Here now the Prophet fulminates, for he denounces not temporal punishments, but final destruction, and what proves to be an evidence of reprobation, and that is, that God would deprive the Israelites of every light of truth, so that they would wander as the blind in the dark. It is indeed certain, that they had been before this time bereaved of sound doctrine; for falsehoods and superstitions prevailed among them; and we have seen that in the land of Israel the true and faithful servants of God suffered cruel tyranny. But yet God restrained the people, as it were, against their will; when they fled away from him, and withdrew themselves from under his government, he still goaded them, and tried as by force to restore them to the way of safety. God thus contended with the wickedness of the people for many years, to the time of our Prophet, yea, until the ten tribes were banished; for these, we know, were led to exile first, and at length the kingdom of Israel was abolished; but the Lord ceased not to stretch forth his hand. Now when he saw that the labor of his servants was vain and useless, when he saw that no fruit proceeded from his word, when he saw that his name was profaned and his kindness trodden under foot, he denounced final vengeance, as though he said, “I am now broken down with weariness, I have hitherto borne with your cries, and though by many kinds of punishment I have endeavored to restore you, I have yet observed a moderate course, that there might not be wanting some remedy for you. It has not, therefore, been my fault that your diseases have not been healed; for I have often sent Prophets to draw you to repentance, but without any success. I will now then take away my word from you.” But as celestial doctrine is the spiritual food of the soul, the Prophet rightly adopts this metaphor, that the Lord would send a famine. This figure, then is borrowed from the efficacy and nature of God’s word: for to what purpose does God send to us Prophets and teachers, but to feed us with spiritual food? As he sustains our bodies by bread and water, or wine, and other aliments, so also he nourishes our souls and sustains our spiritual life by his word. Since, then, spiritual doctrine is our spiritual aliment, the Prophet very properly says, that there would come a famine.
I will then send a famine, not of bread or of water, but of hearing the word of God. The antithesis amplifies or exaggerates the severity of the punishment, as though he had said, that it would be endurable to wander in hunger and thirst, and to seek roots on mountains, and to seek water in distant rivers: but a bodily famine, he says, is not what shall be grievous to them, — what then? They shall be in hunger and thirst, and shall seek the word of God, and nowhere find it. But that we may better understand the meaning of the Prophet, we must notice what Paul says, — that we are fed by the Lord as by the head of a family, when the word is offered to us, (Tit_1:3) for teachers go not forth of themselves, but when they are sent from above. As then the head of a family provides meat and sustenance for his children and servants, so also the Lord supplies us daily with spiritual food by true and faithful teachers, for they are as it were his hands. Whenever then pure doctrine is offered to us, let us know that the teachers who speak and instruct us by their ministrations are, as it were, the hand of God, who sets food before us, as the head of a family is wont to do to his children: this is one thing. And certainly since the Lord cares for our bodies, we must also know that our souls are not neglected by him: and further, since the earth produces not corn and other things of itself, but God’s blessing is the source of all fruitfulness and abundance, is not his word a much more precious food? Shall we then say that it comes to us by chance? It is hence no wonder that the Prophet sets here the deprivation of sound doctrine among God’s judgments; as though he said, “Whenever men are faithfully taught, it is a proof of God’s singular kindness, and a testimony of his paternal care. As God then has hitherto discharged towards you the office of the kindest father of a family, so now he will deprive you of meat and drink, that is, those which are spiritual.” Now, in the second place, we must observe, that when we abuse God’s bounty, our ingratitude deserves this recompense, that want should teach us that God ought not to have been despised in his benefits. This is generally true: for when we intemperately indulge in luxury when God gives us abundance of bread and wine, we fully deserve that this intemperance and excess should be cured by famine and want. But bread and wine are of no great value, and soon pass away: when therefore we abuse celestial doctrine, which is far more precious than all earthly things, what punishment does not such willfulness deserve? It is therefore no wonder that God should take away his word from all ungrateful and profane men, when he sees it treated with mockery or disdain: and this truth ought to be carefully considered by us at this day; for we see with how little reverence the greater part of men receive the celestial doctrine, which at this time is so bountifully offered to us. God has indeed in our age opened the wonderful treasures of his paternal bounty in restoring to us the light of truth. What fear there is now? What religion? Some scoff, some disdain, some indeed profess to receive what is said, but they pass it by negligently, being occupied with the cares and concerns of this world, and some furiously oppose, as the Papists do. Since then the perverseness or the wickedness, or the carelessness of the world, is so great, what can we expect, but that the Lord will send a much thicker darkness than that in which we have been before immersed, and suffer us to go astray and wander here and there in hunger and thirst? If then we fear God, this punishment, or rather the denunciation of this punishment, ought ever to be before our eyes.
And the antithesis also, as it is very important should be carefully considered; for the Prophet by the comparison increases the punishment: it shall not, he says, be the want of meat and drink, for such a divine visitation would be more tolerable; but it shall be a spiritual famine. Inasmuch then as we are too much entangled by our flesh, these words ought to arouse us, that we may more attentively reflect on this dreadful punishment, and learn to fear the famine or want of the soul more than that of our bodies. When the sterility of the land threatens us with famine, we are all anxiety, and no day passes, in which this anxious question does not ten times occur to us, — “What will become of us? We now suffer from famine and want, and we are, as yet, distant from the harvest three or four months.” All feel anxious, and in the meantime we are not touched by any concern when the Lord threatens us with spiritual want. Since then we are so disposed to be overanxious for this frail life, it is the more necessary for us to take notice at the comparison mentioned by our Prophet.
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
famine of … hearing the words of the Lord — a just retribution on those who now will not hear the Lord’s prophets, nay even try to drive them away, as Amaziah did (Amo_7:12); they shall look in vain, in their distress, for divine counsel, such as the prophets now offer (Eze_7:26; Mic_3:7). Compare as to the Jews’ rejection of Messiah, and their consequent rejection by Him (Mat_21:43); and their desire for Messiah too late (Luk_17:22; Joh_7:34; Joh_8:21). So, the prodigal when he had sojourned awhile in the “far-off country, began to be in want” in the “mighty famine” which arose (Luk_15:14; compare 1Sa_3:1; 1Sa_7:2). It is remarkable that the Jews’ religion is almost the only one that could be abolished against the will of the people themselves, on account of its being dependent on a particular place, namely, the temple. When that was destroyed, the Mosaic ritual, which could not exist without it, necessarily ceased. Providence designed it, that, as the law gave way to the Gospel, so all men should perceive it was so, in spite of the Jews’ obstinate rejection of the Gospel.
But it may be here asked, Why does he say that they should be so famished as to run here and there, and wander from sea to sea, from the south even to the east, since this ought to be counted as one of God’s favors; for what more grievous thing can happen to us, than that the Lord should render us stupid and unconcerned? But when we are touched with some desire for sound doctrine, it evidently appears that there is some religion in us; we are not destitute of the Spirit of God, though destitute of the outward medium: and then comes what Christ says, ‘Knock, and it shall be opened to you; seek, and ye shall find,’ (Mat_7:7)
Therefore this denunciation of the Prophet seems not, it is said, so severe and dreadful. But we must observe, that the Prophet does not speak here strictly of famine, as though he said, that the Israelites would feel the want of God’s word, that they would really look for it, that they would sincerely seek it, but that they would perceive by the punishment itself, that nothing is more to be dreaded than to be deprived of the spiritual food of the soul. An example of this is found in Esau: when he saw that he had lost his birth-right, he cried and howled. He did not do this either from a right feeling, or because he had returned to a sound mind; but he was urged on by despair only: and then he sent forth lamentations and howlings, as though he were a wild beast. An anxiety like this is what the Prophet describes here. We hence learn, that the reprobate, when they see themselves deprived of God’s favors, are not really moved, so that they repent, but only feel strong agonies, so that they torment themselves without any benefit, and do not turn themselves to God.
What then is this to seek? We must notice what he said before — that they shall wander from sea to sea, and then, that they shall run here and there. When the faithful perceive any token of God’s wrath, they immediately conclude and clearly see, that there is no remedy but to retake themselves directly to God: but the ungodly, what do they do? They disquiet themselves, and make a great noise. It is then this empty and false feeling of which the Prophet speaks. Now then the question is answered. But we must at the same time observe, what the best way is to recover the favor of God, when we are deprived of it; and it is this, — to consider our state, and to return to him under a due consciousness of God’s judgment, and to seek to be reconciled to him. Thus will he restore what he has taken away. But if our obstinacy be like that of the Israelites, God will deprive us of his benefits, and not only those which are necessary to support our present life, but also of the spiritual food of the soul: then in vain will our howlings rend the air, for he will not give us an upright spirit to return to him; but we shall in vain bite the bridle, we shall in vain torment ourselves: for he will not suffer us to come where we ought, that is, he will not lead us to true repentance nor to a genuine calling on him, but we shall pine away in our evils without any remedy.
