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Bible Commentaries
Haggai 2

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month - This was the seventh day of the feast of tabernacles, Leviticus 23:34, Leviticus 23:36, Leviticus 23:40-42. and its close. The eighth day was to be a sabbath, with its “holy convocation,” but the commemorative feast, the dwelling in booths, in memory of God’s bringing them out of Egypt, was to last seven days. The close then of this feast could not but revive their sadness at the glories of their first deliverance by God’s “mighly hand and outstretched arm,” and their present fewness and poverty. This depression could not but bring with it heavy thoughts about the work, in which they were, in obedience to God, engaged; and that, all the more, since Isaiah and Ezekiel had prophesied of the glories of the Christian Church under the symbol of the temple. This despondency Haggai is sent to relieve, owning plainly the reality of its present grounds, but renewing, on God’s part, the pledge of the glories of this second temple, which should be thereafter.

Verse 3

Who is left among you? - The question implies that there were those among them, who had seen the first house in its glory, yet but few. When the foundations of the first temple were laid, there were many Ezra 3:12. “Many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundations of this house were laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice.” Fifty-nine years had elapsed from the destruction of the temple in the eleventh year of Zedekiah to the first of Cyrus; so that old men of seventy years had seen the first temple, when themselves eleven years old. In this second of Darius seventy years had passed, so that those of 78 or 80 years might still well remember it. Ezra’s father, Seraiah, was slain in the eleventh year of Zedekiah; so he must have been born at latest a few months later; yet he lived to the second of Artaxerxes.

Is not such as it is as nothing? - o Beside the richness of the sculptures in the former temple, everything, which admitted of it, was overlaid with gold 1 Kings 6:22, 1 Kings 6:28, 1 Kings 6:30, 1 Kings 6:32, 1 Kings 6:35, “Solomon overlaid the whole house with gold, until he had finished all the house, the whole altar by the oracle, the two cherubim, the floor of the house, the doors of the holy of holies” and the ornaments of it, “the cherubims thereon” and “the palm trees he covered with gold fitted upon the carved work 1 Kings 7:48-50, the altar of gold and the table of gold, whereupon the showbread was, the ten candlesticks of pure gold, with the flowers and the lamps and the tongs of gold, the bowls, the snuffers and the basons and the spoons and the censers of pure gold, and hinges of pure gold for all the doors of the temple 2 Chronicles 3:4-9. The porch that was in the front of the house, twenty cubits broad and 120 cubits high, was overlaid within with pure gold;” the house glistened with precious stones; and the gold (it is added) was “gold of Parvaim,” a land distant of course and unknown to us. “Six hundred talents of gold” (about 4,320,000 British pounds were employed in overlaying the holy of holies. “The upper chambers were also of gold; the weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold.”

Verse 4

Yet now be strong ... and work - They are the words with which David exhorted Solomon his son to be earnest and to persevere in the building of the first temple 1 Chronicles 28:10. “Take heed now, for the Lord hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong and do” 1 Chronicles 28:20. “Be strong and of good courage, and do.” This combination of words occurs once only elsewhere 2 Chronicles 19:11, in Jehoshaphat’s exhortation to “the 2 Chronicles 19:8. Levites and priests and chiefs of the fathers of Israel,” whom he had set as judges in Jerusalem. Haggai seems then to have adopted the words, with the purpose of suggesting to the down-hearted people, that there was need of the like exhortation, in view of the building of the former temple, whose relative glory so depressed them. The word “be strong” (elsewhere rendered, “be of good courage”) occurs commonly in exhortations to persevere and hold fast, amid whatever obstacles. .

Verse 5

The words which I covenanted - The words stand more forcibly, because abruptly.

It is an exclamation which cannot be forced into any grammatical relation with the preceding. The more exact idiom would have been “Remember,” “take to heart.” But the prophet points to it the more energetically, because he casts it, as it were, into the midst, not bound up with any one verb. This would be the rather done in speaking to the people, as David to his followers (1 Samuel 30:23, which Ewald compares, Lehrb. n. 329. a. p. 811, Exodus 8:0. and in his Die Proph. iii. 183. Only he, not very intelligibly, makes it a sort of oath, By the word, By that which the Lord hath given us. But he suggests the like broken sentence Zech. vii. 7), “That which the Lord hath given us and hath preserved us and given the company against us into our hands!” i. e., “Would you deal thus with it?” The abrupt form rejects it as shocking. So here, “The word which I covenanted with you,” i. e. this, “I will be with you,” was the central all-containing promise, to which God pledged Himself when He brought them out of Egypt. He speaks to them as being one with those who came up out of Egypt, as if they were the very persons. The Church, ever varying in the individuals of whom it is composed, is, throughout all ages, in God’s sight, one; His promises to the fathers are made to the children in them. So the Psalmist says, “There” (at the dividing of the Red Sea and the Jordan) “do we rejoice in Him,” as if present there; and our Lord promises to the Apostles, Matthew 28:20. “I am with you always even to the end of the world,” by an ever-present presence with them and His Church founded by them in Him.

My Spirit abideth among you, - as the Psalmist says Psalms 102:27, “they (the heavens) perish and Thou abidest” Psalms 33:11, “The counsel of the Lord standeth forever” Psalms 111:3, “His righteousness endureth forever.” The Spirit of God is God the Holy Spirit, with His manifold gifts. Where He is, is all good. As the soul is in the body, so God the Holy Spirit is in the Church, Himself its life, and bestowing on all and each every good gift, as each and all have need. As Paul says of the Church of Christ 1 Corinthians 12:4, 1 Corinthians 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:11, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God, who worketh all in all. All these worketh one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.” But above and beyond all gifts He is present as the Spirit of holiness and love, making the Church and those in whom He individually dwells, acceptable to God. Special applications, such as “the Spirit of wisdom and might;” a spirit such as He gave to Moses to judge His people; the spirit of prophecy; or the spirit given to Bezaleel and Aholiab for the work of the sanctuary - these recognize in detail the one great truth, that all good, all wisdom, from least to greatest, comes from God the Holy Spirit; though one by one they would exclude more truth than they each contain.

