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Amo 2:1 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:
Ver. 1. For three transgressions, &c. ] Or malicious wickedness with a high hand committed, and heaped up to that height. See Amos 1:3 .
Because he burnt the bones of the king of Edom ] "A wicked man," but yet a man: and God (who is a lover of mankind, φιλανθρωπος ) shows himself sensible of the injuries and indignities done but to his dead body; such an enemy he is to cruelty to his creatures. That Mesha, king of Moab, bore a special edge against the king of Edom, sought to break through the army to him, but could not, and afterwards sacrificed his son and heir, whom he had taken in that sally made upon the king of Edom’s quarters, we read, 2 Kings 3:26-27 . There are some that think that at another time, overcoming the Edomites, he dug up the bones of that king out of his sepulchre, he burnt them to lime, that is, prorsus, perfectissime et absolutissime, as some sense it (Targum), to ashes and cinders, as Isaiah 33:12 , or (for greater revenge and contempt) he white-limed the walls of his palace therewith, as Gen 11:3 Psalms 69:23 Isaiah 22:12 . Thus, in that horrid massacre of Paris, they cut off the admiral’s head (whom before they had murdered) and presented it to the Queen’s mother; who, embalming it, sent it for a present to the Pope, who, thereupon, caused the massacre to be pictured in the Vatican hall; under one side is Colignii et sociorum caedes; Colignii and his allies slaugher, on the other, Rex Colignii caedem probat The King of the Coligni approves the slaughter. (II Mercurio Italico, 92). The king himself ( viz. Charles IX) beholding the bloody bodies of those then massacred, and feeding his eye on so woeful a spectacle, breathed out this bloody speech, Quam bonus est odor hostis mortui: How sweet is the smell of a slain enemy. Another hell hag said upon a like occasion, that she never beheld so goodly a piece of tapestry as the faces of those butchered saints. This insulting over the dead is that piece of cruelty which the Church complaineth of, Psalms 79:2 . Cornelius a Lapide, upon this text, cries out of it as an inhuman and shameful thing, both because the honour of sepulchre is the last dues of the dead ( τα νομιζομενα , iusta defunctorum ); and also because this is to fight with dead carcases. Yet this hath been practised by one Pope against another, and by many of the Pope’s champions here in England, who unburied and burnt the bodies of Paulus Phagius, Peter Martyr’s wife, and many others. Cardinal Wolsey had a purpose (had he not been prevented by death) to have taken up King Henry’s body at Windsor, and to have burnt it. How much better Charles V (yet no friend to the Reformation, but a prudent prince), who, entering Wittenberg as a conqueror, and being importuned to dig up the dead bodies of Luther and other reformers, refused to violate their graves, and sent away Melancthon, Pomeran, and some other eminent preachers, unhurt, not so much as once forbidding them to publish openly the doctrine that they professed! Cambyses heareth ill among all men for his digging up the dead body of Amasis, king of Egypt, and causing it to be whipped and bricked; and Sulla, for the like cruelty to Gaius Marius. Of all fowl we most hate and detest the crows; and of all beasts the jackals (a kind of foxes in Barbary), because the one digs up the graves and devours the flesh, and the other picks out the eyes of the dead. Hinc moraliter disce, saith a Lapide: learn hence also what a baseness it is to tear and deface the good names of those that are dead; to secretly corrrupt their names is worse than to burn their bones to lime. And yet among many other men of mark that might be instanced, Melancthon mortuus tantum non ut blasphemus in Deum cruci affigitur, saith Zanchius; not Papists, but Lutherans laid blasphemy to his charge after his death, whom all Christendom worthily honoured for his learning and piety.
Amo 2:2 But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, [and] with the sound of the trumpet:
Ver. 2. But I will send a fire ] See Amos 1:4 .
And it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth ] A city so fair and large that it hath a plural name, which signifieth cities by way of excellence; as Athens was called the Greece of Greece; Rome, the epitome of the world. ‘ Eλλας ελλαδος επιτομη της οικουμενης .
