Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CONTINUATION OF THE
SUBJECT IN THE
After urging them to obedience by the fate of their fathers, he
urges them to it by promises of coming prosperity.
2. jealous for Zion--
with great fury--against her oppressors.
3. I am returned--that is, I am determined to return. My decree to that
effect is gone forth.
Jerusalem . . . city of truth--that is, faithful to her God, who is the
God of truth
(Isa 1:21, 26;
Never yet fully fulfilled, therefore still to be so.
the mountain of the Lord--
(Isa 2:2, 3).
4. So tranquil and prosperous shall the nation be that wars shall no
longer prematurely cut off the people: men and women shall reach
advanced ages. The promise of long life was esteemed one of the greatest
blessings in the Jewish theocracy with its temporal rewards of obedience
Hence this is a leading feature in millennial blessedness
(Isa 65:20, 22).
for very age--literally, "for multitude of days."
5. boys and girls playing--implying security and a numerous progeny,
accounted a leading blessing among the Jews. Contrast
Jer 6:11; 9:21.
6. However impossible these things just promised by Me seem to you,
they are not so with God. The "remnant" that had returned from the
captivity, beholding the city desolate and the walls and houses in
ruins, could hardly believe what God promised. The expression "remnant"
glances at their ingratitude in rating so low God's power, though they
had experienced it so "marvellously" displayed in their restoration. A
great source of unbelief is, men "limit" God's power by their own
(Ps 78:19, 20, 41).
these days--"of small things"
when such great things promised seemed incredible.
translates, "in those days"; that is, if the thing which I
promised to do in those days, seems "marvellous," &c.
7. save my people from . . . east . . .
west--that is, from every region (compare
the "West" is literally, "the going down of the sun") to which they are
scattered; they are now found especially in countries west of
Jerusalem. The dispersion under Nebuchadnezzar was only to the east,
namely, to Babylonia. The restoration, including a spiritual return to
here foretold, must therefore be still future
(Isa 11:11, 12; 43:5, 6;
Am 9:14, 15;
Jer 30:22; 31:1, 33).
8. in truth--in good faith, both on their side and Mine: God being
faithful to His everlasting covenant and enabling them by His Spirit to
be faithful to Him.
9-13. All adversities formerly attended them when neglecting to build
the temple: but now God promises all blessings, as an encouragement to
energy in the work.
hands . . . strong--be of courageous mind
not merely in building, but in general, as having such bright prospects
these days--the time that had elapsed between the prophet's having
spoken "these words" and the time
when they set about in earnest restoring the temple.
the prophets--Haggai and Zechariah himself
(Ezr 5:1, 2).
The same prophets who promised prosperity at the foundation of the
temple, now promised still greater blessings hereafter.
10. before these days--before the time in which ye again proceeded
with the building of the temple
namely, at the time that the temple lay neglected.
no hire for man . . . beast--that is, no produce of the field to repay
the labor of man and beast on it
(Hag 1:6, 9, 10; 2:16).
neither . . . peace to him that went out or came in--
No one could in safety do his business at home or abroad, in the city or
in the country, whether going or returning.
because of the affliction--so sorely pressed were they by the foe
outside. MAURER translates, "Because of the foe"
every one against . . . neighbour--There was internal discord, as well
as foes from without.
11. "But now that the temple has been built, I will not do as I had
formerly done to those who returned from Babylon"
I will bless you.
12. seed . . . prosperous--that is, shall not fair to yield abundantly
(Ho 2:21, 22;
Contrast with this verse
Hag 1:6, 9-11; 2:16.
dew--especially beneficial in hot countries where rain is rare.
13. a curse--As the heathen have made you another name for "a curse,"
wishing to their foes as bad a lot as yours
(Jer 24:9; 29:18);
so your name shall be a formula of blessing, so that men shall say to
their friend, May thy lot be as happy as that of Judah
Including also the idea of the Jews being a source of blessing to the
The distinct mention of "Judah" and "Israel" proves that the prophecy
has not yet had its full accomplishment, as Israel (the ten
tribes) has never yet been restored, though individuals of
Israel returned with Judah.
