Joel 1:11
Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.
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Joel 1:11-12. Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen — Be struck with confusion to see all your hopes disappointed, and no fruit arising from your labour; to find nothing of that which you had made yourselves sure of. Howl, O ye vine-dressers — This is to be referred to what is said in the next verse, and not to the words immediately following, which belong to the husbandmen, as the subject for their lamentation; as the vine, being dried up, was the cause of the sorrow of the vine-dressers. Because joy is withered away from the sons of men — Through want of food and wine. Or, he refers to the joy they used to show at the gathering in of the fruits of the earth.

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!Be ye ashamed, O ye farmers - The prophet dwells on and expands the description of the troubles which he had foretold, setting before their eyes the picture of one universal dessolation. For the details of sorrow most touch the heart, and he wished to move them to repentance. He pictures them to themselves; some standing aghast and ashamed of the fruitlessness of their toil others giving way to bursts of sorrow, and all things around waste and dried. Nothing was exempt. Wheat and barley, widespread as they were (and the barley in those countries, "more fertile" than the wheat,) perished utterly. The rich juice of the vine, the luscious sweetness of the fig the succulence of the ever-green pomegranate, the majesty of the palm tree, the fragrance of the eastern apple, exempted them not. All, fruitbearing or barren, were dried up, for joy itself, and every source of joy was dried up from the sons of men.

All these suggest a spiritual meaning. For we know of a spiritual harvest, souls born to God, and a spiritual vineyard, the Church of God; and spiritual farmers and vinedressers, those whom God sends. The trees, with their various fruits were emblems of the faithful, adorned with the various gifts and graces of the Spirit. All well-nigh were dried up. Wasted without, in act and deed, the sap of the Spirit ceased within; the true laborers, those who were jealous for the vineyard of the Lord of hosts were ashamed and grieved. : "Husbandmen" and "vinedressers," are priests and preachers; "farmers" as instructors in morals, "vinedressers" for that joy in things eternal, which they infuse into the minds of the bearers. "Husbandmen," as instructing the soul to deeds of righteousness; vinedressers, as exciting the minds of hearers to the love of wisdom. Or, "farmers," in that by their doctrine they uproot earthly deeds and desires; "vinedressers," as holding forth spiritual gifts." "The vine is the richness of divine knowledge; the fig the sweetness of contemplation and the joyousness in things eternal." The pomegranate, with its manifold grains contained under its one bark, may designate the variety and harmony of graces, disposed in their beautiful order. "The palm, rising above the world." : "Well is the life of the righteous likened to a palm, in that the palm below is rough to the touch, and in a manner enveloped in dry bark, but above it is adorned with fruit, fair even to the eye; below it is compressed by the enfoldings of its bark; above, it is spread nut in amplitude of beautiful greenness. For so is the life of the elect, despised below, beautiful above. Down below, it is, as it were, enfolded in many barks, in that it is straitened by innumerable afflictions. But on high it is expanded into a foliage, as it were, of beautiful greenness by the amplitude of the rewarding."

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."

Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen: some read it assertively, the husbandmen are ashamed, and as to matter of fact it is true they were ashamed; but the imperative mood, or by way of exhortation, will better suit the context. They are now called upon to blush, repent, and search into the cause of this barrenness, and loss of their labour in ploughing, sowing, and manuring their tillage; the prophet aims at this principally, to bring them, as well as the priests, to repentance.

Vine-dressers; a sort of men as well known with that people as gardeners are with us; men whose work was to plant, water, prune, and manage vineyards, and whose labour (unless for sin blasted) did usually succeed to a great increase.

Because the harvest of the field is perished; your sins have brought upon you this woeful scarcity, your harvest in which you expected your labour, and cares should be recompensed is perished, quite destroyed, as the word imports. This is just cause why you, O husbandmen, should lament, and further inquire why God is so displeased with you.

