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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Haggai 2:23

`On that day,' declares the LORD of hosts, `I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant,' declares the LORD, `and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,' " declares the LORD of hosts.

Adam Clarke Commentary

In that day, saith the Lord - Some think, says this same learned writer, that Zerubbabel is put here for his people and posterity: but it may well be said that the commotions foretold began in the rebellion of Babylon, which Darius besieged and took; and exercised great cruelties upon its inhabitants. - Herod. lib. iii., sec. 220. Justin. 1:10. Prideaux places this event in the fifth year of Darius; others with more probability, in the eighth year. Compare Zechariah 2:9.

And will make thee as a signet - I will exalt thee to high dignity, power, and trust, of which the seal was the instrument or sign in those days. Thou shalt be under my peculiar care, and shalt be to me very precious. See Jeremiah 22:24; (note); Song of Solomon 8:6; (note); and see the notes on these two places.

For I have chosen thee - He had an important and difficult work to do, and it was necessary that he should be assured of God's especial care and protection during the whole.

On the three last verses of this prophecy a sensible and pious correspondent sends me the following illustration, which I cheerfully insert. Though in many respects different from that given above, yet I believe that the kingdom of Christ is particularly designed in this prophecy.

"I think there is an apparent difficulty in this passage, because the wars of the Persians and Babylonians were not so interesting to the rising commonwealth of the Jews as many subsequent events of less note in the world, but which were more directly levelled at their own national prosperity; and yet neither the one nor the other could be termed 'a shaking of the heavens and the earth, and an overthrow of the throne of kingdoms.' "I know not if the following view may be admitted as an explanation of this difficult passage. I take 'the shaking of the heavens and earth' here (as in Haggai 2:6;) to have a more distant and comprehensive meaning than can belong to Zerubbabel's time, or to his immediate posterity; and that it extends not only to the overthrow of kingdoms then existing, but of the future great monarchies of the world; and not excepting even the civil and ecclesiastical establishments of the Jews themselves. For I take 'the heavens,' in the prophetic language, uniformly to denote the true Church, and never the superstitions and idols of the nations.

"What, then, are we to understand by the promise made to Zerubbabel, 'I will make thee as a signet?' In the first place, the restitution of the religious and civil polity of the people of Israel, conformably to the promises afterwards given in the four first chapters of Zechariah. And, secondly, as the royal signet is the instrument by which kings give validity to laws, and thereby unity and consistence to their empire; so Jehovah, the God and King of Israel, condescends to promise he will employ Zerubbabel as his instrument of gathering and uniting the people again as a distinguished nation; and that such should be the permanency of their political existence, that, whilst other nations and mighty empires should be overthrown, and their very name blotted out under heaven, the Jews should ever remain a distinct people, even in the wreck of their own government, and the loss of all which rendered their religion splendid and attractive.

"In confirmation of this interpretation, I would refer to the threatening denounced against Jeconiah, (called Coniah, Jeremiah 22), the last reigning king of Judah, and the progenitor of Zerubbabel. I apprehend I may be authorized to read Jeremiah 22:24; thus: 'As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, be the signet upon my right hand, yet will I pluck thee thence, and I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life,' etc.

"If it be considered that the kings of Judah were in an especial and peculiar manner the delegates of Jehovah, governing in his name and by his authority, a peculiar propriety will appear in their being resembled to signets, or royal seals contained in rings. Compare Genesis 41:42; Esther 3:10, Esther 3:12; Esther 8:2, Esther 8:8; Daniel 6:7. And the promise to Zerubbabel will be equivalent to those which clearly predict the preservation of the Jewish people by the Divine command. see Zechariah 2:1-13; and the faithfulness of God to his covenant concerning the Messiah, who should be born of the seed of Abraham, and in the family of David, of whose throne he was the rightful Proprietor.

"According to this view, by the promise, 'In that day; - I will make thee as a signet,' etc., must be understood, that the preservation of the Jews as a distinct people, when all the great empires of the heathen were overthrown, would manifest the honor now conferred on Zerubbabel as the instrument of their restoration after the Babylonish-captivity. Thus the promise to Abraham, Genesis 22, 'I will make of thee a great nation - and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,' evidently referred to a very distant future period and the honor connected with it could not be enjoyed by Abraham during his mortal life." - M. A. B.

I think, however, that we have lived to see the spirit of this prophecy fulfilled. The earth has been shaken; another shaking, and time shall be swallowed up in eternity.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https: 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I will make thee as a signet - God reverses to Zerubbabel the sentence on Jeconiah for his impiety. To Jeconiah He had said Jeremiah 22:24, “though he were the signet upon My right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence; and I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life.” The signet was very precious to its owner, never parted with, or only to those to whom authority was delegated (as by Pharaoh to Joseph Genesis 41:42, or by Ahasuerus to Haman Esther 3:10 and then to Mordecai Esther 8:2.); through it his will was expressed. Hence, the spouse in the Canticles says, 2 Thessalonians 1:10. by Zerubbabel in the building of His house. He gave him estimation with Cyrus, who entrusted him with the return of his people, and made him (who would have been the successor to the throne of Judah, had the throne been re-established) his governor over the restored people.

