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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

Haggai 1

Verses 1-11


Rebuke and Expostulation of the People for their Neglect of the Temple

Haggai 1:1-11

1In the second, year of Darius1 the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, there was a word of Jehovah, by the hand of Haggai the Prophet, to Zerubbabel,2 son of Shealtiel, governor3 of Judah, and to Joshua, son of Josadak, 2the High Priest, saying: Thus speaketh Jehovah of Hosts, saying: This people say, It is not the time to come,4 the time for the House of Jehovah to be built. 3And 4a word of Jehovah was by the hand of Haggai the Prophet, saying: Is it the time for you yourselves5 to dwell in wainscoted6 houses, and this House lying waste

5, 6 But come! saith Jehovah of Hosts, set your heart upon your ways. Ye have been sowing much and bringing in little; eating, and it was not to satisfaction; drinking, and it was not to fullness;7 clothing yourselves, and it was not to any one’s being warm;8 and he who has been earning wages has been earning them into 7a torn purse.9 Thus saith Jehovah of Hosts, Set your heart upon your ways. 8Go up to the mountain and bring wood and build the House, and I will take pleasure in it, and will be honored,10 saith Jehovah. 9Ye have kept looking for much,11 and lo (it came) to little!12 and ye brought it home and I blew upon it. Because of what?13 saith Jehovah. Because of my House which is desolate, while ye are running each 10to his own house. Therefore above you have the heavens restrained themselves 11from dew, and the earth has restrained her increase. And I invoked desolation upon the earth and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new-made wine, and upon the oil, and upon all that the soil produces, and upon man and upon beast, and upon all the labor of (men’s) hands.


