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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Haggai Chapter 1

Haggai 1:1

hag 1:1

In Hag 1:1 this address is introduced by a statement of the time at which it had been delivered, and the persons to whom it was addressed. The word of Jehovah was uttered through the prophet in the second year of king Darius, on the first day of the sixth month. דּריושׁ answers to the name Dâryavush or Dârayavush of the arrow-headed inscriptions; it is derived from the Zendic dar, Sanskrit dhri, contracted into dhar, and is correctly explained by Herodotus (vi. 98) as signifying ἑρξείης = corcitor. It is written in Greek Δαρεῖος (Darius). The king referred to is the king of Persia (Ezr 4:5, Ezr 4:24), the first of that name, i.e., Darius Hystaspes, who reigned from 521 to 486 b.c. That this is the king meant, and not Darius Nothus, is evident from the fact that Zerubbabel the Jewish prince, and Joshua the high priest, who had led back the exiles from Babylon to Judaea in the reign of Cyrus, in the year 536 (Ezr 1:8; Ezr 2:2), might very well be still at the head of the returned people in the second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, i.e., in the year 520, but could not have been still living in the reign of Darius Nothus, who did not ascend the throne till 113 years after the close of the captivity. Moreover, in Hag 2:3, Haggai presupposes that many of his contemporaries had seen the temple of Solomon. Now, as that temple had been destroyed in the year 588 or 587, there might very well be old men still living under Darius Hystaspes, in the year 520, who had seen that temple in their early days; but that could not be the case under Darius Nothus, who ascended the Persian throne in the year 423. The prophet addresses his word to the temporal and spiritual heads of the nation, to the governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua. זרבּבל is written in many codd. זרוּבבל, and is either formed from זרוּי בבל, in Babyloniam dispersus, or as the child, if born before the dispersion in Babylonia, would not have received this name proleptically, probably more correctly from זרוּע בּבל, in Babylonia satus s. genitus, in which case the ע was assimilated to the ב when the two words were joined into one, and ב received a dagesh. Zerubbabel (lxx Ζοροβάβελ) was the son of Shealtil. שׁאלתּיאל is written in the same way in Hag 2:23; Ch1 3:17; Ezr 3:2, and Neh 12:1; whereas in Neh 12:12 and Neh 12:14, and Hag 2:2, it is contracted into שׁלתּיאל. She'altı̄'ēl, i.e., the prayer of God, or one asked of God in prayer, was, according to Ch1 3:17, if we take 'assı̄r as an appellative, a son of Jeconiah (Jehoiachin), or, if we take 'assı̄r as a proper name, a son of Assir the son of Jeconiah, and therefore a grandson of Jehoiachin. But, according to Ch1 3:19, Zerubbabel was a son of Pedaiah, a brother of Shealtiel. And lastly, according to the genealogy in Luk 3:27, Shealtiel was not a son of either Assir or Jeconiah, but of Neri, a descendant of David through his son Nathan. These three divergent accounts, according to which Zerubbabel was (1) a son of Shealtil, (2) a son of Pedaiah, the brother of Shealtil, and a grandson of Assir or Jeconiah, (3) a son of Shealtil and grandson of Neri, may be brought into harmony by means of the following combinations, if we bear in mind the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer 32:30), that Jeconiah would be childless, and not be blessed with having one of his seed sitting upon the throne of David and ruling over Judah. Since this prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled, according to the genealogical table given by Luke, inasmuch as Shealtil's father there is not Assir or Jeconiah, a descendant of David in the line of Solomon, but Neri, a descendant of David's son Nathan, it follows that neither of the sons of Jeconiah mentioned in Ch1 3:17-18 (Zedekiah and Assir) had a son, but that the latter had only a daughter, who married a man of the family of her father's tribe, according to the law of the heiresses, Num 27:8; Num 36:8-9 - namely Neri, who belonged to the tribe of Judah and family of David. From this marriage sprang Shealtil, Malkiram, Pedaiah, and others. The eldest of these took possession of the property of his maternal grandfather, and was regarded in law as his (legitimate) son. Hence he is described in Ch1 3:17 as the son of Assir the son of Jeconiah, whereas in Luke he is described, according to his lineal descent, as the son of Neri. But Shealtil also appears to have died without posterity, and simply to have left a widow, which necessitated a Levirate marriage on the part of one of the brothers (Deu 25:5-10; Mat 22:24-28). Shealtil's second brother Pedaiah appears to have performed his duty, and to have begotten Zerubbabel and Shimei by this sister-in-law (Ch1 3:19), the former of whom, Zerubbabel, was entered in the family register of the deceased uncle Shealtil, passing as his (lawful) son and heir, and continuing his family. Koehler holds essentially the same views (see his comm. on Hag 2:23).

