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Bible Commentaries
Joel 2

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;

A more terrific judgment than that of the locusts, foretold under imagery drawn from that of the calamity then engrossing the afflicted nation. He therefore exhorts to repentance, assuring the Jews of Yahweh's pity if they would repent. Promise of the Holy Spirit in the last days under Messiah, and the deliverance of all believers in Him.

Blow ye the trumpet - to sound an alarm of coming war (Numbers 10:1-36; Hosea 5:8; Amos 3:6); the office of the priests. Joel 1:15 is an anticipation of the fuller prophecy in this chapter.

Verse 2

A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness. Accumulation of synonyms, to intensify the picture of calamity (Isaiah 8:22, "Behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish: and they shall be driven to darkness"). Appropriate here, as the swarms of locusts intercepting the sunlight suggested darkness as a fit image of the coming visitation.

As the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong. Substitute a comma for a colon after mountains: as the morning light spreads itself from height to height over the mountains, until the whole horizon is covered with light, so a people numerous (Maurer) and strong shall spread themselves far and wide; but it shall be a wide spreading of darkness, not of light as "the morning." The suddenness of the rising of the morning light, which gilds the mountain-tops first, is, less probably, thought by others to be the point of comparison to the sudden inroad of the foe. Maurer refers it to the yellow splendour which arises from the reflection of the sunlight on wings of the immense hosts of locusts as they approach. This is likely; understanding, however, that the locusts are only the images of human foes. The immense Assyrian host of invaders under Sennacherib (cf. Isaiah 37:36) destroyed by God (Joel 2:18; Joel 2:20-21) may be the primary objects of the prophecy: "The angel of the Lord ... smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they (the Jews) arose early in the morning, behold, they (the Assyrians) were all dead corpses;" but ultimately the last anti-Christian confederacy, destroyed by special divine interposition, is meant (note, Joel 3:2).

There hath not been ever the like, neither shall be anymore after it, even to the years of many generations - a proof that no mere ordinary plague of locusts is the final and exhaustive fulfillment of the prophecy (cf. Joel 1:2, and Exodus 10:14, "Before them there were no such locusts, neither after them shall be such"): which is best reconciled with the statement here by the view that literal locusts were meant there, but that here figurative locusts are meant.

Verse 3

A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.

A fire devoureth before them, and behind them - i:e., on every side (1 Chronicles 19:10).

Fire ... flame - destruction ... desolation (Isaiah 10:17).

The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness - conversely, Isaiah 51:3, "The Lord shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord" (Ezekiel 36:35).

Verse 4

The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.

The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses. Not literal, but figurative locusts. The fifth trumpet, or first woe, in the parallel passage (Revelation 9:1-21) cannot be literal; for in Revelation 9:11 it is said, "They had a king over them, the angel of the bottomless pit-in the Hebrew Abaddon (Destroyer), but in the Greek Apollyon;" and (Revelation 9:7) "The shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle, and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men." Compare Joel 2:11, "The day of the Lord is great and very terrible;" implying their ultimate reference to be connected with Messiah's second coming in judgment. The locust's head is so like that of a horse that the Italians call it cavallette. Compare Job 39:20, "the horse ... as the grasshopper," or locust.

Run - the locust bounds, not unlike the horse's gallop, raising and letting down together the two front feet.

Verse 5

Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.

Like the noise of chariots - referring to the loud sound caused by their wings in motion, or else the movement of their hind legs.

On the tops of mountains. Maurer connects this with "they," i:e., the locusts, which first occupy the higher places, and thence descend to the lower places, while they are on the former, which no chariots can reach, shall yet be "like the noise of chariots." It may refer (as in the English version) to "chariots," which make most noise in crossing over rugged heights. But I prefer taking it, "like the noise of chariots, on the tops of mountains shall they (the locusts) leap."

Verse 6

Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.

Before their face the people shall be much pained - namely, with terror. The Arab proverb is, 'More terrible than the locusts.'

