Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Haggai 2:17

I smote you and every work of your hands with blasting wind, mildew and hail; yet you did not come back to Me,' declares the Lord .
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Blasting;   Chastisement;   Hail;   Mildew;   Thompson Chain Reference - Agriculture;   Agriculture-Horticulture;   Blasting;   Impenitence;   Mildew;   Penitence-Impenitence;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Afflictions of the Wicked, the;   Famine;   Temple, the Second;  
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Farming;   Zechariah, book of;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Consecrate;   Haggai, Theology of;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Hail;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Haggai;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Blasting;   Famine and Drought;   Haggai;   Hail (Meterological);   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Agriculture;   Haggai;   Mildew;   Zerubbabel;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Messiah;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Haggai ;   Hail;   Zerubbabel ;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Blast;   Haggai;   Hail (1);   Joshua (3);   Mildew;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Color;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I smote you with blasting and mildew, - two diseases of grain, which Moses had foretold Deuteronomy 28:27. as chastisements on disobedience and God‘s infliction, of which Amos had spoken in these self-same words. Amos 4:9. Haggai adds the hail, as destructive of the vines. Psalm 78:47. Yet (And) ye turned you not to Me literally “there were none” - your, (accusative i. e., who turned you unto Me. The words are elliptical, but express the entire absence of conversion, of any who turned to God.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Haggai 2:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Haggai 2:17

I smote you with blasting, and with mildew, and with hail, in all the labours of your hands.

