Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
BLESSINGS IN THE
A more terrific judgment than that of the locusts is foretold, under
imagery drawn from that of the calamity then engrossing the afflicted
nation. He therefore exhorts to repentance, assuring the Jews of
Jehovah's pity if they would repent. Promise of the Holy Spirit in the
last days under Messiah, and the deliverance of all believers in Him.
1. Blow . . . trumpet--to sound an alarm of coming war
the office of the priests.
is an anticipation of the fuller prophecy in this chapter.
2. darkness . . . gloominess . . . clouds
. . . thick darkness--accumulation of synonyms, to
intensify the picture of calamity
Appropriate here, as the swarms of locusts intercepting the sunlight
suggested darkness as a fit image of the coming visitation.
as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people--Substitute
a comma for a colon after mountains: As the morning light spreads itself
over the mountains, so a people numerous
[MAURER] and strong shall
spread themselves. The suddenness of the rising of the morning
light, which gilds the mountain tops first, is less probably thought by
others to be the point of comparison to the sudden inroad of the foe.
MAURER refers it to the yellow splendor which arises from the
reflection of the sunlight on the wings of the immense hosts of locusts
as they approach. This is likely; understanding, however, that the
locusts are only the symbols of human foes. The immense Assyrian host
of invaders under Sennacherib (compare
destroyed by God
(Joe 2:18, 20, 21),
may be the primary objects of the prophecy; but ultimately the last
antichristian confederacy, destroyed by special divine interposition,
is meant (see on
there hath not been ever the like--(Compare
3. before . . . behind--that is, on every side
fire . . . flame--destruction . . . desolation
as . . . Eden . . . wilderness--conversely
4. appearance . . . of horses--
Not literal, but figurative locusts. The fifth trumpet, or first woe,
in the parallel passage
cannot be literal: for in
it is said, "they had a king over them, the angel of the
bottomless pit"--in the Hebrew, Abaddon ("destroyer"), but in
the Greek, Apollyon--and
"on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their
faces were as the faces of men." Compare
"the day of the Lord . . . great and very terrible"; implying
their ultimate reference to be connected with Messiah's second coming
in judgment. The locust's head is so like that of a horse that the
Italians call it cavalette. Compare
"the horse . . . as the grasshopper," or locust.
run--The locust bounds, not unlike the horse's gallop, raising
and letting down together the two front feet.
5. Like the noise of chariots--referring to the loud sound caused by
their wings in motion, or else the movement of their hind legs.
on the tops of mountains--MAURER connects this with "they," that is,
the locusts, which first occupy the higher places, and thence descend to
the lower places. It may refer (as in English Version) to "chariots,"
which make most noise in crossing over rugged heights.
6. much pained--namely, with terror. The Arab proverb is, "More
terrible than the locusts."
faces shall gather blackness--
MAURER translates, "withdraw their brightness,"
that is, wax pale, lose color (compare
7-9. Depicting the regular military order of their advance, "One
locust not turning a nail's breadth out of his own place in the march"
"The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by
8. Neither shall one thrust another--that is, press upon so as to
thrust his next neighbor out of his place, as usually occurs in a large
when they fall upon the sword--that is, among missiles.
not be wounded--because they are protected by defensive armor
MAURER translates, "Their (the locusts') ranks are
not broken when they rush among missiles" (compare
9. run to and fro in the city--greedily seeking what they can devour.
the wall--surrounding each house in Eastern buildings.
enter in at the windows--though barred.
like a thief--
10. earth . . . quake before them--that is, the inhabitants of the
earth quake with fear of them.
heavens . . . tremble--that is, the powers of heaven
its illumining powers are disturbed by the locusts which intercept the
sunlight with their dense flying swarms. These, however, are but the
images of revolutions of states caused by such foes as were to invade
11. Lord . . . his army--So among Mohammedans, "Lord of the locusts"
is a title of God.
his voice--His word of command to the locusts, and to the antitypical
human foes of Judea, as "His army."
strong that executeth his word--
12. With such judgments impending over the Jews, Jehovah Himself urges
them to repentance.
also now--Even now, what none could have hoped or believed
possible, God still invites you to the hope of salvation.
fasting . . . weeping . . . mourning--Their sin being most heinous
needs extraordinary humiliation. The outward marks of repentance are to
signify the depth of their sorrow for sin.
13. Let there be the inward sorrow of heart, and not the mere outward
manifestation of it by "rending the garment"
the evil--the calamity which He had threatened against the impenitent.
14. leave . . . a meat offering and a drink
offering--that is, give plentiful harvests, out of the first-fruits
of which we may offer the meat and drink offering, now "cut off"
through the famine
(Joe 1:9, 13, 16).
"Leave behind Him": as God in visiting His people now has left
behind Him a curse, so He will, on returning to visit them, leave
behind Him a blessing.
15. Blow the trumpet--to convene the people
The nation was guilty, and therefore there must be a national
humiliation. Compare Hezekiah's proceedings before Sennacherib's
16. sanctify the congregation--namely, by expiatory rites and
purification with water [CALVIN],
(Ex 19:10, 22).
