Joel 1

Listen to Joel 1
1 The LORD gave this message to Joel son of Pethuel.
2 Hear this, you leaders of the people. Listen, all who live in the land. In all your history, has anything like this happened before?
3 Tell your children about it in the years to come, and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation.
4 After the cutting locusts finished eating the crops, the swarming locusts took what was left! After them came the hopping locusts, and then the stripping locusts, too!
5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you wine-drinkers! All the grapes are ruined, and all your sweet wine is gone.
6 A vast army of locusts has invaded my land, a terrible army too numerous to count. Its teeth are like lions’ teeth, its fangs like those of a lioness.
7 It has destroyed my grapevines and ruined my fig trees, stripping their bark and destroying it, leaving the branches white and bare.
8 Weep like a bride dressed in black, mourning the death of her husband.
9 For there is no grain or wine to offer at the Temple of the LORD . So the priests are in mourning. The ministers of the LORD are weeping.
10 The fields are ruined, the land is stripped bare. The grain is destroyed, the grapes have shriveled, and the olive oil is gone.
11 Despair, all you farmers! Wail, all you vine growers! Weep, because the wheat and barley— all the crops of the field—are ruined.
12 The grapevines have dried up, and the fig trees have withered. The pomegranate trees, palm trees, and apple trees— all the fruit trees—have dried up. And the people’s joy has dried up with them.
13 Dress yourselves in burlap and weep, you priests! Wail, you who serve before the altar! Come, spend the night in burlap, you ministers of my God. For there is no grain or wine to offer at the Temple of your God.
14 Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. Bring the leaders and all the people of the land into the Temple of the LORD your God, and cry out to him there.
15 The day of the LORD is near, the day when destruction comes from the Almighty. How terrible that day will be!
16 Our food disappears before our very eyes. No joyful celebrations are held in the house of our God.
17 The seeds die in the parched ground, and the grain crops fail. The barns stand empty, and granaries are abandoned.
18 How the animals moan with hunger! The herds of cattle wander about confused, because they have no pasture. The flocks of sheep and goats bleat in misery.
19 LORD, help us! The fire has consumed the wilderness pastures, and flames have burned up all the trees.
20 Even the wild animals cry out to you because the streams have dried up, and fire has consumed the wilderness pastures.

Joel 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

From the desolations about to come upon the land of Judah, by the ravages of locusts and other insects, the prophet Joel exhorts the Jews to repentance, fasting, and prayer. He notices the blessings of the gospel, with the final glorious state of the church.

A plague of locusts. (1-7) All sorts of people are called to lament it. (8-13) They are to look to God. (14-20)

Verses 1-7 The most aged could not remember such calamities as were about to take place. Armies of insects were coming upon the land to eat the fruits of it. It is expressed so as to apply also to the destruction of the country by a foreign enemy, and seems to refer to the devastations of the Chaldeans. God is Lord of hosts, has every creature at his command, and, when he pleases, can humble and mortify a proud, rebellious people, by the weakest and most contemptible creatures. It is just with God to take away the comforts which are abused to luxury and excess; and the more men place their happiness in the gratifications of sense, the more severe temporal afflictions are upon them. The more earthly delights we make needful to satisfy us, the more we expose ourselves to trouble.

Verses 8-13 All who labour only for the meat that perishes, will, sooner or later, be ashamed of their labour. Those that place their happiness in the delights of sense, when deprived of them, or disturbed in the enjoyment, lose their joy; whereas spiritual joy then flourishes more than ever. See what perishing, uncertain things our creature-comforts are. See how we need to live in continual dependence upon God and his providence. See what ruinous work sin makes. As far as poverty occasions the decay of piety, and starves the cause of religion among a people, it is a very sore judgment. But how blessed are the awakening judgments of God, in rousing his people and calling home the heart to Christ, and his salvation!

