|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-7 The most aged could not remember such calamities as were about to take place. Armies of insects were coming upon the land to eat the fruits of it. It is expressed so as to apply also to the destruction of the country by a foreign enemy, and seems to refer to the devastations of the Chaldeans. God is Lord of hosts, has every creature at his command, and, when he pleases, can humble and mortify a proud, rebellious people, by the weakest and most contemptible creatures. It is just with God to take away the comforts which are abused to luxury and excess; and the more men place their happiness in the gratifications of sense, the more severe temporal afflictions are upon them. The more earthly delights we make needful to satisfy us, the more we expose ourselves to trouble.
Verse 6. - For a nation is come up upon my land, strong and without number. The loss of the wine and of the sweet juice of the grape would be a source of genuine sorrow to the drinkers of wine; that loss would be occasioned by the destruction of the vines. In this and the following verse the prophet explains the instrumentality by which that destruction would be brought about. The prophet, fully identifying himself with his countrymen, speaking in their name and as their representative, says "my land." Kimchi understands the suffix to "land," like "my vine" and "my fig tree" in the next verse, as referring either to the prophet himself or to the people of the land; while some refer it to Jehovah, the great Proprietor, who had given the land to his people for their inheritance while they observed his covenant and obeyed his commandments. The locusts ore called a nation, just as the "ants are a people not strong," and the "conies are" said to be "but a feeble folk." Kimchi lays that "every collection of living things is called a nation (qoy); accordingly the prophet applies 'nation' to the locust." Nor deem the weed "nation" thus applied support the allegorical sense any more than the Homeric -
"Even as go the swarms [literally nations]
of closely thronging bees." This army of locusts is characterized by the two qualities of strength and number. The preterite עָלָה, though past, really refers to the future, to express the certain occurrence of what is predicted; so with שָׂם in the following verse, of which Kimchi says, "The past is in place of the future;" and Aben Ezra more fully, "A thing that is decreed to take place is spoken of in the past." This army has peculiar weapons, yet nothing the less powerful. Whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek-teeth of a great lion; or, lioness. Different descriptive terms are applied to lions - the lion's whelp is גּוּר; the young lion, which, though young, is no longer a whelp, is כְּפִיר; also the lion, from its hoarseness at a certain age, is called שַׁחַלֹ; the lion, from its cry, is called by onomatopoeia, לָבִיּא; the lion, from its strength, is called לַיִשׁ; while the common name of a lion, derived probably from אָרָה, to pluck or tear, is אַרְיֵה. Having compared the invading locusts to an army powerful and countless, the prophet proceeds to speak of the weapons wielded by these warlike and hostile invaders. They are their teeth. While the common name for locust respects their multitude, the other names are of the nature of epithets, and all, as we have seen, derived from the vigour and voracity with which they use their teeth. Those teeth, so destructive, are compared to those of a lion and the molars or grinders of a great, stout, old lion or lioness, for the word has been translated in each of these ways.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For a nation is come up upon my land,.... A nation of locusts, so called from their great numbers, and coming from foreign parts; just as the ants are called a "people", and the conies a "folk", Proverbs 30:25; and which were an emblem of the nation of the Chaldeans, which came up from Babylon, and invaded the land of Judea; called by the Lord "my land", because he had chosen it for the habitation of his people; here he himself had long dwelt, and had been served and worshipped in it: though Kimchi thinks these are the words of the inhabitants of the land, or of the prophet; but if it can be thought they are any other than the words of God, they rather seem to be expressed by the drunkards in particular, howling for want of wine, and observing the reason of it:
strong, and without number; this description seems better to agree with the Assyrians or Chaldeans, who were a mighty and powerful people, as well as numerous; though locusts, notwithstanding they are weak, singly taken, yet, coming in large bodies, carry all before them, and there is no stopping them:
whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion; or "the grinders" (m) of such an one; being hard, strong, and sharp, to bite off the tops, boughs, and branches of trees: Pliny (n) says, locusts will gnaw with their teeth the doors of houses; so the teeth of locusts are described in Revelation 9:8; this may denote the strength, cruelty, and voraciousness of the Chaldean army.
(m) "molares", Pagninus, Mercerus, Burkius. (n) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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).
my land—that is, Jehovah's; which never would have been so devastated were I not pleased to inflict punishment (Joe 2:18; Isa 14:25; Jer 16:18; Eze 36:5; 38:16).
strong—as irresistibly sweeping away before its compact body the fruits of man's industry.
without number—so Jud 6:5; 7:12, "like grasshoppers (or "locusts") for multitude" (Jer 46:23; Na 3:15).
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."
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