Joel 3:1
For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,
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(1) That time.—The whole course of the events of the world is shown to lead up by Divine providence to the Great Day of the Lord, when “the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain, and the Lord shall be exalted.” Then will be “the times of the restitution of all things;” then will the people of God be brought out of captivity, and vengeance executed upon their enemies. This progress, with its final consummation, is the subject of the concluding lines of Joel’s prophecy.

Joel 3:1-2. For, &c. — This particle shows the connection of this chapter with the latter part of the preceding: as if he had said, As an earnest of the accomplishment of these predictions, my people shall be restored to their own land, and then their enemies shall be humbled: see note on Joel 2:28. In those days, when I shall bring again — Namely, out of Babylon, (to which deliverance this promise seems primarily to refer,) the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem — As the type of the whole remnant which shall be saved. I will also gather all nations — In the type the expression means, all those nations that had oppressed Judah; in the antitype, all the nations that had been enemies to Christ and his church. And will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat — That is, into the place of judgment; for the word Jehoshaphat signifies divine judgment, or, the place where Jehovah will execute judgment. Thus the valley of Jezreel signifies the place where God’s arm, or strength, would exert itself. The expression likewise alludes to the valley of Berachah, or of blessing, as it was afterward called, mentioned 2 Chronicles 20:26, the place in which Jehoshaphat obtained a remarkable victory; or, where God, by his miraculous interposition, so infatuated the enemies of his people, that they destroyed one another, and few or none of them that came against Judah escaped. Archbishop Newcome considers it as a prediction of an extraordinary battle which was to be won in that valley, probably, he thinks, by Nebuchadnezzar, which would utterly discomfit the ancient enemies of the Jews, and resemble that victory of Jehoshaphat. But it seems more probable that the prediction principally refers to a general discomfiture of the enemies of God’s church in the latter days, probably to that foretold Isaiah 66:16, or to the battle of Gog and Magog, described Ezekiel 39., and that of Armageddon, spoken of Revelation 16:14; Revelation 16:16. And I will plead with them — I will require of them the reason why they thus used my people. God pleads with men, and vindicates the cause of oppressed truth and righteousness by his judgments. Then the consciences of the guilty fly in their faces, and force them to acknowledge the justice of the punishments they suffer. For my people and for my heritage Israel, &c. — The prophets in the Old Testament often denounced judgments against Edom, Moab, and other hostile neighbours of the Jews, who took advantage of their calamities to vent their spite against them. But since all nations are summoned to answer the impeachment here mentioned, we may suppose the word Israel to comprehend the faithful of all ages; and then we may observe, that the judgments denounced against the church’s enemies, are chiefly for their hatred and cruelty toward God’s servants.3:1-8 The restoration of the Jews, and the final victory of true religion over all opposers, appear to be here foretold. The contempt and scorn with which the Jews have often been treated as a people, and the little value set upon them, are noticed. None ever hardened his heart against God or his church, and prospered long.For, behold - The prophet by the word, "for," shows that he is about to explain in detail, what he had before spoken of, in sum. By the word, "behold," he stirs up our minds for something great, which he is to set before our eyes, and which we should not be prepared to expect or believe, unless he solemnly told us, "Behold." As the detail, then, of what goes before, the prophecy contains all times of future judgment on those who should oppose God, oppress His Church and people, and sin against Him in them and all times of His blessing upon His own people, until the Last Day. And this it gives in imagery, partly describing nearer events of the same sort, as in the punishments of Tyre and Sidon, such as they endured from the kings of Assyria, from Nebuchadnezzar, from Alexander; partly using these, His earlier judgments, as representatives of the like punishments against the like sins unto the end.

In those days and in that time - The whole period of which the prophet had been speaking, was the time from which God called His people to repentance, to the Day of Judgment. The last division of that time was from the beginning of the Gospel unto that Day. He fixes the occasion of which he speaks by the words, "when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem." This form was used, before there was any general dispersion of the nation. For all captivity of single members of the Jewish people had this sore calamity, that it severed them from the public worship of God, and exposed them to idolatry. So David complains, "they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, go serve other gods" 1 Samuel 26:19. The restoration then of single members, or of smaller bodies of captives, was, at that time, an unspeakable mercy. It was the restoration of those shut out from the worship of God; and so was an image "of the deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God" Romans 8:21, or of any "return" of those who had gone astray, "to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls 1 Peter 2:25. The grievous captivity of the Jews, now, is to Satan, whose servants they made themselves, when they said, "we have no king but Caesar; His Blood be upon us and upon our children." Their blessed deliverance will be "from the power of Satan unto God" Acts 26:18. It is certain from Paul Romans 11:26, that there shall be a complete conversion of the Jews, before the end of the world, as indeed has always been believed. This shall probably be shortly before the end of the world, and God would here say, "when I shall have brought to an end the "captivity of Judah and Jerusalem," i. e., of that people "to whom were the promises" Romans 9:4, and shall have delivered them from the bondage of sin and from blindness to light and freedom in Christ, then will I gather all nations to judgment."


Joe 3:1-21. God's Vengeance on Israel's Foes in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. His Blessing on the Church.

