The Minor prophet- Joel and his Prophetic Book
The Book of Joel is part of the Hebrew Bible. Joel is part of a group of twelve prophetic books known as the Minor Prophets or simply as The Twelve; the distinction 'minor' indicates the short length of the text in relation to the larger prophetic texts known as the "Major Prophets". Swindoll (1979, no pagination) states ‘Dating the writing of the book of Joel remains one of the most difficult tasks for Old Testament scholars because unlike most prophetic writers, Joel gave no explicit indication of his time period.’ Secondly in the group of Minor Prophets is the book of Joel, unlike other prophetic books such as Amos and Hosea he fails to mention the date in which he was writing in nor the events which occurred within this time. (Piper, 1981) Despite the book not being dated I still believe the value of the book remains as what Joel included in the book and what he saw in the future are very clear. Joel refrained from mentioning the current kings ruling at this time, he explains his omission of the date of writing by suggesting that this prophecy occurred during the aftermath of Judah’s only ruling Queen ‘Athaliah’ (death – 835 BC). After the queen’s death, all that was left was her only son, however Joash was only a young boy at this time therefore was not old enough to rule. A priest named Jehoida ruled instead therefore this would explain Joel’s reasoning for his failure to mention an official King or Queen. (Swindoll, 1979)The date is not specified anywhere within the book therefore we use internal evidence such as reference to various nations and events in order to determine an approximate date, people have guessed at around 835-400 BC. According to (Finley, p.4) “The prophetic authors’ name ‘Joel’ means ‘Yahweh is God.’” There is no information about Joel’s personal life, twelve other men within the Old Testament share his name however none of whom can be identified with Joel the author of this prophetic book. There is not much else known about him other than the name of his father ‘Pethuel’ which is mentioned nowhere else in the bible. From his book, it is evident that Joel was acquainted with the land, farming and Geography. It is clear to us that he lived and prophesised in Judah as he talks about both Judah and Jerusalem in his writings, Joel is quite familiar with the Temple and its Ministry. (Isaiah 6:1) states ‘The year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted.’ This phrase is indirectly saying that with the death of Uzziah, Judah lost the king therefore losing the golden period of monarchy. At this time Isaiah saw the real king, seated on a throne, high and exalted, meaning that the prophet Joel lived during the Golden period of King Uzziahs’ fifty two years extended rule. During this time various aspects were expanded including militarily, commercially and economically. According to Sanford et al (1982, p.375) ‘the avid interest in Jerusalem, particularly the temple and its ceremonies, suggests that he was a temple prophet or at least a prophet who valued and frequented the temple.’ The content of the book of Joel consists of five main sections, the initial focus is on Judah in the historical present then it moves to the whole earth in the eschatological future. In (1:1-14) Joel writes about the locusts in the land. Throughout the land there was a terrible plague of locusts which led to a severe famine, because of this Joel sends word of warning to Judah. Houdmann (2002, no pagination) states ‘Joel appeals to all the people and the priests of the land to fast and humble themselves as they seek God’s forgiveness.’ In my opinion the main message of this passage would be for the people to respond and renew themselves for the day of judgement in which the Lord will come to our nation. There was very little hope for escape at this time, Joel seized upon the imagery of the locusts as a type of greater judgment which is the second...
Bibliography: Elwell, Walter A – Entry for Joel [Evangelical Dictionary of Theology] 1997 available at:
[Accessed 3rd December 2014]
John Piper, 1981: This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel - [online] available at: [Accessed 20th November 2014]
Michael Houdmann – Book of Joel (2002, no pagination) – [online] available at: [Accessed 23rd November 2014]
Old Testament Survey – William Sanford LaSor, David Alan Hubbard, Frederic William Bush (1982) Published 1996 William B. Eerdmans
Ronald T Hyman (p.223, 2011) The Prophecy of Joel: The Prophet’s message, belief’s and prophetic style [e-journal] available at: [Accessed 3rd December 2014]
The bible teaching ministry of Charles R Swindoll (1979) – [online] available at: [Accessed 20th November 2014]
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Crossway 2001.
Thomas J. Finley (no date) Joel, Amos and Obadiah (p.4) (p.73) - [online] available at: [Accessed 20th November 2014]
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