JOEL: The second of the Minor Prophets in the arrangement of the English version.


Little is known of the prophet; he was the son of Pethuel, probably a Judahite, and prophesied in Jerusalem; but that he was a Levite does not follow from i. 9,


13, ii. 17. By most scholars his date is placed in the reign of Joash between 875 and 845 B.C. on the ground that Amos used his book, that the descent of the Edomites upon Judah under Joash was fresh in his memory, and that his mention of temple, priests, and ritual necessitates that early date. Others place him in the times of Jeroboam II. and Uzziah, others under Ahaz and Hezekiah, still others in the last years of Josiah, while several recent critics put him in Persian or Greek times. Against a post-exilic dating are the following considerations: The position of the book in the Hebrew and Greek canon is among the early prophets and before those of the Chaldean period. Among the peoples named in the book there appear neither Syrians, Greeks, Persians, Babylonians, nor Assyrians, not even Moabites or Ammonites, but only Philistines, Phenicians, Egyptians, and Edomites. Nothing follows from silence respecting a king and the northern kingdom. Against the assertion that iii. 2 and 6 imply the Babylonian or an Assyrian captivity, it is to be noted that neither Babylonians nor Assyrians are mentioned; Philistines and Phenicians are the chief foes in iii. 4 (cf. II Chron. xxi. 16-17, where Philistines and Arabians are said to have aided Jerusalem in the time of Jehoram, and II Kings viii. 22). Characteristic are the "parting of the land" and the selling of Judean prisoners of war to foreign peoples, a practise of the Phenieians (F. C. Movers, Die Phönizier, ii. 3, 70 sqq., Bonn, 1845), who, by the ninth century, were in commercial contact with the Greeks. The mention of Egypt in iii. 19 may be connected with the expedition of Shishak of I Kings xiv. 25 under Rehoboam. Against this the "bring again the captivity" of iii. 1 can not be urged, since in post-exilic times this phrase means to restore and not to return captives; and that Judah and Jerusalem needed restoration when the northern tribes had revolted, had assailed the capital, annexed Judean territory, and sold captives into slavery no one will deny. The conception of the book that Jerusalem was the legitimate sanctuary is no proof of late origin, since Isaiah and Micah have the same idea (Isa. ii. 2; Mic. i. 2). Similarly, Joel's attitude to the priesthood finds analogies in early prophetic books. The linguistic test can not be employed, since it gives no sure results. But more decisive is the unquestionable dependence of Amos on Joel (cf. Amos i. 2, 9, 13 with Joel iii. 16, 18), while the gazam of Amos iv. 9 is repeated only in Joel i. 4, ii. 25, and is not dependent in Joel upon Amos. If Joel is placed in the early years of Joash when Jehoiada was influential, the attitude toward the priests is fully explained.


The occasion of the book was a dire plague of locusts, accompanied by a severe drought, the results and course of which are described i. 2-ii. 17, resulting in the prophet's call to fasting and repentance. This fast must have been observed, since in the second and remaining part of the book promises of good abound, relating to the immediate and the distant future. The immediate outlook is the defeat of the foe, healing and good fortune, so that Zion rejoices in its God; in the distant future (ii. 28) Yahweh's spirit is to come on all flesh, making all prophecy superfluous, while Zion is to dwell in security. Its foes are to be gathered, a hostile army, for judgment, and amid terrifying upheavals of nature are to be reaped like a ripe harvest. The book closes (iii. 18-21) with blessing upon Judah and Jerusalem and promise of destruction for their foes. The articulation of the book is good and its parts are well related. The Day of Yahweh, which in the first part appears as one of terror unless repentance supervenes, is in the second part a day of grace because that repentance has come. Against Merx, the hostile peoples are not all mankind, but the immediate neighbors of Judah, those who, in accordance with the law of prophecy, were in the ken of the prophet, viz., Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia. This issues, however, in chap. iii. in the distinction between Israel as God's people and the people of the world who are foes of God, a representation which is repeated in Zech. xiv. 2. The place of judgment of the world is the Valley of Jehoshaphat, made memorable by the event narrated in II Chron. xx. 22-26, a place which recalled not only Jehoshaphat but a noted judgment upon Judah's foes.

