to be produced among the nations through the preaching of the gospel, with the co-operation of the Holy Spirit.” The impulse given by the preaching of the gospel and the operation of the Holy Spirit to such souls among the nations as desire salvation, to seek salvation from the living God, is only the fruit of the shaking of the heathen world, and is not to be identified with it; for the coming of the chemdth kol - haggōyı̄m is defined by וּבאוּ with the Vav consec. as a consequence of the shaking of the nations.
By chemdath kol - haggōyı̄m most of the earlier orthodox commentators understood the Messiah, after the example of the Vulgate, et veniet desideratus gentibus , and Luther's “consolation of the Gentiles.” But the plural בּאוּ is hardly reconcilable with this. If, for example, chemdath were the subject of the clause, as most of the commentators assume, we should have the singular וּבא . For the rule, that in the case of two nouns connected together in the construct state, the verb may take the number of the governed noun, applies only to cases in which the governed noun contains the principal idea, so that there is a constructio ad sensum ; whereas in the case before us the leading idea would be formed, not by kol - haggōyı̄m , but by chemdath , desideratus , or consolation, as a designation of the Messiah. Hence Cocc., Mark, and others, have taken chemdath as the accusative of direction: “that they (sc., the nations) may come to the desire of all nations - namely, to Christ.” It cannot be objected to this, as Koehler supposes, that to designate Christ as the desire of all nations would be either erroneous, inasmuch as in the time of Haggai only a very few heathen knew anything about Israel's hope of a Messiah, or perfectly unintelligible to his contemporaries, especially if the meaning of the epithet were that the heathen would love Him at some future time. For the latter remark is at once proved to be untenable by the prophecy of Isaiah and Micah, to the effect that all nations will flow to the mountain of God's house. After such prophecies, the thought that the heathen would one day love the Messiah could not be unintelligible to the contemporaries of our prophet; and there is not the smallest proof of the first assertion. In the year 520 b.c., when the ten tribes had already been scattered among the heathen for 200 years, and the Judaeans for more than seventy years, the Messianic hope of Israel could not be any longer altogether unknown to the nations. It may with much better reason be objected to the former view, that if chemdâh were the accusative of direction, we should expect the preposition 'el in order to avoid ambiguity. But what is decisive against it is the fact, that the coming of the nations to the Messiah would be a thought completely foreign to the context, since the Messiah cannot without further explanation be identified with the temple. Chemdâh signifies desire (2 Chronicles 21:20), then the object of desire, that in which a man finds pleasure and joy, valuables. Chemdath haggōyı̄m is therefore the valuable possessions of the heathen, or according to Haggai 2:8 their gold and silver, or their treasures and riches; not the best among the heathen (Theod. Mops., Capp., Hitzig). Hence chemdath cannot be the accusative of direction, since the thought that the heathen come to the treasures of all the heathen furnishes no suitable meaning; but it is the nominative or subject, and is construed as a collective word with the verb in the plural. The thought is the following: That shaking will be followed by this result, or produce this effect, that all the valuable possessions of the heathen will come to fill the temple with glory. Compare Isaiah 60:5, where the words, “the possessions (riches) of the heathen ( chēl gōyı̄m ) will come to thee,” i.e., be brought to Jerusalem, express the same thought; also Isaiah 60:11. With the valuable possessions of the heathen the Lord will glorify His temple, or fill it with kâbhōd . Kâbhōd without the article denotes the glory which the temple will receive through the possessions of the heathen presented there. The majority of the commentators have referred these words to the glorification of the temple through the appearance of Jesus in it, and appeal to Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14, according to which passages the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle and Solomon's temple at their dedication, so that they identify kâbhōd (glory) with k e bhōd Y e hōvâh (glory of Jehovah) without reserve. But this is impracticable, although the expression kâbhōd is chosen by the prophet with a reference to those events, and the fulfilment of our prophecy did commence with the fact that Jehovah came to His temple in the person of Jesus Christ (Malachi 3:1).
Jehovah can fill this house with glory, because the silver and gold which the heathen nations possess belong to Him. By shaking all kingdoms He can induce the nations to present their treasures to Him as gifts for the glorification of His house. Thus (the promise closes with this in Haggai 2:9), the later glory of this house will be greater than the former was. Hâachărōn might be regarded as belonging to habbayith hazzeh , in the sense of “the glory of this latter house;” and the majority of the commentators have taken it so, after the Itala, Vulgate, and Peschito. But it is quite as admissible to connect it with kâbhōd , in the sense of “the later glory of this house,” inasmuch as when one substantive is determined by another which is connected with it in the construct state, the adjective belonging to the nomen regens follows with the article (cf. 2 Samuel 23:1; 1 Chronicles 23:27; and Ewald, §289, a). This is the rendering adopted by Michaelis, Maurer, Hitzig, and others, after the lxx. According to the first construction, the distinction would be drawn between a former and a later house; according to the second, simply between the earlier and later glory of the same house; and the passage would be based upon the idea, that through all ages there was only one house of Jehovah in Jerusalem existing under different forms. Haggai 2:3 is decisive in favour of the second view, for there an earlier glory is attributed to this house, and contrasted with its present miserable condition. The first or former glory is that of Solomon's temple, the later or last that of Zerubbabel's. The difference of opinion as to the true rendering of the words has no material influence upon the matter itself; except that, if the latter view be adopted, the question so often discussed by earlier writers - namely, whether by the second temple we are to understand the temple of Zerubbabel or the temple as altered by Herod, which many have erroneously taken to be the third - falls to the ground as perfectly unmeaning. The final glory of the temple will also be a lasting one. This is implied in the closing words of the promise: “And in this place will I give peace.” “This place” is not the temple, but Jerusalem, as the place where the temple is built; and the “peace” is not spiritual peace, but external peace, which does indeed in its perfect form include spiritual peace as well. This is perfectly evident from the parallel passages, Micah 5:4, Joel 3:17, and Isaiah 60:18.
