Bible Query from
Q: In Joel, what can we learn from this book?
A: Joel teaches on two not so comfortable topics that we need to study more: how God disciplines, and how we are to respond "when the locust come." Joel is prophesying that the army of locusts that invaded the land is just a prelude to the invasion of a foreign army because of Israel's sin. This in turn is a prelude to the Day of the Lord in the last days.
Likewise God sometimes sends milder discipline to people as an "encouragement to repent" prior to sending a much more severe discipline, or even destruction. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.202 for more info.
Q: What do we know about the prophet Joel?
A: We cannot glean much from the book. The name "Joel" means "Yahweh is God". It was not an unusual name, as around twelve other men in the Old Testament were also named Joel. However, there is nothing to suggest this prophet was any of them. We know nothing about Joel personally, except that his father was Pethual.
Q: In Joel, what is an outline of the book?
A: Apparently the book of Joel defies a western style of outlining. Eight Bible commentaries and study Bibles give very different outlines. But while they disagree on the high level outlines, they tend to agree on the smaller parts. Perhaps that is how Joel is to be understood: as many sharp but brief warnings from the heart, rather than a long, highly structured treatise like Lamentations, for example. Here is my outline
1 Following God when the Locust Come
-- 1:2-4 Hear you elders
-- 1:5-7 Wake up you drunkards
-- 1:8-10 Priests should mourn like a wife grieving for her husband
-- 1:11-12 Despair you farmers
-- 1:13-14 Put on sackcloth O priests and mourn
-- 1:16-18 Why all should mourn
-- 1:19-20 Our proper response: call to the Lord in the midst of disaster
2 Blowing the Trumpet in Zion for the Coming Day of the Lord
-- 2:1-11 Blow the trumpet for the future invasion
-- 2:12-17 Rend your heart and blow the trumpet to return to the Lord
-- 2:18-27 Restoring the years locusts have eaten
-- 2:28-32 Outpouring of God's Spirit
3 Final Judgment and Restoration
-- 3:1-16 Judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat against Israel's enemies
-- 3:17-21 Blessing and pardon after the judgment
Q: In Joel, just how many chapters are in the book?
A: In most English Bibles there are three chapters, containing 20, 32, and 21 verses respectively. However, The other copies of the Bible have split out verse 2:28-32 into a separate chapter. Bibles that are this way include the Jewish Taanach, the Hebrew text of the Interlinear Bible by Jay P. Green, Sr., and the Catholic Jerusalem Bible. So the Joel 3 in some Bible is called Joel 4 in others. The verses and their order are the same in all cases though. See the Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.3 p.879 for more info. The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls by James VanderKam and Peter Flint assumes Joel is split into four chapters.
Q: Where was Joel placed in the Bible?
A: It is after Hosea and before Amos in the Hebrew Bible and Christian Bibles today. However, the order was Hosea, Amos, Micah, and Joel in the Septuagint. They apparently were trying to place things chronologically. However, we do not have a good idea when the book of Joel was written. See The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.3 p.879 for more info.
Q: In Joel 1, why does that area get locust plagues, and just how bad can a locust plague be?
A: The New International Bible Commentary p.887 says that the locust came from the desert in Sudan. With the wind at their back, they were capable of migrating 1200 miles in three days. 400 miles per day, for 14 hours in a day would be about 28 miles per hour. Typically they migrated in a straight line. The ancient historian Pliny claims in Natural History 1.2.12 that a plague of locusts could even gnaw through doors. While this might not be true, this illustrates the terror a plague of locusts would bring.
When a locust plague attacked Somalia in 1957, there were an estimated 16,000,000,000 insects, weighing 50 tons. There is now a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Emergency Center of Locust Operations. Locust plagues are controlled by aerial spraying of insecticide on breeding areas. See The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.3 p.876 for more info.
Q: Joel 1 addresses various groups: elders, drunkards, priests, farmers, priests again, and all. The only sin mentioned in the book of Joel is drunkenness. Why do you think God would address these specific groups? What corresponding groups are there today?
A: Unlike many other prophets, Joel does not spend much time saying to stop sinning before disaster comes. Instead, he emphasizes how to respond with repentance after the imminent disaster strikes. The elders were asleep (or drunk) in the job of teaching the nation and younger people to follow God. The priests might not have been doing their job of teaching people to follow God, or even worse, teaching people to follow idols. The farmers, pre-occupied with wealth were not giving the financial support they were supposed to for God's priests and Levites. When a whole society is turning away from God, the political, religious, and financial strands all unravel together.
Q: In Joel 1, how are we to thank God for the locust coming since 1 Th 5:18 says to give things in all things?
A: Romans 8:28 says that all things (not just good things) can work together for good for those who love God. Hebrews 12:5-8 says that God disciplines believers for their good, though it is unpleasant at the time.
Q: In Joel 1 there is one key word in almost every section in Joel; the Hebrew word ki, which can be translated as "because", "for" or "surely". Why does Joel emphasize this word?
