Joel 1:3
Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.
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1:1-7 The most aged could not remember such calamities as were about to take place. Armies of insects were coming upon the land to eat the fruits of it. It is expressed so as to apply also to the destruction of the country by a foreign enemy, and seems to refer to the devastations of the Chaldeans. God is Lord of hosts, has every creature at his command, and, when he pleases, can humble and mortify a proud, rebellious people, by the weakest and most contemptible creatures. It is just with God to take away the comforts which are abused to luxury and excess; and the more men place their happiness in the gratifications of sense, the more severe temporal afflictions are upon them. The more earthly delights we make needful to satisfy us, the more we expose ourselves to trouble.Tell ye your children of it - In the order of God's goodness, generation was to declare to generation the wonders of His love. "He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should make them known to their children, that the generation to come might know them, the children which should be born, who should arise and declare them to their children that they might ... not forget the works of God" Psalm 78:5-7. This tradition of thankful memories God, as the Psalmist says, enforced in the law; "Take heed to thyself, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, but teach them thy sons and thy sons' sons" (Deuteronomy 4:9; add Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Deuteronomy 11:19). This was the end of the memorial acts of the ritual, that their sons might inquire the meaning of them, the fathers tell them God's wonders Deuteronomy 6:20-24. Now contrariwise, they are, generation to generation, to tell concerning it, this message of unheard-of woe and judgment. The memory of God's deeds of love should have stirred them to gratitude; now He transmits to them memories of woe, that they might entreat God against them, and break off the sins which entail them. 3. Tell ye your children—in order that they may be admonished by the severity of the punishment to fear God (Ps 78:6-8; compare Ex 13:8; Jos 4:7). Declare it very particularly, or record it, write it as in a book, that your children may know it, and the memory of it may be perpetuated; for as it was a very wonderful and unusual thing, so it was for to mind us of the cause of it, and what it taught, or should have taught, them and us.

Tell ye your children of it,.... Give them a particular account of it; describe the creatures and their number as near as you can; say when they begun and how long they continued, and what devastations they made, and what was the cause and reason of such a judgment, your sins and transgressions:

and let your children tell their children, and their children other generation; or, "to the generation following" (l); let it be handed down from one generation to another that it may be a caution to future posterity how they behave and lest they bring down the like awful judgments on them. What this referred to was as follows:

(l) "posteritati sequenti", Vatablus; "generationi posterae", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Tarnovius.

Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.
3. Recount concerning it to your children] recount,—a stronger word than tell, and implying some narrative of particulars.

to your children, &c.] comp. (also with recount) Exodus 10:2; Psalm 22:30 (R.V.), Psalm 48:13, Psalm 78:4; Psalm 78:6; and “our fathers have recounted to us,” Jdg 6:13; Psalm 44:1; Psalm 78:3. Usually, it is the memory of Jehovah’s deliverances, which is thus to be handed on from father to son (comp. also Exodus 12:26 f., Exodus 13:8; Exodus 13:14; Deuteronomy 4:9; Deuteronomy 6:20 f.; Joshua 4:6 f., 21 f.); here it is the memory of an unprecedented disaster.

Verse 3. - Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. The prophet thus draws attention to the event which be is about to relate, or rather predict, a8 a calamity unknown in the memory of living men, unheard of in the days of their fathers, unparalleled in the past experience of their nation, and one affecting all the inhabitants of the land. He challenges the old men whose memory went furthest back, and whose experience had been longest and largest, to confirm his statements; he calls on the inhabitants of the land to consider an event in which they were all concerned, and to recognize the hand of God in a disaster in which all would be involved. But, though the visitation with which they are threatened had had no precedent or parallel among the generation then present, or that which preceded it, or for many long years before, it was not to remain without memorial or record in the time to come. To this end the prophet commands his countrymen of Judah to relate it to their children, to their grandchildren, and even to their great-grand-children. The expression reminds us of Virgil's -

"Yea, sons of sons, and those who shall from them be born." It reads like a reminiscence of what is recorded of one of the plagues - the plague of locusts - in Egypt, of which we read in Exodus 10:6, "Which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day they were upon the earth unto this day;" while the direction to have it transmitted by tradition seems an echo of what we read in the second verse of the same chapter: "That thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt." Similarly, it is written in Psalm 78:5, 6, "He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children." The solemn manner in which the prophet draws attention to this by "Hear," "Give ear," and the earnestness with which he insists on the record of it being handed on from generation to generation, are intended to impress on the people the work of God in this visitation, its severity, the sin that caused it, and the call to repentance conveyed by it. Joel 1:3Joel 1:1 contains the heading to the book, and has already been noticed in the introduction. Joel 1:2. "Hear this, ye old men; and attend, all ye inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing indeed happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Joel 1:1. Ye shall tell your sons of it, and your sons their sons, and their sons the next generation. Joel 1:4. The leavings of the gnawer the multiplier ate, and the leavings of the multiplier the licker ate, and the leavings of the licker the devourer ate." Not only for the purpose of calling the attention of the hearers to his address, but still more to set forth the event of which he is about to speak as something unheard of - a thing that has never happened before, and therefore is a judgment inflicted by God - the prophet commences with the question addressed to the old men, whose memory went the furthest back, and to all the inhabitants of Judah, whether they had ever experienced anything of the kind, or heard of such a thing from their fathers; and with the command to relate it to their children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

(Note: "As he is inquiring concerning the past according to the command of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:7, he asks the old men, who have been taught by long experience, and are accustomed, whenever they see anything unusual, to notice that this is not according to the ordinary course of nature, which they have observed for so many years. And since this existing calamity, caused by the insects named, has lasted longer and pressed more heavily than usual, he admonishes them to carry their memory back to the former days, and see whether anything of the kind ever happened naturally before; and if no example can be found, the prophet's advice is, that they should recognise this as the hand of God from heaven." - Tarnov.)

