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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Haggai 1

Verses 1-15

A Call to Begin Building the Temple

1-11. Haggai repeatedly urges the leaders of Judah and the people to bend their energies to the rebuilding of the ruined Temple (August, 520 b.c.).

1. Darius the king] This was unquestionably Hystaspes, who was raised to the Persian throne after the death of the impostor, Smerdis.

Sixth month] the 6th of the Jewish year, i.e. the month Elul (August-September).

Zerubbabel] A prince of the royal line of Judah, and the accepted civil leader of the people, just as Joshua was the religious leader. He ruled Judah as a Persian province.

2. This people] Haggai, like other prophets, did not need to create a sense of wrongdoing, but only to awaken conscience. He challenged their idle excuses. The time is not come] Evidently this was no sincere desire to await some specified date, but a wilful delaying of duty. In the interests of religion it demanded attention.

4. Time for you, O ye] lit. ’for you, you,’ the repeated pronoun being very emphatic, so as to make a sharp contrast between them and the God they dishonoured.

Cieled houses] houses panelled with costly cedar planks. They could seem to afford luxuries for themselves, but were indifferent to the ruined state of the Temple.

5. Consider your ways] lit. ’Set your heart on your ways,’ i.e. consider thoughtfully the situation in which you find yourselves. An appeal made four times by the prophet.

6. Ye eat, but ye have not enough] lit. ’but not to satisfy.’ This v. formulates a series of vigorous comparisons, indicating that their labour had been ill rewarded. They had experienced failures of crops, continuous poverty, and lessening of physical vigour. Bag with holes] No one gets ahead, but seems to lose his money as fast as he accumulates it. A vivid picture of alluring hopes and baffling disappointments.

8. Go up to the mountain] They were to act at once. The prophet was in earnest. The mountain would be ’the hill-country of Judah,’ the mountainous neighbourhood. Compare Nehemiah 2:8 and Nehemiah 8:15. Bring wood] i.e. timber suitable for building. The house] the Temple of Jehovah, which had been lying in ruins since being destroyed at the command of Nebuchadrezzar (2 Kings 25:9). And I will be glorified] better, ’and that I may display my glory.’ Here the prophet first interprets these calamities as being due to God’s anger at their selfishness. The two following vv. emphasise this explanation. The people were zealous enough over their own affairs, but wholly neglectful of their obligations to God.

12-15. The leaders and people, their consciences awakened, encouraged by Haggai, begin work upon the Temple (September, 520 b.c.).

12. The remnant of the people] i.e. the rest of the people; those who had returned from Babylon were but a fraction of the once numerous nation. Did fear] It was a real religious change that came over them. They obeyed, not because of terror, but from a new sense of reverence for God.

13. The Lord’s messenger] This v. is rejected by many scholars as superfluous. They also question this title as needless. It is the only instance in Scripture where a prophet uses such a title concerning himself. Nevertheless, it is not incongruous. I am with you] This encouraging word assured the people that they were acting as God would have them do.

14. Stirred up the spirit] The first result of Haggai’s unsparing sermon was a spiritual change in the hearts of his hearers. A zealous purpose was once more kindled. The second result was practical. Within three weeks from the date of his first appeal the work upon the Temple had begun, with unanimity and heartiness. What more searching test could a preacher have or what more convincing proof of his power?

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Haggai 1". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.