Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

No man knows the date of the life and the prophesying of the Prophet Joel. Some scholars have guessed it to have been as early as the ninth century BC, while others try to place it as late as fourth century BC. So it can readily be seen that guessing is all they are doing concerning that. Inasmuch as he never directly addresses it to either Israel or Judah , one might think that it was prior to the division of the kingdom. But that too is only a guess. However the impossibility of our establishing a date for it in no wise keeps it from being the word of the LORD.

Chapter 1

(Verses 1 through 4) The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten.


It is certainly not unusual for the LORD to use what we sometimes call a natural disaster to illustrate some great event that He purposes to bring to pass. In this instance it is a plague of locusts that have completely devoured the crops, and left the people completely desolate. Some scholars seem to think that the various insects mentioned here are, actually, just different stages in the development of the same one, the locust. It was not an uncommon thing to have a locust plague. But Joel calls the attention of the old men, as well as all the inhabitants of the land, to the fact that none has ever heard of such a plague as this. Usually, a plague of locusts will sweep down upon the fields, and clean them out. But then the locusts move on, and the vegetation is allowed to spring forth again. But in this instance, it has been in four stages, one following the other, so that nothing is now left. Such a thing had not taken place in the days of the present generation, or even in the days of their forefathers. It had never been known before.


(Verses 5 through 7) Awake ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it is cut off from your mouth. For a nation is come up upon My land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. He hath laid My vine waste, and barked My fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.


Here the LORD calls upon, not only the drunkards, but also all the inhabitants of the land, to weep and cry, because there would be no new wine. To understand the significance of this, we must remember that wine was the common beverage of the people, not just of drunkards. In fact, even today, that is true in that part of the world, as in many others. It was actually considered a necessity. Although drunkenness was considered a sin, drinking in moderation was not. Then the LORD uses this situation to illustrate something that He says is coming upon His land Israel . He says that it “is come upon My land.” Scholars tell us that all the Hebrew verbs were in the past tense, even though they might refer to either the present or the future. And we know that the LORD can rightly speak of the future as if it had already come to pass, because that which He purposes cannot be hindered, but will be as He has declared. The event of which He speaks is that a fierce and powerful nation shall come upon His land. And it shall leave it completely desolate. We cannot with certainty say just what invasion is here considered. It sounds much like that of Assyria, when they took Israel captive, and scattered them through many nations.


(Verses 8 through 13) Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD: the priests, the LORD’S ministers mourn. The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished. The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men. Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.


Just as a young married woman would be in the deepest of mourning over the death of her husband, so should Israel be over those things that have come upon them. People sometimes argue over whether, or not, the word that is usually translated, “virgin,” in the KJV means what we usually think of as a virgin. This passage shows conclusively that it does not. We have to be governed by the context in considering the meaning. In this passage the “virgin” must be a young married woman. Otherwise she would have had no husband. Israel is in this instance as desolate as would be such a young woman. Just as the locusts have devoured all the grain, the grapes, and all other fruits, so that there is not left even enough to offer as meat offerings or drink offerings to the LORD, so will it be when this great army shall come against them. Nothing will be left. So it is time for great lamentation, not only by the people, but also by the priests. “For the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.”


(Verses 14 through 20) Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD. Alas for the day! for the day is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God? The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered. How do the beasts groan! The herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate. O LORD, to Thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field. The beasts of the field cry also unto Thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.


This message is not to be taken lightly. It is time to sanctify a fast, and gather not only the elders, but even all the inhabitants of the land, that they might cry unto the LORD. He is the only One, Who can help in this time of trouble. It is a day of terrible woe. It shall come as destruction from the Almighty. There is no help to be found, except in Him. The destruction is so great that it will not only cut off the food of man and the offerings of the LORD, but even the cattle and the beasts of the field shall suffer. For even their pastures shall be burned, and all the trees also. So, unless He will turn it away, no one, and nothing shall escape.

Chapter 2

(Verses 1 through 6) Blow ye the trumpet in Zion , and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand. A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of the mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.


