Joel speaks of the same judgments that Amos does: whence it is probable they appeared about the same time, Amos in Israel, and Joel in Judah. Now Amos prophesied in the days of Jeroboam the second. (Amos 7:10.) In this prophecy, The desolation made by armies of insects is described: The people are called to repentance; Promises are made of mercy to the penitent, and of the pouring out of the spirit in the latter days. The cause of God's people is pleaded against their enemies, and glorious things are spoken of the Gospel - Jerusalem.
The unheard of judgment of caterpillars and locusts, ver. 1 - 7. All sorts us people are called on to lament it, ver. 8 - 13. And to humble themselves before God, 14 - 20.
Came to Joel - Probably in the latter end of Jeroboam the second's reign over Israel and in the days of Uzziah, over Judah.
Old men - The oldest among you, who can remember things done many years ago.
Palmer - worm - Four sorts of insects, are here mentioned, which succeeded each other, and devoured all that might be a support to the Jews, whence ensued a grievous famine.
Is cut off - Suddenly cut off even when you are ready to drink it, and totally cut off by these devouring vermin.
A nation - An innumerable multitude of locusts and caterpillars, called a nation here, as Solomon calls the conies and the ant, Prov 30:25,26, and perhaps a prognostick of a very numerous and mighty nation, that ere long will invade Judah. Strong - Mighty in power, and undaunted in courage, if you refer it to the Assyrian or Babylonians; if to those vermin, they are, though each weak by itself, yet in those multitudes, strong and irresistible. A great lion - Such waste as lions make, these the locusts do, and the Assyrians will make.
The husband of her youth - Espoused to her, but snatched away by an untimely death.
The drink - offering - By the destruction of the vines, all wine (out of which they ought to offer the drink - offering) failed.
The corn - The wheat and barley, is eaten up in its greenness. Dried up - The drought was so great, that the vines were withered, and all their hopes of new wine cut off. The oil - The olive - trees. Languisheth - This is a plain account of the reason why the priests were called to mourn, and why the meal - offering and drink - offering were cut off.
Be ye ashamed - This is a just cause why you should lament and enquire why God is so displeased with you.
Sanctify ye - Ye priests, set apart a day wherein to afflict yourselves, confess your sins, and sue out your pardon. Into the house - The courts of the temple, where the people were wont to pray.
The day of the Lord - A day of greater trouble than yet they felt, troubles which God will heap upon them. Shall it come - Unless fasting, prayers and amendment prevent.
Cut off - Devoured by locusts, or withered with drought.
Laid desolate - Run to ruin because the owners discouraged with the barrenness of the seasons, would not repair them.
The fire - The immoderate heats. The wilderness - The world, only means places not ploughed, and less inhabited than others.
Cry - They utter their complaints, their sad tones, they have a voice to cry, as well as an eye to look to God.
A farther description of the desolation of the land, ver. 1 - 11. An earnest call to repentance, ver. 12 - 17. A promise of all good things to the penitent, ver. 18 - 27. A prophecy of the Messiah's kingdom, ver. 28 - 32.
Blow ye - The prophet continues his exhortation to the priests, who were appointed to summon the solemn assemblies.
A day of darkness - A time of exceeding great troubles and calamities. And this passage may well allude to the day of judgment, and the calamities which precede that day. As the morning - As the morning spreads itself over all the hemisphere and first upon the high mountains, so shall the approaching calamities overspread this people. A great people - This seems more directly to intend the Babylonians.
A fire - The Chaldeans, as a fire shall utterly consume all things. Behind them - What is left behind is as burnt with a flame. As Eden - Fruitful and pleasant.
Blackness - Such as is the colour of dead men, or the dark paleness of men frightened into swoons.
Their ranks - This skill in ordering and the steadiness in keeping under, exactly like trained soldiers, foretells the terror and strength of both the armies signified by these locusts, and of the locusts themselves.
The sword - The sword shall not be a weapon to destroy them; literally verified in the locusts, and verified in the strange preservations in the most desperate adventures made by the Assyrians or Babylonians.
Runs to and fro - This seems not proper to these insects, but it well suits with soldiers, that conquer a city and search all places for plunder. Run upon the wall - To clear the wall of all the besieged. The houses - Either forsaken by the inhabitants, or defended by such as are in them. Like a thief - Suddenly, unexpectedly, to spoil if not to kill.
The earth - A divine hyperbole. But this also may have a reference to the great day.
