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  Discovery Box

Joel 1:8-13

A Call to Lament

1:8 Wail 1  like a young virgin 2  clothed in sackcloth,

lamenting the death of 3  her husband-to-be. 4 

1:9 No one brings grain offerings or drink offerings

to the temple 5  of the Lord anymore. 6 

So the priests, those who serve the Lord, are in mourning.

1:10 The crops of the fields 7  have been destroyed. 8 

The ground is in mourning because the grain has perished.

The fresh wine has dried up;

the olive oil languishes.

1:11 Be distressed, 9  farmers;

wail, vinedressers, over the wheat and the barley.

For the harvest of the field has perished.

1:12 The vine has dried up;

the fig tree languishes –

the pomegranate, date, and apple 10  as well.

In fact, 11  all the trees of the field have dried up.

Indeed, the joy of the people 12  has dried up!

1:13 Get dressed 13  and lament, you priests!

Wail, you who minister at the altar!

Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you servants of my God,

because no one brings grain offerings or drink offerings

to the temple of your God anymore. 14 

1 sn The verb is feminine singular, raising a question concerning its intended antecedent. A plural verb would be expected here, the idea being that all the inhabitants of the land should grieve. Perhaps Joel is thinking specifically of the city of Jerusalem, albeit in a representative sense. The choice of the feminine singular verb form has probably been influenced to some extent by the allusion to the young widow in the simile of v. 8.

2 tn Or “a young woman” (TEV, CEV). See the note on the phrase “husband-to-be” in the next line.

3 tn Heb “over the death of.” The term “lamenting” does not appear in the Hebrew, but is supplied in the translation for smoothness.

4 sn Heb “the husband of her youth.” The woman described here may already be married, so the reference is to the death of a husband rather than a fiancé (a husband-to-be). Either way, the simile describes a painful and unexpected loss to which the national tragedy Joel is describing may be compared.

5 tn Heb “house.” So also in vv. 13, 14, 16.

6 tn Heb “grain offering and drink offering are cut off from the house of the Lord,”

7 tn Heb “the field has been utterly destroyed.” The term “field,” a collective singular for “fields,” is a metonymy for crops produced by the fields.

8 tn Joel uses intentionally alliterative language in the phrases שֻׁדַּד שָׂדֶה (shuddad sadeh, “the field is destroyed”) and אֲבְלָה אֲדָמָה (’avlahadamah, “the ground is in mourning”).

9 tn Heb “embarrassed”; or “be ashamed.”

10 tn This Hebrew word וְתַפּוּחַ (vÿtappuakh) probably refers to the apple tree (so most English versions), but other suggestions that scholars have offered include the apricot, citron, or quince.

11 tn These words are not in the Hebrew text but are supplied in the translation for clarity.

12 tn Heb “the sons of man.”

13 tn Heb “put on.” There is no object present in the Hebrew text, but many translations assume “sackcloth” to be the understood object of the verb “put on.” Its absence in the Hebrew text of v. 13 is probably due to metrical considerations. The meter here is 3 + 3, and that has probably influenced the prophet’s choice of words.

14 tn Heb “for grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God.”

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