Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Planted. Septuagint, “Bathuel.” He was born in the tribe of Gad, at Bethaven, the town which Herod styles Livias, Josue xiii. 27. (Calmet)
Ver. 2. Men. Magistrates, and all who have children. (Haydock) He speaks to Juda, as the kingdom of Israel was ruined, chap. iii. 2. His principal object is to describe the ravages of locusts, and to exhort the people to repent, promising them better times after the captivity, and under the Messias, chap. ii. 28., and iii. 20. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Generation. Prophecies relate to all future times, that people may see their accomplishment, (Worthington) and believe. (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Left, &c. Some understand this literally of the desolation of the land by these insects: others understand it of the different invasions of the Chaldeans, or other enemies. (Challoner) — Jerusalem was four times plundered by the Babylonians, and every time worse than before, as these four sorts of destructive things shew. But we shall not enlarge upon these points, nor pursue the mystical sense of the prophets, which may be found in the fathers and Ribera. (Worthington) — Others suppose that the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Greeks, (particularly Epiphanes) and Romans, are meant. We explain it simply of the devastation by insects. (Calmet) — Four different species of locusts are denoted. (Bochart, p. 2. b. iv. 1.) — Mildew. Hebrew chasil, (Haydock) is often rendered “a locust,” by [the] Septuagint, (chap. ii. 25., &c.) and most suppose this is here the sense. The mildew destroys corn chiefly in low damp situations. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Sweet. Hebrew, “wine, because of the sweet wine,” (Haydock) or liquors extracted from fruit. The things which you have abused, are now taken away.
Ver. 6. Nations. Some understand the Assyrians or Chaldeans. But locusts are here styled a nation, Proverbs xxx. 25. — Lion. Such locusts are described, Apocalypse ix. 8. (Calmet) — “In India they are said to be three feet long, and their legs and thighs are used for saws when dried.” (Pliny, [Natural History?] xi. 29.) — They were attacked by regular troops in Syria. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xi. 29.)
Ver. 8. Youth, whom she espoused first. Such are more tenderly loved, particularly where polygamy prevails. (Calmet) — So Dido speaks of Sichæus, Virgil, Æneid iv.:
Ille meos primus qui se mihi junxit amores
Abstulit, ille habeat secum servetque sepulchro.
Ver. 9. Lord. No harvest being reaped, the fruits could not be paid. Yet it is thought that what was requisite for sacrifice, would be procured from other countries. (Calmet) — When Jerusalem was destroyed, sacrifices ceased. (Worthington)
Ver. 12. Withered. The bite of the locust corrupts the juice of plants.
Ver. 13. Go in to the temple, or sleep on sackcloth, Judith iv. 9. (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Sanctify. Appoint (Haydock) or proclaim a general fast, as was usual in such emergencies, 3 Kings xxi. 9., and 2 Paralipomenon xx. 3. Fasting and other good works are calculated to appease God’s wrath. (Worthington)
Ver. 15. Day. Hebrew ahah layom: (Haydock) “Ah, what a day!” — Mighty. Septuagint, “destruction.” They have read in a different manner. God is about to give sentence, (Calmet) and to send Nabuchodonosor, (St. Jerome) or to destroy by famine, ver. 17.
Ver. 16. God. None can bring the first-fruits. All appear in mourning.
Ver. 17. Dung. Horse-dung dried for bedding, was used in the East instead of straw, (Busb. 3.) as it is still by the Arabs. (Darvieux 11.) — Hebrew, “the seeds are rotten under their clods,” (Haydock) finding no moisture. Septuagint, “the cows have stamped in their stalls;” or Syriac, “remain without food in their cribs.” Chaldean, “the pitchers of wine have been corrupted under their covers,” as there was no new wine. (Calmet) — Houses. Hebrew mammeguroth. Protestants, “barns, (Haydock) or country houses;” which means cabins erected for the season, (Ruth ii. 7.) the Magaria (Calmet) or Mopalia of the Africans. (St. Jerome pref. Amos.) — Septuagint, “the wine presses.” Wine and corn were preserved in pits carefully covered over, Aggeus ii. 20. These fell to decay, as there was no use for them.
Ver. 19. Places. Hebrew, “dwellings,” or shepherds’ huts. — Wilderness, denoting all pasture land unploughed.
Ver. 20. Up, as if to pray for rain, Jeremias xiv. 6. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “cry,” (Haydock) or “pant.” — As….rain is not in Hebrew or Septuagint. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The prophet describes the judgments that shall fall upon the people, and invites them to fasting and prayer.
1 The *word of the Lord, that came to Joel, the son of Phatuel.
2 Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land: did this ever happen in your days, or in the days of your fathers?
3 Tell ye of this to your children, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation.
4 That which the palmer-worm hath left, the locust hath eaten: and that which the locust hath left, the bruchus hath eaten: and that which the bruchus hath left, the mildew hath destroyed.
5 Awake, ye that are drunk, and weep, and mourn all ye that take delight in drinking sweet wine: for it is cut off from your mouth.
6 For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number: his teeth are like the teeth of a lion: and his cheek-teeth as of a lion’s whelp.
7 He hath laid my vineyard waste, and hath pilled off the bark of my fig-tree: he hath stripped it bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
8 Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.
9 Sacrifice and libation is cut off from the house of the Lord: the priests, the Lord’s ministers, have mourned:
10 The country is destroyed, the ground hath mourned: for the corn is wasted, the wine is confounded, the oil hath languished.
11 The husbandmen are ashamed, the vine-dressers have howled for the wheat, and for the barley, because the harvest of the field is perished.
12 The vineyard is confounded, and the fig-tree hath languished: the pomegranate-tree, and the palm-tree, and the apple-tree, and all the trees of the field are withered: because joy is withdrawn from the children of men.
13 Gird yourselves, and lament, O ye priests, howl, ye ministers of the altars: go in, lie in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: because sacrifice and libation is cut off from the house of your God.
14 *Sanctify ye a fast, call an assembly, gather together the ancients, all the inhabitants of the land into the house of your God: and cry ye to the Lord:
15 Ah, ah, ah, for the day: because the day of the Lord is at hand, and it shall come like destruction from the mighty.
16 Is not your food cut off before your eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our God?
17 The beasts have rotted in their dung, the barns are destroyed, the store-houses are broken down: because the corn is confounded.
18 Why did the beast groan, why did the herds of cattle low? because there is no pasture for them: yea, and the flocks of sheep are perished.
19 To thee, O Lord, will I cry: because fire hath devoured the beautiful places of the wilderness: and the flame hath burnt all the trees of the country.
20 Yea, and the beasts of the field have looked up to thee, as a garden bed that thirsteth after rain, for the springs of waters are dried up, and fire hath devoured the beautiful places of the wilderness.
1: Year of the World about 3204, Year before Christ 800.
14: Joel ii. 15.