The structure and meaning of the locust plague oracles in Joel 1,2-2,17

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This article discusses the structure and meaning of the oracles in Joel 1, 2-2, 17 that deal with the locust plague and its disastrous effects. It is proposed that the text is divided into 4 oracles that are designed according to one principal format, and combined together in a rhetorical structure in which each one is more revealing than the one preceding it. The structure of the oracles, which shows a progression from one to the next, demonstrates the main purpose of the oracles, which is to bring the people to pray to God for the removal of the plague. A prayer of this sort appears in the fourth oracle (2, 17). This purpose exposes the problem the prophet faced: the people's general abstention from prayer. This refraining from prayer is typical of the exilic period, when the people thought that they had been abandoned by God and so there was no possibility of appealing to Him. Joel seeks to instill in the people the notion that the option of prayer does exist and is efficacious even in the times of darkness and despair through which the people are going.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-416
Number of pages16
JournalZeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010


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