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Joel 4 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 4

The Lord’s Case Against the Nations

For see, in those days and at that time,
    when I restore the fortunes
    of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will gather all the nations
    and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.[a]
There I will enter into judgment with them
    on behalf of my people, my heritage, Israel;
Because they scattered them among the nations,
    they divided up my land.
For my people they cast lots,
    trading a young boy for the price of a prostitute,
    exchanging a young girl for the wine they drank.

[b]Moreover, what are you doing to me, Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are, I will very quickly turn your deeds back upon your own head. You took my silver and my gold and brought my priceless treasures into your temples! You sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, taking them far from their own country! Look! I am rousing them from the place to which you sold them, and I will turn your deeds back upon your own head. I will sell your sons and daughters to the Judahites who will sell them to the Sabeans,[c] a distant nation. The Lord has spoken!

The Nations Destroyed

Announce this to the nations:
    Proclaim a holy war!
    Alert the warriors!
Let all the soldiers
    report and march!
10 [d]Beat your plowshares into swords,
    and your pruning knives into spears;
    let the weakling boast, “I am a warrior!”

11 Hurry and come, all you neighboring peoples,
    assemble there!
Bring down, Lord, your warriors!
12 Let the nations rouse themselves and come up
    to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
For there I will sit in judgment
    upon all the neighboring nations.

13 Wield the sickle,
    for the harvest is ripe;
Come and tread,
    for the wine press is full;
The vats overflow,
    for their crimes are numerous.[e]
14 Crowds upon crowds
    in the Valley of Decision;
For near is the day of the Lord
    in the Valley of Decision.
15 Sun and moon are darkened,
    and the stars withhold their brightness,
16 The Lord roars from Zion,
    and from Jerusalem raises his voice,
The heavens and the earth quake,
    but the Lord will be a shelter for his people,
    a fortress for the people of Israel.

A Secure Future for Judah

17 Then you will know[f] that I the Lord am your God,
    dwelling on Zion, my holy mountain;
Jerusalem will be holy,
    and strangers will never again travel through her.
18 [g]On that day
    the mountains will drip new wine,
    and the hills flow with milk,
All the streams of Judah
    will flow with water.
A spring will rise from the house of the Lord,
    watering the Valley of Shittim.
19 Egypt will be a waste,
    Edom a desolate wilderness,
Because of violence done to the Judahites,
    because they shed innocent blood in their land.
20 But Judah will be inhabited forever,
    and Jerusalem for all generations.
21 I will avenge their blood,
    and I will not acquit the guilt.
    The Lord dwells in Zion.


  1. 4:2 Valley of Jehoshaphat: one of the symbolic names of the place of punishment for Judah’s enemies; the other is “Valley of Decision” (v. 14). The name Jehoshaphat means “the Lord judges.” If the popular identification of this place as the Kidron Valley is accurate, Joel may imagine the Lord seated above the valley on Mount Zion directing his troops in the destruction of nations in the valley below.
  2. 4:4–8 This prose material may be a later addition to the book. It illustrates a common biblical theme (cf. Ps 7:16; 9:16; 35:8; 37:14–15; 57:7), having one’s evil deed (selling Judahites into slavery) turned into one’s own punishment (being sold into slavery by the Judahites).
  3. 4:8 Sabeans: traders from the southwestern tip of the Arabian peninsula, present-day Yemen (cf. 1 Kgs 10:1–2; Ps 72:10; Jer 6:20).
  4. 4:10 The Lord directs the troops to forge military weapons out of the agricultural tools necessary for life during peacetime. In Is 2:4 and Mi 4:3, both in contexts presuming the defeat of Israel’s enemies, this imagery is reversed.
  5. 4:13 Their crimes are numerous: the nations are ripe for punishment. Joel uses the vocabulary of the autumn grape harvest to describe the assault of the Lord’s army against these nations. In Is 63:1–6, grape harvest imagery also controls the description of the Lord’s return from Edom with blood-spattered clothing after having trod his enemies into the ground as if they were grapes (cf. Jer 25:30).
  6. 4:17 Then you will know: this verse further develops the motif of knowledge introduced in 2:27. The Judahites will learn that the Lord is present in their economic prosperity and political autonomy, even though they did not associate God’s presence with their crop failure.
  7. 4:18 Images of agricultural abundance illustrate the harmony and order Joel expects the Lord to establish in Judah; like 2:18–27, this section reverses the deprivation and drought of chap. 1. A spring…house of the Lord: streams of water flowing from the Temple of an ideal Jerusalem also appear in Ez 47:1. The Valley of Shittim: or “the ravine of the acacia trees”; while there is a Shittim east of the Jordan, the reference here is probably to that rocky part of the Kidron Valley southeast of Jerusalem, an arid region where acacia trees flourished.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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