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Bible Dictionaries

1910 New Catholic Dictionary

Book of Joel

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(Hebrew: Jehovah is God)

Second in the list of the twelve Minor Prophets. No definite information about his life has been trans.mitted to us. We may conclude that he was a Judean by birth, because his ministry seems limited to Juda and Jerusalem. The time when he exercised his ministry is a matter of much dispute. The dates assigned range from 837 BC to 400 BC. The most probable theory attaches his work to the reign of King Azarias, 789-738 BC, relying on the place traditionally assigned to him in the list of the minor prophets, where he stands between Osee and Amos. The opening verses of both these books name Azarias as the king under whom they preached. Besides which some passages are so identical in Joel 3, and Amos 1, as to appear evident citations; after weighing the peculiarities of the context it seems that Amos borrows from Joel. Hence Joel was a contemporary of Osee and Amos, but a little in advance of them. The book of Joel consists of four chapters in the Hebrew; but only three in the English Bible. The Hebrew adds no material; it merely divides our second chapter into two. It opens with a magnificent description of the dreadful havoc wrought by a plague of locusts (1:1 to 2:11), then invites all to repent and implore God's mercy (2:12-17), whereupon the Lord promises fertility and victory (2:18-27); and for a later period, He adds the prospect of the abundant pouring out of the spirit of God on His people, while judgment will be visited upon the hostile nations in the Valley of Josaphat (2:28 to 3:21). All but a few admire the literary unity of the composition, and infer that the prophet committed his message to writing at the close of his life. His style is almost classic; his thoughts are gracefully woven together; his language is clear, fluent, elegant. The interpretation, however, is quite difficult; not in consequence of the language, but of the things expressed. For instance, whether the plague of the locusts is to be taken in an historical or a metaphoric sense. Joel is the prophet of repentance in view of the Lord's Day. The canonical authority of Joel is proclaimed in the New Testament by Saint Peter who quotes Joel 2:28,32 (Acts 2); and by Saint Paul who quotes Joel 2:32 (Romans 9). Portions of the Book of Joel are used in the Office, Tuesday and Wednesday of the fourth week of November, and in the Mass, Ash Wednesday; antiphon, 2:13; response, 2:17; lectio, 2:12-19; Friday in Ember Week of Pentecost, lesson, 2:23-24,26-27; Saturday in Ember Week of Pentecost, first lesson, 2:28-32.

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Bibliography Information
Entry for 'Book of Joel'. 1910 New Catholic Dictionary. 1910.

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