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4.0 Introduction


Joel 3.1-5 of the MT is affixed by G to Joel 2 as vv28-32. Joel 4.1-21 of the MT ... was a resident. ... final out break of evil leading to a fearsome battle ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: 4.0 Introduction

4.0 Introduction Studies in Joel
  • Studies in the Scroll of the Twelve

4.1 General Introduction
  • "The fundamental problem of the book of Joel, and
    that on which its interpretation is based, is
    twofold What is the character of the natural
    catastrophe described in the first two chapters?
    and What is the relationship of this catastrophe
    to the proclamation of the day of Yahweh? In
    other words, how does Yahweh's activity in human
    history relate to and involve the natural world
    in which it is set? This crux of the Book of
    Joel, therefore, is essentially a problem of
    ecology." Simkins, "God, History, and the
    Natural World in the Book of Joel," CBQ, 55,
    (1993), 435

4.1 General Introduction
  • "Underlying all aspects of the study of Joel is
    the fundamental issue of the book's unity. Though
    one of the shortest prophetic books in the canon,
    Joel contains two distinct parts...." Hiebert,
    "Joel, Book of," ABD, III, 873-874
  • The character of the book of Joel is not easy to
    define. Two particular elements stand out on the
    one hand marked liturgical forms of speech
    (especially in 1.5-20 2.12-17) and on the other
    hand large-scale eschatological descriptions
    (especially in 2.1-11 3f.). Both have been
    combined into an artistic composition.
    Rendtorff, The Old Testament An Introduction,

4.2 The Text MT
  • "The MT is, in general, well preserved. An early
    witness to the textual tradition preserved by the
    Masoretes is a scroll of the Minor Prophets from
    the era of the Second Jewish Revolt which has
    been recovered from the Wadi Murabba'at (DJD 2).
    It contains portions of Joel 2.20-4.21 (Eng.
    2.20-3.21). Fragments of the Hebrew text of Joel
    are now available from an even earlier manuscript
    of the Minor Prophets (75 B.C.E) discovered among
    the Qumran Scrolls (4QXII DJD, 1154-99). This
    manuscript, which contains portions of Joel
    1.10-2.1, 2.8-23, and 4.6-21 Eng 3.6-21, stands
    in the same textual tradition as the MT and the
    versions. It relative affiliation with MT or OG
    cannot be determined." Hiebert, ibid., 879

4.2 The Text LXX
  • "A unique feature of the Greek versions is their
    division of Joel into only three chapters instead
    of the four of the MT, a division followed in
    modern English Bibles. Joel 3.1-5 of the MT is
    affixed by G to Joel 2 as vv28-32. Joel 4.1-21 of
    the MT thus becomes Joel 3.1-21 in G." Hiebert,
    ibid., 879

4.2 The Text Verse Divisions
  • The verse divisions of the OT text originate in
    ancient Jewish tradition as it was written into
    the text by the Masoretes of Tiberias in the
    Middle Ages. However, the chapter divisions were
    given to the Vulgate text by Stephen Langton (ca.
    AD 1205). He subdivided the text of Joel into
    three chapters, a division that was introduced
    into the Septuagint and most other translations
    in the fourteenth century. That division was
    imposed even on the Hebrew Bible for a brief
    time, but in the second Rabbinic Bible of Jacob
    ben Hayyim (1524-1525) the text was redivided
    into four chapters, subdividing chapter 2 into
    chapters (2.1-32 became 2.1-27 and 3.1-5). Thus
    the English versions and the Hebrew compare as
    follows . . . . Bullock, An Introduction to the
    Old Testament Prophetic Books, 327

