Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Joel 2

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

Verse 1

Joe 2:1. The blowing of the trumpet is figurative and expressed in view of the calamity that was to come upon the country. (See Num 10:1-10 for the significance of trumpets.) In actual practice the people of Israel were to blow the trumpet in alarm when they were to go into battle against another nation. It does not have that meaning in this case because the passage is a prediction of the invasion of the Babylonian army. That event was to occur by the Lord’s decree, and the people of Israel were not to resist that attack. Instead, they were advised to submit peacefully to the king of Babylon and thereby lessen their suffering. (See Jer 38:17, IS.) The thought in the passage here is that the alarm should be to summon the people to a sense of their undone condition, so that they will make what restitution they can for their own personal benefit.

Verse 2

Joe 2:2. The gloomy picture that is painted is to be the result of the invasion of the foreign nation. A great people and a strong refers to the Baby-lonians who were to be brought against Jerusalem and the people of Israel.

Verse 3

Joe 2:3. Garden of Eden before , . . behind a wilderness. This Is a picture of the sad changes that were destined to come into the land of Palestine after the inroads made by the Babylonian army. It was to be a complete overthrow of the great country of Israel, inflicted upon it as a punishment for the evil conduct of the inhabitants in taking up with the idolatrous ways of the heathen.

Verse 4

Joe 2:4. Appearance of horses is lit-eral, for the army of Babylon used that noble animal in its triumphant march through the country.

Verse 5

Joe 2:5. The horses were used to carry riders in battle array, and they were likewise used to draw the chariots of war which are mentioned in this verse.

Verse 6

Joe 2:6. Faces be pained will be on account of the dreadful appearance of the military forces of the Babylonian Empire. It was one of the most for-midable armies ever sent against the Israelites, and well might their faces be drawn in alarm at the approach of such a foe.

Verse 7

Joe 2:7. Not break their ranks de-notes the orderly conduct of the sol-diers of the king of Bablyon, Shall climb the wall refers to the ability of the soldiers to mount over the walls that were erected as a barrier against an attacking foe. These barricades were to be no effective hindrance to the success of the invading army.

Verse 8

Joe 2:8. Sometimes the soldiers of an army became confused and attacked each other, and at other times they would interfere with each other’s posi-tion in the battle formation; the Baby-lonians were not to do this. And even when they came in contact with a sword it would not injure them seriously, because the Lord will be using them as His agents to chastise t.he people of Israel.

Verse 9

Joe 2:9. The prevalence and success of the Babylonians is meant here.

Verse 10

Joe 2:10. This is a figurative description of the depression that will settle down upon Jerusalem and the inhabitants of Judah when the army of Nebuchadnezzar takes up the siege. The king of Israel and his leading men will be debased, which is likened to the dimming of the sun and other heavenly bodies.

Verse 11

Joe 2:11. The army of Babylon is called the Lord’s because He will use it to carry out the purposes against the unfaithful people of Israel, He is strong that executeth his word. Since the king of Babylon will be executing the decree of the Lord, He will make that king strong enough to accomplish the task set before him. Without the Lord’s support the Babylonian army could never have succeeded as it did; for later, when it was God’s will that the same nation should be overthrown, it was accomplished by the Persians who were said to be "inferior to thee" (Daniel 2; 39).

Verse 12

Joe 2:12. In view of the coming dis-aster, the people of Israel were exhorted to repent and manifest a proper attitude toward God. We are again reminded of an apparent disagreement in the declarations of the Lord as to the fate of his people. At one time they are exhorted to repent and seek the favor of the Lord, and at another they are told that nothing could be done to prevent the downfall of the kingdom and the captivity of its people. The reader should see the long note on this subject in the comments for 2 Kings 22; 2 Kings 17, volume 3 of this COXMESTARY.

Verse 13

Joe 2:13. Rend your heart and not your garments. It was a customary action in times of great distress or anxiety for a person to grasp his gar-ment and tear it. This performance was acceptable to God when it was done with sincerity of heart. But since it was purely a physical or mechanical movement, a man conld perform it as successfully while his heart was cor-rupt, as he could when be was pure in heart. Hence the exhortation of the words Italicized, which means to correct the heart before going through the outward motion of rending the garment.

Verse 14

Joe 2:14. This verse is explained at verse 12 and the note cited there.

Verse 15

Joe 2:15. This verse is virtually the same as verse 1.

Verse 16

Joe 2:16. For comments on this verse, see those on Chapter 1; 14, also the note cited at verse 12 of the present chapter.

Verse 17

Joe 2:17. The outstanding corrup-tion of the nation of Israel was idolatry. In Eze 8:16 the sun worshipers are shown as standing "between the porch and the altar," and thus were showing disrespect for the true God. Now the prophet Joel bids them go to that place to lament over the situation that their iniquity had created. And Instead of serving a false god, they were to appeal to the true God on behalf of the people whom their corrupt leadership had betrayed. Of course we understand this to be a prophetic picture of the state of mind that would be experienced after they got down in the land of captivity. This is described in strong terms in Psalms 137 where It Is prophecy, and in Eze 37:11 where it is history.

Verse 18

Joe 2:18. From this verse through 27 the passage is a prediction of the return from Babylonian captivity. The sending of Israel Into a foreign country was not from an outburst of ill feeling for His people, but because their own good as well as the honor of the holy name of God demanded the chastisement. That is why it Is said that He will be jealous for the land, because the Babylonians took too much personal satisfaction out of the distress of the people whom they had brought under their domination.

