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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

- Joel

by Gary H. Everett


Using a Theme-based Approach

to Identify Literary Structures

By Gary H. Everett


January 2013 Edition

All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.

All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed., Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c1925, morphology c1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.

All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.

All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong's Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.

The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author’s daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.

© Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.

Foundational Theme How to Serve the Lord with All Our Mind

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,

and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5


Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

Introductory Material - The introduction to the book of Joel will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework. [1] These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God’s message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.

[1] Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel’s well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalms: (1) “a common setting in life,” (2) “thoughts and mood,” (3) “literary forms.” In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses “Form/Structure/Setting” preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol. 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).


“We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture

if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible.”

(J. Hampton Keathley) [2]

[2] J. Hampton Keathley, III, “Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah,” (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23 May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.

Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the book of Joel will provide a discussion on its title, historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the Jewish tradition that Joel was the author of the book of Joel, with him and others recording his prophecies during his public ministry.

I. The Title

Luke was familiar with the title of the book of Joel (Acts 2:16).

Acts 2:16, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;”

II. Historical Background

III. Authorship

A. Internal Evidence

B. External Evidence - If we look outside of biblical literature for clues to authorship and into other ancient Jewish literature from which much Jewish tradition is found, the Babylonian Talmud says that the men of the great assembly wrote Ezekiel, the Twelve Prophets, Daniel, and the Book of Esther.

“And who wrote all the books? Moses wrote his book and a portion of Bil’am [Numbers, xxii.], and Job. Jehoshua wrote his book and the last eight verses of the Pentateuch beginning: “And Moses, the servant of the Lord, died.” Samuel wrote his book, Judges, and Ruth. David wrote Psalms, with the assistance of ten elders, viz.: Adam the First, Malachi Zedek, Abraham, Moses, Hyman, Jeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korach. Jeremiah wrote his book, Kings, and Lamentations. King Hezekiah and his company wrote Isaiah, Proverbs, Songs, and Ecclesiastes. The men of the great assembly wrote Ezekiel, the Twelve Prophets, Daniel, and the Book of Esther. Ezra wrote his book, and Chronicles the order of all generations down to himself. [This may be a support to Rabh’s theory, as to which, R. Jehudah said in his name, that Ezra had not ascended from Babylon to Palestine until he wrote his genealogy.] And who finished Ezra’s book? Nehemiah ben Chachalyah.” ( Babylonian Talmud, Tract Baba Bathra (Last Gate), 1.Mishna 5) [3]

[3] Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol. 13 (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), 45.

IV. Date

V. Recipients

VI. Occasion


“Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.

If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew.”

(Thomas Schreiner) [4]

[4] Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c1990, 2011), 11.

Within the historical setting of the kingdom of Israel, the author of the book of Joel chose to write using the literary style of the ancient prophetic literature. Thus, the book of Joel is assigned to the literary genre called “prophecy.” Included in the genre of prophecy are the three books of the Old Testament major prophets and twelve minor prophets.


“Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework.”

(Andreas Kösenberger) [5]

[5] Andreas J. Kösenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.

Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the book of Joel, an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the book of Joel for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.

VII. Purpose

VIII. Thematic Scheme

IX. Literary Structure

Joel 3:1-21 follows a sequence of three events that are also predicted by the prophet Ezekiel. From the last chapters in the book of Ezekiel we know that the full restoration of Israel involves three key events that will take place in order to make their restoration complete and everlasting. These events will involve the restoration of Israel as a nation (36-37), the battle against Gog and its allies (38-39), and the restoration of the Temple and its worship (40-46) and its land (47-48). In comparison, Joel 3:1 predicts the restoration of Israel as a nation. In Joel 3:2-17 b God calls the nations to assemble (Joel 3:2) and prepare for war (Joel 3:9). He will roar from Jerusalem as His voice judges the nations (Joel 3:16). In Joel 3:17-21 the prophet Joel predicts the restoration of Jerusalem and its prosperity while its historical enemies will be destroyed. Thus, both prophets follow the same sequence of three events.

X. Outline of Book



Clarke, Adam. The Book of the Prophet Jonah. In Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996. In P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000.

Clarke, Adam. Joel. In Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996. In P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000.

Metzger, Bruce M., David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker, eds. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007.

Rodkinson, Michael L. New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol. 13. New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902.


Cicero. The Treatises of M. T. Cicero on the Nature of the Gods; on Divination; on Fate; on the Republic; on the Laws; and on Standing for the Consulship. Trans. C. D. Yonge. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853.

Gunkel, Hermann. The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction. Trans. Thomas M. Horner. In Biblical Series, vol. 19. Ed. John Reumann. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967.

Suetonius. The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius. Trans. Joseph Gavorse. New York: Modern Library, 1931.

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