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Haggai 2



The Builders Encouraged The Coming Glory of God's House The New Temple To Be More Splendid than the Old The Splendor of the New Temple The Future Glory of the Temple
2:1-9 2:1-5   2:1-5 2:1-9
  2:6-9   2:6-9  
  The People Are Defiled The Offering Made By a Defiled People Is Unclean The Prophet Consults the Priests Haggai Consults the Priests
2:10-19 2:10-14 2:10-14 2:10-12a 2:10-14
  Promised Blessing When the Foundation of the Temple Is Laid, God Will Bless This Needy, Obedient People The Lord Promises His Blessings A Promise of Agricultural Prosperity
  2:15-19 2:15-19 2:15-19 2:15-19a
  Zerubbabel Chosen As A Signet When the LORD Establishes the Kingdom, Zerubbabel Will Be the Messiah The LORD's Promise to Zerubbabel The Promise to Zerubbabel
2:20-23 2:20-23 2:20-23 2:20-23 2:20-23

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



 1On the twenty-first of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet saying, 2"Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people saying, 3'Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison? 4But now take courage, Zerubbabel,' declares the Lord, 'take courage also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all you people of the land take courage,' declares the Lord, 'and work; for I am with you,' declares the Lord of hosts. 5'As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!' 6For thus says the Lord of hosts, 'Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. 7I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the Lord of hosts. 8'The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,' declares the Lord of hosts. 9'The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,' says the Lord of hosts, 'and in this place I will give peace,' declares the Lord of hosts.'"

2:1 "On the twenty-first of the seventh month" This was on the seventh day of the eight-day Feast of Tabernacles (cf. Lev. 23:39-42, when Haggai spoke to the people concerning the blessings of God).

▣ "by Haggai" The Hebrew text has "by the hand of Haggai" (BDB 388 construct BDB 291). This can be seen in two ways:

1. a common idiomatic usage of "through someone" (i.e., 1:1,3)

2. a written, as well as spoken, message

In light of the wide semantic usage of "hand," #1 seems best.

2:2 "Speak now" This is a Qal imperative. See note at 1:1.

"Zerubbabel" See note at 1:1.

"Joshua" See note at 1:1.

"remnant" See note at 1:14.

2:3 Notice verse 3 has three rhetorical questions (so common in post-exilic prophets).

"'Who is left among you who saw this Temple in its former glory'" Many have assumed that Haggai saw the Temple before its destruction (i.e., 586 b.c. by Nebuchadnezzar's army). If so, he was a very elderly man at this time (i.e., exile lasted 70 years, cf. Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10. This is one of the more literal usages of the number 70, 586 b.c.-516 b.c.). However, this may simply refer to the elders of the community who had seen the former Temple and were growing more discouraged (cf. Ezra 3:12).

The "former glory" may refer to Ezek. 10:19-20, where there is an explanation of the glory of YHWH leaving the Temple and moving east with the exiles. If so, the old men were discouraged because the Shekinah glory had not returned to rest on the new structure (cf. I Kgs. 8:10-12).

2:4 "take courage. . .take courage. . .take courage. . .work" This series of four Qal imperatives tries to deal with the discouragement which was developing among the post-exilic community in rebuilding the smaller Temple. God answered this attitude problem by reaffirming His presence with them (cf. the end of v. 4).

All parts of the post-exilic community are addressed (BDB 304, KB 302).

1. Zerubbabel (the civil leadership)

2. Joshua (the priestly leadership)

3. the remnant/the people of the land (this term has different connotations in different periods of Israel's history. Here it refers to all returnees).

All are called on to "work" (BDB 738, KB 889). This was a national temple! These same words were said to Solomon by David as he began the work of YHWH's temple (cf. I Chr. 28:20).

"I am with you" See note at 1:13. This was YHWH's word to Moses, to Joshua, and to His people!

"the Lord of hosts" See note at 1:2. This phrase occurs five times, but the wording is not exactly the same. The one found here is a concluding phrase, like vv. 8 and 9.

2:5 "As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt" This sentence is not found in the Septuagint, but is seems to reflect the Sinaitic covenant (cf. Exodus 19-20). This was prophesied in Gen. 15:12-21.

The term "made" equals "cut" (BDB 503, KB 500, Qal perfect), which often refers to cutting a covenant (i.e., Gen. 15:10,17). These people desperately needed to know that God had renewed His covenant with them.


▣ "My Spirit is abiding in your midst" During the Exodus period God's Spirit is spoken of quite often (cf. Num. 11:17,25,29; Isa. 63:11,14). See note at 1:9 ("I blow it away") and 1:14 ("spirit of"). Here Spirit is theologically parallel to YHWH Himself (i.e., Zech. 7:12).