The trumpet was blown to give the alarm that the people might prepare for battle. And it was blown to call them together for a solemn meeting, or to hear a solemn declaration. This call for the trumpet to be blown is for both reasons. They are called to hear a declaration of great importance to them. And that declaration concerns the coming of a great army against them. The day of this calamity is at hand, and it will be a very sad day for Israel . It will be a day of darkness and gloom, in which the clouds of great darkness shall even cover the mountains. This may have some reference to the clouds as we usually consider them. But, primarily, it is concerned with what we usually call clouds of gloom. That is, their situation will appear utterly hopeless, because of the destruction that their enemy will bring upon them. Some seem to think that the army to which He refers is the great plague of locusts that have already come upon them. But these locusts and the devastation they have wrought are only symbolic of that which shall be done by the invading army. He declares that this army will be the worst that has ever come upon them, and that there will not be another like it any more, “even to the years of many generations.” History has proven this to be the truth. Even to the present day no other conqueror has done damage, and shown ferocity to equal that of the Assyrians when they came upon Israel , and carried them away captive. While it is true that later the Babylonians came upon Judah , took them captive, and carried them away to Babylon , that captivity lasted only seventy years. Later (in 70 AD) the Romans destroyed Jerusalem , and dispersed the Jews over the world. This condition lasted until 1948, when the present day nation of Israel was established. But the major portion of Israel has not yet been re-gathered. Notice the picture of desolation the prophet gives as the army makes its conquest of Israel . “A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth; the land is as the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.” Then he describes their appearance, their running ability, and the noise they will make as they pass through. And “before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.” As they approach the pain of great fear shall overtake the people, and every face shall be dark with distress.


(Verses 7 through 11) They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the walls like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: neither shall one thrust the other; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses, they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. And the LORD shall utter His voice before His army: for His camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth His word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?


This army that is coming upon them is one that is highly disciplined, as well as being very ferocious. Nothing can stand in their way. Houses, walls, or even mountains, are no hindrance to them. Should any try to resist them with the sword, they will not be wounded, but will continue on their way. Even the earth shall quake, and the heavens (the atmospheric heavens) shall tremble at the sound of their marching. Since he has already told of the fire that goes before them and the flames that follow, we can understand that the smoke will be so great that it will partially block out the light of the sun, moon, and stars. “And the LORD shall utter His voice before His army.” That is, it is the LORD, Who will be in command of this army. “For His camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth His word.” His camp is great because He has a great and powerful army to execute His word. Although He is able to do mighty works with only a few workers, or even alone, He is in this making use of a great and mighty army. It is mighty because He is commanding it. But He makes use of the great number to strike terror into the hearts of those against whom He sends them. “For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” This judgment is so great that none shall escape, unless the LORD Himself should deliver him.


(Verses 12 through 14) Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. Who knoweth if He will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?


Having told Israel what to expect from the great army that shall come against them, the LORD now counsels them what to do that they may avoid this great calamity. Since it is all to come upon them because of their sins, let them turn away from their sins, and turn to the LORD, in true repentance, not just the appearance of repentance, which might be signified by the rending of their garments. This must be the repentance that rends the heart, and is accompanied by sincere weeping and mourning. And let them come before Him with true fasting, such as Isaiah describes in his prophecy, Isaiah 58:3-7, and not just ceremonial fasting, as they so often did. He is such a gracious God, so slow to anger, of such great kindness, and so ready to forgive and turn away His anger, that He may turn away this terrible disaster, and bestow upon Israel a blessing instead. He might even leave them able to bring forth a meat offering and a drink offering unto Him. If this terrible judgment is not turned away, there will be nothing left, even to offer to Him. It is therefore, time to repent and seek the LORD.


(Verses 13 through 17) Blow the trumpet in Zion , sanctify a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O LORD, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?


This is another order to sound the trumpet in Zion . It is for the purpose of calling a solemn assembly. It is one to which all are to be summoned, not only the elders of the nation, but the children also, even the babies in their mothers’ arms, as well as the bridegroom and the bride. None is to be left out. In this assembly let the priests weep between the porch (of the temple) and the altar. Remember that the altar was in the courtyard of the temple. So the priests would be going to and fro between the altar and the temple in the ministration of their priestly duties. Let them weep as they thus minister. And He charges them with a prayer that they are to constantly pray as they do this. “Spare Thy people, O LORD, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, ‘Where is their God?’” Notice that this prayer asks only that God spare His people for His name’s sake, not for any merit they might have. If the heathen are permitted to overcome the people of the LORD, they will blaspheme the LORD, by asking among them, “Where is their God?” signifying that He was not able to protect them; for they will not understand that He has only used them to chastise His people.