They shall wander – Literally, “reel.” The word is used of the reeling of drunkards, of the swaying to and fro of trees in the wind, of the quivering of the lips of one agitated, and then of the unsteady seeking of persons bewildered, looking for what they know not where to find. “From sea to sea,” from the sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean, that is, from east to west, “and from the north even to the sunrising,” round again to the east, from where their search had begun, where light should be, and was not. It may be, that Amos refers to the description of the land by Moses, adapting it to the then separate condition of Ephraim, “your south border shall be from the extremity of the Salt Sea (Dead Sea) eastward – and the goings out of it shall be at the sea, and for the western border ye shall have the great sea for a border. And this shall be your north border – and the border shall descend and shall reach to the side of the sea of Chinnereth eastward” Num_34:3-12. Amos does not mention “the south,” because “there” alone, where they might have found, where the true worship of God was, they did not seek. Had they sought God in Judah, instead of seeking to aggrandize themselves by its subdual, Tiglath-pileser would probably never have come against them. One expedition only in the seventeen years of his reign was directed westward , and that was at the petition of Ahaz.
The principle of God’s dealings, that, in certain conditions of a sinful people, He will withdraw His word, is instanced in Israel, not limited to it. God says to Ezekiel, “I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, and thou shalt be dumb; and shalt not be to them a reprover, for it is a rebellious house” Eze_3:26; and Ezekiel says, “Destruction shall come upon destruction, and rumor shall be upon rumor, and they shall seek a vision from the prophet, and the law shall perish from the priest and counsel from the ancients” Eze_7:26. : “God turns away from them, and checks the grace of prophecy. For since they neglected His law, He on His side, stays the prophetic gift. “And the word was precious in those days, there was no open vision,” that is, God did not speak to them through the prophets; He breathed not upon them the Spirit through which they spake. He did not appear to them, but is silent and hidden. There was silence, enmity between God and man.”
Here the Prophet concludes that God would take vengeance on the Israelites as on other nations, without any difference; for they could not set up anything to prevent his judgment. It was indeed an extraordinary blindness in the Israelites, who were doubly guilty of ingratitude, to set up as their shield the benefits with which they had been favored. Though then the name of God had been wickedly and shamefully profaned by them, they yet thought that they were safe, because they had been once adopted. This presumption Amos now beats down. Behold, he says, the eyes of the Lord Jehovah are upon all the wicked Some restrict this to the kingdom of Israel, but, in my opinion, such a view militates against the design of the Prophet. He speaks indefinitely of all kingdoms as though he had said, that God would be the judge of the whole world, that he would spare no kingdoms or countries. God then will show himself everywhere to be the punisher of vices, and will summon all kingdoms before his tribunal, By destroying I will destroy from the face of the earth all the ungodly and the wicked.
Now the second clause I understand otherwise than most do: for they think it contains a mitigation of punishment, as the Prophets are wont to blend promises of favor with threatening, and as our Prophet does in this chapter. But it seems not to me that anything is promised to the Israelites: nay, if I am not much mistaken, it is an ironical mode of speaking; for Amos obliquely glances here at that infatuated presumption, of which we have spoken, that the Israelites thought that they were safe through some peculiar privilege, and that they were to be exempt from all punishment: “I will not spare unbelievers,” he says, “who excuse themselves by comparing themselves with you. Shall I tolerate your sins and not dare to touch you, seeing that you know yourselves to be doubly wicked?” We must indeed notice in what other nations differed from the Israelites; for the more the children of Abraham had been raised, the more they increased their guilt when they despised God, the author of so many blessings, and became basely wanton by shaking off, as it were, the yoke. Since then they so ungratefully abused God’s blessings, God might then have spared other nations: it was therefore necessary to bring them to punishment, for they were wholly inexcusable. As then they exceeded all other nations in impiety, the Prophet very properly reasons here from the greater to the less: “I take an account,” he says, “of all the sins which are in the world, and no nations shall escape my hand: how then can the Israelites escape? For other nations can plead some ignorance, as they have never been taught; and that they go astray in darkness is no matter of wonder. But ye, to whom I have given light, and whom I have daily exhorted to repent, — shall ye be unpunished? How could this be? I should not then be the judge of the world.” We now then perceive the real meaning of the Prophet: “Lo,” he says “the eyes of Jehovah are upon every sinful kingdom; I will destroy all the nations who have sinned from the face of the earth, though they have the pretense of ignorance for their sins; shall I not now, forsooth, destroy the house of Israel?” Here then the Prophet speaks ironically, Except that I shall not destroy by destroying the house of Israel; that is, “Do you wish me to be subservient to you, as though my hands were tied, that I could not take vengeance on you? what right have you to do this? and what can hinder me from punishing ingratitude so great and so shameful?”
He afterwards adds, For, lo, I will command, etc. The Prophet here confirms the former sentence; and hence I conclude that the second part of the preceding verse is ironically expressed; for if he had promised pardon to the Israelites, he would have gone on with the same subject; but, on the contrary, he proceeds in another direction, and says, that God would justly punish the Israelites; for the event would at length make it known, that among them not even a grain would be found, but that all would be like chaff or refuse: Lo, he says, I will shake among the nations the Israelites as corn is shaken in a sieve: a grain, he says, shall not fall on the earth; as though he said, “Though I shall scatter the Israelites through various places that they may be dispersed here and there, yet this exile shall ever be like a sieve: they now contend with me, when any grain has fallen. The event then shall show, that there is in them nothing but chaff and filth; for I will by sieving cleanse my whole floor, and nothing shall be found to remain on it.” If one objects and says, that there were some godly persons in that nation, though very small in number. This I admit to be true: but the Prophet speaks here, as in many other places, of the whole nation; he refers not to individuals. It was then true, with regard to the body of the people of Israel, that there was not one among them who could be compared to grain, for all had become empty through their iniquities; and hence they necessarily disappeared in the sieve, and were like chaff or refuse.
But it must be observed, that God here cuts off the handle for evasion, for hypocrites ever contend with him; and although they cannot wholly clear themselves, they yet extenuate their sins, and accuse God of too much severity. The Prophet then anticipates such objections, “I will command,” he says, “and will shake the house of Israel as corn is shaken.” It was a very hard lot, when the people were thus driven into different parts of the world; it was indeed a dreadful tearing. The Israelites might have complained that they were too severely treated; but God by this similitude obviates this calumny, “They are indeed scattered in their exile, yet they remain in a sieve; I will shake them, he says, among the nations: but not otherwise than corn when shaken in a sieve: and it is allowed by the consent of all that corn ought to be cleansed. Though the greater part disappears when the corn, threshed on the floor, is afterwards subjected to the fan; yet there is no one but sees that this is necessary and reasonable: no one complains that the chaff thus perishes. Why so? Because it is useless. God then shows that he is not cruel, nor exceeds moderation, though he may scatter his people through the remote regions of the earth, for he ever keeps them in a sieve.
He afterwards adds, And fall shall not a grain on the earth They translate צרור, tsarur, a stone, but צרר, tsarer is to tie, and hence this word means what is collected or, binding, as when the children of Jacob had their money tied in their sacks, they said, ‘Behold my binding;’ so also now it is taken for the solid grain. God then intimates that he would not be so rigid as not to moderate his punishment, so as to spare the innocent. I have already said that though there would be still a remnant among the people, yet what the Prophet says is true as to the whole body; for it had nothing either sound or pure. But this objection might be made: It is certain that many faithful worshipers of God were taken away into exile with the wicked; they then fell on the earth as useless chaff or refuse; but God denies that this would be the case. To this I answer, that though the Lord involves his servants with the ungodly when he executes temporal punishment, he is yet ever propitious to them; and it is certain, that however hardly they may be dealt with, they yet do not expostulate; they groan, indeed, but at the same time they acknowledge that they are mercifully treated by the Lord.
