Joel 1

Verse 16. Samaria shall become desolate] This was the capital of

the Israelitish kingdom. What follows is a simple prophetic

declaration of the cruelties which should be exercised upon this

hapless people by the Assyrians in the sackage of the city.




Chronological Notes relative to the commencement of Joel's

prophesying, upon the supposition that this event took place

about six hundred and ninety years before the commencement of

the Christian era.

-Year from the Creation, according to Archbishop Usher, 3314.

-Year of the Julian Period, 4024.

-Year since the Flood, 1658.

-Year from the foundation of Solomon's temple, 322.

-Year since the division of Solomon's monarchy into the

kingdoms of Israel and Judah, 285.

-Year since the extinction of the kingdom of Israel by

Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, 31.

-Third year of the twenty-second Olympiad.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to the Varronian

computation, 64.

-Year before the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 690.

-Cycle of the Sun, 20.

-Cycle of the Moon, 15.

-Third year of Eryxias, the last decennial archon of the


-First year of Anaxidamus, king of Lacedaemon, of the family of

the Proclidae.

-Thirty-fifth year of Eurycrates I., king of Lacedaemon, of the

family of the Eurysthenidae.

-Eleventh year of Deioces, the first king of the Medes.

-Fortieth year of Perdiccas I., king of Macedon.

-Twenty-ninth year of Gyges, king of Lydia.

-Ninth year of Manasseh, king of Judah.


This and the beginning of the next chapter contain a double

prophecy, applicable in its primary sense to a plague of

locusts which was to devour the land, and to be accompanied

with a severe drought and famine; and in its secondary sense

it denotes the Chaldean invasion. Both senses must be admitted:

for some of the expressions will apply only to the dearth by

insects; others to the desolation by war. The contexture of

both is beautiful and well conducted. In this chapter the

distress of every order of people is strongly painted; and not

only does the face of nature languish when the God of nature

is displeased, 1-19;

but the very beasts of the field, by a bold figure, are

represented as supplicating God in their distress, and

reproaching the stupidity of man, 20.


Verse 1. The word of the Lord that came to Joel] See the

introduction for some account of this prophet, whose history is

very obscure. Bishop Newcome thinks that he prophesied while the

kingdom of Judah subsisted, and refers to Joe 2:1, 15, (see also

Joe 1:14, and the note there,) but not long before its

subversion as his words, Joe 3:1, seem to imply that its

captivity was approaching. See 2Ki 21:10-15. He therefore favours

the conjecture of Drusius, that this prophet lived under Manasseh,

and before his conversion, 2Ch 33:13; that is, some time from

before Christ 697 to (suppose) 660.

Verse 2. Ye old men] Instead of hazzekenim, old men, a

few MSS. have haccohanim, ye priests, but improperly.

Hath this been in your days] He begins very abruptly; and before

he proposes his subject, excites attention and alarm by intimating

that he is about to announce disastrous events, such as the oldest

man among them has never seen, nor any of them learnt from the

histories of ancient times.

Verse 3. Tell ye your children of it] To heighten the effect, he

still conceals the subject, and informs them that it is such as

should be handed down from father to son through all generations.

Verse 4. That which the palmerworm hath left] Here he begins to

open his message, and the words he chooses show that he is going

to announce a devastation of the land by locusts, and a famine

consequent on their depredations. What the different insects may

be which he specifies is not easy to determine. I shall give the

words of the original, with their etymology.

The palmerworm, gazam, from the same root, to cut short;

probably the caterpillar, or some such blight, from its cutting

the leaves of the trees into pieces for its nourishment.

The locust, arbeh, from rabah, to multiply,

from the immense increase and multitude of this insect.

Cankerworm, yelek, from lak, to lick or lap

with the tongue; the reference is uncertain.

Caterpillar, chasil, from chasal, to consume,

to eat up; the consumer. Bishop Newcome translates the first,

grasshopper; the second, locust; the third, devouring locust; and

the fourth, consuming locust. After all that has been said by

interpreters concerning these four animals, I am fully of opinion

that the arbeh, or locust himself, is the gazam, the yelek,

and the chasil; and that these different names are used here by

the prophet to point out the locust in its different states, or

progress from embryo to full growth.

See Clarke on Joe 2:2.

Verse 5. Awake, ye drunkards] The general destruction of

vegetation by these devouring creatures has totally prevented both

harvest and vintage; so that there shall not be wine even for

necessary uses, much less for the purposes of debauchery. It is

well known that the ruin among the vines by locusts prevents the

vintage for several years after.

