Chapter 5 and 6 are a lamentation
over the fall of
o Amos calls
declined from the right way. (vs.1-3)
o To make this plain, he contrasts God’s power and majesty with the people’s
iniquity, instances of which he gives (vs. 4-12).
o The only condition of safety is amendment (vs. 13-15); and
o As they refuse to reform, they shall have cause to lament (vs. 16-17).
o This threat is enforced by the two emphatic “woes” that
follow, the first of which demonstrates the baselessness of their trust in
their covenant relation to God (vs. 18-27);
1 “Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation,
O house of
his own feeling about it, the prophet utters his prophecy in the form of a dirge (kinah,
II Samuel 1:17; II Chronicles 35:25). Which I take up against you; or, which I raise
over you, as if the end had
come. O house of
making the dirge begin at v. 2. The ten tribes are addressed as in v. 6.
upon her land; there is none to raise her
up.” The virgin of
treated and guarded from enemies (compare Isaiah 23:12; 47:1; Jeremiah 14:17).
Is fallen (compae II Samuel 1:19); she shall no more rise. This is apparently a
contradiction to the promise of restoration elsewhere expressed, but is to
be explained either as referring exclusively to the ten tribes, very few of
whom returned from exile, and to the
reestablished. Forsaken upon her land; better, she shall be dashed upon
her own land; her own soil shall witness her ruin — that soil which was “virgin,”
unconquered, and her
own possession. (The same could say of
virgin – never been conquered on her own land, but 9/11 showed vulnerability
be messed with! – 9/11 never would have happened had
true to God instead of departing from Him over the last half century! - CY – 2013)
3 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; The city that went out by a thousand
shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred
shall leave ten, to the house of
The city that went out by a thousand. Septuagint and Vulgate, “from which went
the fight, in such a city only a tenth of the inhabitants shall remain; and this shall happen
to small cities as well as great.
It is poor work singing the things that might have been. It means sweet
dreams dispelled, fair hopes blighted, and human lives in ruins. Yet such is
prophet’s task in this passage — writing
graves of her dead millions. He had been denouncing nameless woes
against the rebellious people, Here he changes his tone to that of a
mournful spectator of accomplished ills. In imagination he throws himself
forward out of the sinful present into the calamitous future, and in
accommodation to the change of scene his denunciation becomes a dirge. It
is a natural transition, and at the same time a new form of appeal. When
ears become inattentive, the skilled musician will vary his tune. We have here:
far enough from existing facts. The Israel of God’s ideal was:
Ø A holy people. (Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 28:9.) Theoretically
they were, as the word “holy” means (Deuteronomy 7:6), a people
separated from men, and sin and set apart to God. But the fair ideal
of their national life remained an ideal and nothing more. The
reality never reached it, never approached it. They connected
themselves freely with heathen men and heathenish sin. They at times
outdid the nations (ch.2:6-9) in avarice, injustice, spoiling the poor,
abominable rites, and every nameless infamy.
Ø An unconquered people. This is the force of the expression “virgin
as His loyal people (Deuteronomy 1:30). If, and so long as he did so,
they would be invincible. But they never claimed His help on the
appointed terms. His promise was doubted (Ibid. v.32) and its
conditions disregarded, with the inevitable result that it failed of
fulfillment in MANY A CRITICAL TIME!
“the unconquered,” was practically the often vanquished, the twice
carried captive, the soon-to-be-destroyed. God’s help comes
surely, but comes only where there is attention to the conditions on
which it is offered and given.
A prosperous people.
the very garden of the earth; unique in the combination of the highest
agricultural capacities, with the finest commercial situation. The
prosperity of an industrious, peaceful nation in it was, so far as
favorable circumstances went, a foregone conclusion. But:
o war had devastated, and
o mildew blighted, and
o drought laid bare its fertile fields (ch.4:6-13).
God saw His gifts abused and made the ministers of sin, and He was
driven to destroy these in their hands. When temporal good begins to
be made the occasion of moral evil, our tenure of it will soon end.
(This is happening in
citizenry seem to be oblivious – CY – 2013)
Ø A happy people. A people prosperous, strong, and pure, could not but
be happy as well (Psalm 144:15). And such was
ideal (Deuteronomy 33:29). But the actual misery experienced was as
complete as the theoretical happiness revealed. HAPPINESS is
nowhere so IMPOSSIBLE, MISERY nowhere so INTENSE,
as with A PEOPLE WHO HAVE FALLEN BENEATH
THEMSELVES! In proportion as the former might have been,
will the latter be.
lamentation becomes a funeral song.
Ø A nation made shipwreck is a sight for tears. It is the destruction of
magnificent possibilities of good. It is the failing of a tremendous reality
of evil. It is the ruin of most precious interests on a gigantic scale. If one
soul lost is the occasion of grief to pure spirits and A TRAVAILING
SAVIOUR, what must the calamity be when MULTIPLIED
Ø When the wicked fall the truest mourners are the righteous. Not
the heathen who had seduced them, not the remnant of apostate
that might escape, but the prophet of God, who had kept himself
unspotted in the midst of national corruption, was the tearful mourner
by the ruined nation’s grave. The wicked are TOO SELFISH to
care for any sorrows but their own. They are as the wolves,
which would make a prey of the dead one’s remains, rather than
any mourning for his fall. God and the God-like alone truly mourn
when the wicked perish.
Ø A prophetic sight of his own epitaph ought to stay the hand of
the suicide. Men supposed to be dead have lived to read their own
obituary notice. It has enabled them to see themselves for once as
others see them. And it ought to have a practical influence for good.
Israel, reading beforehand the inscription on their own tomb,
might have been warned away, if anything could have warned
them, from the course in which they were rushing on. It showed
them what was coming, and how it was being brought on, and how
it looked, whether as a morality or a policy, in enlightened eyes. An
adequate idea of sin MUST INCLUDE ITS END and issues
and place in history, and this IT WAS
TO LEARN (AND OURS ALSO – CY – 2013) from Amos’s
His way. The way of God is a revelation of His purpose. All three are along
the lines of the just and fitting. Now:
Ø Adequate punishment means practical extermination. Sin is an
infinite crime, merits an infinite punishment, and failing this will receive a
punishment exhaustive of the criminal’s good. The proverbial question,
“Wherefore doth a living man complain?” (Lamentations 3:39), is
An understatement of the case. While a field, or a blessing, or a living
body and soul have been both destroyed, there will still be no more
than JUSTICE DONE! If our sin have not its punishment
IN CHRIST then that punishment must be UTTER
Ø When wrath smites many, mercy spares a remnant. Ninety
percent were to be destroyed. The thousand should become a
hundred, and the hundred ten. Neither the strength of the great
nor the insignificance of the small should avail them for escape.
With perfect impartiality, all should be made to suffer proportionally.
Yet decimation was to stop short of utter extinction. A tenth part
(see Isaiah 1:9; 6:13) should be spared. This less guilty remnant,
taught and chastened by the judgments which swept away the
bulk of the nation, might form the nucleus of a new and better
mercy often steps in and saves a “seed to the sower.” (Isaiah
55:10). There is seldom a deluge without its ark and its
Noah family, the conditions and materials of a fresh start for
national name, and with it the covenant relation and privileges to
which the name referred (Genesis 32:28). Toward the
Church, for its sin “cast down but not destroyed,” the same
gracious policy was announced (Isaiah 54:7-10). While a
Mephibosheth remains the royal line of God’s anointed is not
extinct. Chastisement makes a chaos only to bring out of it
the young world of a new life and a new hope (Psalm 89:30-33).
thus saith the LORD unto the house of
ye shall live:” The
more formal proof that
here begins. In calling her to repentance the prophet contrasts God’s
requirements with her actual conduct. Seek ye me, and ye shall live. Two
imperatives: “Seek me, and (so) live;” duty and its reward. “Seek me in the
appointed way, and ye shall be saved from destruction” (compare Genesis 42:18).
