Joel - 1:1-20

The Plague of Locusts

      1 The Word of Yahweh that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel. 2 Hear this, you elders, And listen, all you inhabitants of the land. Has this ever happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? 3 Tell your children about it, and have your children tell their children, and their children, another generation. 4 What the swarming locust has left, the great locust has eaten. What the great locust has left, the grasshopper has eaten. What the grasshopper has left, the caterpillar has eaten. 5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine; for it is cut off from your mouth. 6 For a nation has come up on my land, strong, and without number. His teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he has the fangs of a lioness. 7 He has laid my vine waste, and stripped my fig tree. He has stripped its bark, and thrown it away. Its branches are made white. 8 Mourn like a virgin dressed in sackcloth for the husband of her youth! 9 The meal offering and the drink offering are cut off from Yahweh's house. The priests, Yahweh's ministers, mourn. 10 The field is laid waste. The land mourns, for the grain is destroyed, The new wine has dried up, and the oil languishes. 11 Be confounded, you farmers! Wail, you vineyard keepers; for the wheat and for the barley; for the harvest of the field has perished. 12 The vine has dried up, and the fig tree withered; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all of the trees of the field are withered; for joy has withered away from the sons of men. 13 Put on sackcloth and mourn, you priests! Wail, you ministers of the altar. Come, lie all night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God, for the meal offering and the drink offering are withheld from your God's house. 14 Sanctify a fast. Call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders, and all the inhabitants of the land, to the house of Yahweh, your God, and cry to Yahweh. 15 Alas for the day! For the day of Yahweh is at hand, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty. 16 Isn't the food cut off before our eyes; joy and gladness from the house of our God? 17 The seeds rot under their clods. The granaries are laid desolate. The barns are broken down, for the grain has withered. 18 How the animals groan! The herds of livestock are perplexed, because they have no pasture. Yes, the flocks of sheep are made desolate. 19 Yahweh, I cry to you, For the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame has burned all the trees of the field. 20 Yes, the animals of the field pant to you, for the water brooks have dried up, And the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

Chapter In-Depth

Explanation and meaning of Joel 1.

Historical Commentaries

Scholarly Analysis and Interpretation.

This and the beginning of the next chapter contain a double prophecy, applicable in its primary sense to a plague of locusts which was to devour the land, and to be accompanied with a severe drought and famine; and in its secondary sense it denotes the Chaldean invasion. Both senses must be admitted: for some of the expressions will apply only to the dearth by insects; others to the desolation by war. The contexture of both is beautiful and well conducted. In this chapter the distress of every order of people is strongly painted; and not only does the face of nature languish when the God of nature is displeased, vv. 1-19; but the very beasts of the field, by a bold figure, are represented as supplicating God in their distress, and reproaching the stupidity of man, Joel 1:20.

This chapter describes a dreadful calamity upon the people of the Jews, by locusts and, caterpillars, and drought. After the title of the book, Joel 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, Joel 1:2; and drunkards to awake and weep, because the vines were destroyed, and no wine could be made for them, Joel 1:5; 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, Joel 1:8; wherefore a general and solemn fast is required throughout the land, because of the distress of man and beast, Joel 1:14; and the chapter is concluded with the resolution of the prophet to cry unto the Lord, on account of this calamity, Joel 1:19.

(Joel 1:1-7) A plague of locusts.

(Joel 1:8-13) All sorts of people are called to lament it.

(Joel 1:14-20) They are to look to God.

I. The Judgment of God, and the Prophet's Call to Repentance - Joel 1:2-2:17

An unparalleled devastation of the land of Judah by several successive swarms of locusts, which destroyed all the seedlings, all field and garden fruits, all plants and trees, and which was accompanied by scorching heat, induced the prophet to utter a loud lamentation at this unparalleled judgment of God, and an earnest call to all classes of the nation to offer prayer to the Lord in the temple, together with fasting, mourning, and weeping, that He might avert the judgment. In the first chapter, the lamentation has reference chiefly to the ruin of the land (Joel 1:2-20); in the second, the judgment is depicted as a foretype and harbinger of the approaching day of the Lord, which the congregation is to anticipate by a day of public fasting, repentance, and prayer (Joel 2:1-17); so that ch. 1 describes rather the magnitude of the judgment, and ch. 2:1-17 its significance in relation to the covenant nation.

Lamentation over the Devastation of Judah by Locusts and Drought - Joel 1

After an appeal to lay to heart the devastation by swarms of locusts, which has fallen upon the land (Joel 1:2-4), the prophet summons the following to utter lamentation over this calamity: first the drunkards, who are to awake (Joel 1:5-7); then the congregation generally, which is to mourn with penitence (Joel 1:8-12); and then the priests, who are to appoint a service of repentance (Joel 1:13-18). For each of these appeals he gives, as a reason, a further description of the horrible calamity, corresponding to the particular appeal; and finally, he sums up his lamentation in a prayer for the deliverance of the land from destruction (Joel 1:19, Joel 1:20).

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