A: It seems God is big on teaching people lessons about reasons to mourn. People need to learn a cause-and-effect relationship of disobeying God and then the consequences. Today we need to be effective at warning people of the cause-and-effect of turning away from god.
Q: In Joel 1:1, when was the book of Joel written?
A: There is nothing internally or externally to pinpoint the time. It is a timeless message, for nothing in the book depends on the time. Here are three possibilities.
1. Ninth century B.C.
Tyre and Sidon, mentioned together in Joel 3:4, were only united in the early eighth century. The Greeks in Joel 3:6 were not the later Greeks Athens and Sparta, but the earlier Ionian Greeks, who controlled the trade routes in modern-day Turkey in the early eighth century. There is no reference to either Assyrians or Babylonians. The period in history when both were week was from Adad-Nirari's II death 782 B.C. to 745 B.C. when Tiglath-Pileser started his reign. Judah was strong at this time, and King Uzziah was the head of an anti-Assyrian alliance. The Philistines harassed Israel during this time.
The NIV Study Bible p.1339 says a good case can be made for this time.
2. Late-preExilic (597-587 B.C.)
2a. 10,000 men of Judah were deported in 597 B.C. (2 Kings 24:10-16) Also, Jews had been enslaved for years (See the discussion on Joel 3:6).
2b. Future mercy on Judah in Joel 2:12-20.
2c. The Temple was still standing (Joel 1:13)
2d. Future sudden destruction of Jerusalem.
3. Post-exilic (after 587 B.C.)
3a. Joel calls the Judean kingdom Israel in Joel 2:27 and 3:16, so this might have been after the exile of the northern kingdom in 722 A.D.
3b. Many more were enslaved in 587 B.C.
3c. Some see in Joel 2:12-20 God promising mercy to those individuals, not their descendants.
The skeptical work, Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.630 believes it is the post-exilic. However, he justifies this based on Joel 3:6, where God's people were sold to the Greeks. Since the Greeks were known to Moses, and Mycenean Greeks lived in Greece prior to Moses, this evidence does not support a late date. See the discussion on Joel 3:6 for more info.
Q: In Joel 1:2, why do you think Joel began with addressing the elders? Were they the only ones affected by the plague of locust?
A: Many times it is the government and religious figures that lead the people into disobedience. When the leaders are disobedient, not only do their followers suffer, but others suffer the consequences too.
However, official leaders are not the only kind of leaders. Just as significant are parents individually lead (or mislead) their children, and the older generation corporately guides the younger generation. When there is a failure of the entire older generation to lead both by words and example, then the younger generation suffers.
Q: In Joel 1, people can be troubled that while some sinned and turned away from God, all seemed to suffer consequences. What do you think about this apparent "unfairness", - from an eternal perspective?
A: If you look at this world only, not only is it fallen with evil, it is also unjust. However, God has set aside judgment day to make everything just. Whatever happens to us in the few decades we have to live on this earth is very small compared to the eternal life after we die.
Q: In Joel 1:2b-3, Christians disagree on whether elders here could means leaders, or older people, or both. How could both leaders and older people be at fault? Do you think Joel 1:2b-3 answers this?
A: Certainly the rebuke could refer to both. However, Joel 1:26-3 mentions not hearing this from their forefathers, and they have the command and responsibility to tell this to their children. This indicates that regardless of whether it refers to political or religious leaders, it also certainly refers to older people, who should have taught the younger generation.
Q: In Joel 1:4, it mentions four types of locusts. While we are not sure what the differences are between these different Hebrew words, the point is that this punishment is in four waves. What two things can we learn about God's discipline from this?
A: God's judgment can be both precise and severe. When people do not repent, God's judgment can come in multiple waves. A person can repent after any wave, but it can be harder for a person to get back to where they were before the successive waves.
Q: In Joel 1:4 why would God send these terrible plagues of locusts, if God loved the Israelites?
A: One might start to suspect that the prosperity of God's people was not God's highest priority! God might have wanted His chosen people to be materially prosperous, but God valued their obedience and spiritual prosperity much more. For us, a good parent might love their children too much to just sit by passively when the children are going on a path to destruction.
Q: In Joel 1:5 the drunkards are told to wake up and weep because (ki) their new wine has been snatched from their lips. Why would God start out with such an elementary, earth-centered message? How does Joel 1:6-7 relate to this?
A: God deals with people where they are at. Drunkards are not necessarily concerned with much except where they are going to get more to drink. Rather than initially talking to them about long-term, spiritual issues, God points out the immediate, short-term consequence, that they will not have the drink that they crave. In fact, anyone is in bad shape who rests their hope of pleasure and fulfillment on alcohol.
Q: In Joel 1:11 what are two distinct reasons the farmers are to grieve?
A: Short-term, this would be a bad year. Joel 1:11 says "because" (ki) the grapes, wheat, and barley harvest would be destroyed.
