Joel 2:7
They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7-9) They shall run lite mighty men.—The onward irresistible march of the invaders is graphically described by the illustration of the advance of locusts. They appear on the mountains which environ the city, they mount the walls, they rush through the streets, they enter the houses, they are in possession of Jerusalem. Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book, p. 416) describes the movements of a locust army in the following terms:—“Their number was astounding; the whole face of the mountain was black with them. On they came, like a living deluge. We dug trenches, and kindled fires, and beat and burned to death heaps upon heaps; but the effort was utterly useless. Wave after wave rolled up the mountain-side, and poured over rocks, walls, ditches, hedges—those behind covering up and bridging over the masses already killed.”

Joel 2:7-8. They shall run like mighty men — They shall proceed everywhere like stout and mighty men, who are afraid of nothing. The description here given agrees perfectly to locusts, as Bochart has shown. “First, They shall run. Now their manner of fighting is thus described: They strike, or wound, not as they stand, but as they run. Secondly, They run as mighty men. What are more innumerable or strong than locusts, says St. Jerome, which no human pains can resist? Thirdly, They shall march every one in his way, and not break their ranks: and in the next verse, Neither shall one thrust or press his comrade. St. Jerome, in his notes on this place, observes, ‘This we lately saw in our part of the country; for when swarms of locusts came and filled the lower region of the air, they flew in such order, by the divine appointment, and kept their places as exactly, as when several tiles, or party-coloured stones, are skilfully placed in a pavement, so as not to be a hair’s breadth out of their several ranks.’“ The same is observed by other writers cited by Bochart: and what is further remarkable, before the body of them come to any place, they send scouts and messengers, as it were, to view the ground, and measure it out for their use; as the same last-mentioned writer remarks from Sigibertus, concerning the locusts which destroyed France in the year 874. When they fall upon the sword they shall not be wounded — By reason of their lightness and nimbleness, and the hardness and smoothness of the outward coat of their skin. It “refers,” says Newcome, “to the scales with which locusts are covered as with a coat of mail.” “Most animals retreat at the sight of a man, but it is the reverse with locusts, for they will studiously attack. Where they collect in numbers, the inhabitants retire into their dwellings as fast as possible, lest by appearing abroad they might provoke their anger. They show no fear, and, from their slender shape, frequently elude the blow aimed at them.”

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.They shall run like mighty men - They are on God's message, and they linger not, "but rejoice to run their course" Psalm 19:5. "The height of walls cannot hinder the charge of the mighty; they enter not by the gates but over the walls" , as of a city taken by assault. People can mount a wall few at a time; the locusts scale much more steadily, more compactly, more determinately, and irresistibly. The picture unites the countless multitude, condensed march, and entire security of the locust with the might of warriors.

They shall march every one on his ways - There is something awful and majestic in the well-ordered flight of the winged locusts, or their march while yet unwinged. "This," says Jerome, "we have seen lately in this province (Palestine). For when the hosts of locusts came, and filled the air between heaven and earth, they flew, by the disposal of God ordaining, in such order, as to hold each his place, like the minute pieces of mosaic, fixed in the pavement by the artist's hands, so as not to incline to one another a hair's breadth." "You may see the locust," says Theodoret, "like enemies, both mounting the walls, and marching on the roads, and not allowing itself to be dispersed by any violence, but making the assault by a sort of concert." "It is said," says Cyril, "that they go in rank, and fly as in array, and are not severed from each other, but attend one on the other, like sisters, nature infusing into them this mutual love." : "They seemed to be impelled by one common instinct, and moved in one body, which had the appearance of being organized by a leader." : "There is something frightful in the appearance of these locusts proceeding in divisions, some of which are a league in length and 200 paces in breadth." : "They continued their journey, as if a signal had been actually given them to march."

So, of the young brood it is related; : "In June, their young broods begin gradually to make their appearance; no sooner were any of them hatched than they immediately collected themselves together, each of them forming a compact body of several hundred yards square, which, marching afterward directly forward, climbed over trees, walls and houses, ate up every plant in their way, "and let nothing escape them." : "They seemed to march in regular battalions, crawling over everything that lay in their passage, in one straight front." So the judgments of God hold on their course, each going straight to that person for whom God in the awful wisdom of His justice ordains it. No one judgment or chastisement comes by chance. Each is directed and adapted, weighed and measured, by Infinite Wisdom, and reaches just that soul, for which God appointed it, and no other, and strikes upon it with just that force which God ordains it. As we look on, God's judgments are like a heavy sleet of arrows; yet as each arrow, shot truly, found the mark at which it was aimed, so, and much more, does each lesser or greater judgment, sent by God, reach the heart for which He sends it and pierces it just as deeply as He wills.