All faces shall gather blackness - (Isaiah 13:8, "Their faces shall be as flames;" Hebrew, 'faces of the flames;' Nahum 2:10, "The faces of them all gather blackness"), which passage seems derived by Nahum from Joel; implying that the Assyrians shall themselves in turn, by a just retribution, experience the blackness of face which they formerly caused to Israel and Judah. Maurer, after Aben Ezra, translates [qibªtsuw paa'ruwr (H6289)], 'withdraw their brightness' [ paa'ar (H6286), to glow with heat, hence, to be bright] - i:e., wax pale, lose colour (cf. Joel 2:10, and Joel 3:15, and Jeremiah 30:6, "All faces are turned into paleness"). But the Hebrew verb means gather, rather than withdraw (Kimchi), therefore the English version is best.

Verses 7-9

They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:

Depicting the regular military order of their advance, 'One locust not turning a nail's breadth out of his own place in the march' (Jerome). Compare Proverbs 30:27, "The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands."

Verse 8. Neither shall one thrust another - i:e., press upon so as to thrust his next neighbour out of his place, as usually occurs in a large multitude.

When they fall upon the sword - literally, among the darts or missiles. They shall not be wounded - because they are protected by defensive armour (Grotius). They had a kind of gorget round their neck, and a soldier-like helm on their heads. Maurer translates, 'Their (the locusts') ranks are not broken [ yibtsaa`uw (H1214)] when they rush among missiles' (cf. Daniel 11:22, "They shall be broken").

Verse 9. They shall run to and fro in the city - greedily seeking what they can devour. "The city" is Jerusalem, which implies that human foes, not mere insects, are meant.

They shall run upon the wall - surrounding each house in Eastern buildings.

They shall enter in at the windows - though barred.

Like a thief - the symbol of the coming Antichrist (John 10:1; cf. Jeremiah 9:21, "Death is come up into our windows, and is entered into our palaces"). As these symbolical locusts, the precursory instruments of God's judgments, come unawares as a thief, so Christ, the judge, Himself saith, "Behold, I come as a thief" (Revelation 16:15; cf. Revelation 3:3; Matthew 24:33; Luke 12:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10).

Verse 10

The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:

The earth shall quake before them - i:e., the inhabitants of the earth quake with fear of them.

The heavens shall tremble - i:e., "the powers of the heavens shall be shaken" (Matthew 24:29); its illumining powers are disturbed by the locusts, which intercept the sunlight with their dense flying swarm. These, however, are but the images of revolutions of states causal by such foes as were to invade Judea.

Verse 11

And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army - so among Mohammedans, 'Lord of the locusts' is a title of God.

His voice - His word of command to the locusts, and to the antitypical human foes of Judea, as "His army." He is strong that executeth his word - (Revelation 18:8 "Strong is the Lord God who judgeth her"); language evidently taken from Joel, so entirely at unity are the prophets.

Verse 12

Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:

Therefore. With such judgments impending over the Jews, Yahweh Himself urges them to repentance.

Also now, saith the Lord - even now, what none could have hoped or believed possible, God still invites you to the hope of salvation. What pathetic tenderness marks this sudden turn from threatening to loving invitation!

Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. Their sin being most heinous, needs extraordinary humiliation. The outward marks of repentance are to signify the depth of their sorrow for sin.

Mourning - literally, with beating on the breast; as the publican smote on his breast, crying, "God be merciful to me a sinner" [ bªmicpeed (H4553)], and as the people who beheld the crucifixion of Jesus smote their breasts (Luke 18:13; Luke 23:48).

Verse 13

And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

And rend your heart, and not your garments - let there be the inward sorrow of heart, and not the mere outward manifestation of it by 'rending the garment' (Joshua 7:6).

He is gracious and merciful. The Hebrew words are intensive, very gracious and very merciful. The attributes of God here are taken from the Pentateuch (Exodus 34:6-7, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin").

Of great kindness - elsewhere rendered, as in Exodus 34:6, "abundant in goodness" [ rab (H7227) checed (H2617)]. He ... repenteth him of the evil - the calamity which He had threatened against the impenitent.

