Study Guide

The Twelve Minor Prophets Joel: A Hard Day’s Night

Joel: A Hard Day’s Night

  • The prophet Joel turns from graphic sex to destructive forces of nature: a plague of locusts, a blinding eclipse, raging fire, earthquakes--”basically,” in the immortal words of Team America, “all the worst parts of the Bible.”
  • Alas--or as the prophets say, woe!--the book does not say who was king at the time Joel is prophesying, but various scholars have argued that the book could have been written somewhere between the eighth and third centuries BCE. What we do know is that Joel is Hebrew for “Yah is God,” not to be confused with Jor-El, which means “the father of Superman.” Nonetheless, Italian renaissance art historians have commented that Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting of Joel bears an uncanny resemblance to Marlon Brando in Superman II.
  • According to scholars who hold that Joel was historically the first book of the Minor Prophets, Joel 1:14 marks the earliest use of “the day of the Lord” to mean a day of judgment. In 2:1, Joel describes the day of the Lord as a day of darkness, which many believe to be a reference to one of the solar eclipses that occurred in 784 and 763 BCE. If God’s honor code requires prophets to footnote their original sources, Joel is in some serious trouble.

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