But another thing must also be remembered, — that though the Lord would not have dealt so severely with his people, had they been like the few who were good, yet not one of them was without some fault. Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, were indeed like angels among men; and it was indeed a miracle, that they stood upright in the midst of so much impiety; they were yet led into captivity. When they approached God, they could not object, that they were punished beyond what they deserved. Worthy, indeed, was Jeremiah of heavier punishment; and so was Daniel, though an example of the highest and even of angelic integrity. God then could have cast them away as refuse: it is nevertheless certain that they were wheat; and the Lord shook them in the sieve like the chaff, yet so as ever to keep them gathered under his protection; but at the same time in a hidden manner: as, for instance, the wheat on the floor is beaten together with the chaff, this is common to both; no difference can be observed in the threshing. True is this, and the case is the same when the wheat is being winnowed. When therefore the wheat is gathered, it is, together with the chaff, to be sifted by the fan, without any difference; but the wheat remains. So also it happened to the pious worshipers of God; the Lord kept them collected in the sieve. But here he speaks of the people in general; and he says that the whole people were like refuse and filth, and that they vanished, because there was no solidity in them, no use to be made of them, so that no one remained in the sieve. That God then preserved his servants, was an instance of his wonderful working. But the denunciation of punishment, here spoken of, belonged to the outward dealings of God. As then the people were like refuse or chaff shaken and driven to various places, this happened to them justly, because nothing solid was found in them. It now follows —
Amos goes on with the same subject, — that God without any measure of cruelty would execute extreme vengeance on a reprobate people: Die, he says, by the sword all the wicked of my people. In naming the wicked of the people, he meant no doubt to include the whole people; though if any one thinks that the elect are by implication excepted, who were mixed with the ungodly, I do not object: this is probable; but yet the Prophet speaks here of the people generally. He says that the wicked of the people would perish by the sword: for it was not the sin of a few that Amos here refers to, but the sin which prevailed among the whole nation. Then all the wicked of my people shall die by the sword. He points out what sort of people they were, or at least he mentions the chief mark by which their impiety might be discovered, — they obstinately despised all the judgments of God, They say, It will not draw near; nor lay hold on our account, the evil.
Security then, which of itself ever generates a contempt of God, is here mentioned as the principal mark of impiety. And doubtless the vices of men reach a point that is past hope, when they are touched neither by fear nor shame, but expect God’s judgments without any concern or anxiety. Since then they thus drove far away from themselves all threatening, while at the same time they were ill at ease with themselves, and as it were burying themselves in deep caverns, and seeking false peace to their consciences, they were in a torpor, or rather stupor, incapable of any remedy. It is, therefore, no wonder that the Prophet lays down here this mark of security, when he is showing that there was no remnant of a sound mind in this people. Die then shall all the wicked by the sword, even those who say, It will not draw near; nor anticipate us, on our account, the evil: for we can not explain the word הקדים, ekodim, in any other way than by referring it to the threatening. For the Prophets, we know, commonly declared that the day of the Lord was at hand, that his hand was already armed, that it had already seized the sword. As then the Prophets, in order to smite despisers with fear, were wont to threaten a near punishment; so the Prophet does here; wishing to expose the impious stupor of the people, he says, “You think that there will not be such haste as is foretold to you by the Prophets; but this sheer perverseness will be the cause of your ruin.”
As to the expression, It will not come on our account, from a regard to us, it deserves to be noticed. Though hypocrites confess in general, that they cannot escape the hand of God, yet they still separate themselves from the common class, as if they are secured by some peculiar privilege. They therefore set up something in opposition to God, that they may not be blended with others. This folly the Prophet indirectly condemns by saying, that hypocrites are in a quiet and tranquil state, because they think that there will be to them no evil in common with the rest, as also they say in Isa_28:15, ‘The scourge, if it passes, will not yet reach us.’ We now then see what the Prophet has hitherto taught, and the meaning of these four verses which we have just explained. Now follows the promise —
Here now the Prophet begins to set forth the consolation, which alone could support the minds of the godly under afflictions so severe. Threatening alone might have cast the strongest into despair; but the event itself must have overwhelmed whatever hope there might have been. Hence the Prophet now applies comfort by saying, that God would punish the sins of the people of Israel in such a way as to remember still his own promise. We know, that whenever the Prophets designed to give some hope to a distressed people, they set forth the Messiah, for in him all the promises of God, as Paul says, are Yea and Amen, (2Co_1:20) and there was no other remedy for the dispersion than for God to gather all the scattered members under one head. Hence, when the head is taken away, the Church has no head; especially when it is scattered and torn, as was the case after the time of Amos. It is no wonder then that the Prophets, after having prophesied of the destruction of the people, such as happened after the two kingdoms were abolished, should recall the minds of the faithful to the Messiah; for except God had gathered the Church under one head, there would have been no hope. This is, therefore, the order which Amos now observes.
In that day, he says, will I raise up the tabernacle of David: as though he had said, that the only hope would be, when the redeemers who had been promised would appear. This is the import of the whole. After having shown then that the people had no hope from themselves, for God had tried all means, but in vain and after having denounced their final ruin, he now subjoins, “The Lord will yet have mercy on his people, for he will remember his covenant.” How will this be? “The Redeemer shall come.” We now then understand the design of the Prophet and the meaning of the verse.
But when he speaks of the tabernacle of David, he refers, I doubt not, to the decayed state of things; for a tabernacle does notcomport with royal dignity. It is the same as though Amos had said, “Though the house of David is destitute of all excellency, and is like a mean cottage, yet the Lord will perform what he has promised; he will raise up again his kingdom, and restore to him all the power which has been lost.” The Prophet then had regard to that intervening time, when the house of David was deprived of all splendor and entirely thrown down. I will then raise up the tabernacle of David: he might have said the tabernacle of Jesse; but he seems to have designedly mentioned the name of David, that he might the more fully strengthen the minds of the godly in their dreadful desolation, so that they might with more alacrity flee to the promise: for the name of Jesse was more remote. As then the name of David was in repute, and as this oracle, ‘Of the fruit of thy loins I will set on thy throne,’ (Psa_132:11) was commonly known, the Prophet brings forward here the house of David, in order that the faithful might remember that God had not in vain made a covenant with David: The tabernacle then of David will I then raise up, and will fence in its breaches, and its ruins will I raise up; and I will build it as in the days of old Thus the Prophet intimates that not only the throne of David would be overthrown but also that nothing would remain entire in his mean booth, for it would decay into ruins and all things would be subverted. In short, he intimates that mournful devastation would happen to the whole family of David. He speaks, as it is well understood, metaphorically of the tabernacle: but the sense is clear, and that is, that God would restore the royal dignity, as in former times, to the throne of David.
This is a remarkable prediction, and deserves to be carefully weighed by us. It is certain that the Prophet here refers to the advent of Christ; and of this there is no dispute, for even the Jews are of this opinion, at least the more moderate of them. There are indeed those of a shameless front, who pervert all Scripture without any distinction: these and their barking we may pass by. It is however agreed that this passage of the Prophet cannot be otherwise explained than of the Messiah: for the restitution of David’s family was not to be expected before his time; and this may easily be learnt from the testimonies of other Prophets. As then the Prophet here declares, that a Redeemer would come, who would renew the whole state of the kingdom, we see that the faith of the Fathers was ever fixed on Christ; for in the whole world it is he alone who has reconciled us to God: so also, the fallen Church could not have been restored otherwise than under one head, as we have already often stated. If then at this day we desire to raise up our minds to God, Christ must immediately become a Mediator between us; for when he is taken away, despair will ever overwhelm us, nor can we attain any sure hope. We may indeed be raised up by some wind or another; but our empty confidence will shortly come to nothing, except we have a confidence founded on Christ alone. This is one thing. We must secondly observe, that the interruption, when God overthrew the kingdom, I mean, the kingdom of Judah, is not inconsistent with the prediction of Jacob and other similar predictions. Jacob indeed had said, ‘Taken away shall not be the scepter from Judah, nor a lawgiver from his bosom, or from his feet, until he shall come, the Shiloh,’ (Gen_49:10)
Afterwards followed this memorable promise, ‘Sit of thy progeny on thy throne shall he, who shall call me his Father, and in return I will call him my Son,
and his throne shall perpetually remain,’ (Psa_132:11)
Here is promised the eternity of the kingdom; and yet we see that this kingdom was diminished under Rehoboam, we see that it was distressed with many evils through its whole progress, and at length it was miserably destroyed, and almost extinguished; nay, it had hardly the name of a kingdom, it had no splendor, no throne, no dignity, no scepter, no crown. It then follows, that there seems to be an inconsistency between these events and the promises of God. But the Prophets easily reconcile these apparent contrarieties; for they say, that for a time there would be no kingdom, or at least that it would be disturbed by many calamities, so that there would appear no outward form of a kingdom, and no visible glory. As then they say this, and at the same time add, that there would come a restoration, that God would establish this kingdom by the power of his Christ, — as then the Prophets say this, they show that its perpetuity would really appear and be exhibited in Christ. Though then the kingdom had for some time fallen, this does not militate against the other predictions. This then is the right view of the subject: for Christ at length appeared, on whose head rests the true diadem or crown, and who has been elected by Gods and is the legitimate king, and who, having risen from the dead, reigns and now sits at the Father’s right hand, and his throne shall not fail to the end of the world; nay, the world shall be renovated, and Christ’s kingdom shall continue, though in another form, after the resurrection, as Paul shows to us; and yet Christ shall be really a king for ever.