Verse 14

Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, even a meat offering and a drink offering - i:e., Who knows but He will still give plentiful harvests, out of the first-fruits of which we may offer the meat and drink offering, now "cut off" through the famine? (Joel 1:9; Joel 1:13; Joel 1:16.) So the king of Nineveh reasoned, "Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?" (Jonah 3:9.)

Leave ... behind him - as God, in visiting His people now, has left behind Him a curse, so He will, on returning to visit them, leave behind Him a blessing.

Verse 15

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:

Blow the trumpet - to convene the people (Numbers 10:3: cf. Joel 1:14). The nation was guilty, and therefore there must be a national humiliation. Compare Hezekiah's proceedings in proclaiming a solemn Passover, to which he invited Israel as well as Judah, before Sennacherib's invasion, saying, 2 Chronicles 30:6; 2 Chronicles 30:8-9, "Ye children of Israel, turn again to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and He will return to the remnant of you that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria ... yield yourselves unto the Lord ... that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you ... for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away His face from you, if ye return unto Him."

Verse 16

Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.

Sanctify the congregation - namely, by expiatory rites and purification of their persons and of their clothes with water (Calvin). (Exodus 19:10; Exodus 19:22.) Maurer translates, 'appoint a solemn assembly,' which would be a tautological repetition of Joel 2:15.

Assemble the elders, gather the children - no age was to be excepted (2 Chronicles 20:13).

Let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber - ordinarily exempted from public duties (Deuteronomy 24:5: cf. 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Corinthians 7:29).

And the bride out of her closet - [chupaah, or nuptial bed], from a Hebrew root [chaapap, to cover], referring to the canopy over it.

Verse 17

Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?

Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar - the porch of Solomon's temple on the east (1 Kings 6:3). The altar of burnt offerings outside, in the court of the priests, before the porch (2 Chronicles 8:12: cf. Ezekiel 8:16; Matthew 23:35, "between the temple and the altar"). The suppliants thus were to stand with their backs to the altar, on which they had nothing to offer, their faces toward the place of the Shekinah-presence.

Give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them. This shows that not locusts, but human foes, "the pagan," are intended. The, margin translation, 'use a byword against them,' is not supported by the Hebrew.

Wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? - i:e., do not, for thine own honour's sake, let the pagan sneer at the God of Israel, as unable to save His people-a phrase derived from the Psalms (Psalms 79:10; Psalms 115:2).

Verse 18

Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.

Then - when God sees His people penitent

Will the Lord be jealous for his land - as a husband jealous of any dishonour done to the wife whom he loves, as if done to himself. The Hebrew [ qaanaa' (H7065)] comes from an Arabic root, to be flushed in face through indignation.

Will ... be jealous. The Hebrew is rightly rendered future, as the time that precedes is future-literally, the Lord is jealous; to imply the present instantaneousness with which God will answer His people's penitent prayer (Isaiah 65:24, "Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear").

Verse 19

Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:

The Lord will answer ... his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil - rather, as Hebrew, 'the grain ... the wine ... the oil'-namely, which the locusts have destroyed (Henderson). Maurer, not so well, explains, 'the grain, etc., necessary for your sustenance.' "The Lord will answer" - namely, the prayers of His people, priests, and prophets. Compare in the case of Sennacherib, 2 Kings 19:20-21.

Verse 20

But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.

I will remove far off from you the northern army. The Hebrew expresses that the north in relation to Palestine is not merely the quarter whence the invader comes, but is his native land, 'the northlander'-namely, the Assyrian or Babylonian (cf. Jeremiah 1:14-15; Zephaniah 2:13, "the north ... Assyria"). The locust's native country is not the north, but the south, the deserts of Arabia, Egypt, and Libya. Therefore, the literal locust cannot be meant in the ulterior sense. Assyria and Babylon are the type and forerunner of all Israel's foes, Rome, and the final Antichrist, from whom God will at last deliver His people, as He did from Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35). Balaam, ages before, when Israel was on the borders of the Holy Land, had foretold the captivity in Assyria, and the destruction in turn of that great world-power, by a power coming from the west (Numbers 24:22, "Asshur shall carry thee away captive"). Abijah had foretold to Jeroboam I. that "the Lord would root up Israel out of the good land which He gave to their fathers, and would scatter them beyond the river" (1 Kings 14:15).

