Joel (Ch 1-3)

The Prophecy of Joel describes a dreadful calamity upon the people of the Jews by locusts, caterpillars and drought. Rashi thought Joel was a contemporary with Elisha and say he prophesied in the days of Jehoram the son of Ahab, when the seven years’ famine called for came upon the land; and it seems indeed as if he prophesied after the ten tribes were carried captive, which was in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign, since no mention was made of Israel but with respect to future times, only of Judah and Jerusalem.

Joel 1

1 The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. — Rashi: to Joel, son of Pethuel: the son of Samuel the prophet who persuaded God with his prayer (פִתָּה לְאֵל). Some say that this prophecy was said in those seven years in which Elisha said: “For the Lord has decreed a famine etc.” and they took place during the days of Jehoram son of Ahab.

Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? — Hear this, ye old men, whose memory reached back through generations of men and give ear in yielding a most willing and careful attention;

— all ye inhabitants of the land. It is a spirited challenge to all the people of Judah to mark the lesson of the great calamity which has befallen them. Hath this been in your days or even in the days of your fathers? A visitation of this kind and grievous to this extent had never yet been seen in Palestine.

Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. — tell ye your children of it and let your children tell their children and their children another generation, passing it on from father to son, all of them accepting this tradition with awe, fear and trembling as being an unparalleled manifestation of God’s anger against men on account of their sins.

That which the palmer worm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten. — that which the palmer-worm, literally, “the gnawer-off,” hath left the locust eaten, the swarming or multiplying locust of the desert; 

— and that which the locust hath left hath the canker-worm, the devouring grasshopper, eaten; and that which the canker-worm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten, that is, the consuming locust; the desolation wrought by the plague of the locusts is described in the most graphic manner; one feature after another being depicted in a way to arouse the people to a realization of the seriousness of the situation.

Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it is cut off from your mouth. — awake, ye drunkards and weep; howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, since the supply of grapes and therefore of the liquor made from them was not available; for it is cut off from your mouth. This appeal is introduced to describe the complete devastation of the country.

For a nation has come up upon my land, strong and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. — for a nation of locusts come up upon My land, a great and mighty army of fierce warriors, strong and without number in swarms of countless myriads; 

— whose teeth are the teeth of a lion,and he hath the cheek-teeth of a great lion or like the “the grinders” of teeth being hard, strong and sharp to bite off the tops, boughs and branches of trees: the jaw-teeth of a lioness protecting or avenging her young, grinding to pieces everything that came in their path.

He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree; he hath made it clean bare and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white. — the locust hath laid the Lord’s vine waste, that is, and spoiled the vines by consuming its foliage and barked at His fig-tree; gnawing off the bark and laying bare stem and branches, so that they hath made it clean bare and cast it away; by the complete removal of the bark, stripped it of its leaves, fruit and bark also: this being the condition in which the land was left after the visit of the locusts, the prophet now urges his countrymen to mourn.

Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. — lament like a virgin, girded with sackcloth, the dress of mourning for the husband of her youth, whom after their betrothal, death took away. The grief of a bereaved virgin and bride is represented also in other passages as deep and overwhelming. Cf Isaiah 54:6.

The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the Lord; the priests, the Lord’S ministers, mourn. — the meat-offering and the drink-offering, the sacrifices in the worship of God Almighty is cut off from the house of the Lord because it was impossible to procure the necessary materials since everything was destroyed; the priests, the Lord’s ministers, mourn on account of the decay resulting from the devastation which was followed also by a dearth of the animals used for sacrificial purposes.

10 The field is wasted, the land mourneth, for the corn is wasted; the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. — the field is wasted, made desolate; the land mourneth, both the uncultivated and the cultivated sections of the land suffering in the same measure; for the corn is wasted, the grain completely consumed; the new wine is dried up, the grapes being spoiled for want of foliage on the vines; the oil languisheth because the olive-trees produced no fruit.

11 Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley, because the harvest of the field is perished. — be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen, bearing the shame of disappointed hopes after working hard for a crop; howl, O ye vine-dressers; these two representing the agricultural classes of the land for the wheat and for the barley because the harvest of the field is perished, this being the cause of the farmers’ lament.

12 The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree—even all the trees of the field are withered, because joy is withered away from the sons of men. — the vine is dried up and the fig-tree languisheth so that gardener and horticulturist likewise had reasons for mourning; the pomegranate-tree, the palm-tree also, the date-palm, which ordinarily escaped the onslaughts of the locust;

— and the apple-tree, or the quince, even all the trees of the field are withered; because joy is withered away from the sons of men so that there could be no rejoicing over a bountiful harvest as usual; Cf Psalms 4:7Isaiah 9:3.

