This message came from the Lord to Joel, the son of Phatuel.
Citizens, hear and heed, ruler and commoner alike! Tell me, what happenings are these, in your days and in your fathers days unmatched, a tale you must needs hand on to your children, and they to theirs, and theirs to a fresh generation yet? That locusts, breed upon breed of them, so ravage yonder countryside, Swarmer devouring what Spoiler, Ruin-all what Gnaw-all has left? Weep they and wail, the tipplers that must be ever at their cups, for the sweet wine they drank, and shall drink no more!
Alas, my country, how valiant an enemy is this, in number past all counting, that comes to invade you; lion nor lion's whelp has teeth can grind so pitilessly. Spoiled your vineyards lie, stripped of the very bark your fig-trees; bare and blanched and ruinous every bough. Weep bitterly, then, as maid that goes clad in sackcloth, untimely widowed; in the Lord's house, bread nor wine is offered now; for the priests, the Lord's own ministers, no office now but tears. Desolate the land lies, every field forlorn; crops ravaged, the vine thirsty, strengthless the oil. Alas, for husbandman's labour lost, for vintage-song turned to lament! Alas for harvest perished, for vineyard withered, and drooping fig-tree! Pomegranate, and palm, and apple, no tree in the wood but fades there; what wonder? Has not joy faded in human hearts?
Mourn, priests, and lament; in mourners' garb go about your work at the altar; ministers of God, to his presence betake you, and there, in sackcloth, keep vigil; your God's house, that offering of bread and wine has none! Then proclaim a fast, assemble the folk together, ruler and commoner alike summon to the temple, and there for the Lord's help cry lustily. Woe betide us this day! The day of the is Lord is coming; his the dominion, his the doom. Here in our sight, here in the temple of our God, the festal cheer abolished, all the contentment, all the rejoicing! Beast on dung-heap rots; barn-wall gapes, and store-house lies in ruin, the hope of harvest gone; echoes byre with lowing of bewildered cattle, that pasture have none; even the flocks dwindle. What help, Lord, but yours? Parched are the upland meadows, every tree scorched in the forest; to you even the wild beasts make their dumb appeal, from dry river-beds, from upland pastures laid bare.
The trumpet, there, in Sion! On yonder mountain-height, my sanctuary, sound the alarm! Tremble, fellow-countrymen, one and all; the day of the Lord is coming, coming so soon. Day of gloom and darkness, day of cloud and storm; spread out, like dawn over the hills, this great, this valiant army; never was the like since time began, never shall be, while the ages run their course. Fire running greedily before them, and a track of flame behind; in front, a land that could match Eden for loveliness, and where they have passed, nothing but a desert waste; escape from them is none. Horse nor horseman so terrible of aspect, so speedy in advance; hark to the noise of them, as they spurn the hill-slopes! Din of chariots is not so loud, nor crackling of flames that feed on stubble; a valiant army, all arrayed for battle! What wonder if whole nations groan at their coming, everywhere pale cheeks? Bravely they hasten to the attack, warrior-like scale the wall; unswerving they press on, never one jostling with another, so well keeps each one his course; storm the loop-hole unhurt; and now, the city breached, mount wall, climb house-top, enter by windows, the thief's way.
Before that army, quakes earth, and heaven rocks; dark grow sun and moon, and the stars withhold their radiance; with his own voice the Lord heralds its coming. Wide it stretches, that host of the Lord, valiant it is, and ever ready to do his will. O great, O terrible day of the Lord; who shall find strength to bear it? Time now, the Lord says, to turn the whole bent of your hearts back to me, with fasting and with mourners tears. It is your hearts, not the garments you wear, that must be torn asunder. Come back to the Lord your God; he is ever gracious and merciful, ever patient and rich in pardon; threatens he calamity, even now he is ready to forgive. Who knows but he will relent, and be appeased; cast one glance behind him, and, enough for his own due of bread and wine-offering, spare us largesse yet?
The trumpet, there, in Sion! Here is fasting proclaimed, the citizens assembled; the folk summoned, the cleansing rites performed, the elders met; weanling must be there and babe unweaned, groom leave his chamber and bride her bower. Hark how the priests, that wait upon the Lord, make lament between porch and altar, crying aloud: spare your people, Lord, spare them; your chosen people, do not put them to the shame of obeying heathen masters! Will you let the Gentiles ask, What has become of their God?