And will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea - more applicable to a human army's van and rear than to locusts. The northern invaders are to be dispersed in every other direction but that from which they had come: "A land barren and desolate" - i:e., Arabia Deserta: "the eastern (or front) sea" - i:e., the Dead Sea: "the utmost (or hinder) sea" - i:e., the Mediterranean. In front and behind mean east and west, as in marking the quarters of the world they faced the east, which was therefore "in front;" the west was behind them, the south was on their right, and the north on their left. And his stink shall come up. Metaphor from locusts, which perish when blown by a storm into the sea or the desert, and emit from their putrifying bodies such a stench as often breeds a pestilence.

Because he hath done great things - i:e., because the invader hath haughtily magnified himself in his doings. Compare the margin, Hebrew, he hath magnified to do; cf. as to Sennacherib, 2 Kings 19:11-13; 2 Kings 19:22; 2 Kings 19:28. This is quite inapplicable to the locusts, who merely seek food, not self-glorification in invading a country.

Verses 21-23

Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.

Fear not, O land ... Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field ... Be glad then, ye children of Zion. In an ascending gradation, the land destroyed by the enemy, the beasts of the field, and the children of Zion, the land's inhabitants, are addressed, the former two by personification.

Be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things. In contrast to the "great things" done by the haughty foe (Joel 2:20) to the hurt of Judah, stand the "great things" to be done by Yahweh for her benefit (cf. Psalms 126:2-3).

Verse 22. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit - (Zechariah 8:12). As before (Joel 1:18; Joel 1:20), he represented the beasts as groaning and crying for want of food in the "pastures," so now he re-assures them by the promise of springing pastures.

Verse 23. Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord - not merely in the springing pastures, as the brute "beasts" which cannot raise their thoughts higher, but "in the Lord" (Isaiah 61:10; Habakkuk 3:18).

For he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain. The autumnal, or "former rain," from the middle of October to the middle of December, is put first, as Joel prophesies in summer, when the locusts' invasion took place, and therefore looks to the time of early sowing in autumn, when the autumnal rain was indispensably required. Next, "the rain," generically [ geshem (H1653)], literally, the showering or heavy rain. Next, the two species of the latter. "the former and the latter rain" (in March and April). The repetition of "the former rain" implies that He will give it not merely for the exigence of that particular season when Joel spake, but also for the future in the regular course of nature, the autumn and the spring rain; the former being put first, in the order of nature, as being required for the sowing in autumn, as the latter is required in, spring for maturing the young crop. The margin, 'a teacher of righteousness' [ hamowreh (H4175) litsdaaqaah (H6666)], instead of "the former rain moderately," literally, 'according to righteousness,' has against it the objection that the same Hebrew word is translated "former rain" in the next sentence, and cannot therefore be differently translated here. Besides, Joel begins with the inferior and temporal blessings, and not until Joel 2:28 proceeds to the higher and spiritual ones, of which the former are the pledge.

Moderately - rather, 'in due measure,' as much, as the land requires-literally, 'according to right;' neither too much nor too little, either of which extremes would hurt the crop (cf. Deuteronomy 11:14; Proverbs 16:15; Jeremiah 5:24; note, Hosea 6:3). The phrase, 'in due measure,' in this clause, is parallel to 'in the first month,' in the last clause (i:e., 'in the month when first it is needed,' each rain in its proper season). Or else, "as at the first" (Isaiah 1:26; Hosea 2:15; Malachi 3:4). Heretofore the just or right order of nature has been interrupted through your sin; now God will restore it. Pusey, however, gives the following reasons for translating 'for He giveth you (or will give you) the Teacher unto righteousness' (i:e., the object of whose coming is righteousness; who brings in everlasting righteousness), (Daniel 9:1-27.)

