Introduction to Joel

By James M. Rochford

Joel’s name (Hebrew Yo ‘el) meant “Yahweh is God.” Archer places his ministry in the time of King Joash (835-796 BC).[1] He gives the following reasons for this dating:

The king isn’t very active, which fits with Joash. Joash was crowned at age seven (2 Kings 11:4).

Amos and Joel borrow from each other. For instance, both prophets mention the mountains dripping with sweet wine (Amos 9:13; Joel 3:18). Both mention Yahweh roaring like a lion (Joel 3:16; Amos 1:2). Archer writes, “While Joel might possibly have quoted from Amos, the contextual indications are that it was the other way around.”[2] Since Amos was an eighth century prophet, this would put Joel at the same time.

Israel’s enemies are Egypt—not Assyria or Babylon. Joel states that Israel’s enemies are Phoenicia, Philistia, Egypt, and Edom (Joel 3:4, 9). He doesn’t even have Assyria or Babylon on the radar, which would imply an early dating.

Critics also argue that Joel never mentions idolatry or high places, which would place it after the Exile. But Archer notes that Nahum and Zephaniah do not mention these either, and “both of them are admitted by the critics to date from the seventh century, prior to the Babylonian Exile.”[3]

Joel 1 (Mourning over Judgment)

A locust swarm has taken over the land (v.4). This is really a nation that has taken over Israel (v.6). The temple sacrifices are ended (v.9, 13).

Joel 2 (The Day of the Lord)

The day of the Lord was a time of gloom and judgment (vv.1-2). They look like horses (v.4). God’s army is innumerable (v.11). Even during this time, God will want the people to repent (v.12). God will love the land and the people (v.18). He promises never to let them be dispersed again (v.19, 26; 3:17, 20). He will drive off this army (v.20). After this, there will be a spiritual revival on Earth (vv.28-32).

Joel 3 (More Judgment)

At the same time, God will judge the nations (v.2). He will judge them for their slave-trading (v.3, 6). God will protect the nation forever (v.20).

 

[1] Archer, Gleason. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed.). Chicago: Moody Press. 1994. 339.

[2] Archer, Gleason. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed.). Chicago: Moody Press. 1994. 339.

[3] Archer, Gleason. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed.). Chicago: Moody Press. 1994. 340.