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Sunday, June 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Joel 3

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

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

For behold, in those days, and in that time — In his diebus illis ipsis, et in hoc tempore ipso, in those very selfsame days and in that selfsame time, sc. in the time of the Messiah, in the days of the gospel, when God shall deliver Jerusalem and call the remnant of the Gentiles, and so bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, of the whole Israel of God, preaching liberty to the captives, Isaiah 61:1 , and proclaiming the everlasting jubilee, Job 8:3-6 . In those happy days, I say, Jeremiah 23:5-6 , woe to the wicked enemies of the Church, it shall go ill with them. They are sure to be broken with a rod of iron, to be dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel, Psalms 2:9 , dashed against Christ the King, who, as he is piorum rupes, a rock of refuge to his people, such as was that to Moses, Exodus 33:22 , so he is reorum scopulus, a rock of revenge to persecutors, to split them to pieces, such a rock as that out of which fire arose, Judges 6:21 , the fire of God’s jealousy, Zechariah 1:14 , which burneth unto the lowest hell, Deuteronomy 32:22 . Let them, therefore, have grace (as the apostle from this ground adviseth, Hebrews 12:28-29 ). Let them, at least, have so much wit for themselves as Pilate’s wife had in a dream, to take heed of having anything to do with just men. Let them do as Tertullian counselled Scapula, If thou wilt not spare us, yet spare thyself; if not thyself, yet spare Carthage thy country, which will certainly suffer for thy cruelty to Christians: si non nobis, tibi; si non tibi, Carthagini parcas. God will reduce the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, which shall be as a cup of poison to all the people round about, as a burdensome stone, as a hearth of fire, Zechariah 12:2-3 ; Zechariah 12:6 ; See Trapp on " Zechariah 12:2 " See Trapp on " Zechariah 12:3 " See Trapp on " Zechariah 12:6 " Their destruction must needs go along with the saints’ salvation, Philippians 1:28-29 Isaiah 8:9 Proverbs 11:8 . The Jewish doctors collect from this and other like places in the prophets, that when the Messiah cometh, he shall recollect the Jews into the land of Canaan, where they shall get the better of their enemies, and have a most flourishing commonwealth and glorious Church. For this they daily expect the visible appearance of the Messiah, often throwing open their windows to behold, and crying all together to God, Let thy kingdom come, let it come quickly, even in our days, quickly, quickly, quickly (Buxtorf). That he stays so long is for our sins, say they, which are many. See Trapp on " Zechariah 14:2 " see Trapp on " Zechariah 14:3 "

Verse 2

I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and [for] my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.

I will also gather all nations — That are adverse to my Church, that I may have my pennyworths of them, and do execution upon them with ease (troubling those troublers of his Israel, 2 Thessalonians 1:6 , licet videantur plures et potiores ), as he dealt by Jehoshaphat’s enemies, 2 Chronicles 20:25 , and leaving them no more place to escape than those have who are surrounded in a valley by a potent enemy, who hath gotten them into a pound, as the proverb is. And this God will do in the valley of Jehoshaphat (a valley, saith Lyra, Adrichomius, and Montanus, between Jerusalem and Mount Olivet), in the very view of the Church, that the righteous may rejoice when he seeth the vengeance, and wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. So that a man shall say, Verily, there is a reward for the righteous, see Joel 3:4 ; verily, he is a God that judgeth in the earth, as in the valley of divine judgment (so some render Jehoshaphat here, as if it were an appellative, Chaldeus R. Salmon, Mercer), called, Joel 3:14 , the valley of decision, and the words that next follow seem to favour, "and I will plead with them" ( iudicio I judge again), judicially plead with them there, for my people; which word also God useth when he foretelleth the destruction of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel. So that the valley of Jehoshaphat, saith Mercer, is the place wheresoever God shall please to punish the enemies of his people. As for that conceit of Lyra and others, who gather out of this text that this valley near Jerusalem shall be the very place where Christ shall sit to judge the world at the last day, and for confirmation allege Acts 1:11 . Mercer judgeth it to be a childish conceit, and Luther asketh where all mankind shall have room to stand in so small a valley? Though others judge it not unlikely that it shall be thereabouts, because Jerusalem is in the middle and about the centre of the earth, and besides, it will be the more for the glory of Christ, to sit there as judge where he himself was judged; but it is probable he will sit in the air, near the earth, whither the elect shall be raptured up to meet the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 , that the devils may be subdued and sentenced in the air, where they have ruled and played Rex, king, Ephesians 2:2 , and that the wicked may be doomed on the earth, where they have offended.

