Bible Commentaries

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Haggai

Book Overview - Haggai

by John Gill

INTRODUCTION TO HAGGAI

This part of sacred Scripture is in some Hebrew copies called "Sepher Haggai", the Book, of Haggai; in the Vulgate Latin version, the Prophecy of Haggai; and, in the Syriac and Arabic versions, the Prophecy of the Prophet Haggai. His name comes from a wordF1חגג "festum celebravit", Buxtorf. which signifies to keep a feast; and, according to JeromF2Comment. in c. i. 1. So Stockius, p. 306. , signifies festival or merry; according to HillerusF3Onomast. Sacr. p. 262, 779. , the feasts of the Lord; and, according to CocceiusF4Comment. in c. i. 1. , my feasts: and the issue of his prophecy answered to his name; by which the people were encouraged to build the temple, whereby the feasts of the Lord were restored and observed; and a particular feast appointed for the dedication of the temple. The notion entertained by some, that he was not a man, but an angel, founded on Haggai 1:13, deserves no regard; since the character there given of him respects not his nature, but his office. Indeed no account is given of his parentage; very probably he was born in Babylon; and, according to Pseudo-EpiphaniusF5De Prophet. Vita & Interitu, c. 20. and IsidoreF6De Vita & Morte Sanct. c. 49. , he came from thence a youth to Jerusalem, at the return of the Jews from their captivity. The time of his prophecy is fixed in Haggai 1:1 to the second year of Darius, that is, Hystaspis; which, according to Bishop Usher, was in A. M. 3485 or 519 B.C.; and in the sixty fifth Olympiad; about 520 B.C.; and about seventeen or eighteen years after the proclamation of Cyrus for the Jews to return to their own land. Jerom says this was in the twenty seventh year of Tarquinius Superbus, the last of the Roman kings. Haggai was the first of the three prophets, that prophesied after their return; and all his prophecies were within the space of four months, and have their dates variously put to them. Of the authority of this prophecy of Haggai there is no room to question; not only because of the internal evidence of it, but from the testimony of Ezra, Ezr 4:24 and from a quotation out of Haggai 2:7, by the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, Hebrews 12:26. The general design of this book is to reprove the Jews for their negligence in building the temple, after they had liberty granted them by Cyrus to do it, and to encourage them in this work; which he does by the promise of the Messiah, who should come into it, and give it a greater glory than the first temple had. The name of this prophet is wrongly prefixed, with others, to several of the psalms, especially those, called the Hallelujah psalms, in the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, as Psalm 112:1. Where he died is not certain; very probably in Jerusalem; where, according to Pseudo-Epiphanius and IsidoreF7Ut supra. (De Vita & Morte Sanct. c. 49.) , he was buried, by the monuments of the priests; but, according to the Cippi HebraiciF8Ed. Hottinger, p. 27. , he was buried in a large cave, in the declivity of the mount of Olives.