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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Joel 2

 

 

Verses 1-32


Repentance followed by Restoration

Joel 2:1-17 are another description of the locust plague. An alarm is sounded as though the Day of Jehovah had come (Joel 2:1-3). The advance of the locusts into the city is described under the figure of an invading army (Joel 2:4-11). A message to the penitent is given from Jehovah (Joel 2:12-14), and a call is issued for a fast of supplication (Joel 2:15-17). Then follow the announcements that Jehovah has had pity on His people, and that He will remove the locusts (Joel 2:18-20), and restore abundantly the prosperity of the land (Joel 2:21-27), and afterward pour out His spirit and grant deliverance in His great day (Joel 2:28-32).

1. The blown trumpet was a signal of danger (Jeremiah 6:1; Ezekiel 33:3; Amos 3:6). Day of the Lord] cp. Joel 1:15.

2. Darkness, etc.] caused either by the clouds of locusts, or a figure of calamity: cp. Amos 5:18; Zephaniah 1:5.

3. The devastation wrought by the locusts was as though the country had been swept by a fire. Garden of Eden] Genesis 2:8. called also 'garden of Jehovah,' Genesis 13:10 : cp. Ezekiel 28:13; Ezekiel 36:35.

4. The head of a locust resembles somewhat that of a horse, hence the German name heupferd and Italian cavalletta. So shall they run] RV 'so do they run.' The description in this and the following vv. is not of a future but a present catastrophe, hence the verbs are to be rendered in the present, as in RV.

5. Shall they leap] RV 'do they leap.' The rustling noise of locusts has been likened by travellers to the sounds 'of the dashing of waters by the mill wheel,' and 'of a great cataract,' and their feeding to the noise 'of the crackling of a prairie fire.'

6. RV 'At their presence the peoples are in anguish: all faces are waxed pale.'

7. RV 'They run.. they climb.. they march.. they break not.'

8. RV 'Neither doth one thrust another; they march every one in his path: and they burst through the weapons, and break not off their course.' Thus compact is the march of locusts. No weapons avail to stem their approach.

9. RV 'They leap upon the city; they run upon the wall; they climb up into the houses; they enter.'

10. 'The earth quaketh.. heavens tremble.. are darkened.. stars withdraw.' The advent of the locusts is idealised as though with them came also the earthquake and the eclipse. The Hebrews conceived of the heavens as solid, and hence spoke of their trembling.

11. RV 'uttereth.' The voice of Jehovah is thunder (Psalms 29), hence the thought is that of a great storm accompanying the locusts.

12. With all your heart] cp Deuteronomy 6:5.

13. Rend your heart] even as the Psalmist speaks of a broken heart (Psalms 51:17).

14. The divine will is neither arbitrary nor fixed, but is deeply affected by human intercessions and conditions, and hence a purpose of destruction may be changed (Jeremiah 18:18; Jeremiah 42:10; Amos 7:3, Amos 7:6).

15. Cp. Joel 2:1, Joel 1:14.

16. Closet] The same, of course, as the chamber of the bridegroom. The Heb. word means 'canopy' or 'pavilion,' and its usage comes from the primitive nuptial tent provided for the wedded pair.

17. The porch of the Temple, in front of which stood the altar in the court of the priests. That the heathen, etc.] RM 'that the nations should use a byword against them,' i.e. that they should become a byword through their wretched abandonment by God. RV 'among the peoples.' On the taunt, cp. Psalms 42:10; Psalms 79:10; Psalms 115:2.

18. ARV 'Then was Jehovah jealous for his land and had pity on his people.' It is implied that the fast and solemn assembly were held, and that Jehovah responded to the cry of His people with the promises of Joel 2:19-32.

