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JO E L.
THERE is little doubt that Joel lived in the reigns of Uzziah king of Judah, and of Jeroboam II. king of Israel,
who flourished as contemporary sovereigns between the years of the world 3194 and 3219; and that he delivered his prophecies soon after Hosea had commenced his ministry; though some Jewish and Christian writers have assigned to him a later period; some placing him in the reign of Jotham ; others in that of Joram; and others contending that he prophesied under Manasseh, or Josiah ; the last of which monarchs began to reign about 640 years before the birth of Christ.
Joel was the son of Pethuel, or Bethuel, and, according to some reports, of the tribe of Reuben. He is related to have been born at Bethoron; which was probably the lower or nether Bethoron, a town in the territory of Benjamin, between Jerusalem and Cesarea. Of the particulars of his life, or of the age to which he attained, we have no account. Dorotheus relates only, that he died in peace at the place of his nativity.
The Book appears to be entirely prophetick; though Joel, under the impression of foreseen calamities, describes their effects as present, and by an animated representation anticipates the scenes of misery which lowered over Judea, chap. i. 4—7, 10, 16—20. Though it cannot be positively determined to what period the description contained in the first chapter may apply, it is generally supposed that the Prophet blends two subjects of affliction in one general consideration or beautiful allegory; and that under the devastation to be produced by locusts in the vegetable world, he pourtrays some more distant calamities to be produced by the armies of the Chaldeans in their invasion of Judea.
In the second chapter the Prophet proceeds to a more general denunciation of God's vengeance; which is delivered with such force and aggravation of circumstance, as to be in some measure descriptive of that final judgment, which every temporal dispensation of the Deity must faintly prefigure. The severe declarations of Joel are intermingled with exhortations to repentance, and to the auxiliary means of promoting its effects, fasting and prayer; as also with promises of deliverance, and of a prosperity predictive of evangelical
blessings. In consideration of these important prophecies, we need not wonder that the Jews should have looked up to Joel with particular reverence, or that he should be cited as a Prophet by the evangelical writers; chap. ii. 32, compared with Rom. x. 13; Acts ii. 16–21. Dr. Gray.
In his style Joel is peculiarly elegant, perspicuous, diffuse, and fluent; he is also in a high degree sublime, bold,
and animated. In his first and second chapters he shews how well prophetical poetry succeeds in description ; how greatly it delights in metaphors, comparisons, and allegories. Nor is the arrangement of his subjects less beautiful than the colouring of his language : the amplification of calamities; exhortation to repentance; the promise to the penitent of earthly as well as heavenly blessings; the restoration of the Israelitish prosperity; the punishments inflicted on their adversaries. However, both in this and in other places, when we extol perspicuity of elocution, and beauty of composition, we do not deny that there is sometimes great obscurity in the matter: which may occasionally be observed in the conclusion of this prophecy. Bp. Lowth.
Before CHRIST about 800.
Hath this been in your days, or even put 800. I Joel, declaring sundry judgments of God, in the days of your fathers ?
exhorteth to observe them, 8 and to mourn. • 3 Tell ye your children of it, and
14 He prescribeth a fast for complaint. let your children tell their children,
4 + That which the palmerworm + Heb. The 2 Hear this, ye old men, and give hath left hath the locust eaten; and palmeruorem ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. that which the locust hath left hath
Chap. I. ver. 2. Hear this, ye old men, &c.] The Pro- ' 4.- the palmerworm — the locust — the cankerworm phet declares the unexampled severity of the present the caterpiller] Four kinds of noxious creatures are here judgment, by appealing to the memory of the ancients, described, the Hebrew names of which appear to be and the observation of the present generation, whether derived from their destructive qualities. It is uncertain they ever knew or heard of any thing like it, so that it what names they ought to bear in our own, and other deserved to be recorded as a warning to aftertimes. European languages. Our translators have very well Compare chap. ii. 2. W. Lowth.
rendered them by the names of such known creatures,
my fig tree for u barking.