▣ "do not fear" The term "fear" (BDB 431, KB 432, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense) is used often in Scripture to encourage

1. Abraham, Gen. 15:1

2. Hagar, Gen. 21:17

3. Isaac, Gen. 26:24

4. Jacob, Gen. 46:3

5. Joshua, Josh. 8:1; 10:8; 11:6

6. Gideon, Jdgs. 6:23

7. often through the Prophets to Israel (i.e., Zech. 8:13).

Often fear can result in faith (cf. Exod. 14:13,31). This phrase is a recurrent message from YHWH to Israel through Moses in Deuteronomy. An awesome respect for God opens many spiritual doors!


NASB"Once more in a little while"
NKJV"Once more (it is a little while)"
NRSV"Once again, in a little while"
TEV"Before long"
NJB"A little while now"

This is the only passage in Haggai which is quoted in the NT (cf. Heb. 12:26). The first question one would naturally ask is "when was the first time God shook the heavens and earth?"

1. creation (Genesis 1-2)

2. fall (Genesis 3)

3. exodus (Exodus 19-20)

4. a special visitation of YHWH

Number 3 is the best guess!

The second question is "what does a little while mean"? This is used several times in the OT to denote the soon-coming judgment of YHWH (cf. Ps. 37:10; Jer. 51:33; Hosea 1:4) or the cessation of His judgment (cf. Isa. 10:25; 29:17). In Prophetic and Apocalyptic literature, immediacy is always an aspect of the message. In Prophetic literature the future is determined by the present (repent or be judged). In Apocalyptic literature God's breaking into history is always just ahead, very soon. This expectancy is carried over into the NT theme of the Second Coming of Christ (cf. Rev. 1:13; 22:6). This kind of literature sees history as redemptive peaks or events that are seen in close proximity. Three books have really helped me in this area:

1. How To Read the Bible For All Its Worth by Fee and Stuart

2. Plowshares and Pruning Hooks by Sandy

3. Cracking Old Testament Codes by Sandy and Giese

Western people see literalism as a mark of biblical conservatism. The intent of the original author is the key to conservatism! The genre they chose to communicate their message is a literary contract with the reader on how to understand it (i.e. God's message).

The verb "shake" (BDB 950, KB 1271) is used as a participle in v. 6 and the Hiphil perfect in v. 7. It has several possible connotations:

1. shaking in fear, cf. v. 5; Ezek. 12:18

2. shaking in an earthquake

a. apocalyptic metaphor of YHWH's approach, cf. Jdgs. 5:4; II Sam. 22:8; Ps. 68:8; Isa. 13:13; 29:6

b. metaphor of trembling at YHWH's approach, Ezek. 38:20

3. shaking as a metaphor of military invasion, cf. 2:21-22; Isa. 14:16 (chariots, Jer. 47:3)

4. sound of YHWH's portable throne chariot, cf. Ezek. 3:12-13

In this context (vv. 1-9), #2 fits best. By supernatural means YHWH will cause the nations to rebuild His temple. Chapter 2 has a Messianic theme (i.e., v. 23). The end-time activity involves the nations, both in salvation (cf. Joel) and in judgment (cf. 2:22).

2:7 "And I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all the nations" Many rabbis (i.e., Akiba), the Vulgate, and the King James Version all translate this as a specific Messianic passage (i.e., NKJV, "they shall come to the Desire of All Nations," cf. Malachi 3:1; see Hard Sayings of the Bible, pp. 341-342). The context seems to demand that the nations (cf. Isa. 60:5,11; 61:6) will bring material wealth to the Temple to help rebuild it (i.e., the Persian kings Cyrus and Darius, and in later time, Herod the Idumean). This follows the interpretation of the Septuagint, Rabbi Kimchi, and Calvin (se Questions and Answers by F. F. Bruce, p. 37). "The nations bring wealth" is a metaphor of tribute being brought to a universal king (cf. Num. 14:21; Ps. 72:19; Isa. 6:3; 9:6-7; Micah 5:4-5a).

▣ "I will fill this house with glory" The verb (BDB 569, KB 583, Piel perfect) reflects YHWH's promise. The question is, "what does 'glory' stand for?" Assuming the NT is YHWH's fulfillment of OT themes in Christ, then Luke 2:32 defines it as

1. the Messiah

2. His universal reign (including Gentiles)


2:8 "The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine" YHWH asserts His ownership and control over all material resources (i.e., as Creator); therefore, the builders of the second Temple are not to be discouraged. YHWH will provide all that is needed from outside resources (i.e., for the tabernacle, Exod. 12:35-36; for Solomon's Temple, I Chr. 29:14,16; and now for the Second temple, Ezra 6:5).

