World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
The word of the Lord that came to Joel son of Pethuel:
Lament over the Ruin of the Country
Hear this, O elders,
give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
Has such a thing happened in your days,
or in the days of your ancestors?
Tell your children of it,
and let your children tell their children,
and their children another generation.
What the cutting locust left,
the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
the destroying locust has eaten.
Wake up, you drunkards, and weep;
and wail, all you wine-drinkers,
over the sweet wine,
for it is cut off from your mouth.
For a nation has invaded my land,
powerful and innumerable;
its teeth are lions’ teeth,
and it has the fangs of a lioness.
It has laid waste my vines,
and splintered my fig trees;
it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down;
their branches have turned white.
Lament like a virgin dressed in sackcloth
for the husband of her youth.
The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
from the house of the Lord.
The priests mourn,
the ministers of the Lord.
The fields are devastated,
the ground mourns;
for the grain is destroyed,
the wine dries up,
the oil fails.
Be dismayed, you farmers,
wail, you vinedressers,
over the wheat and the barley;
for the crops of the field are ruined.
The vine withers,
the fig tree droops.
Pomegranate, palm, and apple—
all the trees of the field are dried up;
surely, joy withers away
among the people.
A Call to Repentance and Prayer
Put on sackcloth and lament, you priests;
wail, you ministers of the altar.
Come, pass the night in sackcloth,
you ministers of my God!
Grain offering and drink offering
are withheld from the house of your God.
Sanctify a fast,
call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders
and all the inhabitants of the land
to the house of the Lord your God,
and cry out to the Lord.
Alas for the day!
For the day of the Lord is near,
and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.
Is not the food cut off
before our eyes,
joy and gladness
from the house of our God?
The seed shrivels under the clods,
the storehouses are desolate;
the granaries are ruined
because the grain has failed.
How the animals groan!
The herds of cattle wander about
because there is no pasture for them;
even the flocks of sheep are dazed.
To you, O Lord, I cry.
For fire has devoured
the pastures of the wilderness,
and flames have burned
all the trees of the field.
Even the wild animals cry to you
because the watercourses are dried up,
and fire has devoured
the pastures of the wilderness.
Joe 1:1-20. The Desolate Aspect of the Country through the Plague of Locusts; the People Admonished to Offer Solemn Prayers in the Temple; for This Calamity Is the Earnest of a Still Heavier One.
1. Joel—meaning, "Jehovah is God."
son of Pethuel—to distinguish Joel the prophet from others of the name. Persons of eminence also were noted by adding the father's name.
2, 3. A spirited introduction calling attention.
Hath this been, &c.—that is, Hath any so grievous a calamity as this ever been before? No such plague of locusts had been since the ones in Egypt. Ex 10:14 is not at variance with this verse, which refers to Judea, in which Joel says there had been no such devastation before.
4. This verse states the subject on which he afterwards expands. Four species or stages of locusts, rather than four different insects, are meant (compare Le 11:22). Literally, (1) the gnawing locust; (2) the swarming locust; (3) the licking locust; (4) the consuming locust; forming a climax to the most destructive kind. The last is often three inches long, and the two antennæ, each an inch long. The two hinder of its six feet are larger than the rest, adapting it for leaping. The first "kind" is that of the locust, having just emerged from the egg in spring, and without wings. The second is when at the end of spring, still in their first skin, the locusts put forth little ones without legs or wings. The third, when after their third casting of the old skin, they get small wings, which enable them to leap the better, but not to fly. Being unable to go away till their wings are matured, they devour all before them, grass, shrubs, and bark of trees: translated "rough caterpillars" (Jer 51:27). The fourth kind, the matured winged locusts (see on Na 3:16). In Joe 2:25 they are enumerated in the reverse order, where the restoration of the devastations caused by them is promised. The Hebrews make the first species refer to Assyria and Babylon; the second species, to Medo-Persia; the third, to Greco-Macedonia and Antiochus Epiphanes; the fourth, to the Romans. Though the primary reference be to literal locusts, the Holy Spirit doubtless had in view the successive empires which assailed Judea, each worse than its predecessor, Rome being the climax.
5. Awake—out of your ordinary state of drunken stupor, to realize the cutting off from you of your favorite drink. Even the drunkards (from a Hebrew root, "any strong drink") shall be forced to "howl," though usually laughing in the midst of the greatest national calamities, so palpably and universally shall the calamity affect all.
wine … new wine—"New" or "fresh wine," in Hebrew, is the unfermented, and therefore unintoxicating, sweet juice extracted by pressure from grapes or other fruit, as pomegranates (So 8:2). "Wine" is the produce of the grape alone, and is intoxicating (see on Joe 1:10).
6. nation—applied to the locusts, rather than "people" (Pr 30:25, 26), to mark not only their numbers, but also their savage hostility; and also to prepare the mind of the hearer for the transition to the figurative locusts in the second chapter, namely, the "nation" or Gentile foe coming against Judea (compare Joe 2:2).
strong—as irresistibly sweeping away before its compact body the fruits of man's industry.
teeth … lion—that is, the locusts are as destructive as a lion; there is no vegetation that can resist their bite (compare Re 9:8). Pliny says "they gnaw even the doors of houses."
