The name Haggai means feast. This writing is addressed to Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel (Persian for satrap) of Judea; and to Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest. The message was therefore both civil and religious, being addressed to the chief agents of those two branches of government.
The prophet was active in the post-exilic period of the reign of Darius, and prophesied to a nation returned from exile and commanded to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem. The date is approximately 534-531 BC.
Whereas the Almighty had not commanded (nor apparently had even desired; see II Samuel 7:7) the building of the first Temple (Solomon’s Temple), He now demands the re-building of His House.
Three specific dates are mentioned in which the prophet was given information: first is ...
The 1st day of sixth month of second year of Darius, which is noted in the first verse; we shall note the other two at the places in the text where they occur ...
Hag 1:1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel (Persian for satrap), governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,
We must note that the foreshadowing of this account indicates the ascension of the future LORD Jesus Christ Who shall be both Priest and King in the Kingdom which He shall establish. That office was represented by two separate individuals in Haggai’s day: Zerubbabel and Joshua.
The narrative is straightforward and needs little commentary for its understanding. The background story is one of the People’s lethargy and indolence in the ways of the LORD, and in the building of an House for His worship.
In the finality, the Almighty commands the building of His house as utterance through His prophet, Haggai.
Hag 1:2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built.
Hag 1:3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,
Hag 1:4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?
Hag 1:5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
Hag 1:6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
Hag 1:7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
And now comes the decisive commandment to His People ...
Hag 1:8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.
Hag 1:9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it (did destroy it, or neutralize it). Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.
Their everyday situation was so dire that their basic survival seemed to depend upon their rebuilding His House.
Hag 1:10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.
Hag 1:11 And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.
Hag 1:12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.
Perhaps the People feared entering upon the process of rebuilding the House – fearing resistance from the foreigners who lived among them – a condition almost identical to their plight today. They are hampered on every hand from “building settlements,” and from developing the land, increasing its productivity, under charges of retarding the Israeli-Arab dispute of the present time! The conditions are almost parallel in every respect!
But, as is true today – buried in the reassurances of the prophets’ writings – the LORD assures the People, “I am with you.”
Hag 1:13 Then spake Haggai the LORD'S messenger in the LORD'S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD.
Hag 1:14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,
Hag 1:15 In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
This date therefore brought His definitive commandment to BUILD MY HOUSE of the day. Their daily welfare depended upon their obedience to this command. Otherwise their tenancy of the Land would continue to be in some considerable doubt.
In the first verse of this chapter, the second specific date of the three is listed: the 21st day of the seventh month of Darius’ second year (presumed). The work has now progressed to a point where similarities of the second House to the first House might become apparent; He invites the People to observe the progress and to assess it ...
Haggai 2:1 In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying,
Hag 2:2 Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying,
Hag 2:3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?
Hag 2:4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:
Again the faithful reassurance “I am with you!”
The faith of the rebuilders of Jerusalem after the beginning of the return of the Exiles needed to be bolstered; their enemies within their midst and round about them (sound familiar?) were restive and strongly resisted their efforts to rebuild the Temple.
This Temple would be a mere shadow of that edifice of Solomon which it was to replace; but its symbolism would be the same, offering hope and redemption to the people as God set before them once more a renewed opportunity to serve Him in their Land.
It is significant that this period of renewed probation, as it were, would terminate in the far distant future (as verified by historical outworking) coming of “the Desire of all nations (verse 7),” a reference to Messiah without any doubt – One Who would be the epitome of what the nations claimed that they wanted (the peace and security that His presence would bring), but a goal which had been elusive for all of them because they pursued it apart from attention to His requirements.
It is significant that the verse goes on to proclaim that “I will fill this house (of the future) with GLORY.” However, this statement did not apply to the second House; there is no evidence that it was complete, or contained several of the elements of the first House. For instance, the “glory of the LORD” was not present in the second House.
As the Christ is the epitome of the Glory of God, and since He shall be the chief Occupant of The House of that age, He personally becomes the living Shekinah (the glory) of the House, indwelling it!