Haggai 1:1. In the second year of Darius the King, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month. The dates affixed to the prophecies generally contemplate the perpetuation of the several books and the requirements of readers in all succeeding time. Haggai indicates with special care the precise date of the delivery of each of his messages. In accordance with the practice necessarily adopted by the Old Testament writers after the people of God were subjected by heathen powers, the year of his prophecies is reckoned from the accession of the king to whom the Jews were then subject. The Darius here mentioned is Darius Hystaspes, who ascended the throne of Persia b. c. 521, and whose treatment of his Jewish subjects is recorded in Ezra 6:14 to Ezra 6:22. That it could not have been Darius Nothus (b. c. 423), as J. J. Scaliger and a few others have maintained, appears plainly from Haggai 2:3, where our Prophet, according to the only natural interpretation of the verse, addresses those who had beheld the First Temple, which was destroyed b. c. 588. The month is named according to the sacred order in the Jewish year (comp. Zechariah 1:7; Zechariah 7:1; Zechariah 8:19). The sixth month is Elul, answering nearly to our September, or, more strictly, extending from the sixth to the seventh new moon of the year. The first day of the month was specially suitable for the delivery of the Prophet’s message, as being the feast-day of the New Moon, when he would be more likely to attract attention (Hengstenberg). There was a word of the Lord by the hand of Haggai the Prophet. The “word of the Lord,” as always in the Prophets, indicates a freedom from all human admixture; while the expression, בְּיַר, intimates that the Prophet himself was merely a medium of communication, the word simply passing through his hands. On the name and person of the Prophet see Introd. § 1. To Zerub-babel, son of Shealtiel, Governor of Judah, and to Joshua, son of Josadak, the High Priest. Zerubbabel is called in Ezra 1:8; Ezra 5:14 by his Persian name Sheshbazzar (of uncertain origin). In 1 Chronicles 3:17, Shealtiel appears as a son of Assir and grandson of Jeconiah (Jehoiachin). According to 1 Chronicles 3:19, Zerubbabel was a son of Pedaiah, a brother of Shealtiel. According to Luke 3:27, Shealtiel was a son of Neri, a descendant of David through his son Nathan. The best method of harmonizing these statements is that adopted by Koehler and Keil. The latter says: “These three divergent accounts may be brought into agreement by means of the following combinations, if we keep in mind the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 22:30), that Jeconiah would be childless and not be blessed with seeing one of his seed sitting upon the throne of David and ruling over Judah. This prophecy was fulfilled according to Luke’s genealogical table, inasmuch as Shealtiel’s father there is not Assir or Jeconiah, a descendant of David in the line of Solomon, but Neri, a descendant of David’s son Nathan. It follows therefore that neither of the sons of Jeconiah mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:17-18 (Zedekiah and Assir), had a son, but that the latter had only a daughter, who married a man of the family of her father’s tribe, according to the law of heiresses (Numbers 27:8; Numbers 36:8-9), namely, Neri, who belonged to the tribe of Judah and the family of David. From this marriage sprang Shealtiel, Malkiram, Pedaiah, and others. The eldest of these took possession of the property of his maternal grandfather, and was regarded legally as his son. Hence he is described in 1 Chronicles 3:17 as the son of Assir the son of Jeconiah, whereas in Luke he is regarded, according to his lineal descent, as the son of Neri. But Shealtiel also appears to have died without posterity, and to have left only a widow, which necessitated a Levirate marriage on the part of one of the brothers (Deuteronomy 25:5; Deuteronomy 25:10; Matthew 22:24; Matthew 22:28). Shealtiel’s second brother Pedaiah appears to have performed this duty, to have begotten Zerubbabel and Shimei by this sister-in-law (1 Chronicles 3:19), the former of whom, Zerubbabel, was entered in the family register of the deceased uncle Shealtiel, passing as his (legal) son and heir, and continuing his family.” ‬פֶּחָה‬‬ (“governor”) is a general term for a civil and military ruler of a division of a kingdom, applied at first to those of the Persian monarchy, and extended to those of others in writings of the later period (1 Kings 10:15). It was applied both to satraps, as Tatnai (Ezra 5:3), and to inferior governors, as Zerubbabel. Joshua is the same person so frequently mentioned in the Book of Zechariah, upon whom the high distinction was conferred of representing the Messiah as the future Prince and Priest of Israel, in the symbolical transaction recorded in Zechariah 3:0. It is in accordance with this typical function that Joshua is addressed here along with Zerubbabel, not merely as the highest representative of the sacred priestly office, but also, to a certain extent, as ruling the people jointly with the civil governor. Such authority was gradually more and more assumed by the High Priests after the dissolution of the kingdom until the tendency culminated in the Maccabæan princes, who formally united the two functions in one person. It was, therefore, as the leaders of the people civil and ecclesiastical, that Zerubbabel and Joshua were appealed to. “Upon them the responsibility is laid if the work enjoined by Jehovah is not accomplished” (Koehler).

Haggai 1:2. Thus speaketh Jehovah of Hosts. This venerable formula is employed uniformly by our Prophet to introduce his messages. This people say. There is no ground for assuming, as many have done, that the word this is here used in a contemptuous manner, like οὗτος and iste. There is, however, a significance in the choice of the word. The Jews, are not called “Israel” or “My people,” but by an attributive which denotes indifference, and thus indicates the divine displeasure against them. It is not the time to come. That this is the correct translation, is proved in the grammatical note upon this verse. The second clause: time for the House of Jehovah to be built, is both explanatory of the first and parallel to it throughout in thought and construction. “Coming” means preparing to build the Temple, as the separate stages of preparation and erection are distinguished also in Haggai 1:14. So most of the recent German expositors, after Osiander, Junius, Tremellius, and Cocceius. The people had probably been urging as an excuse for their inactivity that their relations with Persia were not favorable to a resumption of work upon the Temple. But this was a mere pretext; for they had made no effort to discover whether the new and legitimate king Darius Hystaspes would not regard them with favor. Their inaction was not the compulsory and painful restraint of zealous patriots and ardent worshippers, but the easy and selfish indifference of an ungrateful and unfaithful people. See a fuller estimate of their disposition at this time in the Introduction, § 2.