Long-term, even if the locust left and never came back, their trees and vines would be destroyed. Olive tress can live for 1,000 years. Destroy an old olive tree, and you have to wait centuries for a new tree to replace it. It was not just that their immediate production output was destroyed, but their means of production was destroyed, affecting them for many years to come. Joel 1:12f even says, "Surely (ki) the joy of mankind is withered away." (NIV).
Q: In Joel 1:13, why would the farmer's crop failures affect the offerings?
A: If there are no crops, there is no source for the grain offerings. If there are no sheep and cattle due to no food to support them, there will be no offerings of those either. The priests and Levites were supported both by being allowed to eat of the offerings, and other financial support of the people. If both of these are gone, what are the priests supposed to do?
Q: In Joel 1:13, what are two ways "treasures in God's house" can be squandered?
A: People can fail to spend them on what they should. When people are starving, either physically or for the gospel, and there are extremely beautiful buildings, it is being hoarded instead of spent. For example, Viking raids especially targeted monasteries, because they found a lot of gold there. If more gold had been freely spent on the poor and teaching the gospel, the monasteries might have been less of a target. Many monks lived off the islands in western Ireland hiding from the Vikings. But even though Dublin in Ireland was a key base of operations for the Vikings, they mainly left these Irish monks alone, because there was no gold to be gained by raiding them.
Second, God's money can appear insufficient because it is misspent on wrong things or too much spent on things of secondary importance. For example, if the strategy is to attract people to the church because of its lavish building, more than preaching the gospel, is that how people are touched by the Spirit and come to God? - no! Without thinking about it, it is easy to spend money on local things that have high visibility and make us feel good, versus sending money to places farther away that have the greater need.
Q: In Joel 1:8, why would a virgin grieve for her husband?
A: Zion would mourn as a young bride or betrothed bride would lament over the death of her new husband or fiancée.
Q: In Joel 1:12 (KJV), what does "languisheth" mean?
A: It means to "waste away".
Q: In Joel 1:14, while God brings punishment and discipline, what role do we as Christians have teaching people why these things came, and how they should respond to God? How can we do so, without appearing self-righteous?
A: Ezekiel 33:1-20 and Jeremiah 6:17 give the example of a watchman. If disaster comes and the watchman fails to warn the city, the watchman is at fault. But if the watchman warns but no one listens to him or her, then the people are at fault for disregarding the watchman, who was doing his job.
We should not compare others to ourselves, but rather show that they fall short of God's standard. We should not try to claim that those who suffered were more guilty than those who escaped, but that all will suffer worse, if they do not repent and come to God.
As an example, we can point out that hurricane Katrina, which flooded New Orleans, came the day that the annual homosexual festival, called Southern Decadence was scheduled. It does not means that homosexuals that came to New Orleans were worse than other sinners who did not come. But all sinners, homosexual and heterosexual, will ultimately have even worse judgment ultimately, unless they repent and come to God.
Q: In Joel 1:15, what will the Day of the Lord be like?
A: A "Day of the Lord" is a rather short period of time, but it is longer than one 24-hour day. There was a Day of the Lord at Christ's first coming (Acts 2:20), and there will be another Day of the Lord at Christ's Second Coming. Interpreters disagree on the exact beginning and ending of the Day of the Lord in the Book of Revelation, but Revelation speaks about this time. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.327-328, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1412-1413, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.202 for more info.
Q: In Joel 1:19, why is Joel calling to God?
A: One might mistakenly guess that Joel is asking God to help, relent, or not send the discipline, but Joel is doing no such thing. Joel is not questioning God's discipline here; he is merely calling out to God in the midst of this great distress.
Q: In Joel 1, If all that the book of Joel taught was about how God disciplines and how we are to respond in difficult times, it would be a valuable book to read today. However, Joel is also a very prophetic book about the end times. Which verses in chapter 1 gives small hints of that?
A: Joel 1:12 suggests that this refers to more than a local phenomenon when it says, "Surely the joy of mankind is withered away. (NIV). Joel 1:15 mentions the day of the LORD.
Q: In Joel 2:1,15 what were the people commanded to do that was different than wake up, weep, mourn, despair, put on sackcloth and wail in chapter 1? Is the order is significant of Joel 2:1,15 after the commands in Joel 1?
A: The people were commanded to blow the trumpet in Zion, in other words, to sound an alarm. In Joel 2:1-10 they were to do so to announce the coming disaster. In Joel 2:15-17 they were to do so for a different reason: to gather for a sacred assembly to repent and ask God to spare them.
We should blow the trumpet today for the same reasons as they were to blow the trumpet back then. We should publicize God's judgment, both to believers and unbelievers. We should also call people together to repent, both individually and corporately, that God would be merciful to us.
Q: In applying Joel 2:1,15 today, what would Zion / the holy hill represent?
A: Zion represents the dwelling place of God's people, which is in the churches today.