If we also take up the question as to the fulfilment of this prophecy, we must keep the two features quite distinct - ( a) the shaking of heaven and earth and all nations; ( b) the consequence of this shaking, the coming of the heathen with their possessions to the glorification of the temple - although they both stand in close connection. The earlier commentators were no doubt generally right, when they sought for the fulfilment in the establishment of the new covenant through Christ; they simply erred in referring the predicted shaking of the nations and the promised glorification of the temple in too one-sided and exclusive a manner to the coming of Christ in the flesh, to His teaching in the temple, and to the establishment of the kingdom of heaven through the preaching of the gospel. They were thereby compelled, on the one hand, to force upon the prophecy a meaning irreconcilable with the words themselves, and, on the other hand, to seek for its fulfilment in historical particulars to some extent of very subordinate importance. Even the predicted nearness of the time (“it is a little while”) does not suit the exclusive reference to the establishment of the new covenant, or the founding of the Christian church. The period of 520 years, which elapsed before the birth of Christ, cannot be called a little or short time, as Calovius supposes, “in comparison with the time that had passed since either the promulgation of the law or the promulgation of the protevangelium,” inasmuch as five hundred are not מעט in relation to fifteen hundred, and the proposal to go back to the protevangelium is evidently merely a loophole of perplexity. Nor can מעט היא be explained on the hypothesis that the measure of time here is not a human one, but the divine measure, according to which a thousand years are equal to one day. “For whoever speaks to men, must speak of things according to a human method of thinking; or if he do not, he must make it clear that this is the case. The prophet lays stress upon the brevity of the time, for the purpose of comforting. And only what is short in the eyes of men is fitted for this” (Hengstenberg). The shaking of the heathen world did not first begin with the birth of Christ, but commenced shortly after the time of Haggai. It is true that under Darius Hystaspes the Persian empire was still standing at the summit of its power; but its shaking began under his successor Xerxes, and came very plainly to light in his war against Greece. “Even then there were forebodings that the time of this empire would soon be accomplished, and the rapid conquests of Alexander gave fulfilment to this foreboding. And even his power, which seemed destined to last for ever, very speedily succumbed to the lot of all temporal things. Inde (says Livy) morte Alexandri distractum in multa regna, dum ad se quisque opes rapiunt lacerantes viribus, a summo culmine fortunae ad ultimum finem centum quinquaginta annos stetit. The two most powerful kingdoms that grew out of the monarchy of Alexander, viz., the Syrian and Egyptian, destroyed one another. The Romans now attained to the government of the world; but at the very time when they appeared to be at the summit of their greatness, their shaking had very considerably advanced” (Hengstenberg). The circumstance that the prophet mentions the shaking of heaven and earth before the shaking of all the heathen, cannot furnish any valid ground for objecting to these allusions; nor can it force us to the conclusion that the words are only to be understood as denoting “great political shakings, whereby the power of the heathen would be broken, their pride humbled, and so the susceptibility for salvation be evoked among them.” For even if such events do shake the world, and are poetically represented as earthquakes, even if they were regarded by the nations as heralds of the approaching destruction of the world, because the impression they produced upon the mind was as if heaven and earth were falling to pieces; all this does not satisfy the words, which do not express the subjective emotion, but announce real facts. The shaking of heaven and earth, of the sea and of the dry land, is indeed partially effected by violent earthquakes and wonderful signs in the sky, and was typified by such judgments as the flood; but it is only fully accomplished at the breaking up of the present condition of the world in the destruction of this heaven and this earth.
The prophet mentions at the very outset the utmost and the last that God will do, to clear away all existing hindrances to the completion of His kingdom in glory, and then passes on to the shakings of the world of nations which prepare the way for and lead on to this result, just as Micah in Micah 4:1-13 comes back from the most remote future to the less remote, and then to the immediate future. For the shakings of the heathen, by which their power will be broken and the dissolution of heathenism and of the ungodly power of the world will be effected, do not reach their end with the coming of Christ and the establishment of the Christian church: but just as the kingdom of the world maintains its standing by the side of the kingdom of heaven established by Christ upon the earth, until the return of our Lord to judgment; so does the shaking of the heathen and of the kingdoms of the nations continue till every power which rises against the Almighty God and His Christ is broken, and the world which has been thrown into confusion by the sin of men, and is made subject to corruptibility on their account, shall perish, and the new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, for which we are looking, shall be established (2 Peter 3:12-13).
