Joel 2:23
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
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(23) Ye children of Zioni.e., they were called upon to manifest their rejoicings in the place where the trumpet had been sounded for the proclamation of the fast.

The former rain moderately.—St. Paul adduces the gift of the rain as a witness to the people of Lystra of the existence and beneficence of God, who “gave us rain from heaven, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” The possibility of the interpretation of “the former rain moderately” out of the Hebrew words by a “teacher of righteousness,” as in the Vulg. and in our margin, has led to the connection of this passage with a prophetic intimation of the advent of the Messiah.

In the first month.—Better, as at first, as before.

Joel 2:23. He hath given you the former rain moderately — The season of the former rain was about the middle of October. The Hebrew word לצדקה, rendered moderately, literally signifies, according to righteousness: and is equivalent with according to judgment. Archbishop Newcome renders it, in just proportion: and he will cause to come the latter rain in the first month — Which was Nisan, partly answering to our March. The regular season for this rain was three months before harvest, Amos 4:7; that is, before wheat-harvest, which was later than the barley-harvest in Judea. Of the former and latter rain, see note on Hosea 6:3.

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.Be glad then and rejoice in the Lord your God - All things had been restored for their sakes; they were to rejoice, not chiefly in these things, but in God; nor only in God, but in the Lord their God. "For He hath given you the former rain moderately." The word rendered "moderately" should be rendered "unto righteosness;" the word often as it occurs never having any sense but that of "righteousness;" whether of God or man. The other word מורה môwreh, rendered "the former rain," confessedly has that meaning in the latter part of the verse, although "yoreh" יורה yôwreh is the distinctive term for "latter rain" Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24. "Moreh" mostly signifies "a teacher" (2 Kings 17:28; Job 36:22; Proverbs 5:13; Isaiah 9:15; Isaiah 30:20, (twice); Habakkuk 2:18), which is connected with the other ordinary meanings of the root, "torah, law, etc." The older translators then agreed in rendering, "of righteousness," or, "unto righteousness" , in which case the question as to "moreh," is only, whether it is to be taken literally of "a teacher," or figuratively of spiritual blessings, as we say, "the dew of His grace." Even a Jew paraphrases , "But ye, O children of Zion, above all other nations, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God. For in Him ye shall have perfect joy, in the time of your captivity. "For He will give you an instructor to righteosness;" and He is the king Messias, which shall teach them the way in which they shall walk, and the doings which they shall do." The grounds for so rendering the word are:

(1) Such is almost its uniform meaning.

(2) The righteousness spoken of is most naturally understood of righteousness in man; it is a condition which is the result and object of God's gifts, not the Righteousness of God. But "He hath given you the early rain unto righteousness," i. e., that ye may be righteous, is an unaccustomed expression.

(3) There is a great emphasis on the word , which is not used in the later part of the verse, where rain, (whether actual, or symbolic of spiritual blessings) is spoken of.

(4) The following words, "and He maketh the rain to descend for you," according to the established Hebrew idiom relates to a separate action, later, in order of time or of thought, than the former. But if the former word "moreh" signified "early rain," both would mean one and the same thing. We should not say, "He giveth you the former rain to righteousness, and then He maketh the rain, the former rain and the latter rain to descend;" nor doth the Hebrew.

It seems then most probable, that the prophet prefixes to all the other promises, that first all-containing promise of the Coming of Christ. Such is the custom of the prophets, to go on from past judgments and deliverances, to Him who is the center of all this cycle of God's dispensations, the Son manifest in the Flesh. He had been promised as a Teacher when that intermediate dispensation of Israel began, the prophet like unto Moses. His Coming old Jacob looked to, "I have longed for Thy salvation, O Lord." Him, well known and longed for by the righteous of old, Joel speaks of as the subject of rejoicing, as Zechariah did afterward, "Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion; behold thy King cometh unto thee." So Joel here, "Exult and joy in the Lord thy God, for He giveth," or "will give thee, the Teacher unto righteousness," i. e., the result and object of whose Coming is righteousness; or, as Daniel says, "to bring in everlasting righteousness;" and Isaiah, "By His knowledge," i. e., by the knowledge of Him, "shall My righteous Servant justify many," i. e., make many righteous. How His coming should issue in righteousness, is not here said. It is presupposed. But Joel speaks of His Coming, as a gift, "He shall give you;" as Isaiah says, "unto us a Son is given;" and that, as the Teacher, as Isaiah says, "I have given Him a witness to the peoples, a Prince and a Commander unto the people" Isaiah 55:4; and that, "for righteousness."