4.2 Text English vs. Hebrew
4.3 Date of Composition
  • "The placement of Joel together with the 8th
    century prophets near the beginning of the Book
    of Twelve in both the Hebrew and Greek canons
    reflect a traditional understanding of Joel as
    preexilic prophet. This view is still common with
    estimate ranging from the late 9th century (Bic,
    1960) to the early 6th century just before the
    fall of Jerusalem (Rudolph, Joel... KAT). Most
    scholars, however now place Joel in the
    postexilic period, somewhere between the late 6th
    (Ahlstrm, 1971 129) and the early 4th centuries
    (Wolff, Joel and Amos, Hermeneia, 4-6)."
    Hiebert, ibid., 878

4.3 Date of Composition
  • "Ultimately...any dating of the book of Joel can
    be only inferential and speculative. It is on the
    basis of the conditions apparently reflected in
    the prophecy that one assigns a tentative date. .
    . . our assumption is that Joel is a unified work
    composed under the circumstances of an invasion
    against the city of Jerusalem (and thus, of
    course, Judah) by Mesopotamian enemy forces,
    either Assyria or Babylonia. If this admittedly
    speculative assessment is correct the words of
    the book would likely have been spoken on one of
    these occasions the Assyrian invasion of the 701
    BC, the Babylonian invasion of 598, or the
    Babylonian invasion of 588." Stuart, WBC
    Hosea-Jonah, 226

4.3 Factors for Dating Joel
  • Temple worship?
  • Lack of the mention of a King
  • The Apocalyptic portions in the last section
  • The mention of Phoenicia and Philistia dealing
    with Greece Persian era, _at_ 4th century BCE
  • Canonical ordering, i.e., placing Joel between
    Hosea and Amos
  • Quotations and parallels with other prophetic
    writings The reason for this evaluation
    (post-exilic or Persian period) turned on such
    evidence as Joels heavy dependence on earlier
    written prophets (Isa 13 Oba 17, etc.).
    Childs, Introduction of the Old Testament as
    Scripture, 387

4.4 Unity Diversity
  • The text is thematically broken up 1-2 (Eng
    1.1-2.27) which focus on a Locust plague, its
    disastrous result, the solemn assembly, and God's
    deliverance and 3-4 (Eng 2.28-3.21) an
    apocalyptic presentation. These two sections have
    similarities of language, and thought.
  • Unity
  • "The identification of both events with the day
    of Yahweh 1.15 2.1, 11 3.4 (Eng 2.31) 4.14
    (Eng 3.14) links them together under a single
    concern the ultimate vindication of Judah."
    Hiebert, ibid., 874

4.4 Unity Diversity
  • . . . H. W. Wolff has been highly successful in
    showing the literary unity of the book which is
    characterized by its striking symmetry. The
    lament (1.4-20) parallels the promise (2.21-27),
    the announcement of a catastrophe (2.1-11)
    matches the promise of better days (4.1-3, 9-17),
    and the summons to repentance (2.12-17) is set
    over against the promise of the spirit (3.1ff.).
    Such obvious paralleled expressions in 2.27 and
    4.17 (EVV 3.17) speaks against separating the
    first two chapters from the last. Childs,
    Introduction of the Old Testament as Scripture,

4.4 Unity Diversity
  • Diversity
  • This view takes the Locust plague and the
    apocalyptic material and argue that the Locust
    plague had already occurred and the people had
    sensed God's deliverance in it, while the
    apocalyptic material pointed to a impending
    threat that the people look back on the locust
    incident as paradigmatic for handling this new

4.5 The Prophet, Joel
  • 1. Name lawy
  • "His name contains a confession of faith, Yahweh
    is God! and may reflect the piety of his parents.
    But there is not the challenge in the historical
    situation that there is in the similar name
    Elijah, My God is Yahweh! For there is no trace
    that the people of his day were idolators, and
    our prophet was not the first bearer of this
    rather frequent name." Brewer, ICC, 67
  • The name Joel was not uncommon in ancient Israel.
    It appears, for example, as Samuel's oldest son
    (1 Sam 8.2) and as one of David's heroes (1 Chr
    11.38). The occurrence of the name Joel chiefly
    in the Chronicler's History is regarded by

