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Bible Commentaries
Amos 6

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Woe to them [that are] at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, [which are] named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!

Woe to them that are at ease in Zion — That lie sleeping on both sides ( In utramvis aurora dormiunt ), and slighting the former menaces, as Leviathan doth the iron weapons, Job 41:27 , that live as if ye were out of the reach of God’s rod; and as for all your enemies, ye puff at them, saying, We shall not be moved, we shall never be in adversity, Psalms 10:5-6 . To these sleepers in Zion God here sends forth his summons (the word Hoi signifieth as well Heus as Vae, ho as wo, Isaiah 55:1 Zechariah 2:6 . Ho, ho, come forth), that were quiet and still, Zechariah 1:11 , lulled asleep by Satan, or rather. cast into a dead lethargy: Samson-like their enemies are upon them, and they fast asleep the while; Ishbosheth-like they stretch themselves upon their beds of ivory, till they lose, not their precious lives only, but their immortal souls. Security ushereth in destruction; those that are at ease in Zion shall be raised by a dreadful woe rung in their ears, that shall make their hearts fall down, and their hairs stand upright. In the froth of carnal security and sensual delights is bred that worm of conscience that never dieth, Mark 9:44 , and here begins to grub and gnaw; like as while the crocodile sleepeth with open mouth, the Ichneumon, or Indian rat, shoots himself into his bowels; after which he never is at ease, as having his entrails daily devoured; so that one while he will be in the water, and anon after on the land, till life fails him.

And trust in the mountain of Samaria — Are carnally confident and secure ( πεποιθοσιν . Septuag.), as when good David also gotten upon his strong mountain, Psalms 30:6-7 , but was soon confuted: "Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled." The best are apt by rest to contract rust; and being fully fed, to wax wanton, Deuteronomy 32:15 . To affect more mundi delicias quam Christi divitias, as one saith, the world’s dainties than Christ’s comforts: to trust in uncertain riches than to rely upon the living God, who giveth them all things richly to enjoy, 1 Timothy 6:17 . This must be looked to; for it hath a woe hanging at the heels of it, Jeremiah 17:5-6 Psalms 52:7 ; Psalms 52:9 .

Which are named chief of the nations — Heb. expressly named, declared, notified, celebrated,

chief — the head, or first-fruits, the head and height, principium, id est, praecipuum gentium. So Amalek is called the first of the nations, Numbers 24:20 ; haply they held themselves so: as the Egyptians afterwards boasted much of their antiquity, and the Chinese at this day do of their excellence and perspicuity above other nations. Many wicked ones are of great renown in this world, Psalms 73:4 ; Psalms 73:6 , and stand much upon their titles and terms of honour; who yet in the next generation shall be utterly forgotten, Psalms 109:13 , for that their names are not written in heaven, Revelation 17:8 ; and look how much they have glorified themselves, and lived deliciously, so much torment and ignominy shall be given them, Revelation 18:7 .

To whom the house of Israel came — The whole house of Israel, viz. the two tribes to Zion, the ten to Samaria, vel sacrorum causa, vel iudiciorum, saith Drusius, as to places of worship, and besides, courts of justice. Others sense it thus, The house of Israel came unto them, that is, the Israelites invaded those nations that once held Zion and Samaria, and succeeded them therein; not by any strength of their own, but by God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm, which they, ungrateful wretches, acknowledge not: but come in for themselves ( ìäí ), so Ribera rendereth it, quasi sibi tantum nati, se solos esse aliquid, as if they were the only proprietaries, the sole owners of all; and owned no service to any chief lord. Such insolence grows from security. See Job 21:23 .

Verse 2

Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: [be they] better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?

