JOEL . The second
See also:book among the minor prophets in the Bible is entitled The word of Yahweh that came to Joel the son of Pethuel, or, as the Septuagint, Latin,
See also:Syriac and other versions read, Bethuel . Nothing is recorded as to the date or occasion of the prophecy . Most
See also:Hebrew prophecies contain pointed references to the
See also:foreign politics and social relations of the nation at the
See also:time . In the book of Joel there are only scanty allusions to Phoenicians,
See also:Egypt and
See also:Edom, couched in terms applicable to very different ages, while the
See also:prophet's own
See also:people are exhorted to repentance without specific reference to any of those
See also:national sins of which other prophets speak . The occasion of the prophecy, described with
See also:great force of rhetoric, is no known
See also:historical event, but a plague of locusts, perhaps repeated in successive seasons; and even here there are features in the description which have led many expositors to seek an allegorical
See also:interpretation . The most remarkable
See also:part of the book is the eschatological picture with which it closes; and the way in which the plague of locusts appears to be taken as foreshadowing the final judgment—the great
See also:day or
See also:assize of Yahweh, in which
See also:Israel's enemies are destroyed—is so unique as greatly to complicate the exegetical problem . It is not therefore surprising that the most various views are still held as to the date and meaning of the book . Allegorists and literalists still contend over the first and still more over the second
See also:chapter, and, while the largest number of
See also:recent interpreters accept Credner's view that the prophecy was written in the reign of Joash of
See also:Judah (835–796 B.C.?), a powerful school of critics (including A . B .
See also:Davidson) follow the view suggested by Vatke (Bib . Theol. p .
462 seq.), and reckon Joel among the
See also:exile prophets . Other scholars give yet other
See also:dates: see the particulars in the elaborate
See also:work of Merx . The followers of Credner are literalists; the opposite school of moderns includes some literalists (as Duhm), while others (like Hilgenfeld, and in a modified sense Merx) adopt the old allegorical interpretation which treats the locusts as a figure for the enemies of Jerusalem . There are cogent reasons for placing Joel either earlier or later than the great series of prophets extending from the time when Amos first proclaimed the approach of the
See also:Assyrian down to the Babylonian exile . In Joel the enemies of Israel are the nations collectively, and among those specified by name neither
See also:Assyria nor
See also:Chaldaea finds a place . This circumstance might, if it stood alone, be explained by placing Joel with
See also:Zephaniah in the brief
See also:interval between the decline of the
See also:empire of
See also:Nineveh and the advance of the Babylonians . But it is further obvious that Joel has no part in the
See also:internal struggle between spiritual Yahweh-worship and
See also:idolatry which occupied all the prophets from Amos to the captivity . He presupposes a nation of Yahweh-worshippers, whose religion has its centre in the
See also:temple and priesthood of
See also:Zion, which is indeed conscious of sin, and needs forgiveness and an outpouring of the Spirit, but is not visibly divided, as the
See also:kingdom of Judah was, between the adherents of spiritual prophecy and a party whose national worship of Yahweh involved for them no fundamental separation from the surrounding nations . The book, therefore, must have been written before the ethico-spiritual and the popular conceptions of Yahweh came into conscious antagonism, or else after the fall of the state and the restoration of the community of Jerusalem to religious rather than
See also:political existence had decided the contest in favour of the prophets, and of the
See also:Law in which their Joash . From this time down to the last
See also:period of the Hebrew teaching was ultimately crystallized . The considerations which have given currency to an early date for Joel are of various kinds . The
See also:absence of all mention of one great oppressing
See also:world-power seems most natural before the westward
See also:march of Assyria involved Israel in the general politics of
See also:Asia .
The purity of the
See also:style is also urged, and a comparison of Amos i . 2, Joel iii. i6 (Heb. iv . 16), and Amos ix . 13, Joel iii. i8 (iv. i8), has been taken as proving that Amos knew our book . The last
See also:argument might be inverted with much greater probability, and numerous points of contact between Joel and other parts of the Old Testament (e.g . Joel ii . 2, Exod. x . 14; Joel ii . 3, Ezek.