(Note: Aug. Koehler also assumes that the ultimate fulfilment of our prophecy will not take place till the second coming of Christ, although he is of opinion that, generally speaking, it has not been fulfilled in the manner originally intended. Starting, for example, with the fact that the fulfilment of the events predicted by Haggai and the coming of the day of Jehovah are one and the same, and that according to Malachi 3:1; Malachi 4:5 the day of Jehovah was to be preceded by the coming of a messenger, to prepare the way for Jehovah to come to His temple, Koehler assumes that the fulfilment of these events ought to have taken place with the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, to establish the new covenant as the Messiah. But, inasmuch as Israel was still without such moral preparation as would allow of the coming of Jehovah being a blessing to it, and rejected its Messiah, there occurred an event in connection with this rejection of Jesus on the part of Israel, which not only put a stop to the fulfilment of the prophecies, the realization of which had commenced with the coming of Jesus, but introduced a partial modification. “The new covenant,” he says, “which was established by the Lord in His incarnation, was not at first a blessing to Israel, but to the heathen world. Instead of setting up His kingdom over the earth, with Zion as the centre, the Lord returned to heaven, and there took possession of the throne above all thrones. But Israel was smitten with the ban, and scattered among the heathen nations. The sacred places which were to be glorified by the valuables of all the heathen, had become unclean through Israel's sin, and were given up to destruction in consequence.” In his opinion there is a coming of Jehovah still in the future. Jesus will return from heaven again, but not till Israel shall have been converted to the Messiah it rejected. Then will the prophecies of Haggai that remained unfulfilled at the first coming of Jesus be accomplished, but in the only way that is still possible, since the former holy places of Israel have been destroyed, and the heathen world has already participated in the new covenant, and has at any rate in part already become the people of God. Consequently the events predicted by Haggai (Haggai 2:6-9) have not been fulfilled; for the valuable possessions of all the heathen have not been applied to the glorification of the sanctuary of Jehovah built by Zerubbabel, and there has not been a place of peace created there in the midst of the judgments that were to fall upon the heathen world. But the fault of this rests purely upon Israel. And so also it is in the impenitence of Israel that we have to look for the reason why the shaking of the heaven and the earth, and all the heathen, which Haggai announced as מעט היא , has been postponed for more than 500 years. This is Koehler's view. But if there had really been any foundation in the Scriptures for this view, and the predictions of our prophet had not been fulfilled in the manner intended, the fault would not rest entirely in the impenitence of Israel, but would fall in part upon God Himself, for having sent His Son, not at the proper time, or when the time was accomplished, but too early, namely, before Israel was in that moral condition which would allow of the coming of the Messiah to become a blessing to it, whether God was mistaken as to the proper time for sending His Son, or in His judgment as to the moral condition of Israel. If Koehler had put this clearly to his own mind, he would certainly have hesitated before he built up a view on the basis of an erroneous idea of the day of the Lord which necessarily leads to the denial not only of the divine prescience or the πρόγνωσιη τοῦ Θεοῦ , but also of the supernatural character of the old Testament prophecy.)
But if the shaking of the heathen commenced before the coming of Christ in the flesh, and will continue till His second coming in glory, we must not restrict the fulfilment of the predicted moral consequences of this shaking - namely, that the heathen come and consecrate their possessions to the Lord for the glorification of His house, to the conversion of the heathen to Christ, and their entrance into the Christian church - but must also regard the desire for the living God, awakened by the decay of heathendom and its religions, which was manifested in the adoption of Judaism by the more pious heathen, as a prelude to the fulfilment which commenced with the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles, and must include not only the presentation of dedicatory offerings τῶν ἀλλυφύλων and of gifts ἔξωθεν ἐθνῶν , with which the temple was adorned according to Josephus, de Bell. Jud. ii. 17, 3, but also the presents of king Artaxerxes and his counsellors, which Ezra received on his return to Jerusalem to carry with him for the temple (Ezra 7:15.).
(Note: We must not, however, include the additions to Zerubbabel's temple undertaken by Herod the Great for the sake of beautifying it, because, although Herod was a Gentile by descent, the work was not undertaken from any love to the Lord, but (as Calvin; and Hengstenberg, Christol. iii. pp. 289-90, have already observed) with the intention of securing the fulfilment of Haggai's prophecy, in order to prevent the coming of the kingdom of God, his fear of which was that it would put an end to his earthly sway. His intention is obvious enough from the address communicated by Josephus ( Ant. xv. 11, 1), through which Herod endeavoured to win over the people to his plan. After telling them that the temple built after the return of the fathers from exile was still sixty cubits lower than that of Solomon, which he proposed to add, he proceeded thus: “But since I am now by God's will your governor, and I have had peace a long time, and have gained great riches and large revenues, and, what is the principal thing of all, I am at amity with and well regarded by the Romans, who, if I may so say, are the rulers of the whole world,” etc. The allusion to our prophecy, as Hengstenberg says, is unmistakeable here. He tries to prove that all the conditions which it lays down for the glorifying of the temple have now been realized. “All nations,” by whom the building of the temple is to be promoted, are equivalent in his esteem to “the Romans, who are the rulers of the whole world.” He whom God has called to the government has gold and silver enough. And the words “in this place will I give peace” are now fulfilled. The manner in which he strained every nerve to fulfil the words “the glory will be greater,” is evident from §3, where it is stated that “he laid out larger sums of money upon them than had been done before him, till it seemed that no one else had so greatly adorned the temple as he had done.”)