Verse 6

Yet once, it is a little while - This, the rendering of Paul to the Hebrews, is alone grammatical . “Yet once.” By the word yet he looks back to the first great shaking of the moral world, when God’s revelation by Moses and to His people broke upon the darkness of the pagan world, to be a monument against pagan error until Christ should come; once looks on, and conveys that God would again shake the world, but once only, under the one dispensation of the Gospel, which should endure to the end.

It is a little while - o “The 517 years, which were to elapse to the birth of Christ, are called a little time, because to the prophets, ascending in heart to God and the eternity of God, all times, like all things of this world, seem, as they are, only a little thing, yea a mere point;” which has neither length nor breadth. So John calls the time of the new law, “the last hour” 1 John 2:18, “Little children, it is the last hour.” It was little also in respect to the time, which had elapsed from the fall of Adam, upon which God promised the Saviour Christ Genesis 3:15, little also in respect to the Christian law, which has now lasted above 1,800 years, and the time of the end does not seem yet near.

I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land - It is one universal shaking of all this our world and the heavens over it, of which the prophet speaks. He does not speak only of Luke 21:25 “signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars,” which might be, and yet the frame of the world itself might remain. It is a shaking, such as would involve the dissolution of this our system, as Paul draws out its meaning; Hebrews 12:27. “This word, once more, signifieth the removing of the things that are shaken, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” Prophecy, in its long perspective, uses a continual foreshortening, speaking of things in relation to their eternal meaning and significance, as to that which shall survive, when heaven and earth and even time shall have passed away. It blends together the beginning and the earthly end; the preparation and the result; the commencement of redemption and its completion; our Lord’s coming in humility and in His Majesty. Scarcely any prophet but exhibits things in their intrinsic relation, of which time is but an accident.

It is the rule, not the exception. The Seed of the woman, who should bruise the serpent’s head, was promised on the fall: to Abraham, the blessing through his seed; by Moses, the prophet like unto him; to David, an everlasting covenant 2 Samuel 23:5. Joel unites the out-pouring of the Spirit of God on the Day of Pentecost, and the hatred of the world until the Day of Judgment Joel 2:28-32; Joel 3:0. Isaiah, God’s judgments on the land and the Day of final judgment Isaiah 24:0, the deliverance from Babylon, and the first coming of Christ Isa. 40–66, the glories of the Church, the new heavens and the new earth which shall remain forever, and the unquenched fire and undying worm of the lost Isaiah 66:22-24, Daniel, the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes, of Anti-Christ, and the Resurrection; Dan. 11–12. Obadiah, the punishment of Edom and the everlasting kingdom of God; Obadiah 1:18-21. Zephaniah, the punishment of Judah and the final judgment of the earth . Malachi, our Lord’s first and second coming Malachi 3:1-5, Malachi 3:17-18; Malachi 4:1-6.

Nay, our Lord Himself so blends together the destruction of Jerusalem and the days of Anti-Christ and the end of the world, that it is difficult to separate them, so as to say what belongs exclusively to either The prophecy is an answer to two distinct questions of the Apostles,

(1) “When shall these things (namely, the destruction of the temple) be?”

(2) “And what shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world?” Our Lord answers the two questions in one. Some things seem to belong to the first coming, as Matthew 24:15-16, “the abomination of desolation spoke of by Daniel,” and the flight from Matthew 24:24 “Judea into the mountains.” But the exceeding deceivableness is authoritatively interpreted by Paul 2 Thes Matthew 5:2-10. of a distant time; and our Lord Himself, having said that “all these things,” of which the Apostles had inquired, should take place in that generation Mark 13:30 speaks of His absence as of a man taking a far journey Mark 13:3, and says that “not the angels in heaven knew that hour, neither the Son Mark 13:32, which precludes the idea, that He had just before declared that the whole would take place in that generation. For this would be to make out, that He declared that the Son knew not the hour of His Coming, which He had just (on this supposition) declared to be in that generation.

So then, here. There was a general shaking upon earth before our Lord came. Empires rose and fell. The Persian fell before Alexander’s; Alexander’s world-empire was ended by his sudden death in youth; of his four successors, two only continued, and they too fell before the Romans; then were the Roman civil wars, until, under Augustus, the temple of Janus was shut. “For it greatly beseemed a work ordered by God, that many kingdoms should be confederated in one empire, and that the universal preaching might find the peoples easily accessible who were held under the rule of one state.” In the heavens was the star, which led the wise men, the manifestation of Angels to the shepherds; the preternatural darkness at the Passion; the Ascension into the highest heaven, and the descent of the Holy Spirit with Acts 2:2, “a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind.” “God had moved them (heaven and earth) before, when He delivered the people from Egypt, when there was in heaven a column of fire, dry ground amid the waves, a wall in the sea, a path in the waters, in the wilderness there was multiplied a daily harvest of heavenly food (the manna), the rock gushed into fountains of waters. But He moved it afterward also in the Passion of the Lord Jesus, when the heaven was darkened, the sun shrank back, the rocks were rent. the graves opened, the dead were raised, the dragon, conquered in his waters, saw the fishers of men, not only sailing in the sea, but also walking without peril. The dry ground also was moved, when the unfruitful people of the nations began to ripen to a harvest of devotion and faith - so that “more were the children of the forsaken, than of her which had a husband,” and Isaiah 35:1. “the desert flourished like a lily” . “He moved earth in that great miracle of the birth from the Virgin: He moved the sea and dry land, when in the islands and in the whole world Christ is preached. So we see all nations moved to the faith.”

