Joel 3:13
Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) Put ye in the sickle.—In the enthusiasm of his vision the prophet crowds together metaphors to intensify the description of the coming encounter between Jehovah and the enemies of His people. It is represented by the judgment seat, the harvest, and the vintage. The hour of judgment has arrived—Jehovah Himself is judge. The harvest-time, which is the end of the world, has come—let the angel-reapers put in their sickle. In the wine-press the grapes are gathered in—let the labourers hasten to press the juice out with their feet.

Joel 3:13. Put ye in the sickle — Ye executioners of divine vengeance: begin to reap; cut down sinners ripe for judgment; let the king of Assyria and his soldiers cut down Syria and its king, for their violence against my people. Let Cyaxares and his armies cut down Assyria. Let Nebuchadnezzar cut down Moab, Ammon, mount Seir, Egypt, Tyre, Zidon, and the Philistines. After this, let Cyrus destroy the Babylonians, and Alexander the Medes and Persians. And let the divided Grecian captains cut down one another, till the Romans cut them down. And when this is done, God will have mighty ones still to cut down his enemies till the final judgment, wherein they all shall for ever be destroyed. For the harvest is ripe — That is, they are fit for destruction, as the ripened corn for reaping. Come, get you down — Namely, into the appointed valley; as though they were going into a vineyard to gather grapes. Here the prophet uses another metaphor to express the cutting off the church’s enemies; for the press is full; the fats overflow — That is, as it is immediately explained, their wickedness is great — It is come to its full measure. And as the grapes in the press are trodden, so the enemies of God’s people are to be trodden in the wine-press of his displeasure.

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.Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe - So Jesus saith, "let both grow together until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them;" and this He explains, "The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the Angels" Matthew 13:30, Matthew 13:39. He then who saith, "put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe," is the Son of Man, who, before He became the Son of Man, was, as He is now, the Son of God, and spake this and the other things by the Prohets; they to whom He speaketh are His reapers, the Angels; and the ripeness of the harvest is the maturity of all things here, good and evil, to be brought to their last end.

In itself, the harvest, as well as the vintage, might describe the end of this world, as to both the good and the bad, in that the wheat is severed from the chaff and the tares, and the treading of the winepress separates the wine which is stored up from the husks which are cast away. Yet nothing is said, here of storing up aught, either the wheat or the wine, but only of the ripeness of the harvest, and that "the fats overflow, because their wickedness is great." The harvest is sometimes, although more rarely, used of destruction Isaiah 17:5; Jeremiah 51:33; the treading of the winepress is always used as an image of God's anger Lamentations 1:15; Isaiah 63:3; Revelation 19:15; the vintage of destruction Isaiah 17:6; Judges 8:2; Micah 7:1; the plucking off the grapes, of the rending away of single lives or souls Psalm 80:12. It seems probable then, that the ripeness of the harvests and the fullness of the vats are alike used of the ripeness for destruction, that "they were ripe in their sins, fit for a harvest, and as full of wickedness as ripe grapes, which fill and overflow the vats, through the abundance of the juice with which they swell." Their ripeness in iniquity calls, as it were, for the sickle of the reaper, the trampling of the presser.

For great is their wickedness - The whole world is flooded and overflowed by it, so that it can no longer contain it, but, as it were, cries to God to end it. The long suffering of God no longer availed, but would rather increase their wickedness and their damnation. So also, in that first Judgment of the whole world by water, when "all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth, God said, the end of all flesh is before Me" Genesis 6:12-13; and when the hundred and twenty years of the preaching of Noah were ended without fruit, "the flood came." So Sodom was "then" destroyed, when not ten righteous could be found in it; and the seven nations of Canaan were spared above four hundred years, because the "iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full" Genesis 15:16; and our Lord says, "fill ye up the measure of your fathers - that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth" Matthew 23:32, Matthew 23:35. So , "God condemneth each of the damned, when he hath filled up the measure of his iniquity."