Blasting and mildew

Very useful and important are the fungi in the world’s busy household. They are working at “chemical problems which have puzzled a Liebig and a Lavoisier,” converting the noxious products of corruption into comely forms and nutritious substances, absorbing into living tissues effete matters which are fast hastening downwards to join the dark night of chaos and death. Parasites, most of them, upon dead plants, they economise the gases which would otherwise escape into the atmosphere and pollute it; and conserve, for the use of nobler forms, the subtle forces of life which would otherwise pass unprofitable into the mineral kingdom. It is one of the strangest things in the world, when we seriously think of it, to see a vigorous life-full cluster of fungi springing, phoenix-like, from a dead tree, exhausted of all its juices, bleached by the sun and rain of many summers, and ready to crumble into dust at the slightest touch. Death is here a new birth, and the grave a cradle. It is one of nature’s many analogies of the human resurrection. But the resemblance is superficial and incomplete. Wisely have the fungi been provided, in the rapidity of their growth, the simplicity of their structure, the variety of their forms, and their amazing numbers, for their appointed task in the economy of nature. Not a leaf that falls from the bough, not a blade that withers on the lea, but is seized by the tiny fangs of some special fungus ordained to prey upon it; not a spot of earth can we examine, where vegetable life is capable of growing, but we shall find a vegetable as well as an insect parasite, keeping its growth in check, hastening its decay, and preserving its remains from being wasted. And out of the eater, too, cometh forth meat. In carrying out the wise and gracious purposes for which they have been designed, the fungi not unfrequently overstep the limits of usefulness, and commit wholesale destruction. They purify man’s atmosphere, but they also destroy man’s food. If their ravages could be confined to useless plants; if they were employed solely in reducing weeds to decay, they would be welcomed by man as among his greatest helps and blessings. But nature knows no straight, arbitrary line of demarcation, such as we draw, between what is useless and what is useful. To every natural good there is a recoil of evil. The fungi are indiscriminate in their attacks. They seize upon the corn which strengthens man’s heart, as readily as upon the thorns and briars which cause him to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow. In this our fallen condition, we must always count upon the blasting and the mildew; upon the years to be eaten by the locust, the canker-worm, the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm, as surely as upon the covenant faithfulness of Him who promised that seed-time and harvest would never cease. Nature with reference to nature completely accomplishes her purposes; but nature with reference to man is not a perfect means to an end. Blasting and mildew were very frequent in Bible times and lands. So terrible were the ravages committed by these scourges, so sudden their appearance, so rapid their progress, so mysterious their origin and cause, that they were universally regarded not merely as a visitation of God, but as a special product of God’s creative power. The cause and the effect were confounded. Fear prevented the Israelites from investigating the nature of the phenomenon. Modern science has given the true interpretation of the riddle. Blasting and mildew are conclusively ascertained to be produced by plants,--to be the diseases occasioned by the growth of minute fungi. Ever since plants have existed, these vegetable parasites have preyed upon them. They appear in greater or less abundance every year. They are fostered into excessive growth by certain favourable conditions of soft and climate, and checked in their development by certain unfavourable conditions. They are the common place everyday product of nature’s laws. They are not special creations of God, but the ordinary growths of the vegetable kingdom. The miraculous element, in connection with God’s judgments, was their extraordinary development and sudden appearance in immediate connection with Divine threatenings. As science advances superstition retires, and the phenomena attributed to supernatural causes are found to have been produced by the operation of physical law. But the miracles of the Bible are untouched by this principle. Science may teach us the economy of miracles, but it cannot persuade us of their unreality and impossibility. A brief glance at the nature of the fungi concerned in the production of blasting and mildew may be interesting and instructive. It will teach us that nothing is so weak and small that the strength and wisdom of God cannot accomplish great ends by its instrumentality. There are four diseases in corn produced by fungi--smut, bunt, rust, and mildew. The black heads, covered with a soot-like dust, noticeable in the cornfields, are caused by a parasitic plant--a true fungus, capable of reproducing and extending itself indefinitely. The seed-vessels of this plant are exceedingly minute. One square inch of surface contains no less than eight millions; and if the seed-vessels be so small, what must the seeds themselves be? Bunt is even more destructive. It has an intolerable odour, like that of putrid fish. It is one of the common diseases to which wheat is subject. It confines its ravages entirely to the grain. It is rare to find any wheat-field altogether free from rust, or Red Robin. It is sometimes so abundant that a person passing among the stalks is completely painted with its rusty powder. It is found upon the wheat-plant at all stages of growth. The term mildew is vague and unsatisfactory. Properly it should be applied to a disease produced by a fungus known to botanists as Puccinia gaminis. It is derived from the Saxon words, Mehlthan, meaning “meal-dew.” it makes its first appearance in the cornfields in May or June, and first takes possession of the lower green leaves, which become sickly. When the corn is nearly or fully ripe, the straw and the culm are profusely streaked with blackish spots, ranging in length from a minute dot to an inch. These evils are found all over the world, wherever corn is grown. All these blights and mildews on the corn crops and the green crops may well be called by God, “My great army.” Individually minute and insignificant, by the sheer force of untold numbers they are mightier for harm than storms and earthquakes. It is indeed a fortunate circumstance that they refuse to grow generally except in stagnant ill-drained places, and under peculiar conditions of warmth and moisture; for, otherwise if, quick with life as they are, they were to germinate wherever they alighted, the fig-tree would not blossom, and there would be no fruit in the vines, the labour of the olives would fail, and the fields would yield no meat. (Hugh Macmillan, D. D.)

Insensibility under material evil

This insensibility, which prevents people from turning to the Lord, is a moral evil, and ought to be charged on the guilty.

1. Instances and examples of this insensibility (Isaiah 5:24-25; Isaiah 9:17; Isaiah 9:20-21; Amos 4:6-11; Jeremiah 5:3; Revelation 9:20-21). Human nature continues always the same. Some vices have a local and temporary prevalence. Insensibility is the palsy of the soul; a stupor that with respect to spiritual things seizeth all its faculties. Hence in its nature it is both immoral and penal; penal, as a judicial stroke on the minds and consciences of men from a righteous and provoked God; immoral, as a course of opposition to His Word and providence, comprehending what Scripture means by stopping the ear, shutting the eyes, hardening the neck, pulling away the shoulder, walking contrary to the Lord, and in the way of our own heart. This insensibility is a reigning principle in natural men. Redemption by Christ from the curse of the law secures His people against its dominion, and yet it frequently prevails and hurts the spiritual life.

