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

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Mon Nov 20 10:32:13 EST 2006

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 shall 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.

HH: These nouns do not always take a plural verb. The word "flock" seems 
to take a singular verb "conceive" in Gen 30:41. "House" in a collective 
sense takes a singular verb  in Gen  45:2. Deuteronomy 28:50 uses 
collective "nation" with a singular verb. And Deuteronomy 28:33 uses 
collective "people" with a singular verb.
> While all the above singular nouns are always collective, "chemdath" is not
> (1 Sam 9:20).

HH: Nor are the above nouns always collective in meaning.
> 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
> meaning. 
> 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
> meaning.

HH: You seem to think that language is like a computer program, so that 
if things are stated in two different ways, they must mean two different 
things. But language is more more flexible and unruly than that. There 
are usually various ways to say the same thing.
>> 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?

HH: Your're right that these examples do not provide a comparable 
situation to the one in Hag  2:7. They simply show that the singular in 
construct can represent a plural. In a quick search I was not able to 
find an exact parallel to the proposed handling of Hag 2:7 in 
McComisky's second argument. The first argument is sufficient, but 
you're right that the second seems problematic so far.

>>> 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.

HH: None of these is even a grammatical phenomenon, now that I look at 
them. They are all simply the use of "us" or "we" in connection with 
God, and the meaning is debated. The plurality comes from the selection 
of the first person plural, which is not grammatically required by 
anything but is a decision of the author. These could be a royal "we," a 
plural of majesty, or they could refer to a heavenly council involving 
the angels. They offer no close parallel at all with Hag 2:7 because 
there is no clear grammatical support in these verses for taking a 
singular noun as a plural. I thought you were talking about places where 
"elohim" itself, referring to Yahweh, takes a plural verb. This happens 
a few times and is a grammatical phenomenon due to the plurality 
inherent in "elohim."

>>> 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?

HH: The word "this" is necessary to distinguish this house from other 
houses, such as temples for Baal or Molech. It is the temple of the 
living God that is in view.

> 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
> vain.
> 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?

HH: It is supremely encouraging if their work is part of what brings 
about the glory that God predicts. That's all they need to know. Their 
work, which God has commanded (Hag 1:8), is going to lead to glory.
> 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.

HH: There is one house, either in its former glory or its latter glory.
> If you wanted to say "this very house" in Hebrew, how would you say it?

HH: You could add the word (eCeM or "'etzem" ["bone, self, very"]; see 
Josh 10:27; Ezek 2:3.
> "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. 

HH: "This house" along with the context could restrict the meaning to 
the 2nd temple but may not.
>>> 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?

HH: I found it by using commentaries, here the NIV Study Bible, which 
cited Isa 60:5 as a parallel to Hag 2:7.

>  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.

HH: The word obviously does not mean "army" but "wealth" in Isa 60:5. 
That is also how all the translations handle it.
> 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: The treasures do not come on their own. They come due to the shaking 
of the Lord and are used for his purpose of filling the temple with 
glory. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

>> 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.
> Problems:
> -"precious things" is singular == must consider chemdath as a collective
> noun, which it never is elsewhere

HH: It doesn't have to function as a collective elsewhere elsewhere. GKC 
#145d notes that substantives can be occasionally used as collectives. 
However, GKC #145e at Hag 2:7 prefers to read the plural "hamudoth" with 
the LXX. Thomas McComisky was only saying that you don't have to do this.
> - precious things are brought, they do not come == must consider it
> figuratively, which is a dumb figure

HH; It is not a dumb figure. You are just ignoring what I explained.

> - 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

HH: As I said, the context only requires "this hous not the second temple.
> 2. KJV- and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house
> with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
> Problem:
> - "come" is plural == Must consider that the desire of nations is God
> Himself to take a plural verb

HH: There is no grammatical support for this concept of yours. The 
verses you gave that associate God with "us" or "we" are not 
transferable to Hag 2:7 at all.

Harold Holmyard

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