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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Haggai 1


The time when Haggai prophesied, Hag 1:1. Haggai reproveth the people's delay in building the temple, Haggai 1:2-6. He inciteth them to set about it, Haggai 1:7-11. He promiseth them, being forward of themselves, God's assistance, Haggai 1:12,Haggai 1:13. The work is set forward, Haggai 1:14,Haggai 1:15.

Verse 1

Darius: of this name there were seven, Darius Medus, Hystaspes, Longimanus, Nothus, Ochus, Arsames, Codomanus; one before Cyrus, viz. that Darius which is distinguished from the other by Medus, the Mede; the next Darius was son of Hystaspes, and third king of Persia, (if we leave out Smerdis the cheat, who on Cambyses's death counterfeited the true Smerdis, slain by Cambyses's order, got into the throne, but was discovered and slain at seven months' end,) of whom the text speaketh; unless you can think Joshua high priest through one hundred and forty-four years, and some considerable number of Jews to have lived one hundred and ninety-six years, and the returned captives to have wanted a temple for one hundred and twelve years at least, which incredible things attend them who will have this Darius to be Nothus.

The king; as being the greatest of that time, and by way of eminency above others.

In the sixth month; Elul, answering to part of our August and September.

The word of the Lord; the command or direction what they should do, and reproof for what they had omitted to do.

Haggai: we read nothing of his parentage or country in the Scripture; he doted that thought him an angel.

The prophet; inspired, sent, approved, and assisted of God in his office.

Zerubbabel; whose name speaks either his birth in Babylon, or his interest and power there as some conjecture: probably his birth in Babylon might be ground of trusting him with the government of Judah, to which he had right.

Son of Shealtiel; adoptive son to Shealtiel, being of the royal line, probably he was the chief branch thereof, uncle to him; but by nature, or by generation, son of Pedaiah; or else there were two Zerubbabels, sons of two brothers, Pedaiah and Shealtiel.

Governor of Judah; appointed to this by the Persian king, under whose power the Jews were now fallen, and at whose pleasure governors were placed or displaced over the remnant returned out of Babylon, and once at last settled in the land of Judah.

Joshua; a type of the great Deliverer; one Joshua leads them into Canaan, another restores the temple.

Josedech; whose name did portend good to this people, and bespoke God's righteousness; his father Seraiah was high priest and slain by Nebuchadnezzar.

The high priest, by lineal descent according to the law, chief of power in church matters, as Zerubbabel was chief in civil things: to these the prophet is sent to stir them up to the building of the temple.

Verse 2

Thus speaketh, by way of reproof, and to awaken the drowsy Jews; he who knew their heart tells them what they both thought and spoke.

This people, whom mercy preserved in, redeemed out of Babylon, and brought into their land on purpose to build the temple. This people, whom Cyrus by proclamation sent to do this, who seemed to long for a temple when they were in Babylon.

Say; discourse thus among themselves, and discourage all that were forward. The time is not come; the proper season of rebuilding the house of God seems to be not come, for since the prohibition by Cambyses in the days of Cyrus, and through all the time of Cambyses, and in the first year and part of the second of Darius, we have no commission to do it, but are required not to do any thing in this affair without further order, Ezra 4:21.

Verse 3

Then; when the people were thus sluggish, made excuses, and delayed doing their duty, then at that time came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet: see Haggai 1:1.

Verse 4

Is it time? you think it full time to build your own houses, you judge it seasonable enough to lay out much cost on adorning them, what pretence can you make that it is not seasonable to build my house?

For you, Jews, who were by a king (that knew not your God) sent to build my house, you unthankful and forgetful ones.

To dwell; to settle yourselves securely, and for continuance with stateliness.

Ceiled; searched and with cedar wainscot, curiously carved and covered, and as richly adorned as if you were full of treasures.

Houses: it seems to intimate some of them had more than one house, a city and a country house, and whilst God’s house lay waste; they thus lavish out their wealth on private worldly conveniences, but grudge the charge on God’s house. Can you thus live without a temple, an altar, a sacrifice, and yet cannot live without stately houses? Do you owe so much to yourselves, and so little to your God? so much to your bodies, so little to your souls?

