Haggai 1 commentary

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Transcript of Haggai 1 commentary



    JOSEPH BESO, THE BOOK OF HAGGAI.ARGUMET.THE nine preceding minor prophets preached before the captivity; but the last three some time after it. Haggai was the first that was sent to the Jews, after their return to their own land. It is thought that he was born in Chaldea, and that he came from thence into Judea with Zerubbabel. He began his public work of prophesying and preaching in the sixth month of the second year of Darius Hystaspes, about seventeen years after the return of the captives. He, together with Zechariah, who, about two months after, was raised up to second him, mightily excited and encouraged the Jews to resume and proceed with the work of rebuilding the temple, which they had intermitted for fifteen or sixteen years. He remonstrated how improper it was for them to let the temple lie in ruins, while their own houses were finished and elegantly adorned; and that their neglect of Gods house and honour had provoked him to blast their outward enjoyments. To stir them up to use greater diligence in this work, he assured them from God, that, after terrible convulsions of the nations, the Messiah should appear in the flesh, should teach in the courts of this latter temple, and thereby render it more glorious than the first. It appears that all Haggais prophecies, that are recorded, were delivered in the second year of Darius, and within the space of four months. Zechariah, however, prophesied longer, for we have prophecies delivered by him which were dated two years after. The Jews ascribed to these two prophets the honour of being members of the great synagogue, as they call it, which was formed after the return from captivity. But it is more certain, and doubtless it was much more to their honour, that they both prophesied of Christ. Haggai spoke of him, as has just been observed, as the glory of the latter house; and Zechariah, as the man, the Branch, that should build the spiritual temple of the Lord, should bear the glory, should sit and rule upon his throne, and be a priest upon his throne. In and by these two prophets, and Malachi, who succeeded them, the light of the morning-star shone more bright than in and by the foregoing minor prophets, as they lived nearer the time of the rising of the Sun of righteousness, and saw more clearly than their predecessors had done his day approaching. The LXX. make Haggai and Zechariah to be the penmen of Psalms 128., 146., and the two following.


    HAGGAI was born, in all probability, in Babylon, whence he returned with Zerubbabel. After the death of Cambyses, Darius the son of Hystaspes coming to the empire, about 517 years before Christ, Haggai was excited by God (Ezra 5:1. &c.) to

  • exhort Zerubbabel and Joshua to resume the work of the temple, which had now been for a long time interrupted. The prophet reproaches them with their indolence, and tells them, that they were very careful to lodge themselves commodiously, while the house of the Lord remained a desert place, and laid buried in its own ruins. He tells them, that the calamities wherewith God had afflicted them since their return were punishments for their neglecting to carry on the work of repairing his temple. The remonstrances of Haggai had their effect; and in the second year of Darius, of the world 3484, which was the sixteenth after the return of the Jews from Babylon, they began again to proceed in this work. o sooner had they set about it, than the Lord commanded Haggai to tell the people, chap. Zephaniah 2:3 that if any one had seen the temple built by Solomon, and did not think this to be so beautiful and magnificent a structure as that was, he ought not to be discouraged; because God would render this still more august and venerable than the first had been; not in the abundance of gold and silver which might adorn it, but by the presence of the Messiah, who was the desire of all nations, and by the glory which he would add to it.

    PETER PETT, "Commentary on the Prophecy of HaggaiBy Dr Peter Pett BA BD (Hons - London) DDIntroduction.

    Over a period from the mid 8th century BC onwards many Israelites had been exiled from Palestine to various countries in the Ancient ear East, first as a result of Assyrian action (see e.g. 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 16:9; 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11; 2 Kings 18:13; Isaiah 11:11), and then as a consequence of Babylonian invasions which on three separate occasions resulted in hostages being taken and culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 587/6 BC (2 Kings 24:2; 2 Kings 24:14-15; 2 Kings 25:1-7; 2 Kings 25:11; 2 Kings 25:21. That was how Daniel found himself in Babylon. Others had also found their way to Egypt and the lands beyond (Isaiah 11:11; 2 Kings 25:26). And after the final destruction of Jerusalem large numbers were transported to Babylonia. Ezekiel tells us something about them in his prophecy.

