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For then, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, 2I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations. They have divided my land, 3and cast lots for my people, and traded boys for prostitutes, and sold girls for wine, and drunk it down.

4 What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads swiftly and speedily. 5For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. 6You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. 7But now I will rouse them to leave the places to which you have sold them, and I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads. 8I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away; for the L ord has spoken.


Judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat


Proclaim this among the nations:

Prepare war,

stir up the warriors.

Let all the soldiers draw near,

let them come up.


Beat your plowshares into swords,

and your pruning hooks into spears;

let the weakling say, “I am a warrior.”



Come quickly,

all you nations all around,

gather yourselves there.

Bring down your warriors, O L ord.


Let the nations rouse themselves,

and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat;

for there I will sit to judge

all the neighboring nations.



Put in the sickle,

for the harvest is ripe.

Go in, tread,

for the wine press is full.

The vats overflow,

for their wickedness is great.



Multitudes, multitudes,

in the valley of decision!

For the day of the L ord is near

in the valley of decision.


The sun and the moon are darkened,

and the stars withdraw their shining.



The L ord roars from Zion,

and utters his voice from Jerusalem,

and the heavens and the earth shake.

But the L ord is a refuge for his people,

a stronghold for the people of Israel.


The Glorious Future of Judah


So you shall know that I, the L ord your God,

dwell in Zion, my holy mountain.

And Jerusalem shall be holy,

and strangers shall never again pass through it.



In that day

the mountains shall drip sweet wine,

the hills shall flow with milk,

and all the stream beds of Judah

shall flow with water;

a fountain shall come forth from the house of the L ord

and water the Wadi Shittim.



Egypt shall become a desolation

and Edom a desolate wilderness,

because of the violence done to the people of Judah,

in whose land they have shed innocent blood.


But Judah shall be inhabited forever,

and Jerusalem to all generations.


I will avenge their blood, and I will not clear the guilty,

for the L ord dwells in Zion.

The Prophet confirms in these words what he had before taught respecting the restoration of the Church; for it was a thing difficult to be believed: when the body of the people was so mutilated, when their name was obliterated, when all power was abolished, when the worship of God also, together with the temple, was subverted, when there was no more any form of a kingdom, or even of any civil government, who could have thought that God had any concern for a people in such a wretched condition? It is then no wonder that the Prophet speaks so much at large of the restoration of the Church; he did so, that he might more fully confirm what would have otherwise been incredible.

He therefore says, Behold, in those days, and at that time, in which I shall restore the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I shall then make all Gentiles to come down into the valley of Jehoshaphat. And the Prophet says this, because the Jews were then hated by all people, and were the execration and the dregs of the whole world. As many nations as were under heaven, so many were the enemies of the Jews. A fall then inter despair was easy, when they saw the whole world incensed against them: “Though God may wish to redeem us, there are yet so many obstacles, that we must necessarily perish; not only the Assyrians are enraged against us, but we have found even greater hatred in our own neighbors.” We, indeed, know that the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Syrians, the Sidonians, the Idumeans, the Philistines, and, in short, all in the surrounding countries, were very hostile to the Jews. Seeing then every access to their land was closed up to the Jews, it was difficult to entertain any hope of deliverance, though God encouraged them. For this reason the Prophet now says, that God would be the judge of the whole world, and that it was in his purpose and power to call together all the Gentiles, as though he said, “Let not the number and variety of enemies frighten you: the Assyrians alone, I know, are not your enemies, but also all your neighbors; but when I undertake the defense of your cause, I shall be alone sufficient to protect you; and however much all people may oppose, they shall not prevail. Then believe that I shall be a sufficient defender, and shall deliver you from the hand of all the nations ” We now perceive the Prophet’s design when he declares, that God would come to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and there call together all nations.

But the Prophet says, In those days, and at that time, when the Lord shall restore the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, etc. This time the Jews limit to their return: they therefore think, that when liberty to return was granted them by Cyrus and Darius, what the Prophet declares here was then fulfilled; Christian doctors apply this prediction to the coming of Christ; but both interpret the words of the Prophet otherwise than the drift of the passage requires. The Prophet, no doubt, speaks here of the deliverance we have just noticed, and at the same time includes the kingdom of Christ; and this, as we have seen in other parts, is very commonly done. While then the prophets testify that God would be the redeemer of his people, and promise deliverance from Babylonian exile, they lead the faithful, as it were, by a continuous train or course, to the kingdom of Christ. For what else was the Jewish restoration, but a prelude of that true and real redemptions afterwards effected by Christ? The Prophet then does not speak only of the coming of Christ, or of the return of the Jews, but includes the whole of redemption, which was only begun when the Lord restored his people from the Babylonian exile; it will then go on from the first coming of Christ to the last day; as though he said, “When God will redeem his people, it will not be a short or momentary benefit, but he will continue his favor until he shall visit with punishment all the enemies of his Church.” In a word, the Prophet here shows, that God will not be a half Redeemer, but will continue to work until he completes everything necessary for the happy state of his Church, and makes it in every respect perfect. This is the import of the whole.

