The Book of Joel
Joel or The Book of Joel is a Biblical work included in the Hebrew Bible Tanakh. It forms a part of the Minor Prophets section of the Nevi’im. The Book of Joel is a short book, consisting of only 3 or 4 chapters, based on how the book is divided. This apocalyptic book of Joel was written at about 400 BC to 350 BC, although some historians pose an earlier date around late 7th or early 5th centuries BC. It’s difficult to identify the exact identity of the author Joel, as there isn’t anything to suggest that he is any of the twelve other personalities mentioned in the Old Testament who carried the same name. We come to know in the Book of Joel that his father’s name was Pethuel. However, Pethuel is also an unknown figure. Judging by his concern over the fate of Judah and Jerusalem, we may say that he is a personality from this area.
The linguistic style of the Book of Joel bears striking similarities to the language used in the books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Zephaniah and Micah. Some scholars believe that the prophets exerted a mutual influence over one another; others held the opinion that they all drew inspiration from similar religious literary traditions. The book of Joel is also notable for the lack of any date-able events or persons.
The book of Joel starts with a superscription that ascribes the following prophecy to Joel. The author laments over the great locust plague as well as the severe drought that has devastated the land of Judah. Joel considers these events as signs of the terrible day of Lord Almighty when he shall reveal his destructive forces. The locusts mentioned here are considered to be actual insects and not allegorical representations of Medo-Persians, Babylonians, Greeks or Romans, as believed by some scholars. The following lines describe the effects of locust-borne devastation on agricultural fields, on farmers, as well as on the agricultural offerings that are presented in the Temple of Jerusalem. Such calamities call for a nationwide lament; Joel calls on all citizens, old and young, drunkards, farmers and priests to repent for their sins.
Later in the Book of Joel this lament is then followed by a more apocalyptic vision; Joel describes the swarm of locusts as Lord’s army and believes that their arrival indicate that the day of Lord Almighty is very near. He further asks every citizen of the nation to repent as God’s judgment is underway. However, instead of continuing further on the idea of Divine judgment, Joel says that this day will be known as the day of deliverance and true blessing for Israel. Joel says that eventually the locusts will be banished and agricultural productivity will be restored as a sign of divine response to such nationwide penitence. Although punishment will be served on all enemies of God and Israel, blessings will be bestowed once judgment and repentance is carried out. Joel also says that all of God’s people will be presented with future prophetic gifts, and God will ensure their safety in face of a massive cosmic cataclysm.