People of a land well loved, he spares us yet. His answer comes, Here is corn and wine and oil to your hearts content; no more will I let the nations mock you. Far he shall be driven from your lands, the northern invader; out in the trackless desert he shall lie, vanguard to eastern, rearguard to western sea, and nothing more shall assail you but stench and stink of him, this enemy that did so wondrously. Fear no more, land of Israel; in the Lord's wondrous doings triumph and rejoice! Fear no more, beasts that roam the country-side; grass grows on the upland meadows! There is fruit on the trees again; vine nor fig-tree ever bore so lustily. Rejoice, men of Sion, and triumph in the Lord your God; proof he gives you of your restoration to favour, making the winter and the spring rains fall, as in time past. Now the threshing-floor shall be piled with wheat, and the presses overflow with wine and oil. Profitless years, when the locust ravaged you, Gnaw-all and Ruin-all and Spoiler, that great army of mine I let loose among you, they shall be made good. Eat you shall to your hearts content, praising the name of the Lord your God for his wondrous protection; never again shall Israel go away disappointed. I will make myself known among you, I, the Lord your God, who alone am God; Israel cheated of their hopes never again!
And afterwards? Afterwards I will pour out my spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and daughters will be prophets. Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men see visions; everywhere servants of mine, handmaids of mine, inspired to prophesy! I will shew wonders in heaven, and on earth blood, and fire, and whirling smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the day of the Lord comes, the great, the terrible day. And never a soul shall call on the Lord's name but shall find deliverance; here on mount Sion, here in Jerusalem there shall be refuge; for a remnant, a remnant of the Lord's own summoning, there shall be deliverance at last.
Perilous those times shall be, when the hour has come for reversing my sentence against Juda and Jerusalem. Into the valley of Josaphat I will herd the heathen folk, one and all, and there hold assize over them for the wrong they did to my people, to Israel, my own domain. People of mine they scattered through the world, land of mine they parcelled out between them. Must they be awarded by lot, such captives, and then sold cheap, boy-slave for a harlot's hire, girl-slave for the draining of a wine-stoup? What, would you chaffer with me, men of Tyre and Sion, men from the pale of Philistia? Must there be barter and exchange between us? Nay, if you will have exchanges with me, look to it that the reward does not fall on your own heads, swift and sudden! Would you carry off silver of mine and gold, lay up the choicest of my treasures in yonder temples? Citizens of Jerusalem, men of Juda's breed, would you sell them to Grecian masters, far away from their home? See if I do not summon them back from exile that was of your contriving, and, for that service done, pay you in your own coin; make over son and daughter of yours to these same men of Juda, slaves they can barter at will to the remote Sabaeans; I, the Lord, have decreed it.
Cry it to the nations, they should do sacrifice and muster their tried warriors for battle; rally they, march they, all that bear arms. Ploughshare beat into sword, spade into spear; weakling is none but must summon up his manhood now! To arms, to the rendezvous, nations all about; doom of the Lord awaits you, warriors all! Up, up, to Josaphat's valley betake you; here, upon all neighbouring peoples, I will hold assize. The sickle, there! Harvest is ripe already. Down to the vineyard with you! Are not the vats full, the presses overflowing? Has it not come to a head, the measure of their wickedness?
Thronging, thronging they come, in yonder valley to try their destiny, appointed trysting-place of a divine audit; dark grow sun and moon, light of the stars is none. Loud as roaring of lion speaks the Lord in thunder from his citadel at Jerusalem, till heaven and earth quake at the sound. To his own people, the sons of Israel, refuge he is and stronghold; doubt you shall have none thenceforward that I, the Lord your God, have my dwelling-place at Jerusalem; a holy city Jerusalem shall be, never again shall alien foe breach the walls of her.
Drip now with sweet wine the mountain-slopes, bathed in milk the upland pastures; never a stream in all Juda but flows full and strong. What fountain is this that comes out from the Lord's temple, and waters the dry valley of Setim? A lonely ruin Egypt shall be, and Edom a desert waste; here was great wrong done to Jewry's people, here unoffending lives were taken. For Juda, for Jerusalem, there shall be peace undisturbed, long as time shall last; for these, guilt of blood that went still unpardoned shall be pardoned now; here, in Sion, the Lord will have his dwelling-place.