2. Investigate its cause. That is atheism, which may be either gross or refined. Though seldom avowed, gross atheism has a secretly malignant influence on manners in the middle and lower ranks of society. There is a refined atheism among persons who profess to know God, and in works deny Him. The truths they hold are not operative and holy principles.

3. Charge this insensibility upon the guilty as a moral evil, which prevents them from turning to the Lord when He smites them with material evil.

(1) Those charged with it are the Lord’s people.

(2) The charge is made by a man invested with the authority of a prophet.

(3) The charge is made in the name of the Lord.

(4) He in whose name the charge is made knew it to be just.

(5) The charge was delivered publicly, in the hearing and presence of the guilty.

(6) The charge was designed to bring former misconduct to remembrance, and to encourage them to present duty.


1. Sinners are destroyers of their own comfort.

2. The course of nature fulfilleth the purpose and performeth the Word of the Lord.

3. The Lord hath kind intentions in smiting His people.

4. Sensible and material things are uncertain property. (A. Shanks.)

Material evil the scourge of moral evil

There are no dispensations prosperous or adverse, with which we are favoured or chastised, but in the Word of God everything may be found that is necessary to assist our exercise and regulate our behaviour under them. When people refuse to hear, they are sometimes smitten on a tender part, and constrained to feel.

1. Deal with material evil: such as blasting, mildew, and hail.

2. Deal with moral evil. This must be sin. Such as--

(1) Love to the world.

(2) Neglect of temple-building.

(3) A notion that material powers act of themselves, independent of God. This is a branch of atheism, and a virtual denial of the Divine overruling providence.

3. Show the efficiency of God in scourging with the one for the other.

(1) The Lord hath determined to smite and afflict with these evils.

(2) The Lord createth this evil, and giveth its commission. Till He have occasion for its service, it doth not exist.

(3) The Lord hath appointed and always observeth the seasons of smiting. The scourge is neither taken up nor laid down at random.

(4) Places where the evil is collected and inflicted are marked out by the justice of God.

(5) A portion of evil is measured out and allotted for each body of the executioners.


1. Moral evils among us have a striking resemblance to those which prevailed among the Israelites in the days of Haggai.

2. The Lord would be just were He to smite us, as He smote them. We have given Him provocation. Our light is clearer, our privileges are richer, and our iniquities exceed theirs in number and aggravation. Material evil is still at the Lord’s call, and ready to fulfil His Word. (A. Shanks.)

Temporal chastisements

The scope of the second part of this sermon is to show that however God will put difference betwixt workers, and knoweth who are sincere and who are not, yet to encourage them to be diligent in it, as being a work which He approves in itself, and which He will reward with temporal blessing, and a change of His former dispensations.

1. Though the Lord’s dispensations be visible and felt by all, yet the right considering and understanding of them is a work of much difficulty, and to which men need serious stirring up, especially to take up the right cause of them.

2. Famine and scarcity is one of the public scourges whereby the Lord chastises the sinful contempt and negligence of His people in His work and service; and He will be conspicuous in inflicting of it.

3. As it is the usual plague accompanying common judgments that they do not work upon the hearts of men, to draw them nearer God, but rather harden them; so such an impenitent disposition when God strikes, is a ground of further controversy; therefore He marks by the way their stupidity. “Yet ye turned not to Me, saith the Lord.”

4. However temporal things are not to be looked on as the chief reward of serving God, nor as absolutely promised, nor yet are they to be so much looked to under the Gospel, as the Church of the Jews might under their pedagogy; yet in this the promise, even concerning these things, holds good, that following God, hath the promise of this life, in so far as it is for the followers’ good; that God’s changing adversity into prosperity when a people set about His work, should be a confirmation to their faith, and strengthen their hands; that whatever adversity come on the Church, it is not to be fathered on God’s work, as if it had been the cause of her woe; that as neglecters of God’s work are real losers in their own affairs, and will prove so in the end, so followers of His work have a real advantage in it; and, in a word, that God’s work is never followed without a blessing evidenced some way or other to the godly’s satisfaction.