See also:xxxvi . 35; Joel iii. io, Mic. iv . 3) make it not incredible that the purity of his style—which is rather elegant than
See also:original and strongly marked—is in large measure the fruit of
See also:literary culture . The absence of allusion to a hostile or oppressing empire may be fairly taken in connexion with the fact that the prophecy gives no indication of political
See also:life at Jerusalem .
When the whole people is mustered in ch. i., the elders or sheikhs of the
See also:municipality and the priests of the temple are the most prominent figures . The
See also:king is not mentioned—which on Credner's view is explained by assuming that the plague fell in the minority of Joash, when the
See also:priest Jchoiada held the reins of power—and the princes, councillors and warriors necessary to an
See also:independent state, and so often referred to by the prophets before the exile, are altogether lacking . The nation has only a municipal organization with a priestly aristocracy, precisely the state of things that prevailed under the Persian empire . That the Persians do not appear as enemies of Yahweh and his people is perfectly natural . They were hard masters but not invaders, and under them the enemies of the Jews were their neighbours, just as appears in Joel.' Those, however, who place our prophet in the minority of King ,Joash draw a
See also:special argument from the mention of Phoenicians, Philistines and Edomites (iii.4 seq., 19), pointing to the revolt of Edom under Joram (2
See also:Kings viii . 20) and the incursion of the Philistines in the same reign (2 Chron . )(xi . 16, xxii . I) . These were recent events in the time of Joash, and in like manner the Phoenician slave
See also:trade in Jewish
See also:children is carried back to an early date by the reference in Amos i . 9 . This argument is rather specious than sound .
Edom's hostility to Judah was incessant, but the
See also:feud reached its full intensity only after the time of
See also:Deuteronomy (
See also:xxiii . 7), when the Edomites joined the Chaldaeans, drew profit from the overthrow of the Jews, whose
See also:land they partly occupied, and exercised barbarous cruelty towards the fugitives of Jerusalem (Obad. passim; Mal. i . 2 seq.; Isa. lxiii.) . The offence of shedding innocent
See also:blood charged on them by Joel is natural after these events, but hardly so in connexion with the revolt against Joram . As regards the Philistines, it is impossible to
See also:lay much
See also:weight on the statement of
See also:Chronicles, unsupported as it is by the older
See also:history, and in Joel the Philistines plainly stand in one category with the Phoenicians, as slave dealers, not as armed foes . Gaza in fact was a slave emporium as early as the time of Amos (i . 6), and continued so till
See also:Roman times . Thus, if any inference as to date can be
See also:drawn from ch. iii., it must
See also:rest on special features of the trade in slaves, which was always an important part of the commerce of the
See also:Levant . In the time of Amos the slaves collected by Philistines and
See also:Tyr'ans were sold en masse to Edom, and presumably went to Egypt or
See also:Arabia . Joel complains that they were sold to the Grecians (Javan, lonians).2 It is probable that some Hebrew and Syrian staves were exported to the Mediterranean coasts from a very early date, and Isa. xi . 11 already speaks of Israelites
See also:captive in these districts as well as in Egypt, Ethiopia and the East . But the
See also:traffic in this direction hardly became extensive till a later date .
See also:xxviii . 68, Egypt is still the chief
See also:goal of the maritime slave trade, and in Ezek.
See also:xxvii . 13 Javan exports slaves to Tyre, not conversely . Thus the allusion to Javan in Joel better suits a later date, when Syrian slaves were in special
See also:request in
See also:Greece.' And the name of Javan is not found in any part of the Old Testament certainly older than Ezekiel . In Joel it seems to stand as a general representative of the distant countries reached by the Mediterranean (in contrast with the
See also:southern Arabians,
See also:Sabaeans, ch. iii . 8), the farthest nation reached by the fleets of the Red
See also:Sea . This is precisely the
See also:geographical standpoint of the post-exile author of Gen. x . 4, where (assuming that Elishah =
See also:Carthage and Tarshish = Tartessus) Javan includes Carthage and Tartessus . Finally, the allusion to Egypt in Joel iii . 19 must on Credner's theory be explained of the invasion of Shishak a century before i In the A.V. of ii . 17 it appears that subjection to a foreign power is not a
See also:present fact but a thing feared . But the
See also:parallelism and v .
