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A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Joel

Kuruvilla Thomas
Bangalore
Published on 18 February 2020




Joel Timeline
Fig. 1


Introduction

This study treats Joel as a "Functional Chiasmus" in order to arrive at a coherent reconfiguration of the text. Text that is arranged in the form of a functional chiasmus must be rearranged based on certain logical principles to be correctly interpreted. A functional chiasmus is a new concept; see definition here [1]. This study also contains an exegesis of the rearranged text. If you wish to skip the technicalities of a chiastic parse, you may read starting from Part 4 of the Discussion section, which has the reconfigured text.

Through this reconfiguration, we will show that this prophecy, which appears to be about a swarm of locusts in Joel 1 & 2, is really about 3 different types of scourges that occur in 3 distinct Periods.


Notes:
We will use the term "Judahite" to refer to the Israelites living in and around Jerusalem in the 1st century who primarily were of the tribe of Judah; We will try to avoid the term "Jew" to avoid the confusion it introduces.


Discussion

1. Presuppositions

We base our parse of Joel on the assumption that it refers to 3 periods:

  1. The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD). The Roman army prosecutes a ruthless campaign of devastation against Judea.
  2. Christ's millennial reign on earth (circa 2000AD). After the trials that occur at the end of Satan's rule, Christ defeats Israel's enemies before his Millennial reign.
  3. End Times tribulation (c. 3000AD). In the last days, many tribulations will afflict the wicked of the earth.

2. Parsing the chiasmus

We will use the NIV Bible for this parse.

Parsing this chiasmus involves dividing portions of the text into three categories as above. We will call the period of the The First Jewish–Roman War Period 1, Christ's millennial reign Period 2 and End Times tribulation Period 3.


Categorizing Joel

Ch 1 Vs 2-7 belong to Period 2. A giant locust swarm will destroy all vegetation in its path. From our parse of Revelation [3], we see that plagues occur before the start of Christ's reign.

Ch 1 Vs 8 - Ch 2 Vs 3 belong to Period 1. The priests are called to lament the damage inflicted by the Roman soldiers. Although this section appears to be an extension of the tale of loss inflicted by the locusts, the character of the damage here is different - locusts do not destroy granaries and stop worship.

Ch 2 Vs 4-11 belong to Period 3. While this passage can also be interpreted as a locust attack, the nature of this swarm seems to be different. For example, it storms cities instead of fields. Revelation 9 describes a swarm of like creatures, that hurt people but not vegetation, during the end times tribulation [6]. Joel attempts to describe the creatures - they look like horses, etc. - which would be unnecessary if they were the ordinary locusts his audience knew well.

Ch 2 Vs 12-22 belongs to Period 1. The people of Judah are called to repent for their sins that brought on God's punishment through the Roman attack. God pitied his people, expelled the Northern Horde (the Roman Army) and restored the land.

Ch 2 Vs 23-27 belong to Period 2. At the start of Christ's millennial reign, the destruction wrought by the locusts will be remedied; the people will never again be shamed.

Ch 2 Vs 28-32 belong to Period 1. This passage is quoted in Acts 2:17-21 as being about the time after Jesus' first coming. People saw visions, and signs and wonders in the heavens and the earth.

Ch 3 belongs to Period 2. The nations will be punished for their offences against the Israelites. Christ will begin his millennial reign over a prosperous Israel.


Original text

We color-code the chiastic units of the original text (NIV) below for easy visual identification using: red for Period 1, blue for Period 2 and green for Period 3.


Joel 1 2 Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors? 3 Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. 4 What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten.
5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips. 6 A nation has invaded my land, a mighty army without number; it has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. 7 It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white.

8 Mourn like a virgin in sackcloth grieving for the betrothed of her youth. 9 Grain offerings and drink offerings are cut off from the house of the Lord. The priests are in mourning, those who minister before the Lord. 10 The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the olive oil fails.
...
(Verses 11-18 omitted)
...
19 To you, Lord, I call, for fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. 20 Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness.


Joel 2 1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand— 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come.
3 Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste— nothing escapes them.

4 They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. 5 With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. 7 They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. 8 They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks. 9 They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows.
10 Before them the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. 11 The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?

12 “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God.
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. 16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. 17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
18 Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people.
19 The Lord replied to them:
“I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations.
20 “I will drive the northern horde far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land; its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.”
Surely he has done great things! 21 Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things! 22 Do not be afraid, you wild animals, for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.