13 Gird yourselves and lament, ye priests; howl, ye ministers of the altar. Come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God; for the meat offering and the drink offering is withheld from the house of your God. — gird yourselves, namely, with garments of mourning and lament, ye priests; howl, ye ministers of the altar, whose chief duties were concerned with the sacrifices brought on the two altars of the Temple;

— Come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God, extending their exercises of mourning even through the night season; for the meat-offering and the drink-offering is withholden from the house of your God, Cf v. 9, so that all the usual sacrifices had to be discontinued.

14 Sanctify ye a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord! — sanctify ye a fast, appointing a day or a number of days for a special religious service, during which the depth of the people’s grief should be indicated by their abstaining from food; 

— call a solemn assembly, such as were held in connection with the great festivals; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord, your God, and cry unto the Lord with impetuous and importunate praying.

15 Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. — alas for the day! so the prophet himself laments for the day of the Lord, the time of His stern visitation is at hand and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come, bringing its desolating scourge upon the land.

16 Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God? — is not the meat cut off before our eyes? as their food supply was destroyed by the invading hordes of locusts, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God? since the various sacrifices and meals of thanksgiving were no longer possible.

17 The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered. — the seed is rotten under their clods, withering in the soil on account of the terrible drought; the garners are laid desolate, the granaries being empty because there could be no harvest; 

— the barns, which otherwise harbored such rich crops are broken down, falling to pieces for want of money to repair them; for the corn is withered.

18 How the beasts do groan! The herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate. — how do the beasts groan! since the meadows also were dried up. The herds of cattle are perplexed, restless hunting of hungry cattle because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate, bearing their sufferings as a consequence of the transgressions of the people of the land. All this causes the prophet to lift up his voice to the Lord in a cry for help.

19 O Lord, to Thee will I cry! For the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field. — O Lord, to Thee will I cry; for the fire, the parching heat hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness of the great Judean steppes;

— and the flame, the fierce heat of the drought hath burned all the trees of the field.

20 The beasts of the field cry also unto Thee; for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness. — the beasts of the field, both domestic and wild animals, cry also unto Thee, their dumb misery being a powerful appeal for help; 

— for the rivers of waters are dried up and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness. Cf Job 38:41Psalms 104:21Psalms 145:15Psalms 147:9Jeremiah 14:5-6. All creation groans and travails in pain together until now on account of the burden of man’s guilt. Romans 8:19-22.

Joel 2

1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand— — blow ye the trumpet in Zion; this signal of the priests announcing the coming calamity and sound an alarm in the Lord’s holy mountain, from the Temple mountain, as the center of Yehovah’s worship and the place of His presence in the midst of His people;

— let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, shaken up out of their care-free condition; for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand, the visitation is no longer in the dim and distant future, but is an event to be expected very soon;

— the whole world will be given a Mount Sinai experience as the children had when they came out of Egypt; so that the fear of the Lord will always be embedded in them, all the nations of the world to fear Him; Exodus 19:16-18, 20:18-21.

a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains. A great people and a strong, there hath not been ever the like; neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. — a day of darkness and of gloominess as when the light of the sun is shut out by immense swarms of locusts, a day of clouds and of thick darkness of heavy, dense and obscuring cloudiness;

— as the morning spread upon the mountains, a great people and a strong, the wings of the locusts reflecting the rays of the sun in a murky light before their immense numbers shut out the sun altogether. There hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations, Cf Joel 1:2.

A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame burneth. The land is as the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. — a fire, a most intense and parching heat, devoureth before them in preparing for the desolation to follow; and behind them a flame burneth, the terrible, withering heat continuing even after the swarms of grasshoppers had passed;

— the land is as the Garden of Eden before them like the beautiful park of paradise described in Genesis 2, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them, the devastation would be thorough.

The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. — the appearance of the locusts is as the appearance of horses, whom they resemble as to the shape of their heads; and as horsemen, so shall they run with uncanny swiftness.

Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. — like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains as they clatter along over rough mountain roads shall they leap; such would be the noise of their crackling movements in a great mass;

— like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble as a strong people set in battle array for there is a strong similarity to all these rushing, pounding sounds in the movements of vast swarms of locusts.