Yea, even the command of king Darius Hystaspes to his vicegerent, which no doubt reached Jerusalem after our prophecy had been uttered, not only to allow the work at this house of God to continue, but also to deliver to the elders of Judah what was required for the building as well as for the requirements of the daily sacrificial worship out of the moneys raised by taxation on this side the river (Ezra 6:6-10), may at any rate be regarded as a pledge of the certain fulfilment of the divine promise uttered by Haggai.
But whilst the honour paid to the temple of Zerubbabel on the part of the heathen and heathen princes by the presentation of sacrifices and dedicatory offerings must not be overlooked, as preludes to the promised filling of this house with the riches of the Gentiles, we must not look to this outward glorification of the temple at Jerusalem for the true fulfilment of our prophecy, even if it had exceeded Solomon's temple in glory. This first took place with the coming of Christ, and that not in the fact that Jesus visited the temple and taught in it, and as the incarnate Logos , in whom the “glory of Jehovah” that filled the temple of Solomon dwelt in its truest essence as δόξα ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός , glorified the temple of stone with His presence, but by the fact that Christ raised up the true temple of God not built with human hand (John 2:19), i.e., that He exalted the kingdom of God shadowed forth in the temple at Jerusalem to its true essence. We must draw a distinction between the substance and form, the kernel and the shell, of the prophecy. The temple, as the place where the Lord dwelt in the midst of Israel in a visible symbol of His gracious presence, was the seat and concentration of the kingdom of God, which had its visible embodiment in the temple so long as the old covenant lasted. In this respect the rebuilding of the temple that had been destroyed was a sign and pledge of the restoration of the kingdom of God, which had been broken up through the banishment of Israel among the heathen, and the attitude of those who returned from exile towards the building of the temple was a sign of their internal attitude towards the Lord and His kingdom. If, then, the old men who had seen the temple in its former glory wept aloud at the laying of the foundation of the new building, because in comparison with the former it was as nothing in their eyes, this mourning was occasioned not so much by the fact that the new temple would not be so beautiful and majestic a building as that of Solomon had been, as by the fact that the poverty of the new building set before their eyes the wretched condition of the kingdom of God. This true or deeper ground for their mourning, which might very well give rise to the question whether the Lord would restore His former gracious relation to Israel, or at any rate would restore it now, is met by the divine promise published by Haggai to the people, which attaches itself in form to the existing circumstances, and accordingly promises for the future a glorification of the temple which will outshine the glory of the former one. If we look at the thought itself which is expressed in this form, it is the following: The Lord will one day exalt His kingdom, which is so deeply degraded and despised, to a glory which will far surpass the glory of the kingdom of God at the time of Solomon, and that by the fact that all the heathen nations will dedicate their possessions to it. This glorification of the house of God commenced with the introduction of the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus Christ preached, and of which He laid the foundation in His church. And whilst the stone-temple at Jerusalem built by Zerubbabel and splendidly finished by Herod fell into ruins, because the Jews had rejected their Saviour, and crucified Him, this has been carried on through the spread of the kingdom of God among the nations of the earth, and will be completed at the end of the course of this world; not, however, by the erection of a new and much more glorious temple in Jerusalem, but in the founding of the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God upon the new earth, after the overthrow of all the powers of the world that are hostile to God. This holy city will have the glory of God ( ἡ δόξα τοῦ Θεοῦ = כּבוד יהוה ), but no temple; because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. Into this holy city of God will the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour, and the heathen who are saved will walk therein (Revelation 21:10-11, Revelation 21:22-24). Thus the promise covers the entire development of the kingdom of God to the end of days.
This was the sense in which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 12:26-27) understood our prophecy. In order, namely, to give emphasis to his admonition, not to expose themselves to still severer punishment than fell upon those who hardened themselves under the Old Testament against the incomplete revelation of God, by rejecting the far more perfect revelation of God in Christ, he quotes our prophecy, and shows from it (Hebrews 12:26), that at the founding of the old covenant only a comparatively small shaking of the earth took place; whereas for the times of the new covenant there had been predicted a shaking not only of the earth, but also of the heaven, which indicated that what was moveable was to be altered, as made for that purpose, that the immoveable might remain. The author of this epistle consequently brings out the fundamental thought of our prophecy, in which its fulfilment culminates, viz., that everything earthly must be shaken and altered, that the immoveable, i.e., the βασιλεία ἀσάλευτος , may remain, or in other words, that the whole of the earthly creation must perish, in order that the kingdom of God may be shown to be immoveably permanent. He does not, however, thereby represent the predicted shaking of heaven and earth “as still in the future,” as Koehler supposes; but, as his words in Hebrews 12:28 (cf. Hebrews 12:22), “Wherefore we, receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace,” clearly show, he takes it as having already commenced, and looks upon the whole period, from the coming of Christ in the flesh till His coming again in glory, as one continuum.
