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Bible Commentaries
Joel 3

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

Verses 1-21

Joel 3:1 . Behold, in those days, in the days of the Messiah, as stated from the twenty eighth verse of the preseding chapter. Of course all references in our elder critics, to Cambyses, and to Judas Maccabeus, are superseded at a single view.

Cambyses, son of Cyrus, conquered Egypt by a ruse du guerre. He sent his soldiers against their fortified cities with what was deemed a sacred beast under their hand, against which the Egyptians durst not fight. He sent spies also with presents to the king of Ethiopia. The king replied, I know your designs. He then took his huge bow; and bending it in their presence, said, “Tell your master that I advise him not to make war on Ethiopia, till his Persians can bend this bow as I do.” The Elamites were always famed for archery. Jeremiah 49:25.

Cambyses piqued at this defiance, rashly marched his army into the deserts of Numidia, without guides and without provisions. When famine came, the soldiers first ate their beasts, and then cast lots on every tenth man, to be killed and eaten, to save the lives of the other nine. The Persians of course fought one against another, and only a small proportion of that great army returned to Egypt.

But worse still: Cambyses sent fifty thousand of his men to plunder the rich temple of Jupiter Ammon, built among the oases of Libya, west of Egypt. A hurricane came against them, and they were all buried alive in the rolling sands, and not a man returned to relate the disaster. Probably the temple itself is buried in the mountains of sands. Vide Suidas. Our Addison, who had travelled in Egypt, fully admits the terrors of the sablonous tempests.

Lo, where our wide Numidian wastes extend, Sudden the impetuous hurricanes descend; Which through the air in circling eddies play, Tear up the sands, and sweep whole plains away. The helpless traveller with wild surprise, Sees the dry desert all around him rise, And smothered in the dusty whirlwind dies.

Why then do our Arian critics bring forward this case of Cambyses to illustrate this luminous prophecy of Joel? In their efforts to banish the name of Messiah from the old testament, they must be driven to as great extremity of argument, as Cambyses was for provisions for his army. Why do they disagree in argument? A batch of felons put to the bar to hang one another.

The embarrassment of criticism lies in its adherence to Hebrew theology, which brings all the world to their Jerusalem, “in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem above is free, and is the mother of us all.”

Galatians 4:25-26. Poole, in his Synopsis of the critics, says on Isaiah 60:0., that our Saviour applied those glorious prophecies to the new- testament church; that St. Paul had always done the same, as in Hebrews 12:0.; and that St. John had, on this principle, illustrated and adorned his description of the church of God. Revelation 21:0. He cites the ancient Hebrew book, Berashith Rabba, on Genesis 15:17; Genesis 25:6, which, in unison with the targums, expounds those promises of the glorious state of the church in the days of the Messiah.

Joel 3:2 . I will also gather all nations into the valley of Jehoshaphat. It is said that the house of the Lord should be established on the tops of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, and that nations shall flow to it. Into that valley, through which the streams of the Gihon flowed on the south of Jerusalem, the Lord once gathered all the nations which composed Sennacherib’s army, and slew them in one night. So now, in the end of the ages of oppression, Christ shall fight against all the nations that fight against his church, and they shall perish from the earth by the burning of his wrath. See what is said on Ezekiel 39:0. Zechariah 14:0. Revelation 19:0.

From our Saviour’s words, Matthew 24:27; Matthew 24:30, that the sign of the Son of man should be seen in the clouds of heaven, shining as lightning from the east to the west, by whose coming the evidences of revelation would be renewed, and the enemies of his church destroyed, some have inferred a visible appearance of the Son of God. For this hope they associate the words of St. Peter, that the heavens must contain the Saviour till the times of the restitution of all things. Acts 3:21.

Joel 3:3 ; Joel 3:8 . They have cast lots for my people. In these verses the Lord expresses his abhorrence of slavery, and his determination to retaliate.

Joel 3:10 . Beat your plowshares into swords. These are words of contempt and defiance, to the last enemies of the church. Virgil uses a similar phrase.

Non ullus aratro Dignus honos, squalent abductis arva colonis, Et curvæ rigidum falces constantur in ensem.

Dishonoured lies the plow; the banished swains Are hurried from the uncultivated plains; The sickles into barbarous swords are beat. Georg. 1. 3:506. WARTON.

Joel 3:12 . Let the heathen come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat, the judge of the Lord. We need not here play on the king’s name; that is not intended; but many of the heathen may perish there, as will be the case in all the rebellious nations. After the men of that age shall, with all learned arguments and malice of heart, have rejected righteousness and life; what can they expect but death? Other wars have been against men; this is against the Lord, and this shall be a victory once for all.

Joel 3:13 . Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. This text is cited in Revelation 14:17, and applied to the excision of antichrist. Lemmon, in his dictionary of technical words, gives the etymon of harvest as a herb- feast; not indeed unlike St. John’s words, in which the angel calls all the fowls to the supper of the great God. Revelation 19:17.

Joel 3:14 . Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision, The superlative degree of the Hebrews is formed by repetition. This is the day of decision in which the wicked shall be consumed, both root and branch. Such is the current language of all the prophets. Isaiah 60:12. Zechariah 14:12.

Joel 3:21 . I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed. I will wash and heal all the old ulcers of my church and people. Then shall millennial glory, peace, and affluence fill the earth.


There are certain sins which shall not be purged with sacrifice; such as the infants slain by the Egyptians, the sick and weak cut off by Amalek, and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. Those are crimes recorded for vengeance in heaven, and the arm of the Lord shall pursue the oppressive power of antichrist with unrelenting fury. And who may abide the day of his coming?

The long promised, and long-expected year of his redeemed shall come at last. The deliverer shall come to Zion, and in all the opening glory of the latter day. Therefore, like earthly belligerents, who send the bows and arrows of defiance to their foes, the Lord here bids a final defiance to the enemies of his church. Prepare war, muster your mighty men, clear the fields of swains, send to your allies, bring down the mountaineers to battle against the Lord of hosts. He shall roar out of Zion, and all his enemies shall faint with fear. Their sun and moon shall be darkened; and as nations, names and powers, they shall exist no more.

Then the earth shall be peopled with a regenerate race, then the mountains shall drop down with new wine, and all the hills shall melt; a harvest joy shall fill the whole earth. Venom shall not kill, nor the wild beasts destroy. Wars shall cease to the ends of the earth, universal benevolence shall take place of envy and strife, and every man shall love his brother. There shall then be what a prophet has foretold days of heaven upon earth.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Joel 3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/joel-3.html. 1835.
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