19 justify the rendering in margin of R.V . " use a byword against them." 2 Thehypothesis of an Arabian Javan, applied to Joel in . 6 by Credner,
See also:Hitzig, and others, may be viewed as exploded (see Stade, " DasVolk Javan," 188o, reprinted in his A kad.Reden u.A bhandlungen, 1899, pp . 123-142) . The question, however, has to be re-examined; later interpreters, e.g. the LXX translators, may have misunderstood . The text of the passages has to be critically treated anew . See
See also:Cheyne, Traditions and Beliefs of
See also:Ancient Israel (on Gen. x . 2) . 3 Compare
See also:Movers, Phonizisches Alterthum, iii. i . 70 seq .
See also:monarchy Egypt was not the enemy of Judah . If the arguments chiefly relied on for an early date are so pre-carious or can even be turned against their inventors, there are others of an unambiguous kind which make for a date in the Persian period .
It appears from ch. iii . 1, 2, that Joel wrote after the exile . The phrase " to bring again the captivity " would not alone suffice to prove this, for it is used in a wide sense, and perhaps means rather to "
See also:reverse the calamity," ' but the dispersion of Israel among the nations, and the allotment of the
See also:Holy Land to new occupants, cannot fairly be referred to any calamity less than that of the captivity . With this the whole standpoint of the prophecy agrees . To Joel Judah and the people of Yahweh are synonyms;
See also:northern Israel has disappeared . Now it is true that those who take their view of the history from Chronicles, where the kingdom of
See also:Ephraim is always treated as a
See also:sect outside the true religion, can reconcile this fact with an early date . But in ancient times it was not so; and under Joash, the contemporary of Elisha, such a
See also:limitation of the people of Yahweh is wholly inconceivable . The earliest prophetic books have a quite different standpoint; otherwise indeed the books of northern prophets and historians could never have been admitted into the Jewish
See also:canon . Again, the significant fact that there is no mention of a king and princes, but only of sheikhs and priests, has a force not to be invalidated by the ingenious reference of the book to the time of Joash's minority and the supposed regency of Jehoiada.F And the
See also:assumption that there was a period before the prophetic conflicts of the 8th century B.C. when spiritual prophecy had unchallenged sway, when there was no
See also:gross idolatry or superstition, when the priests of Jerusalem, acting in
See also:accord with prophets like Joel, held the same place as heads of a pure worship which they occupied after the exile (cf . Ewald, Propheten, i . 89), is not consistent with history . It rests on the old theory of the antiquity of the Levitical legislation, so that in fact all who place that legislation later than Ezekiel are agreed that the book of Joel is also
See also:late .
In this connexion one point deserves special
See also:notice . The religious significance of the plague of drought and locusts is expressed in ch. i . 9 in the observation that the daily
See also:meat and drink offering are cut off, and the token of new blessing is the restoration of this service, ch. ii . 14 . In other words, the daily offering is the continual
See also:symbol of gracious intercourse between Yahweh and his people and the
See also:office of religion . This conception, which finds its parallel in
See also:Dan. viii . I I, xi . 31, xii . I I, is quite in accordance with the later law . But under the monarchy the daily
See also:oblation was the king's private offering, and not till
See also:Ezra's reformation did it become the affair of the community and the central
See also:act of national worship (Neh. x . 33 seq.).s That Joel wrote not only after the exile but after the work of Ezra and Nehemiah may be viewed as confirmed by the allusions to the walls of Jerusalem in ch. ii . 7, 9 .
