on Joel 1 :14
Call a solemn assembly - עצרה atsarah signifies a time of restraint, as the margin has it. The clause should be translated - consecrate a fast, proclaim a time of restraint; that is, of total abstinence from food, and from all secular employment. All the elders of the land and the representatives of the people were to be collected at the temple to cry unto the Lord, to confess their sins, and pray for mercy. The temple was not yet destroyed. This prophecy was delivered before the captivity of Judah.
on Joel 1 :14
Sanctify ye a fast - He does not say only, "proclaim," or "appoint a fast," but "sanctify it." Hallow the act of abstinence, seasoning it with devotion and with acts meet for repentance. For fasting is not accepted by God, unless done in charity and obedience to His commands. : "Sanctify" it, i. e., make it an offering to God, and as it were a sacrifice, a holy and blameless fast." : "To sanctify a fast is to exhibit abstinence of the flesh, meet toward God, with other good. Let anger cease, strife be lulled. For in vain is the flesh worn, if the mind is not held in from evil passions, inasmuch as the Lord saith by the prophet, "Lo! in the day of your fast you find your pleasures" Isaiah 58:3. The fast which the Lord approveth, is that which lifteth up to Him hands full of almsdeeds, which is passed with brotherly love, which is seasoned by piety. What thou substractest from thyself, bestow on another, that thy needy neighbor's flesh may be recruited by means of that which thou deniest to thine own."
Call a solemn assembly - Fasting without devotion is an image of famine. At other times "the solemn assembly" was for festival-joy. Such was the last day of the feast of the Passover Deuteronomy 16:8 and of tabernacles Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35; 2 Chronicles 7:9; Nehemiah 8:18. No servile work was to be done thereon. It was then to be consecrated to thanksgving, but now to sorrow and supplication. : "The prophet commands that all should be called and gathered into the Temple, that so the prayer might be the rather heard, the more they were who offered it. Wherefore the Apostle besought his disciples to pray for him, that so what was asked might be obtained the more readily through the intercession of many."
Gather the elders - Age was, by God's appointment Leviticus 19:32, held in great reverence among the Hebrews. When first God sent Moses and Aaron to His people in Egypt, He bade them collect the elders of the people (Exodus 3:16; Exodus 4:29, compare Deuteronomy 31:28) to declare to them their own mission from God; through them He conveyed the ordinance of the Passover to the whole congregation Exodus 12:3, Exodus 12:21; in their presence was the first miracle of bringing water from the rock performed (Exodus 17:5, add Exodus 18:12); then He commanded Moses to choose seventy of them, to appear before Him before He gave the law Exodus 24:1, Exodus 24:9; then to bear Moses' own burden in hearing the causes of the people, bestowing His spirit upon them (Numbers 11:16 ff). The elders of each city were clothed with judicial authority Deuteronomy 19:12; Deuteronomy 22:15; Deuteronomy 25:7. In the expiation of an uncertain murder, the elders of the city represented the whole city Deuteronomy 21:3-6; in the offerings for the congregation, the elders of the congregation represented the whole Leviticus 4:15; Leviticus 9:1.
So then, here also, they are summoned, chief of all, that "the authority and example of their grey hairs might move the young to repentance." : "Their age, near to death and ripened in grace, makes them more apt for the fear and worship of God." All however, "priests, elders," and the "inhabitants," or "people of the land" Jeremiah 1:18, were to form one band, and were, with one heart and voice, to cry unto God; and that "in the house of God." For so Solomon had prayed, that God would "in heaven His dwelling place, hear whatever prayer and supplication" might there be "made by any man or by all His people Israel" 1 Kings 8:39; and God had promised in turn, "I have hallowed this house which thou hast built, to put My name there for ever, and Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be there perpetually" 1 Kings 9:3. God has given to united prayer a power over Himself, and "prayer overcometh God" . The prophet calls God "your" God, showing how ready He was to hear; but he adds, "cry unto the Lord;" for it is not a listless prayer, but a loud earnest cry, which reacheth to the throne of God.
on Joel 1 :14
1:14 Sanctify ye - Ye priests, set apart a day wherein to afflict yourselves, confess your sins, and sue out your pardon. Into the house - The courts of the temple, where the people were wont to pray.