Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Haggai 2:14

Then Haggai said, "‘So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,' declares the Lord , ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Wicked (People);   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Sins, National;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Zechariah, book of;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Consecrate;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Haggai;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Zerubbabel;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Haggai ;   Zerubbabel ;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Defile;   Haggai;   Joshua (3);  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Then answered Haggai - So is this people - As an unclean man communicates his uncleanness to every thing he touches, so are ye unclean; and whatever ye have hitherto done is polluted in the sight of God. For your neglect of my temple has made you unclean, as if you had contracted legal pollution by touching a dead body.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Haggai 2:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/haggai-2.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

Haggai 2:14

So is every work of their hands, and that which they offer there is unclean.

Works and pure hearts

They who have imbibed the true fear of God, do rightly serve Him though they may bring only a crumb of incense, and that others only profane the worship of God, though they bring many oxen; as a heathen poet says, “An impious right hand does not rightly worship the celestials.” The philosophers ever hold this principle--that no sacrifice is rightly offered to God except the mind be right and pure. But yet the philosophers, as well as the poets, adopted this false notion, by which Satan beguiled all men, that God is pacified by ceremonies: hence have proceeded so many expiations, in which foolish men trusted, and by which they thought that God would be propitious to them, though they obstinately continued daily to procure for themselves new punishments, and, as it were, avowedly to carry on war with God Himself. The prophet says that men not only lose all their labour, but also contract new pollution, when they seek to pacify God by their sacrifices, unaccompanied by inward purity. Works, however splendid they may appear before our eyes, are of no value or importance before God, except they flow from a pure heart. The fountain of works I consider to be integrity of heart, and the design and end is, when the object of men is to obey God, and to consecrate their life to Him. (John Calvin.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Haggai 2:14". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/haggai-2.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"Then answered Haggai and said, So is this people and so is this nation before me, saith Jehovah; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean. And now, I pray you, consider from this day and backward, before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of Jehovah."

Thus, Haggai applied the analogy we have already discussed under the previous verses. Yes, the altar they had erected upon the original site, in conformity to God's law, was "holy", but the sinful nation (continuing in their neglect of sacred duty) were unholy still, and, therefore, the very sacrifices they offered were themselves unholy through contamination by contact with the sinful nation. The sinful nation would have to make some changes before blessings could be bestowed.

"Consider from this day and backward ..." This was a call for the people to look back over the past fourteen years of their shameful neglect of the principal purpose for which they had been allowed by the Father to return to their homeland, and to observe the stark lack of God's blessing. He then proceeded to specify exactly what had been taking place. Why had not God blessed them? The whole nation was defiled through their long neglect of sacred duty and the two generations of contact with Babylonian paganism.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Haggai 2:14". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/haggai-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then answered Haggai, and said,.... To the priests, and before the people; and made an application of these things to them, which was the thing in view in putting the questions:

So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; not only those people that were present and at work at the temple, but those that were absent, even the whole body of the people; who, though they were pure in their own eyes, yet were not so before the Lord; who knew their hearts, and the spring of all their actions; what were their ends and views in all they did: as a garment carrying in it holy flesh could not sanctify other things touched by it that were common and profane, but left them as they were; so their ritual devotions, and externally holy actions, did not and could not sanctify their impure hearts, but left them as unclean as before; nor did they sanctify their common mercies, their bread, pottage, wine, and oil: and, on the other hand, as an impure person made everything impure he touched; so they, being impure in heart, all their actions, even their religious ones, were impure also, as follows:

and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean; pointing at the altar, which they had built, and offered sacrifice on ever since they came out of Babylon, though the temple was not yet built, Ezra 3:3 but all their outward religious services, and all the sacrifices they offered up, were in the Lord's account impure and abominable, as well as themselves; coming from an unsanctified heart, and offered up with unclean hands, and without repentance towards God, and faith in Christ; and living in other respects in disobedience to God, and especially while they neglected the building of the temple; satisfying themselves with offering sacrifices on the altar, when the house of God lay desolate; which is the principal thing respected, as appears by what follows.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/haggai-2.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Then answered Haggai — rather, “Then Haggai answered (in rejoinder to the priests‘ answer) and said” [Maurer].