God promises to him and his descendants protection amid all shaking of empires. “He was a type of Christ in bringing back the people from Babylon, as Christ delivered us from sin death and hell: he built the temple, as Christ built the Church; he protected his people against the Samaritans who would hinder the building, as Christ protects His Church: he was dear and joined to God, as Christ was united to Him, and hypostatically united and joined His Humanity to the Word. The true Zerubbabel then, i. e., Christ, the son and antitype of Zerubbabel, is the signet in the hand of the Father, both passively and actively, whereby God impresses His own Majesty thoughts and words and His own Image on men angels and all creatures.” “The Son is the Image of God the Father, having His entire and exact likeness, and in His own beauty beaming forth the nature of the Father. In Him too God seals us also to His own likeness, since, being conformed to Christ, we gain the image of God.” “Christ, as the Apostle says, is Hebrews 1:3 “the Image of the invisible God, the brightness of His Glory and the express Image of His Person,” who, as the Word and Seal and express Image, seals it on others. Christ is here called a signet, as Man not as God. For it was His Manhood which He took of the flesh and race of Zerubbabel. He is then, in His Manhood, the signet of God;

1) as being hypostatically united with the Son of God;

2) because the Word impressed on His Humanity the likeness of Himself, His knowledge, virtue, holiness, thoughts, words, acts and conversation;

3) because the Man Christ was the seal, i. e., the most evident sign and witness of the attributes of God, His power, justice, wisdom, and especially His exceeding love for man. For, that God might show this, He willed that His Son should be Incarnate. Christ thus Incarnate is as a seal, in which we see expressed and depicted the love power justice wisdom etc. of God;

4) because Christ as a seal, attested and certified to us the will of God, His doctrine law commands, i. e., those which He promulgated and taught in the Gospel.

“No one,” John saith John 1:18, “hath seen God at any time: the Only-Begotten Son Who is the Image the Father, He hath declared Him.” Hence, God gave to Christ the power of working miracles, that He might confirm His words as by a seal, and demonstrate that they were revealed and enjoined to Him by God, as it is in John John 6:27, “Him hath God the Father sealed.” “Christ is also the seal of God, because by His impress, i. e., the faith grace virtue and conversation from Him and by the impress in Baptism and the other sacraments, “He willed to conform us to the Image of His Son,” Romans 8:29. that 1 Corinthians 15:49, “as we have borne the image of the earthly Adam, we mnay also bear the image of the heavenly.” Then, Christ, like a seal, seals and guards His faithful against all temptations and enemies. The seal of Christ is the Cross, according to that of Ezekiel, “Seal a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh,” and in the Revelation Revelation 7:2, “I saw another Angel having the seal of the living God.” For the Cross guardeth us against the temptations of the flesh, the world and the devil, and makes us followers, soldiers, and martyrs of Christ crucified. Whence the Apostle says, Galatians 6:17. “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

“This is said without doubt of the Messiah, the expected;” says even a Jewish controversialist, “who shall be of the seed of Zerubbabel; and therefore this promise was not fulfilled at all in himself: for at the time of this prophecy he had aforetime been governor of Judah, and afterward he did not rise to any higher dignity than what he was up to that day: and in like way we find that God said to Abraham our father in the covenant between the pieces, Genesis 15:7, Genesis 15:18. “I am the Lord who brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees to give thee this land to inherit it,” and beyond doubt this covenant was confirmed of God to the seed of Abraham, as lie Himself explained it there afterward, when He said, “In that day God made a covenant with Abraham, saying, To thy seed have I given this land etc.,” and many like these.

