Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Blow. The prophets often ordered, to signify what will take place. (Worthington) --- The people were gathered by the sound of trumpets. The danger from the locusts was imminent; and all are exhorted to avert it, by praying in the temple, &c. --- Tremble at the sound, Amos iii. 6. (Calmet) --- Extemplo turbati. (Virgil, Æneid viii.) --- Lord. That is, the time when he will execute justice on sinners, (Challoner) and suffer affliction to fall upon them. (Worthington) (Chap. i. 15.)
Darkness. This implies great misery, ver. 10. (Calmet) --- People. The Assyrians or Chaldeans. Others understand all this of the army of locusts laying waste the land. (Challoner) --- Morning; unexpectedly, (Calmet) and soon. (Haydock) --- No human force can prevent the ravages of the locusts --- Beginning, in Palestine. Moses says the same; but speaks of Egypt, Exodus x. 14.
Flame. They destroy all by their bite, chap. i. 12. (Calmet) (Theodoret) --- Pleasure. Hebrew, "Eden." So luxuriant was Palestine.
Horsemen. The head of a locust bears some resemblance with that of a horse, and its flight is rapid, Apocalypse ix. 7. (Calmet)
Mountains. "The beat their wings so loudly, that they may be taken for other birds." (Pliny, [Natural History?] xi. 29.) --- They are much larger in hot climates, (chap. i. 6.; Haydock) and may be heard at the distance of two miles, (Bochart) darkening the air for the space of four leagues. Yet this description is poetical, and perhaps an allegory is nowhere better kept up.
Kettle. The Jews were naturally of a dark complexion. Fear causing the blood to retire, would make them black, Isaias xiii. 8., Lamentations iv. 8., and v. 10. (Calmet)
Ranks. Locusts march like a regular army. (Theodoret) --- No fortification can keep them out. (Haydock)
Brother. St. Jerome saw a cloud of them in Judea. They were not "a finger-nail's breadth from each other." (Calmet) --- The Arabs discover the military art in them. (Bochart) --- They invested France (the year of the Lord 874) with all the skill of an army, the chiefs marking out the place for the camp the night before. (Sigebert.) --- Windows. They eat the wood, (Haydock) and the windows were simple lattices or curtains. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "they fall upon the sword, and shall not be hurt." Septuagint, "consumed or filled." (Haydock) --- They are never satisfied. (Theodoret)
Shining. The cloud of locusts intercepts the light; or, people in distress think all nature is in confusion. (St. Jerome; Ezechiel xxxii.; Jeremias iv. 23.) --- Aloysius (13.) saw locusts in the air for the space of twelve miles; and among the Cossacks, clouds of them may be found six leagues in length and three in breadth. They frequently occasion a famine in Ethiopia. (Calmet)
Voice; thunder, (Haydock) or the noise of locusts, ver. 5. (Calmet)
Mourning. For moving the heart to repentance these external works are requisite, at least in will: if they be wilfully omitted, it is a sure sign that the heart is not moved. (St. Jerome) (Worthington)
Garments, as was customary in great distress. God will not be satisfied with mere external proofs of repentance. (Calmet) --- Evil. He will forego his threats if we do penance. (St. Jerome) --- He punishes unwillingly, Isaias xxviii. 21.
Who knoweth. Confidence in God and repentance must accompany prayer. --- Blessing; plentiful crops, so that the usual sacrifices may be performed again, chap. i. 9.
Trumpet. Thus were festivals announced, Numbers x. 7.
Sanctify. Let all make themselves ready to appear. --- Ones. Their cries would make an impression on men, and prevail on God to shew mercy, Judith iv. 9.
Altar of holocausts. They turned towards the holy place, lying prostrate, 1 Esdras x. 1., and 2 Machabees x. 26. (Calmet) --- Hither the victim of expiation was brought, and the high priest confessed. (Maimonides) --- Over them, as they might easily have done during the famine.
Zealous. Indignation is excited when a person perceives any thing contemned which he loves. So God resented the injuries done maliciously by the Gentiles towards his people; though he often punished them for their correction or greater merit. (Worthington) --- He will resent the blasphemies uttered by infidels against his holy name, and will restore fertility to the land. (Calmet)
Nations. This did not take place till after the seventy years captivity, nor then fully. It is verified in true believers, and after death in the glory of the saints. (Worthington)
The northern enemy. Some understand this of Holofernes and his army, others of the locusts. (Challoner) --- Protestants, "the northern army." Hebrew may denote (Haydock) wind. This often drives away locusts. Those here spoken of were drowned in the Mediterranean and Dead Seas. (Calmet) --- This occasioned a pestilence, (St. Jerome; St. Augustine, City of God iv. 31.) to prevent which the locusts were to be speedily buried, Isaias xxxiii. 4. --- Proudly. Hebrew, "great things." God, or the locusts are meant.
Strength; fruit, as formerly.
Teacher; Joel, &c., or rather the Messias, John i. 9., and Matthew xxiii. 8. Some translate Hebrew, "rain." Septuagint, "meat," (Calmet) sufficient for the people. (Theodoret)
Presses, or subterraneous reservoirs.
Host. God could have hurled his thunderbolts, or mountains, to destroy all mankind; but he chooses to shew their insignificance, (Calmet) by employing the vilest insects, which they cannot withstand. (St. Jerome)
After. From this verse to the end the prophet speaks of the times succeeding the captivity, and more especially of the propagation of the gospel. The enemies of God's people shall be destroyed, (chap. iii. 1.) which seems to refer to Cambyses, Ezechiel xxxviii. (Calmet) --- My spirit. This plainly foretells the coming of the Holy Ghost, Acts ii. (Worthington) --- The Jews never had such a multitude of prophets after the captivity as the Church had, 1 Corinthians xiv. 24. What relates to them was only a shadow of what would befall true believers.
Handmaids. Septuagint of St. Jerome and St. Peter read, my handmaids. "My," is omitted in both places in Complutensian and Hebrew and the latter word in the Roman Septuagint.
Wonders. Many prodigies preceded the persecution of Epiphanes, the death of Christ, the ruin of the temple, and more will be seen before the day of judgment. Though we cannot prove the same with respect to Cambyses, it suffices that the people were thrown into the utmost consternation (ver. 2, 11.) when he forebade the building of the temple, (1 Esdras iv. 6.) and designed to plunder them. Ezechiel (xxxviii. 11.) speaks of the same event, as the Jews assert. Ctesias also mentions that when he offered sacrifice, the victims would not bleed; and that his wife, Roxana, brought forth a child without a head, implying, according to the magi, that he should have no heir. His mother also frequently appeared, and reproached him with the murder of his brother. See chap. iii. 15., and Ezechiel xxxviii. 22.
Call. Amid these fears, those who trust in the Lord shall have nothing to suffer. Cambyses could not execute his designs. But the prophet here alludes still more to the conversion of the Gentiles, Acts ii. 21., and Romans x. 13. Some returned from Babylon, as a figure of this great event. Only a few Jews embraced the faith. (Calmet) --- Salvation. Septuagint, "shall be saved, as the Lord hath spoken, and the person preaching the gospel, whom the Lord hath called." (Haydock)