The Word of the Lord to Joel

Chapter 3

God's judgments against the enemies of his people, 1-8. God will be known in his judgment, 9-17. His blessing upon the church, 18-21.

1 "For behold, in those days and in that time, when I bring back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,

2 I will also gather all nations and bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat. I will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and divided my land.

3 And they have cast lots for my people, have given a boy for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine so that they might drink.

4 "And what do you even have to do with me, O Tyre, Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? Will you render me a recompense? And if you recompense me, swiftly and speedily I will return your recompense upon your own head, 5 Because you have taken my silver and my gold and have carried into your temples my good, desirable things. 6 You have sold the children of Judah and the children of Jerusalem to the Grecians, so that you might remove them far from their border. 7 Behold, I will raise them out of the place where you have sold them and will return your recompense upon your own head. 8 And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off. For the LORD has spoken it."

9 Proclaim this among the Gentiles: "Prepare for war. Wake up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near. Let them come up.

10 Beat your plow-shares into swords and your pruning-hooks into spears. Let the weak say, 'I am strong.'

11 Assemble yourselves and come, all you heathen, and gather yourselves together around." Cause your mighty ones to come down there, O LORD.

12 "Let the heathen be awakened and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the heathen on every side.

13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great."

14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision, for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.

16 The LORD will also roar out of Zion and utter his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake. But the LORD will be the hope of his people and the strength of the children of Israel.

17 "And you shall know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, and no strangers shall pass through her anymore.

18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD and shall water the valley of Shittim.

19 Egypt shall be a desolation and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.

20 But Judah shall dwell forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.

21 For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed. For the LORD dwells in Zion."


Matthew Henry Commentary - Joel, Chapter 3


John Gill's Chapter Summary:

This chapter, which some make the fourth, contains a prophecy of God's judgments on all the antichristian nations at the time of the Jews' conversion, and the reasons of them (verses 1-3); a threatening of Tyre and Zidon, by way of retaliation, for carrying the riches of the Jews into their temples, and selling their persons to the Greeks (verses 4-8); an alarm to prepare for the battle of Armageddon, or the destruction that shall be made in the valley of Jehoshaphat (verses 9-15); and after that an account of the happy state of the church of Christ, their safety and security, plenty, prosperity, and purity, to the end of the world (verses 16-21).

[v.2] - "the valley of Jehoshaphat" - This is a valley near Jerusalem that was likely named after Jehoshaphat because he either built or did some great works there. It is also possible that no proper name was intended here, but rather the valley be named, "the valley of judgment," from the Hebrew word, Yhowshaphat (yeh-ho-shaw-fawt'), which means Yahweh-judged. In that case, Jehoshaphat would signify the judgment of God.

[v.3] - From John Calvin's Commentaries: "A twofold injury is here mentioned,— the Jews had been so despised as not to be regarded as men, and had been sold not for the usual prices, but had been disposed of in contempt by their enemies almost for nothing;— and the other reproach was, that the price obtained for them was afterward spent on gluttony and lewdness: yet this people was sacred to God. Now this contumelious treatment, the Prophet says, God would not endure, but would avenge such a wrong as if done to himself."

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 2:32-3:3:

Grant, Almighty God, that as you not only invite us continually by the voice of your Gospel to seek you, but also offer to us your Son as our Mediator, through whom an access to you is open, that we may find you a propitious Father,— O grant, that relying on your kind invitation, we may through life exercise ourselves in prayer: and as so many evils disturb us on all sides, and so many wants distress and oppress us, may we be led more earnestly to call on you, and, in the meantime, be never wearied in this exercise of prayer; that, being through life heard by you, we may at length be gathered to your eternal kingdom, where we shall enjoy that salvation which you have promised to us, and of which also you daily testify to us by your Gospel, and be forever united to your only begotten Son, of whom we are now members; that we may be partakers of all the blessings, which he has obtained for us by his death. Amen.

[v.5] - "my good, desirable things" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "We ought not, indeed, to imagine God to be like a child, who takes delight in gold and silver and such things; but what is said here was intended for the benefit of the people, that they might know that God approved of that worship, for it was according to his command." That worship being the use of gold and silver to adorn the temple at Jerusalem.

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 4-11:

Grant, Almighty God, that as we are assailed on every side by enemies, and as not only the wicked according to the flesh are incensed against us, but Satan also musters his forces and contrives in various ways to ruin us,— O grant, that we being furnished with the courage your Spirit bestows, may fight to the end under your guidance, and never be wearied under any evils. And may we, at the same time, be humbled under your mighty hand when it pleases you to afflict us, and so sustain all our troubles, that with a courageous mind we may strive for that victory which you promise to us, and that having completed all our struggles, we may at length attain that blessed rest, which is reserved for us in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[v.12] - "the valley of Jehoshaphat" - See the note for verse 2.

[v.14] - "the valley of decision" - From John Gill's Exposition: "The same with the valley of Jehoshaphat before mentioned; which shows that not any valley of that name is intended, but a certain place so called from the judgments of God in it; and here named 'the valley of decision,' because here their judgment will be determined... and at this time the controversy between God, and his people's enemies, will be decided, and at an end." The word decision has also been interpreted as concision (from the Latin Vulgate), as in the valley of concision, where the nations gathered together in it will be cut to pieces. It can also be interpreted as threshing, as in the valley of threshing, where the enemies of the Jews will be threshed, or beaten soundly, for the Hebrew word, charuts (khaw-roots'), refers to a threshing instrument used by the Jews.

[v.15] - Reference, Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24.

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 12-21:

Grant, Almighty God, that as we have, in this world, to fight continually, not only with one kind of enemy, but with numberless enemies, and not only with flesh and blood, but also with the devil, the prince of darkness,— O grant, that, being armed with your power, we may persevere in this contest; and when you afflict us for our sins, may we learn to humble ourselves, and so submit to your authority, that we may hope for the redemption promised to us; and though tokens of your displeasure may often appear to us, may we yet ever raise up our minds by hope to heaven, and from there look for your only begotten Son, until, coming as the Judge of the world, he gathers us and brings us to the fruition of that blessed and eternal life, which he has obtained for us by his own blood. Amen.