Haggai 1:1
(1-11) The First Utterance.--The neglect of God's House denounced, and declared to be the cause of the prevalent dearth.

(1) Darius the king.--Scil., Darius I., son of Hystaspes, who became king of Persia in B.C. 521. The fact that there were still men living who had seen the First Temple (Haggai 2:3), which fell in B.C. 586, sufficiently disproves the absurd theory that Darius Nothus is meant, who did not accede to the throne until B.C. 423-4. Prophecy is now dated by the years of a foreign ruler, for Zerubbabel, though a lineal descendant of David, was only a pechah, or viceroy of Persian appointment, not a king in his own right.

The sixth month.--That named Elul, corresponding nearly with our September.

In the first day--i.e., on the festival of the new moon, a holy day which had always been marked not only by suspension of labour, but by special services in the Temple (Ezekiel 46:3; Isaiah 66:23). It was thus an appropriate occasion for Haggai to commence a series of exhortations so intimately connected with the Temple. Besides, it appears to have been an ancient custom that the people should resort to the prophets for religious instruction on new moons and Sabbaths. (See 2Kings 4:23.)

Came the word . . .--Literally, there was a word of the Lord by the hand of Haggai, &c. This expression, which occurs repeatedly in this book, indicates that Jehovah was the direct source of these announcements, and Haggai only their vehicle.

The prophet.--See Habakkuk 1:1, Note.

Son of Shealtiel.--Strictly speaking, Zerubbabel was the son of Pedaiah, who contracted a Levirate marriage with the widow of his brother Shealtiel. (See Notes on 1Chronicles 3:17; Jeremiah 22:30; Luke 3:27.)

Governor.--Satrap, or viceroy, a term applied in the Old Testament to the provincial prefects of the Assyrian and Babylonian and Persian empires. (See Note on 1Kings 10:15.) Joshua, the high priest, is a prominent character in the prophecy of Zechariah. Haggai addresses Zerubbabel as the civil, Joshua as the ecclesiastical head of the restored exiles.