Haggai 1:3-4. And a word of Jehovah … And this House lying desolate. The disingenuous-ness of their plea is self-evident, and is therefore simply assumed in the following discourse, the design of which is to awaken in them a sense of their ingratitude to God. It is represented to them most impressively, with an allusion to the very language of their pretext, that while they held their own wants and even their luxuries to be matters of pressing moment, they thought any time suitable to attend to the claims of their God; that while their own homes had been regained, there was yet no habitation for the God of Israel; that while their wealthy members were using their superfluous means to adorn and beautify their dwellings, God’s dwelling-place still lay desolate, appealing in vain to their piety and patriotism, which had been overborne by selfishness and supineness. The allusion, moreover, could not fail to expose the insincerity of their excuses. Houses wainscoted with cedar were the residence of kings (1 Kings 7:7; Jeremiah 22:14), and if some of them had now the command of such resources as enabled them to live in princely splendor, they might surely have reserved a portion for the requirements of the Temple, when the work of building it should be resumed,—if that work had been giving them the least concern. The personal pronoun is repeated—you yourselves—for the sake of emphasis, in order to make more prominent the antithesis between them and Jehovah. See Grammatical note.

Haggai 1:5. Set your heart upon your ways. This expression, so frequent in our Prophet (Haggai 1:7; Haggai 2:15; Haggai 2:18), is equivalent to: consider your ways. As the next verse shows, the people were bidden to contemplate the results of their late course. In these, as displaying the operation of the principles of God’s moral and theocratical government, they might discern evidences of a disregard of his plainly revealed will. They were to infer the nature of their conduct from its results.

Haggai 1:6. Ye have been sowing much—into a torn purse. On the peculiar constructions in this verse see the grammatical note. The consequences of the people’s “ways” are now specified as they appeared in the unproductiveness of their fields and the unprofitableness of their labor generally. The various expressions are intended to form one general picture, and to set forth in language partly literal and partly figurative, that not only was their labor to a very large extent profitless, but that even what their fields and their manual toil did produce gave them but little enjoyment. The latter result did certainly happen, and was due, moreover, to the withdrawal of God’s blessings, as appears plainly from Haggai 1:9. But to assume that all the expressions are to be taken in their unqualified literalness, as Calvin, Osiander, Koehler, and Keil seem to have done, must be regarded as an unwarranted as well as unnecessary interpretation. If we compare the prediction of a similar condition of things in Leviticus 26:26 (see on Haggai 1:5), we find that the words: ye shall eat and shall not be satisfied, imply, as shown by the context, that the hunger threatened in case of disobedience would result simply from the scarcity of food. It is natural to suppose that similar circumstances are described here by the like expressions. But to hold generally that the hunger and thirst and cold were not in any degree removed by food, and drink, and clothing, would be to postulate a miracle quite without necessity. הָבֵא, to bring in, is the term proper to harvesting (comp. 2 Samuel 9:10, and the figurative use of the word in Psalms 90:12). The last clause, in a striking figure, illustrates the inadequacy of the remuneration for labor, from which we may infer that business generally was almost prostrated.

This verse and Haggai 1:9-11 are not at all inconsistent with Haggai 1:4. There the rebuke is directed against the wealthier members, as before indicated. They, having probably become possessed of some property in Babylon, and having prospered during the first few years of their Jewish residence, still lived in comparative prosperity, and were therefore in a position to give of their means and time to the work they had neglected. The mass of the people, however, though presumably also prosperous at first, were now suffering from those temporal inflictions visited upon them by God on account of their neglect of their paramount duty to Him, which would soon involve the entire community, rich and poor, in complete destitution, unless they aroused themselves from their sinful indifference.

Haggai 1:7. The admonition of Haggai 1:5 is repeated here, both as betokening greater urgency, and also for the purpose of reinforcing the argument of Haggai 1:5-6, by showing to what course a conscientious review of their conduct should determine them. They should be impelled, as is next shown, to make immediate preparations for the complete restoration of the Temple.