This reference is therefore decidedly one relating to the return of Christ in His glory of the future day. In addition, Isaiah 43: 4, 5 informs: “And the glory (Shekinah) of this latter house shall be greater than the former…”
We wonder whether this verse may, in a subtle fashion, indicate the desire of “all” Hebrew nations, meaning both the Two and the Ten Tribes, who on one previous occasion had been referred to as “goyim” (usually Gentiles, or Nations, because they were acting as Gentiles).
This is just a speculation (limiting the “desire” to the two houses of Israel), as the nations of the earth do not yet realize that Christ represents the core values of those standards which they proclaim that they desire (and have always desired) but which they have not been able to obtain in their mundane affairs of state.
Hag 2:5 According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.
Note the Father’s continuing gracious and warmly sensitive assurances to them: “fear ye not” ... 2:5; “I am with you” ... 1:13 and 2: 4.
Hag 2:6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;
Hag 2:7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. Please see comments above on verse 4.
Hag 2:8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.
Hag 2:9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
Now the prophet lists the third specific date when the word of the LORD came to Haggai: it is the 24th of the ninth month (Kislev) in the second year of Darius. It is repeated in verse 18.
Hag 2:10 In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month (this date is Hanukkah eve; Hanukkah starts on the 25th of Kislev, and lasts eight days), in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,
N. B. In our thinking, it is highly important that we observe here that the 24th of Kislev is Hanukkah eve, as mentioned in these two verses (10 and 18); there are several key ideas:
1. Haggai 2:19: “… from this day I will bless thee.”
2. Haggai 2:21 - 23: The LORD elevates Zerubbabel to the position of being (representing_ the recognized regent: The Lord says unto Zerubbabel, “I will shake the heavens and the earth; and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen (those of that day, surely, but portending the rescending of the power and occupancy of the Ottoman Empire of this recent era, specifically); and I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride in them, and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet; for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts.”
A “signet” in Hebrew is a chotham – a signature ring, or seal – and is surely an object indicating the authority of the grantor of the signet. In our view, it is parallel to the banner, or the flag, the nes of the regent of the state of Israel which He shall establish in these end-times – a flagged (the national) symbol which shall morph into the coming regent Himself as the lodestone to which all His people shall return. Cf., Isaiah 11: 12; Isaiah 31: 9.
3. Haggai 2: 18: The foundation of the Zerubbabel Temple was laid on this very day!
It symbolized a new beginning for the returned people of that day, similar to the conquest of Jerusalem – which indicated an entirely new direction for the Jews of 1917 - 1967!
This was in our thinking an incisive prophecy of the liberation of the Land by British forces under General Allenby in December 1917, when the Ottoman Turks, hearing that one was coming whose name was ‘Allah-bey’ (prophet of God, in Arabic!), evacuated the city and left Allenby to come in unopposed!!
But the City was effectively conquered and secured several days before Allenby’s entry into the City – and that date according to the records was the 24th of Kislev in the year 1917!
That was certainly the beginning of the above prophecies.
Also: This almost sounds like a field report of the 1967 Six Day War when Israel absolutely trampled and shredded the forces of the Proximal Arabs in 144 hours!!
It might include, also, the details of the Yom Kippur War of 1973, in which the same result was achieved by Israel, although they did not take place on Hanukah eve or during this holiday period.
Since that time there has been no hot conflict with either Egypt or Jordan – and no “official” one with Lebanon.
This narrative seems eerily parallel to Zechariah 9: 11 – 15 when the Land became an ensign – or a signet. A signet is a symbol of an authorized agent who bears the signet, a principle enunciated by Jesus the Christ, when He said (Matthew 28: 18) “And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, ‘All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.’”
What importance does this exact day have in prophecy?
In a contemporary article about events of the Allenby Campaign, authors Aviva and Shmuel Bar-Am wrote (2015, in Israel Travels) about a monument in Jerusalem in Allenby Square, and note that “British-Anzac victories in the Negev paved the way for an eventual take-over of Jerusalem on the eve of Hanukkah 1917. The monument in the center of Allenby Square reads: ‘Near this spot the Holy City was surrendered… Erected… to those officers, NCOs and men who fell in fighting for Jerusalem.’”