Verse 6. A nation is come up upon my land] That real locusts are

intended there can be little doubt; but it is thought that this

may be a double prophecy, and that the destruction by the

Chaldeans may also be intended, and that the four kinds of

locusts mentioned above may mean the four several attacks made

on Judea by them. The first in the last year of Nabonassar,

(father of Nebuchadnezzar,) which was the third of Jehoiakim; the

second when Jehoiakim was taken prisoner in the eleventh year of

his reign; the third in the ninth year of Zedekiah; and the

fourth, three years after, when Jerusalem was destroyed by

Nebuchadnezzar. Others say that they mean four powers which have

been enemies of the Jews: 1. The palmerworm, the Assyrians and

Chaldeans. 2. The locust, the Persians and Medes. 3. The

cankerworm, the Greeks, and particularly Antiochus Epiphanes. 4.

The caterpillar, the Romans. Others make them four kings;

Tiglath-pileser, Shalmaneser, Sennacherib, and Nebuchadnezzar. But

of such similitudes there is no end; and the best of them is

arbitrary and precarious.

Verse 7. He hath laid my vine waste] The locusts have eaten off

both leaves and bark. chasoph chasaphah, he hath

made it clean bare; suddad sadeh, the field is laid

waste, Joe 1:10; and

kesod mishshaddai, a destruction from the Almighty, Joe 1:15;

are all paronomasias in which this prophet seems to delight.

Verse 8. Lament like a virgin-for the husband of her youth.]

Virgin is a very improper version here. The original is

bethulah, which signifies a young woman or bride not a virgin,

the proper Hebrew for which is almah.

See Clarke on Isa 7:14, and "Mt 1:23".

Verse 9. The meat-offering and the drink-offering is cut off]

The crops and the vines being destroyed by the locusts, the total

devastation in plants, trees, corn, &c., is referred to and

described with a striking variety of expression in this and the

following verses.

Verse 12. The vine is dried up] Dr. Shaw observes that in

Barbary, in the month of June, the locusts collect themselves into

compact bodies a furlong or more square, and march on, eating up

every thing that is green or juicy, and letting nothing escape

them, whether vegetables or trees.

They destroy the pomegranate, the palm, the apple, (

tappuach, the citron tree,) the vine, the fig, and every

tree of the field. See Clarke on Joe 2:2.

Verse 14. Call a solemn assembly] atsarah signifies a

time of restraint, as the margin has it. The clause should be

translated-consecrate a fast, proclaim a time of restraint; that

is, of total abstinence from food, and from all secular

employment. All the elders of the land and the representatives

of the people were to be collected at the temple to cry unto the

Lord, to confess their sins, and pray for mercy. The temple was

not yet destroyed. This prophecy was delivered before the

captivity of Judah.

Verse 15. Alas for the day!] The Syriac repeats this, the

Vulgate, Septuagint, and Arabic, thrice: "Alas, alas, alas, for

the day!"

As a destruction from the Almighty] The destruction that is now

coming is no ordinary calamity; it is as a signal judgment

immediately inflicted by the Almighty.

Verse 17. The seed is rotten under their clods] When the sprout

was cut off as low as possible by the locusts, there was no

farther germination. The seed rotted away.

Verse 18. How do the beasts groan!] I really think that the

neighing of horses, or braying of asses, is wonderfully

expressed by the sound of the original: mah NEENCHAH

behemah, how do the horses neigh! how do the asses bray!

behemah is a collective name for all domestic cattle, and those

used in husbandry.

Cattle are perplexed] They are looking everywhere, and wandering

about to find some grass, and know not which way to run.

Verse 19. O Lord, to thee will I cry] Let this calamity come as

it may, we have sinned, and should humble ourselves before God;

and it is such a calamity as God alone can remove, therefore unto

him must we cry.

The fire hath devoured the pastures] This may either refer to a

drought, or to the effects of the locusts; as the ground, after

they have passed over it, everywhere appears as if a sheet of

flame had not only scorched, but consumed every thing.

Verse 20. The beasts of the field cry also unto thee] Even the

cattle, wild and tame, are represented as supplicating God to have

mercy upon them, and send them provender! There is a similar

affecting description of the effects of a drought in Jeremiah,

Jer 14:6.

The rivers of waters are dried up] There must have been a

drought as well as a host of locusts; as some of these

expressions seem to apply to the effects of intense heat.

For hammidbar, "the wilderness," one of my oldest MSS.

reads midbar, "wilderness" simply, as in Joe 1:19.

Eight or ten of Dr. Kennicott's have the same reading.

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