Joel 3:18
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth out of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) The mountains shall drop down new wine.—The material prosperity depicted in these verses symbolises the glorious reign of Jehovah when the last enemy has been destroyed, and “God is all in all.”

A fountain shall come forth.—The spiritual fertilising power of the knowledge of the Lord is compared to the life-giving influence of a stream of water, which causes luxuriance to the trees on its banks. This imagery is exemplified by Ezekiel, who traces the course of the waters issuing from under the threshold of the house of the Lord (Ezekiel 47). (Comp. Zechariah 14:8; Revelation 22:1.)

The valley of Shittim.—Heb., acacias. Shittim, in the land of Moab, is symbolical of the barrenness and sterility of land where there is no water; of the dry places of the world, where there are trees lacking moisture: the heathen, to whom God is not known, shall yet become covered with the knowledge of the Lord.

Joel 3:18. The mountains shall drop down new wine — Namely, the vines planted upon the mountains. The hills shall flow with milk — So fruitful shall the hills be, that milk shall abound everywhere. And all the rivers, &c. — These expressions are all figurative, and highly poetical, and, according to Calmet, symbolical of the doctrine of the gospel; which, accompanied by the Spirit of grace, was to flow forth from Jerusalem, and to water the Gentile world, which had been as a barren and uncultivated land.3:18-21 There shall be abundant Divine influences, and the gospel will spread speedily into the remotest corners of the earth. These events are predicted under significant emblems; there is a day coming, when every thing amiss shall be amended. The fountain of this plenty is in the house of God, whence the streams take rise. Christ is this Fountain; his sufferings, merit, and grace, cleanse, refresh, and make fruitful. Gospel grace, flowing from Christ, shall reach to the Gentile world, to the most remote regions, and make them abound in fruits of righteousness; and from the house of the Lord above, from his heavenly temple, flows all the good we daily taste, and hope to enjoy eternally.And it shall come to pass in that Day - After the destruction of antichrist, there will, it seems, still be a period of probation, in which the grace of God will abound and extend more and more widely. The prophet Zechariah, who continues on the image, of the "living waters going out from Jerusalem" Zechariah 14:8, places this gift after God had gathered all nations against Jerusalem, and had visibly and miraculously overthrown them Zechariah 14:2-4. But in that the blessings which he speaks of, are regenerating, they belong to time; the fullness of the blessing is completed only in eternity; the dawn is on earth, the everlasting brightness is in heaven. But though the prophecy belongs eminently to one time, the imagery describes the fulness of spiritual blessings which God at all times diffuses in and through the Church; and these blessings, he says, shall continue on in her for ever; her enemies shall be cut off for ever. It may be, that Joel would mark a fresh beginning and summary by his words, "It shall be in that Day." The prophets do often begin, again and again, their descriptions. Union with God, which is their theme, is one. Every gift of God to His elect, except the beatific vision, is begun in time, union with Himself, indwelling, His Spirit flowing forth from Him into His creatures, His love, knowledge of Him, although here through a glass darkly.

The promise cannot relate to exuberance of temporal blessings, even as tokens of God's favor. For he says, "a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim." But "the valley of Shittim" is on the other side Jordan, beyond the Dead Sea, so that by nature the waters could not flow there. The valley of Shittim or acacia trees is a dry valley, for in such the Easten Acacia, i. e., the sant or sandal wood grows. "It is," says Jerome (on Isaiah 12:1-6 :19), "a tree which grows in the desert, like a white thorn in color and leaves, not in size. For they are of such size, that very large planks , are cut out of them. The wood is very strong, and of incredible lightness and beauty. They do not grow in cultivated places, or in the Roman soil, save only in the desert of Arabia." It does not decay ; and when old becomes like ebony . Of it the ark of God was made, its staves, the table of showbread, the tabernacle and its pillars, the altar for burnt-offerings, and of incense Exodus 25:5, Exodus 25:10, Exodus 25:13, Exodus 25:23, Exodus 25:28; Exodus 26:15, Exodus 26:26, Exodus 26:32, Exodus 26:37; Exodus 27:1, Exodus 27:6; Exodus 30:1; Exodus 35:7, Exodus 35:24; Exodus 36:20, Exodus 36:31, Exodus 36:36; Exodus 37:1, Exodus 37:4, Exodus 37:10, Exodus 37:15, Exodus 37:25, Exodus 37:28; Exodus 38:1, Exodus 38:6; Deuteronomy 10:3. The valley is about six miles from Livias , seven and a half beyond the Dead Sea . It was the last station of Israel, before entering the land of promise Numbers 33:49, from where Joshua sent out the spies Joshua 2:1; where God turned the curse of Balaam into a blessling Numbers 23; 24; Micah 6:5; and he prophesied of the Star which should arise out of Israel, even Christ Numbers 24:17; where Israel sinned in Baal Peor, and Phineas turned aside His displeasure Numbers 25:1, Numbers 25:7, Numbers 25:11.