14. I thought--I determined.
you--that is, your fathers, with whom ye are one; the Jewish Church
of all ages being regarded as an organic whole (compare
Mt 23:31, 32).
repented not--I changed not My purpose, because they changed not their
With the froward God shows Himself froward
If the threatened punishment has been so unchangeably inflicted, much
more will God surely give the promised blessing, which is so much more
consonant to His nature
16, 17. The promised blessings are connected with obedience. God's
covenanted grace will lead those truly blessed by it to holiness, not
truth to . . . neighbour--not that the truth should
not be spoken to foreigners too; but He makes it an aggravation of
their sin, that they spared not even their brethren. Besides, and above
all outward ordinances
God requires truth and justice.
judgment of . . . peace--Equitable decisions tend to allay feuds and
gates--the place where courts of judicature in the East were held.
17. all these . . . I hate--therefore ye too ought to hate them.
Religion consists in conformity to God's nature, that we should love
what God loves and hate what God hates.
18, 19. The prophet answers the query
as to the fast in the fifth month, by a reply applying to all their
fasts: these are to be turned into days of rejoicing. So Jesus replied
to His disciples when similarly consulting Him as to why fasting was
not imposed by Him, as it was by John the Baptist. When the Sun of
righteousness shines, tears are dried up
19. fast of . . . fourth month--On the fourth month of
the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign, on the ninth day, Jerusalem was
(Jer 39:2; 52:6, 7).
It was therefore made a fast day.
fifth . . . seventh--(See on
tenth--On the tenth month and tenth day, in the ninth year of Zedekiah,
the siege began
therefore love the truth--or, "only love." English Version is
better. God's blessing covenanted to Israel is not made to depend on
Israel's goodness: but Israel's goodness should follow as the
consequence of God's gracious promises
(Zec 8:16, 17;
Zec 7:9, 10).
God will bless, but not those who harden themselves in sin.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts--a preface needed to assure the Jews, now
disheartened by the perils surrounding them, and by the humble aspect of
the temple. "Unlikely as what follows may seem to you,
Jehovah of hosts, boundless in resources, saith it, therefore it
shall be so." Just before Christ's coming, a feeling grew up among the
heathen of the unsatisfactoriness of their systems of religion and
philosophy; this disposed them favorably towards the religion of the
Jew, so that proselytes embraced the worship of Jehovah from various
parts of Asia; these again were predisposed to embrace Christianity when
it was preached to them
(Ac 2:9-12, 41).
But the full accomplishment of the conversion of the Gentiles foretold
here is reserved till "Jerusalem"
becomes the center of Christianized Jewry
(Ro 11:12, 15).
21. Let us . . . I--manifesting zeal and love: converted themselves,
they seek the conversion of others
To exhortation in general ("Let us go"), they add
individual example ("I will go"). Or, the change from
plural to singular implies that the general
consent in religious earnestness leads each individual to decide
go speedily--literally, "go, going"; implying intense earnestness.
pray--Hebrew, "entreat the face"
entreat His favor and grace.
22. many . . . strong nations . . . in Jerusalem--In contrast to the
few and weak Jews now building the temple and city, then such shall be
their influence that many and strong nations shall come to worship
Jehovah their God in Jerusalem
(Isa 60:3; 66:23).
23. ten--a definite number for an indefinite. So in
of all languages of the nations--that is, of nations of all languages
take hold of the skirt--a gesture of suppliant entreaty as to a
Isa 3:6; 4:1,
on a different occasion. The Gentiles shall eagerly seek to share the
religious privileges of the Jew. The skirt with a fringe and blue
ribbon upon it
was a distinguishing badge of a Jew.
God is with you--the effect produced on unbelievers in entering
the assemblies of the Church
But primarily, that produced on the nations in witnessing the
deliverance of the Jews by Cyrus. Finally, that to be produced on the
nations by the future grand interposition of Messiah in behalf of His