Such is the historical basis which we seem to be able to lay for the study of the exegetical problems of the book . The style of Joel is clear (which hardly favours an early date); and hislanguage presents peculiarities which are evidences of a late origin . But the structure of the book, the symbolism and the connexion of the prophet's thoughts have given rise to much controversy . It seems safest to start from the fact that the prophecy is divided into two well-marked sections by ch. ii . 18, Iga . According to the Massoretic vocalization, which is in harmony with the most ancient exegetical tradition as contained in the LXX, these words are historical: " Then the
See also:Lord was jealous, . . . and answered and said unto his people, Behold," &c . Such is the natural meaning of the words as pointed . Thus the book falls into two parts . In the first the prophet speaks in his own name, addressing himself to the people in a lively description of a present calamity caused by a terrible plague of locusts which threatens the entire destruction of the
See also:country, and appears to be the vehicle of a final consuming
See also:judgment (the day of Yahweh) . There is no hope save in repentance and prayer; and in ch. ii . 12 the prophet, speaking now for the first time in Yahweh's name, calls the people to a
See also:solemn fast at the sanctuary, and invites the intercession of the priests .
The calamity is described in the strongest
See also:colours of Hebrew hyper-
See also:bole, and it seems arbitrary to seek too literal an interpretation of details, e.g. to lay weight on the four names of locusts, or to take ch. i . 20 of a conflagration produced by drought, when it appears from ii . 3 that the ravages of the locusts themselves are compared to those of
See also:fire . But when due
See also:allowance is made for 4 See Ewald on Jer. xlviii . 47,
See also:Kuenen, Theol . Tijdschrift (1873), p . 519; Schwally, Z.A.T.W., viii . 200, and Briggs on Ps. xiv . 7 . s Stade not unreasonably questions whether 2 Kings xii . 1–3 implies the paramount political influence of Jehoiada . 6 See
See also:Wellhausen, Geschichte Israels, p .
78 seq . ; Prolegomena zur Gesch . Israels (1883), p . 82 seq . Eastern rhetoric, there is no occasion to seek in thissection anything else than literal locusts .
See also:Nay, the allegorical interpretation, which takes the locusts to be hostile invaders, breaks through the
See also:laws of all reasonable writing; for the poetical hyper-bole which compares the invading swarms to an army (ii . 4 seq.) would be inconceivably lame if a literal army was already concealed under the figure of the locusts . Nor could the prophet so far forget himself in his allegory as to speak of a victorious
See also:host as entering the conquered city like a thief (ii . 9) . The second part of the book is Yahweh's answer to the people's prayer . The answer begins with a promise of deliverance from
See also:famine, and of fruitful seasons compensating for the ravages of the locusts . In the new prosperity of the land the union of Yahweh and his people shall be sealed anew, and so the Lord will proceed to pour down further and higher blessings .
The aspiration ofMoses (Num. xi . 29) and the hope of earlier prophets (Isa. xxxii . 15, lix . 21; Jer. xxxi . 33) shall be fully realized in the outpouring of the Spirit on all the Jews and even upon their servants (Isa. lxi . 5 with 1vi . 6, 7); and then the great day of judgment, which had seemed to overshadow Jerusalem in the now averted plague, shall draw near with awful tokens of blood and fire and darkness . But the terrors of that day are not for the Jews but for their enemies . The worshippers of Yahweh on Zion shall be delivered (cf . Obad. v . 17, whose words Joel expressly quotes in ch. ii . 32), and it is their
See also:heathen enemies, assembled before Jerusalem to war against Yahweh, who shall be mowed down in the valley of
See also:Jehoshaphat (" Yahweh judgeth ") by no human
See also:arm, but by heavenly warriors .
Thus definitively freed from the profane
See also:foot of the stranger (Isa. lii . I), Jerusalem shall abide a holy city for ever . The fertility of the land shall be such as was long ago predicted in Amos ix . 13, and streams issuing from the Temple, as Ezekiel had described in his picture of the restored Jerusalem (Ezek. xlvii.), shall fertilize the barren
See also:Wadi of Acacias . Egypt and Edom, on the other
See also:hand, shall be desolate, because, they have
See also:shed the blood of Yahweh's innocents . Compare the similar predictions against Edom, Isa. xxxiv . 9 seq . (Mal. i . 3), and against Egypt, Isa. xix . 5 seq., Ezek.
