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HAGGAI CHAPTER 2
Haggai encourageth the people to the work, by promise of greater glory to the second temple than was in the first, Haggai 2:1-9. Under the type of things holy and unclean he showeth that their sins had kept back God’s blessings, which he promiseth them from that time, Haggai 2:10-19. God’s promise to Zerubbabel, Haggai 2:20-23.
The seventh month, which the Hebrews called Tisri, and Ethanim, and it answers to part of our September and to part of October.
The one and twentieth day; some seven weeks after the first, mentioned in the first chapter, and about one month after they began to build, or at least prepared for building the temple.
Came the word of the Lord by the prophet Haggai: see Haggai 1:1.
Speak now; once again acquaint them with what I now impart for their encouragement.
To Zerubbabel, & c.: see Haggai 1:1,Haggai 1:12.
Who is left among you? there are surely some that are of that age as to have seen the temple which our father’s sins, God’s just displeasure, and the Chaldean malice burnt; who are they? and where may they be found? This question implieth there were such, and by Ezra 3:12,Ezra 3:13 it appears there were many, for the cries and sobs of them equalled the shouts of the younger, who rejoiced to see the foundations of the second house laid.
That saw; took notice of it then, and remember it now, that were of such age and knowledge as to remember what was standing in its glory one hundred and fifty years ago, if some conjecture aright, but, what is nearer to truth, who remember some fourscore years past, who are about one hundred years of age.
This house; the house of God, the temple built by Solomon.
In her first glory; in the stately structure of it, in the rich adornings of it, in the unparalleled skill and curiosity of its workmanship, when it was the glory of the world.
How do ye see it now? do you see the same glorious structure going forward? have you expectation of one equal to the former temple? You cannot but recall the former to mind, and make your judgment of this by that.
Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? do you not judge this second nothing comparable with the first? you are ready to say, (in proverbial speech,) It is nothing to it.
In this juncture, though old men weep for the disproportion of the two temples, yet now be strong; be of good courage yourselves, O Zerubbabel, and thou, O Joshua, and encourage others by your example, animate each other, that all the people of the land may take heart with you.
And work; forthwith set about the building of the temple.
For I am with you, both to defend you from enemies, to supply you with necessaries, to bless and accept you: see Haggai 1:1.
The word; either the word of promise to give them his presence, and to carry them through all opposition, or, the Word, the Son of God, promised to them and us; so it refers to Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen.
That I covenanted with you; in solemnest manner reduced to the form and model of a covenant, that it might be sure and firm to you, as to your fathers, in whose time I made this covenant, and with you in them.
When ye came out of Egypt; when I brought you out of Egypt, the house of bondage.
My spirit, of strength and courage, of wisdom and understanding, of zeal and fervency, to carry you through this work, remaineth among you; still doth dwell in you, shall be continued to you, and give direction and success.
Fear ye not; let no discouraging surmises settle in your mind or weaken your hands. There were as many improbabilities lay in bar to your getting out of Egypt, yet my word, covenant, and Spirit overcame all; fear not therefore, I am the same, and with you, as with your father’s.
Yet once; after many repetitions and confirmations of the new covenant, one more repetition, and but one more, rests to be made.
It is a little while; comparatively it was little; though five hundred and seventeen years from the second of Darius Hystaspes to the incarnation of Christ, a long time to us, who are short-lived, and short-sighted, but a little time compared with that between the first promise to Adam and Christ’s coming; or take any other shorter period, as between Abraham or David and Christ, this last period is short, a little while.
I will shake; whether it be metaphorical or literal, it was verified at the time of Christ’s coming into the world. After the return of the captivity, what with the commotions among the Grecians, Persians, and Romans, which began soon after this time, (the prophet points at this,) it was metaphorically fulfilled, all states were shaken either with invasions from abroad, or intestine dissensions among themselves: literally it was fulfilled by prodigies, and earthquakes, &c., as some have observed and recounted, at the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ.
The heavens; either states and governments of the world, or church affairs, which in Scripture are called the heavens; or the material heavens, and the firmament.