Utter his voice - Summon them in and encourage them as a general doth his soldiers. His army - Of locusts and insects, and of Chaldeans signified by these.
And repenteth him - He turneth from executing the fierceness of his wrath.
He will return - God doth not move from one place to another; but when he withholds his blessings, he is said to withdraw himself. And so when he gives out his blessing, he is said to return. And leave a blessing behind him - Cause the locusts to depart before they have eaten up all that is in the land.
The children - Though they understand little what is done, yet their cities ascend, and God with pity looks on their tears. These that suck - Their cries and tears may perhaps move the congregation to more earnest supplication to God for mercy. So the Ninevites, Jonah 3:7,8. The bridegroom - Let the new married man leave the mirth of the nuptials and afflict himself with the rest.
The porch - That stately porch built by Solomon, 1Kings 6:3. The altar - The altar of burnt - offering, which stood at some distance from this porch, and here are the priests commanded to stand, fasting and praying, whence they might be heard and seen by the people in the next court, in which the people were wont to pray. To reproach - Famine, though by locusts is a reproach to this thine heritage; it will be greater reproach to be slaves to the nations signified by the locusts, therefore in mercy deliver us from both one and the other.
The northern army - That part of the locusts which are toward the north. With his face - The van of this army shall be driven into the dead sea, east of Jerusalem. The hinder part - The rear of this army shall be driven into the west sea. His stink - The stench of these locusts destroying and lying putrified on the face of the earth, or the corpses of the Assyrians slain and unburied.
Their strength - Bring forth as much as they are able to stand under.
The former rain - The autumn rain which is needful to mellow the earth and fit it to receive the corn. The latter rain - Needful to bring forward and ripen the fruits, accounted the latter rain because these husbandmen and vine - dressers reckoned from seed time to spring and harvest. The first month - That is, our March.
The fats - The vessels into which the liquor ran out of the press.
Restore - Make up to you.
Wondrously - In one year giving as much as the locusts wasted in the years foregoing. Ashamed - Neither disappointed of your hopes, nor necessitated to seek relief among the heathen.
Afterward - After the return out of Babylon, after the various troubles and salvations by which these may know that I am the Lord. I will pour - In extraordinary gifts on the first preachers of the gospel, and in various graces to all believers. Upon all flesh - Before these gifts were confined to one particular nation; but now they shall be enlarged to all nations, and all that believe. Shall prophesy - This was in part fulfilled according to the letter in the first days of the gospel; but the promise means farther, by pouring out of the spirit on your sons and your daughters, they shall have as full a knowledge of the mysteries of God's law, as prophets before time had. Shalt dream dreams - This also was literally fulfilled in the apostles days. But it may mean farther, the knowledge of God and his will, shall abound among all ranks, sexes and ages in the Messiah's days, and not only equal, but surpass all that formerly was by prophesy, dreams, or visions.
My spirit - Of adoption and sanctification.
Wonders - They who read what historians report of these times, will see this fulfilled in the very letter. Blood - Possibly eruption of blood, as some fountains have been reported to have run with blood, prefiguring the great effusion of blood by the sword, and wars following. Fire - Either breaking out of the earth, or lightning in the air.
The sun - Having mentioned the prodigies which were to be wrought on earth, he now specifies what shall be done in heaven. The terrible day - The unholy day of the destruction of Jerusalem; typifying the day of judgment.
Whosoever shall call - Who hearing the gospel repents and believes in Christ. Delivered - Either from those outward afflictions, or which is infinitely better from eternal miseries, which will swallow up the unbelieving world; "and it will aggravate the ruin of those who perish, that they might have been saved on such easy terms." Is it then easy for a non - elect to repent and believe May he not as easily pull the sun out of the firmament In mount Zion - In the true church typified by Zion. Jerusalem - In mystical Jerusalem, the church and the city of the Messiah. Deliverance - Temporal and eternal. Shall call - To believe in Christ, and by him to wait for eternal life.
This chapter has been partly fulfilled in the several deliverances of the Jews, and will have its full accomplishment at the great day. It contains a prophecy of God reckoning with the enemies of his people, ver. 1 - 8. Of his openly judging all nations, ver. 9 - 17. And of the provision he has made for his people, ver. 18 - 21.
In those days - When I shall by Cyrus bring Judah out of Babylon. Of Judah - As the type of the whole remnant that are saved. And Jerusalem - For beside what refers to the two tribes restored by Cyrus, the bringing back the captivity of the whole Israel of God by Christ is to be considered all along through this chapter.
