Why did God say that Zerubbabel would be like his signet ring?
Haggai 2:23b: “‘I will make you (Zerubbabel) like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews back to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile. He was the grandson of Jehoiachin (the king of Judah at the time of the exile) and therefore a descendant of David. Years before, Jeremiah had pictured Jehoiachin’s exile to Babylon as God pulling off his signet ring (Jeremiah 22:24). Haggai now prophecies that this action would be reversed in Zerubbabel’s life, and he would be like God’s signet ring – a symbol of God’s authority and covenant with his people. As God’s signet ring, Zerubbabel also foreshadows the coming of the Messiah.
In ancient times, the way to mark a document as genuine was with a seal – usually a stone or gem engraved with a design unique to the owner, which was then pressed into a blob of soft clay or wax on the document to leave a clear impression. When the seal was incorporated in a ring, it was called a signet ring. The owner was then able to wear this symbol of his identity and authority conveniently on his hand.