Haggai 2


When this prophecy was uttered, about four years before the

temple was finished, and sixty-eight after the former one was

destroyed, it appears that some old men among the Jews were

greatly dispirited on account of its being so much inferior in

magnificence to that of Solomon. Compare Ezr 3:12.

To raise the spirits of the people, and encourage them to

proceed with the work, the prophet assures them that the glory

of the second temple should be greater than that of the first,

alluding perhaps to the glorious doctrines which should be

preached in it by Jesus Christ and his apostles, 1-9.

He then shows the people that the oblations brought by their

priests could not sanctify them while they were unclean by

their neglect of the temple; and to convince them that the

difficult times they had experienced during that neglect

proceeded from this cause, he promises fruitful seasons from

that day forward, 10-19.

The concluding verses contain a prediction of the mighty

revolutions that should take place by the setting up of the

kingdom of Christ under the type of Zerubbabel, 20-23.

As the time which elapsed between the date of the prophecy and

the dreadful concussion of nations is termed in Hag 2:6,

A LITTLE WHILE, the words may likewise have reference to some

temporal revolutions then near, such as the commotions of

Babylon in the reign of Darius, the Macedonian conquests in

Persia, and the wars between the successors of Alexander; but

the aspect of the prophecy is more directly to the amazing

victories of the Romans, who, in the time of Haggai and

Zechariah, were on the VERY EVE of their successful career, and

in the lapse of a few centuries subjugated the whole habitable

globe; and therefore, in a very good sense, God may be said by

these people to have shaken "the heavens, and the earth, and

the sea, and the dry land;" and thus to have prepared the way

for the opening of the Gospel dispensation. See Heb 12:25-29.

Others have referred this prophecy to the period of our Lord's

second advent, to which there is no doubt it is also

applicable; and when it will be in the most signal manner

fulfilled. That the convulsion of the nations introducing this

most stupendous event will be very great and terrible, is

sufficiently plain from Isaiah xxxiv., xxxv., as well as from

many other passages of holy writ.


Verse 1. In the seventh month] This was a new message, and

intended to prevent discouragement, and excite them to greater

diligence in their work.

Verse 3. Who is left among you that saw this house in her first

glory?] Who of you has seen the temple built by Solomon? The

foundation of the present house had been laid about fifty-three

years after the destruction of the temple built by Solomon and

though this prophecy was uttered fifteen years after the

foundation of this second temple, yet there might still survive

some of those who had seen the temple of Solomon.

Is it not in your eyes] Most certainly the Jews at this time had

neither men nor means to make any such splendid building as that

erected by Solomon. The present was as nothing when compared with

the former.

Verse 4. Yet now be strong] Do not let this discourage you. The

chief glory of the temple is not its splendid building, but my

presence; and as I covenanted to be with you when ye came out of

Egypt, so I will fulfil my covenant; for my Spirit remaineth among

you, fear not; Hag 2:5. What is the most splendid cathedral, if

God be not in it, influencing all by his presence and Spirit? But

he will not be in it unless there be a messenger of the Lord

there, and unless he deliver the Lord's message.

Verse 6. Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the

heavens] When the law was given on Mount Sinai, there was an

earthquake that shook the whole mountain, Ex 19:18. "The

political or religious revolutions which were to be effected in

the world, or both, are here," says Abp. Newcome, "referred to;

compare Hag 2:21, 22; Mt 24:29; Heb 12:26-28. The political

ones began in the overthrow of the Persian monarchy by Alexander,

within two centuries after this prediction; and if the Messiah's

kingdom be meant, which is my opinion, this was erected in

somewhat more than five centuries after the second year of Darius;

a short period of time when compared with that which elapsed from

the creation to the giving of the law, or from the giving of the

law to the coming of the Messiah's kingdom. It must be understood

that the word achath, once, has a clear sense, if understood

of the evangelical age; for many political revolutions succeeded,

as the conquest of Darius Codomanus, and the various fortunes of

Alexander's successors; but only one great and final religious


Verse 7. And the Desire of all nations shall come] The present

Hebrew text is as follows: . This is a difficult

place if understood of a person: but chemdath, desire,

cannot well agree with bau, they shall come. It is true that

some learned men suppose that chemdoth, desirable things,

may have been the original reading: but this is supported by no

MS., nor is found in the singular number in any. It is

generally understood of the desirable or valuable things which the

different nations should bring into the temple; and it is certain

that many rich presents were brought into this temple. All are

puzzled with it. But the principal difficulty lies in the verb

ubau, they shall come. If we found ubaa

chemdath in the singular, then it would read as in our text, And

the Desire of all nations shall come: but no such reading appears

in any MS.; nor is it fairly acknowledged, except by the Vulgate,

which reads, Et veniet desideratus cunctis gentibus, "And that

which is desired," or the desired Person, "shall come to all

nations." In Hag 2:7 God says

he will shake or stir up all nations; that these nations shall

bring their desirable things; that the house shall be filled

with God's glory; that the silver and gold, which these nations

are represented as bringing by way of gifts, are the Lord's; and

that the glory of this latter house shall exceed the former. Bp.