We also see that the Prophet Haggai speaks in the same manner of the second temple, — that the glory of the second temple shall be greater than that of the first, (Haggai 2) He, however referred, no doubt, to the prophecy of Ezekiel; and Ezekiel speaks of the second temple, which was to be built after the return of the people from exile. Be it so, yet Ezekiel did not confine to four or five ages what he said of the second temple: on the contrary he meant that the favor of God would be continued to the coming of Christ: so also Joel means here, when he says, When God shall restore the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, he will then call together all the nations; as though he said, “God will pour out not a small portion of grace, but will become the complete Redeemer of his people; and when the whole world shall rise against him, he will yet prevail; he will undertake the cause of his Church, and will secure the salvation of his people. Whosoever then will attempt to delay or hinder the restoration of the Church, shall by no means succeed; for the Lord, the defender of his people, will judge all nations.”

Let us now see why the Prophet particularly mentions the valley of Jehoshaphat. Many think that valley to be intended, which was called the Valley of Blessing, where Jehoshaphat obtained a signal and a memorable victory, when yet he was not provided with large forces, and when many nations conspired against him. Though Jehoshaphat fought against a large army with a few people, he yet wonderfully succeeded; and the people there presented thanks to God, and gave a name to the place. Hence, many think that this valley is mentioned, that the Prophet might remind the Jews how wonderfully they were saved; for their enemies had come for the very purpose of destroying the whole of God’s people, and thought that this was wholly in their power. The memory then of this history must have animated the minds of the godly with a good hope; for God then undertook the cause of a small number against a vast multitude; yea, against many and powerful nations. And this view seems to me probable. Some place this valley of Jehoshaphat half way between the Mount of Olives and the city; but how probable their conjecture is I know not.

Unquestionably, with regard to this passage, their opinion, in my judgment, is the most correct, who think that there is here a recalling to mind of God’s favor, which may in all ages encourage the faithful to entertain hope of their salvation. Some, however, prefer to take the word as an appellative; and no doubt יהושפט ieushaphath means the judgment of God; and so they render it, “The valley of the judgment of God.” If this is approved I do not oppose. And, doubtless, though it be a proper name, and the Prophet speak here of that holy King, to encourage the Jews to follow his example, he yet alludes, no doubt, to the judgment of God, or to the contest which he would undertake for the sake of his people: for it immediately follows וכ שפטתי עמם שם uneshaphathti omem shim, “And I will contend with them there:” and this verb is derived from שפט shephath. Hence also, if it be the proper name of a place, and taken from that of the King, the Prophet here meant, that its etymology should be considered; as though he said, “God will call all nations to judgment, and for this end, that he may dwell in the midst of his people, and really testify and prove this.”

Some apply this passage to the last judgment, but in too strained a manner. Hence also has arisen the figment, that the whole world shall be assembled in the valley of Jehoshaphat: but the world, we know, became infected with such delirious things, when the light of sound doctrine was extinguished; and no wonder, that the world should be fascinated with such gross comments, after it had so profaned the worship of God. 1313     “To this valley or glen, in which is the celebrated burying-place of the Jews, the Rabbins have appropriated the name, (the valley of Jehosaphat,) and maintain, that in it the final judgment of the world is to be held; — a conceit in which they have been followed by many Christian writers, as well as by the Mohammedans.” — Dr. Henderson.

But with respect to the intention of the Prophets he, no doubt, mentions here the valley of Jehoshaphat, that the Jews might entertain the hope that God would be the guardian of their safety; for he says everywhere that he would dwell among them, as we have also seen in the last chapter, “And God will dwell in the midst of you.” So also now he means the same, I will assemble all nations, and make them to come down to the valley of Jehoshaphat; that is, though the land shall for a time be uncultivated and waste, yet the Lord will gather his people, and show that he is the judge of the whole world; he will raise a trophy in the land of Judah, which will be nobler than if the people had ever been safe and entire: for how much soever all nations may strive to destroy the remnant, as we know they did, though few remained; yet God will sit in the valley of Jehoshaphat, he will have there his own tribunal, that he may keep his people, and defend them from all injuries. At the same time, what I have before noticed must be borne in mind; for he names here the valley of Jehoshaphat rather than Jerusalem, because of the memorable deliverance they had there, when God discomfited so many people, when great armies were in an instant destroyed and without the aid of men. Since God then delivered his people at that time in an especial manner through his incredible power, it is no wonder that he records here the name of the valley of Jehoshaphat.