Return of the Blessings of Nature. - Haggai 2:10. On the 24th day of the ninth month of the same year, that is to say, exactly three months after the congregation had resumed the building of the temple (cf. Haggai 1:15), and about two months after the second prophecy (Haggai 2:1), a new word of the Lord was uttered through Haggai to the people. It was now time, since the despondency which had laid hold of the people a few weeks after the recommencement of the building had been dispelled by the consolatory promises in vv. 6-9, and the work was vigorously pursued, to confirm the people in the fidelity which they had manifested, by bestowing upon them the blessing which had been withdrawn. To this end Haggai received the commission to make it perfectly clear to the people, that the curse which had rested upon them since the building of the temple had been neglected, had been nothing but a punishment for their indolence in not pushing forward the work of the Lord, and that from that time forth the Lord would bestow His blessing upon them again. The ninth month ( Khislēv ) corresponds very nearly to the period between the middle of November and the middle of December, when the sowing of the winter corps, that commenced after the feast of tabernacles, was finished, and the autumnal rain (early rain) had set in, so that in the abundant fall of this rain they might discern a trace of the divine blessing.
The word of God was as follows: 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 gêre , old high German kêro (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 gáis, and the conjectural root geisan = 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).
The prophet explains these words in Haggai 2:15-19 by representing the failure of the crops, and the curse that has hitherto prevailed, as a punishment from God for having been wanting in faithfulness to the Lord (Haggai 2:15-17), and promises that from that time forward the blessing of God shall rest upon them again (Haggai 2:18, Haggai 2:19). Haggai 2:15. “And now, direct your heart from this day and onward, before stone was laid to stone at the temple of Jehovah. Haggai 2:16. Before this was, did one come to the heap of sheaves of twenty-(in measure), there were ten: did he come to the vat to draw fifty buckets, there were twenty. Haggai 2:17. I have smitten you with blasting, and with mildew, and with hail, all the work of your hands; and not one of you (turned) to me, is the saying of Jehovah.” The object to which they are to direct their heart, i.e., to give heed, is not to be supplied from Haggai 1:5, Haggai 1:7, “to your ways” (Ros. and others), but is contained substantially in Haggai 2:16 and Haggai 2:17, and is first of all indicated in the words “from this day,” etc. They are to notice what has taken place from this day onwards. נמעלה , lit., upwards, then further on. Here it is used not in the sense of forwards into the future, but, as the explanatory clause which follows (from before, etc.) clearly shows, in that of backwards into the past. Mitterem , literally “from the not yet of the laying ... onwards,” i.e., onwards from the time when stone was laid upon stone at the temple; in other words, when the building of the temple was resumed, backwards into the past; in reality, therefore, the time before the resuming of the building of the temple: for min and mitterem cannot be taken in any other sense than in the parallel מיּום which precedes it, and מהיותם which follows in Haggai 2:16. The objection which Koehler raises to this cannot be sustained. מהיותם , from their existence (backwards). Most of the modern commentators take the suffix as referring to a noun, yâmı̄m (days), to be supplied from Haggai 2:15; but it appears much simpler to take it as a neuter, as Mark and others do, in the sense of “before these things were or were done, viz., this day, and this work of laying stone upon stone,” etc. The meaning is not doubtful, viz., looking backwards from the time when the building of the temple was resumed, in other words, before the point of time. בּא commences a new sentence, in which facts that they had experienced are cited, the verb בּא being used conditionally, and forming the protasis, the apodosis to which is given in והיתה . If one came to a heap of sheaves of twenty measures ( s e 'âh is probably to be supplied: lxx σάτα ), they became ten. A heap of sheaves ( ‛ărēmâh as in Ruth 3:7), from which they promised themselves twenty measures, yielded, when threshed, no more than ten, i.e., only the half of what they expected. They experienced just the same at the pressing of the grapes. Instead of fifty buckets, which they expected, they obtained only twenty. Yeqebh was the vat into which the juice flowed when pressed out of the grapes. Châsaph , lit., to lay bare, here to draw out, as in Isaiah 30:14; and pūrâh , in Isaiah 63:3, the pressing-trough, here a measure, probably the measure which was generally obtained from one filling of the wine-press with grapes (lxx μετρητής ). Haggai 2:17 gives the reason why so small a result was yielded by the threshing-floor and wine-press. Jehovah smote you with blasting and mildew. These words are a reminiscence of Amos 4:9, to which passage the last words of the verse also refer. To the disease of the corn there is also added the hail which smote the vines, as in Psalms 78:47. 'Eth kol - ma‛ăsēh , all the labour of the hands, i.e., all that they had cultivated with great toil, is a second accusative, “which mentions the portion smitten” (Hitzig). The perfectly unusual construction אין־אתכם אלי does not stand for אין בּכם א , non fuit in vobis qui (Vulg.), nor is אתכם used for אתּכם , “with you;” but אין־אתכם either stands for אינכם , the suffix which was taken as a verbal suffix used as an accusative being resolved into the accusative (cf. Ewald, §262, d); or it is the accusative used in the place of the subject, that is to say, את is to be taken in the sense of “as regards,” quoad (Ewald, §277, p. 683): “as far as you are concerned, there was not (one) turning himself to me.” אלי , to me, sc. turning himself or being converted; though there is no necessity to supply שׁבים , as the idea is implied in the word אל , as in Hosea 3:3 and 2 Kings 6:11.