5. It is a profitable study to remark the advantages of following God, and to study encouragement in that duty. So much are we taught by the Lord’s exciting them to consider the change of His dealing, as trysting with the very day of their amending their fault.

6. God is so sovereign and absolute a Lord of all things, and hath times and seasons, blessings and cursings so in His hands, as He may undertake to do things, whereof there is no visible probability or certainty in the second causes, and can certainly perform them: therefore doth He undertake to bless them, when second causes and the season could speak no such thing.

7. It is the prerogative of God only to know future contingent events, which depend on times and seasons, and uncertain second causes, and their influences, but only by immediate revelation; this is held forth as God’s prerogative, by His extraordinary prophet, to foretell in the midst of winter, what the succeeding harvest should produce. (George Hutcheson.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Haggai 2:17". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"I smote you with blasting and mildew and with hail in all the work of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith Jehovah."

How does one view this? Could it be true that all they needed was some good fungicides and hail insurance? Well, how about the Med-fly in California this very day? We have plenty of fungicides and insecticides; and the point is that, no matter what men have, or fancy they have, they must also have the blessing of Almighty God in order to make it. Israel did not have it, and they were not making it!

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Haggai 2:17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

I smote you with blasting,.... That is, their fields and vineyards, with burning winds, which consumed them; with blights by east winds: this shows the reason of their disappointment, and that it was from the Lord, and for their sins, by way of chastisement and correction:

and with mildew; a kind of clammy dew, which corrupts and destroys the fruits of the earth; and is a kind of jaundice to them, as the word signifies; see Amos 4:9,

and with hail; which battered down the corn and the vines, and broke them to pieces; see Exodus 9:25,

in all the labours of your hands; in the corn they sowed, and in the vines they planted:

yet ye turned not to me, saith the Lord; did not consider their evil ways as the cause of all this; nor repent of them, and turn from them to the Lord; to his worship, as the Targum; or to the building of his house, the thing chiefly complained of. Afflictions, unless sanctified, have no effect upon men to turn them from their sins to the Lord.

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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
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Appropriated from Amos 4:9, whose canonicity is thus sealed by Haggai‘s inspired authority; in the last clause, “turned,” however, has to be supplied, its omission marking by the elliptical abruptness (“yet ye not to Me!”) God‘s displeasure. Compare “(let him come) unto Me!” Moses in excitement omitting the bracketed words (Exodus 32:26). “Blasting” results from excessive drought; “mildew, from excessive moisture.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Haggai 2:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD.

Blessing — Burning, and scorching winds.

All the labours — In your plowing and sowing, in planting of olives and vines.

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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.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Haggai 2:17 I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye [turned] not to me, saith the LORD.

