Joel 2:3
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste-- nothing escapes them.

New Living Translation
Fire burns in front of them, and flames follow after them. Ahead of them the land lies as beautiful as the Garden of Eden. Behind them is nothing but desolation; not one thing escapes.

English Standard Version
Fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them.

New American Standard Bible
A fire consumes before them And behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them But a desolate wilderness behind them, And nothing at all escapes them.

King James Bible
A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
A fire destroys in front of them, and behind them a flame devours. The land in front of them is like the Garden of Eden, but behind them, it is like a desert wasteland; there is no escape from them.

International Standard Version
"A fire blazes in their presence, and behind them a conflagration rages. Before they come, the land is like the garden in Eden; after they leave, there is only a barren wasteland. Indeed, nothing escapes them.

NET Bible
Like fire they devour everything in their path; a flame blazes behind them. The land looks like the Garden of Eden before them, but behind them there is only a desolate wilderness--for nothing escapes them!

GOD'S WORD® Translation
In front of this army a fire burns. Behind it flames are blazing. In front of it the land is like the garden of Eden. Behind it the land is like a barren desert. Nothing escapes it!

Jubilee Bible 2000
A fire devours before him and behind him a flame burns: the earth is as the garden of Eden before him, and behind him a desolate wilderness; neither shall anyone escape him.

King James 2000 Bible
A fire devours before them; and behind them a flame burns: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.

American King James Version
A fire devours before them; and behind them a flame burns: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yes, and nothing shall escape them.

American Standard Version
A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and none hath escaped them.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Before the face thereof a devouring fire, and behind it a burning flame: the land is like a garden of pleasure before it, and behind it a desolate wilderness, neither is there any one that can escape it.

Darby Bible Translation
A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame burneth; the land is as a garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness: yea, and nothing escapeth them.

English Revised Version
A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and none hath escaped them.

Webster's Bible Translation
A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; and nothing shall escape them.

World English Bible
A fire devours before them, and behind them, a flame burns. The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them, a desolate wilderness. Yes, and no one has escaped them.

Young's Literal Translation
Before it consumed hath fire, And after it burn doth a flame, As the garden of Eden is the land before it, And after it a wilderness -- a desolation! And also an escape there hath not been to it,
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

2:1-14 The priests were to alarm the people with the near approach of the Divine judgments. It is the work of ministers to warn of the fatal consequences of sin, and to reveal the wrath from heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. The striking description which follows, shows what would attend the devastations of locusts, but may also describe the effects from the ravaging of the land by the Chaldeans. If the alarm of temporal judgments is given to offending nations, how much more should sinners be warned to seek deliverance from the wrath to come! Our business therefore on earth must especially be, to secure an interest in our Lord Jesus Christ; and we should seek to be weaned from objects which will soon be torn from all who now make idols of them. There must be outward expressions of sorrow and shame, fasting, weeping, and mourning; tears for trouble must be turned into tears for the sin that caused it. But rending the garments would be vain, except their hearts were rent by abasement and self-abhorrence; by sorrow for their sins, and separation from them. There is no question but that if we truly repent of our sins, God will forgive them; but whether he will remove affliction is not promised, yet the probability of it should encourage us to repent.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 3. - A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth.

(1) The fire was the extreme drought preceding them; and the flame refers to the devastation of the locusts, for the places laid waste by them presented the appearance of being burnt with fire, the locusts consuming not only the grain and grass, but the very roots.

(2) Or it may refer to the locusts themselves; their destructive power being as though fire spread along before them. and flame swept the ground behind them.

(3) Or the fire may have been literally such, the people, in self-de fence, kindling it to stop, or turn aside, or drive away the advance of the locust-army.

(4) Keil explains this burning heat, heightened into devouring flames of fire, as accompaniments of the Divine Being "as he comes to judgment at the head of his army," like the balls of fire which attended his manifestation in Egypt, and the thunder and lightning amid which he descended at Sinai. The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness. This reference by the first of the prophets to the first book of the Bible is noteworthy. The country before them, with its fertile fields and valuable vineyards, its fruit trees, and pleasant plants, and various cereals resembled a paradise. As they proceeded the corn was consumed, fruit trees and forest trees alike stripped of leaves and left barked and bare, the grass and verdure withered; so that after them nothing was to be seen but a desolate wilderness. Yea, and nothing shall escape them.

