The Book of Joel


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The Book of Joel

  • Author: Joel
  • Place Written: Judah
  • Writing Completed: c. 835-820 B.C.E.


1 The word of Jehovah that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:

An Invasion of Locusts

Hear this, O elders;
    and give ear, all inhabitants of the land.[1]
Has anything like this happened in your days,
    or in the days of your fathers?
Tell your sons of it,
    and let your sons tell their sons,
    and their sons to another generation.

What the cutting locust left,
    the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
    the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
    the destroying locust has eaten.

Awake, you drunkards, and weep,
    and wail, all you drinkers of wine,
because of the sweet wine,
    for it is cut off from your mouth.
For a nation has come up against[2] my land,
    strong and beyond number;
its teeth are lions’ teeth,
    and it has the fangs of a lioness.
It has devastated my vine
    and my fig tree a splintered stump;
it has stripped them bare and cast them away;
    their branches have turned white.

Wail like a virgin[3] wearing sackcloth
    for the bridegroom[4] of her youth.
The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
    from the house of Jehovah.
The priests mourn,
    the ministers of Jehovah.
10 The fields are destroyed,
    the ground mourns,
because the grain is destroyed,
    the wine dries up,
    the oil languishes.

11 Be ashamed, O farmers;
    wail, O vinedressers,
for the wheat and the barley,
    because the harvest of the field has perished.
12 The vine has dried up;
    the fig tree languishes.
The pomegranate, the palm, and the apple,
    all the trees of the field have dried up.
For joy has turned to shame
    from the sons of men.

A Call to Repentance

13 Gird yourselves with sackcloth, O priests;
    wail, O ministers of the altar!
Come spend the night in sackcloth,
    O ministers of my God!
Because grain offering and drink offering
    are withheld from the house of your God.

14 Consecrate a fast;
    call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders
    and all the inhabitants of the land
to the house of Jehovah your God,
    and cry out to Jehovah.

The Day of Jehovah Is Near

15 Alas for the day!
For the day of Jehovah is near,
    and as destruction from the Almighty.
16 Is not the food cut off
    before our eyes,
joy and gladness
    from the house of our God?

17 The seeds shrivel under their shovels;
    the storehouses are desolate;
the granaries are torn down
    because the grain has dried up.
18 How the beasts groan!
    The herds of cattle wander around
because there is no pasture for them;
    even the flocks of sheep suffer.[5]

The Prophet Calls to Jehovah

19 To you, O Jehovah, I cry out.
For fire has devoured
    the pastures of the wilderness,
and flame has burned
    all the trees of the field.
20 Even the beasts of the field pant for you
    because the water brooks are dried up,
and fire has devoured
    the pastures of the wilderness.


The Day of Jehovah and His Great Army

2 Blow a trumpet in Zion;
    sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land[6] tremble,
    for the day of Jehovah is coming! It is near!
A day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
    a great and mighty people;
there has been nothing like it from old,
    and after it nothing will be again
    for generation after generation.

Before them a fire devours,
    and behind them a flame burns.
The land is like the garden of Eden before them,
    but behind them a desolate wilderness,
    and nothing escapes them.

Their appearance is like the appearance of horses,
    and like war horses they run.
Like the noise of chariots,
    on the tops of the mountains they leap,
like the crackling of a flame of fire
    devouring the stubble,
like a mighty people
    drawn up for battle.

Before them peoples are in anguish;
    all faces turn pale.
Like warriors they charge;
    like soldiers they scale the wall.
They march each on his way;
    they do not swerve[7] from their paths.
They do not jostle one another;
    each marches in his path;
they burst through the weapons
    they do not break ranks.
Upon the city they leap,
    upon the walls they run,
into the houses they climb,
    through the windows they enter like a thief.

10 Before them the earth quakes;
    the heavens tremble.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
    and the stars withdraw their shining.
11 Jehovah utters his voice
    before his army,
for his camp is exceedingly great;
    he who executes his word is powerful.
For the day of Jehovah is great and very awesome;
    who can endure it?

Return to Jehovah

12 “Yet even now,” declares Jehovah,
    “return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to Jehovah your God,
    for he is compassionate[8] and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love;
    and he will feel regret over[9] the calamity.
14 Who knows whether he will turn back and feel regret,[10]
    and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
    for Jehovah your God?

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
    consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16 gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
    assemble the elders;
gather the children,
    even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
    and the bride her chamber.

17 Between the porch[11] and the altar
    let the priests, the ministers of Jehovah, weep and say, “Spare your people, O Jehovah,
    and make not your heritage a reproach,
    a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
    ‘Where is their God?’”

The Response and Promise of Jehovah

18 Then Jehovah became jealous for his land
    and had pity on his people.
19 Jehovah answered and said to his people,
“Look, I am sending to you
    grain, wine, and oil,
    and you will be satisfied;
and I will no more make you
    a reproach among the nations.

20 “The northerner, I will remove far from you,
    and drive him into a parched and desolate land,
his vanguard into the eastern sea,[12]
    and his rear guard into the western sea;[13]
the stench and foul smell of him will rise,
    for he has done great things.

21 “Fear not, O land;
    be glad and rejoice,
    for Jehovah has done great things!
22 Fear not, you beasts of the field,
    for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit;
    the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

23 “Be glad, O sons of Zion,
    and rejoice in Jehovah your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
    he has poured down for you abundant rain,
    the early[14] and the latter[15] rain, as before.