For my people and for my heritage Israel — All was his, and the wrongs done to them were done to God’s self, as the injury done to the subject is said to be done to the sovereign, his crown and dignity. See Acts 9:4 Matthew 25:45 . So that ye cannot tread upon the least toe in Christ’s mystical body, but the head cries out from heaven, Why hurtest thou me? The saints’ sufferings are his, Colossians 1:24 , their reproach his, Hebrews 13:13 . Manet compassio, etiam cum impassibilitate (Bern.). Christ retaineth still compassion, though free from personal passion; and though without feeling, yet not without fellow feeling. He doth condolere proportionate ad miseriam, as Pareus rendereth the apostle, Hebrews 5:2 , condole, and that proportionably to his people’s misery, μετριοπαθειν .

And for my heritage Israel — Israel, εμφατικως , saith Mercer, the people of God’s purchase, that comprehend all his gettings, and are much more dear to him than Naboth’s inheritance was to him. He sets them before his face for ever, Psalms 41:12 , as loving to look upon them; yea, upon the very "walls of the houses where they dwell," Isaiah 49:16 . They are his portion, Deuteronomy 32:9 ; his inheritance, Isaiah 19:25 ; the dearly beloved of his soul, Jeremiah 12:7 ; his glory, Isaiah 46:13 ; dear to God, though despised and dispersed in the world. He may suffer them to be Anathema secundum dici, as Bucholcer said, but not secundum esse.

Whom they have scattered among the nations — The Jewish doctors refer this to Titus and Adrian, the Roman emperors. The first carried 97,000 of them captives, saith Josephus; the second drove them utterly out of Jewry, and by proclamation, commanded them not so much as look toward that land from any tower or high mountain. But all this was for their sedition and other wickednesses. And ever since they have continued a dejected and despised people, exiled out of the world, as it were, by a common consent of nations, specially for their inexpiable guilt in murdering Christ, and persecuting his people, concerning whom, therefore, this text is to be understood, Deuteronomy 28:64 . See how Christians were soon scattered abroad throughout the regions, Acts 8:1 James 1:1 1 Peter 1:1 , where they are called strangers of the dispersion. Afterwards the heathen persecutors relegated and confined them to isles and mines, and scattered them into corners. So did the pope and his agents: forcing them to flee for their lives.

And parted my land — As Shalmaneser did to his new colonies; as Sennacherib also designed to do, had not God prevented him; as the pope taketh upon him to do, those countries whom he counteth heretical. He gave this land, in Henry VIII’s time, primo occupaturo, to him that could first seize it. He declared John, King of Navarre, schismatic, a heretic, an enemy to the see apostolic, and gave his kingdom to the Spaniard, because he took part with the French, and would not allow the Spaniard to march through his kingdom against the French; and what work he hath lately made in the palatinate and other parts of Germany, who knows not?

Verse 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.

And they have cast lots for my people — Impiously and imperiously domineering over them as those rude soldiers that cast the dice upon our Saviour’s coat, at his passion. It was ordinary to divide by lots the enemies they had taken in the fight, Nahum 3:10 Obadiah 1:11 Lamentations 3:53 Judges 5:30 ; but at base rates thus to sell God’s people ignominiously, and that to satisfy their lewd lusts - this was unsufferable.

And have given a boy for an harlot — Heb. that boy, as afterwards that girl, with an emphasis; a son and daughter of Israel, those earthly angels Angli quasi Angeli, the English boys just as angels, as Gregory the Great once said of the English boys presented to him. "Thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire," said God not without very great indignation, to their idolatrous parents, Ezekiel 16:21 . His they were more than theirs, by virtue of the covenant he had made with that people; hence Deuteronomy 14:1 , "Ye are the children of the Lord your God," and can he bear with your misusages? "Should he deal with our sister as a harlot?" said they with courage (as the great Zaijn, in Zonah, importeth) Genesis 34:31 . So here, should they give a boy such a boy, for a harlot? that is, for the hire of a harlot, and to gratify such abhorred filths? In the reign of Henry II of France, A.D. 1554 many precious sons of Zion were burned there for religion, not without the indignation of honest men, who knew that the diligence used against those poor people was not for any piety or religion, but to satiate the covetousness of Diana Valentina, the king’s mistress, to whom he had given all the confiscations of goods made in the kingdom for cause of heresy.

