(5) A vowel point change in the word nastem changes the word from flee to stop up or block (SDA Com). The LXX used the latter rendering of the word while most modern commentators use the former. The verse says that “you will flee,” but who is “you?” It would seem at first that you would refer to those to whom the prophecy was spoken. In that case then this valley creates an escape for the people, enabling them to flee from the nations that have come against them or it becomes a stronghold that protects them. However, you could also refer to the wicked. In verse 3 the Lord will fight against the nations, so you could be speaking to those nations. At the third coming of Christ, according to the description in Revelation 20-22, the holy city will come down (Rev 21:1) out of heaven to rest on a broad plain where the resurrected wicked will surround and attack the city (Rev 20:7-9).
The background of this verse is rooted in the story of the flight of the people before the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah. Amos 1:1 refers to an earthquake around that time, but unfortunately we don’t know this story. Knowing it would surely help us clarify this statement to some degree. Another parallel may be when God descended on Mount Sinai and the mountain quaked violently. Revelation also speaks of earthquakes connected to the end of the world (Rev 6:12, 8:5, 11:13, 16:18-21).
The meaning of the word Atzel is unknown. It seems that it must be a city or region to which the valley would extend. Some have suggested that it could be Wadi Yasol, based on the LXX rendering of the word. This was a tributary of the Kidron (EBC-R).
Then the Lord would come, all His holy ones with Him. These are also the armies of heaven pictured in Rev 19:14 and Enoch spoke of as well (Jude 14). Since it appears we are dealing with the time after the millennium, however, these holy ones would refer also to the people of God who were rescued from earth. We will return with God in that day when He will put a final end to the wicked.
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