Joel in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

LITERATURE I. The Prophet. The Book of Joel stands second in the collection of the twelve Prophets in the Hebrew Canon. The name (yo'el), meaning "Yahweh is God," seems to have been common, as we find a dozen other persons bearing it at various periods of the Biblical history. Beyond the fact that he was the son of Pethuel, there is no intimation in the book as to his native place, date, or personal history; nor is he mentioned in any other part of the Old Testament; so that any information on these points must be matter of inference, and the consideration of them must follow some examination of the book itself. II. The Book. 1. Literary Form: This takes largely the form of addresses, the occasion and scope of which have to be gathered from the contents. There is no narrative, properly so called, except at one place (Joel 2:18), "Then was Yahweh jealous for his land," etc., and even there the narrative form is not continued. Yet, though the earlier portions at least may be the transcript of actual addresses in which the speaker had his audience before him, this would not apply to the later portions, in which also the direct address is still maintained (e.g. Joel 3:11, "Haste ye, and come, all ye nations round about"). This form of direct address is, indeed, characteristic of the style throughout (e.g. Joel 2:21; 3:4,9,13). There is this also to be said of its literary character, that "the style of Joel is bright and flowing," his "imagery and language are fine" (Driver, LOT); "his book is a description, clear, well arranged, and carried out with taste and vivacity, of the present distress and of the ideal future. Joel may be reckoned among the classics of Hebrew literature. The need of a commentary for details, as is the case with Amos and Hosea, is here hardly felt" (Reuss, Das Altes Testament).

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