And Moab shall die with tumult ] With all these together, on a huddle, as it were: they are here set down by an elegant asyndeton, to set forth the suddenness and terror of the judgment threatened. They shall be stormed, and have no quarter given them. Here Osiander noteth, that it is one of the many punishments of sin for a man not to die in his bed, but in battle. It was promised to Josiah "he should die in peace," 2 Chronicles 34:28 . True it is he died in battle; but he died before that general desolation that followed shortly after (for, indeed, with him died all the prosperity of that people). And beside, his weeping and humiliation had altered the very nature of the trouble, and made war to be peace to him.
Amo 2:3 And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the LORD.
Ver. 3. And I will cut off the judge ] i.e. the king, who sometimes sits himself in judgment, as King Henry VIII did here, at the condemnation of Lambert, martyr; as the king of Persia doth often to this day. I have seen him (saith a traveller) many times to alight from his horse, only to do justice to a poor body. The Grand Seignior himself sits one day in the week to receive the poor’s petitions, and punish the faulty grandees about him. For as he styles himself, Awlem Penawh, that is, the world’s refuge; so he would have the world to take notice, that such as lament unto him shall be sure to have redress and succour from him, although his ministers fail them, or abuse them, through their injustice; hence few viziers die in their beds.
From the midst thereof ] i.e. of Kerioth, the chief city where the court was kept, as Kimchi saith, with a great deal of pomp and pride. We have heard of the pride of Moab. See Jeremiah 48:7 ; Jeremiah 48:11 ; Jeremiah 48:14 ; Jer 48:18 Zephaniah 2:8 ; Zephaniah 2:10 . It was their national sin, and forerunner of their fall.
Amo 2:4 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked:
Ver. 4. For three transgressions of Judah ] Who were therefore worse than the above mentioned nations, because they ought to have been better Ideo deteriores quia meliores esse debebant. Beset they were with enemies round about, who dealt cruelly with them; and this should have made them to cleave more closely to God; these horns pushing and scattering them, should have pushed them home to him, Zechariah 1:19 : but it proved otherwise. For Judah also is found to be incorrigibly flagitious, guilty, as the former, "of three transgressions, and of four," &c., worse in them than in others, because "in Judah was God known," and to them were committed the oracles of God, whom they might hear again screeching out unto them, when they were putting forth their hands to wickedness, "Oh do not this abominable thing," Jeremiah 44:4 . But they, tanquam monstra marina, as one saith, like so many sea monsters, passed by God’s words with a deaf ear.
They despised the law of the Lord ] They would have none of his counsel; they liked well to live in God’s good land, but not to live by God’s good laws; like those in the Gospel, "they rejected the counsel of God within themselves," Luke 7:30 , and that with scorn and disdain, as the word here used signifieth. See Trapp on " Hos 6:6 "
And have not kept his commandments ] Though holy, just, and good, though such as, if a man keep them (be it but evangelically, si faciat, etiamsi non perficiat, Liv. xviii. 5), he shall live in them, by a life of grace, as the flame lives in the oil, or the creature by his food; though in "keeping thereof" (how much more for keeping thereof!) "there is great reward," Psalms 19:11 .
And their lies caused them ] That is, their idols (as the Vulgate well rendereth it), and their will worships, their new inventions, and good intentions thereby to serve and please God. These are properly called lies; because, contrary to the law of truth (whereto they are here opposed), and to David’s practice, who "did the truth," 1 John 1:6 ; and could safely say, "I hate and abhor lying; but thy law do I love," Psalms 119:163 ; Psalms 119:104 , "through thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way."
After the which their fathers have walked ] So that they are a race of rebels, a seed of evildoers, and do fill up the measure of their fathers’ sins, till wrath come upon them to the utmost. This is no small aggravation: Ezekiel 20:30 , "Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredom after their abominations." See Acts 7:51 . Must I be provoked by you from one generation to another.
Amo 2:5 But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.
Ver. 5. But I will send a fire upon Judah ] They shall also bear the punishment of their iniquities; yet, is it not said, as Amos 2:2 , that Judah shall "die with tumult?" &c. God will make a difference in his dealings with his own and others, his sons and his slaves; these shall totally and finally be consumed at once, Nahum 1:9 , not so the saints. The remnants of the Philistines shall perish, Amos 1:8 . But of Judah a remnant shall be still reserved, for royal use, Isaiah 11:11 ; Isaiah 11:16 .