And yet, whatever preludes of fulfillment there were at our Lord’s first coming, they were as nothing to the fulfillment which we look for in the second, “when Isaiah 24:19-20 the earth shall be utterly broken down; the earth, clean dissolved; the earth, moved exceedingly; the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a hanging-cot in a vineyard and the transgression thereof is heavy upon it; and it shall fall and not rise again;” whereon follows an announcement of the final judgment of men and angels, and the everlasting kingdom of the blessed in the presence of God.

Of that “day of the Lord,” Peter uses our Lord’s image, Matthew 24:43. that it shall 2 Peter 3:10. come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works therein shall be burned up.”

Verse 7

And the desire of all nations shall come - The words can only mean this, the central longing of all nations

He whom they longed for, either through the knowledge of Him spread by the Jews in their dispersion, or mutely by the aching craving of the human heart, longing for the restoration from its decay. “The earnest expectation of the creature” did not begin with the Coming of Christ, nor was it limited to those, who actually came to Him Romans 8:19-22. “The whole creation,” Paul saith, “groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” It was enslaved, and the better self longed to be free; every motion of grace in the multitudinous heart of man was a longing for its Deliverer; every weariness of what it was, every fleeting vision of what was better, every sigh from out of its manifold ills, were notes of the one varied cry, “Come and help us.” Man’s heart, formed in the image of God, could not but ache to be reformed by and for Him, though “an unknown God,” who should reform it.

This longing increased as the time drew near, when Christ should come. The Roman biographer attests the existence of this expectation, not among the Jews only, but in the East ; this was quickened doubtless among the pagan by the Jewish Sibylline book, in that, amid the expectations of one sent from heaven, who should found a kingdom of righteousness, which the writer drew from the Hebrew prophets, he inserted denunciations of temporal vengeance upon the Romans, which Easterns would share. Still, although written 170 years before our Lord came , it had not apparently much effect until the time, when, from the prophecies of Daniel it was clear, that He must shortly come . Yet the attempt of the Jewish and pagan historian to wrest it to Vespasian, shows how great must have been the influence of the expectation, which they attempted to turn aside.

The Jews, who rejected our Lord whom Haggai predicted, still were convinced that the prediction must be fulfilled before the destruction of the second temple. The impulse did not cease even after its destruction. R. Akiba, whom they accounted “the first oracle of his time, the first and greatest guardian of the tradition and old law,” of whom they said, that “God revealed to him things unknown to Moses,” was induced by this prophecy to acknowledge the impostor Bar-cochab, to the destruction of himself and of the most eminent of his time; fulfilling our Lord’s words John 5:43, “I am come in My fathers name, and ye receive Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.”

Akiba, following the traditional meaning of the great prophecy which rivetted his own eyes, paraphrased the words, “Yet a little, a little of the kingdom, will I give to Israel upon the destruction of the first house, and after the kingdom, lo! I will shake heaven, and after that will come the Messiah.”

Since the words can only mean “the Desire of all nations,” he or that which all nations long for, the construction of the words does not affect the meaning. Herod doubtless thought to advance his own claims on the Jewish people by his material adorning of the temple; yet, although mankind do covet gold and silver, few could seriously think that, while a pagan immoral but observant poet could speak of “gold undiscovered and so better placed,” or our own of the “pale and common drudge ‘Tween man and man,” a Hebrew prophet could recognize gold and silver as “the desire of all nations.” Rabbi Akiba and Jerome’s Jewish teachers, after our Lord came, felt no difficulty in understanding it of a person. We cannot in English express the delicacy of the phrase, whereby manifoldness is combined in unity, the Object of desire containing in itself many objects of desire.

To render “the desire of all nations” or “the desires of all nations” alike fail to do this. A great pagan master of language said to his wife, “fare you well, my longings,” i. e., I suppose, if he had analyzed his feelings, he meant that she manifoldly met the longings of his heart; she had in herself manifold gifts to content them. So Paul sums up all the truths and gifts of the Gospel, all which God shadowed out in the law and had given us in Christ, under the name of “the good things to come.” A pious modern writer speaks of “the unseen desirables of the spiritual world.” A psalmist expresses at once the collective, “God’s Word” and the “words” contained in it, by an idiom like Haggai’s, joining the feminine singular as a collective with the plural verb; “How sweet are Thy word unto my taste,” literally “palate.”

It is God’s word, at once collectively and individually, which was to the Psalmist so sweet. What was true of the whole, was true, one by one, of each part; what was true of each part, was true of the whole. So here, the object of this longing was manifold, but met in one, was concentrated in One, 1 Corinthians 1:30. “in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” That which the whole world sighed and mourned for, knowingly or unknowingly, light to disperse its darkness, liberty from its spiritual slavery, restoration from its degradation, could not come to us without some one, who should impart it to us.

But if Jesus was “the longed-for of the nations” before He came, by that mute longing of need for that which it wants (as the parched ground thirsteth for the rain how much more afterward! So Micah and Isaiah describe many peoples inviting one another Micah 4:2; Isaiah 2:3. “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.” And in truth He became the “desire of the nations,” much more than of the Jews; as, Paul says, (Romans 10:19-20; quoting Deuteronomy 32:21.Isaiah 65:2.) God foretold of old; “Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are not a people: by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold and saith, I was found of them that sought Me not.”

So until now and in eternity, “Christ is the longing of all holy souls, who long for nothing else, than to please Him, daily to love Him more, to worship Him better. So John longed for Him; “Come, Lord Jesus Revelation 22:20. So Isaiah Isaiah 26:8-9, “The desire of our soul is to Thy Name and to the remembrance of Thee: with my soul have I desired Thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me, will I seek Thee early.” So Ignatius, “Let fire, cross, troops of wild beasts, dissections, rendings, scattering of bones, mincing of limbs, grindings of the whole body, ill tortures of the devil come upon me, only may I gain Jesus Christ. - I seek Him Who for us died; I long for Him Who for us rose.”

