Joel 1:15
Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
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(15) Alas.—The exclamation is repeated three times in the LXX. and Vulg., thus giving occasion to Jeremy Taylor’s comment: “When the prophet Joel was describing the formidable accidents in the day of the Lord’s judgment, and the fearful sentence of an angry judge, he was not able to express it, but stammered like a child, or an amazed imperfect person, A. A. A. diei, quia prope est Dies Domini” (“Christ’s Adv. to Judgment,” Serm. iii., pt. 3).

Almighty.Shaddai. A title signifying the omnipotence of God, especially with reference, as here, to His power to destroy. The Hebrew preserves the alliteration, Shod Mishaddai, destruction from the destroyer. The Almighty was the general title of God. “I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob by the name of God ALMIGHTY, but by My name JEHOVAH was I not known unto them.” (See Note on Genesis 17)

Joel 1:15-17. Alas for the day! — Wo to us! The time in which God will inflict on us the punishments we have long deserved is now near; and if they be not averted by our repentance, they will fall upon us in an irresistible manner, and will end in our utter destruction, as coming from a God who is infinite in power, and terrible in his judgments. Is not the meat cut off before our eyes — Hebrew, before your eyes, namely, devoured by locusts or withered with drought. Yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God — The dearth hath obliged us to discontinue our daily offerings for want of corn and wine; and has deprived us of those rejoicings, wherewith we used to keep our solemn feasts at Jerusalem, and partake of the sacrifices there offered. It must be remembered, that the prophet all along speaks of the calamity as present, although, most probably, as was said before, this is a prophecy of what was to come. The seed is rotten under the clods — The corn which is sown dies away and rots in the ground, so that the barns and granaries become useless and desolate.

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.Alas for the day! for the Day of the Lord is at hand - The judgment of God, then, which they were to deprecate, was still to come. : "All times and all days are God's. Yet they are said to be our days, in which God leaves us to our own freedom, to do as we will," and which we may use to repent and turn to Him. "Whence Christ saith, 'O Jerusalem - if thou hadst known in this thy day the things which belong unto thy peace' Luke 19:42. That time, on the contrary, is said to be God's Day, in which He doth any new, rare, or special thing, such as is the Day of Judgment or vengeance." All judgment in time is an image of the Judgment for eternity. "The Day of the Lord" is, then, each "day of vengeance in which God doth to man according to His will and just judgment, inflicting the punishment which he deserves, as man did to Him in his day, manifoldly dishonoring Him, according to his own perverse will." That Day "is at hand;" suddenly to come. Speed then must be used to prevent it. Prevented it may be by speedy repentance before it comes; but when it does come, there will be no avoiding it, for

As a destruction from the Almighty shall it come - The name "the Almighty" or "God Almighty" is but seldom used in Holy Scripture. God revealed Himself by this Name to Abraham, when renewing to him the promise which was beyond nature, that he should be a father of many nations, when he and Sarah were old and well stricken in age. He said, I am God Almighty; walk before Me and be thou perfect Genesis 17:1-6, Genesis 17:16-21; Genesis 18:10-14; Romans 4:17-21. God Almighty uses it again of Himself in renewing the blessing to Jacob Genesis 35:11; and Isaac and Jacob use it in blessing in His Name Genesis 28:3; Genesis 43:14; Genesis 48:3; Genesis 49:25. It is not used as a mere name of God, but always in reference to His might, as in the book of Job which treats chiefly of His power . In His days of judgment God manifests Himself as the All-mighty and All-just. Hence, in the New Testament, it occurs almost exclusively in the Revelations, which reveal His judgments to come . Here the words form a sort of terrible proverb, from where they are adopted from Joel by the prophet Isaiah Isa 13:6. The word "destruction, שׁד shôd," is formed from the same root as "Almighty, שׁדי shadday. It shall come as might from the Mighty." Only, the word "might" is always used of "might" put forth to destroy, a "mighty destruction." He says then, in fact, that that Day shall come, like might put forth by the Almighty Himself; to destroy His enemies, irresistible, inevitable, unendurable, overwhelming the sinner.