After this appeal to lay to heart the past time during which the blessing had been withheld, Haggai called upon the people in Haggai 2:18 and Haggai 2:19 to fix their eyes upon the time which was commencing with that very day. Haggai 2:18. “Direct your heart, then, from this day and onward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth (month); namely, from the day when the foundation of the temple of Jehovah was laid, direct your heart. Haggai 2:19. Is the seed still in the granary? and even to the vine, and pomegranate, and olive-tree, it has not borne: from this day forward will I bless.” The twenty-fourth day of the ninth month was the day on which Haggai uttered this word of God (Haggai 2:10). Hence ומעלה in Haggai 2:18 is to be understood as denoting the direction towards the future (Itala, Vulg., and many comm.). This is evident partly from the fact, that only in that case can the repetition of שׂימוּ לבבכם in Haggai 2:18 (end), and the careful announcement of the point of time (from the twenty-fourth day, etc.), be simply and naturally explained, and partly from the fact that min hayyōm hazzeh (from this day) is not explained here, as in Haggai 2:15, by a clause pointing back to the past (like mitterem sūm in Haggai 2:15), but simply by a precise notice of the day referred to, and that in the last clause of Haggai 2:19 this day is clearly described as the commencement of a new era. For there can be no doubt whatever that in min hayyōm hazzeh in Haggai 2:19 the terminus a quo mentioned in Haggai 2:18 is resumed. But the time mentioned in Haggai 2:18, “from the day that the foundation of the temple was laid,” etc., and also the contents of the first two clauses of Haggai 2:19, to the effect that there was no more seed in the granary, and that the vine, etc., had not borne, do not appear to harmonize with this. To remove the first of these difficulties, Ros., Maurer, Ewald, and others have taken למן־היּום אשׁר־יסּד as the terminus ad quem , and connected it with the foregoing terminus a quo : “observe the time,” which reaches back from the present day, the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, to the day when the foundation of the temple was laid in the reign of Cyrus (Ezra 3:10). They have thus taken למן in the sense of ועד . But it is now generally admitted that this is at variance with the usage of the language; even Ewald and Gesenius acknowledge this (see Ew., Lehrbuch, §218, b, and Ges. Thes. p. 807). למן is never equivalent to עד or ועד , but invariably forms the antithesis to it (compare, for example, Judges 19:30; 2 Samuel 7:6, and Micah 7:12). Now, since l e min hayyōm cannot mean “to the time commencing with the laying of the foundation of the temple,” but must mean “from the day when the foundation of the temple was laid,” Hitzig and Koehler have taken למן היּום וגו as an explanatory apposition to מיּום עשׂרים וגו , and assume that through this apposition the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, is expressly designated as the day on which the foundation was laid for the temple of Jehovah. But this assumption is not only in direct contradiction to Ezra 3:10, where it is stated that the foundation of the temple was laid in the reign of Cyrus, in the second year after the return from Babylon, but also makes the prophet Haggai contradict himself in a manner which can only be poorly concealed by any quid pro quo at variance with the language, viz., ( a) by identifying the words of Haggai 2:15, “when stone was laid to stone at the temple of Jehovah,” which, according to their simple meaning, express the carrying on or continuance of the building, with the laying of the foundation-stone, secondly ( b), by understanding the statement, “they did work at the house of Jehovah on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month” (Haggai 1:14-15), not according to its natural meaning as relating to their building upon the foundation already laid, but as signifying the removal of the rubbish and the procuring of wood and stone, that is to say, as referring to the preparations for building; and lastly ( c), by explaining אשׁר יסּד וגו in Haggai 2:19 as signifying the laying of a fresh or second foundation. These assumptions are so forced, that if there were not a simpler and easier way of removing the difficulty raised, we would rather assume that there had been a corruption of the text.
But the thing is not so desperate as this. In the first place, we must pronounce the opinion that למן היּום וגו is an explanatory apposition to מיּום עשׂרים וגו an unfounded one. The position of the athnach in ומעלה furnishes no tenable proof of this. Nor can the assumption that l e min is synonymous with min be sustained. In support of the statement, “that l e min only differs from min in the greater emphasis with which it is spoken,” Ewald (§218, b), has merely adduced this passage, Haggai 2:18, which is supposed to exhibit this with especial clearness, but in which, as we have just shown, such an assumption yields no appropriate meaning. למן followed by עד or ועד does indeed occur in several instances in such a connection, that it appears to be used instead of the simple min. But if we look more closely at the passages (e.g., Exodus 11:7; Judges 19:30; 2 Samuel 7:6), the ל is never superfluous; and l e min is simply used in cases where the definition so introduced is not closely connected with what goes before, but is meant to be brought out as an independent assertion or additional definition, so that in all such cases the ל “has the peculiar force of a brief allusion to something not to be overlooked, a retrospective glance at the separate parts, or a rapid summary of the whole, like our 'with regard to,' 'as regards' (Lat. quoad );” and it only fails to correspond entirely to this, “from the fact that ל is only expressible in the softest manner, and indeed in our language can hardly be expressed in words at all, though it quite perceptibly yields this sense” (Ewald, §310). למקצת is also used in this sense in Daniel 1:18 instead of מקצת (Haggai 2:15), whilst in other cases (e.g., in למרחוק in 2 Samuel 7:19) it indicates the direction to a place or towards an object (Ewald, §218, b).
