Second Prophecy. The people,
discouraged at the inferiority of this temple to Solomon's, are
encouraged nevertheless to persevere, because God is with them, and
this house by its connection with Messiah's kingdom shall have a glory
far above that of gold and silver.
1. seventh month—of the Hebrew year; in
the second year of Darius' reign (Hag 1:1); not quite a month after they had begun
the work (Hag 1:15).
This prophecy was very shortly before that of Zechariah.
3. Who is left … that saw … first
glory—Many elders present at the laying of the foundation of
the second temple who had seen the first temple (Ezr 3:12, 13) in all its glory, wept at the
contrast presented by the rough and unpromising appearance of the
former in its beginnings. From the destruction of the first temple to
the second year of Darius Hystaspes, the date of Haggai's prophecy, was
a space of seventy years (Zec 1:12);
and to the first year of Cyrus, or the end of the captivity, fifty-two
years; so that the elders might easily remember the first temple. The
Jews note five points of inferiority: The absence from the second
temple of (1) the sacred fire; (2) the Shekinah; (3) the ark and
cherubim; (4) the Urim and Thummim; (5) the spirit of prophecy. The
connection of it with Messiah more than counterbalanced all these; for
He is the antitype to all the five (Hag 2:9).
how do ye see it now?—God's estimate
of things is very different from man's (Zec 8:6; compare 1Sa 16:7). However low their estimate of the
present temple ("it") from its outward inferiority, God holds it
superior (Zec 4:10; 1Co 1:27, 28).
4. be strong … for I am with
you—The greatest strength is to have Jehovah
with us as our strength. Not in man's "might," but in that of
God's Spirit (Zec 4:6).
5. According to the word
that—literally, "(I am with you) the word (or thing)
which I covenanted"; that is, I am with you as I covenanted with you
when ye came out of Egypt (Ex 19:5, 6; 34:10, 11). The covenant promise of God to
the elect people at Sinai is an additional motive for their
persevering. The Hebrew for to "covenant" is literally "to cut,"
alluding to the sacrificial victims cut in ratification of a
my Spirit remaineth among you—to
strengthen you for the work (Hag 1:14; Zec 4:6). The inspiration of Haggai and
Zechariah at this time was a specimen of the presence of God's
Spirit remaining still with His people, as He had been
with Moses and Israel of old (Ezr 5:1; Isa 63:11).
6. Yet once, it is a little
while—or, "(it is) yet a little while." The
Hebrew for "once" expresses the indefinite article "a" [Maurer]. Or, "it is yet only a little
while"; literally, "one little," that is, a single brief space till a
series of movements is to begin; namely, the shakings of nations soon
to begin which are to end in the advent of Messiah, "the desire of all
nations" [Moore]. The shaking of
nations implies judgments of wrath on the foes of God's people, to
precede the reign of the Prince of peace (Isa 13:13). The kingdoms of the world are but the
scaffolding for God's spiritual temple, to be thrown down when their
purpose is accomplished. The transitoriness of all that is earthly
should lead men to seek "peace" in Messiah's everlasting kingdom (Hag
2:9; Heb 12:27, 28) [Moore]. The Jews in Haggai's times hesitated
about going forward with the work, through dread of the world power,
Medo-Persia, influenced by the craft of Samaria. The prophet assures
them this and all other world powers are to fall before Messiah, who is
to be associated with this temple; therefore they need fear naught. So
12:26, which quotes this
passage; the apostle compares the heavier punishment which awaits the
disobedient under the New Testament with that which met such under the
Old Testament. At the establishment of the Sinaitic covenant, only the
earth was shaken to introduce it, but now heaven and earth and all
things are to be shaken, that is, along with prodigies in the world of
nature, all kingdoms that stand in the way of Messiah's kingdom, "which
cannot be shaken," are to be upturned (Da 2:35, 44; Mt 21:44). Heb 12:27, "Yet once more," favors
English Version. Paul condenses together the two verses of
Haggai (Hag 2:6, 7, and Hag 2:21, 22), implying that it was one and the same
shaking, of which the former verses of Haggai denote the beginning, the
latter the end. The shaking began introductory to the first advent; it
will be finished at the second. Concerning the former, compare Mt 3:17; 27:51; 28:2; Ac 2:2; 4:31; concerning the latter, Mt
24:7; Re 16:20; 18:20; 20:11
[Bengel]. There is scarcely a prophecy
of Messiah in the Old Testament which does not, to some extent at
least, refer to His second coming [Sir Isaac
Newton]. Ps 68:8
mentions the heavens dropping near the mountain (Sinai); but
Haggai speaks of the whole created heavens: "Wait only a little
while, though the promised event is not apparent yet; for soon will
God change things for the better: do not stop short with these preludes
and fix your eyes on the present state of the temple [Calvin]. God shook the heavens by the
lightnings at Sinai; the earth, that it should give forth
waters; the sea, that it should be divided asunder. In Christ's
time God shook the heaven, when He spake from it; the
earth, when it quaked; the sea, when He commanded the
winds and waves [Grotius]. Cicero records at the time of Christ the silencing
of the heathen oracles; and Dio, the
fall of the idols in the Roman capitol.
