Haggai 2

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  • Haggai 2:1.
  • Masoretic Text: On the twenty-first of the seventh month, the word of YHWH came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, saying:

    Septuagint: In the seventh month, the twenty-first of the month, the Lord spoke by the hand of Haggaios the prophet, saying:

    Note: The Hebrew preposition linked with “hand” may be translated “by.” In the partially preserved Dead Sea Scroll text, however, the preposition means “to.” The expression “by the hand” first appears in 1:1 and, in each occurrence, denotes that Haggai was the agency or instrument through whom YHWH conveyed his message.


    The seventh Jewish month is Tishri or Ethanim, corresponding to what would be mid-September to mid-October in our calendar. On the twenty-first day of this month, Haggai received another message from YHWH. This day was the seventh day of the Festival of Booths (or Ingathering).

  • Haggai 2:2.
  • Masoretic Text: Speak now to Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying:

    Septuagint: Speak now to Zorobabel, the [son] of Salathiel, from the tribe of Judah, and to Jesus, the [son] of Josedek, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, saying:


    The Hebrew word for “speak,” “say,”or “tell” is followed by a particle that emphasizes the preceding term and has often been rendered “now.” The particle in the Septuagint functions much as does the one in the Hebrew text.

    As in earlier verses, the Septuagint reads “tribe,” not “governor.”

    Regarding “high,” see the note on 1:1.


    As in the case of the first message, this one is also directed to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the people then in Jerusalem. At this time, all the people would have been staying in temporary structures, commemorating how the Israelites lived in booths upon leaving Egypt until finally entering the Promised Land. (Leviticus 23:33-43; Numbers 29:12-38; Deuteronomy 16:13-17) Coming at the close of the agricultural year, this festival was usually accompanied by rejoicing over abundant crops on account of divine blessing. Haggai’s first message, however, had indicated that the harvests were disappointing.

  • Haggai 2:3.
  • Masoretic Text: Who among you [is from] the remnant who saw this house in its former glory? And how are you seeing it now? [Is it] not like nothing in your eyes?

    Septuagint: Who among you [is there] who saw this house in its former glory? And how are you seeing it now? As not existing before you?

    Note: The word for “now” (‘attáh) is not the same as in 2:2. Here (in verse 3) the Hebrew term denotes “at this time.” The Septuagint also has a word (nyn) with the same significance and differs from the one in 2:2.


    Among the older members of the nation, a spirit of discouragement existed. The major part of the temple rebuilding work still needed to be completed, and what had been accomplished gave little promise of even coming close to the splendor of the former temple.

    The questions directed to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and all the others then present called attention to the feelings of disappointment shared by those who had seen the splendor of the temple the Babylonians had destroyed. For the older ones in their midst to be able to draw a comparison with the former temple and what their eyes then beheld, they must have been of advanced years. No infant, toddler, or very young child at the time of the temple’s destruction would have had a valid reference point. Moreover, already ten years before the Babylonians destroyed it, the temple had lost a measure of its glory, a magnificence it had after King Josiah had the needed temple repairs completed. (2 Chronicles 34:8-12) The Kings account reports about what the king of Babylon did ten years before the destruction of the temple: “He carried off from Jerusalem all the treasures of the House of [YHWH] and the treasures of the royal palace; he stripped off all the golden decorations in the temple of [YHWH]—which King Solomon of Israel had made—as [YHWH] had warned.” (2 Kings 24:13, Tanakh) If the former glory relates to the temple’s appearance prior to this event, those whom Haggai addressed would have been very old.

    What the older ones saw at the site appeared to be insignificant or as nothing when compared with the temple they had seen in their youth. Furthermore, neighboring peoples continued to oppose the rebuilding. Therefore, those active in the rebuilding needed encouragement.

  • Haggai 2:4.
  • Masoretic Text: And now, be strong, Zerubbbabel, [is the] announcement of YHWH, and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and be strong, all [you] people of the earth, [is the] announcement of YHWH, and act, for I [am] with you, [is the] announcement of YHWH of hosts.

