Joel 1:13
Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.
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(13) Gird yourselves, and lament.—The priests are exhorted to commence preparations for a national humiliation, beginning with themselves; for the visitation touches them in a vital part: they have no sacrifices to offer to the Lord.

Joel 1:13. Gird yourselves — Namely, with sackcloth; and lament, ye priests — Because the meat-offerings and drink-offerings were cut off: see Joel 1:9. Lie all night in sackcloth — Let those priests, whose turn it is to keep the night-watches in the temple, cover themselves with sackcloth, as is usual in times of the greatest calamity; and let them not put it off when they betake themselves to rest, but sleep in sackcloth instead of their ordinary garments.

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!Gird yourselves - that is, with haircloth, as is elsewhere expressed Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 4:8; Jeremiah 6:26. The outward affliction is an expression of the inward grief, and itself excites to further grief. This their garment of affliction and penitence, they were not to put off day and night. Their wonted duty was to "offer up sacrifice for their own sins and the sins of the people" Hebrews 7:27, and to entreat God for them. This their office the prophet calls them to discharge day and night; to "come" into the court of the temple, and there, where God showed Himself in majesty and mercy, "lie all night" prostrate before God, not at ease, but in sackcloth. He calls to them in the Name of his God, "Ye ministers of my God;" of Him, to whom, whosoever forsook Him, he himself was faithful. : "The prophets called the God of all, their own God, being united to Him by singular love and reverential obedience, so that they could say, "God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" Psalm 73:26. He calls Him, further, "their" God, (your God) in order to remind them of His special favor to them, and their duty to Him who allowed them to call Him "their" God. 13. Gird yourselves—namely, with sackcloth; as in Isa 32:11, the ellipsis is supplied (compare Jer 4:8).

lament, ye priests—as it is your duty to set the example to others; also as the guilt was greater, and a greater scandal was occasioned, by your sin to the cause of God.

come—the Septuagint, "enter" the house of God (compare Joe 1:14).

lie all night in sackcloth—so Ahab (1Ki 21:27).

ministers of my God—(1Co 9:13). Joel claims authority for his doctrine; it is in God's name and by His mission I speak to you.

Gird yourselves; bind your mourning sackcloth close to you with a girdle, that it may be more troublesome to the flesh; for though in Hebrew it is only gird, the phrase is well known in the Scripture, on these occasions, to include sackcloth, as what is girded on the mourner, and sackcloth is expressly mentioned Joel 1:8, and in many other places, Isaiah 15:3 Jeremiah 4:8 Lamentations 2:10 Ezekiel 7:18 27:31.

Lament; weep bitterly, as they do who mourn for the dead, lament over your dead joys; let it be a hearty grief, as that of Abraham for Sarah, Genesis 23:2, of Jacob’s children and friends sorrowing for his death, Ge 1 10, or of Israel lamenting their brave judge, 1 Samuel 28:3. Ye priests; that you may be example to others, and because they had, as observed yet. 9, a double cause to mourn, one more than the rest of the people.

Howl: see Joel 1:5.

Ye ministers of the altar: they were the Lord’s ministers, Joel 1:9; now ministers of the altar, they served the Lord in the things of the altar.

Lie all night; the case needs a continued fasting, weeping, and supplication in the most humble posture, and with all the tokens of an afflicted spirit. The priests should above others mourn; if they mourn in the day, the priests should mourn night and day.

My God, who, having sent me to speak to you in his name, doth call you to this, that he may pardon and bless you. when you repent.

The meat-offering, & c.: see Joel 1:9.

Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests,.... Prepare and be ready to raise up lamentation and mourning; or gird yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn in that, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi supply the words; see Jeremiah 4:8;

howl, ye ministers of the altar; who served there, by laying on and burning the sacrifices, or offering incense:

come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God; that is, come into the house of the Lord, as Kimchi; into the court of the priests, and there lie all night, in the sackcloth girded with; putting up prayers to God, with weeping and lamentations, that he would avert the judgments that were come or were coming upon theme:

for the meat offering and the drink offering are withholden from the house of your God; See Gill on Joel 1:9.

{h} Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.

(h) He shows that the only means to avoid God's wrath, and to have all things restored, is true repentance.

13–15. The cessation of the daily sacrifices again occupies the prophet’s thought; and he turns to the priests, bidding them not mourn only (Joel 1:9), but clothe themselves in sackcloth, and proclaim a day of public fast and humiliation. The occasion, namely, is not one for grief only: it is one which calls also for penitence and prayer; such a calamity is a judgement, not merely betokening God’s present anger with His people, but awakening the apprehension of sorer judgements in the future, which it behoves the nation, by timely penitence, if possible to avert.

Gird yourselves] viz. with sackcloth (Joel 1:8), as the R.V. supplies. So Isaiah 32:11.

lament] wail (see on Amos 5:16). A different word from the unusual one so rendered in Joel 1:8.

ministers of the altar] cf. ministers of the sanctuary, Ezekiel 45:4.

lie all night in sackcloth] as Ahab did, when he humbled himself before Elijah (1 Kings 21:27). The sackcloth would be a token not only of grief, but also of penitence (1 Ki. l.c.; Nehemiah 9:1; Jonah 3:5-6); and the mention of it leads on accordingly to the thought of Joel 1:14.

Verse 13. - Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God. The invitation, or rather exhortation, here is to something more than lamentation and mourning; for, however natural in the circumstances, affliction itself could not avert or remove the calamity. They are urged, therefore, to repentance as well as lamentation. They were to assume the outward signs of the inward grace: they were to gird themselves with sackcloth, the outward symbol of their inward sorrow; next they were to enter the temple or house of God; they were to spend the night there in the attitude and garb of mourners; night and day they were to bewail their sins with humble, penitent, and contrite hearts. The priests are the persons first addressed, and that not only because, in discharge of their priestly functions as ministers of Jehovah and ministering at the altar, they had been specially touched by the present distress; but also because of their official position they were to present an example to the people whose leaders they were and on whose behalf they ministered (comp. 1 Corinthians 9:13, "Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?"). Kimchi gives a correct exposition of this verse: "Gird, that is to say, gird on sackcloth, and he explains afterwards, pass the night in sackcloth, because even by night ye shall not remove the sackcloth from off you; perhaps Jehovah will have mercy upon you. And he says, 'ministers of the altar,' and adds, 'ministers of my God,' because the ministry was as the altar to God; and he connects the ministry to God - to the altar, as wherein they minister to Jehovah." For the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God. This is the reason assigned for the urgent call to repentance; and it is much the same with that in the beginning of the ninth verse. Joel 1:13The affliction is not removed by mourning and lamentation, but only through repentance and supplication to the Lord, who can turn away all evil. The prophet therefore proceeds to call upon the priests to offer to the Lord penitential supplication day and night in the temple, and to call the elders and all the people to observe a day of fasting, penitence, and prayer; and then offers supplication himself to the Lord to have compassion upon them (Joel 1:19). From the motive assigned for this appeal, we may also see that a terrible drought had been associated with the devastation by the locusts, from which both man and beast had endured the most bitter suffering, and that Joel regarded this terrible calamity as a sign of the coming of the day of the Lord. Joel 1:13. "Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests; howl, ye servants of the altar; come, pass the night in sackcloth, ye servants of my God: for the meat-offering and drink-offering are withdrawn from the house of your God. Joel 1:14. Sanctify a fast, call out an assembly, assemble the elders, all ye inhabitants of the land, at the house of Jehovah your God, and cry to Jehovah." From what follows we must supply bassaqqı̄m (with sackcloth) to chigrū (gird yourselves). Gird yourselves with mourning apparel, i.e., put it on (see Joel 1:8). In this they are to pass the night, to offer supplication day and night, or incessantly, standing between the altar and the porch (Joel 2:17). "Servants of my God," i.e., of the God whose prophet I am, and from whom I can promise you a hearing. The reason assigned for this appeal is the same as for the lamentation in Joel 1:9. But it is not the priests only who are to pray incessantly to the Lord; the elders and all the people are to do the same. קדּשׁ צום, to sanctify a fast, i.e., to appoint a holy fast, a divine service of prayer connected with fasting. To this end the priests are to call an ‛ătsârâh, i.e., a meeting of the congregation for religious worship. ‛Atsârâh, or ‛ătsereth, πανήγυρις, is synonymous with מקרא קודשׁ in Leviticus 23:36 (see the exposition of that passage). In what follows, כּל־ישׁבי ה is attached ἀσυνδέτως to זקנים; and the latter is not a vocative, but an accusative of the object. On the other hand, בּית יהוה is an accus. loci, and dependent upon אספוּ. זעק, to cry, used of loud and importunate prayer. It is only by this that destruction can still be averted.
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