The recurrent day of judgement
The significance of Jezreel
Jesus’ Nazarene credentials marked him out as a ‘watchman prophet’, however the valley surveyed by Nazareth’s watchmen, had already become a powerful geographic metaphor. In the time of the judges, the Vale of Jezreel, encompassing the valley’s of the Harod and the Kishon, saw Gideon lead Israel to victory over sibling tribes who refused to abide by ancient precedents (Judges 6:1-8:26). However, this victory was just one of a series of ‘day of judgement’ events, all linked by a certain consistency of pattern.
The scriptures seldom portray the day of judgement’s characteristic fingerprint in full, so, whilst the earlier chapters of Genesis hinted at it’s nature, it was with the destruction of Sodom and the crossing of the Red Sea that it comes to the fore. It then recurs in the ‘valley’ experiences of Gideon and Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20 & 2 Kings 3). However, the features of the day of judgement, once discerned, clarify that Jacob faced a day of judgement at Jabok and that Elijah called for one at Carmel.
The shared features of the easily recognised days of judgement suggest a protocol for any day spent in the courtroom of the Almighty. God then capitalised upon this as the prophets provided their warnings. Joel’s warning, with its generic language, provided a template applicable to any such day. However, Ezekiel and Hosea returned the focus to Jezreel, as it once again it became the focus of a day of judgement, but also restoration. Thus, any prophet watching over Jezreel had to be acutely aware of the recurrent role of days of judgement in the history of God’s people.
First inklings of division
Adam’s era saw a fiery judgment and Noah’s day a watery one. Following the flood, the nations descended from Noah’s seventy grandsons1, shared a culture. However, arrogant rebellion at Babel saw them emulate Adam’s error and try to exalt themselves into Heaven. Thus, the confusion-fuelled scattering of these tower builders provided the first glimpse of a pattern of judgement that would become familiar (Gen 11:1-8). It is difficult to assign Babel to a precise epoch, however as language barriers are a powerful source of division, the days of Peleg (Gen 10:25) are the most likely candidate. Peleg means both division and stream2, in the latter case specifically a channel used to distribute water (e.g. Ps 65:9 or Job 38:25). Thus, in Peleg’s day they divided the land with irrigation ditches, fixed infrastructure that tends to accompany a settled lifestyle, land ownership and city building. Moreover, irrigation represented the advance of agriculture to beyond subsistence level, liberating resources for non-essential tasks, such as Babel’s grandiose design.
A day of judgment for Sodom
Despite these early inklings, the classic pattern of a judgement day does not appear until the destruction of Sodom (Gen 18:1-19:29). A cry of distress to the Lord was the trigger (Gen 18:203) and implicit in the complaint of ‘wickedness’ was Sodom’s failure to accept the authority of Abraham’s representative (Gen 17:8,18:19). Thus, when the Lord met the Patriarch, it was as a judge, en-route to hold court in the valley. As the Hebrew day ran from dusk to dusk, judgement commenced in the evening and, here as elsewhere, took place overnight. It started with the arrival in Sodom of two reliable angelic witnesses. In this case, those who welcomed the angels survived the night unscathed, for God’s agents shut them in (cf. Gen 7:16) and confused those who sought their harm with blindness (cf. Deut 28:28-29). Such nocturnal confusion becomes a recurrent feature of judgement days.
Though the form it takes varies considerably, fire generally has a part to play on a day of judgement. Usually it comes in the pre-dawn hours or with the dawn itself, though here Lot’s tardiness leaves the account to note that the sun had fully crossed the horizon before fire and brimstone reigned down. Despite this delay in executing sentence, it was still early in the morning when the prophet Abraham, watching over the valley, saw the telltale smoke revealing that the divine judge had been at work (Gen 19:27-29).
