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Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Joel 2

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-32

Joel 2:1 . Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, to convoke a solemn assembly for fasting and humiliation. Numbers 10:2-3.

Joel 2:2 . A day of darkness, nigrum esse. The army of locusts obscured the light while flying through the air. More than twenty travellers are agreed on this subject. An army of locusts sometimes is a mile, and sometimes ten miles broad in the air. In a moral view, darkness implies the greatest of national disasters.

Joel 2:3 . A fire devoureth before them. The inhabitants in their feeble way make fires to stop their progress, and fires behind them to annoy them by the smoke, and force them to depart. Ditches also are dug that they may fall into them and perish. The fields of corn, wherever these insects alight, are devoured in a few hours: they eat the blade and the ear, leaving only the stalk. The pastures, after the devastation, have the appearance of being burnt. The foliage of the tree is wholly destroyed, and the tree itself is so very much weakened that it cannot bear fruit till the second year after the spoliage. Sir Hans Sloane’s Nat. Hist, of Jamaica: vol. 1:29.

Joel 2:5 . Like the noise of chariots shall they leap. The French Encyclopædia, on the article locust, affirms that they can leap two hundred times the length of their own bodies. But there are various kinds of locusts. Those described in Exodus 10:0., are large; but those which visited Languedoc in 1686, the year after the persecution of the protestants commenced, were about an inch long, and of a greyish colour.

Joel 2:11 . His camp is very great. I have followed the majority of critics in applying the above to the plague of the locusts; but I ought to apprize the reader, that though some translators understand it of the Assyrian, or of the Babylonian invasion, yet the locusts are here described because of the mode of their destruction: Joel 2:20-21; Joel 2:25. God promises to restore the product of the years which the various insects had eaten.

Joel 2:23 . The latter rain in the first month. It should read, “the latter rain as aforetime.” The first month was exactly the time of the barley harvest. The English version has copied the error from Piscator. See Deuteronomy 11:14.

Joel 2:28 . Afterwards, or in the last days, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. The prophets mostly poured comfort into the wounds of their hearers. There is no period of jewish history to which this prophecy can be applied, but to the day of Pentecost, and to the Spirit given to gentiles, as well as to the jews. Acts 10:44.

Joel 2:30 . I will shew wonders in the heavens. These signs were foretold by our Saviour, and are mentioned by Josephus. A fiery meteor was long seen over Jerusalem before its fall.

Joel 2:32 . There shall be deliverance. The followers of Christ, having been forewarned of their danger, were delivered by flight, at the time Jerusalem was destroyed. Matthew 24:15-20.


In this and the former chapter we have a fine specimen of Hebrew poetry, employed on a most serious occasion. Nothing can exceed it in sublimity and beauty. It traces the calamity and aims at the salvation of the country, by exciting all classes of men to recollection and repentance. Hence the subject is resumed, and probably as Joel delivered it by the divine Spirit at different times. The first was a charge to the fathers to instruct posterity in the judgments of the Lord; the second was an exhortation to the rulers to convoke a solemn assembly, and humble themselves before Him who chastises offending man by weight and measure.

Fasting and prayer are highly expedient, while God is denying food to man and beast. When all classes of men, properly impressed with the visitations of heaven, do humble themselves, notwithstanding many defects in their devotion, it is a fruit of an inward change; it gives evidence of their not being that hardened and obstinate people against whom the vengeance was denounced, but tender, contrite and suppliant. Hence a whole nation became claimants for a reverse of the sentence.

The gracious characters of God are highly encouraging to repentance. He is gracious and merciful; he pardons iniquity, and receives the penitent into favour and confidence. In dealing with his frail creatures, he prefers the glory of grace to the glory of justice. His slowness to anger, and the partial manner in which he punishes sin, fully demonstrate his readiness to pardon, and to seek our reformation by the exterior strokes of wrath. Hence Joel exhorts them to repent without delay, that the Lord might drive away the noxious insects before they had devoured the whole, and while there was yet a meat-offering and a drink-offering in corners of the land.

When the righteous pray for crumbs, the Lord will give them harvests. He will be jealous for the honour and happiness of the land. He will send corn, and wine, and oil; yea he will restore all arrears of waste made by the locusts. He will rejoice both man and beast with an overflowing portion of covenant mercies.

The Lord makes the temporal prosperity of Israel a uniform type of the spiritual and eternal prosperity of his people. When he sends the former and the latter rain to make the floor overflow with wheat, and the vat with wine, he promises to pour out his Spirit on all flesh, both jew and gentile; to multiply visions and dreams of divine things to the aged and the young.

He promises to raise up a new order of ministers in the church, not of the priests and levites, but of servants and handmaidens. He promises to fill the church with grace and gifts to prophesy and preach; yea, and that it should be an age of devotion, in which whosoever called on the name of the Lord should be saved. This began to be accomplished on the day of pentecost, and shall continue to the glory of the latter day. God has made no covenant with any order of priests to be his ministers exclusively; it is ignorance and pride which prompt men to claim this honour. The christian ministry is a ministry of the Spirit; and he who would silence those who pray and preach in the Spirit, must show his authority before he can command our assent. Besides, the christian ministry in the primitive days did most extensively employ women to help and instruct their own sex. Many of them were ordained deaconesses, and carried the sacred elements from the communion table to their sick sisters; the ministers of that age not having access to women, as was the custom, and which still prevails in many places of the east.

A time of great mercy is also a time of severe judgments, when the season is misimproved. Blood, fire and smoke, with the darkening of the jewish sunshine of national prosperity, are denounced against that infidel age. This passage is expressly applied by our Saviour, and by St. Peter, to the destruction of Jerusalem. Matthew 24:29-30. Acts 2:19-20. The omens and prodigies, with the particulars of the siege, as related by Josephus, are a full comment on the passage. And while the jews were punished with a most bloody carnage, there was deliverance for the christian remnant whom the Lord had called by his grace. What a luminous prophecy, and what a striking confirmation of the truth of christianity! Let us wait for the residue of the Spirit.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Joel 2". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/joel-2.html. 1835.
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