See also:xxix . Joel's eschatological picture appears indeed to be largely a combination of elements from older unfulfilled prophecies . Its central feature, the assembling of the nations to judgment, is already found in Zeph. iii .
8, and in Ezekiel's prophecy concerning
See also:Gog and Magog, where the wonders of fire and blood named in Joel ii . 30 are also mentioned (Ezek. xxxviii . 22) . The other
See also:physical features of the great day, the darkening of the
See also:lights of
See also:heaven, are a
See also:standing figure of the prophets from Amos v . 6, viii . 9, downwards . It is characteristic of the prophetic
See also:eschatology that images suggested by one prophet are adopted by his successors, and gradually become part of the permanent scenery of the last times; and it is a
See also:proof of the late date of Joel that almost his whole picture is made up of such features . In this respect there is a close parallelism, extending to minor details, between Joel and the last chapters of
See also:Zechariah . That Joel's delineation of the final deliverance and
See also:glory attaches itself directly to the deliverance of the nation from a present calamity is quite in the manner of the so-called prophetic perspective . But the fact that the calamity which bulks so largely is natural and not political is characteristic of the post-exile period . Other prophets of the same age speak much of dearth and failure of crops, which in
See also:Palestine then as now were aggravated by
See also:government, and were far more serious to a small and isolated community than they could ever have been to the old kingdom . It was indeed by no means impossible that Jerusalem might have been altogether undone by the famine caused by the locusts; and so the conception of these visitants as the destroying army, executing Yahweh's final judgment, is really much more natural than appears to us at first sight, and does not need to be explained away by allegory .
The chief argument relied upon by those who still find allegory at least in ch. ii. is the expression hassephoni, " the northerner "1 [if this rendering is correct], in ii . 2o . In view of the other points of 1 It has been suggested that Saphon, which is often rather trouble-some if rendered " the
See also:north," may be a weakened
See also:form of sib'on, aaffinity between Joel and Ezekiel, this word inevitably suggests Gog and Magog, and it is difficult to see how a swarm of locusts could receive such a name, or if they came from the north could perish, as the
See also:verse puts it, in the
See also:desert between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea . The verse remains a crux inter pretum, and no exegesis hitherto given can be deemed thoroughly satisfactory; but the interpretation of the whole book must not be made to hinge on a single word in a verse which might be altogether removed without affecting the general course of the prophet's argument . The whole verse is perhaps the addition of an allegorizing glossator . The prediction in v . 19, that the seasons shall hence-forth be fruitful, is given after Yahweh has shown his zeal and pity for Israel, not of course by mere words, but by acts, as appears in verses 20, 21, where the verbs are properly perfects recording that Yahweh hath already done great things, and that vegetation has already revived . In other words, the mercy already experienced in the removal of the plague is taken as a
See also:pledge of future
See also:grace not to stop
See also:short till all
See also:God's old promises are fulfilled . In this context v . 20 is out of place . Observe also that in v . 25 the locusts are spoken of in the plain language of
See also:chap. i .
See also:separate commentaries on Joel by Credner (1831), Wiinsche (1872), Merx (1879) . The last-named gives an elaborate history of interpretation from the Septuagint down to
See also:Calvin, and appends the Ethiopic text edited by Dillmann . Nowack and
See also:Marti should also be consulted (see their respective series of commentaries) ; also G . A .
See also:Smith, in The Book of the Twelve Prophets, vol. i . (1896), and S . R .
See also:Driver, Joel and Amos (1897) . On the language of Joel, see Holzinger, Z . A . T . W .
(1889), pp . 89-131 . Of older commentaries the most valuable is
See also:Pocock's (
See also:Oxford, 1691) .
See also:Bochart's Hierozoicon may also be consulted . (W . R . S.; T . K .
JODHPUR, or MARWAR
MANUEL JOEL (1826–189o)
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