Before their face the people shall be much pained; all faces shall gather blackness. — before their face as they proceed on their path of devastation, the people all those so visited, shall be much pained, trembling and helpless with terror; 

— all faces shall gather blackness, losing the glowing color of health, growing pale with conscious helplessness.

They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks. — they shall run like mighty men, straightforward to the attack; they shall climb the wall like men of war in an advance that cannot be stopped; 

— and they shall march every one on his ways and they shall not break their ranks, this peculiarity being noted by all observers. It was and is vain to resist them by the means ordinarily used to stop the progress of an invading army.

Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path; and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. — neither shall one thrust another, not pressing ahead, upon those going before; they shall walk every one in his path, like a well-drilled army; and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded for they are represented as an invincible army of the Lord.

They shall run to and fro in the city, they shall run upon the wall; they shall climb up upon the houses, they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. — they shall run to and fro in the city, being altogether unhindered in their advance; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief;

— when the locusts come and fill the whole space between earth and sky, they fly in perfect order, as if obedient to a divine command so that they look like the squares of a pavement; each one holds its own place, not diverging from it even so much as by a finger’s breadth. To these locusts nothing is impenetrable, fields, meadows, trees, cities, houses, even their most secret chambers.

10 The earth shall quake before them, the heavens shall tremble; the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. — the earth shall quake before them, terrified by their dreadful host, the heavens shall tremble, resounding with the rushing of their flight; 

— the sun and the moon shall be dark and the stars shall withdraw their shining, their light shut out by the immense hosts of locusts.

11 And the Lord shall utter His voice before His army, for His camp is very great. For He is strong that executeth His word; for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible, and who can abide it? — and the Lord shall utter His voice before His army, which the grasshoppers here represent; for His camp is very great, the host under His command exceedingly large; for He (the Son?) is strong that executeth His word, carrying out the will of the Lord; for the day of the Lord, His coming visitation, is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? 

— it is evident that the entire description is incidentally symbolical of the great and mighty Judgement Day of the Lord, which, in its preliminary features, is seen in the Deluge, in the two destructions of Jerusalem and in various other calamities and cataclysms, but which is destined to be immeasurably greater than man can conceive of when it actually comes to pass. Cf Malachi 3:2. This being true, the admonition of the prophet comes with particular force.

12 “Therefore also now,” saith the Lord, “turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.” — therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, in a true repentance and with fasting and with weeping and with mourning, as outward indications of the change of heart,

13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth of the evil. — and rend your heart in a true and unfeigned sorrow, and not your garments for the latter may be done also by hypocrites;

— and turn unto the Lord, your God; for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil, that is, He is persuaded not to let stern justice alone rule. Cf Exodus 34:6.

14 Who knoweth if He will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him—even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? — who knoweth if He will return, not carry out the threatened punishment, and repent and leave a blessing behind Him, namely, when He, as men pictured Him, returns to His throne in heaven;

— even a meat-offering and a drink-offering unto the Lord, your God? for by an abundant harvest which He may be persuaded to give, the people would again be enabled to bring their usual sacrifices in the Temple. In order to accomplish this, however, it was necessary that the people unite in a great service of prayer and supplication.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast! Call a solemn assembly, — blow the trumpet in Zion, the call once more going forth; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly,

16 gather the people! Sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and those that suck the breasts; let the bridegroom go forth from his chamber and the bride out of her retreat. — gather the people for a great meeting of worship and supplication; sanctify the congregation, so that no one would be Levitically unclean; 

— assemble the elders, the aged people of the congregation; gather the children and those that suck the breast for no one is to be omitted in this great appeal for mercy, since all of them, from the smallest to the greatest, were guilty; 

— let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber and the bride out of her closet, where they were preparing for the coming wedding. The fact that even infants in arms and bride and groom were included in the appeal of the prophet shows that the guilt was universal and beyond excuse.

17 Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; and let them say, “Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them.Why should they say among the people, ‘Where is their God?’” — let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, who occupied the position of mediators between God and His people, weep between the porch and the altar and let them say, in a solemn litany chanted at the very door of the Holy Place;

— Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage, the people of His own possession to reproach, Cf Exodus 32:11-12, that the heathen should rule over them, or “make mockery of them.” Wherefore should they say among the people, among the heathen nations everywhere, Where is their God? thus bringing disgrace upon the holy name of the Lord.

18 Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people. — then, when the Lord saw that His people were truly penitent, will He be jealous for His land be filled with the zeal of His love, rather, He was so filled and acted accordingly, and pity His people.