It does not just represent telling it wherever you live, or it would have said in the land or similar. The emphasis is to tell God's people in the church.
It does not merely mean any high mountain where all could hear, because it emphasizes to sound the alarm on God's holy hill. Also, in Palestine, Mount Carmel was higher than Mount Zion, but it was the holy hill where the alarm was to be sounded.
Today there can be ways to get the message out that can have a larger impact, but at the cost of compromise of the integrity of the message (or of us). That is no excuse to give up getting the message out, or to use compromising means, but we are to get the message out through all holy or righteous means.
Q: Joel 2:1b-2 says that all who live in the land tremble because/for (ki) the day of the Lord is coming. Why should godly believers tremble?
A: Obedient believers do not need to tremble for themselves, because God will take care of them. This does not mean they will never suffer or die, but that they will only die when God, who knows what is best, allows for them to die. However, believers can tremble for a number of other reasons.
For non-Christian friends: While believers should not fear Hell for themselves, they can fear Hell for unbelieving friends.
In a disobedience place: Revelation 18:4 commands believers to come out of Babylon, an evil system with a city on seven hills for two reasons: a) so that they will not share in Babylon's sins, and b) otherwise believers, in the wrong place, will receive the plagues intended for unbelievers. While scholars today disagree on where or what this future Babylon will be: (Babylon itself, Rome, something else) we can all agree that anything that looks evil like this Babylon does is not a place where believers should be.
Q: In Joel 2:6, sometimes people are annoyed when things are not as good as they expect them to be, sometimes people are irritated when things do not go their way, and sometimes they are mad when things seem to be deliberately going against them. But Joel 2:6 does not say any of these. How does Joel 2:6 go beyond all of these?
A: People would turn pale with shock at seeing what was about to happen. They would be in anguish as their rich supplies of food would be gone in only an hour or two.
When a person is in shock, there is less blood in the face, and the face of lighter-complexioned people is whiter.
Q: In Joel 2:6 what things today put people in anguish, or their face turning pale, verses just being annoyed, irritated, or mad?
A: War and terrorism cause anguish today, but drastic shifts in the stock market can also make people feel like "this is the end of the world." In the 1930's, as the stock market plummeted, some foolishly committed suicide.
Q: In Joel 2:1-11, when will this Day of the Lord occur?
A: This occurs in Revelation when the Lord comes to execute judgment. This sounds like it is the same event described in Psalm 50:3 and Jude. The skeptical work Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.632 also accepts that this refers to the end times.
Q: Is Joel 2:1-11 talking about regular locusts, and invading army, or endtimes?
A: While Joel 1:4 talked about a local locust plague, Joel 2:2 expands this picture to something else. It says it is a large and mighty army, such as never was before or since.
Q: Could Joel 2:1-11 relate to Revelation 9:1-11?
A: Both refer to a singular occurrence of special things looking like locust. However, they are different because the locusts in Joel 2:1-11 do not leave any green things left. The locusts in Revelation 9:1-11 refer to creatures, perhaps demons, robots, planes, drones, or other flying machines, that do not harm any plant but painfully sting people without killing them.
Q: Could Joel 2:10 be related to Matthew 27:45?
A: No. There will be darkness in the end times, and the darkness during the crucifixion was a foreshadowing of that. However, in Matthew 27:45 the LORD was not thundering at the head of his army. In general, when trying to find if two passages refer to the same thing, if part of it sounds the same and part is very different, then the passage is different.
Q: Could Joel 2:10 relate to Revelation 8:12? Revelation 16:10?
A: No. Revelation 8:12 speaks of when a third of the heavenly lights are struck, and Revelation 16:10 says when the kingdom is in total darkness. However, Joel 2:10 refers to a darkening due to the locust-like creatures, not darkening the heavens.
Q: In Joel 2:12-15, once God has pronounced a calamity, is there any way for you to escape it?
A: Yes. Not only in this passage, but also Jonah 3:9-10, Amos 7:1-6, and Jeremiah 18:5-10 show that while God does not change, His revealed will towards people change when people repent.
Q: In Joel 2:17, what is the significance of weeping between the porch and the altar?
A: This is where the priests ministered in sacrificing the animals people brought. Also, when the people brought the sacrifices, the priests were permitted to take part of the sacrifice for their families.
Q: In Joel 2:17-18 what two additional reasons are given for blowing the trumpet in Zion?
A: Two reasons are a) to spare God's people, and b) for God's glory. In other words, so that God's inheritance would not be an object of scorn and a byword.
This relates to us being salt and light in the world, by we should not hide under a bushel but shine. Shining includes showing the truth and righteousness, and contrasting it with error and wickedness.
Q: In Joel 2:17, what is the significance of weeping between the porch and the altar?
A: The priests went between the porch and the altar, and this would refer to weeping by the priests.
Q: In Joel 2:20, which army is this?
