(1-9) The Third Utterance.—This utterance treats of the glory which, in a later time, is to attach itself to the sacred spot whereon the returned exiles are labouring. It was intended more especially as a message of consolation to those who remembered Solomon’s magnificent structure, and who now gazed sadly on the humble proportions of its successor.
(1) In the one and twentieth day.—Here, again, the day selected is significant. The twenty-first day of the seventh month (Tisri) was the seventh and last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. This was the festival of harvest thanksgiving, and its occurrence had always been marked by observances of a peculiarly joyous character. Moreover, the sacrifices on this occasion were very numerous—the number prescribed by the Talmud for the first day exceeding that of any other day in the year. Thus the scanty harvest and the small beginnings of the Lord’s House would both be brought into prominence. It would be but natural if feelings of despondency were excited among those who were old enough to remember the Temple of Solomon, with its costly accessories and elaborate ceremonial, and the festive rites wherewith the “joy in harvest” had expressed itself in a more prosperous time. There is no ground, however, for supposing that the prophet was himself one of these aged persons-
So my spirit.—Better, and my spirit. Besides such promises of God’s abiding favour as Exodus 29:45-46, they have among them the abiding presence of His Holy Spirit. Having these, let them not be afraid. The evidence of the Divine Presence was the mission of inspired prophets, such as Haggai and Zechariah, and the Targum and the Rabbis are perhaps right in referring the words “and my spirit” exclusively to the “spirit of prophecy.” It may be noticed that the later Jews held that the Holy Spirit left the Church after the deaths of Zechariah and Malachi.
Between this third utterance and the fourth (Haggai 2:10-19) intervenes Zechariah’s exhortation to repentance (Zechariah 1:2-6) uttered in the eighth month.
Before a stone was laid . . .—Alluding to the recent resumption of building, not to the laying of the foundations fifteen years previously.