Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, September 23rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
Take our poll

Bible Commentaries
Joel 1

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-3

JOEL (Analysis)



Joel, son of Pethuel, was a prophet of Judah, and is believed to have lived in Jerusalem. His name means "Jehovah is God," Joel 1:1; Joel 2:1; Joel 2:15; Joel 2:23; Joel 2:32; Joel 3:20-21. Of his personal history nothing more is known.


This book is addressed to and concerning the inhabitants of the land of Judah and to the priests and elders of the house of God in particular. The address concerns their sins and rebellion against God, His call for their repentance, certain coming judgments for their sins, and their eventual restoration to and glory in the land of promise, Joel 3:16-17; Joel 3:20-21.


Joel prophesies of coming desolation over all Judah, caused by a devastating plague of the palmer worms, insects, and a drought which are to be sent as methods of Divine judgment upon Judah and Israel, God’s chosen people. The plague of insects represented enemy armies that were to devastate the land in judgment. They drifted into a state of moral, ethical, and spiritual apostacy or whoredom, Joel 1:4; Joel 1:12-17. Forgiveness for confessed sins, restoration to their own land, and full kingdom glory are pledged to Judah and Israel, Joel ch. 3.


Joel lived about 800 B.C., as a possible contemporary of Elijah, and certainly of Elisha, and in the days of Jehoram and Uzziah, kings of Judah, 2 Chronicles ch. 22-24. Most of his prophecy concerned the future of Israel and Judah in "the day of the Lord," the outpouring of the Spirit upon the church at Pentecost, the now approaching era of Israel’s regathering to her land, and the Golden Millennial era that is to follow, Isaiah 2:12; Joel 2:1; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-21; Acts 3:1-21.


The plague of locusts sent to desolate the land was a picture prophecy of soon coming armies of judgment upon Judah for her rebellion against the laws of God for Judah and Israel.

Yet, the then existing moral and spiritual state in Judah, and her threatened chastisement, was taken by the prophet Joel as an occasion to deliver also a message of a more terrible visitation from God. It was a message designed to bring Israel from her dispersion, to repentance, and to preparation for acceptance of the coming Messiah, and to restore Israel to her former days of glory and blessings, Malachi 3:9-18.



A. Historical, Literal, Visitation, ch. 1:1-20

1. The word of the Lord came, v. 1-3.

2. The insect desolation of the land, v. 4-14.

3. The plague, a type of the Day of the Lord, v. 15-20.

B. Prophetic Revelation, ch. 2:1 through 3:21.

1. The invasion from the north, preceding Armageddon, 2:1-10.

2. The Lord’s army at Armageddon, 2:11.

3. Repentance of a Jewish remnant in the land, 2:12-17.

4. The Lord’s intervention, in the midst of tribulation, 2:18-27.

C. Israel Preserved---Gentile Nations Judged, 3:1-8

1. The end of the Day of the Lord, 3:9-16.

2. Millennial blessings assured, 3:17-21.


Verses 1:3:

Verse 1 asserts that the "word of the Lord," of Jehovah, "which shall not pass away," came to Joel, whose father was Pethuei, which means the "open heartedness or sincerity of God," Matthew 24:34. The name Joel means "Jehovah is God." This book is therefore to be considered authentic, inspired, or trustworthy, Psalms 119:160; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21. It is therefore to be accepted as a Divine call from Jehovah God, to all the inhabitants of the land of Judah, and to Zion especially, Joel 2:1; Joel 2:15; Joel 2:23; Joel 2:32; Joel 3:1; Joel 3:16-17; Joel 3:20-21.

Verse 2 appeals to old men to consider their observations of plagues and experiences in life, then openly testify whether or not they have ever known of so devastating a plague as God has given him to describe. The experienced are to give heed, then testify, regarding the coming announced locust judgment upon their land and people, as Joel calls them to repentance, Psalms 107:1.

