The Berean Expositor
Volume 50 - Page 133 of 185
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similar sound or they may rhyme. In this passage there is the repetition of words similar
in sound but different in meaning. This can be termed paronomasia! Thus the opening
words of verse 10 are, in English, "The field is wasted". In Hebrew field is sadeh and
wasted is shadad. Thus our readers may get the picture and will, at the same time,
appreciate the impossibility of translating such a passage and keeping that figure of
speech. However the following two translations of Joel 1: 10-12 make moving reading:
"The fields are blasted,
"The fields are ruined,
the land woe begone,
the ground dried up:
for the corn is wasted,
the grain is destroyed
the wine crop fails,
the new wine is dried up,
the fresh oil dries up.
the oil fails.
The farmer is downcast,
Despair, you farmers,
the vine-dresser wails,
wail, you vine growers;
for the wheat and the barley,
grieve for the wheat and the barley,
the harvest of the field
because the harvest of the field
is ruined,
is destroyed.
the vines are languishing,
The vine is dried up
the fig trees wither,
and the fig tree withered;
pomegranate, palm
the pomegranate, the palm
and apple,
and the apple tree--
every tree of the field
all the trees of the field--
is a-drooping,
are dried up.
and joy fades from men"
Surely the joy of the people
is withered away" (N.I.V.)
In these verses we see why the offering cannot be brought to the priests and the
conclusion of verse 12 is indeed touching--"joy fades from men".
Joel 1: 13. It is now the priest's turn and they are called to lament. These ministers of
the altar (Exod. 30: 20) are called to howl. These ministers of God are called to lie in
sackcloth all night, maybe to exemplify David in II Sam. 12: 16, but sackcloth was a
standard symbol of mourning (Joel 1: 8). Here the priests are told to lament and howl
because they can no longer perform their duties. They can no longer serve the Lord in
the way He had instructed. They cannot accept the people's offerings to God because
there is nothing to offer. The land gives to the people the offerings and the priests accept
from the people the offerings. Thus, in the structure, the land's call to lament and the
priest's call to lament are paralleled. They are interlinked. Both priests and land lament
because there are no offerings.
With this sorry state of affairs we finish this section. It has been a long one and a
somewhat depressing one but throughout it all one can sense that the Lord is in control.
Its His land that is called to lament. It is His vine which is laid waste, His fig tree laid
bare and the offerings which He instituted have been cut off but,
"who knoweth if He will return and repent and leave a blessing behind Him, even a meat
(meal) offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God" (Joel 2: 14, A.V.).