23 Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. 24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. 25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm— my great army that I sent among you. 26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. 27 Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.
28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.


Joel 3 “In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. 3 They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine to drink.
...
(Verses 4-16 omitted)
...
17 “Then you will know that I, the Lord your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.
18 “In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house and will water the valley of acacias. 19 But Egypt will be desolate, Edom a desert waste, because of violence done to the people of Judah, in whose land they shed innocent blood. 20 Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. 21 Shall I leave their innocent blood unavenged? No, I will not.”
The Lord dwells in Zion!




3. Building the reconfigured text


From this parse, it appears that Joel 1-3 form a Functional chiasmus as below:

A1   Ch 1 Vs 2-7 Period 2. A locust swarm will destroy the vegetation.
  B1   Ch 1 Vs 8 - Ch 2 Vs 3 Period 1. The Romans devastated Judea and Jerusalem.
    X   Ch 2 Vs 4-11 Period 3. End times pestilence.
  B2   Ch 2 Vs 12-22 Period 1. The Romans army leaves and the land was restored
A2   Ch 2 Vs 23-27 Period 2. The land that was destroyed by the locusts will be restored.


We now reconstruct the phrases in the right order based on the chiastic structure above and based on the ordering rules of a functional chiasmus [1].

We usually lead with the pivot point but in this case, we will place central pivot point 'X' last as allowed by the rules of Functional Chiasmus [1] .. The corresponding subunits (For example; subunit A1 corresponds to A2) are placed contiguously to form units (For example, A1,A2 is a unit ) so that we get a list of such units.


The sequence selected for rearrangement is:

[A1,A2]  [B1,B2]  X        (1)

We have the following sequence when we include the rest of the prophecy:
[A1,A2] - Period 2
[B1,B2] - Period 1
X                 - Period 3
Ch 2 Vs 28-32 - Period 1. The people saw visions and wonders.
Ch 3 - Period 2. The nations will be judged before Christ begins his millennial reign.


We still have text for the periods in a non-contiguous form. We can treat this as a doubly applied functional chiasmus as below.


M1   [A1,A2] - Period 2
  N1   [B1,B2] - Period 1
   XX   X- Period 3
  N2   Ch 2 Vs 28-32 - Period 1
M2   Ch 3 - Period 2

The sequence selected for rearrangement is:
XX  [M1,M2]  [N1,N2]        (2)


Translating this sequence (2) into the subunits of the first chiasmus, we get:

X,   [[A1,A2] , Ch 3]   [[B1,B2], Ch 2 Vs 28-32]        (3)

Further translating (3) into verse numbers, we get:

[Ch 2 Vs 4-11]  [[Ch 1 Vs 2-7, Ch 2 Vs 23-27], Ch 3]   [[Ch 1 Vs 8 - Ch 2 Vs 3, Ch 2 Vs 12-22], Ch 2 Vs 28-32]        (4)

We arrive at the reconfigured passage in the next section by rearranging the verses so they are in sequence (4).



4. Joel Reconfigured

End Times tribulation (c. 3000AD) (Ch 2 Vs 4-11, Ch 2 Vs 28-32a)
Chapter 2 4 They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. 5 With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. 7 They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. 8 They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks. 9 They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows.
10 Before them the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. 11 The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?


Christ's millennial reign on earth (circa 2000AD) (Ch 1 Vs 2-7, Ch 2 Vs 25-27, Ch 3)
Chapter 1 2 Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors? 3 Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. 4 What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten.
5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips. 6 A nation has invaded my land, a mighty army without number; it has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. 7 It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white.


Chapter 2 23 Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. 24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. 25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm— my great army that I sent among you. 26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. 27 Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.

Chapter 3 1 “In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. 3 They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine to drink.
...
(Verses 4-16 omitted)
...
17 “Then you will know that I, the Lord your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.
18 “In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house and will water the valley of acacias. 19 But Egypt will be desolate, Edom a desert waste, because of violence done to the people of Judah, in whose land they shed innocent blood. 20 Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. 21 Shall I leave their innocent blood unavenged? No, I will not.”
The Lord dwells in Zion!


