Judgment day for Israel’s enemies
Judah comes back to life1
After this, I’ll resurrect Judah and Jerusalem,
And give them back what they lost.
In Jehoshaphat Valley, I’ll judge them.
They scattered my people and took their land.
3They gambled to see who got my people.
And treated them as nothing but property.
They traded little boys for prostitutes.
They traded little girls for a drink of wine.
Coast is toast4Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia, why did you turn on me? Were you trying to pay me back for something I did? Well, it’s my turn now. And I’ll pay you back quickly. 5You took my gold, my silver, and all my treasures. And you took them back to your palaces.
6You not only sold citizens of Jerusalem and of Judah. You sold them to Greeks to ship them as far from their homes as possible.
7Look, I’m going to motivate them to come back. Once they’re here, they’ll give you a taste of what you gave them. 8I’m giving your children to those people of Judah. They’ll sell your kids to slave traders who will ship them far from home. That’s a promise from the LORD.
Make swords from plows9
Spread the word to the nations:
Mobilize your troops.
Get them armed and ready.
Then turn them loose into battle.
Beat your pruning blades into spears.
Tell those who think they’re weak
That God says they’re strong.
11Tell the nations to hurry.
Come from wherever you are.
LORD, bring your warriors, too.
12Tell the nations to come here.
We’ll meet in Jehoshaphat Valley.
That’s where I’ll pass judgment
On all Judah’s neighboring nations.
13Take your sickle to the field
For the grain is ripe.
Stomp on the grapes
For the winepress is full.
It’s full of the evil of the nations.
14Legions of multitudes gather as a crowd
Here in the valley of God’s judgment.
The Day of the LORD is almost here,
A day in the valley of God’s judgment.
15The sun and the moon go dark,
Stars fade to black.
16The LORD roars a loud voice from Mount Zion.
He speaks from the city of Jerusalem.
Creation shakes from the sky to the ground.
But the LORD’s people have nothing to fear.
God himself protects the people of Israel.
Conquered Judah returns from the dead17
You’ll finally discover that I’m the LORD your God.
I’m here in Zion, on my sacred hill.
No invaders will ever take it again.
Drips down Judah’s mountainsides.
Milk will flow in the Judean hills
And water in the streams below.
Then a spring will emerge from the people of God
In the land of Acacia Grove.
19Egypt will become a land of ghost towns.
Edom becomes desolate, too.
This is what they get for what they gave
By killing innocent people of Judah,
Slaughtering them in their own land.
20Judah will always have people.
Generations will always live in Jerusalem.
21I am the LORD.
I’m here on Mount Zion.
I will not acquit the guilty.
I’ll punish them for killing the innocent.
Joel gives us the Bible’s only reference to a “Jehoshaphat Valley.” As far as we know from Jerusalem’s history, there’s no such valley in the area. Some Bible scholars say it’s a metaphor because Jehoshaphat means the “LORD’s judgment.”
Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia were all coastal regions from which their people shipped merchandise abroad. Tyre and Sidon were city kingdoms in what is now Lebanon. Philistia was along Israel’s southwestern border, which includes the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
Alexander the Great didn’t put Greeks on the map until the 300s BC, more than two centuries after Babylon erased Judah from the map in 586 BC. So, this reference to the Greeks is one reason some scholars have argued that Joel wasn’t writing prophecy about the future, he was writing history as a poem. Yet other scholars say Greeks were alive and well long before Alexander. The prophet Ezekiel lived during the Babylonian Exile in the 500s BC, when Jews were deported and living in what is now Iraq. Ezekiel mentioned Tyre’s slave trade with Greeks (Ezekiel 27:13). Tyre was a coastal city in Phoenicia, now Lebanon. Most of the book of Joel, like most prophecies in the Bible, are written as Hebrew poetry. Hebrew poetry uses parallelism the way English poetry uses rhyme. In English, the end of the first line might rhyme with the last word in the second line. Hebrew poetry often emphasizes a subject by repeating the general idea of the first line, but saying it in a slightly different way in the second line.
Often called “plowshares,” these were pieces of metal attached to the front of what was often a wooden plow blade. The metal became the tip of the blade, which cut through the dirt and protected the wood from breaking—especially when the plow ran into a rock. Israel is a rocky land.
Often called “pruning hooks,” these long-handled farming tools had curved blades on the tip. The blade looked like sickles that farmers used to hand-cut stalks of grain such as wheat. To turn this into a spear, they would have to heat the metal and hammer it into a straight spear tip.
This last line is a guess, like those in other Bible versions. The original Hebrew phrase is unclear. That’s why there’s so much deviation among Bible translations when they reach this verse.
The “sacred hill” is Mount Zion. “Zion” an endearing nickname for Jerusalem and for the ridgetop on which the city is built, above the Kidron Valley, beside the Mount of Olives ridge.
The name in Hebrew is Shittim, which church folks wouldn’t want to read out loud in a worship service. It literally means “acacia trees,” or an acacia grove. Hence, “Acacia Grove.” You’re welcome. This grove on the Plain of Moab was the last Israelite camping spot before they crossed the Jordan River. Under Joshua’s command, they began capturing the highland areas of what is now Israel and Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territories. In a sense, when they left Acacia Grove, the nation of Israel came to life. They became a people with land to their name.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.