Church Education Trust

Church and the Bible

TMP029 Joel

The Prophetic Book of Joel.


It was during the reign of Uzziah (792-740 B.C.) who was king of the Southern Kingdom or Judah, that a man was called by God to become a prophet, his name was Joel. Joel was born into a period of affulence which was being enjoyed by both the Northern & Southern Kingdoms.

These two kingdoms prospered to such a degree that the land mass which they occupied was the same size as the great kingdom which was ruled by King David. Edom a neighbouring nation was under the control of Uzziah to the extent of being able to carry out certain work at Ezion-Geber and at the sea port of Elath.(2 kings 14:22,2 chron. 26: 2) .

From the history of that period, the offical seal of King Uzziah and Jothan was used, trade routes which past by from Arabia were also under Uzziah's control.(2 chron 26:7).The inhabitants of the Transjordanian region paid taxes to Uzziahs government (v.8).Gath which was a Palestine city was also under Uzziah's leadership. During that period of prosperity, Uzziah strengthened the fortifications around the city of Jerusalem.(2 chron 26:9,15).

After contracting leprosy, Uzziah handed over his crown to his son Jothan who became the new leader but many still recognised the fact that although Uzziah was no longer king he had great infulence in the decisions that his son made. This is substanticated by the comments that Tiglath pileser made after he had invaded Syria, he singled him out as the leader of the anti -Assyrian coalition.

During Uzziah`s reign he had led his country well, for there was military and economic advancement. This has since been confirmed by archaeological excavations of Glueck in the Negev, also by the historical writtings in 2 Chron.26:10. So in this eight century period of prosperity Joel was called to minister.


There have been a few scholars who have doubted the validity of this book,especially the apocalyptic sections.Many scholars prefer to disregard the sections entitled, 'the day of the Lord' because they feel that they disturb the overall unity of this writting.

This opposition or disbelief in the unity of this writting is based on what some have suggested to be literary differences but if the book is carefully studied these so called inconsistencies cannot be proven.


Joel was the son of Pethuel (LXX Bethuel), the name Joel simply means 'Yahweh is God'. His home and ministry was in Judah, from his writtings it is clear that he is well aquainted with Judah's economy and religious scene.


The book of Joel is reasonably difficult to date, because in the book itself there is no really clear indication of when the book was written.There have been those who have believed that the book was written in the 9th century while others date it as late as the Maccabean period.So the dating systems can be basically divided up into two main catagories the post-exilic period and the pre-exilic period.

(a). Those who would advocate a post exilic period seem to be able to back up their theory from information gleaned from within the book itself.
It has been suggested that the book was written some time after Assyria and Babylonia had been replaced as world leaders According to the supporters of this theory, because Judah is mention but no reference is given to the Northern Kingdom, the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem,the priesthood, and the reference to the 'elders' of Isreal as opposed to the king of Isreal suggest a mid fourth century date.Included in this theory is the apocalyptic nature of Joel's theological writtings,this indicates, according to its supporters a late date.

(b). On the other hand there are those who hold to a pre-exilic date, some have suggested an eight or nineth century date. The exponents of this theory suggests that because Joel does not mention a king but mentions priests and elders this indicates the period of the reign of the boy king Joash (835-796).

From the history of that period we know that the boy king Joash was advised and helped by the high priest Jehoiada. It is also quite possible that the mentioning of the 'shedding of innocent blood in chapter 3:19 indicates the invasion of Sheshong and the revolt of Edom (10th century) during the reign of Jehoram who was King Joash's grand father.
(2 kings 8:20).

(c).There is another theory which is known as the pre-exilic view (7th century) which attempts to unite Joel's literary and religious forms with those of the prophet Jeremiah.

(d). Then there is the mid-pre-exilic view which dates this writting somewhere in the eight century B.C.This theory is based on three suppositions.

1......The failure of the writter to mention the might of Assyria, Babylonia and Persia would seem to indicate that these kingdoms were in a state of decline.The decline began after King Adad-Nirari the third, 782B.C. until the new king Tiglath Pileser the third was crowned in 745 B.C.

2.....Joel as a prophetic book is placed along side other 8th century prophets such as Hosea, Amos, Jonah which could indicate that he was a contemporary of them.

3.....Chapter 3 of this book mentions the names of six nations which points to an eight century date.The nations mentioned are Tyre-Sidon, Philistia, Greeks, Sabeans, Egypt & Edom. It only needs to be said that all of these nations made contrabutions to world government and economic developement at one time or the other but it is fair to suggest that the 8th century B.C. was the period were all of these nations were active together.

4.....Evidence gleaned from this book suggests that it was written in Uzziah's time, the mention of agriculture (1:420,2:18-27), debauchery of the society (1:5), the attack of locusts etc all find themselves included in the contemparory writters of Joel, such as Amos, Isaiah etc.

5.....Joel's literary themes are similar to those of the 8th.century period, linguistic formulas and special lexical emphases of that 8th century period are prevailant and common in this book. Joel's theological outlook complements other 8th century prophetic writtings.

Occasion and Purpose.

Now the background to this book is one of the nations crops being devastated by a plague of locusts.The crops had failed ad this had a deep signifance economically.

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