Abarbanel had laid down the right principles, though of necessity misapplied. “Zerubbabel did not reign in Jerusalem and did not rule in it, neither lie nor any man of his seed; but immediately after the building of the house, he returned to Babylon and died there in his captivity, and how saith he, ‹In that day I will take thee?‘ For after the fall of the kingdom of Persia Zerubbabel is not known for any greatness, and his name is not mentioned in the world. Where then will be the meaning of ‹And I will place thee as a signet, for thee have I chosen?‘ For the signet is as the seal-ring which a man putteth on his hand, it departeth not from it, night or day. And when was this fulfilled in Zerubbabel? But the true meaning, in my opinion, is, that God showed Zerubbabel that this very second house would not abide, for after him should come another captivity, and of this he says, ‹I shake the heaven etc.,‘ and afterward, after a long time, will God take His vengeance of these nations ‹which have devoured Jacob and laid waste his dwelling place;‘ and so he says ‹I will overthrow the thrones, etc.,‘ and He sheweth him further that the king who shall rule over Israel at the time of the redemption is the Messiah of the seed of Zerubbabel and of the house of David; and God saw good to shew him all this to comfort him and to speak to his heart; and it is as if he said to him, ‹It is true that thou shalt not reign in the time of the second temple, nor any of thy seed, but in that day when God shall overthrow the throne of the kingdoms of the nations, when He gathereth His people Israel and redeemeth them, then shalt thou reign over My people, for of thy seed shall he be who ruleth from Israel at that time forever, and therefore he saith, ‹I will take thee, O Zerubabbel etc.,‘ for because the Messiah was to be of his seed he saith, that he will take him; and this is as he says, Ezekiel 37:24. ‹And David My servant shall be a prince to them forever;‘ for the very Messiah, he shall be David, he shall be Zerubbabel, because he shall be a scion going forth out of their hewn trunk” Isaiah 11:1.

For I have chosen thee - God‘s forecoming love is the ground of all the acceptableness of His creature 1 John 4:19. “We love Him, because He first loved us.” Zerubbabel was a devoted servant of God. God acknowledges his faithfulness. Only, the beginning of all was with God. God speaks of the nearness to Himself which He had given him. But in two words He cuts off all possible boastfulhess of His creature. Zerubbabel was all this, not of himself, but “because God had chosen” him. Even the sacred manhood of our Lord (it is acknowledged as a theological truth) was not chosen for any foreseen merits, but for the great love, with which God the Father chose it, and God the Son willed to be in such wise incarnate, and God the Holy Spirit willed that that Holy Thing should be conceived of Him. So God says of Him Isaiah 42:1, “Behold My Servant whom I uphold, Mine elect in whom My soul delighteth;” and God bare witness to Him Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”


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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https: 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Haggai 2:23

Will make thee a signet: for I have chosen thee.

God’s acceptance of Zerubbabel

This text acquaints us with God’s gracious purpose to magnify Zerubbabel, and to put honour upon him. Consider it in a threefold notion,

I. As a prophecy. Directed to Zerubbabel, acquainting him with the future events in the world, and what shall betide him, and his people under him. It is the privilege of His Church, and chosen ones; they have those arcana imperii made known unto them. It is His care for them to settle, and support them against future events.

II. As a promise. It betokens good to him. It is a reward assured to Zerubbabel for what he had done. He had been zealous for his God, for His temple and worship; a promise of his future advancement. In a mystical sense the text is understood of Christ. The text is a Royal Charter made to Zerubbabel Here is the time set; “in that day.” The person to be advanced; “Zerubbabel, My servant.” The author of the advancement; that is God. The advancement itself; “I will make thee a signet.” The ground and reason; “for I have chosen thee.” The ratification of this promise; it is sealed with the seal of the living God. Apply this text to ourselves.

1. It is our comfort that we may do so, that we stand in such terms with God, that the promises to His ancient people may, with good warrant, be applied and transferred to us,

2. Is it not a blessing and comfort that we have a Zerubbabel to be prince and captain of this people of God? (By Zerubbabel the preacher here refers to Charles I.) (Geo. Stradling, S. T. P.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Haggai 2:23". The Biblical Illustrator. https: 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"In that day, saith Jehovah of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith Jehovah, and will make thee as a signet; for I have chosen thee, saith Jehovah of hosts."

We must apologize for those writers who suppose that Haggai thought Zerubbabel was the Messiah, and that such is what he wrote in this passage. That Haggai and all of Israel might indeed have had such a notion is true enough; but this passage does not say that.

"In that day ..." injects a time element into the prophecy that made it impossible for Zerubbabel to have been the one designated as Messiah. "In that day" in the prophecies almost invariably means "in the days of the New Covenant," "in the last days," "in the times of the kingdom of Christ," or "at a time far removed from the present."