(1) The great emphasis on the word, which is not used in the latter part of the verse where rain is spoken of [ 'et (H853) hamowreh (H4175)].

(2) The following clause, "and He maketh the rain to descend for you," according to Hebrew idiom [the waw (w) conversive], relates to a separate action, later in order of time than the former.

But if the former word, mowreh (H4175), meant early or "former" rain, both would mean the same thing. "Give" is so used of Messiah by Isaiah, "I have given Him a Witness to the peoples" (Isaiah 55:4). Thus the promise of Christ's coming precedes the promise of all other blessings. See my Introduction to Joel.

Verse 24

And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.

And the floors shall be full of wheat - the effect of the seasonable rains shall be abundance of all articles of food.

Verse 25

And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.

And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the canker-worm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm. In Joel 1:4 "the palmer-worm" ( gaazaam (H1501)), or the gnawing locust, stood first; here it stands last; otherwise the same order is retained as in Joel 1:4 ("the palmer-worm ... the locust ... the canker-worm ... the caterpillar"), where (see note) God will restore not only what has been lost by the swarming locust ( 'arbeh (H697)), and the licking locust ( yeleq (H3218)), and the consuming locust ( chaaciyl (H2625)), the most destructive species, but also the minor losses sustained by the gnawing locust ( gaazaam (H1501)).

Verse 26

And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.

And my people shall never be ashamed - shall no longer endure the "reproach" of the pagan (Joel 2:17) (Maurer); or rather, 'shall not bear the shame of disappointed hopes,' as the farmers had heretofore (Joel 1:11). So spiritually, waiting on God, His people shall not have the shame of disappointment in their expectation from Him (Romans 9:33, "Behold I lay in Zion a stumbling-stone and a rock of offence, and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed"). They who have borne the transient shame of His cross shall escape the eternal shame of unbelievers.

Verse 27

And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.

And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel - as in the Old Testament dispensation God was present by the Shekinah, so in the New Testament first, for a brief time, by "the Word made flesh dwelling among us" (John 1:14), and to the close of this dispensation by the Holy Spirit in the Church (Matthew 28:20, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world"), and probably in a more sensible manner with Israel when restored (Ezekiel 37:26-28).

And my people shall never be ashamed - not an unmeaning repetition from Joel 2:28; the twice-asserted truth enforces its unfailing certainty. As the "shame" in Joel 2:26 refers to temporal blessings, so in this verse it refers to the spiritual blessings flowing from the presence of God with His people (cf. Jeremiah 3:16-17). So in the finally renewed and regenerated earth, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their Gad" (Revelation 21:3).

Verse 28

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

Afterward - "in the last days" (Isaiah 2:2) under Messiah, after the punishment of the Jews by the Gentile nations, and then after the invasion and deliverance of Israel from the northern army. Having heretofore stated the outward blessings, he now raises their minds to the expectation of extraordinary spiritual blessings, which constitute the true restoration of God's people (Isaiah 44:3). Fulfilled in the earnest of the Spirit given on Pentecost (Acts 2:16-17, "This (the outpouring of the Spirit on the assembled disciples) is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh," etc.), in the case of the elect remnant among the Jews, and the subsequent election of a people among the Gentiles; hereafter about to be realized more fully at the restoration of Israel (Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34; Ezekiel 39:29; Zechariah 12:10), and the consequent conversion of the whole world (Isaiah 2:2; Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 66:18-23; Micah 5:7; Romans 11:12; Romans 11:15).

As the Jews have been the seedsmen of the elect Church gathered out of Jews and Gentiles, the first Gospel-preachers being Jews from Jerusalem, so they shall be the harvestmen of the coming world-wide Church, to be set up at Messiah's appearing. That the promise is not restricted to the first Pentecost appears from Peter's own words: "The promise is (not only) unto you, and to your children, (but also) to all that are afar off (both in space and in time), even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:39). So here, not merely upon the elect remnant and the Church now being gathered out of the world, but "upon all flesh." I will pour out-under the new covenant: not merely, let fall drops, as under the Old Testament (John 7:38-39).