“Hungerest thou and desirest food? Long for Jesus! He is the bread and refreshment of Angels. He is manna, “containing in Him all sweetness and pleasurable delight.” Thirstest thou? Long for Jesus! He is the well of “living water,” refreshing, so that thou shouldest thirst no more. Art thou sick? Go to Jesus. He is the Saviour, the physician, nay, salvation itself. Art thou dying? Sigh for Jesus! He is “the resurrection and the life.” Art thou perplexed? Come to Jesus! He is “the Angel of great counsel.” Art thou ignorant and erring? Ask Jesus; He is “the way, the truth and the life.” Art thou a sinner? Call on Jesus! For “He shall save His people from their sins.” To this end He came into the world: “This is all His fruit, to take away sin.” Art thou tempted by pride, gluttony, lust, sloth? Call on Jesus! He is humility, soberness, chastity, love, fervor: “He bare our infirmities, and carried,” yea still beareth and carrieth, “our griefs.”

Seekest thou beauty? He is “fairer than the children of men.” Seekest thou wealth? In Him are “all treasures,” yea in Him “the fullness of the Godhead dwelleth.” Art thou ambitious of honors? “Glory and riches are in His house.” “He is the King of glory.” Seekest thou a friend? He hath the greatest love for thee, who for love of thee came down from heaven, toiled, endured the Sweat of Blood, the Cross and Death; He prayed for thee by name in the garden, and poured forth tears of Blood! Seekest thou wisdom? He is the Eternal and Uncreated Wisdom of the Father! Wishest thou for consolation and joy? He is the sweetness of souls, the joy and jubilee of Angels. Wishest thou for righteousness and holiness? He is “the Holy of holies;” He “is everlasting Righteousness,” justifying and sanctifying all who believe and hope in Him. Wishest thou for a blissful life? He is “life eternal,” the bliss of the saints. Long then for Him, love Him, sigh for Him! In Him thou wilt find all good; out of Him, all evil, all misery. Say then with Francis, ‘My Jesus, my love and my all!’ O Good Jesus, burst the cataract of Thy love, that its streams, yea seas, may flow down upon us, yea, inebriate and overwhelm us.”

And I will fill this house with glory - The glory then was not to be anything, which came from man, but directly from God. It was the received expression of God’s manifestation of Himself in the tabernacle Exodus 40:34-35. in Soloman’s temple, 1Ki 8:11; 2 Chronicles 5:14; 2 Chronicles 7:1-12, and of the ideal temple Ezekiel 43:5; Ezekiel 44:4. which Ezekiel saw, after the likeness of that of Solomon, that “the glory of the Lord filled the house.” When then of this second temple God uses the self-same words, that He will “fill it with glory,” with what other glory should He fill it than His own? In the history it is said, “the glory of the Lord filled the temple;” for there man relates what God did. Here it is God Himself who speaks; so He says not, “the glory of the Lord,” but, “I will fill the house with glory,” glory which was His to give, which came from Himself. To interpret that glory of anything material, is to do violence to language, to force on words of Scripture an unworthy sense, which they refuse to bear.

The gold upon the walls, even had the second temple been adorned like the first did not fill the temple of Solomon. However richly any building might be overlaid with gold, no one could say that it is filled with it. A building is filled with what it contains; a mint or treasure-house may be filled with gold: the temple of God was “filled,” we are told, with “the glory of the Lord.” His creatures bring Him such things as they can offer; they bring Isaiah 60:6 “gold and incense;” they Psalms 72:10 “bring presents” and “offer gifts;” they do it, moved by His Spirit, as acceptable to Him. God was never said to give these offerings to Himself.

Verse 8

The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine - These words, which have occasioned some to think, that God, in speaking of the glory with which He should fill the house, meant our material riches, suggest the contrary. For silver was no ornament of the temple of Solomon. Everything was overlaid with gold. In the tabernacle there were bowls of silver, in Soloman’s temple they and all were of gold 1Ki 7:50; 2 Chronicles 4:8. Silver, we are expressly told, “was nothing accounted of 1 Kings 10:21 in the days of Solomon: he 1 Kings 10:27. made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones - for abundance.” Rather, as God says by the Psalmist Psalms 50:10-12, “Every beast of the forest is Mine, so are the cattle upon a thousand hills: I know all the fowls of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine and the fullness thereof:” so here He tells them, that for the glory of His house He needed not gold or silver: for all the wealth of the world is His. They had no ground “to grieve then, that they could not equal the magnificence of Solomon who had abundance of gold and silver.” All was God’s. He would fill it with divine glory. The Desire of all nations, Christ, should come, and be a glory, to which all created glory is nothing.

“God says really and truly, that the silver and gold is His, which in utmost bounty He created, and in His most just government administers, so that, without His will and dominion, neither can the bad have gold and silver for the punishment of avarice, nor the good for the use of mercy. Its abundance does not inflate the good, nor its want crush them: but the bad, when bestowed, it blinds: when taken away, it tortures.”

“It is as if He would say, Think not the temple inglorious, because, may be, it will have no portion of gold or silver, and their splendor. I need not such things. How should I? “For Mine is the silver and Mine the gold, saith the Lord Almighty.” I seek rather true worshipers: with their brightness will I guild this temple. Let him come who hath right faith, is adorned by graces, gleams with love for Me, is pure in heart, poor in spirit, compassionate and good.” “These make the temple, i. e., the Church, glorious and renowned, being glorified by Christ. For they have learned to pray, Psalms 90:17. “The glory of the Lord our God be upon us.”

