on Joel 2 :23
The former rain moderately - המורה לצדקה hammoreh litsedakah, "the former rain in righteousness," that is, in due time and in just proportion. This rain fell after autumn, the other in spring. See Hosea 6:3.
In the first month - בראשון barishon, "as aforetime." So Bp. Newcome. In the month Nisan. - Syriac.
on Joel 2 :23
Be glad then and rejoice in the Lord your God - All things had been restored for their sakes; they were to rejoice, not chiefly in these things, but in God; nor only in God, but in the Lord their God. "For He hath given you the former rain moderately." The word rendered "moderately" should be rendered "unto righteosness;" the word often as it occurs never having any sense but that of "righteousness;" whether of God or man. The other word מורה môwreh, rendered "the former rain," confessedly has that meaning in the latter part of the verse, although "yoreh" יורה yôwreh is the distinctive term for "latter rain" Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24. "Moreh" mostly signifies "a teacher" (2 Kings 17:28; Job 36:22; Proverbs 5:13; Isaiah 9:15; Isaiah 30:20, (twice); Habakkuk 2:18), which is connected with the other ordinary meanings of the root, "torah, law, etc." The older translators then agreed in rendering, "of righteousness," or, "unto righteousness" , in which case the question as to "moreh," is only, whether it is to be taken literally of "a teacher," or figuratively of spiritual blessings, as we say, "the dew of His grace." Even a Jew paraphrases , "But ye, O children of Zion, above all other nations, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God. For in Him ye shall have perfect joy, in the time of your captivity. "For He will give you an instructor to righteosness;" and He is the king Messias, which shall teach them the way in which they shall walk, and the doings which they shall do." The grounds for so rendering the word are:
(1) Such is almost its uniform meaning.
(2) The righteousness spoken of is most naturally understood of righteousness in man; it is a condition which is the result and object of God's gifts, not the Righteousness of God. But "He hath given you the early rain unto righteousness," i. e., that ye may be righteous, is an unaccustomed expression.
(3) There is a great emphasis on the word , which is not used in the later part of the verse, where rain, (whether actual, or symbolic of spiritual blessings) is spoken of.
(4) The following words, "and He maketh the rain to descend for you," according to the established Hebrew idiom relates to a separate action, later, in order of time or of thought, than the former. But if the former word "moreh" signified "early rain," both would mean one and the same thing. We should not say, "He giveth you the former rain to righteousness, and then He maketh the rain, the former rain and the latter rain to descend;" nor doth the Hebrew.
It seems then most probable, that the prophet prefixes to all the other promises, that first all-containing promise of the Coming of Christ. Such is the custom of the prophets, to go on from past judgments and deliverances, to Him who is the center of all this cycle of God's dispensations, the Son manifest in the Flesh. He had been promised as a Teacher when that intermediate dispensation of Israel began, the prophet like unto Moses. His Coming old Jacob looked to, "I have longed for Thy salvation, O Lord." Him, well known and longed for by the righteous of old, Joel speaks of as the subject of rejoicing, as Zechariah did afterward, "Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion; behold thy King cometh unto thee." So Joel here, "Exult and joy in the Lord thy God, for He giveth," or "will give thee, the Teacher unto righteousness," i. e., the result and object of whose Coming is righteousness; or, as Daniel says, "to bring in everlasting righteousness;" and Isaiah, "By His knowledge," i. e., by the knowledge of Him, "shall My righteous Servant justify many," i. e., make many righteous. How His coming should issue in righteousness, is not here said. It is presupposed. But Joel speaks of His Coming, as a gift, "He shall give you;" as Isaiah says, "unto us a Son is given;" and that, as the Teacher, as Isaiah says, "I have given Him a witness to the peoples, a Prince and a Commander unto the people" Isaiah 55:4; and that, "for righteousness."
"It is the custom of the holy prophets," says Cyril, "on occasion of good things promised to a part or a few, to introduce what is more general or universal. And these are the things of Christ. To this then the discourse again proceeds. For when was ground given to the earth to rejoice? When did the Lord do mighty things, but when the Word, being God, became Man, that, flooding all below with the goods from above, He might be found to those who believe in Him, as a river of peace, a torrent of pleasure, as the former and latter rain, and the giver of all spiritual fruitfulness?"