MAURER translates, "appoint a solemn assembly,"
which would be a tautological repetition of
elders . . . children--No age was to be excepted
bridegroom--ordinarily exempted from public duties
1Co 7:5, 29).
closet--or, nuptial bed, from a Hebrew root "to cover," referring
to the canopy over it.
17. between the porch and . . . altar--the porch of
Solomon's temple on the east
the altar of burnt offerings in the court of the priests, before the
The suppliants thus were to stand with their backs to the altar on
which they had nothing to offer, their faces towards the place of the
heathen should rule over them--This shows that not locusts, but human
foes, are intended. The Margin translation, "use a byword against
them," is not supported by the Hebrew.
wherefore should they say . . . Where is their God?--that is, do not
for thine own honor's sake, let the heathen sneer at the God of Israel,
as unable to save His people
(Ps 79:10; 115:2).
18. Then--when God sees His people penitent.
be jealous for his land--as a husband jealous of any dishonor done
to the wife whom he loves, as if done to himself. The Hebrew comes
from an Arabic root, "to be flushed in face" through indignation.
19. corn . . . wine . . . oil--rather, as
Hebrew, "the corn . . . the wine
. . . the oil," namely, which the locusts have
destroyed [HENDERSON]. MAURER not so well explains, "the corn, &c., necessary
for your sustenance." "The Lord will answer," namely, the
prayers of His people, priests, and prophets. Compare in the case of
2Ki 19:20, 21.
20. the northern army--The Hebrew expresses that the north in relation to Palestine is not merely the quarter whence the invader
comes, but is his native land, "the Northlander"; namely, the Assyrian
or Babylonian (compare
Jer 1:14, 15;
The locust's native country is not the north, but the
south, the deserts of Arabia, Egypt, and Libya. Assyria and
Babylon are the type and forerunner of all Israel's foes (Rome, and the
final Antichrist), from whom God will at last deliver His people, as He
did from Sennacherib
face . . . hinder part--more applicable to a human army's van and rear, than to locusts. The northern invaders are to be
dispersed in every other direction but that from which they had come: "a
land barren and desolate," that is, Arabia-Deserta: "the eastern (or front)
sea," that is, the Dead Sea: "the utmost (or hinder)
sea," that is, the Mediterranean. In front and behind mean east
and west; as, in marking the quarters of the world, they faced the
east, which was therefore "in front"; the west was behind them; the
south was on their right, and the north on their left.
stink--metaphor from locusts, which perish when blown by a storm
into the sea or the desert, and emit from their putrefying bodies such a
stench as often breeds a pestilence.
because he hath done great things--that is, because the invader hath
haughtily magnified himself in his doings. Compare as to
2Ki 19:11-13, 22, 28.
This is quite inapplicable to the locusts, who merely seek food, not
self-glorification, in invading a country.
21-23. In an ascending gradation, the land destroyed by
the enemy, the beasts of the field, and the children of
Zion, the land's inhabitants, are addressed, the former two by
Lord will do great things--In contrast to the "great things" done by
the haughty foe
to the hurt of Judah stand the "great things" to be done by Jehovah for
her benefit (compare
Ps 126:2, 3).
(Joe 1:18, 20)
he represented the beasts as groaning and crying for want
of food in the "pastures," so now he reassures them by the promise of
23. rejoice in the Lord--not merely in the springing pastures, as the brute "beasts" which cannot raise their thoughts higher
former rain . . . the rain . . . the former
. . . the latter rain--The autumnal, or "former rain,"
from the middle of October to the middle of December, is put first, as
Joel prophesies in summer when the locusts' invasion took place, and
therefore looks to the time of early sowing in autumn, when the
autumnal rain was indispensably required. Next, "the rain,"
generically, literally, "the showering" or "heavy rain." Next,
the two species of the latter, "the former and the latter rain" (in
March and April). The repetition of the "former rain" implies that He
will give it not merely for the exigence of that particular season when
Joel spake, but also for the future in the regular course of nature,
the autumn and the spring rain; the former being put first, in the
order of nature, as being required for the sowing in autumn, as the
latter is required in spring for maturing the young crop. The
Margin, "a teacher of righteousness," is wrong. For the same
Hebrew word is translated "former rain" in the next sentence,
and cannot therefore be differently translated here. Besides, Joel
begins with the inferior and temporal blessings, and not till
proceeds to the higher and spiritual ones, of which the former are the
moderately--rather, "in due measure," as much as the land requires;
literally, "according to right"; neither too much nor too little, either
of which extremes would hurt the crop (compare
The phrase, "in due measure," in this clause is parallel to "in the
first month," in the last clause (that is, "in the month when
first it is needed," each rain in its proper season). Heretofore
the just or right order of nature has been interrupted
through your sin; now God will restore it. See my
24. The effect of the seasonable rains shall be abundance of all
articles of food.
