Joel 2:20
But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.
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(20) The northern army.—Literally, him of the north. “This is an exception to the usual direction of the flight of locusts” (Stanley, Jewish Church), but it may be literally applied to the Assyrian hordes, whom the Jews generally spoke of as dwelling in the north. In Jeremiah 1:13 the symbolical caldron is represented as pouring its contents (the Chaldæan army) southwards from the face of the north. And even though the wind might be conceived as capriciously blowing the locusts from the north, yet the addition of the patronymic syllable to the Hebrew word indicates a native of the north, which excludes a reference to locusts. Under the image of the destruction of the locusts, the prophet points to the deliverance from the northern invaders.

The east sea is the Dead Sea; the utmost or hinder sea is the Mediterranean; the desolate land is the southern desert. The northern invader shall be expelled all along the coasts of Palestine. His stink shall come up. In the eighth plague of Egypt, when on the repentance of Pharaoh the locusts were removed, they were cast into the Red Sea, and there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt (Exodus 10:19). In the present instance there is the result stated in the case of the decomposition of the bodies of the locusts left on the land: the air was infected with a horrible pestilence. There are various allusions to this terrible result of their putrefaction in the writers who describe the horrors of a plague of locusts. St. Jerome tells of the awful sufferings inflicted on man and beast through this cause; and St. Augustine (De Civitate Dei, iii. 31) relates that eight hundred thousand men perished from this reason in the kingdom of Masinissa alone, besides many more near the coast. Thus Joel declares the complete destruction of the enemies of Israel, who having completed the purpose of vengeance for which they were summoned, and, like the Assyrians under the walls of Jerusalem, having exalted themselves against the Lord, perish miserably under the stroke of His power.

2:15-27 The priests and rulers are to appoint a solemn fast. The sinner's supplication is, Spare us, good Lord. God is ready to succour his people; and he waits to be gracious. They prayed that God would spare them, and he answered them. His promises are real answers to the prayers of faith; with him saying and doing are not two things. Some understand these promises figuratively, as pointing to gospel grace, and as fulfilled in the abundant comforts treasured up for believers in the covenant of grace.And I will remove far off from you the northern army - God speaks of the human agent under the figure of the locusts, which perish in the sea; yet so as to show at once, that He did not intend the locust itself, nor to describe the mode in which He should overthrow the human oppressor. He is not speaking of the locust itself, for the Northern is no name for the locust which infested Palestine, since it came from the south; nor would the destruction of the locust be in two opposite seas, since they are uniformly driven by the wind into the sea, upon whose waves they alight and perish, but the wind would not carry them into two opposite seas; nor would the locust perish in a "barren and desolate" land, but would fly further; nor would it be said of the locust that he was destroyed, Because he had done great things . But He represents to us, how this enemy should be driven quite out of the bounds of His people, so that he should not vex them more, but perish.

The imagery is from the holy land. The "East sea" is the Dead Sea, once the fertile "vale of Siddim" Genesis 14:3, , "in which sea were formerly Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, until God overthrew them." This, in the Pentateuch, is called "the salt sea" Genesis 14:3; Numbers 34:3, Numbers 34:12, or "the sea of the plain," or "desert" (Deuteronomy 3:17; Deuteronomy 4:49; Joshua 3:16; Joshua 12:3; Joshua 15:25; Joshua 18:19; also in 2 Kings 14:25), explained in Deuteronomy and Joshua to be "the salt sea" Deuteronomy 3; Joshua 3; 12; Ezekiel calls it "the East sea" Ezekiel 47:18, and in Numbers it is said of it, "your south border shall be the salt sea eastward" Numbers 34:3. The utmost, or rather, the "hinder sea" Deuteronomy 11:24; Deuteronomy 34:2 (i. e., that which is behind one who is looking toward the east whose Hebrew name is from "fronting" you) is the Mediterranean, "on whose shores are Gaza and Ascalon, Azotus and Joppa and Caesarea." The "land barren and desolate," lying between, is the desert of Arabia, the southern boundary of the holy land.