Verses 14-20 The sorrow of the people is turned into repentance and humiliation before God. With all the marks of sorrow and shame, sin must be confessed and bewailed. A day is to be appointed for this purpose; a day in which people must be kept from their common employments, that they may more closely attend God's services; and there is to be abstaining from meat and drink. Every one had added to the national guilt, all shared in the national calamity, therefore every one must join in repentance. When joy and gladness are cut off from God's house, when serious godliness decays, and love waxes cold, then it is time to cry unto the Lord. The prophet describes how grievous the calamity. See even the inferior creatures suffering for our transgression. And what better are they than beasts, who never cry to God but for corn and wine, and complain of the want of the delights of sense? Yet their crying to God in those cases, shames the stupidity of those who cry not to God in any case. Whatever may become of the nations and churches that persist in ungodliness, believers will find the comfort of acceptance with God, when the wicked shall be burned up with his indignation.

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. The precise identification of the four kinds of locusts mentioned here is uncertain.
  • [b]. Hebrew A nation.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO JOEL

In some Hebrew Bibles this prophecy is called "Sepher Joel", the Book of Joel; in the Vulgate Latin version, the Prophecy of Joel; and in the Syriac version, the Prophecy of the Prophet Joel; and the Arabic version, the Prophet Joel; and so the Apostle Peter quotes him, Ac 2:16. His name, according to Hillerus {a}, signifies "the Lord is God"; but others derive it from lay, which in "Hiphil" is lyawh, and signifies "he willed, acquiesced, or is well pleased, so Abarbinei; and hence Schmidt thinks it answers to Desiderius or Erasmus. According to Isidorus {b}, he was born at Bethoron, in the tribe of Reuben, and died and was buried there; and so says Pseudo-Epiphanius {c}. In what age he lived is not easy to say. Aben Ezra expressly affirms there is no way to know it; and so R. David Ganz {d} says, his time we know not; and likewise Abarbinel. Some think he prophesied about the same time Hoses did, after whom he is next placed; and so Mr. Whiston {e} and, Mr. Bedford {f} make him to prophesy much about the same time with Isaiah and Hoses, about eight hundred years before Christ; but, in the Septuagint version, this book is in the fourth order, and not Hoses, but Amos and Micah, are placed before him; and so the author of Juchasin {g} puts the prophets in this order, first Hoses, then Amos, next Isaiah, then Micah, and after him Joel. Some of the Jewish writers, as Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abendana relate, make Joel contemporary with Elisha, and say he prophesied in the, lays of Jehoram the son of Ahab, when the seven years' famine called for came upon the land, 2Ki 8:1. Both in Seder Olam Rabba and Zuta {h} he is placed in the reign of Manasseh; and so in Hilchot Gedolot, as Jarchi observes. And it seems indeed as if he prophesied after the ten tribes were carried captive, which was in the sixth year of Hezekiah's reign, since no mention is made of Israel but with respect to future times, only of Judah and Jerusalem, But, be it when it will that he prophesied, there is no doubt to be made of the authenticity of this book, which is confirmed by the quotations of two apostles out of two: Peter and Paul, Ac 2:16, Ro 10:13.

{a} Onomast. Sacr. p. 856. {b} De Vita & Mart. Sanct. c. 4. {c} De Vita Proph. c. 14. {d} Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 14. 2. {e} Chronological Tables, cent. 7. and 8. {f} Scripture Chronology, B. 6. c. 2. p. 646. {g} Fol. 12. 1, 2. {h} P. 55, 105. Ed. Meyer.

\\INTRODUCTION TO JOEL 1\\

This chapter describes a dreadful calamity upon the people of the Jews, by locusts and, caterpillars, and drought. After the title of the book, Joe 1:1; old men are called upon to observe this sore judgment to their children, that it might be transmitted to the latest posterity, as that the like to which had not been seen and heard of, Joe 1:2-4; and drunkards to awake and weep, because the vines were destroyed, and no wine could be made for them, Joe 1:5-7; and not only husbandmen and vinedressers, but the priests of the Lord, are called to mourn, because such destruction, was made in the fields and vineyards, that there were no meat nor drink offering brought into the house of the Lord, Joe 1:8-13; wherefore a general and solemn fast is required throughout the land, because of the distress of man and beast, Joe 1:14-18; and the chapter is concluded with the resolution of the prophet to cry unto the Lord, on account of this calamity, Joe 1:19,20.

Joel 1 Commentaries