13. Direction to the ministers of vengeance to execute God's wrath, as the enemy's wickedness is come to its full maturity. God does not cut off the wicked at once, but waits till their guilt is at its full (so as to the Amorites' iniquity, Ge 15:16), to show forth His own long-suffering, and the justice of their doom who have so long abused it (Mt 13:27-30, 38, 40; Re 14:15-19). For the image of a harvest to be threshed, compare Jer 51:33; and a wine-press, Isa 63:3 and La 1:15. Put ye in the sickle; ye mighty ones, ye men of war, executioners of Divine vengeance, begin to reap, cut down sinners ripe for judgment. Let Tiglath-pileser and his soldiers cut down Syria and its king Rezin, 2 Kings xvi., for their violence against my people; let Cyaxares and his armies begin to cut down Assyria, with Nineveh and its king, for their sins are ripe to judgment; let Nebuchadnezzar put in the sickle and cut down Moab, Aremen, Mount Seir, Egypt, Tyre, Zidon, and the Philistines; after this let Cyrus reap down the ripened Babylonians, and Alexander with his mighty ones reap down Medes and Persians, and let divided Grecian captains cut down one another, till the Romans cut them down. And when this is done, God will have mighty ones still to cut down his enemies, persecutors of his church, when the harvest is fully ripe, and till the final and universal judgment, wherein all God’s enemies shall for ever be destroyed.

For the harvest is ripe; the sins of those several nations are fully ripe.

In another metaphor the prophet declares the cutting off the church’s enemies. The press is full: as the grapegatherer cuts off the bunches and brings them into the press till it be full, and then they are trod; so here the enemies of God’s people, ripe in sin and brought together to be punished, are to be trodden in the wine-press of God’s displeasure. The fats overflow; a mighty execution is made, and the blood of slaughtered men runs as wine pressed out in greater abundance than the fats can hold from the press; verified in the slaughter made at the overthrow of the kingdoms here intended. For their wickedness is great; the violence and all manner of sins of these kingdoms is grown exceeding great.

Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe,.... This is said to the mighty ones sent, the Christian princes, the executioners of God's vengeance on antichrist; the angels that will pour out the vials of his wrath on the antichristian states, compared to reapers, with a sharp sickle in their hands, to cut them down, as grain is cut when reaped; as the same states are compared to a harvest ripe, the measure of their sins being filled up, and the time of their destruction appointed for them come; see Revelation 14:15;

come, get ye down; to the valley: or "go tread ye" (o); for another simile is made use of: the reference here is to the treading of clusters of grapes in the winepress, as appears by what follows: and so the Targum renders it,

"descend, tread their mighty men;''

in like manner Jarchi interprets it; and so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it: and Dr. Pocock observes, that the word in the Arabic language signifies to tread, as men tread grapes in a press: the reasons follow,

for the press is full; of clusters of the vine; or the valley is full of wicked men, compared unto them, destined to destruction:

the fats overflow; with the juice of grapes squeezed out, denoting the great effusion of blood that will be made; see Revelation 14:18;

for their wickedness is great; is come to its height, reaches even to heaven, and calls aloud for vengeance; an end is come to it, and to the authors of it, Revelation 18:5. The Targum of the whole is,

"draw out the sword against them, for the time of their end is come; descend, tread their mighty men slain, as anything is trodden in a winepress; pour out their blood, for their wickedness is multiplied.''

(o) "calcate", Sept. so Syr. Ar.

Put ye in the {h} sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.

(h) In this way he will encourage the enemies when their wickedness is completely ripe to destroy one another, which he calls the valley of God's judgment.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. The execution of the sentence is represented under two figures, the reaping of a harvest, and the treading of grapes in the wine-press. Comp. the same figures in Revelation 14:15 f. and 19 f.

