Joel 3

CHAPTER III

The prophecy in this chapter is thought by some to relate to

the latter times of the world, when God shall finally deliver

his people from all their adversaries; and it must be confessed

that the figures employed are so lofty as to render it

impossible to restrain the whole of their import to any events

prior to the commencement of the Christian era. The whole

prophecy is delivered in a very beautiful strain of poetry; by

what particular events are referred to is at present very

uncertain, 1-21.

NOTES ON CHAP. III

Verse 1. For, behold, in those days] According to the preceding

prophecy, these days should refer to Gospel times, or to such as

should immediately precede them. But this is a part of the

prophecy which is difficult to be understood. All interpreters are

at variance upon it; some applying its principal parts to

Cambyses; his unfortunate expedition to Egypt; the destruction

of fifty thousand of his troops (by the moving pillars of sand)

whom he had sent across the desert to plunder the rich temple of

Jupiter Ammon; his return to Judea, and dying of a wound which he

received from his own sword, in mounting his horse, which happened

at Ecbatane, at the foot of Mount Carmel. On which his army,

composed of different nations, seeing themselves without a head,

fell out, and fought against each other, till the whole were

destroyed. And this is supposed to be what Ezekiel means by Gog

and Magog, and the destruction of the former. See Eze 38:1-39:29.

Others apply this to the victories gained by the Maccabees, and

to the destruction brought upon the enemies of their country;

while several consider the whole as a figurative prediction of the

success of the Gospel among the nations of the earth. It may refer

to those times in which the Jews shall be brought in with the

fulness of the Gentiles, and be re-established in their own land.

Or there may be portions in this prophecy that refer to all the

events; and to others that have not fallen yet within the range of

human conjecture, and will be only known when the time of

fulfilment shall take place. In this painful uncertainty, rendered

still more so by the discordant opinions of many wise and learned

men, it appears to be my province, as I have nothing in the form

of a new conjecture to offer, to confine myself to an explanation

of the phraseology of the chapter; and then leave the reader to

apply it as may seem best to his own judgment.

I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem.] This

may refer to the return from the Babylonish captivity; extending

also to the restoration of Israel, or the ten tribes.

Verse 2. The valley of Jehoshaphat] There is no such valley in

the land of Judea; and hence the word must be symbolical. It

signifies the judgment of God, or Jehovah judgeth; and may mean

some place (as Bp. Newcome imagines) where Nebuchadnezzar should

gain a great battle, which would utterly discomfit the ancient

enemies of the Jews, and resemble the victory which Jehoshaphat

gained over the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites, 2Ch 20:22-26.

And parted my land.] The above nations had frequently entered

into the territories of Israel; and divided among themselves the

lands they had thus overrun.

While the Jews were in captivity, much of the land of Israel was

seized on, and occupied by the Philistines, and other nations that

bordered on Judea.

Verse 3. Have given a boy for a harlot] To such wretched

circumstances were the poor Jews reduced in their captivity, that

their children were sold by their oppressors; and both males and

females used for the basest purposes. And they were often

bartered for the necessaries or luxuries of life. Or this may

refer to the issue of the Chaldean war in Judea, where the

captives were divided among the victors. And being set in

companies, they cast lots for them: and those to whom they fell

sold them for various purposes; the boys to be slaves and

catamites, the girls to be prostitutes; and in return for them

they got wine and such things. I think this is the meaning of the

text.

Verse 4. What have ye to do with me] Why have the Tyrians and

Sidonians joined their other enemies to oppress my people? for

they who touch my people touch me.

Will ye render me a recompense?] Do you think by this to avenge

yourselves upon the Almighty? to retaliate upon God! Proceed, and

speedily will I return your recompense; I will retaliate.

Verse 5. Ye have taken my silver and my gold] The Chaldeans had

spoiled the temple, and carried away the sacred vessels, and put

them in the temple of their own god in Babylon.

Verse 6. Sold unto the Grecians] These were the descendants of

Javan, Ge 10:2-5. And with them the

Tyrians trafficked, Eze 27:19.

That ye might remove them far from their border.] Intending to

send them as far off as possible, that it might be impossible for

them to get back to reclaim the land of which you had dispossessed

them.

Verse 7. I will raise them] I shall find means to bring them

back from the place whither ye have sold them, and they shall

retaliate upon you the injuries they have sustained. It is said

that Alexander and his successors set at liberty many Jews that

had been sold into Greece. And it is likely that many returned

from different lands, on the publication of the edict of

Cyrus.-Newcome.

Verse 8. I will sell your sons] When Alexander took Tyre, he

reduced into slavery all the lower people, and the women. Arrian,

lib. ii., says that thirty thousand of them were sold. Artaxerxes

Ochus destroyed Sidon, and subdued the other cities of Phoenicia.

In all these wars, says Calmet, the Jews, who obeyed the Persians,

did not neglect to purchase Phoenician slaves, whom they sold

again to the Sabeans, or Arabs.

Verse 9. Prepare war] Let all the enemies of God and of his

people join together; let them even call all the tillers of the

ground to their assistance, instead of labouring in the field; let

every peasant become a soldier. Let them turn their agricultural

implements into offensive weapons, so that the weak, being well

armed, may confidently say, I am strong: yet, when thus collected

and armed, Jehovah will bring down thy mighty ones; for so the

clause in Joe 3:11 should be rendered.

