Joel 2:9
They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
Joel 2:9-10. They shall run to and fro in the city — No place shall be inaccessible to them, nor free from them. “Every place,” says St. Jerome, “lies open to them; for they infest not only the fields, and the fruits of the earth, but creep into cities, houses, and the most secret recesses.” The earth shall quake before them — The inhabitants of the land of Judea shall be seized with a horrible dread at their approach. The heavens shall look dark and dismal, because they shall come in such swarms as to intercept the rays of the sun, and the light of the moon and stars. By the expression, The heavens shall tremble, is either meant, that the whole state of the kingdom of Judah, of the very highest in rank and dignity, as well as the meanest, should be struck with a panic at this unusual judgment; or else that the locusts should so fill the sky, that, at a great height, it would appear as if the heavens themselves trembled.

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.They shall run to and fro in the city - "The city" is questionless Jerusalem. So to the Romans, "the city" meant Rome; to the Athenians, Athens; among ourselves, "town" or "the city" are idiomatic names for the whole of London or "the city of London." In Wales "town" is, with the country people, the neighboring town with which alone they are familiar. There is no ambiguity in the living language. In Guernsey, one who should call Port Pierre by any other name than "the town," would betray himself to be a stranger. In Hosea, and Amos, prophets for Israel, "the city" is Samaria Hosea 11:9; Amos 3:6. In Solomon Psalm 72:16; Proverbs 1:21; Proverbs 8:3 and the prophets of Judah (Micah 6:9; Lamentations 1:1, etc.; Ezekiel 7:23; Ezekiel 33:21), "the city" is Jerusalem; and that the more, because it was not only the capital, but the center of the worship of the One True God. Hence, it is called "the city of God Psalm 46:4; Psalm 48:1, Psalm 48:8; Psalm 87:3, the city of the Lord" Psalm 101:8; Isaiah 60:14, then "the city of the Great King Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35, the holy city" Isaiah 48:2; Isaiah 52:1; Nehemiah 11:1, Nehemiah 11:18; Daniel 9:24; and God calls it "the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel 1 Kings 11:32, the city of righteousness" Isaiah 1:26. So our Lord spake, "go ye into the city" Matthew 26:18; Mark 14:13; Luke 22:10, and perhaps, , "tarry ye in the city." So do His Evangelists Matthew 21:17-18; Matthew 28:11; Mark 11:1, Mark 11:19; Luke 19:41; Acts 7:58; John 19:20), and so does Josephus .

All around corresponds with this. Joel had described their approach; they had come over "the tops of the mountains," those which protected Jerusalem; and now he describes them scaling "the wall," "mounting the houses," "entering the windows," "running to and fro in the city." Here the description has reached its height. The city is given over to those who assault it. There remaineth nothing more, save the shaking of the heaven and the earth.

They shall enter in at the windows - So in that first great judgment, in which God employed the locust, He said, "They shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth; and they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians" Exodus 10:5-6. : "For nothing denies a way to the locusts, inasmuch as they penetrate fields, cornlands, trees, cities, houses, yea, the retirement of the bed-chambers." "Not that they who are victors, have the fear which thieves have, but as thieves are accustomed to enter through windows, and plunder secretly, so shall these, if the doors be closed, to cut short delay, burst with all boldness through the windows." : "We have seen this done, not by enemies only, but often by locusts also. For not only flying, but creeping up the walls also, they enter the houses through the openings for light." : "a.d. 784, there came the flying locust, and wasted the corn and left its offspring; and this came forth and crawled, and scaled walls and entered houses by windows and doors; and if it entered the house on the south side, it went out on the north; together with herbs and trees it devoured also woolen clothing, and men's dresses."

Modern travelers relate the same. : "They entered the inmost recesses of the houses, were found in every corner, stuck to our clothes and infested our food." : "They overwhelm the province of Nedjd sometimes to such a degree, that having destroyed the harvest, they penetrate by thousands into the private dwellings, and devour whatsoever they can find, even the leather of the water-vessels." : "In June 1646, at Novogorod it was prodigious to behold them, because they were hatched there that spring, and being as yet scarce able to fly, the ground was all covered, and the air so full of them, that I could not eat in my chamber without a candle, all the houses being full of them, even the stables, barns, chambers, garrets, and cellars. I caused cannon-powder and sulphur to be burnt, to expel them, but all to no purpose. For when the door was opened, an infinite number came in, and the others went fluttering about; and it was a troublesome thing when a man went abroad, to be hit on the face by those creatures, on the nose, eyes, or cheeks, so that there was no opening one's mouth, but some would get in. Yet all this was nothing, for when we were to eat, they gave us no respite; and when we went to cut a piece of meat, we cut a locust with it, and when a man opened his mouth to put in a morsel, he was sure to chew one of them." The eastern windows, not being glazed but having at most a lattice-work , presented no obstacle to this continuous inroad. All was one stream of infesting, harassing foes.