Verse 19

Joe 2:19. The Lord was to make these provisions for his people by re-luming them from the captivity so they could reap the products of the home land. It was a great reproach upon the nation of Israel to be held captive in a heathen land, but that was to be reversed and never again be repeated.

Verse 20

Joe 2:20. The northern army was the Babylonian army that had taken the people of Israel into captivity. At the time the captivity was to be ended, the Babylonian army would be in their own country. But it. had come down from the north in order to take its inhabitants into captivity; and reversing the condition of bondage would be equivalent to removing the northern army from the land. And in making such a forced retreat toward his own country, the Babylonian king would be heading toward the desert of Arabia, and his back would be toward the utmost sea which means the Mediter-ranean.

Verse 21

Joe 2:21. Such inanimate things as land cannot literally rejoice, yet the language is directly addressed to it. In that respect it is like the passage in Eze 36:6-15. The thought is to be transferred to the people who are to inhabit and enjoy the land, and who will be able to rejoice because of the benefits that the Lord promises to be-stow upon It.

Verse 22

Joe 2:22. The beasts of the field are animate creatures, yet they cannot in-telligently respond to the Lord's promise of blessings upon the fields. However, they can enjoy those blessings and thrive upon them, which would enable them to yield benefits for the enjoyment of their owners.

Verse 23

Joe 2:23. The foregoing comments are verified by the first sentence of this verse: it is the children of Zion who are actually to rejoice. And the reasoning is made still clearer by the rest of the verse, for it specifies the favors that were promised to be shed upon the land that would enable it to produce the things necessary for man's enjoyment. Moderately is an unusual word as it is used in this place, and it is derived from an original that Strong defines as "righteous.” The simple meaning is that God was to bestow the right seasons upon the land so that it could produce the crops for its citizens.

Verse 24

Joe 2:24. Floors refers to the places where the grain was beaten out of the husk and the chaff separated from the kernel by the wind. The fats means the vats or large tubB into which grapes were placed so that the juice could be pressed out.

Verse 25

Joe 2:25. I have commented at length on the subject of this verse, in chapter 1: 4, which the reader should see now before going further in the study of this passage. With those comments in mind, he may think of this verse as a part of the prediction of the return from the Babylonian captivity. We know that when that event occurred, the effects of former misfortunes (whether literal armies of locusts or that of the Babylonians), were to be reversed by the returning productiveness of the land.

Verse 26

Joe 2:26. This is more along the line of the blessings promised to come to the people after being brought back to their own land. My people shall never he ashamed applies only to the Idea of a national and bodily removal into a foreign country; it was never to happen again.

Verse 27

Joe 2:27. Shall know . . . Lord your God, and none else. This is very sig-nificant, for the main iniquity of Israel was their worship of false gods. But the captivity was destined to cure them permanently of that spiritual disease as predicted here. The historical quotation that shows the fulfillment of this prediction is given at Isa 1:25 in volume 3 of this COMMENTARY.

Verse 28

Joe 2:28. This verse begins a noted prophecy which includes the rest of the chapter. It was quoted by the apostle Peter as recorded in Act 2:17-21, where he replies to the false statements of the Jews in his audience. Afterward is a somewhat indefinite term as to time, merely meaning “at some time later.*’ Peter makes it more definite by saying "in the last days” meaning the last days of the Jewish Dispensation. It is not uncommon for ail Old Testament prophet to pass immediately from some good event concerning fleshly Israel to one pertaining to spiritual Israel. So in the present case, Joel goes from the return from captivity to the starting of the church that was lo embrace all nations in spiritual Israel. The meaning of all flesh is that the spirit, of God was to bring blessings upon all, whether they were Jew or Gentile. These bless-ings would need to be introduced into the world in a miraculous manner, and it was to be accomplished by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, using various ranks of society for instruments, hence the mention of sons and daughters, old and young men upon whom the outpouring was to come.

Verse 29

Joe 2:29. Servants and handmaids are named to show that the blessings of the Gospel will be for all classes of mankind, whether high or low, rich or poor.

Verse 30

Joe 2:30. Blood, fire, etc., is figurative and refers to the disturbances that were to occur in close connection (as to time) with the outpouring of the Spirit.

Verse 31

Joe 2:31. This verse is still figurative but is more specific than the preceding one. It was fulfilled when Jeeus was on the cross and the sun was prevented from showing its light for three hours (Mat 27:45), This was only 50 days before the giving of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, which would give to the language here the cleaning as if it said the event would occur “just before” the day of the Lord. Terrible is from the Hebrew word ya.be, one of whose meanings is “to be reverenced”; and certainly that can truly be said of the day when the Lord gave to the world the kingdom that was to “stand for ever."

Verse 32

Joe 2:32. Shall he delivered is ex-pressed by “shall be saved” in Acts 2; Acts 21, which shows that the two ex-pressions mean the same. To call on the name of the Lord, means to look to Him for the means of salvation. (See Act 22:16; Rom 10:13.) Mount Zion and Jerusalem are named together because the former was a special spot in the latter city. Deliverance means the same as “be saved” in Act 2:21. Remnant is from sariyd, which Strong defines “a survivor." It is said with reference to the Jews who were to be still serving God at the time the Spirit was to be given. It is true that the benefits of the Gospel were for all nations, but the Jews were given the first opportunity of receiving them. (See Act 13:46; Rom 1:16; Rom 2:10.)
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Joel 2". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/joel-2.html. 1952.
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