WORD STUDY – SMITE WITH BLASTING -כיתאתכמבשׁדפונ
Haggai 2:17: “I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you turned not to me, saith the Lord?”
The Book of Haggai is an often overlooked Book of the Bible, probably because it is only two chapters. Haggai was the first of the three post exilic prophets. The others were Zechariah who lived the same time Haggai did and Malachi who lived about 100 years after Haggai. It is believed that Haggai was taken captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar when he was a child. He began his ministry about 16 years after the return of the Jews to Judah to rebuild the temple.
Haggai came to the scene when the work on rebuilding the temple came to a halt due to the Samaritans raiding the Hebrew’s crops while they were trying to rebuild the temple. The harassment was so great that the people gave up on the temple and for 18 years just focused on making a living and restoring their economy. Only problem is that during those 18 years things got worse and they ended up in famine.
Think about it for a moment. Did God ever call you to do something and you started off with great enthusiasm but then when resistance came along or your livelihood was threatened, you gave up. Eighteen years go by and still you have your tale tucked behind you. You are still thinking about completing your mission to God – some day when you get a good retirement under your belt.
Well, here is Haggai with a word for you. “Get moving.” In fact he is attributing the current famine in the land due to the failure of the people to carry out God’s desire. “I smote you with blasting…”
The word smote is nakah which is a sudden striking down. This is in a Hiphil form so God has brought about some situation that caused a blasting. In the Hebrew the word blasting is shadam. This is a wasted or worthless cornfield or vineyard. In other words, God caused a sudden wasting of the cornfields and vineyards. This may be a reference to the harassment of the Samaritans who would ransack their cornfields and vineyards to keep the people from rebuilding the temple and hopefully discourage them to the point where they would return to Persia. The word shadam is built on the word dam which means blood or life source. The letter Shin in front of dam explains that this is a corruption or destruction. In other words God cause a destruction or corruption of their life’s source, which in this case would be their crops and their economy. Basically, God is saying that it was He who brought about the sudden destruction of their economy and not the Samaritans. He brought it about because they abandoned His calling.
He also smote them with hail which, even today, will destroy an entire crop of corn or grain. He also sent mildew. Mildew in the Hebrew is yaraq which literally means a pale greenish color and it is felt by some scholars to refer to a disease that afflicts corn and other types of grain. I mean Israel’s poor corn and grain crop did not stand a chance. What the Samaritans did not ransack, hail took out and what was left from that was struck with a disease. In America during the Great Depression we lost an entire crop of corn from a hail storm in Kansas, and the corn in Illinois got hit with a disease and the corn in Iowa and other parts of the United States got wiped out by the bandits in the commodities market. That gave us a perfect example of shadam (the striking down of the economy or life source).
The prophet concludes by saying “in all the labors of your hand.” What you work so hard for, your entire savings, you retirement funds, God can wipe it out in one swift blow. You see the people were trying to re-build the temple and make a living at the same time. When problems arose they focused on making a living and put the work of the temple on hold until they improved their economic condition, but Haggai was saying: “Hey, gang, look, your economics will be wiped out by plague, bandits, and storms whether you’re working on the temple or not. At least if you continued to work on the temple, you would have been getting God’s work accomplished. Now look, nothing is accomplished.
That last phrase is a little disturbing: “Yet you turned not to Me.” The word translated as turn is literally in the Hebrew with you or in company with you. Quite literally this phrase reads: “And yet you did not walk in company with me.” That was the problem, not their ceasing to build the temple but their ceasing to walk hand in hand with God. It is sort of a picture of God and the people building the temple together, and suddenly God looks over His shoulder and sees everyone is gone and He is left alone.
When we are faced with difficult times in our lives all God is asking is that we just walk hand in hand with Him, continue doing His good work. If bandits, disease, or storms hit, don’t run and hide, just keep laboring with the Lord. The bandits, disease and storms will come whether you are laboring with Him or not. Isn’t it better to have your hand in His when those things do come?