4 Is it a time for you to dwell in your paneled houses, while this House is lying in ruins?
ha-AYT la-KHEM a-TEM la-SHE-vet b’-va-tay-KHEM s’-fu-NEEM v’-ha-BA-yit ha-ZEH kha-RAYV
ד הַעֵת לָכֶם אַתֶּם לָשֶׁבֶת בְּבָתֵּיכֶם סְפוּנִים וְהַבַּיִת הַזֶּה חָרֵב׃
1:4 Is it a time for you to dwell in your paneled houses
Addressing the Jews who returned to the Land of Israel after seventy years of Babylonian exile, Chagai’s mission is to motivate them to resume construction of the second Temple. He begins by challenging them to reflect on their priorities, and to consider what is more important: Their comfort, or God’s? While they dwell in paneled houses, Hashem’s house lies in ruins. The Hebrew term for ‘paneled’ is sefunim (ספונים). According to some, the panels were made out of cedar wood, imported from Lebanon. Chagai is accusing the people of not learning from King David, who said to the prophet Natan, “Here I am dwelling in a house of cedar, while the Aron of Hashem abides in a tent!” (II Samuel 7). David longed to overcome that disparity and build the first Beit Hamikdash, while the Israelites in Chagai’s time are unconcerned. Chagai tries to break their complacency.