Amo 2:6 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes;
Ver. 6. For three transgressions of Israel, &c. ] The ten tribes come in last, lest they (with whom his main business lay, and to whom he will henceforth apply himself) should conceit themselves privileged, because for the present prospered; lest they should read or hear the menaces of God’s mouth, as men do the old stories of foreign wars, that nothing concern them.
Because they sold the righteous for silver ] Even God’s own pasture sheep, that had golden fleeces, precious souls; these they made sale of for a little money, which ever was and still is a common medler, and drives the bargain and business to an upshot. Money, saith one, is the world’s great monarch, and bears most mastery: whence it is that the Hebrew word, Adarcon, used for money, 1 Chronicles 29:7 Ezra 8:27 , comes of Adar, strong, or mighty, and Con, to prepare; to show that a moneyed man is a mighty man, as this world goes. Unless we may say of money, as one doth wittily of Sardanapalus, the last of the Assyrian monarchs: Sardanapalus, saith he, had a terrible name. Sar noteth a prince, Dan a judge, Niphal an overthrower, or conqueror; not otherwise applicable to him, but that his luxury was the overthrow of both sovereignty and judgment. So is money mighty and well prepared, but it is to blind the eyes of the wise, and to pervert the matters of the righteous, Deuteronomy 16:10 , who because not so well underlaid as his adversary, lies long languishing many times at Hope’s hospital; as that lame man did at the pool of Bethesda, but might not be sped, because (for want, belike, of stirring angels) he could get none to put him into the pool immediately after the angel had stirred it. That was a sad complaint made by the prophet Habakkuk, Amos 1:4 , "Behold, the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth circumvent the righteous," viz. by his bribery and baseness, "therefore wrong judgment proceedeth." A judge is to retain the decency and gravity of the law; yea, of the law maker, with whom there is no iniquity, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts, 2 Chronicles 19:7 . Nec prece, nec pretio, should be the magistrate’s motto; he should be above all price or sale.
And the poor for a pair of shoes ] For a cup of wine, Joel 3:3 ; for handfulls of barley, or pieces of bread, Ezekiel 3:19 ; for a thing of nothing, so base they were grown at length; a very small deal of gain would win them over. See Amos 8:6 . At first, a little matter would not hire them; it must be silver, and a considerable sum too; as a harlot, that requires at first no small reward, but afterwards prostituteth herself quite cheaply to all comers. Sin seemeth modest and maidenly at first; but meddle not, for it soon woadeth an impudence in men’s foreheads, and debaucheth them.
Amo 2:7 That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the [same] maid, to profane my holy name:
Ver. 7. That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor ] Covetousness is craving and cruel; it rides without reins, as Balaam did after the wages of wickedness; and cares not whose head it rides over, to compass commodity. Yea it "panteth after the dust of the earth, on the head of the poor," as desirous not only to lay them in the dust, but to lay them a bleeding and a dying there. They gape over the head (or life) of the poor, in the dust of the earth (so some read the words), as devising to destroy them. A poor man’s livelihood is his life, Mark 12:44 Luke 8:43 , for a poor man in his house is like a snail in a shell; crush that and you kill him. These cormorants earnestly desired, and endeavoured to bring dust upon poor men’s heads (the garb of those that were in heaviness, Job 2:12 Ezekiel 27:30 Lam 2:20 ), by their oppressions and injustice; yea, to bring them down to the dust of the earth, to set them as far underground as now they were above. Lo, this they do as greedily and as greatly desire, as serpents and other hot creatures covet the fresh air, to cool their scorched entrails. See Jer 14:6 Job 5:5 ; Job 7:2 . It is said of Saul the persecutor, that he "breathed out threatenings against the Church," Acts 9:1 , as a tired wolf, that wearied with worrying the flock lieth panting for breath. So Bonner whipped the poor martyrs till he was breathless. Some interpreters note out of Joseph Ben Gorion, that there was an old custom that those that were accused before the judges, should be arrayed in black, and have their heads covered with dust. And hence they conceive the sense to be this: "That pant," i.e. that earnestly desire that such poor men may be accused by the rich, of whom they may receive gifts to pervert judgment. And this they think to be confirmed by the following words.