Chandler labours to vindicate the present translation; but he

makes rash assertions, and is abandoned by the Hebrew text. The

ba, to come, is often used in the sense of bring, and that

chemdath, desire, may be considered as the plural for ,

having the point holem instead of the vau, and thus mean

desirable things, will not be denied by those who are acquainted

with the genius and construction of the Hebrew language. Bp.

Chandler thinks that , he came, cannot be used of things,

but of persons only. Here he is widely mistaken, for it is used of

days perpetually; and of the ark, 2Sa 6:9; and of

mounts coming against Jerusalem, Jer 32:24; and of

trees coming to adorn the temple, Isa 60:13; and of

silver and gold coming into the temple, Jos 6:19; and

Jer 6:20, Why doth

incense come to me? See Abp. Secker's notes. I cannot see how the

words can apply to Jesus Christ, even if the construction were

less embarrassed than it is; because I cannot see how he could be

called THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS. The whole seems to be a

metaphorical description of the Church of Christ, and of his

filling it with all the excellences of the Gentile world, when the

fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in.

Verse 9. And in this place will I give peace] shalom a

peace-offering, as well as peace itself; or Jesus Christ, who is

called the Prince of peace, through whom peace is proclaimed

between God and man, between man and his fellows; and through whom

peace is established in the disconsolate soul. And at this temple

this peace was first promulgated and proclaimed.

But it is said that the glory of this latter house shall be

greater than of the former. Now this cannot be said because Jesus

Christ made his personal appearance in that temple, or rather in

that built by Herod; for, though we allow that Jesus Christ is

equal with God, we do not grant that he is greater. Now the

first temple was the dwelling-place of God: here he manifested

his glory between the cherubim, and it was his constant residence

for more than four hundred years. But the glory of this latter

house was greater because under it the grand scheme of human

salvation was exhibited, and the redemption price paid down for a

lost world. As all probably applies to the Christian Church, the

real house of God, its glory was most certainly greater than any

glory which was ever possessed by that of the Jews. See on

Hag 2:22, 23.

Verse 10. In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month]

Three months after they had begun to rebuild the temple, Haggai is

ordered to go and put two questions to the priests. 1. If one bear

holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and he touch any thing

with his skirt, is that thing made holy? The priests answered, No!

Hag 2:12. 2. If one has touched a

dead body, and thereby become unclean, does he communicate his

uncleanness to whatever he may touch? And the priests answered,

YES! Hag 2:13.

Verse 14. Then answered Haggai-So is this people] As an unclean

man communicates his uncleanness to every thing he touches, so are

ye unclean; and whatever ye have hitherto done is polluted in the

sight of God. For your neglect of my temple has made you unclean,

as if you had contracted legal pollution by touching a dead body.

Verse 16. Since those days were] I have shown my displeasure

against you, by sending blasting and mildew; and so poor have been

your crops that a heap of corn which should have produced twenty

measures produced only ten; and that quantity of grapes which in

other years would have produced fifty measures, through their

poverty, smallness, &c., produced only twenty. And this has been

the case ever since the first stone was laid in this temple; for

your hearts were not right with me, and therefore I blasted you in

all the labours of your hands; and yet ye have not turned to me,

Hag 2:17.

Verse 18. Consider now from this day] I will now change my

conduct towards you: from, this day that ye have begun heartily to

rebuild my temple, and restore my worship, I will bless you.

Whatever you sow, whatever you plant, shall be blessed; your land

shall be fruitful, and ye shall have abundant crops of all sorts.

Verse 20. Again the word of the Lord came] This was a second

communication in the same day.

Verse 21. I will shake the heavens and the earth] Calmet

supposes that the invasion of Cambyses, and his death, are what

the prophet has in view by this shaking of the heavens and the

earth: but this invasion and defeat happened three years before

they had begun to work at the temple; and how could it be made a

matter of interest to Zerubbabel? Calmet answers this, by

translating the words in the past tense; and shows that the fact

was recalled to Zerubbabel's attention, to fix his confidence in

God, &c. Bp. Newcome says we may well understand this and the

twenty-second verse Hag 2:22 of the calamity undergone by

Babylon in the reign of Darius; of the Macedonian conquests in

Persia; and of the wars which the successors of Alexander waged

against each other: others under stand it of the Romans.

Verse 23. 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. i. 10. Prideaux

places this event in the fifth year of Darius; others with more

probability, in the eighth year. Compare Zec 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 Jer 22:24; Cant. So 8:6; 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


"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 Hag 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,

Jer 22:24,) the

last reigning king of Judah, and the progenitor of Zerubbabel.

I apprehend I may be authorized to read Jer 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,' &c.

"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 Ge 41:42; Es 3:10, 12; 8:2, 8; Da 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 Zec 2:4-13; 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,' &c., 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 honour

now conferred on Zerubbabel as the instrument of their restoration

after the Babylonish captivity. Thus the promise to Abraham,

Ge 12:2, 3, '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 honour 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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