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The Glory to Come

On the twenty-first day of the seventh month,[a] the Lord’s message came through[b] the prophet Haggai again: “Ask the following questions to[c] Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak,[d] and the remnant of the people: ‘Who among you survivors saw the former splendor of this temple?[e] How does it look to you now? Isn’t it nothing by comparison?’ Even so, take heart, Zerubbabel,” decrees the Lord. “Take heart, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. And take heart all you citizens of the land,”[f] decrees the Lord, “and begin to work. For I am with you,” decrees the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Do not fear, because I made a promise to your ancestors when they left Egypt, and my Spirit[g] even now testifies to you.”[h] Moreover, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has said: “In just a little while[i] I will once again shake the sky[j] and the earth, the sea and the dry ground. I will also shake up all the nations, and they[k] will offer their treasures;[l] then I will fill this temple with glory.” So the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has said. “The silver and gold will be mine,” decrees the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “The future splendor of this temple will be greater than that of former times,”[m] the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared. “And in this place I will give peace,” decrees the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.[n]

The Promised Blessing

10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month of Darius’ second year,[o] the Lord’s message came to the prophet Haggai:[p] 11 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has said, ‘Ask the priests about the law.[q] 12 If someone carries holy meat in a fold of his garment and that fold touches bread, a boiled dish, wine, olive oil, or any other food, will that item become holy?’”[r] The priests answered, “It will not.” 13 Then Haggai asked, “If a person who is ritually unclean because of touching a dead body[s] comes in contact with one of these items, will it become unclean?” The priests answered, “It will be unclean.”

14 Then Haggai responded, “‘The people of this nation are unclean in my sight,’[t] decrees the Lord. ‘And so is all their effort; everything they offer is also unclean.[u] 15 Now therefore reflect carefully on the recent past,[v] before one stone was laid on another in the Lord’s temple.[w] 16 From that time[x] when one came expecting a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty measures from it, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the products of your labor[y] with blight, disease, and hail, and yet you brought nothing to me,’[z] says the Lord. 18 ‘Think carefully[aa] about the past: from today, the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month,[ab] to the day work on the temple of the Lord was resumed,[ac] think about it.[ad] 19 The seed is still in the storehouse, isn’t it? And the vine, fig tree, pomegranate, and olive tree have not produced. Nevertheless, from today on I will bless you.’”

Zerubbabel the Chosen One

20 Then the Lord spoke to Haggai[ae] a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month:[af] 21 “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah: ‘I am ready[ag] to shake the sky[ah] and the earth. 22 I will overthrow royal thrones and shatter the might of earthly kingdoms.[ai] I will overthrow chariots and those who ride them, and horses and their riders will fall as people kill one another.[aj] 23 On that day,’[ak] says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant,’[al] says the Lord, ‘and I will make you like a signet ring,[am] for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”[an]