Gilgal shall surely go into captivity,
true seeking of God (see note on ch.4:4).
about fifty miles south-southwest of
been lost, and is marked to this day by seven much-frequented wells. As
being one of the holy places celebrated in the history of the patriarchs
(Genesis 21:31, 33; 26:23-25; 46:1), it had become a shrine of
idolatrous worship, to which the Israelites resorted, though it lay far out of
their territory (compare ch.8:14). Gilgal shall surely go into captivity.
There is in the Hebrew a play on the words here and in the
following clause (Hag-gilgal galoh yigleh), which commentators have
paralleled with such expressions as,
name, we may say, “Roll-town shall be rolled away.”
vanity” (see Hosea 4:15), as being the temple of an idol (compare
I Corinthians 8:4), so the prophet, with allusion to this,
says that “
shall become aven” — vanity, nothingness, itself. No mention is made of
the destiny of places beyond their territory is not here the object of his
prediction; and indeed, when
6 “Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest He break out like fire in the
house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be
none to quench it in
Break out like fire. God is called “a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24;
Hebrews 12:29; compare Jeremiah 4:4). And devour it; Septuagint, [Opwv mh<
ajnala>myh wJv pu~r oJ oi+kov jIwsh<f kai< katafa>gh| aujto>n – Hopos mae
analampsiae hos pur ho oikos Iosaeph kai kataphagae auton - “Lest the
house of Joseph blaze as fire, and He devour him;” Vulgate, Ne forte
comburatur ut ignis domus Joseph, et devorabit. But it is best to take the
last member of the sentence thus: “and it (the fire) devour.” The house
of Joseph. Ephraim, i.e. the
distinguishing tribe. In
tw~|oi]kw| jIsrah>l – tooiko
The Seeking that is Life (vs. 4-6)
This passage contains at once a vindication of the coming
a last offer of escape. All past evil had been justly incurred by DEPARTURE
FROM GOD. All coming evil might yet be avoided by RETURN TO HIM.
“Seek ye me” was the direction on their treatment of which the whole issue turned.
The antediluvians were PREACHED TO FOR A CENTURY after
their destruction was denounced. So
ordinances of a Christian Church for forty years after Christ had pronounced
her doom (Matthew 23:37-39).
Ø God’s threatenings are in a certain sense conditional on men’s
conduct. They are addressed to men in their character or circumstances
at the time they are uttered. If and when the character or circumstances
cease to exist, the threatenings cease to apply. It was so in the case of
Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:1, 5), and also of
such cases does not change, but the circumstances do, and his modes
of treatment change accordingly.
Ø They are designed to turn men, not to plunge them in despair.
All life is disciplinary. Each event and experience is fitted, and meant to
exercise a moral influence. Being, moreover, controlled by a holy
God, the moral influence of each must be in the direction of right, It is
so with blessings and the promise of them (Romans 2:4; Isaiah 1:19).
It is so also with judgments and the threat of them (Isaiah 26:9;
Luke 13:3,5). God takes pleasure in the soul’s turning (Ezekiel 18:23,32),
and all His dealings with it aim at and tend to this result. Therefore, until
judgment actually falls, the threat of it is kept as a deterrent before the
Ø INDIVIDUALS MAY TURN after national repentance has
become hopeless. Language addressed to a nation is really meant
for the individuals composing it; and as individuals they would be
influenced by it. No general forsaking of sin was probable in
MIGHT TURN, AS MANY DID IN
and were saved after the destruction of the city as a whole
was foretold; and, so long as this was possible, the means fitted to turn
would not be withdrawn. God’s expostulations will go forth to glean in
comers even when the prospects of a harvest are blighted.
LIFE TO FIND.
of search is God, not mere good (Psalm 42:2); and GOD FOR HIMSELF,
NOT FOR HIS GIFTS!
Ø This seeking implies previous non-possession. God is neither the
property of the wicked nor his possession. Sin made separation
between them, and a severing of all previously existing ties. Man
abandoned God, and God drove out man. Now he is “without
God, (having no hope…in the world”), Ephesians 2:12, is
“enmity against God,” bids God depart from him, says in his
heart, “No God.” It is only by the saint, and after seeking, that it
can be said, “I have found him whom my soul loveth”
(Song of Solomon 3:4). “This God is our God forever and ever.”
(Psalm 48:14). Grace it is that knits again the ties broken by sin,
and restores man and God to a condition of mutual love and
possession and indwelling.
Ø It is a quest with the whole heart and strength. The essence of
seeking God is to desire Him. And to desire Him really is TO
DESIRE HIM HEARTILY! Not to desire Him with other things.
Not to desire Him more than other things. Not to desire Him weakly.
Not even to desire Him strongly. BUT TO DESIRE HIM
WHOLELY, SUPREMELY AND INTENSELY! Seeking God
is heart seeking, or it is nothing. Heart seeking is truly such when it is
seeking with the whole heart. Therefore only to such seeking is there
a promise of finding “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye
shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13; 24:7).
God cannot be had till He is adequately wanted, and to be
wanted adequately is to be wanted supremely.
Ø It is synonymous with finding. In God’s world everywhere supply
meets and measures demand. Plant, animal, and man, each FINDS on
earth, in climate, habitat, covering, and food, EXACTLY THE
THING IT NEEDS! There is no want for which there is not
FULL AND FITTING PROVISION! So in the spiritual
sphere. “Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after
righteousness, for they shall be filled,” (Matthew 5:6). Over
against every need of the soul is a Divine supply. That need becoming
conscious, means help waiting; that need expressed, means help
already on the way. Spiritual good is obtained on the simple condition
of its being truly desired.
Ø To find God is to find all good which inheres in Him. God is
Himself the greatest Good; He is, moreover, the Sum, and
therefore the Source, of all good. There is certain good which
He unconditionally bestows on all, even the ungodly. But it is
good of the lower kinds, and which ministers to the lower needs. All
spiritual good, and all temporal good that has any spiritual aspect,
God gives only WITH AND IN JESUS CHRIST (Romans 8:32;
Matthew 6:33). The planets attend the sun and follow where he leads.
So on CHRIST, as GOD’S UNSPEAKABLE GIFT, the other
lesser gifts wait. We have them when we grasp Him.
Ø This good, summed up in one word, IS LIFE! Life is a general
term for the highest good (Psalm 30:5; 133:3). It is physical life, the
prevention or withdrawal of destroying judgments. It is judicial life,
or the reversal of the death sentence on the soul, and the privilege
for it of living. It is spiritual life, being quickened once for all out
of the death in sin, being made alive and kept alive. It is
EVERLASTING LIFE, the out blooming in eternity of the
flower of soul life planted on earth. (“it doeth not yet appear
what we shall be: but we know that, WHEN HE SHALL
APPEAR, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as
HE IS.” (I John 3:2)
TURN. It was under pretence of greater convenience that Jeroboam’s
calves were set up in Dan and
inconvenient of access. That
that they preferred idolatrous rites to the worship of God.
