Joel 1 (King James Version)
Joel 1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.
The Word of the LORD is believed by some to mean that God came in the form of what would be Messiah Yeshua and personally deliver the prophecy to the Prophet, for Yeshua the Messiah is the Living manifestation of the Written Torah, which was all they had for Scripture at that time.
Pethuel means, “Face or Vision of God.”
Based on I Samuel 8:2 a Midrash says that Joel was the son of the Prophet Samuel, which means, “Name of God” or “Asked of God” (I Samuel 2:20).
No doubt Samuel was a mighty Prophet and received mighty wisdom of God and would have earned the name Pethuel, but to agree with Jewish tradition, to say Samuel’s Joel was the same Joel who penned the words of the Book that bears his name is unlikely. As they say you have two Jews and you get three opinions. Now, an interesting thing is that many believe he was of a priestly linage on account of his knowledge of Zion and the Priesthood, and Samuel was a Priest at the Tabernacle at Shiloh. Regardless of who Pethuel was and who Joel was the son of, the Prophet says that his words are directly from ADONAI and despite how long ago this was written, all prophetic writings have a past, present and future fulfillment and thus Joel’s words have relevance for all believers, for all times.
2 Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?
We will discover that catastrophes, plagues, and natural disasters can be of divine origins. We find out further in Taanis 5a of the Talmud it explains that Joel was sent to talk more about the seven year famine Elisha spoke about.
II Kings 8:1 Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.
According to this, this will be a famine due to locust. Joel implores the people to repent and cry out to God for help to avert such a disaster that comes as a judgment.
What was happening was so unusual and calamitous that nothing like it had ever been seen in this generation or the prior ones.
3 Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.
This event, this famine due to locusts would be of such a magnitude that it would be the talk of generations to come. It would be a natural disaster with a divine origin, divine purpose and meaning behind it, that would find its meaning within all generations.
4 That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.
The palm worm, locust, cankerworm and caterpillar are not separate insects, but the four stages of locust. The Stones Tanak breaks it down as cutting- locust, abundant-locust, chewing-locust and demolishing-locust. It was the event that brought about the famine.
The Key Word Study Bible informs us, “It is assumed that these were desert locust, a type of locust that devastated Palestine as recently as A.D. 1915… the swarm of insects will devour any green plants in its path. The plague of locusts (Ex. 10:1-19) had a significant impact on Egypt. The servants claimed that Egypt was “destroyed” (Ex. 10:7), and even Pharaoh called the plague “this death” (Ex. 10:7). Just as the plague of locust mocked the Egyptian’s pride in fertility of their land, so this invasion would rebuke God’s people, who had forgotten that from God came their prosperity (se Deut. 6:10-12; 8:10-14, 17-20).”
The Eighth Plague: Locust (Arbeh)
This plague incapacitated the gods Nepri, the grain god, Ermutet, goddess of child birth and crops, Anubis, the jackal headed guardian of the field god, and Osiris the god of agriculture, and Seth god of the crops.
Locust ate whatever the hail and lightning left behind. But this plague was actually a blessing to the Egyptians. They had run out of food, their animals were sick and their crops were destroyed, so when these locusts came, the Egyptians knew that they were eatable. Hey, John the Baptist wasn’t the first to eat Locust!
The plague reminds me of a “punishment” that we parents sometimes dish out to our kids when we get frustrated with them and want them out of our sight lest we strangle them. “Go to your room!” Now come on! Most kids don’t care if they get sent to their room, which is where they go when they get mad at us anyway followed by the slam of the door. Plus they have TV’s, DVD’s, CD’s, MP3’s, PS2’s, a computer, stereo, and a phone in their room. Heck what else does a teenager need!? Similar to the Egyptians, God says, “Okay I’ll send locusts to destroy the rest of your food supply.” “No biggie,” says the Egyptian’s, “we’ll just eat the locust.” “Now I can’t have you enjoy this plague.” G-d says, and so He takes them away, even out of their very mouths!
And God turned a very strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Sea of Reeds; there remained not one locust in all the borders of Egypt (10:19)
When the locusts first came, the Egyptians rejoiced and said: "Let us gather them and fill barrels with them." Then did God say: Wretches! Will you rejoice with the plagues I have brought upon you?" Immediately, "God turned a very strong west wind... there remained not one locust in all the borders of Egypt" -- even those that had been pickled in their pots and barrels took wing and fled. -- Midrash Rabbah
Now get this, hail and locust may seem unrelated scientifically, but the hail actually sets the stage for the plague of locust, because locusts breed in wet soil, and the hail melted and left the ground just right for breeding. It is a known scientific fact that they fly with the wind, and Exodus 10:13 points this out. A modern invasion of locusts occurred in 1996-1998 in the countries along the Red Sea, it developed as a result of a cyclone in June of 1996 and heavy rain in November.
This Invasion of Locust in the book of Exodus most likely occurred around February-March which corresponds to the Biblical months of Adar-Nissan (Abib/Aviv).
Now Jasher says it just wasn’t one species of locust:
Jasher 80:33-35 And the Lord sent and brought numerous locusts into Egypt, the Chasel, Salom, Chargol, and Chagole, locusts each of its kind, which devoured all that the hail had left remaining. Then the Egyptians rejoiced at the locusts, although they consumed the produce of the field, and they caught them in abundance and salted them for food. And the Lord turned a mighty wind of the sea which took away all the locusts, even those that were salted, and thrust them into the Red Sea; not one locust remained within the boundaries of Egypt.
The Midrash describes these locusts as aggressive and uncannily similar to those described in the book of Revelation.
This almost made Pharaoh give in but God allowed his heart to harden.
God did not harden Pharaoh’s heart in such a way as to extinguish free will. He allowed his heart to be hardened by returning his mind to a state before the plagues ensued so as to calmly weigh out the matter in his mind and make his choice; which was not a choice of arm twisting as a result of the consequences of the plague.
We also see an Army of Locust show up in the book of Revelation:
Revelation 9:1-6 “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.” (KJV)