My Spirit - the Spirit "proceeding from the Father and the Son," and at the same time One with the Father and the Son (cf. Isaiah 11:2).

Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions - not merely on a privileged few (Numbers 11:29), as the prophets of the Old Testament, but men of all ages and ranks. See Acts 21:9; and 1 Corinthians 11:5, "Every woman that prayeth or prophesieth." as to "daughters" -

i.e., women prophesying.

Dreams ... visions - (Acts 9:10, Ananias' vision concerning Saul; Acts 16:9, Paul's vision of the man of Macedonia). The "dreams" are attributed to the "old men" as more in accordance with their years; "visions" to the "young men," as adapted to their more energetic and lively minds. The three modes whereby God revealed His will under the Old Testament (Numbers 12:6), "prophecy, dreams, and visions," and "mouth to mouth" are here made the symbol of the full manifestation of Himself to all His people not only in miraculous gifts to some, but by His indwelling Spirit to all in the New Testament (John 14:21; John 14:23; John 15:15). In Acts 16:9, and also in the appearance of the Lord to Paul at Corinth, Acts 18:9, the term used is "vision," though in the night, not a dream. No other dream is mentioned in the New Testament except those given to Joseph in the very beginning of the New Testament, before the full Gospel come; and to the wife of Pilate, a Gentile (Matthew 1:20; Matthew 2:13; Matthew 27:19). "Prophesying" in the New Testament is applied to all speaking under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and not merely to foretelling events. All true Christians are "priests" and "ministers" of our God (Isaiah 61:6, "Ye (Israelites of Zion, Joel 2:3) shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles"), and have the Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Besides this, probably, a special gift of prophecy and miracle-working is to be given at or before Messiah's coming again.

Verse 29

And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

And also - And even.

Upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit. The very slaves, the Upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit. The very slaves, the most degraded and despised of men, by becoming the Lord's servants are His freemen, (1 Corinthians 7:22, "He that is called in the Lord, being a servant (slave), is the Lord's freeman;" Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; Philemon 1:16, "(Onesimus) not now as a servant (slave), but above a servant, a brother beloved, specialty to me," etc.) Therefore in Acts 2:18 ("On my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit") it is quoted, "my servants" and "my handmaidens;" as it is only by becoming the Lord's servants they are spiritually free, and partake of the same spirit as the other members of the Church. Also Peter quotes it, "I will pour out OF my Spirit;" teaching thereby that we finite beings can only receive a measure of the infinite Spirit. So the first Church in Rome, in its Jewish element, consisted of converted Jews, Roman freedmen who had been slaves. The section of Rome beyond the Tiber was occupied by such Roman Jewish freedmen (Philo, 'Ad Caium,' p. 1014).

Verses 30-31

And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

As Messiah's manifestation is full of joy to believers, so it has an aspect of wrath to unbelievers, which is represented here. Thus when the Jews received Him not in His coming of grace, He came in judgment on Jerusalem. Physical prodigies, massacres, and conflagrations preceded its destruction. The priests entering the temple for worship at night heard a mighty voice, Let us depart hence. Chariots and troops in the air were seen encircling the doomed city (Josephus, 'Bellum Judaicum'). To these the language here may allude; but the figures chiefly symbolize political revolutions, and changes in the ruling powers of the world, prognosticated by previous disasters (Amos 8:9; Matthew 24:29; Luke 21:25-27, "There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory"), and convulsions, such as preceded the overthrow of the Jewish polity. Such shall probably occur in more appalling degree before the final destruction of the ungodly world ("the great and terrible day of Yahweh," of which Jerusalem's overthrow is the type and earnest, cf. Malachi 4:5).

Verse 32

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord - Hebrew, Yahweh (H3068). Applied to Jesus in Romans 10:13 (cf. Acts 9:14; 1 Corinthians 1:2). Therefore, Jesus is Yahweh; and the phrase means, 'Call on Messiah in his divine attributes.'