A: This is an army with evil intent that surrounds Jerusalem. This might have one fulfillment prior to the millennium (Revelation 16:12-16; 19:19), and a second fulfillment after the millennium (Revelation 20:7-10).
Q: In Joel 2:20 does the large northern army and "the big stench" relate to Ezekiel 39:11-20; Rev 16:12-16; and/or Rev 19:17-19?
A: It does not relate to Revelation 16:12-16 because that is before the Millennium. Rather, it refers to the battle of Gog and Magog after the Millennium, which is also described in Ezekiel 39:11-20 and Revelation 19:17-19.
Q: In Joel 2:25 how does the thoroughness of God's restoration compare with the thoroughness of God's discipline and judgment?
A: Joel 1:4 shows the thoroughness of God's discipline and judgment with the four kinds of locust. Joel 2:25 shows equal thoroughness in restoring what each of the four kinds of locust have eaten.
Q: In Joel 2:25-27, what is amazing about the promise God made to the people of Zion? Does this refer to a) the Millennium, b) heaven, and/or c) while we are living on earth now?
A: Joel 2:28 provides a partial clue. It says, "and afterwards" and refers to something that was fulfilled in Acts 2. Thus it must refer to something on earth prior to the Millennium. In addition to disciplining, through locusts or other means, God can also restore, even for things that we think God could not. God can bring prosperity to make up for the lean years, and/or give longer life. Of course more important than longer life on earth, is eternal life in heaven.
Q: In Joel 2:28-32, was this fulfilled at the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:16?
A: Yes, but this also has a dual fulfillment. This happens on the Day of the Lord. To answer The Day of the Lord came when Jesus came to earth. Acts 2:28-32 specifically quotes from Joel 2:28-32. The Day of the Lord is also a future time when Jesus comes again.
Many prophecies, including this one, have a dual fulfillment. They were fulfilled at Jesus first coming, they will be fulfilled again at the Second Coming of Christ.
See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.90 for more info.
Q: In Joel 2:30-32, the false religion called Baha'ism in Baha'u'llah and the New Era p.277-278 teaches that Joel 2:30-32 and Matthew 24:29-30 refer to Moses, Christ, and Mohammed in that their original teachings originally were a sun, but they all were darkened by corruption later on. How would you respond to this?
A: It is only imagination that claims a darkened sun and moon refers to spiritual corruption. Not only will Christ come in the literal clouds, as Acts 1:9-11 shows, but God Almighty can darken the sun and moon and He will do so. You do not have the luxury of just calling anything figurative that you want to not be true.
Q: How does Joel 2:32 relate to Rom 10:13?
A: Romans 10:13 quotes Joel 2:32 and shows that all, even Gentiles who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. Joel 2:31 refers to both the sun being darkened during Jesus' crucifixion, and the darkening that will occur during the end times. Joel 2:32 is at the same time as these.
Q: In Joel 2:32, this sounds like a nice, comfortable promise until you read the words at the end: "among the survivors". Why is it so hard for a person to be a "survivor" here?
A: Only about 50,000 Jews came back from exile. In the time of Christ, only a minority of Jews accepted Christ. After the rapture, people will still come to Christ but they will die for their faith. Revelation 6:9 speaks of those violently killed for their faith out of the great tribulation.
Q: In Joel 2:32 how are we called not just to be a Christian, but to be a "survivor".
A: Spiritually speaking, regardless of whether we suffer persecution of martyrdom or not, we have a responsibility to endure to the end.
Q: In Joel 3:1-12, when will the judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat occur?
A: This will happen prior to the Millennium at the end of the seven-year Great Tribulation. For a sequence of events, see the discussion on the book of Revelation. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1319-1322 has a very extensive chart harmonizing the scriptures relating to the endtimes.
Q: In Joel 3:1-12, which Biblical verses are post-millennial, and which are pre-millennial?
A: Genuine Christians who are amillennialists believe the millennium is happening right now in Heaven, and descriptions before and after the millennium are referring to the same events. They believe that a key shortcoming of the premillennial view is differentiating what is before the millennium from what is after it.
A simple response, taken very loosely from The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1319-1322, is that all events amillennialists question are premillennial, except for the following Post-Millennial events:
Everything in Revelation 20
Evil angels judged 1 Corinthians 6:3
Wicked resurrected. Daniel 12:2, John 5:29
Since Revelation 20:7-10 refers to Gog and Magog, some believe other references to God and Magog in Ezekiel 38-39 are post-millennial. Others believe pre-millennial.
Q: In Joel 3:4, what is the difference between the sin of Philistia and the sin of Tyre and Sidon?
A: Sidon was neither an enemy nor friend of Israel, but Tyre had been a close ally in David and Solomon's time. Indeed the wicked queen Jezebel was from Sidon (1 Kings 16:31). When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, Tyre and Sidon profited from the trade in treasures and Israelite slaves.