Zerubbabel was pechâh, a Persian governor. The real meaning of this foreign word is still a disputed point.

(Note: Prof. Spiegel (in Koehler on Mal 1:8) objects to the combination attempted by Benfey, and transferred to the more modern lexicons, viz., with the Sanscrit paksha, a companion or friend (see at Kg1 10:15), on the ground that this word (1) signifies wing in the Vedas, and only received the meaning side, party, appendix, at a later period, and (2) does not occur in the Eranian languages, from which it must necessarily have been derived. Hence Spiegel proposes to connect it with pâvan (from the root pâ, to defend or preserve: compare F. Justi, Hdb. der Zendsprache, p. 187), which occurs in Sanskrit and Old Persian (cf. Khsatrapâvan = Satrap) at the end of composite words, and in the Avesta as an independent word, in the contracted form pavan. "It is quite possible that the dialectic form pagvan (cf. the plural pachăvōth in Neh 2:7, Neh 2:9) may have developed itself from this, like dregvat from drevat, and hvôgva from hvôva." Hence pechh would signify a keeper of the government, or of the kingdom (Khsatra).)

In addition to his Hebrew name, Zerubbabel also bore the Chaldaean name Sheshbazzar, as an officer of the Persian king, as we may see by comparing Ezr 1:8, Ezr 1:11; Ezr 5:14, Ezr 5:16, with Ezr 2:2; Ezr 3:2, Ezr 3:8, and Ezr 5:2. For the prince of Judah, Sheshbazzar, to whom Koresh directed the temple vessels brought from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar to be delivered, and who brought them back from Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezr 1:8, Ezr 1:11; Ezr 5:14), and who laid the foundation for the house of God, according to Ezr 5:16, is called Zerubbabel in Ezr 2:2, as the leader of the procession, who not only laid the foundation for the temple, along with Joshua the high priest, according to Ezr 3:2, Ezr 3:8, but also resumed the building of the temple, which had been suspended, in connection with the same Joshua during the reign of Darius. The high priest Joshua (Yehōshuă‛, in Ezr 3:2, Ezr 3:8; Ezr 4:3, contracted into Yēshūă‛) was a son of Jozadak, who had been carried away by the Chaldaeans to Babylon (Ezr 1:11), and a grandson of the high priest Seraiah, whom Nebuchadnezzar had caused to be executed at Riblah in the year 588, after the conquest of Jerusalem (Kg2 25:18-21; Jer 52:24-27). The time given, "in the sixth month," refers to the ordinary reckoning of the Jewish year (compare Zac 1:7 and Zac 7:1, and Neh 1:1 with Neh 2:1, where the name of the month is given as well as the number). The first day, therefore, was the new moon's day, which was kept as a feast-day not only by a special festal sacrifice (Num 28:11.), but also by the holding of a religious meeting at the sanctuary (compare Isa 1:13 and the remarks on Kg2 4:23). On this day Haggai might expect some susceptibility on the part of the people for his admonition, inasmuch as on such a day they must have been painfully and doubly conscious that the temple of Jehovah was still lying in ruins (Hengstenberg, Koehler).