15. day of the Lord—(Joe 2:1, 11); that is, the day of His anger (Isa 13:9; Ob 15; Zep 1:7, 15). It will be a foretaste of the coming day of the Lord as Judge of all men, whence it receives the same name. Here the transition begins from the plague of locusts to the worse calamities (Joe 2:1-11) from invading armies about to come on Judea, of which the locusts were the prelude. This verse and the three next may be looked upon either as a particular declaration of the grounds of this fast, or as a direction how to manage the fast, a suggesting to the people what they should spread before the Lord, or else as the words of the priests, bewailing the calamitous state of the land.

Alas! it is a very pathetical bemoaning themselves, which speaks their sense of the evil they suffered.

For the day; the day of trouble, sorrow, and great distress.

For the day of the Lord: this explains the former; it is a day of greater troubles than yet they felt, troubles which God will heap upon them, a day in which God will be judge, and punish by the locusts, by the drought, and by Babylonians, unless you repent.

Is at hand; great calamities were now upon them, and greater were approaching to them: if the prophet aim at the captivity of the two tribes, it was one hundred and eighty years off; if of the ten tribes, it was about sixty years off, for he prophesieth about the latter end of Jeroboam the Second; it is likely therefore he aimeth at some other calamities.

As a destruction; a total overthrow of the kingdom, the worship of God, and all your labours in your land.

From the Almighty; whose displeasure, as a consuming fire, can and will burn up all before it; his power and hand will do it, and then nothing can resist it.

Shall it come; most certainly and speedily, nothing can retard or divert it, unless fasting, prayers, and tears, and amendment do it.

Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand,.... A time of severer and heavier judgments than these of the locusts, caterpillars, &c. which were a presage and emblem of greater ones, even of the total destruction of their city, temple, and nation, either by the Chaldeans, or by the Romans, or both:

and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come; unawares, suddenly, and irresistibly: there is in the Hebrew text an elegant play on words, which may be rendered, as "wasting from the waster", or "destruction from the destroyer, shall it come" (x); even from the almighty God, who is able to save and destroy, and none can deliver out of his hands; see Isaiah 13:6; the word signifies one powerful and victorious, as Aben Ezra observes; and so it does in the Arabic language.

(x) "uti vastitas a Deo vastatore", Drusius.

Alas for the day! for the {i} day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.

(i) We see by these great plagues that utter destruction is at hand.

15. The prophet states more distinctly the ground for the exhortations of Joel 1:13-14. The present calamity is viewed by him as the harbinger of a far sorer calamity to come, even of the great “Day of Jehovah” itself; and he gives expression to the alarm which the prospect of its approach naturally creates.

Alas for the day] cf. Ezekiel 30:2 (where the Heb. is all but the same,—הָהּ for אֲהָהּ).

For the day of Jehovah is at hand (or near)] The same words as Joel 3:14; Zephaniah 1:7; Obadiah 1:15; Isaiah 13:6 : comp. ch. Joel 2:1; Zephaniah 1:14; Ezekiel 30:3. On the ‘Day of Jehovah’ comp. A. B. Davidson on Zephaniah 1:7; and below, on Amos 5:18. It is the Day, when Jehovah is conceived as manifesting Himself in His fulness, striking down wrongdoing and illusion, and giving the final victory to righteousness and truth. The origin of the conception as applied by the prophets, is to be found in Amos’ transformation of a popular idea (see on Amos 5:18). The presentiment of the approach of Jehovah’s Day was often awakened in the minds of the prophets by the prospect of some great political movement among the nations of the earth. In the case of Joel the presentiment is awakened by an extraordinary visitation of Providence. In Joel also the Day of Jehovah is invested, more distinctly than is the case in the earlier prophets, with an eschatological significance: see esp. Joel 2:31, Joel 3:1-2; Joel 3:9-17; and comp. above, p. 33.

as devastation from the Almighty (Heb. Shaddai) shall it come] The phrase is borrowed verbatim from Isaiah 13:6 (in the announcement of the doom approaching upon Babylon in b.c. 538) “Howl ye: for the day of Jehovah is at hand; as devastation from the Almighty shall it come.” In the original there is an effective assonance between devastation (shôd), and Almighty (Shaddai), which might perhaps be preserved, though not with the force and compactness of the Hebrew, by the rendering, as an overpowering from the Over-powerer shall it come[31]. See further, on the divine title Shaddai, the Additional Note, p. 81. For ‘devastation,’ as sent by Jehovah, comp. also Jeremiah 25:36; Jeremiah 47:4; Jeremiah 51:53; Jeremiah 51:55 (A.V. spoil), Amos 5:9. The ‘as’ (כ) is here an example of what is termed by some grammarians the “Caph veritatis”: the coming visitation will be what a devastation proceeding from the Almighty might be expected to be, it will realize what the term implies, it will be a veritable “overpowering from the Over-powerer.”

