Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Blow.
The prophets often ordered, to signify what will take place. (Worthington) --- The people were gathered by the sound of trumpets.
The danger from the locusts was imminent; and all are exhorted to avert it, by praying in the temple, &c. --- Tremble
at the sound, Amos iii. 6. (Calmet) --- Extemplo turbati. (Virgil, Æneid viii.) --- Lord. That is, the time
when he will execute justice on sinners, (Challoner) and suffer affliction to fall upon them. (Worthington) (Chap. i. 15.)
Ver. 2. Darkness.
This implies great misery, ver. 10. (Calmet) --- People. The Assyrians or Chaldeans. Others understand all this of
the army of locusts laying waste the land. (Challoner) --- Morning; unexpectedly, (Calmet) and soon. (Haydock) ---
No human force can prevent the ravages of the locusts --- Beginning, in Palestine. Moses says the same; but speaks
of Egypt, Exodus x. 14.
Ver. 3. Flame.
They destroy all by their bite, chap. i. 12. (Calmet) (Theodoret) --- Pleasure. Hebrew, "Eden." So luxuriant was Palestine.
Ver. 4. Horsemen.
The head of a locust bears some resemblance with that of a horse, and its flight is rapid, Apocalypse ix. 7. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Mountains.
"They beat their wings so loudly, that they may be taken for other birds." (Pliny, [Natural History?] xi. 29.) --- They are
much larger in hot climates, (chap. i. 6.; Haydock) and may be heard at the distance of two miles, (Bochart) darkening the
air for the space of four leagues. Yet this description is poetical, and perhaps an allegory is nowhere better kept up.
Ver. 6. Kettle.
The Jews were naturally of a dark complexion. Fear causing the blood to retire, would make them black, Isaias xiii. 8., Lamentations
iv. 8., and v. 10. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Ranks.
Locusts march like a regular army. (Theodoret) --- No fortification can keep them out. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Brother.
St. Jerome saw a cloud of them in Judea. They were not "a finger-nail's breadth from each other." (Calmet) --- The Arabs discover
the military art in them. (Bochart) --- They invested France (the year of the Lord 874) with all the skill of an army, the
chiefs marking out the place for the camp the night before. (Sigebert.) --- Windows. They eat the wood, (Haydock) and
the windows were simple lattices or curtains. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "they fall upon the sword, and shall not be hurt." Septuagint,
"consumed or filled." (Haydock) --- They are never satisfied. (Theodoret)
Ver. 10. Shining.
The cloud of locusts intercepts the light; or, people in distress think all nature is in confusion. (St. Jerome; Ezechiel
xxxii.; Jeremias iv. 23.) --- Aloysius (13.) saw locusts in the air for the space of twelve miles; and among the Cossacks,
clouds of them may be found six leagues in length and three in breadth. They frequently occasion a famine in Ethiopia. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Voice;
thunder, (Haydock) or the noise of locusts, ver. 5. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Mourning.
For moving the heart to repentance these external works are requisite, at least in will: if they be wilfully omitted, it is
a sure sign that the heart is not moved. (St. Jerome) (Worthington)
Ver. 13. Garments,
as was customary in great distress. God will not be satisfied with mere external proofs of repentance. (Calmet) --- Evil.
He will forego his threats if we do penance. (St. Jerome) --- He punishes unwillingly, Isaias xxviii. 21.
Ver. 14. Who
knoweth. Confidence in God and repentance must accompany prayer. --- Blessing; plentiful crops, so that the usual
sacrifices may be performed again, chap. i. 9.
Ver. 15. Trumpet.
Thus were festivals announced, Numbers x. 7.
Ver. 16. Sanctify.
Let all make themselves ready to appear. --- Ones. Their cries would make an impression on men, and prevail on God
to shew mercy, Judith iv. 9.
Ver. 17. Altar
of holocausts. They turned towards the holy place, lying prostrate, 1 Esdras x. 1., and 2 Machabees x. 26. (Calmet) --- Hither
the victim of expiation was brought, and the high priest confessed. (Maimonides) --- Over them, as they might easily
have done during the famine.
Ver. 18. Zealous.