Joel exhorteth to mourning.
He prescribeth a fast. Before the cankerworm eaten; and that which 12 The vine is dried up, and the Before about 800. the cankerworm hath left hath the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate about 800. caterpiller eaten.
tree, the palm tree also, and the apple
13 Gird yourselves, and lament,
7 He hath laid my vine waste, and / ing is withholden from the house of + Heb. laid of barked my fig tree: he hath made it your God.
"clean bare, and cast it away; the | 14 | a Sanctify ye a fast, call a a Chap. 2. 15. branches thereof are made white. | || solemn assembly, gather the elders restrainy.
8 9 Lament like a virgin girded and all the inhabitants of the land with sackcloth for the husband of her into the house of the LORD your God, youth.
and cry unto the Lord,
I 17 The + seed is rotten under their + Heb.
1) Or, day of
1 Or, ashamed.
as concurin hurting and devouring the fruits of the earth, the branches thereof are made white. By reaso that whatever escapes one, is destroyed by another. son of the bark being eaten from the boughs. Bp. Dr. Pocock.
| Hall. 5. Awake, ye drunkards,] It may seem probable, that ' 8. Lament like a virgin &c.] The words are an aposthe sin of drunkenness was then among others much trophe to the land of Judea : the Prophet puts her in indulged in, and rendered the people sottish and stupid, mind that she ought to be deeply affected with the sore as drunkards usually are, so that they regarded neither strokes of the Divine vengeance, and express her inward the work of the Lord, nor their own good. To them sense of those calamities with the same outward exprestherefore He appears more particularly to address Him sions of mourning, as a young virgin that was betrothed self, as having by that odious sin drawn down the pre to an husband would lament his untimely loss. “ The sent judgment on themselves and their country. The husband of her youth,” is a woman's first husband; as word “awake" is used to denote the drunkard's insen the “ wife of his youth,” Mal. ii. 15, is a husband's first sibility to his danger, in Prov. xxiii. 35; and elsewhere / wife. W. Lowth. it signifies a man's recovery from security in other sins: 9. The meat offering &c.] The earth yieldeth not so Rom. xiii. 11 ; Eph. v. 14. Dr. Pocock.
much as wherewith to make a meat offering or drink 6.- a nation] Locusts, poetically so called. Abp. offering unto the Lord; the corn and the wine and the Newcome. As the prophet applies the term, “ a nation,” | oil are utterly consumed; so that the priests, the Lord's to the locusts, and Solomon calls the ants “a people,” | ministers, have just cause to mourn. So also verses Prov. xxx. 25, so Homer has “the nations of syarming 10-13. Bp. Hall. bees,” and “the numerous nations of swarming flies;" 14. Sanctify ye a fast, &c.] In order to deprecate and Orpheus expressly mentions“ an innumerable God's wrath, and avert His judgments. See chap. ii. nation of locusts." Parkhurst.
15, 16. W. Lowth. The word " sanctify " seems to - is come up] A future event, which might be require, how the people were to prepare themselves for averted by repentance, chap. ii. 12, &c. is spoken of as the enjoined fast, and to behave themselves in it ; having already taken place, to enliven the description namely, with more than ordinary sanctity and holiness, by setting the images before the eyes of the reader. not thinking it sufficient only to abstain from meat and Abp. Newcome.
drink, which is sufficient to denominate a man to fast, — whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, 7 The same but withal to abstain from sin and wickedness, which is comparison is used in Rev. ix. 8; and denotes the great requisite to a holy and religious fast, such as is the duty power of doing mischief possessed by these little ver- and sign of an humble penitent, and is alone acceptable min. Elsewhere, things which have great force to do to God. Dr. Pocock. hurt, are compared to the teeth of a lion, Ecclus. xxi. 2 ; — into the house of the Lord your God,] See 1 Kings Ps. lviii. 6. Dr. Pocock.
viii. 37. W. Lowth. 7. He hath laid my rine waste, &c.] See the notes on 17. - the barns are broken down ;] The receptacles Exod. x. 4, 15.
| for the fruits of the earth are not repaired, because
| Or, habitations.