  1. Haggai 2:1 tn Heb “In the seventh [month], on the twenty-first day of the month.”sn The seventh month was the month Tishri, according to the modern (Julian) calendar October 17, 520 b.c. The twenty-first day of Tishri marked the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Num 29:32-34). It also coincided with the date 440 years earlier (960 b.c.) when Solomon finished building his temple (1 Kgs 6:38; 8:2).
  2. Haggai 2:1 tc The MT has בְּיַד (beyad, “by the hand of” = “through” [so NAB, NIV, NLT] as in 1:1, 3); the Murabba’at Dead Sea text reads אֶל (ʾel, “to”), perhaps because the following command is given to the prophet.
  3. Haggai 2:2 tn Heb “say to”; NAB “Tell this to.”
  4. Haggai 2:2 tn Many English versions have “Joshua (the) son of Jehozadak the high priest,” but this is subject to misunderstanding. See the note on the name “Jehozadak” at the end of v. 1.
  5. Haggai 2:3 tn Heb “this house in its earlier splendor”; NAB, NIV, NRSV “in its former glory.”sn Solomon’s temple was demolished in 586 b.c., 66 years prior to Haggai’s time. There surely would have been some older people who remembered the former splendor of that magnificent structure and who lamented the contrast to the small, unimpressive temple they were building (see Ezra 3:8-13).
  6. Haggai 2:4 tn Heb “the people of the land” (עַם הָאָרֶץ, ʿam haʾarets); this is a technical term referring to free citizens as opposed to slaves.
  7. Haggai 2:5 sn My Spirit. It is theologically anachronistic to understand “Spirit” here in the NT sense as a reference to third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit; nevertheless during this postexilic period the conceptual groundwork was being laid for the doctrine of the Holy Spirit later revealed in the NT.
  8. Haggai 2:5 tc The MT of v. 5 reads “with the word which I cut with you when you went out from Egypt and my Spirit [which] stands in your midst, do not fear.” BHS proposes emending “with the word” to זֹאת הַבְּרִית (zoʾt habberit, “this is the covenant”) at the beginning of the verse. The proposed emendation makes excellent sense and is expected with the verb כָּרַת (karat, “cut” or “make” a covenant), but it has no textual support. Most English versions (including the present translation) therefore follow the MT here.
  9. Haggai 2:6 tc The difficult MT reading עוֹד אַחַת מְעַט הִיא (ʿod ʾakhat meʿat hiʾ, “yet once, it is little”; cf. NAB “One moment yet, a little while”) appears as “yet once” in the LXX, omitting the last two Hebrew words. However, the point being made is that the anticipated action is imminent; thus the repetition provides emphasis.
  10. Haggai 2:6 tn Or “the heavens.” The same Hebrew word, שָׁמַיִם (shamayim), may be translated “sky” or “heavens” depending on the context. Although many English versions translate the term as “heavens” here, the other three elements present in this context (earth, sea, dry ground) suggest “sky” is in view.
  11. Haggai 2:7 tn Heb “all the nations.”
  12. Haggai 2:7 tn Though the subject here is singular (חֶמְדַּה, khemdah; “desire”), the preceding plural predicate mandates a collective subject, “desired (things)” or, better, an emendation to a plural form, חֲמֻדֹת (khamudot, “desirable [things],” hence “treasures”). Cf. ASV “the precious things”; NASB “the wealth”; NRSV “the treasure.” In the OT context this has no direct reference to the coming of the Messiah.
  13. Haggai 2:9 tn Heb “greater will be the latter splendor of this house than the former”; NAB “greater will be the future glory.”
  14. Haggai 2:9 tn In the Hebrew text there is an implicit play on words in the clause “in this place [i.e., Jerusalem] I will give peace”: in יְרוּשָׁלַיִם (yerushalayim) there will be שָׁלוֹם (shalom).
  15. Haggai 2:10 sn The twenty-fourth day of the ninth month of Darius’ second year was Kislev 24 or December 18, 520 b.c.
  16. Haggai 2:10 sn This Hebrew expression is slightly different from the one in 1:1, 3; 2:1.
  17. Haggai 2:11 tn Heb “Ask the priests a torah, saying”; KJV “concerning the law”; NAB “for a decision”; NCV “for a teaching”; NRSV “for a ruling.”
  18. Haggai 2:12 sn This is probably not an appeal to the Torah (i.e., the Pentateuch) as such but to a priestly ruling (known in postbiblical Judaism as a pesaq din). There is, however, a Mosaic law that provides the basis for the priestly ruling (Lev 6:27).