(1) That is, either nothing shall escape the locusts; or

(2) Keil contends that the meaning is that "even that which escaped did not remain to it," and refers lo to the land.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

A fire devoureth before them, and behind them aflame burneth,.... This is not to be understood of the heat of the sun, or of the great drought that went before and continued after the locusts; but of them themselves, which were like a consuming fire; wherever they came, they devoured all green grass, herbs, and leaves of trees, as fire does stubble; they sucked out the juice and moisture of everything they came at, and what they left behind shrivelled up and withered away, as if it had been scorched with a flame of fire: and so the Assyrians and Chaldeans, they were an emblem of, destroyed all they met with, by fire and sword; cut up the corn and herbage for forage; and what they could not dispense with they set fire to, and left it burning. Sanctius thinks this refers to fire, which the Chaldeans worshipped as God, and carried before their armies as a sacred and military sign; but this seems not likely:

the land is as the garden of Eden before them; abounding with fields and vineyards, set with fruitful trees, planted with all manner of pleasant plants, and all kind of corn growing upon it, and even resembling a paradise:

and behind them a desolate wilderness; all green grass eaten up, the corn of the field devoured, the vines and olives destroyed, the leaves and fruit of them quite gone, and the trees themselves barked; so that there was just the same difference between this country before the calamities described came upon it, and what it was after, as between the garden of Eden, or a paradise, and the most desolate wilderness; such ravages were made by the locusts, and by those they resembled:

yea, and nothing shall escape them; no herb: plant, or tree, could escape the locusts; nor any city, town, or village, nor scarce any particular person, could escape the Chaldean army; but was either killed with the sword, or carried captive, or brought into subjection. The Targum interprets it of no deliverance to the ungodly.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

3. before … behind—that is, on every side (1Ch 19:10).

fire … flame—destruction … desolation (Isa 10:17).

as … Eden … wilderness—conversely (Isa 51:3; Eze 36:35).

Joel 2:3 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Army of Locusts
2A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations. 3A fire consumes before them And behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them But a desolate wilderness behind them, And nothing at all escapes them. 4Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; And like war horses, so they run.…
Cross References
Exodus 10:5
They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields.

Exodus 10:15
They covered all the ground until it was black. They devoured all that was left after the hail--everything growing in the fields and the fruit on the trees. Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.

Psalm 97:3
Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.

Psalm 105:34
He spoke, and the locusts came, grasshoppers without number;

Psalm 105:35
they ate up every green thing in their land, ate up the produce of their soil.

Isaiah 9:18
Surely wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns, it sets the forest thickets ablaze, so that it rolls upward in a column of smoke.

Isaiah 9:19
By the wrath of the LORD Almighty the land will be scorched and the people will be fuel for the fire; they will not spare one another.

Isaiah 14:17
the man who made the world a wilderness, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?"

Isaiah 15:6
The waters of Nimrim are dried up and the grass is withered; the vegetation is gone and nothing green is left.

Isaiah 51:3
The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

Ezekiel 36:35
They will say, "This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited."

Zechariah 7:14
I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land they left behind them was so desolate that no one traveled through it. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.'"
Treasury of Scripture

A fire devours before them; and behind them a flame burns: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yes, and nothing shall escape them.

fire.

Joel 1:19,20 O LORD, to you will I cry: for the fire has devoured the pastures …

Psalm 50:3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour …

Amos 7:4 Thus has the Lord GOD showed to me: and, behold, the Lord GOD called …

the land.

Genesis 2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he …

Genesis 13:10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that …

Isaiah 51:3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; …

Ezekiel 31:8,9 The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees …

and behind.

Joel 1:4-7 That which the palmerworm has left has the locust eaten; and that …

Exodus 10:5,15 And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able …

Jeremiah 5:17 And they shall eat up your harvest, and your bread, which your sons …

Zechariah 7:14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom …

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