The earth, which, either figuratively or literally taken, will agree well with the text, and the history of times.
The sea; one part of that which is called earth, this lower globe.
The dry land, the other part of this inferior world; and both may, as former words, be literally or figuratively taken, and which better I do not undertake to determine.
I will shake all nations; which was literally fulfilled in the overthrow of the Persian monarchy by the Grecians, in the civil wars and succeeding troubles among Alexander’s successors, the growth of the Roman power by the subduing their neighbours, and their dissensions and homebred wars, all hushed by Augustus a little before Christ’s birth. These convulsions began a little after this prophecy, and continued long, in which the Jews, under the Maccabees, had their share.
The Desire of all nations shall come; Christ, the most desirable, because the most helpful to all nations, which some proselytes in all ages did come to the knowledge of, and did earnestly desire; and who was desired by all that knew their own misery. and his sufficiency to save them, who was to be the light of the Gentiles as well as the glory of his people Israel. The Messiah’s coming (the Jews do own) is foretold in this text, yet will they not see how this
yet a little while is long since past, and the true Messiah long since come.
I will fill this house, which you now build, this second temple. The first had a fulness of glory in its magnificent structure, rich ornaments, and costly sacrifices, but this was a worldly glory; that which is here promised is a heavenly glory from the presence of Christ in it. He that was the brightness of his Father’s glory, who is the glory of the church, appeareth in this second temple.
With glory, of my presence, preaching, healing, and comforting, saith the Messiah, the King of glory, who entered these everlasting doors, Psalms 24:7,Psalms 24:8. This was before the desolation of this temple by the Romans, a demonstration that the Messiah should come whilst this second temple stood. But now the hardened Jew seeks to evade this text.
Saith the Lord of hosts: this is a solemn sealing the certainty of the thing in this prophet, and Zechariah, and Malachi, who style him Lord of hosts near a hundred times.
The right as indisputable, the treasures of both as full and large, doubt not therefore but I will give enough to build this house; and I could beautify it with these as much as the first temple, but I intend a greater glory. I am the Proprietor, others but trustees; I have the full disposal of all.
The glory, which God intends to put upon this temple. Solomon. and a rich people, with incredible spoils taken from conquered nations, gave a glory to the first house, but God himself will give the glory of this house.
This latter house, which poor captives and feudatory governors do build, this second temple: the prophet speaks of it as if it were already a house, whereas it was now to be built. What God accounts a glory, must be somewhat better than silver and gold.
Greater than of the former; more truly glory, and in higher degrees; the least of Christ is greater glory than all the magnificence of Solomon. There were no more but two houses built by God’s appointment, into the latter of which the Messiah was personally to come, as Malachi 3:1; therefore he came before that latter temple was destroyed, that is, 1684 years ago, when at two months old he was presented in the temple, embraced and confessed by Simeon, some seventy years before the temple was burnt by the Romans.
In this place; in my house, type of Christ, and who is the glory of it.
Will I give peace; a spiritual, internal, and heavenly peace, in pardoning guilt and destroying sin, which displeaseth God, and disquieteth man himself. Christ made peace on his cross, preached or published it to the world, and gives it to them by the power of his Spirit.
Saith the Lord of hosts; solemnly avowed by the Lord of hosts, who cannot deceive, or be deceived.
This tenth verse is an introduction to the fourth solemn discourse or sermon the prophet makes to this people, and there is nothing difficult in it but what hath been opened already.
In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month; two months and two days after the third sermon, Haggai 2:2.
The ninth month, Heb. Casleu; part of our November and December. Darius; which Darius this was, see Haggai 1:1,Haggai 1:15. Haggai: see Haggai 1:3.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts: the prophet comes with his double parable, or problem, but not of his own head, but in the name of the Lord of hosts.
Ask; consult with, desire the solution of the following case.
The priests; whose office bound them to study the law, and to answer all cases of conscience, their lips should retain knowledge, Malachi 2:7.