7. shake—not convert; but cause
that agitation which is to precede Messiah's coming as the healer of
the nations' agitations. The previous shaking shall cause the yearning
"desire" for the Prince of peace. Moore and others translate "the beauty," or "the
desirable things (the precious gifts) of all nations shall come" (Isa 60:5,
11; 61:6). He brings these
objections to applying "the desire of all nations" to Messiah: (1) The
Hebrew means the quality, not the thing desired,
namely, its desirableness or beauty, But the abstract is often
put for the concrete. So "a man of desires," that is, one
desired or desirable (Da 9:23; 10:11, Margin; Da 10:3, Margin). (2) Messiah was not
desired by all nations, but "a root out of a dry ground," having "no
beauty that we should desire Him" (Isa 53:2). But what is implied is not that the
nations definitely desired Him, but that He was the only one to
satisfy the yearning desires which all felt unconsciously for a
Saviour, shown in their painful rites and bloody sacrifices. Moreover,
while the Jews as a nation desired Him not (to which people Isa 53:2 refers), the Gentiles, who are
plainly pointed out by "all nations," accepted Him; and so to them He
was peculiarly desirable. (3) The verb, "shall come," is plural,
which requires the noun to be understood in the plural, whereas
if Messiah be intended, the noun is singular. But when two nouns
stand together, of which one is governed by the other, the verb agrees
sometimes in number with the latter, though it really has the
former as its nominative, that is, the Hebrew "come" is made
in number to agree with "nations," though really agreeing with
"the desire." Besides, Messiah may be described as realizing in Himself
at His coming "the desires (the noun expressing collectively the
plural) of all nations"; whence the verb is plural. So in
So 5:16, "He is altogether lovely," in the
Hebrew the same word as here, "all desires," that is,
altogether desirable, or the object of desires. (4) Hag 2:8, "The silver is mine," &c.; accords
with the translation, "the choice things of all nations" shall be
brought in. But Hag 2:8
harmonizes quite as well with English Version of Hag 2:7, as the note on eighth verse will show;
see on Hag 2:8. (5) the Septuagint and
Syriac versions agree with Moore's translation. But Vulgate confirms
English Version. So also early Jewish Rabbis before Jerome's time. Plato
[Alcibiades, 2] shows the yearning of the Gentiles after a
spiritual deliverer: "It is therefore necessary," says Alcibiades on
the subject of acceptable worship, "to wait until One teach us how we
ought to behave towards the gods and men." Alcibiades replies, "When
shall that time arrive, and who shall that Teacher be? For most glad
would I be to see such a man." The "good tidings of great joy" were "to
all people" (Lu 2:10). The
Jews, and those in the adjoining nations instructed by them, looked for
Shiloh to come unto whom the gathering of the people was to
be, from Jacob's prophecy (Ge 49:10). The early patriarchs, Job (Job
19:25-27; 33:23-26) and
Abraham (Joh 8:56),
fill this house with glory—(Hag 2:9). As the first temple was filled
with the cloud of glory, the symbol of God (1Ki 8:11; 2Ch
5:14), so this second temple
was filled with the "glory" of God (Joh 1:14) veiled in the flesh (as it were
in the cloud) at Christ's first coming, when He entered it and
performed miracles there (Mt 21:12-14); but that "glory" is to be
revealed at His second coming, as this prophecy in its ulterior
reference foretells (Mal 3:1). The
Jews before the destruction of Jerusalem all expected Messiah would
appear in the second temple. Since that time they invent various forced
and false interpretations of such plain Messianic prophecies.
