Joel 2:14
Who knows if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering to the LORD your God?
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(14) Even a meat offering.—The returning favour of the Lord will enable the daily sacrifices to be restored, which had failed through the visitation (Joel 1:9).

2:1-14 The priests were to alarm the people with the near approach of the Divine judgments. It is the work of ministers to warn of the fatal consequences of sin, and to reveal the wrath from heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. The striking description which follows, shows what would attend the devastations of locusts, but may also describe the effects from the ravaging of the land by the Chaldeans. If the alarm of temporal judgments is given to offending nations, how much more should sinners be warned to seek deliverance from the wrath to come! Our business therefore on earth must especially be, to secure an interest in our Lord Jesus Christ; and we should seek to be weaned from objects which will soon be torn from all who now make idols of them. There must be outward expressions of sorrow and shame, fasting, weeping, and mourning; tears for trouble must be turned into tears for the sin that caused it. But rending the garments would be vain, except their hearts were rent by abasement and self-abhorrence; by sorrow for their sins, and separation from them. There is no question but that if we truly repent of our sins, God will forgive them; but whether he will remove affliction is not promised, yet the probability of it should encourage us to repent.Who knoweth if He will return - God has promised forgiveness of sins and of eternal punishment to those who turn to Him with their whole heart. Of this, then, there could be no doubt. But He has not promised either to individuals or to Churches, that He will remit the temporal punishment which He had threatened. He forgave David the sin. Nathan says, "The Lord also hath put away thy sin." But he said at the same time, "the sword shall never depart from thy house 2 Samuel 12:13, 2 Samuel 12:10; and the temporal punishment of his sin pursued him, even on the bed of death. David thought that the temporal punishment of his sin, in the death of the child, might be remitted to him. He used the same form of words as Joel, "I said, who can tell whether God will be gracious unto me, that the child may live?" 2 Samuel 12:22. But the child died. The king of Nineveh used the like words, "Who can tell if God will return and repent and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?" Jonah 3:9.

And he was heard. God retained or remitted the temporal punishment, as He saw good for each. This of the prophet Joel is of a mixed character. The "blessing" which they crave, he explains to be "the meat offering and the drink offering," which had been "cut off or withholden" from the house of their God. For "if He gave them wherewith to serve Him," after withdrawing it, it was clear that "He would accept of them and be pleased with their service." Yet this does not imply that He would restore all to them. A Jewish writer notes that after the captivity, "the service of sacrifices alone returned to them," but that "prophecy, (soon after), the ark, the Urim and Thummim, and the other things (the fire from heaven) were missing there." As a pattern, however, to all times, God teaches them to ask first what belongs to His kingdom and His righteousness, and to leave the rest to Him. So long as the means of serving Him were left, there was hope of all. Where the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ (whereof "the meat offering and the drink offering" were symbols) remains, there are "the pledges of His love," the earnest of all other blessing.

He says, "leave a blessing behind Him," speaking of God as one estranged, who had been long absent and who returns, giving tokens of His forgiveness and renewed good-pleasure. God often visits the penitent soul and, by some sweetness with which the soul is bathed, leaves a token of His renewed presence. God is said to repent, not as though He varied in Himself, but because He deals variously with us, as we receive His inspirations and follow His drawings, or no.

14. leave … a meat offering and a drink offering—that is, give plentiful harvests, out of the first-fruits of which we may offer the meat and drink offering, now "cut off" through the famine (Joe 1:9, 13, 16). "Leave behind Him": as God in visiting His people now has left behind Him a curse, so He will, on returning to visit them, leave behind Him a blessing. None need be discouraged, as if it were too late to seek and hope for mercy; God will pardon the truly penitent, and deliver them from eternal miseries, and it is possible he may deliver from present temporal calamities also. If you obtain not all you would, you shall obtain enough to show that it was worth your while to seek God.

Return: God doth not locally move from one place to another, but when he withholds his blessings, the fruits of his favour, he is said to withdraw himself; so when he gives out his blessings, he is said to return.

Repent: see Joel 2:13.

Leave a blessing behind him; cause the locusts to depart before they have eaten up all that is in the land.

A meat-offering and a drink-offering: see Joel 1:9. Who knoweth if he will return and repent,.... Which some understand of man, and of his returning and repentance; either thus whosoever he be that knows the ways of repentance, he will return, and God will repent of this evil: which sense is mentioned by Kimchi and Ben Melech: or he that knoweth that iniquity is on him will return and repent; so Jarchi, with which agrees the Targum,

"he that knows that sins are in him will return from them, and he shall obtain mercy; and whoever repents, his sins shall be forgiven him;''

but rather they are to be understood of God, as some in Kimchi, and paraphrase it, who knows? perhaps God may return; and this is the sense of Aben Ezra, and seems to be most correct; and to be interpreted, either as carrying some doubt in it; not as if it was questionable whether God will give pardon to repenting sinners, but whether he will at once remove the present affliction and chastisement; which may be thus expressed to check the presumption and awaken the security of the people, and rouse them from their sluggishness and stupidity: or rather as expressive of hope that God would return and change the dispensation of his providence, and repent of the evil he had threatened, or brought upon them; which might be justly grounded upon the character before given of him, and that from the revelation of himself, and the proclamation of his own perfections; see Jonah 3:9;

and leave a blessing behind him; meaning not behind God himself, as if he was departed, or about to depart, for which there was no great concern, provided he left a temporal blessing with them; but behind the army of the locust, after that had made all the devastation it did: or rather "cause to leave"; stop the locust in its progress, and not suffer it to make a total desolation, but cause it to leave some of the fruits of the earth behind it. So Aben Ezra gives the sense of the words,

"perhaps God will return, and cause the locust to leave a blessing;''

and to the same purpose Jarchi, of which they make a meat offering and a drink offering, as follows:

even a meat offering and a drink offering to the Lord your God; at least leave so much of the wheat, that a meat offering might be made of it; and so many of the vines, as that so much wine might be produced by them as would furnish out a drink offering to be offered to the Lord, agreeably to the laws given about these; for which the greatest concern is expressed, this being cut off and withheld from the house of the Lord, by reason of the present scarcity, Joel 1:9; which shows a truly pious and religious mind, having more at heart the worship of God than themselves and families.