Indignation is excited when a person perceives any thing contemned which he loves. So God resented the injuries done maliciously
by the Gentiles towards his people; though he often punished them for their correction or greater merit. (Worthington) ---
He will resent the blasphemies uttered by infidels against his holy name, and will restore fertility to the land. (Calmet)
Ver. 19. Nations.
This did not take place till after the seventy years captivity, nor then fully. It is verified in true believers, and after
death in the glory of the saints. (Worthington)
Ver. 20. The
northern enemy. Some understand this of Holofernes and his army, others of the locusts. (Challoner) --- Protestants, "the
northern army." Hebrew may denote (Haydock) wind. This often drives away locusts. Those here spoken of were
drowned in the Mediterranean and Dead Seas. (Calmet) --- This occasioned a pestilence, (St. Jerome; St. Augustine, City of
God iv. 31.) to prevent which the locusts were to be speedily buried, Isaias xxxiii. 4. --- Proudly. Hebrew, "great
things." God, or the locusts are meant.
Ver. 22. Strength;
fruit, as formerly.
Ver. 23. Teacher;
Joel, &c., or rather the Messias, John i. 9., and Matthew xxiii. 8. Some translate Hebrew, "rain." Septuagint, "meat,"
(Calmet) sufficient for the people. (Theodoret) --- Rain. Osee vi. 3.
Ver. 24. Presses,
or subterraneous reservoirs.
Ver. 25. Host.
God could have hurled his thunderbolts, or mountains, to destroy all mankind; but he chooses to shew their insignificance,
(Calmet) by employing the vilest insects, which they cannot withstand. (St. Jerome)
Ver. 28. After.
From this verse to the end the prophet speaks of the times succeeding the captivity, and more especially of the propagation
of the gospel. The enemies of God's people shall be destroyed, (chap. iii. 1.) which seems to refer to Cambyses, Ezechiel
xxxviii. (Calmet) --- My spirit. This plainly foretells the coming of the Holy Ghost, Acts ii. (Worthington) --- The
Jews never had such a multitude of prophets after the captivity as the Church had, 1 Corinthians xiv. 24. What relates to
them was only a shadow of what would befall true believers.
Ver. 29. Handmaids.
Septuagint of St. Jerome and St. Peter read, my handmaids. "My," is omitted in both places in Complutensian and Hebrew
and the latter word in the Roman Septuagint.
Ver. 30. Wonders.
Many prodigies preceded the persecution of Epiphanes, the death of Christ, the ruin of the temple, and more will be seen before
the day of judgment. Though we cannot prove the same with respect to Cambyses, it suffices that the people were thrown into
the utmost consternation (ver. 2, 11.) when he forebade the building of the temple, (1 Esdras iv. 6.) and designed to plunder
them. Ezechiel (xxxviii. 11.) speaks of the same event, as the Jews assert. Ctesias also mentions that when he offered sacrifice,
the victims would not bleed; and that his wife, Roxana, brought forth a child without a head, implying, according to the magi,
that he should have no heir. His mother also frequently appeared, and reproached him with the murder of his brother. See chap.
iii. 15., and Ezechiel xxxviii. 22.
Ver. 32. Call.
Amid these fears, those who trust in the Lord shall have nothing to suffer. Cambyses could not execute his designs. But the
prophet here alludes still more to the conversion of the Gentiles, Acts ii. 21., and Romans x. 13. Some returned from Babylon,
as a figure of this great event. Only a few Jews embraced the faith. (Calmet) --- Salvation. Septuagint, "shall be
saved, as the Lord hath spoken, and the person preaching the gospel, whom the Lord hath called." (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The prophet foretells the terrible day of the Lord: exhorts
sinners to a sincere conversion: and comforts God's people with promises of future blessings under Christ.
1 Blow ye the trumpet in Sion, sound an alarm in my holy mountain, let
all the inhabitants of the land tremble: because the day of the Lord cometh, because it is nigh at hand.
2 A day of darkness, and of gloominess, a day of clouds and whirlwinds:
a numerous and strong people as the morning spread upon the mountains: the like to it hath not been from the beginning, nor
shall be after it even to the years of generation and generation.