Allenby did not enter Jerusalem until about a week after Hanukkah had ended that year, but the City had been conquered earlier – on Hanukkah Eve – as these verses indicate!
Hag 2:11 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying,
Hag 2:12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No.
Hag 2:13 Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean.
Note carefully, this reference to a “dead body.” The Hebrew word “body” here is nephesh, and really indicates ‘dead soul,’ per Bullinger, a concept which is denied and is even incomprehensible by the ‘Christian’ who believes that all souls are IMMORTAL. See Appendix 13, ix, in Companion Bible, in which are listed 13 references to DEAD SOULS, as compared to a ‘living soul.’ (Genesis 2:7)
A. ‘the dead’ – Leviticus 19:28; 21: 1; 22:4; Numbers 5:2; 6:11.
B. ‘dead body’ – Numbers 9: 6, 7, 10
C. ‘body’ – Leviticus 21:11; Numbers 6:6; 19:11-13; Haggai 2:13.
Also see I Kings 17:21 – ‘the child’s soul (life) came unto him again’ – see Bullinger f.n. on this verse. [It is evident that when the child’s life drained out of him, he became a DEAD soul, for it was only the restoration of his breath (nephesh, or life) which made him again a living soul.]
In addition, throughout the book of Joshua, as Israel conquered most of the city-states of Canaan, reference is repeatedly made to the slaying of every soul of man, woman, animal, creeping things, etc.
The clear scriptural record of souls having been slain (killed) indicates graphically that souls are NOT IMMORTAL, but are perishable.
The prophet now extends the people’s understanding of this concept, stating that as dead bodies have perished, so also has the nation and all its works.
Hag 2:14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.
Hag 2:15 And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward (remember that it is Hanukah eve), from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD:
Hag 2:16 Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty.
Hag 2:17 I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD.
But His will is that from this day forward, their immediate outlook will be indelibly changed; their prospects will now be up-looking and prospectively good – optimistic in every way!
Hag 2:18 Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid, consider it.
Not to labor the point, but we must reiterate that Israel’s prospects did a 180-degree shift at the moment General Allenby captured Jerusalem on Hanukah eve, 1917. From that point in time, the prospects of Israel and its successful regathering became “legally” feasible (permissible) and a forward-moving concept!
Hag 2:19 Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day (Hanukkah eve!) will I bless you.
Note carefully how the specific date is continuously restated. This initial date is extremely important for the People.
Hag 2:20 And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month (still the same day!), saying,
Hag 2:21 Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth;
Hag 2:22 And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.
Hag 2:23 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.
In this remarkable verse we are informed that Zerubbabel is to be made as a SIGNET – an authorized agent designated by a seal or sign – often a specially designed ring bearing his unique emblem of authority.
He, as head of his people, would assume a position as Chief, or Leader, as sanctioned by YHVH Himself. Cf., Isaiah 3: 6, 7; Zechariah 9: 4 -15 re Jerusalem’s roles.
Now ... note these significant facts ...
This date in 1917, in a similar sense, marked a complete turnaround for Jerusalem and her fortunes: it was destined to be the very day in which her fortunes were reversed; it was the very day in which the Cup of God’s Fury was removed from her lips and given to her enemies; it marked the blessed time of the end of Gentile domination over Jerusalem (“the times of the Gentiles”) and the City’s new direction toward becoming again the City of God, eventually to be free of Gentile occupation of any kind or degree, and toward becoming its final identity, “Holiness to the LORD.”
Thus the small prophet Haggai ascends to the pinnacle of status as one of the principal prophets of the liberation of God’s Land from the Gentile oppressors, and the reaching of that coveted time of the end – the ending of Gentile domination of God’s Land on the very day that it occurred, the termination of the LORD’s designation of the period of His People’s oppression, nominated “the times of the Gentiles,” after which no power on earth could prevent the consistent, progressive, steady climb of the Jewish people from their base position of downtrodden and scattered and peeled to blessed of the LORD, and the Elect of God in their own Land.
<HEL P11, Q11> ~3,500 words. A Study of Haggai.