God punished both cities in the same manner as Joel prophesied. The citizens of Tyre were killed or enslaved by Alexander of Macedon in 332 B.C. He killed 8,000 people when he took the city, 2,000 more later, and enslaved 30,000. The citizens of Sidon were later enslaved by the Seleucid Antiochus III in 203 B.C.
Q: In Joel 3:6, does the mention of Jews among the Greek lands indicate a post-exilic date?
A: No. Arvid S. Kapelrud mentions that there was an active slave trade in the 6th and 7th centuries B.C. (Joel Studies p.154-158). The Mycenaean Greeks came to Greece a little before Moses' time.
Old Testament scholar Gleason Archer in Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.296 mentions that Greek coins from the late 6th century were found in Palestine from the issues of Peristratus, which would be prior to the exile. After listing numerous references to Greek mercenaries in Neo-Babylonian documents, he concludes "In light of such data as these, it is nothing short of naïve to suppose that a late ninth-century Joel could not have known anything about the Greeks, or to imagine that no slave-traders ever went to Greek ports with captives from Near Eastern slave raids."
This wording, of the people of Tyre, Sidon, and the Philistines selling Jews to the Greeks , that they might be sent far away actually show a date prior to Alexander the Great. As When Critics Ask p.301 points out, in Alexander's time the Greeks already controlled the Mideast so they would not be going far away. All of the people of Tyre were sold into slavery by Alexander, so they were in no position to sell slaves to the Greeks themselves.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament for more info. See the discussion on Joel 1:1 for the date.
Q: In Joel 3:4-8, why did the Phoenicians sell Jews as slaves?
A: They were merchants, and they apparently would buy and resell anybody as a slave. Joel is remarking on this, because the Phoenicians of Tyre and the Israelites were always allies and helped each other out before. If you treat your friends like you don't know them when they come on hard times, then what kind of friend are you?
Q: In Joel 3:8, what do we know about the Sabaeans?
A: These people lived in the southwest part of the Arabian Peninsula, and include the modern nation of Yemen. The ancient kingdom of Sheba was there.
The Encyclopedia Britannica volume 1 (1956) p.678-682 shows the Sabaean (Himyaritic) alphabet with 28 letters. It shows there are roughly 4 similar letters between it and the Brahmi alphabet of India, and 5 similar letters between it and the Aramaic alphabet. It has 18 similar letters with the oldest Ethiopic and 24 similar letters with Libyanic. It has 21 similar letters to Thamudenic and 12 similar letters with Safahitic in Egypt.
Q: In Joel 3:10, why will the some nations gather to fight against Israel?
A: This happens two times: prior to the Millennium (Armageddon) and after the Millennium (Gog and Magog). Because these battles happen before and after, some Christians, called amillennialists, believe the 1,000 year millennium is symbolic and taking place in Heaven right now, and the two "battles" are simply two descriptions of the same great battle.
Q: Joel 3:10 sounds almost the opposite of Micah 4:3. Is the command in Joel 3:10 something that God wants obedient believers to do, or does the command serve another purpose?
A: This is not a command for believers; rather it was a proclamation among the nations in Joel 3:9. The purpose of rousing the nations was so that they would choose to go to the Valley of Jehoshaphat to be judged by God in Joel 3:12-13.
Q: In Joel 3:12, does God sit to judge, or does he stand to judge as Isa 3:13 says?
A: Since God is not restricted to a physical human body, these are both metaphors. However, if you want to differentiate, When Critics Ask p.301 points out that God "sits" to hear everyone impartially and "stands" to execute judgment.
Q: How does Joel 3:13 relate to Isa 63:2-4 and Rev 14:14-20?
A: All of these refer to the same event, except that Revelation 14:14-20 has the most detail. In Revelation 14:14-16 the Son of man [Jesus] harvest the believers from the earth. Then in verses 18-20 the clusters of grapes are harvested to throw into the winepress of God's wrath. In Isaiah 63:2-4 Jesus' robe is stained with blood from treading the winepress of wrath.
God's wrath towards mankind does not come from nowhere, or from some stellar nebulae. Rather it comes from the earth, or more specifically, the sin-filled lives people have on earth, symbolized by the grapes. The juice is the end product of the sinful lives, which will come back to the earth as wrath.
Q: When does Joel 3:15 occur?
A: A darkened sun occurred at Christ's crucifixion, and the sun and moon will both be darkened during the tribulation. However, Joel 3:15 refers to the battle of the Valley of Jehoshaphat after the Millennium.
Q: In Joel 3:16 how is the LORD both "roaring/thundering" from Zion and is a refuge for his people?
A: On earth, a policeman or marine can also be a tender father. How much more can God, who is Almighty, also be tender as well as a protector.
Q: In Joel 3:19, what could be some reasons God inflicts punishment in this life on nations?
A: When a nation attacks another nation, God can punish the first nation. However, Joel 3:19 specifically refers to other nations that attacked Israel being dealt judgment. Edom would be a desert waste, both as a country and a people would no longer exist.