Verse 3 calls upon these aged of Judah, Jerusalem, and Israel to weigh well the fearful effects and cause of this coming plague and recount it well to and for their posterity. One generation must pass on to another, the love, mercy, and just judgment of an Holy God upon His sinful people, 1 Corinthians 10:6; Isaiah 5:12; Take heed lest Divine lessons be forgotten, Deuteronomy 4:9; Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 9:19.

Verses 4-14

Coming Desolation Described

Verses 4-14:

Verse 4 begins an extended description of a fearful plague of locust-insects that were to swarm over the land, bringing a scourge of hunger, annoyance, and death among men and beasts over all the land of Judah. The first or primary devastation was to be by four insects, or as thought by some to be the same insect, in four different destructive stages. They were called the palmerworm, the locust, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar. These vegetation­ devouring insects seem to represent progressive waves or stages of judgment that were to fall on Judah, to teach a spiritual truth. It represented in prophecy, first, the invasion of the Assyrian army, and second "the day of the Lord," at the end of this Gentile age, Isaiah 7:1-14; Joel 1:13-14. It is further developed in Joel ch. 2.

Verse 5 calls upon all drunkards, and those in a drunken stupor, to arouse to sobriety and weep and howl in repentance for their wickedness that has caused the insect devastation of the land, that has destroyed their vineyards. There was no new wine, or sweet grape juice to be available, meaning no occasion for joy in the time of their nation’s calamity. Their sins have "found them out," Numbers 32:23.

Verse 6 describes a nation (heathen nation), strong in number of armed soldiers, hungry for a victory as a lion with clean teeth, has swooped down on Judah for a prey, to satisfy her appetite. She is described as having the cheek teeth, meat grinding teeth of a great (male) lion. The picture suggests savage hostility that is coming upon Judah and Jerusalem.

Verse 7 describes how God’s judgment plague of locusts has stripped the land of Judah of all production of grape vines and fig trees, both highly valued for food in the days of Solomon and Israel’s glory, Numbers 13:23-24; Numbers 1 Kg 4:25. But they are now destroyed, Judah had not received God’s message from the locusts, Genesis 30:27. Though a "fly with God’s message should choke a king."

Verse 8 personifies Judah as a virgin, bereft of her lover, who has been taken away by a sudden stroke and has left her to lament and despair in sackcloth for the husband of her youth or for her youthful husband, Isaiah 24:4; Deuteronomy 22:23. Even so Israel should be grieved for God’s putting her away, Jeremiah 2:2; Jeremiah 3:4.

Verse 9 relates that the meat (bread) offering and the drink offering, prescribed in their law, are cut off from the house of the Lord. A cessation of temple worship came as an expression of Divine displeasure upon Judah for her sins. The plague of locusts had cut off or devoured the grape vines, the olive trees, and the wheat and small grains so that no sacrifice offerings by the people or priests were longer possible, Numbers 18:8-13. The priests therefore not only lost their livelihood subsidy but also the possibility of making appointed offerings to Jehovah. And the ministers mourned---more in self-pity than in repentance, for their allied relations with the idol gods.

Verse 10 describes how nature and the rich red soil mourn because of the wasted corn, dried up grape vines, and the very little olive oil possible, because of the judgment plague of waves and waves of destroying or desolating locusts, v. 4. All nature feels the physical loss of vegetation in Judah.

Verse 11 contains a direct appeal from God, through Joel, for the husbandmen of the land to mourn in genuine repentance. This is the third of three Divine appeals to men of Judah. First, the old men were addressed; Second, the drunkards were to awake; and Third, the husbandmen or vinedressers and keepers of the olive trees were to lament their people’s sins that had brought judgment upon their fields and vineyards, causing their harvest to perish, Jeremiah 14:3.

Verse 12 affirms that all the fruit trees of the field are dried up, withered, or unproductive causing the people to be void of joy. Unfruitful were the vines, the pomegranate, the palm tree (date palms), the apple trees; And then the phrase, "even all the trees of the field," is added. So, one may picture hunger, starvation, and howling among men and beast under such a calamitous plague, Psalms 4:7; Isaiah 9:3.