    Septuagint: And now, be strong, Zorobabel, says the Lord, and be strong, Jesus, the [son] of Josedek, the high priest, and be strong, all [you] people of the earth, says the Lord, and act, for I am with you, says the Lord Almighty.


    The Hebrew and Greek words for “now” are the same as in verse 3.

    This verse illustrates that, in the Scriptures, the expression “all the people of the earth” can refer to a comparatively small number of people residing in a very limited geographical area. In this context, “earth” denotes “land.”

    Regarding “high,” see the note on 1:1.


    YHWH’s message through Haggai directed to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the rest of the nation was, “Be strong.” They were not to lose courage but were to maintain an inner strength and resolve, boldly going ahead with the rebuilding despite any seeming obstacles. They had good reason for being strong in faith respecting the temple rebuilding, for YHWH of armies, the One with a vast host of angels under his direction, gave them the assurance, “I am with you.”

  • Haggai 2:5.
  • Masoretic Text: The word which I covenanted with you in your going out from Egypt, and my spirit [is] standing in your midst; do not fear.

    Septuagint: And my spirit is standing in your midst; be courageous.


    The point about the covenanting is missing in the oldest extant Septuagint manuscripts. This portion of the Dead Sea Scroll text is poorly preserved but does seem to include the words found in the Masoretic Text.

    Ronald Knox, in his translation based on the Vulgate, renders the words (verse 6 in his translation): “...the promise I gave when you escaped Egypt; my own spirit shall be among you, do not be afraid.” A footnote on this verse reads: “It looks as if some words had fallen out between these verses 5 and 6, including a verb to govern ‘the promise.’ Some editions print the end of verse 5 as a parenthesis, and make the sentence run: ‘The Lord of hosts bids you take heart and perform (is not he, the Lord of hosts, at your side?) the word which I covenanted with you when you escaped from Egypt.’”

    Other translators have taken the start of verse 5 to mean that YHWH’s being with his people is according to his covenant promise made after they left Egypt. Examples are: “So I promised you when you came out of Egypt, and My spirit is still in your midst. Fear not!” (Tanakh) “...according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear.” (NRSV) “...just as I promised your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt. Don’t worry. My Spirit is right here with you.” (CEV)

    The emphasis in Haggai 2:4 is on being “strong” or courageous regarding the rebuilding work, suggesting that the verb for “do” or “act” relates to that rebuilding. Therefore, the word of YHWH through Haggai served to assure the people that he would be with them in keeping with the covenant made at Mount Sinai.

    The question still remains whether the oldest Septuagint manuscripts preserve the reading of another Hebrew text. In that event, it would not be possible to establish the original reading.


    It appears, based on the extant Hebrew text, that the people were being assured of YHWH’s backing in agreement with the covenant concluded with their ancestors upon leaving Egypt. This covenant contained promises, and the people’s living up to the requirements set forth in the covenant had a bearing on whether they would receive the promised blessings. By failing to accord temple rebuilding the importance it deserved, the people had proved unfaithful to their part of the covenant, losing out on the promised blessings. (Deuteronomy 28:1-14)

    During the time YHWH led the Israelites in the wilderness, his spirit operated among them. Their clothing did not wear out, and water was miraculously provided on two occasions. For some forty years the people benefited from the regular supply of manna, and they were protected from their enemies. The same spirit remained active among the Jews, and so it was no time for them to give in to fear. On account of God’s spirit, no obstacle (though appearing as great as a high mountain) would prevent the successful completion of the temple rebuilding work. (Compare Zechariah 4:6, 7.) The people had every reason to be courageous, not giving in to fear.

  • Haggai 2:6.
  • Masoretic Text: For thus said YHWH of hosts, Yet once [more], a little [while] it [will be], and I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry [ground].

    Septuagint: For thus says the Lord Almighty, Yet once [more] I will shake the heaven and the earth and the sea and the dry [ground].