Put ye in] The command is addressed to the ‘mighty ones’ of Joel 3:11.

the sickle] Heb. maggâl, only besides Jeremiah 50:16. The same word (in the fem., magaltâ) is common in Syriac, and the Arab. manjal is current in Palestine at the present day (P.E.F.Q. St[51] 1891, p. 112). The other Heb. word for sickle is ḥermçsh (only Deuteronomy 16:9, 23:26).

[51] .E.F.Q. St.Palestine Exploration Fund, Quarterly Statements.

get you down] viz. into the wine-press (gâth), for the purpose of treading the grapes (on Joel 2:24), here figuratively of the destruction of foes, exactly as Isaiah 63:3[52].

[52] The rendering tread (from רדה) is questionable.

the vats overflow] The same words (in a literal sense) Joel 2:24. Here they are meant as a significant indication of the numbers to be judged, as also of their ripeness for judgement: the grapes in the wine-press represent the nations; and the vats overflow with the expressed juice, not in consequence of the grapes being trodden, but before they have been trodden, simply through the weight of the superincumbent mass of grapes themselves.

for their wickedness is great] A second reason, expressed without metaphor, why the judgement is to be put into execution.

Verse 13. - The just decision being come to, and the righteous sentence passed, the execution follows. Jehovah's mighty ones are summoned to execute it. By the mighty ones or heroes of Jehovah are meant his heavenly hosts or angels; thus Kimchi says, "Thy mighty ones are the angels;" so also Aben Ezra.

(1) The execution of Jehovah's command is represented under a double figure, that of reaping grain in harvest or treading grapes in the vintage. Similarly in Revelation 14:15, 18, we find the two figures - that of reaping the ripe grain, and of gathering the grapes and treading them. The ripeness of the grain and of the grapes is here, perhaps, the prominent idea. "He compares," says Kimchi, "those nations to the produce which is ripe, and its time for harvesting has approached, that man should thrust in the sickle to reap it. So with respect to these nations, their season to die by the sword in this valley has arrived."