Lie waste; in its rubbish, or in bare, naked foundations without any superstructure.

Verse 5

Now therefore; or,

And now, or, But now, Heb.; it is time for you to consider, to set your heart to that I propose.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts; the great God speaks, hearken therefore.

Consider your ways; ponder well the course you have taken and the success of it, what you have designed, how you have succeeded, what care, and what disappointment, what labour, and how fruitless your labour hath been; consider how you have carried it toward God, and how God hath carried it toward you.

Verse 6

The prophet doth help them, or directs them what in particular they ought to consider, and so debateth it with them: Your labour, care, and charge hath been great in ploughing and sowing, that you are sensible of; but what harvest have you had? O, your barns have been far from full, you have reaped and brought in little; this is evident to all.

Ye eat, you feed on the fruit of your labour and product of the earth,

but ye have not enough; but what you eat doth not nourish you, it doth not suffice; you are hungry and meagre still.

Ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; the like emptiness and unprofitableness in your drink; your water quencheth not your thirst, your wine does not refresh your heart or revive your spirit; or you dare not eat or drink sufficiently for fear you should not have enough, lest your store should fail you.

Ye clothe you, but there is none warm; your wool and flax is not what it used to be, sufficient to defend you from the cold, it will not warm you.

He that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes; who labours or trades to gain and lay up loseth all his labour, it runs from him as money put into a purse or pocket that hath no bottom, that cannot hold it. This fruitless labour you will soon discern, if you consider your ways: and what think you may be the cause of this?

Verse 7

See Haggai 1:5. Debate it with yourselves, both as to what is already past, and what will be for time to come; it hath not been a chance, or an evil which none can tell whence it proceeds, it is from your neglect of God, his temple and worship.

Verse 8

Go up, delay no longer, speed ye up to the mountain; Moriah, or Zion, better Lebanon, where best and greatest store of cedars were to be had, whence came the goodly cedars which built Solomon’s temple, 1 Kings 5:14,1 Kings 5:15, and where they had (before the building was forbidden) furnished themselves, Ezra 3:7.

Bring wood; provide all sorts of lumber for this future edifice.

Build; go on with the work, the foundation whereof hath been laid some years, but the superstructure omitted.

The house of God, the holy temple.

I will take pleasure in it: this a very gracious promise revived, an assurance that God will dwell in it, and afford his presence there; I will meet you there, and there I will bless you, there I will accept your offerings, hear your prayers, forgive your sins, and satisfy you with the fatness of my house: much the same promise with that, 1 Kings 8:29; 1 Kings 9:3.

I will be glorified; show my majesty, and account myself glorified by you also.

Verse 9

Ye, O Jews, you toiled, and were at great cost, as Haggai 1:6.

Looked for much; expected, hoped, promised yourselves a great increase, a plentiful harvest.

And, lo, it came to little; but you saw, discerned, and were sensible that it answered not expectation; all dwindled into a very little, you were losers by all, went backward still.

I did blow upon it: had your little been as the righteous man’s little, you might have lived on it, and rejoiced in it; but it had not such a blessing upon it; it was blasted, and so was weak, and empty, and heartless, it profited little.

Because of mine house that is waste; all this curse on your estate and labour was for your ungodly neglect of my house, leaving it waste.

Ye run; did with eagerness carry on your own particular buildings, spared not care or cost for them; you stir not a foot about my house, you run with greatest earnestness about your own.

Every man to his own house, domestic affairs and concerns, in which not one or two, or some few, but every one is culpable, scarce any free from this fault.

Verse 10

Therefore; for your great intolerable neglect of God, his house and worship.

The heaven, Heb. heavens. is stayed; shut up, sealed, prohibited; God, whose they are, hath forbidden them, they drop not one pearl of dew; and the earth must be barren, when dry without the fructifying influences of heaven.

Verse 11

This verse is a particular narrative of what was more generally expressed in the former verse, and all things mentioned herein are very plain.

