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Bible Commentaries
Haggai 2

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

Verses 1-9

Haggai 2:1-9 . Haggai’ s Sermon on October 21.

Haggai 2:1 f. is mainly editorial. The work begun on Sep. 24 had consisted mainly of preparation, the actual rebuilding is now begun. Haggai 2:3 has reference to the simplicity of the design which was necessitated by the builders’ poverty. Ezra 3:12 f. is probably a picturesque inference from this passage. Ezra 1:6-11; Ezra 6:8 ff. are at variance with the natural meaning of Haggai’ s words. Haggai 2:5 a seems to be a mutilated and misplaced fragment. Read, “ for I am with you, and my spirit abideth among you.” “ The heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land” is an idiomatic way of saying “ the whole world,” which to Haggai meant the vast Persian empire. The “ shaking” refers to the revolts which broke out in various parts of the empire early in the reign of Darius, which Haggai expected to end in the downfall of Persia and the consequent freedom and enrichment of the Jews. Neither he nor Zechariah shows the slightest goodwill or gratitude towards Persia. The terms “ desirable things” and “ glory” denote national riches. After Haggai 2:9 the LXX has a curious addition, probably not original, which, it is supposed, corresponds to a Heb. clause meaning “ and quietness of soul to restore all the foundation, to raise up the Temple.” Its author seems rightly to have understood the address on Oct. 21 as having been delivered at the laying of the foundation stone. The date in Haggai 2:18 is probably a mistaken repetition from Haggai 2:10 and should be omitted.

Verses 10-19

Haggai 2:10-19 . Haggai’ s Sermon on Dec. 24.— Haggai bases his exhortation on a pronouncement of the priests concerning the infecting power of holiness and uncleanness respectively. In the question put to the priests, “ holiness” has its primitive sense of a physical state ( i.e. taboo); but in the argument which Haggai bases on their answer a more spiritual sense of the word is intended. “ The law” ( Haggai 2:11) is a mistranslation; render “ Ask now the priests concerning tomb.” Torah (p. 121, Deuteronomy 1:5 *, Proverbs 3:1 *) means strictly instruction as to right and wrong, and though with the definite article it may mean the instruction par excellence, viz. the Law, it never loses its more general meaning. The priests are here asked for an opinion on a hitherto undecided point. Their answer brings out clearly a principle which Haggai develops, viz. whereas indirect contact with holiness does not make holy, direct contact with uncleanness does make unclean; and therefore since the nation has so little contact with holiness, and so much with uncleanness, the whole nation is unclean and the sacrifices which are offered are similarly infected. [Or the point may be that uncleanness has an intenser energy for infection than holiness; it can operate to two removes, holiness only to one. Uncleanness may be primary in persons or things, a dead body is unclean in itself; holiness can only be secondary, since the sole source of holiness is God. See pp. 202f.— A. S. P.] But when the Temple is rebuilt— it being implied that the Temple worship will be a greater factor in the life of the community than formerly— the sanctifying influence will outweigh the defiling, and with increased holiness will come an increase in welfare. The translation of Haggai 2:15; Haggai 2:18 is misleading, since the Heb. phrase “ from this day and upward always means “ from this day forward,” as indeed it is rendered in 1 Samuel 16:13; 1 Samuel 30:25. The LXX rendering of the Heb. text unjustifiably translated “ through all that time” is “ who were ye?” We should, however, expect some such sense as “ how did ye fare?” Haggai 2:18 (except “ Consider, I pray you” ), should probably be omitted as an insertion founded on an incorrect inference from Haggai 2:10; Haggai 2:15. Haggai 2:17 is a quotation or reminiscence of Amos 4:9, probably not by Haggai himself. In Haggai 2:19 a question is out of place, a statement of fact being required; read (inserting one letter), “ Lo, the seed is still in the barn.” Haggai 2:15-19 may be paraphrased as follows: “ Take notice from this day forward, and observe how different your experiences in the future will be from those in the past. Before stone was laid on stone in the Temple ( i.e. the Temple proper as distinct from the whole sanctuary called ‘ the house’ ) you experienced disappointment; but henceforth all will be changed. At this time, mid-winter, the agricultural year is over, and agricultural operations are at a standstill. The seed to be sown is not yet taken out of the barn, and no yield of any sort is in sight. The increase in the fertility of the land which may be expected at the next ingathering will therefore have begun after the restoration of the Temple is taken in hand, and must be regarded as its direct outcome.”

Verses 20-23

Haggai 2:20-23 . A Reiteration and, Incidentally, an Explanation of the Prophecy of Oct. 21.

Haggai 2:20-21 a is an editorial addition. “ The throne of kingdoms” ( i.e. Persia) will be destroyed by internal strife, with the result that Judah will be freed, and in Zerubbabel will be seen a reversal of the woes pronounced upon his grandfather, Jehoiachin ( Jeremiah 22:24). Haggai evidently regards Zerubbabel as destined to be king.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Haggai 2". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/haggai-2.html. 1919.
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