After this appeal to lay to heart the past time during which the blessing had been withheld, Haggai called upon the people in Hag 2:18 and Hag 2:19 to fix their eyes upon the time which was commencing with that very day. Hag 2:18. “Direct your heart, then, from this day and onward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth (month); namely, from the day when the foundation of the temple of Jehovah was laid, direct your heart. Hag 2:19. Is the seed still in the granary? and even to the vine, and pomegranate, and olive-tree, it has not borne: from this day forward will I bless.” The twenty-fourth day of the ninth month was the day on which Haggai uttered this word of God (Hag 2:10). Hence וָמַעְלָה in Hag 2:18 is to be understood as denoting the direction towards the future (Itala, Vulg., and many comm.). This is evident partly from the fact, that only in that case can the repetition of שִׂימוּ לְבַבְכֶם in Hag 2:18 (end), and the careful announcement of the point of time (from the twenty-fourth day, etc.), be simply and naturally explained, and partly from the fact that min hayyōm hazzeh (from this day) is not explained here, as in Hag 2:15, by a clause pointing back to the past (like mitterem sūm in Hag 2:15), but simply by a precise notice of the day referred to, and that in the last clause of Hag 2:19 this day is clearly described as the commencement of a new era. For there can be no doubt whatever that in min hayyōm hazzeh in Hag 2:19 the terminus a quo mentioned in Hag 2:18 is resumed. But the time mentioned in Hag 2:18, “from the day that the foundation of the temple was laid,” etc., and also the contents of the first two clauses of Hag 2:19, to the effect that there was no more seed in the granary, and that the vine, etc., had not borne, do not appear to harmonize with this. To remove the first of these difficulties, Ros., Maurer, Ewald, and others have taken לְמִן־הַיּוֹם אֲשֶׁר־יֻסַּד as the terminus ad quem, and connected it with the foregoing terminus a quo: “observe the time,” which reaches back from the present day, the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, to the day when the foundation of the temple was laid in the reign of Cyrus (Ezr 3:10). They have thus taken לְמִן in the sense of וְעַד. But it is now generally admitted that this is at variance with the usage of the language; even Ewald and Gesenius acknowledge this (see Ew., Lehrbuch, §218, b, and Ges. Thes. p. 807). לְמִן is never equivalent to עַד or וְעַד, but invariably forms the antithesis to it (compare, for example, Jdg 19:30; 2Sa 7:6, and Mic 7:12). Now, since lemin hayyōm cannot mean “to the time commencing with the laying of the foundation of the temple,” but must mean “from the day when the foundation of the temple was laid,” Hitzig and Koehler have taken לְמִן הַיּוֹם וגו as an explanatory apposition to מִיּוֹם עֶשְׂרִים וגו, and assume that through this apposition the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, is expressly designated as the day on which the foundation was laid for the temple of Jehovah. But this assumption is not only in direct contradiction to Ezr 3:10, where it is stated that the foundation of the temple was laid in the reign of Cyrus, in the second year after the return from Babylon, but also makes the prophet Haggai contradict himself in a manner which can only be poorly concealed by any quid pro quo at variance with the language, viz., (a) by identifying the words of Hag 2:15, “when stone was laid to stone at the temple of Jehovah,” which, according to their simple meaning, express the carrying on or continuance of the building, with the laying of the foundation-stone, secondly (b), by understanding the statement, “they did work at the house of Jehovah on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month” (Hag 1:14-15), not according to its natural meaning as relating to their building upon the foundation already laid, but as signifying the removal of the rubbish and the procuring of wood and stone, that is to say, as referring to the preparations for building; and lastly (c), by explaining אֲשֶׁר יֻסַּד וגו in Hag 2:19 as signifying the laying of a fresh or second foundation. These assumptions are so forced, that if there were not a simpler and easier way of removing the difficulty raised, we would rather assume that there had been a corruption of the text.
But the thing is not so desperate as this. In the first place, we must pronounce the opinion that לְמִן הַיּוֹם וגו is an explanatory apposition to מִיּוֹם עֶשְׂרִים וגו an unfounded one. The position of the athnach in וָמָעְלָה furnishes no tenable proof of this. Nor can the assumption that lemin is synonymous with min be sustained. In support of the statement, “that lemin only differs from min in the greater emphasis with which it is spoken,” Ewald (§218, b), has merely adduced this passage, Hag 2:18, which is supposed to exhibit this with especial clearness, but in which, as we have just shown, such an assumption yields no appropriate meaning. לְמִן followed by עַד or וְעַד does indeed occur in several instances in such a connection, that it appears to be used instead of the simple min. But if we look more closely at the passages (e.g., Exo 11:7; Jdg 19:30; 2Sa 7:6), the לְ is never superfluous; and lemin is simply used in cases where the definition so introduced is not closely connected with what goes before, but is meant to be brought out as an independent assertion or additional definition, so that in all such cases the לְ “has the peculiar force of a brief allusion to something not to be overlooked, a retrospective glance at the separate parts, or a rapid summary of the whole, like our 'with regard to,' 'as regards' (Lat. quoad);” and it only fails to correspond entirely to this, “from the fact that לְ is only expressible in the softest manner, and indeed in our language can hardly be expressed in words at all, though it quite perceptibly yields this sense” (Ewald, §310). לְמִקְצָת is also used in this sense in Dan 1:18 instead of מִקְצָת (Hag 2:15), whilst in other cases (e.g., in לְמֵרָחוֹק in 2Sa 7:19) it indicates the direction to a place or towards an object (Ewald, §218, b).