And the Prophet, by saying, as in ancient days, confirms this truth, that the dignity of the kingdom would not continue uniform, but that the restoration would yet be such as to make it clearly evident that God had not in vain promised an eternal kingdom to David. Flourish then shall the kingdom of David for ever. But this has not been the case; for when the people returned from exile, Zerobabel, it is true, and also many others, obtained kingly power; yet what was it but precarious? They became even tributaries to the kings of the Persian and of the Medes. It then follows, that the kingdom of Israel never flourished, nor had there existed among the people anything but a limited power; we must, therefore, necessarily come to Christ and his kingdom. We hence see that the words of the Prophet cannot be otherwise understood than of Christ. It follows —
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
In that day — quoted by James (Act_15:16, Act_15:17), “After this,” that is, in the dispensation of Messiah (Gen_49:10; Hos_3:4, Hos_3:5; Joe_2:28; Joe_3:1).
tabernacle of David — not “the house of David,” which is used of his affairs when prospering (2Sa_3:1), but the tent or booth, expressing the low condition to which his kingdom and family had fallen in Amos’ time, and subsequently at the Babylonian captivity before the restoration; and secondarily, in the last days preceding Israel’s restoration under Messiah, the antitype to David (Psa_102:13, Psa_102:14; Jer_30:9; Eze_34:24; Eze_37:24; see on Isa_11:1). The type is taken from architecture (Eph_2:20). The restoration under Zerubbabel can only be a partial, temporary fulfillment; for it did not include Israel, which nation is the main subject of Amos’ prophecies, but only Judah; also Zerubbabel’s kingdom was not independent and settled; also all the prophets end their prophecies with Messiah, whose advent is the cure of all previous disorders. “Tabernacle” is appropriate to Him, as His human nature is the tabernacle which He assumed in becoming Immanuel, “God with us” (Joh_1:14). “Dwelt,” literally, tabernacled “among us” (compare Rev_21:3). Some understand “the tabernacle of David” as that which David pitched for the ark in Zion, after bringing it from Obed-edom’s house. It remained there all his reign for thirty years, till the temple of Solomon was built, whereas the “tabernacle of the congregation” remained at Gibeon (2Ch_1:3), where the priests ministered in sacrifices (1Ch_16:39). Song and praise was the service of David’s attendants before the ark (Asaph, etc.): a type of the gospel separation between the sacrificial service (Messiah’s priesthood now in heaven) and the access of believers on earth to the presence of God, apart from the former (compare 2Sa_6:12-17; 1Ch_16:37-39; 2Ch_1:3).
breaches thereof — literally, “of them,” that is, of the whole nation, Israel as well as Judah.
as in … days of old — as it was formerly in the days of David and Solomon, when the kingdom was in its full extent and undivided.
In that day I will raise up – Amos, as the prophets were taught to do, sums up his prophecy of woe with this one full promise of overflowing good. For the ten tribes, in their separate condition, there was no hope, no future. He had pronounced the entire destruction of “the kingdom” of Israel. The ten tribes were, thenceforth, only an aggregate of individuals, good or bad. They had no separate corporate existence. In their spiritual existence, they still belonged to the one family of Israel; and, belonging to it, were heirs of the promises made to it. When no longer separate, individuals out of its tribes were to become Apostles to their whole people and to the Gentiles. Of individuals in it, God had declared His judgment, anticipating the complete exactness of the Judgment of the Great Day. “All the sinners of” His “people” should “die” an untimely death “by the sword;” not one of those who were the true grain should perish with the chaff.
He now foretells, how that salvation, of those indeed His own, should be effected through the house of David, in whose line Christ was to come. He speaks of the house of David, not in any terms of royal greatness; he tells, not of its palaces, but of its ruins. Under the word “tabernacle,” he probably blends the ideas, that it should be in a poor condition, and yet that it should be the means whereby God should protect His people. The “succah, tabernacle” (translated “booth” in Jonah) Jon_4:5; Gen_33:17, was originally a rude hut, formed of “intertwined” branches. It is used of the cattle-shed Gen_33:17, and of the rough tents used by soldiers in war 2Sa_11:11, or by the watchman in the vineyard Isa_1:8; Job_27:18, and of those wherein God “made the children of Israel to dwell, when” He “brought them out of the land of Egypt Lev_23:43. The name of the feast of “tabernacles, Succoth,” as well as the rude temporary huts in which they were commanded to dwell, associated the name with a state of outward poverty under God’s protection.
Hence, perhaps, the word is employed also of the secret place of the presence of God Psa_18:11; Job_36:29. Isaiah, as well as Amos, seems, in the use of the same word Isa_4:6, to hint that what is poor and mean in man’s sight would be, in the Hands of God, an effectual protection. This “hut of David” was also at that time to be “fallen.” When Amos prophesied, it had been weakened by the schism of the ten tribes, but Azariah, its king, was mighty 2Ch_26:6-15. Amos had already foretold the destruction of the “palaces of Jerusalem by fire” Amo_2:5. Now he adds, that the abiding condition of the house of David should be a state of decay and weakness, and that from that state, not human strength, but God Himself should “raise” it. “I will raise up the hut of David, the fallen.” He does not say, of “that” time, “the hut that is fallen,” as if it were already fallen, but “the hut, the fallen,” that is, the hut of which the character should then be its falling, its caducity.
So, under a different figure, Isaiah prophesied, “There shall come forth a rod out of the stump Isa_11:1 of Jesse, and a Branch shall put forth from its roots.” When the trunk was hewn down even with the ground, and the rank grass had covered the “stump,” that “rod” and “Branch” should come forth which should rule the earth, and “to” which “the Gentiles should seek” Isa_11:10. From these words of Amos, “the Son of the fallen,” became, among the Jews, one of the titles of the Christ. Both in the legal and mystical schools the words of Amos are alleged, in proof of the fallen condition of the house of David, when the Christ should come. “Who would expect,” asks one , “that God would raise up the fallen tabernacle of David? and yet it is said, “I will raise up the tabernacle of David which is fallen down.” And who would hope that the whole world should become one band? as it is written, “Then I will turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one shoulder” Zep_3:9. This is no other than the king Messiah.” And in the Talmud ; “R. Nachman said to R. Isaac; Hast thou heard when ‘the Son of the fallen’ shall come? He answered, Who is he? R. Nachman; The Messiah. R. Isaac; Is the Messiah so called? R. Nachman; Yes; ‘In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David which is fallen down. ‘“
And close up – Literally, “wall up, the breaches thereof.” The house of David had at this time sustained breaches. It had yet more serious breaches to sustain thereafter. The first great breach was the rending off of the ten tribes. It sustained breaches, through the Assyrians; and yet more when itself was carried away captive to Babylon, and so many of its residue fled into Egypt. Breaches are repaired by new stones; the losses of the house of David were to be filled up by accessions from the Gentiles. God Himself should “close up the breaches;” so should they remain closed; and “the gates of hell should not prevail against” the Church which He builded. Amos heaps upon one another the words implying destruction. A “hut” and that “falling; breaches; ruins;” (literally, “his ruinated, his destructions”). But he also speaks of it in a way which excludes the idea of “the hut of David,” being “the royal Dynasty” or “the kingdom of Judah.” For he speaks of it, not as an abstract thing, such as a kingdom is, but as a whole, consisting of individuals.
He speaks not only of “the hut of David,” but of “‘their (fem.)’ breaches,” “‘his’ ruins,” that God would “build ‘her’ up,” “that ‘they’ (masc.) may inherit;” using apparently this variety of numbers and genders , in order to show that he is speaking of one living whole, the Jewish Church, now rent in two by the great schism of Jeroboam, but which should be reunited into one body, members of which should win the pagan to the true faith in God. “I will raise up,” he says, “the tabernacle of David, the fallen, and will wall up ‘their’ breaches,” (the breaches of the two portions into which it had been rent) and I will raise up “his” ruins (the “ruinated places” of David) and I will build “her” (as one whole) as in the days of old, (before the rent of the ten tribes, when all worshiped as one), that “they,” (masculine) that is, individuals who should go forth out of her, “may inherit, etc.”
By these words the Prophet shows that the kingdom under Christ would be more renowned and larger than it had ever been under David. Since then the kingdom had been greatest in dignity, and wealth, and power, in the age of David, the Prophet here says, that its borders would be enlarged; for then he says, Possess shall the Israelites the remnant of Edom He speaks here in common of the Israelites and of the Jews, as before, at the beginning of the last chapter, he threatened both. But we now apprehend what he means, — that Edom shall come under the yoke.
And it is sufficiently evident why he mentions here especially the Idumeans, and that is because they had been most inveterate enemies; and vicinity gave them greater opportunity for doing harm. As then the Idumeans harassed the miserable Jews, and gave them no respite, this is the reason why the Prophet says that they would come under the power of his elect people. He afterwards adds, that all nations would come also to the Jews. He speaks first of the Idumeans, but he also adds all other nations. I cannot finish today.