2:9 "the latter glory of this house will be greater than the former" This must be interpreted in light of two contexts:

1. return from exile and later to Herod's temple

2. eschatological, to YHWH's presence (cf. Zech. 2:5) in the person of His chosen One (cf. v. 23, i.e., a king of the tribe of Judah [Gen. 49:10] and family of Jesse [II Samuel 7]).

Many commentators relate this to a temple which will the Antichrist will enter and take his seat (cf. II Thessalonians 2); however, no Jewish temple ever had a seat (except the throne of Zeus put there by Antiochus IV during the interbiblical period, i.e., the abomination of desolation). See Special Topic at Joel 2:28-32.

▣ "and in this place I shall give peace" This seems to have an eschatological element (cf. vv. 20-23). Many see the word "peace" (BDB 1022), which equals the word shalom, as a reference to the Messiah (cf. Isa. 9:6); this is certainly possible because of Hag. 2:20-23.

 10On the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Haggai the prophet, saying, 11"Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'Ask now the priests for a ruling: 12'If a man carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches bread with this fold, or cooked food, wine, oil, or any other food, will it become holy?'" And the priests answered, "No." 13Then Haggai said, "If one who is unclean from a corpse touches any of these, will the latter become unclean?" And the priests answered, "It will become unclean." 14Then Haggai said, "'So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,' declares the Lord, 'and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. 15But now, do consider from this day onward: before one stone was placed on another in the temple of the Lord, 16from that time when one came to a grain heap of twenty measures, there would be only ten; and when one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there would be only twenty. 17I smote you and every work of your hands with blasting wind, mildew and hail; yet you did not come back to Me,' declares the Lord. 18'Do consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month; from the day when the temple of the Lord was founded, consider: 19Is the seed still in the barn? Even including the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree, it has not borne fruit. Yet from this day on I will bless you.'"

2:11-19 This is a very difficult passage to interpret. It seems to be a condemnation of the people's selfish actions in stopping the work on the Temple. They were possibly relying on (1) the fact that they lived in the Holy Land; (2) that they were a part of the blessed ones, the remnant that returned; (3) that they were already offering sacrifices at the restored altar. However, this priestly parable shows that sin is passed on more readily than righteousness, and that just because they were in the Holy Land and offering sacrifices did not mean that God was pleased (cf. 1:8). Their apathy in not rebuilding the Temple had affected every aspect of their lives. However, this was all over now because the reconstruction on the Temple had begun again.

2:11 The term "ruling" (BDB 435) is the Hebrew word torah, which the rabbis used to denote the writings of Moses (Genesis - Deuteronomy). The etymology of the word is uncertain.

1. from "throw" or "shoot" (BDB 435 I)

2. from "teach" (BDB 435 II, KB 436 III, also note 1710)

3. from Akkadian "direction" or "order" or "instruction"

The basic idea is instructions or directions. This word takes on theological significance when these guidelines come from YHWH.

In this context it refers to an opinion given by the priests about a particular question of "clean vs. unclean." In context the whole passage is functioning as a parable (punch line, v. 14, very similar to Isa. 1:1-11 and Mal. 1:6-14).

2:12 "holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches" (cf. Exod. 29:37; Ezek. 44:19; and Matt. 23:19)

2:13 "If one who is unclean from a corpse touches any of these" (cf. Lev. 22:4; Num. 3:9; 19:2)


NASB"from this day onward:"
NKJV"from this day forward:"
NRSV"from this day on"
NJB"today and henceforth"

This is literally "from this day and upwards" (BDB 751, cf. v. 18). This idiom usually refers to the future (e.g., I Sam. 16:13; 30:25). Notice that NASB and NKJV put a colon after this phrase, while NIV puts a dash. This is an attempt to show that 15b-17 form a unit somewhat unrelated to 15a.

The Septuagint, followed by the JPSOA, NEB, REB, and NET Bible, see the phrase as retroactive. However, there is no usage of this idiom in the Hebrew Bible which is used in this sense. This sense does not fit the idioms used in v. 18.

2:15,18 There is a word play on "consider" (lit. "set your heart") and "one stone set on another." This wordplay (BDB 962, KB 1321) occurs in v. 15 and v. 18.

2:16-17,19 These verses speak of a divine judgment on Israel's agriculture (cf. 1:6,9-11).