Zerubbabel stands in this passage as a type of the Messiah; and as "the only son of David" known to the world of that day, Haggai's use of his name is a prophecy that, in time, the "Son of David," who is Christ the Lord would fulfil the prophecy. A very similar thing was done by Malachi who stated that Elijah would come "before the great and notable day of the Lord" (Malachi 4:5), which prophecy had no reference whatever to literal Elijah, dead and buried for centuries, but on the other hand was a prophecy of John the Baptist who would come "in the spirit and power" of Elijah. Similarly, Jesus, the true Messiah, was the true "Son of David," a title held by Zerubbabel only by accommodation. A note in the Douay Version states: "This promise relates to Christ who was of the race of Zerubbabel."<26a> "The meaning is that the Messianic descent was to come through Zerubbabel, of the line of David, just as it did through David himself."[27] And, of course, both the Matthew and Lucan genealogies show that this was exactly fulfilled. Zerubbabel stands in both of them. "David's secure throne (that of Christ) is here contrasted with the tottering dynasties of the world."[28]

"Jesus Christ has raised up the kingdom of his father David, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Even though it may appear oppressed and humiliated for the time by the power of the kingdoms of the heathen, it will never be crushed and destroyed, but will break in pieces all these kingdoms and destroy them, and will endure forever (Daniel 2:44; Hebrews 12:28; 1 Corinthians 15:24)."[29]

"I will make thee as a signet ..." The signet ring conferred upon its wearer the full authority and power of the giver; and this is a pledge of the absolute authority and power of Jesus Christ. As Deane put it, "The true Zerubbabel, Christ, the son and antitype of Zerubbabel, is the signet in the hand of the Father."[30] "Haggai, like Zechariah, saw in Zerubbabel the Messianic King,"[31] This was in the fullness of time fully vindicated as an authentic vision. It is pointless to speculate upon Haggai's complete understanding of what Jehovah here said, or not. Whether he did, or didn't, he faithfully reported God's Word.

Zerubbabel is seen as a type of Christ in that, "He led the people out of Babylonian bondage, as Christ would lead his people out of the bondage of sin. Also, he built a temple, as Christ built the far greater Temple of his Church."[32]

All of the commentators mention what they call Haggai's disappointment at Zerubbabel's turning out not to be the Msesiah, but even if such a supposition was true, it could not have been due to anything that Haggai wrote. "That day" mentioned in this final passage, as Galley pointed out "is the Day of the Lord when the heavens and the earth will be shaken,"[33] in fact removing the fulfillment of the prophecy to times long subsequent to Haggai. The spiritual legacy which Haggai has left us is, "the assurance that God will be with his people when they act in faith and obedience to the demand that he be given the first place."[34]

See below for a summary of the entire prophecy:


Wonderful things had happened to Israel, the people at that time being Judah and Benjamin alone, Ephraim and the northern tribes having been permanently removed from history. Judah also had fallen completely away from God except for a precious remnant; and Judah suffered the same fate as Ephraim, being carried into slavery; but there was a glorious distinction. Judah would continue throughout history.

Contrary to what any human could have supposed, the king (Cyrus) of the enslaving power freed them, ordered their return to Palestine and the rebuilding of the house of their God! At first, a remnant of the people obeyed; and they even erected an altar to God on the ancient site in Jerusalem; but then their zeal faded, and for half a lifetime the old Temple continued to lie in ruins. It might have remained that way forever; but the mighty Haggai challenged and overcame the lethargy of the people. His four addresses to the people make up the book that bears his name in the Bible.


(Elul, Aug./Sept., 520 B.C.)

Arise, and build the Temple! The hard times you people are having are due to your unfaithfulness in not rebuilding the Temple. If you want better times, then do better in fulfilling your religious obligations. Get busy! Go up to the mountains; cut the timber, and get on with the work, now! Let's have none of that nonsense about the time not being ripe; do you suppose the times are ripe for you to live in your nice houses while the house of God lies in ruins ? God will again be with you people, if you will only get to work doing your duty.


(In Teshri, Sept./Oct., 520 B.C.)

(After construction had promptly begun and the outline of the new Temple began to appear.) Some of you older ones remember the glory and extravagant wealth of the First Temple, and you are belittling this one because of its inferiority in your eyes; but the glory of this house shall exceed that of the first (Haggai 2:9). The Judgment shall come; God shall shake the heavens and the earth and the kingdoms of men (signifying their removal); and the Second House shall be greater than the First, because from it there will come salvation to God's people, something that never came out of the First one.

Of particular interest in Haggai's use of "little while" in Haggai 2:6 to describe the entire history of God's dealings with humanity until the end of time, corresponding exactly with the apostle John's use of "little time" to describe the period of human probation ending in the final judgment (Revelation 6:11), and "short time" to describe the period of Satan's operations against mankind (Revelation 12:12).


(Chisleu, Nov./Dec., 520 B.C.)

You people seem to have another objection, claiming that you are entitled to God's blessings already, because you have erected an altar and make sacrifices to God. Well, that is a very small thing; and holiness is not that contagious! One good apple cannot make a barrel of rotten apples good; and your little token of serving God is not nearly enough to entitle you to the presumption of holiness. Through two whole generations of pollution incurred by you in the land of your captivity, you are thoroughly unclean; and nothing but a wholehearted return of the whole remnant (all the returnees) to God, and their diligent service to God continually will really entitle you to God's blessings. If you think that little token rebuilding you started sixteen years ago does it, take a look; look at the failure of the wine, and the grain; and even when you got a little harvest, God blew it away; so get with it, and complete the Temple!