I, your God whom you neglected, called for; commanded or willed, which is call powerful enough to bring together any of his armed soldiers, to punish rebellious and contumacious sinners.

Upon the land; either the whole land, or, in distinction to mountains. the lower grounds and valleys.

Upon the mountains; which in Canaan were fruitful in pasturage, and rich in vines, and olives, and corn; all which, for want of rain, dried up and withered, languished and came to nothing; so the condition of these people was very desolate, a just punishment for a temple desolate by their negligence.

Upon men; the very blood, humours, and constitutions of men were strangely changed hereby, and many diseases afflicted them.

Upon cattle; murrain, leanness, and death among the brute beasts.

Upon all the labour of the hands; whatever man’s industry planted, as trees and plants, were under this curse, and languished, died, and were burnt up.

Verse 12

Then; so soon as they heard this convincing and awakening sermon.

Shealtiel; who is called Salathiel, 1 Chronicles 3:17; Matthew 1:12.

Joshua the son of Josedech: see Haggai 1:1.

The high priest; the twenty-fourth from Aaron, as some reckon, (Alsted. Chron.,) but the first after the captivity.

With all; either none were deaf to the Lord’s reproof and counsel, or else none durst appear so, when the chief rulers in state and church were so forward in obeying the prophet.

The people; the common people, the meaner sort.

Obeyed the voice of the Lord; acknowledged that it was the sovereign Lord who spake, who ought to be obeyed, because he is the Lord.

Their God; and therefore they ought to do his will, that they might receive the blessings which he, as their God, had promised to them. As God made this an argument to obedience, so do these now; We are thy people, thou art our God.

The words of Haggai: this interprets the former, the voice of the Lord was the words of Haggai, he added nothing of his own to them.

As the Lord their God had sent him; according to all for which the Lord had sent and commissioned him, or particularly in all that concerned the speedy building of the temple.

The people did fear before the Lord: this speaks the right religious frame of heart in this people at this time.

Verse 13

Then; when the people showed their obedience, and the willingness of their minds, then God encourageth them by his prophet.

Messenger; legate or envoy, the Hebrew word signifieth also an angel; but this is not surf, clout to prove their opinion, who dream that Haggai was not a man, but an angel in the form of a man; the word here used (arising from a word that signifieth to send, and paraphrased by a word that primarily signifieth to send as messengers are sent) doth speak an angel from his office and work, as he ministereth before the Lord, and runneth swiftly on his errand; it speaketh not the nature or essence of angels, as they are spirits. The French version (which I use, printed at Rochelle, 1616) reads it, like ours, ambassador. So Haggai was God’s messenger or ambassador to his people; no angel.

In the Lord’s message; as becometh an ambassador. in the words of his master, so Haggai delivered the Lord’s message.

Unto the people; not excluding the governors; but the people are only mentioned, for that the prophet spake to the whole assembly, or because the Lord would encourage them most, who most needed encouragement.

I am with you; a great promise, and which contains all they can need or desire; it insureth God’s presence always with them, and his assistance always to them, and his blessing always upon them. He will be always for, as well as always with them, and then Tatnai, Shethar-bozhal, Sanballat, and all other conspirators with them, shall not prevail to hinder the work. Such a promise as this, see Exodus 3:12; Exodus 4:11-13; Matthew 28:20; Romans 8:31; 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Saith the Lord: this solemn attestation addeth weight to the promise.

Verse 14

The Lord stirred up: this is the first notable effect of God’s presence with them, a sensible performance of his promise. God inclined their minds, fixed their resolutions, and inspired them with courage for this work; whereas the stoutest of them before had no mind to set on this work, now the weakest are forward to it, and bold in it.

The spirit; the heart, mind, or inclination.

Shealtiel: see Haggai 1:12.

Governor: see Haggai 1:1,

Josedech: see Haggai 1:1,Haggai 1:12.

The remnant: see Haggai 1:12.

They came, immediately, without delay, and unanimously, without any visible dissent.