The Red Sea verdict
Most of the elements that we met at Sodom were also present at Israel’s Red Sea crossing (Exodus 14). When the time came for Egypt to honour God’s promise to Abraham (Gen 15:13-16), the Lord sent two messengers, Moses and Aaron, to test the heart of Egypt. However, when the Egyptian army sought to oppose them by force (Exod 3:7) and the Israelites cried out (Exod 14:10), the clock started ticking on another day of judgement. Thus, Moses, explaining that God would deal with the Egyptians, told all Israel “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord” for “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exod 14:13, NKJV).
Once again, the most important part of this Hebrew day was the night, for during it God created a maritime ‘valley’ through the deep4. Then, at the time of the dawn watch5, God looked down on this creation and, from a fiery pillar, brought confusion amongst the Egyptian’s chariots and the sea returned. Daybreak left the prophet Moses surveying the Egyptians watery grave (Exod 14:24-27).
Gideon reveals God’s judgement
The features apparent with the judgement between Sodom and Abraham and Egypt and Israel recur in the account of Gideon (Judg 6:11-7:23), at which time Midianites, Amalekites and Sons of the East, were exploiting the land like a swarm of locusts (Judg 6:11, 7:12). Abraham had sent the ancestors of these nations away to the east (Gen 25:66), so the aggrieved Israelites cried out to God. In response, a prophet reminded them that this was due to the curses of Moab (Judg 6:8-10, Deut 28:33). However, Israel’s repentance made the presence of these foreigners a matter for a higher court, it was time for the Lord to judge (cf. Judg 11:27) and Jezreel had become a valley of judgement. As Gideon surveyed the valley, the vast army of the Midianites and their allies were camped north of the spring of Harod (Judg 6:33, 7:1)7, presumably across the watershed by one of the Kishon’s springs. That they were at the Hill of Moreh (metaphorically if not literally), reminds the reader of the issue, for at Moreh God judged that Canaan was Isaac’s land (Gen 12:6-7, 17:21).
A recurring feature of the divine assizes is the impossible outcome that legitimises its verdict as God’s. Hence, God reduced Gideon’s army to a token force. Then, under cover of night, two reliable witnesses (Gideon and his servant) visited the valley and witnessed the evidence of God’s ruling. Then, at the middle watch of the night, Gideon called for a sword as trumpets summoned God to remembrance (cf. Num 10:9) and fiery torches blazed around the camp. Dazzled (i.e. blinded) and confused, the multitude turned against each other and fled. From the escarpment above Nazareth, dawn revealed a very different scene below8, a valley littered with corpses amongst which men collected up the spoils (cf. Judg 8:24-26).
The valley of Jehoshaphat
Elijah’s triumph on Carmel (1 Kgs 18) shows sufficient of the signs of a day of judgement to class it as such. There is the call for God to judge and a judgement that comes at the time of the evening sacrifice, in a fiery way that no man could emulate. As with the Red Sea, looking out over the waves reveals the outcome. There is even a trench to provide a symbolic ‘valley’ and a symbolic deluge to fill it. Furthermore, Elijah ensured that the prophets of Baal met their end beside the Kishon and below the heights of Zebulun (1 Kgs 18:40, cf. Ps 83:9, Josh 19:10-11)
Whilst Asa’s defeat of the Ethiopian Zerah (2 Chr 14:8-15) shows a few day-of-judgement features, e.g. an agreement contravened, a valley setting and an impossible victory, it is with Jehoshaphat’s Judah that the concept snaps back into focus (2 Chr 20:1-30). At that time Moab, Ammon and Edom mounted a military challenge to God’s territorial decrees and marched on Judah (2 Chr 20:1-2, 7)9. Jehoshaphat, it seems, understood the spiritual dynamics of his situation, for he called the nation to repentance, reminded God that these nations had divinely decreed boundaries and then requested judgement (Deut 2:4, 9, 19).
In response to Jehoshaphat’s cry, the Spirit revisited the Red Sea day of judgement to prompt Jahaziel, one of the Sons of Asaph, to prophesy “Do not be afraid nor dismayed” … “for the battle is not yours, but God’s” … “Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (2 Chr 20:15,17, NKJV).
