The Jubilance of Joel 1:5-19
5 Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
Apparently Judah was drunk on health, wealth and prosperity and self-sufficiency, which made them oblivious to their sins which brought about the judgment of famine by locust.
Though I’m sure literal drunkenness was only a small fragment of a conglomeration of sins which brought about such judgment Judah was about to wake up to. The Full Life Study Bible comments, “Drunkenness is the only specific sin mentioned in Joel. Perhaps its inclusion indicates that the peoples moral sensitivity to sin and evil was dulled that they could not recognize when they were offending the holiness of God.” Symbolically it is an excellent point about drunkenness, that it dulls the senses, but it can also be pointed out that the state of drunkenness causes one to loose practically all inhibitions and causes one to say and do things they wouldn’t normally do.
Possibly this issue of drunkenness is an allusion to a practice of pagan religions of Canaan, by eating greens no less (reason for locusts?) getting drunk and defecating before idols and or have sex with cult prostitutes.
The verse seems to indicate these locusts not only devastated their food supply, but possibly kicked off an economic recession and the intoxicating effect of prosperity they enjoyed wore off as if someone snatched the skin of wine from Judah’s hand, gave them a sobering slap in the face and a douse of ice cold water. On the other hand we could interpret this as that the locust, famine and economic crisis was seen as a coincidence of nature and not an act of God and thus they were drunk with numbness of hard luck.
6 For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.
The weakened state of famine and economic crisis made Judah easy pickings for an invading nation to fall upon them. Some say the locust are likened to a nation with an army without number, others such as Abarbanel interprets the four stages of locust allegorically as the four conquerors of Judah which was Babylonia, Persia, Greece and Rome.
God frequently used other nations to chaste Judah and Israel depending on which date you choose to believe for the writing of this book; pre-exilic which would be dealing with Babylon and post-exilic the future conquer by the Greco-Syrians in the time of the Maccabees.
As was mentioned earlier, recall the similarities to the locust prior to the Exodus and the future plague of locust mentioned in revelation.
Rev. 9:7-8 And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
7 He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
“My vine” is a Scriptural idiom referring to God’s People. The “fig tree” could possibly refer to the purpose of the plague which is to purge the sin from Judah because according to Jewish tradition It was the fig tree that was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil which Adam and Eve ate from and thus the only vegetation willing to surrender its leaves to cover the first couples newly discovered nakedness. Is it a wonder that Yeshua HaMoshiach cursed such a tree?
Matt. 21:19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
But Yeshua also had this to say about Israel and the fig tree.
Matt. 24:32-35 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Referring to judgment and His coming to harvest His people.
Thus their resolve to indulge in sin laid bare, stripped of foliage and bark by the locust which will humble them to the pint of repentance.
8 Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.
Though the plague meant to break Judah, she is told to lament over her sin which brought about such a judgment, like a virgin bride who dies before the consummation of the marriage.
9 The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD's ministers, mourn.
Due to this famine, there were no crops or vineyards in which the people of Israel could offer offerings and thus the Priesthood who retained a portion of such offerings were feeling the pangs of hunger and thus causing the Levites to mourn.
10 The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.
This verse simply details the devastation by the army of locusts.
11 Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished. 12 The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.
All Judean Farmers, Agriculturists, owners and keepers of vineyards and orchards are called to weep and mourn due to the fact that the locust left nothing to tend or harvest. The famine by locust is testimony to Judah’s sin of disobedience to Torah (Deut. 27-28).
13 Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God. 14 Sanctify ye 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 unto the LORD, 15 Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
The only way to resend the judgment that has befell Judah and bring glory back to the Priesthood and Zion is to go the way of the Ninevites, repent by prayer and fasting with sackcloth and ashes. The sin of Judah has brought Ichabod (departing Glory) upon the God’s House.
This solemn assembly could be referring to the Day of Atonements (Yom Kippur) on which such activities mentioned here are performed. Day of Atonements is also referred to the idiomatic title “Day of the Lord.” Such a day of judgment and it is believed that on Yom Kippur the books in heaven are opened and the fate of people are sealed for an entire year, who will live, who will die, who will prosper and who will flounder. Even the Brit in the Chadasha it calls us to prepare and never neglect such a day.
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Lev 16:29 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls,
Lev 16:31 It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.
Lev 23:27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
This is the traditional Jewish understanding of affliction of the soul during Yom Kippur.
1) No Eating and Drinking - From sunset on the eve of Yom Kippur until nightfall the next day it is forbidden to eat or drink. Life over Law: If one has a medical condition which fasting would cause harm the Rabbi’s tell us that it is sin if that person does not eat. To save a life the Talmud says one may even eat something treif!
• Girls below the age of 12 and boys below the age of 13 are not required to fast.
2) No Washing - During the fast, one may not wash for pleasure.
• If one is dirty, one is permitted to wash away the dirt.
• Upon rising in the morning and after using the bathroom.
• One may wash one's hands when preparing food.
3) No Anointing - It is forbidden to anoint oneself with oil, thus the use of perfumes, make-up, suntan lotion, and other such items is prohibited.
4) No Wearing Leather Shoes - During the fast it is forbidden to wear leather shoes; because leather was seen as a comfort and luxury in ancient times. Some people wear only socks, but others wear shoes of canvas or other non-leather materials.
5) No Marital Relations - It is forbidden to have marital relations during Yom Kippur
This is to mimic the devastation of a life altering tragedy, such as a personal or national crisis or tragedy, like the death of your family, or something like what happened on 9/11.
This is to remove all typical daily distractions and preoccupations from our lives for one day.
So as to cause us to reflect on the things that is truly important in life; to take stock of our lives. To mourn how far off course we have become in this past year.
To realize and appreciate what one has before it is gone.
• Our Faith
To make Teshuvah, to repent, to do a 180 and return to the Source of Life, HaShem and His Torah; to dedicate ourselves anew to it.
We are to make ourselves desolate. Hollow and empty like the Shofar so that HaShem can fill us up with His Ruach, His Spirit that is all important and gives Life.
When we do this our pet sins, selfishness and things we thought were so important become so trivial and no longer matter. Only that of truth and eternal value remains.
But the Torah seems to contradict Itself. How can one be afflicted and rest simultaneously?
We afflict because it is commanded, we can do this restfully because we have the God given time to do so. Also, we rest in the assurance that having done this in obedience that we are sealed in the Sefer Chaim (Book of Life) for another year.
Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement also incorporates what is and will be the Battle of Armageddon when evil once and for all vanquished by Messiah and His heavenly army of saints (Zeph. 1:14-18).
16 Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?
Granted, time is relative in our view when referenced to God, but the hint of this verse along with historical record would suggest that the Day of the LORD/Judgment is soon to come when the Tabernacle/Temple sacrifices cease and even today theologians, pastors and Rabbis proclaim that due to the absence of the Temple and an operational priesthood, the Day of the LORD, Messiah’s return is at hand.
17 The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered. 18 How do the beasts groan! The herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.
More details of the devastating famine due to the plague of locust.
I would like to quote from the Stones Tanak because the verse is rendered a little differently with accompanying notes.
“Cask of wine have become moldy under the lids (because they were not refilled); stone houses are laid desolate and silos destroyed, for the grain is withered.”
19 O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field. 20 The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.
This records the Prophets prayer of lament regarding the famine brought on by the locust which was a divine judgment from God due to Judah’s disregard for the Torah.