3 Before the face thereof a devouring fire, and behind it a burning flame:
the land is like a garden of pleasure before it, and behind it a desolate wilderness, neither is there any one that can escape
4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, and they shall
run like horsemen.
5 They shall leap like the noise of chariots upon the tops of mountains,
like the noise of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, as a strong people prepared to battle.
6 At their presence the people shall be in grievous pains: all faces
shall be made like a kettle.
7 They shall run like valiant men: like men of war they shall scale the
wall: the men shall march every one on his way, and they shall not turn aside from their ranks.
8 No one shall press upon his brother: they shall walk every one in his
path: yea, and they shall fall through the windows, and shall take no harm.
9 They shall enter into the city: they shall run upon the wall, they
shall climb up the houses, they shall come in at the windows, as a thief.
10 At their presence the earth hath trembled, the heavens are moved:
*the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars have withdrawn their shining.
11 And the Lord hath uttered his voice before the face of his army: for
his armies are exceedingly great, for they are strong, and execute his word: *for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible:
and who can stand it?
12 Now, therefore, saith the Lord: Be converted to me with all your heart,
in fasting, and in weeping, and mourning.
13 And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord
your God: *for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil.
14 *Who knoweth but he will return, and forgive, and leave a blessing
behind him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God?
15 Blow the trumpet in Sion, *sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly,
16 Gather together the people, sanctify the church, assemble the ancients,
gather together the little ones, and them that suck at the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride
out of her bride-chamber.
17 Between the porch and the altar the priests, the Lord's ministers,
shall weep, and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare thy people: and give not thy inheritance to reproach, that the heathens should
rule over them. Why should they say among the nations: Where is their God?
18 The Lord hath been zealous for his land, and hath spared his people.
19 And the Lord answered and said to his people: Behold I will send you
corn, and wine, and oil, and you shall be filled with them: and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.
20 And I will remove far off from you the northern enemy: and
I will drive him into a land unpassable, and desert, with his face towards the east sea, and his hinder part towards the utmost
sea: and his stench shall ascend, and his rottenness shall go up, because he hath done proudly.
21 Fear not, O land, be glad, and rejoice: for the Lord hath done great
22 Fear not, ye beasts of the fields: for the beautiful places of the
wilderness are sprung, for the tree hath brought forth its fruit, the fig-tree, and the vine have yielded their strength.
23 And you, O children of Sion, rejoice, and be joyful in the Lord your
God: because he hath given you a teacher of justice, and he will make the early and the latter rain to come down to you as
in the beginning.
24 And the floors shall be filled with wheat, and the presses shall overflow
with wine, and oil.
25 And I will restore to you the years which the locust, and the bruchus,
and the mildew, and the palmer-worm have eaten; my great host which I sent upon you.
26 And you shall eat in plenty, and shall be filled: and you shall praise
the name of the Lord your God, who hath done wonders with you, and my people shall not be confounded for ever.
27 And you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: and I am the
Lord your God, and there is none besides: and my people shall not be confounded for ever.
28 And it shall come to pass after this, *that I will pour out my spirit
upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy: your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall
29 Moreover, upon my servants and handmaids in those days I will pour
forth my spirit.
30 And I will shew wonders in heaven; and in earth, blood, and fire,
and vapour of smoke.
31 *The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood: before
the great and dreadful day of the Lord doth come.
32 And it shall come to pass, *that every one that shall call upon the
name of the Lord, shall be saved: for in Mount Sion, and in Jerusalem shall be salvation, as the Lord hath said, and in the
residue whom the Lord shall call.
10: Isaias xiii. 10.; Ezechiel xxxii. 7.; Joel iii. 15.; Matthew xxiv.
29.; Mark xiii. 24.; Luke xxi. 25.
11: Jeremias xxx. 7.; Amos v. 18.; Sophonias i. 15.
13: Psalm lxxxv. 5.; John iv. 2.
14: John iii. 9.
15: Joel i. 14.
28: Isaias xliv. 3.; Acts ii. 17.
31: Joel ii. 10.; Matthew xxiv. 29.; Luke xxi. 25.; Acts ii. 10.
32: Romans x. 13.