Joel 1:1-10



The name “Joel” means “Jehovah is God or the LORD is God.”  It is not specifically known exactly what date that he prophesied because there is no listing of any kings whether northern or southern kingdom.  It is believed that he wrote this prophecy around 830 B.C. when both the northern kingdom and southern kingdom were still in the land however some place his writing in the time of Manasseh (709-643 B.C.) since the northern kingdom is not mentioned but only Judah and Jerusalem are mentioned.  The theme of Joel is the day of the Lord and to call the nation to repentance to escape the coming judgment of God on both the northern and southern kingdom.  Joel is quoted by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:16 on the day of Pentecost.  But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;  (Acts 2:16) 


Joel 1:1

The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.


Here we are introduced to Joel who is called the son of Pethuel.  The name “Pethuel” means “God delivers or the noble-mindedness of God.”  There is nothing known about this man except that he was the father of Joel.  In a time of crisis the LORD always has a word for the people of Israel to give them encouragement and to bring them back to obedience.  Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear.  (2 Chronicles 24:19)  Joel, like the other prophets, were bringing to Israel the rod of the LORD but as we read in 2 Chronicles 24:19 that the prophets which were sent to Israel were not listened to.


Joel 1:2

Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?


God is now focusing on the old men which would be the leaders of Israel at this time.  He wants them to listen to the prophet Joel because the normal response to the prophets by Israel was rejection of their message.  Not only were the leaders to pay attention to the message but also the inhabitants of the land.  God then asks a question of the leaders and the people.  Joel spoke of natural disasters which had overtaken Israel.  God asks them if these things had ever happened in your days or even in the days past when their fathers ruled Israel?  Joel was at this time referring to the locust swarm which had never been experienced by Israel.


Joel 1:3

Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.


Now God instructs these elders to tell their children and for them to pass it down from generation to generation so they too will know that disobedience to the LORD carries with it dire consequences.  Even though the prophecy was made in the time of Joel. It was also to be carried down through the ages by means of verbal communication.


Joel 1:4

That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.


Here are mentioned four different types of insects which had been a bane to those who grew agricultural products.  The palmerworm is a type of locust which has very sharp teeth that has the ability to gnaw off grass, corn, leaves of trees and even their bark.  The locust as are about three inches in length and was a plague upon Egypt.  They swarm into a land and eat all the vegetation in sight.  Their swarm would be so dense that they would literally blacken the sky.  The cankerworm is called “the licking locust” which probably is a locust at a certain stage of growth not yet to full maturity but nevertheless a destructive insect.  They lick up the grass of the field.  The caterpillar may be the mole cricket which is very destructive to corn and other vegetables by feeding on their roots.  So God has told Israel that these four destructive insects will be part of their agricultural problems.  If these insects attack and devour the crops, then there will be no food.


Joel 1:5

Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.


Now the LORD is focusing in on those who have become drunkards and also those who like to drink wine but are not necessarily drunkards.  Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!  (Isaiah 5:11)  Owing to the insect invasion and their attacks on the crops, there will be no new wine because the insects will devour the grapes and their vines.  Once their source of wine is cut off, they will realize that their nation is under judgment for their sins.  To weep and to howl is to cry and to yell over the problem of having no grapes to press into wine.


Joel 1:6

For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.


{25} The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;  {26} The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;  (Proverbs 30:25-26)  God speaks of both ants and in this Joel verse God is likening the invasion of these insects as destructive as an invading army.  Locusts can actually be heard eating the plants.  Locusts eat their weight in plants every day.  Their swarms were so large that it would be impossible to number them something which can actually be done with an invading army.  The cheek teeth of a great lion would be the teeth of a lion who is older which would be more fierce and terrible than the young ones who were just developing their strengths.  Just as the lion chews his prey, the locusts will do the same to the land.


Joel 1:7

He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.


What we have in this verse is picturing a complete stripping of the trees by the locust swarm. National Geographic has pictures from the great 1915 locust plague.  The link is below.  The locusts would actually attack the trees and not only eat the leaves and the fruit on them but they would actually eat the tree bark and make the branches white.  This verse is also a prophesy of what would happen to Israel when the Babylonians will come in 586 B.C., they will remove all the inhabitants and also their goods will be placed in the Babylonian treasure house.


Joel 1:8

Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.


Just as a young woman who gets married and the husband dies at the wedding ceremony and they do not have a chance to raise a child, then the old men and the inhabitants will wail in sorrow for the coming events which will happen to Israel.  This warning also goes out to those who are the obedient among Israel that they too will suffer along with those who were disobedient.  To lament is to wail, mourn, or weep.


Joel 1:9

The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD'S ministers, mourn.


The meat offering was made of fine flour, oil, and frankincense and it was part of all the offerings made at the temple.  And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon:  (Leviticus 2:1)  The drink offering was a fourth part of a hin of wine for one lamb.  And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering.  (Numbers 28:7)  A hin was about 1.077 gallons which would mean the fourth part would be just 34 ounces.  If the locust ate all the crops there would be no grain to make the flour and no grapes to make the wine so within the physical devastation there would also be an effect upon the spiritual in that they would be unable to properly make the meat and drink offerings.


Joel 1:10

The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.


The field is dead or destroyed and the land which once gave tremendous harvest will be in mourning because they will be unable to produce any fruit or grains.  The corn represents all types of grains and they too are wasted, that is, dead or destroyed, because of the locust invasion.  The new wine is dried up because the damage done to the vines by both the heat and drought would render the vines incapable of producing the grapes to produce new wine.  The oil was also weak or droopy because the olive trees would be incapable of producing the olives to make olive oil.  Like the grape vines, the olive trees also suffered.