They turn aside (or pervert) the way of the meek] That is, the cause, business, judgment of the modest and self-denying poor, the subject of rich men’s injuries (for most part), the unreasonable oppressions, James 2:6 . A crow will stand upon a sheep’s back pulling off wool from her side; she dare not do so to a wolf or a mastiff. a Even reasonless creatures know whom they may be bold with; so do wicked oppressors. The meek by pocketing up one wrong, invite another. ( Veterem ferendo iniuriam invitas novam. ) "Ye have condemned and killed the just: and be doth not resist you," James 5:6 . Ye not only rob, but ravish the poor, that are fallen into your nets, Psalms 10:9 , ye do even whatsoever you please to them; as one martyr said of John Baptist, that he was put to death, as if God had been nothing aware of him.
And a man and his father will go in, &c. ] By a horrible (if not incestuous) filthiness; such as heathens by the light of nature condemned and execrated, 1 Corinthians 5:1 . The Indians abhor it; showing themselves in respect of the incestuous Spaniards among them, as the Scythians in respect of the Grecians, whom they so far excelled in life, as they were short of them in learning. Am I a dog, said Abner to Ishbosheth, 2 Samuel 3:8 , that is, so impudently and excessively lustful as a dog is, so scalded in his own grease, Romans 1:27 . Some libidinous sensualists put off all manhood, become dogs, worse than dogs; following their harlots, styled in Scripture, salt-bitches, Deuteronomy 23:18 , such as having abandoned both the fear of God and shame of the world, care not whom they admit, father, son, any one, every one.
To profane my holy name ] As if I were author or fautor b of such cruelties and villanies. This is to take God’s name in vain, Proverbs 30:9 , yea, this is to blaspheme, 1 Timothy 1:20 , by breaking down the banks of blasphemy and causing the enemies of the truth to speak evil with open mouth, as they did in David’s days, 2 Samuel 12:14 . And in Paul’s days, Romans 2:24 . And in Origen’s days, Nunc male audiunt castiganturque vulgo Christiani; quod vitia sub obtentu nominis Dei celent, Christians and their religion heareth ill among heathens, by reason of their impious and impure lives, and their conversation not becoming the gospel of Christ, Philippians 1:27 . Of such carnal gospellers it may be truly said, as Diogenes said to Antipater (who being vicious wore a white cloak, the ensign of innocence), that they do virtutis stragulam pudefacere, put honesty to an open shame, bring contempt upon God and his ways.
a A large, powerful dog with a large head, drooping ears and pendulous lips, valuable as a watch-dog. ŒD.
b An adherent, partisan, supporter, abettor. ŒD
Amo 2:8 And they lay [themselves] down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned [in] the house of their god.
Ver. 8. And they lay themselves down upon clothes ] i.e. table carpets, or bed coverlets, laid under those that sit at a meal; whether on the ground, with their legs gathered under then, (as the Turkish basbaws do to this day, and the Trojans of old, stratoque super discumbitur ostro ), or at beds or tables, leaning on the left elbow, Esther 1:6 John 13:23 . Et cubito remanete presso.
Laid to pledge ] These should have been restored, and not detained beyond the time prescribed, Deu 24:12-13 Exodus 22:26-27 .
By every altar ] It was their fashion to feast in their idol temples, 1 Corinthians 8:10 ; 1 Corinthians 10:21 . See Horat. Od. xxxvii, lib. 1. And this in imitation belike of God’s people, who were commanded to feast before the Lord, in the place that he should choose to place his name in. See Deuteronomy 14:23 ; Deuteronomy 14:26 1 Samuel 1:3-4 , &c. And here paucis verbis multiplex scelus arguit, saith Gualther, in few words he accuseth them of much wickedness.