Concerning the law; what the law saith in the case; not what the church, but what the Scripture saith.
If one, any one, bear, carry away from the altar, or the priest’s hands,
holy flesh, part of the sacrifice, legally and ceremonially sanctified, or made holy by the altar on which the whole was sanctified, of which a part is supposed to be carried away
in the skirt of his garment, in the lap of his garment, or in any other cloth or napkin, and this cloth touch any common thing,
as bread, & c., shall that common thing by such contact become legally or ceremonially holy?
The priests answered: who these priests were is not mentioned, but it is likely that there were some among the people who did by the prophet’s persuasion go and propose the case, and they received the answer as here in the negative, for neither mediate nor yet immediate touch of holy things could make common things or unholy persons holy.
Now the second case is proposed for resolution, &c.
If one that is unclean; ceremonially or legally polluted, and unclean.
By a dead body; for such touch, though at unawares, did pollute, Numbers 19:13.
Touch any of these; bread or pottage, wine, or oil, or meat.
Shall it be unclean? shall that which the unclean (by touch of the dead) doth touch become unclean, or no? Though a mediate touch of what is holy will not make holy, yet will not a mediate touch of what is polluted defile whatsoever it toucheth?
It shall be unclean; it is resolved affirmatively, It shall be polluted.
Now is the case applied. As common things touched by holy things are not sanctified, and as polluted persons touching what is clean pollute it; as holy things did not by touch and bodily application make him legally holy who was common, but a polluted person made all he touched and handled unclean; so unsanctified and polluted Jews polluted God’s ordinances, while the outward performing of legal and ceremonial duties, such as bringing, offering, eating, dragging about their legal sacrifices, left them as unholy in themselves and as unacceptable to God as they were before. Somewhat more then is to be done. The soul is first to be purified, that they and we may offer up a pure offering.
So is the people; the body of the Jews, or the most part of them.
So is this nation: this ingeminateth the same thing, to intimate to us how God resenteth it, and how we should be affected with it.
Before me; in God’s account, or in his sight, who seeth indeed what men are, and what their actions are.
So is every work of their hands; whatever they do in sacred or civil matters, they make a shift to pollute all by polluted hands, by leprous touches.
That which they offer there, what they do bring to the altar with impure hearts and hands, is more polluted by them than sanctified by the altar.
Is unclean; really impure; though it seem externally clean and holy, it is unsuitable to the purity of a holy God. In sanctified actions all is spoiled by unsanctified hearts. Thence it is that uncleanness is derived on their best works, and consecrated rites do not, cannot sanctify profane spirits.
And now; furthermore consider.
I pray you: he affectionately entreats them to observe.
From this day; this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, Haggai 2:10. And upward, through past years; trace year after year, and your successes and disappointments in them, observe all years past before you would set upon the rebuilding of the temple after you had intermitted it; some years passed, ten, or fifteen, or twenty, or forty, (or more say some,) between your surceasing from the work and beginning to rebuild.
Before a stone was laid upon a stone; the prophet meaneth either before they began to lay one stone upon another in the foundation laid in Cyrus’s time, or before they began to lay the foundation of the walls of the courts and outward edifices.
In the temple; either strictly taken for the house of God, or more largely for the rest of the buildings about the house: this tacitly reproves their sloth; it was the temple they neglected, which they did long for in Babylon.
Of the Lord; so much the greater their sin, for that it was the Lord’s temple was slighted.
Since those days; all that while the temple lay neglected, and you were contented with maimed and half worship, men were disappointed half in half.
When one came to a heap, which he expected would prove twenty measures, ephahs, or bushels, or what other measure you please,
there were but ten; it proved but half your hopes; thus your corn failed: but your oil much more failed, and you found but two where you expected five: this barrenness you cannot be ignorant of.
I smote; my hand was visible in your losses, scarcity, and disappointments.
You; the persons put for their labours, their corn, vines, and olives.
With blasting; burning and scorching winds, that blasted all.
With mildew; with too much clammy moisture, that like glue cleaves to fruits, and turns to a corrupting of them.