(Note: Koehler's objection to this explanation of l e mērâchōq , viz., that with the verb dibber , the object concerning which a person is spoken to, is never introduced with the preposition ל , is groundless. “With verbs of speaking ל yields the same double meaning as אל , according to the context,” i.e., it can denote the person spoken to, and the person or thing to which the speaking refers, or about which a person is speaking (cf. Genesis 21:7; Numbers 23:23; Isaiah 5:1; Micah 2:6; Jeremiah 23:9; Psalms 3:3; Psalms 11:1; Psalms 27:8; and Ewald, §217, c).)
In the verse before us, the ל before מן corresponds exactly to the German anlangend, betreffend , concerning, as to, sc. the time, from the day when the foundation of the temple was laid, and is used to give prominence to this assertion, and by the prominence given to it to preclude any close connection between the definition of the time so introduced and what goes before, and to point to the fact that the following definition contains a fresh subject of discourse. The expression שׂימוּ לבבכם , which closes the sentence commencing with למן היּום , and which would be somewhat tautological and superfluous, if the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple coincided with the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, also points to this.
What space of time it is to which Haggai gives prominence in these words, as one which they are to lay to heart, is shown in Haggai 2:19, “Is the seed still in the granary?” etc. That this question is not to be taken in the sense of a summons to proceed now with good heart to sow the summer crops, which were not sown till January, and therefore were still in the granary, as Hitzig supposes, has been pointed out by Koehler, who also correctly observes that the prophet first of all reminds his hearers of the mournful state of things in the past (not “in the present,” as he says), that they may thoroughly appreciate the promise for the future. For even if the question to be answered with “no,” viz., whether the corn is still in the granary, were to be referred to the present, what follows, viz., that the fruit-trees have not borne, would not suit this, since not having borne is a past thing, even if it merely related to the last year, although there is no ground for any such limitation of the words. And if in Haggai 2:19 the prophet directs the attention of his hearers to the past, we must also understand the chronological datum immediately preceding as relating to the past as well, and must assume that the words from למן היּום in Haggai 2:18 to לא נשׂא in Haggai 2:19 contain a parenthetical thought; that is to say, we must assume that the prophet, in order to set clearly before their minds the difference between the past when the building of the temple was suspended, and the future commencing with that very day, before promising the blessing of God to be enjoyed in the future, directs another look at the past, and that from the time of the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus to his own time, and reminds them once more of the want of blessing which they had experienced from that time forth even to the present time. Koehler's objection to this view cannot be sustained. He says, “The Jews are to observe the time from that day forward, namely, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (backwards); the time from the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus (forwards).... Such a mode of expression seems utterly out of place.” But this only affects the erroneous assumption, that the definition “from the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple” is merely a more precise explanation of the previous definition, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, and falls to the ground of itself as soon as these two definitions are separated, as the expression and the matter in hand require. The second objection - namely, that the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus does not suit as a terminus a quo for the commencement of the withdrawal of the divine favour, or for the infliction of a curse upon the people, inasmuch as the Jews were not punished because they laid the foundation for the house of Jehovah, but simply because they neglected the house of God, that is to say, because they desisted from the building they had already begun - is one that would have some force if an interval of at least one or more years had elapsed between the laying of the foundation of the temple and the suspension of the building. But if the work of building was interrupted immediately after the foundation had been laid, as is evident from Ezra 3:10, as compared with ch. 4, Haggai might with perfect propriety describe the whole time from the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus to the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month of the second year of Darius as a time without blessing, without there being any necessity for him expressly to deduct the few weeks which elapsed between the laying of the foundation-stone and the suspension of the work of building, any more than the last three months, in which the work had been resumed again. The last three months could hardly be taken into account, because they fell for the most part in the period after the last harvest; so that if this had proved to be a bad one, the cause would be still in force. The prophet could therefore very properly inquire whether the seed was still in the granary, to which they would be obliged to answer No, because the miserable produce of the harvest was already either consumed for the supply of their daily wants, or used up for the sowing which was just ended. זרע , seed, is not what is sown, but what the sowing yields, the corn, as in Leviticus 27:30; Isaiah 23:3; Job 39:12. M e gūrâh = mamm e gūrâh in Joel 1:17, a barn or granary, from gūr , ἀγείρεσθαι , congregari . The following words, ועד־הגּפן וגו , are really appended to the thought contained implicite in the first clause: the corn has not borne, and even to the vine, etc., it has borne nothing. נשׂא is indefinite: it has not borne = has borne nothing. It shall be different in future. From this day, i.e., from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, Jehovah will bless again, i.e., grant a blessing, namely, so that fruitful seasons will come again, and fields and fruit-trees bear once more. There is no necessity to supply a definite object to אברך .