25. locust . . . cankerworm . . . caterpiller . . . palmer worm--the
reverse order from
where (see on
God will restore not only what has been lost by the full-grown
consuming locust, but also what has been lost by the less
destructive licking locust, and swarming locust, and
26. never be ashamed--shall no longer endure the "reproach of the
[MAURER]; or rather, "shall not bear the shame of
disappointed hopes," as the husbandmen had heretofore
So spiritually, waiting on God, His people shall not have the shame of
disappointment in their expectations from Him
27. know that I am in the midst of Israel--As in the Old Testament
dispensation God was present by the Shekinah, so in the New Testament
first, for a brief time by the Word made flesh dwelling among us
and to the close of this dispensation by the Holy Spirit in the Church
and probably in a more perceptible manner with Israel when restored
never be ashamed--not an unmeaning repetition from
The twice-asserted truth enforces its unfailing certainty. As the
refers to temporal blessings, so in this verse it refers to the
spiritual blessings flowing from the presence of God with His people
Jer 3:16, 17;
28. afterward--"in the last days"
under Messiah after the invasion and deliverance of Israel from
the northern army. Having heretofore stated the outward
blessings, he now raises their minds to the expectation of
extraordinary spiritual blessings, which constitute the true
restoration of God's people
Fulfilled in earnest
on Pentecost; among the Jews and the subsequent election of a people
among the Gentiles; hereafter more fully at the restoration of Israel
Jer 31:9, 34;
and the consequent conversion of the whole world
(Isa 2:2; 11:9; 66:18-23;
Ro 11:12, 15).
As the Jews have been the seedmen of the elect Church gathered out of
Jews and Gentiles, the first Gospel preachers being Jews from
Jerusalem, so they shall be the harvest men of the coming world-wide
Church, to be set up at Messiah's appearing. That the promise is not
restricted to the first Pentecost appears from Peter's own
words: "The promise is (not only) unto you and to your children, (but
also) to all that are afar off (both in space and in time), even
as many as the Lord our God shall call"
So here "upon all flesh."
I will pour out--under the new covenant: not merely,
let fall drops, as under the Old Testament
my spirit--the Spirit "proceeding from the Father and the Son," and
at the same time one with the Father and the Son (compare
sons . . . daughters . . . old . . . young--not merely on a privileged
as the prophets of the Old Testament, but men of all ages and ranks.
as to "daughters," that is, women, prophesying.
dreams . . . visions--
(Ac 9:10; 16:9).
The "dreams" are attributed to the "old men," as more in accordance
with their years; "visions" to the "young men," as adapted to their
more lively minds. The three modes whereby God revealed His will under
the Old Testament
"prophecy, dreams, and visions," are here made the symbol of the full
manifestation of Himself to all His people, not only in miraculous gifts
to some, but by His indwelling Spirit to all in the New Testament
(Joh 14:21, 23; 15:15).
Ac 16:9; 18:9,
the term used is "vision," though in the night, not a dream. No
other dream is mentioned in the New Testament save those given to
Joseph in the very beginning of the New Testament, before the full
Gospel had come; and to the wife of Pilate, a Gentile
(Mt 1:20; 2:13; 27:19).
"Prophesying" in the New Testament is applied to all speaking under the
enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and not merely to foretelling events.
All true Christians are "priests" and "ministers" of our God
and have the Spirit
(Eze 36:26, 27).
Besides this, probably, a special gift of prophecy and miracle-working
is to be given at or before Messiah's coming again.
29. And also--"And even." The very slaves by becoming the Lord's
servants are His freemen
it is quoted, "My servants" and "My handmaidens"; as it
is only by becoming the Lord's servants they are spiritually
free, and partake of the same spirit as the other members of the
30, 31. As Messiah's manifestation is full of joy to believers, so
it has an aspect of wrath to unbelievers, which is represented here.
Thus when the Jews received Him not in His coming of grace, He came in
judgment on Jerusalem. Physical prodigies, massacres, and conflagrations
preceded its destruction
[JOSEPHUS, Wars of the Jews]. To these the
language here may allude; but the figures chiefly symbolize political
revolutions and changes in the ruling powers of the world,
prognosticated by previous disasters
and convulsions such as preceded the overthrow of the Jewish polity.
Such shall probably occur in a more appalling degree before the final
destruction of the ungodly world ("the great and terrible day of
of which Jerusalem's overthrow is the type and earnest.
32. call on . . . name of . . .
Lord--Hebrew, JEHOVAH. Applied to Jesus
Therefore, Jesus is JEHOVAH; and the phrase means,
"Call on Messiah in His divine attributes."
shall be delivered--as the Christians were, just before Jerusalem's
destruction, by retiring to Pella, warned by the Saviour
a type of the spiritual deliverance of all believers, and of the last
deliverance of the elect "remnant" of Israel from the final assault of
Antichrist. "In Zion and Jerusalem" the Saviour first appeared; and
there again shall He appear as the Deliverer
as the Lord hath said--Joel herein refers, not to the other prophets,
but to his own words preceding.
call--metaphor from an invitation to a feast, which is an act of
So the remnant called and saved is according to the election of grace,
not for man's merits, power, or efforts