(2) Hitzig conceives that the twofold command of Jehovah is to cut off the grapes and then tread them in the wine-press. He proceeds on the wrong assumption that qatsir, harvest, is employed in the sense of batsir, vintage; that maggal (from nagal, unused to cut, pierce, wound) is for mazmerah, the hook of the vinedresser; while bashal, ripe, which he restricts to grapes, applies to grapes and corn alike. The passage in Revelation already cited decides us in favour of (1), the judgment being represented first by the reaping of ripened grain, and then by treading grapes in the wine-press. The verb רְדו, from radah, to trample underfoot, and not from yarad, to descend, is more poetic and emphatic than the usual דרד; though Kimchi maintains the contrary, saying, "Descend ye into this valley, for it is as it were the press which is full of grapes, when it is fit to tread them; so ye house of Israel, tread these nations in this valley, and thrust in among them the sword." The fulness of the vats, again, represents the masses of the sinful nations ripe and ready for destruction; what the wine-press is to the grapes, the wine-press of God's wrath is to the wicked. Joel 3:13Fulfilment of the judgment upon all the heathen predicted in Joel 3:2. Compare the similar prediction of judgment in Zechariah 14:2. The call is addressed to all nations to equip themselves for battle, and march into the valley of Jehoshaphat to war against the people of God, but in reality to be judged by the Lord through His heavenly heroes, whom He sends down thither. Joel 3:9. "Proclaim ye this among the nations; sanctify a war, awaken the heroes, let all the men of war draw near and come up! Joel 3:10. Forge your coulters into swords, and your vine-sickles into spears: let the weak one say, A hero am I. Joe 3:11. Hasten and come, all ye nations round about, and assemble yourselves! Let thy heroes come down thither, O Jehovah! Joel 3:12. The nations are to rise up, and come into the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there shall I sit to judge all the heathen round about." The summons to prepare for war (Joel 3:9) is addressed, not to the worshippers of Jehovah or the Israelites scattered among the heathen (Cyr., Calv., Umbreit), but to the heathen nations, though not directly to the heroes and warriors among the heathen, but to heralds, who are to listen to the divine message, and convey it to the heathen nations. This change belongs to the poetical drapery of thought, that at a sign from the Lord the heathen nations are to assemble together for war against Israel. קדּשׁ מלחמה does not mean "to declare war" (Hitzig), but to consecrate a war, i.e., to prepare for war by sacrifices and religious rites of consecration (cf. 1 Samuel 7:8-9; Jeremiah 6:4). העירוּ: waken up or arouse (not wake up) the heroes from their peaceful rest to battle. With יגּשׁוּ the address passes over from the second person to the third, which Hitzig accounts for on the ground that the words state what the heralds are to say to the nations or heroes; but the continuance of the imperative kōttū in Joel 3:10 does not suit this. This transition is a very frequent one (cf. Isaiah 41:1; Isaiah 34:1), and may be very simply explained from the lively nature of the description. עלה is here applied to the advance of hostile armies against a land or city. The nations are to summon up all their resources and all their strength for this war, because it will be a decisive one. They are to forge the tools of peaceful agriculture into weapons of war (compare Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3, where the Messianic times of peace are depicted as the turning of weapons of war into instruments of agriculture). Even the weak one is to rouse himself up to be a hero, "as is generally the case when a whole nation is seized with warlike enthusiasm" (Hitzig). This enthusiasm is expressed still further in the appeal in Joel 3:11 to assemble together as speedily as possible. The ἁπ. λεγ. עוּשׁ is related to חוּשׁ, to hasten; whereas no support can be found in the language to the meaning "assemble," adopted by the lxx, Targ., etc. The expression כּל־הגּוים by no means necessitates our taking these words as a summons or challenge on the part of Joel to the heathen, as Hitzig does; for this can be very well interpreted as a summons, with which the nations call one another to battle, as the following ונקבּצוּ requires; and the assumption of Hitzig, Ewald, and others, that this form is the imperative for הקּבצוּ, cannot be sustained from Isaiah 43:9 and Jeremiah 50:5. It is not till Joel 3:11 that Joel steps in with a prayer addressed to the Lord, that He will send down His heavenly heroes to the place to which the heathen are flowing together. Hanchath an imper. hiph., with pathach instead of tzere, on account of the guttural, from nâchath, to come down. The heroes of Jehovah are heavenly hosts, or angels, who execute His commands as gibbōrē khōăch (Psalm 103:20, cf. Psalm 78:25). This prayer is answered thus by Jehovah in Joel 3:12 : "Let the nations rise up, and come into the valley of Jehoshaphat, for there will He hold judgment upon them." יעורוּ corresponds to העירוּ in Joel 3:9; and at the close, "all the heathen round about" is deliberately repeated. Still there is no antithesis in this to "all nations" in Joel 3:2, as though here the judgment was simply to come upon the hostile nations in the neighbourhood of Judah, and not upon all the heathen universally (Hitzig). For even in Joel 3:2 כל הגוים are simply all the heathen who have attacked the people of Jehovah - that is to say, all the nations round about Israel. Only these are not merely the neighbouring nations to Judah, but all heathen nations who have come into contact with the kingdom of God, i.e., all the nations of the earth without exception, inasmuch as before the last judgment the gospel of the kingdom is to be preached in all the world for a testimony to all nations (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10).