Q: In Joel 3:19, when will Egypt be desolate?
A: The events in Joel 3 occur at the endtimes.
Q: In Joel 3:21 I thought the people's sacrifices were to take away their sin. How come it was not pardoned?
A: Hebrews 10:1-4 shows that the Old Testament sacrifices only covered over sin, but did not atone or take away the sin. They were in effect until Christ came and atoned. People's sins were only truly pardoned when Christ died on the cross.
Q: In Joel 3:21, when will God cleanse Judah's blood?
A: This happens in the endtimes, when Judah returns to God. This is probably the same event as Zechariah 12:10-13:1.
Q: In Joel, what are some of the earliest manuscripts that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea scrolls: (c.1 B.C.) There is 1 copy of Joel among the Dead Sea scrolls, called 4Q78 (=4QXIIc) containing Joel 1:10-20; 2:1,8-23; 4:6-21 plus other minor prophets. (The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated p.479).
Nahal Hever is a cave near Engedi, that has a fragment of the minor prophets in Greek (8 Hev XIIgr) contained Joel 1:12-14; 2:2-13; 3:4-9,11-14,17,19-20 (same as chapter 4 in some Bibles). According to Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.34, it was written between 50 B.C. and 50 A.D.. It was hidden during the Bar Kokhba revolt against Rome. It is a revision of the Septuagint, made in Judea, and almost identical to the Masoretic text.
The wadi Murabb'at scroll of the Minor Prophets (Mur XII) is from c.132 A.D. It contains Joel 2:20,26-27; 3:1-5; 4:1-16 plus other minor prophets. The text is in the Masoretic text tradition, according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.235.
Overall, the Dead Sea scrolls, Nahal Hever, and wadi Murabb'at preserved the following verses from the three chapters of Joel: 1:10-20; 1:12-14; 2:1,8-23; 2-13; 20, 26-27; 2:28-32 (=3:1-5); 3:1-16; 3:4-9,11-14,17,19-20; 3:6-21 (= chapter 4 in the Masoretic text). See The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more details.
Christian Bible manuscripts, from about 350 A.D., contain the Old Testament, including Joel. Two of these are Vaticanus (325-250 A.D.) and Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.), where the books of the twelve minor prophets were placed before Isaiah. Joel is complete in both Vaticanus and Alexandrinus.
Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) contains the entire book of Joel, 1:1-4:21.
Q: Which early writers referred to Joel?
A: Pre-Nicene writers who referenced or alluded to verses in Joel are:
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) quotes Joel 2:28f in Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.88 p.243.
Melito of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.) (Implied) mentions the "Old Testament" and lists the books. He does not list the twelve minor prophets individually, but calls them The Twelve. Fragment 4 from the Book of Extracts vol.8 p.759
Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) quotes Joel 2:16 as by Joel. Theophilus to Autolycus book 3 ch.12 p.115
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) quotes Joel 2:28 as "by the prophet" in the context of Acts 2:22-27. Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.12.2 p.430
Clement of Alexandria quotes Joel 2:28 as by the prophet Joel. The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 5 ch.13 p.465
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) quotes Joel 2:15 as by Joel. On Fasting ch.16 p.113.
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) "He then goes on to proclaim, against this world and dispensation (even as Joel had done, and Daniel, and all the prophets with one consent), that 'there should be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring, men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.'" On the Resurrection of the Flesh ch.22 p.560-561
Origen (225-254 A.D.) quotes Joel 2:28 as by the prophet Joel in de Principiis book 2 ch.7 p.285. He also quotes Joel 2:28 in his Commentary on Matthew ch.18 p.426
Novatian (250/254-256/7 A.D.) quotes Joel 2:28 as by Joel the prophet. Treatise Concerning the Trinity ch.29 p.640
Treatise Against Novatian (c.248-258 A.D.)
Cyprian of Carthage (248-258 A.D.) quotes Joel 2:12,13 as by Joel the prophet. Letters of Cyprian Letter 51 ch.22 p.333
Methodius of Olympus and Patara (270-311/312 A.D.) quotes Joel 2:21-23 as by Joel the prophet. The Banquet of the Ten Virgins Discourse 10 p.350
Aphrahat the Syrian (337-345 A.D.) Select Demonstrations
Athanasius of Alexandria (367 A.D.) (Implied because mentions the twelve prophets) "There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; ... then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book...." Athanasius Easter Letter 39 ch.4 p.552.
Ephraem the Syrian (350-378 A.D.)
Basil of Cappadocia (357-378 A.D.)
Cyril of Alexandria (444 A.D.)
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) mentions the books of the Prophets, both of the Twelve and of the others. Micah 3:8 as in Micah, Joel 2:28 as in Joel, Haggai 2:4 as in Haggai, Zechariah 1:6 as in Zechariah. Catechetical Lectures Lecture 16.29 p.122
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.)
Gregory Nanzianzen (330-391 A.D.)
