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Verses 18-20

Joel 2:18-20. Then will the Lord be jealous for his land If you do what I propose to you, if you sincerely humble yourselves before God, confess your sins, and truly repent of them, turning to God in newness of life, then will the Lord be concerned for the honour and welfare of that land which he has chosen to settle his worshippers in. Yea, the Lord will say, Behold, I will send you corn, &c. I will restore your former plenty, and the nations about you shall have no more occasion to reproach your desolate condition. But I will remove far off from you the northern army Or, enemy, nation, or people; that is, the locusts, which might enter Judea by the north, as Circassia and Mingrelia abound with them. Because Joel represents this army as coming from the north, some have been ready to imagine, that he was speaking not of real locusts, but of the Chaldeans, or some other desolating army of men that should come from that quarter. “But the Baron de Tott assures us, in a late publication of his, that he found locusts coming in great numbers from Tartary toward Constantinople, which lies to the south of that country. ‘I saw,’ says he,

‘no appearance of culture on my route, because the Noguais (the Tartars) avoid the cultivation of frequented places. Their harvest by the sides of roads would serve only as pasture to travellers’ horses. But if this precaution preserves them from such kind of depredation, nothing can protect their fields from a much more fatal scourge. Clouds of locusts frequently alight on their plains; and, giving the preference to their fields of millet, ravage them in an instant. Their approach darkens the horizon, and so enormous is their multitude, it hides the light of the sun. When the husbandmen happen to be sufficiently numerous, they sometimes divert the storm by their agitation and cries; but when they fail, the locusts alight on their fields, and there form a bed of six or seven inches thick. This plague, no doubt, would be more extensive in countries better cultivated; and Greece and Asia Minor would be more frequently exposed, did not the Black sea swallow up most of those swarms which attempt to pass that barrier. I have often seen the shores of the Pontus Euxinus, toward the Bosphorus of Thrace, covered with their dried remains, in such multitudes, that one could not walk along the strand without sinking half-leg deep into a bed of these skinny skeletons. Curious to know the true cause of their destruction, I sought the moment of observation, and was a witness of their ruin by a storm, which overtook them so near the shore, that their bodies were cast upon the land while yet entire. This produced an infection so great, that it was several days before they could be approached.’ Memoirs, part 2. p. 58-60. They frequently then, according to this writer, in that part of the world, pass, or attempt to pass, from north to south. In Judea they have been supposed to go from the southeastward in a contrary direction. And if this is the common route they take there, it must have struck the Jews very much, when they found the prophet predicting the going of the locusts to the southward; and still more so when they found it exactly accomplished, as it was a demonstration of the perfect foreknowledge of Jehovah, perhaps of his guiding and directing those vast bodies of insects. The locusts, it is said, have no king, yet go they forth by bands, Proverbs 30:27. But if they have no king of their own species, they are undoubtedly under the direction of the God that made them: he is their king.” Harmer, vol. 4. obs. 146.

Some of the locusts, which here are the subject of Joel’s prophecy, were to be driven by the wind into the desert, or, as it is here styled, a land barren and desolate; some into the Dead sea, called here the east sea, lying eastward of Jerusalem; some into the Mediterranean, or western sea, called here the utmost sea. By his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, is described the extent of the body, or army of locusts; the face meaning the foremost of them, and the hinder part the hindmost of them. And his stink shall come up “That a strong and pestilential smell,” says Newcome, “arises from putrefied heaps of locusts, whether driven upon land or cast up from the sea in which they have perished, appears from the testimony of many writers. Among various other authorities to the same effect, St. Jerome is quoted by Bochart as saying, that in his time those troops of locusts which covered Judea were cast by the wind in mare primum et novissimum; and that, when the waters threw them up, their smell caused a pestilence. Thevenot says of them, They live not above six months; and when dead, the stench of them so corrupts and infects the air, that it often occasions dreadful pestilences. City Remem. 1: 123. There came such a stench from those which appeared at Novogorod in 1646, as not only offended the nose, but the brain: it was not to be endured: men were forced to wash their noses with vinegar, and hold handkerchiefs dipped in it continually to their nostrils, Ibid. 125. In Ethiopia, when they die and rot, they raise a pestilence. Mead, 1:36.” Because he hath done great things That is, committed great devastation. Or rather, although he hath done great things: though this army of insects, by God’s appointment, has made such destruction in the land, yet it shall come to this shameful end.

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