The Book of Joel

I. Title

        The name of the book is the same both in Hebrew and in the English and Greek translations. The name Joel means "Yahweh is God".

II. Author and Setting

        Joel is a common name in the Old Testament, but the author of this prophesy is mentioned nowhere else but here. He prophesied to Judah and Jerusalem.
        The date for Joel's prophesy is uncertain. Dates ranging from the early pre-exilic to the late post-exilic period have been postulated.

A. Early Date

1. Quotations of Joel appear in Isaiah, Micah, and Amos: Joel 3:10 is the same as Isaiah 2:4, which is also the same as Micah 4:3. Joel 3:16 is the same as Amos 1:2 and 4:8.
2. The enemies of Judah in Joel are the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Greeks and Edomites, rather than the Assyrians and Babylonians.
3. No mention of a king or princes in the book suggests a date during the early part of Joash's reign, when he was a minor under the guardianship of Jehiada the high priest.

B. Late Date

1. Judah is called Israel in 3:1 and 2 and 2:27, suggesting at least a date after 722 BC (after the fall of the Northern Kingdom).
2. Assyria and Babylon are not mentioned, suggesting a date after the fall of Babylon to Cyrus in 539 BC.
3. Joel could just as easily be quoting from Isaiah, Micah and Amos, as they from he.
4. The historical allusion of 3:2 seems most naturally to refer to the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC.
5. No king of Israel is mentioned, which would be reasonable assuming a post-exilic date, when Israel had no kings.
6. There is no mention of a locust plague in the books of 1-2 Kings or 1-2 Chronicles, despite the fact that Joel describes this plague as one that would never be forgotten and one that would be remembered and talked about forever.
7. There is no mention of the sin of idolatry, one of the central issues for pre-exilic prophets, and the most notable feature to distinguish pre exilic from post-exilic prophets.

III. The Day of the Lord

        It should be noted that the use of the phrase "Day of the Lord" or "Day of Yahweh" is not automatically a reference to the end of the world. Rather, it was used to describe any period when God was acting in bringing judgment against a people. Below is a listing of all the occurrences of the phrase in the Bible. A perusal should give the reader a good overview of the range of meanings for the phrase.

Old Testament

Isaiah 2:6-12; 13:6, 9; 22:5; 34:8; 61:2
Lamentations 2:22
Ezekiel 7:7-19; 13:5; 30:3
Joel 1:15; 2:1; 2:11; 2:31; 3:14
Amos 5:18, 20
Obadiah 15
Zephaniah 1:7-18; 2:2-3
Zechariah 14:1
Malachi 4:5

New Testament

Romans 2:5
1 Corinthians 1:8; 1:14
2 Corinthians 1:14
Philippians 1:6-10; 2:16
1 Thessalonians 5:2
2 Thessalonians 2:2
2 Peter 3:10-12
Revelation 16:14

IV. An Outline of Joel

I. The Locust Invasion 1:1-2-17
II. Yahweh's Response 2:18-3:21

Questions on Joel

1. When did Joel prophesy? Discuss the possibilities.
2. Characterize the "day of the Lord" as it is used in Joel.
3. Should the locusts of Joel be pictured as actual locusts, or are they pictures of something else?
4. What section of Joel was fulfilled at Pentecost? Where in the book of Acts is it quoted?