"It is the custom of the holy prophets," says Cyril, "on occasion of good things promised to a part or a few, to introduce what is more general or universal. And these are the things of Christ. To this then the discourse again proceeds. For when was ground given to the earth to rejoice? When did the Lord do mighty things, but when the Word, being God, became Man, that, flooding all below with the goods from above, He might be found to those who believe in Him, as a river of peace, a torrent of pleasure, as the former and latter rain, and the giver of all spiritual fruitfulness?"

The early rain and the latter rain - o: "He multiplies words, expresssive of the richness of the fruits of the earth, that so we may understand how wondrous is the plenteousness of spiritual goods." Being about to speak of the large gift of God the Holy Spirit as an "out-pouring," he says here that "the largeness of the spiritual gifts thereafter should be as abundant as the riches temporal blessings" hitherto, when God disposed all things to bring about the fruitfulness which He had promised. "The early and latter rain," coming respectively at the seed-time and the harvest, represent the beginning and the completion; and so, by the analogy of earthly and spiritual sowing, growth and ripeness, they represent preventing and perfecting grace; the inspiration of good purposes and the gift of final perseverance, which brings the just to glory consummated; "the principles of the doctrine of Christ" and "the going on unto perfection Hebrews 6:1.

In the first month - This would belong only to the latter rain, which falls about the first month, Nisan, or our April, "the former rain" falling about 6 months earlier, at their seed time . Or, since this meaning is uncertain , it may be, "at the first" , i. e., as soon as ever it is needed, or in contrast to the more extensive gifts afterward; or, "as at first" i. e., all shall, upon their penitence, be restored as at first. These lesser variations leave the sense of the whole the same, and all are supported by good authorities. It is still a reversal of the former sentence, that, whereas afore the rivers of water were dried up, now the rains should come, each in its season. "In the first month," and "at the beginning," express the same thought, the one with, the other without a figure.

For no one then needed to be told that the latter rain, if it fell, should fall "in the first month," which was its appointed season for falling. If then the words had this meaning, there must have been this emphasis in it, that God would give them good gifts punctually, instantly, at man's first and earliest needs, at the first moment when it would be good for him to have them. 'As at the beginning,' would express the same which he goes on to say, that God would bestow the same largeness of gifts as He did, before they forfeited His blessings by forsaking Him. So He says, "I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counselors as at the beginning" ; and, "She shall sing there as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she come up out of the land of Egypt" Hosea 2:15; and, "then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old and as in the former years" Malachi 3:4.

Likeness does not necessarily imply equality as in the words, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet like unto me" Deuteronomy 18:15; and, "that they may be one, even as We are One" John 17:22. The good things of the Old Testament had a likeness to those of the New, else "the law" would not have been even the shadow of good things to come Hebrews 10:1; they had not equality, else they would have been the very things themselves. : "Christ is the whole delight of the soul, from When and through whom there cometh to those who love Him, all fullness of good and supply of heavenly gifts, represented in "the early and latter rain," and "the full floor of wheat," and "the fats overflowing with wine and oil." It is true also as to the fullness of the mysteries. For the living water of Holy Baptism is given us as in rain; and as in grain, the Bread of Life, and as in wine the Blood." Before, "the barns were broken down," since there was nothing to store therein.