Ø Idols are man’s own invention, and therefore the EGOIST
CHOICE. There is self-sufficiency verging on self-worship in all sin.
Man puts his own opinion and will and work above God’s (Thus
the philosophies of
in their AFTERMATHS! THOUGH BOMBS, if you please –
CY – 2013). An idol is his own creation, and for that reason, if for
no other, is preferred to God. It is a subtle form of SELF-
WORSHIP (such is secular humanism – CY – 2013), and so
inevitably preferred to any other.
Ø They are credited with qualities congenial to his nature. A man
impresses himself on his work, virtually puts himself into it. It reflects his
genius and his moral character. The idol a man makes is thus substantially
a repetition of himself, and therefore congenial to him all round. (“They
have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see
not; They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any
breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto
them: so is every one that trusteth in them.” – Psalm 135:15-18)
Made by his hand, it is after his heart, which the God of heaven is very
far from being.
Ø The fall into idol worship is broken by the retention in it of a
flavoring of the worship of God.
were spots where the Divine presence had of old been richly manifested,
its rites mimicked, to some extent, the national worship of God. It was
added on at first to Divine worship, not substituted for it. Satan lets men
down into idolatry by easy stages. It begins in the sanctuary. It appears
at first in the likeness of a better thing. (I wonder how contemporary
worship fits into this? - CY – 2013). Then, when men have become
sufficiently familiar with it and degraded by it to bear the sight, it
puts on its natural shape, and is IDOL WORSHIP PURE AND
MEAN DISASTER. By a play upon words, Gilgal, “the Great Rolling,” is
to be rolled away; and
“aven,” or vanity.
Ø An idol is a figment, and the worship of it can only result in
deception and loss. It is not a thing, but only the image of a thing,
It is the image, moreover, not of a real, but of an imaginary thing.
It is, therefore, “nothing,” and “a thing of nought” (I Corinthians
8:4), and out of nothing, nothing can come. To worship it is delusion,
to trust it inevitable disappointment.
Ø God’s infinite power and His wrath are against them that forsake
Him. The idolater pits idol impotence against Divine omnipotence,
with the inevitable result of discomfiture and destruction. There are
idols of the heart the service of which is no less ruinous. They group
themselves under the heading “world,” and the love of them is
incompatible with the love of God, and so “Anathema” (I John 2:15;
I Corinthians 16:22).
7 “Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness
in the earth,” The prophet
brings out the contrast between
corruption and GOD’S OMIPOTENCE! Ye who turn judgment to
wormwood. As Jerome puts it,” Converterunt dulcedinem judicii in
absinthii amaritudinem,” “They turned the sweetness of judgment into the
bitterness of absinth” (compare ch. 6:12). Who make judgment the
occasion of the bitterest injustice. There is no syntactical connection
between this verse and the last, but virtually we may append it to “seek the
Lord.” It would sound in people’s ears as a reminiscence of
Deuteronomy 29:18, 20. The Septuagint reads, oJ poiw~n eijv u[yov kri>ma.
Ho poion eis hupsios krima - “that executeth judgment in the height,”
referring the sentence to the Lord, or else taking laanah, “wormwood,” in a
metaphorical sense, as elsewhere they translate it by ajna>gkh pikri>a, ojdu>nh
- anagkae pikria odunae - (Deuteronomy 29:18; Proverbs 5:4; Jeremiah 9:15;
23:15). The name “wormwood” is applied to all the plants of the genus that
righteousness in the earth; rather, cast down righteousness to the earth
(as Isaiah 28:2), despise it and trample it underfoot (compare Daniel 8:12).
and has power to punish! Righteousness includes all transactions between
man and man. The Septuagint (still referring the subject to the Lord), kai<
dikaiosu>nhn eijv gh~n e]qhken – dikaiosunaen eis gaen ethaeken - “and
He established righteousness on earth.”
8 “Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the
shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with
night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out
upon the face of the earth: The LORD is His name:” Striking instances are
given of God’s creative power and omnipotence. Seek Him that maketh
the seven stars. “Seek him” is not in the Hebrew. “He that maketh,” etc.,
is in direct antithesis to “ye who turn,” etc. (v. 7). The seven stars; Hebrew,
kimah, “the heap,” the constellation of the Pleiades (Job 9:9; 38:31). The
Septuagint here has, oJ poiw~n pa>nta – ho poion panta - but in Job has
pleia>v – pleias. The Vulgate gives, facientem Arcturum. Symmachus and
Theodotion give pleia>da – pleiada - in the present passage. The observation
of this most remarkable cluster among the heavenly bodies would be natural to
the pastoral life of Amos. And Orion; Hebrew, kesil, “foolish,” a rebel, the name
being applied to Nimrod, whose representation was found by the Easterns in this
constellation. Some render kesil,
“gate;” others connect it with the
equivalent to Sirius, or
kai metaskeuazon - “and changing,” which looks as if the translator was not
familiar with the Hebrew word, and substituted something in its place. It reads
jWri>wnov – - Orionos – Orion – in Job 38:31. Turneth the shadow of
death into the morning. “The shadow of death,” the depth of darkness. This
and the following clause do not simply state that the regular interchange of day
and night is in God’s hands, but rather notify that GOD IS THE MORAL
GOVERNOR OF THE WORLD! He saves men from the utmost dangers,
from the darkness of sin and from the night of ignorance; and, on the other hand,
He sends calamity on those that offend His Law (compare ch.4:13). Maketh
the day dark with night; literally, as the Septuagint - hJme>ran eijv nu>kta
suskota>zwn – haemeran eis nukta suskotazon - “darkeneth day into night.”
That calleth for the waters of the sea, etc. As judgments are the prophet’s
theme, this expression cannot be an intimation of the working of the natural law
by which the moisture taken up from the sea as cloud returns upon the earth as
rain (compare ch. 9:6). Rather it is an allusion to the Flood and similar
catastrophes, which are proofs of God’s judicial government of the universe,
when “The Lord will take His zeal as His whole armor and will arm all creation
to repel His enemies” (Wisdom of Solomon ch. 5:17). The Lord is His name.
Jehovah, the self-existent God, doeth all these marvelous things, and men
presume to skirt His law and think to be unpunished. (See
9 “That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the
spoiled shall come against the fortress.” That strengtheneth….
Translate, That causeth destruction to flash forth upon the strong,
So that destruction cometh upon the fortress. The idea is that God,
as with a lightening flash smites the strongest man, and no fortress is
a refuge from Him. Septuagint, JO diairw~n suntrimmo<n ejpi< ijscu>n –
Ho diairon suntrimmon epi ischun “Who divideth destruction unto strength.”
The Vulgate, taking the Hebrew verb balag in the sense of lighting up the
countenance, renders, Qui subridet vastitatem super robustum, which
means that the Lord smiles while He brings desolation on the mighty —
a figurative expression denoting His anger at man’s pride, and THE EASE
WITH WHICH HE PUNISHES!
In vs. 10-12, the prophet gives further instances of the people’s corruption.
