Joel 3:3
And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.
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(3) Cast lots . . .—The nations who oppressed and carried away the Jews treated them as chattels, cast lots for the possession of them as slaves, and purchased a night’s revelry or other indulgence with the captives they had taken.

Joel 3:3. They have cast lots for my people — It was customary with conquerors, in those days, to divide the captives, taken in war, among themselves by lot, and so did these enemies of the Jews. And have given a boy for a harlot — By this is meant, that they exchanged, or gave away, Jewish boys, instead of money, for harlots. And sold a girl for wine, that they might drink — For a draught of wine, as it were; that is, at a very vile and low rate. These instances are mentioned, to signify the contempt in which these enemies of the Jews held the worshippers of the true God; they parted with them, when they had taken them captives, upon the vilest terms, as setting little or no value upon them. In Mingrelia, according to Sir John Chardin, they sell captive children for provisions and for wine: see Harmer vol. 2. p. 374.

3:1-8 The restoration of the Jews, and the final victory of true religion over all opposers, appear to be here foretold. The contempt and scorn with which the Jews have often been treated as a people, and the little value set upon them, are noticed. None ever hardened his heart against God or his church, and prospered long.And they have cast lots - They treated God's people as of no account, and delighted in showing their contempt toward them. They chose no one above another, as though all alike were worthless. "They cast lots," it is said elsewhere, "upon their honorable men" Nahum 3:10, as a special indignity, above captivity or slavery. A "girl" they sold for an evening's revelry, and a "boy" they exchanged for a night's debauch. 3. cast lots for my people—that is, divided among themselves My people as their captives by lot. Compare as to the distribution of captives by lot (Ob 11; Na 3:10).

given a boy for … harlot—Instead of paying a harlot for her prostitution in money, they gave her a Jewish captive boy as a slave.

girl for wine—So valueless did they regard a Jewish girl that they would sell her for a draught of wine.

It was customary with conquerors to divide the captives by lot, and so did these enemies of the Jews, Ob 11; and so did the Chaldeans on the captive Ninevites, Nahum 3:10: though this was grievous, yet it was the common lot of captives.

Have given a boy for an harlot; either procured a boy to bestow on some harlot or other which they kept, or gave a boy, instead of money, the price of an harlot to be enjoyed by lewd soldiers.

And sold a girl; a young girl, which, being captive, fell to their lot, they have valued at a base, low price, and sold

for wine, that they might drink; so much as at one sitting one of them could drink; or perhaps for one draught of wine, when the barbarous soldier was dry or minded to be drunk.

And they have cast lots for my people,.... Not only parted their land, but cast lots for their persons, Or played at dice for them, how many captives each soldier should have, and which should be their share and property: ninety seven thousand Jews, Josephus (d) says, were carried captive by the Romans, who, very probably, cast lots for them, as was usual in such cases; see Nahum 3:10;

and have given a boy for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink; either they gave a boy to be prostituted to natural lusts, in lieu of a whore; and a girl to be debauched for a bottle of wine: or they gave a boy for the price of a whore, as the Targum and Kimchi interpret it; that is, they gave a boy, instead of money, to a whore, to lie with her, as the eunuch was given to Thais; and they gave a girl to the wine merchant for as much wine as they could drink at one sitting. These phrases both express their uncleanness and intemperance, and also the low price and value they set upon their captives; and is applicable enough to the Papists, notorious for the same abominable lusts.

(d) De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 9. sect. 3.

And they have cast lots for my people; and have {c} given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.

(c) That which the enemy received for the sale of my people, they bestowed upon harlots and drink.

3. The reference is to the custom, common in ancient warfare, by which the conquerors divided amongst themselves the captives by lot, to deal with them afterwards as they pleased: and the Jewish prisoners were held by their captors so cheap that one who had received a boy as his lot sold him to a slave-dealer in exchange for a harlot,—or perhaps (Targ. Pesh.) gave him for the hire of a harlot,—and one who had received a girl parted with her for the sake of a carouse of wine.

cast lots] Obadiah 1:11 (of Jerusalem at the time of its capture by the Chaldaeans), Nahum 3:10 (where it is said, as a special indignity, that lots were cast on the “honourable men” of No-amon);—each time the same phrase.

that they might drink] and have drunk.