As other parts of the natural and spiritual husbandry correspond, and our Lord Himself compares His gracious trials of those who bear fruit, with the pruning of the vine John 15:2; it may be that the "vat" wherein the grape or the olive, through pressure, yield their rich juice, is a symbol of the "tribulations," through which we "must enter the kingdom of God" Acts 14:22. : "The holy mind, placed as if in a winefat, is pressed, refined, drawn out pure. It is pressed by calamity; refined from iniquity, purified from vanity. Hence are elicited the groans of pure confession; hence, stream the tears of anxious compunction; hence flow the sighs of pleasurable devotion; hence melt the longings of sweetest love; hence are drawn the drops of purest contemplation. Wheat is the perfecting of righteousness; wine, the clearness of spiritual understanding; oil, the sweetness of a most pure conscience."

23. rejoice in the Lord—not merely in the springing pastures, as the brute "beasts" which cannot raise their thoughts higher (Isa 61:10; Hab 3:18).

former rain … the rain … the former … the latter rain—The autumnal, or "former rain," from the middle of October to the middle of December, is put first, as Joel prophesies in summer when the locusts' invasion took place, and therefore looks to the time of early sowing in autumn, when the autumnal rain was indispensably required. Next, "the rain," generically, literally, "the showering" or "heavy rain." Next, the two species of the latter, "the former and the latter rain" (in March and April). The repetition of the "former rain" implies that He will give it not merely for the exigence of that particular season when Joel spake, but also for the future in the regular course of nature, the autumn and the spring rain; the former being put first, in the order of nature, as being required for the sowing in autumn, as the latter is required in spring for maturing the young crop. The Margin, "a teacher of righteousness," is wrong. For the same Hebrew word is translated "former rain" in the next sentence, and cannot therefore be differently translated here. Besides, Joel begins with the inferior and temporal blessings, and not till Joe 2:28 proceeds to the higher and spiritual ones, of which the former are the pledge.

moderately—rather, "in due measure," as much as the land requires; literally, "according to right"; neither too much nor too little, either of which extremes would hurt the crop (compare De 11:14; Pr 16:15; Jer 5:24; see on [1132]Ho 6:3). The phrase, "in due measure," in this clause is parallel to "in the first month," in the last clause (that is, "in the month when first it is needed," each rain in its proper season). Heretofore the just or right order of nature has been interrupted through your sin; now God will restore it. See my [1133]Introduction to Joel.

Be glad then, ye children of Zion: in the former verse the prophet, by a usual figure, and with known elegancy, called on land and beasts, though they understood him not; now he addresseth himself to them that can understand their work as well as their advantages, and the children of Zion, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea, who were called to fast and weep.

Rejoice in the Lord; show yourselves sensible of your mercies, thankful to that free bounty which gave your mercies; rejoice, but not only in your barns, garners, and bellies full, but in the eternal God, who hath been found of you.

Your God; as such you were advised to seek him, as such own him, rejoice in him, and ascribe glory to him, who keepeth covenant to a thousand generations, and hath remembered his covenant for you in this your low estate.

He hath given you the former rain moderately; the Hebrew will bear it, a teacher of, or unto, or according to, righteousness. Either some eminent prophet, or prophets, as Isaiah, or Joel himself, but as forerunners and types of the great Prophet Christ; so the words will be a promise of the Messiah, and lead these children of Zion to the Messiah, as the fountain of all the blessings they receive of God in temporals as well as spirituals: it is usual in Scripture thus to pass from temporal to spiritual, and from spiritual to temporal promises and blessings; so Isaiah 7:4, &c, with Isaiah 7:14-16: but since our best interpreters retain, as ours, this version, rain moderately, or in due measure. We adhere to it also: God had sent sweet, gentle, yet sufficient showers to make the earth fruitful, and these showers have made pastures and trees to spring, flourish, and be fruitful.

And he will cause to come down for you the rain; as he hath already given some, so he will give more, as the earth and trees shall need.

The former rain; the autumn rain, which is needful to mellow the earth, and fit it to receive the corn and fruits, and to plant and sow them, about September.

The latter rain; needful to bring forward and ripen the fruits planted or sown, accounted the latter rain because these husbandmen and vine-dressers reckoned from seed time unto spring and harvest.

In the first month; that is, our March; both these rains, as promised Deu 11:14 Leviticus 26:4, shall be given from heaven.