The existence of a large supply of water under the temple is beyond all question. While the temple was still standing, mention is made up of "a fountain of ever-flowing water under the temple," as well as pools and cisterns for preserving rain-water. One evidently well acquainted with the localities says , "The pavement has slopes at befitting places, for the sake of a flush of water which takes place in order to cleanse away the blood from the victims. For on festivals many myriads of animals are sacrificed. But of water there is an unfailing supply, a copious and natural fountain within gushing over, and there being moreover wonderful underground-receptacles in a circuit of five furlongs, in the substructure of the temple, and each of these having numerous pipes, the several streams inter-communicating, and all these closed up below and on the sides - There are also many mouths toward the base, invisible to all except those to whom the service of the temple belongs. So that the manifold blood of the sacrifices being brought together are cleansed by the gush (of water down) the slope."

This same writer relates that, more than half a mile from the city, he was told to stoop down and heard the sound of gushing waters underground. The natural fountain, then, beneath the temple was doubtless augmented by waters brought from a distance, as required for the "divers washings" both of the priests and other things, and to carry off the blood of the victims. Pools near the temple are mentioned by writers of the third and fourth century ; and Omar, on the surrender of Jerusalem, 634 a.d., was guided to the site of the ancient temple (whereon he built his Mosk) by the stream of water which issued through a water-channel from it . Whencesoever this water was derived, whether from a perennial spring beneath the temple itself, or whether brought there from some unfailing source without, it afforded Jerusalem an abundant supply of water.

Much as Jerusalem suffered in sieges by famine, and its besiegers by thirst, thirst was never any part of the sufferings of those within . The superfluous water was and still is carried off underground, to what is now "the fountain of the Virgin" , and thence again, through the rock, to the pool of Siloam . Thence it carried fertility to the gardens of Siloam, in Joel's time doubtless "the king's gardens" , still "a verdant spot, refreshing to the eye in the heat of summer, while all around is parched and dun." The blood of the victims flowed into the same brook Kidron, and was a known source of fertility, before the land was given to desolation. The waters of Kidron, as well as all the waters of Palestine, must have been more abundant formerly.

Isaiah speaks of it as "flowing softly" Isaiah 8:6; Josephus , of the "abundant fountain;" an official report , of the "fountain gushing forth with abundance of water." Still its fertilizing powers formed but one little oasis, where all around was arid. It fertilized those gardens live miles from the city, but the mid-space was waterless , thirsty, mournful . Lower down, the rivulet threaded its way to the Dead Sea, through a narrow ravine which became more and more wild, where Saba planted his monastery. "A howling wilderness, stern desolation. stupendous perpendicular cliffs, terrific chasms, oppressive solitude" are the terms by which one endeavors to characterize "the heart of this stern desert of Judaea" .

Such continues to be its character, in the remaining half of its course, until it is lost in the Dead Sea, and is transmuted into its saltness. Its valley bears the name of desolation, Wady en Nar , "valley of fire." No human path lies along it. The Kidron flows along "a deep and almost impenetrable ravine" Psalm 46:4, "in a narrow channel between perpendicular walls of rock, as if worn away by the rushing waters between those desolate chalky hills." That little oasis of verdure was fit emblem of the Jewish people, itself bedewed by the stream which issued from the Temple of God, but, like Gideon's fleece, leaving all around dry. It made no sensible impression out of, or beyond itself. Hereafter, "the stream", the Siloah, whose "streamlets," i. e., the artificial fertilizing divisions, "made glad the city of God" Ezekiel 47:1-12, should make the wildest, driest spots of our mortality "like the garden of the Lord." Desolation should become bright and happy; the parched earth should shoot up fresh with life; what was by nature barren and unfruitful should bring forth good fruit; places heretofore stained by sin should be purified; nature should be renewed by grace; and that, beyond the borders of the promised land, in that world which they had left, when Joshua brought them in there.