All nations - In the type it is all those nations that have oppressed Judah, in the anti - type, all nations that have been enemies to Christ and the church. Into the valley of Jehoshaphat - I will debate my people's cause, and do them right in the midst of my church, signified by the valley of Jehoshaphat. Parted my land - Such is the injustice of the persecutors of the church now, and so God will judge them in due time.
Cast lots - It was customary with conquerors to divide the captives by lot, and so did these enemies of the Jews.
Yea - Have I done you any wrong, which you avenge upon my people Or do you begin to violate the laws of neighbourhood and friendship, and think to escape Do ye think you have to do with a poor opprest people, my people, and I nothing concerned at it Palestine - On which were towns of trade, and merchants that bought and sold these captives. A recompence - Have I or my people so dealt with you And if - If you will deal thus, I will speedily avenge myself and my people of you.
Taken - Either as part of the spoil, or as part of your pay. My silver - Silver and gold vessels dedicated to my service.
Remove them - That there might be no hope of their return to their country.
I will raise them - This was fulfilled when Alexander, and his successors dismissed all the Jews that were slaves in Greece, and gave them leave to return to their own country.
And I will sell - Give them up into the hands of the Jews.
This - These things which I will do to the enemies of God's people. The Gentiles - The Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Grecians successively. Prepare war - Make ready for wars against the enemies of my people.
I am strong - Put on strength and valour; let none be absent from this war.
Round about - All round about Judah. Thither - Toward Jerusalem; the church and heritage of God. Thy mighty ones - All those mighty warriors whom thou wilt make use of successively to punish the oppressors of thy church.
The heathen - The several nations in their appointed time, perhaps the Assyrians first under Salmaneser, next under Sennacherib, both of whom came up to the valley of Jehoshaphat. For there - In the midst of my people to plead with, condemn and punish the heathen round about Judea.
Put ye - Ye executioners of divine vengeance: begin to reap, cut down sinners ripe for judgment; let Tiglath Pilneser and his soldiers cut down Syria and its king, for their violence against my people. Let Cyaxares and his armies cut down Assyria. Let Nebuchadnezzar cut down Moab, Ammon, mount Seir, Egypt, Tyre, Zidon and the Philistines; after this let Cyrus reap down the ripened Babylonians, and Alexander the Medes and Persians. And let the divided Grecian captains cut down one another, 'till the Romans cut them down. And when this is done God will have mighty ones still to cut down his enemies, 'till the final judgment wherein they all shall for ever be destroyed. Get you down - In another metaphor the prophet declares the cutting off the church's enemies. The press - As the grapes in the press are trod, so the enemies of God's people, are to be trodden in the wine - press of God's displeasure. Overflow - The blood of slaughtered men runs as wine prest out, in greater abundance than the vats can hold. Is great - The violence and all manner of sins of these kingdoms is grown exceeding great.
In the valley of decision - Where God having gathered them, decided their quarrels, and by the conqueror punish the conquered for their sins against God and his people. The day - The day of vengeance.
Shall roar - He will strike the enemy with astonishment as the roaring of the lion astonishes the weaker beasts of the forest.
Dwelling - Very graciously present with you, and ever watching over you, and delighting to save you. Then - After her enemies are destroyed and the remnant is saved, and the Messiah is come; for to him and his days these things ultimately refer. Jerusalem - The church of Christ. Strangers - No profane or unclean person shall pass through it, or be found in it any more for ever.
The mountains - The vines planted upon the mountains. Shall flow - So fruitful shall the hills be, that milk shall abound every where. A fountain - The prophet alludes to those waters which were conveyed from some spring through conduit pipes towards the altar. This no doubt is a shadow of the purifying blood of Christ, and his sanctifying spirit and word. And in that it is said to come from the house of the Lord, it intimates that this saving grace shall be first preached from Jerusalem, and by the church, which is the house of God, shall be published to others. Shittim - Was a place in the plains of Moab. These spiritual waters shall flow down to the dry and thirsty, the barren and fruitless Gentiles, and make them fruitful.
Egypt - By Egypt we may understand all the enemies of the church who carry it toward the church, as Egypt carried it toward Israel. Edom - Edom was an implacable enemy to Judah in his greatest distress. And all who come under Edom's character are here threatened under this name. Judah - The people of God.
Judah - The redeemed of the Lord, his church.
And I will cleanse - Purge away both by the spirit of sanctification and by free pardon in the blood of the redeemer. Their blood - Their sinfulness, which before I had not taken away.