Verse 9

The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former - or, perhaps, more probably, “the later glory of this house shall be greater than the former;” for he had already spoken of the present temple, as identical with that before the captivity . “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory, anti how do you see it now?” He had spoken of its “first glory.” Now he says, in contrast, its later glory should be greater than that of its most glorious times. In this case the question, whether the temple of tiered was a different material building from that of Zerubbabel, falls away.

In either case, the contrast is between two things, either the temple in that its former estate, and this its latter estate after the captivity, or the two temples of Solomon and Zerubbabel. There is no room for a third temple. God holds out no vain hopes. To comfort those distressed by the poverty of the house of God which they were building, God promises a glory to this house greater than before. A temple, erected, after this had lain waste above 1800 years, even if Antichrist were to come now and to erect a temple at Jerusalem, could be no fulfillment of this prophecy.

In material magnificence the temple of Solomon, built and adorned with all the treasures accumulated by David and enlarged by Solomon, far surpassed all which Herod, amid his attempts to give a material meaning to the prophecy, could do. His attempt shows how the eyes of the Jews were fixed on this prophecy, then when it was about to be fulfilled. While taking pains, through the gradualness of his rebuilding, to preserve the identity of the fabric, he lavished his wealth, to draw off their thoughts from the king, whom the Jews looked for, to himself. The friendship of the Romans who were lords of all, was to replace the “all nations,” of whom Haggai spoke; he pointed also to the length of peace, the possession of wealth, the greatness of revenues, the surpassing expenditure beyond those before. A small section of Erastians admitted these claims of the murderer of his sons.

The Jews generally were not diverted from looking on to Him who should come. Those five things, the absence whereof they felt, were connected with their atoning worhip or God’s presence among them; “the ark with the mercy-seat and the cherubim, the Urim and Tummin, the fire from heaven, the Shechinah, the Holy Spirit.” Material magnificence could not replace spiritual glory. The explanations of the great Jewish authorities, that the second temple was superior to the first in structure (which was untrue) or in duration, were laid aside by Jews who had any other solution wherewith to satisfy themselves. “The Shechinah and the five precious things,” says one, “which, according to our wise of blessed memory, were in it, and not in the second house, raised and exalted it beyond compare.” Another says, “When Haggai saith, ‘greater shall be the glory of this later house than the first,’ how is it; that the house which Zerubbabel built through the income which the king of Persia gave them was more glorious than the house which Solomon built? And though it is said that the building which Herod made, was exceeding beautiful and rich, we should not think that it was in its beauty like to the house which Solomon built. For what the wise of blessed memory have said of the beauty of the house of Herod is in relation to the house which Zerubbabel built. How much more, since Scripture saith not, ‘Great shall be the beauty or the wealth of this latter house above the first,’ but the glory: and the glory is not the wealth or the beauty, or the largeness of the dimensions of the building, as they said in their interpretations, for the ‘glory’ is in truth spoken of the glory of God, which filled the tabernacle, after it was set up, and of the glory of God which filled the house of God, which Solomon built, when he brought the ark into the holy of holies, which is the Divine cloud and the Light supreme, which came down thither in the eyes of all the people, and it is said, ‘And it was when the priests came out of the Italy place, the cloud filled the house of God, and the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of God filled the house of God.’ And this glory was not in the second house.

And how shall it be said, if so, ‘great shall be the glory of this later house above the first?’” The poor unconverted Jew did not know the answer to his question: “Through the presence of God, in the substance of our flesh; through the son given to us, Whose name should be Mighty God.” The glory of this temple was in Him Who John 1:14. was made Flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” “There Christ, the Son of God, was, as a Child, offered to God: there He sat in the midst of the Doctors; there He taught and revealed things, hidden from the foundation of the world. The glory of the temple of Solomon was, that in it the majesty of God appeared, veiling itself in a cloud: in this, that same Majesty showed itself, in very deed united with the Flesh, visible to sight: so that Jesus Himself said, John 14:9. “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” This it was which Malachi sang with joy Malachi 3:1, “The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in.”

And in this place I will give peace - Temporal peace they had now, nor was there any prospect of its being disturbed. They were quiet subjects of the Persiam empire, which included also all their former enemies, greater or less. Alexander subdued all the bordering countries which did not yield, but spared themselves. Temporal peace then was nothing, to be then given them, for they had it. In later times they had it not. The temple itself was profaned by Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Macc. 1:39, 40). “Her sanctuary was laid waste like a wilderness. As had been her glory, so was her dishonor increased.” Again by Pompey (Josephus, Ant. xiv. 4. 4. B. J. i. 7.) by Crassus (Josephus, Ant. xiv. 7. 1. B. J. i. 9. 8), the Parthians (Josephus, Ant. xiv. 13. 3. 4.) before it was destroyed by Titus and the Romans. Jews saw this and, knowing nothing of the peace in Jesus, argued from the absence of outward peace, that the prophecy was not fulfilled under the second temple. “What Scripture says, ‘and in this place I will give peace,’ is opposed to their interpretation. For all the days of the duration of the second house were “in strait of times and not in peace,” as was written in Daniel, “and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again and the fosse, and in strait of time,” and, as I said, in the time of Herod there was no peace whatever, for the sword did not depart from his house to the day of his death; and after his death the hatred among the Jews increased, and the Gentiles straitened them, until they were destroyed from the face of the earth.”