Shall be delivered - as the Christians were, just before Jerusalem's destruction, by retiring to Pella, having been warned by the Saviour (Matthew 24:16); a type, of the spiritual deliverance of all believers, and of the last deliverance of the elect "remnant" of Israel from the final assault of Antichrist.

For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance. "In Zion and Jerusalem" the Saviour first appeared; and there again shall He appear as the Deliverer (Zechariah 14:1-5).

As the Lord hath said. Joel herein refers, not to the other prophets, but to his own words preceding.

And in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. Metaphor from an invitation to a feast, which is an act of gratuitous kindness (Luke 14:16, "A certain man made a supper, and bade many"). So the remnant called and saved is according to the election of grace, not for man's merits, power, or efforts (Romans 11:5). 'To Joel was revealed that great paradox or mystery of faith, that while deliverance should be in Zion, while sons and daughters, young and old, should prophesy in Zion, and the stream of God's grace should issue to the barren world from the Temple of the Lord, those in her who should be delivered should be "a remnant" only. To Joel first it was foreshown that the Gentiles too should be filled with the Spirit of God' (Pusey).


(1) The coming of the day of the Lord is a consideration which may well "alarm" the careless and unprepared (Joel 2:1). To them it is indeed "a day of darkness, gloominess, clouds, and thick darkness" (Joel 2:2).

(2) Each successive day of visitation for sin has had its own distinctive character, so that no former visitation has been altogether like it. Thus Babylon was characterized by extraordinary pride; Medo-Persia by cruelty; Antiochus Epiphanes, under the third world-kingdom, by blasphemy and persecution of God's people; and Rome, in its final anti-Christian development, shall be "diverse from all that were before it" (Daniel 7:7-19). So in Joel 2:2 is said here, "there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be anymore after it, even to the years of many generations." The symbolical locusts here described are probably the same which in Revelation (Revelation 9:11) are said to have as the "king over them the angel of the bottomless pit." The last scourge of the world, "the man of sin, the son of perdition" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-17), shall exceed all preceding scourges of the apostate Church in his 'satanic working' and "deceivableness of unrighteousness." As sin originally turned the "garden of Eden into a wilderness" (Joel 2:3), so shall the last great opponent of God and His people complete the moral desolation; while portents in the world of nature shall accompany the upheaval of states and the revolutions in ecclesiastical organizations (Joel 2:10). And all this shall be the introduction to "the great and very terrible day of the Lord" (Joel 2:11).

(3) Who, then, can abide it? (Joel 2:11) is the question which naturally suggests itself. We cannot avoid encountering, it: for "he is strong that executeth his word." But there is a way whereby we may encounter it without fear, nay, even with joy. This way the prophet proceeds to announce: "Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart" (Joel 2:12). Even now, though judgment is near, it is not too late. Long as sinners may have abused the forbearance of God, the door of repentance is not yet shut. The Lord Himself still appeals most lovingly to us, "Turn even to me." Any conversion that steps short of turning quite to God [which is the force of the Hebrew, 'aad] is short of saving conversion.

Moreover, he who truly turns to God, turns to Him "with all the heart." Let us search ourselves whether we have these marks of true conversion; whether we are satisfied with mere outward reformation, or have yielded up ourselves and all our affections wholly to Him.

(4) Outward indications of sorrow for sin usually accompany inward repentance. At the same time we should be (4) Outward indications of sorrow for sin usually accompany inward repentance. At the same time we should be more concerned about the inward reality than the outward show (Joel 2:13). To rend the garment as the badge of sorrow is easy, but to get the heart broken and contrite requires no less a power than that of the Almighty Spirit of God.