Be glad then, ye children of Zion,.... The people of the Jews, and especially the spiritual and believing part of them; such as were born again, that were born of Zion, and born in Zion, and brought up by her, and in her; the children of that Zion or Jerusalem that is the mother of us all; and who were looking for the Messiah, and to whom it would be good news and glad tidings to hear of his coming, Zechariah 9:9;

and rejoice in the Lord your God; not in any creature or creature enjoyment, but in the Lord. The Targum is,

"in the Word of the Lord your God;''

in Christ the essential Word; see Philippians 3:3; though rather Jehovah the Father, the giver and sender of Christ, is here meant, because of what follows; and who is to be rejoiced in by his people, not as an absolute God, but as in Christ, and as their covenant God and Father in him; who has chosen them for himself, and is their portion and inheritance; which are reasons sufficient why they should rejoice in him, and others follow:

for he hath given you the former rain moderately; or rather, "for he hath given you the teacher of righteousness" (g); to which agrees the Targum,

"for he hath returned to you your teacher in righteousness;''

and so Jarchi paraphrases the words, and interprets them of the prophets in general,

"your prophets that teach you to return unto me, that I may justify you;''

and R. Japhet says that signifies a prophet that should teach them in the way of righteousness; not Isaiah, as Grotius; but the King Messiah as Abarbinel interprets it; who is the teacher sent from God, and given by him, as his presence with him, and the miracles done by him, sufficiently prove, John 3:2; for which he was abundantly qualified, being the omniscient God, and the Son of God that lay in the bosom of his Father; is the Wisdom of God, as Mediator; had the Spirit of wisdom on him, and the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hid in him; and who is able to make his teachings effectual, and to qualify others for such work. This office he performed personally on earth, both in a doctrinal way, and by way of example; and now executes it by his Spirit, and by his ministers: and a "teacher of righteousness" he may be truly said to be; since he not only taught the Gospel, the word of righteousness in general; but in particular directed men to seek in the first place the righteousness of God, which is no other than his own; and pronounced those happy that hungered after it: he declared he came to fulfil all righteousness, even the law for righteousness; and taught men to believe in him for it, and to live righteously and godly. Aben Ezra observes, that the phrase is the same with "the sun of righteousness", Malachi 4:2; which is said of Christ the author of righteousness, who is our righteousness made so by imputation, the Lord our righteousness: or, as here, "a teacher unto, or for righteousness" (h), all which is matter of joy and gladness; see Isaiah 61:10;

and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month; alluding to the two seasons of the year in which rain was given to the Jews; the former rain fell in Marchesvan, which answers to our September and, October, part of each, at their seedtime; and the latter in Nisan, the first month of their ecclesiastical year, and answers to part of March and April, and fell some time before their harvest; and these former and latter rains now fall about the same time. So Dr. Shaw (i) observes, that

"the first rains in these countries (Syria, Phoenicia, and the Holy Land) usually fall about the beginning of November; the latter sometimes in the middle, sometimes toward the end, of April:''

and elsewhere he says (k),

"in Barbary the first rains fall some years in September, in others a month later; the latter rains usually fall in the middle of April:''

and the same traveller relates (l), that


Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain {p} moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.

(p) That is, such as would come by just measure, and would be sent when God was reconciled with them.

23. hath given] another instance of the prophetic perfect.

the former rain … and the latter rain] Heb. môreh, and malḳôsh: the rains which marked respectively the beginning and the close of the wet season, coming in Oct.–Nov. and March–April respectively. The “former rain” moistens the earth and fits it to receive the seeds which are sown shortly afterwards: the “latter rain” is important forgiving fulness and strength to the ripening crops: if either rain fails, the ensuing harvest is seriously damaged. Comp. Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24. The refreshing and invigorating effects of the “latter rain” are alluded to in Hosea 6:3; Proverbs 16:15; Job 29:23 : in Jeremiah 3:3 it is spoken of as having been “withheld.”

moderately] according to righteousness (comp. Hosea 10:12 Heb.), i.e. as His righteousness prompts Him to give it (cf. Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 45:13). R.V. in just measure does not adequately bring out the force of the expression.

