[b-hebrew] Desire of Nations - was "Desire of Women" in Heb. Text of Dan. 11:37

Steve Miller smille10 at sbcglobal.net
Sun Nov 19 23:04:25 EST 2006

> From: Harold Holmyard Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 11:25 PM
> >> Steve Miller wrote:
> >>
> >>> Re. Hag 2:7. I believe it should be translated "the desire of all
> >>> the nations shall come", not "the desirable things of the nations
> >>> come because "desire" is singular. The verb "come" is plural, which I
> >>> think indicates that the desire of all the nations is actually God
> >>>
> >> Himself.
> >>
> >> HH: This seems like an ad hoc explanation of the grammatical
> >> phenomenon. J. Alec Motyer ( _Haggai_ in _The Minor Prophets_, ed.
> >> Thomas Edward McComisky, 3:991) finds the plural verb a real hindrance
> >> to the Messianic interpretation since the verb requires a plural
> >> subject. He thinks we could say with GKC #145b, d that the plural verb
> >> points to "chemdath" being taken as a collective: "treasures." Or he
> >> thinks with GKC #124r we can suppose that, since "chemdath" is in
> >> construction with "goyim," the whole phrase can be taken as a plural.
> He
> >> does not feel that it is necessary to emend the first noun "chemdath"
> to
> >> a plural as BHS suggests. Both of his suggestions are well-attested
> >> grammatical phenomena and give better solutions to Hag 2:7 than the one
> >> offered by Steve.
> >>
> >>
> > Harold,
> > [Steve Miller] Harold,
> > Could you give me 3 examples of this well-attested phenomena so that I
> can
> > judge for myself whether it really applies here?
> >
> HH: Gen 30:38; Judges 1:22f.; Mic 4:3; 2 Kgs 25:5; Prov 11:26 for the
> first one, 
[Steve Miller] Thanks Harold. 
These are all examples of singular nouns which are always collective (flock,
house of Joseph, nation, army, people) taking a plural verb. 

While all the above singular nouns are always collective, "chemdath" is not
(1 Sam 9:20). 

If chemdath means "treasures" in Hag. 2:7, what would be the difference in
meaning if Hag. 2:7 said "chamudoth" plural in place of chemdath singular?
In all the attestations which you cite above, if I change the the singular
noun to a plural (i.e. army to armies, house to houses), I get a different
If you say there is no difference here between chemdath and chamudoth, it is
because you are reading chemdath as chamudoth. If that is the case, the
perfect word of the Tanach should have used the plural in order to get your

>and Ex 6:14; Num 1:2, 4; 2 Kgs 17:29; 23:19; and 1 Sam 31:9
> for the second.

[Steve Miller] I thought the attestations for the 1st argument were weak.
But these attestations for the 2nd argument have no strength at all related
to Hag. 2:7. Based on the argument that you quoted, I expected to see, in
each attestation, a singular noun modified by a plural noun (like desire of
nations) being the subject of a plural verb. In each of these attestations
there is a singular noun modified by a plural noun, but no verb. In any of
these attestations do you see the singular noun modified by a plural noun
being the subject of any verb? 

Why would the commentator even give such a valueless 2nd argument, unless he
realized that his 1st argument was not satisfactory?

> > The singular subject "God" taking a plural verb or pronoun is well-
> attested
> > in Scripture also. (Gen 1:26; 11:7; 3:22; Isa 6:8; 41:22) Why do you say
> it
> > is ad-hoc?
> >
> HH: Because "God" taking a plural verb is a grammatical phenomenon due
> to the plurality in the word "God." There is no such phenomenon with the
> singular word "desire."

 [Steve Miller] In the 5 attestations that I gave, there are 5 different
titles for God used as the subject: Elohim, Jehovah Elohim, Jehovah, Adonai,
& King of Jacob. These are not all plural nouns.
So, I ask you again, why is my argument ad-hoc? I do not see that Motyer's 2
arguments are better than this one argument.

> > In Hag. 2:7, habayith hazeh, "this very house", must refer to the 2nd
> > temple. How do you understand that the treasures of the nations came to
> the
> > 2nd temple after the time of Haggai's prophecy?
> HH: The word "very" is not in the Hebrew. There is one temple in view in
> the phrase "this house," and that is God's temple, whether it is the
> second or third physical building ever built to embody God's house.