24 “The threshing floors will be full of grain;
    the vats will overflow with wine and oil.
25 I will restore to you the years
    that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
    my great army, which I sent among you.

26 “You will eat in plenty and be satisfied,
    and praise the name of Jehovah your God,
    who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people will never again be put to shame.
27 You will know that I am in the midst of Israel,
    and that I am Jehovah your God and there is no other.
And my people will never again be put to shame.

Jehovah Will Pour Out His Spirit

28 “And it will come to pass afterward,
    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
    your old men will dream dreams,
    and your young men will see visions.[16]
29 Even on the male and female servants
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

Those Calling on the Name of Jehovah Will Be Saved

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood Before the coming of the great and awe-inspiring day of Jehovah. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved;[17] For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, just as Jehovah has said, The survivors whom Jehovah calls.


Jehovah Judges the Nations

3  For look! In those days, and in that time, when I will return the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,[18]  2 I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my inheritance Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land.  3 They have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it.

“What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, swiftly and speedily I will return your payment on your head. For you have taken my silver and my gold and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. And the sons of Judah and Jerusalem you sold to the sons of the Greeks, in order to remove them from their border. Look! I am rousing them from the place where you have sold them, and I will return your payment on your own head. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away, for Jehovah has spoken.”

Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare for a war;
    stir up the mighty men.
Let all the men of war draw near;
    let them come up!
10 Beat your plowshares into swords,
    and your pruning hooks into spears;
    let the weak say, “I am a warrior.”

11 Hasten and come,[19]
    all you surrounding nations,
    and gather yourselves there.
Bring down, O Jehovah, your mighty ones.
12 Let the nations be roused
    and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;[20]
for there I will sit to judge
    all the surrounding nations.

13 Put in the sickle,
    for the harvest is ripe.
Go in, tread,
    for the winepress is full.
The vats overflow,
    for their wickedness is great.

14 Multitudes, multitudes,
    in the valley of decision!
For the day of Jehovah is near
    in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and moon grow dark,
    and the stars will lose their brightness.

16 Jehovah roars from Zion,
    and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
    and the heavens and the earth shake.
But Jehovah is a refuge to his people,
    a stronghold to the sons of Israel.

Jehovah Blesses His People

17 “So you will know that I am Jehovah your God,
    who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain.
And Jerusalem will be holy,
    and strangers will pass through it no more.

18 “And in that day
the mountains will drip sweet wine,
    and the hills shall flow with milk,
and all the streams of Judah
    will flow with water;
and a fountain shall come forth from the house of Jehovah
    and water the Valley of the Acacia Trees.

19 “Egypt will become a desolation
    and Edom a desolate wilderness,
for the violence done to the sons of Judah,
    in whose land they have shed innocent blood.
20 But Judah will be inhabited forever,
    and Jerusalem to all generations.
21 I will avenge their blood,[21]
    which I have not avenged,
    for Jehovah dwells in Zion.”

[1] Or earth

[2] That is, has invaded

[3] Or young woman

[4] Or her husband

[5] LXX VG “have been utterly destroyed”

[6] Or earth

[7] MT “they do not take a pledge” is a difficult reading in this context. LXX SYR VG (change a Hebrew letter) “they do not swerve”

[8] Or gracious

[9] Feel regret over (nacham). The Hebrew verb (נִחוּם nichum) translated “be sorry,” “repent,” “regret,” “be comforted,” “comfort,” “reconsider” and “change one’s mind” denotes repentance or a change of mind or feel regret over, a change of attitude or intention. God is perfect and therefore does not make mistakes in his dealings with his creation. However, he can have a change of attitude or intention as regards how humans react to his warnings. God can go from the Creator of humans to that of a destroyer of them because of his unrepentant wickedness and failure to heed his warnings. On the other hand, if they repent and turn from their wicked ways, he can be compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love; and he will “reconsider” the calamity that he may have intended. (Genesis 6:6; Exodus 32:14; Joel 2:13) This is not really of God changing his mind per se but rather his altering circumstances once persons with free will brought those altered circumstances about, so God could carry out his will and purposes. Second, draw comfort in the fact that we can be certain that God will never change his standards of love and justice regardless of what created beings do with their free will. Nevertheless, just as any of us might change our mind about someone who has altered the way they treat us, God does change in the way that he deals with humans to changing circumstances, situations, and conditions. There are also times when God has changed his commands, his laws, his instructions according to the situation and needs of his people. We should not be astonished by this because God has foreknowledge, and he is well aware of situations that will come where he is going to have to change or alter circumstances.

[10] See vs 13 fn.

[11] A porch or entrance to a building consisting of various designs.

[12] That is, the Dead Sea

[13] That is, the Mediterranean Sea

[14] That is, autumn

[15] That is, spring

[16] Joel 2:28–32 in the English Bible is 3:1–5 in the Hebrew Bible

[17] Peter quotes this promise of deliverance at Acts 2:21 “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” The apostle Paul quotes this at Romans 10:13 “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

[18] Joel 3:1–21 in the English Bible is 4:1–21 in the Hebrew Bible

[19] MT “Hasten and come” LXX SYR AT “Gather yourselves together and come”

[20] That is, Jehovah judges

[21] MT (וְנִקֵּתִי) “I will leave unpunished” LXX SYR “I will avenge” also by adding a letter to the Hebrew word (וְנִקַּמְתִּי), we get “I will avenge”

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