O LORD, to you will I cry: for the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame has burned all the trees of the field.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The fire hath devoured.—This may be explained as produced by the scorching heat bringing about spontaneous combustion, or by the efforts of the people to exterminate the locusts by burning the trees, or by the mark, as of fire, left upon all vegetation after the locusts had finished their work of devastation.Joel 1:19-20. O Lord, to thee will I cry — The prophet carries on the beautiful hypotyposis, (or description of the calamity, painted in such strong and bright colours as rendered it, as it were, present before the eyes of the people,) by representing himself as a sharer in the calamity. And by crying to God himself, he endeavours to stir up the people to cry to him. For the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness — The fiery drought hath burned up all the pasture-grounds. The wilderness is sometimes opposed to the hills and mountains, and then it signifies the plains and places for pasture. Or, if the expression be here understood of deserts, it must be observed, that there were spots in them where flocks and herds might feed. The beasts of the field also cry unto thee — Even the cattle and wild beasts utter their complaints, and express their want of food by the mournful noise which they make, as it were beseeching thee to have pity on them and relieve their wants. Even they have a voice to cry, as well as an eye to look to God. The rivers of water are dried up — The drought drying up the springs, the rivers have failed, and have little or no water in them. Thus, throughout the chapter, the prophet foretels a drought, as well as a plague of locusts; and these two calamities often go together, a great increase of locusts, according to Pliny and Bochart, being occasioned by heat.
For the fire hath devoured the pastures - The gnawing of locusts leaves things, as though scorched by fire (see the note at Joel 2:3); the sun and the east wind scorch up all green things, as though it had been the actual contact of fire. Spontaneous combustion frequently follows. The Chaldees wasted all before them with fire and sword. All these and the like calamities are included under "the fire," whose desolating is without remedy. What has been scorched by fire never recovers . "The famine," it is said of Mosul, "was generally caused by fire spreading in dry weather over pastures, grass lands, and grain lands, many miles in extent. It burnt night and day often for a week and sometimes embraced the whole horizon."
fire—that is, the parching heat.
pastures—"grassy places"; from a Hebrew root "to be pleasant." Such places would be selected for "habitations" (Margin). But the English Version rendering is better than Margin.O Lord, Maker and Preserver of these poor famished cattle,
to thee will I cry: either it is the prophet’s prayer he maketh, or a form prescribed for the priests.
The fire; the immoderate heats, or else the scorching and blasting flashes of fire in the air, which in those hot countries are more frequent and more precious than in colder climates.
Hath devoured the pastures; the fruitful and pleasant places where shepherds pitched their tents, and were used to feed their sheep, all are parched and dried as if burned with fire.
Of the wilderness; either because the shepherds chose to pitch their tents far from cities and towns; or else because in those vast wildernesses there were some fruitful pastures scattered up and down, some lower places of springs and water-courses.
The flame, the flashes of fire from the clouds, or in the air, without thunder, or else lightnings with thunder,
hath burnt all the trees, that they neither afford their fruit, their shade, or their green boughs for browse for the relief of man or beast. This extreme desolation should affect them all; it doth shame the sinfully Senseless among them; and it is a good argument to use with God, whose creatures they are as well as man.
for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness; or, "of the plain" (c) though in the wildernesses of Judea, there were pastures for cattle: Kimchi interprets them of the shepherds' tents or cotes, as the word (d) is sometimes used; which were will not to be pitched where there were pastures for their flocks: and so the Targum renders it, "the habitations of the wilderness"; these, whether pastures or habitations, or both, were destroyed by fire, the pastures by the locusts, as Kimchi; which, as Pliny (e) says, by touching burn the trees, herbs, and fruits of the earth; see Joel 2:3; or by the Assyrians or Chaldeans, who by fire and sword consumed all in their way; or by a dry burning blasting wind, as Lyra; and so the Targum interprets it of a strong east wind like fire: it seems rather to design extreme heat and excessive drought, which burn up all the produce of the earth:
and the flame hath burnt all the trees of the field; which may be understood of flashes of lightning, which are common in times of great heat and drought; see Psalm 83:14.O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)19. Unto thee, O Jehovah, do I cry] the prophet, speaking (as Joel 1:6-7; Joel 1:13) in the nation’s name, turns for help to Jehovah, who “saveth men and cattle” (Psalm 36:6).