The Heb. words rendered “the former rain moderately” would admit also of the rendering “the teacher unto righteousness” (teacher, as Isaiah 30:20, of the prophets). This is an old Jewish interpretation, found in the Targ., Symm., Vulg. (doctorem justitiae), Rashi, Abarbanel; adopted hence in A.V. marg., and by some moderns, as Keil, Pusey, Merx, the reference being supposed to be to the Messiah. But the context, which from Joel 2:22 to Joel 2:26 speaks solely of the gifts of the earth, is much opposed to this explanation; the spiritual gifts follow in Joel 2:28-29.

will cause, &c.] hath caused. The future tense, though correct as an interpretation, is utterly unjustifiable as a translation; the tense in the original is the historical one, which normally in Hebrew (Genesis 1:3-10, &c.) introduces the sequel to a preceding historical one. The prophet, however, maintains the standpoint which he has adopted before (hath done Joel 2:21; have sprung &c. Joel 2:22; hath given Joel 2:23), using “prophetic” pasts, and describing what is future as though it were already accomplished. There is an exactly similar case in Isaiah 9:6 (Hebrews 5): shall be (twice) ought there to be grammatically is, the prophet still maintaining the standpoint of Joel 2:1-4 (Heb. 8:23–9:3), and continuing to describe the future in terms of the past.

the rain] géshem, an abundant rain, or winter-rain (on Amos 4:7).

the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month] The first month (of the ecclesiastical year) was Nisan, which corresponded to part of our March–April, and so would agree with the time of the “latter rain”; but the addition destroys the balance of the two clauses, besides being otiose (since every one would know at what period of the year the “latter rain” might be expected). Others (placing the comma differently) render, “the former rain and the latter rain, at the first” (so R.V. marg.), or first of all,—in contrast namely to the spiritual gifts to be added afterwards (Joel 3:1); this yields a tolerable sense, but implies בראשונה (Zechariah 12:7; Deuteronomy 13:10 al.) for בראשון. As aforetime is perhaps the idea that would most naturally be expected: but this implies כבראשונה (Isaiah 1:26 al.)—or possibly (for it does not actually occur with that meaning) בראשונה—for בראשון.

The ‘former rain’ and the ‘latter rain’ are not naturally epexegetical of the preceding géshem, which would denote rather the copious rains of winter; the repetition of the ‘former rain’ in the verse is also tautologous. The verse is improved, if with Wellh. we suppose the second ‘former rain’ to have come in by error (on account of the natural combination “môreh and malḳôsh”): if it be omitted, the three principal rains of the year will be mentioned successively, the former rain, the winter-rain, and the latter rain (cf. Jeremiah 5:24 Heb.).

Verse 23. - Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God. They had keenly felt and deeply bewailed the unparalleled catastrophe which had befallen laud and cattle and inhabitants, and also themselves among the number. The sons of Zion are the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the capital, in which was the national sanctuary for the worship of Jehovah. Not only are the inhabitants of Jerusalem included, but, as the capital often stood for the whole country, all the inhabitants of Judah are comprehended under the "children of Zion." The ground of their gladness and joy in God is: For he hath given you the former rain moderately (margin, a teacher of righteousness, or for righteousness), and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. Omitting for the present the disputed word hammoreh, we have the great blessing which was so much needed. The blessing bestowed was twofold - negative in the destruction of the locusts and deliverance from their ravages; and positive in the plentiful rainfall, geshem, the great and beneficent fertilizer of the dried-up and desolated land. But this abundant rain is more closely particularized as the early or October rain, moreh, which, falling at the seed-time in autumn, promoted the germination and growth of the seed just sown; and as the latter, or March rain, malqosh, which, bestowed in the spring season a short time before harvest, matured the crops. The geshem, or shower, may be regarded here as the generic name, and of these the two species are the moreh and malqosh, from laqash, to be ripe or late, just explained. The word hammoreh in the early part of the verse is translated

