Talmud this Shabbat: Joel – The Prophet of Disaster and Recovery


To appreciate Joel, the second of our twelve prophets, you have to know something about locust infestation.

Locusts—the damage they do, the terror they inspire, the forlornness they leave behind—are the central theme of his prophecy.

Take a look at these brief, evocative, and ghastly links showing the plague of locust infestation in Africa, in 2020.

YouTube:  video 1, video 2, video 3, video 4, video 5

Gross. Scary. Terrifying. And still a problem today. Not just a biblical relic. Locust infestation breaks a society, depleting it of crops, food, livelihood, hope.

How does a biblical prophet like Joel understand the plague of locusts? Joel is not a scientist. He does not understand how agricultural conditions, like ample vegetation and moist atmosphere, are conducive to massive locust breeding. Joel sees this plague in theological terms. Please read the attached texts. What is Joel’s explanation for how locusts come to be, and how is Israelite society to get rid of them? What was it about his message that earned him canonization in the Hebrew Bible? Is there any wisdom in Joel for us today as we contend with our own different infestation?

Is this prophet’s message of utter disaster, followed by a blessed and full recovery, credible and realistic? Does it give you any hope now?

See you Shabbat morning at 8:30. Gann Chapel Livestream.

Fondly,
Wes