Verse 12. Let the heathen be wakened] The heathen shall be

wakened.

The valley of Jehoshaphat] Any place where God may choose to

display his judgments against his enemies.

Verse 13. Put ye in the sickle] The destruction of his enemies

is represented here under the metaphor of reaping down the

harvest; and of gathering the grapes, and treading them in the

wine-presses.

Verse 14. Multitudes, multitudes] hamonim, hamonim,

crowds upon crowds, in the valley of decision, or excision: the

same as the valley of Jehoshaphat, the place where God is to

execute judgment on his enemies.

Verse 15. The sun and the moon shall be darkened] High and

mighty states shall be eclipsed, and brought to ruin, and the

stars-petty states, princes, and governors-shall withdraw their

shining; withhold their influence and tribute from the kingdoms

to which they have belonged, and set up themselves as independent

governors.

Verse 16. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion] His temple and

worship shall be re-established there, and he will thence denounce

his judgments against the nations. "The heavens and the earth

shall shake." There shall be great commotions in powerful empires

and their dependencies; but in all these things his own people

shall be unmoved, for God shall be their hope and strength.

Verse 17. So shall ye know ] By the judgments I execute on your

enemies, and the support I give to yourselves, that I am the

all-conquering Jehovah; and that I have again taken up my

residence in Jerusalem. All this may refer, ultimately, to the

restoration of the Jews to their own land; when holiness to the

Lord shall be their motto; and no strange god, nor impure people,

shall be permitted to enter the city, or even pass through it;

they shall have neither civil nor religious connections with any

who do not worship the true God in spirit and in truth. This, I

think, must refer to Gospel times. It is a promise not yet

fulfilled.

Verse 18. In that day] After their return from their

captivities.

The mountains shall drop down new wine] A poetic expression for

great fertility. Happy times: peace and plenty. The vines shall

grow luxuriantly on the sides of the mountains; and the hills

shall produce such rich pastures that the flocks shall yield

abundance of milk.

And all the rivers of Judah] Far from being generally dry in the

summer, shall have their channels always full of water.

And a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord] See

the account of the typical waters in Ezekiel, Eze 47:1-23, to

which this seems to have a reference; at least the subject is the

same, and seems to point out the grace of the Gospel, the waters

of salvation, that shall flow from Jerusalem, and water the valley

of Shittim. Shittim was in the plains of Moab beyond Jordan;

Nu 33:49; Jos 3:1; but as no stream of water could flow from

the temple, pass across Jordan, or reach this plain, the valley of

Shittim must be considered symbolical, as the valley of

Jehoshaphat. But as Shittim may signify thorns, it may

figuratively represent the most uncultivated and ferocious

inhabitants of the earth receiving the Gospel of Christ, and being

civilized and saved by it. We know that briers and thorns are

emblems of bad men; see Eze 2:6. Thus all the figures in this

verse will point out the happy times of the Gospel: the mountains

shall drop down new wine; the hills flow with milk; the thorny

valleys become fertile, &c. Similar to those almost parallel words

of the prince of poets:-

Mistaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho.--

Ipsae lacte domum referent destenta capellae

Ubera: nec magnos metuent armenta leones.--

Molli paullatim flavescet campus arista,

Incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus uva:

Et durae quercus sudabunt roscida mella.

VIRG Ecl. iv. 20.

Unbidden earth shall wreathing ivy bring,

And fragrant herbs the promises of spring.

The goats with streaming dugs shall homeward speed;

And lowing herds, secure from lions, feed.

Unlabour'd harvests shall the fields adorn,

And cluster'd grapes shall grow on every thorn:

The knotted oaks shall showers of honey weep.

DRYDEN.

Verse 19. Egypt shall be a desolation] While peace, plenty, and

prosperity of every kind, shall crown my people, all their enemies

shall be as a wilderness; and those who have used violence against

the saints of God, and shed the blood of innocents (of the holy

MARTYRS) in their land, when they had political power; these and

all such shall fall under the just judgments of God.

Verse 20. But Judah shall dwell for ever] The true Church of

Christ shall be supported, while all false and persecuting

Churches shall be annihilated. The promise may also belong to the

full and final restoration of the Jews, when they shall dwell at

Jerusalem as a distinct people professing the faith of our Lord

Jesus Christ.

Verse 21. For I will cleanse their blood] nikkeythi, I will

avenge the slaughter and martyrdom of my people, which I have not

yet avenged. Persecuting nations and persecuting Churches shall

all come, sooner or later, under the stroke of vindictive justice.

For the Lord dwelleth in Zion.] He shall be the life, soul,

spirit, and defense of his Church for ever.

THIS prophet, who has many things similar to Ezekiel, ends his

prophecy nearly in the same way:

Ezekiel says of the glory of the Church, Yehovah

shammah, THE LORD IS THERE.

Joel says, Yehovah shochen betsiyon, THE LORD

DWELLETH IN ZION.

Both point out the continued indwelling of Christ among his

people.

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