  19. Haggai 2:13 tn Heb “unclean of a person,” a euphemism for “unclean because of a dead person”; see Lev 21:11; Num 6:6. Cf. NAB “unclean from contact with a corpse.”
  20. Haggai 2:14 tn Heb “so this people, and so this nation before me.” In this context “people” and “nation” refer to the same set of individuals; the repetition is emphatic. Cf. CEV “this entire nation.”
  21. Haggai 2:14 sn The point here is that the Jews cannot be made holy by unholy fellowship with their pagan neighbors; instead, they and their worship will become corrupted by such associations.
  22. Haggai 2:15 tn Heb “and now set your heart from this day and upward.” The juxtaposition of מָעְלָה (maʿlah, “upward”) with the following מִטֶּרֶם (mitterem, “before”) demands a look to the past. Cf. ASV “consider from this day and backward.”
  23. Haggai 2:15 sn Before one stone was laid on another in the Lord’s temple is best taken as referring to the laying of the present temple’s foundation, sixteen years earlier (536 b.c.; see Ezra 3:8). Cf. NCV “before you started laying stones”; TEV “before you started to rebuild”; NLT “before you began to lay (started laying CEV) the foundation.”
  24. Haggai 2:16 tn Heb “from their being,” idiomatic for “from the time they were then,” or “since the time.” Cf. KJV “Since those days were.”
  25. Haggai 2:17 tn Heb “you, all the work of your hands”; NRSV “you and all the products of your toil”; NIV “all the work of your hands.”
  26. Haggai 2:17 tn Heb “and there was not with you to me.” The context favors the idea that the harvests were so poor that the people took care of only themselves, leaving no offering for the Lord. Cf. KJV and many English versions “yet ye turned not to me,” understanding the phrase to refer to the people’s repentance rather than their failure to bring offerings.
  27. Haggai 2:18 tn Heb “set your heart.” A similar expression occurs in v. 15.
  28. Haggai 2:18 sn The twenty-fourth day of the ninth month was Kislev 24 or December 18, 520. See v. 10. Here the reference is to “today,” the day the oracle is being delivered.
  29. Haggai 2:18 sn The day work…was resumed. This does not refer to the initial founding of the Jerusalem temple in 536 b.c. but to the renewal of construction three months earlier (see 1:15). This is clear from the situation described in v. 19 which accords with the food scarcities of that time already detailed in Hag 1:10-11.
  30. Haggai 2:18 tn Heb “set your heart.” A similar expression occurs in v. 15 and at the beginning of this verse.
  31. Haggai 2:20 sn This Hebrew expression is like the one in 2:10 and is slightly different from the one in 1:1, 3; 2:1.
  32. Haggai 2:20 sn Again, the twenty-fourth day of the month was Kislev 24 or December 18, 520 b.c. See v. 10.
  33. Haggai 2:21 tn The participle here suggests an imminent undertaking of action (cf. NRSV, TEV, NLT “I am about to”). The overall language of the passage is eschatological, but eschatology finds its roots in the present.
  34. Haggai 2:21 tn See the note on the word “sky” in 2:6. Most English translations render the Hebrew term as “heavens” here.
  35. Haggai 2:22 tn Heb “the kingdoms of the nations.” Cf. KJV “the kingdoms of the heathen”; NIV, NLT “foreign kingdoms.”
  36. Haggai 2:22 tn Heb “and horses and their riders will go down, a man with a sword his brother”; KJV “every one by the sword of his brother.”
  37. Haggai 2:23 sn The expression on that day appears as a technical eschatological term in a number of other OT passages (cf., e.g., Isa 2:11, 17, 20; 3:7, 18; Amos 8:3, 9; Hos 2:18, 21).
  38. Haggai 2:23 sn My servant. The collocation of “servant” and “chosen” bears strong messianic overtones. See the so-called “Servant Songs” and other messianic texts in Isaiah (Isa 41:8; 42:1; 44:4; 49:7).
  39. Haggai 2:23 sn The noun signet ring, used also to describe Jehoiachin (Jer 22:24-30), refers to a ring seal worn by a king or other important person and used as his signature. Zerubbabel was a grandson of King Jehoiachin (1 Chr 3:17-19; Matt 1:12); God once pronounced that none of Jehoiachin’s immediate descendants would rule (Jer 22:24-30), but here he reverses that judgment. Zerubbabel never ascended to such a lofty position of rulership; he is rather a prototype of the Messiah who would sit on David’s throne.
  40. Haggai 2:23 tn The repetition of the formula “says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” in v. 23 emphasizes the solemn and divine nature of the promise.