In the second year of Darius the King
That is, of Persia; he is spoken of as if he was the only king in the world; and indeed he was the then greatest king in it; and therefore is emphatically called "the king". This was not Darius the Mede, as Genebrard; who was contemporary with Cyrus, and partner in the kingdom; nor Darius Nothus, as Scaliger, and those that follow him; since the second year of this Darius was, according to Cocceius, who follows this opinion, one hundred and thirty eight years after the first edict of Cyrus; and so Zerubbabel and Joshua must exercise their office, the one of governor, the other of high priest, such a term of years, and more, which is not credible; and some of the Jews in captivity must have lived upwards of two hundred years; even those who saw the temple in its first glory, before the captivity, and now behold it in Haggai's time, in a very different condition, ( Haggai 2:3 ) . It seems therefore more probable, according to Josephus F9, and others, that this was Darius Hystaspis, who was chosen king by the nobles of Persia, upon his horse's neighing first as Herodotus F11 relates: the second year of his reign was about seventeen or eighteen years after the proclamation of Cyrus; during whose reign, he being much engaged in affairs abroad, and the reign of his successor Cambyses, the enemies of the Jews, encouraged by the latter, greatly obstructed the building of the temple, and discouraged them from going on with it; but when this king came to the throne, things took another turn, being favoured by him; for Josephus F12 relates, that, when a private person, he vowed, if ever he became king, whatever of the holy vessels were in Babylon, he would send to the temple at Jerusalem; and upon solicitations made to him, the Jews were encouraged to go on with the building of it: in the sixth month;
the month Elul, answering, to part of August, and part of September; which was the sixth, reckoning from the month Nisan: in the first day of the month;
which was the feast of the new moon: came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet;
or, "by the hand of Haggai" F13; by his means; he was the instrument by whom the Lord delivered his word; the word was not the prophet's, but the Lord's; and this is observed, to give weight and authority to it: unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel:
the same who is called Salathiel, ( Matthew 1:12 ) ( Luke 3:27 ) according to Kimchi and Ben Melech, he was the grandson of Salathiel; though rather Salathiel seems to be his uncle, he being the son of Pedaiah his brother, ( 1 Chronicles 3:17-19 ) however, he was his heir and successor in the government, and so called his son; (See Gill on Matthew 1:12): governor of Judah;
not king; for the country was under the dominion of the king of Persia, and Zerubbabel was a deputy governor under him; so the apocryphal Ezra calls him governor of Judea, ``And also he commanded that Sisinnes the governor of Syria and Phenice, and Sathrabuzanes, and their companions, and those which were appointed rulers in Syria and Phenice, should be careful not to meddle with the place, but suffer Zorobabel, the servant of the Lord, and governor of Judea, and the elders of the Jews, to build the house of the Lord in that place.'' (1 Esdras 6:27) and, according to Josephus F14, he was made governor of the captive Jews, when in Babylon, being in great favour with the king of Babylon; and, with two more, were his body guards; and he was continued governor by the Persians, when the Jews returned to their land: and to Joshua the son of Josedech the high priest;
who is called Jeshua, and his father Jozadak, ( Ezra 3:2 ) his father was carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar, ( 1 Chronicles 6:15 ) now, to these two principal persons in the commonwealth of Judea was the word of the Lord sent by the prophet; the one having the chief power in civil things, and the other in things ecclesiastical; and both had an influence upon the people; but very probably were dilatory in the work of building the temple; and therefore have a message sent to them, to stir them up to this service: saying:
F9 Antiqu. l. 11. c. 3. sect. 1. and c. 4. sect. 5, 7.
F11 Thalia, sive l. 3. c. 84, 85, 86.
F12 Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 11. c. 3. sect. 1. and c. 4. sect. 5, 7.)
F13 (ygx dyb) "in manu Aggaei", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius.
F14 Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 11. c. 3. sect. 1. and c. 4. sect. 5, 7.)