With hail; which in these colder countries many times by its violence destroys corn, fruits, and trees, but in those countries doth it oftener. Now here was in these somewhat more of the hand of God, and so the punishment was, as more grievous, so more visible.
All the labours; in your ploughing and sowing for harvest, in planting of olives and vines for a vintage.
You turned not to me; you did not see my hand, though you felt it, you did not repent of your sinful neglect of me, my worship, and temple, nor thought of building my house.
Saith the Lord; this attested with God’s own hand for witness hereto.
See Haggai 2:15. Make you observation from the day when you began to build on the old foundation laid many years ago in the time of Cyrus.
Consider it; let that be the precise day from which you begin your reckoning. By this the prophet excites them to believe and wait, since he doth in the name of the Lord so expressly promise a blessing, and tells them when it shall begin to come unto them, and would have them observe how truly he speaks.
Your seed for the next harvest is yet in your barns, unsown, and no one can make any conjecture yet, whether next year’s increase shall be great and blessed, or whether it shall be blasted and little; I do not speak, saith Haggai, on conjecture, but in the name of the Lord foretell and promise you, that it shall be a plentiful harvest to you. Nor have your fruit trees yet put forth, no sign yet appears what vintage you shall have, what store of wine, oil, figs, and pomegranates, which are your choice and rich fruits; but in the word of God I tell you, you shall be blessed in them all, and have a large produce, a joyful vintage.
From this day: see Haggai 2:10,Haggai 2:15.
I will bless you, in all your labour; as before you were blasted in all because you neglected, so now you shall be blessed in all because you diligently build, the temple of the Lord.
See Haggai 2:10,Haggai 2:15.
Speak my word, and in my name, saith the Lord.
To Zerubbabel governor of Judah: see Haggai 1:1,Haggai 1:12.
I will shake the heavens and the earth: see Haggai 2:6.
I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms: now Babylonians are subjected to the Persian power, and this standeth on the strength of many kingdoms, and seems to be one throne secured by all the power of the known world, and can hardly be hoped to be hereafter better than an enemy and opposer of the Jews, and their restoring of the worship of God: for comfort in this case here is foretold God’s overthrowing them, in case they oppose.
I will destroy the strength: this seems an explaining of the former, and a confirming it too. Though the Gentiles of many kingdoms united in all their strength, set to hinder this work, this shall succeed so contrary to their expectation, that not you, but they shall find destruction as the end thereof; which was verified in the successive ruin of the Persian, Grecian, and Syrian kingdoms, all which oppressed the church, and were destroyed for it.
Every one by the sword of his brother: this passage foreshows that God will, by suffering civil wars to arise among these nations, ruin them by themselves, as in truth they did: now whilst those commotions and overthrows perplex and hurt the Jews, yet they were an occasion sometimes of some respite to them; their enemies were engaged on other designs, and could not mind mischief to the Jews.
In that day; during those days of troubles, wars, and destruction, and particularly towards the end of them. I will take thee; advance, honour, defend, and own. O Zerubbabel: personally understood it respecteth the beginning of those days. Politically understood, it refers to all those times in which God promiseth he would, and indeed did, preserve, guide, and honour such governors of his people, who were as Zerubbabel was; somewhat of which promise and performance you may observe in the times succeeding unto, and through, the Maccabees’ times. Typically this refers to Christ, and the setting up of is kingdom, shadowed out by the government of Zerubbabel. My servant: the style changed seems to point to him who was God’s most beloved servant, Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 52:13. The son of Shealtiel, who was one of the progenitors of the Messiah, Matthew 1:12; Luke 3:27. Will make thee as a signet: which is very highly valued, carefully kept, and used to confirm and ratify gifts, edicts, and patents, Daniel 6:17. So shall the antitypical Zerubbabel, the Messiah, be advanced, loved, and inviolably preserved King, and supreme over his church, for he is the chosen One, the beloved One, in whom God was well pleased, as the Chaldee paraphrast, and Matthew 3:17.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Haggai 2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30