And sold a girl for wine, that they might drink — "The wine of violence," Proverbs 4:17 ; "drink and be drunken, and spue, and fall, and rise no more," Jeremiah 25:27 ; worthy, therefore, to be served as that drunken Turk was by that severe bashaw who caused a ladleful of boiling lead to be poured down his throat. God will turn a worse cup down their wide gullets one day, Psalms 11:6 Quorum vivere est bibere, and whose profane proverb it is, Bibere et sudare, est vita Cardiaci To drink and to sweat is the life of the heart. But what a heathenish baseness is that of the Papists, besides a horrible abuse of God’s holy ordinance, that at Rome a Jewish maid may not be admitted into the stews of whoredom unless she will first be baptized. Espensaeus, a modest Papist, writeth it, not without detestation.

Verse 4

Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly [and] speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head;

Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, … — Or, what are ye to me? I value you not, but look upon you as vile persons, how great soever in the world. See Daniel 11:21 . Or, what have I to do with you? What wrong have I done you that ye invade my land and molest my subjects? It is an idle misprision to sever the sense of an injury done to any of his members, from the head, and it was a malapert demand of the devil, "What have I to do with thee, O Jesus, the Son of the living God?" while he vexed a servant of his. But there is an old enmity between them and their seed, Genesis 3:15 , and it will never be extinct while the world stands. Israel had given Tyre and Zidon as little cause to quarrel them, as once they had done Moab, whom they had assured that they would not meddle nor molest them. Howbeit, "Moab was distressed," or irked, fretted, vexed at them, Numbers 22:3 , carried with satanical malice against God’s people, because of a different religion, and sought their ruin. Lo, this was the case of Tyre, Zidon, and Palestine, near neighbours, but bitter enemies to the Church. Bats fly against the light. Malice breaks all bonds, and vents itself by utmost inhumanity. Mercer understandeth by those nations, Joel 3:2-3 , the open and professed enemies of the Church, and by these neighbouring peoples here mentioned, those more subtle adversaries, that pretend love, and can draw a fair glove upon a foul hand, but will take the first opportunity to do the saints a mischief, and to spit their poison at them. This is an old stratagem of the devil, still practised by the renegade Jesuits among us.

Will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, …Num meritum mihi refertis, an etiam infertis? so some render it. While ye afflict my people, is it to be avenged on me, for an old injury I have done you? or is it rather to pick a quarrel with me, who have done you no wrong? Surely, whether it be this or the other, I shall handle you according to your deserts.

Swiftly and speedily will I return your recompenceRepente e vestigio, while you will say, what is this? I will execute my fierce wrath upon you, and you shall soon feel what it is despitefully to spit in the face of Heaven, and to wrestle a fall with the Almighty: see Obadiah 1:15 . God cannot bear long with sins of this high nature: he resisteth the proud persecutors.

Verse 5

Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things:

Because ye have taken my silver, … — Sacrilege is a second sin they here stand charged with. Ye have taken, that is, taken away (by which observation, ye shall easily reconcile the Psalmist, Psalms 68:19 , with the apostle, Ephesians 4:8 , saith Tarnovius here), my silver and my gold; vessels consecrated to my use and service; or mine, that is, my people’s, whom ye have robbed; but it shall not thrive with you; it shall prove as the gold of Toulouse (Aurum Tholosanum), fatal to them that had any part of it, or as Achan’s wedge, that cleft his body and soul asunder.

These ye have carried into your temples Or palaces, even my goodly pleasant things — My desirable goods, either to adorn your houses or your idols, to your own bane, as Belshazzar. It is surely a snare to a man who devoureth dedicated things, Proverbs 20:25 , that bowseth in the bowls of the sanctuary. And it was a sad complaint of Luther, that even in the reformed Churches, parishes and schools were robbed of their due maintenance; as if they meant to starve us all. The like saith Gualther in his homily upon this text: Non desunt pseudo-evangelici, saith he, There want not such false gospellers among us, who restore not the Church her wealth, pulled out of the Papists’ fingers; but make good that saying of one, Possidebant Papistae, possident Rapistae, Papists had Church livings, and now Rapists have gotten them; like as a good author observeth upon the battle of Montlecherye, that some lost their livings by running away, and they were given to those that ran ten miles farther.

