Joel 1:11-20

Joel 1:11

Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.


Then Joel tells the husbandmen to be ashamed which carries the meaning of “disappointment.”  Because of their sins God did not bless the land to produce a great harvest and that is why the husbandmen are to be ashamed since it is their sins which has bought the disfavor of God upon them.  The vinedressers were the gardeners who would plant, water, and prune the crops to make them produce greater crops.  They were to howl which carries with it the meaning of “wailing.”  They would do this because they would see that all the crops which they planted have perished because of the locust invasion which decimated all the crops on the land.


Joel 1:12

The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.


The physical devastation of the land had resulted in the emotional devastation of the people and that is why they are ashamed and howling.  The vines have completely dried up and the fig trees languishes which carries with it the meaning of “feeble or withered” which means the crops are either completely gone or what was left was totally too weak to support processing.  All the other trees of the fields have also withered away since the locust even stripped the bark off the trees which may have caused the trees to die completely and new ones would have to be planted.  The same withering has happened to those in Israel as their joy has been turned into sorrow and shame because of their disobedience to God.


Joel 1:13

Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.


The priests would have been in mourning for two reasons.  They could not perform their required duties in the temple and that would also mean they would not eat very well.  This was because there was no way the people would have anything to bring to the temple since all the crops were destroyed.  The priests would no longer be able to offer the proper sacrifices in the temple which means they could not approach the LORD the way they were supposed to.  By putting on sackcloth they would be going into a state of repentance for their sins and the sins of the people.  Those who ministered in the temple would be lamenting over the conditions in Israel which caused this problem and hopefully all these things would lead them into national repentance.


Joel 1:14

Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,


Now they are told to forsake all their worldly pursuits and are to sanctify a fast which would have been a holy fast.  Then they were to call a solemn assembly which would include all the religious leaders as well as the political leaders and the entire population of the land.  They were to gather at the temple and the spiritual leaders were to go into the temple itself but the main population would have to remain outside by the temple.  Then when all were assembled they would begin to cry out to the LORD in true sorrow.  They were to cry out as one cries out in distress, persecution, or hard times.”  They were to seek the LORD with great intensity.


Joel 1:15

Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.


The day of the LORD can be a time of intervention by the LORD whether it is for blessing or discipline.  Now they have reached a point where they must make a choice because the day of decision is now at hand.  They must decide whether they are going to be obedient to the LORD or continue in the same path and face the destructive hand of God.  The Hebrew word behind “Almighty” is shaddai.”  It means just that, Almighty.  It was the name that God used when he appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.  (Exodus 6:3)  Now he appears under the same name to these recalcitrant Israelites.


Joel 1:16

Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?


The term “meat” means food or sustenance of any kind which supports both human and animal life.  All they know is sorrow and there is no more joy or gladness in the nation since their sins have brought them into a place where all they live in now is a barren land made bare by the locust which was a judgment from God on their disobedience.  Widespread famine can also bring civil unrest as we see in many countries today bringing with it disease and high crime.


Joel 1:17

The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered.


The result of continued disobedience in the day of the LORD yields seed becoming rotten when planted instead of germinating in the soil.  The garners are the places where they stored the crops after they were harvested.  The barns were where they placed their unthrashed corn or grains.  It would have been the place where they did the winnowing to separate the wheat from the chaff.  All the corn, which was a term to describe the grains, were all withered or dried up.  There is always a ripple effect for disobedience, that is, the consequences of disobedience always reach farther than what we expect.


Joel 1:18

How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.


The beasts of the field were also affected by the drought and the locust plague which meant that they did not have any food to eat.  This is also known as the ripple effect where the effects of sin continue to permeate the land even affecting the livestock.  Even the cattle are confused because the fields where they normally graze has been removed by the judgment of locusts and there is only barren fields.  The sheep are the same way in that they normally have pasture to graze in but now they have nothing to graze on and that means they will pine away until dead.  There is nothing that the shepherds can do to help except repent of their sinful ways.


Joel 1:19

O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field.


The prophet now cries out to the LORD because of the major devastation which has consumed the land.  What the locust left behind has now been consumed by fire which devastated the land even further.  Not only the grazing grass was destroyed, but all the trees of the field which bring shade for the shepherds and the grazing animals plus bearing fruit.  The desolation had spread from the humans to all the animals and their living quarters.


Joel 1:20

The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.


In their own way the beasts of the field are crying unto the LORD because in addition to lacking food, they are now lacking water to drink which would cause them to die much faster than starvation.  The beasts of the field show more sense than the people, at least they know who to cry to about their situation.  The Israelites just continued in their disobedience to God.  The beasts of the field cried because their pasture which was their main sustenance had disappeared and now they have no food.  Their owners cannot even help them since the locust and the fire has stripped the land bare and there is no food, even for the people.