19 Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto His people: “Behold, I will send you corn and wine and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith; and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen. — yea, the Lord will answer and say unto His people, actuated with the zeal of His love for them, Behold, the Lord will send you corn and wine and oil, the richest temporal blessings made possible by the renewed fertility of the land;

— and ye shall be satisfied therewith; and the Lord will no more make you a reproach among the nations of which their prayer had complained.

20 But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea. And his stink shall come up, and his ill savor shall come up” because He hath done great things. — but the Lord will remove far off from you the northern army, the swarms of locusts which came from that direction, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate into the desert of Arabia;

— with his face toward the East Sea, that is, the Dead Sea and his hinder part, his rearguard toward the utmost sea, that is, the Mediterranean; and his stink shall come up, the terrible stench of the decaying insects, and his ill savor shall come up, because he hath done great things;

The Message Bible offers a more colorful description:

At that, God went into action to get his land back. He took pity on his people. God answered and spoke to his people, “Look, listen—I’m sending a gift: Grain and wine and olive oil. The fast is over—eat your fill! I won’t expose you any longer to contempt among the pagans. I’ll head off the final enemy coming out of the north and dump them in a wasteland. Half of them will end up in the Dead Sea, the other half in the Mediterranean. There they’ll rot, a stench to high heaven. The bigger the enemy, the stronger the stench!”

21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord will do great things! — fear not, O land, the entire country being included in this new admonition, as before; be glad and rejoice, namely, over the hosts that laid waste the country; for the Lord will do great things, Yehovah is able to perform marvelous works in delivering His people.

22 Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field; for the pastures of the wilderness spring up, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength. — be not afraid, ye beasts of the field which had been so sorely in need of food supplies; for the pastures of the wilderness of the great prairies of the South, do spring, once more verdant with an abundance of grass; 

— for the tree beareth her fruit as before the terrible visitation, the fig-tree and the vine do yield their strength so as to bring forth fruit as of old.

23 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God; for He hath given you the early rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the early rain and the latter rain in the first month. — be glad, then, ye children of Zion, the inhabitants of Judah, the children of the Lord and rejoice in the Lord, your God, the God of the covenant, the Lord of mercy;

— for He hath given you the former rain moderately, literally, “a teacher for righteousness” or “rain in just measure” and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain in the first month, the former rain being due right after seeding-time, in the fall, and the latter rain coming just before harvest, in the spring.

24 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. — and the floors, the threshing-floors shall be full of wheat, the result of a new, rich harvest and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil, the receptacles of the vineyards being unable to hold the rich measure of blessings.

25 “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm and the caterpillar and the palmer worm, My great army which I sent among you. — and the Lord will restore to you, make up the years that the locust hath eaten, the canker-worm and the caterpillar and the palmer-worm, His great army which He sent among you, the insects of Joel 1:4 being named in the reverse order.

26 And ye shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God that hath dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be ashamed. — and ye shall have plenty to eat, having an abundance of the best food and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord your God that hath dealt wondrously with you, making His wonders known through the manner in which He dealt with them; 

— and the Lord’s people shall never be ashamed again, never to be heaped with mockery and disgrace, since it would be so evident that the Lord was on their side. This would, moreover, be substantiated more than ever by the fullness of spiritual blessings which He intended to pour out upon His children after their restoration to His sonship.

27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else; and My people shall never be ashamed. — and ye shall know that the Lord is in the midst of Israel as His chosen people, and that Yehovah is the Lord, their God, the God of the covenant and none else; and His people, the true spiritual Israel shall never be ashamed again.

28 “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; — and it shall come to pass afterward, in the Millenium toward which this prophecy converged, that the Lord will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh, upon men of every race and nation; 

— and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, openly proclaiming the great deeds of God, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions, the great possibilities of the Lord’s work and the energy for carrying out the plans of the Lord coming to them and urging them forward with irresistible power, the barriers of both sex and age being removed, except as limited in other parts of the Scriptures;

29 and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit. — and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids, upon the lowliest of the land; in those days will the Lord pour out His Spirit, all social distinction being abandoned during the Millennium as far as the work of the Kingdom is concerned;

— this prophecy was fulfilled, so far as its beginning is concerned, on the Day of Pentecost, as Peter also states in the introduction to his powerful sermon held before the astonished inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem, Acts 2:17-21. But this event by no means exhausted its wonderful promises;

— for the spirit of the Lord is being poured out on the members of the Church of the New Era and will continue to be given to all true believers until the end of time. But this great and wonderful deed of the Lord is placed side by side with His judgement upon the nations.