    The mention of heaven (sky), earth (land), sea, and dry ground appears to be indicative of the universal nature of the shaking, with nothing visible to humans escaping the upheaval.

    Based on the quotation of the words of Haggai found in Hebrews 12:26 and 27, the expression éti hápax (“yet once”) means “once again” or “yet once more.” This is also the way a number of translations have rendered the Hebrew text. Examples are: “Once again, in a little while...” (NRSV), “In a little while I will once more shake...” (NIV), “Once more, in a little while...” (The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible), “Soon I will again shake...” (CEV), Noch einmal—wenig Zeit ist es noch... (Yet once more—there is yet little time...) (German, revised Elberfelder)

    Other translations, however, represent the text as not referring to a past event. Examples are: “One moment yet, a little while...” (NAB), “In just a little while longer...” (Tanakh), Es ist nur noch eine kleine Weile... (It is now only a little while...) (German, 1984 revision of Luther’s translation), Nur noch kurze Zeit... (Now only a short time...) (German, Einheitsübersetzung)

    In a footnote on this verse based on his translation of the Latin, Ronald Knox says: “Literally, ‘a single little while,’ but the addition gives no satisfactory sense. The Hebrew text is difficult, and perhaps corrupt; the Septuagint Greek gives ‘(only) once more,’ a phrase interpreted in Heb. 12.26 as looking back to the experience of Israel when the law was given on mount Sinai (Ex. 19).”

    In the Septuagint, the expression éti hápax (yet once) is also found in Genesis 18:32 and Judges 6:39, but it is not a rendering of the same Hebrew words as found in Haggai 2:6. Nevertheless, the context of Genesis 18:32 and Judges 6:39 indicates the meaning of the Greek to be “yet again” or “yet once more.” Therefore, a sound basis exists for rendering the Hebrew of Haggai 2:6 as referring to a past event.


    The expression “yet once” apparently pointed to a tremendous shaking at an earlier time in Israelite history. This would have been at Mount Sinai, where YHWH manifested himself by means of his representative angel. On that occasion the entire mountain shook. The awesome spectacle caused the people to tremble fearfully. (Exodus 19:16-19; 20:18-21)

    This rocking of Mount Sinai preceded the construction of the tabernacle that was later replaced by the temple in Jerusalem. Similarly, a tremendous shaking is linked to the rebuilding of the temple. Whereas everything would be subject to a great upheaval, the rebuilt temple would remain. This shaking was foretold to occur in a “little while.” Therefore, one should expect to find some evidence outside the Bible record pointing to a turbulent period.

    History does confirm that this time was marked by great upheaval. When Darius the Great acquired the throne, the Persian Empire was in a state of revolt. Within about two years, Darius subdued the troublesome elements. Though Egypt had been able to free itself from Persian domination, the Persians reconquered the country in about 519/518 BCE. Thereafter Darius succeeded in expanding the empire eastward into India and westward into Thrace and Macedonia. In 490 BCE, however, a small Athenian army triumphed over a large Persian force in the battle at Marathon.

    YHWH did not directly cause any of this shaking on the international scene. But it did take place by his permissive will and, in that sense, would be a great universal upheaval that he effected.

    This shaking was preliminary to a universal shaking of far greater proportions. By reason of the temple at Jerusalem, the city itself was the city of the Great King, YHWH. Therefore, the future rocking portended the shaking to bits of everything standing in opposition to God’s kingdom, which would remain. This is the application set forth in the book of Hebrews: “At that time [when the law was given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai] his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of what is shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe.” (Hebrews 12:26-28, NRSV)

  • Haggai 2:7.
  • Masoretic Text: And I will shake all the nations, and the precious things of all the nations will come, and I will fill this house [with] glory, said YHWH of hosts.

    Septuagint: And I will shake all the nations, and the choice things of all the nations will come, and I will fill this house [with] glory, says the Lord Almighty.

