14 Jun 2006

Yoel ben Petuel – the second in the traditional listing by CHAZAL of the group of Prophets known as the “Trei-Asar,” the “Twelve”
There is a dispute among the Sages as to the ancestry of this great Prophet. One opinion is that he was the son of Shmuel, the Prophet (Yalkut Shimoni, Yoel:1). Another opinion is that the period of time in which he was active was later, in the time of King Menashe (Seder Olam Rabbah; RASHI, Masechet Megilah 14a)

Yoel prophesied that Israel would be punished by four different species of locusts, that would utterly devastate the Land. If in “Mitzrayim,” Egypt, there was a Plague of Locusts such as never would be seen again, here were four different species of locusts that would attack and devour the agricultural produce of the Land in succession, also an unprecedented phenomenon.

Don Yitzchak Abarbanel (perhaps reflecting his political perspective, as Defense Minister of Spain in the late fifteenth century until the “Expulsion,” when, although offered special privileges by the King of Spain, he chose to throw in his lot with his People), explains that Yoel is not speaking of destructive locusts, but rather of the four world empires that were most destructive to the Jewish People. They were “Bavel” (Babylonia), “Paras” (Persia), “Yavan” (Greece), and “Romi” (Rome).

Whatever the nature of the punishment, Yoel speaks of the Messianic Era (except for the Ibn Ezra, who relates this prophecy to the Biblical Period of Yehoshafat), when “Afterwards, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, your elderly will dream Prophetic dreams, and your young men shall have Prophetic visions.” (Yoel 3:1)

“And it shall come to pass in that day,
That the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
And the hills shall flow with milk,…
And a fountain shall come forth out of the House of the L-rd…”
“Egypt shall be a desolation,
And Edom shall be a desolate wilderness…”
“But Yehudah shall be inhabited forever,
And Jerusalem for all generations.” (Yoel 4:18-20)

According to the RAMBAM, Yoel was a link in the Chain of “Mesorah,” and received the Tradition of Torah from Michah and his court.