Did work; every one set their hands to it in such manner as was fit for them; governors did oversee, direct, and encourage the workmen; artificers framed and prepared, and the people all laboured. In the house; which was now to be built upon the old foundations, laid some seventeen years before, when Cyrus gave the Jews leave to return and build their city and temple.

The Lord of hosts; by which name he delights to be known among the returned captives; and it was a name best suited to their present state, compassed on all hands with enemies, and in perpetual danger by them.

Their God: see Habakkuk 1:12.

Verse 15

It appeareth then that Zerubbabel and Joshua, with the people, did resolve on the matter quickly; for in three weeks and three days they are at the work, as is evident; on the first day Haggai preached, Haggai 1:1, on the twenty-fourth day of the month the people are at work, Haggai 1:15.

Darius: see Haggai 1:1. Now this Darius was not Darius Nothus, but Darius Hystaspes, as will appear by considering well the following scheme of years, from the captivity to the particular years of each of these two Dariuses. Suppose we therefore the computation of these years, according to either of these schemes, it will appear that there is no likelihood this Darius in the text should be Darius Nothus.

Helvicus. Usher.

Captivity 3350 3398.

Temple burnt 3360 3416.

Cyrus’s decree 3420 3468.

The decree of Darius, Nothus 3529 Hystaspes 3485.

This latter account begins the captivity at the fourth year of Jehoiakim. the former begins it at the first of Jeconiah’s reign, as Ezekiel also doth, Ezekiel 1:2; Ezekiel 40:1. Hence that difference which is in the account of the years between the beginning of the captivity and the burning of the temple; the former account makes it eleven years, the latter makes it eighteen, for it begins seven years sooner. In what follows, we shall find both agreeing well enough to clear the unlikelihood of Darius Nothus being the king intended here.

Both accounts make the captivity to end in the seventieth year, according to the Scripture. But now the former account makes it one hundred and nine years between Cyrus’s decree and Darius’s decree; all which time the temple by this account lay desolate, without a prophet to stir them up to their duty of building the temple. Now is this probable? can it be reasonably supposed that the temple should so long lie waste after they were sent out of Babylon purposely to build it? or that they should be so long in that condition without a prophet? But now the latter account reckons seventeen years between Cyrus’s and Darius’s decree for building the temple, a space of time easily conceived likely to pass while the Jews did not build; nay, were forbidden by Cambyses, (in Scripture called Artaxerxes,) viceroy to his father Cyrus, (engaged in foreign wars,) all the time Cyrus lived after he gave out the decree, which some make more, some less, but those who make the likeliest guess, for aught I know, make it five years. Whether Cyrus, taken up with these wars, did know of this prohibition, or thought not good to take it off till he returned conqueror, I know not; but he died and left this bar on the work, which continued all Cambyses’s reign, and unto the second year of his successor Darius Hystaspes. Now if this were seventeen the most, some say but fifteen, others but twelve years, it is very probable, whereas one hundred and nine years is utterly improbable. Besides this, let us view what age those many or few were of, by these different accounts, who lived to see the temple re-edified. If in Darius Nothus’s time, they could be no less than one hundred and eighty-five, allowing them to be sixteen at the burning of the temple, thus; sixteen when the temple was burnt, thence sixty to Cyrus’s decree, and thence one hundred and nine to Darius Nothus’s decree. But by the latter account their age amounts but to ninety-five years, which appears thus; sixteen at the time the temple was burnt, thence sixty to Cyrus’s decree, thence seventeen to Darius Hystaspes’s decree; in all ninety-five, which though a great age, yet not improbable at that time, though the other (one hundred and eighty-five) be improbable. Besides, how few through one hundred and sixty-nine years can distinctly remember what they saw and took notice of at sixteen, or could make that judgment of the disproportion between the two temples! Haggai 2:3. Or can it be supposed that Zecaraiah Zechariah 1:12) would have accounted but seventy years’ desolation, when he might have more than doubled the years, and have reckoned one hundred and sixty-nine years? would not the argument thus have been more moving?

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Haggai 1". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.