so is this people — heretofore not in such an obedient state of mind as to deserve to be called My people (Titus 1:15). Here he applies the two cases just stated. By the first case, “this people” is not made “holy” by their offerings “there” (namely, on the altar built in the open air, under Cyrus, Ezra 3:3); though the ritual sacrifice can ordinarily sanctify outwardly so far as it reaches (Hebrews 9:13), as the “holy flesh” sanctified the “skirt,” yet it cannot make the offerers in their persons and all their works acceptable to God, because lacking the spirit of obedience (1 Samuel 15:22) so long as they neglected to build the Lord‘s house. On the contrary, by the second case, they made “unclean” their very offerings by being unclean through “dead works” (disobedience), just as the person unclean by contact with a dead body imparted his uncleanness to all that he touched (compare Hebrews 9:14). This all applies to them as they had been, not as they are now that they have begun to obey; the design is to guard them against falling back again. The “there” points to the altar, probably in view of the audience which the prophet addressed.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Haggai 2:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/haggai-2.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.

So — Polluted persons, touching what is clean, pollute it, so polluted Jews, polluted God's ordinances, while the outward performing of legal duties, left them as unholy in themselves, 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.

The people — The body of the Jews.

Every work — Whatever they do, they pollute all by polluted hands.

Offer — What they bring to the altar with impure hearts, is polluted by them.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/haggai-2.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Haggai 2:14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So [is] this people, and so [is] this nation before me, saith the LORD and so [is] every work of their hands; and that which they offer there [is] unclean.

Ver. 14. So is this people, and so is this nation before me] Though pure in their own eyes, Proverbs 30:12, and to the world-ward unrebukeable, as Paul the Pharisees, Philippians 2:14-15, and those self-justiciaries, Luke 16:14-15 "Ye are those that justify yourselves" (and have the world’s good word for you), "but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." Sordet in conspectu iudicis quod fulget in conspectu operantis. Filthy in the sight of the judge who glisten in the sight of their works. Wicked men’s services are but glistering sins ( splendida peccata), they rejoice in a thing of nought, as Amos hath it, Amos 6:13, like as Leah rejoiced in that whereof she had cause to repent, and said, "God hath given me my hire," when she had more cause to say, God, I fear, will give me my hire, my payment, "because I have given my maiden to my husband," Genesis 30:18. But she was in the common error of measuring and judging of things by the success; as if God were not many times angry with men, though they outwardly prosper; or as if there were not here one event to the clean and to the unclean, Ecclesiastes 9:2. Until the day that God shall separate the sheep from the goats, whom for the glory of his name and the good of his people he suffers for present to go one among another, to make his own to stick the faster together and to their principles. Shepherds say that it is wholesome for a flock of sheep to have some goats to feed among them; their bad scent being good medicine for the sheep, to keep them from the shakings. (a) Only let God’s sheep take heed that they contract no corruption by conversing with goats; which is soon done, for sin is catching, and ill company is contagious. Nemo errat sibi ipsi; sed dementiam spargit in proxiruos, saith Seneca, No man errs out of the right way alone, but draws others along. And multos sollicitat societas nefauda, saith Chrysostom, evil company soliciteth many to sin. Virtue is oft overcome by vice, saith Nazianzen, as a little wormwood sooner embittereth a great deal of honey than twice so much honey can sweeten a small deal of wormwood; or as one spoonful of vinegar will soon sour a great deal of sweet milk; but a great deal of milk will not so soon allay one spoonful of vinegar. Remove but one stone, and the whole river will rush downward; but you can hardly stop the stream again with a strong dam. Touch pitch and you shall presently be defiled, but touch soap and you shall not presently be made clean without much rubbing and rinsing. Mezentius the tyrant, Corpora a corporibus iungebat mortua vivis, tied living men to dead carcasses; but the dead did not revive the living, the living rather putrefied by reason of the dead. He that bore consecrated flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt touched bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any food, he made it not thereby holy. But if an unclean person touched any of these he made it unclean. The Donatists abused this text, to prove that baptism was defiled and vacated if administrated by an unregenerate minister; but Augustine again, against Fulgentius the Donatist, vindicateth the text from their false glosses, and asserteth from it the contrary truth. May not clean grain be sowed with foul hands, and grow nevertheless? May not a trumpet be well sounded by an impure breath? And is not the water in baptism, that cleanseth the child, cast afterwards into the draught? saith Gregory, Aqua baptismatis baptizatos ad regnum caelestis mittit, et ipsa postea in cloacam descendit.