(Note: Koehler's objection to this explanation of lemērâchōq, viz., that with the verb dibber, the object concerning which a person is spoken to, is never introduced with the preposition לְ, is groundless. “With verbs of speaking לְ yields the same double meaning as אֶל, according to the context,” i.e., it can denote the person spoken to, and the person or thing to which the speaking refers, or about which a person is speaking (cf. Gen 21:7; Num 23:23; Isa 5:1; Mic 2:6; Jer 23:9; Psa 3:3; Psa 11:1; Psa 27:8; and Ewald, §217, c).)
In the verse before us, the לְ before מִן corresponds exactly to the German anlangend, betreffend, concerning, as to, sc. the time, from the day when the foundation of the temple was laid, and is used to give prominence to this assertion, and by the prominence given to it to preclude any close connection between the definition of the time so introduced and what goes before, and to point to the fact that the following definition contains a fresh subject of discourse. The expression שִׂימוּ לְבַבְכֶם, which closes the sentence commencing with לְמִן הַיּוֹם, and which would be somewhat tautological and superfluous, if the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple coincided with the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, also points to this.
What space of time it is to which Haggai gives prominence in these words, as one which they are to lay to heart, is shown in Hag 2:19, “Is the seed still in the granary?” etc. That this question is not to be taken in the sense of a summons to proceed now with good heart to sow the summer crops, which were not sown till January, and therefore were still in the granary, as Hitzig supposes, has been pointed out by Koehler, who also correctly observes that the prophet first of all reminds his hearers of the mournful state of things in the past (not “in the present,” as he says), that they may thoroughly appreciate the promise for the future. For even if the question to be answered with “no,” viz., whether the corn is still in the granary, were to be referred to the present, what follows, viz., that the fruit-trees have not borne, would not suit this, since not having borne is a past thing, even if it merely related to the last year, although there is no ground for any such limitation of the words. And if in Hag 2:19 the prophet directs the attention of his hearers to the past, we must also understand the chronological datum immediately preceding as relating to the past as well, and must assume that the words from לְמִן הַיּוֹם in Hag 2:18 to לֹא נָשָׂא in Hag 2:19 contain a parenthetical thought; that is to say, we must assume that the prophet, in order to set clearly before their minds the difference between the past when the building of the temple was suspended, and the future commencing with that very day, before promising the blessing of God to be enjoyed in the future, directs another look at the past, and that from the time of the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus to his own time, and reminds them once more of the want of blessing which they had experienced from that time forth even to the present time. Koehler's objection to this view cannot be sustained. He says, “The Jews are to observe the time from that day forward, namely, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (backwards); the time from the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus (forwards).... Such a mode of expression seems utterly out of place.” But this only affects the erroneous assumption, that the definition “from the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple” is merely a more precise explanation of the previous definition, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, and falls to the ground of itself as soon as these two definitions are separated, as the expression and the matter in hand require. The second objection - namely, that the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus does not suit as a terminus a quo for the commencement of the withdrawal of the divine favour, or for the infliction of a curse upon the people, inasmuch as the Jews were not punished because they laid the foundation for the house of Jehovah, but simply because they neglected the house of God, that is to say, because they desisted from the building they had already begun - is one that would have some force if an interval of at least one or more years had elapsed between the laying of the foundation of the temple and the suspension of the building. But if the work of building was interrupted immediately after the foundation had been laid, as is evident from Ezr 3:10, as compared with ch. 4, Haggai might with perfect propriety describe the whole time from the laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus to the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month of the second year of Darius as a time without blessing, without there being any necessity for him expressly to deduct the few weeks which elapsed between the laying of the foundation-stone and the suspension of the work of building, any more than the last three months, in which the work had been resumed again. The last three months could hardly be taken into account, because they fell for the most part in the period after the last harvest; so that if this had proved to be a bad one, the cause would be still in force. The prophet could therefore very properly inquire whether the seed was still in the granary, to which they would be obliged to answer No, because the miserable produce of the harvest was already either consumed for the supply of their daily wants, or used up for the sowing which was just ended. זֶרַע, seed, is not what is sown, but what the sowing yields, the corn, as in Lev 27:30; Isa 23:3; Job 39:12. Megūrâh = mammegūrâh in Joe 1:17, a barn or granary, from gūr, ἀγείρεσθαι, congregari. The following words, וְעַד־הַגֶּפֶן וגו, are really appended to the thought contained implicite in the first clause: the corn has not borne, and even to the vine, etc., it has borne nothing. נָשָׂא is indefinite: it has not borne = has borne nothing. It shall be different in future. From this day, i.e., from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, Jehovah will bless again, i.e., grant a blessing, namely, so that fruitful seasons will come again, and fields and fruit-trees bear once more. There is no necessity to supply a definite object to אֲבָרֵךְ.