The early rain and the latter rain - o: "He multiplies words, expresssive of the richness of the fruits of the earth, that so we may understand how wondrous is the plenteousness of spiritual goods." Being about to speak of the large gift of God the Holy Spirit as an "out-pouring," he says here that "the largeness of the spiritual gifts thereafter should be as abundant as the riches temporal blessings" hitherto, when God disposed all things to bring about the fruitfulness which He had promised. "The early and latter rain," coming respectively at the seed-time and the harvest, represent the beginning and the completion; and so, by the analogy of earthly and spiritual sowing, growth and ripeness, they represent preventing and perfecting grace; the inspiration of good purposes and the gift of final perseverance, which brings the just to glory consummated; "the principles of the doctrine of Christ" and "the going on unto perfection Hebrews 6:1.
In the first month - This would belong only to the latter rain, which falls about the first month, Nisan, or our April, "the former rain" falling about 6 months earlier, at their seed time . Or, since this meaning is uncertain , it may be, "at the first" , i. e., as soon as ever it is needed, or in contrast to the more extensive gifts afterward; or, "as at first" i. e., all shall, upon their penitence, be restored as at first. These lesser variations leave the sense of the whole the same, and all are supported by good authorities. It is still a reversal of the former sentence, that, whereas afore the rivers of water were dried up, now the rains should come, each in its season. "In the first month," and "at the beginning," express the same thought, the one with, the other without a figure.
For no one then needed to be told that the latter rain, if it fell, should fall "in the first month," which was its appointed season for falling. If then the words had this meaning, there must have been this emphasis in it, that God would give them good gifts punctually, instantly, at man's first and earliest needs, at the first moment when it would be good for him to have them. 'As at the beginning,' would express the same which he goes on to say, that God would bestow the same largeness of gifts as He did, before they forfeited His blessings by forsaking Him. So He says, "I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counselors as at the beginning" ; and, "She shall sing there as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she come up out of the land of Egypt" Hosea 2:15; and, "then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old and as in the former years" Malachi 3:4.
Likeness does not necessarily imply equality as in the words, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet like unto me" Deuteronomy 18:15; and, "that they may be one, even as We are One" John 17:22. The good things of the Old Testament had a likeness to those of the New, else "the law" would not have been even the shadow of good things to come Hebrews 10:1; they had not equality, else they would have been the very things themselves. : "Christ is the whole delight of the soul, from When and through whom there cometh to those who love Him, all fullness of good and supply of heavenly gifts, represented in "the early and latter rain," and "the full floor of wheat," and "the fats overflowing with wine and oil." It is true also as to the fullness of the mysteries. For the living water of Holy Baptism is given us as in rain; and as in grain, the Bread of Life, and as in wine the Blood." Before, "the barns were broken down," since there was nothing to store therein.
As other parts of the natural and spiritual husbandry correspond, and our Lord Himself compares His gracious trials of those who bear fruit, with the pruning of the vine John 15:2; it may be that the "vat" wherein the grape or the olive, through pressure, yield their rich juice, is a symbol of the "tribulations," through which we "must enter the kingdom of God" Acts 14:22. : "The holy mind, placed as if in a winefat, is pressed, refined, drawn out pure. It is pressed by calamity; refined from iniquity, purified from vanity. Hence are elicited the groans of pure confession; hence, stream the tears of anxious compunction; hence flow the sighs of pleasurable devotion; hence melt the longings of sweetest love; hence are drawn the drops of purest contemplation. Wheat is the perfecting of righteousness; wine, the clearness of spiritual understanding; oil, the sweetness of a most pure conscience."
on Joel 2 :23
2:23 The former rain - The autumn rain which is needful to mellow the earth and fit it to receive the corn. The latter rain - Needful to bring forward and ripen the fruits, accounted the latter rain because these husbandmen and vine - dressers reckoned from seed time to spring and harvest. The first month - That is, our March.