on Joel 2 :9
on Joel 2 :9
They shall run to and fro in the city - "The city" is questionless Jerusalem. So to the Romans, "the city" meant Rome; to the Athenians, Athens; among ourselves, "town" or "the city" are idiomatic names for the whole of London or "the city of London." In Wales "town" is, with the country people, the neighboring town with which alone they are familiar. There is no ambiguity in the living language. In Guernsey, one who should call Port Pierre by any other name than "the town," would betray himself to be a stranger. In Hosea, and Amos, prophets for Israel, "the city" is Samaria Hosea 11:9; Amos 3:6. In Solomon Psalm 72:16; Proverbs 1:21; Proverbs 8:3 and the prophets of Judah (Micah 6:9; Lamentations 1:1, etc.; Ezekiel 7:23; Ezekiel 33:21), "the city" is Jerusalem; and that the more, because it was not only the capital, but the center of the worship of the One True God. Hence, it is called "the city of God Psalm 46:4; Psalm 48:1, Psalm 48:8; Psalm 87:3, the city of the Lord" Psalm 101:8; Isaiah 60:14, then "the city of the Great King Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35, the holy city" Isaiah 48:2; Isaiah 52:1; Nehemiah 11:1, Nehemiah 11:18; Daniel 9:24; and God calls it "the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel 1 Kings 11:32, the city of righteousness" Isaiah 1:26. So our Lord spake, "go ye into the city" Matthew 26:18; Mark 14:13; Luke 22:10, and perhaps, , "tarry ye in the city." So do His Evangelists Matthew 21:17-18; Matthew 28:11; Mark 11:1, Mark 11:19; Luke 19:41; Acts 7:58; John 19:20), and so does Josephus .
All around corresponds with this. Joel had described their approach; they had come over "the tops of the mountains," those which protected Jerusalem; and now he describes them scaling "the wall," "mounting the houses," "entering the windows," "running to and fro in the city." Here the description has reached its height. The city is given over to those who assault it. There remaineth nothing more, save the shaking of the heaven and the earth.
They shall enter in at the windows - So in that first great judgment, in which God employed the locust, He said, "They shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth; and they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians" Exodus 10:5-6. : "For nothing denies a way to the locusts, inasmuch as they penetrate fields, cornlands, trees, cities, houses, yea, the retirement of the bed-chambers." "Not that they who are victors, have the fear which thieves have, but as thieves are accustomed to enter through windows, and plunder secretly, so shall these, if the doors be closed, to cut short delay, burst with all boldness through the windows." : "We have seen this done, not by enemies only, but often by locusts also. For not only flying, but creeping up the walls also, they enter the houses through the openings for light." : "a.d. 784, there came the flying locust, and wasted the corn and left its offspring; and this came forth and crawled, and scaled walls and entered houses by windows and doors; and if it entered the house on the south side, it went out on the north; together with herbs and trees it devoured also woolen clothing, and men's dresses."
Modern travelers relate the same. : "They entered the inmost recesses of the houses, were found in every corner, stuck to our clothes and infested our food." : "They overwhelm the province of Nedjd sometimes to such a degree, that having destroyed the harvest, they penetrate by thousands into the private dwellings, and devour whatsoever they can find, even the leather of the water-vessels." : "In June 1646, at Novogorod it was prodigious to behold them, because they were hatched there that spring, and being as yet scarce able to fly, the ground was all covered, and the air so full of them, that I could not eat in my chamber without a candle, all the houses being full of them, even the stables, barns, chambers, garrets, and cellars. I caused cannon-powder and sulphur to be burnt, to expel them, but all to no purpose. For when the door was opened, an infinite number came in, and the others went fluttering about; and it was a troublesome thing when a man went abroad, to be hit on the face by those creatures, on the nose, eyes, or cheeks, so that there was no opening one's mouth, but some would get in. Yet all this was nothing, for when we were to eat, they gave us no respite; and when we went to cut a piece of meat, we cut a locust with it, and when a man opened his mouth to put in a morsel, he was sure to chew one of them." The eastern windows, not being glazed but having at most a lattice-work , presented no obstacle to this continuous inroad. All was one stream of infesting, harassing foes.
As the windows are to the house, so are the senses and especially the sight to the soul. As the strongest walls and battlements and towers avail not to keep out an enemy, if there be an opening or chink through which he can make his way, so, in vain is the protection of God's Providence or His Grace , if the soul leaves the senses unguarded to admit unchallenged sights, sounds, touches, which may take the soul prisoner. : "Death," says Jeremiah, "entereth through the window" Jeremiah 9:21. Thy window is thy eye. If thou seest, to lust, death hath entered in; if thou hearest enticing words, death hath entered in: if softness gain possession of thy senses, death has made his way in." The arrow of sin is shot through them. : "When the tongue of one introduces the virus of perdition, and the ears of others gladly drink it in, "death enters in;" while with itching ears and mouth men minister eagerly to one another the deadly draught of detraction, "death enters in at the windows." : "Eve had not touched the forbidden tree, except she had first looked on it heedlessly. With what control must we in this dying life restrain our sight, when the mother of the living came to death through the eyes! The mind of the prophet, which had been often lifted up to see hidden mysteries, seeing heedlessly another's wife, was darkened," and fell. "To keep purity of heart, thou must guard the outward senses." An enemy is easily kept out by the barred door or window, who, having entered in unawares, can only by strong effort and grace be forced out. "It is easier," said the pagan philosopher , "to forbid the beginnings of feelings than to control their might."
Like a thief - that is, they should come unawares, so as to take people by surprise, that there should be no guarding against them. As this is the close at this wonderful description, it may be that he would, in the end, describe the suddenness and inevitableness of God's judgments when they do come, and of the final judgment. It is remarkable that our Lord, and His Apostles from Him adopt this image of the prophet, in speaking of the coming of the Day of Judgment and His own. "Behold I come as a thief. This know that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched. Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. Ye are not in darkness, that that Day should overtake you as a thief" (Revelation 16:15 (add Revelation 3:3.); Matthew 24:43-44; Luke 12:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10).
on Joel 2 :9
2:9 Runs to and fro - This seems not proper to these insects, but it well suits with soldiers, that conquer a city and search all places for plunder. Run upon the wall - To clear the wall of all the besieged. The houses - Either forsaken by the inhabitants, or defended by such as are in them. Like a thief - Suddenly, unexpectedly, to spoil if not to kill.