Haggai 1:2

hag 1:2

The prophet begins by charging the people with their unconcern about building the house of God. Hag 1:2. "Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: This people saith, It is not time to come, the time for the house of Jehovah to be built." העם הזּה, iste populus, not my people, or Jehovah's people, but hazzeh (this) in a contemptuous sense. Of the two clauses, (a) "It is not time to come," and (b) "The time of the house of Jehovah," the latter gives the more precise definition of the former, the בּא (to come) being explained as meaning the time to build the house of Jehovah. The meaning is simply this: the time has not yet arrived to come and build the house of Jehovah; for לא in this connection signifies "not yet," as in Gen 2:5; Job 22:16. A distinction is drawn between coming to the house of Jehovah and building the house, as in Hag 1:14. There is no ground, therefore, for altering the text, as Hitzig proposes, inasmuch as the defective mode of writing the infinitive בּא is by no means rare (compare, for example, Exo 2:18; Lev 14:48; Num 32:9; Kg1 13:28; Isa 20:1); and there is no foundation whatever for the absurd rendering of the words of the text, "It is not the time of the having arrived of the time of the house," etc. (Hitzig).

Haggai 1:3

hag 1:3

The word of Jehovah is opposed in Hag 1:4 to this speech of the people; and in order to give greater prominence to the antithesis, the introductory formula, "The word of Jehovah came by Haggai the prophet thus," is repeated in Hag 1:3. In order to appeal to the conscience of the people, God meets them with the question in Hag 1:4 : "Is it time for you yourselves to live in your houses wainscoted, whilst this house lies waste?" The ה before עת is not the article, but ה interr. אתּם is added to strengthen the pronoun (cf. Ges. 121, 3). Sephūnı̄m without the article is connected with the noun, in the form of an apposition: in your houses, they being wainscoted, i.e., with the inside walls covered or inlaid with costly wood-work. Such were the houses of the rich and of the more distinguished men (cf. Jer 22:14; Kg1 7:7). Living in such houses was therefore a sing of luxury and comfort. והבּית וגו is a circumstantial clause, which we should express by "whilst this house," etc. With this question the prophet cuts off all excuse, on the ground that the circumstances of the times, and the oppression under which they suffered, did not permit of the rebuilding of the temple. If they themselves lived comfortably in wainscoted houses, their civil and political condition could not be so oppressive, that they could find in that a sufficient excuse for neglecting to build the temple. Even if the building of the temple had been prohibited by an edict of Pseudo-Smerdes, as many commentators infer from Ezra 4:8-24, the reign of this usurper only lasted a few months; and with his overthrow, and the ascent of the throne by Darius Hystaspes, a change had taken place in the principles of government, which might have induced the heads of Judah, if the building of the house of God had rested upon their hearts as it did upon the heart of king David (Sa2 7:2; Psa 132:2-5), to take steps under the new king to secure the revocation of this edict, and the renewal of the command issued by Cyrus.

Haggai 1:5

hag 1:5

After rebutting the untenable grounds of excuse, Haggai calls attention in vv. 5, 6 to the curse with which God has punished, and is still punishing, the neglect of His house. Hag 1:5. "And now, thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Set your heart upon your ways. Hag 1:6. Ye have sowed much, and brought in little: ye eat, and not for satisfaction; drink, and not to be filled with drink: ye clothe yourselves, and it does not serve for warming; and the labourer for wages works for wages into a purse pierced with holes." שׂימוּ לבבכם, a favourite formula with Haggai (cf. v. 7 and Hag 2:15, Hag 2:18). To set the heart upon one's ways, i.e., to consider one's conduct, and lay it to heart. The ways are the conduct, with its results. J. H. Michaelis has given it correctly, "To your designs and actions, and their consequences." In their ways, hitherto, they have reaped no blessing: they have sowed much, but brought only a little into their barns. הבא, inf. abs., to bring in what has been reaped, or bring it home. What is here stated must not be restricted to the last two harvests which they had had under the reign of Darius, as Koehler supposes, but applies, according to Hag 2:15-17, to the harvests of many years, which had turned out very badly. The inf. abs., which is used in the place of the finite verb and determined by it, is continued in the clauses which follow, אכול, etc. The meaning of these clauses is, not that the small harvest was not sufficient to feed and clothe the people thoroughly, so that they had to "cut their coat according to their cloth," as Maurer and Hitzig suppose, but that even in their use of the little that had been reaped, the blessing of God was wanting, as is not only evident from the words themselves, but placed beyond the possibility of doubt by Hag 1:9.