    Note: Lexicographers have defined the Hebrew word chemdáh as “desire” or “precious,” “pleasant,” “valuable” or “fine” things (evidently considering the singular as a collective singular). These meanings would also fit the Septuagint rendering (the plural form of eklektós), which denotes “choice,” “picked out,” or “select” things.


    As a consequence of his shaking the nations, YHWH would cause the desirable, precious, or choice things to arrive. This shaking is evidently to be understood of the upheaval on the international scene that occurred by reason of his permissive will. According to the divine assurance, the shaking would persuade people of all the nations to present precious things—gold and silver—as gifts for the beautification of the temple.

    The historical record preserved in the book of Ezra reveals that support for the rebuilding and beautification of the temple did come from non-Jewish peoples. After an investigation of the official records, Darius issued a decree that the rebuilding of the temple should proceed without hindrance and be given financial support. (Ezra 6:6-10) When Ezra returned to Jerusalem, he received gold and silver from the Persian king (Artaxerxes Longimanus) and other government officials. The monarch’s decree demanded full support for the temple beautification project. (Ezra 7:11-28)

    The word of YHWH, through Haggai, assured the people that, although the temple rebuilding had an unimpressive start, they were not to be discouraged. YHWH’s purpose was to fill his house with glory or splendor.

  • Haggai 2:8.
  • Masoretic Text: The silver [belongs] to me, and the gold [belongs] to me, [is the] announcement of YHWH of hosts.

    Septuagint: The silver [is] mine, and the gold [is] mine, says the Lord Almighty.


    As the Creator of everything, YHWH possessed all the gold and silver, and he could move non-Jewish peoples to contribute the precious things that, in actuality, already belonged to him.

  • Haggai 2:9.
  • Masoretic Text: The glory of this latter house will be greater than that of the former, said YHWH of hosts. And in this place, I will give peace, [is the] announcement of YHWH of hosts.

    Septuagint: For the latter glory of this house will be great beyond the former, says the Lord Almighty. And in this place, I will give peace, says the Lord Almighty, even peace of soul for a possession to all those building, raising up this sanctuary.

    Note: The Masoretic Text does not include the assurance of peace or well-being that is specifically directed to those sharing in the rebuilding of the temple. Virtually no part of this passage has been preserved in any discovered Dead Sea Scroll text, but the space on the scroll does not appear to have been sufficient to allow for the extra words found in the Septuagint. This may be an indication that the Septuagint is based on a Hebrew manuscript that did contain these words. If that is the case, we cannot be sure about the reading of the original Hebrew text.


    Those who had seen the magnificence of Solomon’s temple must have been amazed to hear that the structure then being rebuilt would be more glorious than the impressive temple the Babylonians destroyed.

    The history of the rebuilt temple confirms the fulfillment of the divine assurance. Herod the Great rebuilt Zerubbabel’s temple on a grand scale, a scale rivaling Solomon’s temple. From the time that the temple rebuilding work was completed until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE was a period of 584 years. This was many decades longer than Solomon’s temple existed. It was in the courts of the rebuilt temple that the one greater than Solomon, the Messiah, repeatedly taught assembled worshipers. During the far longer period of its existence, this temple witnessed the presence of many more worshipers. Especially for the festivals, Jews and proselytes came in great numbers from various parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

    YHWH’s assurance, “in this place I will give peace,” indicated to the temple rebuilders that the upheavals affecting the nations would not be a source of disturbance to them. They had no reason to be alarmed and would be able to complete the work without interference or interruption.

    The reference to “this place” may be understood to apply to Jerusalem, where the temple was located. In a more restrictive sense, “this place” could designate the entire temple area.

  • Haggai 2:10.
  • Masoretic Text: On the twenty-fourth of the ninth [month], in the second year of Darius, the word of YHWH came to Haggai the prophet, saying:

    Septuagint: On the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, [in] the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Haggaios the prophet, saying:


    On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth Jewish month, Chislev (mid-November to mid-December), Haggai received another message from YHWH. The prophet then conveyed this message in his own words.