Keil & Delitzsch
The Kingdom of God Set Up. – Since God, as the unchangeable One, cannot utterly destroy His chosen people, and abolish or reverse His purpose of salvation, after destroying the sinful kingdom, He will set up the new and genuine kingdom of God. Amo_9:11. “On that day will I set up the fallen hut of David, and wall up their rents; and what is destroyed thereof I will set up, and build it as in the days of eternity. Amo_9:12. That they may taken possession of the remnant of Edom, and all the nations upon which my name shall be called, is the saying of Jehovah, who doeth such things.” “In that day,” i.e., when the judgment has fallen upon the sinful kingdom, and all the sinners of the people of Jehovah are destroyed. Sukkâh, a hut, indicates, by way of contrast to bayith, the house or palace which David built for himself upon Zion (2Sa_5:11), a degenerate condition of the royal house of David. This is placed beyond all doubt by the predicate nōpheleth, fallen down. As the stately palace supplies a figurative representation of the greatness and might of the kingdom, so does the fallen hut, which is full of rents and near to destruction, symbolize the utter ruin of the kingdom. If the family of David no longer dwells in a palace, but in a miserable fallen hut, its regal sway must have come to an end. The figure of the stem of Jesse that is hewn down, in Isa_11:1, is related to this; except that the former denotes the decline of the Davidic dynasty, whereas the fallen hut represents the fall of the kingdom. There is no need to prove, however, that this does not apply to the decay of the Davidic house by the side of the great power of Jeroboam (Hitzig, Hofmann), least of all under Uzziah, in whose reign the kingdom of Judah reached the summit of its earthly power and glory. The kingdom of David first became a hut when the kingdom of Judah was overcome by the Chaldeans, – an event which is included in the prediction contained in Amo_9:1., and hinted at even in Amo_2:5. But this hut the Lord will raise up again from its fallen condition. This raising up is still further defined in the three following clauses: “I wall up their rents” (pirtsēhen). The plural suffix can only be explained from the fact that sukkâh actually refers to the kingdom of God, which was divided into two kingdoms (“these kingdoms,” Amo_6:2), and that the house of Israel, which was not to be utterly destroyed (Amo_9:8), consisted of the remnant of the people of the two kingdoms, or the ἐκλογή of the twelve tribes; so that in the expression גדרתי פרציהן there is an allusion to the fact that the now divided nation would one day be united again under the one king David, as Hosea (Hos_2:2; Hos_3:5) and Ezekiel (ch. Eze_37:22) distinctly prophesy. The correctness of this explanation of the plural suffix is confirmed by הֲרִסֹתָיו in the second clause, the suffix of which refers to David, under whom the destroyed kingdom would rise into new power. And whilst these two clauses depict the restoration of the kingdom from its fallen condition, in the third clause its further preservation is foretold.
בָּנָה does not mean to “build” here, but to finish building, to carry on, enlarge, and beautify the building. The words כִּימֵי עוֹלָם (an abbreviated comparison for “as it was in the days of the olden time”) point back to the promise in 2Sa_7:11-12, 2Sa_7:16, that God would build a house for David, would raise up his seed after him, and firmly establish his throne for ever, that his house and his kingdom should endure for ever before Him, upon which the whole of the promise before us is founded. The days of the rule of David and of his son Solomon are called “days of eternity,” i.e., of the remotest past (compare Mic_7:14), to show that a long period would intervene between that time and the predicted restoration. The rule of David had already received a considerable blow through the falling away of the ten tribes. And it would fall still deeper in the future; but, according tot he promise in 2 Samuel 7, it would not utterly perish, but would be raised up again from its fallen condition. It is not expressly stated that this will take place through a shoot from its own stem; but that is implied in the fact itself. The kingdom of David could only be raised up again through an offshoot from David’s family. And that this can be no other than the Messiah, was unanimously acknowledged by the earlier Jews, who even formed a name for the Messiah out of this passage, viz., בר נפלין, filius cadentium, He who had sprung from a fallen hut (see the proofs in Hengstenberg’s Christology, vol. i. p. 386 transl.). The kingdom of David is set up in order that they (the sons of Israel, who have been proved to be corn by the sifting, Amo_9:9) may take possession of the remnant of Edom and all the nations, etc. The Edomites had been brought into subjection by David, who had taken possession of their land. At a late period, when the hut of David was beginning to fall, they had recovered their freedom again. This does not suffice, however, to explain the allusion to Edom here; for David had also brought the Philistines, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Aramaeans into subjection to his sceptre, – all of them nations who had afterwards recovered their freedom, and to whom Amos foretels the coming judgment in Amo_1:1-15.
The reason why Edom alone is mentioned by name must be sought for, therefore, in the peculiar attitude which Edom assumed towards the people of God, namely, in the fact “that whilst they were related to the Judaeans, they were of all nations the most hostile to them” (Rosenmüller). On this very ground Obadiah predicted that judgment would come upon the Edomites, and that the remnant of Esau would be captured by the house of Jacob. Amos speaks here of the “remnant of Edom,” not because Amaziah recovered only a portion of Edom to the kingdom (2Ki_14:7), as Hitzig supposes, but with an allusion to the threat in Amo_1:12, that Edom would be destroyed with the exception of a remnant. The “remnant of Edom” consists of those who are saved in the judgments that fall upon Edom. This also applies to כָּל־הַגּוֹיִם. Even of these nations, only those are taken by Israel, i.e., incorporated into the restored kingdom of David, the Messianic kingdom, upon whom the name of Jehovah is called; that is to say, not those who were first brought under the dominion of the nation in the time of David (Hitzig, Baur, and Hofmann), but those to whom He shall have revealed His divine nature, and manifested Himself as a God and Saviour (compare Isa_63:19; Jer_14:9, and the remarks on Deu_28:10), so that this expression is practically the same as אֲשֶׁר יְהֹוָה קֹרֵא (whom Jehovah shall call) in Joe_3:5. The perfect נִקְרָא acquires the sense of the futurum exactum from the leading sentence, as in Deu_28:10 (see Ewald, §346, c). יִירְשׁוּ, to take possession of, is chosen with reference to the prophecy of Balaam (Num_24:18), that Edom should be the possession of Israel (see the comm. on this passage). Consequently the taking possession referred to here will be of a very different character from the subjugation of Edom and other nations to David. It will make the nations into citizens of the kingdom of God, to whom the Lord manifests Himself as their God, pouring upon them all the blessings of His covenant of grace (see Isa_56:6-8). To strengthen this promise, נְאֻם יי וגו (“saith Jehovah, that doeth this”) is appended. He who says this is the Lord, who will also accomplish it (see Jer_33:2).
The explanation given above is also in harmony with the use made by James of our prophecy in Act_15:16-17, where he derives from Amo_9:11 and Amo_9:12 a prophetic testimony to the fact that Gentiles who became believers were to be received into the kingdom of God without circumcision. It is true that at first sight James appears to quote the words of the prophet simply as a prophetic declaration in support of the fact related by Peter, namely, that by giving His Holy Spirit to believers from among the Gentiles as well as to believers from among the Jews, without making any distinction between Jews and Gentiles, God had taken out of the Gentiles a people ἐπὶ τῶ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ, “upon His name” (compare Act_15:14 with Act_15:8-9). But as both James and Peter recognise in this fact a practical declaration on the part of God that circumcision was not a necessary prerequisite to the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of Christ, while James follows up the allusion to this fact with the prophecy of Amos, introducing it with the words, “and to this agree the words of the prophets,” there can be no doubt that James also quotes the words of the prophet with the intention of adducing evidence out of the Old Testament in support of the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God without circumcision. But this proof is not furnished by the statement of the prophet, “through its silence as to the condition required by those who were pharisaically disposed” (Hengstenberg); and still less by the fact that it declares in the most striking way “what significance there was in the typical kingdom of David, as a prophecy of the relation in which the human race, outside the limits of Israel, would stand to the kingdom of Christ” (Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, pp. 84, 85). For the passage would contain nothing extraordinary concerning the typical significance possessed by the kingdom of David in relation to the kingdom of Christ, if, as Hofmann says (p. 84), the prophet, instead of enumerating all the nations which once belonged to the kingdom of David, simply mentions Edom by name, and describes all the others as the nations which have been subject like Edom to the name of Jehovah. The demonstrative force of the prophet’s statement is to be found, no doubt, as Hofmann admits, in the words כָּל־הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר נִקְרָא שְׁמִי עֲלֵיהֶם. But if these words affirmed nothing more than what Hofmann finds in them – namely, that all the nations subdued by David were subjected to the name of Jehovah; or, as he says at p. 83, “made up, in connection with Israel, the kingdom of Jehovah and His anointed, without being circumcised, or being obliged to obey the law of Israel” – their demonstrative force would simply lie in what they do not affirm, – namely, in the fact that they say nothing whatever about circumcision being a condition of the reception of the Gentiles. The circumstance that the heathen nations which David brought into subjection to his kingdom were made tributary to himself and subject to the name of Jehovah, might indeed by typical of the fact that the kingdom of the second David would also spread over the Gentiles; but, according to this explanation, it would affirm nothing at all as to the internal relation of the Gentiles to Israel in the new kingdom of God. The Apostle James, however, quotes the words of Amos as decisive on the point in dispute, which the apostles were considering, because in the words, “all the nations upon whom my name is called,” he finds a prediction of what Peter has just related, – namely, that the Lord has taken out of the heathen a people “upon His name,” that is to say, because he understands by the calling of the name of the Lord upon the Gentiles the communication of the Holy Ghost to the Gentiles.
