1BLOW THE trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on My holy Mount [Zion]. Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of [the judgment of] the Lord is coming; it is close at hand–
2A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and of thick mists and darkness, like the morning dawn spread upon the mountains; so there comes a [heathen, hostile] people numerous and mighty, the like of which has never been before and shall not be again even to the years of many generations.
3A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yes, and none has escaped [the ravages of the devouring hordes].
4Their appearance is like the appearance of horses, and like war horses and horsemen, so do they run.
5Like the noise of chariots on the tops of the mountains they leap–like the noise of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, like a mighty people set in battle array.
6Before them the peoples are in anguish; all faces become pale.
7They run like mighty men; they climb the wall like men of war. They march each one [straight ahead] on his ways, and they do not break their ranks.
8Neither does one thrust upon another; they walk every one in his path. And they burst through and upon the weapons, yet they are not wounded and do not change their course.
9They leap upon the city; they run upon the wall; they climb up on and into the houses; they enter in at the windows like a thief.
10The earth quakes before them; the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened and the stars withdraw their shining.
11And the Lord utters His voice before His army, for His host is very great, and [they are] strong and powerful who execute [God’s] word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible, and who can endure it?
12Therefore also now, says the Lord, turn and keep on coming to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning [until every hindrance is removed and the broken fellowship is restored].
13Rend your hearts and not your garments and return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness; and He revokes His sentence of evil [when His conditions are met].
14Who knows but what He will turn, revoke your sentence [of evil], and leave a blessing behind Him [giving you the means with which to serve Him], even a cereal or meal offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God?
15Blow the trumpet in Zion; set apart a fast [a day of restraint and humility]; call a solemn assembly.
16Gather the people, sanctify the congregation; assemble the elderly people, gather the children and the nursing infants; let the bridegroom [who is legally exempt from attending] go forth from his chamber and the bride out of her closet. [None is exempt from the humiliation.]
17Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; and let them say, Have pity and spare Your people, O Lord, and give not Your heritage to reproach, that the [heathen] nations should rule over them or use a byword against them. Why should they say among the peoples, Where is their God?
18Then was the Lord jealous for His land and had pity on His people.
19Yes, the Lord answered and said to His people, Behold, I am sending you grain and juice [of the grape] and oil, and you shall be satisfied with them; and I will no more make you a reproach among the [heathen] nations.
20But I will remove far off from you the northern [destroyer’s] army and will drive it into a land barren and desolate, with its front toward the eastern [Dead] Sea and with its rear toward the western [Mediterranean] Sea. And its stench shall come up [like that of a decaying mass of locusts, a symbol and forecast of the fate of the northern army in the final day of the Lord], and its foul odor shall come up, because [a]He has done great things [the Lord will have destroyed the invaders]!
21Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!
22Be not afraid, you wild beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness have sprung up and are green; the tree bears its fruit, and the fig tree and the vine yield their [full] strength.
23Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord, your God; for He gives you the former or early rain in just measure and in righteousness, and He causes to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain, as before.
24And the [threshing] floors shall be full of grain and the vats shall overflow with juice [of the grape] and oil.
25And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten–the hopping locust, the stripping locust, and the crawling locust, My great army which I sent among you.
26And you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord, your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you. And My people shall never be put to shame.
27And you shall know, understand, and realize that I am in the midst of Israel and that I the Lord am your God and there is none else. My people shall never be put to shame.
28And afterward I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.
29Even upon the menservants and upon the maidservants in those days will I pour out My Spirit.
30And I will show signs and wonders in the heavens, and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.
31The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.
32And whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered and saved, for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the remnant [of survivors] shall be those whom the Lord calls.
- Joel 2:20 The capitalization here is suppositional. Interpreters are divided as to whether it is the northern destroyer who has “done great things,” or the Lord; either, in different senses, is true. However, the latter view is strongly supported by the parallel phrase to the same effect in the next verse (Joel 2:21).