Verse 3. - They have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink. Such was the contumely with which they were treated at the time of the great catastrophe referred to. The captives were distributed by lot among the conquerors; these in turn sold them to the slave-dealers for the merest trifle - a slave-boy for the hire of a harlot, or a slave-girl for a glass or draught of wine. Such treatment had been predicted ages before, and was verified by contemporaneous history (comp. Leviticus 26:33, sqq., and Deuteronomy 28:36 for the prediction; and Josephus, . De Bell. Jud., 6.9.2,3, for the fulfilment). Ninety-seven thousand prisoners were disposed of as follows: those under seventeen years of age were publicly sold; some exiled to work in Egyptian mines; others reserved to fight with wild beasts in the amphi-theatre. Also in the time of Hadrian four Jewish captives were sold for a measure of barley. Nay, more, the Syrian commander, Nicanor, bargained by anticipation for the sale of such Jews as should be taken cap-tire in the Maccabean war. The prophet, moreover, looks forward in prophetic vision to the day of final judgment, when God will, in just retribution, pour out the vials of his wrath on all the oppressors of his Church and people. Joel 3:3In Joel 3:2 and Joel 3:3 Joel is speaking not of events belonging to his own time, or to the most recent past, but of that dispersion of the whole of the ancient covenant nation among the heathen, which was only completely effected on the conquest of Palestine and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and which continues to this day; though we cannot agree with Hengstenberg, that this furnishes an argument in favour of the allegorical interpretation of the army of locusts in ch. 1 and 2. For since Moses had already foretold that Israel would one day be driven out among the heathen (Leviticus 26:33.; Deuteronomy 28:36.), Joel might assume that this judgment was a truth well known in Israel, even though he had not expressed it in his threatening of punishment in ch. 1 and 2. Joe 3:3 depicts the ignominious treatment of Israel in connection with this catastrophe. The prisoners of war are distributed by lot among the conquerors, and disposed of by them to slave-dealers at most ridiculous prices, - a boy for a harlot, a girl for a drink of wine. Even in Joel's time, many Israelites may no doubt have been scattered about in distant heathen lands (cf. v. 5); but the heathen nations had not yet cast lots upon the nation as a whole, to dispose of the inhabitants as slaves, and divide the land among themselves. This was not done till the time of the Romans.

(Note: After the conquest and destruction of Jerusalem, Titus disposed of the prisoners, whose number reached 97,000 in the course of the war, in the following manner: Those under seventeen years of age were publicly sold; of the remainder, some were executed immediately, some sent away to work in the Egyptian mines, some kept for the public shows to fight with wild beasts in all the chief cities of Rome; and only the tallest and most handsome for the triumphal procession in Rome (compare Josephus, de bell. Jud. vi. 9, 2, 3). And the Jews who were taken prisoners in the Jewish war in the time of Hadrian, are said to have been sold in the slave-market at Hebron at so low a price, that four Jews were disposed of for a measure of barley. Even in the contests of the Ptolemaeans and Seleucidae for the possession of Palestine, thousands of Jews were sold as prisoners of war. Thus, for example, the Syrian commander Nicanor, in his expedition against the Jews in the Maccabaean war, sold by anticipation, in the commercial towns along the Mediterranean, such Jews as should be made prisoners, at the rate of ninety prisoners for one talent; whereupon 1000 slave-dealers accompanied the Syrian army, and carried fetters with them for the prisoners (1 Maccabees 3:41; 2 Maccabees 8:11, 25; Jos. Ant. xii. 7, 3).)

But, as many of the earlier commentators have clearly seen, we must not stop even at this. The people and inheritance of Jehovah are not merely the Old Testament Israel as such, but the church of the Lord of both the old and new covenants, upon which the Spirit of God is poured out; and the judgment which Jehovah will hold upon the nations, on account of the injuries inflicted upon His people, is the last general judgment upon the nations, which will embrace not merely the heathen Romans and other heathen nations by whom the Jews have been oppressed, but all the enemies of the people of God, both within and without the earthly limits of the church of the Lord, including even carnally-minded Jews, Mohammedans, and nominal Christians, who are heathens in heart.

(Note: As J. Marck correctly observes, after mentioning the neighbouring nations that were hostile to Judah, and then the Syrians and Romans: "We might proceed in the same way to all the enemies of the Christian church, from its very cradle to the end of time, such as carnal Jews, Gentile Romans, cruel Mohammedans, impious Papists, and any others who either have borne or yet will bear the punishment of their iniquity, according to the rule and measure of the restitution of the church, down to those enemies who shall yet remain at the coming of Christ, and be overthrown at the complete and final redemption of His church.")