Jehoshaphat placed Levites to worship at the head of his army. Then, early in the morning, as the army set out amidst the Levite’s songs and praise, their enemies turned on each other in total confusion and destroyed themselves. As the Levites, who included Sons of Asaph10, reached the watchtower of the wilderness, they saw God’s verdict (2 Chr 20:22-24). All that remained was for Jehoshaphat to gather up the vast quantity of spoil (2 Chr 20:23).
Jehoshaphat’s other valley
Jehoshaphat’s divine deliverance from the Moabite alliance was the first of two days of judgement that the king face, the second (2 Kgs 3:5-23) coming later in his reign, after he forged a financially motivated pact with Ahaziah, King of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (2 Chr 20:35). When the northern monarch died and his brother, Jehoram, succeeded him, Moab took the opportunity to rebel against their vassal status. Jehoram promptly requested assistance from his brother’s allies. Thus, the combined armies of Jehoshaphat’s Judah, their vassal Edom and Jehoram’s Israel, all set out for Moab. However, a seven-day trek across the Wilderness of Edom left them struggling for lack of water in an unnamed valley. Jehoram suggested that God had drawn them there to hand them over to Moab (2 Kgs 3:4-10), in other words, that this was another valley of judgement. Faced with such a prospect, Jehoshaphat immediately sought a godly prophet. Elisha, suspicious of Jehoram’s convenient repentance (2 Kgs 3:13), concedes to seek God only because Jehoshaphat is with them. After calling for a musician and indirectly reminding Jehoshaphat of his earlier deliverance, Elisha instructed these kings to dig for water where they had already found none11. A few water-filled ditches would surely have sufficed to water these armies, however God asked them to fill the valley with ditches and prove that there was no underground water anywhere. This, like Gideon’s Jezreel, was a valley of judgement, so when water eventually came it had to be clearly the Lord’s doing and not by the hand of man.
In the wilderness valley, dawn brought a return of water, just as it had for Moses. Then, at daybreak, overtook the Moabite watchmen confused the reflection of a fiery sky with the blood of a slain army. The Moabites concluded that, as on the earlier occasion, three allies had turned on one another leaving an abundance of spoils. However, their excitement turned to dread as they reached the camp and the allies turned upon them (2 Kgs 3:20-23).
In the first of these paired confrontations the armies of Edom and two ‘sons’ of Lot faced a day of judgement in a wilderness valley, in the latter the armies of Edom and two ‘sons’ of Abraham faced are judged in another wilderness valley. This symmetry in the 2 Kings text emphasises the link between the two events and allows the reader to contrast the behaviour of Moab with the earlier behaviour of Judah. Both nations rise early in the morning, but whereas Judah turned to her prophets, Moab tried to muster every fighting man. Morning revealed to Judah a real salvation, whilst for Moab their morning of ‘salvation’ proved a treacherous self-deception. Judah found an unexpected abundance of spoil, but the Moabites found a trap. The army of Judah returned with joy, whilst the Moabite army returned in flight before the sword.
The distinctive signature of a day of judgement makes it possible to appreciate that Jacob also experienced one (Gen 32:1-32), but that his position and his behaviour gave it some significantly different features. Jacob found himself visited by two reliable witnesses like those sent to Sodom (see Appendix H). However, it began to dawn upon Jacob that the Day of the Lord was upon him and that the Camp of God still contained hidden idols. As he discovered Esau’s approaching army, it became obvious that Esau was ready for a fight and only the Lord’s judgement could save Jacob. Thus, as night fell, Jacob camped in the valley of Jabbok (‘emptying’). He separated his divided company and sent his possessions ahead of him as gifts. Then he waits to face his God alone. The separation of his divided company meant that they could not turn on one another and, having emptied himself, he had nothing left as spoil. Yet, that did not prevent him experiencing a night of confused wrestling against an unknown adversary. Then, at dawn, the prophet Jacob (cf. Ps 105:15, Gen 35:5) received the revelation that God had judged for Esau. Advised that he cannot struggle against both God and man and win, Jacob survives his ordeal, but not without receiving the mark that left him subject to the authority of Esau.
