One of the Minor Prophets, of uncertain date, but since the Second Temple was standing (Joel 1: 14; 2: 17) it may have been written in the 5th or 4th cent. BCE. The country had been ravaged by a plague of locusts which devoured everything in sight, even though they themselves were edible (Lev. 11: 21–2; Mark 1: 6). The prophet regards the disaster as foreshadowing the day of the Lord (Joel 2: 2) of which Amos (5: 18) and Isaiah (13: 6) had spoken. Joel summons the people to lament and suggests that God will then respond with an outpouring of his prophetic spirit ‘on all mankind’ (2: 28–9), for which Moses had prayed (Num. 11: 29) and which the Church later believed to be in principle fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2: 17). Israel’s enemies will be destroyed in the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3: 1–14).
Other prophets had spoken of the joy at the End when swords would be turned into ploughshares (Isa. 2: 4; Mic. 4: 3), but for Joel in the final decisive battle Yahweh will fight for the final victory, with ploughshares turned into swords (3: 10).