Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Multitudes.—The command has gone forth; it is obeyed; and the prophet stands aghast at the vast multitudes assembling in the valley of decision, the place of judgment.Joel 3:14-15. Multitudes, &c. — These are Joel’s words, exclaiming, with prophetic warmth and agitation, Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! — As though he had said, See what astonishing numbers are brought together for their destruction! The sentence, thus abrupt and broken, is very strong and emphatical. The place is called the valley of decision, because in it the cause would be decided between God and his enemies, and there he would execute judgment upon them. Houbigant reads, the valley of excision, that is, of cutting off: and Chandler, the appointed valley, namely, where God had appointed to execute his judgments. The sun and the moon shall be darkened — States and kingdoms shall be overthrown; and the stars shall withdraw their shining — Kings and princes shall be cast down from their state of dignity and pre- eminence, and shall be deprived of their power and glory. Or the meaning is, This particular judgment shall be a forerunner of the general one, when the whole frame of nature shall be dissolved.Psalm 2:1-2; but the place where they are gathered, (although they know it not,) is the "valley of decision," i. e., of "sharp, severe judgment." The valley is the same as that before called "the valley of Jehoshaphat;" but whereas that name only signifies "God judgeth," this further name denotes the strictness of God's judgment. The word signifies "cut," then "decided;" then is used of severe punishment, or destruction decided and decreed , by God.
For the Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision - Their gathering against God shall be a token of His coming to judge them. They come to fulfill their own ends; but His shall be fulfilled on them. They are left to bring about their own doom; and being abandoned by Him, rush on the more blindly because it is at hand. When their last sin is committed, their last defiance of God spoken or acted against Him, it is come. At all times, indeed, "the Lord is at hand" Philippians 4:5. It may be, that we are told, that the whole future revealed to us "must shortly come to pass" Revelation 1:1, in order to show that all time is a mere nothing, a moment, a dream, when it is gone. Yet here it is said, relatively, not to us, but to the things foretold, that it "is near" to come.
valley of decision—that is, the valley in which they are to meet their "determined doom." The same as "the valley of Jehoshaphat," that is, "the valley of judgment" (see on Joe 3:2). Compare Joe 3:12, "there will I sit to judge," which confirms English Version rather than Margin, "threshing." The repetition of "valley of decision" heightens the effect and pronounces the awful certainty of their doom.Multitudes, multitudes; whether prediction or exclamation with wonder, it is doubled to intimate the mighty, numerous armies contending one against another, and thrashing each other, overthrowing numberless men between the conquered and conqueror. So each kingdom was overthrown successively. The Assyrian overthrown by Arbaces and Pul-belochus, conspiring against Sardanapalus, where the multitudes were so great that the blood of the slain is by Diodorus Siculus reported to have coloured the water of a river, and the number of the conspirators’ army before Nineveh is said to be four hundred thousand. After this we meet Sennacherib’s mighty hosts against Egypt and the Philistines, to neither of which could he march but either through part of Judea or very near to it, and after this he hath one hundred and eighty-five thousand slain in one night before Jerusalem; beside Necho’s army marching toward Carchemish, and Nebuchadnezzar’s army in pursuit of the routed Egyptian, and the armies of Alexander the Great, and after these the armies of the Seleucid and the Lagidee.
In the valley of decision; where God, having by wise providence gathered them, did by just determination of the victory decide their quarrels, and by the conqueror punished the conquered for their sins against God and his people.
The day of the Lord; the day of vengeance and righteous recompences upon enemies,
is near: if it begin in the punishment of Nineveh and the Assyrian kingdom, by the cutting off Sennacherib’s army, it was in Joel’s time, not above sixty-four years, supposing Joel prophesied in Jeroboam the Second’s time; and probably not quite twenty years to this day of the Lord if Joel prophesied this in Hezekiah’s time, or after the captivating of the ten tribes by Shalmaneser, which was A.M. 3283, and Sennacherib’s overthrow was 3294, eleven years after the deportation, as Archbishop Usher in his Annals. Micah 4:13; these seem to be the words of the prophet, breaking out into this pathetic exclamation, upon a sight of the vast multitudes gathered together in this valley, and slain in it; and the doubling of the word serves to express the prodigious number of them: and this shows that this prophecy refers either to the vast army of the Turks, under the name of Gog, and the great slaughter that will be made of them; and that this valley may be the same with the valley of Hamongog, that is, the valley of the multitude of Gog, where their multitude of slain shall be buried, Ezekiel 39:11; or to that vast carnage of the antichristian kings and their armies at Armageddon, Revelation 16:14; the Targum is,
"armies, armies, in the valley of the division of judgment:''
for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision; that is, the great and terrible day of the Lord, to take vengeance on all the antichristian powers, both eastern and western, is nigh at hand, which will be done in this valley.Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. The prophet already hears in spirit the distant hum of the multitudes thronging tumultously in the valley of decision.