7-9. Depicting the regular military order of their advance, "One locust not turning a nail's breadth out of his own place in the march" [Jerome]. Compare Pr 30:27, "The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands." They, locusts, and they who by the locusts are signified, viz. Chaldeans, Assyrians, or Babylonians,

shall run, with speed, fierceness, and irresistible power, against their enemies.

Mighty men; valiant and strong men, or giants.

They shall climb the wall; no walls of any fortified towns shall be high enough to keep them out. Strange locusts, that assault cities! but armed and commissioned of God, they shall vigorously act their part, and do what he appointeth and commandeth them to do.

Like men of war; who fear no power that from within the cities might oppose them, they shall valiantly and skilfully manage the assault.

They shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: naturalists testify the truth of this in the stories of these insects, and their marshalling of themselves, of which also see Proverbs 30:27 Nahum 3:17. This skill in ordering, and steadiness in keeping order, like exactly trained soldiers, foretells the terror and strength both of the armies signified by these locusts, and of the locusts themselves. As these then did, so the Assyrians, Chaldeans, or Babylonians should proceed in arms against this people.

They shall run like mighty men,.... Like men of war, in a hostile way, as soldiers run upon their enemy with undaunted courage and bravery. Bochart from Pisidas describes the locusts' manner of fighting, who says, they strike not standing, but running:

they shall climb the wall like men of war; scale the walls of cities as besiegers do; walls and bulwarks cannot keep them out; all places are accessible to them, walled cities, towns, yea, even houses, Exodus 10:6;

and they shall march everyone on his ways; in his proper path, following one another, and keeping just distance:

and they shall not break their ranks; or "pervert their ways", as the word signifies in the Arabic language, as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, observe; that is, decline not from their paths, as the Septuagint version; proceed in an orderly way, keep rank and file; so they are said to go forth in bands, Proverbs 30:27; and to encamp, Nahum 3:17. Jerom on the text relates what he saw with his own eyes:

"this we lately saw (says he) in this province (Palestine); for when swarms of locusts came, and filled the air between heaven and earth, they flew in such order, by the disposition and command of God, that they kept their place like chequered squares in a pavement fixed by the hands of artificers; so as not to decline a point, nor even I may say a nail's breadth;''

they keep as exact order as if military discipline was known and observed by them. Some render it, "they shall not ask their way" (n); being unconcerned about it, moving on in a direct line securely.

(n) "non interrogabunt isti ab illo de semitis suis", some in Vatablus, and others in Kimchi and Abendana.

They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. They run like mighty men] i.e. like warriors, which is what the word (gibbôr) regularly denotes (2 Samuel 23:8; and comp. on Amos 2:14). To run means here to charge: cf. Psalm 18:29; Job 15:26.

they climb the wall] viz. of the city which they essay to enter.

they move along every one in his ways, and they entangle not their paths] i.e. they all march straight forward into the city (Joshua 6:5); none crosses the path of his neighbour, so as to impede his advance.

entangle] יעבטון can hardly be rendered otherwise than lend on pledge, figuratively for interchange, which however would be here a very forced metaphor. It is better to read either יעבתון, which occurs Micah 7:3, and which, though the root is not otherwise known, may perhaps mean twist together, intertwine (cf. עבות a rope,?something twisted), or, with Wellh., יְעַוְּתוּן (and in Mic. וַיְעַוְּתוּהָ), which certainly would mean make crooked or twist (Ecclesiastes 7:13).

The steadiness and regularity which mark the advance of a body of locusts, when moving along the ground, has been often noticed: see below, pp. 88–90. Comp. Proverbs 30:27 “The locusts have no king; yet go they forth all of them in bands” (lit. divided).

7–9. The attack, anticipated by the peoples with alarm (Joel 2:6) now follows: the onward movement of the locusts is compared to that of a well-appointed army: nothing impedes their advance; there is no disorder in their ranks; they climb the highest walls, and penetrate into the strongest cities.

