Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,(Heb. Bib. ch. 4.) Judgment upon the World of Nations, and Glorification of Zion- Joel 3:1, Joel 3:2. "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall turn the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather together all nations, and bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will contend with them there concerning my people and my inheritance Israel, which they have scattered among the nations, and my land have they divided. Joel 3:3. And for my people they cast the lot; and gave the boy for a harlot, and the maiden they have sold for wine, and drunk (it)." The description of the judgment-day predicted in Joel 2:31 commences with an explanatory כּי. The train of thought is the following: When the day of the Lord comes, there will be deliverance upon Zion only for those who call upon the name of the Lord; for then will all the heathen nations that have displayed hostility to Jehovah's inheritance be judged in the valley of Jehoshaphat. By hinnēh, the fact to be announced is held up as something new and important. The notice as to the time points back to the "afterward" in Joel 2:28 : "in those days," viz., the days of the outpouring of the Spirit of God. This time is still further described by the apposition, "at that time, when I shall turn the captivity of Judah," as the time of the redemption of the people of God out of their prostrate condition, and out of every kind of distress. שׁוּב את שׁבוּת is not used here in the sense of "to bring back the prisoners," but, as in Hosea 6:11, in the more comprehensive sense of restitutio in integrum, which does indeed include the gathering together of those who were dispersed, and the return of the captives, as one element, though it is not exhausted by this one element, but also embraces their elevation into a new and higher state of glory, transcending their earlier state of grace. In וקבּצתּי the prediction of judgment is appended to the previous definition of the time in the form of an apodosis. The article in כּל־הגּוים (all the nations) does not refer to "all those nations which were spoken of in Hosea 1:1-11 and 2 under the figure of the locusts" (Hengstenberg), but is used because the prophet had in his mind all those nations upon which hostility towards Israel, the people of God, is charged immediately afterwards as a crime: so that the article is used in much the same manner as in Jeremiah 49:36, because the notion, though in itself an indefinite one, is more fully defined in what follows (cf. Ewald, 227, a). The valley of Yehōshâphât, i.e., Jehovah judges, is not the valley in which the judgment upon several heathen nations took place under Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20), and which received the name of Valley of blessing, from the feast of thanksgiving which Jehoshaphat held there (2 Chronicles 20:22-26), as Ab. Ezra, Hofmann, Ewald, and others suppose; for the "Valley of blessing" was not "the valley of Kidron, which was selected for that festival in the road back from the desert of Tekoah to Jerusalem" (see Bertheau on 2 Chronicles c.), and still less "the plain of Jezreel" (Kliefoth), but was situated in the neighbourhood of the ruins of Bereikût, which have been discovered by Wolcott (see Ritter, Erdkunde, xv. p. 635, and Van de Velde, Mem. p. 292). On the other hand, the valley of Jehoshaphat is unquestionably to be sought for, according to this chapter (as compared with Zechariah 14:4), in or near Jerusalem; and the name, which does not occur anywhere else in either the Old or New Testament, excepting here and in Joel 3:12, is formed by Joel, like the name ‛ēmeq hechârūts in v. 14, from the judgment which Jehovah would hold upon the nations there. The tradition of the church (see Euseb. and Jerome in the Onom. s.v. κοιλάς, Caelas, and Itiner. Anton. p. 594; cf. Robinson, Pal. i. pp. 396, 397) has correctly assigned it to the valley of the Kidron, on the eastern side of Jerusalem, or rather to the northern part of that valley (2 Samuel 18:18), or valley of Shaveh (Genesis 14:17). There would the Lord contend with the nations, hold judgment upon them, because they had attacked His people (nachălâthı̄, the people of Jehovah, as in Joel 2:17) and His kingdom ('artsı̄). The dispersion of Israel among the nations, and the division (חלּק) of the Lord's land, cannot, of course, refer to the invasion of Judah by the Philistines and Arabians in the time of Joram (2 Chronicles 21:16-17). For although these foes did actually conquer Jerusalem and plunder it, and carried off, among other captives, even the sons of the king himself, this transportation of a number of prisoners cannot be called a dispersion of the people of Israel among the heathen; still less can the plundering of the land and capital be called a division of the land of Jehovah; to say nothing of the fact, that the reference here is to the judgment which would come upon all nations after the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon all flesh, and that it is not till Joel 3:4-8 that Joel proceeds to speak of the calamities which neighbouring nations had inflicted upon the kingdom of Judah. The words presuppose as facts that have already occurred, both the dispersion of the whole nation of Israel in exile among the heathen, and the conquest and capture of the whole land by heathen nations, and that in the extent to which they took place under the Chaldeans and Romans alone.
