Joel 1:14
Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,
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(14) A solemn assembly.—The Hebrew word strictly means a festival day, on which the people gathered themselves together, being relieved from work. Here they are summoned for a fast. The word may also be translated, as in the margin, “a day of restraint,” its root signifying to shut, to hold back.

Joel 1:14. Sanctify ye a fast, &c. — In order to avert God’s wrath and deprecate his judgments. Gather the elders, &c., into the house of the Lord — The house where God hath placed his name, and where he hath promised to hear the prayers which are addressed to him by his people, when they are afflicted with judgments of this kind: see 1 Kings 8:37.

1:14-20 The sorrow of the people is turned into repentance and humiliation before God. With all the marks of sorrow and shame, sin must be confessed and bewailed. A day is to be appointed for this purpose; a day in which people must be kept from their common employments, that they may more closely attend God's services; and there is to be abstaining from meat and drink. Every one had added to the national guilt, all shared in the national calamity, therefore every one must join in repentance. When joy and gladness are cut off from God's house, when serious godliness decays, and love waxes cold, then it is time to cry unto the Lord. The prophet describes how grievous the calamity. See even the inferior creatures suffering for our transgression. And what better are they than beasts, who never cry to God but for corn and wine, and complain of the want of the delights of sense? Yet their crying to God in those cases, shames the stupidity of those who cry not to God in any case. Whatever may become of the nations and churches that persist in ungodliness, believers will find the comfort of acceptance with God, when the wicked shall be burned up with his indignation.Sanctify ye a fast - He does not say only, "proclaim," or "appoint a fast," but "sanctify it." Hallow the act of abstinence, seasoning it with devotion and with acts meet for repentance. For fasting is not accepted by God, unless done in charity and obedience to His commands. : "Sanctify" it, i. e., make it an offering to God, and as it were a sacrifice, a holy and blameless fast." : "To sanctify a fast is to exhibit abstinence of the flesh, meet toward God, with other good. Let anger cease, strife be lulled. For in vain is the flesh worn, if the mind is not held in from evil passions, inasmuch as the Lord saith by the prophet, "Lo! in the day of your fast you find your pleasures" Isaiah 58:3. The fast which the Lord approveth, is that which lifteth up to Him hands full of almsdeeds, which is passed with brotherly love, which is seasoned by piety. What thou substractest from thyself, bestow on another, that thy needy neighbor's flesh may be recruited by means of that which thou deniest to thine own."

Call a solemn assembly - Fasting without devotion is an image of famine. At other times "the solemn assembly" was for festival-joy. Such was the last day of the feast of the Passover Deuteronomy 16:8 and of tabernacles Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35; 2 Chronicles 7:9; Nehemiah 8:18. No servile work was to be done thereon. It was then to be consecrated to thanksgving, but now to sorrow and supplication. : "The prophet commands that all should be called and gathered into the Temple, that so the prayer might be the rather heard, the more they were who offered it. Wherefore the Apostle besought his disciples to pray for him, that so what was asked might be obtained the more readily through the intercession of many."

Gather the elders - Age was, by God's appointment Leviticus 19:32, held in great reverence among the Hebrews. When first God sent Moses and Aaron to His people in Egypt, He bade them collect the elders of the people (Exodus 3:16; Exodus 4:29, compare Deuteronomy 31:28) to declare to them their own mission from God; through them He conveyed the ordinance of the Passover to the whole congregation Exodus 12:3, Exodus 12:21; in their presence was the first miracle of bringing water from the rock performed (Exodus 17:5, add Exodus 18:12); then He commanded Moses to choose seventy of them, to appear before Him before He gave the law Exodus 24:1, Exodus 24:9; then to bear Moses' own burden in hearing the causes of the people, bestowing His spirit upon them (Numbers 11:16 ff). The elders of each city were clothed with judicial authority Deuteronomy 19:12; Deuteronomy 22:15; Deuteronomy 25:7. In the expiation of an uncertain murder, the elders of the city represented the whole city Deuteronomy 21:3-6; in the offerings for the congregation, the elders of the congregation represented the whole Leviticus 4:15; Leviticus 9:1.