4.5 The Prophet, Joel
  • Wolff (Joel and Amos, Hermeneia, 24-25) as
    evidence of its popularity in the postexilic
    period, and an indication of the postexilic date
    of the prophet. Its use in the Deuteronomistic
    History, however, makes this argument
    inconclusive (1 Sam 8.2)." Hiebert, ibid., 878

4.5 The Prophet, Joel
4.5 The Prophet, Joel Social Role
  • 1. Cult-Prophet Theory
  • "A popular theory. . . , describes Joel as a cult
    prophet, an official related to the temple in
    Jerusalem. Especially prominent among
    Scandinavian scholars (Kapelrud, 1948 176
    Ahlstöm 1971 130-37), this theory is based on
    the fact that Joel calls the people to a
    community ceremony of repentance at the Temple
    (2.15-17) and employs features of temple prayers
    to call the people to lament (1.5-10). In fact
    Kapelrud has argued that the book of Joel
    represents a unified Temple liturgy designed for
    communal worship (1948 3-9)." Hiebert, ibid.,

4.5 The Prophet, Joel Social Role
  • His avid interest in Jerusalem, particularly the
    temple (1.9, 13f., 16 2.14-17, 32 MT 3.5 3
    MT 41, 6, 16f.), suggests that he... was a
    resident. His stress on priestly ceremonies and
    religious festivities supports the theory that he
    was a temple prophet. La Sor, Hubbard Bush,
    Old Testament Survey, 438
  • Was he... a cult-prophet? It is difficult to
    give a sure answer to this question, since in the
    postexilic period the prophets generally, and
    Malachi in particular, regarded the cult as very
    important. It seem in fact that Joels ministry
    was not too far removed in time from that of
    Malachi - around 400 or in the fourth century
    BC. Schmidt, Old Testament Introduction, 283

4.5 The Prophet, Joel Social Role
  • Judging the disposition of the Temple prophets
    by the political coalition the priests and
    prophets had formed during Jeremiahs time (Jer
    29.24-32), then Joel was not a Temple prophet. If
    more honest, less politicized Temple prophets
    existed in OT times, then we may entertain the
    notion that Joel belonged among them. However,
    the respect and sympathy that he bore toward the
    Temple and priesthood are more likely the healthy
    side of the prophets view of the cult, a side we
    rarely see in the pre-exilic prophets, but which
    become evident among the post-exilic prophets,
    especially Haggai and Zechariah. Bullock, An
    Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic
    Books, 325

4.5 The Prophet, Joel Social Role
  • 2. Arguments against the Cult-Prophet Theory
  • "Many features of the book, however, argue to the
    contrary Joel's authority and stance toward
    society derived not from his official status in
    the cult but from the personal reception of
    divine revelation which marked out prophetic
    figures in Israel (1.1a). Prophets in Israel
    commonly delivered speeches as religious
    sanctuaries (e.g., Jeremiah 7 Amos 7.10-17) and
    even came from priestly families (e.g., Jeremiah
    1.1 Ezekiel 1.3), yet they do not appear to be
    professional members of Israel's religious
    institutions. They spoke on the basis of their
    own charismatic gifts (e.g., Amos 7.14-15). Joel
    addresses the priests not as part of

4.5 The Prophet, Joel Social Role
  • his own social group, but as one sector of
    society which must respond to the crisis.
    Furthermore, his own words heavily reflect
    prophetic forms of speech (1.1-4 2.18-27), and
    his language makes use of traditional prophetic
    phraseology (e.g., 1.5 and Isa 13.6 2.2 and Zeph
    1.15-16). Thus the common characterization of
    Joel as a cult prophet is by no means assured. He
    may well have found his place among prophetic
    circles who represented an institution in
    Israelite society distinct form the cult."
    Hiebert, ibid., 878
  • "The prophet has made heavy use of earlier
    prophetic books, and whole sayings and phrases
    are sometimes quoted in Joel's work. The major
    citations come from the writings of Judean