Verse 1. - In the second year of Darius the king. This is Darius Hystaspes, who reigned over Persia from B.C. 521 to B.C. 486. He is called in the inscriptions Daryavush, which name means "Holder," or "Supporter." Herodotus (6:98) explains it as "Coercer" (ἑρξείης). Hitherto the prophets have dated the time of the exercise of their office from the reigns of the legitimate Hebrew monarchs; it shows a new slate of things when they place at the head of their oracles the name of a foreign and a heathen patenlate. The Jews had, indeed, now no king of their own, "the tabernacle of David had fallen" (Amos 9:11), and they were living on sufferance under an alien power. They had returned from exile by permission of Cyrus in the first year of his occupancy of the throne of Babylon sixteen years before this time, and had commenced to build the temple soon after; but the opposition of neighbours, contradictory orders from the Persian court, and their own lukewarmness had contributed to hinder the work, and it soon wholly ceased, and remained suspended to the moment when Haggai, as the seventy years of desolation drew to an end, was commissioned to arouse them from their apathy, and to urge them to use the opportunity which was afforded by the accession of the new monarch and the withdrawal of the vexatious interdict that had checked their operations in the previous reign (see Introduction, § 1; and comp. Ezra 4:24). The sixth month, according to the sacred Hebrew calendar, which reckoned from Nisan to Nisan. This would be Elul, answering to parts of our August and September. In the first day. This was the regular festival of the new moon (Numbers 10:10; Isaiah 1:13), and a fitting time to urge the building of the temple, without which it could not be duly celebrated. By; literally, by the hand (as in ver. 3), the instrument whom God used (Exodus 9:35; Jeremiah 37:2; Hosea 12:11; Acts 7:35) Haggai the prophet (see the Introduction). Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel; Septuagint, Αἰπὸν πρὸς Ζοροβάβελ τὸν τοῦ Σαλαθιὴλ, "Speak to Zorobabel the son of Salathiel." The temporal head of the nation, the representative of the royal house of David, and therefore with the high priest jointly responsible, for the present state of affairs, and having power and authority to amend it. The name, as explained, and rightly, by St. Jerome, means, "Born in Babylon," and intimates the truth concerning his origin. He is called Sheshbazzar in Ezra 1:8; Ezra 5:14, which is either his name at the Persian court, or is an erroneous transliteration for a synonymous word (see Kuabenbauer, in loc.). The name is found in the cuneiform inscription, as Zir-Babilu. Shealtiel (or Salathiel) means, "Asked of God." There is a difficulty about Zerubbabel's parentage. Here and frequently in this book, and in Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as in Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27, he is called "son of Shealtiel;" in 1 Chronicles 3:19 he is said to be the son of Pedaiah the brother of Salathiel. The truth probably is that he was by birth the son of Pedaiah, but by adoption or the law of the levirate, the son of Salathiel. He was regarded as the grandson of Jehoiachin, or Jeconiah. Governor (pechah). A foreign word, used in 1 Kings 10:15, in Isaiah (Isaiah 36:9) and frequently in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, to denote an inferior satrap or subordinate governor. Strassmaier (ap. Knabenbauer) notes that in Assyrian the word is found in the form pachu, that pichatu means "a province," pachat, "a district." It seems natural, though probably erroneous, to connect it with the Turkish pashah. But see the discussion on the word in Pusey, 'Daniel the Prophet,' p. 566, etc. Instead of "Governor of Judah," the LXX. here and ver. 12 and Haggai 2:2 reads, "of the tribe of Judah." One of the house of David has the government, but the foreign title applied to him shows that he holds authority only as the deputy of an alien power. Judah was henceforward applied to the whole country. The prophecy in Genesis 49:10 still held good. Joshua. The highest spiritual officer (Ezra 3:2, 8; Ezra 4:3). This Joshua, Jehoshua, Jeshua, as he is variously called, was a son of Josedech who, in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, had been carried captive to Babylon (1 Chronicles 6:15), and grandson of that Seraiah who, with other princes of Judah, was slain at Riblah by the Babyloniaes (2 Kings 25:18, etc.). The parentage of Zerubbabel and Joshua is specially mentioned to show that the former was of the house of David and the latter of the family of Aaron, and that even in its depressed condition Israel retained its rightful constitution (see note on Zechariah 3:1).

1:1-11 Observe the sin of the Jews, after their return from captivity in Babylon. Those employed for God may be driven from their work by a storm, yet they must go back to it. They did not say that they would not build a temple, but, Not yet. Thus men do not say they will never repent and reform, and be religious, but, Not yet. And so the great business we were sent into the world to do, is not done. There is a proneness in us to think wrongly of discouragements in our duty, as if they were a discharge from our duty, when they are only for the trial of our courage and faith. They neglected the building of God's house, that they might have more time and money for worldly affairs. That the punishment might answer to the sin, the poverty they thought to prevent by not building the temple, God brought upon them for not building it. Many good works have been intended, but not done, because men supposed the proper time was not come. Thus believers let slip opportunities of usefulness, and sinners delay the concerns of their souls, till too late. If we labour only for the meat that perishes, as the Jews here, we are in danger of losing our labour; but we are sure it shall not be in vain in the Lord, if we labour for the meat which lasts to eternal life. If we would have the comfort and continuance of temporal enjoyments, we must have God as our Friend. See also Lu 12:33. When God crosses our temporal affairs, and we meet with trouble and disappointment, we shall find the cause is, that the work we have to do for God and our own souls is left undone, and we seek our own things more than the things of Christ. How many, who plead that they cannot afford to give to pious or charitable designs, often lavish ten times as much in needless expenses on their houses and themselves! But those are strangers to their own interests, who are full of care to adorn and enrich their own houses, while God's temple in their hearts lies waste. It is the great concern of every one, to apply to the necessary duty of self-examination and communion with our own hearts concerning our spiritual state. Sin is what we must answer for; duty is what we must do. But many are quick-sighted to pry into other people's ways, who are careless of their own. If any duty has been neglected, that is no reason why it should still be so. Whatever God will take pleasure in when done, we ought to take pleasure in doing. Let those who have put off their return to God, return with all their heart, while there is time.In the second year of Darius the King,.... That is, of Persia; he is spoken of as if he was the only king in the world; and indeed he was the then greatest king in it; and therefore is emphatically called "the king". This was not Darius the Mede, as Genebrard; who was contemporary with Cyrus, and partner in the kingdom; nor Darius Nothus, as Scaliger, and those that follow him; since the second year of this Darius was, according to Cocceius, who follows this opinion, one hundred and thirty eight years after the first edict of Cyrus; and so Zerubbabel and Joshua must exercise their office, the one of governor, the other of high priest, such a term of years, and more, which is not credible; and some of the Jews in captivity must have lived upwards of two hundred years; even those who saw the temple in its first glory, before the captivity, and now behold it in Haggai's time, in a very different condition, Haggai 2:3. It seems therefore more probable, according to Josephus (i), and others, that this was Darius Hystaspis, who was chosen king by the nobles of Persia, upon his horse's neighing first as Herodotus (k) relates: the second year of his reign was about seventeen or eighteen years after the proclamation of Cyrus; during whose reign, he being much engaged in affairs abroad, and the reign of his successor Cambyses, the enemies of the Jews, encouraged by the latter, greatly obstructed the building of the temple, and discouraged them from going on with it; but when this king came to the throne, things took another turn, being favoured by him; for Josephus (l) relates, that, when a private person, he vowed, if ever he became king, whatever of the holy vessels were in Babylon, he would send to the temple at Jerusalem; and upon solicitations made to him, the Jews were encouraged to go on with the building of it:

