Can someone please explain to me what this book is about so I can write a review on it? Do you wanna know what the entire description of Joel is in the first section of its Wikipedia page? Here you go:
The Book of Joel is part of the Hebrew Bible. Joel is part of a group of twelve prophetic books known as the Twelve Minor Prophets.
Riiiigghhhht. Clearly I’m not the only one who has been left confused. Joel is 3 chapters long, which I thought would make it a super easy read (and review). Turns out I was sorely mistaken. I mean it was a quick read, sure, but that doesn’t mean I had any idea what was going on or what the point was. I still don’t.
O.k. let’s try to break this down and figure it out. Every one of these books of prophets so far has started off by calling out the setting. It tells you who the prophet is, and when they lived. That way you have enough context to know just exactly what the hell is going on and WHAT they are prophesying about. But Joel? Nope. Instead, here’s the intro we get: “1:1 The word of the Lord that came to Joel son of Pethuel.” O.k. well cool, thank goodness we at least know he’s Pethuel’s kid because without that we wouldn’t even kn- … wait. Who the hell is Pethuel?
Lord only knows (get it?). Anyway, after that gripping intro puts us on the edge of our seats and leaves us salivating for more, Joel is all just like, BOOM, prophecies. No context, just prophecies. Here’s my translation of the story that Joel chapter 1 seems to be telling, as far as I can figure it:
Hey dudes!! Listen up. Have you ever seen such craziness? Tell yo kids, tell yo grandkids, tell yo GREAT grandkids. LOCUSTS!! They gonna fuck yo shit UP!! It’s just gonna be all like, LOCUSTS EATING ALL YOUR STUFF, and then MORE locusts, and MORE until you ain’t got nothin’ left!!
That’s right, WAKE UP YOU DRUNK BASTARDS!! Wake up and weep like little crybabies into your beers bwahaha I snatched that shiz right up from your sloppy mouths (I swear to Great Odin’s raven this is not far off from the actual verse).
Bad guys … err … I guess locusts … have attacked and wasted my whole everything, man. They jacked it all. My house, my entertainment system, my vinyl collection, my garden, my trees, it’s all gone. You should mourn like a virgin in sackcloth grieving for the betrothed of her youth. (O.k. that is an exact quote of verse 8 because I really can’t say it any better than that. Maybe something like, “Cry like that 14 year-old girl who’s sobbing cause Zayn quit the band.”)
Don’t even try to give offerings to God right now guys, you’re cut off. And your youth pastors are bummed, dude. Everything’s ruined. The land, the fields, that sustainable garden you were working on, your favorite brewery downtown, it’s all jacked. All the farmers are hosed too so next time you make that trip to the farmers’ market, you’re in for some maj disappointment. Everyone in your town is no longer stoked. They are now officially bumming hardcore.
Here’s what you gotta do guys. Put on sackcloth. (I feel like I haven’t focused enough in my Bible reviews on the Bible’s favorite form of penance and mourning – sackcloth on the loins. It is used constantly and it’s kind of a tragedy that I haven’t had time to focus on it. It’s a confusing thing but it always makes me picture underwear made of burlap sack material. Comfy.) Anyway, priests, megachurch ministers, youth pastors alike, it’s go time. Grab your guitars and light up the worship stage cause it’s time to rock. Gather up the people, tell them to fast like they’ve never fasted before, and worship like it’s going out of style.
The day of the Lord is near but you better cry out to God because right now, things are not awesome. Everything’s jacked, we’re all screwed, and even the cows and sheep are crying because they have no pastures left. It’s desperate times, guys. Pray like your life depends on it, because, well, it does.
Chapter 2 is then kinda more of the same, but this time it presents the locusts as an army that destroys everything in its path – and then says that the army is God’s army. And then of course the usual, “repent repent and I’ll save you!!” (my paraphrasing). “…return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning” (verse 2:12).
2:13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
Riiiigggghhhht. Here’s where God comes back bearing flowers and crocodile tears, per usual:
2:25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you.
Uh huh. But of course it’s not long before God gets back to his bloodlust, only this time he’s gonna turn it on Israel’s enemies.
3:1 “In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem (finally we get a teeny bit of context), 3:2 I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.
And because these bastards sold the Israelites as slaves to other foreign nations …
3:7 “See, I am going to rouse them out of the places to which you sold them, and I will return on your own heads what you have done. 3:8 I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, a nation far away.” The Lord has spoken. 3:9 Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack.
And then it all ends with this:
3:18 “In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house and will water the valley of acacias. 3:19 But Egypt will be desolate, Edom a desert waste, because of violence done to the people of Judah, in whose land they shed innocent blood. 3:20 Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. 3:21 Shall I leave their innocent blood unavenged? No, I will not.”
Of course you won’t, God. Leaving shit unavenged is not how you roll. Avenging is your favorite pastime. If you had a Twitter profile, it’d be all like, “Love avenging. #HouseOfCards superfan. #Caskett 4-ever. The Lord is my name, smiting is my game. Gracious & compassionate. I’ll smite u then avenge u.”
This book is short and I’ve covered most of the interesting stuff already, so I’m not gonna bother with the good stuff and bad stuff sections. Instead I’ll just point out one last thing here that I found kind of interesting. The Book of Joel tells us twice that when the “great and dreadful day of The Lord” comes, you’ll know it, because “the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood.” So, it’ll be a solar eclipse … and/or a lunar eclipse. The funny/interesting thing about this is how insanely impressive and freaky these “signs from God” must have seemed back in the day when nobody knew what the hell was going on on up there. It’s just a reminder of how little these guys had to go on in terms of explaining why anything around them was happening. Hence, God being presented as such an asshole through all of the Old Testament … pretty much all they could do at this point was blame a deity in the sky for pretty much everything that happened. I mean you know, that’s my theory anyway.
So that’s Joel. Now that I’ve examined it thoroughly while writing this, I’ve realized that it’s pretty much the same as all the other books of the prophets. God is pissed at the people of Judah and Israel for misbehaving, God will inflict punishment, God will then save them all again and make everything awesome again for them. The End.
I mean hey, at least it was short. That’s what the 0.2 is for. Other than that, it’s all just like locusts and God going crazy as always. Next book up: Amos. 9 chapters, which I shouldn’t complain about, but everything will seem long now compared to Joel. See ya soon!