Verse 13 offers a direct appeal to the priests and ministers of holy things in Judah to gird themselves in sackcloth, a coarse outer garment, and cry and lament aloud in repentance, publicly,. for their sins, 1Kg 21:27. They have been negligent priests and should therefore set the example for repentance among the people. Their outer garments were to reflect their inner grief, Isaiah 32:11; Jeremiah 4:8.

Verse 14 recounts God’s charge to the priests and the elders to call for a sanctified fast and a solemn general assembly in all the land, to cease all manual labor, and come to or approach the house of the Lord, and to cry unto Him there in repentance for their sins, Zechariah 8:3; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Chronicles 20:3-13; 1 Samuel 7:5-6.

Verses 15-20

Insect Plague--A Type of the Day of the Lord

Verses 15-20:

Verse 15 introduces the descriptive 70th week period of God’s dealing in judgment, with Judah and Israel. It is here called, with exclamatory Hebrew emotions, "The day of the Lord," or of Jehovah! It is further described, Joel 2:11; Isaiah 2:10-22; Isaiah 13:9; Zechariah 1:7; Zechariah 1:15. The Assyrian invasion of captivity they then faced was but an ill omen in comparison with their national suffering during the latter 42 months of the 70th week of Daniel’s foretold trouble upon Israel, also known as The Tribulation The Great, Daniel 9:25-27; Daniel 12:4-11; Revelation 7:14; Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14; Revelation 13:5.

Verse 16 rhetorically inquires by affirmation, "The meat or food is cut off before our eyes and joy and gladness are taken away from the house of our God too, aren’t they?" When there was no food for festivals, or even a meat (meal) offering to the Lord, the people had no place for joy. Mourning and repentance were their need of the hour, Deuteronomy 12:6-7; Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 16:14-15.

Verse 17 explains that seed when sown did not sprout, but decayed, dried up under the dry, hard clods. Their garners (meaning storehouses) went to ruin, decayed, and their barns or granaries were destroyed, because the corn or edible grain crops were all parched, withered, not productive for any harvest. It was a type of judgment that their law had forewarned would come upon them should they depart from obeying the precepts of their God, Deuteronomy 28:15-18; Deuteronomy 28:21; Deuteronomy 28:33; Deuteronomy 28:38-41; Deuteronomy 28:47.

Verse 18 turns to a view of want in houses and storehouses to the open fields and pastures. There groaning, bewildered, hungry and starving cattle roam, turning from one direction to another, scenting and searching in vain for a bite of vegetation or drink of water. Even the flocks of sheep, that normally survive droughts and deserts, are pictured as mourning and crying in vain bewilderment for a shepherd to feed, to lead, and to guide them, Psalms 145:15; Psalms 104:21. They share the judgment guilt of man, though themselves innocent of the sins of the people of Judah. The innocent so often must suffer with or for the guilty. A drunkard’s wife and children often suffer with and because of the sins of the drunkard. So it is also with families of drug addicts, gamblers, and often of immoral libertines. As Abraham prayed to God for the cities and plains of Sodom and Gommorha, and as Moses prayed for the tribes of Israel, so Joel interceded to God on behalf of Judah and Israel, Exodus 12:29; Jonah 3:7; Jonah 4:11.

Verse 19 relates Joel’s direct cry to the Lord on behalf of the innocent beasts of the fields that suffer from the fires and scorching summer sun that have devoured the pastures of. the desert and wilderness and burned off all the trees of the field, Isaiah 15:5; Jeremiah 23:9. Joel confessed that the hope of men and beast for survival from God’s judgment existed in the mercy of God that may be shown in the midst of His judgment, Isaiah 15:5-6; Jeremiah 23:9.

Verse 20 further affirms that not only do the cattle and flocks of sheep and goats groan for water and feed, v. 18, but also the "beasts of the field," Job 38:41; Psalms 104:21; Psalms 147:9; Psalms 42:1. All beast creatures groan and travail in hunger and thirst pangs, for some relief, because of the fire drought that have devastated the land, following the calamity-plague of the locust-insects, Romans 8:21-22.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Joel 1". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/joel-1.html. 1985.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile