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)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.”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.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 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.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. Hosea 6:1, "Come, and let us return," to those of Hosea 5:15, "I will go, and return," and in טרף וירפּאנוּ (Hosea 6:1) to the similar words in Hosea 5:13 and Hosea 5:14. Hosea 6:1. "Come, and let us return to Jehovah: for He has torn in pieces, and will heal us; He has smitten, and will bind us up. Hosea 6:2. He will quicken us after two days; on the third He will raise us up, that we may live before Him." The majority of commentators, following the example of the Chald. and Septuagint, in which לאמר, λέγοντες, is interpolated before לכוּ, have taken the first three verses as an appeal to return to the Lord, addressed by the Israelites in exile to one another. But it would be more simple, and more in harmony with the general style of Hosea, which is characterized by rapid transitions, to take the words as a call addressed by the prophet in the name of the exile. The promise in v. 3 especially is far more suitable to a summons of this kind, than to an appeal addressed by the people to one another. As the endurance of punishment impels to seek the Lord (Hosea 5:15), so the motive to return to the Lord is founded upon the knowledge of the fact that the Lord can, and will, heal the wounds which He inflicts. The preterite târaph, as compared with the future 'etrōph in Hosea 5:14, presupposes that the punishment has already begun. The following יך is also a preterite with the Vav consec. omitted. The Assyrian cannot heal (Hosea 5:13); but the Lord, who manifested Himself as Israel's physician in the time of Moses (Exodus 15:26), and promised His people healing in the future also (Deuteronomy 32:39), surely can. The allusion in the word ירפּאנוּ to this passage of Deuteronomy, is placed beyond all doubt by Hosea 6:2. The words, "He revives after two days," etc., are merely a special application of the general declaration, "I kill, and make alive" (Deuteronomy 32:39), to the particular case in hand. What the Lord there promises to all His people, He will also fulfil upon the ten tribes of Israel. By the definition "after two days," and "on the third day," the speedy and certain revival of Israel is set before them. Two and three days are very short periods of time; and the linking together of two numbers following one upon the other, expresses the certainty of what is to take place within this space of time, just as in the so-called numerical sayings in Amos 1:3; Job 5:19; Proverbs 6:16; Proverbs 30:15, Proverbs 30:18, in which the last and greater number expresses the highest or utmost that is generally met with. הקים, to raise the dead (Job 14:12; Psalm 88:11; Isaiah 26:14, Isaiah 26:19). "That we may live before Him:" i.e., under His sheltering protection and grace (cf. Genesis 17:18). The earlier Jewish and Christian expositors have taken the numbers, "after two days, and on the third day," chronologically. The Rabbins consequently suppose the prophecy to refer either to the three captivities, the Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Roman, which has not ended yet; or to the three periods of the temple of Solomon, of that of Zerubbabel, and of the one to be erected by the Messiah. Many of the fathers, on the other hand, and many of the early Lutheran commentators, have found in them a prediction of the death of Christ and His resurrection on the third day. Compare, for example, Calovii Bibl. illustr. ad h. l., where this allusion is defended by a long series of undeniably weak arguments, and where a fierce attack is made, not only upon Calvin, who understood these words as "referring to the liberation of Israel from captivity, and the restoration of the church after two days, i.e., in a very short time;" but also upon Grotius, who found, in addition to the immediate historical allusion to the Israelites, whom God would soon liberate from their death-like misery after their conversion, a foretype, in consequence of a special divine indication, of the time "within which Christ would recover His life, and the church its hope." But any direct allusion in the hope here uttered to the death and resurrection of Christ, is proved to be untenable by the simple words and their context. The words primarily hold out nothing more than the quickening of Israel out of its death-like state of rejection from the face of God, and that in a very short period after its conversion to the Lord. This restoration to life cannot indeed be understood as referring to the return of the exiles to their earthly fatherland; or, at all events, it cannot be restricted to this. It does not occur till after the conversion of Israel to the Lord its God, on the ground of faith in the redemption effected through the atoning death of Christ, and His resurrection from the grave; so that the words of the prophet may be applied to this great fact in the history of salvation, but without its being either directly or indirectly predicted. Even the resurrection of the dead is not predicted, but simply the spiritual and moral restoration of Israel to life, which no doubt has for its necessary complement the reawakening of the physically dead. And, in this sense, our passage may be reckoned among the prophetic utterances which contain the germ of the hope of a life after death, as in Isaiah 26:19-21, and in the vision of Ezekiel in Ezekiel 37:1-14.
That it did not refer to this in its primary sense, and so far as its historical fulfilment was concerned, is evident from the following verse. Hosea 6:3. "Let us therefore know, hunt after the knowledge of Jehovah. His rising is fixed like the morning dawn, that He may come to us like the rain, and moisten the earth like the latter rain." ונדעה נר corresponds to לכוּ ונשׁוּבה in Hosea 6:1. The object to נדעה is also את־יהוה, and נדעה is merely strengthened by the addition of נרדּפה לדּעת. The knowledge of Jehovah, which they would hunt after, i.e., strive zealously to obtain, is a practical knowledge, consisting in the fulfilment of the divine commandments, and in growth in the love of God with all the heart. This knowledge produces fruit. The Lord will rise upon Israel like the morning dawn, and come down upon it like fertilizing rain. מוצאו, His (i.e., Jehovah's) rising, is to be explained from the figure of the dawn (for יצא applied to the rising of the sun, see Genesis 19:23 and Psalm 19:7). The dawn is mentioned instead of the sun, as the herald of the dawning day of salvation (compare Isaiah 58:8 and Isaiah 60:2). This salvation which dawns when the Lord appears, is represented in the last clause as a shower of rain that fertilizes the land. יורה is hardly a kal participle, but rather the imperfect hiphil in the sense of sprinkling. In Deuteronomy 11:14 (cf. Deuteronomy 28:12 and Leviticus 26:4-5), the rain, or the early and latter rain, is mentioned among the blessings which the Lord will bestow upon His people, when they serve Him with all the heart and soul. This promise the Lord will so fulfil in the case of His newly quickened nation, that He Himself will refresh it like a fertilizing rain. This will take place through the Messiah, as Psalm 72:6 and 2 Samuel 23:4 clearly show.
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