But spiritual peace is, throughout prophecy, part of the promise of the Gospel. Christ Himself was to be Isaiah 9:6-7 “the Prince of peace: of the increase of His government and of His peace there was to be no end;” in His days Psalms 72:3, Psalms 72:7 “the mountains were to bring peace to the people; there should be abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth; the work of righteousness was to be peace Isaiah 32:17, the chastisement of our peace (that which obtained it) was upon Him” Isaiah 53:5, “great should be the peace of her children” Isaiah 54:13, in the Gospel God would give peace, true peace, to the “far off and the near” Isaiah 57:19. He would extend Isaiah 66:12 “peace to her like a river:” the good things of the Gospel was “the publishing of peace” Isaiah 52:7. The Gospel is described as Ezra 34:25, “a covenant of peace:” the promised king Zechariah 9:10 “shall speak peace to the Pagan;” He himself should be “our peace” Micah 5:5. And when He was born, the angels proclaimed Luke 2:14 “on earth peace, goodwill toward men” Luke 1:79. “The Dayspring from on high visited us, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” He Himself says John 14:27, “My peace I leave with you.” He spake, that John 16:33 “in Me ye might have peace.” Peter sums up “the word which God sent unto the children of Israel, as Acts 10:36 preaching peace by Jesus Christ Romans 14:17. The kingdom of God is joy and peace Ephesians 2:14-15, Ephesians 2:17; Christ is our peace; made peace; preaches peace. God calleth us to peace” 1 Corinthians 7:15 in the Gospel Romans 5:1, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord Galatians 5:22, the fruit of the Spirit is love joy peace.” Spiritual peace being thus prominent in the Gospel and in prophecy, as the gift of God, it were unnatural to explain the peace which God promised here to give, as other than He promised elsewhere; peace in Him who is “our peace, Jesus Christ.”

“Peace and tranquility of mind is above all glory of the house; because peace passeth all understanding. This is peace above peace, which shall be given after the third shaking of heaven sea earth, dry land, when He shall destroy all powers anti principalities (in the day of judgment). - And so shall there be peace throughout, that, no bodily passions or hindrances of unbelieving mind resisting, Christ shall be all in all, exhibiting the hearts of all subdued to the Father.”

Verses 11-14

Ask now the priests concerning the law - The priests answer rightly, that, by the law, insulated unholiness spread further than insulated holiness. The flesh of the sacrifice hallowed whatever it should touch, but not further; but the human being, who was defiled by touching a dead body, defiled all he might touch Numbers 19:22. Haggai does not apply the first part; namely, that the worship on the altar which they reared, while they neglected the building of the temple, did not hallow. The possession of a truly tiring does not counterbalance disobedience. Contrariwise, one defilement defiled the whole man and all which he touched, according to that James 2:10, “whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

In the application, the two melt into one, for the holy thing, namely, the altar which they raised out of fear on their return, so far from hallowing the land or people by the sacrifices offered thereon, was itself defiled. “This people” and “this nation” (not “My people”) since they in act disowned Him. “Whatever they offer there,” i. e., on that altar, instead of the temple which God commanded, is unclean, offending Him who gave all.

Verse 15

And now, I pray you - Observe his tenderness, in drawing their attention to it , “Consider from this day and upward.” He bids them look backward, “from before a stone was laid upon a stone,” i. e., from the last moment of their neglect in building the house of God; “from since those days were,” or from the time backward “when those things were,” (resuming, in the word, “from-their-being” , the date which he had just given, namely, the beginning of their resuming the building backward, during all those years of neglect) “one came to a heap of twenty measures.” The precise measure is not mentioned: the force of the appeal lay in the proportion: the heap of grain which, usually, would yield twenty, (whether bushels or seahs or any other measure, for the heap itself being of no defined size, neither could the quantity expected from it be defined) there were ten only; “one came to the pressvat to draw out fifty” vessels out of the press, or perhaps fifty poorah, i. e., the ordinary quantity drawn out at one time from the press, there were, or it bad become twenty, two-fifths only of what they looked for and ordinarily obtained. The dried grapes yielded so little.

Verse 17

I smote you with blasting and mildew, - two diseases of grain, which Moses had foretold Deuteronomy 28:27. as chastisements on disobedience and God’s infliction, of which Amos had spoken in these self-same words. Amos 4:9. Haggai adds the hail, as destructive of the vines. Psalms 78:47. Yet (And) ye turned you not to Me literally “there were none” - your, (accusative i. e., who turned you unto Me. The words are elliptical, but express the entire absence of conversion, of any who turned to God.

Verse 18

From the day that the foundation of the Lord’s house - Zechariah, in a passage corresponding to this, uses the same words Zechariah 8:9, “the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built,” not of the first foundation, but of the work as resumed in obedience to the words by “the mouth of the prophets,” Haggai and himself, which, Ezra also says, was Ezra 4:24; Ezra 5:1. “in the second year of Darius.” But that work was resumed, not now at the time of this prophecy, but three months before, on the 24th of the sixth month. Since then the word translated here, from, is in no case used of the present time, Haggai gives two dates, the resumption of the work, as marked in these words, and the, actual present. He would then say, that even in these last months, since they had begun the work, there were as yet no signs for the better. There was yet no “seed in the barn,” the harvest having been blighted and the fruit-trees stripped by the hail before the close of the sixth month, when they resumed the work. Yet though there were as yet no signs of change, no earnest that the promise should be fulfilled, God pledges His word, “from this day I will bless you.”

Thenceforth, from their obedience, God would give them those fruits of the earth, which in His Providence had been, during their negligence, withheld. “God,” said Paul and Barnabas, Acts 14:17. “left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

All the Old and New Testament, the Law, the prophets and the Psalms, the Apostles and our Lord Himself, bear witness to the Providence of God who makes His natural laws serve to the moral discipline of His creature, man. The physical theory, which presupposes that God so fixed the laws of His creation, as to leave no room for Himself to vary them, would, if ever so true, only come to this, that Almighty God knowing absolutely (as He must know) the actions of His creatures (in what way soever this is reconcilable with our free-agency, of which we are conscious), framed the laws of His physical creation, so that plenty or famine, healthiness of our cattle or of the fruits of the earth or their sickness, should coincide with the good or evil conduct of man, with his prayers or his neglect of prayer. The reward or chastisement alike come to man, whether they be theresult of God’s will, acting apart from any system which He has created, or in it and through it.