Joel sheweth unto Zion
the terribleness Before herds of cattle are perplexed, because the land tremble: for the day of the Before
CHRIST about 800. they have no pasture; yea, the flocks Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; about 800. of sheep are made desolate.
2 A day of darkness and of gloomi19 O Lord, to thee will I cry: for ness, a day of clouds and of thick the fire hath devoured the || pastures darkness, as the morning spread upon of the wilderness, and the flame hath the mountains : a great people and a burned all the trees of the field. strong; there hath not been ever the
20 The beasts of the field cry also like, neither shall be any more after unto thee: for the rivers of waters | it, even to the years † of many gene- + Heb. of
gencralion are dried up, and the fire hath de- rations. voured the pastures of the wilder-1 3 A fire devoureth before them; tion. ness.
and behind them a flame burneth: CHAP. II.
the land is as the garden of Eden be
fore them, and behind them a deso-
horsemen, so shall they run.
D and sound an alarm in my holy tops of mountains shall they leap,
mountain : let all the inhabitants of like the noise of a flame of fire that there is nothing to treasure up in them. Abp. New- learned men to think, that they are put by a figure to come.
denote real armies. Another opinion is, that we are to 19. — for the fire hath devoured the pastures &c.] For understand the locust, cankerworm, palmerworm, and the scorching drought hath devoured all the herbage of caterpiller, spoken of ver. 4, of the preceding chapter, the wilderness, and the fiery beams have burnt up all in a literal sense; and that the military terms, which the trees of the field. Bp. Hall. The wilderness is some- are used, may by the authority of parallel passages in times opposed to the hills or mountains, and then it Scripture be applied to them. Reading. plains and places for pasture. See Isai. Ixiii.
there hath not been ever the like, &c.] See Exod. 13; Jer. ix. 10. W. Lowth.
x. 14. In both places we are to take it for a proverbial
| expression, to set forth the extraordinary greatness of Chap. II. ver. 1. Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, &c.] the judgment. Compare 2 Kings xviii. 5; xxiii. 25. The Prophet describes the locusts and caterpillars as W. Lowth. God's “army," ver. 11; in pursuance of which meta- ! 3. A fire devoureth before them ; &c.] They consume phor he exhorts the people to prepare to meet them, in like a general conflagration, as Pliny says, “ burning the same terms as if they were alarmed to encounter an things up by their touch.” Sir Hans Sloane, in his enemy, which was by sounding a trumpet. See Jer. iv. Natural History of Jamaica, says, “ They destroy the 5, 6, 19. This ceremony was not only used to give ground not only for the time, but burn trees for two notice of an approaching enemy, but likewise to publish years after :"and Ludolphus, in the History of Ethiopia, the times of the solemn assemblies for the worship of - Wheresoever they feed, their leavings seem as it were God: see Numb. x. 3, 9, 10. And this is the chief use parched with fire." Abp. Newcome. they were to make of it upon this occasion ; see ver. 15. - as the garden of Eden A proverbial expression For there was no other way to avert the impending for a place of pleasure and fruitfulness, as we commonly judgment, but humbling themselves before God with use the word paradise. See Gen. xiii. 10; Isai, li. 3. fasting and prayer. W. Lowth.