I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.In 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).
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.
Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head;
Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things:
The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.
Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head:
And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.
Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:Fulfilment 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.
Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.
Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
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.
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining."Sun and moon have become black, and the stars have withdrawn their shining. Joel 3:16. And Jehovah roars out of Zion, and He thunders out of Jerusalem; and heaven and earth quake: but Jehovah is a refuge to His people, and a stronghold to the sons of Israel. Joel 3:17. And ye will perceive that I Jehovah am your God, dwelling upon Zion, my holy mountain: and Jerusalem will be a sanctuary, and strangers will not pass through it any more." On the forebodings of the judgment in Joel 3:15, see at Joel 2:10. Out of Zion, the place of His throne, will Jehovah cause His thunder-voice to sound, will roar like a lion which is rushing upon its prey (Hosea 5:14; Amos 3:4), so that heaven and earth tremble in consequence. But it is only to His enemies that He is terrible; to His people, the true Israel, He is a refuge and strong tower. From the fact that He only destroys His enemies, and protects His own people, the latter will learn that He is their God, and dwells upon Zion in His sanctuary, i.e., that He there completes His kingdom, that He purifies Jerusalem of all foes, all the ungodly through the medium of the judgment, and makes it a holy place which cannot be trodden any more by strangers, by Gentiles, or by the unclean of either Gentiles or Israelites (Isaiah 35:8), but will be inhabited only by the righteous (Isaiah 60:21; Zechariah 14:21), who, as Revelation 21:27 affirms, are written in the Lamb's book of life. For Zion or Jerusalem is of course not the Jerusalem of the earthly Palestine, but the sanctified and glorified city of the living God, in which the Lord will be eternally united with His redeemed, sanctified, and glorified church. We are forbidden to think of the earthly Jerusalem or the earthly Mount Zion, not only by the circumstance that the gathering of all the heathen nations takes place in the valley of Jehoshaphat, i.e., in a portion of the valley of the Kidron, which is a pure impossibility, but also by the description which follows of the glorification of Judah.
The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.After the judgment upon all nations, the land of the Lord will overflow with streams of divine blessing; but the seat of the world-power will become a barren waste. Joel 3:18. "And it comes to pass in that day, the mountains will trickle down with new wine, and the hills flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah flow with water; and a fountain will issue from the house of Jehovah, and water the Acacia valley. Joel 3:19. Egypt will become a desolation, and Edom a barren waste, for the sin upon the sons of Judah, that they have shed innocent blood in their land. Joel 3:20. But Judah, it will dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. Joel 3:21. And I shall expiate their blood that I have not expiated: and Jehovah dwelleth upon Zion." The end of the ways of the Lord is eternal blessing for His people, whilst the enemies of His kingdom fall victims to the curse. This thought is expressed in figures taken from the state of the covenant land of the Old Testament, and those of the bordering kingdoms of Egypt and Edom which were hostile to Israel. If we bear this in mind, we shall not fall into Volck's error, of seeking in this description for a clear statement as to the transfiguration of the land of Israel during the thousand years' reign, whilst the rest of the earth is not yet glorified; for it is evident from Joel 3:18, as compared with the parallel passages, viz., Zechariah 14:6. and Ezekiel 47:1-12, that this passage does not teach the earthly glorification of Palestine, and desolation of Egypt and Idumaea, but that Judah and Jerusalem are types of the kingdom of God, whilst Egypt and Edom are types of the world-powers that are at enmity against God; in other words, that this description is not to be understood literally, but spiritually. "In that day," viz., the period following the final