I will contend, he says, with them there for my people, and for my heritage, Israel. By these words the Prophet shows how precious to God is the salvation of his chosen people; for it is no ordinary thing for God to condescend to undertake their cause, as though he himself were offended and wronged; and God contends, because he would have all things in common with us. We now then, see the reason of this contention, — even because God so regards the salvation of his people, that he deems himself wronged in their person; as it is said in another place, “He who toucheth you toucheth the apple of mine eye”. And to confirm his doctrine still more, the Prophet adds, For mine heritage, Israel. God calls Israel here his heritage, to strengthen distressed minds, and also to comfort them; for if the Jews had only fixed their minds on their own state, they could not but think themselves unworthy of being regarded by God; for they were deemed abominable by all nations; and we also know that they were severely chastised for having departed from all godliness and for having, as it were, wholly alienated themselves from God. Since, then, they were like a corrupted body, they could not but despond in their adversity: but the Prophet here comes to their assistance, and brings forward the word heritage, as though he said, “God will execute judgment for you, not that ye are worthy, but because he has chosen you: for he will never forget the covenant which he made with your father Abraham ” We see, then, the reason he mentions heritage: it was, that the Jews might not despair on account of their sins; and at the same time he commends, as before, the gratuitous mercy of God, as though he had said, “The reason for your redemption is no other, but that God has allotted to himself the posterity of Abraham and designed them to be his peculiar people ” What remains we must defer until to-morrow.

There follows now another indignity still greater; for they cast lot on God’s people, — On my people they have cast lot, and prostituted a boy for a harlot, and a girl have they sold for wine, that they might drink. By these words the Prophet enhances the injury done them; for the Jews had been reproachfully treated. Some measure of humanity is mostly shown when men are sold; but the Prophet here complains in the person of God, that the Jews had been exposed to sale, as though they were the off scourings of mankind, and of no account. They have cast lots he says; and this was to show contempt; and the Prophet expresses more clearly what he meant, and says, that a boy had been given for a harlot, and a girl for wine. Some consider the Prophet as saying, that boys were prostituted to base and scandalous purposes; but I prefer another view, — that the enemies sold them for a mean price to gratify their gluttony, or their lust; as though the Prophet had said, that the Jews had to endure a grievous reproach by being set to sale, as they say, and that at the lowest price. He farther adds another kind of contempt; for whatever price the enemies procured by selling, they spent it either on harlot or on feasting. We hence see that a twofold injury is here mentioned, — the Jews had been so despised as not to be regarded as men, and had been sold not for the usual prices, but had been disposed of in contempt by their enemies almost for nothing; — and the other reproach was, that the price obtained for them was afterwards spent on gluttony and whoredom: yet this people was sacred to God. Now this contumelious treatment, the Prophet says, God would not endure, but would avenge such a wrong as if done to himself. This is then the meaning.

But the reason which induces me thus to interpret the Prophet is because he says that a girl was sold for wine, as the boy for a harlot; and the construction of the Prophet’s words is the same. It is indeed certain that in the latter clause the Prophet meant nothing else but that the price was wickedly spent for vile and shameful purposes; then the former clause must be understood in the same way. Let us proceed —

God expostulates here with Tyre and Sidon, and other neighboring nations, and shows that they vexed his people without cause Had they been provoked some excuse might have been made; but since they made war of their own accord, the wrong was doubled. This is what God means these words. What have ye to do with me, O Tyre and Sidon? He indeed continues the subject before explained: but he speaks of the concern here as hid own; he seems not now to undertake the protection of his own people, but detents his own cause. “What have ye to do with me?” he says. God then interposes himself; as though he said, that the Syrians and Sidonians were not only called by him to judgment because they had unjustly wronged his people, and brought many troubles on men deserving no such things; but he says also, that he stood up in his own defense. “What have I to do with you, O Syrians and Sidonians?” as we say in French, Qu’avons-nous a desmeller? (what have we to decide?) Now the Prophet had this in view, that the Syrians and Sidonians became voluntary enemies to the Jews, when they had no dispute with them; and this, as we have said, was less to be borne. “What then have ye to do with me, O Syrians and Sidonians? Do I owe anything to you? Am I under any obligation to you? Do ye repay me my recompense?” that is, “Can you boast of any reason or just pretense for making, war on my people?” He then means, that there had been no wrong done to the Syrians and Sidonians, which they could now retaliate, but that they made an attack through their own wickedness, and were only impelled by avarice or cruelty thus to harass the miserable Jews: “Ye repay not,” he says, “a recompense to me; for ye cannot pretend that any wrong has been done to you by me.”