Pass ye unto Calneh and see — Take a voyage to and a view of those most famous bordering cities, Calneh, or Seleucia, in Mesopotamia on the east (whereof see Genesis 10:10 , the beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom), Hamath the great, or Antiochia (now Aleppo, a famous market town), on the north. Then go down southward to Gath of the Philistines, which was of all the five satrapies potissima et potentissima, most strong and powerful, and is therefore called Methegammah, 2 Samuel 8:1 cf. 1 Chronicles 18:1 , because, being a town of great strength, it was, as it were, the bridle, whereby the whole country about was kept in awe: it was afterwards known by the name of Diocaesarea. Away to these neighbouring cities, and see in them, as in so many telescopes, how much more God hath done for you than for them in every respect; the greater is your guilt, and the deeper will be your judgment in the end, for abuse of these rich mercies, of a fertile soil, a large empire, to security, oppression, and other detestable vices and villanies.

Be they better than these kingdomssc. of Judah and Israel? which were certainly multis nominibus laudatissima, very fruitful and pleasant countries, Deuteronomy 8:7-9 Numbers 14:7-8 , whatsoever Strabo spitefully reporteth to the contrary, being therein worse than Rabshakeh, Isaiah 36:17 .

Or their border grearer than your bordersc. Till the Babylonians, Syrians, and Assyrians took part of your country from you, and cooped you up, cut you short. And now that you are so straitened for room, doth not the Lord recompense you in multitudes of people? Judea was not over two hundred miles long and fifty miles broad, say geographers; and yet what large armies brought they into the field! Observe, then, saith the prophet, the great things that God hath done for you above other nations, and walk accordingly; or else take lessons out of their losses and damages, and know that the case will be your own: Aliorum perclitio vestra sitcantio: Learn by other men’s harms to beware.

Verse 3

Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;

Ye that put far away the evil day — Woe to you that would do so if you could; that fondly persuade yourselves there is no such danger in evil doing as the prophets pretend: but that all shall be hail and well with you, though ye walk in the imagination of your hearts, to add drunkenness to thirst, Deuteronomy 29:19 , and to heap up sin as high as heaven, Revelation 18:5 . This cursed security and hope of impunity is the source of much wickedness in the world. See Proverbs 7:19-20 Matthew 24:48 . See Trapp on " Proverbs 7:19 " See Trapp on " Proverbs 7:20 " See Trapp on " Matthew 24:48 " Quae longinqua sunt, non metuuntur (Arist. Rhet. l. 2, c. 5). It is a sad thing when men shall say, as Ezekiel 12:27 , "The vision that he seeth is for many day to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off." This atheistic conceit accelerates the judgment: Ezekiel 12:28 , "Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord God." Tarditatemque supplicii, gravitate compensabo (Val. Max.).

And cause the seat of violence to come nearAmota Iustitiae sella: setting aside the care of justice together with the fear of God, for whom ye ought to have reserved the chief room in all your public meetings, as the Ethiopian judges are said to do. Atque vi angeritur res, might overcomes right; and robberies are daily done by authority. See Psalms 94:20 . The throne of iniquity shall not have fellowship with God; neither will he take the wicked by the hand, whatever those corrupt vice gods do (as we may in the worst sense best term them), "whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not," 2 Peter 2:3 . The evil day that they put far away will suddenly surprise them, and then what will they do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what will they answer him? Job 31:14 (Clandian, l. 2, in Eutrop.).

Sed quam caecus inest vitiis amor? omne futurum,

Despicitur, suadentque brevem praesentia fructum. ”

Verse 4

That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;

That lie upon beds of ivory — Which was a commodity far fetched (even out of India), and dearly bought; precious and sumptuous, Ezekiel 27:15 . The wealthier sort used to deck their houses with such kind of beds decked with ivory ( lectis eburatis, as Plautus phraseth it), as Esther 1:6 , with gold and silver; hence their houses are called houses of ivory, Amos 3:15 1 Kings 22:39 . See Plin. lib. 33. cap. 11; Horat. l. 2. Sat. 6. Here, then, is condemned their luxury, and abuse of God’s good gifts, with neglect of the public welfare, and contempt of judgments threatened.