(Significantly, Haggai here connected the very class of disasters modern man likes to explain solely upon the basis of "natural causes" as judgmental in character.)


(Chisleu, Nov./Dec., 520 B.C.)

In this, uttered the very same day as the third message, Haggai returned to the prophecy of final judgment and ultimate salvation of God's people.

God will shake the heavens and the earth and overthrow all the kingdoms of men, "every one by the sword of his brother." Zerubbabel will be a signet ring to God. This mention of Zerubbabel is not a mistaken identification of Zerubbabel as the Messiah; but it is a prophecy of Christ, of whom Zerubabbel was a type. Salvation and Judgment are the twin themes of these two Messianic prophecies here and in Haggai 1:1-9. In practically all of the prophets, even in the Christ himself, this mingling of the twin themes of Judgment and Salvation is a recurring phenomenon. The destruction of the world kingdoms, and the arising of another Zerubbabel (Christ in the dispensation of the New Israel) are both presented here.

Zerubbabel's significance lies in the fact of his being the only visible heir and successor to David that was known in that age; and the inclusion of the Babylonian governor of Israel in the prophecy meant that God's ancient promise to David of one to sit upon his throne was yet valid, that it still stood, and that "in that day" the new Zerubbabel would appear. The expression, "in that day," practically always a reference to the "last times," makes it impossible to refer the words here to the Zerubbabel known to Haggai. Of course, Zerubbabel was an excellent type of Christ. He led the people out of slavery; Christ leads men out of sin; he built a temple; Christ built the greater temple of his Church; etc.

May the Lord ever bless the study of His Sacred Word!

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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https: Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

In that day, saith the Lord of hosts,.... When all these kingdoms, and their thrones and strength, are destroyed; which shows that what follows cannot be understood literally of Zerubbabel, who lived not to see these things done:

will I take thee, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord; that is, the Messiah, as is owned by Abarbinel; who saysF24Mayene Jeshuah, fol. 13. 4. Vid. & Mashmiah Jeshuah, fol. 67. 2. ,

"the King Messiah shall come, who is of the seed of Zerubbabel; and he shall be the seal of the structure, and the end of the kingdoms; as it is said, "I will make thee as a signet, for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts"; for this no doubt is said concerning the days of the Messiah:'

and another Jewish writerF25Abendana in Miclol Yophi in loc. , quoting the above author for the sense of this passage, and Ezekiel 37:25, adds,

"for the King Messiah he will be David, and he will be Zerubbabel, that he may be a rod going out of their stem;'

and anotherF26R. Isaac, Chizzuk Emunah, par. 1. c. 34. p. 289, 290. on these words observes,

"without doubt this is said concerning the expected Messiah, who will be of the seed of Zerubbabel; and therefore this promise was not at all fulfilled in him; for in the time of this prophecy he was but governor of Judah, and he never rose to greater dignity than what he then had:'

indeed these writers wrongly suppose the Messiah yet to come, and whom they in vain expect; and apply this, as they do many other prophecies, to the coming of Christ in the flesh, which belong to his spiritual appearance in his churches, or to his personal coming at the last day: however, this shows the conviction on their minds of the application of this and such like prophecies to the Messiah, who may be called Zerubbabel, as he is sometimes David, because he sprung from him, was of his lineage, and because he was a type of him, in bringing the people of the Jews out of the Babylonish captivity, in rebuilding the temple, in the government of the people, and in being chosen of God, and precious; as well as a servant of the Lord, as here expressed, and which is often mentioned as a character of the Messiah, Isaiah 49:3,

and will make thee as a signet; preserve, protect and defend, love, value, and esteem, and advance to great honour and dignity, power and authority: the signet or seal on a man's right hand, being what he always wears, is ever in sight, and he is careful of; as well as is what he greatly esteems, and is dear unto him, and he highly values; and by which a prince signs his decrees and edicts; see Isaiah 49:2 Song of Solomon 8:6,

for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts; to be the Redeemer and Saviour of his people; to be their King and Governor, and the Judge of the world. Christ is peculiarly God's elect, and in whom all his people are chosen; be is the chosen of God, and precious, Psalm 89:19. The Targum is,

"for in thee I am well pleased;'

which is said by God the Father concerning Christ more than once, Matthew 3:17. It is a prophecy of the exaltation of Christ after he had done his work, as the Lord's servant, and especially in the latter day, when he shall be King over all the earth; all which cannot be so well applied to Zerubbabel; unless with Reinbeck we understand it of the time of his resurrection from the dead at the last day; when great honour shall be put upon him as a faithful servant, and great love and affection expressed to him; but that will be no other than what will be common to all the saints and chosen of God; Christ, in whom all prophecies terminate, and so this, is doubtless intended.

