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stars shall withdraw their shining. The long-lived Roman beast shall be slain, and his false prophet shall be brought to utter destruction. For the Lord shall roar out of Zion, and shall be the hope of his people Israel. Jerusalem shall be holy, and shall no more be trampled under foot by strangers : the mountains shall drop down with new wine: and the waters of life, the healing streams of the Gospel, shall come forth out of the house of the Lord,
The learned Chandler* seems to me very greatly to have mistaken the drift of this prophecy of Joel.
litical hearens as mentioned in this passage and in the two preceding passages, My answer is, that I am expressly warranted by the prophet himself in inaking such a distinction. The signs in the heavens, predicted in Joel ii. 10 and 30, 31, are occasioned by the locust-army and precede the great day of the Lord: whereas those, predicted in Joel iii. 15, are, in the day of the Lord; and the total overthrow of the Antichristian confederacy, or the utter destruction of the Roman beast in his last form (Dan. vii. 11.), is the subject of them. Christ predicts in a similar manner, that his advent should be preceded, and as it were ushered in, by signs in the sun and moon. See Matt. xxiv. 29, 30, 33. Mark xiii. 24, 25, 26, 29. and Luke xxi. 25, 26, 27, 28, 31: unless indeed we are bound to refer these different transcripts of the same prophecy to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans exclusirely. I have never yet met with an exposition of our Lord's prophecy, that gave me entire satisfaction.
* To save the trouble of endless particular references, I beg to refer the reader in general to Chandler's Comment. on Joel, and the annered Dissertation,
The nation spoken of in the first, and afterwards described at large in the second chapter, is undoubtedly a nation of locusts : no one, I apprehend, will be inclined to deny so plain a matter. But the question is, whether they be natural, or symbolical, locusts. Chandler resolutely maintains the first of these positions, and labours fruitlessly (I think) to remove the difficulties with which it is clogged. If ever Judèa, in the days of her monarchy, had been visited by such a plague of locusts as that described by the prophet, a plague in no respects inferior to that with which Egypt was once visited, we might reasonably expect to find it mentioned in the historical part of Scripture. But nothing, that bears any resemblance to it, can there be discovered. Chandler indeed quotes R. Kimchi, as producing a Jewish tradition, that during four out of the seven years of famine predicted by Elisha * there were four species of locusts, and that during the other three there was a great want of rain. The sacred text itself however gives not the least countenance to this mere Rabbinical gloss; and, even if it did, Chandler would have put it out of his power to avail himself of it by fixing the age of Joel in the reign of Ahaz, whereas Elisha's famine occurred in the days of Jehoram the son of Ahab considerably more than a century earlier. Accordingly he does not attempt to pro
2 Kings viii. 1.
duce any account of these locusts from the scriptural history *
But this difficulty is by no means the only one. Joel declares, that the army of locusts shall cause the heavens to quake, and the earth to tremble; that the sun and the moon shall be dark before them; and that the stars shall withdraw their shining t. These magnificent images, as it is well known, denote in the prophetic language great wars and revolutions, wherein established governments are either overthrown, or at least shaken to their very centre. Some great political commotion therefore must have taken place in consequence of the ravages of these locusts.
Now, although a brief history might be silent respecting a mere plague of locusts; yet, if that plague occasioned a revolution in the government, it is incredible that the very shortest history should then have preserved a profound silence. Where then do we find any such circumstance mentioned in the sacred history? To get quit of this difficulty Chandler maintains, that the expressions in question are to be understood literally. He tells us, that the earth really appears to tremble through the continual motion of a swarm
* Bochart, who like Chandler understands the locusts lite. rally, exerts all his ingenuity to parry the force of this argument, which had been strenuously urged by St. Jerome; but, I think, with very little success. See Hieroz. Pars 1. L. iv, C. 5. p. 482. + Joel ii. 10.
of locusts; or at least that it may be fairly said to tremble through the excessive fear of its inhabitants: that the heavens shake, because the locusts obscure the very light of them : that the sun is turned into darkness, because they ordinarily fly in the day time, and that in such numbers as to darken even the sun himself: and that the moon and the stars withdraw their shining, because they may be supposed in warm eastern countries sometimes to shift their place by night.
Here an objector would naturally urge, that much the same imagery is twice elsewhere used by Joel * ; are we then to conclude, that he is there likewise to be understood literally? for, to make him consistent with himself, we must, in all the three parallel passages, understand him either literally throughout, or figuratively througliout.
For this objection Chandler is prepared; and tells us, that the fire and pillurs of smoke, mentioned in the 30th verse of the 2d chapter, mean only the fire and smoke that proceed from burning towns and villages, and that the smoke, as it ascends, darkens the sun, and gives the moon a red and bloody appearance. He acknowledges indeed the propriety of Sir Isaac Newton's remark, that the darkening the sun, and the turning the mooi into blood, denote the ceasing or desolation of a kingdom : but adds, that it is evident from the 10th verse of the 2d chapter, that it does not always
* Jochii, 30, 31, and iii. 16,
denote this ; and thence infers, that neither does it in the 31st verse.
Thus does he attempt to decide the sense of one disputed passäge, by referring us to another which is no less disputed. The third passage, contained in the 15th verse of the 3d chapter, he treats in the same manner: and refers us, for an authority, to what he had said on the second passage. What is this but completely arguing in a circle? As for what Chandler says respecting the literal acceptation of all the three passages, it is so totally contrary to the universal spirit of prophetic language, and so plainly contrived (particularly in the case of the first passage) to serve a turn; that I scruple not to assert, that there is not the slightest foundation for it. It will follow therefore, unless I be greatly mistaken in this assertion, that the locust-army, which occasions dreadful political revolutions, cannot be an: army composed of literal locusts.
The opinion here advanced by me is adopted, as Chandler himself acknowledges, by the Chaldee Paraphrast, Grotius, and Jerome*. The first of these writers renders Joel ii. 5, Peoples, nations, tongues, emperors, and revenging kingdoms. The second thinks, that the Prophet does not mean real locusts; but that he points out under such imagery the successive irruptions of Phul, Tiglathphilasar,
* It is likewise adopted by Abarbanel and Mede.