Renewal of the Promise of Salvation. - Haggai 2:20. On the same day on which the Lord promised to the people the return of the blessings of nature, Haggai received a second revelation, which promised to the community the preservation and care of the Davidic monarchy, represented for the time by Zerubbabel, in the midst of the storms that were about to burst upon the power of the world. Haggai 2:21. “Speak to Zerubbabel the governor of Judah thus: I shake the heaven and the earth. Haggai 2:22. And I will overthrow the throne of the kingdoms; and destroy the might of the kingdoms of the nations; and will overthrow the war-chariots, and those who ride in them: and horses and their riders shall fall, one by the sword of the other. Haggai 2:23. On that day, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, will I take thee, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant, is the saying of Jehovah, and make thee as a signet-ring: for I have chosen thee, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts.” אני מרעישׁ does not stand for הנני מרעישׁ , but the participial clause is to be taken as a circumstantial clause: If I shake heaven and earth, I overthrow (cf. Ewald, §341, c and d). The words point back to the shaking of the world predicted in Haggai 2:6, Haggai 2:7. When this shaking takes place, then shall the throne of the kingdoms be thrown down, and their might be destroyed. The singular כּסּא is used collectively, or rather distributively: “every throne of the kingdoms.” The throne is the symbol of the monarchy, or of the government (cf. Daniel 7:27); not in this sense, however, that “the prophet regarded all the kingdoms of the earth as one combined power in contradistinction to the people of God, or as a single power, as the power of the world, which was sitting as mistress at the time upon the throne of the earth” (Koehler). The plural mamlâkhōth does not agree with this, since every kingdom had both a king and a throne. The continuance of this throne rests upon the strength ( chōqez ) of the heathen kingdoms, and this again upon their military power, their war-chariots, horses, and riders. These are to be overthrown and fall to the ground, and indeed by one another's swords. One hostile kingdom will destroy another, and in the last conflict the heathen hosts will annihilate one another (compare Ezekiel 38:21; Zechariah 14:13). At that time, when the dominion of the heathen had thus collapsed, Jehovah would take Zerubbabel and set or make him as a signet-ring. The verb 'eqqach (will I take) simply serves to introduce the following act as one of importance, as for example in Deuteronomy 4:20 and 2 Kings 14:21. The meaning of the figurative expression, to make Zerubbabel as a signet-ring, is evident from the importance of the signet-ring in the eyes of an oriental, who is accustomed to carry his signet-ring constantly about with him, and to take care of it as a very valuable possession. It is introduced with the same idea in the Song of Solomon 8:6, “Lay me as a signet-ring upon thy breast, as a signet-ring in thine arms;” and it is in the same sense that Jehovah says of Jehoiachin in Jeremiah 22:24, “Though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim were even a signet-ring upon my right hand, i.e., a possession from which it would be thought impossible that I should separate myself, yet would I tear thee away from thence.” Hence we obtain this thought for our present passage, namely, that on the day on which Jehovah would overthrow the kingdoms of the nations, He would make Zerubbabel like a signet-ring, which is inseparable from its possessor; that is to say, He would give him a position in which he would be and remain inseparably connected with Him (Jehovah), would therefore not cast him off, but take care of him as His valuable possession. This is the explanation given by Koehler (after Calvin, Osiander, and others); and he has also refuted the various explanations that differ from it. But in order clearly to understand the meaning of this promise, we must look at the position which Zerubbabel occupied in the community of Israel on its return from exile. For we may at the outset assume that the promise did not apply to his own particular person, but rather to the official post he held, from the fact that what is here predicted was not to take place till after the overthrow of the throne and might of all the kingdoms of the heathen, and therefore could not take place in Zerubbabel's lifetime, inasmuch as, although the fall of this or the other kingdom might be looked for in the course of one generation, the overthrow of all kingdoms and the coming of all the heathen to fill the temple of the Lord with their possessions (Haggai 2:7) certainly could not. Zerubbabel was (Persian) governor in Judah, and had no doubt been selected for this office because he was prince of Judah (Ezra 1:8), and as son of Shealtiel was a descendant of the family of David (see at Haggai 1:1). Consequently the sovereignty of David in its existing condition of humiliation, under the sovereignty of the imperial power, was represented and preserved in his appointment as prince and governor of Judah, so that the fulfilment of the divine promise of the eternal perpetuation of the seed of David and his kingdom was then associated with Zerubbabel, and rested upon the preservation of his family. Hence the promise points to the fact, that at the time when Jehovah would overthrow the heathen kingdoms, He would maintain and take good care of the sovereignty of David in the person of Zerubbabel. For Jehovah had chosen Zerubbabel as His servant. With these words the Messianic promise made to David was transferred to Zerubbabel and his family among David's descendants, and would be fulfilled in his person in just the same way as the promise given to David, that God would make him the highest among the kings of the earth (Psalms 89:27). The fulfilment culminates in Jesus Christ, the son of David and descendant of Zerubbabel (Matthew 1:12; Luke 3:27), in whom Zerubbabel was made the signet-ring of Jehovah. Jesus Christ has raised up the kingdom of His father David again, and of His kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:32-33). Even though it may appear oppressed and deeply humiliated for the time by the power of the kingdoms of the heathen, it will never be crushed and destroyed, but will break in pieces all these kingdoms, and destroy them, and will itself endure for ever (Daniel 2:44; Hebrews 12:28; 1 Corinthians 15:24).
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Haggai 2". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26