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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

- Joel

by Joseph Benson



THERE is much uncertainty as to the exact time when Joel prophesied. Some think he was cotemporary with Hosea: and that as Hosea prophesied chiefly to the ten tribes, so Joel addressed chiefly the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. It seems most probable, from some parts of this prophecy, that it was delivered in the reign of Ahaz, after the Edomites had smitten Judah, and used great violence; (compare 2 Chronicles 28:17, and Joel 3:19;) and after the Philistines had invaded their cities, and slain or expelled their inhabitants, (compare 2 Chronicles 28:18, and Joel 3:4,) and were both of them triumphing in their success; upon which account God particularly threatens them by this prophet. And as to the Philistines, Joel’s prediction was executed against them in Hezekiah’s reign, who succeeded Ahaz; it being expressly predicted of him by Isaiah 14:29, that he should dissolve and destroy them, which we find from his history he actually did. The prophecy consists of four parts: 1st, The prophet describes and bewails the destruction which should be made by locusts, and the distress the country should be in through an excessive drought, Joe 1:1 to Joel 2:12. 2dly, He calls the people to repentance, to which he encourages them with promises of a removal of the judgment, and of God’s taking them into his favour on their complying with his exhortation, Joel 2:12-27. 3dly, He foretels the plentiful effusion of the Holy Spirit, which should take place in the latter days, namely, in the days of the Messiah, Joel 2:28-32. 4thly, He proclaims God’s judgments against the neighbouring nations, which had unjustly invaded, plundered, and carried his people into captivity: and foretels glorious things of the gospel Jerusalem, and of’ the prosperity and perpetuity of it, chap. 3.

The style of Joel is essentially different from that of Hosea; but the general character of his diction, though of a different kind, is not less poetical. He is elegant, perspicuous, copious, and fluent; he is also sublime, animated, and energetic. In the first and second chapters he displays the full force of the prophetic poetry, and shows how naturally it inclines to the use of metaphors, allegories, and comparisons. Nor is the connection of the matter less clear and evident than the complexion of the style: this is exemplified in the display of the impending evils which gave rise to the prophecy; the exhortation to repentance; the promises of happiness and success, both terrestrial and eternal, to those who become truly penitent; the restoration of the Israelites; and the vengeance to be taken of their adversaries. But while we allow this just commendation to his perspicuity, both in language and arrangement, we must not deny that there is sometimes great obscurity observable in his subject, and particularly in the latter part of the prophecy. See Bishop Lowth, De Sacra Poesi Hebræorum, Prælec. 21.

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