There are so many of them they are too numerous to count. 4
Their teeth are like those 5 of a lion;
they tear apart their prey like a lioness. 6
they have turned our 10 fig trees into mere splinters.
They have completely stripped off the bark 11 and thrown them aside;
1 sn As becomes increasingly clear in what follows, this nation is to be understood figuratively. It refers to the locust invasion as viewed from the standpoint of its methodical, destructive advance across the land (BDB 156 s.v. גּוֹי 2). This term is used figuratively to refer to animals one other time (Zeph 2:14).
2 tn Heb “has come up against.”
3 tn Heb “my.”
4 tn Heb “[It] is huge and there is not number.”
5 tn Heb “its teeth are the teeth of a lion.”
6 tn Heb “its incisors are those of a lioness.” The sharp, cutting teeth are metonymical for the action of tearing apart and eating prey. The language is clearly hyperbolic. Neither locusts nor human invaders literally have teeth of this size. The prophet is using exaggerated and picturesque language to portray in vivid terms the enormity of the calamity. English versions vary greatly on the specifics: KJV “cheek teeth”; ASV “jaw-teeth”; NAB “molars”; NASB, NIV, NRSV “fangs.”
7 tn Heb “it.” Throughout vv. 6-7 the Hebrew uses singular forms to describe the locust swarm, but the translation uses plural forms because several details of the text make more sense in English as if they are describing the appearance and effects of individual locusts.
8 tn Heb “my.”
9 tn Both “vines” and “fig trees” are singular in the Hebrew text, but are regarded as collective singulars.
10 tn Heb “my.”
11 tn Heb “it has completely stripped her.”
12 tn Heb “her.”
13 tn Heb “grow white.”
sn Once choice leafy vegetation is no longer available to them, locusts have been known to consume the bark of small tree limbs, leaving them in an exposed and vulnerable condition. It is apparently this whitened condition of limbs that Joel is referring to here.