[Steve Miller] Then what is the point of saying "habayith hazeh". Why not
just habayith?
God is encouraging His returned people who were disappointed with the
smallness of the rebuilt temple compared to the glory of Solomon's temple
(2:3). He tells them that the Messiah, who is the desire of all the nations,
will come to this very house that they have built, and that its glory will
exceed the glory of Solomon's. Their labor was far, far, far from being in
But if the meaning is ambiguous enough to mean: someday there will be
another temple built here, and that temple will surpass Solomon's in glory,
what is the point of their labor? How encouraging is that?

You do have a valid point because 2:3 uses "habayit hazeh" to refer to the
previous manifestation of this house, but it says so explicitly, "this house
in her first glory". But I think the context is strongly against "this
house" referring to any later manifestation of the temple.

If you wanted to say "this very house" in Hebrew, how would you say it?

"very" is not there in the Hebrew, true. But in the Hebrew, there are 2
definite articles and the demonstrative pronoun, which I think makes it more
emphatic than just "this" in English, but maybe not enough to add "very". A
number of translations translate some instances of hazeh preceded by a noun
with a definite article as "this very ___". Examples of verses where "this
very ____" conveys the meaning better than just "this" are: Gen 7:11; Exo
12:42; Josh 3:7; 1 Kg 1:30; Esther 1:18; Jer 10:18. But there are many more
such instances where "this very ___" doesn't make sense.  It really doesn't
matter. "This house" along with the context is sufficient to restrict the
meaning to the 2nd temple. 

> >
> >
> > Also, shouldn't treasures "be brought", not "come" to the temple?
> >
> HH: Are you claiming that the verb "come" can't work if the subject is
> treasure?
> NRSV Hag. 2:7 and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of
> all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says
> the LORD of hosts.
> HH: If you shake a mountain, it can set boulders rolling so that what is
> far from you comes near. Haggai is speaking in figures of speech:
> Hag. 2:6 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will
> once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.
> HH: Here is a somewhat comparable verse:
> Is. 60:5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
> your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
> because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
> the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

[Steve Miller] Harold, hats off to you for finding this verse. How did you
find it? However, this verse is not a very good attestation of an inanimate
object "coming", because the word for "wealth" is really the word "army".
KJV translated it "forces". The Aramaic says "strength" of the nations. I
think it means the strength of the nations will come to serve Israel as in
Isa 14:1-2. 

The example you give of a rolling boulder is a valid example of an inanimate
object "coming", as is the rising of the sun, (which is the only instance I
could find of an inanimate object "coming" in the Tanach, but I could not
look at all the usages because there are too many). But the treasures do not
come in this way. They are brought. If it is figurative, it is a bad figure.
It is much more glorious and meaningful for the nations to bring treasures
than for the treasures to come on their own.
> HH: Here is a note from the NET Bible on Haggai 2:7:
> Though the subject here is singular (khemdah; "desire"), the preceding
> plural predicate mandates a collective subject, "desired (things)" or,
> better, an emendation to a plural form, (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.

[Steve Miller] This is the same as the 1st argument you cited by Motyer
except that this one admits that the singular "desire" is a problem for his
interpretation, and he prefers emending the text. 
The context has no direct ref to the coming of Messiah, but many Messianic
references do not, and it is not necessary. The context strongly points to
the chemdath of all the nations coming to the 2nd temple, which the wealth
of the nations never did. 

Furthermore, the phrase "desire of nations" has a witness deep within every
human conscience that only God can fill the void within them. 
"What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there
was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty
print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him,
seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that
are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with
an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself." [Blaise
Pascal, Pensees #425]
It also implies that the nations would be the ones who would accept Him.

Here how I summarize the problems with the 2 translations:

1. ASV- and the precious things of all nations shall come; and I will fill
this house with glory, saith Jehovah of hosts.
-"precious things" is singular == must consider chemdath as a collective
noun, which it never is elsewhere
- precious things are brought, they do not come == must consider it
figuratively, which is a dumb figure
- precious things of all nations were not brought to the 2nd temple (this
house) == must consider "this house" to mean any manifestation of the
temple, which does not fit the context

2. KJV- and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house
with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
- "come" is plural == Must consider that the desire of nations is God
Himself to take a plural verb

Harold, thank you very much for the work you did on this. I learned a lot
from you.

-Steve Miller

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