"The inhabitants of the land" are the inhabitants of Judah, as it was only with this kingdom that Joel was occupied (cf. Joel 1:14 and Joel 2:1). זאת is the occurrence related in Joel 1:4, which is represented by the question "Has this been in your days?" as a fact just experienced. Yether haggâzâm, the leavings of the gnawer, i.e., whatever the gnawer leaves unconsumed of either vegetables or plants. The four names given to the locusts, viz., gâzâm, 'arbeh, yeleq, and châsil, are not the names applied in natural history to four distinct species, or four different generations of locusts; nor does Joel describe the swarms of two successive years, so that "gâzâm is the migratory locust, which visits Palestine chiefly in the autumn, 'arbeh the young brood, yeleq the young locust in the last stage of its transformation, or before changing its skin for the fourth time, and châsı̄l the perfect locust after this last change, so that as the brood sprang from the gâzâm, châsı̄l would be equivalent to gâzâm" (Credner). This explanation is not only at variance with Joel 2:25, where gâzâm stands last, after châsı̄l, but is founded generally merely upon a false interpretation of Nahum 3:15-16 (see the passage) and Jeremiah 51:27, where the adjective sâmâr (horridus, horrible), appended to yeleq, from sâmâr, to shudder, by no means refers to the rough, horny, wing-sheath of the young locusts, and cannot be sustained from the usage of the language, It is impossible to point out any difference in usage between gâzâm and châsı̄l, or between these two words and 'arbeh. The word gâzâm, from gâzâm, to cut off (in Arabic, Ethiopic, and the Rabb.), occurs only in this passage, in Joel 2:25, and in Amos 4:9, where it is applied to a swarm of flying locusts, which leave the vine, fig-tree, and olive, perfectly bare, as it is well known that all locusts do, when, as in Amos, the vegetables and field fruits have been already destroyed. 'Arbeh, from râbhâh, to be many, is the common name of the locust, and indeed in all probability of the migratory locust, because this always appears in innumerable swarms. Châsı̄l, from châsal, to eat off, designates the locust (hâ'arbeh), according to Deuteronomy 28:38, by its habit of eating off the field crops and tree fruits, and is therefore used in 1 Kings 8:37; 2 Chronicles 6:28; Psalm 78:46, as synonymous with hâ'arbeh, and in Isaiah 33:4 in its stead. Yeleq, from yâlaq equals lâqaq, to lick, to lick off, occurs in Psalm 105:34 as equivalent to 'arbeh, and in Nahum as synonymous with it; and indeed it there refers expressly to the Egyptian plague of locusts, so that young locusts without wings cannot possibly be thought of. Haggâzâm the gnawer, hayyeleq the licker, hechâsı̄l the devourer, are therefore simply poetical epithets applied to the 'arbeh, which never occur in simple plain prose, but are confined to the loftier (rhetorical and poetical) style. Moreover, the assumption that Joel is speaking of swarms of locusts of two successive years, is neither required by Joel 2:25 (see the comm. on this verse), nor reconcilable with the contents of the verse itself. If the 'arbeh eats what the gâzâm has left, and the yeleq what is left by the 'arbeh, we cannot possibly think of the field and garden fruits of two successive years, because the fruits of the second year are not the leavings of the previous year, but have grown afresh in the year itself.

(Note: Bochart (Hieroz. iii. p. 290, ed. Ros.) has already expressed the same opinion. "If," he says, "the different species had been assigned to so many different years, the 'arbeh would not be said to have eaten the leavings of the gâzâm, or the yeleq the leavings of the 'arbeh, or the châsı̄l the leavings of the yeleq; for the productions of this year are not the leavings of last, nor can what will spring up in future be looked upon as the leavings of this. Therefore, whether this plague of locusts was confined to one year, or was repeated for several years, which seems to be the true inference from Joel 2:25, I do not think that the different species of locusts are to be assigned to different years respectively, but that they all entered Judaea in the same year; so that when one swarm departed from a field, another followed, to eat up the leavings of the previous swarm, if there were any; and that this was repeated as many times as was necessary to consume the whole, so that nothing at all should be left to feed either man or beast.")

The thought is rather this: one swarm of locusts after another has invaded the land, and completely devoured its fruit. The use of several different words, and the division of the locusts into four successive swarms, of which each devours what has been left by its precursor, belong to the rhetorical drapery and individualizing of the thought. The only thing that has any real significance is the number four, as the four kinds of punishment in Jeremiah 15:3, and the four destructive judgments in Ezekiel 14:21, clearly show. The number four, "the stamp of oecumenicity" (Kliefoth), indicates here the spread of the judgment over the whole of Judah in all directions.

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