(1) "teacher" in the Chaldee and Vulgate, by Jerome, by Abar-banel among the Hebrew commentators, who refers it to Messiah; among modern commentators by Hofman, referring it to Joel himself, by Hengstenberg, who understands it of the ideal teacher or collective body of messengers from God. Keil also renders, "the teacher for righteousness," and applies the expression to the instructions of Moses, the priests, and the prophets, not excluding Messiah himself. He also understands the prophet to speak of both spiritual and material blessings, giving a fuller exposition of the latter in vers. 23-27, and of the former in vers. 28-32 and in the last chapter. The two considerations that seem to have most weight with Keil in inclining him to this exposition arc the presence of the article with moreh, and the non-physical sense of litsdaqah; hence Ewald's "rain for righteousness," i.e. a sign from God of their being adopted again into righteousness. But weight-stones and scales have tsedeq attached in the physical sense of correctness, while ethical rightness is only an inference or subordinate notion (see Leviticus 19:36; Psalm 23:3). The translation

(2) of "rain" is, we think, justly entitled to the preference from the context. Among promises of repairing the damage done by the locusts, it would be obviously out of place to introduce the notion of "a teacher." Of the Hebrew expositors, Aben Ezra and Kimchi both understand the word in the sense of rain; the former says, "In my opinion it is the same as yoreh;" and the latter, "Hammoreh is the same as yoreh." So also Calvin, Rosenmuller, Hitzig, and Wunsche. The etymology also is favourable to this view, for both yoreh and moreh are from the verb yorah, to throw (Hiph., cause to throw), throw down as drops, wet, besprinkle, equivalent to זרק, and as the Qal and Hiph. sometimes coincide in meaning, we may safely conclude moreh synonymous with yoreh, the meaning of which is unquestionably "rain," specially ὑετὸς πρώιμος. (a) Rain in right measure, then, we take to be the true meaning; not (b) rain according to righteousness, as though God, in accordance with his righteousness, repented of the evil he thought to do unto them, and, in consequence of their forsaking their sins, sent the fertilizing rains. Again, barishon is rendered by some (a) as if keba-rishon were equivalent to "as in the former time;" thus the LXX., καθὼς ἔμπροσθεν; Vulgate, Sicuti in principio. But we prefer (b) the rendering, "in the first month;" so the Chaldee, "In the month Nisan, or March." The Hebrew commentators explain it in like manner; thus Rashi, "In the first month - in Nisan;" Aben Ezra, "And the meaning of 'in the first' is in the first month;" Kimchi, "The explanation of the rain that is called moreb, he sends it down to you in its season, which is Marchesvan (or October), and he causes to descend to you in like manner the malqosh (the latter rain) in its season in the first month, which is Nisan." The blessing of the rain was thus greatly enhanced by being sent in the right measure and at the suitable season. Joel 2:23This promise is carried out still further in what follows; and Joel summons the earth (Joel 2:21), the beasts of the field (Joel 2:22), and the sons of Zion (Joel 2:23) to joy and exultation at this mighty act of the Lord, by which they have been delivered from the threatening destruction. Joel 2:21. "Fear not, O earth! exult and rejoice: for Jehovah doeth great things! Joel 2:22. Fear ye not, O beasts of the field! for the pastures of the desert become green, for the tree bears its fruit; fig-tree and vine yield their strength. Joel 2:23. And ye sons of Zion, exult and rejoice in the Lord your God; for He giveth you the teacher for righteousness, and causes to come down to you a rain-fall, early