Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Haggai 1:9 - 1:9

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Haggai 1:9 - 1:9

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“Ye looked out for much, and behold (it came) to little; and ye brought it home, and I blew into it. Why? is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Because of my house, that it lies waste, whereas ye run every man for his house. Hag 1:10. Therefore the heaven has withheld its dew on your account, that no dew fell, and the earth has withheld her produce. Hag 1:11. And I called drought upon the earth, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon everything that the ground produces, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.” The meaning of Hag 1:9 is evident from the context. The inf. abs. pânōh stands in an address full of emotion in the place of the perfect, and, as the following clause shows, for the second person plural. Ye have turned yourselves, fixed your eye upon much, i.e., upon a rich harvest, וְהִנֵּה־לִמְעָט, and behold the desired much turned to little. Ye brought into the house, ye fetched home what was reaped, and I blew into it, i.e., I caused it to fly away, like chaff before the wind, so that there was soon none of it left. Here is a double curse, therefore, as in Hag 1:6 : instead of much, but little was reaped, and the little that was brought home melted away without doing any good. To this exposition of the curse the prophet appends the question יַעַן מֶה, why, sc. has this taken place? that he may impress the cause with the greater emphasis upon their hardened minds. For the same reason he inserts once more, between the question and the answer, the words “is the saying of Jehovah of hosts,” that the answer may not be mistaken for a subjective view, but laid to heart as a declaration of the God who rules the world. The choice of the form מֶה for מָה was probably occasioned by the guttural ע in the יַעַן, which is closely connected with it, just as the analogous use of עַל־מֶה instead of עַל־מָה in Isa 1:5; Psa 10:13, and Jer 16:10, where it is not followed by a word commencing with ע as in Deu 29:23; 1Ki 9:8; Jer 22:8. The former have not been taken into account at all by Ewald in his elaborate Lehrbuch (cf. §182, b). In the answer given by God, “because of my house” (ya‛an bēthı̄) is placed first for the sake of emphasis, and the more precise explanation follows. אֲשֶׁר הוּא, “because it,” not “that which.” וְאַתֶּם וגו is a circumstantial clause. לְבֵיתוֹ ... רָצִים, not “every one runs to his house,” but “runs for his house,” לְ denoting the object of the running, as in Isa 59:7 and Pro 1:16. “When the house of Jehovah was in question, they did not move from the spot; but if it concerned their own house, they ran” (Koehler). In Hag 1:10 and Hag 1:11, the curse with which God punished the neglect of His house is still further depicted, with an evident play upon the punishment with which transgressors are threatened in the law (Lev 26:19-20; Deu 11:17 and Deu 28:23-24). עֲלֵיכֶם is not a dat. incomm. (Hitzig), which is never expressed by עַל; but עַל is used either in a causal sense, “on your account” (Chald.), or in a local sense, “over you,” after the analogy of Deu 28:23, שָׁמֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר עַל רֹאשְׁךָ, in the sense of “the heaven over you will withold” (Ros., Koehl.). It is impossible to decide with certainty between these two. The objection to the first, that “on your account” would be superfluous after עַל־כֵּן, has no more force than that raised by Hitzig against the second, viz., that super would be מֵעַל. There is no tautology in the first explanation, but the עֲלֵיכֶם, written emphatically at the commencement, gives greater intensity to the threat: “on account of you,” you who only care for your own houses, the heaven witholds the dew. And with the other explanation, מֵעַל would only be required in case עֲלֵיכֶם were regarded as the object, upon which the dew ought to fall down from above. כָּלָא, not “to shut itself up,” but in a transitive sense, with the derivative meaning to withhold or keep back; and mittâl, not partitively “of the dew,” equivalent to “a portion of it,” but min in a privative sense, “away from,” i.e., so that no dew falls; for it is inadmissible to take mittâl as the object, “to hold back along with the dew,” after the analogy of Num 24:11 (Hitzig), inasmuch as the accusative of the person is wanting, and in the parallel clause כָּלָא is construed with the accus. rei. וָאֶקְרָא in Hag 1:11 is still dependent upon עַל־כֵּן. The word chōrebh, in the sense of drought, applies strictly speaking only to the land and the fruits of the ground, but it is also transferred to men and beasts, inasmuch as drought, when it comes upon all vegetation, affects men and beasts as well; and in this clause it may be taken in the general sense of devastation. The word is carefully chosen, to express the idea of the lex talionis. Because the Jews left the house of God chârēbh, they were punished with chōrebh. The last words are comprehensive: “all the labour of the hands” had reference to the cultivation of the soil and the preparation of the necessities of life.