Multitudes] The Hebrew term is more picturesque than the English one, and suggests the confused noise or hum of a great throng. Cf. Isaiah 17:12 a (where the word uproar is the same, and roar and roaring are the corresponding verb).
the valley of decision] Another name of the ‘valley of Jah’s judgement’ (Joel 3:2; Joel 3:12), so called on account of the ‘decision’ to be executed in it. The word rendered decision is cognate with those rendered decided in 1 Kings 20:40, and determined in Isaiah 10:23; Isaiah 28:22, and identical with that rendered determined in Isaiah 10:22 and Job 14:5 (properly something cut sharply off, de-cision, de-termination). The word ḥârûtz means, however, also a sharp threshing-board (see on Amos 1:3): hence A.V. marg. (following the explanation which David Kimchi seems to prefer) threshing; and so Credner, and a few other moderns, supposing the allusion to be to the cruel method of treating captives mentioned in Amos 1:3 : but there is nothing to suggest that sense here; nor does Joel 3:12 (in which the figure of the wine-press follows that of the harvest) at all lead up to it.
for the day of Jehovah is near, &c.] cf. Joel 1:15, Joel 2:1. The clause states the reason why the “valley of decision” is thus filled with the nations: because, namely, the great ‘day of Jehovah’ is immediately at hand.Verse 14. - This and the following verses, instead of expressly narrating the execution of the Divine command, present a picture of it. In one part the prophet sees in vision and shows us pictorially the multitudes of the nations pouring on in one continuous stream into the fatal valley. In another compartment of the picture, Jehovah is seen in the awfulness of his majesty and in the fearfulness of his judgments on the wicked, while he is a Refuge and Strength for his people. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision. These multitudes are the tumultuous masses. Hamon is from the root הָמָה, to be noisy, or tumultuous. "It is identical," says Pusey, "with our ' hum; ' then noise, and, among others, the hum of a multitude, then a multitude even apart from that noise. It is used of the throng of a large army." The repetition emphasizes the masses as pits, pits, equivalent to "nothing but pits;" or ditches, ditches, equivalent to "full of ditches;" or it expresses diversity, equivalent to "multitudes of the living and multitudes of the dead." Decision is charuts, cut, something decided;
(1) so sharp, severe judgment, from chafers, to cut into, sharpen, dig.
(2) Others understand it in the sense of a threshing-wain, equivalent to charuts morag, a sharpened threshing-instrument. All things being now ready, the immediate proximity of the judgment is announced to be at hand. Hosea 8:14. And Israel forgot its Creator, and built palaces: and Judah multiplied fortified cities: and I shall send fire into its cities, and it will devour its castles." With the multiplication of the altars they increased the number of the sacrifices. הבהבי is a noun in the plural with the suffix, and is formed from יהב by reduplication. The slain-offerings of my sacrificial gifts, equivalent to the gifts of slain-offerings presented to me continually, they sacrifice as flesh, and eat it; that is to say, they are nothing more than flesh, which they slay and eat, and not sacrifices in which Jehovah takes delight, or which could expiate their sins. Therefore the Lord will punish their sins; they will return to Egypt, i.e., be driven away into the land of bondage, out of which God once redeemed His people. These words are simply a special application of the threat, held out by Moses in Deuteronomy 28:68, to the degenerate ten tribes. Egypt is merely a type of the land of bondage, as in Hosea 9:3, Hosea 9:6. In Hosea 8:14 the sin of Israel is traced back to its root. This is forgetfulness of God, and deification of their own power, and manifests itself in the erection of היכלות, palaces, not idolatrous temples. Judah also makes itself partaker of this sin, by multiplying the fortified cities, and placing its confidence in fortifications. These castles of false security the Lord will destroy. The 'armânōth answer to the hēkhâloth. The suffixes attached to בּעריו and ארמנתיה refer to both kingdoms: the masculine suffix to Israel and Judah, as a people; the feminine to the two as a land, as in Lamentations 2:5.
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