7. barked—Bochart, with the Septuagint and Syriac, translates, from an Arabic root, "hath broken," namely, the topmost shoots, which locusts most feed on. Calvin supports English Version.
cast it away—down to the ground.
branches … white—both from the bark being stripped off (Ge 30:37), and from the branches drying up through the trunk, both bark and wood being eaten up below by the locusts.
virgin … for the husband—A virgin betrothed was regarded as married (De 22:23; Mt 1:19). The Hebrew for "husband" is "lord" or "possessor," the husband being considered the master of the wife in the East.
of her youth—when the affections are strongest and when sorrow at bereavement is consequently keenest. Suggesting the thought of what Zion's grief ought to be for her separation from Jehovah, the betrothed husband of her early days (Jer 2:2; Eze 16:8; Ho 2:7; compare Pr 2:17; Jer 3:4).
9. The greatest sorrow to the mind of a religious Jew, and what ought to impress the whole nation with a sense of God's displeasure, is the cessation of the usual temple-worship.
meat offering—Hebrew, mincha; "meat" not in the English sense "flesh," but the unbloody offering made of flour, oil, and frankincense. As it and the drink offering or libation poured out accompanied every sacrificial flesh offering, the latter is included, though not specified, as being also "cut off," owing to there being no food left for man or beast.
priests … mourn—not for their own loss of sacrificial perquisites (Nu 18:8-15), but because they can no longer offer the appointed offerings to Jehovah, to whom they minister.
10. field … land—differing in that "field" means the open, unenclosed country; "land," the rich red soil (from a root "to be red") fit for cultivation. Thus, "a man of the field," in Hebrew, is a "hunter"; a "man of the ground" or "land," an "agriculturist" (Ge 25:27). "Field" and "land" are here personified.
new wine—from a Hebrew root implying that it takes possession of the brain, so that a man is not master of himself. So the Arabic term is from a root "to hold captive." It is already fermented, and so intoxicating, unlike the sweet fresh wine, in Joe 1:5, called also "new wine," though a different Hebrew word. It and "the oil" stand for the vine and the olive tree, from which the "wine" and "oil" are obtained (Joe 1:12).
dried up—not "ashamed," as Margin, as is proved by the parallelism to "languisheth," that is, droopeth.
11. Be … ashamed—that is, Ye shall have the shame of disappointment on account of the failure of "the wheat" and "barley … harvest."
howl … vine dressers—The semicolon should follow, as it is the "husbandmen" who are to be "ashamed … for the wheat." The reason for the "vine dressers" being called to "howl" does not come till Joe 1:12, "The vine is dried up."
12. pomegranate—a tree straight in the stem growing twenty feet high; the fruit is of the size of an orange, with blood-red colored pulp.
palm tree—The dates of Palestine were famous. The palm is the symbol of Judea on coins under the Roman emperor Vespasian. It often grows a hundred feet high.
apple tree—The Hebrew is generic, including the orange, lemon, and pear tree.
lament, ye priests—as it is your duty to set the example to others; also as the guilt was greater, and a greater scandal was occasioned, by your sin to the cause of God.
come—the Septuagint, "enter" the house of God (compare Joe 1:14).
lie all night in sackcloth—so Ahab (1Ki 21:27).
ministers of my God—(1Co 9:13). Joel claims authority for his doctrine; it is in God's name and by His mission I speak to you.
14. Sanctify … a fast—Appoint a solemn fast.
elders—The contrast to "children" (Joe 2:16) requires age to be intended, though probably elders in office are included. Being the people's leaders in guilt, they ought to be their leaders also in repentance.
15. day of the Lord—(Joe 2:1, 11); that is, the day of His anger (Isa 13:9; Ob 15; Zep 1:7, 15). It will be a foretaste of the coming day of the Lord as Judge of all men, whence it receives the same name. Here the transition begins from the plague of locusts to the worse calamities (Joe 2:1-11) from invading armies about to come on Judea, of which the locusts were the prelude.
17. is rotten—"is dried up," "vanishes away," from an Arabic root [Maurer]. "Seed," literally, "grains." The drought causes the seeds to lose all their vitality and moisture.
garners—granaries; generally underground, and divided into separate receptacles for the different kinds of grain.
18. cattle … perplexed—implying the restless gestures of the dumb beasts in their inability to find food. There is a tacit contrast between the sense of the brute creation and the insensibility of the people.
yea, the … sheep—Even the sheep, which are content with less rich pasturage, cannot find food.
fire—that is, the parching heat.
pastures—"grassy places"; from a Hebrew root "to be pleasant." Such places would be selected for "habitations" (Margin). But the English Version rendering is better than Margin.
20. beasts … cry … unto thee—that is, look up to heaven with heads lifted up, as if their only expectation was from God (Job 38:41; Ps 104:21; 145:15; 147:9; compare Ps 42:1). They tacitly reprove the deadness of the Jews for not even now invoking God.