As the windows are to the house, so are the senses and especially the sight to the soul. As the strongest walls and battlements and towers avail not to keep out an enemy, if there be an opening or chink through which he can make his way, so, in vain is the protection of God's Providence or His Grace , if the soul leaves the senses unguarded to admit unchallenged sights, sounds, touches, which may take the soul prisoner. : "Death," says Jeremiah, "entereth through the window" Jeremiah 9:21. Thy window is thy eye. If thou seest, to lust, death hath entered in; if thou hearest enticing words, death hath entered in: if softness gain possession of thy senses, death has made his way in." The arrow of sin is shot through them. : "When the tongue of one introduces the virus of perdition, and the ears of others gladly drink it in, "death enters in;" while with itching ears and mouth men minister eagerly to one another the deadly draught of detraction, "death enters in at the windows." : "Eve had not touched the forbidden tree, except she had first looked on it heedlessly. With what control must we in this dying life restrain our sight, when the mother of the living came to death through the eyes! The mind of the prophet, which had been often lifted up to see hidden mysteries, seeing heedlessly another's wife, was darkened," and fell. "To keep purity of heart, thou must guard the outward senses." An enemy is easily kept out by the barred door or window, who, having entered in unawares, can only by strong effort and grace be forced out. "It is easier," said the pagan philosopher , "to forbid the beginnings of feelings than to control their might."

Like a thief - that is, they should come unawares, so as to take people by surprise, that there should be no guarding against them. As this is the close at this wonderful description, it may be that he would, in the end, describe the suddenness and inevitableness of God's judgments when they do come, and of the final judgment. It is remarkable that our Lord, and His Apostles from Him adopt this image of the prophet, in speaking of the coming of the Day of Judgment and His own. "Behold I come as a thief. This know that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched. Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. Ye are not in darkness, that that Day should overtake you as a thief" (Revelation 16:15 (add Revelation 3:3.); Matthew 24:43-44; Luke 12:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10).

9. run to and fro in the city—greedily seeking what they can devour.

the wall—surrounding each house in Eastern buildings.

enter in at the windows—though barred.

like a thief—(Joh 10:1; compare Jer 9:21).

In this verse we must discern what is any whir proper to the locusts, and what is applicable more fitly to the soldiers figured by them.

They shall run to and fro: this seems not proper to these insects, which move forward, and alter not their course in such limited and straitened bounds as a city; but this well suits with soldiers that conquer a city, and search all places for plunder and prey.

In the city; in every city that they take.

They shall run upon the wall; to clear the wall of all the besieged who did defend it, to help up others that were scaling the wall, and to seize towers which were built upon the wall: this is better fitted to soldiers that take a city than to locusts.

They shall climb up upon the houses; either forsaken and shut fast up by the inhabitants before they left them, or houses defended by such as are in them, as is usual in cities taken by assault.

They shall enter in at the windows; where they can find the first entrance, there they will through, and nothing shall keep them out.

Like a thief; suddenly, unexpectedly, to spoil at least, if not to kill and destroy: locusts and soldiers will do this.

They shall run to and fro in the city,.... Leap about from place to place, as locusts do; see Isaiah 33:4; and as the Chaldeans did when they became masters of the city of Jerusalem; they ran about from place to place to seize upon their spoil and plunder:

they shall run upon the wall; which before they climbed, now they shall run upon, and go from tower to tower, as the Chaldeans did, and broke clown the walls and fortifications:

they shall climb up upon the houses, and enter in at the windows, like a thief; so the locusts entered into the houses of the Egyptians, Exodus 10:6; and Pliny says (s), they will eat through everything, and even the doors of houses. Theodoret on the place observes, that not only this may be done by enemies, what is here said,

"but even we have often seen it done by locusts; for not only flying, but even creeping up the walls, they enter into houses at the windows.''

(s) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29.

They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
9. They course about in the city; they run upon the wall] no sooner have they gained an entrance than they make the city their own, and take possession of the walls. The exact force of the word rendered course about is not certain: it is used of locusts in Isaiah 33:4 (“like the attack of locusts, shall they attack it”), of a bear in Proverbs 28:15 (“A growling lion, and a ranging bear”), and (in a reflexive form) of chariots charging the suburbs of a city in Nahum 2:4 (“they justle one another in the broad places”).

climb up into the houses] cf. Exodus 10:6. Modern travellers relate the same: e.g. Morier, below, p. 89. Eastern windows, being not glazed, but consisting merely of an opening with lattice-work, would naturally present no obstacle to the entrance of the locusts.