(5) The character of God in relation to His creatures, and especially in relation to those who are in even outward covenant with Him, affords the strongest inducements to turning to Him as OUR God. He is "gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abundant in goodness, and repenteth him of the evil." So far is God from taking pleasure in inflicting punishment, that He is most slow as to it, and most ready, if the sinner repents, to turn away from him the evil which his sins had deserved. If God were otherwise, despair would overwhelm us all; but the loving character of God holds out hope to the vilest, if they will but turn to Him. When men repent of their sin, God "repents" of the evil threatened against them (Joel 2:14).

(6) A solemn and general humiliation is prescribed as the means of averting judgments from the Church and state. Joel had before directed the "trumpet" to be "blown" (Joel 2:1), to sound the alarm of coming war. Now he directs, "Blow the trumpet in Zion," to "call a solemn assembly" (Joel 2:15), to avert that alarm of war. All classes from the highest to the lowest, priests and people, elders and children, even the Bridegroom and the bride, were to lift up their voice together as one man, deprecating the deserved judgments of God (Joel 2:16). So it shall be at last when God pours out the Spirit of supplications on His ancient people in their final coming tribulation. Their main plea shall then be an appeal to the honour of God as at stake in their deliverance: "Give not thine heritage to reproach, that the pagan should rule over them: wherefore should they say, Where is their God?" (Joel 2:17.) So we of the spiritual Israel may always plead the interest which God has in His Christian people's spiritual welfare, as the ground why He should avert from our Church and nation the judgments which our sins have merited.

(7) The prayer of true penitence and faith brings an immediate answer. "Then the Lord is jealous for his land" (Joel 2:18). As the husband whose heart yearns with affection over his erring but penitent wife is jealous with indignation against those who have maltreated her, so Yahweh, the husband of His people, will take away their past "reproach among the pagan" (Joel 2:19), and will "remove far off from" them their oppressor, because the latter has 'haughtily magnified himself in his doings' against the Lord and his people alike (Joel 2:20). Self-deifying pride and violence against the saints shall be the characteristics especially of the last Antichrist, as in some degree those features have characterized his Pagan and Popish forerunners. And these are the very things most provocative of God's indignation. As Antichrist "hath done great things" against the people of God, so Yahweh "will do great things" in their behalf (Joel 2:21). The great things which he did for them against Egypt, and then against Babylon (Psalms 126:2-3), are an earnest of the still greater things which He will yet do for them.

(8) In these great things the spiritual Israel also shall share. The earth (Joel 2:21), the lower animals (Joel 2:22) and above all, "the children of Zion," literal and spiritual, have good reason to "rejoice" in the prospects that are before them (Joel 2:23; Isaiah 61:10). The first advent of Christ as "the Lord our righteousness" was attended, as its consequence, with the outpouring of the Spirit "in due measure." But this "former rain" is not all; it is to be followed by "the latter rain" (Joel 2:23), or full outpouring of the Spirit upon Israel first, and then on the world "in the last days," (Joel 2:28; Isaiah 2:2, etc.) The gift shall then be universal, in a sense in which it has not yet been realized (Joel 2:29). It shall extend to all classes, even the most despised. The order of nature, which had been interrupted through, sin and apostasy, shall be restored (Joel 2:23-26). "Violence, wasting, and destruction" shall cease (Isaiah 60:18). Nations shall be spiritually born in a day, and Israel the foremost (Isaiah 66:8).

(9) But an ordeal of fearful trial, and portents in the skies and earth shall usher in "the great and the terrible day of the Lord" (Joel 2:30-31). Still the people of Yahweh shall be brought forth unhurt from that searching trial. God hath said, "My people shall never be ashamed" (Joel 2:26). Let us see that we belong to the people of God. All that is needed is that we "call on his name" as manifested in "the Lord" Jesus (Joel 2:32), and we shall be saved. The salvation which began to be proclaimed "in Jerusalem," has extended thence to "the remnant whom the Lord" is now "calling" out, in his sovereign grace, from among Jews and Gentiles. That remnant at His second coming shall reign with Him in glory. Truly, then we may "be glad and rejoice in the Lord our God" (Joel 2:23), and earnestly look for His coming again.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joel 2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/joel-2.html. 1871-8.
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