So is this people, and so is that nation before me, and so is every work of their hands, and that which they offer, &c.] Note the order of the induction. First, themselves were unclean, both people and nation; there was a general defection and defilement ran through all sorts and sexes, as the woof runs through the warp; so that they were all together but one continued web of wickedness, as it were, spun out and made up by the hands of the devil, and the flesh, an evil spinner, and a worse weaver; both root and fruit were nought, as Isaiah 5:4, both head, heart, and foot were out of order, Isaiah 1:5-6, and they are barely and boldly told of it by the prophets. Secondly, the works of their hands were unclean; for not only the praying, but "the plowing of the wicked, is sin," Proverbs 21:4, all their natural and civil actions also are abominable. Whether they plough, or play, or eat, or sleep: corruption is like copperas, (b) which will turn wine or milk into ink; or leaven, which turns a very passover into pollution; or as the sanies of a plague sore, which will render the richest robe infectious. Thirdly, that which they offer there, their sacrifices and all their religious performances, were likewise unclean; not in respect of God, who commanded them; nor of the matter, for they offered clean beasts; but of the manner of offering (which makes or mars the action), and of the men, who were unregenerate, and rested in the work done, and drew near to God with their lips, thinking to put God off with an external worship only; Ludenies cum Deo tanquam pueri cum suis puppis, as Calvin hath it, that is, playing with God, as children do with their babies. The poets declaimed against this foppery, as Persius; and another, Non bene caelestes impia dextra colit.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/haggai-2.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

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.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Haggai 2:14". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/haggai-2.html. 1685.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Haggai then made an application of this principle to the people for the Lord. Their sacrifices were unacceptable to God because they were unclean. They should not think that contact with something holy, such as the temple they were working to complete, made them acceptable to God. They had previously been unclean, so their present sacrifices were unacceptable to God.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Haggai 2:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/haggai-2.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

CHAPTER II.

By occasion of a soul. That is, by having touched the dead: in which case, according to the prescription of the law, (Numbers xix. 13, 22.) a person not only became unclean himself, but made everything that he touched unclean. The prophet applies all this to the people, whose souls remained unclean by neglecting the temple of God; and therefore were not sanctified by the flesh they offered in sacrifice, but rather defiled their sacrifices by approaching to them in the state of uncleanness. (Challoner)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Haggai 2:14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/haggai-2.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Then, &c. This is the application of verses: Haggai 2:11-13.

there. Referring to the altar which was set up before the building of the Temple. See Haggai 2:15. Compare Ezra 3:2, Ezra 3:3, with Haggai 2:6.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Haggai 2:14". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/haggai-2.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(14) That which they offer there—i.e., probably, “on yon altar,” but the expression is singular. In Ezra 3:3 we read, “And they set the altar upon his bases. . . . and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt offerings morning and evening.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/haggai-2.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.
So is this people
1:4-11; Proverbs 15:8; 21:4,27; 28:9; Isaiah 1:11-15; Titus 1:15; Jude 1:23
and that
Ezra 3:2,3
Reciprocal: Numbers 5:3 - defile not;  Joshua 7:12 - they were;  Ecclesiastes 5:6 - destroy;  Isaiah 52:11 - touch;  Malachi 3:9 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Haggai 2:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/haggai-2.html.