Because nothing is known of Joel beyond what the opening verse of his book states, he has been styled “The Anonymous Prophet.” Scripture is silent as to his birthplace, parentage and rank. All we know is that he was a son of Pethuel, or Bethuel as the LXX expresses it. But who Pethuel is no one knows. Its meaning, however, is significant, “vision of God,” and springs from a word implying “to open the eyes.”
Joel was a common name among the Hebrews and is still so among the Orientals. The use of his name as “the son of Pethuel” was necessary to distinguish him from the other Joels we have considered. It would seem as if his home was in Jerusalem or its immediate neighborhood. Thus he speaks repeatedly of Zion (Joel 2:1, 15, 23; 3:16, 17, 21), the children of Zion (Joel 2:23), Judah and Jerusalem (Joel 2:32; 3:1-20), the children of Judah and Jerusalem (Joel 3:6, 8, 19).
It may be that Joel was a Jew of Jerusalem, and owing to his peculiar mention of priests, a priest-prophet himself (Joel 1:9, 10). His references to the Temple and its worship are frequent (Joel 1:9-16; 2:14, 17; 3:18). It is also likely that he lived and prophesied in the early days of Joash and Jehoida, 870-865 b.c., while the victory of Jehoshaphat was fresh in the nation’s memory. For this reason he is termed “The Pioneer Prophet.”
Dr. A. B. Simpson says,
Amos begins his longer message with a direct quotation from Joel, as a sort of text for his whole book. Isaiah expands the thoughts which Joel uttered into the larger and loftier message of his pen. Peter, on the Day of Pentecost quotes the prophecy of Joel as the very foundation of the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, which had occurred and which was to continue through the whole New Testament age. And even the great Apocalypse of John is but a larger unfolding of the promise of the Lord’s coming which Joel gave in brief outline.
What is God’s call to us through the Prophet Joel?