(Note: Moreover, James (or Luke) quotes the words of Amos according to the lxx, even in their deviations from the Hebrew text, in the words ὅπως ἂν ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων με (for which Luke has τὸν κύριον, according to Cod. Al.), which rest upon an interchange of לְמַעַן יִירְשׁוּ אֶת־שְׁאֵרִית אֱדוֹם with לְמַעַן יִדְרְשׁוּ שְׁאֵרִית אָדָם; because the thought upon which it turned was not thereby altered, inasmuch as the possession of the Gentiles, of which the prophet is speaking, is the spiritual sway of the people of the Lord, which can only extend over those who seek the Lord and His kingdom. The other deviations from the original text and from the lxx (compare Act_15:16 with Amo_9:11) may be explained on the ground that the apostle is quoting from memory, and that he alters ἐν τῆ ἡμερᾶ ἐκείνη ἀναστήσω into μετὰ ταῦτα ἀναστρέψω καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω, to give greater clearness to the allusion contained in the prnophecy to the Messianic times.)
That they (the true children of Israel) may possess the remnant of Edom; i.e. those who were nearest in blood, and yet most hostile of all men. David had subdued the Edomites (2Sa_8:14; 1Ki_11:16), and Amaziah had inflicted a great slaughter upon them (2Ki_14:7); but later they recovered their independence (2Ki_16:6, where “Edomites” should be read for “Syrians;” 2Ch_28:17), and were actively hostile against the Jews. It was on this account that they were emphatically denounced by Obadiah. “The remnant” is mentioned because, according to the threat in Amo_1:11, Amo_1:12, they would be punished so that only a few would escape. The Septuagint gives ,Ὅπως ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τὼν ἀνθρώπων, [τὸν κύριον, Alexandrian], “That the remnant of men may earnestly seek the Lord,” regarding Edom as a representative of aliens from God, and altering the text to make the sense more generally intelligible, This version, which reads “Adam,” men, instead of “Edom,” is endorsed by St. James. Which are called by my Name; “over whom my Name hath been called”. This is closer to the Hebrew; but the meaning is much the same, viz. all those who are dedicated to God and belong to him being by faith incorporated into the true Israel. The Messianic kingdom shall be established in order that salvation may be extended to all hastens who embrace it. Saith the Lord; is the saying of Jehovah. This is added to show the immutability of the promise. The covenant God himself hath predicted it.
That they may possess – rather, “inherit
The remnant of Edom – The restoration was not to be for themselves alone. No gifts of God end in the immediate object of His bounty and love. They were restored, in order that they, the first objects of God’s mercies, might win others to God; not Edom only, “but all nations, upon whom,” God says, “My Name is called.” Plainly then, it is no temporal subjugation, nor any earthly kingdom. The words, “upon whom the name is called,” involve, in any case, belonging to, and being owned by, him whose name is called upon them. It is said of the wife bearing the name of the husband and becoming his, “let thy name be called upon us Isa_4:1. When Jacob especially adopts Ephraim and Manasseh as his he says, “let my name be named upon them, and the name of My fathers, Abraham and Isaac” Gen_48:16. In relation to God, the words are used of persons and of places especially appropriated to God; as the whole Jewish Church and people, His Temple 1Ki_8:43; Jer_7:10-11, Jer_7:14, Jer_7:30; Jer_34:15, His prophets Jer_15:16, the city of Jerusalem Dan_9:18-19 by virtue of the temple built there. Contrariwise, Isaiah pleads to God, that the pagan “were never called by Thy Name” Isa_63:19. This relation of being “called” by the “Name” of God, was not outward only, nor was it ineffective. Its characteristics were holiness imparted by God to man, and protection by God. Thus Moses, in his blessing on Israel if obedient, says, “The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto Himself, as He hath sworn to thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in His ways; and all the people of the earth shall see that the Name of the Lord thy God is called upon thee, and they shall fear thee” Deu_28:9-10. And Jeremiah says to God , “Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart, for Thy name was called upon me, O Lord God of Hosts.”
Israel then, or the Jewish Church, was to inherit, or take into itself, not Edom only, but all nations, and that, by their belonging to God. Edom, as the brother of Israel and yet his implacable enemy, stands as a symbol of all who were alien from God, over against His people. He says, the “residue of Edom,” because he had foretold the destruction which was first to come upon Edom; and Holy Scripture everywhere speaks of those who should be converted, as a “remnant” only. The Jews themselves are the keepers and witnesses of these words. Was it not foretold? It stands written. Is it not fulfilled? The whole world from this country to China, and from China round again to us, as far as it is Christian, and as, year by year, more are gathered into the fold of Christ, are the inheritance of those who were the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
James quoted these words in the Council of Jerusalem, to show how the words of the prophet were in harmony with what Peter had related, how “God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His Name” Act_15:14. He quotes the words as they stood in the version which was understood by the Gentiles who came from Antioch. In it the words are paraphrased, but the meaning remains the same. The Greek translators took away the metaphor, in order, probably, to make the meaning more intelligible to Greeks, and paraphrased the Hebrew words, imagining other words, as like as might be to the Hebrew. They render, “that the residue of men may seek, and all the nations upon whom My name is called.” The force of the prophecy lies in these last words, that “the Name of God should be called upon all nations.” James, then, quoted the words as they were familiar to his hearers, not correcting those which did not impair the meaning. The so doing, he shows us incidentally, that even imperfection of translation does not empty the fullness of God’s word. The words, “shall seek the Lord,” although not representing anything expressed here in the original, occur in the corresponding prophecy of Isaiah as to the root of Jesse, “In that day there shall be a root” (that is, a sucker from the root) “of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people, and to it shall the Gentiles seek” Isa_11:10. It may be, that James purposely uses the plural, “the words of the prophets,” in order to include, together with the prophet Amos, other prophets who had foretold the same thing. The statements, that the Jewish Church should inherit the Gentiles, that the Name of God should be called upon the Gentiles, and that the Gentiles should seek the Lord, are parts of one whole; that they should be called, that they should obey the call, and, obeying, he enrolled in the one family of God.
Cambridge Bible Driver
Amos closes, as the prophets are wont to close their discourses, with the promise of a brighter future. The dynasty of David, though for the time humbled, will be reinstated in its former splendour and power (vv. 11–12); and the blessings of peace will be shared in perpetuity by the entire nation (vv. 13–15).—On the question of the authenticity of the epilogue, see above, p. 119 ff.
In that day] The day which the prophet has in his mind: here, the day of restoration, which is to succeed the catastrophe of vv. 8–10. The expression is a common one in the prophets, especially Isaiah, who use it for the purpose of introducing fresh traits in their pictures of the future (see e.g. Is. 2:20, 3:18, 7:18, 20, 21, 23).
will I raise up the fallen booth (or hut) of David, and fence up the breaches &c.] The succāh, or “booth,” was a rude hut—properly one made of intertwined branches; and the word is used of a cattle-shed (Gen. 33:17), of the rough tents used by soldiers in war (2 Sam. 11:11), or by watchmen in a vineyard (Is. 1:8; Job 27:18), of the “booth” made by Jonah (4:5), and of the rude temporary huts, constructed of branches of trees, in which the Israelites dwelt during the Feast of Ingathering, or, as it is also called from this circumstance, the ‘Feast of Booths’ (Lev. 23:40, 42; Deut. 16:13). The term itself denotes consequently a very humble structure, which here, in addition, is represented as fallen. In the following words the figure of the booth is neglected; the ‘breaches’ being those of a wall or fortress (cf. 4:3; Is. 30:13). These expressions are evidently intended to represent the humbled state of the Davidic dynasty; though what the humiliation actually referred to is, is uncertain. According to some, the allusion is to the loss sustained by David’s house through the revolt of the ten tribes according to others, it is to the future ruin of Judah, which it appears from 2:5 (cf. the words of rebuke in 3:1, 6:1) that Amos contemplated; others, again, suppose the reference to be to the actual overthrow of David’s dynasty by the Chaldaeans in 586 b.c., and infer accordingly that 9:11–15 was an addition made to the original prophecy of Amos during (or after) the Babylonian exile. On the whole, the second view seems the best (cf. p. 122 f.).
ruins] lit. things torn down. The cognate verb (hāras) is often applied to a wall or fortress (e.g. Mic. 5:11; Ez. 26:12); it is the exact opposite of the following build (see Ez. 36:36; Mal. 1:4).
as in the days of old] i.e. the age of David and Solomon. The expression used is a relative one, and may denote a period more or less remote according to the context; in Mic. 7:14, Is. 63:11, for instance, it denotes the age of Moses, while in Is. 58:12, 61:4 the same word (‘ōlām), rendered “of old,” denotes merely the beginning of the Babylonian exile, viewed from its close.