It is alike His Providential agency, whether He have established any such system with all its minute variations, or whether these variations are the immediate result of His sovereign will. If He has instituted any physical system, so that the rain, hail, and its proportions, size, destructiveness, should come in a regulated irregularity, as fixed in all eternity as the revolutions of the heavenly bodies or the courses of the comets, then we come only to a more intricate perfection of His creation, that in all eternity He framed those laws in an exact conformity to the perfectly foreseen actions of men good and evil, and to their prayers also: that He, knowing certainly whether the creature, which He has framed to have its bliss in depending on Him, would or would not cry unto Him, framed those physical laws in conformity therewith; so that the supply of what is necessary for our wants or its withholding shall be in all time inworked into the system of our probation. Only, not to keep God out of His own world, we must remember that other truth, that, whether God act in any such system or no, He Hebrews 1:3. “upholdeth all things by the word of His power” by an everpresent working; so that it is He who at each moment doth what is done, doth and maintains in existence all which He has created in the exact order and variations of their being. Psalms 148:8. “Fire and hail, snow and vapor, stormy wind fulfilling His word,” are as immediate results of His Divine Agency, in whatever way it pleaseth Him to act, and are the expression of His will.

Verse 21

I will shake - Haggai closes by resuming the words of a former prophecy to Zerubbabel and Joshua, which ended in the coming of Christ. Even thus it is plain, that the prophecy does not belong personally to Zerubbabel, but to him and his descendants, chiefly to Christ. There was in Zerubbabel’s time no shaking of the heaven or of nations. Darius had indeed to put down an unusual number of rebellions in the first few years after his accession; but, although he magnified himself on occasion of their suppression, they were only so many distinct and unconcerted revolts, each under its own head. All were far away in the distant East, in Babylonia, Susiana, Media, Armenia, Assyria, Hyrcania, Parthia, Sagartia, Margiana, Arachosia. The Persian empire, spread “probably over 2,000,000 square miles, or more than half of modern Europe,” was not threatened; no foreign enemy assailed it; one impostor only claimed the throne of Darius. This would, if successful, have been, like his own accession, a change of dynasty, affecting nothing externally.

But neither were lasting, some were very trifling. Two decisive battles subdued Babylonia: of Media the brief summary is given “the Medes revolted from Darius, and having revolted were brought back into subjection, defeated in battle.” The Susianians killed their own pretender, on the approach of the troops of Darius. We have indeed mostly the account only of the victor. But these are only self-glorying records of victories, accomplished in succession, within a few years. Sometimes the satrap of the province put the revolt down at once. At most two battles ended in the crucifixion of the rebel. The Jews, if they heard of them, knew them to be of no account. For the destroyer of the Persian empire was to come from the West Daniel 8:5, the fourth sovereign was to stir up all against the realm of Grecia Daniel 11:2, and Darius was but the third. In the same second year of Darius, in which Haggai gave this prophecy, the whole earth was exhibited to Zechariah as Zechariah 1:11, “sitting still and at rest.”

The overthrow prophesied is also universal. It is not one throne only, as of Persia, but “the throne,” i. e., the sovereigns, “of kingdoms;” not a change of dynasty, but a destruction of their “strength;” not of a few powers only, but “the kingdoms of the pagan;” and that, in detail; that, in which their chief strength lay, the chariots and horsemen and their riders, and this, man by man, “every one by the sword of his brother.” This mutual destruction is a feature of the judgments at the end of the world against Gog and Magog Ezekiel 38:21; and of the yet unfulfilled prophecies of Zechariah Zechariah 14:17. Its stretching out so far does not hinder its partial fulfillment in earlier times. Zerubbabel stood, at the return from the captivity, as the representative of the house of David and heir of the promises to him, though in an inferior temporal condition; thereby the rather showing that the main import of the prophecy was not temporal. As then Ezekiel prophesied, Ezekiel 34:23. “I will set up One Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, My servant David” Ezekiel 37:24-25; “And David My servant shall be king over them; and My servant David shall be their prince forever;” and Jeremiah Jeremiah 30:9. “They shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them; and Hosea, that Hosea 3:5. after many days shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king,” meaning by David, the great descendant of David, in whom the promises centered, so in his degree, the promise to Zerubbabel reaches on through his descendants to Christ; that, amid all the overthrow of empires, God would protect His sons’ sons until Christ should come, the King of kings and Lord of lords, whose Daniel 2:44. “kingdom shall never be destroyed, but it shall break in pieces and consume all those kingdoms, and shall stand fast forever.”

Verse 23

I will make thee as a signet - God reverses to Zerubbabel the sentence on Jeconiah for his impiety. To Jeconiah He had said Jeremiah 22:24, “though he were the signet upon My right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence; and I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life.” The signet was very precious to its owner, never parted with, or only to those to whom authority was delegated (as by Pharaoh to Joseph Genesis 41:42, or by Ahasuerus to Haman Esther 3:10 and then to Mordecai Esther 8:2.); through it his will was expressed. Hence, the spouse in the Canticles says, Song of Solomon 8:6. “Set me, as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm.” The signet also was an ornament to him who wore it. “God is glorianfied in His saints;” 2 Thessalonians 1:10. by Zerubbabel in the building of His house. He gave him estimation with Cyrus, who entrusted him with the return of his people, and made him (who would have been the successor to the throne of Judah, had the throne been re-established) his governor over the restored people.