The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD) (Ch 1 Vs 8 - Ch 2 Vs 3, Ch 2 Vs 12-24, Ch 2 Vs 32b)
Chapter 1 8 Mourn like a virgin in sackcloth grieving for the betrothed of her youth. 9 Grain offerings and drink offerings are cut off from the house of the Lord. The priests are in mourning, those who minister before the Lord. 10 The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the olive oil fails.
...
(Verses 11-18 omitted)
...
19 To you, Lord, I call, for fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. 20 Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness.


Chapter 2 1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand— 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come.
3 Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste— nothing escapes them.


Chapter 2 12 “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God.
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. 16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. 17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
18 Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people.
19 The Lord replied to them:
“I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations.
20 “I will drive the northern horde far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land; its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.”
Surely he has done great things! 21 Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things! 22 Do not be afraid, you wild animals, for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.


Chapter 2 28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.


5. An exegesis of the reconfigured text.

The passage has been split into 3 sections as above for analysis.

5.1 End Times tribulation (c. 3000AD) (Ch 2 Vs 4-11, Ch 2 Vs 28-32a)

Chapter 2 4 They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. 5 With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. 7 They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. 8 They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks. 9 They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows.
10 Before them the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. 11 The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?

The creatures described here appear to be similar to those loosed in Revelation 9; their release, in Revelation, occurs during the end times tribulation according to our parse of that book [6]. Although this description could apply to locusts, some of the features of this swarm make that unlikely: they look like horses; they march like soldiers; they attack cities and not fields (in the Revelation plague the creatures are told not to destroy vegetation). This plague appears to be a worldwide event.



5.2 Christ's millennial reign on earth (circa 2000AD) (Ch 1 Vs 2-7, Ch 2 Vs 25-27, Ch 3)

Chapter 1 2 Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors? 3 Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. 4 What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten.

Waves of locusts swarm across the land if the Israelites, each succeeding wave devouring whatever remains from the previous attack. From our parse of Revelation [3] we have seen that pestilences like this occur at the time of the start of the Millennial Reign of Christ.
(Note the parallel poetic structure of this passage - the generations of people pass on the story of the generations of locusts.)



5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips. 6 A nation has invaded my land, a mighty army without number; it has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. 7 It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white.

The crops and vegetation will be completely destroyed by the locust swarms. Throughout this book, Joel uses the literary technique of describing a few particulars of an event to create a vivid picture of the whole.



Chapter 2 23 Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.

Young Literal translation renders this verse "And ye sons of Zion, joy and rejoice, In Jehovah your God, For He hath given to you the Teacher for righteousness, And causeth to come down to you a shower, Sprinkling and gathered -- in the beginning."

The sense is that God will provide a teacher, presumably the Messiah, who will personally teach the people righteousness, just as God did at the beginning in the garden of Eden. (Or, to use the language of Joel's metaphor, righteousness will rain down on people as in the the early days.)



24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. 25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm— my great army that I sent among you. 26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. 27 Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.

The locusts' destruction will be remedied by God and the people of the new Israel will enjoy an abundance of produce, so that they will turn back to their God. Never again will the people of Israel be brought low because they will have Christ's protection during his reign over the earth.



Chapter 3 1 “In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. 3 They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine to drink.
4 “Now what have you against me, Tyre and Sidon and all you regions of Philistia? Are you repaying me for something I have done? If you are paying me back, I will swiftly and speedily return on your own heads what you have done. 5 For you took my silver and my gold and carried off my finest treasures to your temples. 6 You sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, that you might send them far from their homeland.
7 “See, I am going to rouse them out of the places to which you sold them, and I will return on your own heads what you have done. 8 I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, a nation far away.” The Lord has spoken.

The nations of the world will be punished for their sins against Israel. The prophet uses the names of hostile countries around Israel at the time of the prophecy to represent Israel's enemies at the start of Christ's millennial reign.



9 Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. 10 Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, “I am strong!” 11 Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there.
Bring down your warriors, Lord!
12 “Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. 13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow— so great is their wickedness!”
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 moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. 16 The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.

The phrase, "the Valley of Jehoshaphat", seems to indicate that the miraculous deliverance which God gave to Jehoshaphat, when Ammon, Moab and Edom came against him (2 Chronicles 20), is a type of this battle at the time of Christ's reign. Israel's enemies will be supernaturally defeated by God.



17 “Then you will know that I, the Lord your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.
18 “In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house and will water the valley of acacias. 19 But Egypt will be desolate, Edom a desert waste, because of violence done to the people of Judah, in whose land they shed innocent blood. 20 Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. 21 Shall I leave their innocent blood unavenged? No, I will not.”
The Lord dwells in Zion!