fire] either fig. of the intense heat of the sun, or (comp. on Amos 7:4) of the conflagrations kindled among the parched herbage during a drought. The words might, however, be simply a poetical description of the ravages of the locusts themselves (cf. Joel 2:3 a).
the pastures of the wilderness] Joel 1:20, Joel 2:22; Jeremiah 9:10; Jeremiah 23:10; Psalm 65:12. “Wilderness” does not mean the desert: midbâr (properly, a place for driving cattle) denotes land which is unenclosed, and uncultivated, especially a broad prairie or steppe, but not land which is destitute of pasturage.Verses 19, 20. - O Lord, to thee will I cry. In consideration of man and beast - creatures rational and irrational being subject to so much hardship and suffering - the prophet appeals in intense earnestness of spirit to God, and all the more so because of the encouragement of his own Word, as it is written, "Lord, thou preservest man and beast." For the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field. The fire and flame here referred to denote the fiery heat of the drought which burnt up the meadows and scorched the trees. Some seem to understand the terms literally, as applied to setting on fire the heath, or even the trees, in order to check the progress of the locusts or turn them aside by smoke and flame. This, however, is refuted by the following verse, which mentions the rivers of water being dried up: The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness. In like manner we read in Jeremiah 14:4-6, "Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the ploughmen were ashamed, they covered their heads. Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass. And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass." The various animals suffering from hunger and thirst express their distress in loud and lamentable, though inarticulate, cries. The Hebrew words which respectively denote the cries of the different animals are, according to Rashi, the following: ערג expresses the cry of deer; נהם (also שׁאג), to roar like lions; נעה, to low as oxen; צחל, to neigh like horses; ציפצופ (rather צִפְצִפ, fulfil), to twitter or chirp as birds. Further, the subject is plural, but the verb is singular, for the purpose of individualizing.
Hosea 5:10. The princes of Judah have become like boundary-movers; upon them I pour out my wrath like water." The kingdom of Israel will entirely succumb to the punishment. It will become a desert - will be laid waste not only for a time, but permanently. The punishment with which it is threatened will be נאמנה. This word is to be interpreted as in Deuteronomy 28:59, where it is applied to lasting plagues, with which God will chastise the obstinate apostasy of His people. By the perfect הודעתּי, what is here proclaimed is represented as a completed event, which will not be altered. Beshibhtē, not in or among the tribes, but according to ענה ב, in Deuteronomy 28:5, against or over the tribes (Hitzig). Judah also will not escape the punishment of its sins. The unusual expression massı̄gē gebhūl is formed after, and to be explained from Deuteronomy 19:14, "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmark;" or Deuteronomy 27:17, "Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour's landmark." The princes of Judah have become boundary-removers, not by hostile invasions of the kingdom of Israel (Simson); for the boundary-line between Israel and Judah was not so appointed by God, that a violation of it on the part of the princes of Judah could be reckoned a grievous crime, but by removing the boundaries of right which had been determined by God, viz., according to Hosea 4:15, by participating in the guilt of Ephraim, i.e., by idolatry, and therefore by the fact that they had removed the boundary between Jehovah and Baal, that is to say, between the one true God and idols. "If he who removes his neighbour's boundary is cursed, how much more he who removes the border of his God!" (Hengstenberg). Upon such men the wrath of God would fall in its fullest measure. כּמּים, like a stream of water, so plentifully. For the figure, compare Psalm 69:25; Psalm 79:6; Jeremiah 10:25. Severe judgments are thus announced to Judah, viz., those of which the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser and Sennacherib were the instruments; but no ruin or lasting devastation is predicted, as was the case with the kingdom of Israel, which was destroyed by the Assyrians.
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