And they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god ] A god they have of their own devising, a wooden god, and such as, if he had but a pair of horns clapped on his head, might make an excellent devil, as the Mayor of Doncaster told the wise men of Cockram, in Queen Mary’s days, that came to complain of the carver for making them an ugly crucifix. Next, they "drink wine in the house" of their god, besides their drink offerings (which David’s soul hated, Psa 16:4 ), they had their drunken compotations in their idol temples, as now they say in the Isle of Sardinia, after mass done they fall to drinking and dancing in the midst of the church; singing in the mean time songs too immodest for an alehouse. Lastly,
They drink the wine of the condemned ] Or of such as they have fined or mulcted for not coming along with them to the idol temples. Diodati rendereth it, the wine of the amercements, that is bought with such money as they have unjustly fined and condemned the innocent in. There are those who here understood that wine that was wont to be given to malefactors led to execution, Proverbs 31:6 , to cheer them up; but these wretches drank it off from them. The former sense is the better.
Amo 2:9 Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height [was] like the height of the cedars, and he [was] strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.
Ver. 9. Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them ] It is not usual with God to hit men in the teeth with what he hath done for them, James 1:5 , unless in case of unthankfulness, as here. Then, indeed, people shall hear of what they have had, and be taught the worth of good turns by the want of them. Good turns aggravate unkindnesses; and our offences are not a little increased by our obligations. Hence this approbation; and it is as if God should say, This people hath not only done the evils before mentioned, but also after the receipt of mercies without measure, and many miraculous deliverances; as if I had even hired them to be wicked; and as if that were to pass for truth which the snake in the fable said to the countryman that had showed it kindness, Summum praemium pro summo beneficio est ingratitudo. In the year 1245 the Pope was denied entrance into England; it being said that the Pope was but like a mouse in a satchel, or a snake in one’s bosom, who did but ill repay their hostess for their lodging. God had done exceeding much for this perverse people; and this they now hear of with stomach enough, as well they deserved. At Athens, if a servant proved ungrateful for his manumission, his master had an action, αποστασιου , against him; and might recover him again into bondage. Lycurgus, the Lacedemonian lawgiver, would not make a law against ingratitude; as holding it monstrous not to requite a kindness, not to acknowledge a good turn. The old Romans decreed that such as were found guilty of this fault should be cast alive to the cormorant, a to be pulled in pieces and devoured. Our Saviour fitly yokes together the evil and the unthankful, Luke 6:35 ; and God here sums up all his people’s sins in this one, as the epitome of all the rest.
Yet I destroyed the Amorite ] When once his iniquity was full, Genesis 15:16 , when he had filled the land from corner to corner with his uncleanness, Ezra 9:11 , then sent I my hornets before them, which drove them out before them. But not with their sword nor with their bow, Joshua 24:12 . See this thankfully acknowledged by this Church after she had prayed for her learning, Psalms 44:2-3 ; Psalms 44:9-10 .
Whose height was like the height of the cedars, &c. ] For stature and strength they seemed insuperable, Numbers 13:28 , &c. But God soon topt them and tamed them, he took them a link lower, and made them know themselves to be but men, Psalms 9:20 ; or if trees, cedars, oaks (as Plato saith of man, that he is but arbor inversa ), yet,
I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath ] I left him little enough to be proud of; less than Nebuchadnezzar, who had a stump left, and was reserved for royal state again, Daniel 4:15 . God cut off these Amorites; that is, all the seven nations, head and tail, root and branch, old and young together, Deu 7:2 Joshua 6:21 (behold the severity of God), as if he had forgotten that forepart of his back parts, Jehovah, Jehovah, gracious, merciful, &c., and had taken up that emperor’s motto, Fiat iustitia, pereat mundus, Let justice be done, though never so many be undone.
a A large and voracious sea bird ( Phalacrocorax carbo ), about 3 feet in length, and of a lustrous black colour, widely diffused over the northern hemisphere and both sides of the Atlantic. ŒD
Amo 2:10 Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.
Ver. 10. Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt ] Which lies lower than Judea; as doth also mystical Egypt than Jerusalem, which is above, which is the mother of us all. To what great preferments and privileges God’s people are now brought up by Christ. See Hebrews 12:22-24 , and cry out, with that noble Athenian, εξ, οιων εις οια , from how great miseries to what great mercies are we advanced! Even from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God: that we may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among the saints, Acts 26:18 . And shall we then again break God’s commandments? Ezra 9:14 , or say, "We are delivered to do all these abominations," Jeremiah 7:10 . Would not the heaven sweat over us, and the earth cleave under us, yea, hell gape for us upon such an entertainment of Divine bounty?