8. The silver is mine—(Job 41:11; Ps
50:12). Ye are disappointed
at the absence of these precious metals in the adorning of this temple,
as compared with the first temple: If I pleased I could adorn this
temple with them, but I will adorn it with a "glory" (Hag 2:7, 9) far more precious; namely, with the
presence of My divine Son in His veiled glory first, and at His second
coming with His revealed glory, accompanied with outward adornment of
gold and silver, of which the golden covering within and without put on
by Herod is the type. Then shall the nations bring offerings of those
precious metals which ye now miss so much (Isa 2:3; 60:3, 6, 7; Eze 43:2, 4, 5; 44:4). The heavenly Jerusalem shall be
similarly adorned, but shall need "no temple" (Re 21:10-22). Compare 1Co 3:12, where gold and silver
represent the most precious things (Zec 2:5). The inward glory of New Testament
redemption far exceeds the outward glory of the Old Testament
dispensation. So, in the case of the individual poor believer, God, if
He pleased, could bestow gold and silver, but He bestows far better
treasures, the possession of which might be endangered by that of the
9. The glory of this latter house … greater
than of the former—namely, through the presence of Messiah,
in (whose) face is given the light of the knowledge of the
glory of God (2Co 4:6;
1:2), and who said of
Himself, "in this place is one greater than the temple" (Mt 12:6), and who "sat daily teaching in it"
26:55). Though Zerubbabel's
temple was taken down to the foundations when Herod rebuilt the temple,
the latter was considered, in a religious point of view, as not a
third temple, but virtually the second temple.
in this place … peace—namely, at
Jerusalem, the metropolis of the kingdom of God, whose seat was the
temple: where Messiah "made peace through the blood of His cross"
1:20). Thus the "glory"
consists in this "peace." This peace begins by the removal of the
difficulty in the way of the just God accepting the guilty (Ps 85:8, 10; Isa 9:6, 7; 53:5; Zec 6:13;
2Co 5:18, 19); then it
creates peace in the sinner's own heart (Isa 57:19; Ac 10:36; Ro 5:1; 14:17; Eph 2:13-17; Php
4:7); then peace in the whole
earth (Mic 5:5; Lu 2:14). First peace between God and man, then
between man and God, then between man and man (Isa
2:4; Ho 2:18; Zec 9:10). As
"Shiloh" (Ge 49:10)
means peace, this verse confirms the view that Hag 2:7, "the desire of all nations," refers to
Shiloh or Messiah, foretold in Ge 49:10.
Hag 2:10-19. Third
Prophecy. Sacrifices without obedience (in respect to God's
command to build the temple) could not sanctify. Now that they are
obedient, God will bless them, though no sign is seen of fertility as
10. four and twentieth day … ninth
month—three days more than two months from the second
prophecy (Hag 2:1); in
the month Chisleu, the lunar one about the time of our December. The
Jews seem to have made considerable progress in the work in the
interval (Hag 2:15-18).
11. Ask … the priests—Propose this
question to them on the law. The priests were the authorized expounders
of the law (Le 10:11; De 33:10; Eze 44:23; Mal
12. "Holy flesh" (that is, the flesh of a
sacrifice, Jer 11:15),
indeed, makes holy the "skirt" in which it is carried; but that "skirt"
cannot impart its sanctity to any thing beyond, as "bread," &c.
6:27). This is cited to
illustrate the principle, that a sacrifice, holy, as enveloping divine
things (just as the "skirt" is "holy" which envelops "holy" flesh),
cannot by its inherent or opus operatum efficacy make holy a
person whose disobedience, as that of the Jew while neglecting God's
house, made him unholy.
13. On the other hand, a legally "unclean"
person imparts his uncleanness to any thing, whereas a legally holy
thing cannot confer its sanctity on an "unclean" person (Nu 19:11, 13,
22). Legal sanctity is not so
readily communicated as legal impurity. So the paths to sin are
manifold: the paths to holiness one, and that one of difficult access
[Grotius]. One drop of filth will defile
a vase of water: many drops of water will not purity a vase of filth
14. Then answered Haggai—rather, "Then
Haggai answered (in rejoinder to the priests' answer) and said" [Maurer].
so is this people—heretofore not in
such an obedient state of mind as to deserve to be called My
1:15). Here he applies the
two cases just stated. By the first case, "this people" is not made
"holy" by their offerings "there" (namely, on the altar built in the
open air, under Cyrus, Ezr 3:3);
though the ritual sacrifice can ordinarily sanctify outwardly so far as
it reaches (Heb 9:13), as
the "holy flesh" sanctified the "skirt," yet it cannot make the
offerers in their persons and all their works acceptable to God,
because lacking the spirit of obedience (1Sa 15:22) so long as they neglected to build the
Lord's house. On the contrary, by the second case, they made "unclean"
their very offerings by being unclean through "dead works"
(disobedience), just as the person unclean by contact with a dead body
imparted his uncleanness to all that he touched (compare Heb 9:14). This all applies to them as they had
been, not as they are now that they have begun to obey; the design is
to guard them against falling back again. The "there" points to the
altar, probably in view of the audience which the prophet
15. consider—literally, "lay it to
heart." Ponder earnestly, retracing the past "upward" (that is,
backward), comparing what evils heretofore befell you before ye set
about this work, with the present time when you have again commenced
it, and when in consequence I now engage to "bless you." Hence ye may
perceive the evils of disobedience and the blessing of obedience.