The picture then seems to be, that the "Northern" foes filled the whole of Judaea, in numbers like the locust, and that God drove them violently forth, all along the bounds of the holy land, into the desert, the Dead Sea, the Mediterranean. Jerome relates a mercy of God in his own time which illustrates the image; but he writes so much in the language of Holy Scripture, that perhaps he only means that the locusts were driven into the sea, not into both seas. "In our times too we have seen hosts of locusts cover Judaea, which afterward, by the mercy of the Lord, when the priests and people, 'between the porch and the altar,' i. e., between the place of the Cross and the Resurrection prayed the Lord and said, 'spare Thy people,' a wind arising, were carried headlong 'into the Eastern sea, and the utmost sea.'" Alvarez relates how, priests and people joining in litanies to God, He delivered them from an exceeding plague of locusts, which covered 24 English miles, as He delivered Egypt of old at the prayer of Moses . "When we knew of this plague being so near, most of the clerks of the place came to me, that I should tell them some remedy against it. I answered them, that I knew of no remedy except to commend themselves to God and to pray Him to drive the plague out of the land. I went to the Embassador and told him that to me it seemed good that we should make a procession with the people of the land and that it might please our Lord God to hear us; it seemed good to the Embassador; and, in the morning of the next day, we collected the people of the place and all the Clergy; and we took our altar-stone, and those of the place theirs, and our Cross and theirs, singing our litany, we went forth from the Church, all the Portuguese and the greater part of the people of the place. I said to them that they should not keep silence, but should, as we, cry aloud saying in their tongue Zio marinos, i. e., in our's, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.

And with this cry and litany, we went through an open wheat-country for the space of one third of a league. It pleased our Lord to hear the sinners, and while we were turning to the place, because their (the locusts') road was toward the sea whence they had come, there were so many after us, that it seemed no otherwise than that they sought to break our ribs and heads with blows of stones, such were the blows they dealt us. At this time a great thunderstorm arose from toward the sea, which came in their face with rain and hail, which lasted three good hours; the river and brooks filled greatly; and when they had ceased to drive, it was matter of amazement, that the dead locusts on the bank of the great river measured two cubits high; and so for the rivulets, there was a great multitude of dead on their banks. On the next day in the morning there was not in the whole land even one live locust."

And his stink shall come up - The image is still from the locust. It, being such a fearful scourge of God, every individual full of activity and life repeated countlessly in the innumerable host, is, at God's will and in His time, cast by His word into the sea, and when thrown up by the waves on the shore, becomes in a few hours one undistinguishable, putrefying, heaving mass. Such does human malice and ambition and pride become, as soon as God casts aside the sinful instrument of His chastisement. Just now, a world to conquer could not satisfy it; superior to man, independent, it deems, of God. He takes away its breath, it is a putrid carcass. Such was Sennacherib's army; in the evening inspiring terror; "before the morning, he is not" Isaiah 17:14. "They were all dead corpses." Isaiah 37:36.

The likeness stops here. For the punishment is at an end. The wicked and the persecutors of God's people are cut off; the severance has taken place. On the one side, there is the putrefying mass; on the other, the jubilee of thanksgiving. The gulf is fixed between them. The offensive smell of the corruption ascends; as Isaiah closes his prophecy, "the carcases" of the wicked, the perpetual prey of the "worm and the fire, shall be an abhorring to all flesh." The righteous behold it, but it reaches them not, to hurt them. In actual life, the putrid exhalations at times have, among those on the sea-shore, produced a pestilence, a second visitation of God, more destructive than the first. This, however, has been but seldom. Yet what must have been the mass of decay of creatures so slight, which could produce a wide-wasting pestilence! What an image of the numbers of those who perish, and of the fetidness of sin! Augustine, in answer to the pagan who imputed all the calamities of the later Roman Empire to the displeasure of the gods, because the world had become Christian, says , "They themselves have recorded that the multitude of locusts was, even in Africa, a sort of prodigy, while it was a Roman province. They say that, after the locusts had consumed the fruits and leaves of trees, they were cast into the sea, in a vast incalculable cloud, which having died and being cast back on the shores, and the air being infected thereby, such a pestilence arose, that in the realm of Masinissa alone 800,000 men perished, and manymore in the lands on the coasts. Then at Utica, out of 30,000 men in the prime of life who were there, they assert that 10 only remained."

