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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Joel 1

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

Verse 1

Joel 1:1 . A Short Superscription.

Verses 2-4

Joel 1:2 to Joel 2:17 . A Description of the Plague of Locusts, and a Summons to an Assembly for Confession and Intercession.

Joel 1:2-4 . The Unprecedented Character of the Plague.— No living Jew has experienced so terrible a plague: it will be talked of in generations yet to come. The locusts have eaten the land absolutely bare.

Joel 1:2 . ye old men: might also be rendered “ ye elders,” i.e. officials; but the words are probably a later insertion.

Joel 1:4 . palmerworm, locust, cankerworm, caterpillar: neither of the suggestions in mg. is probable. The names, which may be rendered “ shearer,” “ devastator,” “ lapper,” “ finisher,” are different names for “ locust,” each expressing its destructive power.

Verses 5-12

Joel 1:5-12 . The Distress Caused by the Plague.

Joel 1:5-7 . The wine-bibbers— no censure is implied; they are mentioned first because of the contrast between their accustomed merriment and the tears they are bidden to shed— are summoned to arouse from their drunken sleep and bemoan the devastation of the vineyards. The many-mouthed host of invaders (for nation” cf. Proverbs 30:25 f.) has wrought such destruction that it is likened to a ravening lion. Vine and fig-tree are stripped bare, so that the twigs splinter and the branches gleam white.

[ Joel 1:6 b. The comparison with lions’ teeth ( Revelation 9:8) is very apt, for in proportion to its size the teeth of the locust are enormously strong, and have a saw-like edge.— A. S. P.].

Joel 1:7 . barked: rather “ splintered.”— made it clean bare: i.e. vines and fig-trees collectively; the inedible or unattractive fragments were cast away, rejected.

Verses 8-12

Joel 1:8-12 . The land is bidden to mourn as bitterly as a maiden mourning her betrothed, dead ere the marriage day. For— most terrible consequence of the famine caused by the locusts— no corn, wine, or oil can be had for the daily sacrifice, which is interrupted. Such a suspension, which seemed to snap the link between Yahweh and His people, occurred during the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, and was regarded as an appalling omen. The land and its tillers alike bewail (read mg. Joel 1:11) the blasting of corn and fruit. In a word, all joy is vanished.

Joel 1:8 . husband: a betrothal with the Jews is counted as marriage.

Joel 1:9 . the Lord’ s ministers: possibly emend to “ the ministers of the altar.”

Joel 1:10 . Contains several word-plays.— dried up: the verb is the same as that rendered be ashamed ( Joel 1:11) and withered ( Joel 1:12); of persons it means “ to stand abashed,” of things “ to fail, miscarry.”

Verses 13-20

Joel 1:13-20 . A Call for a Fast and Solemn Intercession.— The prophet bids the priests, clothed in the garb of mourners, come into the Temple and lament night and day. Let them institute with the appropriate ritual a fast, and summon a solemn gathering of the community. The awful plight of the land suggests the thought that the locusts are but harbingers of the dreaded Day of Yahweh ( Amos 5:18-20). Nothing less can be portended when the joyous sacrifices are interrupted by the blight and drought which have destroyed vegetation, and brought hunger and thirst to the cattle so that even they appeal dumbly to Yahweh.

Joel 1:15 . Shaddai ( mg.): this rare title for Yahweh is chosen for the sake of assonance with destruction ( shodh); it is perhaps equivalent to the Babylonian Divine title, “š adua” = “ my Rock.”

Joel 1:16 . meat: render, “ food.”

Joel 1:17-18 a . Heb. is very difficult, containing many strange forms. Possibly, using suggestions from LXX, emend to “ The mules stand abashed by their mangers; waste lie the store-houses, broken down the barns, because the corn has failed; what have we to put in them!”

Joel 1:18 . made desolate: cf. the English use of “ desolated” in the sense “ appalled.”

Joel 1:19 . I: probably emend to “ they.”— wilderness: not a barren desert, but more like what we understand by “ steppe” or “ veldt.”

Joel 1:20 . the water brooks are dried up: this seems to show that the blight and scorching heat are additional woes, and not simply a poetical description of the havoc wrought by the locusts.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Joel 1". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/joel-1.html. 1919.
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