16. Since those days were—from
the time that those days of your neglect of the temple work have
when one came to an heap of twenty
measures—that is, to a heap which he had expected
would be one of twenty measures, there were but ten.
fifty vessels out of the
press—As the Septuagint translates "measure," and
Vulgate "a flagon," and as we should rather expect vat
than press. Maurer translates
(omitting vessels, which is not in the original),
"purahs," or "wine-measures."
17. Appropriated from Am 4:9, whose canonicity is thus sealed by
Haggai's inspired authority; in the last clause, "turned,"
however, has to be supplied, its omission marking by the elliptical
abruptness ("yet ye not to Me!") God's displeasure. Compare "(let
him come) unto Me!" Moses in excitement omitting the bracketed
32:26). "Blasting" results
from excessive drought; "mildew, from excessive moisture.
18. Resumed from Hag 2:15 after Hag 2:16, 17, that the blessing in Hag 2:19 may stand in the more marked contrast
with the curse in Hag 2:16, 17. Affliction will harden the heart, if
not referred to God as its author [Moore].
even from the day that the foundation of
… temple was laid—The first foundation beneath the
earth had been long ago laid in the second year of Cyrus, 535 B.C. (Ezr 3:10, 11); the foundation now laid was the
secondary one, which, above the earth, was laid on the previous work
[Tirinus]. Or, translate, "From this day
on which the temple is being begun," namely, on the foundations long
ago laid [Grotius]. Maurer translates, "Consider … from the four
and twentieth day … to (the time which has elapsed) from
the day on which the foundation … was laid." The Hebrew
supports English Version.
19. Is the seed yet in the
barn?—implying, It is not. It has been already sown
this month, and there are no more signs of its bearing a good crop,
much less of its being safely stored in the barn, than there
were in the past season, when there was such a failure; yet I promise
to you from this day (emphatically marking by the repetition the
connection of the blessing with the day of their obedience) a
blessing in an abundant harvest. So also the vine, &c.,
which heretofore have borne little or nothing, shall be blessed
with productiveness. Thus it will be made evident that the blessing is
due to Me, not to nature. We may trust God's promise to bless us,
though we see no visible sign of its fulfilment (Hab 2:3).
Hag 2:20-23. Fourth
Prophecy. God's promise through Zerubbabel to Israel of
safety in the coming commotions.
20. the month—the ninth in the second
year of Darius. The same date as Prophecy III (Hag 2:10).
21. to Zerubbabel—Perhaps Zerubbabel had
asked as to the convulsions foretold (Hag 2:6, 7). This is the reply: The Jews had been
led to fear that these convulsions would destroy their national
existence. Zerubbabel, therefore, as their civil leader and
representative is addressed, not Joshua, their religious leader.
Messiah is the antitypical Zerubbabel, their national Representative
and King, with whom God the Father makes the covenant wherein they, as
identified with Him, are assured of safety in God's electing love
(compare Hag 2:23,
"will make thee as a signet"; "I have chosen thee").
shake … heavens—(see on Hag 2:6, 7); violent political convulsions accompanied
with physical prodigies (Mt 24:7, 29).
22. All other world kingdoms are to be
overthrown to make way for Christ's universal kingdom (Da 2:44). War chariots are to give place to His
reign of peace (Mic 5:10; Zec 9:10).
23. take thee—under My protection and to
promote thee and thy people to honor (Ps 78:70).
a signet—(So 8:6; Jer
22:24). A ring with a seal on
it; the legal representative of the owner; generally of precious stones
and gold, &c., and much valued. Being worn on the finger, it was an
object of constant regard. In all which points of view the theocratic
people, and their representative, Zerubbabel the type, and Messiah his
descendant the Antitype, are regarded by God. The safety of Israel to
the end is guaranteed in Messiah, in whom God hath chosen them as His
own (Isa 42:1; 43:10; 44:1; 49:3). So the spiritual Israel is sealed in
their covenant head by His Spirit (2Co 1:20, 22; Eph 1:4,
13, 14). All is ascribed, not
to the merits of Zerubbabel, but to God's gratuitous choice.
Christ is the "signet" on God's hand: always in the Father's presence,
ever pleasing in his sight. The signet of an Eastern monarch was the
sign of delegated authority; so Christ (Mt 28:18;
Joh 5:22, 23).