Verses 7-9. - The prophet, having mentioned the consternation and terror occasioned by the approach of locusts, proceeds to compare them to an army well equipped and overcoming all impediments. Verse 7. - They shall run like mighty men. This either refers to their extreme nimbleness or rapidity of motion (compare the Homeric πόδας ὠκὺς Ἀχιλλεύς ποδάρκης, and the like), or describes their running to an assault with intrepid valour and unwearied vigour. They shall climb the wall like men of war. This marks the success of their assault; they scale the walls and make good their attack. And they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks. Their march is as irresistible as it is orderly. In their onward march each pursues his way, allowing no obstacle to arrest or retard his course; while in a collective body they proceed and maintain their serried ranks unbroken. The verb עבט is probably cognate with עבת, to twist, and thus to turn aside. Thus the LXX.: "They shall not turn aside their tracks;" so also the Syriac and Jerome translate it; but the Chaldee compares it with עבוט, a pledge, and, as the deposit is detained till the pledge is redeemed, takes in the meaning of delay. Rosenmuller explains it in the sense of change or exchange, from the Qal, signifying "to receive on loan," and the Hiph., "to give on loan." Otherwise it is to "interweave" (equivalent to עבת), "change." The sense of the whole is their not diverging to either side, nor straggling out of rank. Joel 2:7In Joel 2:7-10 the comparison of the army of locusts to a well-equipped army is carried out still further; and, in the first place, by a description of the irresistible force of its advance. Joel 2:7. "They run like heroes, like warriors they climb the wall; every one goes on its way, and they do not change their paths. Joel 2:8. And they do not press one another, they go every one in his path; and they fall headlong through weapons, and do not cut themselves in pieces. Joel 2:9. They run about in the city, they run upon the wall, they climb into the houses, they come through the windows like a thief." This description applies for the most part word for word to the advance of the locusts, as Jerome (in loc.) and Theodoret (on Joel 2:8) attest from their own observation.

(Note: Jerome says: "We saw (al. heard) this lately in the province (Palestine). For when the swarms of locusts come and fill the whole atmosphere between the earth and sky, they fly in such order, according to the appointment of the commanding God, that they preserve an exact shape, just like the squares drawn upon a tesselated pavement, not diverging on either side by, so to speak, so much as a finger's breadth. 'And,' as he (the prophet) interprets the metaphor, 'through the windows they will fall, and not be destroyed.' For there is no road impassable to locusts; they penetrate into fields, and crops, and trees, and cities, and houses, and even the recesses of the bed-chambers." And Theodoret observes on Joel 2:8: "For you may see the grasshopper like a hostile army ascending the walls, and advancing along the roads, and not suffering any difficulty to disperse them, but steadily moving forward, as if according to some concerted plan." And again, on Joel 2:9 : "And this we have frequently seen done, not merely by hostile armies, but also by locusts, which not only when flying, but by creeping along the walls, pass through the windows into the houses themselves.")

They run like heroes - namely, to the assault: רוּץ referring to an attack, as in Job 15:26 and Psalm 18:30, "as their nimbleness has already been noticed in Joel 2:4" (Hitzig). Their climbing the walls also points to an assault. Their irresistible march to the object of their attack is the next point described. No one comes in another's way; they do not twist (עבט) their path, i.e., do not diverge either to the right hand or to the left, so as to hinder one another. Even the force of arms cannot stop their advance. שׁלח is not a missile, telum, missile (Ges. and others), but a weapon extended or held in front (Hitzig); and the word is not only applied to a sword (2 Chronicles 23:10; Nehemiah 4:11), but to weapons of defence (2 Chronicles 32:5). בּצע, not "to wound themselves" ( equals פּצע), but "to cut in pieces," used here intransitively, to cut themselves in pieces. This does no doubt transcend the nature even of the locust; but it may be explained on the ground that they are represented as an invincible army of God.

(Note: The notion that these words refer to attempts to drive away the locusts by force of arms, in support of which Hitzig appeals to Liv. hist. xlii. 10, Plinii hist. n. xi. 29, and Hasselquist, Reise nach Pal. p. 225, is altogether inappropriate. All that Livy does is to speak of ingenti agmine hominum ad colligendas eas (locustas) coacto; and Pliny merely says, Necare et in Syria militari imperio coguntur. And although Hasselquist says, Both in Asia and Europe they sometimes take the field against the locusts with all the equipments of war," this statement is decidedly false so far as Europe is concerned. In Bessarabia (according to the accounts of eye-witnesses) they are merely in the habit of scaring away the swarms of locusts that come in clouds, by making a great noise with drums, kettles, hay-forks, and other noisy instruments, for the purpose of preventing them from settling on the ground, and so driving them further. Hass's account of a pasha of Tripoli having sent 4000 soldiers against the insects only a few years ago, is far too indefinite to prove that they were driven away by the force of arms.)

On the other hand, the words of Joel 2:9 apply, so far as the first half is concerned, both to the locusts and to an army (cf. Isaiah 33:4; Nahum 2:5); whereas the second half applies only to the former, of which Theodoret relates in the passage quoted just now, that he has frequently seen this occur (compare also Exodus 10:6).

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