Ver. 17. I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail] Pugnis pluvi, colaphis grandinavi, I have followed you close with one judgment upon another; and all to bring you back into mine own bosom; that as ye had run from me by your sins, so ye might return to me by repentance; but, behold, I have lost my labour, and ye have lost the fruit of your sufferings, which indeed is a very great loss, were ye but soundly sensible of it, Perdidistis fructum calamitatis (Aug.). These Jews were sensible of their calamities and disasters abroad and at home, but they did not wisely inquire into the cause thereof; as David did into the cause of the famine that fell out in his days, 2 Samuel 21:1. God had not hitherto "given them a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear," as it is Deuteronomy 29:4. And as Isaiah 9:13 "The people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts." But after their hardness and impenitent heart treasured up wrath, &c., Romans 2:5. They could not but see themselves grievously crossed, and cursed in all the labours of their hands. Neither were they so blind as not to see God in that they suffered. They had learned that out of Psalms 78:47-48; Psalms 29:3, &c. Cicero indeed thought that God minds not mildew, or hail, &c. Nec si uredo aut grando quippiam nocuit, id Iovi animadvertendum fuit: neque enim in regni reges omnia minima curant, &c. As kings take not notice of smaller businesses in their kingdoms, saith he, so neither doth God of these ordinary occurrences. But the Jews (for the generality) had learned better things. And the apostle tells those heathens too, Acts 14:15-17, that God had not left himself without witness among them, in that he did good and gave rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, &c. Cicero himself likewise, another time, could say, Curiosus est et plenus negotii Deus, God taketh care of all, and is full of business. And oh that this truth were as fruitfully improved as it is generally acknowledged! Oh that men would turn at God’s reproof; his real reproofs, his vocal rods, Micah 6:9; and not put him to his old complaint, "Why should ye be smitten any more? Ye revolt more and more," Isaiah 1:5. This we may wish, but God alone can effect. For till he please to thrust his holy hand into men’s bosoms, and pull off the foreskin of their hearts; afflictions (those hammers of his) do but beat cold iron. See Jeremiah 2:30-31; Jeremiah 6:29-30;, Leviticus 26:41. Plectimur a Deo, nec flectimur tamen: corripimur sed non corrigimur (Salvian.). We are put to pain, but to no profit, Jeremiah 12:13, as Ahaz, that stiff stigmatic, 2 Chronicles 28:23, and Ahaziah, who sent a third captain to surprise the prophet, after two before consumed with fire from heaven, 2 Kings 1:13; as if he would despitefully spit in the face of God, and wrestle a fall with the Almighty.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

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.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Haggai 2:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The Lord had used hot winds, mildew, and hail to smite the people and what they had planted, but they still did not repent (cf. Amos 4:9). Hot winds posed problems for crops because of the dry heat, and mildew created other problems because of excessive moisture. Perhaps these conditions are a merism describing polar opposites that together mean all types of weather-related problems. [Note: Taylor, p185.] Hail, one of the plagues on Egypt ( Exodus 9:13-35), caused severe damage to unprotected crops.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Haggai 2:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Bushels. Hebrew specifies nothing. Septuagint, "when you put a basket (or vase) twenty sata of barley." He speaks of such as was not yet winnowed.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Haggai 2:17". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

I smote you, &c. Reference to Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 28:22). App-92.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Haggai 2:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(17) I smote you with blasting and with mildew . . .—This is a reminiscence of Amos 4:9, “I have smitten you with blasting and mildew . . . yet have not ye returned unto me, saith the Lord.” “Blasting” and “mildew” are two diseases on corn enumerated by Moses (Deuteronomy 28:22) among the curses on disobedience. The “hail” is added by Haggai, perhaps as particularly destructive to the vines. On the peculiar phrase, êyn ethcem êlay, which here takes the place of the lô shabtem âday of Amos, see Ewald, Grammar, § 262 b.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD.
with blasting
1:9; Genesis 42:6,23,27; Deuteronomy 28:22; 1 Kings 8:37; 2 Chronicles 6:28; Isaiah 37:27; Amos 4:9
with hail
Exodus 9:18-29; Isaiah 28:2
in all
1:11; Psalms 78:46; Isaiah 62:8; Jeremiah 3:24
2 Chronicles 28:22; Job 36:13; Isaiah 9:13; 42:25; Jeremiah 5:3; 6:16,17; 8:4-7; Hosea 7:9,10; Amos 4:8-11; Zechariah 1:2-4; 7:9-13; Revelation 2:21; 9:20,21
Reciprocal: Deuteronomy 28:16 - in the field;  Psalm 105:16 - Moreover;  Ecclesiastes 5:14 - those;  Ecclesiastes 11:6 - thou knowest;  Jeremiah 8:13 - there;  Jeremiah 12:13 - sown;  Ezekiel 13:13 - and great;  Hosea 2:9 - take;  Amos 4:6 - yet;  Habakkuk 3:17 - the fig tree;  Malachi 2:2 - and I;  Malachi 3:11 - rebuke;  Acts 12:20 - because

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Haggai 2:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".