4.5 The Prophet, Joel Social Role
  • prophets (Oba 17 Joel 3.5 Isa 13.6 Eze
    30.2-3 Joel 1.15 Amos 1.2 Joel 4.16 Zeph
    1.14-15 Joel 2.1-2), but Ephraimite influences
    can also be seen in Joel's theology and
    vocabulary." Wilson, Prophecy and Society in
    Ancient Israel, 290

4.5 The Prophet, Joel Social Role
  • 3. Apocalyptic Social Dynamics
  • "The apocalyptic orientation seems to arise
    especially among members of prophetic schools who
    have been excluded from current power structures
    and have lost hope of achieving salvation within
    the status quo. The loss of status, power, and
    wealth was a common experience of the Jews
    following the destruction of Jerusalem and the
    fall of the monarchy. The experience of
    disenfranchisement may have been even more acute
    as Hanson (1975) has argued, among particular
    groups within postexilic society who found
    themselves outside the restructured temple
    hierarchy and its vision for a restored Judah."
    Hiebert, ibid., 878

4.5 The Prophet, Joel Social Role
  • "The book of Joel reflects a fairly long history
    of development, throughout which the
    eschatological dimension of prophetic Yahwism was
    preserved and deepened. In its present form, the
    book presents a powerful protest against the
    claims of the Zadokite hierocracy in a manner
    reminiscent of Ezekiel 38-39. Whereas the
    Zadokites responded to the historical crises of
    the postexilic period as challenges that could be
    met successfully through renewed commitment
    within the context of the existing sacral
    institutions, the book of Joel interprets them as
    the final out break of evil leading to a fearsome
    battle in which only the Divine Warrior could
    prevail (1.15 2.1-2, 11,

4.5 The Prophet, Joel Social Role
  • 27). According to this eschatological view, what
    the people were witnessing were not events with
    which Judah's institutions and its leaders could
    cope but the prelude to a final confrontation
    between God and all the evil forces of the world,
    in which that latter would be judged
    definitively. Thus, while Ezra, Nehemiah, and the
    Chronicler represent an ideology emphasizing
    continuity with the past, and a claim to the
    absolute authority of existing institutional
    structures, the Book of Joel espouses the model
    of discontinuity we associate with the
    apocalyptic eschatology of postexilic dissident
    groups." Hanson, The People Called The Growth
    of Community in the Bible, 313

4.6 Structure
  • Two popular divisions of the book are found in
    the literature, each dividing the book into the
    book into two major parts. The one, based mainly
    upon content, insists that part I deals with the
    present reality of a locust plague (1.1-2.27),
    and Part II presents the future realities of the
    eschatological age (2.28-3.21). The other
    division, based upon literary form, views part I
    to be a lament (1.2-2.17) and Part II Yahwehs
    response to the lamentation (2.18-3.21). The
    later partition seems more satisfactory, for a
    Hans W. Wolff observes, 2.19b-20 already tells
    about the reversal of the disaster. Thus 2.18
    becomes the hinge Then the Lord will be zealous
    for His land, and will have pity on His people.
    Bullock, An Introduction to the Old Testament
    Prophetic Books, 326

4.6 Structure Wolff
  • 1. 1.1-2.17
  • 1.1 Lament over scarcity 1.1-20
  • 1.2 Announcement of Catastrophe 2.1-11
  • 1.3 A call to Repentance 2.12-17
  • 2. 2.18-4.21 Eng 2.18-3.21
  • 2.1 Promise of economic restoration 2.21-27
  • 2.2 Promise of Jerusalem's salvation 4.1-3, 9-17
    Eng 3.1-3, 9-17
  • 2.3 Promise of the Spirit 3.1-5 Eng 2.28-32