[31] Ewald, wie Gewalt vom Allgewaltigen: Wellhausen, wie Vergewaltigung vom Allgewaltigen.

Additional Note on Chap. Joel 1:15 (Shaddai)

Shaddai is a Divine title, occurring (a) as an adj. attached to God (El) in the name El Shaddai (“God Almighty”), Genesis 17:1; Genesis 28:3; Genesis 35:11; Genesis 48:3; Exodus 6:3 (all belonging to the document called the ‘Priests’ Code’); Genesis 48:3; Ezekiel 10:5; and probably Genesis 49:25 (Jacob’s Blessing: read God Almighty for by the Almighty [אל for את]); (b) alone, as a poetical name of God, Numbers 24:4; Numbers 24:16; Ezekiel 1:24; Isaiah 13:6; Joel 1:15; Psalm 68:14; Psalm 91:1; Psalms 31 times in the dialogue of Job (Job 5:17, Job 6:4, &c.); and in the two rhythmically-constructed sentences, Ruth 1:20-21[58]. The origin and real meaning of the name are both doubtful, neither tradition nor philology throwing any certain light upon it. According to the theory of P (Exodus 6:3), Shaddai was the patriarchal name of God; and the same view was perhaps shared by the author of the Book of Job, who lays his scene in the patriarchal age, and represents his characters as saying Shaddai, not Jehovah (except once, Job 12:9). The name is not known in the cognate languages. The LXX. render in Gen. Ex. by my (thy, their) God, elsewhere by general terms, as θεός, Κύριος (Job 9-10 times), παντοκράτωρ (Job 15-16 times). Aq. Symm. and (usually) Theod. render by ἱκανός; this, however, very probably, merely gives expression to an improbable Rabbinical etymology ש-די, ‘he that is sufficient,’ which may also underlie the Massoretic pronunciation Shaddai (already in Ezekiel 10:5 LXX. Σαδδαι). The Heb. verb shâdad, from which Shaddai might naturally be derived, means to overpower, treat with violence, devastate (Jdg 5:27 R.V. marg.; Isaiah 15:1; Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 23:14; Joel 1:10; often in A.V., R.V. spoil, as Isaiah 33:1; Micah 2:4; Psalm 17:9; comp. shôd, Joel 1:15, Amos 5:9, and frequently, devastation, desolation); hence it has been supposed that it meant properly the Over-powerer, i.e. either the God who coerces nature to His will, and moulds the course of the world agreeably with His purposes of grace (Delitzsch; Oehler, Theol. of the O.T. § 37; Dillm. A. T. Theol. p. 214 f.), or in a more historical sense (Bäthgen, Beiträge zur Sem. Rel.-gesch. 1888, p. 295 f., cf. pp. 192–7), the God who in the patriarchal age was conceived principally as ruling by might (“der naturgewaltige”), but who afterwards through Moses and the prophets revealed more distinctly His ethical and spiritual nature. It is some objection to this view that in actual usage shâdad always involves the idea of violence; but it is possible that in the age when Shaddai was formed from it, it had not yet acquired this nuance, and meant simply to overpower. Or, perhaps (Wellhausen, Gesch. 1878, p. 359), Shaddai denoted originally the Waster, with reference (see e.g. Job 12:14-25) to the destructive aspects of God’s providence. Other explanations have been suggested; but none that can be said to be more satisfactory[59]. Whatever, however, be the etymology of the title, it is true that the choice of it seems to be sometimes prompted by the thought of the power of God, whether in the way of blessing and defence (Genesis 17:1, &c.; Job 29:5; Psalm 91:1), or in the way of authority, punishment, or trial (Job 5:17; Job 6:4; Job 8:3; Job 21:20; Job 27:2). Comp. further Dillmann on Genesis 17:1; Bäthgen, l. c. (whose view that the form is Aramaic is called in question by Nöldeke, l. c.); König, Lehrgeb. der Hebr. Spr. ii. 118 (= violenta potentia praeditus).