(Note: Calvin and Osiander see a double curse in Hag 1:6. The former says, "We know that God punishes men in both ways, both by withdrawing His blessing, so that the earth is parched, and the heaven gives no rain, and also, even when there is a good supply of the fruits of the earth, by preventing their satisfying, so that there is no real enjoyment of them. It often happens that men collect what would be quite a sufficient quantity for food, but for all that, are still always hungry. This kind of curse is seen the more plainly when God deprives the bread and wine of their true virtue, so that eating and drinking fail to support the strength.")

What they ate and drank did not suffice to satisfy them; the clothes which they procured yielded no warmth; and the ages which the day-labourer earned vanished just as rapidly as if it had been placed in a bag full of holes (cf. Lev 26:26; Hos 4:10; Mic 6:14). לו after לחם refers to the individual who clothes himself, and is to be explained from the phrase חם לי, "I am warm" (Kg1 1:1-2, etc.).

Haggai 1:7

hag 1:7

After this allusion to the visitation of God, the prophet repeats the summons in Hag 1:7, Hag 1:8, to lay to heart their previous conduct, and choose the way that is well-pleasing to God. Hag 1:7. "Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Direct your heart upon your ways. Hag 1:8. Go up to the mountains and fetch wood and build the house, and I will take pleasure therein and glorify myself, saith Jehovah." Hâhâr (the mountain) is not any particular mountain, say the temple mountain (Grotius, Maurer, Ros.), or Lebanon (Cocceius, Ewald, etc.); but the article is used generically, and hâhâr is simply the mountain regarded as the locality in which wood chiefly grows (cf. Neh 8:15). Fetching wood for building is an individualizing expression for providing building materials; so that there is no ground for the inference drawn by Hitzig and many of the Rabbins, that the walls of the temple had been left standing when it was destroyed, so that all that had to be done was to renew the wood-work, - an inference at variance not only with the reference made to the laying of the foundation of the temple in Hag 2:18 and Ezr 3:10, but also to the express statement in the account sent by the provincial governor to king Darius in Ezr 5:8, viz., that the house of the great God was built with square stones, and that timber was laid in the walls. וארצה־בּו, so will I take pleasure in it (the house); whereas so long as it lay in ruins, God was displeased with it. ואכּבד, and I will glorify myself, sc. upon the people, by causing my blessing to flow to it again. The keri ואכּבדה is an unnecessary emendation, inasmuch as, although the voluntative might be used (cf. Ewald, 350, a), it is not required, and has not been employed, both because it is wanting in ארצה, for the simple reason that the verbs לה do not easily admit of this form (Ewald, 228, a), and also because it is not used in other instances, where the same circumstances do not prevail (e.g., Zac 1:3).

(Note: The later Talmudists, indeed, have taken the omission of the ה, which stands for 5 when used as a numeral, as an indication that there were five things wanting in the second temple: (1) the ark of the covenant, with the atoning lid and the cherubim; (2) the sacred fire; (3) the shechinah; (4) the Holy Spirit; (5) the Urim and Thummim (compare the Babylonian tract Joma 21b, and Sal. ben Melech, Miclal Jophi on Hag 1:8).)

Ewald and Hitzig adopt this rendering, "that I may feel myself honoured," whilst Maurer and Rckert translate it as a passive, "that I may be honoured." But both of these views are much less in harmony with the context, since what is there spoken of is the fact that God will then turn His good pleasure to the people once more, and along with that His blessing. How thoroughly this thought predominates, is evident from the more elaborate description, which follows in Hag 1:9-11, of the visitation from God, viz., the failure of crops and drought.