(Verses 18 through 20) Then will the LORD be jealous for His land, and pity His people. Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto His people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen: but I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.


Both the word of the LORD and history teach us that Israel did, in fact, not follow the LORD’S counsel, but continued on in their sinful ways, and finally were taken into captivity by this “northern army,” the Assyrians. However, the promise of God is still sure, and even overreaches that calamity to another day, in which He will deliver Israel , and none shall ever come against her forever. In that day all reproach shall be removed from Israel , and never again shall they be made a reproach among the heathen.


(Verses 21 through 27) Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength. Be glad then, ye children of Zion , and rejoice in the LORD your God: for He hath given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. And I restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, My great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and My people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel , and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and My people shall never be ashamed.


This is the LORD’S promise to Israel . A promise of great, and eternal blessing to them. He will restore to them “the years which the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, My great army which I sent among you.” Although there had been this great plague of locusts before the word of God came to Joel, and the LORD mentions it here as His great army, a plague of locusts lasts for a season, and is passed until another may come. It does not last as one army for years. However, since Joel has already shown that this plague is symbolic of the great army the Lord would send against Israel , we can see how He would speak of it as “My great army which I sent among you.” Just as the actual locusts had devastated the crops so that nothing was left, this great army that He did send laid the land waste, and removed the people so that the devastation has lasted many years. But the time is appointed when the LORD shall restore all that has been taken away from Israel . And in that day the reproach shall be removed from Israel , they shall know that He is their God, and that He is in the midst of Israel . Not only so, but His people shall never again be put to shame.


(Verses 28 through 32) And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.


This is a text that gives many people considerable trouble, primarily because they take the fact that the Apostle Peter quoted it on the Day of Pentecost to explain the miracle of the gift of tongues given by the Holy Ghost on that day. They think that, since He quoted it then, what took place on that day is the complete fulfillment of it. But that was only a part of what Joel was setting forth. It reaches on to the re-gathering of Israel and the wonderful spirituality of that day for Israel . It is a continuation of what He has just told us before it. In that great and notable day of the LORD Israel shall know that the LORD their God is among them, and they will recognize no other. The day of their worshipping of idols will be gone forever, and they shall never again be ashamed, or be made ashamed. For the LORD will pour out upon them His Spirit so that both sons and daughters shall prophesy, and the LORD will give dreams and visions to old and young. Even the servants and handmaids will have the Spirit of the LORD poured out upon them. That is, the rich shall have no advantage over the poor. Before that great day shall come there shall be great signs in the heavens, such that the sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood. If we but look in the book of Revelation, we can easily find the prophecy of these very signs. Many seem to think that Revelation is only a book of symbols that they have to imagine represent something else. But make no mistake. The LORD has there told us what He will bring to pass before this “great and terrible day of the LORD” shall come. When it does come, “It shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” The day for this has not yet come. But I believe that it is not far in the future. And when it does come all this shall be brought to pass.


Chapter 3

(Verses 1 through 8) For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for My people and for My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted My land. And they have cast lots for My people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink. Yea, and what have ye to do with Me, O Tyre and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine ? will ye render Me a recompence? and if ye recompense Me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head; because ye have taken My silver and My gold, and have carried unto your temples My goodly pleasant things: the children also of Judah and Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border. Behold I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head: and I will sell your sons and daughters into the hand of the children of Judah , and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.