Joel’s choice of outcomes
The principals that underlay the recurrent day of judgement are discernable in the messages of several of the later prophets. Joel draws heavily upon these incidents as he warns of an impending day, setting it variously in the ‘Valley of Jehoshaphat’ or the ‘Valley of Decision’ (Joel 3:1-2, 12-14). The ambiguity of his context, whilst making precise dating difficult12, has a beneficial side effect. By excises the prophet’s words from a specific setting, it gives them generic applicability to any day of judgement.
Joel pointed to evidence of apostasy, in the form of drought, crop failure and the unprecedented appearance of a mighty host who strip the land like Gideon’s Midianite locusts (Joel 1:1-7, 25)13. These were the curses of Moab, warning the nation that they were adrift from their God. Therefore, in anticipation that a day of the Lord was near, Joel predicted that it would come as destruction (Joel 1:15-16), i.e. that the Lord would find his people wanting and judge against them. Thus, the prophet pleaded for urgency in repentance. He explained that with the suddenness of Gideon’s trumpet alarm the day of His judgement would be upon them. Therefore, they should tremble because it was near. He then portrayed what it would be like for those whom God found guilty.
On Joel’s envisioned judgement day, nightfall would usher in a thick darkness as clouds eliminate all light. Then, as dawn spread across the hills the Lord’s great supernatural army would appear to implement the verdict (Joel 2:11). A fire like host equipped with chariots and horses, leaping on the mountains, scaling walls and completely unstoppable. Like God’s fiery judgement upon Sodom, this army would transform Eden-like land to wilderness (Gen 13:10, Joel 2:3).
Even as Joel presented this terrifying prospect, he assured Judah that God was gracious. If they sincerely repented, then God might yet lift the curse, drive away the northern army and restore the years that the locusts had eaten (Joel 2:13-25)14. Thus, Joel’s prophecy concludes by envisaging a very different day of the Lord (Joel 2:26-3:21), this time it depicts the outcome for a repentant Judah. The process would start with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, with the associated prophetic and revelatory gifts through which God would bring Judah back in line. Then, although there would be portents of warfare, God would save the remnant that responded to the Spirit’s revelations (cf. Prov 1:23). The surrounding nations will rouse their mighty men and assemble in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, whilst, as in Gideon’s day, the least will become a mighty warrior (Judg 6:14) and transform agricultural implements into weapons, in anticipation that confusion will decide the day (cf. 1 Sam 13:21-22, 14:20). As the Lord withdraws the light of wisdom and chaos is unleashed, the people find ‘God with us’ their refuge. This alternate judgement scenario, like that in Gideon’s day, sees a return to peace and prosperity for people of God.
Its exact context, whether historical (at least from our perspective) or yet to come in some last days (see Appendix J)15, remains unclear. However,
By understanding the pattern of a day of judgement it becomes easier to recognize when prophets or psalmists have such an event in mind. For example, Ezekiel’s prophecy of the overthrow of Gog (Ezek 38:18-39:11) portrays a classic day of judgment. Within it, the people of God have recently returned from the nations to a war devastated and derelict land, where, despite lacking walls and gates, they live in peace at the navel of the world, i.e. Jerusalem (Ezek 38:8,11-12). From this, its immediate context is the resettlement of Jerusalem following the exile (Zech 2:4, Neh 1:3), at which time the inhabitants of Jerusalem must have resembled the vulnerable Sidonians of Laish (Judg 18:7) and appeared easy prey for those hungry for land (Judg 18:1, 18:27).
In the time of Ezekiel, the Phoenicians of Tyre viewed the fall of Jerusalem as an opportunity for their eastward expansion (Ezek 26:2). However, Nebuchadnezzar’s siege and their city’s subsequent treaty with the Babylonians16, limited these descendants of Japeth17 to pursuing any such designs by proxy. Thus, a Gog lead army of Japeth’s sons18, was to be anticipated given the Sidonians’ alliance with their northern relatives (cf. Ezek 32:30)19.
