|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 7. - He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree (margin, laid my fig tree for a barking): he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white. We have here a detailed description of the destruction and devastation caused by this locust-army in its invasion of the land of Judah. The most valuable and most valued production of that land, the vine and fig tree, are ruined. The vine is laid waste, so that the vineyard becomes a wilderness:
(1) "he has barked the fig tree" (so Jerome, "Ficum meam decorticavit"); or rather,
(2) "he has broken the branches." The word קְצָפָח denotes a fragment or something broken, branches broken off, and so the LXX., "hath utterly broken (εἰς συγκλασμόν);" while
(3) Aben Ezra explains it, "Like foam on the face of the water, in which there is nothing;" i.e. a thing of nought. The locusts, by gnawing, had stripped off the bark, or by their excessive weight had broken off the branches. The next clause, which speaks of making it clean bare, is explained by the Chaldee of peeling off the bark, but that, according to the first rendering, has been already expressed. It is rather more than this - it is stripping off the leaves and fruits or flowers; the barked or broken branches and twigs of vine and fig tree are then cast away or down to the ground. And all that is left are the whitened branches from which the bark has been stripped off. The casting away or down to the earth may refer to the bark; thus Kimchi: "He removes the bark; and so Jonathan explains, 'He quite removes the bark and casts it away;' and the explanation is that he casts the bark to the earth when he eats the juicy parts between the bark and the wood; or the explanation may be that he eats the rind and casts the vine blossom to the earth, and, lo, it is bared." Some, again, understand it of what is uneatable, and others of the vine itself.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He hath laid my vine waste,.... That is, the locust, which spoiled the vines in Judea, the singular being put for the plural, by gnawing the branches, biting the tops of them, and devouring the leaves and the fruit; and so not only left them bare and barren, but destroyed them: this may emblematically represent the Assyrians or Babylonians wasting the land of Judea, the vine and vineyard of the Lord of hosts; see Isaiah 5:1;
and barked my fig tree; gnawed off the bark of them; locusts are not only harmful to vines, as is hinted by Theocritus (o), but to fig trees also: Pliny (p) speaks of fig trees in Boeotia gnawn by locusts, which budded again; and mentions it as something wonderful and miraculous that they should: and yet Sanctius observes, that these words cannot be understood properly of the locusts, since fig trees cannot be harmed by the bite or touch of them; which, besides their roughness, have an insipid bitter juice, which preserves them from being gnawn by such creatures; and the like is observed of the cypress by Vitruvius (q); but the passage out of Pliny shows the contrary. Some interpret it of a from or scum they left upon the fig tree when they gnawed it, such as Aben Ezra says is upon the face of the water; and something like this is left by caterpillars on the leaves of trees, which destroy them;
he hath made it clean bare; stripped it of its leaves and fruit, and bark also:
and cast it away; having got out all the juice they could:
the branches thereof are made white; the bark being gnawed off, and all the greenness and verdure of them dried up; so trees look, when this is their case: and thus the Jews were stripped by the Chaldeans of all their wealth and treasure, and were left bare and naked, and as the scum and offscouring of all things.
(o) Idyll. 5. (p) Nat. Hist. l. 17. c. 25. (q) De Architectura, l. 2. c. 9. p. 70.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. barked—Bochart, with the Septuagint and Syriac, translates, from an Arabic root, "hath broken," namely, the topmost shoots, which locusts most feed on. Calvin supports English Version.
my vine … my fig tree—being in "My land," that is, Jehovah's (Joe 1:6). As to the vine-abounding nature of ancient Palestine, see Nu 13:23, 24.
cast it away—down to the ground.
branches … white—both from the bark being stripped off (Ge 30:37), and from the branches drying up through the trunk, both bark and wood being eaten up below by the locusts.
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