Haggai 1:8. Go up to the mountain and bring wood, and build the House. It is somewhat difficult to determine the precise application of הָהָר in this passage. Leaving out of view the altogether improbable notion of Grotius, Rosenmüller, and Newcome, that it refers to Mount Moriah itself, on which the Temple stood, we find that while perhaps the majority of modern expositors (e.g. J. D. Michaelis, Maurer, Keil, Moore, Fausset) regard it as a collective expression for the hilly parts of Palestine generally, in accordance with Nehemiah 8:15; Joshua 9:1; Joshua 11:2; Joshua 11:12, many others (e. g., Cocceius, Ewald, Henderson) limit its application to Mount Lebanon. It is most probable that no definite mountain was thought of, the command not restricting the sphere of operation even to Palestine itself, but urging the people in general terms to seek building material in those districts in which it could best be obtained. It is hardly necessary to remind the reader that it was upon the high lands of the country that the most suitable timber grew. As there is no command with reference to stone for the walls, the building of which had already begun (Haggai 2:18; Ezra 3:10; Ezra 5:16), it is plain that “wood ” is put here for building material generally. And I will take pleasure in it and will be honored. Koehler and Keil translate reflexively: will glorify myself, that is, upon the people by blessing them. But this sense is not obvious. It is best, with Maurer, Moore, and others, to take the word in its primary application. See Textual note.

Haggai 1:9-11. The exhortation of the last verse is now reinforced by a more fresh and elaborate presentation of those disastrous consequences of disobedience which had been urged in Haggai 1:6. The connection with Haggai 1:8 may be easily perceived. Jehovah had there promised to manifest his approbation if the people would return to their duty. The certainty of this must be evident to them; for was not their domestic distress a consequence of their neglect of his claims upon their service? The relation of these verses to all of the discourse that precedes, becomes clearer when we perceive that the whole passage, Haggai 1:5-11, is intended to force upon the minds of the people the consideration that ruin is awaiting them, unless they proceed at once with the rebuilding of the Temple. The command in Haggai 1:8 therefore, though expressing the practical conclusion to which the whole message tends, is not the leading sentence in the discourse, but is introduced as subsidiary to the main argument Haggai 1:5, and again Haggai 1:7, exhort the people to consider their ways. Haggai 1:8 shows the joyful consequences of obedience. Haggai 1:9-11 suggest, by depicting the baleful results of past disobedience, the evils which the continuance of such a course would entail.

Haggai 1:9. Ye looked for much—every man to his own house. On the construction, see Grammatical note. The literal translation of the first clause would be: ye turned towards much (Exodus 16:10). The allusion is to a frequent inspection of the growing crops. I blew upon it, for the purpose of scattering and dissipating it. The small quantity that was gathered profited but little, on account of the absence of God’s blessing, according to the general notion conveyed by Haggai 1:6. See the remarks upon that verse. Why? saith Jehovah of Hosts. Though the present condition of things could very well have been accounted for by the people themselves, Jehovah condescends to explain it to them. He Himself asks the cause, and gives the solution to which the whole of the discourse had been leading,—that while their own affairs had been absorbing their thoughts, his claims had been disregarded. Because of my house which is desolate, and ye are running every man to his own house. As in Haggai 1:4, the different feelings with which the people were regarding God’s House and their own houses, are sharply contrasted, but here the latter do not seem to be limited in application to the dwellings themselves, the word “house” being probably employed as the centre of that activity which they all manifested in their haste to attend to their own concerns.

Haggai 1:10. We concur with Keil in the opinion that it is impossible to determine whether עְַלֵ֨יכֶם is to be translated: above you, or: on your account. We incline rather to the former view, though it is stoutly opposed by Hitzig, Henderson, and others. A difficulty likewise meets us in the rest of the clause. כלא, in the second member of the verse, is transitive, with a direct object. If transitive here also, we expect an object expressed or understood; but Köhler and Keil, who deny an intransitive or reflexive sense, do not inform us what that object is; for they maintain rightly that מִּטַּל is privative (from dew), and in fact use in an intransitive sense the verb which they employ in their translation (darum haben über euch die Himmel zurückgehalten dass kein Thau fiel). If מטַּל is privative, the reflexive sense would seem to be unavoidable. Ewald, Umbreit, Henderson, take that word as the object, and that in a partitive sense: has restrained of her dew, a rendering which Köhler rightly condemns as too prosaic.

