Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
ASPECT OF THE
COUNTRY THROUGH THE
PRAYERS IN THE
EARNEST OF A
1. Joel--meaning, "Jehovah is God."
son of Pethuel--to distinguish Joel the prophet from others of the
name. Persons of eminence also were noted by adding the father's name.
2, 3. A spirited introduction calling attention.
old men--the best judges in question concerning the past
Hath this been, &c.--that is, Hath any so grievous a calamity
as this ever been before? No such plague of locusts had been since
the ones in Egypt.
is not at variance with this verse, which refers to Judea, in
which Joel says there had been no such devastation before.
3. Tell ye your children--in order that they may be admonished by the
severity of the punishment to fear God
4. This verse states the subject on which he afterwards expands. Four
species or stages of locusts, rather than four different insects, are
Literally, (1) the gnawing locust; (2) the swarming
locust; (3) the licking locust; (4) the consuming locust;
forming a climax to the most destructive kind. The last is often three
inches long, and the two antennæ, each an inch long. The two
hinder of its six feet are larger than the rest, adapting it for
leaping. The first "kind" is that of the locust, having just emerged
from the egg in spring, and without wings. The second is when at the
end of spring, still in their first skin, the locusts put forth little
ones without legs or wings. The third, when after their third casting
of the old skin, they get small wings, which enable them to leap the
better, but not to fly. Being unable to go away till their wings are
matured, they devour all before them, grass, shrubs, and bark of trees:
translated "rough caterpillars"
The fourth kind, the matured winged locusts (see on
they are enumerated in the reverse order, where the restoration of the
devastations caused by them is promised. The Hebrews make the first
species refer to Assyria and Babylon; the second species, to
Medo-Persia; the third, to Greco-Macedonia and Antiochus Epiphanes; the
fourth, to the Romans. Though the primary reference be to literal
locusts, the Holy Spirit doubtless had in view the successive empires
which assailed Judea, each worse than its predecessor, Rome being the
5. Awake--out of your ordinary state of drunken stupor, to realize the
cutting off from you of your favorite drink. Even the drunkards (from a
Hebrew root, "any strong drink") shall be forced to "howl," though
usually laughing in the midst of the greatest national calamities, so
palpably and universally shall the calamity affect all.
wine . . . new wine--"New" or "fresh wine," in Hebrew, is the
unfermented, and therefore unintoxicating, sweet juice extracted by
pressure from grapes or other fruit, as pomegranates
"Wine" is the produce of the grape alone, and is intoxicating (see on
6. nation--applied to the locusts, rather than "people"
(Pr 30:25, 26),
to mark not only their numbers, but also their savage
hostility; and also to prepare the mind of the hearer for the
transition to the figurative locusts in the second chapter, namely, the
"nation" or Gentile foe coming against Judea (compare
my land--that is, Jehovah's; which never would have been so devastated
were I not pleased to inflict punishment
Eze 36:5; 38:16).
strong--as irresistibly sweeping away before its compact body the
fruits of man's industry.
Jud 6:5; 7:12,
"like grasshoppers (or "locusts") for multitude"
teeth . . . lion--that is, the locusts are as destructive as a lion;
there is no vegetation that can resist their bite (compare
PLINY says "they gnaw even the doors of houses."
7. barked--BOCHART, with the
Septuagint and Syriac, translates, from an Arabic
root, "hath broken," namely, the topmost shoots, which locusts most
feed on. CALVIN supports English Version.
my vine . . . my fig tree--being in "My land," that
As to the vine-abounding nature of ancient Palestine, see
Nu 13:23, 24.
cast it away--down to the ground.
branches . . . white--both from the bark being stripped off
and from the branches drying up through the trunk, both bark and wood
being eaten up below by the locusts.
8. Lament--O "my land"
virgin . . . for the husband--A virgin betrothed was
regarded as married
The Hebrew for "husband" is "lord" or "possessor," the husband
being considered the master of the wife in the East.
of her youth--when the affections are strongest and when sorrow at
bereavement is consequently keenest. Suggesting the thought of what
Zion's grief ought to be for her separation from Jehovah, the betrothed
husband of her early days
9. The greatest sorrow to the mind of a religious Jew, and what ought
to impress the whole nation with a sense of God's displeasure, is the
cessation of the usual temple-worship.
meat offering--Hebrew, mincha; "meat" not in the English sense
"flesh," but the unbloody offering made of flour, oil, and frankincense.