Verse 9. - They shall run to and fro in the city (or rush to the assault of the city. Wunsche, and so LXX., "They shall seize upon the city"); they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. In the first clause the comparison with an army still continues. The attack has succeeded, the city has been taken by assault, the victorious troops are running to and fro in the city; so far the locusts are fitly represented by an army vigorous in its advance, steady in its march, resistless in its assault, victorious in its attack, and masters of the captured city. The remainder of the ninth verse is not equally applicable to the figure and the fact in common, but belongs exclusively to the locusts themselves; they creep up the wall, climb up upon the houses, and find ingress even at the windows. "There is no road," says Jerome, "impassable to locusts. They penetrate into fields, and crops, and trees, and cities, and even the recesses of the bedchambers;" while Theodoret remarks of locusts that" not only when flying, but by creeping along the walls, they pass through the windows into the houses themselves." Thus there was no spot to which they could not find access, and no place secure from their assault. Yashoqqu. Aben Ezra and Kimchi both connect this word with shoq, a leg. The latter says, "It has the signification of shoq, a leg, and he mentions this word in respect to the locust, because its legs are long; and further, because it is continually going and seldom resting; and thus he (Isaiah) says, 'As the running to and fro of locusts shall he run upon them,' as if he said, 'a continual going up and down.'" Joel 2:9In Joel 2:7-10 the comparison of the army of locusts to a well-equipped army is carried out still further; and, in the first place, by a description of the irresistible force of its advance. Joel 2:7. "They run like heroes, like warriors they climb the wall; every one goes on its way, and they do not change their paths. Joel 2:8. And they do not press one another, they go every one in his path; and they fall headlong through weapons, and do not cut themselves in pieces. Joel 2:9. They run about in the city, they run upon the wall, they climb into the houses, they come through the windows like a thief." This description applies for the most part word for word to the advance of the locusts, as Jerome (in loc.) and Theodoret (on Joel 2:8) attest from their own observation.

(Note: Jerome says: "We saw (al. heard) this lately in the province (Palestine). For when the swarms of locusts come and fill the whole atmosphere between the earth and sky, they fly in such order, according to the appointment of the commanding God, that they preserve an exact shape, just like the squares drawn upon a tesselated pavement, not diverging on either side by, so to speak, so much as a finger's breadth. 'And,' as he (the prophet) interprets the metaphor, 'through the windows they will fall, and not be destroyed.' For there is no road impassable to locusts; they penetrate into fields, and crops, and trees, and cities, and houses, and even the recesses of the bed-chambers." And Theodoret observes on Joel 2:8: "For you may see the grasshopper like a hostile army ascending the walls, and advancing along the roads, and not suffering any difficulty to disperse them, but steadily moving forward, as if according to some concerted plan." And again, on Joel 2:9 : "And this we have frequently seen done, not merely by hostile armies, but also by locusts, which not only when flying, but by creeping along the walls, pass through the windows into the houses themselves.")

They run like heroes - namely, to the assault: רוּץ referring to an attack, as in Job 15:26 and Psalm 18:30, "as their nimbleness has already been noticed in Joel 2:4" (Hitzig). Their climbing the walls also points to an assault. Their irresistible march to the object of their attack is the next point described. No one comes in another's way; they do not twist (עבט) their path, i.e., do not diverge either to the right hand or to the left, so as to hinder one another. Even the force of arms cannot stop their advance. שׁלח is not a missile, telum, missile (Ges. and others), but a weapon extended or held in front (Hitzig); and the word is not only applied to a sword (2 Chronicles 23:10; Nehemiah 4:11), but to weapons of defence (2 Chronicles 32:5). בּצע, not "to wound themselves" ( equals פּצע), but "to cut in pieces," used here intransitively, to cut themselves in pieces. This does no doubt transcend the nature even of the locust; but it may be explained on the ground that they are represented as an invincible army of God.

(Note: The notion that these words refer to attempts to drive away the locusts by force of arms, in support of which Hitzig appeals to Liv. hist. xlii. 10, Plinii hist. n. xi. 29, and Hasselquist, Reise nach Pal. p. 225, is altogether inappropriate. All that Livy does is to speak of ingenti agmine hominum ad colligendas eas (locustas) coacto; and Pliny merely says, Necare et in Syria militari imperio coguntur. And although Hasselquist says, Both in Asia and Europe they sometimes take the field against the locusts with all the equipments of war," this statement is decidedly false so far as Europe is concerned. In Bessarabia (according to the accounts of eye-witnesses) they are merely in the habit of scaring away the swarms of locusts that come in clouds, by making a great noise with drums, kettles, hay-forks, and other noisy instruments, for the purpose of preventing them from settling on the ground, and so driving them further. Hass's account of a pasha of Tripoli having sent 4000 soldiers against the insects only a few years ago, is far too indefinite to prove that they were driven away by the force of arms.)

On the other hand, the words of Joel 2:9 apply, so far as the first half is concerned, both to the locusts and to an army (cf. Isaiah 33:4; Nahum 2:5); whereas the second half applies only to the former, of which Theodoret relates in the passage quoted just now, that he has frequently seen this occur (compare also Exodus 10:6).

Joel 2:9 Interlinear
Joel 2:9 Parallel Texts

Joel 2:9 NIV
Joel 2:9 NLT
Joel 2:9 ESV
Joel 2:9 NASB
Joel 2:9 KJV

Joel 2:9 Bible Apps
Joel 2:9 Parallel
Joel 2:9 Biblia Paralela
Joel 2:9 Chinese Bible
Joel 2:9 French Bible
Joel 2:9 German Bible

Bible Hub

Joel 2:8
Top of Page
Top of Page