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth— blood and fire and pillars of smoke. — and the Lord will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, strange and terrifying portents, blood and fire and pillars of smoke, miracles in the sky above and signs of His majesty on the earth beneath, blood and fire and smoky vapor.

31 The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. — the sun shall be turned into darkness, being changed into a dark and cold mass, and the moon into blood, as bloody wars and devastations would occur on the earth, before the great and the terrible Day of the Lord come, namely, the day of the final Judgement. Cf 1 Thessalonians 5:21 Corinthians 1:8II Corinthians 1:14II Thessalonians 2:8.

32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. — and it shall come to pass, throughout this great period of the Lord’s preparation for the final Judgement, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, Yehovah, confessing the Messiah and accepting Him as the one Savior of mankind, shall be delivered, saved from the wrath to come;

— for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, the Gospel-message proclaimed in and by the Chosen people of God bringing redemption and the assurance of eternal life to all believers, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call;

— namely, the remainder according to the selection by the Lord, Yehovah, the people whom the Lord has chosen from all nations of the earth. This glorious promise is held out to this day to all who turn to the Lord in keeping His commandments, repentance and faith, confessing His name as the only Savior and fervently calling upon Him for deliverance from all evil, especially that of the body of sin;

— God’s name is the four-letter Hebrew word יהוה‎ YHVH Yehovah (not Jehovah since the letter J wasn’t around but only after the sixteenth century.

Joel 3

1 “For behold, in those days and in that time, when I shall bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, — for behold, in those days and in that time, heading towards the Millennium which had just been described according to its outstanding features, with the Day of Judgement very prominent in the description, when the Lord of hosts shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem for forty years,  by the deliverance through the Messiah, of which the return of Judah from exile was but a type.

I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for My people and for My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted My land. — the Lord will also gather all nations, with the great and mighty heathen nations, and will bring them down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which is here made the scene of the last great Judgement upon men, and the Lord will plead with them there, conducting a formal trial with them;

— for the Lord’s people and for His heritage Israel, in the interest of the Lord’s, whom they have scattered among the nations, in the various oppressions and captivities which have struck the Lord’s people from the earliest days, and parted His land, appropriating it or dividing it as they saw fit.

And they have cast lots for My people, and have given a boy for a harlot and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink. — and they have cast lots for the Lord’s people, after they had taken them captive and have given a boy for an harlot, namely, as the price for which they secured the services of a prostitute;

— and sold a girl for wine, for the sake of a drunken debauch that they might drink. The description is typical of the manner with which the Lord’s enemies have ever dealt with the captive Israelites.

Yea, and what have ye to do with Me, O Tyre and Sidon and all the coasts of Palestine? Will ye render Me a recompense? And if ye recompense Me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompense upon your own head, — yea, and what have ye to do with the Lord, O Tyre and Zidon and all the coasts of Palestine? that is, what object did they have in acting as they did, when not only the capitals of Phoenicia but also the state of Philistia were showing such enmity against Him? 

— Will ye render the Lord a recompense? seeking revenge for what they consider a wrong done them. They had neither cause to seek revenge nor occasion to carry it out. And if ye recompense the Lord, swiftly and speedily will He return your recompense upon your own head, Cf Psalms 7:17,

because ye have taken My silver and My gold, and have carried into your temples My goodly, pleasant things. — because ye have taken silver and gold from the Lord, in the Temple-treasures and throughout the city of Jerusalem, and have carried into your temples, including also the palaces of their rulers, the Lord’s goodly, pleasant things, His most costly possessions;

The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border. — the children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, the Philistines being those who reduced the captives to slavery, the Phoenicians those who acted as agents in selling the Hebrew slaves that ye might remove them far from their border, to be slaves in distant countries.

Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompense upon your own head. — behold, the Lord will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, delivering them from the masters to whom they had been sold, and will return your recompense upon your own head so that their revenge would react upon themselves.

And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off; for the Lord hath spoken it.” — and the Lord will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, when Tyre and Sidon were captured and their inhabitants either killed or reduced to slavery and they shall sell them to the Sabeans who are mentioned as being the remotest nation toward the east in the Arabian Desert;

— to a people far off; for the Lord hath spoken it. The imagery of this paragraph is based, at least in part, upon happenings of those days; but the application includes far more than this for the Lord makes those incidents typical of the punishments which He intended for all His enemies.

Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles: Prepare war! Wake up the mighty men! Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up. — proclaim ye this among the nations as they made ready to wage war against the Lord’s people. Prepare war, consecrate the undertaking by means of sacrifices, wake up the mighty men, let them arouse themselves from their inactivity, let all the men of war draw near, let them come up, assembling for the campaign.

10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am strong.” — Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning-hooks into spears, bending every effort toward the winning of their unholy war. Let the weak say, I am strong, as when warlike excitement takes hold of a whole nation.

11 Assemble yourselves and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about; thither cause Thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord. — assemble yourselves and come, all ye nations, and gather yourselves together round about for the Lord’s people are ever regarded as occupying a central position in the earth; thither cause Thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord, to meet the invasion of the enemies with a fearless countercharge.

12 “Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. — let the nations awake, stir up to warfare and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will the Lord sits to judge all the nations round about, all the nations of the world, since they all, by the time of the final Judgement, would have come into contact with the God of Israel.

13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow—for their wickedness is great!” — put ye in the sickle so the Lord shouts to His mighty champions for the harvest is ripe, the crop of the world having reached its maturity. Come, get you down, stamping the vats of gathered grapes;

— for the press is full, the fats overflow, the earth being more than ripe for the Lord’s Judgment; for their wickedness is great. Cf Revelation 14:15-18

14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision; for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. — Multitudes, multitudes in the Valley of Decision for with the preaching of the Kingdom of God among all nations the hour of decision for them all is come, Cf John 3:18-21; for the Day of the Lord, the Day of final Judgement, is near in the Valley of Decision, bound to be revealed as soon as all men would have had an opportunity to learn the Warning.

15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. — the Lord wants the whole world to fear Him; Targum of Zephaniah 2:3 says, “seek the fear of the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, who do the judgements of his will; seek truth, seek meekness; it may be there will be a protection for you on the day of the Lord’s anger.”

16 The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake; but the Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel. — the Lord also shall roar out of Zion, with a voice of thunder terrifying His enemies, everyone given a Mount Sinai experience, and utter His voice from Jerusalem, in the Word which was proclaimed there for so many centuries; 

— and the heavens and the earth shall shake; but the Lord will be the Hope of His people and the Strength of the children of Israel. “Zion, or Jerusalem, is naturally not the earthly Jerusalem, but the Holy City of the living God, in which the Lord will be forever united with His saved and glorified congregation.”

— as in Joel 2:1 above, “the earth will shake” that is, the whole world will be given a Mount Sinai experience as the children had when they came out of Egypt; so that the fear of the Lord will always be embedded in them, all the nations of the world to fear Him; Exodus 19:16-1820:18-21.

17 “So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain. Then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. — so shall ye know that Yehovah is the Lord, your God, dwelling in Zion, His holy mountain, in the midst of the congregation of Israel. Then shall Jerusalem be holy, a true congregation of the saints; and there shall no strangers pass through her any more, only those who have been brought nigh by the blood of the Messiah (the Lamb, the Christ).

18 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk; and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord and shall water the valley of Shittim. — and it shall come to pass in that day when the blessings of the Millennium would be dispensed that the mountains shall drop down new wine and the hills shall flow with milk and all the rivers of Judah, most of which were dry except during the rainy season;

— shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord and shall water the Valley of Shittim, otherwise an arid desert and bringing fertility even to the unfruitful places of the earth, to the hearts of unbelievers and all other nations everywhere.

19 Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. — Egypt shall be a desolation and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, these two being representative of the Lord’s enemies, for the violence against the children of Judah and Israel, the representatives of the Lord’s Chosen because they have shed innocent blood in their land.

20 “But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.

21 For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed, for the Lord dwelleth in Zion.” — for the Lord will cleanse their blood that He has not cleansed before, namely, through the atonement wrought by the Messiah; for the Lord dwelleth in Zion. The entire description clearly does not speak of a mere earthly, temporal glorification of Jerusalem and a corresponding desolation of Egypt and Edom;

— but the latter are types of the powers opposing the Kingdom of God and is setting forth the blessings which the work of the Church is bringing to men on the basis of the redemption brought about by the Messiah. Cf Revelation 22:2. The Lord is dwelling in the midst of His Kingdom and revealing Himself as the King of His people, partly by the destruction of His enemies, partly by the perfection of His Kingdom in glory.

~ by Joel Huan on February 2, 2022.

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