    But when Cyrus the Persian entered Babylon in triumph in 539 BC it was as someone who had a more enlightened policy. He actually encouraged exiles to return to their homelands if they wished, restored to them their religious paraphernalia (Ezra 1:7; and in the cases of other religions their stolen gods), and offered government support in the restoration of their temples (Ezra 3:7). He wanted the gods on his side.

    An example of the kinds of edicts that he made is found in Ezra 1:2-4, but we must not read too much into it, for he did the same thing for peoples of many nations, in each case indicating his adherence to their gods. He was a syncretist.

    The result was, as the book of Ezra demonstrates, that a good number of exiles did return from Babylonia, and one of their first actions was to build an altar in Jerusalem so that they could restore true YHWH worship (Ezra 3:2). And for the

  • first time for decades they were able to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles. They even began to lay the foundations for a temple, but life was very much of a struggle for survival, and there was intense opposition from outsiders, and the result was that work stopped on the temple while they sought to re-establish themselves in the land (Ezra 3:8 to Ezra 4:6). The building of the Temple was something that could be taken up later. The result was that they got used to their present conditions of worship and the vision faded.

    It is to this situation that Haggai and Zechariah addressed themselves in c.520 BC. They felt that it was their responsibility under God to arouse the restored exiles to a sense of what was necessary, and they were so successful that work began again on the temple and by 515 BC the temple was completed. ow they could begin to look forward with hope to the future.

    But we must not just see Haggai as a prophet who was concerned about the building of the Temple, for, as his further prophecies make clear, to him the rebuilding of the Temple was only the first stage in achieving what the previous prophets had promised, the reaching out of the Temple to all nations (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-2), and the coming of the promised King (Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-9).

    Haggai is also mentioned along with Zechariah in Ezra 5:1; Ezra 6:14 where the success of their ministry in respect of the building of the Temples is being described. Otherwise we know nothing about him or about any further ministry, although in the ancient versions his name is connected with some of the Psalms, especially Psalms 145-148.

    The book has been described as poetic prose, and in order to bring out the parallels we have put much of it in poetic form. But it is not strictly constructed as Hebrew poetry.

    A Call to Build the House of the Lord

    1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak,[a] the high priest:

  • BARES, "In the second year of Darius - , i. e., Hystaspis. The very first word of prophecy after the captivity betokens that they were restored, not yet as before, yet so, as to be hereafter, more than before. The earthly type, by Gods appointment, was fading away, that the heavenly truth might dawn. The earthly king was withdrawn, to make way for the heavenly. God had said of Jeconiah Jer_22:30, No man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Israel: and so now prophecy begins to be dated by the years of a foreign earthly ruler, as in the Baptism of the Lord Himself Luk_3:1. Yet God gives back in mercy more than He withdraws in chastisement. The earthly rule is suspended, that people might look out more longingly for the heavenly.

    In the sixth month - They counted by their own months, beginning with Nisan, the first of the ecclesiastical year (which was still used for holy purposes and in sacred history), although, having no more any kings, they dated their years by those of the empire, to which they were subject (See Zec_1:7; Zec_7:1) in the sixth month, part of our July and August, their harvest was past, and the dearth, which they, doubtless ascribed (as we do) to the seasons, and which Haggai pointed out to be a judgment from God, had set in for this year also. The months being lunar, the first day of the month was the festival of the new moon, a popular feast Pro_7:20 which their forefathers had kept Isa_1:13-14, while they neglected the weightier matters of the law, and which the religious in Israel had kept, even while separated from the worship at Jerusalem (2Ki_4:23; add Amo_8:5; Hos_2:11). In its very first day, when the grief for the barren year was yet fresh, Haggai was stirred to exhort them to consider their way; a pattern for Christian preachers, to bring home to peoples souls the meaning of Gods judgments. God directs the very day to be not