Ezekiel’s prophecy countered the threat of the sons of Japheth forcibly encroaching the territory of the sons of Shem. Should they do so, he warned, God would enter into judgement with them (Ezek 38:22). With echoes of Elijah, this day would see a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel (Ezek 39:17, cf. 1 Kings 18:19, 36-40), wherein men would suffer the fate of that infamous daughter of Tyre, Jezebel20 (Ezek 39:17-20, cf. 1 Kgs 21:22). As in Elijah’s day, this sacrifice would show the house of Israel who was God (Ezek 39:22, cf. 1 Kings 18:36-37). Ezekiel promised that, just like Solomon in his classic judgment (Ezek 38:21, 1 Kgs 3:24), God would call for a sword to decide between claimants. As with Gideon, men would turn on their brothers (Ezek 38:21, Judg 7:22) and, as at Sodom, brimstone would fall (Ezek 38:22, cf. Gen 19:24). As Joel predicted, fire would come (Ezek 39:6, cf. Joel 2:3) and as at the Red Sea, a valley would be their last resting place (Ezek 39:11, cf. Exod 15:1-4). As it did for Jehoshaphat, the debacle would leave mountains of spoil (Ezek 39:9-10, cf. 2 Chr 20:25). The description of their burial place, (Ezek 39:11), conjures up the Vale of Jezreel by which the Way of the Sea ran eastward from the coast.
It seems that the sons of Japheth, like Jonah’s Nineveh (Jonah 3:4-10), took the warning, leaving this prophecy, like Joel’s, to enter service as case law, this time for any encroach upon a righteous Israel by armies from the north.
In the prophecy of Hosea, nuanced references to a day of judgment take us back to Jezreel, by linking that valley to Jehu’s execution of Jezebel, the dynasty of Ahab and the followers of Baal (2 Kings 9:7-8, 30-33). Jehu’s coup was just one of the series of divinely sanctioned insurrections that dealt with dynasties corrupted by worship of the Goddess of the Sidonians, Ashtoreth, and her consort Baal (1 Kings 11:5, 33).
Jehu’s commendable zeal in shedding the blood of these idolaters earned his dynasty a four-generation reprieve, in which to rid the Northern Kingdom of this influence of foreign gods (2 Kgs 10:30, 15:12). However, it fell to Hosea to announce that Jehu’s dynasty had failed and that God was about to put an end to the Northern Kingdom. Just as Joel spoke of a Day of the Lord in which nations entered a Valley of Decision (Joel 2:1), so Hosea prophesied a Day of Jezreel for Ephraim, Hos 1:5, 11). This was the day Isaiah anticipated when he declared, “behold, at eventide, trouble! And before the morning, he is no more.” (Isa 17:14 , NKJV)
The prophetic names of Hosea’s children (Hos 1:1-8) provide background to the event. The first he called Jezreel, for God was about to re-visit the zealous service of Jehu’s bow, presumably noting both his descendants failure to emulate it and that their guaranteed generations were almost up21. On that day, declared Hosea, God would break the bow of Ephraim in the Valley of Jezreel.
Hosea called the second child Lo-ruhamah, meaning ‘she has not obtained compassion’, because God would no longer have compassion on the Northern Kingdom, whereas Judah would continue to experience mercy and deliverance, as in the days of Jehoshaphat, without the need to fight.
The third child Lo-ammi (meaning ‘not my people’) indicated that the day of Jezreel would leave the Northern Kingdom outside the covenant forged at Sinai22. Completely cut off from the Lord they would thereafter be at the mercy of the nations.
The fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecy came one step closer when escalating conflict between Ephraim and Judah prompted Ahaz to summon Assyrian’s help. Under Hoshea, the broken Northern Kingdom was little more than a city-state based on Samaria. Thus, when Hoshea precipitated further trouble with the Assyrians, the day swept them away and God declined to bring to birth a remnant in their midst. Whilst Judah also suffered at the Assyrians’ hands, the Lord had promised to be faithful and though, as my next chapter will explore, their Valley of Jehoshaphat went against them, God still saved them through the birth of a remnant.
The promise of Jezreel
Hosea’s prophecy adds an important footnote to his predictions of judgment, for, although Ephraim brought no remnant to birth and the nation completely died, God had a plan to resurrect them. Through Hosea, God promised that in ‘that same place’, i.e. the Valley of Jezreel, the two kingdoms would come together, choose a single leader and all be called sons of the living God (Hos 1:10-11). God would restore life to the dead and scattered Northern Kingdom and resolve the leadership issue that had split the tribes of Israel since the time of Solomon. Hosea’s picture, of the tribes coming up out of the land under a single leader, evokes Moses leading Israel up out of Egypt (Exod 33:1), a solitary prophet shaping a unified nation through the word of God.
The picture of gathering and restoration in Hosea is not unique, for it also occurs in Ezekiel’s envision valley. This valley contained all that remained of Israel, the dry bones of a vast unburied army (Ezek 37:1-14 cf. 2 Chr 20:12, Joel 2:2). It resembled some ancient valley of judgment, where none had survived to bury the dead, a waterless terrain like Jehoshaphat’s wilderness valley, devoid of water and a place of scattering. As Ezekiel surveyed this scene, God asked him whether there was a way to restore life to such dry and scattered bones, in other words, to recover from the judgment against them. The question was rhetorical, for God then instructed the Son of Man to speak the word of the Lord to the bones. As Ezekiel complied it removed the scattering and disunity, lifeless bone joined to lifeless bone, then flesh and sinews grew. Ezekiel then brought the word of the Lord again and God restored the breath of life. The picture in Ezekiel’s post judgment valley is like that in Psalm 104:3023, God was pouring out His Spirit and a reconstructed people were moving from death to life (Ezek 37:11-12). Thus, latent in Jezreel, there laid the promise of restoration. However, it would take a certain type of prophet to activate it, a Son of Man who, seeing nothing but dry and scattered bones, would respond by speaking words of unity and life.
The Son of Man’s commission
The valley of Jezreel, together with sundry other unnamed valleys, where places where God sat in judgement for the likes of Gideon and Jehoshaphat. With such days of judgement a recurrent and consistent feature of God’s activities, the issue for God’s people was never whether another would come, but when. Matthew’s readers, reflecting on the role of ‘the day’, would have appreciated that the birth of remnants often went hand in hand with days of judgement. Moreover, that in any dispute concerning David’s legacy, or Abraham’s or Noah’s, at any moment one of the parties might appeal to the divine court and unleash a day of judgement (cf. Matt 5:25-26). It therefore comes as no surprise that ‘the day’, whose repeated impact had been so apparent to prophetic watchmen from the hills of Zebulun, would also play an important part in Jesus’ Messianic agenda.
For those who wanted to survive such a day, the prophecy of Joel, with its generic foe, generic valley and generic judgment, provides a generic answer. God is compassionate, so attend to his words and he may yet relent, such that a day of judgment becomes a blessing. Thus, first John the Baptist and then Jesus would warn of judgement to come and advocate repentance. The same logic would then lend urgency to Peter’s pleas at Pentecost, as he cited Joel and interpreted the prophetic outpouring as a prelude to a day of judgement (Acts 2:15-18). However, for the Nazarene Son of Man the task of warning against future days of judgement came in parallel with that of restoring the human debris left by previous ones. Dry and scattered bones needed to hear vivifying words, to come together in unity and to receive the spirit of life. In the Vale of Jezreel, his ministry would see the lost tribes rise again amidst their Samaritan relics, to join with Judah and together swoop down upon the legacy of idolatry in Canaan (cf. Isa 11:14).
