I'm reading Joel in the ESV and I noticed a footnote in verse 1:17 saying "The meaning of the Hebrew line [under the clods] is uncertain." The same verse has a comparative reference which sends me to Malachi 2:3.

The seed shrivels under the clods; the storehouses are desolate; the granaries are torn down because the grain has dried up. - Joel 1:17 (emphasis mine)

Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. - Malachi 2:3 (emphasis mine)

Although the exact meaning of the phrase in Joel 1:17 is unclear, Strong's says it might mean something thrown from a spade or shovel, and relates that to cattle.

So my question is why is this comparative reference redirecting me to Malachi 2:3? I have my guesses based on what I described before but I'm uncertain.

1 Answer 1


The words in question is מֶגְרְפֹ֣תֵיהֶ֔ם it is a feminine plural construct noun with a third masculine plural suffix. The word only occurs here. "Clods" is based on older translations. The word means shovel in Aramaic and Arabic.

†[מֶגְרָפָה S4053 TWOT385b GK4493] n.f. shovel (NH id.; Aramaic מַגְרוֹפִיתָא; Arabic مَجْرَفَةٌ (majrafatun) (v. Lane)) only pl. מֶגְרְפֹתֵיהֶם Jo 1:17 (Thes clods, after Jewish interpreters, so AV RV, cf. however Me Joel 100 f.; 𝔊 Me ארותיהם their cribs, of cattle; meaning of clause dubious). -- Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (p. 175). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

The Septuagint (LXX) translation uses the word:

6.137 φάτνηa, ης f: a box or crib where animals feed—‘feed box, manger, crib’ (or possibly even an open feeding place under the sky). ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ ‘she placed him in a manger’ Lk 2:7. φάτνηa occurs only in Lk 2:7, 12, 16, and it may be important in some languages to distinguish clearly between various alternatives. The term ‘crib’ normally refers to the place where an animal stands when it feeds. The ‘manger’ is a relatively large box or rack containing hay, and a ‘feed box’ is a much smaller container, usually for grain. There is, of course, no way of knowing precisely where the baby Jesus was placed, but it would be very appropriate for the baby to have been placed in the feed box or in the manger. See also 7.64. -- Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 69). New York: United Bible Societies.

Joel 1:17 has the word פְרֻדֹ֗ות for seed. It also means grain. Malachi 2:3 הַזֶּ֔רַע
for offspring (with the article) which also means seed. That's the only connection I'm seeing.

  • I did see it was an hapax legomena. Another friend suggested the seed connection, but since that means grain and in Malachi, it means offspring (pretty sure the KJV says seed) I thought that too. But it seems to me that it is more likely referring to the repugnance associated with clods and refuse.
    – WnGatRC456
    Aug 11, 2021 at 12:43

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