Haggai 1:11. And I invoked desolation—upon all the labor of (men’s) hands. This verse still depends upon the “therefore” of Haggai 1:10, completing the picture of misfortune and threatening ruin evoked by the unfaithfulness of the people. We translate חֹרֶב desolation, because it is the only word which will apply to all the objects cited in the verse. The phrase has moreover been chosen designedly by the Prophet to indicate both the justice and the fitness of the retribution. They allowed God’s House to lie “desolate” (Haggai 1:4; Haggai 1:9). Disaster and failure had already visited their fields and the labor of their hands, and very soon, if they should remain unmoved in their guilty indifference, the blighting curse invoked by their of fended God would fall upon them in its unrestrained severity, when they should realize the full meaning of that sentence afterwards pronounced upon their obdurate and ungrateful descendants: Behold your house is left unto you desolate.


1. The two great objects of the institution of Prophecy were to direct the inner life of God’s people into harmony with the commands and the spirit of the Law, and to point forward to Him who was to fulfill both the Law and the Prophets. Our Prophet, as we shall see, represented both of these functions. In this chapter he is concerned with the religious condition of the people as expressed by their attitude towards God’s true worship. Their persistent disregard of the claims of their Deliverer and King indicated plainly a growing estrangement and disloyalty of heart. They could only be recalled to devotion and duty through a message of rebuke and warning from God through an inspired and chosen messenger (comp. Haggai 1:13). And such utterances were naturally directed against the most patent and flagrant violation of their religious duty,—their neglect of the House of God. The Temple, as the centre of the Jewish worship, the place where Jehovah’s presence was manifested, where national and individual sins might be covered over, and where the favor of God might be invoked upon his people, was indispensable to the very life of the nation as a people of God. To neglect it was to commit treason against Him, to reject Him as their God and King, and to invite his rejection of them.

2. Such indifference to the demands of God upon the service of his people was necessarily followed by his estrangement from them. For, as the worship in the Temple secured their admission into the very presence of God, it was both in type and reality a meeting not simply of reconciliation but of cordial friendship, a renewed ratification of the Covenant (comp. Revelation 21:3). As loving God’s House and being devoted to its service, could He fittingly call them “My People:” and it seems no less fitting and necessary that indifference on their part to the enjoyment of his favor and confidence should alienate his regard, that tenderness in Him should become aversion, that the Israel of God should be coldly recognized as “this people.”

3. But other and more palpable consequences must follow such a course of conduct on the part of God’s people. It was a warning repeatedly urged upon them by Moses in the illustration of that Law which was to be the guide of their national and individual life; it was a lesson impressed upon them by many a hard experience of public and private distress and calamity, culminating in that long captivity from which they had so lately emerged, that the loss of God’s favor involves not merely religious and moral deterioration, but the withdrawal of that providential care which secures a due return to labor, with fruitful seasons and bounteous harvests, and even follows men to their homes, leading every act and thought to enjoyment and happiness. Deprived of such care, they, in all their pursuits, might look and look again for much, but they would surely bring in little.

4. Such dealings on the part of God towards his people, while setting forth clearly the doctrine of retribution (De Wette), are not simply punitive: they are also corrective and remedial in design and tendency. Otherwise prophecy would be nothing but the repeated announcement of an impending doom. Otherwise there would be no meaning in the message of our Prophet, who, while holding out to his people no other prospect than that of distress and desolation as the result of continued disobedience, presents also the inspiring and quickening vision of their God and King restored by their obedience to the dwelling-place which they are urged to prepare for Him, and looking forth upon them thence in favor and love (Haggai 1:8). In this he is the prophet, not of his faithless countrymen alone, but also of a God-despising yet not God abandoned world: he still calls out to men on behalf of God: Consider your ways.


Haggai 1:2-4. (“This people” instead of “My people”): The loss of God’s confidence: (1) Its occasions; (2) Its consequences; (3) Its retrieval.—There is a time for everything with men; but they should consider, (1) Who it is that claims their first and most devoted service; (2) the means and methods of serving Him best.

Calvin: Men are very ingenious, when they wish to hide their delinquencies.

