Joel 2:10 Commentaries: Before them the earth quakes, The heavens tremble, The sun and the moon grow dark And the stars lose their brightness.
Joel 2:10
The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) The earth shall quake before them.—Some commentators call this description “a specimen of the highly-wrought hyperbolical features of Hebrew poetry,” but it is the presence and judgment, the voice of the Lord in the thunder, which causes this trepidation. The signs in the heavens will be manifested at the judgment day.

2:1-14 The priests were to alarm the people with the near approach of the Divine judgments. It is the work of ministers to warn of the fatal consequences of sin, and to reveal the wrath from heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. The striking description which follows, shows what would attend the devastations of locusts, but may also describe the effects from the ravaging of the land by the Chaldeans. If the alarm of temporal judgments is given to offending nations, how much more should sinners be warned to seek deliverance from the wrath to come! Our business therefore on earth must especially be, to secure an interest in our Lord Jesus Christ; and we should seek to be weaned from objects which will soon be torn from all who now make idols of them. There must be outward expressions of sorrow and shame, fasting, weeping, and mourning; tears for trouble must be turned into tears for the sin that caused it. But rending the garments would be vain, except their hearts were rent by abasement and self-abhorrence; by sorrow for their sins, and separation from them. There is no question but that if we truly repent of our sins, God will forgive them; but whether he will remove affliction is not promised, yet the probability of it should encourage us to repent.The earth shall quake before them - "Not," says Jerome, "as though locusts or enemies had power to move the heavens or to shake the earth; but because, to those under trouble, for their exceeding terror, the heaven seems to fall and the earth to reel. But indeed, for the multitude of the locusts which cover the heavens, sun and moon shall be turned into darkness, and the stars shall withdraw their shining, while the cloud of locusts interrupts the light, and allows it not to reach the earth." Yet the mention of moon and stars rather suggests that something more is meant than the locusts, who, not flying by night except when they cross the sea, do not obscure either. Rather, as the next verse speaks of God's immediate, sensible, presence, this verse seems to pass from the image of the locusts to the full reality, and to say that heaven and earth should shake at the judgments of God, before He appeareth. Our Lord gives the same description of the forerunners of the Day of Judgment; "there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring, people's hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven shall be shaken" Luke 21:25-26. 10. earth … quake before them—that is, the inhabitants of the earth quake with fear of them.

heavens … tremble—that is, the powers of heaven (Mt 24:29); its illumining powers are disturbed by the locusts which intercept the sunlight with their dense flying swarms. These, however, are but the images of revolutions of states caused by such foes as were to invade Judea.

Literally taken, this verse is an elegant description of most unparalleled armies of locusts, sent of God to waste this sinful people, in the description whereof the prophet shows his lofty style, and in a divine hyperbole warns the people: but there is another sense of the words we must look to; these locusts in this prophecy are hieroglyphics and emblems, and so are the earth, heaven, sun, moon, and stars. By

earth, thus considered, the vulgar, mean multitudes are many times set forth; here, the common people among the Jews.

Shall quake before them; locusts first, and armies of foreign enemies afterwards, and that ere long.

The heavens shall tremble; grandees, rulers, and counsellors, or the whole frame of the kingdom and government, shall shake and tremble, their hearts shall sink within them who should be a support to others.

The sun, their king,

and the moon, their queen, who may as particularly be here pointed at as the queen of Nineveh is Nahum 2:7,

shall be dark; overwhelmed with amazement from the greatness of their troubles. The stars shall withdraw their shining; the courtiers and men of eminency, that were as stars for glory and brightness, shall be covered with clouds, and these thick and black; all this miserable confusion threatened against them for their sins, and in this emblem of vast multitudes of locusts presented to their thoughts. The earth shall quake before them,.... The inhabitants of it, because of the desolating judgments they bring with them, and those enemies that are signified by them:

the heavens shall tremble; being obscured by them:

the sun and moon shall be dark; the locusts sometimes come in such large numbers as to intercept the rays of the sun. Pliny (t) says they sometimes darken it; and though some thought they did not fly in the night, because of the cold; this he observes is owing to their ignorance, not considering that they pass over wide seas to distant countries; and this will account for it how the moon also may be darkened by them, and the stars, as follows:

and the stars shall withdraw their shining; though all this may be understood in a figurative sense of the great consternation that all sorts of persons should be in at such calamities coming upon the land, either by locusts, or by enemies; as the king, queen, nobles, and the common people of the land, signified by sun, moon, and stars, heaven and earth.

(t) Ibid. (Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29.)

The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the {g} sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:

(g) Read Joe 2:31 Isa 13:10 Eze 32:7 Joe 3:15 Mt 24:29

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10, 11. The locusts of Joel 2:2-9, as was remarked on Joel 2:1, are to a certain extent idealized, and pictured as more alarming and formidable than ordinary locusts; and in these two verses, other extraordinary, awe-inspiring concomitants of their approach are signalized. Earth and heaven tremble before them; sun, moon, and stars withdraw their light; Jehovah at their head utters His voice in thunder. For the preternatural cosmical phenomena accompanying Jehovah’s Day, comp. Joel 2:31, Joel 3:15; Isaiah 13:10; Isaiah 13:13 (of the day on which Babylon is to be captured by the Medes); also Amos 8:9; Ezekiel 32:7 f.