  • Haggai 2:11.
  • Masoretic Text: Thus said YHWH of hosts, Now ask the priests [about] law, saying:

    Septuagint: Thus says the Lord Almighty, Ask the priests [about] law, saying:


    Again, the appellation “YHWH of hosts” was a reminder that vast hosts of angels served at the direction of the Most High. To reveal why the people were unclean before him because of neglecting temple rebuilding, YHWH instructed Haggai to ask the priests questions about aspects of the law.

  • Haggai 2:12.
  • Masoretic Text: If a man carries holy flesh in the skirt of his garment and, with his skirt, touches the bread, or the stew, or the wine, or oil, or any [other] food, will it be sanctified? And the priests answered and said, “No.”

    Septuagint: If a man should take holy meat in the skirt of his garment and, with the skirt of his garment, should touch bread, or stew, or wine, or oil, or any [other] food, will it be sanctified? And the priests answered and said, “No.”


    When asked whether the skirt of a garment, with holy meat clinging thereto, could sanctify bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food it might touch, the Aaronic priests correctly answered, “No.” According to Leviticus 6:27 (6:20, NAB), a garment brought into immediate contact with sacrificial meat would become holy. But the garment itself could not impart holiness to anything else. Someone who, in an unclean state, ate sacrificial meat, however, would not be made holy. In fact, the unclean person who deliberately did so was to be subjected to the punishment of cutting off. (Leviticus 7:20, 21)

  • Haggai 2:13.
  • Masoretic Text: And Haggai said, If one unclean by a soul touches any of these, will it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, “It will be unclean.”

    Septuagint: And Haggaios said, If one defiled by a soul should touch any of these, will it be defiled? And the priests answered and said, “It will be defiled.”


    In this case, the Hebrew word néphesh and the corresponding Greek term psyché could include a dead soul, being, or creature. According to the law, anyone touching any dead human, any dead animal classified as unclean for food, or any other animal that died of itself was defiled by such contact. Then, anyone or anything the unclean individual might touch would likewise become unclean. (Leviticus 11:24-28, 39, 40; Numbers 19:11-22) So, it was possible to be defiled by a dead person or creature or by a living person or soul who had become unclean.

    The question Haggai posed related to the person whose uncleanness resulted from contact with a defiled soul. Knowing the law, the priests correctly answered that any food item touched by an unclean person would be defiled.

  • Haggai 2:14.
  • Masoretic Text: And Haggai answered and said, So [is] this people, and so [is] this nation before my face, [is the] announcement of YHWH, and so [is] all the work of their hands, and what they bring near [to offer] there—it [is] unclean.

    Septuagint: And Haggaios answered and said, So [is] this people, and so [is] this nation before me, says the Lord, and so [are] all the works of their hands, and whosoever approaches there will be defiled because of their profits of the morning. They will be pained on account of their labors, and you have hated the reprovers in the gates.


    In this case, the Septuagint renders the Hebrew idiom “before my face” according to its significance—“before me.”

    The Septuagint reading is much longer than the Masoretic Text, but the added words are confusing. It almost seems as if marginal notes were incorporated into the text, a reason being given for the defilement. In the Masoretic Text, however, the reason is implied by the words preceding this verse. The Septuagint reference to “profits of the morning” possibly means unjust gain. The pain resulting from their labors is perhaps because of their failed efforts. The point about hating the reprover in the gate is also mentioned in Amos 5:10 with reference to a judge (in the open area near the city gate) who reproved those guilty of violating the law.


    YHWH’s words, through Haggai, evidently serve to apply the principles revealed in the answers to the two questions. These principles would be: (1) Holiness cannot be imparted progressively from one item to another. (2) Uncleanness can easily be transferred by inadvertent contact.

    The nation had neglected the rebuilding of YHWH’s temple. This made the whole nation unclean. Therefore, all their work and their offerings were defiled from YHWH’s standpoint. The altar for sacrifice could not transfer its holiness to the land, the crops, or the people. As unclean people, they defiled everything they touched, resulting in YHWH’s blessing neither their work nor their offerings.