12. That they may possess the remnant of Edom &c.] i.e. that the empire of David may be restored to its former limits. The allusion is to the nations—the Philistines, Moab, Ammon, Aram of Zobah, Damascus, Edom, &c.—which, though they had been conquered by David (2 Sam. 8, &c.), had afterwards revolted: these, Amos promises, should again be incorporated in the restored empire of David.
the remnant of Edom] No doubt Edom is named specially on account of the ancient rivalry subsisting between it and Israel; in the happy future which the prophet here anticipates, he pictures it as reduced to a mere remnant (cf. 1:12; Ob. 18–21). This seems better than to suppose an allusion to recent defeats, whether the victory of Amaziah (2 Ki. 14:7),—which, however, must have taken place some 30 years previously,—or the subjugation by Uzziah, which appears to be presupposed by 2 Ki. 14:22 (cf. 16:6 R.V. marg.).
and all the nations, over whom my name has been called] viz. in token of conquest, or ownership. The reference is to the nations which, as just stated, had been conquered by David: in virtue of their subjugation by him, they had passed under the dominion of Jehovah. The sense of the expression, over whom my name was called, appears clearly from 2 Sam. 12:28, where Joab, while besieging Rabbah of the Ammonites, invites David to come and take it himself “lest I (emph.) take the city, and my name be called over it,” i.e. lest I get the credit of having captured it, and it be counted as my conquest. The phrase expresses thus the fact of ownership—whether acquired by actual conquest or otherwise (cf. Is. 4:1). It is used especially of the people of Israel, Jerusalem, or the temple, as owned by Jehovah: see Deut. 28:10; Jer. 7:10, 11, 14, 30, 14:9, 15:16 (of Jeremiah himself), 25:29, 32:34, 34:15; 1 Ki. 8:43 (= 2 Chr. 6:33); Is. 63:19; 2 Chr. 7:14; Dan. 9:18, 19; and the newly-recovered Hebrew text of Ecclus. 47:18. In A.V., R.V., the phrase is often, unfortunately, represented by the obscure paraphrase, “called by my name”; but the literal rendering, which is both clearer and more forcible than the paraphrase, is sometimes added in the margin of R.V. (e.g. 1 Ki. 8:43).
that doeth this] An epithet confirmatory of the preceding promise; cf. Jer. 33:2.
Am. 9:11, 12 stands in the LXX. (cod. B) thus: ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ ἀναστήσω τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυεὶδ τὴν πεπτωκυῖαν, καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω τὰ πεπτωκότα αὐτῆς, καὶ τὰ κατεσκαμμένα (AbQ* κατεστραμμένα) αὐτῆς ἀναστήσω, καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω αὐτὴν καθὼς αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ αἰῶνος, 12ὅπως (A+ἂν) ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων (A+τὸν Κύριον), καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐφʼ οὒς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐπʼ αὐτούς, λέγει Κύριος ὁ ποιῶν ταῦτα. In Acts 15:17 the verses are quoted by St James—or by St Luke in his report of St James’ speech—in this form (μετὰ ταῦτα ἀναστρέψω καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυεὶδ τὴν πεπτωκυῖαν, καὶ τὰ κατεστραμμένα αὐτῆς ἀνοικοδομήσω, καὶ ἀνορθώσω αὐτήν, ὅπως ἂν ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὸν Κύριον, καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐφʼ οὒς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐπʼ αὐτούς, λέγει Κύριος ποιῶν ταῦτα γνωστὰ ἀπʼ αἰῶνος), for the purpose of shewing that God’s having visited the Gentiles “to take out of them a people to his name” was in accordance with the teaching of the prophets. The passage illustrates the freedom which New Testament writers allow themselves in quoting from the Old Testament. Not only are there many minor variations from the text of the LXX.; but in the most important part of the quotation, the rendering adopted implies a reading of the Hebrew text (אָדָם למען יִדְרְשׁוּ שארית “that the remnant of men may seek [the Lord],” for למען יִירְשׁוּ את שארית אֱדֹם “that they may inherit the remnant of Edom”), which cannot be right, and can hardly even express a thought implicit in Amos’ words, though it is no doubt one found in other prophets, viz. that the ultimate aim of Israel’s restoration is to exert upon the nations a spiritual influence, and bring them to the knowledge of the true God (cf. Is. 55:5). Τὸν Κύριον (“the Lord”), to which nothing corresponds in the Heb., has been supplied, it will be observed, in order to provide the verb “seek” with an object. The text of the Vatican MS. of the LXX. (cod. B) is purer and more original than that of the Alexandrian MS. (cod. A): the quotation in the Acts agrees in several particulars with the latter against the former; and it is not improbable that the text of cod. A has been corrected on the basis of the quotation. In Ps. 14 (13) 3, the composite quotation of St Paul (Rom. 3:13–18) has found its way even into the text of Cod. B.
Here the Prophet describes the felicity which shall be under the reign of Christ: and we know that whenever the Prophets set forth promises of a happy and prosperous state to God’s people, they adopt metaphorical expressions, and say, that abundance of all good things shall flow, that there shall be the most fruitful produce, that provisions shall be bountifully supplied; for they accommodated their mode of speaking to the notions of that ancient people; it is therefore no wonders if they sometimes speak to them as to children. At the same time, the Spirit under these figurative expressions declares, that the kingdom of Christ shall in every way be happy and blessed, or that the Church of God, which means the same thing, shall be blessed, when Christ shall begin to reign.
Hence he says, Coming are the days, saith Jehovah, and the plowman shall draw nigh, or meet, the reaper The Prophet no doubt refers to the blessing mentioned by Moses in Lev_26:5 for the Prophets borrowed thence their mode of speaking, to add more credit and authority to what they taught. And Moses uses nearly the same words, — that the vintage shall meet the harvest, and also that sowing shall meet the plowing: and this is the case, when God supplies abundance of corn and wine, and when the season is pleasant and favorable. We then see what the Prophet means, that is, that God would so bless his people, that he would suffer no lack of good things.
The plowman then shall come nigh the reaper; and the treader of grapes, the bearer of seed. When they shall finish the harvest, they shall begin to plow, for the season will be most favorable; and then when they shall complete their vintage, they shall sow. Thus the fruitfulness, as I have said, of all produce is mentioned.
The Prophet now speaks in a hyperbolical language, and says, Mountains shall drop sweetness, and all the hills shall melt, that is, milk shall flow down. We indeed know that this has never happened; but this manner of speaking is common and often occurs in Scripture. The sum of the whole is, that there will be no common or ordinary abundance of blessings, but what will exceed belief, and even the course of nature, as the very mountains shall as it were flow down. It now follows —
Behold the days are coming – The Day of the Lord is ever coming on: every act, good or bad, is drawing it on: everything which fills up the measure of iniquity or which “hastens the accomplishment of the number of the elect;” all time hastens it by. “The plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed.” The image is taken from God’s promise in the law; “Your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time” Lev_26:5; which is the order of agriculture. The harvest should be so copious that it should not be threshed out until the vintage: the vintage so large, that, instead of ending, as usual, in the middle of the 7th month, it should continue on to the seed-time in November. Amos appears purposely to have altered this. He describes what is wholly beyond nature, in order that it might the more appear that he was speaking of no mere gifts of nature, but, under natural emblems, of the abundance of gifts of grace. “The plowman,” who breaks up the fallow ground, “shall overtake,” or “throng, the reaper. The “plowman” might “throng,” or “join on to the reaper,” either following upon him, or being followed by him; either preparing the soil for the harvest which the reaper gathers in, or breaking it up anew for fresh harvest after the in-gathering.