This, which it needs many words to explain, was vivid to those to whom Joel spoke. They had that spot of emerald green before their eyes, over which the stream which they then knew to issue from the temple trickled in transparent brightness, conducted by those channels formed by man's diligence. The eyes of the citizens of Jerusalem must have rested with pleasure on it amid the parched surface around. Fresher than the gladliest freshness of nature, brighter than its most kindled glow, is the renewing freshness of grace; and this, issuing from mount Zion, was to be the portion not of Judea only, but of the world.

The vision of Ezekiel EZechariah 47:1-12, which is a comment on the prophecy of Joel, clearly belongs primarily to this life. For in this life only is there need for healing; in this life only is there a desert land to be made fruitful; death to be changed into life; death and life, the healed and unhealed, side by side; life, where the stream of God's grace reacheth, and death and barrenness, where it reacheth not. The fishers who spread their nests amid "the fish, exceeding many," are an emblem which waited for and received its explanation from the parables of our Lord.

In the Revelation, above all, the peace, glory, holiness, vision of God, can only be fulfilled in the sight of God. Yet here too the increase of the Church, and the healing of the nations Revelation 21:24-26; Revelation 22:21, belong to time and to a state of probation, not of full fruition.

But then neither can those other symbols relate to earthly things.

The mountains shall drop down new wine - Literally, "trodden" out. What is ordinarily obtained by toil, shall be poured forth spontaneously. "And the hills shall flow with milk," literally, "flow milk," as though they themselves, of their own accord, gushed forth into the good gifts which they yield. "Wine" ever new, and ever renewing, sweet and gladdening the heart; "milk," the emblem of the spiritual food of childlike souls, of purest knowledge, holy devotion, angelic purity, heavenly pleasure. And these shall never cease. These gifts are spoken of, as the spontaneous, perpetual flow of the mountains and hills; and as the fountain gushes forth from the hill or mountain-side in one ceaseless flow, day and night, streaming out from the hidden recesses to which the waters are supplied by God from His treasure-house of the rain, so day and night, in sorrow or in joy, in prosperity or adversity, God pours out, in the Church and in the souls of His elect, the riches of His grace. "All the rivers," literally "channels, of Judah shall flow with water." Every "channel," however narrow and easily drying up, shall "flow with water," gushing forth unto everlasting life; the love of God shall stream through every heart; each shall he full according to its capacity and none the less full, because a larger tide pours through others. How much more , "in those everlasting hills of heaven, "the heavenly Jerusalem," resting on the eternity and Godhead of the Holy Trinity, shall that long promise be fulfilled of the land flowing with milk and honey, where God, through the beatific vision of Himself, shall pour into the blessed "the torrent of pleasure," the unutterable sweetness of joy and gladness unspeakable in Himself; and "all the rivers of Judah," i. e., all the powers, capacities, senses, speech of the saints who "confess" God, shall flow with a perennial stream of joy, thanksgiving, and jubilee, as of all pleasure and bliss."

18. mountains … drop … wine—figurative for abundance of vines, which were cultivated in terraces of earth between the rocks on the sides of the hills of Palestine (Am 9:13).

hills … flow with milk—that is, they shall abound in flocks and herds yielding milk plentifully, through the richness of the pastures.

waters—the great desideratum for fertility in the parched East (Isa 30:25).

fountain … of … house of … Lord … water … valley of Shittim—The blessings, temporal and spiritual, issuing from Jehovah's house at Jerusalem, shall extend even to Shittim, on the border between Moab and Israel, beyond Jordan (Nu 25:1; 33:49; Jos 2:1; Mic 6:5). "Shittim" means "acacias," which grow only in arid regions: implying that even the arid desert shall be fertilized by the blessing from Jerusalem. So Eze 47:1-12 describes the waters issuing from the threshold of the house as flowing into the Dead Sea, and purifying it. Also in Zec 14:8 the waters flow on one side into the Mediterranean, on the other side into the Dead Sea, near which latter Shittim was situated (compare Ps 46:4; Re 22:1).

In that day; when afflictions, amidst which they were preserved, from which delivered, and by which they were purified.

