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Commentary On Joel Amos Obadiah by Jean Calvin

Joel 1:16-17

16. Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?

16. An non coram oculis nostris cibus excisus est? e domo Dei nostri gaudium et exultatio?

17. The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered.

17. Putrefacta sunt grana subtus sulcos suos, desolata sunt reconditoria (vel, apothecae desolatae sunt,) diruta sunt horrea, quia exaruit frumentum.

He repeats the same thing as before, for he reproaches the Jews for being so slow to consider that the hand of God was against them. Has not the meat, he says, been cut off before our eyes? joy and exultation from the house of our God? Here he chides the madness of the Jews, that they perceived not things set before their eyes. He therefore says that they were blind in the midst of light, and that their sight was such, that seeing they saw nothing: they surely ought to have felt distressed, when want reached the temple. For since God had commanded the first-fruits to be offered to him, the temple ought not by any means to have been without its sacrifices; and though mortals perish a hundred times through famine and want, yet God ought not to be defrauded of his right. When, therefore, there was now no offering nor libation, how great was the stupidity of the people not to feel this curse, which ought to have wounded them more than if they had been consumed a hundred times by famine? We see then the design of the Prophet's words, that is, to condemn the Jews for their stupidity; for they considered not that a most grievous judgment was brought on them, when the temple was deprived of its usual sacrifices.

He afterwards adds, that joy and gladness were taken away: for God commanded the Jews to come to the temple to give thanks and to acknowledge themselves blessed, because he had chosen his habitation among them. Hence this expression is so often repeated by Moses, Thou shalt rejoice before thy God;' for by saying this, God intended to encourage the people the more to come cheerfully to the temple; as though he said, |I certainly want not your presence, but I wish by my presence to make you glad.| But now when the worship of God ceased, the Prophet says, that joy had been also abolished; for the Jews could not cheerfully give thanks to God when his curse was before their eyes, when they saw that he was their adversary, and also when they were deprived of the ordinances of religion. We now then perceive why the Prophet joins joy and gladness with oblations: they were the symbols of thanksgiving.

He shows the cause of the evil, Rotted have the grains in the very furrows. For they call seeds phrdvt peredut from the act of scattering. He then calls grains by this name, because they are scattered; and he says that they rotted in the fields when they ought to have germinated. He then adds, The granaries halve become desolated and the barns have been pulled down; for there was no use for them. Hence we conclude, that sterility had become most grievousand perpetual; for if the people had been only afflicted by famine for a few harvests or for one year, the Prophet would not have spoken thus. The famine must then have been, as it has been already stated for a long time. Let us now proceed --

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