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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Joel 3

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-21

Joel 3:1 For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,

Joel 3:1 Comments The restoration of Israel is prophesied in Ezekiel 36-37. Both passages of Scripture are followed by a description a great battle between the Lord and the enemies of Israel.

Joel 3:3 And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.

Joel 3:3 Comments The ancient practice of casting lots was not restricted to the Jewish culture under the Mosaic Law. The books Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Nahum provide us with references in the Old Testament Scriptures to the custom of casting of lots by someone other than the people of Israel, being practiced among the Babylonians (Obadiah 1:11), the Ninevites (Nahum 3:10), and among the sailors (Jonah 1:7), which Adam Clarke suggests to be Phoenicians based on Ezekiel 27:12. [7]

[7] Adam Clarke, The Book of the Prophet Jonah, in Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on Jonah 1:3.

Joel 3:3, “And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.”

Obadiah 1:11, “In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.”

Nahum 3:10, “Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.”

Jonah 1:7, “And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.”

Ezekiel 27:12, “Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kind of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs.”

The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus Christ cast lots at the foot of the Cross (Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:24). The Roman statesman Cicero (106-43 B.C.) makes numerous references to the widespread practice of casting lots among the ancient cultures in his work de divination. [8] The Jewish historian Josephus (A.D. 37-100) mentions the practice of casting lots among the Roman soldiers who had encompassed the city of Jerusalem under Titus. [9] The Roman historian Suetonius (A.D. 70-130) mentions this ancient practice among Roman leaders by appointing men to tasks by casting lots, as well as casting lots as a form of divination. [10]

[8] For example, Cicero writes, “But what nation is there, or what state, which is not influenced by the omens derived from the entrails of victims, or by the predictions of those who interpret prodigies, or strange lights, or of augurs, or astrologers, or by those who expound lots (for these are about what come under the head of art); or, again, by the prophecies derived from dreams, or soothsayers (for these two are considered natural kinds of divination)?” ( de divination 1.6) Cicero also writes, “What, now, is a lot? Much the same as the game of mora, or dice, l and other games of chance, in which luck and fortune are all in all, and reason and skill avail nothing. These games are full of trick and deceit, invented for the object of gain, superstition, or error.” ( de divination 2.41) See Cicero, The Treatises of M. T. Cicero on the Nature of the Gods; on Divination; on Fate; on the Republic; on the Laws; and on Standing for the Consulship, trans. C. D. Yonge (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853), 146-147, 235.

[9] Josephus writes, “They also cast lots among themselves who should be upon the watch in the nighttime, and who should go all night long round the spaces that were interposed between the garrisons.” ( Wars 5.12.2)

[10] For example, Suetonius writes, “When later, on his way to Illyricum, he [Tiberius] visited the oracle of Geryon near Patavium, and drew a lot which advised him to seek an answer to his inquiries by throwing golden dice into the fount of Aponus, it came to pass that the dice which he threw showed the highest possible number and even to-day those very dice may be seen under the water.” ( Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Tiberius) Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, trans. Joseph Gavorse (New York: Modern Library, 1931), 130-131.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Joel 3". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/joel-3.html. 2013.
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