The mountains; the vines planted upon the mountains, which were dried up, Joel 1:12, shall now be full of juice and fruit.

Shall drop down, shall come down as the showers or dew, sweetly and plentifully, new wine; sweet and delicious.

The hills shall flow with milk; so fruitful shall the hills be, and keep so many cows, sheep, and goats, that milk shall abound every where, as it were a current that ever runs down.

All the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters: in the great drought rivers dried up, now the rivers shall be full of water and ever flow.

A fountain: the prophet alludes to those waters which were conveyed from some spring through conduit pipes towards the altar, of which Ezekiel 47:1-5, for the use of the temple, in which water the priests washed what was to be washed. This no doubt is a shadow of the purifying blood of Christ, and his sanctifying Spirit and word. And in that it is said to

come from the house of the Lord, it intimateth that these glad tidings, this saving grace, shall be first preached from Jerusalem, and by the church, which is the house of God, shall be published to others.

Shall water, refresh, purge, and make fruitful in all holy works,

the valley of Shittim; it was a place in the plains of Moab, on the borders of Israel towards the south-east, Numbers 33:49 Joshua 3:1, not far from the Dead Sea. These spiritual waters shall flow down to the dry and thirsty, the barren and fruitless Gentiles, and make them fruitful. And it shall come to pass in that day,.... When antichrist shall be destroyed; the Jews converted; the power of godliness revived, and the presence of God among his people enjoyed. Vitringa, in his Commentary on Isaiah, frequently applies this, and such like prophecies, to the times of the Maccabees; though, he owns, they were but an emblem of better times under the Gospel dispensation; nor does he deny the mystical and spiritual sense of them;

that the mountains shall drop down new wine; which, and the following expressions, are to be understood not in a strict literal sense, as Lactantius (t) seems to have understood them; who says, that, in the Millennium, God will cause a rain of blessing to descend morning and evening; the earth shall bring forth all kind of fruit without the labour of man; honey shall drop from the rocks, and the fountains of milk and wine shall overflow: but hyperbolically, just as the land of Canaan is said to flow with milk and honey; not that it really did, but the phrase is used to denote the fertility of it, and the abundance of temporal blessings in it. The literal sense is this, that the mountains shall be covered with vines, on which they are often planted; these vines shall be full of large clusters of grape; and these grapes, being pressed, shall yield a large quantity of new wine; and so, by a metonymy, the mountains are said to drop it down (u), that is, abound with it, or produce an abundance of it: but the spiritual or mystical sense is, that the churches of Christ in those times, comparable to mountains, and so to hills in the next clause, for their exalted and visible glorious state in which they now will be; and for the rich gifts and graces of the Spirit within them; and for the pasture upon them, and the trees of righteousness that grow thereon; and also for their firmness and stability, their immovableness and perpetual duration; these shall abound with fresh and large discoveries of the love of God and Christ, which is better than wine, Sol 1:2; like wine, cheering and refreshing; like new wine, though old as to its original, yet new in the manifestations of it; and which are usually made in the church, and the ordinances of it, to the making glad the hearts of the Lord's people; also they shall abound with the blessings of grace, the fruits of love, such as pardon, peace, justification, &c. which, like wine, fill with joy, revive and comfort; and though they are ancient blessings, provided long ago, they are exhibited under the Gospel dispensation in a new covenant way; and the application of them is made in the churches, in Zion, where the Lord commands the blessing, even life for evermore. This may also take in the Gospel, which brings the good news of these blessings, and so is very reviving and cheering; and, though ordained and preached of old, is newly revealed under the present dispensation; and will be more clearly in later times, when all the mountains or churches will abound with it, and even the whole earth be filled with the knowledge of it, Isaiah 11:9; likewise the ordinance of the Lord's supper, that feast of fat things, of wines on the lees well refined, made in the mountain of the Lord, for all his people may be included; and both in that, and in the ministry of the word, the Lord is sometimes pleased, as he may more abundantly hereafter, to give his saints some foretaste of that new wine, which Christ and they shall partake of in his Father's kingdom; see Sol 7:9 Matthew 26:29;

