Joel – Chapter 2

Crisis Averted

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Sound the shofar, Joel says, to warn the people of the impending catastrophe. Everyone will tremble because of the day that is coming. It will be a day of great darkness, both literally and figuratively, as the locusts cover the land. They will cover the mountains as widespread as the light of sunrise. Such a swarm of different species is unprecedented and will not be seen again. The locusts will destroy everything like a blazing fire. The land was as lush as the Garden of Eden before the locusts, but it will be a desert after them.

The locusts will run across the land like horses, driven onward by their riders. The sound will be comparable to chariots, or to fire consuming straw. The locusts are an invading force, from which people will flee. The locusts will travel in their paths, doing their job as agents of G-d. (There’s no profit motivation when you’re a locust.) The Heavens and Earth will tremble in the presence of this “army” because of what is to befall Israel. The sun, moon and stars will figuratively dim their lights. G-d sent warning through His prophets, so that the people should repent, because who can stand up before His punishment?

G-d still asks the people to repent and return to Him. He would rather they “tear their hearts” in repentance than be punished and tear their clothes in mourning. He is quite merciful, slow to anger and He would rather avoid having to punish people. If people recognize their shortcomings and resolve to improve, they can still walk away from the coming plague relatively unscathed.

Sound the shofar! Call a fast! Gather the people together and prepare them for this! Let the kohanim (priests) serving in the Temple beseech G-d for mercy. If the people do all this, G-d will agree to turn aside His punishment, instructing the locusts not to destroy the land. G-d replied that He would cause the plants to grow again, so the people would have produce and they would no longer be ashamed. G-d will drive the locusts from the land and the people will rejoice. The pastures of the animals will re-grow, just like the trees.

Everyone rejoice with G-d, for He sent His prophets to instruct the people how to return to Him. He brought the rains so that food would grow and the storehouses could be filled. When G-d has mercy on His people, He will repay them for the damages incurred by the locust swarms. The people will eat, be satisfied and thank G-d for the wonders He has worked for them. The people will recognize G-d and never be ashamed.

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