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The Command to Rebuild the Temple
In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 2Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house. 3Then the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: 4Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5Now therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared. 6You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes.
7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared. 8Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. 9You have looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the Lord of hosts. Because my house lies in ruins, while all of you hurry off to your own houses. 10Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the soil produces, on human beings and animals, and on all their labors.
12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of the prophet Haggai, as the Lord their God had sent him; and the people feared the Lord. 13Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, saying, I am with you, says the Lord. 14And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, 15on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month.
Hag 1:1-15. Haggai Calls the People to Consider Their Ways in Neglecting to Build God's House: The Evil of This Neglect to Themselves: The Honor to God of Attending to It: The People's Penitent Obedience under Zerubbabel Followed by God's Gracious Assurance.
1. second year of Darius—Hystaspes, the king of Medo-Persia, the second of the world empires, Babylon having been overthrown by the Persian Cyrus. The Jews having no king of their own, dated by the reign of the world kings to whom they were subject. Darius was a common name of the Persian kings, as Pharaoh of those of Egypt, and Cæsar of those of Rome. The name in the cuneiform inscriptions at Persepolis is written Daryawus, from the root Darh, "to preserve," the Conservator [Lassen]. Herodotus [6.98] explains it Coercer. Often opposite attributes are assigned to the same god; in which light the Persians viewed their king. Ezr 4:24 harmonizes with Haggai in making this year the date of the resumption of the building.
the Lord—Hebrew, Jehovah: God's covenant title, implying His unchangeableness, the guarantee of His faithfulness in keeping His promises to His people.
Zerubbabel—called also Shesh-bazzar in Ezr 1:8; 5:14, 16, where the same work is attributed to Shesh-bazzar that in Ezr 3:8 is attributed to Zerubbabel. Shesh-bazzar is probably his Chaldean name; as Belteshazzar was that of Daniel. Zerubbabel, his Hebrew name, means "one born in Babylon."
governor of Judah—to which office Cyrus had appointed him. The Hebrew Pechah is akin to the original of the modern Turkish Pasha; one ruling a region of the Persian empire of less extent than that under a satrap.
Josedech—or Jehozadak (1Ch 6:15), one of those carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar. Haggai addresses the civil and the religious representatives of the people, so as to have them as his associates in giving God's commands; thus priest, prophet, and ruler jointly testify in God's name.
2. the Lord of hosts—Jehovah, Lord of the powers of heaven and earth, and therefore requiring implicit obedience.
This people—"This" sluggish and selfish "people." He does not say, My people, since they had neglected the service of God.
The time—the proper time for building the temple. Two out of the seventy predicted years of captivity (dating from the destruction of the temple, 558 B.C., 2Ki 25:9) were yet unexpired; this they make their plea for delay [Henderson]. The seventy years of captivity were completed long ago in the first year of Cyrus, 536 B.C. (Jer 29:10); dating from 606 B.C., Jehoiakim's captivity (2Ch 36:6). The seventy years to the completion of the temple (Jer 25:12) were completed this very year, the second of Darius [Vatablus]. Ingenious in excuses, they pretended that the interruption in the work caused by their enemies proved it was not yet the proper time; whereas their real motive was selfish dislike of the trouble, expense, and danger from enemies. "God," say they, "hath interposed many difficulties to punish our rash haste" [Calvin]. Smerdis' interdict was no longer in force, now that Darius the rightful king was on the throne; therefore they had no real excuse for not beginning at once to build. Auberlen denies that by "Artaxerxes" in Ezr 4:7-22 is meant Smerdis. Whether Smerdis or Artaxerxes Longimanus be meant, the interdict referred only to the rebuilding of the city, which the Persian kings feared might, if rebuilt, cause them trouble to subdue; not to the rebuilding of the temple. But the Jews were easily turned aside from the work. Spiritually, like the Jews, men do not say they will never be religious, but, It is not time yet. So the great work of life is left undone.
4. Is it time—It is not time (Hag 1:2), ye say, to build Jehovah's house; yet how is it that ye make it a fit time not only to build, but to "dwell" at ease in your own houses?
you, O ye—rather, for "you, you"; the repetition marking the shameful contrast between their concern for themselves, and their unconcern for God [Maurer]. Compare a similar repetition in 1Sa 25:24; Zec 7:5.
ceiled—rather, "wainscoted," or "paneled," referring to the walls as well as the ceilings; furnished not only with comfort but luxury, in sad contrast to God's house not merely unadorned, but the very walls not raised above the foundations. How different David's feelings (2Sa 7:2)!
5. Consider your ways—literally, "Set your heart" on your ways. The plural implies, Consider both what ye have done (actively, La 3:40) and what ye have suffered (passively) [Jerome]. Ponder earnestly whether ye have gained by seeking self at the sacrifice of God.