Jerome says of the locusts of Palestine ; "when the shores of both seas were filled with heaps of dead locusts which the waters had cast up, their stench and putrefaction was so noxious as to corrupt the air, so that a pestilence was produced among both beasts and men." Modern writers say , "The locusts not only produce a famine, but in districts near the sea where they had been drowned, they have occasioned a pestilence from the putrid effluvia of the immense numbers blown upon the coast or thrown up by the tides." : "We observed, in May and June, a number of these insects coming from the south directing their course to the northern shore; they darken the sky like a thick cloud, but scarcely have they quitted the shore before they who, a moment before, ravaged and ruined the country, cover the surface of the sea with their dead bodies, to the great distress of the Franks near the harbor, on account of the stench from such a number of dead insects, driven by the winds close to the very houses." : "All the full-grown insects were driven into the sea by a tempestuous northwest wind, and were afterward cast upon the beach, where, it is said, they formed a bank of 3 or 4 feet high, extending - a distance of near 50 English miles. It is asserted that when this mass became putrid and the wind was southeast the stench was sensibly felt in several parts of Sneuwberg. The column passed the houses of two of our party, who asserted that it continued without any interruption for more than a month." : "The south and east winds drive the clouds of locusts with violence into the Mediterranean, and drown them in such quantities that when their dead are cast on the shore, they infect the air to a great distance." Wonderful image of the instantaneous, ease, completeness, of the destruction of God's enemies; a mass of active life exchanged, in a moment, into a mass of death.

Because he hath done great things - Literally, (as in the English margin) ""because he hath magnified to do," i. e., as used of man, "hath done proudly." To do greatly Joel 2:21; Psalm 126:2-3; 1 Samuel 12:24, or to magnify Himself, Ezekiel 38:23, when used of God, is to display His essential greatness, in goodness to His people, or in vengeance on their enemies. Man's great deeds are mostly deeds of great ambition, great violence, great pride, great iniquity; and so of him, the words "he magnified himself, Isaiah 10:15; Daniel 11:36-37, he did greatly" Lamentations 1:9; Zephaniah 2:8; Daniel 8:4, Daniel 8:8, Daniel 8:11, Daniel 8:25, mean, he did ambitiously, proudly, and so offended God. In like way "great doings," when used of God, are His great works of good ; of man, his great works of evil . : "Man has great deserts, but evil." "To speak great things" Psalm 12:3; Daniel 7:8, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:20, is to speak proud things: "greatness of heart" Isaiah 9:9; Isaiah 10:12 is pride of heart. He is speaking then of man who was God's instrument in chastening His people; since of irrational, irresponsible creatures, a term which involves moral fault, would not have been used, nor would a moral fault have been set down as the ground why God destroyed them. The destruction of Sennacherib or Holofernes have been assigned as the fulfillment of this prophecy. They were part of its fulfillment, and of the great law of God which it declares, that instruments, which He employs, and who exceed or accomplish for their own ends, the office which He assigns them, He casts away and destroys.