[58] It occurs also in the proper names Zurishaddai, “Shaddai is my Rock” (cf. Zuriel), Numbers 1:6; Numbers 2:12; Numbers 7:36; Numbers 7:41; Numbers 10:19; Ammishaddai, “Shaddai is my kinsman,” Numbers 1:12; Numbers 2:25; Numbers 7:66; Numbers 7:71; Numbers 10:25 (cf. Ammiel); and perhaps in Shedêûr, if this should be pointed Shaddaiur, “Shaddai is a flame,” (cf. Uriel), Numbers 1:5; Numbers 2:10; Numbers 7:30; Numbers 7:35; Numbers 10:18Verse 15. - Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. Some understand these words as suggested by the prophet to the people, that they might use them in their solemn and sorrowful appeal to the Almighty. This is favoured by the Syriac, which adds, "and say," as if the prophet prescribed to them the substance of their address. We prefer taking them as the prophet's own words, which he era-ploys to justify the urgency of the appeal contained in the two preceding verses to the ministers of religion, the priests, to the magistrates, the elders, and to all the mere-bets of the community, even all the inhabitants of the land. The day referred to is the time of the judgment that was coming on the land through the locusts. The day of the Lord, first mentioned, it is said, by Joel, is the day when he inflicts judgments on sinners, as in the present instance; it may be a presage of that judgment that brought ruin on their city, temple, and nation. It may be an emblem of that judgment that wound up their nation by the destruction of their capital, or even of the final judgment when God shall destroy impenitent sinners and deliver his saints. This day of the Lord comes suddenly, secretly, and irresistibly; and, when it comes, it is a destruction from the Almighty, or, according to the Hebrew paronomasia, keshod misshaddai, equivalent to "ruin from the Resistless." The day of God's anger against Judah is a presage of that day when, as Judge of all, Jew and Gentile, he will take vengeance on his enemies. Joel's prophetic glance reached onward and forward, not only to the close of the Jewish, but to the conclusion of the Christian, dispensation. Joel 1:15"Alas for the day! for the day of Jehovah is near, and it comes like violence from the Almighty." This verse does not contain words which the priests are to speak, so that we should have to supply לאמר, like the Syriac and others, but words of the prophet himself, with which he justifies the appeal in Joel 1:13 and Joel 1:14. ליּום is the time of the judgment, which has fallen upon the land and people through the devastation by the locusts. This "day" is the beginning of the approaching day of Jehovah, which will come like a devastation from the Almighty. Yōm Yehōvâh is the great day of judgment upon all ungodly powers, when God, as the almighty ruler of the world, brings down and destroys everything that has exalted itself against Him; thus making the history of the world, through His rule over all creatures in heaven and earth, into a continuous judgment, which will conclude at the end of this course of the world with a great and universal act of judgment, through which everything that has been brought to eternity by the stream of time unjudged and unadjusted, will be judged and adjusted once for all, to bring to an end the whole development of the world in accordance with its divine appointment, and perfect the kingdom of God by the annihilation of all its foes. (Compare the magnificent description of this day of the Lord in Isaiah 2:12-21.) And accordingly this particular judgment - through which Jehovah on the one hand chastises His people for their sins, and on the other hand destroys the enemies of His kingdom - forms one element of the day of Jehovah; and each of these separate judgment is a coming of that day, and a sign of His drawing near. This day Joel saw in the judgment that came upon Judah in his time, keshōd misshaddai, lit., like a devastation from the Almighty, - a play upon the words (since shōd and shaddai both come from shâdad), which Rckert renders, though somewhat too freely, by wie ein Graussen vom grossen Gott. כ is the so-called כ veritatis, expressing a comparison between the individual and its genus or its idea. On the relation between this verse and Isaiah 13:6, see the Introduction.
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