W. Lowth. - the day of the Lord] A day, in which He will - nothing shall escape them.] That is, nothing send very terrible judgments on the land, and take ven- which the ground produces. Abp. Newcome. Different geance on them for their sins. Dr. Pocock.
authors give accounts similar to Dr. Shaw's in the note 2. A day of darkness) A very calamitous day, bring- on Exod. x. 15, concerning the devastation occasioned ing with it much mischief and distress, which are by locusts among all sorts of vegetable productions, not figuratively set forth by darkness, as a state of pros-only herbage, corn, pulse, the fruits and leaves, the perity is by light. See Amos v. 18, &c. By some in- buds and very bark of trees, but even the hemp, notterpreters “ darkness” here is understood properly for withstanding its great bitterness, and the reeds with darkness in the air, caused by what should then be which the African huts are thatched. fall them in their land. Compare Exod. x. 15. Dr. / 5. Like the noise of chariots &c.] See Rev. ix. 9: Pocock. See on that passage the note from Dr. Shaw, Nahum iïi. 2. Bochart says, that a swarm of locusts whose testimony concerning locusts “darkening the make so loud a noise, when they move, that they may sun” is confirmed by various authors, ancient and be heard six miles off. Abp. Newcome. modern.
like the noise of a flame of fire &c.] The noise - as the morning spread upon the mountains :] As a in the former comparison seems to be made by their morning cloud spread upon the mountains, which hides motion ; this is probably meant of the noise made by the sun and the heavens, and threatens the certain their chewing or eating. Dr. Pocock. coming of showers. Dr. Pocock.
Cyril, quoted by Bochart, says of them, that while - a great people and a strong ;] The Prophet speaks they are breaking their food with their teeth, the noise of the locusts in such military terms, and represents them is like that of flame driven about by the wind. Abp. like such a formidable army, that it has induced several | Newcome.
of God's judgment.
He exhorteth to repentance. Before CHRIST forear devoureth the stubble, as a strong, a the sun and the moon shall be dark, «Before
CHRIST about 800. people set in battle array.
and the stars shall withdraw their about 800. 6 Before their face the people shall shining:
a Isai. 13. 10. be much pained : all faces shall ga- 11 And the LORD shall utter his Ezek. 32. 7. + Heb. pot. ther + blackness.
voice before his army: for his camp 7 They shall run like mighty men; is very great: for he is strong that they shall climb the wall like men of executeth his word: for the bday of b Jer. 30.7:
Amos 5. 18. war; and they shall march every one the Lord is great and very terrible ; Zeph. 1. 13. on his ways, and they shall not break and who can abide it? their ranks:
12 | Therefore also now, saith the 8 Neither shall one thrust another; LORD, turn ye even to me with all c Jer. 4. I. they shall walk every one in his your heart, and with fasting, and with
path: and when they fall upon the weeping, and with mourning : 1 Or, dart. || sword, they shall not be wounded. 13 And rend your heart, and not
9 They shall run to and fro in the your garments, and turn unto the city; they shall run upon the wall, LORD your God: for he is dgracious d Exod. 34. O.
Ps. 86. 3. they shall climb up upon the houses; and merciful, slow to anger, and of Jonah 4:2.
they shall enter in at the windows great kindness, and repenteth him of · like a thief.
the evil. 10 The earth shall quake before 14 e Who knoweth if he will return e Jonah 3. 9.
them; the heavens shall tremble : and repent, and leave a blessing behind Dr. Chandler, in his Travels in Asia Minor, takes of the people were the cause, which merited this dreadnotice of the prodigious crackling and noise which ac- ful visitation : and the way to remove it was for the companied an accidental fire, which was kindled in the people to repent of their sins, by open confession and long parched grass near Troas, and devoured all before acknowledgment of them, by a deep humiliation and it. Parkhurst.
sorrow for them, and by utterly renouncing and for6.- all faces shall gather blackness.] The alteration saking them. This is the great reason of the Prophet's in the countenance was to indicate the inward pain. discourse, and the main point which he pursues throughDr. Pocock. Compare Jer. viii. 21; Nahum ii. 10. W., out it. Reading. Lowth.