4.7 Style
  • 1. Major Catchwords and word groups that unite
    chapters 1-2 and 3-4 Wolff, Joel and Amos,
    Hermeneia, 8
  • 1.1 wvdq cf. 1.14 and 4.9
  • 1.2 hwhy wy bwrq yk cf. 1.15 and 2.1bb-2aa with
  • 1.3 hwhy wy awb cf. 2.1ba and 3.4b
  • 1.4 vx cf. 2.2 and 3.4
  • 1.5 hjylp hyht "to be one who escapes" cf. 2.3
    and 3.5
  • 1.6 raw ymv wvr "the heavens and the earth
    quake" cf. 2.10a and 4.16ab

4.7 Style
  • 1.7 hgn wpsa ybkwkw wrdq xryw fmv "the sun and
    the moon are darkened and the brightness of the
    stars is extinguished" cf. 2.10b and 4.15
  • 1.8 wlwq !tn hwhyw "and Yahweh gives forth his
    voice" cf. 2.11a and 4.16aa
  • 1.9 arwnhw lwdgh hwhy wy "the great and terrible
    Day of Yahweh" cf. 2.11b and 3.4b
  • 1.10 wcbq "gather" cf. 2.16 and 4.(2), 11
  • 1.11 ywgh... ytlxnw ym "the nations... my
    people and my heritage" cf. 2.17 and 4.2

4.7 Style
  • 2. Grammatical Emphasis
  • 2.2 The impact of Joels literary style is
    further seen in the numerous imperatives with
    which his book is punctuated. Some forty-five
    occurrences of the imperative mood declare the
    urgency of his message. Bullock, An
    Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic
    Books, 326
  • 3. Variations on a Theme
  • 3.1 "Joel's style is especially characterized...
    by variations on a theme. In chap. 1, for
    example, he effectively portrays the need for
    universal lamentation by demanding consideration
    of this action form a series of disparate types
    including, on the one hand drunks (1.5, an
    imaginative way

4.7 Style
  • to begin a lament call) and, on the other,
    temple priest (1.13). Or in his awesome portrait
    of Yahweh's invading army (2.1-11), the constant
    unstoppable progress of the enemy toward and
    against Jerusalem courses along in a series of
    images from that of specks of movement visible on
    the crests of faraway hills (v2) to the feel and
    sound of the foe right on top of the defenders
    (vv9-11). Likewise, Joel's description of the
    democratization of the Holy Spirit (3.1-5 Eng
    2.28-32) is perhaps the most comprehensive
    elaboration of this doctrine anywhere in
    Scripture. And his vision of the valley of
    judgment (4.1-16) is one of the OT's most graphic
    assurances of the eventual defeat of the enemies
    of God's people, portrayed via a thorough,
    repetitious attention to the "nations" and their
    just desert." Stuart, ibid., 227

4.8 The Theology of Joel
  • 1. The Day of Yahweh 1.15 2.1, 11 3.4 Eng
    2.31 4.14 Eng 3.14
  • More than the locust invasion, the Day of the
    Lord is the true message to Joel. By his time the
    tradition that had developed into a complex form.
    Basically two-sided, a time of judgment and
    subsequent blessing for Israel and judgment for
    the nations, since the fall of Jerusalem the
    thought of the nations portion of the Day of the
    Lord had been a troublesome pondering for the
    prophets.... Yet Joel saw another potential
    dimension in the tradition, that Israels Day of
    the Lord could strike again if he did not repent
    and humble himself before his God. Bullock, An
    Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic
    Books, 332-33