and the hills shall flow with milk: that is, there shall be much pasturage upon them, and a great number of cattle feeding thereon, which shall yield large quantities of milk; and so, by the same figure as before, the hills may be said to flow with it (w). The spiritual meaning is, that the churches of Christ, comparable to hills, for the reasons before given, shall abound with the means of grace, with the sincere milk of the word; to which the Gospel is compared for its whiteness and purity, for every word of God is pure and purifying; for assuaging the wrath the law produces; it being easy of digestion, even to newborn babes; and its salutary nourishing virtue and efficacy; and of this there will be great abundance in the latter day; see Sol 4:11 1 Peter 2:2;

and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters; that is, the channels in which the rivers run; these, in a time of drought, are sometimes empty, and the bottoms of them to be seen, but now full of water, and flow with it: grace is often in Scripture compared to "water" because of its refreshing, cleansing, and fructifying nature; and "rivers" denote, an abundance of it; and the "channels", through which it is conveyed to men, out of the fulness of Christ, are the ordinances; see Zechariah 4:12; and the prophecy suggests, that these should not be dry and empty, but that large measures of grace shall be communicated by means of them to the souls of men, to their great comfort and edification, and for the supply of their wants; see Ezekiel 36:25;

and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord; not meaning baptism, as some; nor Christ, the fountain of grace, life, and salvation; but the Gospel, the word of the Lord, that fountain full of excellent truths and doctrines; of the blessings of grace; of exceeding great and precious promises; and of much spiritual peace, joy, and comfort: this is the law or doctrine of the Lord, that should come out of Zion, or the church, Isaiah 2:3; the living waters that shall come out of Jerusalem, Zechariah 14:8; and the same with the waters in Ezekiel's vision, that came from under the threshold of the house, Ezekiel 47:1; it seems to denote the small beginnings of the Gospel, and the great increase and overflow of it in the world, as it does in all the above passages: this is referred by the ancient Jews (x) to the times of the Messiah;

and shall water the valley of Shittim; a plain or valley near Jordan, upon the borders of Moab, at the farther end of Canaan that way, Numbers 33:49. Benjamin of Tudela (y) says, that from the mount of Olives may be seen the plain and brook of Shittim, unto or near Mount Nebo, which was in the land of Moab. This valley or plain, as the Targum, was so called, either from the "shittah" tree, Isaiah 41:19; of which was the wood "shittim", so much used for various things in the tabernacle and temple, that grew there; and which Jerom on this place says was a kind of tree that grew in the wilderness, like a white thorn in colour and leaves, though not in size, for otherwise it was a very large tree, out of which the broadest planks might be cut, and its wood very strong, and of incredible, smoothness and beauty; and which grew not in cultivated places, nor in the Roman soil, but in the desert of Arabia; and therefore one would think did not grow in this plain near Jordan, and so could not be denominated from hence: but Dr. Shaw (z) observes, that the Acacia is by much the largest and the most common tree of these deserts (that is, of Arabia), as it might likewise have been of the plains of Shittim, over against Jericho, from whence it took its name; and adds, we have some reason to conjecture that the shittim wood, whereof the various utensils, &c. of the tabernacle, &c. Exodus 25:10, &c. were made, was the wood of the acacia. Or it may be this place had its name from the rushes which grew on the banks of Jordan, near to which it was; for so, is the word interpreted by some (a): and Saadiah Gaon says, this valley is Jordan; so called, because Jordan was near to a place called Shittim: however, be it as it will, this can never be understood in a literal sense, that any fountain should arise out of the temple, and flow as far as beyond Jordan, and water any tract of land there; but must be understood spiritually, of the same waters of the sanctuary as in Ezekiel's vision, Ezekiel 47:1; at most, the literal sense could only be, that the whole land should be well watered from one end to the other, and, become very fertile and fruitful, by the order and direction of the Lord, that dwells in his temple. The mystical sense is best. Jarchi makes mention of a Midrash, that interprets it of the expiation of the sins of the Israelites, in the affair of Baalpeor at Shittim, Numbers 25:1; but the true spiritual sense is, that the Gospel shall be carried to the further parts of the earth; that the whole world shall be filled and watered with it, and become fruitful, which before was like a desert; these living waters shall flow, both toward the former and the hinder seas, the eastern and west: era, as in Zechariah 14:8; see Isaiah 11:9. Some render it, "shall water the valley of cedars" (b); the shittim wood being a kind of cedar, of which many things belonging to the tabernacle, a type of the church, was made, being firm, sound, incorruptible, and durable; see Exodus 25:10; saints are compared to cedars for their height in Christ, their strength in him, and in his grace; their large and spreading leaves, branches, and roots, or growth in grace; and for their duration and incorruption; see Numbers 24:5; a valley may signify the low estate of God's people; or be an emblem of lowly, meek, and humble souls, to whom the Gospel is preached, and who are watered and revived by it, and to whom more grace is given; see Isaiah 40:4. It is by Symmachus rendered "the valley of thorns"; and so Quinquarboreus (c) says the word signifies and designs such who are barren in good works.