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:

Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.
11. Be ashamed] more exactly shew shame, i.e. manifest, by overt signs, your disappointment. To shew shame (or to be ashamed) is said in Hebrew idiomatically where we should say be disappointed: it expresses, however, a little more than our English phrase, for it signifies rather to be disconcerted, or to shew, in countenance or demeanour, overt signs of disappointment. People are thus often said to be “ashamed,” when the help, or support, on which they rely fails them: see e.g. Isaiah 1:29 (the Israelites to be ‘ashamed’ of the oaks which they have desired, i.e. disappointed of the rewards which they hoped that the rites observed under them would bring them), Isaiah 20:5 (those who rely upon Egypt to be “ashamed,” i.e. disappointed; similarly Isaiah 30:5); Job 6:20 (caravans in the wilderness, travelling to a wady in which they expect to find water, are “ashamed” when they arrive there and find none). With the usage here, cf. Jeremiah 14:3 b, 4b.

vine-dressers] more exactly, vineyard-keepers. These are in this verse subordinate: the reason why they are to lament appearing only in Joel 1:12.

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." Joel 1:11The whole nation is to mourn over this devastation. Joel 1:8. "Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. Joel 1:9. The meat-offering and the drink-offering are destroyed from the house of Jehovah. The priests, the servant of Jehovah. mourn. Joel 1:10. The field is laid waste, the ground mourns: for the corn is laid waste: the new wine is spoiled, the oil decays. Joel 1:11. Turn pale, ye husbandmen; howl, ye vinedressers, over wheat and barley: for the harvest of the field is perished. Joel 1:12. The vine is spoiled, and the fig-tree faded; the pomegranate, also the palm and the apple tree: all the trees of the field are withered away; yea, joy has expired from the children of men." In Joel 1:8 Judah is addressed as the congregation of Jehovah. אלי is the imperative of the verb אלה, equivalent to the Syriac 'elā', to lament. The verb only occurs here. The lamentation of the virgin for the בּעל נעוּריה, i.e., the beloved of your youth, her bridegroom, whom she has lost by death (Isaiah 54:6), is the deepest and bitterest lamentation. With reference to חגרת־שׂק, see Delitzsch on Isaiah 3:24. The occasion of this deep lamentation, according to Joel 1:9, is the destruction of the meat-offering and drink-offering from the house of the Lord, over which the servants of Jehovah mourn. The meat and drink offerings must of necessity cease, because the corn, the new wine, and the oil are destroyed through the devastation of the field and soil. Hokhrath minchâh does not affirm that the offering of the daily morning and evening sacrifice (Exodus 29:38-42) - for it is to this that מנחה ונסך chiefly, if not exclusively, refers - has already ceased; but simply that any further offering is rendered impossible by the failure of meal, wine, and oil. Now Israel could not suffer any greater calamity than the suspension of the daily sacrifice; for this was a practical suspension of the covenant relation - a sign that God had rejected His people. Therefore, even in the last siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, the sacrificial worship was not suspended till it had been brought to the last extremity; and even then it was for the want of sacrificers, and not of the material of sacrifice (Josephus, de bell. Jud. vi. 2, 1). The reason for this anxiety was the devastation of the field and land (Joel 1:10); and this is still further explained by a reference to the devastation and destruction of the fruits of the ground, viz., the corn, i.e., the corn growing in the field, so that the next harvest would be lost, and the new wine and oil, i.e., the vines and olive-trees, so that they could bear no grapes for new wine, and no olives for oil. The verbs in Joel 1:11 are not perfects, but imperatives, as in the fifth verse. הבישׁ has the same meaning as bōsh, as in Jeremiah 2:26; Jeremiah 6:15, etc., to stand ashamed, to turn pale with shame at the disappointment of their hope, and is probably written defectively, without ו, to distinguish it from הובישׁ, the hiphil of יבשׁ, to be parched or dried up (Joel 1:10 and Joel 1:12). The hope of the husbandmen was disappointed through the destruction of the wheat and barley, the most important field crops. The vine-growers had to mourn over the destruction of the vine and the choice fruit-trees (Joel 1:12), such as the fig and pomegranate, and even the date-palm (gam-tâmâr), which has neither a fresh green rind nor tender juicy leaves, and therefore is not easily injured by the locusts so as to cause it to dry up; and tappūăch, the apple-tree, and all the trees of the field, i.e., all the rest of the trees, wither. "All trees, whether fruit-bearing or not, are consumed by the devastating locusts" (Jerome). In the concluding clause of Joel 1:12, the last and principal ground assigned for the lamentation is, that joy is taken away and withered from the children of men (hōbbı̄sh min, constr. praegn.). כּי introduces a reason here as elsewhere, though not for the clause immediately preceding, but for the הבישׁוּ and הילילוּ in Joel 1:11, the leading thought in both verses; and we may therefore express it by an emphatic yea.
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