The Word of the Lord to Joel

Chapter 1

Joel, declaring various judgments of God, exhorts to observe them, 1-7, and to mourn, 8-13. He prescribes a solemn fast to deprecate those judgments, 14-20.

1 [The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.]

2 Hear this, you old men, and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land. Has this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?

3 Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.

4 That which the cutting-locust has left the swarming-locust has eaten, that which the swarming-locust has left the licking-locust has eaten, and that which the licking-locust has left the ravaging-locust has eaten.

5 Awake, you drunkards, and weep. Howl, all you drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it is cut off from your mouth.

6 For a nation has come up upon my land, strong and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion and he has the cheek teeth of a great lion.

7 He has laid my vine waste and barked my fig-tree. He has made it thoroughly bare and cast it away. Its branches are made white.

8 Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.

9 The food-offering and the drink-offering is cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests, the LORD'S ministers, mourn.

10 The field is wasted and the land mourns, for the corn is wasted. The new wine is dried up. The oil languishes.

11 Be ashamed, O farmers. Howl, O vine-dressers, for the wheat and for the barley, because the harvest of the field has perished.

12 The vine is dried up and the fig-tree languishes. The pomegranate-tree, the palm-tree, and the apple-tree, even all the trees of the field are withered, because joy has withered away from the sons of men.

13 Gird yourselves and lament, you priests. Howl, you ministers of the altar. Come, lie all night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God, for the food-offering and the drink-offering is withheld from the house of your God.

14 Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry to the LORD.

15 Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty it shall come.

16 Is the food not cut off before our eyes, and joy and gladness from the house of our God?

17 The seed has perished under their clods, the granaries are laid desolate, and the barns are broken down, for the corn has withered.

18 How the beasts groan! The herds of cattle are perplexed because they have no pasture. Even the flocks of sheep are made desolate.

19 O LORD, I will cry to you, for the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness and the flame has burned all the trees of the field.

20 The beasts of the field also cry to you, for the rivers of waters are dried up and the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Joel, Chapter 1


John Gill's Chapter Summary:

This chapter describes a dreadful calamity upon the people of the Jews, by various locusts and drought. After the title of the book (verse 1); old men are called upon to observe this sore judgment to their children, that it might be transmitted to the latest posterity, that the likes of which had not been seen and heard of (verses 2-4); and drunkards are to awake and weep, because the vines were destroyed, and no wine could be made for them (verses 5-7); and not only farmers and vine-dressers, but also the priests of the Lord are called to mourn, because such destruction was made in the fields and vineyards that there was no food-offering nor drink-offering brought into the house of the Lord (verses 8-13); therefore a general and solemn fast is required throughout the land, because of the distress of man and beast (verses 14-18); and the chapter is concluded with the resolution of the prophet to cry to the Lord, on account of this calamity (verses 19-20).

[v.1] - "Joel" - From Yhovah and 'el; Yahweh (is his) God.

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 1-2:

Grant, Almighty God that as almost the whole world give such loose reins to their licentiousness, that they do not hesitate either to despise or to regard as of no value your sacred word,— Grant, O Lord that we may always retain such reverence as is justly due to it and to your holy oracles and be so moved whenever you deign to address us, that being truly humbled, we may be raised up by faith to heaven, and by hope gradually attain that glory which is as yet hid from us. And may we at the same time so submissively restrain ourselves, as to make it our whole wisdom to obey you and to do you service, until you gather us into your kingdom, where we shall be partakers of your glory, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

[v.4] - This verse lists four different types of locusts. They have their names based on a property of the species, though the actual species is unknown. The first mentioned is the cutting-locust (called the palmer-worm in the KJV), which sheers or crops off the fruits and leaves of trees. The second is the swarming-locust (sometimes just called the locust), which were known from their vast increase, the multitude they bring forth and the large numbers in which they appear. The third is the licking-locust (called the canker-worm or caterpillar in the KJV), which in the Hebrew language is called because of its licking up the fruits of the earth, by which the land becomes barren. The licking-locust is also known as the devourer. The fourth is the ravaging-locust (called the caterpillar in the KJV), which has its name from wasting and consuming all that comes in its way. All of these types of locusts came separately and subsequently over a period of time, over the course of some years, as is mentioned in Joel 2:25.

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 3-11:

Grant, Almighty God, that as you invite us daily by various means to repentance, and continue also to urge us, because you see our extreme tardiness,— O grant that we may at length be awakened from our indifference, and allow us not to be inebriated by the charms of Satan and the world; but by your Spirit rouse us to real groaning, that, being ashamed of ourselves, we may flee to your mercy, and doubt not but that you will be propitious to us, provided with a sincere heart we call on you, and seek that reconciliation which you daily offer to us by your Gospel in the name of your only begotten Son. Amen.

[v.12] - "apple-tree" - The Hebrew word, tappuwach (tap-poo'-akh), is typically rendered as either apple or apple tree (from its fragrance), but it can also refer to a citrus tree, both of which are fragrant trees when in bloom.

[v.20a] - "The beasts of the field also cry to you" - Job 38:41; Psalm 104:21, 27-28, 145:15, 147:9; Matthew 6:26; Luke 12:24.

[v.20b] - "pastures" - The word, dwellings, may also be used here. The Hebrew word is, na'ah (naw-aw'), which can mean habitation, house, pasture, or pleasant place.

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 12-20:

Grant, Almighty God, that as you see us to be surrounded with the infirmity of our flesh, and so held by, and, as it were, overwhelmed with, earthly cares, that we can hardly raise up our hearts and minds to you,— O grant, that being awaked by your word and daily warnings, we may at length feel our evils, and that we may not only learn by the stripes you inflict on us, but also of our own accord, summon ourselves to judgment, and examine our hearts, and thus come to your presence, being our own judges; so that we may anticipate your displeasure, and thus obtain that mercy which you have promised to all, who, turning only to you, deprecate your wrath, and also hope for your favor, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.