Joel 3:10
Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) Beat your plowshares . . .—When the contest was over, and the victory of the Lord achieved, Micah foresaw the reversal of this order: the weapons of offence were once more to resume their peaceful character. “They “—i.e., the nations—“shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3).

3:9-17 Here is a challenge to all the enemies of God's people. There is no escaping God's judgments; hardened sinners, in that day of wrath, shall be cut off from all comfort and joy. Most of the prophets foretell the same final victory of the church of God over all that oppose it. To the wicked it will be a terrible day, but to the righteous it will be a joyful day. What cause have those who possess an interest in Christ, to glory in their Strength and their Redeemer! The acceptable year of the Lord, a day of such great favour to some, will be a day of remarkable vengeance to others: let every one that is out of Christ awake, and flee from the wrath to come.Beat your plowshares into swords - Peace had been already promised, as a blessing of the gospel. "In His days," foretold Solomon, "shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth" Psalm 72:7. And another, "He maketh thy borders peace" Psalm 147:14. Peace within with God flows forth in peace with man. "Righteousness and peace kissed each other" Psalm 85:10. Where there is not rest in God, all is unrest. And so, all which was needful for life, the means of subsistence, care of health, were to be forgotten for war.

Let the weak say, I am strong - It is one last gathering of the powers of the world against their Maker; the closing scene of man's rebellion against God. It is their one universal gathering. None, however seemingly unfit, was to be spared from this conflict; no one was to remain behind. The farmer was to forge for war the instruments of his peaceful toil; the sick was to forget his weakness and to put on a strength which he had not, and that to the uttermost. But as weakness is, in and through God, strength, so all strength out of God is weakness. Man may say, I am strong; but, against God, he remains weak as, it is said, that weak man Psalm 10:18) from the earth may no more oppress.

10. Beat your ploughshares into swords—As the foes are desired to "beat their ploughshares into swords, and their pruning hooks into spears," that so they may perish in their unhallowed attack on Judah and Jerusalem, so these latter, and the nations converted to God by them, after the overthrow of the antichristian confederacy, shall, on the contrary, "beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks," when under Messiah's coming reign there shall be war no more (Isa 2:4; Ho 2:18; Mic 4:3).

let the weak say, I am strong—So universal shall be the rage of Israel's foes for invading her, that even the weak among them will fancy themselves strong enough to join the invading forces. Age and infirmity were ordinarily made valid excuses for exemption from service, but so mad shall be the fury of the world against God's people, that even the feeble will not desire to be exempted (compare Ps 2:1-3).

Beat your ploughshares into swords: here is a prediction of war, and such as should continue, with some intermissions, through many years; as, on the contrary, when swords were to be beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning-hooks, it was a prediction of peace, Isaiah 2:4: lay aside your husbandry in ploughing and sowing.

And your pruning-hooks into spears; and let gardeners, vinedressers, and planters think of getting spears instead of pruning-hooks.

Let the weak, either of body, through sickness or natural weakness, or else weak of mind, fearful and cowardly, say,

I am strong: put on strength and valour greater than he hath, let none be absent from this war. Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears,.... Let not only soldiers, and such as have been trained up in military discipline, appear in the field on this occasion; but let husbandmen and vinedressers leave their fields and vineyards, and turn their instruments of husbandry and vinedressing into weapons of war; let them not plead want of armour, but convert these to such uses: on the contrary, when this battle will be over, swords shall be beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks, Isaiah 2:4;

let the weak say, I am strong; such as are weak, through sickness, or old age, let them not plead their weakness to excuse them from engaging in this war; but let them make the best of themselves, and say they are strong and healthy, and fit for it, and enter in it with all courage and bravery: this is said either ironically to the enemies of God's people, suggesting that all hands would be wanted, and should be employed, weak and strong, and all little enough; when they had made the utmost effort they could, it would be in vain: or else they are seriously spoken to the people of God, that none of them should excuse themselves, or be discouraged because of their weakness from engaging in this last and more battle; but take heart, and be of good courage, and quit themselves like men, and be strong, since they might be sure of victory beforehand. The Apostle Paul refers to this text in 2 Corinthians 12:10; and applies it to spiritual weakness and strength; and indeed the weakest believer, that is so in faith and knowledge, may say he is strong, in comparison of what he once was, and others are; strong, not in himself, but in Christ, and the power of his might, and in the grace that is in him; nor should he excuse himself from fighting the Lord's battles, against sin, Satan, and the world, and false teachers; or from doing the Lord's work, any service he calls him to; or from bearing the cross he lays on him on account of his weakness; nor should he: be discouraged by it from those things; but let him strengthen himself, as Aben Ezra interprets it, take heart, and be of good courage.