4.8 The Theology of Joel
  • "In general the day of Yahweh is used by biblical
    writers for a decisive divine intervention in
    human affairs (Everson 1974 335-37). In the
    earliest actual occurrence of the phrase, Amos
    5.18-20, the prophet Amos employs it for an act
    of divine judgment when Israel will experience
    defeat and disaster (cf. Eze 7.1-20 13.1-5 Zeph
    1). Amos implies, however, that his audience
    thinks of the day of Yahweh as a day of salvation
    and good fortune rather than a day of punishment,
    a fact which has led scholars to the conclusion
    that the phrase traditionally had a positive
    meaning, describing either a victory of Yahweh on
    Israel's behalf in a holy war (von Rad, 1959) or
    the enthronement of Yahweh in Israel's cult
    (Mowinckel, 1961 2.229). This positive use of
    the concept is in fact revived among apocalyptic
    authors following the exile who apply it to the
    anticipated restoration of Judah and judgment of
    its enemies (e.g., Zech 14.1-9, Oba 15-21, Isa
    63.1-4)." Hiebert, ibid., 876

4.8 The Theology of Joel
  • 2. Joel and the Covenant
  • ". . . Joel depended on the Mosaic covenant of
    the Pentateuch for the basic points of his
    message the covenant's curses must come as a
    result of national disobedience but after a
    period of chastisement, God will restore his
    people and bless them in ways they had not yet
    experienced." Stuart, ibid., 228
  • The parallels between 1.1-2.27 and Deut 32.

4.8 The Theology of Joel
  • 3. Joel and Yahweh's Sovereignty
  • ". . . Joel is notable for (1) its routine,
    generalized reference to "the nations" (1.6
    2.17, 19 4.2, 9, 11 12 Eng 3.2, 9, 11, 12
    only Obadiah has proportionately as many
    references), especially in contexts of Yahwehs
    judgment against them (2) its extensive
    prediction that all the nation will be required
    to assemble for a final, decisive, cosmic battle
    of judgment in which Yahweh will punish the
    nations "all around" (3.12 4.12) and (3) its
    insistence that moving at his command (2.11, 25)
    in fulfillment of the punishment due his people
    via the Day of Yahweh." Stuart, ibid. 229

4.8 The Theology of Joel
  • . . . Joel teaches some valuable lessons about
    Gods complete control of nature. Nowhere does
    Joel hint that anyone or anything else is
    responsible for the locusts they are Gods army
    (2.11), dispatched and withdrawn by (v. 20). No
    dualism which would seek to attribute calamities
    to forces outside Gods authority and no
    pantheism which would identify God with his
    creation find a niche here. God is Lord over all
    yet active in all. La Sor, Hubbard Bush, Old
    Testament Survey, 442

4.8 The Theology of Joel
  • 4. The Democratization of the Spirit
  • The lawgiver himself had once wished that all
    Gods people were prophets (Num 11.29). Joel
    finally envisions that society, open to the voice
    of God in oracle, dream, and vision, with every
    social rank of society responsive to His
    revelation (2.28-29). It is another form of the
    recognition formula, another way of declaring
    that finally the covenant people would recognize
    their God, acknowledge Him alone as Sovereign
    Lord, and submit to His commands (cf. 2.27
    3.17). Bullock, An Introduction to the Old
    Testament Prophetic Books, 333

4.8 The Theology of Joel
  • 5. The General Nature of the Distress
  • . . . it is generally agreed that a real plague
    of locust is envisaged. However, the prophets
    conception are interesting. Joel is clearly
    dependent on traditional and, to a greater or
    lessor degree, conventional, prophetic concepts
    for the vivid way in which he illustrates the
    distress that is to say, on concepts which he
    only secondarily relates to the distress itself.
    He equates the locusts with the armies of the Day
    of Yahweh marching into battle, and is thus able
    to draw on the whole ranger of war concepts
    connected with the Day of Yahweh. von Rad, Old
    Testament Theology, Volume II, 121

4.8 The Theology of Joel
  • 6. Eschatology and Silence on Judah's Sins
  • Joel also has been contrasted with Israels
    great prophets because he makes not mention of
    the sins which precipitated the calamity.
    However, where they look forward to impending
    doom, Joel stands in the midst of it. Solution,
    no cause, is the pressing problem.... La Sor,
    Hubbard Bush, Old Testament Survey, 441-42
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