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Joel 2:16-17

Context

2:16 Gather the people;

sanctify an assembly!

Gather the elders;

gather the children and the nursing infants.

Let the bridegroom come out from his bedroom

and the bride from her private quarters. 1 

2:17 Let the priests, those who serve the Lord, weep

from the vestibule all the way back to the altar. 2 

Let them say, “Have pity, O Lord, on your people;

please do not turn over your inheritance to be mocked,

to become a proverb 3  among the nations.

Why should it be said 4  among the peoples,

“Where is their God?”

1 sn Mosaic law allowed men recently married, or about to be married, to be exempt for a year from certain duties that were normally mandatory, such as military obligation (cf. Deut 20:7; 24:5). However, Joel pictures a time of such urgency that normal expectations must give way to higher requirements.

2 tn Heb “between the vestibule and the altar.” The vestibule was located at the entrance of the temple and the altar was located at the other end of the building. So “between the vestibule and the altar” is a merism referring to the entire structure. The priestly lament permeates the entire house of worship.

3 tn For the MT reading לִמְשָׁל (limshol, an infinitive, “to rule”), one should instead read לְמָשָׁל (lÿmashal, a noun, “to a byword”). While the consonantal Hebrew text permits either, the context suggests that the concern here is more one of not wanting to appear abandoned by God to ongoing economic depression rather than one of concern over potential political subjection of Israel (cf. v. 19). The possibility that the form in the MT is an infinitive construct of the denominative verb II מָשַׁל (mashal, “to utter a proverb”) does not seem likely because of the following preposition (Hebrew בְּ [bÿ], rather than עַל [’al]).

4 tn Heb “Why will they say?”



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