But if ye repay this to me, he says, I will swiftly return the recompense on your head. גמל gimel means not only to repay, as the Hebrew scholars ever render it, but also to confer, to bestow, (conferre, ut loquuntur Latine) as it has been stated in another place. ‘What shall I repay to the Lord for all the things which he has recompensed to me?’ This is the common version; but it is an improper and inconsistent mode of speaking. David no doubt refers to God’s benefits; then it is, ‘What shall I repay for all the benefits which the Lord has bestowed on me?’ Then he who first does wrong, or bestows good, is said to recompense; and this is the sense in this place. ‘If ye,’ he says, ‘thus deal with me, “swiftly”, מהרה mere suddenly (for the word is to be taken as an adverb,) will I return recompense on your head;’ that is, “Ye shall not be unpunished, since ye have acted so unjustly with me and my people.” We now perceive the whole meaning of the Prophet: He enhances the crime of the Syrians and Sidonians, because they willfully distressed the Jews, and joined themselves to their foreign enemies, for the purpose of seizing on a part of the spoil. As, then, vicinity softened not their minds, their inhumanity was on this account more fully proved. But, as I have said, the Lord here places himself between the two parties, to intimate, that he performs his own proper office when he takes care of the safety of his Church.

He afterwards shows that this wickedness should not be unpunished — If ye deal thus with me, he says, I shall swiftly (suddenly) return the recompense on your heads. This passage contains a singular consolation; for God declares that whatever evils the faithful endure belong to him, and also that he will not suffer those under his protection and defense to be distressed with impunity, but will quickly return recompense on the heads of those who unjustly injure his heritage. We now understand the Prophet’s design: he doubtless intended to support the minds of the godly with this thought, — that their afflictions are objects of concern with God and that he will shortly be the avenger of them, however necessary it may be that they should for a time be thus violently and reproachfully treated by wicked men.

Let us now proceed: He says that their silver and their gold had been taken away by the Syrians and the Sidonians. All who were the neighbors of that people, no doubt, derived gain from their calamity, as is usually the case. They were at first ill disposed towards them; there was then a new temptation; they gaped after booty: and they showed themselves openly their enemies, when they saw that there was hope of gain. Such was the case with the Syrians and Sidonians. There is no doubt, but that they sedulously courted the favor of the Assyrians, that they helped them with provisions and other things, that they might partake of the spoil. It was, therefore, no wonder that gold and silver was taken away by them, for the carriage of them to Assyria would have been tedious: and, as I have just hinted, it is usually the case, that conquerors gratify those by whom they have been assisted. Many extend this plunder generally to the whole wealth of the people; that is, that the enemies plundered what gold and silver there was in Judea, and that the Sidonians got a portion of it for themselves. But there seems to have been a special complaint, that the sacred vessels of the temple were taken away by the Syrians and Sidonians: I therefore prefer to render the word, temples, rather than palaces. Some say, ‘Ye have carried away my silver and my gold to your palaces.’ Though the word is capable of two meanings, yet the Prophet, I have no doubt, refers here to the temples. The Syrians, then, and the Sidonians profaned the silver and the gold of the temple by dedicating them to their idols; they adorned their idols with spoils taken from the only true God. This was the reason why God was so exceedingly displeased. There was, indeed, a cause why God, as we have said, contended for the whole nation of Israel: but it was a far more heinous wrong to spoil the temple, and to strip it of its ornaments, and then to adorn idols with its sacred vessels; for God was thus treated with scorn; and in contempt of him, the Syrians and Sidonians built, as it were, a trophy of victory in their own dens, where they performed sacrilegious acts in worshipping fictitious gods.

Ye have taken away, he says, my gold and silver, and my desirable good things. God speaks here after the manner of men; for it is certain that even under the law he stood in no need of gold or silver, or of other precious things; he wished the temple to be adorned with vessels and other valuable furniture for the sake of the ignorant (rudis — rude) people; for the Jews could not have been preserved in pure and right worship, had not God assisted their weak faith by these helps. (adminiculis — props, aids) But yet, as obedience is acceptable to him, he says that whatever was an ornament in the temple was a desirable thing to him; while, at the same time, by speaking thus, he put on, as I have said, a character not his own, as he has no need of such things, nor is he delighted with them. We ought not, indeed, to imagine God to be like a child, who takes delight in gold and silver and such things; but what is said here was intended for the benefit of the people, that they might know that God approved of that worship, for it was according to his command. He therefore calls every thing that was in the temple desirable, Ye have, he says, carried away into your temples my desirable good things.

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