The plague of locusts is to be taken literally, not metaphorically. The metaphoric interpretation depends largely upon the fact that one of the names for locusts in the Masoretic pointing means "northern," and Judah's enemies were northern, while the locusts usually came from the south. But swarms are sometimes brought from the northern Syrian desert by a northeast wind. Moreover, the prediction in ii. 20 is applicable to a swarm of locusts driven into the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean, not to a human enemy. There is no ground for denying to the prophet the composition of the book as a whole; the unity becomes clear when it is seen that the phenomena of the first part are the basis of the rest (ii. 28-iii. 21).

(W. VOLCK†.)

It is now no longer possible to say, with the late writer of the above article, that most scholars place the date of Joel "in the reign of Joash between 875 and 845 B.C." [Joash of Judah really reigned from 836 to 797 B.C.] It has been well said that "the book is either very early or very late," and recent critics almost unanimously place it in the fourth century B.C., though a few still regard it as the earliest of the prophetical writings. In answer to the arguments for the older view it may be said: (1) It is more likely that Joel, e.g. in iii. 16, 18, borrowed from Amos than that Amos, e.g., in i. 2, ix. 13, borrowed from Joel, for the former passages are brought close together as would naturally be done in a reproduction of earlier thoughts. (2) The attacks of the Edomites upon Judah (cf. iii. 19), during the helplessness of the latter just before and for centuries after the exile, finally resulted in their actual annexation of the country even to the north of Hebron; and it is these relations with Edom which form the chief subject of prophetic references (see Ob. i. 8; Jer. xlix. 7, 17, 20; Ezek. xxv. 12, 14, xxxii. 29; Mal. i. 4) to that inveterate enemy of Judah. (3) There is no allusion to the kingdom of northern Israel. (4) The detailed references to the priesthood and the temple offerings


and services (i. 9, 13, 14, ii. 14-17) suggest the later period of Jewish church influence rather than the days of prophetic independence. (5) The exile and dispersion and foreign occupation seem to be presupposed in iii. 2, 17. (6) The allusion to the "Grecians" (iii. 6) is best accounted for by the effects of the Macedonian régime in Asia. (7) The strongest argument for a late date is the apocalyptic character of the book from ii. 28 to the end, the general indefiniteness of the historical background, and lack of specific allusion to contemporary events and situations which forms such a striking feature of the earlier prophets.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: The two best commentaries are by S. R. Driver, in Cambridge Bible, 1897, and G. A. Smith, The Book of the Twelve, London, 1898. Other commentaries are by: A. F. Holzhausen, Hanover, 1829; C. A. Credner, Halle, 1831; E. Meier, Tübingen, 1841; A. Wünsche, Leipsic, 1872 (gives bibliography of Joel to 1872); E, Montet, Geneva, 1877; A. Merx, Halle, 1879 (gives history of interpretation down to Calvin); F. Hitzig, ed. J. Steiner, Leipeic, 1881; A. Scholz, Würzburg, 1885; C. F. Kell, Leipsic, 1888; E. le Savoureux, Paris, 1888; G. Preuss, Halle, 1889; J. Wellhausen, Die kleinen Propheten, pp. 56 sqq., 207 sqq., Berlin, 1892; C. von Orelli, in Kurzgefasster Kommentar, 3d ed., Munich, 1908, Eng. transl. of earlier ed., The Twelve Minor Prophets, Edinburgh, 1893; W. Nowack, Göttingen, 1897; I. T. Beck, ed. J. Lindenmeyer, Gütersloh, 1898; J. Hyde, London, 1898; E. B. Pussy, Minor Prophets, reissue, London, 1906; A. C. Gaeberlin, ib., 1909.

Questions of date, unity, genuineness, etc, are treated in the works on Biblical Introduction, such as Driver's, and in the commentaries. Special treatises are: H. Grätz, Der einheitliche Charakter der Prophetie Joels, Breslau, 1873; W. L. Pearson, The Prophecy of Joel: its Unity, its Aim, and the Age of its Composition, New York, 1885; G, Kessner, Das Zeitalter des Propheten Joel, Leipsic, 1888; H. Holzinger, in ZATW, 1889, pp. 89-131; F. W. Farrar, The Minor Prophets, London, 1890; G. B. Gray, in Expositor, Sept., 1893; G. G. Findlay, Books of the Prophets, London, 1898; DB, ii. 672-878; EB, ii. 2492-2497; JE vii, 204-208.


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