rain and latter rain, first of all." The soil had suffered from the drought connected with the swarms of locusts (Joel 1:9); the beasts of the field had groaned on account of the destruction of all the plants and vegetation of every kind (Joel 1:18); the men had sighed over the unparalleled calamity that had befallen both land and people. The prophet here calls to all of them not to fear, but to exult and rejoice, and gives in every case an appropriate reason for the call. In that of the earth, he introduces the thought that Jehovah had done great things - had destroyed the foe that did great things; in that of the beasts, he points to the fresh verdure of the pastures, and the growth of the fruit upon the trees; in that of men, he lays stress upon a double fact, viz., the gift of a teacher for righteousness, and the pouring out of a plentiful rain. In this description we have to notice the rhetorical individualizing, which forms its peculiar characteristic, and serves to explain not only the distinction between the earth, the beasts of the field, and the sons of Zion, but the distribution of the divine blessings among the different members of the creation that are mentioned here. For, so far as the fact itself is concerned, the threefold blessing from God benefits all three classes of the earthly creation: the rain does good not only to the sons of Zion, or to men, but also to animals and to the soil; and so again do the green of the pastures and the fruits of the trees; and lastly, even the הגדּיל יי לעשׂות not only blesses the earth, but also the beasts and men upon it. It is only through overlooking this rhetorico-poetical distribution, that any one could infer from Joel 2:22, that because the fruits are mentioned here as the ordinary food of animals, in direct contrast to Genesis 1:28-29, where the fruit of the trees is assigned to men for food, the beasts of the field signify the heathen. The perfects in the explanatory clauses of these three verses are all to be taken alike, and not to be rendered in the preterite in Joel 2:21, and in the present in Joel 2:22 and Joel 2:23. The perfect is not only applied to actions, which the speaker looks upon from his own standpoint as actually completed, as having taken place, or as things belonging to the past, but to actions which the will or the lively fancy of the speaker regards as being as good as completed, in other words, assumes as altogether unconditional and certain, and to which in modern languages we should apply the present (Ewald, 135, a, etc.). The latter is the sense in which it is used here, since the prophet sets forth the divine promise as a fact, which is unquestionably certain and complete, even though its historical realization has only just begun, and extends into the nearer or more remote future. The divine act over which the prophet calls upon them to rejoice, is not to be restricted to the destruction of those swarms of locusts that had at that time invaded Judah, and the revivification of drying nature, but is an act of God that is being constantly repeated whenever the same circumstances occur, or whose influence continues as long as this earth lasts; since it is a tangible pledge, that to all eternity, as is stated in Joel 2:26, Joel 2:27, the people of the Lord will not be put to shame. The "sons of Zion" are not merely the inhabitants of Zion itself, but the dwellers in the capital are simply mentioned as the representatives of the kingdom of Judah. As the plague of locusts fell not upon Jerusalem only, but upon the whole land, the call to rejoicing must refer to all the inhabitants of the land (Joel 1:2, Joel 1:14). They are to rejoice in Jehovah, who has proved Himself to be their God by the removal of the judgment and the bestowal of a fresh blessing.