Verse 6

The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.

The children also of Judah, and the children of Jerusalem — "The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold," Lamentations 4:2 , with whom you were anciently confederate in the days of Solomon, 1 Kings 4:25 , and seemed to be then their prosperity proselytes.

Have ye sold unto the Grecians — That is, to the Gentiles in general, for so St Paul often useth the word Grecians, as contradistinct to Jews; who were barbarously sold, as if they had been brute beasts, and that into the farthest countries, that they might never ransom themselves, nor return to their native soil again. This was singular, yea, savage cruelty, which the merciful God cannot abide, but will severely punish, James 2:13-14 Isaiah 47:6 , "Thou didst show them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke." See the Babylonian cruelty graphically described, and accordingly recompensed, Jeremiah 51:34-35 , … The Spanish cruelty to the poor Indians is unspeakable. They have made away 50,000,000 of them in 42 years, as Acosta the Jesuit testieth, and that under pretence of converting them to the faith. They suppose they show the wretches great favour when they do not (for their pleasure) whip them with cords, and day by day drop their naked bodies with burning bacon: such a devil is one man to another, when set to work by the devil, and spurred on by him. But "shall they thus escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God," Psalms 56:7 . He will do it: for those words are not more a prayer than a prophecy.

Verse 7

Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head:

Behold, I will raise them out of the place, … — Seem it never so improbable or impossible, I will do it, saith God, and you shall see it. Behold, I will fetch home my banished, though they may seem to be as water spilt on the ground. I will make those dead bones live; and raise myself a name, and a praise, by outbidding their hopes, and marring your design of utter extermination. Ribera understands the words concerning the resurrection of the dead at the last day, because the Hebrew word properly signifieth, to raise one out of sleep. Some think it is meant of the apostles and martyrs, fetched out of banishment; as was John out of Patmos, Athanasius, Chrysostom, who yet in his last banishment, by reason of the barbarous usage of the soldiers that led him along, hired for that purpose, sweetly and blessedly breathed out his last, (Erasm. in Vita Chrysost.), the English exiles in Queen Mary’s time, whereof many returned and did excellent service here. But I doubt not, saith judicious Calvin (in loc.), but God intends here a spiritual gathering together of his people into one body, by the bond of faith; and this was principally fulfilled after the death of Christ, who died for that nation, "And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together into one the children of God that were scattered abroad," John 11:52 ; so that those whom God hath gathered together and caused to return ( non pedibus vel navigio, for that needs not, to Jerusalem, which is above, which is the mother of us all), from the lands of the east, of the west, of the north, and of the south, shall praise the Lord together, as the psalmist hath it, Psalms 107:2-3 .

And will return your recompence upon your own head — God delights to retaliate, to bloody and deceitful men especially; as were easy to instance in the Egyptians, Adonibezek, Agag, Attilius Regulus, the Roman general, who dealt most cruelly with the Carthaginians, and was shortly after as cruelly dealt with by them, when fallen into their hands (Polybius). Here at home, in King Edward VI’s time, the remembrance of Somerset much moved the people to fall from Northumberland (who had wrought his death) in his greatest attempts, and to leave him to his fatal fall; whereas also they openly rejoiced, and presented to him handkerchiefs dipped in the blood of Somerset, for whom they thought he suffered rather late than undeserved punishment. So certain it is (saith the historian), that the debts both of cruelty and mercy go never unpaid.

Verse 8

And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken [it].

And I will sell your sons and your daughters — And so the scene shall be soon altered, and a strange vicissitude easily observed. But when was this done? or was it ever done? Ego putarim factum, etsi scriptura non dicat quando, saith Tarnovius: I suppose it was done, though the Scripture say not when. Others fly to allegories, and understand the text of the conversion of the Gentiles. I like their way best, that say, That which God did for the Church’s sake, the Church itself is said to do it. For their cruelties to the Jews, God delivered these nations up into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar first (who had a hard tug of it, and had therefore Egypt given him for his wages), and afterwards by Alexander the Great, who took Tyre, and razed it. And this was that great service spoken of Ezekiel 29:18 , wherein every head was made bald, and every shoulder bare, in filling up that strait of the sea, which separated it from the continent, before it could be taken. But taken it was, together with Sidon and Philistia; and their children sold as far as Sabaea, which was then counted the utmost part of the known earth, Matthew 12:42 Luke 11:31 , being part of Arabia the Happy, or (as some will) the Desert. All this was done for the Jews’ sake, though the world little considereth it. It was enough for them that they knew it to be so, according to this prophecy; and that God did hereby show his high esteem of them, by avenging them of their enemies, and by thus giving men for them, and people for their life, Isaiah 43:4 .