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of The Emmaus View book
1 Kaufmann Kohler and Isaac Broyd, “Nations and Languages, the Seventy,” JE, n.p., Cited:13 Feb 2009, Online: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com.
2 Nola J. Opperwall., “Division,” ISBE, 1:971.
3 The word used here denotes the cry of a disturbed heart in need of help and is usually directed to God. See Leon J. Wood, “570 זַעַק (za˓aq) cry, cry out, call.,” TWOT, (248).
4 Psalm 36:6, chooses to portray God’s judgements as a great deep. The normal contrast with a mountain would be a valley (e.g. Ezek 32:5), yet this psalm uses תְּהוֹם as does Exodus 15:5 and Psalm 106:9.
5 בֹּקֶר expresses the idea of morning but usually as a marker of daybreak, as in Gen 1:5, Ps 30:5 or Ps 46:5. See “1332 II. בֹּקֶר (bō∙qěr),” DBL, n.p.
6 Descended from Abraham as follows: Midianites, son by his wife Keturah, (Gen 25:2); Amalekites via Isaac and Esau (Gen 36:12); Sons of the East, i.e. Ishmaelites, from Ishmael (Gen 25:12, Judg 6:33, 8:24).
7 Melvin Hunt, “Moreh (Place),” ABD, 4:904.
8 As, at one point, Gideon’s camp numbered 30,000 (Judg 7:3) and it is likely that the flanks of Moreh lay between it and the Midianite host, the latter being visible below the southern uplands of Zebulun.
9 Moab and Ammon were descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot (Gen 19:367-38) and Edom from his grandson Esau (Gen 36:40-24). Although Lot’s rescue from Sodom indicates he held to the God of Abraham, his sons appear to have rebelled against this (Judg 10:6).
10 The sons of Asaph were amongst those trained to sing praise (1 Chr 25:6-7, 2 Chr 5:12) and some were set apart for military service as musician prophets (1 Chr 25:1-31).
11 Digging for water in a dry streambed is such a widely known and standard arid-terrain survival technique that it is reasonable to assume that the army had already dug trial holes and found them wanting.
12 The relative lack of contextual information within Joel’s prophecy makes it difficult to date, having considered over a dozen theories I find none of them entirely satisfying.
13 The image of eating everything and stripping branches white resembles the impact of a locust plague.
14 Joel calls for the priests to weep and cry out and concludes that ‘Then’ the Lord will act (Joel 2:17-18), for this is a conditional response, rather than an absolute prediction.
15 It is conceivable that this prophetic threat of judgement, like Jonah’s promised overthrow of Nineveh (Jonah 3:4), caused some historical ‘Gog’ to think again and abandon his plans.
16 H. J. Katzenstien, “Tyre,” ABD, 6:686-90.
17 Via Javan and the Kittim of Cyprus. See Brian Peckham, “Phoenicia, History of,” ABD, 5:349-57.
18 Magog, Tubal, Meshech and Gomer were grandsons of Noah and sons of Japeth (Gen 10:2). Genesis allocated Japheth land amongst the coastlands (Gen 10:4, cf. Ezek 39:6) and his children are traditionally associated with the Mediterranean islands and the north (Jub 8:25–30).
19 Accompanying Gog are Persia and Put, whom Ezekiel earlier portrayed serving in the army of the King of Tyre (Ezek 38:5, cf. 27:10), and Beth-togarmah Tyre’s trading partner (Ezek 27:14, 38:6).
20 The daughter of king Ethbaal of Tyre. See Pauline A. Viviano, “Ethbaal (person),” ABD, 645.
21 The reference to the bloodshed of Jezreel cannot relate to punishment (as suggested by many translation), for God had sanctioned the killing (2 Kgs 9:6-7, cf. Deut 32:35).
22 God first refers to Israel as ‘My people’ during the Exodus (Exod 3:7).
23 Breath and spirit are identical in Hebrew. See J. Barton Payne, “2131a רוַּח (rûaḥ) wind, breath, mind.”, TWOT, 836-837