Before depicting the final judgment upon the hostile nations of the world, Joel notices in Joel 3:4-8 the hostility which the nations round about Judah had manifested towards it in his own day, and foretels to these a righteous retribution for the crimes they had committed against the covenant nation. Joel 3:4. "And ye also, what would ye with me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all ye coasts of Philistia? will ye repay a doing to me, or do anything to me? Quickly, hastily will I turn back your doing upon your head. Joel 3:5. That ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have brought my best jewels into your temples. Joel 3:6. And the sons of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem ye have sold to the sons of Javan, to remove them far from their border. Joel 3:7. Behold, I waken them from the place whither ye have sold them, and turn back your doing upon your head. Joel 3:8. And sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of Javan, and they sell them to the Sabaeans, to a people far off; for Jehovah has spoken it." By vegam the Philistines and Phoenicians are added to the gōyim already mentioned, as being no less culpable than they; not, however, in the sense of, "and also if one would inquire more thoroughly into the fact" (Ewald), or, "and even so far as ye are concerned, who, in the place of the friendship and help which ye were bound to render as neighbours, have oppressed my people" (Rosenmller), for such additions as these are foreign to the context; but rather in this sense, "and yea also ... do not imagine that ye can do wrong with impunity, as though he had a right so to do." מה־אתּם לי does not mean, "What have I to do with you?" for this would be expressed differently (compare Joshua 22:24; Judges 11:12); but, "What would ye with me?" The question is unfinished, because of its emotional character, and is resumed and completed immediately afterwards in a disjunctive form (Hitzig). Tyre and Sidon, the two chief cities of the Phoenicians (see at Joshua 19:29 and Joshua 11:8), represent all the Phoenicians. כל גּלילות פל, "all the circles or districts of the Philistines," are the five small princedoms of Philistia (see at Joshua 13:2). גּמוּל, the doing, or inflicting (sc., of evil), from gâmal, to accomplish, to do (see at Isaiah 3:9). The disjunctive question, "Will ye perhaps repay to me a deed, i.e., a wrong, that I have done to you, or of your own accord attempt anything against me?" has a negative meaning: "Ye have neither cause to avenge yourselves upon me, i.e., upon my people Israel, nor any occasion to do it harm. But if repayment is the thing in hand, I will, and that very speedily (qal mehērâh, see Isaiah 5:26), bring back your doing upon your own head" (cf. Psalm 7:17). To explain what is here said, an account is given in Joel 3:5, Joel 3:6 of what they have done to the Lord and His people, - namely, taken away their gold and silver, and brought their costly treasures into their palaces or temples. These words are not to be restricted to the plundering of the temple and its treasury, but embrace the plundering of palaces and of the houses of the rich, which always followed the conquest of towns (cf. 1 Kings 14:26; 2 Kings 14:14). היכליכם also are not temples only, but palaces as well (cf. Isaiah 13:22; Amos 8:3; Proverbs 30:28). Joel had no doubt the plundering of Judah and Jerusalem by the Philistines and Arabians in the time of Jehoram in his mind (see 2 Chronicles 21:17). The share of the Phoenicians in this crime was confined to the fact, that they had purchased from the Philistines the Judaeans who had been taken prisoners, by them, and sold them again as salves to the sons of Javan, i.e., to the Ionians or Greeks of Asia Minor.

(Note: On the widespread slave-trade of the Phoenicians, see Movers, Phnizier, ii. 3, p. 70ff.)

The clause, "that ye might remove them far from their border," whence there would be no possibility of their returning to their native land, serves to bring out the magnitude of the crime. This would be repaid to them according to the true lex talionis (Joel 3:7, Joel 3:8). The Lord would raise up the members of His own nation from the place to which they had been sold, i.e., would bring them back again into their own land, and deliver up the Philistines and Phoenicians into the power of the Judaeans (mâkhar beyâd as in Judges 2:14; Judges 3:8, etc.), who would then sell their prisoners as slaves to the remote people of the Sabaeans, a celebrated trading people in Arabia Felix (see at 1 Kings 10:1). This threat would certainly be fulfilled, for Jehovah had spoken it (cf. Isaiah 1:20). This occurred partly on the defeat of the Philistines by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6-7) and Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:8), where Philistian prisoners of war were certainly sold as slaves; but principally after the captivity, when Alexander the Great and his successors set many of the Jewish prisoners of war in their lands at liberty (compare the promise of King Demetrius to Jonathan, "I will send away in freedom such of the Judaeans as have been made prisoners, and reduced to slavery in our land," Josephus, Ant. xiii. 2, 3), and portions of the Philistian and Phoenician lands were for a time under Jewish sway; when Jonathan besieged Ashkelon and Gaza (1 Maccabees 10:86; 11:60); when King Alexander (Balas) ceded Ekron and the district of Judah (1 Maccabees 10:89); when the Jewish king Alexander Jannaeaus conquered Gaza, and destroyed it (Josephus, Ant. xiii. 13, 3; bell. Jud. i. 4, 2); and when, subsequent to the cession of Tyre, which had been conquered by Alexander the Great, to the Seleucidae, Antiochus the younger appointed Simon commander-in-chief from the Ladder of Tyre to the border of Egypt (1 Maccabees 1:59).

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