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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 Rightes 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

Gill, John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https: 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a o signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.

(o) Signifying that his dignity would be most excellent, which thing was accomplished in Christ.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https: 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

take thee — under My protection and to promote thee and thy people to honor (Psalm 78:70).

a signet — (Song of Solomon 8:6; Jeremiah 22:24). A ring with a seal on it; the legal representative of the owner; generally of precious stones and gold, etc., and much valued. Being worn on the finger, it was an object of constant regard. In all which points of view the theocratic people, and their representative, Zerubbabel the type, and Messiah his descendant the Antitype, are regarded by God. The safety of Israel to the end is guaranteed in Messiah, in whom God hath chosen them as His own (Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:1; Isaiah 49:3). So the spiritual Israel is sealed in their covenant head by His Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:20, 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 1:14). All is ascribed, not to the merits of Zerubbabel, but to God‘s gratuitous choice. Christ is the “signet” on God‘s hand: always in the Father‘s presence, ever pleasing in his sight. The signet of an Eastern monarch was the sign of delegated authority; so Christ (Matthew 28:18; John 5:22, John 5:23).

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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.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https: 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.

My servant — A type of him who was God's most beloved servant.

As a signet — Which is very highly valued, and carefully kept. So shall the antitypical Zerubbabel, the Messiah, be advanced, loved, and inviolably preserved king, and supreme over his church. He is indeed the signet on God's right-hand. For all power is given to him, and derived from him. In him the great charter of the gospel is signed, and sanctified, and it is in him, that all the promises of God are yea and amen.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1765.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary


READER! Pause, and consider, while going over this blessed prophecy, concerning the person, work, character, and offices of the Lord; whether He, who is here said by Jehovah himself, to be the desire of all nations, is the first, and last, and comprehensive object of all thy desire; for life and death, for time and eternity? Behold the Lord Jesus in this most blessed and delightful point of view. Sweetly was it prophesied of Him by another Prophet, that He should sprinkle many nations. And when we discover him as the One great and glorious ordinance of heaven for salvation, neither is there salvation in any other: When we look at him as Jehovah's gift, for the common, and only remedy, for the sins of a whole world: When we know the suitability, and all-sufficiency of the Lord Jesus on the one hand, and the freeness, fulness, greatness, and everlasting nature of that rich grace of God the Father on the other; surely the Lord Jesus doth appear so blessedly answering to this character, as the desire of all nations. And did all nations but know him, all nations would be in love with him. As one sun in the heavens answers for all the world; and one ocean supplies all the earth; so one Lord Jesus Christ is enough for all, and answers the wants of all. Reader! Bring home the point to your own person, and enquire whether He is so altogether lovely in your view, as to be the fairest and chiefest among ten thousand? It is indeed truly blessed, when a man's own experience bears a correspondence to the divine testimony; and Christ is formed in the heart, as the one desire of the heart, and the hope of glory. Precious Lord Jesus! Thou, who by thine appearance in our flesh, in thy temple didst fill the latter house with greater glory than the former; do thou fill thy Church now upon earth, as thou art filling thy Church in heaven, with thy presence. Surely, thou thyself, O Lord, art the temple, the altar, the mercy-seat, the propitiation, the High Priest, and the sacrifice! All, all is centered in thee, for all before thee were but types and shadows. Thou, thou art He, whom Jehovah hath chosen, the signet of the Lord of hosts, and the seal of the covenant of peace between heaven and earth! Oh! then precious Jesus, grant that on thee, as the foundation, thy whole Church being built, all thy redeemed upon earth may be growing up unto an holy temple in the Lord, for an habitation of God through the Spirit, until we join the Church above, when the last stone of the spiritual building is brought home with shoutings, crying, grace, grace unto it. Farewell Haggai! W e thank thy Lord, and our Lord, for thy ministry and testimony concerning our Jesus. Once upon earth, thou didst witness the weeping of some, and the joy of others, in beholding the second temple. Ere long thou wilt behold the whole body of Christ, forming one temple, of his body the Church, in glory. And then, when the Lamb is on his throne, and encircled by the innumerable multitude of Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, and all the redeemed out of every nation, kindred, and clime, then will the hymn of salvation be sung amidst the vast host, where all tears are wiped away from all eyes, and the song of redemption to God and the Lamb, will be the everlasting song of heaven! Amen.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https: 1828.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Haggai 2:23 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.

Ver. 23. I will take thee, O Zerubbabel] That is, O Christ, of whom Zerubbabel was both a father and a figure, Luke 3:27, Zechariah 4:10 "I will take thee," that is, I will advance and exalt thee. See this expounded and applied by that great apostle, Philippians 2:5-12.