- turn ye even to me with all your heart,] Let not 7. They shall run like mighty wen ; &c.] They shall your heart be divided between God and your idols or march in such a swift and orderly manner, that no place other sins, but let it be given wholly up to Him. God shall be inaccessible to them, nor any force be able to requires in our love and service of Him, that it be “with withstand them. W. Lowth.
all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our might,” 8. Neither shall one thrust another ;) Many writers Deut. vi. 5; “and with all our mind,” as our Saviour mention the order of locusts in their flight and march; adds in repeating that first and great commandment, and their manner of proceeding directly forwards, what- without obeying which no other can be duly observed, ever obstacles were interposed. Abp. Newcome. See Dr. Mark xii. 30. Without being actuated by the heart, al. Shaw's note on Exod. x. 15.
performances of the outward man are insufficient and - and when they fall upon the sword, they shall vain, or rather they are displeasing. But when the not be wounded.] This refers to the scales with which heart shall have duly performed its part, the outward
are covered as with a coat of mail. Abp. New- | man is not left unconcerned, but hath his part also to come,
perform, in order to express how the inward man of the 9. They shall run to and fro in the city ; &c.] Com- heart is really affected : and so by the joint concurrence pare Exod. x. 5, 6. St. Jerome saith of locusts, that of both true conversion or repentance is made up. The there is nothing inaccessible to them; they seize, not Prophet therefore to the inward affection of the whole only on the fields, corn, and trees, but also enter cities, heart adds those outward acts, which are to accompany houses, and the most private chambers. Dr. Pocock. and express it, “fasting, and weeping, and mourning.”
10. The earth shall quake before them ; &c.] This and Dr. Pocock. the following clause express great consternation and He that would so turn to the Lord, as to find mercy calamity. The two other clauses may well have a literal with Him, must not turn from one sin to another, or sense; see the note on ver. 2: or they may denote, in a from one sect to another, or from one religion to another strong Eastern manner, devastation spread through a only; but he must turn from all his sins, from all his whole country. Abp. Newcome.
former wicked ways and unrighteous thoughts, and 11. And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army:1 / must “turn unto the Lord with all his heart :” that is, Like a leader or general, He shall command or encou- our hearts must be wholly inclined to God, and our rage this His army, and can make the meanest parts of souls be offered up as a whole burnt offering unto the creation the instruments of His vengeance. God's Him, without any mental reservation or hypocritical voice sometimes denotes His anger: the most terrible equivocation. There is no agreement between Christ way of declaring His will is when He speaks to us by and Belial, between God and sin in the same heart. Bp. Ilis judgments. Compare chap. ii. 16; Amos i. 2; | Beveridge. Jer. xxv. 30. The time of God's particular judgments, 13. And rend your heart, and not your garments,] Not as well as that of His general one, is commonly ex- merely your garments. See Gen. xxxvii. 29, 34 ; Job pressed by the “ day of the Lord," the former being an | i. 20 ; 2 Sam. i. 11. earnest and imperfect representation of the latter. Wil - repenteth him of the evil.] See the notes on Gen.
vi. 6. 12. Therefore also now, saith the Lord, &c.] The sins / 14. Who knoweth if he will return &c.] Who knoweth
Joel prescribeth a fast.
He comforteth Zion, 1 him; even a meat offering and a drink you the northern army, and will drive ci about 800. offering unto the LORD your God? him into a land barren and desolate, about 800,
15 | Blow the trumpet in Zion, with his face toward the east sea, and f Chap. 1. 14. f sanctify a fast, call a solemn assem- his hinder part toward the utmost sea, bly: .
and his stink shall come up, and his 16 Gather the people, sanctify the ill savour shall come up, because the congregation, assemble the elders, hath done great things. gather the children, and those that 21 4 Fear not, 0 land; be glad feed to do. suck the breasts : let the bridegroom and rejoice: for the LORD will do go forth of his chamber, and the bride great things. out of her closet.