God promises to him and his descendants protection amid all shaking of empires. “He was a type of Christ in bringing back the people from Babylon, as Christ delivered us from sin death and hell: he built the temple, as Christ built the Church; he protected his people against the Samaritans who would hinder the building, as Christ protects His Church: he was dear and joined to God, as Christ was united to Him, and hypostatically united and joined His Humanity to the Word. The true Zerubbabel then, i. e., Christ, the son and antitype of Zerubbabel, is the signet in the hand of the Father, both passively and actively, whereby God impresses His own Majesty thoughts and words and His own Image on men angels and all creatures.” “The Son is the Image of God the Father, having His entire and exact likeness, and in His own beauty beaming forth the nature of the Father. In Him too God seals us also to His own likeness, since, being conformed to Christ, we gain the image of God.” “Christ, as the Apostle says, is Hebrews 1:3 “the Image of the invisible God, the brightness of His Glory and the express Image of His Person,” who, as the Word and Seal and express Image, seals it on others. Christ is here called a signet, as Man not as God. For it was His Manhood which He took of the flesh and race of Zerubbabel. He is then, in His Manhood, the signet of God;

1) as being hypostatically united with the Son of God;

2) because the Word impressed on His Humanity the likeness of Himself, His knowledge, virtue, holiness, thoughts, words, acts and conversation;

3) because the Man Christ was the seal, i. e., the most evident sign and witness of the attributes of God, His power, justice, wisdom, and especially His exceeding love for man. For, that God might show this, He willed that His Son should be Incarnate. Christ thus Incarnate is as a seal, in which we see expressed and depicted the love power justice wisdom etc. of God;

4) because Christ as a seal, attested and certified to us the will of God, His doctrine law commands, i. e., those which He promulgated and taught in the Gospel.

“No one,” John saith John 1:18, “hath seen God at any time: the Only-Begotten Son Who is the Image the Father, He hath declared Him.” Hence, God gave to Christ the power of working miracles, that He might confirm His words as by a seal, and demonstrate that they were revealed and enjoined to Him by God, as it is in John John 6:27, “Him hath God the Father sealed.” “Christ is also the seal of God, because by His impress, i. e., the faith grace virtue and conversation from Him and by the impress in Baptism and the other sacraments, “He willed to conform us to the Image of His Son,” Romans 8:29. that 1 Corinthians 15:49, “as we have borne the image of the earthly Adam, we mnay also bear the image of the heavenly.” Then, Christ, like a seal, seals and guards His faithful against all temptations and enemies. The seal of Christ is the Cross, according to that of Ezekiel, “Seal a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh,” and in the Revelation Revelation 7:2, “I saw another Angel having the seal of the living God.” For the Cross guardeth us against the temptations of the flesh, the world and the devil, and makes us followers, soldiers, and martyrs of Christ crucified. Whence the Apostle says, Galatians 6:17. “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

“This is said without doubt of the Messiah, the expected;” says even a Jewish controversialist , “who shall be of the seed of Zerubbabel; and therefore this promise was not fulfilled at all in himself: for at the time of this prophecy he had aforetime been governor of Judah, and afterward he did not rise to any higher dignity than what he was up to that day: and in like way we find that God said to Abraham our father in the covenant between the pieces, Genesis 15:7, Genesis 15:18. “I am the Lord who brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees to give thee this land to inherit it,” and beyond doubt this covenant was confirmed of God to the seed of Abraham, as lie Himself explained it there afterward, when He said, “In that day God made a covenant with Abraham, saying, To thy seed have I given this land etc.,” and many like these.

Abarbanel had laid down the right principles, though of necessity misapplied. “Zerubbabel did not reign in Jerusalem and did not rule in it, neither lie nor any man of his seed; but immediately after the building of the house, he returned to Babylon and died there in his captivity, and how saith he, ‘In that day I will take thee?’ For after the fall of the kingdom of Persia Zerubbabel is not known for any greatness, and his name is not mentioned in the world. Where then will be the meaning of ‘And I will place thee as a signet, for thee have I chosen?’ For the signet is as the seal-ring which a man putteth on his hand, it departeth not from it, night or day. And when was this fulfilled in Zerubbabel? But the true meaning, in my opinion, is, that God showed Zerubbabel that this very second house would not abide, for after him should come another captivity, and of this he says, ‘I shake the heaven etc.,’ and afterward, after a long time, will God take His vengeance of these nations ‘which have devoured Jacob and laid waste his dwelling place;’ and so he says ‘I will overthrow the thrones, etc.,’ and He sheweth him further that the king who shall rule over Israel at the time of the redemption is the Messiah of the seed of Zerubbabel and of the house of David; and God saw good to shew him all this to comfort him and to speak to his heart; and it is as if he said to him, ‘It is true that thou shalt not reign in the time of the second temple, nor any of thy seed, but in that day when God shall overthrow the throne of the kingdoms of the nations, when He gathereth His people Israel and redeemeth them, then shalt thou reign over My people, for of thy seed shall he be who ruleth from Israel at that time forever, and therefore he saith, ‘I will take thee, O Zerubabbel etc.,’ for because the Messiah was to be of his seed he saith, that he will take him; and this is as he says, Ezekiel 37:24. ‘And David My servant shall be a prince to them forever;’ for the very Messiah, he shall be David, he shall be Zerubbabel, because he shall be a scion going forth out of their hewn trunk” Isaiah 11:1.

For I have chosen thee - God’s forecoming love is the ground of all the acceptableness of His creature 1 John 4:19. “We love Him, because He first loved us.” Zerubbabel was a devoted servant of God. God acknowledges his faithfulness. Only, the beginning of all was with God. God speaks of the nearness to Himself which He had given him. But in two words He cuts off all possible boastfulhess of His creature. Zerubbabel was all this, not of himself, but “because God had chosen” him. Even the sacred manhood of our Lord (it is acknowledged as a theological truth) was not chosen for any foreseen merits, but for the great love, with which God the Father chose it, and God the Son willed to be in such wise incarnate, and God the Holy Spirit willed that that Holy Thing should be conceived of Him. So God says of Him Isaiah 42:1, “Behold My Servant whom I uphold, Mine elect in whom My soul delighteth;” and God bare witness to Him Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Haggai 2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/haggai-2.html. 1870.
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