And will make thee as a signet] That is, I will highly esteem thee, inviolably keep thee, and entirely love thee, Song of Solomon 8:6, Jeremiah 22:24, and all my people in thee, and for thee, Isaiah 49:16.

For I have chosen thee] As Isaiah 42:1. Quoniam in te mihi complacui, saith the Chaldee. For in thee I am well pleased, as Matthew 3:17. See the note there.

Saith the Lord of hosts] This is three different times set down in this one verse, for our greater assurance and confirmation of our faith. I shall close up all with that observation of divines, that all the prophets (except Jonah and Nahum) expressly end in some prophecy concerning Christ. He being their mark at which all of them chiefly aimed. Indeed, he is both mark and matter of both Old and New Testament. And therefore if we profit in teaching, hearing, reading, we must have the eye of our mind turned toward Christ, as the faces of the cherubims were toward the mercy-seat. Do this, if ever you will do well.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https: 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

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 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 2:23". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https: 1685.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

When He did that, the Lord promised to make Zerubbabel His servant. The title "my servant" is often messianic in the Old Testament (cf. 2 Samuel 3:18; 1 Kings 11:34; Isaiah 42:1-9; Isaiah 49:1-13; Isaiah 50:4-11; Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24-25). Zechariah , Haggai"s contemporary, used another messianic title to refer to Zerubbabel: the branch ( Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12; cf. Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Jeremiah 33:14-16). The Lord would make Zerubbabel like a signet ring because He had chosen him for a special purpose. A signet ring was what kings used to designate royal authority and personal ownership (cf. 1 Kings 21:8; Daniel 6:17; Esther 8:8). God had chosen Zerubbabel to designate royal authority and personal ownership, namely, the coming Messiah. God had revealed through Jeremiah that if Jehoiachin, Zerubbabel"s grandfather, was His signet ring, He would take it off and give it to Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Jeremiah 22:24-25). Thus it is clear that this figure of a signet ring views Zerubbabel as the descendant of David and Jehoiachin through whom God would provide the victory promised in Haggai 2:21-22. He will do that not through Zerubbabel personally but through one of his descendants, namely, Jesus Christ (cf. Matthew 1:21).

The curse on Jehoiachin that none of his descendants would sit on David"s throne or rule in Judah ( Jeremiah 22:30) may have referred to his immediate descendants (i.e, children). However, Jesus Christ qualified as a Davidic king because He was the physical descendant of Nathan, one of David"s sons, not Solomon. Jesus was the legal son of Joseph, who was a physical descendant of Solomon and Jehoiachin (cf. Matthew 1:12-16; Luke 3:23-31).

"God reverses to Zerubbabel the sentence on Jeconiah." [Note: Edward B. Pusey, The Minor Prophets, 2:320. Cf. Chisholm, Handbook on . . ., p455; and Kaiser, p252.]

Zerubbabel represents or typifies the Messiah here (cf. Joshua"s similar role in Zechariah 6:9-15). His name becomes a code name (atbash) for the promised Messiah. [Note: See Herbert Wolf, "The Desire of All Nations in Haggai 2:7: Messianic or Not?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society19 (1976):101-2.] The certainty of this promise is clear from the threefold repetition of "Yahweh," twice as "Yahweh of hosts."

"... key events of the past (David"s coming to power, Sodom, the Exodus , Gideon) became symbols of the coming day, and the same is true of key people. David became so identified with what the Lord would yet do that not only was every successive king compared with him but the Messiah was even called David ( Ezekiel 34:23)." [Note: Motyer, p1002.]

Other passages that speak of Messiah as David include Jeremiah 30:9 and Hosea 3:5.

"By calling Zerubbabel His "servant" and "chosen" one God gave him the same status David had enjoyed (cf. 2 Samuel 3:18; 2 Samuel 6:21; 2 Samuel 7:5; 2 Samuel 7:8; 2 Samuel 7:26; 1 Kings 8:16). The comparison to a "signet ring" indicates a position of authority and reverses the judgment pronounced on Zerubbabel"s grandfather Jehoiachin (cf. Jeremiah 22:24-30).

"The words of Haggai 2:21-23, though spoken directly to Zerubbabel, were not fulfilled in his day. How is one to explain this apparent failure of Haggai"s prophecy? Zerubbabel, a descendant of David and governor of Judah, was the official representative of the Davidic dynasty in the postexilic community at that time. As such the prophecy of the future exaltation of the Davidic throne was attached to his person. As with the Temple (cf. Haggai 2:6-9), Haggai related an eschatological reality to a tangible historical entity to assure his contemporaries that God had great plans for His people. Zerubbabel was, as it were, the visible guarantee of a glorious future for the house of David. In Haggai"s day some may have actually entertained messianic hopes for Zerubbabel. However, in the progress of revelation and history Jesus Christ fulfills Haggai"s prophecy." [Note: Chisholm, "A Theology . . .," p422.]