judgment upon the heathen, the mountains and hills of Judah, i.e., the least fruitful portions of the Old Testament kingdom of God in the time of the prophet, will overflow with new wine and milk, and all the brooks of water be filled, i.e., no more dry up in the hot season of the year (Joel 1:20). Thus will the fruitfulness of Canaan, the land of the Lord, flowing with milk and honey, come forth in all its potency. Even the unfruitful acacia valley will be watered by a spring issuing from the house of Jehovah, and turned into a fruitful land. The valley of Shittim is the barren valley of the Jordan, above the Dead Sea. The name Shittim, acacia, is taken from the last encampment of the Israelites in the steppes of Moab, before their entrance into Canaan (Numbers 25:1; Joshua 3:1), and was chosen by the prophet to denote a very dry valley, as the acacia grows in a dry soil (cf. Celsii, Hierob. i. p. 500ff.). The spring which waters this valley, and proceeds from the house of Jehovah, and the living water that flows from Jerusalem, according to Zechariah 14:8, are of course not earthly streams that are constantly flowing, as distinguished from the streams caused by rain and snow, which very soon dry up again, but spiritual waters of life (John 4:10, John 4:14; John 7:38); and, in fact, as a comparison of Ezekiel 47:7-12 with Revelation 22:1-2 clearly shows, the "river of the water of life, clear as a crystal," which in the New Jerusalem coming down from God upon the earth (Revelation 21:10) proceeds out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, and on both sides of which there grows the tree of life, that bears its fruit twelve times a-year, or every month, and the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations. The partially verbal agreement between the description of this river of water in Revelation 22:2, and that in Ezekiel 47:12, overthrows the millenarian view, that the glorification of Judah and Jerusalem, predicted by Joel, Zechariah, and Ezekiel, will be a partial glorification of the earth, viz., of the Holy Land, which takes place before the creation of the new heaven and the new earth.
Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.On the other hand, the curse of desolation will fall upon Egypt and Edom, on account of the sin which they have committed upon the sons of Judah. חמס בּני, with the genitive of the object, as in Obadiah 1:10; Habakkuk 2:8, Habakkuk 2:17, etc. This sin is then more precisely defined, as consisting in the fact that they had shed innocent blood of the sons of Judah, i.e., of the people of God, in their land ('artsâm, the land of the Egyptians and Edomites, not of the Judaeans): that is to say, in the Egypt in the olden time, more especially by the command to slay all the Hebrew boys (Exodus 1:16), and in the Edom of more recent times, probably when throwing off the dominion of Judah (see at Amos 1:11 and Obadiah 1:10). These nations and lands had both thereby become types of the power of the world in its hostility to God, in which capacity they are mentioned here, and Edom again in Isaiah 34 and 63; cf. Jeremiah 49:7. and Ezekiel 35:1-15.
But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.On the other hand, Judah and Jerusalem shall dwell for ever, - a poetical expression for "be inhabited," both land and city being personified, as in Isaiah 13:20, etc. Thus will Jehovah, by means of the final judgment upon the heathen, wipe away the bloodguiltiness that they have contracted in their treatment of His people, and manifest Himself as King of Zion. With these thoughts the prophecy of Joel closes (Joel 3:21). The verb niqqâh, to cleanse, with dâm, to wipe away or expunge blood-guiltiness by punishment, is chosen with reference to דּם נקיא in Joel 3:19; and לא נקּיתי, which follows, is to be taken in a relative sense: so that there is no need to alter ונקּיתי into ונקּמתּי otni ונקּ (Ges.); and the latter has no critical support in the Septuagint rendering καὶ ἐκζητήσω, which merely reproduces the sense.
For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.Joel 3:21 does not contain the announcement of a still further punishment upon Egypt and Edom, but simply the thought with which the proclamation of the judgment closes - namely, that the eternal desolation of the world-kingdoms mentioned here will wipe out all the wrong which they have done to the people of God, and which has hitherto remained unpunished. But Zion will rejoice in the eternal reign of its God. Jehovah dwells upon Zion, when He manifests Himself to all the world as the King of His people, on the one hand by the annihilation of His foes, and on the other hand by the perfecting of His kingdom in glory.