The Book of Zephaniah The Book of Zechariah


We know nothing of the parentage of Haggai. He was probably born in Babylon during the Captivity, and appears to have been the first prophet sent to the Jews after their return to their own land. He was sent particularly to encourage the Jews to proceed with the building of the Temple, which had been interrupted for about fourteen years. Cyrus, who had published an edict in the second year of his reign, through the evil advice of his courtiers and other enemies of the Jews. After his death Cambyses renewed the prohibition; but after the death of Cambyses, Darius, the son of Hystaspes, renewed the permission; and Haggai was sent to encourage his countrymen to proceed with the work. Darius came to the throne about the year 521 BC, and published his edict of permission for the Jews to rebuild the city and Temple in the second year of his reign, which was the sixteenth of their return from Babylon.

Haggai 1:4-11. What did Haggai exhort the people to do?

Haggai 1:7-11. The Consequences of Disobedience

The Jews in Jerusalem were charged by Haggai: "Consider your ways" (Haggai 1:7). They had refused to fulfill the assignment given them by the Lord to rebuild the temple. True, there had been difficult circumstances because of the interference of the Samaritans, but the Lord would not bless them with prosperity if they did not heed His commands (compare D&C 82:10).

There are parallels between Haggai's time and Latter-day Saint history since the Latter-day Saints also built two temples, one in Kirtland and one in Nauvoo, in times of great poverty and persecution. Compare Haggai's call to Israel with the revelations given to Joseph Smith about the Saints' task of building the Nauvoo temple (see D&C 124:31-55). The Lord directly tied the poverty of the people of Haggai's time and the sterility of the land to their failure to heed the commandment to rebuild the Lord's house (see Haggai 1:9-11).

Haggai 2:3-9. "The Glory of This Latter House Shall Be Greater Than of the Former"

When the foundation of the second temple was laid, some who had known the former temple wept with joy at the thought that they could have again the blessings that had been available in Solomon's temple (see Ezra 3:12-13). It was evident during the construction that this temple, built in poverty, would not have the splendor of the former temple. The Lord assured the people, however, that it was not the relative splendor of the two buildings that concerned Him, but their obedience to His command to build a house to Him.

Haggai prophesied of a future temple that would surpass Solomon's in glory and splendor and would be the place where the Lord would give His people peace (see Haggai 2:9). This prophecy will be fulfilled in the latter-day temple that will be built on the same site. Haggai's prophecy that the "desire of all nations shall come" (v. 7) is a prophecy of Christ, who will bring a lasting peace to the world. Lasting peace, however, will be brought only after the Lord shakes "the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land ... and ... all nations" (vv. 6-7) when He comes in His glory to usher in the Millennium. Then His house will indeed be filled with glory, peace will be established, and the desire of all nations will be completely fulfilled. (The phrase "desire of nations" is used in the hymn "Come, O Thou King of Kings," Hymns, no. 59.)

Haggai 2:9. Where would peace be found?

Haggai 2:10-19. Why Did Haggai Raise the Questions about "Holy Flesh" and Being "Unclean by a Dead Body?"

C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch explained the meaning of Haggai 2:10-19: "The nation, in its attitude towards the Lord, resembles, on the one hand, a man who carries holy flesh in the lappet of his garment, and on the other hand, a man who has become unclean through touching a corpse. 'Israel also possesses a sanctuary in the midst of its land, -- namely, the place which Jehovah has chosen for His own abode, and favoured with many glorious promises. But just as no kind of food, neither bread nor vegetables, neither wine nor oil, is sanctified by the fact that a man touches it with his sanctified garment, so will all this not be rendered holy by the fact that it is planted in the soil of the land which surrounds and encloses the sanctuary of Jehovah ... For Israel is utterly unclean on account of its neglect of the house of Jehovah, like a man who has become unclean through touching a corpse. Everything that Israel takes hold of, or upon which it lays its hand, everything that it plants and cultivates, is from the very first affected with the curse of uncleanness; and consequently even the sacrifices which it offers there upon the altar of Jehovah are unclean.'" (Commentary on the Old Testament, 10:2:204-5.) The uncleanness was the reason the land was so unproductive (see Haggai 2:15-17), but when the Jews had repented and begun the work on the temple (see v. 18), the curse was to be lifted and the Lord promised His blessing (see v. 19).

Haggai 2:20-23. Why Was Zerubbabel Compared to a "Signet Ring"?

"The meaning of the figurative expression, to make Zerubbabel as a signet-ring, is evident from the importance of the signet-ring in the eyes of an oriental, who is accustomed to carry his signet-ring constantly about with him, and to take care of it as a very valuable possession ... Hence we obtain this thought for our present passage, namely, that on the day on which Jehovah would overthrow the kingdoms of the nations, He would make Zerubbabel like a signet-ring, which is inseparable from its possessor; that is to say, He would give him a position in which he would be and remain inseparably connected with Him (Jehovah), would therefore not cast him off, but take care of him as His valuable possession." (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 10:2:213-14.)

The prophecy is messianic, and Zerubbabel, in these scriptures, served as a type of Christ. Keil and Delitzsch explained: "In order clearly to understand the meaning of this promise, we must look at the position which Zerubbabel occupied in the community of Israel on its return from exile. For we may at the outset assume that the promise did not apply to his own particular person, but rather to the official post he held, from the fact that what is here predicted was not to take place till after the overthrow of the throne and might of all the kingdoms of the heathen, and therefore could not take place in Zerubbabel's lifetime, inasmuch as, although the fall of this or the other kingdom might be looked for in the course of one generation, the overthrow of all kingdoms and the coming of all the heathen to fill the temple of the Lord with their possessions (ver. 7) certainly could not. Zerubbabel was (Persian) governor in Judah, and had no doubt been selected for this office because he was prince of Judah [Ezra 1:8], and as son of Shealtiel was a descendant of the family of David [see Haggai 1:1]. Consequently the sovereignty of David in its existing condition of humiliation, under the sovereignty of the imperial power, was represented and preserved in his appointment as prince and governor of Judah, so that the fulfilment of the divine promise of the eternal perpetuation of the seed of David and his kingdom was then associated with Zerubbabel, and rested upon the preservation of his family. Hence the promise points to the fact, that at the time when Jehovah would overthrow the heathen kingdoms, He would maintain and take good care of the sovereignty of David in the person of Zerubbabel. For Jehovah had chosen Zerubbabel as His servant. With these words the Messianic promise made to David was transferred to Zerubbabel and his family among David's descendants, and would be fulfilled in his person in just the same way as the promise given to David, that God would make him the highest among the kings of the earth [Psalm 89:27]. The fulfilment culminates in Jesus Christ, the son of David and descendant of Zerubbabel [Matthew 1:12; Luke 3:27], in whom Zerubbabel was made the signet-ring of Jehovah. Jesus Christ has raised up the kingdom of His father David again, and of His kingdom there will be no end [Luke 1:32-33]. Even though it may appear oppressed and deeply humiliated for the time by the power of the kingdoms of the heathen, it will never be crushed and destroyed, but will break in pieces all these kingdoms, and destroy them, and will itself endure for ever [Daniel 2:44; Hebrews 12:28; 1 Corinthians 15:24]." (Commentary, 10:214-15.)

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