Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
The people, discouraged at the inferiority of this temple to
Solomon's, are encouraged nevertheless to persevere, because God is
with them, and this house by its connection with Messiah's kingdom
shall have a glory far above that of gold and silver.
1. seventh month--of the Hebrew year; in the second year of
not quite a month after they had begun the work
This prophecy was very shortly before that of Zechariah.
3. Who is left . . . that saw . . . first
glory--Many elders present at the laying of the foundation of the
second temple who had seen the first temple
(Ezr 3:12, 13)
in all its glory, wept at the contrast presented by the rough and
unpromising appearance of the former in its beginnings. From the
destruction of the first temple to the second year of Darius Hystaspes,
the date of Haggai's prophecy, was a space of seventy years
and to the first year of Cyrus, or the end of the captivity, fifty-two
years; so that the elders might easily remember the first temple. The
Jews note five points of inferiority: The absence from the second
temple of (1) the sacred fire; (2) the Shekinah; (3) the ark and
cherubim; (4) the Urim and Thummim; (5) the spirit of prophecy. The
connection of it with Messiah more than counterbalanced all these; for
He is the antitype to all the five
how do ye see it now?--God's estimate of things is very different from
However low their estimate of the present temple ("it") from its
outward inferiority, God holds it superior
1Co 1:27, 28).
4. be strong . . . for I am with you--The greatest
strength is to have Jehovah with us as our strength. Not
in man's "might," but in that of God's Spirit
5. According to the word that--literally, "(I am with
you) the word (or thing) which I covenanted"; that is, I am with
you as I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt
(Ex 19:5, 6; 34:10, 11).
The covenant promise of God to the elect people at Sinai is an
additional motive for their persevering. The Hebrew for to
"covenant" is literally "to cut," alluding to the sacrificial victims
cut in ratification of a covenant.
my Spirit remaineth among you--to strengthen you for the work
The inspiration of Haggai and Zechariah at this time was a specimen of
the presence of God's Spirit remaining still with His
people, as He had been with Moses and Israel of old
6. Yet once, it is a little while--or, "(it is) yet
a little while." The Hebrew for "once" expresses the
indefinite article "a" [MAURER]. Or, "it is yet
only a little while"; literally, "one little," that is, a single
brief space till a series of movements is to begin; namely, the
shakings of nations soon to begin which are to end in the advent of
Messiah, "the desire of all nations" [MOORE]. The
shaking of nations implies judgments of wrath on the foes of
God's people, to precede the reign of the Prince of peace
The kingdoms of the world are but the scaffolding for God's spiritual
temple, to be thrown down when their purpose is accomplished. The
transitoriness of all that is earthly should lead men to seek "peace"
in Messiah's everlasting kingdom
Heb 12:27, 28)
[MOORE]. The Jews in Haggai's times hesitated
about going forward with the work, through dread of the world power,
Medo-Persia, influenced by the craft of Samaria. The prophet assures
them this and all other world powers are to fall before Messiah, who is
to be associated with this temple; therefore they need fear naught. So
which quotes this passage; the apostle compares the heavier punishment
which awaits the disobedient under the New Testament with that which
met such under the Old Testament. At the establishment of the Sinaitic
covenant, only the earth was shaken to introduce it, but now heaven and
earth and all things are to be shaken, that is, along with prodigies in
the world of nature, all kingdoms that stand in the way of Messiah's
kingdom, "which cannot be shaken," are to be upturned
(Da 2:35, 44;
"Yet once more," favors English Version. Paul condenses
together the two verses of Haggai
(Hag 2:6, 7,
and Hag 2:21, 22),
implying that it was one and the same shaking, of which the former
verses of Haggai denote the beginning, the latter the end. The shaking
began introductory to the first advent; it will be finished at the
second. Concerning the former, compare
Mt 3:17; 27:51; 28:2;
Ac 2:2; 4:31;
concerning the latter,
Re 16:20; 18:20; 20:11
[BENGEL]. There is scarcely a prophecy of Messiah
in the Old Testament which does not, to some extent at least, refer to
His second coming [SIR ISAAC
mentions the heavens dropping near the mountain (Sinai); but
Haggai speaks of the whole created heavens: "Wait only a little
while, though the promised event is not apparent yet; for soon will
God change things for the better: do not stop short with these preludes
and fix your eyes on the present state of the temple [CALVIN]. God shook the heavens by the lightnings
at Sinai; the earth, that it should give forth waters; the
sea, that it should be divided asunder. In Christ's time God
shook the heaven, when He spake from it; the earth, when
it quaked; the sea, when He commanded the winds and waves
[GROTIUS]. CICERO records at
the time of Christ the silencing of the heathen oracles; and DIO, the fall of the idols in the Roman capitol.
7. shake--not convert; but cause that agitation which is to precede
Messiah's coming as the healer of the nations' agitations. The previous
shaking shall cause the yearning "desire" for the Prince of peace.