10 “They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that
speaketh uprightly.” Him that rebuketh in the gate (Isaiah 29:21). The
gate of Eastern cities was the place of public resort (Proverbs 1:21), (for an
idea of what they resent see Ibid. vs. 22-33 – CY – 2013) - either for
business (Deuteronomy 25:7), or the administration of justice (II Samuel 15:2),
or for gossip. So “he that rebuketh in the gate” may be a judge, or a chief,
or a prophet (Jeremiah 17:19; 19:2). It seems better to take the words thus
than to join “in the gate” to “they hate,” with the meaning that those who resort
to the gate — kings, chiefs, judges — hate the prophet’s reproof, for the
following verses show that Amos is referring chiefly to judicial proceedings,
and not to his own mission. Uprightly; literally, perfectly; Vulgate, perfecte;
i.e. without reserve, keeping nothing back.
11 “Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take
from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye
shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall
not drink wine of them.” Therefore. Because ye refuse reproof, and oppress
the poor. Your treading is upon the poor; ye trample upon. The Hebrew
word boshes is found nowhere else, and is variously explained. Septuagint,
katekondu>lizon – katekondulizon - “smote with the fists;” so the Syriac;
Vulgate, diripiebatis, with which the Chaldee agrees. Keil, Schegg, and most
modern commentators explain the word, by a slight dialectical variation, as
equivalent to conculcare. Burdens of wheat; rather, tribute, exactions of
wheat, or presents like enforced “benevolences.” They exacted such gifts
before they would do justice to the poor. Or it may refer to interest for
money or victuals lent, which took the form of presents in order to evade
the Law (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:37; Deuteronomy 23:19).
Septuagint, dw~ra ejklekta> - dora eklekta – chosen gifts - Vulgate,
praedam electam, the Hebrew word bar meaning either “wheat” or “elect.”
Hewn stone. Houses thus built were a mark of luxury and wealth, sun-dried
brick being the usual material employed (compare Isaiah 9:10; Ezekiel 12:5, 7).
Ye shall not dwell in them. This is the punishment of their evil doings, according
to the threat in Deuteronomy 28:30, 39. The people shall be banished and the land
desolated (Micah 6:15; Zephaniah 1:13).
12 “For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict
the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their
right.” Your punishment is richly deserved, for “I know how many are
your transgressions and how mighty are your sins,” especially, as it follows,
your sins of oppression and injustice. They afflict the just. The
construction is continuous: “afflicters of the just.” Hostes justi (Vulgate);
katapatou~ntev di>kaion – katapatountes dikaion - “trampling down the just”
(Septuagint). They take a bribe. The translation of kopher as “bribe” is
justified, perhaps, by I Samuel 12:3; but the word is elsewhere used for
“ransom,” redemption money paid to escape the consequences of crime
(Proverbs 6:35), in direct opposition to the Law in Numbers 35:31,
which forbade any ransom to be taken for the life of a murderer. The
Septuagint has, lamba>nontev ajlla>gmata - lambanontes allagmata –
taking wares - the Vulgate (with which the Syriac agrees), accipientes munus.
Turn aside the poor in the gate from their right; or, bow down the needy
in the gate, i.e. in the place of judgment (see note on v. 10). Vulgate, paupers
deprimentes in porta; Septuagint, pe>nhtav ejn pu>laiv ejkkli>nontev –
penaeta en pulais ekklinontes - “turning aside the poor in the gates.”
The crime specified is that of wresting judgment in the case of the poor, or
not giving the poor man justice unless he could pay for it (compare Exodus 23:6;
13 “Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.”
Even while he speaks, the prophet feels that his reproof is useless (compare
Jeremiah 7:27-28; Hosea 4:1, 17). In that time; at such a time as this, the man
who acts wisely holds his peace, because it is a time of moral corruption and of
personal danger. But the prophet cannot restrain his call (compare Ezekiel 33:3).
In Micah 2:3 the “evil time” is one of calamity.
These words describe an evil time, and specify one of its most evil features.
It is a time of culminating wickedness, of imminent destruction, and, as
related to both, of DIVINE NON-INTERVENTION. “There is a time to keep
silence” (Ecclesiastes 3:7) as well as “a time to speak.” And that time,
pointed out by characteristic features, was at hand in this case.
which in vain had been pled with and plagued, would then be SEVERELY
LEFT ALONE. . Her victims would suffer in silence. Her prophets would cease
to expostulate. God, in judgment, would cease to strive for her restraint or
turning. In AN AWFUL AND UNNATURAL CALM she would pass the
moments before there broke on her THE STORM OF DOOM. And the
dawning of this “dies irae”- DAY OF WRATH - was almost come. As to the
particular characteristic of this day, note that God’s servants are silent:
PURPOSE. The gift of being “eloquently silent” is one that is not
unworthy of more general cultivation. To
of the prophets, after centuries of expostulation, would tell its own
startling tale. It would indicate discouragement and disgust, and duplicate
to their minds the “let him alone” (Hosea 4:17) of DIVINE
DISSERTION at a similar crisis. And this unequivocal proof that they are
given up might bring the tardy repentance which all else had failed to stir.
When communications are broken off, the dream of a lasting peace is over.
The patient will believe that death is at hand when the physician
turns away and refuses to prescribe. JESUS CHRIST is the
Sometimes men will refuse to listen. The Jews did in the beginning of the
gospel. Faithfully and firmly Stephen pressed the truth home; but they
“stopped their ears, and ran upon him” (Acts 7:57). Here was a case for
silence. Speech, had it been possible, would have been unheeded. Those
men, with murder in their hearts, and their fingers in their ears, would listen
to no words. With
were stopped, and their hearts within them were set to do iniquity.
PREACH TO ME”. For such a state of matters the appropriate measure
is the silence which the prophet predicts. When men will not hear, bawling
into an ear that is deaf or stopped is effort thrown away, and unworthy
of common sense (Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11).
God ceases to speak when He is ready to strike. Expostulation would be an
anachronism when execution is imminent. The point at which He will give
up the persistent wrong doer and withdraw all deterrent measures none can
fix. But there is such a point, and, to each of the ungodly, the danger of
passing it (Proverbs 1:24-31). “He that being often reproved hardeneth
his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy.” (Proverbs
29:1; compare II Chronciles 36:14-16). Every hour we continue in rebellion is
cutting down our chance of being longer striven with. Those who speak for
God to men are sometimes conscious that the time to be silent has come.
The sinner seems to have reached A FINAL FIXITY!
The Contrast Presaging the Conflict (vs. 7-13)
Judgment is coming. Warning has been given. Duty, and the prevailing
derelictions of it, have been pointed out. Here God’s perfections and
Israel’s iniquities are set in juxtaposition, and the collocation is suggestive.
Such incompatibility must lead to collision. It is by God’s character and
ours that our mutual relations and attitudes are shaped. We see here:
important revelation of Himself. He has written all over it the glorious
lineaments of His character. Each part of it reflects some feature, and
in the whole we see His face. Here He shows Himself:
Ø In the sphere of creation. “He maketh the seven stars and Orion.”
This is a pregnant thought. Alcyone, one of the seven stars, or
Pleiades, is the central orb of the heavens, round which the
others move. It is as it were the heart of the material universe;
and the Creator of it is by implication the CREATOR OF ALL!
In this fact speak the power and wisdom of the Great Uncaused,
who is the Cause not only of all effects, but of all causes as well.
Ø In the sphere of providence. “And turneth the shadow,” etc.