19. RV 'and the Lord answered and said unto his people.'

20. The northern army] or, 'the northerner,' i.e. the locusts, which might possibly have come from the N., although usually in Palestine from the S. or SE. Probably they are idealised as typical of the enemies of Israel, who are frequently spoken of as coming from the N (Jeremiah 1:14; Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 10:22; Ezekiel 38:6, Ezekiel 38:15; Ezekiel 39:2). Land barren and desolate] the deserts S. and SE. of Judah. With his face] RV 'his forepart.' The east sea] i.e. the Dead Sea. The utmost sea] RV 'the western sea,' i.e. the Mediterranean.

And his stink, etc.] See Intro. Hath done, etc.] i.e. in destruction. The same phrase is used of the beneficent acts of Jehovah in Joel 2:21.

21. Introduces the promise of renewed prosperity.

22. Be not afraid] of famine. Do spring] i.e. are renewed with fresh grass: cp. Joel 1:7, Joel 1:12, Joel 1:18., where the desolation is described.

23. Moderately] RV 'in just measure.' The former.. and the latter rain] the rains at seedtime in early winter and before the harvest in early spring. In the first month] RM 'at (= as at) the first,' i.e. before the calamity of drought and locusts.

25. Cp. Joel 1:4; Joel 2:11.

26. And my people, etc.] probably by copyist error from next verse.

27. The rain and the harvests are evidences of Jehovah's presence. Israel] the Jewish community so called after the exile. None else] an assertion of monotheism: cp. Deuteronomy 4:35, Deuteronomy 4:39; 1 Kings 8:60; Isaiah 45:5-6, Isaiah 45:18.

And my people, etc.] The glorious climax. Under the figure of the locust plague and the promised years of plenty, the prophet saw the final judgment and felicity of Israel, and thus he is naturally led to the thought of Joel 2:28-32.

28. Afterward] The prophets saw the future purposes of God realised one after the other without fixed intervals of time. Material blessings imply spiritual ones: both nature and man are to be renewed. My spirit] of knowledge or divine revelation, since it results in prophecy, dreams, and visions: a spirit of obedience is presupposed: cp. Jeremiah 24:7; Jeremiah 31:33.; Jeremiah 32:29; Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:27; Ezekiel 39:29; Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 44:3. All flesh] all classes of society, as the context shows. Your daughters] Women frequently had the prophetic gift in Israel. Under prophecy we may understand an utterance, through divine ecstasy or compulsion (1 Samuel 10:10.; Amos 3:8; Isaiah 8:11; Jeremiah 1:7; Jeremiah 20:9). Dreams, although belittled by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:28), and visions were frequent means of divine revelation: cp. Dreams, Genesis 20:3; Genesis 28:12; Genesis 37:5, Genesis 37:9; Visions Isaiah 6:1; Amos 7:1, Amos 7:4, Amos 7:7; Amos 8:1; Jeremiah 1:11; Ezekiel 1:1., etc. Since young men are dreamers and old men seers, it may be implied that youth shall have the knowledge of age and age the enthusiasm of youth.

29. All persons, even menials, receive the spirit.

30. Great events, according to the thought of the ancient world, were accompanied with striking historical and natural phenomena; hence the great Day of Jehovah, which involved the destruction of His enemies and the redemption of His people, would be heralded with wonders. Blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke] indications of warfare are the wonders in the earth.

31. Eclipses are the wonders in the heavens: cp. Amos 8:9; Isaiah 13:10; Ezekiel 3:27; Matthew 24:29; Luke 21:10.

32. RV 'In Jerusalem shall be those that escape as Jehovah hath said, and among the remnant those whom Jehovah doth call.' In the general destruction the condition of escape is calling on Jehovah, and the saved remnant of Israel is at Jerusalem, and among them are those whom Jehovah has called from elsewhere, i.e. the Jews of the dispersion: cp. Isaiah 27:12.; Isaiah 66:19. Joel 2:28-32 are applied in Acts 2:16. to the day of Pentecost. This application shows that this OT. prophecy is fulfilled in facts of divine manifestations rather than in an identity of form.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Joel 2:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/joel-2.html. 1909.

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