Old Testament

The prophecy of Joel uses a locust plague to foreshadow the judgment that is coming on the Day of the Lord. In the context of Israel's history, the locust plague is a symbol of the attacks of Judah's enemies. Judah's neighbors were hostile to the people of Israel throughout their history, but this hatred was especially vicious at the time of the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, which may be the approximate date of the writing of this book, but the book of Joel contains no specific internal evidence to date the time of its composition. Nothing is known about the life of the prophet Joel.
11The word of the Lord that came to Joel son of Pethuel.
Warnings and Descriptions of the Locust Plague
2Hear this, you elders.
Listen, all of you who live in the land.
Has anything like this ever happened in your days
or in the days of your fathers?
3Tell it to your children,
and let your children tell it to their children,
and their children to the next generation.
4What the grasshoppers have left, the swarming locusts have eaten.
What the swarming locusts have left, the young locusts have eaten.
What the young locusts have left, the mature locusts have eaten.[]
5Wake up, you drunkards, and weep![]
Wail, all you wine drinkers,
because of the sweet wine[] that has been snatched from your mouth.
6A nation has come up into my land, powerful and without number.
It has teeth like a lion and fangs like a lioness.
7It has devastated my vines and shredded my fig trees.
It has completely stripped off their bark and thrown it aside,
so that their branches are bare and white.
8Grieve like a virgin dressed in sackcloth,
who grieves for the husband[] of her youth.
9Grain offerings and drink offerings are cut off
from the house of the Lord.
The priests are in mourning,
those who minister in the presence of the Lord.
10The fields are devastated. The soil mourns.
The grain is devastated.
The new wine has run dry. The olive oil runs out.
11Hang your heads, you farmers.
Wail, you vine growers, for the wheat and for the barley,
because the grain harvest has died in the field.
12The vine has dried up, and the fig tree has withered.
The pomegranate, the date palm, and the apple tree—
all the trees in the countryside have dried up,
and joy has dried up for all the people.
13Put on sackcloth, you priests, and lament.
Wail, you who minister in front of the altar.
Come, spend the night in sackcloth,
you who minister before my God,
because the grain offerings and drink offerings
are being held back from the house of your God.
14Set aside a day of fasting. Call a solemn convocation.
Summon the elders and everyone who lives in the land
to come to the house of the Lord your God.
Cry out to the Lord!
Announcement of the Day of the Lord
15How terrible that day will be!
Yes, the Day of the Lord is near.
It will come like destruction from the Almighty.[]
16Hasn't the food been cut off right before our eyes?
Happiness and celebration are cut off from the house of our God.
17The planted seed is dried up under the clods of earth.[]
The storehouses are in ruins.
The granaries have been broken down, because the grain has dried up.
18Listen to how the cattle bellow!
The herds of cattle are milling around in confusion, because they have no pasture.
Even the flocks of sheep are suffering punishment.
Closing Prayer
19To you, O Lord, I call,
because fire has consumed the grazing lands in the wilderness,[]
and flames have burned up all the trees in the countryside.
20Even the animals in the countryside pant for you.
The streams of water have dried up,
and fire has consumed the grazing lands in the wilderness.


  • 1:4 The precise distinctions between the four Hebrew terms for locusts are not certain. The terms may refer to types of locusts or to different stages of the locusts' life cycle (though the terms do not occur in the same order in 1:4 and 2:25). Etymologically the four terms seem to refer to gnawers, swarmers, hoppers, and destroyers. In any case, the point of the heaping up of terms is total destruction.
  • 1:5 Or howl
  • 1:5 New or sweet wine is not unfermented grape juice, but wine that is still sweet because it has not yet been soured by continued fermentation.
  • 1:8 The husband is the young man to whom the virgin had been pledged in marriage as his legal wife, but with whom she had not yet lived.
  • 1:15 In Hebrew the words destruction and Almighty have a similar sound and create a play on words.
  • 1:17 The meaning of this line is uncertain.
  • 1:19 Or pastures in the open range