(vs. 8-9). We have here three classes of operations. The first was
illustrated in the miraculous light that shone around Paul at his
conversion (Acts 9:3), is seen daily in the rise of the morning sun,
and appears in the turning of the night of adversity into the day
of prosperity. The second was seen in the three hours’ miraculous
darkness at the Crucifixion (Luke 23:44), is seen in the gathering
shades of every night, and in the darkening down into adverse
circumstances of many a life day. The third was seen in the Deluge,
is seen in every shower of rain, and will be seen in future widespread
judgments on the wicked (v. 9, “Who causeth desolations to flash
on the strong,” God’s judgments are bold, as singling out the strong
and the fortress; swift, as coming on them like the lightning’s flash;
sweeping, as involving them in utter destruction.
Ø In the sphere of redemption. God scatters spiritual night. He
illuminates the darkness of the soul. He makes men light in
the Lord. He gives them the inheritance of the saints in light.
He also judicially blinds, by leaving impenitent souls to the
natural effects of wrongdoing; and HE CASTS INTO OUTER
DARKNESS AT LAST. In all these things we behold power —
power here as goodness, power there as severity; but power
everywhere as resistless and Divine.
In many transgressions and great sins Israel’s many-sided and deep
corruption comes out. Particulars are:
Ø As unjust. Injustice is a natural form for the sin, which is at
bottom SELFISHNESS, to take. It was an especially prevalent
form, moreover, among the Hebrew people. From Jacob down
the sordid race has cheated the strong and imposed on the weak.
Action is in a sense the fruit of character, and answers to the tree.
God’s grace is to convert the thorn into the fir tree, and the briar
into the myrtle tree; but man’s sin works the converse process,
and changes the sweet “tree of righteousness” into bitter
wormwood. Casting “righteousness down to earth” is another
aspect of the same charge. Righteousness ought to rule. Its proper
place is the throne of human life. But Israel had dethroned and
cast it down to the earth, and set injustice, a usurper, in its place.
Ø As oppressive. (vs. 11-12.) The oppression suffered by Israel had
done nothing to produce detestation of the thing. What other
nations had inflicted on them in this way, they were only too
ready to inflict, with interest, on each other as they had opportunity.
Humiliation does not always prepare for exaltation, nor poverty
for wealth, nor the endurance of injustice for power. The freed
slave will often make the very worst master, and the erewhile
victim of wrong the most outrageous inflictor of it (Proverbs
Ø As venal. “Who take a bribe.” They did injustice, not only in their
private, but in their public, capacity. They not only plundered the
public themselves, but made a profit by helping others to do the
same. A dishonest man will make a corrupt magistrate. He will
use for his own aggrandizement whatever power he gains.
Ø As impious. (vs.10,12.) As cowardice appeared in oppressing the
poor, so did impiety in oppressing the righteous. Much of what
the righteous suffer is due to the hatred of righteousness by the
wicked. They hate the thing itself, they hate it as a standing
rebuke to their own ways (I John 3:12), and their antipathy
invariably exhibits itself as it has occasion.
Given what God is and what Israel is, and the Divine course of treatment
may easily be anticipated.
Ø God will disappoint their schemes of self-aggrandizement. (v.11.)
Their labor and pains and sin would prove in the end to have been
thrown away. Their ill-gotten gains would never be enjoyed. The
vineyards and houses, in which they had invested them, would,
after having been acquired at great pains, be lost again before
they had even begun to be used. Gain gotten by injustice is seldom
abiding, and never remunerative. The one condition of getting
satisfaction out of earthly good is to ACQUIRE IT
ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD!
Ø He will leave them unrebuked (v.13). The prophets and the wise
WOULD BE SILENT! This would be a great calamity. It would
be followed by an INCREASE OF SIN, involving in turn an
aggravation of punishment. It would mean abandonment to fate;
for when God ceases to strive, A MAN ‘S DOOM IS SEALED.
(Genesis 6:3; John 6:44). It is the Physician discontinuing his
treatment because the hand of death is on the patient. The SINNER
SINS CONVICTION AWAY and THEN CONGRATULATES
HIMSELF ON THE DISCOVERY OF PEACE. But it is only
God saying, “Ephraim is joined to his idols: let him alone.”
It is the one spiritual case that is utterly desperate.
14 “Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the
God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.”He repeats his loving
summons to repentance, as in vs. 4, 6, showing that their only hope of safety
lay in AMENDMENT OF LIFE (compare Zephaniah 2:3). Seek good, and
not evil. Use that diligence and zeal in pursuing what is good which you have
hitherto shown in the pursuit of evil. The Lord, the God of hosts, shall be
with you, as ye have spoken; or, as ye say. The Israelites fancied that, owing
to their covenant relation to God, He would be always with them and ready
to help them under any circumstances. Their prosperity under Jeroboam II,
as Calmet remarks seemed an argument in their favor, proving that God
blessed them, and that they had no cause for fear (compare Jeremiah 7:4-7;
Micah 3:11; Matthew 3:9; John 8:39). But really God’s help and favor
were conditioned by their obedience.
15 “Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the
gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto
the remnant of Joseph.” Reverse your former conduct, undo what ye have
done (v. 10). This verse emphasizes the preceding; hating and loving are more real
and hearty than mere seeking. The Septuagint makes this clause to be what the
people said, On tro>pon ei]pate, memish>kamen ta< ponra< kai<
hjgaph>samen ta<kala> - On propon eipate, memisaekamen ta ponaera,
kai aegapaesamen ta kala - - “As ye said, We have hated evil, and loved good.”
Establish judgment. Maintain justice in your tribunals (in contrast to v. 7);
then it may be that the Lord will have mercy on you or some of you.
The remnant of Joseph; implying that only a few of them will be saved
after this heavy chastisement, which points to the final ruin of their city and
nation. The prophet speaks of the “remnant of Joseph” instead of Ephraim,
to remind them of their forefather, who received the patriarchal blessing of
Jacob, for whose sake this remnant should be spared (compare Isaiah
6:13; 10:21-23; Joel 2:32; Romans 11:4-5).
The Nation with which God will Dwell (vs. 14-15)
EXPRESSION OF HIS FAVOUR. Accordingly, Adam left God’s
presence and hid even before he was driven out of the garden. In losing
the DIVINE LIKENESS he had lost all relish or fitness for the
DIVINE PRESENCE. The one could be recovered only with the other.
Born from above, and made partakers of the Divine nature, we are in
affinity with God, and COME WITH RELISH INTO HIS PRESENCE!
the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand
there are PLEASURES FOR EVERMORE.” (Psalm 16:11) Sin
means loss on the one side and infliction on the other. Its guilt
separates from God, with the result that OUR BEING IS
INCOMPLETE! Sins corruption introduces:
Ø disorder among our own powers, and
Ø disease in each, and so
Ø unrest and misery become INEVITABLE (Isaiah 48:22; 57:20).
In reunion with God these two occasions of unhappiness are removed.
By regeneration the old nature is crucified, and the new one is set by faith in
UNION WITH GOD, where it has SPIRITUAL COMPLETENESS
and so its ideal of a happy state. Hence the Christian’s aspiration is summed
up in one idea to “be with Christ, which is far better.” (Philippians 1:23)
In verses 16-17, the retribution for their incorrigible iniquity is
announced. For “they that would not be reformed by that correction,
wherein he dallied with them, shall feel a judgment worthy of God” (Wisdom
of Solomon - 12:26).
16 “Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the LORD, saith thus;
Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the
highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to
mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing.”