(t) Epitome Divin. Institut. c. 11. Vid. Institut. l. 7. c. 24. (u) "Incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus uva, Et durae quercus sudabunt roscida mella". Virgil. Eclog. 4. l. 29, 30. (w) "Flumina jam lactis, jam flumina nectaris ibant, Flavaque de viridi stillabant ibice mella". Ovid. Metamorph. l. 1.((x) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 63. 2.((y) Itineranium, p. 44. (z) Travels, c. 3. p. 444, 459. Ed. 2.((a) Vid. Relaud. Palestina Illustrata, l. 1. c. 54, p. 351, 352. (b) "vallem cedrorum lectissimorum", Junius & Tremellius, Tarnovius. (c) Scholia in Targum in loc.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall {l} drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.

(l) He promises to his Church abundance of graces, see Geneva Eze 47:1, which would water and comfort the most barren places; Am 9:13.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. in that day] In the era beginning immediately after the judgement on the nations. Cf. on Amos 9:11.

the mountains shall drop down sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk] A hyperbolical description of the fertility of the soil (cf. Job 29:6). The words are evidently based upon Amos 9:13 “The mountains shall cause sweet wine to drop down, and all the hills shall melt.” On “sweet wine,” see on Amos 9:13.

rivers] channels, as Joel 1:20. The streams will then no more dry up through a drought, as they had done recently (Joel 1:20).

and a fountain, &c.] A stream issuing forth from the Temple will water the “Wâdy of the Acacias,” which (from the context, as well as probably from the name) must have been some particularly dry and unfruitful Wâdy in Judah. The two parallel passages which ought in particular to be compared are Zechariah 14:8, where it is promised that ‘living’ (i.e. running) waters, flowing alike in summer and winter, shall come forth from Jerusalem in two streams, one going down into the Dead Sea, and the other into the Mediterranean Sea; and Ezekiel 47:1-12, where, in his vision of the territory of the restored people, the prophet sees waters issuing forth from under the Eastern threshold of the Temple, which gradually swelled into a deep stream descending into the Arábah, fertilizing the soil along its banks, and entering finally the Dead Sea, the waters of which it sweetened, enabling fish to live in them. Probably the thought of these passages was suggested by the “waters of Shiloah” (Isaiah 8:6 : cf. Psalm 46:4; John 9:7), which actually gushed out beneath the Temple hill in a perennial stream, fertilizing (as they do still) the parts of the Wâdy of the Kidron in their immediate neighbourhood, though not abundant enough to flow further; and the idea which the three prophets share in common is that these waters should be increased in volume to such an extent as to be capable of fertilizing effectually the barren parts of Judah, especially the Wâdy of the Kidron, the deep and rocky gorge which runs down from Jerusalem into the Dead Sea (see the next note).