Notice that this promise is to, and concerning, Judah and Jerusalem . Many want to apply it to the gospel church. But it specifically mentions “the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem .” To try to take it from them, and give it to anyone else, even the church, shows utter disdain for the LORD, and sets the one who does so up as thinking that he is wiser than the LORD, and knows more about who should receive this promise than He does. Here the LORD promises that when He shall “bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem ,” that is, when He shall bring them back from their captivity, He “will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat , and will plead with them there” for His people. This pleading will not be the begging of a weak person to one of greater power for something he may want done. Instead it will be a matter of the Almighty God telling the nations what  their guilt in the way they have treated His people has brought upon them; and not only telling them, but also showing them what they must suffer as He meets them in battle. As for the location of the valley of Jehoshaphat , it appears from other scriptures that the plain of Megiddo is the place of reference. For this battle appears to be the battle of Armageddon, and that is the location given for it. In that battle, all the nations that have had any hand in scattering His people throughout the nations and/or dividing up His land will be gathered. And The LORD Himself will bring destruction upon them. He tells them some of the things they have done to His people, such as giving a boy for the services of a prostitute, and a girl for wine. He specifically addresses Tyre and Zidon, saying to them that if they tried to recompence Him, or pay damages, for what they have done, He would immediately throw it back in their faces. It will be too late for paying damages, and averting the judgment He has determined upon them. For they have gone much too far in their evil treatment of both His people and Him. They have even taken away His gold, silver, and precious treasures, and taken them to the temples of their idols. And they have sold the children of Judah and Jerusalem to the Grecians in order to remove them as far as possible from “their border,” the land of Canaan , which He had given to them. He declares that He will “raise them up out of,” or bring them back from, the place into which they have been sold, thus returning the recompence upon the head of those who have done this evil. He will even sell these evil ones into the hand of the children of Judah , thus completely turning the tables upon them. And the children of Judah shall sell them to a people farther away than the Grecians, even the Sabeans. And this cannot fail, because the LORD has spoken it.


(Verses 9 through 17) Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause Thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat : for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, their vats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD shall roar out of Zion , and utter His voice from Jerusalem ; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel . So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in My holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.


In the scriptures of The Old Testament only two branches of the human family are recognized, the LORD’S people, ( Israel and Judah,) and the heathen, or Gentiles. The proclamation here given is for the Gentiles, all peoples beside those of Israel and Judah . They are commanded to prepare for war, even to beating their plowshares into swords and their pruninghooks into spears. That is, they are to prepare for “all out war.” This seems to be in direct opposition to what Isaiah says in Isaiah 2:4. But there the LORD is telling what shall be the result of the very thing He is here telling them to prepare for. This is the preparation for the battle, while that describes the peace that shall reign after this battle. There was a saying during World War I, “This is the war to end all wars.” As we know, that proved to be false. But this war, for which the Gentiles are called to prepare, will, indeed be the fulfillment of that saying. For this war the Gentiles are to make all out preparation. But, from their standpoint, it will be of little use. For the LORD will cause His mighty ones to come down. And although the heathen are awakened, and brought together in the “ valley of Jehoshaphat ,” it will only be for the LORD’S judgment against them. This can only have one outcome. Verse 13 is very similar to Revelation 14:19-20, and, no doubt, refers to the same incident. That is when our Lord shall Himself tread the winepress of the wrath of the Almighty God. His enemies shall be the vintage therein. There shall indeed be multitudes in the valley of decision on that day of the LORD. It will be such a day of terror for the enemies of the LORD that even the sun, moon, and stars shall be darkened, their light will be dimmed, if not altogether shut off. That this can in no wise be applied to the gospel church instead of Israel is manifestly shown by verse 16. “The LORD also shall roar out of Zion , and utter His voice from Jerusalem ; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel . Although Jesus is both “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” and “the Lion of the tribe of Judah ,” during the Day of Grace He speaks in His meek and loving voice. But in that Day of the LORD He shall roar as a lion. So great shall be His roar that it will shake both the heavens and the earth. And in that day He shall “be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel .” Then they will know that He is the LORD their God, and that He is dwelling in His holy mountain, mount Zion . By reason of His dwelling there Jerusalem shall be holy, and shall no more be overrun by strangers. “And there shall no strangers pass through her any more.”


(Verses 18 through 21) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim . Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah , because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion .


When that great day comes, the land of Judah and Israel shall be so well watered that it will no more have any desert spots, but will be a fertile land, producing such an abundance of all needed items that it will be as if new wine dropped down from the mountains, and milk flowed from the hills. There will even be a fountain that shall arise at the temple and water the valley southeast of Jerusalem . Both Zecharia and Ezekiel speak of this fountain. Many try to spiritualize it; but it shall actually come forth as a natural fountain., and will be the source of much water for Israel . Because of their treatment of the children of Israel , both Egypt and Edom , two of the present day Arab nations, shall be laid desolate. But Judah and Jerusalem shall “dwell forever.” The reason for this is that whatever of their blood He has not already cleansed, the LORD will, in that day, cleanse, for He dwells in Zion . In spite of all the efforts to destroy this truth by interpretation, it shall stand, for the LORD has declared it. And therefore it cannot fail.


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