And stretch themselves upon their couchesPandiculantur in suis cubilibus, so Rabbi Solomon. Others render it, redundantibus ac diffluentibus. Woe to them that delight in overlong and large coverlets, curtains, …, superfluously hanging down on all sides upon the very ground: so Kimchi. The Seventy and Vulgate render it, Woe to those that wantonize upon their couches, melting in sensual pleasures. Kατασπαταλωντες . Lascivientes. Deliciantes. Compare 1 Timothy 5:6 James 5:5 . God grudgeth not his people an honest affluence, Psalms 23:4 , but granteth them all things richly to enjoy, 1 Timothy 6:17 . Howbeit he requireth them to be sober and watch; not making provision for the flesh, to live after the lusts thereof, but walking decently as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, Romans 13:13-14 .

And eat the lambs out of the flockE grege, id est, egregios ac optimos, the very best and fattest morsels, pampering their paunches; swinish belly gods.

And the calves out of the midst of the stall — The French call them high-grass-veals, Veaux de haute graisse. Nothing would down with them but tid bits, λιπαρα και λαμπρα , dainty and goodly, Revelation 18:9 . Those abbey lubbers of the Romish synagogue are compared to fed horses, pampered in their cloisters (as war horses in their stalls or stables), and prepared unto battle, Revelation 9:7 . Lawful it is, I grant, at some times to eat of the fat and drink of the sweet, Nehemiah 8:10 , and to please the appetite, Deuteronomy 4:26 , to gratify it with what it liketh and lusteth after. But yet it must still be remembered, that it is a sin to feed without fear; and a shame for a servant of God to be a slave to his palate. "Eat such things as are set before you," παρατιθεμενα , saith Christ to his disciples, be it never so homely or wholesome, Luke 10:8 . And Genesis 9:3 , after, "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you," it is added, "even as the green herb have I given you all things," that is, soberly and without curiosity, to take and make use of such meats as are at hand, as Dr Willet interprets it. And this Nature seems to teach man, in giving him so narrow a mouth, throat, and belly; whereas to swine she hath given a wide mouth, a very thick neck, a large belly, and but a very little brains; that they might the sooner grow fat, and take no other thought but for the belly, saith Bodine.

Verse 5

That chant to the sound of the viol, [and] invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David;

That chant (or quaver) to the sound of the viol — That sing division with much variation of their voices, and many distinctions of diverse tones, modulations fractions. Particularizant, they sing their parts in concert. The Hebrew root word signifieth the single grains of grapes that remain after the vintage; or the particular berries, Leviticus 19:10 . Our word parting, answereth to the Hebrew peret. It is their wanton and unseasonable music (emasculating, dissolving, and drawing out their spirits) that they are here threatened for. This abuse of music (given to men for better purposes) is elsewhere condemned, Amos 5:23 Isaiah 5:12 Exodus 32:18 Ecclesiastes 2:8 . God made not man more avium minurire, to be chirping of birds to sport on earth as leviathan doth in the sea; to spend his whole time (as the people of Tombutum, in Africa, are said to do) in singing and dancing; and, when he is cast out of one paradise, to make himself another. It is charged as a foul fault upon those sensualists in St James, that they had "lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton," James 5:5 .

And invent to themselves instruments of music, like David — Whose example likely they pleaded to patronize their fiddlings and chanting of menial songs. But his music and theirs agreed like harp and harrow, as the proverb is. Two may do the same thing and yet it not be the same; because not from the same principles and for the same purposes: as we see in Cain and Abel, the Pharisee and the publican, David and these singsters, who did nothing less than help forward their devotion by music, as did David; and as did our late holy Esty, who, when he sat and heard a sweet concert of music, seemed upon this occasion carried up for the time beforehand to the place of his rest, saying very passionately, What music may we think there is in heaven? (Dr Hall’s Art of Div. Medit.)

Verse 6

That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.