For the Lord hath spoken it — And will therefore surely do it; neither could their Apollo deliver them out of God’s hands; though, to prevent his forsaking of them, when besieged by Alexander, the Tyrians chained and nailed that idol of theirs to a post, that they might be sure of it. But all would not do.

Verse 9

Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:

Proclaim ye this among the GentilesOratio tota est figurata, saith Pareus: All this following discourse is figurative; Hortatio sarcasmon habens, saith Mercer. It is an ironic challenge to all God’s enemies, to do their worst to Christ and his Church; somewhat like that Judges 9:29 , "Increase thine army, and come out" (which seems to be the challenge that Gaal sent to Abimelech, by some messenger), or that of Rabshakeh, Isaiah 36:8 , "I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders on them," or that, Isaiah 8:9-10 .

Prepare war — Heb. sanctify war; that is, laying aside all other business, give yourselves wholly to it (like as at holy services they were called upon, Hoc agere, This to manage, to mind the business in hand, and nothing else), as Scanderbeg did; out of whose lips, while he was fighting, the very blood would start; so earnest he was at it.

Wake up the mighty men — The giants, the champions, such as were Goliath the Gittite, David’s band of worthies, Achilles, Albertus, Marquess of Brandenburg, who for his valour was called Achilles Teutonicus. Put what mettle you can into these your mighties, that they may do their utmost. But also know that they shall soon meet with their matches, viz. God’s "mighty ones" mentioned Joel 3:11 .

Let all the men of war draw near — That they may join battle, and not stand daring and facing one another; as the two armies of Christians and Turks did in the days of Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, for three months together, and then rose and returned without any notable thing done. It is the ancient and manful fashion (saith our chronicler) of the English (who are naturally most impatient of lingering mischiefs) to put their public quarrels quickly to the trial of the sword. Praestat semel quam semper was Caesar’s motto; and his property was

Credere nil actum, dum quid superesset agendum ”( Lucan).

Verse 10

Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I [am] strong.

Beat your ploughshares into swords — Come with the best preparation you can make, that ye may seem (as they say of a travelling Turk) to be so many walking armouries.

Let the weak say, I am strong — Come forth full and whole, young and old, weak and strong, all that are able to bear arms, without excuse. It is an ancient custom in Scotland, in cases of importance, to command the fire cross to be carried, that is, two firebrands set in fashion of a cross, and pitched upon the point of a spear, and proclamation is thereupon made that all men over sixteen years of age and under sixty, shall come into the field to oppose the enemy. Those were desperate boys in Ket’s conspiracy, that at the battle near Norwich pulled the arrows out of their own flesh, and delivered them to be shot again by the archers on their side: and those other wounded and weakened, no less desperately resolved, who being disabled almost to hold up their weapons, would strive what they could to strike their enemies; others being thrust through the body with a spear, would run themselves further on, to reach those that wounded them deadly. The enemies of the truth will make hard shift, but they will bear arms against Christ; and though feeble, yet will say, "I am strong," a Satana impulsi et armati, saith Mercer here, as being pricked on, armed and agitated by the devil, that old manslayer; according to that of Bernard, Seest thou thy persecutor outrageous, marvel not; but know that the devil rides him, makes him run, Scito quia ab ascensore suo daemone perurgetur.

Verse 11

Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.