And led you forty years through the wilderness ] Led you all along in my hand "as a horse in the wilderness," that ye "should not stumble," Isaiah 63:13 . Led you, and fed you daily and daintily, sending you in angel’s food, and then setting the flint abroach that you might not pine and perish in that vast howling wilderness, Deuteronomy 32:10 . Besides that, I there bore with your evil manners ( ετροποφορησεν ), Acts 13:18 , as a mother bears with her child’s frowardness; or as a husband bears with his wife’s crossness, which he knows he must either tollere or tolerare, cure or cover.
To possess the land of the Amorite ] To fit you for such a mercy, to humble you, to prove you, and to do you good at the latter end, Deuteronomy 8:16 . God knows the height of our spirits and the naughtiness of our natures, &c.; how ill able men’s brains are to bear a cup of prosperity; and how soon their hearts are lifted up with their estates, as a boat that riseth with the rising of the water. God, therefore, usually brings his people into the wilderness, and there "speaketh to their hearts," Hosea 2:14 ; he holds them first to hard meat, and then puts them into full possession.
Amo 2:11 And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. [Is it] not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD.
Ver. 11. And I raised up your sons for prophets ] The ministry is worthily instanced as a singular mercy, Psalms 147:19-20 . Other nations had their prophets, such as they were, Titus 1:12 , προφητης . Tragedians and comedians were said, εις διδαχην εργαζεσθαι , to labour in teaching the people, and were highly esteemed of the Athenians; insomuch as that after their discomfit in Sicily they were relieved out of the public stock who could repeat somewhat of Euripides. But what were these to Israel’s prophets, those holy men of God, who spake as they were moved, acted, and, as it were, carried out of themselves by the Holy Ghost, to say and to do what God would have them? φερομενοι , 2 Peter 1:21 ; yea, those holy children, such as Samuel and Jeremiah (for of them especially the Rabbins understand this text), who devoted themselves to the work betimes, being more forwardly than either Athanasius, the boy bishop, or Cornelius Mus, who (if we may believe Sixtus Senensis) was a preacher at twelve years old, and such a one as with whom all Italy was in admiration.
And of your young men for Nazarites ] The Chaldee hath it doctors, or teachers; it being the office of these holy votaries to teach the people. Heathens also had a kind of Nazarites, as Lucian setteth forth in his Dea Syria (Habent et vespae favos, simiae imitantur homines ), and the Turks at this day have their Dermislars, and their Imailers, whom they call the religious brothers of love. Epicurian hogs they might better term them, saith the historian. The Papists would prove their monks to be Christian Nazarites: but the abolishing of that order is declared, Acts 21:25 ; and monks are so far from the abstinence of the Nazarites, that they eat of the best and drink of the sweetest that sea and land can afford. So far also from the singular sanctimony of the Nazarites, whereof see Lamentations 4:7 , that the poet sung truly of them,
“ Non audet Stygius Pluto tentare quod audet
Effraenis Monachus. - ”
They may better profess themselves successors to the scribes and Pharisees, who may seem (saith one) to have fled and hid themselves in the monks and friars. Now, the Pharisees pretended to succeed the ancient Nazarites, as their very name imports, vitae sanctimonia et voto singulari ab aliis separati, but they were (as likewise the Popish monks) a generation never instituted by God, nor brought in by the prophets, but only a human invention, and through their own boldness; whence Chemnitius, upon the tenth of John, takes thieves there to be the Pharisees. An interpreter here showeth how God hath now made all his people Nazarites, i.e. separated and sanctified unto himself, by making them patterns of piety, as the Rechabites, holy, harmless, undefiled of dead works and evil works, from whom they are bid to stand off, 1 Timothy 6:5 , as also not to "be drunk with wine, wherein is excess," but "to be filled with the Spirit"; abstaining from all appearance of evil, hating the garment spotted with the flesh, Ephesians 5:18 1Th 5:22 Judges 1:23 . See Trapp on " Num 6:1 " &c
Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? ] If it be not testified against me, as Micah 6:3 , and if ye cannot then read the sentence against yourselves, as Judas did, Matthew 27:4 , that ye may appear to be subverted and self-condemned, Titus 3:11 . God loveth to fetch witness from men’s own consciences for the justifying his proceedings; and to convince them clearly that he is no way wanting to them, but they to themselves. A cunning carver can carve the similitude of any creature, but not on a rotten stick. What could God do more to his vineyard than he had done? Isaiah 5:4 . "How oft would I have gathered thy children, as a hen her chickens," &c., Matthew 23:37 . "How long shall, thy vain thoughts, lodge within, thee?" Jeremiah 4:14 . God as so far from being guilty of Israel’s misery as that, besides other undeniable arguments of his love, as bringing them out of Egypt, destroying the Amorite, &c., he had raised them up prophets and Nazarites, given them his word, sacraments, all good helps to mollify their hearts; and then appealeth to their consciences by this rhetorical interrogation, "Is it not even thus?" so to wring from them a confession of the truth, in spite of their teeth.