20. the northern army—The Hebrew expresses that the north in relation to Palestine is not merely the quarter whence the invader comes, but is his native land, "the Northlander"; namely, the Assyrian or Babylonian (compare Jer 1:14, 15; Zep 2:13). The locust's native country is not the north, but the south, the deserts of Arabia, Egypt, and Libya. Assyria and Babylon are the type and forerunner of all Israel's foes (Rome, and the final Antichrist), from whom God will at last deliver His people, as He did from Sennacherib (2Ki 19:35).

face … hinder part—more applicable to a human army's van and rear, than to locusts. The northern invaders are to be dispersed in every other direction but that from which they had come: "a land barren and desolate," that is, Arabia-Deserta: "the eastern (or front) sea," that is, the Dead Sea: "the utmost (or hinder) sea," that is, the Mediterranean. In front and behind mean east and west; as, in marking the quarters of the world, they faced the east, which was therefore "in front"; the west was behind them; the south was on their right, and the north on their left.

stink—metaphor from locusts, which perish when blown by a storm into the sea or the desert, and emit from their putrefying bodies such a stench as often breeds a pestilence.

because he hath done great things—that is, because the invader hath haughtily magnified himself in his doings. Compare as to Sennacherib, 2Ki 19:11-13, 22, 28. This is quite inapplicable to the locusts, who merely seek food, not self-glorification, in invading a country.

But, Heb. And,

I will remove far off from you the northern army; that part of these numerous locusts which are towards the north shall be removed far from you, no more to annoy you on that quarter: some say this refers to the dissipation of Sennacherib’s army, which came up from the parts which lay somewhat northerly from Jerusalem and Judea.

And will drive him; some other part of this locust army shall be driven away into the southern deserts, here described by a

barren and desolate land.

His face; the van of this army, here called the face, shall be driven into the

east sea; the sea of Tiberias, or the Salt Sea, or the Dead Sea, east of Jerusalem.

His hinder part, the rear of this army of insects, shall be driven into the great, the west sea, here called the utmost sea, in the letter and history. The total destruction of this army of insects is here foretold, which no doubt came to pass. If Sennacherib’s army and its dissipation were here shadowed out, it is fairly accommodable to this place, when upon his death and the rout of his army from heaven, his forces retired out of Judea on all quarters with loss of men, as is ever the fate of an invading army beaten in the heart of the invaded country.

His ill savour shall come up; the stench of these locusts destroyed and lying putrefied on the face of the earth, or the corpses of the Assyrians slain and unburied.

Because he hath done great things: some refer this to the locusts, and those whom they signified; he, i.e. this army of locusts or Assyrians: others refer it to God, thus,

for he will do great things; as indeed the utter destroying of this devouring army, and removal of this dreadful famine, was a great work and marvellous, and it was an answer to their fasting and praying; though it was not all done which is contained in this conditional promise, for that this people never performed the condition.

But I will remove far off from you the northern army,.... The army of the locusts, which came from the northern corner, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi; and is the first sense Jarchi makes mention of; though he says their Rabbins (b) interpret it of the evil imagination hid in the heart of men; and the two seas, later mentioned, of the two temples, first and second, destroyed by it; so, Kimchi says, they explain this verse of the days of the Messiah, and observes, the same sense they give; but Jarchi mentions another, according to which a people coming from the north are designed, even the kings of Assyria; and with this agrees the Targum, which paraphrases it,

"and the people which come from the north I will remove far off from you;''

and indeed locusts do not usually come from the north, but from the south, or from the east; it was an east wind that brought the locusts into Egypt, Exodus 10:13; though the word "northern" may be used of the locusts in the emblem, because the Assyrians or Chaldeans came from the north to Judea:

and will drive him into a land barren and desolate: where there are no green grass, herbs, plants, and trees, to live upon, and so must starve and die:

with his face towards the east sea; the front of this northern army was towards the east sea, into which it was drove and fell; that is, the sea of Chinnereth, or Gennesareth, the same with the lake of Tiberias, often mentioned in the New Testament; or the Salt sea, the same with the lake Asphaltites, or Dead sea, which was where Sodom and Gomorrah formerly stood, as is usually said; and both these were to the east of the land of Israel, as Kimchi and Ben Melech observe; and so either of them might be called the "eastern sea":

