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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Haggai 1

Verse 1

(1-11) The First Utterance.—The neglect of God’s House denounced, and declared to be the cause of the prevalent dearth.

(1) Darius the king.Scil., Darius I., son of Hystaspes, who became king of Persia in B.C. 521. The fact that there were still men living who had seen the First Temple (Haggai 2:3), which fell in B.C. 586, sufficiently disproves the absurd theory that Darius Nothus is meant, who did not accede to the throne until B.C. 423-4. Prophecy is now dated by the years of a foreign ruler, for Zerubbabel, though a lineal descendant of David, was only a pechâh, or viceroy of Persian appointment, not a king in his own right.

The sixth month.—That named Elul, corresponding nearly with our September.

In the first dayi.e., on the festival of the new moon, a holy day which had always been marked not only by suspension of labour, but by special services in the Temple (Ezekiel 46:3; Isaiah 66:23). It was thus an appropriate occasion for Haggai to commence a series of exhortations so intimately connected with the Temple. Besides, it appears to have been an ancient custom that the people should resort to the prophets for religious instruction on new moons and Sabbaths. (See 2 Kings 4:23.)

Came the word . . .—Literally, there was a word of the Lord by the hand of Haggai, &c. This expression, which occurs repeatedly in this book, indicates that Jehovah was the direct source of these announcements, and Haggai only their vehicle.

The prophet.—See Habakkuk 1:1, Note.

Son of Shealtiel.—Strictly speaking, Zerubbabel was the son of Pedaiah, who contracted a Levirate marriage with the widow of his brother Shealtiel. (See Notes on 1 Chronicles 3:17; Jeremiah 22:30; Luke 3:27.)

Governor.Satrap, or viceroy, a term applied in the Old Testament to the provincial prefects of the Assyrian and Babylonian and Persian empires. (See Note on 1 Kings 10:15.) Joshua, the high priest, is a prominent character in the prophecy of Zechariah. Haggai addresses Zerubbabel as the civil, Joshua as the ecclesiastical head of the restored exiles.

Verse 2

(2) The time is not come.—Better (unless we alter the received text), It is not yet time to comei.e., it is not yet time to assemble and commence preparations for building. It is not stated on what grounds the people based this assumption; but probably they palliated their indifference to religion by a pretended dread of Persian hostility. Darius, however, unlike his predecessor Artaxerxes, gave the enemies of the Jews no countenance when a report was actually made to him on the subject. (See Ezra 5:6)

Verse 4

(4) Is it time for you . . .—Literally, Is it time for you to dwell in your houses, and those ceiled?—i.e., probably with cedar and other costly woods. A crushing retort. If the adverse decree of Artaxerxes, which disallowed the building of Jerusalem (Ezra 4:21), had not hindered them from erecting magnificent residences for themselves, how could it reasonably excuse an utter neglect of God’s House?

Verse 5

(5) Consider your ways.—A common expression in this prophet. The results of their conduct are set forth in Haggai 1:6 : they are left to infer from these what its nature has been.

Verse 6

(6) Ye have sown much . . .—Literally, Ye have been sowing much and bringing in little; eating, and it was not to satisfaction; drinking, and it was not to fulness; clothing yourselves, and it was not for any ones being warm, &c. This description of course merely implies that, notwithstanding all their labours, there was not much to eat, drink, or put on. Compare the use of the phrase “ye shall eat and not be satisfied,” in Leviticus 26:26.

To put it into a bag with holes.—The last clause expresses in a bold metaphor the general prevalence of poverty. Scarcity necessitated high prices, so that money “ran away” as fast as it was earned.

Verse 8

(8) The mountain.—No one mountain is thought of. The term implies the high lands generally, as growing the most suitable timber for building purposes.

Verse 9

(9) Ye looked for much.—Literally, There has been a turning about for much.

I did blow upon itscil., for the purpose of dispersing it. Even the little that was brought into the garner was decimated by God’s continued disfavour.

Verse 10

(10) Over you.—Better, on your account.Scil., because of the neglect of God’s House, mentioned in Haggai 1:9.

Verse 11

(11) And I called for a drought upon.—Better, And I invoked a desolation upon. Similarly in 2 Kings 8:1, Elisha announces to the Shunammite. “The Lord hath called a famine, and it shall also come upon the land seven years.”

Verse 12

(12) With all the remnant of.—The word may mean either “the remnant” restored from Babylon, or merely “the remainder” of the people. Similarly in Haggai 1:14; Haggai 2:2.

Verses 12-15

(12-15) The Second Utterance.—The people turn a willing ear to Haggai’s exhortation, and the prophet is now charged to inform them of the return of God’s favour, in the gracious utterance, “I am with you, saith the Lord.”

Verse 13

(13) In the Lord’s message.—Or, on the Lords mission.

Verse 15

(15) It must be supposed that the intervening three weeks had been spent in collecting timber in the upland region, as was ordered in Haggai 1:8, and resuming the “work of the house of God.”

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Haggai 1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.