Amo 2:12 But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.
Ver. 12. But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink ] Opponit iam Propheta pessimam gratiam, saith Gualther. Here was the ill requital they made the Lord for all his benefits; they corrupted his young Nazarites (as buzzards snatch up young lapwings) and silenced his prophets, or enjoined them at least to meddle with toothless truths only, to preach placentia; pleasing things, threatening them if they did otherwise (for so the original importeth) that so they might sin without control, and go to hell without hindrance. This God heavily here complains of, as a horrible ingratitude. To render good for evil is Divine, good for good is human, evil for evil is brutish, but evil for good is devilish.
Amo 2:13 Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed [that is] full of sheaves.
Ver. 13. Behold I am pressed under you, &c. ] A country comparison (such as this prophet is full of), plain, but pithy; to show how God is pressed and oppressed with people’s sins, wearied as it were, Isaiah 43:24 , and his patience even worn out; so that he can forbear them no longer, Isaiah 42:14 , but like a travailing woman, that bites in her pain as long as she is able, at length cries out: so here, God hath much ado to forbear killing men in their sins; as he was ready to have a blow at Moses, when he met him in the inn, and could hardly hold his hands; he even groans under the pressure as a cart seems to do under an extraordinary load laid on it, till it creak and crack again; he seems to screech out to sinners, as Jeremiah 44:4 , "Oh, do not this abominable thing!" And (when he cannot be heard) to sigh out, "Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity," &c., Isaiah 1:4 , as Fasciculus temporum, A.D. 884, bitterly bewailing the iniquities of those times, cries out, Heu heu, Domino Deus, &c. That ninth age is much complained of by many writers. God hath as much, nay, more, cause to complain of ours, considering his pains with us, and patience towards us, to so little purpose and profit. See Trapp on " Mal 1:1 " Many interpreters make these words not a complaint, but a communication; rendering it thus, I will press or straiten your place as a cart full of sheaves presseth, &c.; either the ground whereon it goeth, or the corn which it thresheth out of the husk, Isaiah 28:27-28 ; or as the creature that lieth under the wheels of it is crushed in pieces. It was a memorable saying of Mr Bradford, martyr, He that will not tremble in threatening shall be crushed in pieces in feeling. These perverse Israelites would not be warned by any threatening, therefore they were pressed to some purpose in that sore famine and strait siege of Samaria. Obsidione vos premam, Press hard your seige, saith the Chaldee here; I will so beleaguer your city that there shall be no escaping. Look how a laden cart, onustum sibi, so laden that another sheaf can hardly be laid on, so gets stuck in narrow places, that it can neither go forward nor backward; so will I bring you into those distresses, that you shall not know how to avoid or abide them, στενοχωρουμενοι . confer Psalms 4:2 Proverbs 4:12 2Co 4:8 I will distress my distressers, and press with such piercing afflictions as shall make you sigh and screech out another while, Oh it is an evil thing and a bitter to forsake the Lord, &c., Jeremiah 2:19 . Oh, he is worse than mad that would buy the sweetest sin at so dear a rate.
