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Bible Commentaries
Amos 7

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary



Here commences the third portion of the prophecy. It is of a different class from that which has preceded, and may have formed the main heads of public discourses, the parabolic ministry of the prophet in the earlier stages of his career. These fiats of destruction, contained in the visions and dreams of coming doom, had been arrested by the intercession of the prophet himself. But the time was approaching when prayer would be of no avail, and the desolation of the kingdom would be complete.

Verse 1

(1) Each of the visions is introduced with closely resembling words. For “grasshopper,” read locusts. The phrase “king’s mowings” suggests that the king claimed tyrannically the first-fruits of the hay harvest, which was ordinarily followed by the early “rain upon the mown grass.” (Comp. 1 Kings 18:5.)

Verse 2

(2) The grass of the land.—The same word is used in the original in Genesis 1:11, signifying herbs and vegetables. Amos saw the first wave of disaster in the destruction of the food of the people, and he interceded for respite and forgiveness. The cry takes the form, Who is Jacob that he should stand? (E.V., “by whom,” is incorrect) for he is small.

Verse 3

(3) The Lord repented.—The judgment is withheld. On the anthropomorphism of Jehovah repenting, comp. Genesis 6:5 and other passages.

Verse 4

(4) Fire.—The poetical description of a yet more terrible calamity. God announces His intention of judging, i.e., punishing by fire (the word in E.V., “contend,” is to be understood in this sense). For “a portion” read the portion. The image is that of a prairie fire, that should eat up the later grass spared by the locusts. The consuming of the “great deep” is a strong hyperbole, and can scarcely refer to the “heathen world,” as Keil maintains. The meaning rather appears to be that not only the solitary remnant of pasture, but the deepest springs of moisture, will be scorched up in the blaze. The same word for “deep” (tehôm) is used in Genesis 1:2; Genesis 7:11; Genesis 8:2. (Comp. the Assyrian tihamtu.)

Verses 5-6

(5, 6) Instead of “forgive,” the prophet now only ventures to say “cease,” a cry for arrest of judgment. Yet the same plea for pity is urged as before. Jeroboam II. and his house are spared for awhile. But another awful vision comes to the prophet.

Verse 7

(7) Wall made by a plumbline—i.e., a perpendicular wall, the stability of the kingdom being represented by the closely-fitting well-jointed stones of a lofty wall. Right in the heart of this strong-built city, the Lord Himself marks the extent of the desolation, the plumb-line being used in dismantling buildings, as well as erecting them (2 Kings 21:13; Isaiah 34:11).

Verse 8

(8) Pass by them.—In the sense of sparing. There will come a time when prayer will be of no avail. All intercessions, however passionate or eager, will be too late. The door of mercy is shut.

Verse 9

(9) High places of Isaac.—The name Isaac is here spelt somewhat differently in the Hebrew from the form we have in Genesis. The LXX. misunderstand the word, and render “altars of laughter,” in accordance with the etymological sense of the proper name. The residents in the neighbourhood of Beersheba may have boasted of the favour or honour belonging to them, as occupying the home of Isaac and the birthplace of Jacob.

Will rise against.—This dreadful doom fell on the house of Jeroboam, and was the prelude of the final destruction of the nations by Shalmaneser IV., in 721 (2 Kings 15:10).

Verse 10

(10) There follows a brief historical interlude of much interest. It shows that the effect of the preaching of the Judæan prophet had been felt in the sanctuary at Bethel and the palaces at Samaria. The chief priest of the Temple, with the characteristic exaggeration of fear and anger, accuses Amos of treason against the house of Jeroboam.

Verse 11

(11) Die by the sword.—So far as the words of the prophecy are concerned, it was not accurate to say that Amos had threatened Jeroboam with the sword.

Verses 12-13

(12, 13) Jeroboam treated the charge made by Amaziah with indifference, or perhaps with awe: at least, with silence. And so the priest of Bethel takes upon himself to dismiss the prophet from the kingdom. The word for “seer” is here chozeh, one who has visions, a word not used in a contemptuous sense here or in the Old Testament generally. The expression “there eat bread and prophecy” is a hendiadys for “there live on your profession as a prophet,” not here. To this Amos replies that that was not his profession (Amos 7:14). Bethel is spoken of as the “holy place,” or sanctuary, and also as the “royal residence” (E.V., “king’s court”). Men blinded by prejudice, and bewildered by the light of our Lord’s holy presence, besought him to depart from them. The awful peril of imploring God’s messenger to withdraw is frequently referred to in Scripture. (Comp. Luke 10:10-12.)

Verse 14

(14) I was . . .—An interesting biographical touch. Prophecy, like other occupations, tended to form a hereditary guild, but Amos was not by birth a prophet. The word for “gatherer” is rendered in the LXX. and Vulg. “nipper,” or “pincher.” There was a custom mentioned in Theophrastus, Hist. Plant., iv. 2, Pliny, Hist. Nat., xiii. 14, of pinching or scratching the mulberry-fig in order to make it ripen. But it is very doubtful whether this is the meaning of the Hebrew word here, which is nowhere else employed.

Verse 15

(15) Followed the flock.—There is no hint of any lack of education or refinement (see Introduction) through the exclusion of any special aid derived from the training of earlier prophets. In this case God’s inward call had been more than sufficient.

Verse 16

(16) Drop not.—A word used in the Song of Moses for “distil,” expressing persuasive and flowing discourse (Deuteronomy 32:2; Ezekiel 21:2; Ezekiel 21:7; Micah 2:6; Micah 2:11).

Verse 17

(17) Harlot.—This doom on Amaziah’s wife is to be regarded as the hideous consequence of war. She shall be ravished. By the polluted land we are to understand Assyria, or the land of exile; for food eaten in any other land than Canaan, the land of Jehovah, was regarded as unclean (see W. R. Smith, O.T. in Jewish Church, pp. 235-8). We hear no more of Amaziah, nor do we know how or where he met his doom.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Amos 7". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/amos-7.html. 1905.
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