- They set up the altar, offer sacrifices thereon, and keep the feasts, verse 1-6.
- They contribute, and lay the foundation of the temple, verse 7-13.
Seventh month - This was a sacred kind of month wherein there were divers festivals, for which the people had been preparing themselves, and now came to Jerusalem to the celebration of them.
Altar - Which was of more present necessity than the temple, both to make atonement to God for all their sins, and to obtain God's assistance for the building of the temple, and to strengthen their own hearts and hands in that great work.
For fear - So they made the more haste, lest they should be hindered. Apprehension of dangers should quicken us in our duty. Have we many enemies? We have the more need to have God for our friend and to keep up our correspondence with him.
Tabernacles - This seems to be mentioned for all the solemnities of this month, whereof this was the most eminent, otherwise it is not probable, that they would neglect the day of atonement which was so severely enjoined, Leviticus 23:27-29, and was so exceeding suitable to their present condition.
Offering - The morning and evening, sacrifice. The law required much; but they offered more; for tho' thy had little wealth, they had much zeal. Happy they that bring with them out of the furnace of affliction, such a holy heat as this!
Burnt-offerings - And the other sacrifices which were to be offered with them upon that day, being the feast of trumpets. Burnt-offerings are often put for all sacrifices.
Joshua - Not the high-priest so called, but a Levite, of whom see chap. 2:40. To set forward - To encourage them to a vigorous prosecution of the work.
Sung - That everlasting hymn, which will never be out of date, and to which our tongue should never be out of tune, the burden of Psalms 136:1-26. Whatever our condition is, let it be owned, that God is good, and whatever fails, that his mercy fails not.
Had seen - Which divers of them might well do; because it was destroyed not sixty years ago. Wept - Because of the poor preparations made for this, in comparison of what was made for the other temple: because this was destitute of those things which were the principal glory of the former temple, namely, the ark, and the Urim and Thummim; because these foundation-stones were far inferior to the former, both for quantity and price, 1 Kings 7:9,10, and because these foundations were of a far narrower compass than the former: for although the foundations of this house of the Lord, strictly so called, were of equal largeness with those of the former, yet the foundations of the whole building belonging to the first temple, were far larger than these.
Could not discern - The mixture of sorrow and joy here, is a representation of this world. In heaven all are singing and none sighing; in hell all are wailing, and none rejoicing: but here on earth we can scarce discern the shouts of joy from the noise of the weeping, let us learn to rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Meantime let us ourselves rejoice as though we rejoiced not, and weep as though we wept not.