Amo 2:14 Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself:
Ver. 14. Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift ] Men are apt to bless themselves when God curseth, Deuteronomy 29:19 , and to bind upon impurity in a common calamity, to make fair weather, when such a tempest is up as shall never be blown over. Or, if worse come, then, as all creatures run to their refuges, Pro 30:25 Psa 104:18 Pro 18:11 Daniel 4:12 ; Daniel 4:14 Judges 9:50-51 (the hunted hare runs to the form, to the bushes that she formerly haunted, but now these cannot save her), so men in misery bethink themselves of and betake themselves to creature comforts and refuges, either natural, or artificial, as here, but these all serve them as Absalom’s mule did her master, hanging between heaven and earth, but rejected of both. Let a man be as swift as Asahel, God can easily overtake him; his sin will find him out, and he shall but in running from his death run to it; as the historian speaketh of those Scots defeated by the English at Musselborough field, that they so strained themselves in running for their lives that they fell down breathless and dead. Surely as the coney that flees to the holes in the rocks doth easily avoid the dogs that pursue her, when the hare that trusts in the swiftness of her legs is at length overtaken and torn in pieces; so those that trust in God shall be secured, whereas those that confide in themselves or the creature shall be surprised, and come to an ill end. David ran to God in distress and was relieved; Saul goes to the witch, and from thence to the sword’s point; Judas to the Pharisees, and thence to the halter.
The strong shall not strengthen his force ] But be made weak as water. "None of the men of might have found their hands," Psalms 76:5 ; their hands are palsied, their sinews cracked and crippled. It is God that both strengtheneth and weakeneth the arms in the day of battle, Ezekiel 30:24 .
Amo 2:15 Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and [he that is] swift of foot shall not deliver [himself]: neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself.
Ver. 15. Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow ] Arcitenens, though he can do it never so dexterously, yet if he trust in his bow, Psalms 44:6 , God will break it, Jeremiah 49:35 , or otherwise render it unuseful; as it befell the army of Sennacherib in Egypt, of Maximus against Theodosius, and the French in the battle between our Edward III and their King Philip, who being enraged with a defeat, resolved presently to revenge it, being elevated with an assured hope of triumphant victory. But it happened otherwise; for there fell at the instant of the battle a piercing shower of rain which dissolved their strings, and made their bows useless.
Neither shall he that rideth the horse ] Though it be as good a one as Cain is feigned by Dubertas to have managed, or as Alexander’s Bucephalus, or Julius Cesar’s great horse serviceable, and full of terror. A horse is so swift that Job saith he "eateth up the ground"; and the Persians dedicated him to their god the sun, as the swiftest creature to the swiftest power divine, ωσπερ το ταχιστον τω ταχυτατφ θεων (Pausan.). But as the sun in heaven can neither be outrun nor stopped in his race, so neither by men nor means can God be frustrated, or his anger avoided. The Canaanites had both horses and chariots, the Israelites had neither; and yet they found a horse a vain thing for victory, Psalms 33:17 ; Psalms 147:10 .
Amo 2:16 And [he that is] courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD.
Ver. 16. And he that is courageous ] Heb. strong of his heart, a Coeur de Lion, as one of our kings was called, Egregie cordatus homo, one of a Roman resolution to vanquish, or die; they were wont to say of cowards in Rome, that there was nothing Roman in them. But let man be as bold as Brutus, whom one pronounced Romanorum ultimum, the last of the Romans, as if after Rome had brought forth no courageous man and worthy of herself. Let him be "courageous among the mighty," such as were those lion-like chieftains among David’s worthies, Scanderbeg, Zisca, Huniades who was in that unhappy battle at Varna (by a just hand of God upon him for joining with that perjured Popish King Ladislaus) beaten out of the field.
And forced to flee away naked in that day ] Escaped narrowly with his life; as he did also another time, when after a slaughter of 34,000 Turks, he was compelled to save himseff by flight; and all alone by uncouth ways to travel three days and nights, without meat or drink; and afterwards, being on foot and disarmed, which is here meant by naked, confer Isa 20:3 Mic 1:8 1Sa 19:24 he fell into the hands of two notable thieves, who despoiled him of his apparel, and on the next day he lit upon a shepherd of whom he for God’s sake craved something to eat, and obtained bread and water and a few onions, as the Turkish history hath it.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Amos 2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30