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It will be[a] a day of dreadful darkness,[b]
a day of foreboding storm clouds,[c]
like blackness[d] spread over the mountains.
It is a huge and powerful army[e]
there has never been anything like it ever before,
and there will not be anything like it for many generations to come![f]

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  1. Joel 2:2 tn The phrase “It will be” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness and style.
  2. Joel 2:2 tn Heb “darkness and gloom.” These two terms probably form a hendiadys here. This picture recalls the imagery of the supernatural darkness in Egypt during the judgments of the exodus (Exod 10:22). These terms are also frequently used as figures (metonymy of association) for calamity and divine judgment (Isa 8:22; 59:9; Jer 23:12; Zeph 1:15). Darkness is often a figure (metonymy of association) for death, dread, distress and judgment (BDB 365 s.v. חשֶׁךְ 3).
  3. Joel 2:2 tn Heb “a day of cloud and darkness.”
  4. Joel 2:2 tc The present translation here follows the proposed reading שְׁחֹר (shekhor, “blackness”) rather than the MT שַׁחַר (shakhar, “morning”). The change affects only the vocalization; the Hebrew consonants remain unchanged. Here the context calls for a word describing darkness. The idea of morning or dawn speaks instead of approaching light, which does not seem to fit here. The other words in the verse (e.g., “darkness,” “gloominess,” “cloud,” “heavy overcast”) all emphasize the negative aspects of the matter at hand and lead the reader to expect a word like “blackness” rather than “dawn.” However, NIrV paraphrases the MT nicely: “A huge army of locusts is coming. They will spread across the mountains like the sun when it rises.”
  5. Joel 2:2 tn Heb “A huge and powerful people”; cf. KJV, ASV “a great people and a strong.” Many interpreters understand Joel 2 to describe an invasion of human armies, whether in Joel’s past or near future (e.g., the Babylonian invasion of Palestine in the sixth century b.c., depending on the dating of the book), or in an eschatological setting. Others view the language of this chapter referring to “people” and “armies” as a metaphorical description of the locusts of chapter one (cf. TEV “The great army of locusts advances like darkness”). Typically, “day of the Lord” language relates to a future event, so the present-tense language of chapter 1 may look ahead.
  6. Joel 2:2 tn Heb “it will not be repeated for years of generation and generation.”

    a day of darkness(A) and gloom,(B)
    a day of clouds(C) and blackness.(D)
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
    a large and mighty army(E) comes,
such as never was in ancient times(F)
    nor ever will be in ages to come.

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