and his hinder part towards the utmost sea; the rear of this army was towards the utmost sea, or hinder sea, as it is called in Zechariah 14:8; the western sea, as Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it, the same with the Mediterranean sea, which lay to the west of the land of Israel; so the Egyptian locusts were cast into the Red sea, Exodus 10:19; and Pliny (c) observes, that they are sometimes taken away with a wind, and fall into seas and lakes, and adds, perhaps this comes by chance; but what is here related came not by chance, but by the will and providence of God:

and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up: that is, the stink and ill savour of the locusts shall come, up out of the seas and lakes into which they fell, and where they died and putrefied; or, being cast up from thence upon the shares, gave a most noisome stench; so Jerom on the place says,

"in our times we have seen swarms of locusts cover the land of Judea, which upon the wind rising have been driven into the first and last seas; that is, into the Dead and Mediterranean seas; and when the shores of both seas have been filled with heaps of dead locusts, which the waters have thrown up, their rottenness and stench have been so very noxious as to corrupt the air, and produce a pestilence among men and beasts;''

or this may be understood of the fall and ruin of the enemies of the Jews, signified by these locusts; and some apply it to Sennacherib's army smote by the angel, when there fell in one night a hundred and fourscore and five thousand of them in the land of Israel, and lay unburied, 2 Kings 19:35; Theodoret interprets the seas of armies; the first sea of the army of the Babylonians, by which Nineveh the royal seat of the Assyrians was destroyed; and the other sea of the army of the Persians, who, under Cyrus, took Babylon, the metropolis of the Chaldean empire:

because he hath done great things; evil things, as the Targum; either the locust, which had done much mischief to the fruits of the earth; or the enemy, signified by it, who had behaved proudly, and done much hurt to the inhabitants of Judea: or, "though he hath done great things" (d), as some render it, yet all this shall come to him. Some interpret it of God, "for he (God) hath done", or "will do, great things" (e); in the removing of the locusts, or in the destruction of those enemies they represented, as is expressly said of him in Joel 2:21.

(b) Vid. T. Bab. Succah, fol. 52. 1.((c) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29. (d) "quamvis magna gesserit", Gataker. (e) "Quia magnifica Jehovah agit", Junius & Tremellius; "aget", Piscator, Liveleus, Castalio.

But I will remove far off from you the {n} northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the {o} east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.

(n) That is, the Assyrians your enemies.

(o) Called the Salt Sea, or Persian Sea: meaning, that even though this army was so great that it filled all from this sea to the Mediterranean Sea, yet he would scatter them.

20. from you] lit. from upon you, from being a burden on you; a delicate Hebrew idiom which cannot generally be represented without stiffness in English: comp. on Amos 5:23; and see Exodus 10:17 (‘remove from upon me,’—also of locusts).

the northern army] lit. the northern one. The reference, as seems evident both from the context and also from the words following (which exactly describe the fate of a swarm of locusts), can be only to the locusts: although it is true that locusts generally invade Palestine from the S. or S. E., there is not sufficient ground for supposing this rule to be a universal one: they are not indigenous in Palestine, but are brought thither by the wind from their breeding-ground; and instances are on record of their being seen in the Syrian desert—Niebuhr, for instance (Credner, p. 271), saw a large tract of country between Mosul and Nisibis covered with young locusts—whence a N.E. wind would readily bear them towards Judah, in which case the epithet Northern would very naturally be applied to them (the Chaldaeans, though Babylon is in reality almost due East of Palestine, are often spoken of as coming from the North, on account of that being the usual direction of their approach; Jeremiah 13:20; Jeremiah 47:2, &c.).

into a dry land, and a waste] i.e. into the desert, on the S.E. or S. of Judah.

his forepart (or van: lit. face) into the east sea] lit. the front sea, i.e. the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47:18; Zechariah 14:8).

and his rear (lit. end) into the west sea] lit. the hinder sea, i.e. the Mediterranean Sea (Deuteronomy 11:24; Deuteronomy 34:2; Zechariah 14:8). The Hebrews, like other ancient nations, in fixing the points of the compass, faced Eastwards; hence in front or before is often used for the East, behind for the West, the right hand for the South (cf. the Arab. Yemen, i.e. the South part of Arabia). The description of the removal of the locusts is naturally not to be understood with prosaic literalness: it is intended rather as an imaginative representation of their rapid and complete destruction, though a wind rising first in the N.W., and afterwards gradually veering round to the N.E., would produce approximately the effects indicated.

