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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Joel 3

 

 


Verses 1-21


The Judgment of the Heathen and the Glory of Israel

A general judgment of all nations, for their mistreatment of Israel, is announced in the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:1-4). Tyre, Zidon, and Philistia, immediate neighbours of Israel, are arraigned for robbery and slave trade, and sentenced according to the lex talionis (Joel 3:5-8). All nations are then summoned as though to a tryst of arms before Jehovah (Joel 3:9-13), whose terrible Day is described (Joel 3:14-17), ending with the blessing of Judah through the fertility of its land, and with the doom of desolation for Egypt and Edom (Joel 3:18-21).

1. In those days, etc.] i.e. the period of the Day of Jehovah just mentioned. Bring again the captivity] restore the prosperity, a technical phrase for an epoch-making change: cp. Amos 9:14; Psalms 14:7; Job 42:10; Ezekiel 16:53.

2. Valley of Jehoshaphat] an ideal valley in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, called Jehoshaphat from the meaning of the name, 'Jehovah judges.' This prophecy probably occasioned the name (not traced earlier than 300 a.d.) of the modern valley of Jehoshaphat, S. of Jerusalem.

3. Captives of ancient warfare were distributed by lot (Obadiah 1:11; Nahum 3:10) and bartered in connexion with carousals.

4. Coasts of Palestine] RV 'regions of Philistia?' The question implies a protest against punishment by Tyre, etc. Will ye render, etc.] RM 'Will ye repay a deed of mine, or will ye do aught unto me? swiftly,' etc. Do you think to repay me a wrong which I have done you? or will you wrong me? In either case vengeance will be speedily executed upon you.

5. My silver, etc.] not necessarily from the Temple, but the property of the people was reckoned as Jehovah's. Temples] i.e. palaces, the dwellings of the rich.

6. The Phœnicians (Tyre and Zidon) were famous as slave traders (Ezekiel 27:13; Amos 1:9). Grecians] Heb Jevanim, i.e. 'Ionians,' the name by which the Greeks were commonly known amongst the Hebrews: cp. Genesis 10:2-4; Ezekiel 27:13; Isaiah 66:19; Zechariah 9:13. That ye might, etc.] and thus increase your gain; since the further a slave from home, the greater his value, owing to his less opportunity to escape. Joel 3:5-6 do not necessarily refer directly to any specific events, but to a long course of conduct whereby these peoples profited by every disaster that befell Judah.

7, 8. The captives are to be returned; the enemies in turn are to be taken captive and sold by the Jews to the far distant Sabeans in Arabia, a people famous for traffic in spices and gold (Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 6:20; Ezekiel 27:22; Job 6:19): cp. for story of their queen 1 Kings 10.

9. The theme of the general judgment announced in Joel 3:1-2 is resumed. Heralds are to summon the nations as though to a trial of arms with the hosts of Jehovah (Joel 3:9-11). Gentiles] RV 'nations.' Prepare] RM 'sanctify' with sacrifices or other religious ceremonies (1 Samuel 7:8.; Jeremiah 6:4; Micah 3:5).

10. Instruments of peace are to be made those of war, the reverse of the promise of Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3.

11. Assemble yourselves] RV 'Haste ye.' Jehovah also is to bring His heavenly hosts (Psalms 68:17; Psalms 103:20; Zechariah 14:5).

12. Jehovah now speaks announcing His advent for judgment. According to the NT. the advent of Jehovah is fulfilled in the first and second advents of Christ: cp. Matthew 25:31., and see below.

13. The heavenly host is addressed. The harvest, ordinary symbol of joy and bounty (Psalms 4:7), is here one of terror (Isaiah 63:1.; Revelation 14:15): cp. also Matthew 13:30, Matthew 13:39.

14. The valley of decision] determination, judgment: the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2, Joel 3:12).

15. Cp. Joel 2:10, Joel 2:31.

16. Roar] suggests the lion. His voice] the thunder: cp. Psalms 29. The figure is of a great tempest with the cry of the beast and thunder combined. Shake] cp. Joel 2:10.

The hope.. the strength] RV 'a refuge.. a stronghold': cp. Psalms 14:6; Psalms 27:1; Psalms 31:4; Psalms 43:2; Psalms 46:1. The very sounds announcing the doom of the nations will herald a place of safety for Israel.

17. The prophet knew of no heavenly Jerusalem, and he thought of the final consummation of the people of God in Palestine. Holy] inviolable. No enemy should again pass through Jerusalem.

18. Judah shall be wonderfully productive: cp. Amos 9:13. The perennial spring of the Temple mountain, which Isaiah (Isaiah 8:6) and the author of Psalms 46 had mentioned as a symbol of Jehovah's presence, Joel saw, after the manner of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:1.), issuing as a stream to water the dry and desert portion of the land symbolised under the valley of Shittim, or, RM, 'Acacias' (which is the meaning of Shittim), since the acacia grows in very dry places. A Shittim E. of the Jordan is mentioned (Numbers 25:1; Numbers 33:49; Joshua 2:1), but it is not probably referred to here.

19. As a foil to the fertility of Judah is the desolation of Egypt and Edom, probably mentioned as typical examples of the countries hostile to Judah, and from which Israel had suffered the cruelties of warfare and massacre from the outset of their history. Edom, after the exile, was the object of bitter feeling for recent hostilities. Egypt, it may have been thought, had never adequately suffered for its treatment of Israel when in bondage, since it had escaped the overthrows of Assyria and Chaldea.

20. In their felicity, as described in Joel 3:17.

21. For I will cleanse, etc.] Either the city will be cleansed from all bloodguiltiness, cp. Ezekiel 22:3.; Isaiah 4:4; Malachi 3:3 or, more probably, we must render, with RM, 'and I will hold as innocent their blood which I have not held as innocent,' i.e. the blood of Israel will be held to have been shed innocently, and hence will be avenged upon their enemies. The guarantee is, For the Lord dwelleth in Zion: cp. Joel 3:17. 'Joel, in his little book, passes from the City of Destruction to the City Celestial.'

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Joel 3:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/joel-3.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 30th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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