in the sixth month; the month Elul, answering, to part of August, and part of September; which was the sixth, reckoning from the month Nisan:

in the first day of the month; which was the feast of the new moon:

came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet; or, "by the hand of Haggai" (m); by his means; he was the instrument by whom the Lord delivered his word; the word was not the prophet's, but the Lord's; and this is observed, to give weight and authority to it:

unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel: the same who is called Salathiel, Matthew 1:12 according to Kimchi and Ben Melech, he was the grandson of Salathiel; though rather Salathiel seems to be his uncle, he being the son of Pedaiah his brother, 1 Chronicles 3:17 however, he was his heir and successor in the government, and so called his son; See Gill on Matthew 1:12,

governor of Judah; not king; for the country was under the dominion of the king of Persia, and Zerubbabel was a deputy governor under him; so the apocryphal Ezra calls him governor of Judea,

"And also he commanded that Sisinnes the governor of Syria and Phenice, and Sathrabuzanes, and their companions, and those which were appointed rulers in Syria and Phenice, should be careful not to meddle with the place, but suffer Zorobabel, the servant of the Lord, and governor of Judea, and the elders of the Jews, to build the house of the Lord in that place.'' (1 Esdras 6:27)

and, according to Josephus (n), he was made governor of the captive Jews, when in Babylon, being in great favour with the king of Babylon; and, with two more, were his body guards; and he was continued governor by the Persians, when the Jews returned to their land:

and to Joshua the son of Josedech the high priest; who is called Jeshua, and his father Jozadak, Ezra 3:2 his father was carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar, 1 Chronicles 6:15 now, to these two principal persons in the commonwealth of Judea was the word of the Lord sent by the prophet; the one having the chief power in civil things, and the other in things ecclesiastical; and both had an influence upon the people; but very probably were dilatory in the work of building the temple; and therefore have a message sent to them, to stir them up to this service:

saying: as follows:

(i) Antiqu. l. 11. c. 3. sect. 1. and c. 4. sect. 5, 7. (k) Thalia, sive l. 3. c. 84, 85, 86. (l) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 11. c. 3. sect. 1. and c. 4. sect. 5, 7.) (m) "in manu Aggaei", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius. (n) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 11. c. 3. sect. 1. and c. 4. sect. 5, 7.)

Zephaniah 3:20
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