  • Haggai 2:15.
  • Masoretic Text: And now, then, set your heart from this day and beyond, before laying stone upon stone in the temple of YHWH,

    Septuagint: And now, then, set [it] in your hearts from this day and beyond. Before laying stone upon stone in the sanctuary of the Lord,

    Note: There is a question about how the expression “from this day and beyond” is to be understood. The Hebrew word má‘al basically means “upward,” “above,” and “beyond,” and the corresponding Greek term hyperáno signifies “from now on,” “above,” and “beyond.” The context would lead one to expect that the people were being encouraged to consider their circumstances prior to the start of the rebuilding work. The Tanakh conveys this sense, “And now take thought from this day backward,” but the footnote reads “forward.” If the basic meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words is retained, the implication would be that, in giving consideration to what lay ahead, the people should draw a contrast between their prior situation and how dramatically this would change from the time that temple rebuilding work was resumed.


    The pivotal date was the twenty-fourth of Chislev, the beginning of December in our calendar. It was then that the temple rebuilding commenced. The workers began to lay one stone upon another stone. With the twenty-fourth day of Chislev as a reference point, the people were to “set their heart” or give thoughtful consideration to developments.

  • Haggai 2:16.
  • Masoretic Text: before they [proved] to be, one came to a heap of twenty, and it was ten; to a vat to draw out fifty, and it was twenty.

    Septuagint: who were you? When you cast twenty measures of barley into a bin, they came to be ten sata of barley, and you went to the vat to draw out fifty measures, and they came to be twenty.


    The first expression, both in the Hebrew and the Greek texts, is obscure. In Hebrew, this expression consists of a preposition, a form of the verb “to be,” and a third person masculine plural suffix. The Greek text also contains a form of the verb “to be,” but it is second person plural. The first Greek word usually means “who” or “what” and, in an exclamation, “how.”

    The Hebrew third person plural suffix for the form of the “to be” verb could refer to “days” or “developments” (before these things happened). This would mean that the people were to give serious thought to what the circumstances were prior to the commencement of temple rebuilding. The Greek rendering, however, suggests that they should give consideration to their personal situation before temple rebuilding started.

    Translators vary in their renderings—“how did you fare?” (NAB, NRSV, both being closer to the Greek when using “you”), “so long were things thus” (Rotherham), “since those days” (NKJV), “what state were you in?” (HCSB), “Through all that time” (NJB), and “before those [days] were” (Darby).

    Although the precise shade of meaning is uncertain, the thought conveyed by the verse as a whole is clear. An undesirable situation existed before temple rebuilding began.

    For the amount of barley, the Septuagint has a form of the Hebrew “seah,” a measure equaling somewhat less than seven dry quarts (more than seven liters).


    Before the twenty-fourth day of Chislev, during the period they neglected temple rebuilding, the people experienced disappointing harvests. A “heap,” possibly a pile of sheaves, from which they expected a return of twenty measures yielded only half that amount. According to the Septuagint, they came to the bin, thinking they had twenty measures or seahs of grain, but found only ten measures. From the grapes that were expected to produce fifty measures of juice in the vat, they obtained only twenty measures. Based on what they experienced, the people would have concluded that YHWH had withheld his blessing.

  • Haggai 2:17.
  • Masoretic Text: I struck you with blight and with mildew, and all the work of your hands with hail, and you [did] not [turn] to me, [is the] announcement of YHWH.

    Septuagint: I struck you with barrenness and with blight, and all the works of your hands with hail, and you did not turn to me, says the Lord.


    The people were aware of the fact that their crops had been harmed by blight, mildew, and hail. When referring to these adversities, they would say that YHWH had done this to them. Still, this had not motivated them repentantly to turn to YHWH, putting true worship foremost by resuming work on the temple.

