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A Call to Lament

Wail[a] like a young virgin[b] clothed in sackcloth,
lamenting the death of[c] her husband to be.[d]
No one brings grain offerings or drink offerings
to the temple[e] of the Lord anymore.[f]
So the priests, those who serve the Lord, are in mourning.
10 The crops of the fields[g] have been destroyed.[h]
The ground is in mourning because the grain has perished.
The fresh wine has dried up;
the olive oil languishes.

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  1. Joel 1:8 sn The verb is feminine singular, raising a question concerning its intended antecedent. A plural verb would be expected here, the idea being that all the inhabitants of the land should grieve. Perhaps Joel is thinking specifically of the city of Jerusalem, albeit in a representative sense. The choice of the feminine singular verb form has probably been influenced to some extent by the allusion to the young widow in the simile of v. 8.
  2. Joel 1:8 tn Or “a young woman” (TEV, CEV). See the note on the phrase “husband to be” in the next line. The word בְּתוּלָה (betulah) can be used as a technical term for “virgin” but often just refers to a young woman, perhaps to a woman who has not had children.
  3. Joel 1:8 tn Heb “over the husband of her youth.” The death of the husband is implied by the wailing.
  4. Joel 1:8 sn Heb “the husband of her youth.” The woman described here may already be married, so the reference is to the death of a husband rather than a fiancé (a husband-to-be). Either way, the simile describes a painful and unexpected loss to which the national tragedy Joel is describing may be compared.
  5. Joel 1:9 tn Heb “house.” So also in vv. 13, 14, 16.
  6. Joel 1:9 tn Heb “grain offering and drink offering are cut off from the house of the Lord.”
  7. Joel 1:10 tn Heb “the field has been utterly destroyed.” The term “field,” a collective singular for “fields,” is a metonymy for crops produced by the fields.
  8. Joel 1:10 tn Joel uses intentionally alliterative language in the phrases שֻׁדַּד שָׂדֶה (shuddad sadeh, “the field is destroyed”) and אֲבְלָה אֲדָמָה (ʾavelah ʾadamah, “the ground is in mourning”).

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