Pacian of Barcelona (342-379/392 A.D.) refers to "Joel the prophet" in letter 3 ch.16.2 p.58
Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.)
Didymus the Blind (398 A.D.) quotes Joel 2:15-17 as by Joel. Commentary on Zechariah 12 p.305
Syriac Book of Steps (=Liber Graduum) (350-400 A.D.) alludes to Joel 2:28 (and Acts 2:17) Syriac editors preface p.4
Rufinus (374-406 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (-407 A.D.) mentions Joel 2:16 as by Joel in vol.9 Concerning the Statues Homily 3.9 p.358
Jerome (373-420 A.D.) discusses the books of the Old Testament. He specifically discusses Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, the Pentateuch, Job, Jesus son of Nave [Joshua], Judges, Ruth, Samuel Kings (2 books), twelve prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai,, Zechariah, Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Letter 53 ch.7-8 p.99-101.
The Pelagian Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.) wrote an entire commentary on the Book of Joel.
Augustine of Hippo (388-Aug 28, 430 A.D.) mentions Amos, Micah, Hosea, Joel in The City of God book 18 ch.27 p.375
John Cassian (father of Semi-Pelagianism) (419-430 A.D.)
Theodoret of Cyrus (423-458 A.D.)
Q: In Joel, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint?
A: According to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.235 "The LXX [Septuagint], Peshitta, and Latin Vulgate versions diverge only slightly from the Masoretic [Masoretic text] and from one another. A recently found portion of Joel from Wadi Murabba'at... stands in the tradition of the Masoretic." The Septuagint does have minor additions at 1:5,8,18; 2:12; and 3:1 though. It also splits the book into three chapters, while the Masoretic book splits it into four. Here are the differences between first the Masoretic text and the Septuagint parts of Joel, focusing mainly on Joel 1:1-2:18.
Joel 1:1 "Pethuel" vs. "Bethuel" (Septuagint)
Joel 1:10 "destroyed" vs. "was withered" (Septuagint) vs. "confused" (Latin and 1:11)
Joel 1:2 "sons" vs. "children"
Joel 1:5 "all wine-drinkers" vs. "all you (plural) that drink wine to drunkenness"
Joel 1:5 "over the grape must; for it is cut off from your mouth" vs. "for joy and gladness are removed from your mouth"
Joel 1:7 "lioness" vs. "cub/whelp"
Joel 1:7 "fig tree" vs. "fig trees"
Joel 1:7 "splintered my fig trees" vs. "broken my fig trees"
Joel 1:7 "stripped my vine" vs. "searched my vine"
Joel 1:8 "mourn like a virgin" vs. "mourn more than a virgin"
Joel 1:9 "have been cut off" vs. "are removed"
Joel 1:9 "The priests ... mourn" vs. "Mourn you priests"
Joel 1:10 "the oil tree droops" vs. "the oil is scarce"
Joel 1:11 "Be ashamed farmers, howl vine-dressers" vs. "the farmers are consumed"
Joel 1:11 "of the field" vs. "from off the field"
Joel 1:12 "fig tree" vs. "fig trees"
Joel 1:12 "because joy has dried up from the sons of men" vs. "because the sons of men have abolished joy"
Joel 1:13 "spend the night in sackcloth" vs. "sleep in sackcloth"
Joel 1:15 "Alas" vs. "Alas, alas, alas"
Joel 1:15 "destruction from the Almighty" vs. "trouble upon trouble"
Joel 1:16 "Is not the food cut off" vs. "Your meat has been destroyed"
Joel 1:17 "The seed shrivels under their clods; the storage bins are laid waste; the granaries are broken down" vs. "The heifers have started at their mangers, the treasures are abolished, the wine-presses are broken down"
Joel 1:18 "How the beasts groan! The herds of livestock are vexed" vs. "What shall we store up for ourselves? The herds of cattle have mourned"
Joel 1:18 "suffer punishment" vs. "are made desolate" (Septuagint, Vulgate)
Joel 2:2 "thick darkness" vs. "mist"
Joel 2:2 "people" vs. "people shall be spread upon the mountains as the morning"
Joel 2:3 "paradise of Eden" vs. "paradise of delight"
Joel 2:4 "run" vs. "pursue"
Joel 2:6 "all faces collect heat" vs. "every face shall be as the blackness of a caldron." (Septuagint, Targums, Vulgate)
Joel 2:8 [absent] vs. the Septuagint has "and not one shall stand aloof from his brother: they shall go on weighted down with their arms"
Joel 2:11 "terrifying/fearful" vs. "glorious
Joel 2:11 "endure it" vs. "resist it"
Joel 2:15 "gather the children, gather the infants" vs. "gather the infants"
Joel 2:17 "for a proverb among those of the nations" vs. "that the heathen should rule over them"
Joel 2:18 "will be jealous... and will have pity on his people" vs. "was jealous... spared his people"
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Green's Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton's translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositor's Bible Commentary and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV Bibles also were used.
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