Haggai 1:9

hag 1:9

"Ye looked out for much, and behold (it came) to little; and ye brought it home, and I blew into it. Why? is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Because of my house, that it lies waste, whereas ye run every man for his house. Hag 1:10. Therefore the heaven has withheld its dew on your account, that no dew fell, and the earth has withheld her produce. Hag 1:11. And I called drought upon the earth, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon everything that the ground produces, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands." The meaning of Hag 1:9 is evident from the context. The inf. abs. pânōh stands in an address full of emotion in the place of the perfect, and, as the following clause shows, for the second person plural. Ye have turned yourselves, fixed your eye upon much, i.e., upon a rich harvest, והנּה־למעט, and behold the desired much turned to little. Ye brought into the house, ye fetched home what was reaped, and I blew into it, i.e., I caused it to fly away, like chaff before the wind, so that there was soon none of it left. Here is a double curse, therefore, as in Hag 1:6 : instead of much, but little was reaped, and the little that was brought home melted away without doing any good. To this exposition of the curse the prophet appends the question יען מה, why, sc. has this taken place? that he may impress the cause with the greater emphasis upon their hardened minds. For the same reason he inserts once more, between the question and the answer, the words "is the saying of Jehovah of hosts," that the answer may not be mistaken for a subjective view, but laid to heart as a declaration of the God who rules the world. The choice of the form מה for מה was probably occasioned by the guttural ע in the יען, which is closely connected with it, just as the analogous use of על־מה instead of על־מה in Isa 1:5; Psa 10:13, and Jer 16:10, where it is not followed by a word commencing with ע as in Deu 29:23; Kg1 9:8; Jer 22:8. The former have not been taken into account at all by Ewald in his elaborate Lehrbuch (cf. 182, b). In the answer given by God, "because of my house" (ya‛an bēthı̄) is placed first for the sake of emphasis, and the more precise explanation follows. אשׁר הוּא, "because it," not "that which." ואתּם וגו is a circumstantial clause. לביתו ... רצים, not "every one runs to his house," but "runs for his house," ל denoting the object of the running, as in Isa 59:7 and Pro 1:16. "When the house of Jehovah was in question, they did not move from the spot; but if it concerned their own house, they ran" (Koehler). In Hag 1:10 and Hag 1:11, the curse with which God punished the neglect of His house is still further depicted, with an evident play upon the punishment with which transgressors are threatened in the law (Lev 26:19-20; Deu 11:17 and Deu 28:23-24). עליכם is not a dat. incomm. (Hitzig), which is never expressed by על; but על is used either in a causal sense, "on your account" (Chald.), or in a local sense, "over you," after the analogy of Deu 28:23, שׁמיך אשׁר על ראשׁך, in the sense of "the heaven over you will withold" (Ros., Koehl.). It is impossible to decide with certainty between these two. The objection to the first, that "on your account" would be superfluous after על־כּן, has no more force than that raised by Hitzig against the second, viz., that super would be מעל. There is no tautology in the first explanation, but the עליכם, written emphatically at the commencement, gives greater intensity to the threat: "on account of you," you who only care for your own houses, the heaven witholds the dew. And with the other explanation, מעל would only be required in case עליכם were regarded as the object, upon which the dew ought to fall down from above. כּלא, not "to shut itself up," but in a transitive sense, with the derivative meaning to withhold or keep back; and mittâl, not partitively "of the dew," equivalent to "a portion of it," but min in a privative sense, "away from," i.e., so that no dew falls; for it is inadmissible to take mittâl as the object, "to hold back along with the dew," after the analogy of Num 24:11 (Hitzig), inasmuch as the accusative of the person is wanting, and in the parallel clause כּלא is construed with the accus. rei. ואקרא in Hag 1:11 is still dependent upon על־כּן. The word chōrebh, in the sense of drought, applies strictly speaking only to the land and the fruits of the ground, but it is also transferred to men and beasts, inasmuch as drought, when it comes upon all vegetation, affects men and beasts as well; and in this clause it may be taken in the general sense of devastation. The word is carefully chosen, to express the idea of the lex talionis. Because the Jews left the house of God chârēbh, they were punished with chōrebh. The last words are comprehensive: "all the labour of the hands" had reference to the cultivation of the soil and the preparation of the necessities of life.