Rear (סוף) is properly an Aramaic word (Daniel 4:8, &c.), occurring otherwise only in late Hebrew, 2 Chronicles 20:16; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Ecclesiastes 7:2; Ecclesiastes 12:13.

[and his stink shall come up,] that his foulness may come up] The tautology, and especially the tense and construction (וְתַעַל) of the second clause make it probable that the first clause (here bracketed) is a gloss, based upon Isaiah 34:3 (cf. Amos 4:10), designed for the purpose of explaining the rare word (found only here) rendered foulness[43]. The reference is to the decaying carcases of the locusts, which often (see below) have been known to produce putrid exhalations.

[43] The meaning is fixed by the Aramaic (see Payne Smith, Thes. Syr. col. 3393–4).

because he hath done great things] lit. hath shewn greatness in doing. Applied to God (see the next verse), the phrase is used in a good sense; applied to His creatures, it implies that they have in some way done more than they should have done, or have acted overweeningly (cf. Lamentations 1:9, of the Chaldaeans: lit. “the enemy hath shewn greatness”; Psalm 35:26 al.). There is of course a logical inexactness in the application of the expression to insects unconscious of moral distinctions; but the prophet invests them poetically with rational powers, just as other prophets for instance imagine trees or mountains as capable of rejoicing because Jehovah has redeemed His people (Isaiah 44:23, &c.).

It is a common fate of locust swarms to be driven away by the wind, and to perish in the sea (Exodus 10:19). Jerome says that in his own time when Judaea had been visited by locusts, he had known them to be driven by the wind into the same two seas which are mentioned by Joel, the shores of both being strewn afterwards by their carcases, cast up by the waters, producing pestilential odours. Augustine (de Civ. Dei, 3:31) quotes heathen writers as stating how in Africa immense swarms of locusts, cast by the wind into the sea, were afterwards thrown up by the waves, infecting the air, and giving rise to a serious pestilence. Locusts “not only produce a famine, but in districts near the sea where they had been drowned, they have occasioned a pestilence from the putrid effluvia of the immense numbers blown upon the coast or thrown up by the tides” (Forbes, Memoirs, 2:373). “The South and East winds drive the clouds of locusts with violence into the Mediterranean, and drown them in such quantities, that when their dead are cast on the shore they infect the air to a great distance” (Volney, 1:278).

Verse 20. - But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea. This verse promises the destruction of the devastator. The prophet here specifies the means by which the Eternal was going to restore the blessings of harvest. The order of sequence is inverted - the effect preceding the cause; thus, re. storation of prosperity and plenty goes before, and the cause thereof, being relief from invasion and loss, follows after. Nor is there anything singular in this, as men are more alive to recovery from a distressful state of any kind than to the remedy which effects it. The "army" of this verse we still hold to be the tribes of locusts, which, like an invading army, with its numerous regimental divisions, had overrun the land, scattering dismay and distress wherever it advanced; yet from this very verse, and the expression "northern" in particular, it has been argued that it cannot refer to locusts, but to human invaders symbolized by locusts and the havoc wrought by them.