Matthew Henry: There is an aptness in us to misinterpret providential discouragements in our duty, as if they amounted to a discharge from our duty, when they are only intended for the trial and exercise of our courage and faith. It is bad to neglect our duty; but it is worse to vouch Providence for the patronizing of our neglects.

Cramer: There are many men, who have a plenty of money when they are going to build houses for themselves, but a great scarcity of it when any is wanted for churches, or schools, or anything else to promote God’s glory.

Moore: The carved ceilings and costly ornaments will have a tongue in the day of judgment.

Haggai 1:5-6. In considering our ways, we should seek to discover, (1) the motives that have urged us; (2) whither our present ways would lead us at the end of our earthly course.

Gerlach: Fruitfulness or sterility comes from God, not from blind and powerless Nature. This is the teaching of the Scriptures from Paradise and the Fall to its close.

Moore: A careful pondering of God’s dealings with us will often indicate to us God’s will regarding us.

Haggai 1:8. God will not come to bless us as an uninvited Guest. His favor will be displayed towards us only when we have prepared Him a temple in our hearts.

Haggai 1:9-11. Inflictions of suffering by God in his providence are always charged with a salutary lesson: they are a warning to his despisers, and a correction to his children.

Fausset: The very evils which men think to escape by neglecting God’s ordinances, they actually bring on themselves by such unbelieving neglect.


Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:1.—לְרָֽרְיֶָשׁ. Some MSS. of Hagg., Zech., Dan., and Ezra read רָּרְיָוֶשׁ (Doryavesh), and others, רַּרְיָוֶשׁ. The correctness of the common reading is established by the forms Dâryavush and Dârayavush, found in the Cuneiform Inscriptions. The name is usually held to be derived from the Zendic dar, to preserve, Sanskrit dhar, the normal and root form of the verb dhri. The explanation of Herodotus (6:98), ἑρξείης, coercitor, conservator, is therefore probably correct.

Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:1.—זְרֻבָּבֶל is a name derived from זְרוּי and בָּבֶל (Dispersed to Babylon), or from זְרוּעַ and בָּבֶל (Begotten in Babylon). As Zerubbabel was probably born during the Exile, it is impossible to determine which is the correct explanation. Either etymology would of course account for the doubling of the first Beth. Ayin is dropped in the name שְׁמוּאֵל, from שְׁמוּעַ and אֵל.

Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:1.—פַּחַת. The derivation of this word cannot be said to be yet settled. The commonly received etymology (suggested by Benfey) from the Sanskrit paksha, a companion (of the king), from which the modern term pasha is also supposed to be derived, is disputed by Spiegel, chiefly on the ground that the word is not found in the Eranian languages. He proposes to derive from the form pâvan, from pâ. to defend, which occurs in Zend and Sanskrit at the end of compounds (e. g., khsatrapâvan, satrap, a defender of the kingdom), and in the Avesta as a separate word in the contracted form pavan. He then conjectures a dialectic variation, pagvan, to account more naturally for our word.

Haggai 1:2; Haggai 1:2.—לֹא עֵתה־בֹּאִ. The only plausible defense for reading בָּא, and rendering: the time has not come, as all the ancient translators have done, as well as most of the English and early Continental expositors, is that according to the received reading the infinitive would be written defectively. This, however, is quite common (comp. Exodus 2:18; Leviticus 14:48; Num 32:9; 1 Kings 14:28; Isaiah 20:1). Moore and; Henderson retain the inf. and yet give the above translation. This can be assumed as correct only on the supposition that the inf. is used absolutely as equivalent to a finite verb. The position, however, that such a construction can be adopted when no finite verb precedes in the sentence, is very precarious, really resting only upon Ezekiel 1:14 (comp. Green, Heb. Gr., § 268, 1 a, and Ewald, § 280 a). But there is not the least necessity of resorting to it; for the translation here adopted, and held by most of the recent German expositors, is quite natural and agreeable to the context. For the construction of the last clause of the verse, see Green, § 267 b; Ewald, § 237 c.

Haggai 1:4; Haggai 1:4.—אַתֶּם. On this emphatic repetition of the pers. pronoun, see Ewald, § 105 f., and comp. Jeremiah 2:31.