Haggai 1:12

hag 1:12

The result of this reproof. - Hag 1:12. "Zerubbabel, and Joshua, and the whole of the remnant of the people, hearkened to the voice of Jehovah their God, and according to the words of Haggai the prophet, as Jehovah their God had sent him; and the people feared before Jehovah." "All the remnant of the people" does not mean the rest of the nation besides Zerubbabel and Joshua, in support of which Koehler refers to Jer 39:3 and Ch1 12:38, either here or in Hag 1:14 and Hag 2:2, inasmuch as Zerubbabel as the governor and prince of Judah, and Joshua as the high priest, are not embraced under the idea of the "people" (‛âm), as in the case in the passages quoted, where those who are described as the she'ērı̄th, or remnant, are members or portions of the whole in question. The "remnant of the people," as in Zac 8:6, is that portion of the nation which had returned from exile as a small gleaning of the nation, which had once been much larger. שׁמע בּקול, to hearken to the voice, i.e., to lay to heart, so as to obey what was heard. בּקול יי is still more minutely defined by ועל־דּברי וגו: "and (indeed) according to the words of Haggai, in accordance with the fact that Jehovah had sent him." This last clause refers to דּברי, which he had to speak according to the command of God (Hitzig); cf. Mic 3:4. The first fruit of the hearing was, that the people feared before Jehovah; the second is mentioned in Hag 1:14, namely, that they resumed the neglected building of the temple. Their fearing before Jehovah presupposes that they saw their sin against God, and discerned in the drought a judgment from God.

Haggai 1:13

hag 1:13

This penitential state of mind on the part of the people and their rulers was met by the Lord with the promise of His assistance, in order to elevate this disposition into determination and deed. Hag 1:13. "Then spake Haggai, the messenger of Jehovah, in the message of Jehovah to the people, thus: I am with you, is the saying of Jehovah. Hag 1:14. And Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, and the spirit of Joshua, and the spirit of all the remnant of the nation; and they came and did work at the house of Jehovah of hosts, their God." The prophet is called מלאך in Hag 1:13, i.e., messenger (not "angel," as many in the time of the fathers misunderstood the word as meaning), as being sent by Jehovah to the people, to make known to them His will (compare Mal 2:7, where the same epithet is applied to the priest). As the messenger of Jehovah, he speaks by command of Jehovah, and not in his own name or by his own impulse. אני אתּכם, I am with you, will help you, and will remove all the obstacles that stand in the way of your building (cf. Hag 2:4). This promise Jehovah fulfilled, first of all by giving to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people, a willingness to carry out the work. העיר רוּח, to awaken the spirit of any man, i.e., to make him willing and glad to carry out His resolutions (compare Ch1 5:26; Ch2 21:16; Ezr 1:1, Ezr 1:5). Thus filled with joyfulness, courage, and strength, they began the work on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of king Darius (Hag 1:15), that is to say, twenty-three days after Haggai had first addressed his challenge to them. The interval had been spent in deliberation and counsel, and in preparations for carrying out the work. In several editions and some few mss in Kennicott, in Tischendorf's edition of the lxx, in the Itala and in the Vulgate, Hag 1:15 is joined to the next chapter. But this is proved to be incorrect by the fact that the chronological statements in Hag 1:15 and Hag 2:1 are irreconcilable with one another. Hag 1:15 is really so closely connected with Hag 1:14, that it is rather to be regarded as the last clause of that verse.

Next: Haggai Chapter 2