Therefore. The prophet returns to what was said in v.13
about the uselessness of reproof; vs.14 and 15 being a kind of
parenthetical exhortation which his love for his nation forced from him.
“Jehovah, the God of hosts, the Lord,” Adonai, saith what follows, these
solemn titles being used to add solemnity, certainty, and weight to the
announcement. Wailing; misped, “the death wail.” Streets; broad places;
platei>aiv – plateiais - (Septuagint); plateis - (Vulgate). Highways; the
narrower streets; oJdoi~v – hodois - (Septuagint); in cunctis quae foris sunt
(Vulgate). Everywhere in town and country shall the wail be heard. Alas! alas!
ho! ho! This is THE DEATH WAIL - (compare Jeremiah 22:18), which
should sound abroad when
the husbandman to mourning. The husbandman shall be called from his
labor in the fields to mourn for a calamity in his house. Pusey thinks the
mourning is for his occupation gone, his tillage now only furnishing food
for the enemy; but the context involves the notion of death. And such as
are skilful of lamentation to wailing; literally, proclaim wailing to such,
etc. These are the hired mourners, both male and female, who sang
mournful songs at deaths (compare II Chronicles 35:25; Jeremiah 9:17;
17 “And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee,
saith the LORD.” Vineyards. The place of mirth and gladness (Isaiah 16:10).
I will pass through thee. A terrible echo of the last plague of Egypt
(Exodus 12:12), when God will not “pass over” thee but treat thee as Egypt,
and “pass through” to smite and punish (Nahum 1:12; compare Ezekiel
The Track of the Destroyer (vs. 16-17)
Each name of God is a guarantor of His action. It expresses a character, or
relation, or operation, in which He thereby reveals Himself. The
multiplication of His names and titles here is a cumulative argument for the
sureness of the matter revealed. He who is GOD OF HOSTS or the
OMNIPOTENT ONE, or LORD or the ABSOLUTE ONE, and
JEHOVAH or the SELF-EXISTENT ONE, is the BEING with
whom to decide is to act, and to will is to accomplish. Of
the deliverance so emphasized observe:
APOSTATE WILL BE VAIN. The possibility of a happy end, by the
grace of God, to
verse. Yet here the falling of the judgments denounced is assumed to
be INEVITABLE. Paul declares that it is impossible to restore to repentance
those who might fall away from a high degree of spiritual attainment (Hebrews
6:4-6). The apostate is a hopeless case:
Ø Because he loves sin more than other men. They love it knowing
nothing better, but he does so with experimental knowledge of the way of
peace. He loves it under a less impulse than they, and in the face of
stronger deterrents than they, and must therefore love it more than they.
The fuel that kindles with the least fire, and burns in spite of most water,
is clearly the most inflammable.
Ø Because he is harder than other men. The strain is proportioned to
the wrench. All sin hardens, and hardens in proportion as we are active
and resolute in it. Sinning against more light, and more deterrent influence
than others, the apostate’s sin involves a more decided act of will, and
so a more violently hardening effect. The more firmly the branding-iron is
applied, the more deeply it scars. The more violently the moral sense is
sinned against, the more the organ is indurated and injured.
Ø Because his day of grace will be shorter than that of other men.
The only chance of men’s turning at all is GOD’S STRIVING
WITH THEM! This He does with all men during a longer or shorter
period. In the case of the ante-diluvians the striving was for a hundred
and twenty years (Genesis 6:3). In the case of
years (Matthew 23:39). In the case of Saul, King of Israel, it was till
within about seven years of his death (I Samuel 18:12). In the case of
many it is during the entire life (Matthew 20:6-9). Thus each man has
his day of grace, during which God strives with him to bring him to
repentance. In the nature of the case the day of grace for the apostate
must be far advanced. He has been more and longer striven with than
other men, and so is presumably nearer the limit beyond which the
process does not go.
I will pass through the midst of thee;” i.e. as elsewhere (Exodus 12:12)
in judgment. The language is a threat. God, so far from dwelling with them,
as under other circumstances He was ready to do (v. 14), would pass
through them in wrath and destroying power. Underlying the announcement
of this alternative is the fact:
Ø That compromise is impossible with God. HE WILL SAVE or
HE WILL DESTROY. There is no half-way house between the
good of His promise and the evil of His threat. He can yield nothing
and abate nothing of either. He will come as a Friend to abide and bless
unspeakably, or He will pass through as an invading Foe, making
desolation in His track.
Ø That the incentive to repentance must be double-edged. There are
people who must be led, and others who must be driven. “The mercies
of God” (Lamentations 3:22-23; Romans 1:12) are the strongest motive
power with some minds, whilst “the terrors of the Lord” (II Corinthians
5:11) are most potent with others. The Divine machinery of impulsion, to
be perfect in itself and for its purpose, must include both. Hence men are
plied with each in turn and often with both together (John 3:36) in
connection with the salvation which they ultimately embrace.
case would not be abandoned as hopeless until both MENACE
and PROMISE had made their contribution to the work of its
The connection between man and the creation is very close. The judgment
Ø In the fields. They would not be fertile as heretofore. Their crops
would fail to grow, or be blighted before they could be gathered
(ch.4:7). Enemies would devastate the country and destroy the fruit
of the ground. Rapacious officials would confiscate the earnings of
honest industry. In each calamity, much more in all together, was
enough to quench the joy of harvest, and cause the
husbandman to mourn.
Ø In the vineyards. The whole food of the people, the corn, the wine
together, would be swept away. The grape gathering was a proverbial
occasion of joy (Isaiah 16:10). But with no vintage to gather, or no
chance to gather it for the lawful owner, the “vintage shouting”
would cease, and for the usual singing in the vineyards would be
substituted A UNIVERSAL WAIL!
Ø In the streets. “God made the country, and man made the town.”
And the human depends ON THE DIVINE! Trade and commerce
draw from agriculture their chief materials, and so when it fails they fail
with it. When the husbandman has cause to weep there can be no dry
eye in the community. The wail that begins in the fields, and spreads
through the vineyards, will rise to A MIGHTY ROAR WHEN
IT REACHES THE STREETS, where THE SUFFERERS
HERD AND LAMENT TOGETHER. (There will be no
Demonstrations in hell along the lines of: OCCUPY HELL –
CY – 2013)
Ø This is universal. In all “streets and vineyards”; etc. The judgment
affecting all classes in the community, all should MOURN!
Ø It is in concert. Men would call their fellows to lamentation. Not as
individuals merely, but as a community, they sinned and suffer, and so
as a community they should wail. (Transpose this into any
American community – CY – 2013)
Ø It is worked up. “And lamentation to those skilled in lamenting.”
The mourning would not be left to take any form that happened. It
would be appointed and organized, and then observed according to
program. ALL this implies an intelligent and vivid idea of
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE OCCASION! God’s judgments,
however long despised, will make themselves to be understood and
respected at last. In hell there is no UNAPPRECIATION or
MISAPPLICATION of the nature and strength of DIVINE
RETRIBUTION; and on earth appreciation and application
comes INFALLABLY with EXPERIENCE!
In the last ten verses, vs. 18-27, the prophet enforces the threat by denouncing
woe on those that trust to their covenant relation to God, expecting the day
when He would punish the heathen for their sakes, and thinking that their
external, heartless worship was acceptable to Him.