Haggai 1:4; Haggai 1:4.—סְפוּנִים. This is one of the rare cases in which an adjective qualifying a definite substantive is without the article.

Haggai 1:6; Haggai 1:6.—The absol inf. being properly a verbal noun, &אָכוֹל הָבֵא , etc., depend upon זרַעְתֶּם, and are determined in sense by it; see Green, § 268, 1. The literal translation therefore is: Ye have sown much, and (there was) a bringing in of little, etc.

Haggai 1:8; Haggai 1:8.—The impersonal force of the absol. inf. above suggested by the employment in the last clause but one of לוֹ instead of לָכֶם, which would be naturally expected; literally: there was a clothing (of one‘s self), and it was not for warming to him.

Haggai 1:6; Haggai 1:6.—In the last clause we have a pregnant construction: earns wages (and puts them) into a purse with holes.

Haggai 1:8; Haggai 1:8.—The keri is וְאֶכָּבְרָה, which is also found in some MSS. in Kennicott. The He paragogic in the “voluntative” future occurs regularly in sentences denoting a consequence (Ewald, § 347 a.). But it is sometimes absent (comp. Zechariah 1:3 with Malachi 3:7). Its omission in וְאֶרְצֶה decides nothing, since it is appended but very rarely to לה verbs (Green, § 172, 3; Ewald, § 228 c.). The letter ה representing the number five, its omission here has been regarded by later Talmudists as betokening that the Second Temple was deprived of the five following things: (1) The Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat and the Cherubim; (2) The Sacred Fire; (3) The Shekinah; (4) The Holy Spirit: (5) The Urim and Thummim.

Haggai 1:9; Haggai 1:9.—פָּנֹה. The inf. abs. occurs here without any finite verb preceding, unlike the construction in Haggai 1:6. See the grammatical remarks upon that verse. It is therefore strictly a verbal noun: (there was) a looking for much, etc. Such a mode of expression often indicates a certain degree of emotion, “after the utterance of which the ordinary manner of speaking Is easily resumed” (Ewald, § 328 b). Accordingly a finite verb, הְַבֵאתֶם, is found in the next clause.

Haggai 1:9; Haggai 1:9.—Before לִמְעָט some such verb as הָיָה is to be understood: (it came) to little.

Haggai 1:9; Haggai 1:9.—יַעַן מֶה. This is one of the numerous cases cited by Ewald (§ 182 b), in which מֶה occurs for מָה without any assignable cause. Köhler suggests that the analogy of עַר מֶַה כּמֶּה בַּמֶּה might possibly explain the change as being occasioned by a preceding preposition. The laws of Hebrew vocalization are, however, determined by the form and not by the meaning of words, and the existence of such anomalies as מֶה קוֹל (1 Samuel 4:14), מֶה סשְׁפַּט (2 Kings 2:7), would seem to show that further investigation would be hopeless.

Verses 12-15


On the Repentance of the People, God’s Presence among Them is promised

Haggai 1:12-15

12And Zerubbabel, son of Shaltiel,14 and Joshua, son of Josadak, the High Priest, and all the rest of the people, listened to the voice of Jehovah their God, and to the words of Haggai the Prophet, according as Jehovah their God had sent him; 13and the people feared before Jehovah. Then Haggai the Prophet of Jehovah spoke to the people on the mission of Jehovah, saying: I am with you, saith Jehovah. 14And Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, son of Shaltiel, Governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua, son of Josadak, the High Priest, and the spirit of all the rest of the people, and they came and worked upon the House of Jehovah 15of Hosts their God, On the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the King.15


The effect of the Prophet’s words upon the people was powerful and abiding, and upon the very first indication of a change in their disposition, he is commissioned to tell them that God’s favor had already returned, and that He would assist them in their labors. The work is then speedily recommenced under the influence of that new zeal with which Jehovah inspires both leaders and people.