(1) The north is not the native land of locusts; it is rather the south - the Arabian, Lybian, or Egyptian desert. But

(2) "northern" may denote the quarter from which the locusts appeared to the prophet in vision to enter the land; or, driven upward by a south wind which regularly blows, as we are informed, in those regions during spring, and then to the north of Palestine by an east wind which blows with similar regularity in summer, and again into and ultimately out of Palestine by the north wind blowing in the autumn. "In this case," says a writer in the 'Speaker's Commentary,' "the northern plague would have been a natural expression for an inhabitant of Jerusalem to use in speaking of the locusts; as natural as it would be for a Londoner to speak of a pestilence that had commenced its ravages in Great Britain at Edinburgh, as coming to him from the north, though it were originally imported from France or Spain." The word

(3) may symbolically denote "calamitous," according to the explanation of some, since calamity is so frequently represented as coming from the north, so that the north is more or less identified with diasaster; thus we read in Jeremiah 4:6, "I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction." It may, however, be safely admitted that, by the locust, the northern or Assyrian enemies of Judah, who advanced from the north as the most accessible quarter for attack, are in a subsidiary sense represented. The expulsion of these enemies brings relief; they are driven into a parched, and so desert and desolate, land; "and there," as Kimchi observes, "they shall die because they shall find nothing to eat." That land may be either the Idumaean desert south of Judah or Arabia Deserta. Thus the main body of the great locust-army perishes in the southern desert; while the van of the army is driven into the Dead Sea, and the rear of it into the Mediterranean Sea. Or, more literally, the face of this locust-host was towards the east, or front sea, that is, as already intimated, the Dead Sea eastward; his hinder part toward the west, or hinder sea, that is, the Mediterranean westward. Thus they were driven in every other direction than that by which they came, namely, south, east, and west. In marking the quarters of the world, the Jews faced the east, so that the west was behind them, the south on their right hand, and the north on their left. We have thus a most vivid picture of the speedy and total destruction of the locusts. After expulsion, no danger was to be apprehended from them, for, blown into the sea or desert, they perished at once and for ever. The terms employed are very graphic; thus, me'alekem is much more than mikkem would be, and imply that a heavy burden was lifted from upon, or up off the face of a desolated land, and the heart of a distressed people. And his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things; margin, magnified to do. The stench emitted from the putrefying bodies of those locusts would be sickening and stifling - sufficient to occasion a pestilence. Many testimonies from travellers and others prove the reality of both circumstances - the ill savour and its pestiferous nature. Several expressions in this verse are applicable enough to an army, as in the last clause, where he is said to do great things, or literally, "magnified to do," that is, magnified himself in his doings; it may, however, apply equally well to the great destruction by the locust-army. There is no doubt the superadded notion of haughtiness along with that of great doings. It really means that, as an instrument of God, they had effected a fearfully violent desolation, and this is assigned as a reason for the total destruction of those locusts. Joel 2:20The promise runs as follows. Joel 2:19. "Behold, I send you the corn, and the new wine, and the oil, that ye may become satisfied therewith; and will no more make you a reproach among the nations. Joel 2:20. And I will remove the northern one far away from you, and drive him into the land of drought and desert; its van into the front sea, and its rear into the hinder sea: and its stink will ascend, and its corruption ascend, for it has done great things." The Lord promises, first of all, a compensation for the injury done by the devastation, and then the destruction of the devastation itself, so that it may do no further damage. Joel 2:19 stands related to Joel 1:11. Shâlach, to send: the corn is said to be sent instead of given (Hosea 2:10), because God sends the rain which causes the corn to grow. Israel shall no longer be a reproach among the nations, "as a poor people, whose God is unable to assist it, or has evidently forsaken it" (Ros.). Marck and Schmieder have already observed that this promise is related to the prayer, that He would not give up His inheritance to the reproach of the scoffings of the heathen (Joel 1:17 : see the comm. on this verse). הצּפוני, the northern one, as an epithet applied to the swarm of locusts, furnishes no decisive argument in favour of the allegorical interpretation of the plague of locusts. For even if locusts generally come to Palestine from the south, out of the Arabian desert, the remark out of the Arabian desert, the remark made by Jerome, to the effect that "the swarms of locusts are more generally brought by the south wind than by the north," shows that the rule is not without its exceptions. "Locusts come and go with all winds" (Oedmann, ii. p. 97). In Arabia, Niebuhr (Beschreib. p. 169) saw swarms of locusts come from south, west, north, and east. Their home is not confined to the desert of Arabia, but they are found in all the sandy deserts, which form the southern boundaries of the lands that were, and to some extent still are, the seat of cultivation, viz., in the Sahara, the Libyan desert, Arabia, and Irak (Credner, p. 285); and Niebuhr (l.c.) saw a large tract of land, on the road from Mosul to Nisibis, completely covered with young locusts. They are also met with in the Syrian desert, from which swarms could easily be driven to Palestine by a north-east wind, without having to fly across the mountains of Lebanon. Such a swarm as this might be called the tsephōnı̄, i.e., the northern one, or northerner, even if the north was not its true home. For it cannot be philologically proved that tsephōnı̄ can only denote one whose home is in the north. Such explanations as the Typhonian, the barbarian, and others, which we meet with in Hitzig, Ewald, and Meier, and which are obtained by alterations of the text or far-fetched etymologies, must be rejected as arbitrary. That which came from the north shall also be driven away by the north wind, viz., the great mass into the dry and desert land, i.e., the desert of Arabia, the van into the front (or eastern) sea, i.e., the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47:18; Zechariah 14:8), the rear into the hinder (or western) sea, i.e., the Mediterranean (cf. Deuteronomy 11:24). This is, of course, not to be understood as signifying that the dispersion was to take place in all these three directions at one and the same moment, in which case three different winds would blow at the same time; but it is a rhetorical picture of rapid and total destruction, which is founded upon the idea that the wind rises in the north-west, then turns to the north, and finally to the north-east, so that the van of the swarm is driven into the eastern sea, the great mass into the southern desert, and the rear into the western sea. The explanation given by Hitzig and others - namely, that pânı̄m signifies the eastern border, and sōph the western border of the swarm, which covered the entire breadth of the land, and was driven from north to south - cannot be sustained. Joel mentions both the van and the rear after the main body, simply because they both meet with the same fate, both falling into the sea and perishing there; whereupon the dead bodies are thrown up by the waves upon the shore, where their putrefaction fills the air with stench. The perishing of locusts in seas and lakes is attested by many authorities.