NASB"from that time"
NKJV"since those days"
NRSV"how did you fare"
TEV"you would go to"
NJB"what state were you in"
LXX"what manner of men were you"
REB"how were you then"

The MT has "since they were" (BDB 224, KB 243, Qal infinitive construct, NASB footnote). It is the LXX that has a question, which may reflect a different Hebrew manuscript. There are several Hebrew precursors to the Masoretic Text. This variety can be seen in the manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some follow the MT, some the LXX, and some neither. The MT was an attempt to standardize multiple manuscript traditions.

It is possible that the Hebrew word reflects an idiom, the exact meaning of which has been lost. Our only sure backup is context, context, context!

2:17 "'Yet you did not come back to me,' declares the Lord" The purpose of the agricultural failures (cf. Amos 4:6-13, esp. v. 9, which may be quoted here; an allusion to Deuteronomy 27-29) was to bring the covenant people back into a covenant relationship! Outward form was not enough (i.e., restored sacrificial system).

2:18 "from this day forward" This is the same difficult construction as v. 16 (see notes), but here the context demands a forward look, as v. 16 demanded a backward look.

2:19 "from this day on I will bless you" As they returned to YHWH with a whole heart, symbolized by their desire and actions, YHWH reversed the covenant curses. This blessing is first of all YHWH Himself and then the promised abundance of covenant fidelity (cf. Joel 2:14; Mal. 3:10).

 20Then the word of the Lord came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, 21"Speak to Zerubbabel governor of Judah, saying, 'I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. 22I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, everyone by the sword of another.' 23On that day,' declares the Lord of hosts, 'I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant,' declares the Lord, 'and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,'" declares the Lord of hosts.

2:20 "a second time" On the 24th day of the ninth month, Haggai received two related messages from YHWH (cf. v. 10). Both involve a new day of obedience and blessing:

1. 2:10-19, the post-exilic period

2. 2:20-23, the Messianic age

Both are aspects of the cursing and blessing motifs. Obedient Israel will be blessed, but the disobedient nations will be destroyed. Both of these actions are metaphors of YHWH's intended universal redemption to be brought through His Messiah.

2:21 "shake" See note at 2:6-7.

2:22 This is an allusion to the eschatological kingdom of God, brought into history by a military defeat of the nations, expressed in apocalyptic language. This section implies that, through Zerubbabel (cf. v. 23), God's Messianic promise (i.e., II Samuel 7) has been re-established (cf. Matt. 1:12-13).

▣ "I will overthrow" Notice the divine wrath:

1. "overthrow" - BDB 245, KB 253, Qal perfect (twice), cf. Gen. 19:25,29; Job 34:25; Pro. 12:7; YHWH will overthrow the wicked

2. "destroy" - BDB 1029, KB 1552, lit. "exterminate," Hiphil perfect; this is the verb used so often in the conquest of the Promised Land

This is an allusion to the victory of YHWH over the Egyptians at the Red (Reed) Sea. He will reestablish His covenant people.

The question remains, does this refer to Israel alone? I think not. Please read the SPECIAL TOPIC: BOB'S EVANGELICAL BIASES at Joel 2:32! I am not anti-Semitic, but pro-mankind! If monotheism is true, if all humans are created in the image of God, if Gen. 3:15 refers to humanity, then there must be a universal, eternal redemption plan!

2:23 "My servant" This is an exalted title (BDB 713) used of those ancient servants such as Abraham (Gen. 26:24); Moses (i.e., Num. 12:7; Deut. 34:5; Josh. 18:7; Num. 12:7); Joshua (Josh. 24:29); David (II Sam. 3:18; 7:5,8,26); Hezekiah (II Chr. 32:16); and Zerubbabel (i.e., "Branch," Zech. 3:8; 6:12). It is a title for the Messiah (i.e., Servant Songs of Isaiah, cf. Isa. 41:8; 42:1; 49:5, 6; 50:10; 52:13; 53:11).

▣ "the signet ring" This (BDB 368) is a sign of authority and power. Obviously, Zerubbabel is being addressed because of his relation to the exiled Davidic king at the time of the Babylonian exile (i.e., II Samuel 7).

▣ "I have chosen you" This is another emphasis on God's choosing (BDB 103, KB 119, Qal perfect) both Israel and the Messiah to fulfill His purposes (cf. I Kgs. 1:13; I Chr. 28:4; Neh. 9:7; Ps. 135:4; Zech. 1:17). As YHWH chose David (cf. I Sam. 16:12; Ps. 78:70), He now chooses his descendant (cf. II Samuel 7).


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the major thrust of the book of Haggai?

2. Why did the remnant have such a hard time in their return to the Promised Land?

3. What sections of chapter 2 are Messianic and why?

4. Explain in your own words the parable or Rabbinical interpretation in 2:10-19.

5. Why are such great things said about Zerubbabel when we know from history that so little happened with him?


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