Haggai 1:12. The dispute among the expositors as to whether שְׁאֵרִית הָצָם means: the remnant of the people, those left from the Captivity, or: the rest of the people would seem to be needless, as it is only those who listened to the Prophet’s discourses that are described here, and they were assuredly not “all the remnant” of the people. It is true that the address had been delivered on a feast day; but from the religious character of the community at that time, we can hardly suppose that it had assembled in a body to worship. Nor can it be a later occasion that is alluded to, when they might be fully represented. In that case we would have to take יִשְׁמַע as meaning that they obeyed the voice of the Lord. Their obedience is not exhibited before Haggai 1:14-15, and what the present verse must mean is, that they were listening to the words above recorded. The words of Haggai the Prophet are, doubtless, not an additional discourse of Haggai unrecorded; they explain, by hendiadys, the voice of Jehovah their God, the message just delivered. It is unnecessary, with Koehler, Keil, et al., to render צַל רְּבַר, according to. It is in fact questionable whether בְּ and צַל indicate any difference in the application of שׁמצ. In 2 Kings 20:13; Jeremiah 23:16, צַל is used with this verb in the sense of listening to. כַּאְַשֶׁר has here chiefly a causal sense. They discerned in the words of Haggai, the voice of God, and they listened to his address because he attested himself to be God’s messenger. And the people feared before Jehovah. This clause indicates one of the causes of the rapt attention of the people, as well as its most important result.

Haggai 1:13. I am with you, saith Jehovah. This brief message,16 delivered at this crisis, is one of great significance in the experience of the people as reflected in the discourses of the Prophet. The fact that God could now promise his presence and assistance is proof that their fear before Him was followed by sincere repentance. In their ultimate significance the words themselves contain the only explanation of the immediate revival of the community, political and religious.

Haggai 1:14-15. The promised presence and assistance of God, immediately vouchsafed, were manifested in the rekindled ardor of the discouraged leaders, who, with the repentant people, were now animated to engage with cheerful alacrity in the work to which they were summoned. After about three weeks spent in preparing material sufficient to justify the inception of the work, the walls of the Second Temple began again to rise from the foundations which had been laid fifteen years before by the same people.


It is a decisive moment in the life of an individual or of a people when they are addressed with words of solemn warning, and discern therein the voice of God. On submission or indifference to those words is suspended their weal or woe, their glory or ruin. Let them but listen with that saving fear (יִרְאָה, Haggai 1:12) which is not hopeless terror, but in reality the birth-throes of a new and living hope, and Jehovah of Hosts Himself comes to be with them; and that not only for inspiration but also for help; the one being the condition of all noble exertion, the other the sure pledge of its triumph.


Haggai 1:12. Successful preachers need not ascribe to themselves the merit of the results of their labors. It is the voice of God which makes their hearers listen.—Whom God would make strong for his service He first subdues to his fear.

Haggai 1:13-14. The presence of God in our labors: (1) The conditions on which it may be secured; (1) The conditions on which it may be secured; (2) Its influences upon our souls; (3) Its consequences in our achievements.

Burck: “I am with you:” here all former threatening is recalled, and all former disobedience forgiven: When God, the Prime Mover, moves the heart, then the work moves forward.

Matthew Henry: When God has work to do, He will either find or make men fit to do it, and stir them up to it. Those that have lost time have need to redeem time.

Moore: God is waiting to be gracious, and will meet the returning wanderer, even before his hand has begun the work of his service.


Haggai 1:12; Haggai 1:12.—שַׁלְתִּיאִל, The first א is dropped here, as in Haggai 1:14 and Haggai 2:2; see Green, § 53, 3 a.

Haggai 1:15; Haggai 1:15.—Some MSS. and editions transfer this verse to the beginning of next chapter. The ordinary division is shown to be correct by the disagreement of dates in successive verses, which the other arrangement would involve.

[16]The phrase “messenger of Jehovah” is not applied to prophets exclusively; see Malachi 2:7, where it is employed of the priests. It was a term more appropriate to the province of the former, but, especially in later when prophecy was retiring more into the background, its functions were often naturally transferred in some measure to the former, who thus became teachers of the people. Comp. Hävernick, Einleitung, § 196.

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Haggai 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.