1. bring again the captivity—that is, reverse it. The Jews restrict this to the return from Babylon. Christians refer it to the coming of Christ. But the prophet comprises the whole redemption, beginning from the return out of Babylon, then continued from the first advent of Christ down to the last day (His second advent), when God will restore His Church to perfect felicity [Calvin].God’s judgments against the enemies of his people, Joel 3:1-17. His blessing upon the church, Joel 3:18-21.

Though our dividing this chapter from the former seems to some a beginning of some new matter, yet indeed the prophet prosecutes his old subject, and proceeds to declare how that great thing mentioned in the last verse of the second chapter should be effected, and in this verse you have a transition to that thing.

Behold: it is a note of great attention, and heeding what is to be here spoken.

When I shall bring again the captivity; when I shall by Cyrus the type bring Judah’s people out of Babylonish captivity, the emblem of a greater and worse captivity. Judah after the flesh as the type, but, according to the mystery of it, Judah signifieth the whole remnant or residue of those God will save.

Jerusalem, both literally and typically understood; so that beside what refers to the history of the two tribes, or kingdom of the house of David, restored out of captivity by Cyrus, the bringing back the captivity of the whole Israel of God by Christ the Messiah is here to be considered, and all along through this chapter.

For, behold, in those days, and at that time,.... Which Kimchi refers to the times of the Messiah; and is true of the latter times of the Messiah, of his spiritual reign yet to come:

when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem: not from the Edomites, Tyrians, and Philistines, that had carried them captive in the times of Ahaz; nor from Babylon, where they had been carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar; for nothing of what is after foretold followed upon the return of these captivities: but this designs the present captivity of the Jews, and the restoration of them to their own land; of which see Isaiah 52:8.

For, behold, in {a} those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,

(a) When I will deliver my Church, which consists of both Jews and Gentiles.

1. For] The chapter is closely connected with Joel 2:28-32, for explaining how the faithful Israelites will be delivered (Joel 2:32); viz. on account of a judgement to be held upon the heathen world, which will have the effect of freeing the Israelites.

behold] The particle, as often, draws attention to some new and important announcement (cf. Isaiah 3:1; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 19:1; Amos 6:11, &c.).

in those days, and in that time] The same combination, Jeremiah 33:15; Jeremiah 50:4; Jeremiah 50:20. The time referred to is that of Israel’s deliverance (Joel 2:32).

bring again the captivity] or, perhaps, turn the fortune (comp. on Amos 9:14): upon either interpretation, a decisive change in the condition of Judah and Jerusalem is denoted by the words.Verses 1-3. - These verses describe the deliverance of God's people and the destruction of his enemies because of their injurious, insulting, and ignominious treatment of his people. Verse 1. - The time referred to: In those days, and in that time, is the first point to be determined. The reference is obviously to the period spoken of in the twenty-eighth verse of the second chapter, where we read, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flush." This seems to fix the date at least of the commencement of the events recorded in these verses. These events must have been subsequent to that Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But a still closer specification of the time is added by way of apposition, namely (asher supplemented by bahem or bah), when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem. This form of expression includes, beside the restoration of God's people from their dispersion and redemption out of captivity or distress of any kind, their elevation also to a higher position of dignity and to greater prosperity than they had ever before enjoyed. Thus of Job we read (Job 42:10)," And the Lord turned the captivity of Job... also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." The ki which introduces the verse gives assurance that the blessing promised in the concluding verse of the preceding chapter shall be realized; while the hinneh directs attention to the novelty and importance of the subject introduced in the first verse of this present chapter. The prophecy rises with a vigorous swing, as in Hosea 5:8, to the prediction of judgment. Hosea 5:1. "The trumpet to thy mouth! Like an eagle upon the house of Jehovah! Because they transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law. Hosea 5:2. To me will they cry: My God, we know Thee, we Israel!" The first sentence of Hosea 5:1 is an exclamation, and therefore has no verb. The summons issues from Jehovah, as the suffixes in the last sentences show, and is addressed to the prophet, who is to blow the trumpet, as the herald of Jehovah, and give the people tidings of the approaching judgment (see at Hosea 5:8). The second sentence gives the alarming message to be delivered: like an eagle comes the foe, or the judgment upon the house of Jehovah. The simile of the eagle, that shoots down upon its prey with the rapidity of lightning, points back to the threat of Moses in Deuteronomy 28:49. The "house of Jehovah" is neither the temple at Jerusalem (Jerome, Theod., Cyr.), the introduction of which here would be at variance with the context; nor the principal temple of Samaria, with the fall of which the whole kingdom would be ruined (Ewald, Sim.), since the temples erected for the calf-worship at Daniel and Bethel are called Bēth bâmōth, not Bēth Yehōvâh; nor even the land of Jehovah, either here or at Hosea 9:15 (Hitzig), for a land is not a house; but Israel was the house of Jehovah, as being a portion of the congregation of the Lord, as in Hosea 9:15; Numbers 12:7; Jeremiah 12:7; Zechariah 9:8; cf. οἶκος Θεοῦ in Hebrews 3:6 and 1 Timothy 3:15. The occasion of the judgment was the transgression of the covenant and law of the Lord, which is more particularly described in 1 Timothy 3:4. In this distress they will call for help to Jehovah: "My God (i.e., each individual will utter this cry), we know Thee?" Israel is in apposition to the subject implied in the verb. They know Jehovah, so far as He has revealed Himself to the whole nation of Israel; and the name Israel is in itself a proof that they belong to the people of God.
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