(Note: Even Pliny says (h. n. xi. 29), Gregatim sublato vento in maria aut stagna decidunt; and Jerome has the following remarks on this verse: "Even in our own times we have seen the land of Judaea covered by swarms of locusts, which, as soon as the wind rose, were precipitated into the first and latest seas, i.e., the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean. And when the shores of both seas were filled with heaps of dead locusts, which the waters had thrown up, their corruption and stench became so noxious, that even the atmosphere was corrupted, and both man and beasts suffered from the consequent pestilence.")

For עלה באשׁו, compare Isaiah 34:3 and Amos 4:10. צחנה is ἁπ. λεγ.; but the meaning corruption is sustained partly by the parallelism, and partly by the Syriac verb, which means to be dirty. The army of locusts had deserved this destruction, because it had done great things. הגדּיל לעשׂות, to do great things, is affirmed of men or other creatures, with the subordinate idea of haughtiness; so that it not only means he has done a mighty thing, accomplished a mighty devastation, but is used in the same sense as the German grosstun, via. to brag or be proud of one strength. It does not follow from this, however, that the locusts are simply figurative, and represent hostile nations. For however true it may be that sin and punishment presuppose accountability (Hengst., Hvernick), and conclusion drawn from this - namely, that they cannot be imputed to irrational creatures - is incorrect. The very opposite is taught by the Mosaic law, according to which God will punish every act of violence done by beasts upon man (Genesis 9:5), whilst the ox which killed a man was commanded to be stoned (Exodus 21:28-32).

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