the valley of Shittim] the Wâdy of Shittim (or of the Acacias). The word is quite a different one from that rendered ‘valley’ in Joel 3:2; Joel 3:12; Joel 3:14, and means a gorge between hills containing a watercourse, with or without water, as the case might be (see on Amos 5:24). What Wâdy is meant, is however uncertain. According to many, the reference is to the ‘Meadow of Shittim (or of the Acacias)’—part of the broad plain into which the Jordan-valley expands immediately before the river enters the Dead Sea, and now identified generally with the Ghôr es-Seisebân—which was the last camping-ground of the Israelites before they crossed the Jordan (Numbers 33:49; also called simply The Shittim, or The Acacias, ib. Numbers 25:1; Joshua 2:1 al.). But the depression through which the Jordan flows has a special name, the Arábah, and is never called a Wâdy (naḥal); and it is hardly likely that Joel would picture the stream as crossing the Jordan, and fertilizing the soil on the opposite side. Others, therefore (as Credner, Hitzig), prefer to think that the “Wâdy of the Acacias” was the Kidron-Wâdy itself, which starting (under the name Wâdy el-Jôz) a little N.W. of Jerusalem, bends round so as to run along the E. of the city, separating it from the Mount of Olives (cf. above on Joel 3:2), and then, as a deep, rocky gorge (now called, perhaps from the “furnace-like” heat of its lower stretches, the Wâdy en-Nâr or “the Wâdy of Fire”) runs down in a S.E. direction towards the Dead Sea, which it joins at about 10 miles from its N. end (see Plate iv. in G. A. Smith, Geogr.): though in winter-time there is sometimes water in the bed of this naḥal, it is in general quite dry, the soil is rocky, and it runs through the arid and desolate region known as the “wilderness of Judah” (cf. Smith, l.c. p. 511 f.). There is little doubt that this was the naḥal through which Ezekiel pictured the fertilizing waters as flowing, in his vision, ch. 47. For Acacias on the W. shore of the Dead Sea, see Tristram, Land of Isr., pp. 280, 295. Wellhausen thinks of the Wâdy on the S.W. of Jerusalem—usually identified with the Wâdy of Elah of 1 Samuel 17:2—which still bears the corresponding name, Wâdy es-Sunṭ (or Sanṭ): this forms part of the direct route from Jerusalem to Tell eṣ-Ṣâfiyeh (probably Gath), and Ashkelon (cf. G. A. Smith, Plate iv., and pp. 226 f.). The reason why Joel specifies the Wâdy of the Acacias is to be found, no doubt, in the fact that the Acacia (as Jerome, on Isaiah 41:17, already observes) grows in dry soil—it is abundant, for instance, in the peninsula of Sinai; and hence the name might well be given to an arid Wâdy, such as needed fertilizing. Comp. Revelation 22:1-2.