{g} Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.

(g) When I will execute my judgments against my enemies, I will cause everyone to be ready, and to prepare their weapons to destroy one another, for my Church's sake.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. The nations are to put forth all their strength: the implements of peace are to be transformed into weapons of war; even the weak is to take courage, and feel himself a warrior, “as is wont to happen when martial enthusiasm seizes a whole people” (Hitz.).

Beat, &c.] comp. Isaiah 2:4 (= Micah 4:3), where the opposite process to that which is here commanded is instanced as a feature of the future ideal reign of peace.

spears] lances (1 Kings 18:28), not the word (ḥǎnîth) used in Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3 (which is the ordinary one for spear), but one with Aramaic affinities, and otherwise found chiefly either in North-Israelitish writings (Jdg 5:8; 1 Kings 18:28), or in late authors (1 Chronicles 12:8; 1 Chronicles 12:24; 2 Chronicles 11:12; 2 Chronicles 14:7; 2 Chronicles 25:5; 2 Chronicles 26:14; Nehemiah 4:7; Nehemiah 4:10; Nehemiah 4:15 [A.V. 13, 16, 21]: otherwise only Numbers 25:7; Jeremiah 46:4; Ezekiel 39:9). The word being an uncommon one, its use gives a distinctive colouring to the verse of Joel, which ought, if possible, to be preserved in a translation.

I am strong] a mighty man, a warrior: the same word which is used in Joel 3:9.Verse 10. - Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears. The weapons of war are to be provided; and the speediest way in which the manufacture of those weapons could be effected was by turning their implements of husbandry into them. The figure may, perhaps, have been suggested by the interest King Uzziah took in, and the encouragement he consequently gave to, husbandry and vine-culture, if we may presume Joel to have been in part contemporary with that king, of whom we are informed that "he had much cattle, both in the low country, and in the plains: husbandmen also, and vinedressers in the mountains, and in Carmel: for he loved husbandry." It is also a familiar fact that Isaiah and Micah reverse the expression in their description of Messianic times; while well-known parallels are quoted from the Latin classics. Let the weak say, I am strong; or, a hero. The approaching war was to be one in which no release, no excuse, and no exemption from any cause would be allowed, nay, the excitement of the occasion should warm the cold blood of the weakling into some degree of warlike enthusiasm. The address, it will be observed, of the previous verse is to the heroic chiefs; that of this verse, to the rank-and-file of the army. "For they went up to Asshur; wild ass goes alone by itself; Ephraim sued for loves. Hosea 8:10. Yea, though they sue among the nations, now will I gather them, and they will begin to diminish on account of the burden of the king of the princes." Going to Assyria is defined still further in the third clause as suing for loves, i.e., for the favour and help of the Assyrians. The folly of this suing is shown in the clause, "wild ass goes by itself alone," the meaning and object of which have been quite mistaken by those who supply a כ simil. For neither by connecting it with the preceding words thus, "Israel went to Asshur, like a stubborn ass going by itself" (Ewald), nor by attaching to it those which follow, "like a wild ass going alone, Ephraim sued for loves," do we get any suitable point of comparison. The thought is rather this: whilst even a wild ass, that stupid animal, keeps by itself to maintain its independence, Ephraim tries to form unnatural alliances with the nations of the world, that is to say, alliances that are quite incompatible with its vocation. Hithnâh, from tânâh, probably a denom. of 'ethnâh (see at Hosea 2:14), to give the reward of prostitution, here in the sense of bargaining for amours, or endeavouring to secure them by presents. The kal yithnū has the same meaning in Hosea 8:10. The word אקבּצם, to which different renderings have been given, can only have a threatening or punitive sense here; and the suffix cannot refer to בּגּוים, but only to the subject contained in yithnu, viz., the Ephraimites. The Lord will bring them together, sc. among the nations, i.e., bring them all thither. קבּץ is used in a similar sense in Hosea 9:6. The more precise definition is added in the next clause, in the difficult expression ויּחלּוּ מעט, in which ויּחלּוּ may be taken most safely in the sense of "beginning," as in Judges 20:31; 2 Chronicles 29:17, and Ezekiel 9:6, in all of which this form occurs, and מעט as an adject. verb., connected with החל like the adjective כּהות in 1 Samuel 3:2 : "They begin to be, or become, less (i.e., fewer), on account of the burden of the king of princes," i.e., under the oppression which they will suffer from the king of Assyria, not by war taxes or deportation, but when carried away into exile. מלך שׂרים equals מלך מלכים is a term applied to the great Assyrian king, who boasted, according to Isaiah 10:8, that his princes were all kings.
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