they scale walls like soldiers. 3
Each one proceeds on his course;
they do not alter 4 their path.
each of them marches straight ahead. 6
and do not break ranks.
they scale 10 its walls.
They climb up into the houses;
they go in through the windows like a thief.
the sky reverberates. 13
The sun and the moon grow dark;
the stars refuse to shine. 14
Surely his command is carried out! 19
Yes, the day of the Lord is awesome 20
and very terrifying – who can survive 21 it?
the yeleq-locust, the hasil-locust, and the gazam-locust –
my great army 25 that I sent against you.
1 sn Since the invaders are compared to warriors, this suggests that they are not actually human, but instead an army of locusts.
2 tn Heb “run.”
3 tn Heb “men of battle.”
4 tc The translation reads יְעַבְּתוּן (yÿ’abbÿtun) for MT יְעַבְּטוּן (yÿ’abbÿtun). The verb found in MT (עָבַט, ’avat) means “take or give a pledge” (cf. Deut 15:6, 8; 24:10) and does not fit the context. Some scholars have proposed various emendations: (1) יְעָוְּתוּן (yÿ’avvÿtun, “they make crooked”); (2) יָטּוּן (yattun, “they turn aside”); (3) יָעַוּוּן (ya’avvun, “they err”); and (4) יְעָבְּתוּן (adopted in the present translation) from the root I עָבַת (’avat, “to twist, pervert”) or II עָבַת (’avat, “to change, abandon”). KBL adopt the latter option, but the only biblical evidence for this is the problematic reference in Joel 2:7. Another option is to view it as a variant of the root חבט (khavat, “turn aside from”), a meaning attested for the Arabic cognate. The difference in spelling would be due to the interchange of the guttural letters khet (ח) and ayin (ע). This may lay behind LXX rendering ἐκκλίνωσιν (ekklinwsin; cf. Syriac Peshitta nstwn and Vg declinabunt). See S. F. Whitley, “‘bt in Joel 2, 7,” Bib 65 (1984): 101-2.
5 tn “each one does not crowd his brother.”
6 tn Heb “each warrior walks in his own course.”
7 tn Heb “they fall upon.” This line has been interpreted in two different ways: (1) although they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded (KJV), or (2) when they “burst through” the city’s defenses, they will not break ranks (RSV, NASB, NIV, NIrV).
8 tn Heb “missile” or “javelin.” This term appears to function as a synecdoche for the city’s defenses as a whole (cf. NASB, NIV, TEV). Some scholars instead understand the reference to be an aqueduct by which the locusts (or armies) entered the city.
9 tn Heb “dart about in.”
10 tn Or “they run upon its wall.”
11 sn Witnesses of locust invasions have described the visual effect of large numbers of these creatures crawling over one another on the ground. At such times the ground is said to appear to be in motion, creating a dizzying effect on some observers. The reference in v. 10 to the darkening of the sun and moon probably has to do with the obscuring of visibility due to large numbers of locusts swarming in the sky.
12 tn Heb “before it.”
13 tn Heb “trembles.”
14 tn Heb “gather their brightness.”
15 tn Heb “the
16 tn Heb “before his army.”
17 tn Heb “military encampment.”
18 tn Heb “very large.”
19 tn Heb “he makes his word powerful.”
20 tn Or “powerful.” Heb “great.”
21 tn Heb “endure.” The MT and LXX read “endure,” while one of the Qumran manuscripts (4QXXIIc) has “bear.”
22 tn Heb “I will restore to you the years.”
sn The plural years suggests that the plague to which Joel refers was not limited to a single season. Apparently the locusts were a major problem over several successive years. One season of drought and locust invasion would have been bad enough. Several such years would have been devastating.
23 sn The same four terms for locust are used here as in 1:4, but in a different order. This fact creates some difficulty for the notion that the four words refer to four distinct stages of locust development.
24 tn The term “your crops” does not appear in the Hebrew, but has been supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness.
25 sn Here Joel employs military language to describe the locusts. In the prophet’s thinking this invasion was far from being a freak accident. Rather, the Lord is pictured here as a divine warrior who leads his army into the land as a punishment for past sin and as a means of bringing about spiritual renewal on the part of the people.