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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Joel 1

 

 

Verses 1-20


The Coming of the Locusts a Harbinger of the Day of the Lord

After the title (Joel 1:1), the prophet announces an unheard of and long to be remembered ruin, wrought by locusts (Joel 1:2-4), and summons the users of wine to bewail the destruction of vineyards (Joel 1:5-7). He calls for lamentation, like that of a widowed bride, over the loss of sacrificial offerings, and wasted fields and orchards (Joel 1:8-12). He commands the priests to lament and to appoint a fast and a meeting for prayer (Joel 1:13-14), and then he vividly describes the failure of crops and distress of cattle (Joel 1:16-20).

1. Joel] see Intro. Pethuel] entirely unknown.

4. The palmerworm, cankerworm, caterpiller, and locust, are not different insects, but in the original four different names of the locust, possibly representing it in different stages of growth; yet here in a climactic description, i.e. 'swarm upon swarm.' The use of synonyms for a common object is characteristic of Hebrew.

5. New wine] RV 'sweet wine,' primarily the freshly pressed juice of the grape or other fruit.

6. A nation] figurative of the locusts: cp. similar figure for ants and conies in Proverbs 30:25. My land] i.e. of Jehovah since the prophet gives His message. The teeth of a lion] in destructiveness. The cheek teeth] RV 'The jaw teeth.' The lion was common in ancient Palestine.

7. Locusts consume not only plants and vegetables, but also small branches and tender bark, thus exposing the white wood. Cast it away] i.e. the unedible fragments of bark and wood which fall to the ground.

8. A general address to the people. The simile may contain an underlying reference to the abandonment of the people by Jehovah, since the union between them was often typified by the marriage relation, and the disaster of the locust plague implied that Jehovah had forsaken the land.

9. The meat offering (RV 'meal offering') and the drink offering] Two daily offerings which went with the morning and evening sacrifice of a lamb, the one consisting of fine flour mingled with oil and the other of a libation of wine: cp. Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:1-8; Leviticus 2:1-16. Is cut off] i.e. cannot be provided.

10. The land mourneth] Nature is represented in the OT. with the same feelings as those of man. Cp. for mourning Isaiah 33:9; Jeremiah 12:4, Jeremiah 12:11; Jeremiah 23:10; Amos 1:2.

Corn, wine, and oil, the three principal products of the soil of Palestine, frequently mentioned together as from Jehovah (Joel 2:19; Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 11:14; Deuteronomy 28:51; Jeremiah 31:12; Hosea 2:8, Hosea 2:23). The corn (ARV 'grain') was principally wheat, barley, and spelt or vetch. Rye and oats were not grown. The oil was that of the olive.

11. Be ye ashamed, etc.] RM 'The husbandmen are ashamed, the vinedressers howl.'

12. Palm tree] Symbol of glory or beauty (Psalms 92:12; Song of Solomon 7:7.; Jeremiah 10:5), but here mentioned as a fruit tree. Its dates are very valuable. The apple] sometimes rendered 'apricot,' although apples are found in Palestine: cp. Proverbs 25:11; Song of Solomon 2:3, Song of Solomon 2:5; Song of Solomon 7:9.

13. Gird yourselves] i.e. with sackcloth: cp. Isaiah 32:11. Lie all night] cp. David (2 Samuel 12:16), Ahab (1 Kings 21:27). Nothing was more terrible to the Jewish mind than the failure of the daily sacrifice.

14. Sanctify.. a fast] i.e. keep a holy fast unto Jehovah. As feasting is a natural expression of joy so fasting is of grief, and fasts were observed in times of distress along with confession of sin and prayer for divine favour (Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6; 2 Samuel 12:16; 1 Kings 21:27; Psalms 69:10.; Ezra 10:6; Nehemiah 9:1; Jonah 3:5-9; Daniel 9:3), and entered also regularly into the Jewish calendar (Leviticus 16:29; Zechariah 7:3, Zechariah 7:5; Zechariah 8:19). Gather the elders, etc.] better, 'Gather, O elders, all the inhabitants,' or omit 'elders.'

15. The day of the Lord] early in popular thought a time when Jehovah granted victory unto Israel (Amos 5:18), but in prophetic discourse a time of signal divine manifestation in judgment (as here in the locust plague, Joel 2:1, Joel 2:11, cp. Isaiah 2:12; Isaiah 13:6; Amos 5:18; Zephaniah 1:7, Zephaniah 1:14; Malachi 4:5), and especially in connexion with the final consummation of Jehovah's plan for Israel, and thus a day of salvation (Joel 2:31.; Joel 3:14.; Malachi 4:5.).

16. Meat] i.e. food. Many of the celebrations at the Temple were occasions of rejoicing over abundant harvests and the like (Deuteronomy 16:10, Deuteronomy 16:13-15; Deuteronomy 12:6-7; Deuteronomy 26:1, Deuteronomy 26:10.)

17. RM 'The seeds shrivel,' from the drought, which seems to have accompanied the locust plague.

19. Fire.. flame] figurative of the drought.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Joel 1:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/joel-1.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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