MOORE and others translate "the beauty," or "the
desirable things (the precious gifts)
of all nations shall come"
(Isa 60:5, 11; 61:6).
He brings these objections to applying "the desire of all nations" to
Messiah: (1) The Hebrew means the quality, not the
thing desired, namely, its desirableness or beauty, But
the abstract is often put for the concrete. So "a man of desires," that
is, one desired or desirable
(Da 9:23; 10:11,
Margin). (2) Messiah was not desired by all nations, but "a root
out of a dry ground," having "no beauty that we should desire
But what is implied is not that the nations definitely desired
Him, but that He was the only one to satisfy the yearning
desires which all felt unconsciously for a Saviour, shown in their
painful rites and bloody sacrifices. Moreover, while the Jews as a
nation desired Him not (to which people
refers), the Gentiles, who are plainly pointed out by "all nations,"
accepted Him; and so to them He was peculiarly desirable. (3) The verb,
"shall come," is plural, which requires the noun to be
understood in the plural, whereas if Messiah be intended, the
noun is singular. But when two nouns stand together, of which
one is governed by the other, the verb agrees sometimes in
number with the latter, though it really has the former as its
nominative, that is, the Hebrew "come" is made in number
to agree with "nations," though really agreeing with "the desire."
Besides, Messiah may be described as realizing in Himself at His coming
"the desires (the noun expressing collectively the
plural) of all nations"; whence the verb is plural. So in
"He is altogether lovely," in the Hebrew the same word as here,
"all desires," that is, altogether desirable, or the object of
"The silver is mine," &c.; accords with the translation, "the choice
things of all nations" shall be brought in. But
harmonizes quite as well with English Version of
as the note on eighth verse will show; see on
(5) the Septuagint and Syriac versions agree with MOORE'S translation. But Vulgate confirms
English Version. So also early Jewish Rabbis before JEROME'S time. PLATO
[Alcibiades, 2] shows the yearning of the Gentiles after a
spiritual deliverer: "It is therefore necessary," says Alcibiades on
the subject of acceptable worship, "to wait until One teach us how we
ought to behave towards the gods and men." Alcibiades replies, "When
shall that time arrive, and who shall that Teacher be? For most glad
would I be to see such a man." The "good tidings of great joy" were "to
The Jews, and those in the adjoining nations instructed by them, looked
for Shiloh to come unto whom the gathering of the people was
to be, from Jacob's prophecy
The early patriarchs, Job
(Job 19:25-27; 33:23-26)
fill this house with glory--
As the first temple was filled with the cloud of glory, the symbol of
so this second temple was filled with the "glory" of God
veiled in the flesh (as it were in the cloud) at Christ's first
coming, when He entered it and performed miracles there
but that "glory" is to be revealed at His second coming, as this
prophecy in its ulterior reference foretells
The Jews before the destruction of Jerusalem all expected Messiah would
appear in the second temple. Since that time they invent various forced
and false interpretations of such plain Messianic prophecies.
8. The silver is mine--
Ye are disappointed at the absence of these precious metals in the
adorning of this temple, as compared with the first temple: If I
pleased I could adorn this temple with them, but I will adorn it with a
(Hag 2:7, 9)
far more precious; namely, with the presence of My divine Son in His
veiled glory first, and at His second coming with His revealed glory,
accompanied with outward adornment of gold and silver, of which the
golden covering within and without put on by Herod is the type. Then
shall the nations bring offerings of those precious metals which ye now
miss so much
(Isa 2:3; 60:3, 6, 7;
Eze 43:2, 4, 5; 44:4).
The heavenly Jerusalem shall be similarly adorned, but shall need "no
where gold and silver represent the most precious things
The inward glory of New Testament redemption far exceeds the outward
glory of the Old Testament dispensation. So, in the case of the
individual poor believer, God, if He pleased, could bestow gold and
silver, but He bestows far better treasures, the possession of which
might be endangered by that of the former
9. The glory of this latter house . . . greater than of
the former--namely, through the presence of Messiah, in
(whose) face is given the light of the knowledge of the glory of
and who said of Himself, "in this place is one greater than the
and who "sat daily teaching in it"
Though Zerubbabel's temple was taken down to the foundations when Herod
rebuilt the temple, the latter was considered, in a religious point of
view, as not a third temple, but virtually the second temple.
in this place . . . peace--namely, at Jerusalem, the
metropolis of the kingdom of God, whose seat was the temple: where
Messiah "made peace through the blood of His cross"
Thus the "glory" consists in this "peace." This peace begins by the
removal of the difficulty in the way of the just God accepting the
(Ps 85:8, 10;
Isa 9:6, 7; 53:5;
2Co 5:18, 19);
then it creates peace in the sinner's own heart
Ro 5:1; 14:17;
then peace in the whole earth
First peace between God and man, then between man and God, then between
man and man
means peace, this verse confirms the view that
"the desire of all nations," refers to Shiloh or Messiah, foretold in
Sacrifices without obedience (in respect to God's command to build
the temple) could not sanctify. Now that they are obedient, God will
bless them, though no sign is seen of fertility as yet.