It is to the last decisive judgment, in which all the single judgments find their end, that the command of Jehovah to His strong heroes refers. Joel 3:13. "Put ye in the sickle; for the harvest is ripe: come, tread, for the win-press is full, the vats overflow: for their wickedness is great." The judgment is represented under the double figure of the reaping of the fields and the treading out of the grapes in the wine-press. The angels are first of all summoned to reap the ripe corn (Isaiah 17:5; Revelation 14:16), and then commanded to tread the wine-presses that are filled with grapes. The opposite opinion expressed by Hitzig, viz., that the command to tread the wine-presses is preceded by the command to cut off the grapes, is supported partly by the erroneous assertion, that bâshal is not applied to the ripening of corn, and partly upon the arbitrary assumption that qâtsı̄r, a harvest, stands for bâtsı̄r, a vintage; and maggâl, a sickle (cf. Jeremiah 50:16), for mazmērâh, a vine-dresser's bill. But bâshal does not mean "to boil," either primarily or literally, but to be done, or to be ripe, like the Greek πέσσω, πέπτω, to ripen, to make soft, to boil (see at Exodus 12:9), and hence in the piel both to boil and roast, and in the hiphil to make ripe of ripen (Genesis 40:10), applied both to grapes and corn. It is impossible to infer from the fact that Isaiah (Isaiah 16:9) uses the word qâtsı̄r for the vintage, on account of the alliteration with qayits, that this is also the meaning of the word in Joel. But we have a decisive proof in the resumption of this passage in Revelation 14:15 and Revelation 14:18, where the two figures (of the corn-harvest and the gathering of the grapes) are kept quite distinct, and the clause כּי בשׁל קציר is paraphrased and explained thus: "The time is come for thee to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." The ripeness of the corn is a figurative representation of ripeness for judgment. Just as in the harvest - namely, at the threshing and winnowing connected with the harvest - the grains of corn are separated from the husk, the wheat being gathered into the barns, the husk blown away by the wind, and the straw burned; so will the good be separated from the wicked by the judgment, the former being gathered into the kingdom of God for the enjoyment of eternal life, - the latter, on the other hand, being given up to eternal death. The harvest field is the earth (ἡ γῆ, Revelation 14:16), i.e., the inhabitants of the earth, the human race. The ripening began at the time of the appearance of Christ upon the earth (John 4:35; Matthew 9:38). With the preaching of the gospel among all nations, the judgment of separation and decision (ἡ κρίσις, John 3:18-21) commenced; with the spread of the kingdom of Christ in the earth it passes over all nations; and it will be completed in the last judgment, on the return of Christ in glory at the end of this world. Joel does not carry out the figure of the harvest any further, but simply presents the judgment under the similar figure of the treading of the grapes that have been gathered. רדוּ, not from yârad, to descend, but from râdâh, to trample under foot, tread the press that is filled with grapes. השׁיקוּ היקבים is used in Joel 2:24 to denote the most abundant harvest; here it is figuratively employed to denote the great mass of men who are ripe for the judgment, as the explanatory clause, for "their wicked (deed) is much," or "their wickedness is great," which recals Genesis 6:5, clearly shows. The treading of the wine-press does not express the idea of wading in blood, or the execution of a great massacre; but in Isaiah 63:3, as well as in Revelation 14:20, it is a figure denoting an annihilating judgment upon the enemies of God and of His kingdom. The wine-press is "the wine-press of the wrath of God," i.e., "what the wine-press is to ordinary grapes, the wrath of God is to the grapes referred to here" (Hengstenberg on Revelation 14:19).

The execution of this divine command is not expressly mentioned, but in Joel 3:14. the judgment is simply depicted thus: first of all we have a description of the streaming of the nations into the valley of judgment, and then of the appearance of Jehovah upon Zion in the terrible glory of the Judge of the world, and as the refuge of His people. Joel 3:14. "Tumult, tumult in the valley of decision: for the day of Jehovah is near in the valley of decision." Hămōnı̄m are noisy crowds, whom the prophet sees in the Spirit pouring into the valley of Jehoshaphat. The repetition of the word is expressive of the great multitude, as in 2 Kings 3:16. עמק החרוּץ not valley of threshing; for though chârūts is used in Isaiah 28:27 and Isaiah 41:15 for the threshing-sledge, it is not used for the threshing itself, but valley of the deciding judgment, from chârats, to decide, to determine irrevocably (Isaiah 10:22; 1 Kings 20:40), so that chârūts simply defines the name Jehoshaphat with greater precision. כּי קרוב וגו (compare Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1) is used here to denote the immediate proximity of the judgment, which bursts at once, according to Joel 3:15.

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