This blessing is twofold in its nature. He gives them את־המּורה לצדקה. From time immemorial there has been a diversity of opinion as to the meaning of these words. Most of the Rabbins and earlier commentators have followed the Chaldee and Vulgate, and taken mōreh in the sense of "teacher;" but others, in no small number, have taken it in the sense of "early rain," e.g., Ab. Ezra, Kimchi, Tanch., Calvin, and most of the Calvinistic and modern commentators. But although mōreh is unquestionably used in the last clause of this verse in the sense of early rain; in every other instance this is called yōreh (Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24); for Psalm 84:7 cannot be brought into the account since the meaning is disputed. Consequently the conjecture is a very natural one, that in the last clause of the verse Joel selected the form mōreh, instead of yōreh, to signify early rain, simply on account of the previous occurrence of hammōreh in the sense of "teacher," and for the sake of the unison. This rendering of hammōreh is not only favoured by thee article placed before it, since neither mōreh equals yōreh (early rain), nor the corresponding and tolerably frequent malqōsh (latter rain), ever has the article, and no reason can be discovered why mōreh should be defined by the article here if it signified early rain; but it is decisively confirmed by the following word לצדקה, which is quite inapplicable to early rain, since it cannot mean either "in just measure," or "at the proper time," or "in becoming manner," as tsedâqâh is only used in the ethical sense of righteousness, and is never met with sensu physico, neither in 2 Samuel 19:29; Nehemiah 2:20, nor in Psalm 23:3 and Leviticus 19:36, where moreover צדק occurs. For מעגּלי צדק (in the Psalm) are not straight or right ways, but ways of righteousness (spiritual ways); and although מאזני צדק, אבני צדק, are no doubt really correct scales and weight-stones, this is simply because they correspond to what is ethically right, so that we cannot deduce from this the idea of correct measure in the case of the rain. Ewald and Umbreit, who both of them recognise the impossibility of proving that tsedâqâh is used in the physical sense of correctness or correct measure, have therefore adopted the rendering "rain for justification," or "for righteousness;" Ewald regarding the rain as a sign that they are adopted again into the righteousness of God, whilst Umbreit takes it as a manifestation of eternal righteousness in the flowing stream of fertilizing grace. But apart from the question, whether these thoughts are in accordance with the doctrine of Scripture, they are by no means applicable here, where the people have neither doubted the revelation of the righteousness of God, nor prayed to God for justification, but have rather appealed to the compassion and grace of God in the consciousness of their sin and guilt, and prayed to be spared and rescued from destruction (Joel 2:13, Joel 2:17). By the "teacher for righteousness," we are to understand neither the prophet Joel only (v. Hofmann), nor the Messiah directly (Abarbanel), nor the idea teacher or collective body of messengers from God (Hengstenberg), although there is some truth at the foundation of all these suppositions. The direct or exclusive reference to the Messiah is at variance wit the context, since all the explanatory clauses in vv. 21-23 treat of blessings or gifts of God, which were bestowed at any rate partially at that particular time. Moreover, in v. 23, the sending of the rain-fall is represented by ויּורד (imperf. c. Vav cons.), if not as the consequence of the sending of the teacher for righteousness, at any rate as a contemporaneous event. These circumstances apparently favour the application of the expression to the prophet Joel. Nevertheless, it is by no means probable that Joel describes himself directly as the teacher for righteousness, or speaks of his being sent to the people as the object of exultation. No doubt he had induced the people to turn to the Lord, and to offer penitential supplication for His mercy through his call to repentance, and thereby effected the consequent return of rain and fruitful seasons; but his address and summons would not have had this result, if the people had not been already instructed by Moses, by the priests, and by other prophets before himself, concerning the ways of the Lord. All of these were teachers for righteousness, and are included under hammōreh. Still we must not stop at them. As the blessings of grace, at the reception of which the people were to rejoice, did not merely consist, as we have just observed, in the blessings which came to it at that time, or in Joel's days, but also embraced those which were continually bestowed upon it by the Lord; we must not exclude the reference to the Messiah, to whom Moses had already pointed as the prophet whom the Lord would raise up unto them, and to whom they were to hearken (Deuteronomy 18:18-19), but must rather regard the sending of the Messiah as the final fulfilment of this promise. This view answers to the context, if we simply notice that Joel mentions here both the spiritual and material blessings which the Lord is conveying to His people, and then in what follows expounds the material blessings still further in Joel 2:23-27, and the spiritual blessings in Joel 2:28-32 and ch. 3. They are both of them consequences of the gift of the teacher for righteousness.

Hence the expansion of the earthly saving gifts is attached by ויּורד with Vav cons. Joel mentions first of all geshem, a rain-fall, or plentiful rain for the fertilizing of the soil and then defines it more exactly as early rain, which fell in the autumn at the sowing time and promoted the germination and growth of the seed, and latter rain, which occurred in the spring shortly before the time of harvest and brought the crops to maturity (see at Leviticus 26:3). בּראשׁון, in the beginning, i.e., first ( equals ראשׂנה in Genesis 33:2, just as כּראשׁון is used in Leviticus 9:15 for בּראשׂנה in Numbers 10:13), not in the first month (Chald., etc.), or in the place of כּבראשׂנה, as before (lxx, Vulg., and others). For בּראשׁון corresponds to אחרי־כן in Joel 2:28 (Hebrews 3:1), as Ewald, Meier, and Hengstenberg admit. First of all the pouring out of a plentiful rain (an individualizing expression for all kinds of earthly blessings, chosen here with reference to the opposite of blessing occasioned by the drought); and after that, the pouring out of the spiritual blessing (Joel 2:28-3:21).

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