on Joel 3 :1
For, behold, in those days - According to the preceding prophecy, these days should refer to Gospel times, or to such as should immediately precede them. But this is a part of the prophecy which is difficult to be understood. All interpreters are at variance upon it; some applying its principal parts to Cambyses; his unfortunate expedition to Egypt; the destruction of fifty thousand of his troops (by the moving pillars of sand) whom he had sent across the desert to plunder the rich temple of Jupiter Ammon; his return to Judea, and dying of a wound which he received from his own sword, in mounting his horse, which happened at Ecbatane, at the foot of Mount Carmel. On which his army, composed of different nations, seeing themselves without a head, fell out, and fought against each other, till the whole were destroyed. And this is supposed to be what Ezekiel means by Gog and Magog, and the destruction of the former. See Ezekiel 38 and 39.
Others apply this to the victories gained by the Maccabees, and to the destruction brought upon the enemies of their country; while several consider the whole as a figurative prediction of the success of the Gospel among the nations of the earth. It may refer to those times in which the Jews shall be brought in with the fullness of the Gentiles, and be re-established in their own land. Or there may be portions in this prophecy that refer to all the events; and to others that have not fallen yet within the range of human conjecture, and will be only known when the time of fulfillment shall take place. In this painful uncertainty, rendered still more so by the discordant opinions of many wise and learned men, it appears to be my province, as I have nothing in the form of a new conjecture to offer, to confine myself to an explanation of the phraseology of the chapter; and then leave the reader to apply it as may seem best to his own judgment.
I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem - This may refer to the return from the Babylonish captivity; extending also to the restoration of Israel, or the ten tribes.
on Joel 3 :1
For, behold - The prophet by the word, "for," shows that he is about to explain in detail, what he had before spoken of, in sum. By the word, "behold," he stirs up our minds for something great, which he is to set before our eyes, and which we should not be prepared to expect or believe, unless he solemnly told us, "Behold." As the detail, then, of what goes before, the prophecy contains all times of future judgment on those who should oppose God, oppress His Church and people, and sin against Him in them and all times of His blessing upon His own people, until the Last Day. And this it gives in imagery, partly describing nearer events of the same sort, as in the punishments of Tyre and Sidon, such as they endured from the kings of Assyria, from Nebuchadnezzar, from Alexander; partly using these, His earlier judgments, as representatives of the like punishments against the like sins unto the end.
In those days and in that time - The whole period of which the prophet had been speaking, was the time from which God called His people to repentance, to the Day of Judgment. The last division of that time was from the beginning of the Gospel unto that Day. He fixes the occasion of which he speaks by the words, "when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem." This form was used, before there was any general dispersion of the nation. For all captivity of single members of the Jewish people had this sore calamity, that it severed them from the public worship of God, and exposed them to idolatry. So David complains, "they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, go serve other gods" 1 Samuel 26:19. The restoration then of single members, or of smaller bodies of captives, was, at that time, an unspeakable mercy. It was the restoration of those shut out from the worship of God; and so was an image "of the deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God" Romans 8:21, or of any "return" of those who had gone astray, "to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls 1 Peter 2:25. The grievous captivity of the Jews, now, is to Satan, whose servants they made themselves, when they said, "we have no king but Caesar; His Blood be upon us and upon our children." Their blessed deliverance will be "from the power of Satan unto God" Acts 26:18. It is certain from Paul Romans 11:26, that there shall be a complete conversion of the Jews, before the end of the world, as indeed has always been believed. This shall probably be shortly before the end of the world, and God would here say, "when I shall have brought to an end the "captivity of Judah and Jerusalem," i. e., of that people "to whom were the promises" Romans 9:4, and shall have delivered them from the bondage of sin and from blindness to light and freedom in Christ, then will I gather all nations to judgment."
on Joel 3 :1
3:1 In those days - When I shall by Cyrus bring Judah out of Babylon. Of Judah - As the type of the whole remnant that are saved. And Jerusalem - For beside what refers to the two tribes restored by Cyrus, the bringing back the captivity of the whole Israel of God by Christ is to be considered all along through this chapter .