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Old Testament | Joel | Summary



  • Joel 1:1–2:17 describes a catastrophic plague of locusts.
  • Joel calls for a solemn fast for all the people and says repentance can still bring deliverance (2:12).
  • All the nations who have wronged Israel will be judged, but "Jerusalem shall be holy," and "Judah shall be inhabited forever" (3:17, 20).


The most distinctive element of Joel is its vivid description of a locust plague, a calamity characterized as an act of Yahweh's judgment. In the prophetic books the focus is usually on hostile foreign nations as the instruments of God's punishment. Yet in Joel, the locust plague serves this purpose, and foreign nations appear only as the objects of judgment on the coming Day of Yahweh. This may reflect that the usefulness of rhetoric about foreign invasion as divine judgment has been exhausted after centuries of living under foreign domination.

The second major element of Joel is its distinctive vision of the Day of Yahweh. All nations will be judged and punished for past wrongs against Yahweh's people. Judah and Jerusalem will flourish. Unique to Joel is the vision of a pouring out of Yahweh's spirit "on all flesh," granting prophetic gifts. In the Christian New Testament, this language factors significantly into the developing theology of the "Holy Spirit" and is quoted at length by the Apostle Peter (Acts 2). For Joel this spiritual awakening will define Yahweh's people in the new, ideal Jerusalem.

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