So then, here also, they are summoned, chief of all, that "the authority and example of their grey hairs might move the young to repentance." : "Their age, near to death and ripened in grace, makes them more apt for the fear and worship of God." All however, "priests, elders," and the "inhabitants," or "people of the land" Jeremiah 1:18, were to form one band, and were, with one heart and voice, to cry unto God; and that "in the house of God." For so Solomon had prayed, that God would "in heaven His dwelling place, hear whatever prayer and supplication" might there be "made by any man or by all His people Israel" 1 Kings 8:39; and God had promised in turn, "I have hallowed this house which thou hast built, to put My name there for ever, and Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be there perpetually" 1 Kings 9:3. God has given to united prayer a power over Himself, and "prayer overcometh God" . The prophet calls God "your" God, showing how ready He was to hear; but he adds, "cry unto the Lord;" for it is not a listless prayer, but a loud earnest cry, which reacheth to the throne of God.

14. Sanctify … a fast—Appoint a solemn fast.

solemn assembly—literally, a "day of restraint" or cessation from work, so that all might give themselves to supplication (Joe 2:15, 16; 1Sa 7:5, 6; 2Ch 20:3-13).

elders—The contrast to "children" (Joe 2:16) requires age to be intended, though probably elders in office are included. Being the people's leaders in guilt, they ought to be their leaders also in repentance.

Sanctify ye; you priests, ministers of my God, set apart a day, or more days, appoint a time, forbid all servile work and sensual pleasures, do what you may to prepare for such a necessary work.

A fast; wherein to afflict yourselves, confess your sins, repent of them, sue out your pardon, and return to God, that tie may remove your present calamities, and prevent the future.

Call a solemn assembly; proclaim and publish it, that every one may know they are restrained from common, daily work, and that they are commanded to come together, most solemnly to seek the Lord. Gather the elders; both for age and for authority, magistrates and rulers, who possibly had been by their sins, more than others, cause of these grievous calamities, and should now be examples to others in repenting.

And all the inhabitants of the land; make this fast as public and universal as you can, command all the people of the land, all that dwell with you; perhaps the prophet intends proselytes of the law, and those of commerce, as well as the Jews.

Into the house of the Lord; courts of the temple, for priests only might go into the temple itself; the court of Israel, where the people were wont to pray. Your God; remember the covenant by which you are his people, and he is your God, that you may plead his promises as well as wait for his mercies. And cry unto the Lord, with tears of repentance, with prayer of faith, cry more with the broken heart than loud voice.

Sanctify yea a fast,.... This is spoken to the priests, whose business it was to appoint a fast, as the Targum renders it; or to set apart a time for such religious service, as the word signifies; and to keep it holy themselves, and see that it was so kept by others: Kimchi interprets it, prepare the people for a fast; give them notice of it, that they may be prepared for it:

call a solemn assembly; of all the people of the land later mentioned: or, "proclaim a restraint" (w); a time of ceasing, as a fast day should be from all servile work, that attendance may be given to the duties of it, prayer and humiliation:

gather the elders: meaning not those in age, but in office:

and all the inhabitants of the land; not the magistrates only, though first and principally, as examples, who had been deeply concerned in guilt; but the common people also, even all of them:

into the house of the Lord your God; the temple, the court of the Israelites, where they were to go and supplicate the Lord, when such a calamity as this of locusts and caterpillars were upon them; and where they might hope the Lord would hear them, and remove his judgments from them, 1 Kings 8:37;

and cry unto the Lord; in prayer, with vehemence and earnestness of soul.

(w) "vocate retentionem", Montanus; "proclamate diem interdicti", Junius & Tremellius, Heb. "interdictum", Piscator; "edicite coetum cum cessatione", Cocceius.

Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,
14. Sanctify a fast] Fasting is a common observance in the East, especially among Semitic peoples; and it is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament. The essence of a fast consists in the voluntary abstention, for a season, even from ordinary and innocent bodily enjoyment; it is thus an expression of sympathy with human affliction,—for instance during mourning, 1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 1:12. More often, however, it is mentioned as a distinctly religious observance, expressive of self-abasement and sorrow for sin, and resorted to, especially at the time of some grave disaster, whether on the part of individuals or the nation, in conjunction with prayer or sacrifice, for the purpose, if possible, of propitiating God’s favour; see e.g. Jdg 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6; 2 Samuel 12:16; 1 Kings 21:27; Psalm 69:10-11; Ezra 10:6; Nehemiah 9:1; Jonah 3:5-9; Daniel 9:3; Jdt 4:9; Jdt 4:13. Extraordinary general fasts are spoken of as “proclaimed” by royal authority, 1 Kings 21:9; 1 Kings 21:12; Jeremiah 36:9 (cf. Ezra 8:21). During the exile, four annual fast-days were established in commemoration of events connected with the fall of Jerusalem (Zechariah 7:3; Zechariah 7:5; Zechariah 8:19). The annual Day of Atonement was also observed as a fast (Leviticus 16:29). See further on Joel 2:12-13.

a solemn assembly] a public religious gathering, in which all may join. On the term used (‘atzârâh), see on Amos 5:21.

elders] lit. old men; but here probably (unlike Joel 1:2, Joel 2:16) the term is used in its official sense (as Isaiah 3:14, Ezekiel 8:1, and frequently).

and cry unto Jehovah] expressing, on the nation’s behalf, penitence, and entreating Him to stay the threatened destruction.

Verses 14-20. - After urging the priests to lead the way in the matter, he proceeds to summon all classes of the people, and particularly the elders, to engage in penitence, fasting, and solemn supplications, in order to avert the calamities that were impending, or to escape from them if they had already begun. Verse 14. - Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord. The command is addressed to the priests as the representatives and rulers of the people in all matters of religion; they communicated to the people the commands of Jehovah. This verse directs attention to three things - the duty commanded; the persons called upon to discharge it; and the place of its performance.

1. The duty required was a fast and a solemn assembly; and the priests are strictly enjoined to see to it that both these shall be duly announced and rightly observed. The fast was abstention from food in token of sorrow for sin; it was intended to be the external evidence of penitential sorrow for sin. The solemn assembly, or "day of restraint," as it stands in the margin, was a public meeting of the people for the purpose of solemn supplication that the Almighty might be entreated to deliver them from the sore calamity with which he had seen fit to visit them. It was a season during which they were restrained from all servile work, and attention given exclusively to humiliation and prayer.

2. The persons summoned for this purpose were the elders, those who were so both by age and office - the magistrates as examples to others, and as having been implicated in the sins from which they now suffered. With the word "elders" are joined all the inhabitants of the land - the whole of the people, poor ann rich alike; all had had their share in the national sin, all were sharers in the national suffering, and it therefore behoved all to repent of their sins and seek the Lord.

3. The place of assembly was the house of the Lord; that is, the temple, or that portion of it called "the court of the Israelites." Nor were they to assemble there without an errand; the purpose of their assembling in that sacred place was to supplicate the Lord to alleviate their distress, or rather remove it altogether. They were directed to cry mightily to the Lord; to cry unto him with vehement earnestness and importunate perseverance till he would be pleased to send relief. The proclamation of a fast was a common expedient, to which people, Jewish and Gentile, according to their respective light, resorted in the day of their difficulty and distress. We read of it on many occasions; for example, by King Jehoshaphat in prospect of a hostile attack by the allied armies of Moab, Ammon, and Edom; again in the reign of Jehoiakim; also by Ezra in the day of danger; and by the people of Nineveh in consequence of the preaching of Jonah. Joel 1:14The 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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