  • Haggai 2:18.
  • Masoretic Text: Set your heart, then, from this day and beyond, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth [month], from the day on which the temple of YHWH was founded; set your heart.

    Septuagint: Subordinate, then, your hearts from this day and beyond, from the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, and from the day when the sanctuary of the Lord was founded; set [it] in your hearts


    Although the initial Hebrew verb “set” is the same here as in verse 15, the Septuagint opens with a form of the verb hypotásso, a compound consisting for “under” and “put.” The expression “subordinate your hearts” suggests an adjustment in thinking, taking a positive view of the future despite the then-existing discouraging circumstances.

    The Greek word for “beyond” is epékeina (not hyperáno, as in verse 15), but the Hebrew term má‘al appears in both places. As in verse 15, translations vary as to whether to render the Hebrew as “backward” or “forward.” In view of verse 19, the reference is more likely to refer to looking ahead, and the Greek word would support this conclusion. This Greek term is used regarding a location beyond or father away from a given point. (Acts 7:43) In connection with time, the word is used regarding future time (“the eighth day and beyond” [Leviticus 22:27], “and beyond into your generations” [Numbers 15:23], “from this day and beyond” [Ezekiel 39:22], and “from the eighth day and beyond” [Ezekiel 43:27]).

    In this context, the founding probably refers to the resuming of the temple rebuilding work, not the earlier event mentioned in Ezra 3:10-13. This would fit better with the focus of the prophecy on the then-existing situation and the promise of future blessing.


    Again, in conveying the word of YHWH, Haggai called upon the people to set their hearts or to think about or consider their situation seriously. The specific “day” was Chislev 24, which would be in the first half of our December. Translators have understood the period relating to this date in two ways: (1) “think back from this day” (NBV) and (2) “from this day forward” (NAB).

    According to the first view, the time would extend from Chislev 24 back to the time the temple foundation was laid in the second year after the return from Babylonian exile. (Ezra 3:8-10) Basically, this entire period proved to be one of neglect respecting temple rebuilding.

    The Hebrew word má‘al, without a context, basically means “upward,” “above,” and “beyond,” whereas the Greek term epékeina is specifically used to designate a future time. The future sense requires the reference to the “founding” to be the start of the rebuilding after the period of neglect.

    The thought about giving heartfelt consideration is repeated. In the second occurrence, the Greek verb (a form of títhemi) is the same as in verse 15.

  • Haggai 2:19.
  • Masoretic Text: [Is] the seed yet in the grain pit? And even the vine and the fig and the pomegranate and the olive tree did not bear. From this day, I will bless.

    Septuagint: whether it still will be known on the threshing floor and whether the vine and the fig and the pomegranate and the olive trees [are] still not bearing fruit. From this day, I will bless.

    Note: The Hebrew consonants for “seed” and “know” or “recognize” are so similar that they can easily be confused. This is likely the reason for the difference in the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint. Unless words are supplied, the Septuagint reading does not make much sense. Perhaps the thought is: Will grain yet be known on the threshing floor?


    The reference to the seed has been variously understood. “Indeed, the seed has not sprouted...” (NAB) “Is there any seed left in the barn?” (NRSV) “...take note while the seed is still in the granary.” (Tanakh)

    Barley and wheat would have been sown in the previous month (Bul, mid-October to mid-November) and so the amount of grain in storage likely was very limited, heightening concern about the future grain harvests. Grape vines and fig, pomegranate, and olive trees were not then bearing fruit. From Chislev 24 onward, however, YHWH’s assurance, through Haggai, would apply: “From this day, I will bless.” The people may have perceived the increase in precipitation as an evidence of YHWH’s blessing.

    The Contemporary English Version paraphrases verses 18 and 19, conveying the basic thought. “Today you have completed the foundation for my temple, so listen to what your future will be like. Although you have not yet harvested any grain, grapes, figs, pomegranates, or olives, I will richly bless you in the days ahead.”