Who knoweth if he will {k} return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

(k) He speaks this to stir up their slothfulness, and not that he doubted of God's mercies, if they did repent. For the way in which God repents, read Geneva Jer 18:8

14. Who knoweth if he will] lit. Who knoweth? he will …, i.e. Peradventure he will …, or (R.V.) Who knoweth whether he will not …? The same idiom in 2 Samuel 12:22, and (in the same phrase as here) Jonah 3:9.

turn back] viz. from the path of judgment upon which he has entered.

and leave a blessing behind him] as he turns back.

a blessing] viz. by permitting the earth again to mature its fruits and yield materials for the meal-and drink-offerings in the sanctuary (Joel 1:9). The fruits of the earth are a blessing bestowed by God upon man (Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 16:10; Deuteronomy 16:15; Deuteronomy 16:17, &c.); and they are a double blessing, when, as here, being such as can be offered to Jehovah, they help to ensure His good-will.Verse 14. - Who knoweth if he will return and repent; that is, return from and repent of his purpose of executing judgment. And leave a blessing behind him; that is, leave behind him when returning from the exercise of judgment to resume his seat on the heavenly throne, the blessing being a replacement of the harvest fruits which the locusts had consumed, even a meat offering and a drink offering, for the service of the sanctuary as well as sustenance to supply the people's own bodily wants. Jerome explains the question of ver. 14 with much judgment as follows: "Lest perchance they might either despair on account of the magnitude of their crimes, or the greatness of the Divine clemency might make them careless." Besides

(1) the interrogative rendering, there is

(2) that of the Chaldee, followed by Rashi and Kimchi.

The latter says, "He that knows the way of repentance, let him repent, and God will repent of this evil." Also in addition to

(1) that is, Authorized Version, he (i.e. God) "shall leave a blessing," there is

(2) that of Rashi and Aben Ezra, who explain as follows: "Perhaps God will repent, and that army shall leave a blessing, out of which they may make a meat offering and a drink offering." In these crimes the priests take the lead. Like highway robbers, they form themselves into gangs for the purpose of robbing travellers and putting them to death. חכּי, so written instead of חכּה (Ewald, 16, b), is an irregularly formed infinitive for חכּות (Ewald, 238, e). 'Ish gedūdı̄m, a man of fighting-bands, i.e., in actual fact a highway robber, who lies in wait for travellers.

(Note: The first hemistich has been entirely misunderstood by the lxx, who have confounded כּחכּי with כּחך, and rendered the clause καὶ ἡ Ἰσχύς ἀνδρὸς πειρατοῦ· ἔκρυψαν (חבו or חבאו instead of חבר) ἱερεῖς ὁδόν. Jerome has also rendered כחכי strangely, et quasi fauces (כּחכּי) virorum latronum particeps sacerdotum. Luther, on the other hand, has caught the sense quite correctly on the whole, and simply rendered it rather freely: "And the priests with their mobs are like footpads, who lie in wait for people.")

The company (chebher, gang) of the priests resembled such a man. They murder on the way (derekh, an adverbial accusative) to Sichem. Sichem, a place on Mount Ephraim, between Ebal and Gerizim, the present Nablus (see at Joshua 17:7), was set apart as a city of refuge and a Levitical city (Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:21); from which the more recent commentators have inferred that priests from Sichem, using the privileges of their city to cover crimes of their own, committed acts of murder, either upon fugitives who were hurrying thither, and whom they put to death at the command of the leading men who were ill-disposed towards them (Ewald), or upon other travellers, either from avarice or simple cruelty. But, apart from the fact that the Levitical cities are here confounded with the priests' cities (for Sichem was only a Levitical city, and not a priests' city at all), this conclusion is founded upon the erroneous assumption, that the priests who were taken by Jeroboam from the people generally, had special places of abode assigned them, such as the law had assigned for the Levitical priests. The way to Sichem is mentioned as a place of murders and bloody deeds, because the road from Samaria the capital, and in fact from the northern part of the kingdom generally, to Bethel the principal place of worship belonging to the kingdom of the ten tribes, lay through this city. Pilgrims to the feasts for the most part took this road; and the priests, who were taken from the dregs of the people, appear to have lain in wait for them, either to rob, or, in case of resistance, to murder. The following כּי carries it still higher, and adds another crime to the murderous deeds. Zimmâh most probably refers to an unnatural crime, as in Leviticus 18:17; Leviticus 19:29.

Thus does Israel heap up abomination upon abomination. Hosea 6:10. "In the house of Israel I saw a horrible thing: there Ephraim practises whoredom: Israel has defiled itself." The house of Israel is the kingdom of the ten tribes. שׁערוּריה, a horrible thing, signifies abominations and crimes of every kind. In the second hemistich, zenūth, i.e., spiritual and literal whoredom, is singled out as the principal sin. Ephraim is not the name of a tribe here, as Simson supposes, but is synonymous with the parallel Israel.

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