Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Joel 3

Verses 1-8

Joel 3:1-8. Yahweh will Recompense with Punishment the Nations that have Oppressed His People.—In that Day, when Yahweh will restore the fortunes of His people, He will bring into the "Valley of Jehoshaphat" all nations, and there confront them, as defendants in a law-court, with the charge that they have parcelled out His land among colonists and dispersed His people into far countries, selling them into slavery for contemptuously small sums which they have expended upon the satisfaction of their lusts. Especially the Phœnicians and Philistines are named. Acting thus were they, asks Yahweh, repaying a grudge they had against Him? Or were they injuring Him without provocation? (read mg. in Joel 3:4). In either case swift shall be His vengeance. Not content with robbing His people of their treasures they have sold their persons to the Greek slave-traders. Yahweh will gather again His people from exile, and deliver their oppressors into their power. The Jews will sell them to the Sabeans, who will dispose of them to a nation still more remote: such is Yahweh's pronouncement.

Joel 3:1. bring again the captivity: many more Jews remained in exile in distant lands than came back at the "Return"; possibly, however, the phrase had become proverbial in the sense "restore the fortune."

Joel 3:2. the valley of Jehoshaphat: no actual valley will suit the description, which is largely imaginative; the name is chosen because of its meaning, "Yahweh judges."—plead with: in the legal sense, maintain a cause against. The word is from the same Heb. root as the latter part of Jehoshaphat.

Joel 3:4. what are ye to me: rather, "what were ye for doing to me?"

Joel 3:5. temples: the word may equally well be rendered "palaces"; the reference is not exclusively, if at all, to the vessels of the Temple.

Joel 3:6. that ye might: Heb. delights to represent the inevitable consequence of an action as though it were deliberately designed.

Joel 3:8. sell into the hand of: a regular phrase for "deliver into the power of."—Sheba: the Sabeans were a wealthy trading people cf. SW. Arabia (1 Kings 10*).—to a nation: rather "for a nation." The Sabeans, like the Phœnicians, are middlemen. Observe the exactness of the recompence.

Verses 9-17

Joel 3:9-17. A Challenge to the Nations to Appear in the Valley of Judgment to Meet their Doom.—Returning to the idea of Joel 3:2, Joel represents Yahweh as bidding the heralds make proclamation among the nations, challenging them to perform the religious rites used to initiate a campaign, and to advance against Him. Let them put their utmost strength into the battle, converting the implements of peace into weapons of war (contrast Isaiah 2:4), and playing the hero even to the feeblest man amongst them. Let the warriors haste and present themselves in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, where Yahweh will execute judgment upon them. Under two figures the judgment is expressed: the nations are like ripe corn, which the angel reapers are bidden cut, or grapes filling the press, ready for them to tread. Multitudes await their fate in the Valley of Decision—another name for "Valley of Jehoshaphat" (cf. Joel 3:2*)—in Yahweh's Day of Doom. The heavenly bodies grow murky, while the thunder of Yahweh's voice is heard as the roar of the lion springing upon its prey. Yet amid all these convulsions Yahweh will assure the safety of His people, and thus they shall be convinced that He is their God, dwelling in their midst, for never again shall the heathen oppressor defile the soil of Jerusalem.

Joel 3:9. come up: a technical military term for movements of offence.

Joel 3:10. spears: rather "lances."

Joel 3:11. thither cause . . . Lord: a very obscure clause, possibly a gloss on "tread ye" (Joel 3:13). As the text stands, the "mighty ones" must be Yahweh's angels.

Joel 3:13. the fats overflow: strictly speaking, the "fat" or "vat" is the lower receptacle into which flows the juice trodden out in the press, though it is sometimes used loosely for the press.

Joel 3:14. Multitudes: the Heb. word is mimetic, suggesting the murmur of a thronging crowd.

Verses 18-21

Joel 3:18-21. The Future Felicity of Judah Contrasted with the Desolation of her Oppressors.—In that golden age when Yahweh shall dwell in Zion miraculous fertility shall transform the land, covering it with vineyards and pastures. The watercourses, now treacherous because in the heat they become dry beds of sand, shall then be brimming with perennial streams. From the Temple shall issue a spring which shall pass through the Wady of the Acacias. Egypt—the oldest of Judah's oppressors—and Edom—most bitterly hated of her later foes—shall be destroyed and become desert; but Judah shall be inhabited for ever, and Yahweh shall dwell eternally (so render "dwelleth") in Zion.

Joel 3:18. valley of Shittim: rather, "Wady of the Acacias." Probably not the name of a definite gorge, but typical; the place-names of this chapter are of the same kind as those used by Bunyan. Acacias grow in arid regions. Cf. for the whole conception, Ezekiel 47:1-12, upon which it is based.

Joel 3:19. because . . . land: a gloss.

Joel 3:21. Possibly we should read, "And I will avenge their blood (which) I have not avenged," but the clause seems to be a gloss.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Joel 3". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.