The book of Joel is three short chapters of straight up prophecy. The main theme is again turning back to God and how far off the people of both Israel and Judah have gone. It mostly appears to focus on the people as a whole but there are a few mentions that we can look at.
Joel is encouraging them to lament of their actions and this comparison for how hard they should be doing it. In theory, a woman or girl whose fiance dies before they can marry would be incredibly heartbroken and still mourn as if he had been her husband. She’d also have the life they should have been able to live together to lament and the children they’ll never get to have. This, of course, assumes they were in love or that she was excited about what it meant to be getting married. Perhaps using an unmarried women who had been betrothed over a young married woman is that this girl would have had all the dreams of what could be without having lived the reality.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being married to my husband, but it’s not what people tell young girls it will be like. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t much different then.
15Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.
These two verses are in the middle of a call to worship. Joel is calling for the people to come together and repent and go back to God and His ways. I had thought it was cute to mention the bridegroom and bride in this manner. It alludes to that they would not have been expected to be seen for a certain amount of time after their wedding, even at church, but that this was important enough to call them out of that newlywed haze.
Later we find this:
28e “And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
I appreciate the parity in this. Sons and daughters. Old and young. Male and female. The idea here is to be all inclusive and though it doesn’t specifically mention each type of person, they are specifically calling it the reaches of the spectrums with these dualities.
2I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, 3and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it.
I am not a hundred percent sure what’s going on here. From what I can gather, these children who are “traded” and “sold” are the children of Israel who have been traded or sold by one of their captors or invaders for frivolous things like a prostitute or wine. No, there is not a noble reason to trade or sell people like property, but I think the key thing here is that these were not even done for the improvement of the person doing it. They could not even pretend that they were doing bad things for any sort of good outcome. They were doing bad things in order to afford the ability to do more bad things.
But I’m also not a big believer in revenge, even though I can understand the point on an intellectual level. This is in the next paragraph addressed to Tyre and Sidon, who had just done the selling above:
8I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away, for the LORD has spoken.”
And that’s it for Joel. Nice and easy little book, right? I sure needed the break. The next few aren’t really long either. So, all mentions of women or girls here are matched to men or boys which gives a picture of equal punishment and/or consideration by God here. This may not be the case everywhere, but it is for Joel. No named women or men other than the prophet who wrote it either.