Christ will lead and protect a prosperous new Israel. A fountain of Godly wisdom will flow from the new Israel to the rest of the world. (The "valley of Acacias" represents regions barren of Godly knowledge)





5.3 The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD) (Ch 1 Vs 8 - Ch 2 Vs 3, Ch 2 Vs 12-24, Ch 2 Vs 32b)

Chapter 1 8 Mourn like a virgin in sackcloth grieving for the betrothed of her youth. 9 Grain offerings and drink offerings are cut off from the house of the Lord. The priests are in mourning, those who minister before the Lord. 10 The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the olive oil fails.
11 Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. 12 The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree— all the trees of the field—are dried up. Surely the people’s joy is withered away.
13 Put on sackcloth, you priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God. 14 Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.

As we have seen in our parse of Isaiah 2-4, [4], there apparently was a drought in the land (Isaiah 3:1) during the time of the Roman attack on Judea. The Judahites could no longer offer sacrifices at the temple because of the war and the lack of food.



15 Alas for that day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
16 Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes— joy and gladness from the house of our God? 17 The seeds are shriveled beneath the clods. The storehouses are in ruins, the granaries have been broken down, for the grain has dried up.
18 How the cattle moan! The herds mill about because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep are suffering.
19 To you, Lord, I call, for fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. 20 Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness.

The Romans seem to have adopted a scorched earth policy, burning and destroying everything they found in Judea. They probably also plundered the land to replenish their supplies
(See more historical details of this time in our parse of "The 70 Weeks of Daniel [2] ).



Chapter 2 1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand— 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come.
3 Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste— nothing escapes them.

The scale of destruction by the Roman army has not been witnessed before or since, as we have seen in our parse of Matthew 24 [5] (Matthew 24:21). They leave behind a completely devastated land.



Chapter 2 12 “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God.
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. 16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. 17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”

Even at that last hour, as the Romans tightened their grip on the land, God was willing to forgive and deliver those who sincerely repented.



18 Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people.
19 The Lord replied to them:
“I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations.
20 “I will drive the northern horde far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land; its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.”
Surely he has done great things! 21 Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things! 22 Do not be afraid, you wild animals, for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.

In order to protect the elite of God - the Christians who took Jesus' advise to flee to the mountains - the Roman army was only allowed to devastate Judea for a period of 7 years, as we have seen in our parse of "The 70 Weeks of Daniel [2]. God restored the land for the remaining Christian Judahites so that they are no longer scorned (The text translated as "never again" in vs. 19 is more appropriately translated "no longer").

Verse 20 appears to be improperly translated because it was taken in the context of a locust swarm. We believe the correct sense of the passage is "I will drive the northern horde (the Roman army) far from you. They will leave behind a parched and barren land. Its front ranks are at the eastern sea, and its rear guard at the western sea (that is, the army covers the breadth of Judea). And the stench of the death and devastation it leaves behind will fill the air.”



Chapter 2 28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

This last section, verses 28-32, seem to be a summary of the remarkable events of this Period. In Acts 2:17-21, Peter quoted this passage as being about the day of the Pentecost and more generally the time after Christ's first coming. In Acts, the passage begins "In the last days", by which is likely meant, the last days before the destruction of Jerusalem and Judea.



30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

Jewish historians reported signs and wonders both in heaven and in earth before the destruction of Jerusalem. The Roman devastation resulted in blood and fire and pillars of smoke in Judea and Jerusalem, and the smoke could have affected the visibility of the sun and moon. Those who believed in Christ were saved both physically and spiritually.




Conclusion

This paper is a chiastic reconstruction of the text which shows that the passage contains three interwoven prophetic passages. Once again, we see the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem feature prominently in this chiasmus.

The three distinct Periods of this passage are connected by a few common phrases and images (which has the effect of further obscuring its chiastic structure):



References

[1] A Definition of Functional Chiasmus
[2] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The 70 Weeks Of Daniel"
[3] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Revelation 4-22 Part 2
[4] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Isaiah 2-4
[5] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The Olivet Discourse" in Matthew 24
[6] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Revelation 4-22 Part 3










Related pages

Daniel 9
Mark 13
Luke 21
Luke 17:22-37
Functional Chiasmus