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For a nation[a] has invaded[b] my land,
mighty and without number.
Their teeth are lion’s teeth;
they have the fangs of a lioness.[c]
They[d] have destroyed my vines;[e]
they have turned my fig trees into mere splinters.
They have completely stripped off the bark[f] and thrown it aside;
the twigs are stripped bare.[g]

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  1. Joel 1:6 sn As becomes increasingly clear in what follows, this nation is to be understood figuratively. It refers to the locust invasion as viewed from the standpoint of its methodical, destructive advance across the land (BDB 156 s.v. גּוֹי 2). This term is used figuratively to refer to animals one other time (Zeph 2:14).
  2. Joel 1:6 tn Heb “has come up against.”
  3. Joel 1:6 tn Heb “its incisors are those of a lioness.” The sharp, cutting teeth are metonymical for the action of tearing apart and eating prey. The language is clearly hyperbolic. Neither locusts nor human invaders literally have teeth of this size. The prophet is using exaggerated and picturesque language to portray in vivid terms the enormity of the calamity. English versions vary greatly on the specifics. KJV has, “cheek teeth”; ASV, “jaw-teeth”; NAB, “molars”; and NASB, NIV, and NRSV, “fangs.”
  4. Joel 1:7 tn Heb “it.” The Hebrew describes the locust swarm as a collective singular throughout vv. 6-7. The translation opts for plural forms envisioning the many locusts at work in order to better fit the descriptions from an English point of view.
  5. Joel 1:7 tn Both “vines” and “fig trees” are singular in the Hebrew text, but are regarded as collective singulars. Either the prophet speaks in the first person singular about his own vine in order to personalize the description, or we hear the voice of God speaking, and “my vine” and “my fig tree” do double duty to both represent the foliage being destroyed as well as the nation.
  6. Joel 1:7 tn Heb “it has completely stripped it bare.”
  7. Joel 1:7 tn Heb “grow white.”sn Once choice leafy vegetation is no longer available to them, locusts have been known to consume the bark of small tree limbs, leaving them in an exposed and vulnerable condition. It is apparently this whitened condition of limbs that Joel is referring to here.