Assemble yourselves, and come all ye heathen — Come and fetch your bane, whereof by your forwardness to come uncalled ye may seem to be ambitious; judgments need not go to find you out; for you associate yourselves, that ye may be broken in pieces, Isaiah 8:9 , as at Armageddon, Revelation 16:16 . Come on, therefore, since you will needs be so mad, and take what befalls you. "Who would set the briars and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together," Isaiah 27:4 ; see Zechariah 14:2-3 Ezekiel 38:4 ; Ezekiel 38:16-23 Revelation 19:17-18 . See Trapp on " Zechariah 14:2 " See Trapp on " Zechariah 14:3 " The word hero Englished assemble is by Jarchi rendered festinate, hasten; by others conglobamini, cluster together, that ye may be the sooner cut off, that the mouth of God s sword may have its full bit, that he may make an utter end, and your affliction may not rise up the second time, Nahum 1:9 .

Thither cause thy mighty ones to come downVel angeles vel alios, saith Mercer, either thine angels (called God’s mighties, Psalms 103:20 Isaiah 10:34 Psalms 18:17 , where these "mighty ones" are said to make Sion as dreadful to all her enemies as these angels made Sinai at the delivery of the law) or other thine officers and executioners, that by thy command they may fall on, and destroy these heathen armies, see Joel 3:13 ; the answer to this prayer of the prophet, and the power of prayer which Luther fitly calleth bombardas et instrumenta bellica Christianorum, the great ordnance and warlike weapons of Christians.

Verse 12

Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.

Let the heathen be awakened — Here begins God’s answer to the prophet’s prayer. The heathen, though at ease, Zechariah 1:11 , and fast asleep, must be aroused and assembled to the valley of Jehoshaphat, where God the righteous Judge (at the prophet’s request reminding him of his promise, "I am come for thy words," saith he to Daniel, Daniel 10:12 ) gets up to the tribunal, and there sits to judge all the heathen round about. Let not us doubt of the like success of our suits; but, when wronged, run to the Judge of heaven and earth, who will do us right. So we pray over the promises, as here, and not faint, though he bear long with us. This our Saviour has taught us, by that famous parable of the uniust judge and the importunate widow, Luke 18:2-3 , wherein we may take notice of many excellent encouragements to pray down our enemies. 1. He was a judge only; but God is our Father also. 2. He was an unrighteous judge; but is there unrighteousness with God? Romans 9:14 . Romans 9:3 . He, as he feared not God, so he cared not for man; but God is φιλανθρωπος , properly and peculiarly loving to man above other creatures, Titus 3:4 Titus 3:4 . He avenged the widow, as wearied out with her, and merely to be rid of her; and shall not God do as much for us, out of his love to righteousness and hatred of wickedness? Psalms 45:7 Psalms 45:5 . It was troublesome to him to be sued unto; but God is displeased with us for nothing more than for our backwardness and bashfulness, John 16:24 . Quid est cur nihil petis? What meanest thou to ask me nothing? said Severus to his favourite. 6. The unjust judge had no care of his credit; but God is most tender of his glory; and delights much in that title of his, "O thou that hearest prayers."

Verse 13

Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness [is] great.

Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. — It even hangs for mowing, as we say: the enemies are ready ripe for ruin; down with them, therefore, that they may not shed in the field and seed again; let this valley of decision be unto them a valley of excision; let it be as a winepress to those bunches and branches of the grapes lopped off the vine. Lacus iste locus caedis, see Revelation 14:18-19 Matthew 13:39 . There is a stint set to men’s sins, Genesis 15:16 Zechariah 5:8 ; Zechariah 5:11 Matthew 23:32 . See Trapp on " Matthew 23:22 " What more beautiful to behold than a field for harvest, than a vineyard before the vintage? and yet how sudden an alteration, when workmen once take in hand!

For the wickedness is great — Here is that plainly that before was expressed parabolically. The Scripture often expounds itself in the same text; and is everywhere its own best interpreter.

Verse 14

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD [is] near in the valley of decision.

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision — Or concision, as Jerome and Tremellius, or of threshing, as Piscator, in reference to Jehoshaphat, who once threshed the Moabites and Ammonites there. These multitudes are thither summoned ( Turbae, Turbae adeste ), or are there laid dead, even heaps upon heaps, with those Philistines, Judges 15:16 . So Aben Ezra senseth it, and thence the name of the valley of concision, or decision: to show that their having passed a definitive sentence upon the Church’s enemies, and a very severe one too, such as was that kind of punishment, to put men under harrows of iron, …, 2 Samuel 12:31 Amos 1:3 , would now finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Romans 9:28 , idque cito et certo, as sure and as soon as if that day of slaughter were at next door by.

