|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:8-13 All who labour only for the meat that perishes, will, sooner or later, be ashamed of their labour. Those that place their happiness in the delights of sense, when deprived of them, or disturbed in the enjoyment, lose their joy; whereas spiritual joy then flourishes more than ever. See what perishing, uncertain things our creature-comforts are. See how we need to live in continual dependence upon God and his providence. See what ruinous work sin makes. As far as poverty occasions the decay of piety, and starves the cause of religion among a people, it is a very sore judgment. But how blessed are the awakening judgments of God, in rousing his people and calling home the heart to Christ, and his salvation!
Verses 11, 12. - Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen. The verb from בּושׁ (formed from יַבֵשׁ), to be or feel ashamed, or turn pale with shame; חָפֵר is "to blush or turn red with shame." It is written defectively, to distinguish it from הובִישׁ, which occurs in the tenth verse and again in the twelfth, and which is the Hiph. of יָבֵשׁ, to be parched or dried up. Their hope was disappointed through the destruction of their wheat and barley - their most serviceable and valuable cereals; while disappointment of hope causes shame; hence we read of a "hope that maketh not ashamed, because it never disappoints as empty hopes do. Howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the harley; because the harvest of the field is perished. The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth. There is a transposition here which is a species of the figure ehiasmus, so called from the form of the Greek letter chi (χ). The husbandmen are put to shame on account of the destruction of the wheat and barley - the entire failure of their field crops and ruin of their harvest; while the vinedressers have reason to howl because of the loss of their vines and the languishing of their fig trees. The prophet, after particularizing the vine and fig tree, proceeds with the enumeration of other important fruit trees that had perished by the teeth of the locusts. The pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered. The pomegranate, though abundant in that region, had shared the fate of the fig and vine; even the palm tree, the date palm, though a vigorous tree and little subject to injury, having no juice in the leaves or fresh greenness in the rind, ceased to flourish; and the apple tree - the medicinal apple, as Virgil terms it - suffered in like manner. Nor was it the fruit trees only that were injured; the hardier forest or timber trees - all the trees of the field - shared in the calamity. Thus Jerome represents the prophet as asking, "Why should I speak of the corn, wine, oil, and barley? when even the fruits of the trees have been dried up, the fig trees have languished, with the pomegranate and palm and apple; and all trees, whether fruit-bearing or not, are consumed by the devastating locusts." Because joy is withered away from the sons of men. This clause is connected by" because" with "howl," the intermediate words being treated parenthetically or passed over. Joy here is either
(1) literal; while "withered" is figurative, and signifies "has ceased or been taken away;" or
(2) "joy" is figurative, denoting the means of joy, and" withered" may then be understood literally. The rain, from, is a pregnant construction, that is, "is withered from" being equivalent to "is withered and taken away from" the sons of men. Thus Kimchi: "Because joy is withered - is withered, as if he said, 'it has ceased because the products and the fruits are the joy of the sons of men,' and so Jonathan explains it, 'because joy has ceased;' or the meaning of 'withered' may be by way of figure."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen,.... Tillers of the land, who have took a great deal of pains in cultivating the earth, dunging, ploughing, and sowing it; confusion may cover you, because of your disappointment, the increase not answering to your expectations and labours:
howl, O ye vinedressers; that worked in the vineyards, set the vines, watered and pruned them, and, when they had done all they could to them, were dried up with the drought, or devoured by the locusts, as they were destroyed by the Assyrians or Chaldeans; and therefore had reason to howl and lament, all their labour being lost:
for the wheat and for the barley: because the harvest of the field is perished; this belongs to the husbandmen, is a reason for their shame and blushing, because the wheat and barley were destroyed before they were ripe; and so they had neither wheat nor barley harvest. The words, by a transposition, would read better, and the sense be clearer, "thus, be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen, for the wheat and for the barley: because the harvest", &c. "howl, O ye vine dressers"; for what follows:
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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."
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