18 “Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it
for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.” The day of the
Lord. Any crisis in the nation’s history is so called WHEN GOD INTERPOSES
TO PUNISH and CORRECT. To our minds it looks forward to THE FINAL
JUDGMENT! It is often mentioned by the prophets (e.g. Isaiah 2:12; “and He
shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it” 13:6, 9; Joel 2:1, “The Lord…..
executeth His word” – v.11; 3:16; Zephaniah 1:7,14) as a time when
heathen should be judged, all the enemies of
and dominion. Without any regard to the moral condition affixed to the
realization of these expectations (see Joel 2:32), the people “desired”
the appearance of this day, thus foolishly confirming themselves
in their sinful life and false security. Some think scoffers are intended,
but the context shows that the persons signified are sincere but
mistaken believers in the safety of
is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness; Why would ye have the day
of the Lord? IT IS DARKNESS! Why do ye, such as ye are, want this day
to come? Ye know not what ye ask. It will be the very contrary to your
expectations; it will be darkness, and not light, tribulation and misery, not
joy and triumph for you (compare Micah 7:8).
The Day of the Lord (v. 18)
This is a common expression in the prophets, and its meaning is well defined. It is
Jeremiah 46:10; Obadiah 1:15.) There are periods which God signalizes
by special doings. Long quiescent, He becomes conspicuously active.
He intervenes in human affairs with unusual emphasis:
Ø Judgments often menaced are sent.
Ø Sinners long borne with are punished.
Ø The godly, for a time imposed on, are delivered.
Ø Abuses, the growth of centuries, are dealt with on their merits,
and swept away.
Such a period is called “the day of the Lord” because it is THE
TIME OF OBVIOUS AND SPECIAL DIVINE ACTIVITY.
God not only strikes, but shows His hand. (See Ezekiel – Study
of God’s Use of The Word Know – this web site – CY – 2013)
culminate and lose themselves in this. The day of the Lord had already
become the name for every day of judgment, leading on to the last day.
This is the day of the Lord in a unique sense. It is unique as
regards universality. It will see dealt with, not individuals merely, or
nations even, but THE ENTIRE RACE (Matthew 25:31). It is unique
in the matter of thoroughness. There will be inquisition as to each
person, and as to EVERY ACT OF EACH. (II Corinthians 5:10).
It is unique also in THE MATTER OF FINALITY. Questions
already dealt with by temporal judgments will be REOPENED
to be SETTLED ONCE FOR ALL. Its sentence will be FINAL
and its adjudication of rewards and punishments FOR ALL
ETERNITY! (Matthew 25:46)
To many, who put far off the day, and ridicule the prophets who foretold
the coming of God’s day, Jeremiah 17:15; II Peter 3:3-4, their unbelief says
through much bravado, “You are trying to frighten us with a bugbear. Let your
talked of judgment fall, and then we will believe it.” The delay of God’s judgment,
which means that when it comes it shall be the more terrible, is often erroneously
taken as meaning that it is not coming at all (Ezekiel 12:22-28).
19 “As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into
the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.”
Amos explains the dangers of this judgment day by illustrations
drawn from pastoral life, equivalent to the rushing from Charybdis into
Scylla. Every place is full of danger — the open country, the shelter of the
20 “Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even
very dark, and no brightness in it?” The character of the day of the Lord
is enforced with reiterated earnestness (v. 18) by an appeal to the conscience
of the hearers. Do you not feel in your inmost hearts that in the case of such
guilt as yours the Lord can visit but to punish?
21 “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn
assemblies.” Outward, formal worship will not avert the threatened danger
or secure the favor of God in the day of visitation. Your feast days
(chaggim); your feasts; YOUR COUNTERFEIT WORSHIP, the worship
of the true God under an idol symbol (compare God’s repudiation of merely
formal worship in Isaiah 1:11-15). I will not smell; ouj mh<ajsfranqw~
qusi>av – ou mae osphrantho - (Septuagint). No sweet savor ascends to
God from such sacrifices; so the phrase is equivalent to “I will not accept,”
“I will take no delight in” (compare Genesis 8:21; Exodus 29:18; Leviticus
26:31). Solemn assemblies; panhgu>resin – panaeguresin - (Septuagint);
atsaroth; the convocations for the keeping of the great festivals.
22 “Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will
not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your
fat beasts.” They maintained the formal ritual of the Mosaic worship in
their idolatry. The various offerings are here enumerated. Burnt offerings;
oJlokautw>mata – olokautomata – (Septuagint) - (Exodus 29:38,42;
Numbers 28:9-11). Meat offerings; qusi>av – thusias - (Septuagint);
munera (Vulgate); Exodus 29:40-41; Leviticus 2:1. Peace offerings
of your fat beasts; swthri>ouv ejpifanei>av – sotaerious epiphaneias –
“your grand peace offerings” (Septuagint); vota pinguium
vestrorum (Vulgate); Leviticus 3:1)
23 “Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear
the melody of thy viols.” The noise of thy songs. Their psalms and hymns of
praise were mere noise in God’s ear, and wearied Him (Isaiah 1:14; 24:8;
Ezekiel 26:13). Viols (ch. 6:5); ojrga>nwn – organon - (Septuagint). The
nebel, usually translated
“psaltery,” was a kind of harp. Josephus (‘
7:12. 3) describes it as having twelve strings, played by the fingers. Music,
both instrumental and vocal, was used in the temple worship (see I Chronicles
16:42; 23:5; and ch.25).
24 “But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a
mighty stream.” But let judgment run down as waters; let judgment roll on;
Septuagint, kai< kulisqh>setai wJv u[dwr kri>ma – kai kulisthaesetai os
hudor krima - “and judgment shall roll along as water.” Et revelabitur
quasi aqua judicium (Vulgate). This verse has been explained in different
ways. Hitzig, Keil, with many ancient commentators, find in it a threat of
chastisement, “the flooding of the land with judgment and the punitive
righteousness of God.” Pusey, Professor Gandell, and others consider it
to be a call to amendment. “He bids them let judgment, which had hitherto
been perverted in its course, roll on like a mighty tide of waters (being
much effort into fulfilling this verse as God commands – then the United
States of America would be forever changed, because it could not help
but bubbling over into surroundings states – CY – 2013), sweeping
before it all hindrances, filling the whole land with righteousness. Schegg
makes it to be a promise of the coming of the day of the Lord, that is, the
revelation of Messiah. But such a promise in this position is very forced
and unnatural. The second interpretation seems most suitable. In the midst
of the denunciation of men’s formal worship, the prophet announces their
duty in the present crisis - attention to which could alone win God’s favor.