  • Haggai 2:20.
  • Masoretic Text: And, a second time, the word of YHWH came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth of the month, saying:

    Septuagint: And, for a second [time], the word of the Lord came to Haggaios the prophet on the twenty-fourth of the month, saying:


    On Chislev 24, YHWH conveyed a second message to Haggai. This message, however, was more restrictive in scope.

  • Haggai 2:21.
  • Masoretic Text: Say to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth.

    Septuagint: Say to Zorobabel, the [son] of Salathiel, from the tribe of Judah, saying, I [am about to] shake the heaven and the earth and the sea and the dry [ground].

    Note: The Septuagint consistently refers to Zerubbabel as being from the “tribe of Judah,” whereas the Masoretic Text and partially preserved Dead Sea Scroll text say “governor of Judah.” In the Septuagint, the wording corresponds to the earlier shaking (2:6), but the Masoretic Text and the partially preserved Dead Sea Scroll text do not include “the sea and the dry [ground].”


    Unlike the other messages that included Joshua the high priest and the assembled people, this message is specifically directed to Zerubbabel. The governor had heeded YHWH’s word through Haggai and boldly resumed temple rebuilding. Therefore, the words about the universal shaking would have assured him that nothing would stop the successful completion of the project. YHWH, the One who could shake everything, would not allow any obstacle to remain.

  • Haggai 2:22.
  • Masoretic Text: And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms and destroy the power of kingdoms of the nations, and I will overthrow the chariot and its riders, and horses and their riders will fall, [each] man by the sword of his brother.

    Septuagint: And I will overthrow thrones of kings and destroy the power of kings of the nations and overthrow chariots and riders, and horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword against his brother.


    YHWH would “overthrow the throne of kingdoms,” bringing an end to the royal authority exercised over the respective realms. He would smash the power of foreign kingdoms. Chariots, horses, and their riders would pose no threat, for YHWH would bring them down (as, for example, he did in the case of the Egyptians in the Red Sea [Exodus 15:1-4]). He would cause confusion in the ranks of the warriors so that they would turn against their fellow soldiers. (Compare Judges 7:19-22; 2 Chronicles 20:22-24.)

  • Haggai 2:23.
  • Masoretic Text: In that day, [is the] announcement of YHWH of hosts, I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, my servant, [is the] announcement of YHWH, and I will make you like the seal ring, for I have chosen you, [is the] announcement of YHWH of hosts.

    Septuagint: In that day, says the Lord Almighty, I will take you, Zorobabel, the [son] of Salathiel, my servant, says the Lord, and I will place you like a seal ring, for I have chosen you, says the Lord Almighty.


    YHWH’s acknowledgment of Zerubbabel as his “servant” was an exceptional honor. This meant that Zerubbabel enjoyed the dignity of being in the service of the Supreme Sovereign of the universe.

    Seal rings were used to authenticate documents or to establish ownership and were carefully guarded from falling into the wrong hands. As a seal ring, Zerubbabel would represent YHWH in an official capacity and be certain of his protection. Not any human, but YHWH himself had chosen Zerubbabel to be in his service, granting him the kind of authorization to act that would be represented by a seal ring.

    The assurance given to Zerubbabel is framed in such lofty language that evidently more is involved than his role as governor and active supporter of the temple rebuilding work. The destruction of foreign rulerships and the military might (chariots, horses, and riders) on which they depended suggested liberation from all foreign domination. This did not occur in the time of Zerubbabel.

    Nevertheless, with the rebuilding of the temple (or, his representative dwelling place) completed, YHWH would again be king in Jerusalem and administering affairs through a man from the tribe of Judah. As a descendant of David, Zerubbabel was in the royal line through which the Messiah was destined to come. The promise to Zerubbabel, therefore, guaranteed the continuance of the royal line and evidently served to keep the people’s hope in the coming of the Messiah alive. The reference to YHWH’s destroying foreign sovereignties and their military forces revealed that direct divine intervention, not human effort, would usher in Messiah’s long-awaited reign.