For the day of the Lord is near — Lyra understands it of the last day, which cannot be far off; and Diodati was of the same mind; for upon the next words,

Verse 15

The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.

The sun and the moon shall be darkened — he sets this note, "Signs which shall go before the last judgment," Matthew 24:29 Luke 21:25 . See Trapp on " Joel 2:13 " The prophets, by such forms of speech, use to decipher greatest calamities when all things look dark; as it fareth also with them that are under spiritual desertion, Isaiah 50:10 , who yet are exhorted there to "trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon their God"; to cast the anchor of hope, as Paul and his company did in the shipwreck, Acts 27:20 , when they saw neither sun nor moon for many days together, and no small tempest lay upon them; all hope that they should be saved being taken away.

Verse 16

The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD [will be] the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.

The Lord also shall roar out of Zion — Out of his Church he shall terrify his enemies, as the lion doth the rest of the creatures by his dreadful roar; so that they are amazed thereat, and have no power to stir from the place. Lyra interpreteth it of that terrible Discedite, Go, ye cursed, that shall be uttered by Christ at the last day; a sentence that breatheth out nothing better than fire and brimstone, stings and sorrows, woe, and, alas! torments without end and past imagination.

And the heavens and the earth shall shake — The heavens with thunder, the earth with earthquake, to the terror of the wicked, but comfort of the godly, Haggai 2:6 .

For the Lord will be the hope (or, harbour) of his people — They shall have a good bush on their backs in the greatest tempest; they shall not be afraid, "though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be cast into the midst of the sea," Psalms 46:2 .

Si fractus illabatur orbis,

Impavidos ferient ruinae ”( Horat.).

O the force of a lively faith, and the privy armour of proof that believers have about their hearts! O the dignity and safety of God’s people in the worst of times! Habakkuk 3:18-19 . "Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, the sword of thine excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shall tread upon their high places," Deuteronomy 33:29 .

Verse 17

So shall ye know that I [am] the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God — You shall experiment that which, during your deep afflictions, ye made some doubt of, and were ready to say, as Gideon did to the angel "If the Lord be for us, why is it thus with us?" or, as your unbelieving forefathers in the wilderness, "Is God among us?" as if that could not be, and they athirst.

Dwelling in Zion — Defending my people and dispensing my best blessings to them. "The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion," Psalms 134:3 . The blessings that come out of Zion are far beyond those that otherwise come out of heaven and earth.

Then shall Jerusalem be holy — With a double holiness, imputed and imparted; the profane being purged out here in part, but hereafter in all perfection. This our Saviour sweetly sets forth in those two parables of the tares and of the dragnet, Matthew 13:24-30 ; Matthew 13:36-42 ; Matthew 13:47-50 . Or, "It shall be holy," that is, dear to God, and under his care, favour, and protection from the dominion, direption, and possession of profane heathens.

And there shall no strangers pass through her any more — Either to subdue her and prejudice her (as the proverb runs of the Great Turk, that wherever he sets his foot no grass grows any more, such havoc he makes), or to fasten any filth or contagion upon her. See Revelation 21:27 , where St John alludeth to this text, as all along that book he borroweth the elegancies and flowers of the Old Testament to set out the state of the New in succeeding ages. If this promise be not so fully performed to us as we could wish, we must lay the blame upon our sins, whereby the reformation is ensnared and our prosperity hindered. "Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear," Isaiah 59:1-2 . Nothing intricates our actions more than sin; this is that devil in the air that hinders our happiness; this is that mischief-making hell-hag, Trouble-town. Charm this devil and make him fall from his heaven (which is to do hurt), and we shall inherit the promises. The godly man only prospers, Psalms 1:3 .

Verse 18

And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.

The mountains shall drop down new wine — By these hyperbolic expressions is promised plenty of all things pertaining to life and godliness, such a golden age as the poet describeth (Ovid. Metam.),

Flumina iam lactis, iam flumina nectaris ibant,

Flavaque de viridi stillabant ilice mella. ”

Where it must be observed that spiritualy good things are promised under the notion of temporal, as of must, milk, …, ob populi infantiam, by reason of the infancy of that people, of that time. The mountains, i.e. the most barren places, shall drop down απονητι , without our labour shall yield plentifully new wine, strong consolations, and Scripture comforts, for strong Christians; and the hills shall flow with milk, that unadulterated sincere milk of God’s word for his babes, 1 Corinthians 2:2 1 Peter 2:2 .