Judgment and righteousness, long neglected and forgotten, should permeate
land like refreshing streams of water
streams of water than any state except
rains have increased the volume in many waterways and sinkholes along
the highways and byways – this is what we are commanded to do – CY –
2013) — a simile of special signification to an inhabitant of an Eastern
country, where the neighborhood of a perennial stream was as delightful
as it was unusual. Mighty (ethan); a]batov – abatos - “impassable” (Septuagint);
fortis (Vulgate). The word may mean “strong,” or “perennial.” “Whence
the seventh month, just before the early rain, was called the month
Ethanim, i.e. the month of the perennial streams, when they alone flowed”
Real Calamity (v. 24)
LIKE A FLOOD. There are two ideas here. The first is:
Ø Let judgment roll on like water. In this:
o It will be deep (Psalm 36:6), swallowing up all its victims.
o It will be sudden, taking the evil doers by surprise
o It will be irresistible, sweeping before it every opposing
object (Psalm 90:5).
o It will be destroying, leaving no living thing in its track.
o It will be ultimately fertilizing, leaving behind it the rich ooze
of an abiding lesson. (Unfortunately, that lesson is
Ø And righteousness like on inexhaustible stream. Judgment is
the act of which righteousness is the principle. God’s righteousness,
whether in Himself or in His judgments, is like an inexhaustible
o It is perennial. The righteousness of God’s judgments is a
constant quantity. It never intermits. Each is righteous and
all are righteousness.
o It is pure. Righteousness in God is necessarily so. There is no
Foreign ingredient, no cloud of mixture in it whatever. It is
righteous through and through. “There is,” there can be,
“no unrighteousness in Him.” (Psalm 92:15)
o It is cleansing. It purifies all it touches; the person it is
laved on, the city it passes through.
o It is irrigating. It waters the fields of human life. It makes
the graces, like the grass, to grow in the desert, and withering
things revive. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD, like
water streams, is rich in every element of blessing for time and is
a benefactor for eternity as well.
25 “Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness
forty years, O house of
of pure worship. Your service in the wilderness, when you were little exposed
to external influence, was no more true and faithful than that which you offer
now; that was as unacceptable as this. Have ye offered unto me? Did ye offer
unto me? The answer expected is “No;” i.e. you did not so really, because
your worship was mixed with falsehood, and was not offered simply and
genuinely to me. It is certain, too, that during the sojourn in the wilderness
sacrificial worship fell greatly into desuetude, as we know that the rite of
circumcision was suspended (Joshua 5:5-7), the Passover was not duly
celebrated, and Joshua urged the people to put away the strange gods from
among them (Joshua 24:23). Moses, too, doubtless with a view to
existing practices, warns them against worshipping the heavenly bodies
(Deuteronomy 4:19), and offering sacrifice unto devils (seirim), “after
whom they had gone a-whoring” (Leviticus 17:7). The prophets, too,
allude to the idolatry practiced in the desert (see Ezekiel 20:7-26;
Hosea 9:10). But to argue (as some neologians do) from this passage
of Amos that the Israelites during those forty years knew nothing of
Jehovah, or that Amos himself denies that they offered him any worship, is
absurd, seeing that the prophet presupposes the fact, and blames them for
corrupting the Divine service and mingling the prescribed and enacted
ritual with idolatrous accretions. Sacrifices; slain, bloody sacrifices.
Offerings; bloodless sacrifices, meal offerings.
26 “But ye have born the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your
images, the star of your God, which ye made to yourselves.” This verse
has occasioned great perplexity to commentators. The connection with the
context, the meaning of some of the terms, and whether the reference is to past,
present, or future, are questions which have roused much controversy. We need
not here recapitulate the various opinions which have been held. It will be
sufficient to state what seems to be the simplest and most probable explanation
of the passage. But we must not omit to mention first the explanation adopted
by Ewald, Schrader, Farrar, Konig, and others, viz. that this verse refers to the
punitive deportation which was to be the people’s lot, when they should take
their shrines and images with them into captivity. “So shall ye take (into exile)
Sakkuth your king,” etc. But the punishment is foretold in v. 27; and this
verse contrasts their idol worship with the neglected worship of Jehovah
(v. 25). But ye have borne; and ye bare; kai< ajnela>bete - kai anelabete –
(Septuagint); et portastis (Vulgate). Ye offered me no pure worship in the
wilderness, seeing that ye took false gods with you, and joined their worship
with, or substuted it for, mine. The tabernacle of your Moloch; th<n skhnh<n
tou~ Molo>c – taen skaenaen tou Moloch - (Septuagint); tabernaculum Moloch
vestro (Vulgate). The Hebrew word rendered “tabernacle” (sikkuth). which is
found nowhere else, has been variously explained. Aquila gives suskiasmou>v:
suskiasmous - Theodotion, “vision,” reading the whole sentence thus:
Kai< h]rate th<n o[rasin tou~ Qeou~ uJmw~n uJmw~n a]stron tou~ Qeou~ uJmw~n -
Kai aerate taen horasin tou Theou humon humon astron tou Theou
humon - Many moderns render, “stake,” “column,” or “shrine.” Others suppose
it to be equivalent to Sakkuth, an Assyrian name for Molech (or Adar); but this
is very uncertain, sad the parallelism requires the word to be an appellative and
not a proper name. It most probably means “shrine,” a portable shrine, like those
spoken of in Acts 19:24 in connection with the worship of Diana. The Syriac and
Arabic versions call it “tent,” and thus the reproach stands forth emphatically that,
instead of, or in conjunction with, the true tabernacle, they bore aloft, as if proud
of their apostasy, the tabernacle of a false god. Such shrines were used by the
Egyptians, according to Herodotus (2:63). Many such may be seen in the Egyptian
room of the
211, “These were small chapels, generally gilded and ornamented with
flowers and in other ways, intended to hold a small idol when processions
were made, and to be carried or driven about with it.” Hence we must look
Septuagint and Stephen (Acts 7:43), is a mistranslation. De Rossi,
indeed, mentions that one Hebrew manuscript gives Moloch, but the
received reading is Melkekem, which is confirmed by Symmachus and
Theodotion, who have tou~ basile>wv uJmw~n – tou basileos humon –
and by the Syriac. The translation, therefore, should run, “Ye took up the
shrine of your king,” i.e. of him whom ye made your king in the place of
Jehovah, meaning some stellar divinity. And Chiun your images; kai<
to< a]stron tou~ qeou~ uJmw~n JRaifa>n – kai to astron tou Theou humon
Ramphan - “and the star of your god Raiphan “(Septuagint); et
imaginem idolorum vestrorum; literally, the kiyyun of your images. The
parallelism again requires us to take this unknown word as an appellative;
and according to its probable derivation, its meaning is “pedestal,” or
“framework,” that on which the image stood. The Greek rendering is, as
Keil thinks, owing to a false reading of the unpointed text, in old Hebrew
kaph and resh being easily confounded, and vau and pe. Theodotion
considered the word a common noun, translating it by ajmau>rwsin –
amaurosin - It is probably a mere coincidence that in some Assyrian
inscriptions the name Kairan occurs as that of a deity, who is identified
with Saturn; that the Egyptians (from whom the Israelites must have derived
the notion) ever acknowledged such a deity is quite unproved. Stephen merely
quotes the Textus Receptus of his day, which was close enough to the original for
his argument. The star of your god. These words are in loose apposition
with the preceding, and are equivalent to “your star god,” or the star whom
ye worship as god. Whether some particular star is meant, or whether the
sun is the deity signified, cannot be determined, although the universal
prevalence of the worship of sun gods in
supposition very probable. Stephen puts the sin in a general form: “God
gave them up to serve the host of heaven” (Acts 7:42; compare
Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:3). Which ye made to yourselves. This was
the crime, SELF-WILL, desertion of the appointed way for devices
of their own invention.
will I cause you to go into captivity beyond
saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.” Therefore. The
consequence of their continued alienation from God should be deportation
to a foreign land,
country once their own possession (II Samuel 8:6), thus
at that time not hostile, but known in the time of
accomplishment, II Kings 15:29; 17:6). Stephen says (Acts 7:43), “beyond
“Magis enim,”observes Jerome, “intelligentiam quam verbum posuit;” and he is
probably blending other prophecies with that of Amos, e.g. Jeremiah 20:4.
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