|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.
Verse 5. - The first clause may be understood
(1) according to the Authorized Version, whereby the leaping is attributed to the locusts, or
(2) asper may be understood after chariots, and then the leaping is predicated of the chariots. The last clause of the same verse is capable of three constructions, namely
(1) "They shall leap (yeraqqedim being supplied) as a strong people set in battle array;" or
(2) "The noise (qol understood) shall be as the noise of a strong people set in battle array;" or
(3) "They are as a strong people set in battle array." Kimchi interprets according to (2), "As a strong people that is set in array to fight with the people who is opposed to them, who make a great noise and shouting in order to strike terror into their enemies." Like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble. This was the noise made by them, not when they were properly in motion, but when alighting on a district they devoured every green thing in plant, or shrub, or tree - the noise, in fact, which they made when feeding. It resembled the crackling of flame ever a field of grain or stubble set on fire. Such was the noise they made when marching, and such the noise they made when foraging - the one was like the rattling of a chariot, the other the crackling of fire. Cyril notices this peculiarity as follows: "They say that their alighting in the fields is effected not without noise; but that a certain shrill noise is produced by their teeth, while they chew into pieces the prostrate grain, as of wind scattering flame." Thus Thomson also says, "The noise made in marching and foraging was like that of a heavy shower on a distant forest." As a strong people set in battle array. Their progress is thus described: "Their steady though swift advance and regular order resembled an army well equipped and in battle array on its line of march." Cyril says of them, "By reason of their innumerable multitude, not easy to be encountered, but rather very dangerous to be met with." Again he says, "They are an irresistible thing, and altogether invincible by men." Here again the prophet's description is confirmed by the observation of intelligent eye-witnesses. Referring to Solomon's statement, "The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands," Dr. Thomson says, "Nothing in their habits is more striking than the pertinacity with which they all pursue the same line of march, like a disciplined army. As they have no king, they must be influenced by some common instinct."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Like the noise of chariots on the tops of that mountains shall they leap,.... The motion of the locusts is leaping from place to place; for which the locusts have legs peculiarly made, their hindermost being the longest; wherefore Pliny (i) observes, that insects which have their hindermost legs long leap locusts; to which agrees the Scripture description of them: "which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; even those of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind", Leviticus 11:21; which words, as Dr. Shaw (k), observes, may bear this construction: "which have knees upon" or "above their hinder legs, to leap withal upon the earth"; and he observes, that the "locust", has the two hindermost of its legs or feet much stronger, larger, and longer, than any of the foremost; in them the knee, or the articulation of the leg and thigh, is distinguished by a remarkable bending or curvature, whereby it is able, whenever prepared to jump, to spring and raise itself with great force and activity; and this fitly resembles the jumping of chariots on mountains and hills, which are uneven, and usually have stones lie scattered about, which, with the chains and irons about chariots, cause a great rattling; and the noise of locusts is compared to the noise of these, which is represented as very great; some say it is to be heard six miles off, as Remigius on the place; and Pliny says (l), they make such a noise with their wings when they fly, that they are thought to be other winged fowls; see Revelation 9:9. Chariots were made use of in war, and the Chaldeans are said to have chariots which should come like a whirlwind, Jeremiah 4:13;
like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble; as they are before compared to fire, and a flame of fire that devoured all things as easily as the fire devours stubble, so here to the crackling noise of it; see Ecclesiastes 7:6;
as a strong people set in battle array: that is, as the noise of a mighty army prepared for battle, just going to make the onset, when they lift up their voices aloud, and give a terrible shout; for this clause, as the other two, refer to the noise made by the locusts in their march; an emblem of the terribleness of the Chaldeans in theirs, who were heard before they were seen.
(i) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 48. (k) Travels, p. 420. Ed. 2.((l) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. Like the noise of chariots—referring to the loud sound caused by their wings in motion, or else the movement of their hind legs.
on the tops of mountains—Maurer connects this with "they," that is, the locusts, which first occupy the higher places, and thence descend to the lower places. It may refer (as in English Version) to "chariots," which make most noise in crossing over rugged heights.
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