And all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters — Sanctuary waters, wholesome doctrines, such as have a healing, cooling, quenching, quickening property in them, Isaiah 44:3 .

And a fountain shall come forth — viz. Baptism, that laver of regeneration, Titus 3:5 ; that fountain opened, Zechariah 13:1 ; that pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, that washeth away sin, Revelation 22:1 Acts 22:16 .

And shall water the valley of Shittim — That dry valley in the borders of Moab, near to Jordan, and not far from the Dead Sea, Numbers 25:1 Joshua 2:1 . Here it was that the Israelites defiled themselves with the daughters of Moab, as Jarchi noteth, but shall be purified and sanctified with the washing of water by the word, Ephesians 5:26 . Tarnovius renders the text, Qui irrigabit vallem cedrorum, which shall water the valley of cedars, those choicest trees planted in the paradise of God, Psalms 92:13 ; for, saith he, as the Tabernacle was built and garnished of old with shittim wood for the most part, Exodus 25:5 ; Exodus 26:15 ; Exodus 27:1 ; Exodus 30:1 , so is the spiritual temple with these spiritual cedars.

Verse 19

Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence [against] the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.

Egypt shall be a desolation — By Egypt and Edom are meant all Christ’s adversaries, whether they be professed open enemies, as were the Egyptians, or false brethren, as the Edomites. Romists have been both, and shall therefore be desolated, Revelation 17:16 ; cf. Revelation 11:8 .

For the violence against the children of Judah — From the very cradle of the Church, Exodus 1:8-14 , yea, sooner; for Esau in the very womb jostled his brother Jacob, and offered violence against him, that he might lose no time.

Because they have shed innocent blood in the land — The saints’ blood is called innocent blood, 1. Because their sins are remitted; 2. Because they are causelessly killed. And this is a landdesolating sin. The innocent blood spilt by Manasseh brought the captivity: the Marian times, our late troubles. The blood of the martyrs, shed by Turk and Pope (whom the Jewish doctors understand by Egypt and Edom here), shall be the ruin of them both.

Verse 20

But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.

But Judah shall dwell for everPerpetuitas Ecclesiae declaratur, saith Mercer, the perpetuity of the Church is declared and assured. The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. Christ is with his to the end of the world; and those Roman persecutors who sought to root out Christian religion, and erected pillars in memory of what they had done, or rather attempted, that way, what got they thereby but perpetual ignominy, besides the irreparable loss of their souls, bodies, and fortunes?

Tu vero, Herodes sanguinolente, time.

The Church, as the palm tree, spreadeth and springeth up the more it is oppressed, as the bottle or bladder that may be dipped, not drowned; as the oak, that taketh heart to grace from the maims and wounds given it, and sprouts out thicker, Duris ut ilex tonsa bipennibus (Horat.); as fenugreek, which the worse it is handled the better it grows, as Pliny. saith. No fowl is more preyed upon than the pigeon; no creature more killed up than sheep; yet are there more pigeons than birds of prey, more sheep than slaughtermen.

Verse 21

For I will cleanse their blood [that] I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.

For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansedi.e. I will clear their consciences from dead works, from the stain and sting of all sin, that they may not question their right to these precious promises, but boldly take the comfort of them. I will say unto them, Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are justified, but ye are sanctified. Be of good cheer, therefore, since your sins, your bloody sins, are forgiven you. Or thus, "I will cleanse their blood," that is, I will declare that the blood of the godly, which the world thought to have been justly spilt, was indeed innocent blood, and that they were slain without cause. This I will do, partly by rooting out and damning their enemies, and partly by clearing their innocence, and crowning their constancy. Thus Mercer, Levely, …

For the Lord dwelleth in Zion — This is the last promise, but not the least. It referreth, saith Danaeus, to Christ taking our flesh, by the which he dwelt among us, being God manifest in the flesh, 1 Timothy 3:16 John 1:14 , "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw the glory thereof," … This is reserved to the last place, as the causa et cumulus felicitatis, especially since he dwelleth with his Church for ever, as it is in the precedent verse, and maketh her a true Jehovah Shammah, as she is called Ezekiel 48:35 .

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joel 3". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/joel-3.html. 1865-1868.
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