"Perhaps the prophecy should be taken at face value, but with an implicit element of contingency attached. The Lord may have desired to restore the glory of the Davidic throne in Zerubbabel"s day, only to have subsequent developments within the postexilic community cause him to postpone that event, thereby relegating Zerubbabel to an archetype of the great king to come." [Note: Idem, Handbook on . . ., p455.]

"Were these pronouncements actually fulfilled in Zerubbabel? Did he usher in a restoration of Israelite monarchy that was accompanied by the overthrow of Gentile nations in the fashion that Haggai describes? The history of this period provides no evidence that he did so. Haggai"s promises did not come to fruition in the person of Zerubbabel. On the contrary, not long after this prophecy was given, Zerubbabel dropped into obscurity and passed off the scene. History is silent about what became of him or under what conditions he concluded his life." [Note: Taylor, pp198-99.]

"That Haggai himself necessarily expected a delayed fulfillment of his words is not likely. He had no way of anticipating the temporal distances that might exist between prediction and fulfillment." [Note: Ibid, p201.]

This final oracle promises a future overthrow of the Gentile nations that were, in Haggai"s day, exercising sovereignty over Israel. A descendant of King Jehoiachin, and before him David, would be God"s agent in that day. He would come from Zerubbabel"s descendants and would be similar to Zerubbabel in that He would be the political ruler of God"s people. Whereas God had withdrawn His signet ring (symbolic of divine selection and investiture with authority) from Jehoiachin ( Jeremiah 22:24), He would give it back to a future descendant of Zerubbabel. This was an act of pure grace and faithfulness on sovereign Yahweh"s part since the Israelites did not deserve such a future nor could they bring it about on their own. Such a message would have encouraged and motivated the returned exiles to complete the temple since there was still a glorious future for their nation in God"s plans.

"Haggai"s sermons alternated between accusation and encouragement. (This is true of most of the prophets and in a sense should characterize all ministry.) The first sermon was basically negative. The second one aimed to encourage. [The third] ... one is again essentially chiding and accusation. And ... the last one is positive and uplifting." [Note: Alden, p588.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https: 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Haggai 2:23. In that day will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, &c. — Amidst the commotions which I will cause in the world, I will so order it, that Judea shall remain safe under thy government, O Zerubbabel, and thy successors, and be molested by none. A signet, or seal, particularly a royal one, is kept with great care; therefore the promise of making Zerubbabel as a signet, signified keeping him safe, or preserving him as a person of great estimation. For I have chosen thee — To be the ruler of my people. This whole prophecy, from Haggai 2:21, addressed to Zerubbabel, is considered by Bishop Chandler, Mr. Lowth, and many others, as parallel to that contained in Haggai 2:6-9; that the same commotions and shaking of nations are intended in both passages; and therefore that by Zerubbabel here, the Messiah, typified by him, is chiefly intended. That the prediction could not be properly and fully accomplished in Zerubbabel, personally considered, is evident, as in all likelihood he did not live many years after the finishing of the temple, and certainly did not see any of those great changes here foretold; and therefore the Messiah must be here described under the name of Zerubbabel, as he elsewhere is under that of David. He is, indeed, the signet on God’s right hand; for all power is given to him, and derived from him, he being constituted Head of the church, and Judge of the world. In him the great charter of the gospel is signed and sanctified, and it is in him that all the promises of God are yea and amen. And what is foretold, Haggai 2:22, respecting the overthrow of the throne of kingdoms, may probably ultimately refer to his second coming, or to that illustrious display of divine power, whereby a period shall be put to all anti-christian empires, and the kingdoms of this world shall be made the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ, Daniel 2:44; Revelation 11:15.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https: 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

as a signet. Compare Song of Solomon 8:6. Jeremiah 22:24. See also, for this honour, Zechariah 4:7-10; Zechariah 6:13; and compare Genesis 41:42. Esther 3:10.

chosen thee. As David and others were chosen (1 Kings 8:16; 1 Kings 11:34, &c).

thee. This must refer to the true prince and governor of Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 9:7.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https: 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https: 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.
O Zerubbabel
It seems evident that the Messiah is here described under the name of Zerubbabel, as elsewhere under that of David, whose kingdom, after these mighty convulsions, should supersede all others.
and will
Song of Solomon 8:6; Jeremiah 22:24; John 6:27; 2 Timothy 2:19
Isaiah 42:1; 43:10; 49:1-3; Zechariah 4:6-14; Matthew 12:18; 1 Peter 2:4

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Haggai 2:23". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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