As it and the drink offering or libation poured out accompanied
every sacrificial flesh offering, the latter is included, though not
specified, as being also "cut off," owing to there being no food left
for man or beast.
priests . . . mourn--not for their own loss of sacrificial perquisites
but because they can no longer offer the appointed offerings to
Jehovah, to whom they minister.
10. field . . . land--differing in that "field" means
the open, unenclosed country; "land," the rich red soil (from a
root "to be red") fit for cultivation. Thus, "a man of the field," in
Hebrew, is a "hunter"; a "man of the ground" or "land," an
"Field" and "land" are here personified.
new wine--from a Hebrew root implying that it takes
possession of the brain, so that a man is not master of himself. So
the Arabic term is from a root "to hold captive." It is already
fermented, and so intoxicating, unlike the sweet fresh wine, in
called also "new wine," though a different Hebrew word. It and
"the oil" stand for the vine and the olive tree, from which the "wine"
and "oil" are obtained
dried up--not "ashamed," as Margin, as is proved by the parallelism
to "languisheth," that is, droopeth.
11. Be . . . ashamed--that is, Ye shall have the shame of
disappointment on account of the failure of "the wheat" and "barley . . .
howl . . . vine dressers--The semicolon should follow,
as it is the "husbandmen" who are to be "ashamed . . . for
the wheat." The reason for the "vine dressers" being called to "howl"
does not come till
"The vine is dried up."
12. pomegranate--a tree straight in the stem growing twenty feet high;
the fruit is of the size of an orange, with blood-red colored pulp.
palm tree--The dates of Palestine were famous. The palm is the symbol
of Judea on coins under the Roman emperor Vespasian. It often grows a
hundred feet high.
apple tree--The Hebrew is generic, including the orange, lemon, and
joy is withered away--such as is felt in the harvest and the vintage
13. Gird yourselves--namely, with sackcloth; as in
the ellipsis is supplied (compare
lament, ye priests--as it is your duty to set the example to others;
also as the guilt was greater, and a greater scandal was occasioned, by
your sin to the cause of God.
come--the Septuagint, "enter" the house of God (compare
lie all night in sackcloth--so Ahab
ministers of my God--
Joel claims authority for his doctrine; it is in God's name and by
His mission I speak to you.
14. Sanctify . . . a fast--Appoint a solemn fast.
solemn assembly--literally, a "day of restraint" or cessation from
work, so that all might give themselves to supplication
(Joe 2:15, 16;
1Sa 7:5, 6;
elders--The contrast to "children"
requires age to be intended, though probably elders in office
are included. Being the people's leaders in guilt, they ought to be
their leaders also in repentance.
15. day of the Lord--
(Joe 2:1, 11);
that is, the day of His anger
Zep 1:7, 15).
It will be a foretaste of the coming day of the Lord as Judge of all
men, whence it receives the same name. Here the transition begins from
the plague of locusts to the worse calamities
from invading armies about to come on Judea, of which the locusts were
and latter part of
joy--which prevailed at the annual feasts, as also in the ordinary
sacrificial offerings, of which the offerers ate before the Lord with
gladness and thanksgivings
(De 12:6, 7, 12; 16:11, 14, 15).
17. is rotten--"is dried up," "vanishes away," from an Arabic root
[MAURER]. "Seed," literally, "grains." The drought causes the seeds to
lose all their vitality and moisture.
garners--granaries; generally underground, and divided into separate
receptacles for the different kinds of grain.
18. cattle . . . perplexed--implying the restless gestures of the dumb
beasts in their inability to find food. There is a tacit contrast
between the sense of the brute creation and the insensibility of the
yea, the . . . sheep--Even the sheep, which are content with less
rich pasturage, cannot find food.
are made desolate--literally, "suffer punishment." The innocent
brute shares the "punishment" of guilty man
Jon 3:7; 4:11).
19. to thee will I cry--Joel here interposes, As this people is
insensible to shame or fear and will not hear, I will leave them and
address myself directly to Thee (compare
fire--that is, the parching heat.
pastures--"grassy places"; from a Hebrew root "to be pleasant."
Such places would be selected for "habitations" (Margin). But the
English Version rendering is better than Margin.
20. beasts . . . cry . . . unto thee--that is, look up to heaven with
heads lifted up, as if their only expectation was from God
Ps 104:21; 145:15; 147:9;
They tacitly reprove the deadness of the Jews for not even now invoking