10. four and twentieth day . . . ninth month--three
days more than two months from the second prophecy
in the month Chisleu, the lunar one about the time of our December. The
Jews seem to have made considerable progress in the work in the
11. Ask . . . the priests--Propose this question to them on the law.
The priests were the authorized expounders of the law
12. "Holy flesh" (that is, the flesh of a sacrifice,
indeed, makes holy the "skirt" in which it is carried; but that "skirt"
cannot impart its sanctity to any thing beyond, as "bread," &c.
This is cited to illustrate the principle, that a sacrifice, holy, as
enveloping divine things (just as the "skirt" is "holy" which envelops
"holy" flesh), cannot by its inherent or opus operatum efficacy
make holy a person whose disobedience, as that of the Jew while
neglecting God's house, made him unholy.
13. On the other hand, a legally "unclean" person imparts his
uncleanness to any thing, whereas a legally holy thing cannot confer its
sanctity on an "unclean" person
(Nu 19:11, 13, 22).
Legal sanctity is not so readily communicated as legal impurity. So the
paths to sin are manifold: the paths to holiness one, and that one of
difficult access [GROTIUS]. One drop of filth will
defile a vase of water: many drops of water will not purity a vase of
14. 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
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,
though the ritual sacrifice can ordinarily sanctify outwardly so far as
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
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
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.
15. consider--literally, "lay it to heart." Ponder earnestly, retracing
the past "upward" (that is, backward), comparing what evils heretofore
befell you before ye set about this work, with the present time when you
have again commenced it, and when in consequence I now engage to "bless
you." Hence ye may perceive the evils of disobedience and the blessing
16. Since those days were--from the time that those days of your
neglect of the temple work have been.
when one came to an heap of twenty measures--that
is, to a heap which he had expected would be one of twenty
measures, there were but ten.
fifty vessels out of the press--As the Septuagint translates
"measure," and Vulgate "a flagon," and as we should rather expect
vat than press.
MAURER translates (omitting vessels, which
is not in the original), "purahs," or "wine-measures."
17. Appropriated from
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
"Blasting" results from excessive drought; "mildew, from excessive
18. Resumed from
Hag 2:16, 17,
that the blessing in
may stand in the more marked contrast with the curse in
Hag 2:16, 17.
Affliction will harden the heart, if not referred to God as its author
even from the day that the foundation of . . .
temple was laid--The first foundation beneath the earth had been
long ago laid in the second year of Cyrus, 535 B.C.
(Ezr 3:10, 11);
the foundation now laid was the secondary one, which, above the earth,
was laid on the previous work [TIRINUS]. Or,
translate, "From this day on which the temple is being begun," namely,
on the foundations long ago laid [GROTIUS].
MAURER translates, "Consider . . . from
the four and twentieth day . . . to (the time which
has elapsed) from the day on which the foundation . . . was
laid." The Hebrew supports English Version.
19. Is the seed yet in the barn?--implying, It is not. It has
been already sown this month, and there are no more signs of its bearing
a good crop, much less of its being safely stored in the barn, than
there were in the past season, when there was such a failure; yet I
promise to you from this day (emphatically marking by the repetition
the connection of the blessing with the day of their obedience) a
blessing in an abundant harvest. So also the vine, &c., which
heretofore have borne little or nothing, shall be blessed with
productiveness. Thus it will be made evident that the blessing is due to
Me, not to nature. We may trust God's promise to bless us, though we see
no visible sign of its fulfilment
God's promise through Zerubbabel to Israel of safety in the coming
20. the month--the ninth in the second year of Darius. The same date
as Prophecy III
21. to Zerubbabel--Perhaps Zerubbabel had asked as to the convulsions
(Hag 2:6, 7).
This is the reply: The Jews had been led to fear that these convulsions
would destroy their national existence. Zerubbabel, therefore,
as their civil leader and representative is addressed, not Joshua,
their religious leader. Messiah is the antitypical Zerubbabel, their
national Representative and King, with whom God the Father makes the
covenant wherein they, as identified with Him, are assured of safety in
God's electing love (compare
"will make thee as a signet"; "I have chosen thee").
shake . . .
Hag 2:6, 7);
violent political convulsions accompanied with physical prodigies
(Mt 24:7, 29).
22. All other world kingdoms are to be overthrown to make way for
Christ's universal kingdom
War chariots are to give place to His reign of peace
23. take thee--under My protection and to promote thee and thy people
A ring with a seal on it; the legal representative of the owner;
generally of precious stones and gold, &c., 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
(Isa 42:1; 43:10; 44:1; 49:3).
So the spiritual Israel is sealed in their covenant head by His Spirit
(2Co 1:20, 22;
Eph 1:4, 13, 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
Joh 5:22, 23).