18–20. Israel’s final prosperity. After the judgement upon the nations, the land of Judah will be blessed with preternatural fertility, and will enjoy for ever undisturbed peace, while that of her foes will become a desolate waste.Verses 18-21. - These verses picture Judah and Jerusalem as scenes of most abundant blessings, while Egypt and Edom are doomed to irretrievable barrenness and desolation. But, as the language must be understood figuratively, the prosperity of the Lord's laud is set in contrast with the countries of the world-powers; but the contrast includes, as we think, the allotments of eternity as well as the destinies of time. Verse 18. - In that day. These words express the state of things consequent on the judgment just executed. The mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow (margin, go) with waters. Thus the mountains are represented as covered over with vines of richest growth and terraced to the top; the hills as affording most luxuriant pastures and clothed with flocks; the rivers, dried up in summer and reduced to dried-up river-beds, flowing unintermittingly and coursing along with full stream. To exuberance of wine and milk is added, what is no less valuable in a thirsty Eastern land, abundance of water. The source of this abundant supply is a fountain; the fountain-head is the house of the Lord; thence proceeds a broad deep stream, which makes its way to the Jordan valley and across the river to the dry trans-Jordanic valley of acacias, as it is added: A fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim; from which statement we must conclude the figurative signification of the whole of this and the following verses. Parallels for some of the above expressions are not far to seek. Ovid's description of the golden age, in which be speaks of rivers of milk and rivers of nectar and honey dropping from the green palm tree, is cited by Rosenmuller; while the 'Speaker's Commentary' quotes from the 'Bacchae' of Euripides the lines about the plain flowing with milk, flowing with wine, and flowing with the nectar of the bees. Instead of the "hills flowing with milk," we should rather expect the milk to be spoken of as flowing; the hypallage, however, as we may consider it, makes the clause more symmetrical with those between which it stands. Thus Kimchi: "The meaning of 'They shall flow (go) with milk,' is from the abundance of the flowing and running: he applies the name of flowing (going) to the hills, even although that the milk is that which goes and flows." And in reference to the following clause he says, "He uses the name of going to the channels." That is one side of the picture. We are now invited to look on this - "They will not remain in the land of Jehovah: Ephraim returns to Egypt, and they will eat unclean things in the land of Asshur. Hosea 9:4. They will not pour out wine to Jehovah, and their slain-offerings will not please Him: like bread of mourning are they to Him; all who eat it become unclean: for their bread is for themselves, it does not come into the house of Jehovah." Because they have fallen away from Jehovah, He will drive them out of His land. The driving away is described as a return to Egypt, as in Hosea 8:13; but Asshur is mentioned immediately afterwards as the actual land of banishment. That this threat is not to be understood as implying that they will be carried away to Egypt as well as to Assyria, but that Egypt is referred to here and in Hosea 9:6, just as in Hosea 8:13, simply as a type of the land of captivity, so that Assyria is represented as a new Egypt, may be clearly seen from the words themselves, in which eating unclean bread in Assyria is mentioned as the direct consequence of their return to Egypt; whereas neither here nor in Hosea 9:6 is their being carried away to Assyria mentioned at all; but, on the contrary, in Hosea 9:6, Egypt only is introduced as the place where they are to find their grave. This is still more evident from the fact that Hosea throughout speaks of Asshur alone, as the rod of the wrath of God for His rebellious people. The king of Asshur is king Jareb (striver), to whom Ephraim goes for help, and by whom it will be put to shame (Hosea 5:13; Hosea 10:6); and it is from the Assyrian king Salman that devastation and destruction proceed (Hosea 10:14). And, lastly, it is expressly stated in Hosea 11:5, that Israel will not return to Egypt, but to Asshur, who will be its king. By the allusion to Egypt, therefore, the carrying away to Assyria is simply represented as a state of bondage and oppression, resembling the sojourn of Israel in Egypt in the olden time, or else the threat contained in Deuteronomy 28:68 is simply transferred to Ephraim. They will eat unclean things in Assyria, not only inasmuch as when, under the oppression of their heathen rulers, they will not be able to observe the laws of food laid down in the law, or will be obliged to eat unclean things from simple want and misery; but also inasmuch as all food, which was not sanctified to the Lord by the presentation of the first-fruits, was unclean food to Israel (Hengstenberg). In Assyria these offerings would cease with the whole of the sacrificial ritual; and the food which was clean in itself would thereby become unclean outside the land of Jehovah (cf. Ezekiel 4:13). This explanation of טמא is required by Hosea 9:4, in which a further reason is assigned for the threat. For what we have there is not a description of the present attitude of Israel towards Jehovah, but a picture of the miserable condition of the people in exile. The verbs are pure futures. In Assyria they will neither be able to offer wine to the Lord as a drink-offering, nor such slain-offerings as we well-pleasing to Him. For Israel could only offer sacrifices to its God at the place where He made known His name by revelation, and therefore not in exile, where He had withdrawn His gracious presence from it. The drink-offerings are mentioned, as pars pro toto, in the place of all the meat-offerings and drink-offerings, i.e., of the bloodless gifts, which were connected with the zebhâchı̄m, or burnt-offerings and thank-offerings (shelâmı̄m, Numbers 15:2-15, Numbers 15:28-29), and could never be omitted when the first-fruits were offered (Leviticus 23:13, Leviticus 23:18). "Their sacrifices:" zibhchēhem belongs to יערבוּ־לו (shall be pleasing to Him), notwithstanding the previous segholta, because otherwise the subject to יערבו would be wanting, and there is evidently quite as little ground for supplying נס'כיהם from the preceding clause, as Hitzig proposes, as for assuming that ערב here means to mix. Again, we must not infer from the words, "their slain-offerings will not please Him," that the Israelites offered sacrifices when in exile. The meaning is simply that the sacrifices, which they might wish to offer to Jehovah there, would not be well-pleasing to Him. We must not repeat זבחיהם as the subject to the next clause להם ... כּלחם, in the sense of "their sacrifices will be to them like mourners' bread," which would give no suitable meaning; for though the sacrifices are called bread of God, they are never called the bread of men. The subject may be supplied very readily from kelechem (like bread) thus: their bread, or food, would be to them like mourners' bread; and the correctness of this is proved by the explanatory clause, "for their bread," etc. Lechem 'ōnı̄m, bread of affliction, i.e., of those who mourn for the dead (cf. Deuteronomy 26:14), in other words, the bread eaten at funeral meals. This was regarded as unclean, because the corpse defiled the house, and all who came in contact with it, for seven days (Numbers 19:14). Their bread would resemble bread of this kind, because it had not been sanctified by the offering of the first-fruits. "For their bread will not come into the house of Jehovah," viz., to be sanctified, "for their souls," i.e., to serve for the preservation of their life.
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