Before them the earth trembleth] Amos 8:8; Psalm 77:18; and figuratively 1 Samuel 14:15; Proverbs 30:21.

before them] לפניו, not, as in Joel 2:6, מפניו (implying causality): the phenomena here described are not caused by the locusts, but simply herald their approach.

the heavens quake] The heavens being conceived as a solid vault resting upon the earth (comp. on Amos 8:6). Cf. 2 Samuel 22:8 (“And the earth shook and quaked, the foundations of the heavens trembled”); Isaiah 13:13 (“Therefore will I make the heavens to tremble, and the earth shall quake out of its place”).

are dark] are black, clothed, as it were in mourning, of which the word (קדר) is often used. Cp. 1 Kings 18:45 (“and the heavens grew black with clouds and rain”); Isaiah 50:3 (“I clothe the heavens with blackness”); Ezekiel 32:7 (“I will make their stars black”).

and the stars withdraw their shining] Joel 3:15.Verses 10, 11. - These verses picture the dreadful consequences of the then present and temporary visitation of the locusts, and of the future and final judgment of which it was a type. The earth shall quake before them;

(1) the locusts. The heavens tremble. The alighting of the locusts on the earth would make it quake, and their flight through the heavens would make it tremulous. As applied to the visitation o! locusts, the language would be hyperbolical, unless we accept Jerome's explanation as follows: "It is not that the strength of the locusts is so great that they can move the heavens and shake the earth, but that to those who suffer from such calamities, from the amount of their own terror the heavens appear to shake and the earth to reel."

(2) Before him; i.e. Jehovah himself amid the storm; and all in accordance with fact. But a greater judgment than that of the locusts is typified by the language of the prophet. Kimchi observes on this (tenth)verse that "all the expressions are parabolical, or figurative, to set forth the greatness of a calamity; for this is the usage of Scripture, as, 'The sun shall be darkened in his going forth,' and the like." So also Abarbauel on this verse: "Which all is a parabolical expression of the calamities of the Jews." Aben Ezra understands it differently: "Men of the earthquake." Rashi: "The heavens quake and tremble because of the punishment that comes upon Israel." The second part of the verse, as also the verse following, appear to us to indicate this. The sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: and the Lord shall utter his voice before his army. That a storm succeeded and put an end to the plague of locusts, and that the darkening of the sun and moon and stars signified the obscuration of the heavenly luminaries by the storm-clouds that overspread the heavens and darkened the face of day, would fall short of expressions of such solemn grandeur as are here employed by the prophet, Besides, our Lord applies language of the same import to the last judgment in the Gospels: "The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven." Thunder, no doubt, is the voice of the Lord, which he utters while marching at the head of his army to execute judgment and manifest his wrath against his enemies. For his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? Three reasons are here assigned for the preceding sublime description of Jehovah coming to judgment at the head of his hosts. These are the following: the greatness of his army in number and might; the power with which his army executes his word of command; and the terrible character of the day of judgment when the vials of Divine wrath shall be poured forth. "Therefore have I hewn by the prophets, slain them by the words of my mouth: and my judgment goeth forth as light." ‛Al-kēn, therefore, because your love vanishes again and again, God must perpetually punish. חצב ב does not mean to strike in among the prophets (Hitzig, after the lxx, Syr., and others); but ב is instrumental, as in Isaiah 10:15, and châtsabh signifies to hew, not merely to hew off, but to hew out or carve. The nebhı̄'ı̄m cannot be false prophets, on account of the parallel "by the words of my mouth," but must be the true prophets. Through them God had hewed or carved the nation, or, as Jerome and Luther render it, dolavi, i.e., worked it like a piece of hard wood, in other words, had tried to improve it, and shape it into a holy nation, answering to its true calling. "Slain by the words of my mouth," which the prophets had spoken; i.e., not merely caused death and destruction to be proclaimed to them, but suspended judgment and death over them - as, for example, by Elijah - since there dwells in the word of God the power to kill and to make alive (compare Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 49:2). The last clause, according to the Masoretic pointing and division of the words, does not yield any appropriate meaning. משׁפּטיך could only be the judgments inflicted upon the nation; but neither the singular suffix ך for כם (Isaiah 10:4), nor אור יצא, with the singular verb under the כ simil. omitted before אור, suits this explanation. For אור יצא cannot mean "to go forth to the light;" nor can אור stand for לאור. We must therefore regard the reading expressed by the ancient versions,

(Note: The Vulgate in some of the ancient mss has also judicium meum, instead of the judicia tua of the Sixtina. See Kennicott, Diss. gener. ed. Bruns. p. 55ff.)

viz., משׁפּטי כאור ציצא, "my judgment goeth forth like light," as the original one. My penal judgment went forth like the light (the sun); i.e., the judgment inflicted upon the sinners was so obvious, so conspicuous (clear as the sun), that every one ought to have observed it and laid it to heart (cf. Zephaniah 3:5). The Masoretic division of the words probably arose simply from an unsuitable reminiscence of Psalm 37:6.

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