6. Nothing has prospered with you while you neglected your duty to God. The punishment corresponds to the sin. They thought to escape poverty by not building, but keeping their money to themselves; God brought it on them for not building (Pr 13:7; 11:24; Mt 6:33). Instead of cheating God, they had been only cheating themselves.
ye clothe … but … none warm—through insufficiency of clothing; as ye are unable through poverty from failure of your crops to purchase sufficient clothing. The verbs are infinitive, implying a continued state: "Ye have sown, and been bringing in but little; ye have been eating, but not to being satisfied; ye have been drinking, but not to being filled; ye have been putting on clothes, but not to being warmed" [Moore]. Careful consideration of God's dealings with us will indicate God's will regarding us. The events of life are the hieroglyphics in which God records His feelings towards us, the key to which is found in the Bible [Moore].
wages … put … into a bag with holes—proverbial for labor and money spent profitlessly (Zec 8:10; compare Isa 55:2; Jer 2:13). Contrast, spiritually, the "bags that wax not old, the treasure in heaven that faileth not" (Lu 12:33). Through the high cost of necessaries, those who wrought for a day's wages parted with them at once, as if they had put them into a bag with holes.
8. Go up to the mountain—Moriah [Rosenmuller]; Lebanon [Henderson]. Rather, generally, the mountains around, now covered with wood, the growth of the long period of the captivity. So Ne 8:15, "Go forth unto the mount," that is, the neighboring hills [Maurer].
wood—Haggai specifies this as being the first necessary; not to the exclusion of other materials. Stones also were doubtless needed. That the old walls were not standing, as the Hebrew interpreters quoted by Jerome state, or the new walls partly built, appears from Hag 2:18, where express mention is made of laying the foundations.
I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified—I will be propitious to suppliants in it (1Ki 8:30), and shall receive the honor due to Me which has been withheld. In neglecting the temple, which is the mirror of My presence, ye dishonor Me [Calvin]; in its being built, ye shall glorify Me.
9. Ye looked for much—literally, "looked" so as to turn your eyes "to much." The Hebrew infinitive here expresses continued looking. Ye hoped to have your store made "much" by neglecting the temple. The greater was your greediness, the more bitter your disappointment in being poorer than ever.
when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it—even the little crop brought into your barns I dissipated. "I did blow upon," that is, I scattered and caused to perish with My mere breath, as scattered and blighted corn.
mine house … his own house—in emphatic antithesis.
10. heaven … is stayed from dew—literally, "stays itself." Thus heaven or the sky is personified; implying that inanimate nature obeys Jehovah's will; and, shocked at His people's disobedience, withholds its goods from them (compare Jer 2:12, 13).
11. I called—what the "heaven" and "earth," the second causes, were said to do (Hag 1:10), being the visible instruments, Jehovah, in this verse, the invisible first cause, declares to be His doing. He "calls for" famine, &c., as instruments of His wrath (2Ki 8:1; Ps 105:16). The contrast is striking between the prompt obedience of these material agencies, and the slothful disobedience of living men, His people.
drought—Hebrew, Choreb, like in sound to Chareeb, "waste" (Hag 1:4, 9), said of God's house; implying the correspondence between the sin and its punishment. Ye have let My house be waste, and I will send on all that is yours a wasting drought. This would affect not merely the "corn," &c., but also "men" and "cattle," who must perish in the absence of the "corn," &c., lost by the drought.
12. remnant of the people—all those who have returned from the exile (Zec 8:6).
as … God sent him—according to all that Jehovah had enjoined him to speak. But as it is not till Hag 1:14 after Haggai's second message (Hag 1:13) that the people actually obeyed, Maurer translates here, "hearkened to the voice of the Lord," and instead of "as," "because the Lord had sent him." However, English Version rightly represents their purpose of obedience as obedience in God's eyes already, though not carried into effect till Hag 1:14.
in the Lord's message—by the Lord's authority and commission: on the Lord's embassage.
I am with you—(Mt 28:20). On the people showing the mere disposition to obey, even before they actually set to work, God passes at once from the reproving tone to that of tenderness. He hastens as it were to forget their former unfaithfulness, and to assure them, when obedient, that He both is and will be with them: Hebrew, "I with you!" God's presence is the best of blessings, for it includes all others. This is the sure guarantee of their success no matter how many their foes might be (Ro 8:31). Nothing more inspirits men and rouses them from torpor, than, when relying on the promises of divine aid, they have a sure hope of a successful issue [Calvin].
14. Lord stirred up the spirit of, &c.—God gave them alacrity and perseverance in the good work, though slothful in themselves. Every good impulse and revival of religion is the direct work of God by His Spirit.
came and did work—collected the wood and stones and other materials (compare Hag 1:8) for the work. Not actually built or "laid the (secondary) foundations" of the temple, for this was not done till three months after, namely, the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (Hag 2:18) [Grotius].
15. four and twentieth day—twenty-three days after the first message of Haggai (Hag 1:1).