Monday, August 13, 2018

The Jubilance of Joel: Introduction

The Jubilance of Joel:

Joel, or seeing as there is no “J” in Hebrew, “Yoel,” meaning, “Yah is Elohim” or “YaHWeH is God,” was a Prophet called to prophesy against the Southern Kingdom of Judah. His one line linage in Joel 1:1 doesn’t give us a lot to go on in trying to figure out who Joel was. The context of his book leads many to believe he may have been a Levite due to his familiarity with the Priesthood and the numerous references to the Temple and Zion. And because there is no reference to a king or watershed post event in Judah’s history we must play detective to determine when Joel prophesied. He mentions enemies such as the Phoenicians, Philistines, Egyptians and Edomites which when knowing when these people existed and wielded some power, gives us a clue to when Joel ministered to Judah. And because of Joel’s position in the collection of the Twelve Prophets, or the “Minor Prophets” of the Tanak (Old Testament) as Christians choose to refer to them, causes us to believe that the Jews who compiled the collection together believed it to be the oldest book addressed to the Kingdom of Judah. Considering the content of the book, full of references to the Priesthood and the Temple, it would make sense this prophecy was written during the reign of Johash, who was crowned king as a young boy and was under the guardianship of the Kohen Ha Gadol (High Priests) Jehoiada (II Kings 11:21). An invasion of locust and drought are mentioned, which further helps us date the writing. Also, Joel’s theme and literary style closely resembles the prophetic writings of 8th century Prophets like Isaiah and Amos, moreso than Prophets who prophesied after the exile such as Zechariah and Malachi. Thus, taking all these factors into consideration we can safely assume that Joel was written approximately 835-830 BCE in the 9th century. In Halachos Gedolos in the Seder Olam, says that Joel prophesied with Nahum and Habakkuk during King Manasseh’s reign (697- 642 BCE) In the Talmud, Taanis 5a it says Joel was a contemporary of Elisha (892-832 BCE) and based on I Samuel 8:2 the Midrash Rabba says Joel was the son of the Prophet Samuel which would then put Joel in the 10th century.

Joel, in Christian renderings has three chapters and the Hebrew Scriptures it is broken down into four and so due to the public domain status of the King James Version, I will use it.