But the vintage falls between the harvest and the seed-time. If then by the “plowmen thronging on the reaper,” we understand that the harvest should, for its abundance, not be over before the fresh seed-time, then, since the vintage is much nearer to the seed-time than the harvest had been, the words, “he that treadeth out the grapes, him that soweth the seed,” would only say the same less forcibly. In the other way, it is one continuous whole. So vast would be the soil to be cultivated, so beyond all the powers of the cultivator, and yet so rapid and unceasing the growth, that seed-time and harvest would be but one. So our Lord says, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest” Joh_4:35. “Four months” ordinarily intervened between seed-time and harvest. Among these Samaritans, seed-time and harvest were one.
They had not, like the Jews, had teachers from God; yet, as soon as our Lord taught them, they believed. But, as seed time and harvest should be one, so should the vintage be continuous with the following seed-time. “The treader of grapes,” the last crowning act of the year of cultivation, should join on to “him that soweth” (literally, “draweth” forth, soweth broadcast, scattereth far and wide the) “seed.” All this is beyond nature, and so, the more in harmony with what went before, the establishment of a kingdom of grace, in which “the pagan” should have “the Name of God called upon” them. He had foretold to them, how God would “send famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” Amo_8:11. Now, under the same image, he declares the repeal of that sentence. He foretells, not the fullness only of God’s gifts, but their unbroken continuance.
Jerome: “All shall succeed one another, so that no day should be void of grain, wine, and gladness.” And they shall not follow only on one another, but shall all go on together in one perpetual round of toil and fruitfulness. There shall be one unceasing inpouring of riches; no break in the heavenly husbandry; labor shall at once yield fruit; the harvest shall but encourage fresh labor. The end shall come swiftly on the beginning; the end shall not close the past only, but issue forth anew. Such is the character of the toils of the Gospel. All the works of grace go on in harmony together; each helps on the other; in one, the fallow-ground of the heart is broken up; in another, seed is sown, the beginning of a holy conversation; in another, is the full richness of the ripened fruit, in advanced holiness or the blood of martyrs. And so, also, of the ministers of Christ, some are adapted especially to one office, some to another; yet all together carry on His one work. All, too, patriarchs, prophets, Apostles, shall meet together in one; they who, before Christ’s coming , “sowed the seed, the promises of the Blessed Seed to come,” and they who “entered into their labors,” not to displace, but to complete them; all shall rejoice together in that Seed which is Christ.
And the mountains shall drop sweet wine and all the hills shall melt – Amos takes the words of Joel, in order to identify their prophecies, yet strengthens the image. For instead of saying, “the hills shall flow with milk,” he says, “they shall melt, dissolve themselves. Such shall be the abundance and super-abundance of blessing, that it shall be as though the hills dissolved themselves in the rich streams which they poured down. The mountains and hills may be symbols, in regard either to their height, or their natural barrenness or their difficulty of cultivation. In past times they were scenes of idolatry. In the time of the Gospel, all should be changed; all should be above nature. All should be obedient to God: all, full of the graces and gifts of God. What was exalted, like the Apostles should be exalted not for itself, but in order to pour out the streams of life-giving doctrine and truth, which would refresh and gladden the faithful. And the lesser heights, “the hills,” should, in their degree, pour out the same streams. Everything, heretofore barren and unfruitful, should overflow with spiritual blessing. The mountains and hills of Judaea, with their terraced sides clad with the vine were a natural symbol fruitfulness to the Jews, but they themselves could not think that natural fruitfulness was meant under this imagery. It would have been a hyperbole as to things of nature; but what, in naturl things, is a hyperbole, is but a faint shadow of the joys and rich delights and glad fruitfulness of grace.
As the prophecy we have noticed was one difficult to be believed, especially when the people were led away into exile, the Prophet comes to the help of this lack of faith, and shows that this would be no hindrance to God to lead his people to the felicity of which he speaks. These things seem indeed to be quite contrary, the one to the other, — that the people, spoiled of all dignity, should be driven to a far country to live in miserable exile, and that they should also be scattered into various parts and oppressed by base tyranny; — and that at the same time a most flourishing condition should be promised them, and that such an extension of their kingdom should be promised them, as had never been previously witnessed. Lest then their present calamities should fill their minds with fear and bind them fast in despair; he says that the Israelites shall return from exile, not indeed all; but as we have already seen, this promise is addressed to the elect alone: at the same time he speaks here simply of the people. But, this prophecy is connected with other prophecies: it ought not therefore to be extended except to that remnant seed, of whom we have before taken notice.
Restore then will I the captivity of my people Israel; and then, They shall build nested cities and dwell there; they shall plant vineyards, and their wine shall they drink; they shall make gardens, and shall eat their fruit. He reminds the people here of the blessings mentioned in the Law. They must indeed have known that the hand of the Lord was opposed to them in their exile. Hence the Prophet now shows, that as soon as the Lord would again begin to be propitious to them, there would be a new state of things; for when God shows his smiling countenance, prosperity follows and a blessed success in all things. This then is what the Prophet now intends to show, that the miserable exiles might not faint in despair, when the Lord chastised them. It follows at last —
And I will bring again the captivity of My people – Where all around is spiritual, there is no reason to take this alone as earthly. An earthly restoration to Canaan had no value, except as introductory to the spiritual. The two tribes were, in a great measure, restored to their own land, when Zachariah, being “filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied,” as then about to accomplished, that “God hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation to us in the house of His servant David, as He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets – that we, being delivered from the hands of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him” Luk_1:68-70, Luk_1:74-75. So our Lord said; “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin. If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” Joh_8:32, Joh_8:34, Joh_8:36. And Paul, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” Rom_8:2.
And they shall build the waste – (Rather “shall build waste”) “cities.” “As they who are freed from captivity and are no longer in fear of the enemy, “build cities and plant vineyards” and gardens,” so shall these unto God. “This,” says one of old , “needs no exposition, since, throughout the world, amid the desert of pagandom, which was before deserted by God, Churches of Christ have arisen, which, for the firmness of faith may be called “cities,” and, for the gladness of “hope which maketh not ashamed, vineyards,” and for the sweetness of charity, gardens; wherein they dwell, who have builded them through the word; whence they drink the wine of gladness, who formed them by precepts; whence they eat fruits, who advanced them by counsels, because, as “he who reapeth,” so he too who “buildeth” such “cities,” and he who “planteth” such “vineyards,” and he who “maketh” such “gardens, receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal” Joh_4:36.
The Prophet further mentions here a quiet dwellings in the land, for it was not enough for the people to be restored to their country, except they lived there in safety and quietness; for they might soon afterwards have been removed again. It would have been better for them to pine away in exile, than to be restored for the sake, as it were, of sporting with them, and in a short time to be again conquered by their enemies, and to be led away into another country. Therefore the Prophet says, that the people, when restored, would be in a state of tranquillity.
And he uses a most suitable comparison, when he says, I will plant them in their own land, nor shall they be pulled up any more: for how can we have a settled place to dwell in, except the Lord locates us somewhere? We are indeed as it were flitting beings on the earth, and we may at any moment be tossed here and there as the chaff. We have therefore no settled dwelling, except as far as we are planted by the hand of God, or as far as God assigns to us a certain habitation, and is pleased to make us rest in quietness. This is what the Prophet means by saying, I will plant them in their own land, nor shall they any more be pulled up How so? “Because, he says, I have given to them the land”. He had indeed given it to them before, but he suffered them to be pulled up when they had polluted the land. But now God declares that his grace would outweigh the sins of the people; as though he said, “However unworthy the people are, who dwell in this land, my gift will yet be effectual: for I will not regard what they deserve at my hands, but as I have given them this land, they shall obtain it.” We now apprehend the meaning of the Prophet.
Now, if we look on what afterwards happened, it may appear that this prophecy has never been fulfilled. The Jews indeed returned to their own country, but it was only a small number: and besides, it was so far from being the case, that they ruled over neighboring nations, that they became on the contrary tributaries to them: and further still, the limits of their rule were ever narrow, even when they were able to shake off the yoke. In what sense then has God promised what we have just explained? We see this when we come to Christ; for it will then be evident that nothing has been in vain foretold: though the Jews have not ruled as to the outward appearance, yet the kingdom of God was then propagated among all nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun; and then, as we have said in other places, the Jews reigned.
Further, what is here said of the abundance of corn and wine, must be explained with reference to the nature of Christ’s kingdom. As then the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, it is enough for us, that it abounds in spiritual blessings: and the Jews, whom God reserved for himself as a remnant, were satisfied with this spiritual abundance.
If any one objects and says, that the Prophet does not speak here allegorically; the answer is ready at hand, even this, — that it is a manner of speaking everywhere found in Scripture, that a happy state is painted as it were before our eyes, by setting before us the conveniences of the present life and earthly blessings: this may especially be observed in the Prophets, for they accommodated their style, as we have already stated, to the capacities of a rude and weak people. But as this subject has been discussed elsewhere more at large, I only touch on it now as in passing and lightly. Now follows the Prophecy of Obadiah, who is commonly called Abdiah.