Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Haggai 2:3 - 2:3

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Haggai 2:3 - 2:3


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“Who is left among you, that saw this house in its former glory? and how do ye see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Hag 2:4. And now be comforted, Zerubbabel, is the saying of Jehovah; and be comforted, Joshua son of Jozadak, thou high priest; and be comforted all the people of the land, is the saying of Jehovah, and work: for I am with you, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Hag 2:5. The word that I concluded with you at your coming out of Egypt, and my Spirit, stand in the midst of you; fear ye not.” The prophet, admitting the poverty of the new building in comparison with the former one, exhorts them to continue the work in comfort, and promises them that the Lord will be with them, and fulfil Hi{ covenant promises. The question in Hag 2:3 is addressed to the old men, who had seen Solomon's temple in all its glory. There might be many such men still living, as it was only sixty-seven or sixty-eight years since the destruction of the first temple. הַנּשְׁאָר is the predicate to the subject מִי, and has the article because it is defined by the reflex action of the relative clause which follows (compare Ewald, §277, a). The second question, וּמָה אַתֶּם וגו, et qualem videtis, In what condition do ye see it now? is appended to the last clause of the first question: the house which ye saw in its former glory. There then follows with הֲלֹוא, in the form of a lively assurance, the statement of the difference between the two buildings. כָּמֹהוּ כְּאַיִן, which has been interpreted in very different ways, may be explained from the double use of the כ in comparisons, which is common in Hebrew, and which answers to our as - so: here, however, it is used in the same way as in Gen 18:25 and Gen 44:18; that is to say, the object to be compared is mentioned first, and the object with which the comparison is instituted is mentioned afterwards, in this sense, “so is it, as having no existence,” in which case we should either leave out the first particle of comparison, or if it were expressed, should have to reverse the order of the words: “as not existing (nothing), so is it in your eyes.” Koehler gives this correct explanation; whereas if כָּמֹהוּ be explained according to Joe 2:2, its equal, or such an one, we get the unsuitable thought, that it is not the temple itself, but something like the temple, that is compared to nothing. Even in Gen 44:18, to which Ewald very properly refers as containing a perfectly equivalent phrase, it is not a man equal to Joseph, but Joseph himself, who is compared to Pharaoh, and described as being equal to him. Nevertheless they are not to let their courage fail, but to be comforted and to work. Châzaq, to be inwardly strong, i.e., to be comforted, 'Asâh, to work or procure, as in Rth 2:19 and Pro 31:13, in actual fact, to continue the work of building bravely, without there being any necessity to supply מְלָאכָה from Hag 1:14. For Jehovah will be with them (cf. Hag 1:13).

In confirmation of this promise the Lord adds, that the word which He concluded with them on their coming out of Egypt, and His Spirit, will continue among them. “The word” ('eth-haddâbhâr) cannot be either the accusative of the object to the preceding verb ‛ăsū (Hag 2:4), or to any verb we may choose to supply, or the preposition 'ēth, with, or the accusative of norm or measure (Luther, Calvin, and others). To connect it with ‛ăsū yields no suitable meaning. It is not the word, which they vowed to the Lord, at the conclusion of the covenant, that they are to do now, but the work which they had begun, viz., the building of the temple, they are now to continue. It is perfectly arbitrary to supply the verb zikhrū, remember (Ewald and Hengstenberg), and to understand the prophet as reminding them of the word “fear not” (Exo 20:17-20). That word, “fear not,” with which Moses, not God, infused courage into the people, who were alarmed at the terrible phenomenon with which Jehovah came down upon Sinai, has no such central significance as that Haggai could point to it without further introduction, and say that Jehovah had concluded it with them on their coming out of Egypt. The word which the Lord concluded with Israel when He led it out of Egypt, can only be the promise which established the covenant, to the fulfilment of which God bound Himself in relation to the people, when He led them out of Egypt, namely, the word that He would make Israel into His own property out of all nations (Exo 19:5-6; Deu 7:6; cf. Jer 7:22-23, and Jer 11:4). It would quite agree with this to take 'ēth as the accusative of the norm, and also to connect it as a preposition, if this could only be shown to be in accordance with the rules of the language. But although the accusative in Hebrew is often used, in the relation of free subordination, “to express more precisely the relation of measure and size, space and time, mode and kind” (cf. Ewald, §204-206), it is impossible to find any example of such an accusative of norm as is here assumed, especially with 'ēth preceding it. But if 'ēth were a preposition instead of אִתְּכֶם, we should have עִמָּכֶם, inasmuch as the use of אֶת־הַדָּבָר, as a parallel to אִתְּכֶם, makes the words clumsy and awkward. The thought which Haggai evidently wishes to express requires that haddâbhâr should stand upon the same line with rūchı̄, so that 'eth-haddâbhâr is actually the subject to ‛ōmedeth, and 'ēth is simply used to connect the new declaration with the preceding one, and to place it in subjection to the one which follows, in the sense of “as regards,” quoad (Ewald, §277, d, pp. 683-4), in which case the choice of the accusative in the present instance may either be explained from a kind of attraction (as in the Latin, urbem quam statuo vestra est), as Hitzig supposes, or from the blending together of two constructions, as Koehler maintains; that is to say, Haggai intended to write אֶת־הַדָּבָר וְרוּחִי הֶעֱמַדְתֻּי, but was induced to alter the proposed construction by the relative clause אֲשֶׁר כָּרַתֻּי וגו attaching itself to הַדָּבָר. Consequently ‛ōmedeth, as predicate, not only belongs to rūchı̄, but also to haddâbhâr, in the sense of to have continuance and validity; and according to a later usage of the language, עָמַד is used for קוּם, to stand fast (compare Isa 40:8 with Dan 11:14). The word, that Israel is the property of Jehovah, and Jehovah the God of Israel, still stands in undiminished force; and not only so, but His Spirit also still works in the midst of Israel. Rūăch, in parallelism with the word containing the foundation of the covenant, is neither the spirit of prophecy (Chald., J. D. Mich.), nor the spirit which once filled Bezaleel and his companions (Exo 31:1., Exo 36:1.), enabling them to erect the tabernacle in a proper manner, and one well-pleasing to God (Luc., Osiander, and Koehler). Both views are too narrow; rūăch is the divine power which accompanies the word of promise and realizes it in a creative manner, i.e., not merely “the virtue with which God will establish their souls, that they may not be overcome by temptations” (Calvin), but also the power of the Spirit working in the world, which is able to remove all the external obstacles that present themselves to the realization of the divine plan of salvation. This Spirit is still working in Israel (“in the midst of you”); therefore they are not to fear, even if the existing state of things does not correspond to human expectations. The omnipotence of God can and will carry out His word, and glorify His temple. This leads to the further promise in Hag 2:6-9, which gives the reason for the exhortation, “Fear ye not.”