22 Be not afraid, ye beasts of the 17 Let the priests, the ministers of field: for the pastures of the wilderthe LORD, weep between the porch ness do spring, for the tree beareth and the altar, and let them say, Spare her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do thy people, O Lord, and give not yield their strength.
thine heritage to reproach, that the 23 Be glad then, ye children of
a heathen should | rule over them: Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your against them. śwherefore should they say among God: for he hath given you || the & 79 10.&* the people, Where is their God. former rain + moderately, and he ! Or, a
18 q Then will the Lord be jea- h will cause to come down for you the righteousness. lous for his land, and pity his people. rain, the former rain, and the latter according to
19 Yea, the Lord will answer and rain in the first month. say unto his people, Behold, I will 24 And the floors shall be full of Deut. 11. 14. send you corn, and wine, and oil, wheat, and the fats shall overflow with and ye shall be satisfied therewith : wine and oil. and I will no more make you a re- 25 And I will restore to you the proach among the heathen:
years that the locust hath eaten, the 20 But I will remove far off from cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and
righteousness. h Lev. 26. 4.
whether your humiliation may not yet prevail with 18. Then will the Lord be jealous for his land,] He Him, and cause Him to withdraw His judginents, and will be moved with great affection for it, so as to take instead thereof to bestow a blessing of plenty upon away what is injurious to it, and to seek its good, that us; so that there may be both matter and occasion for it continue not desolate and a reproach to its enemies. the sacrifices of our thanksgiving unto the Lord ? Bp. | Dr. Pocock. Hall.
20. — and his stink shall come up, &c.] That a strong 16. Gather the people, &c.] As their sin and its punish- and pestilential smell arises from the putrid heaps of ment was national, extending to all ranks and degrees locusts, whether driven upon land or cast up from the of people, the repentance and humiliation was to be as sea, in which they have perished, appears from the tesextensive as general. All are summoned; none ex- timony of many writers. Among various other authoempted. Wogan.
rities to the same effect, St. Jerome is quoted by Bochart 17. — between the porch and the altar,] The altar of as saying, that in his time those troops of locusts, burnt offerings stood before the porch of the temple, which covered Judea, were cast by the wind into the 2 Chron. viii. 12; and the mid-space in the open court sea; and that, when the waters threw them up, their was naturally a place of great concourse, that the smell caused a pestilence. Thevenot says of them, prayers of the people might accompany the sacrifice. “They live not above six months : and when dead, Abp. Newcome.
the stench of them so corrupts and infects the air, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord,] It that it often occasions dreadful pestilences.” Abp. Newwas usual to prescribe certain forms of prayer or praise come. to the priests in their publick ministrations : see Hosea - because he hath done great things,] Or rather, xiv. 2; 1 Chron. xvi. 36. Such was this here men- /" although He hath done great things." Though this tioned, wherein they beseech God to deliver His people, army of insects, by Divine appointment, has made such not for any merit of theirs, but for the glory of His own destruction in the land, yet shall it come to this name, lest the neighbouring heathens should take occa- ! shameful end. W. Lowth. Or,“ because He doth or sion to blaspheme His name, as if He were not able to shall do great things;" He, that is, Jehovah. Junius, protect His people. Compare Ps. xlii, 10; lxxix. 10; | Castalio. cxv. 2. W. Lowth.
23. - for he hath given you the former rain] In the - that the heathen should rule over them :) Or, as margin, “ a teacher of righteousness :” a translation, in the margin, “should use a byword against them;" which the words will well bear; and which is given in that is, should make them the subject of scorn and many versions, and by many expositors of great rote derision, as if they were forsaken by the God whom and learning, most of whom understand it as a prothey worshipped. W. Lowth.
phecy of the Messiah. Dr. Pocock. The translation “rule over them” may be supported;
the former rain and the latter rain in the first because, when they were distressed by the locusts, they month.] See the notes on Deut. xi. 14 ; xxviii. 12; would be an easier prey to an eneiny: but to “ make a 1 Sam. xii. 17. The first month was Nisan, answering proverb of them” is the more natural translation. Abp. I partly to our March, and partly to April. Secker.
T 25.- I will restore to you the years that the locust