That drink wine in bowlsNon in scyphis, cyathis, aut calicibus, not in cups, pots, or chalices, but in vessels of price, and of largest receipt, that they may be counted and called (as young Cicero was) Tricongii, such as can drink whole ones, and no small ones either. (The Seventy and the Chaldee render it, In phials; others, in goblets.) Diotimus, of Athens, for his excessive drinking, was termed χωνη , Tun-dish. Alexander the Great gloried that he could drink down any man; and one time, inviting many to supper, he provided a crown of one hundred and eighty pounds to be given to those that drank most; and forty-one of the company killed themselves with drinking to get that crown. Darius, King of Persia, caused this to be engraven upon his tomb; I was able to drink much wine, and to bear it bravely. Was not this to glory in his shame? had he no way else to show his valour? Did he never take notice of that Persian law, that it should not be lawful for their king to be drunk but only once a year, when they sacrificed to the sun, whom they took to be the greatest of the gods? How much better Bathsheba, in her Lemuel’s lesson, "It is not for kings, Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes strong drink: lest they drink and forget the law," Proverbs 31:4-5 . And if not for kings, much less is it for others to be "drunk with wine, wherein is excess," Ephesians 5:18 , lest with Nabal, and the rich glutton, they drink deep of the wine of God’s wrath, and have the full vials of his vengeance poured upon them for ever.

And anoint themselves with the chief ointments — After the manner of the Jewish nation, whereof see 2 Samuel 12:20 Ecclesiastes 9:8 Luke 7:38 ; Luke 7:46 Psalms 23:5 ; Psalms 104:15 Matthew 6:17 . They spare for no cost or pains to please all their senses. And such a prodigal pleasure monger was that rich citizen’s son, mentioned in the second part of the Theatre of God’s Judgments; who, to please all his five senses at once, allowed to the delight of every sense a several hundred pounds. For which end, 1. He bespake a curious fair room richly hanged, and furnished with the most exquisite pictures, to please the eye. 2. He had all the choicest music that could be heard of, to give content to the ear. 3. He had all the aromatics and odoriferous perfumes, to delight his scent in smelling. 4. All the candies, preserves, junkets, even to the stretching of the apothecary’s or confectionery’s art, to please his taste. 5. And, lastly, a beautiful and fair strumpet lodged with him in a soft bed, and the daintiest linen that could be compassed to accommodate his touch: and all these this epicure (more than ever Sardanapalus did) enjoyed at one instant. He spent 30,000 pounds in three years, and swore after all, that if he had ten times more than ever he had, he would spend it all to live one week like a god, though he were sure to be damned in hell the next day after.

They are not grieved for the affliction of Josephi.e. Of the Israelites, Psalms 80:2 ; Psalms 77:16 Amos 5:6 . Joseph is mentioned and put for all the rest, because he was famous among his brethren, vel ob mala quae pendit, vel ob bona quae rependit, both for the evils that he suffered and for the good turns that he returned (Aug. de Doct. Christian. lib. 4, cap. 6). When poor Joseph was badly handled by his merciless brethren; he could not be heard, though he used many entreaties, Genesis 37:23 ; Genesis 42:21 . They, when they had cast him into the pit, there to pine and perish with hunger, sat down to eat, and so to ease themselves of any remorse of conscience that might be wrought in them. They should have been sick at heart (as the word here signifieth) for the affliction, the confraction, the breaking to shivers, of Joseph ( ëøéí ): poor Reuben was so as far as he dared to show it; and Joseph did not forget his kindness when he came to his greatness. God, who is all heart, will never forget those that forget not his afflicted, but commiserate and relieve them as they have opportunity and ability.

Verse 7

Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.

Therefore now shall they go captive with the first — Heb. in the head of those that go captive: as they have been first in the degrees of honour and of sin, so shall they be now of punishment, according to that saying of the Centurists, Ingentia beneficia, ingentia flagitia, ingentia supplicia vast blessings, immoderate disgraces, enormous punishments (Magdeburg). This they shall have of God’s hand, they shall lie down in sorrow, Isaiah 50:11 ; yea, many sorrows shall be to those wicked ones, Psalms 32:10 , these merciless men shall not have the least mercy shown to them, James 2:13 . God will surely set off all hearts from such, as he did from Haman, for whom in his misery not one man openeth his mouth once to intercede, and he will punish, magnum luxum magno luctu, as one saith, great luxury with great necessity.

And the banquet of them that stretched themselves — They shall neither have mind nor money to make feasts, that were wont to lay on in all sorts of superfluities. That prodigal abovementioned was by a just hand of God reduced to extreme penury, and cast off by all his former acquaintance. That luxurious Roman, Apicius (the expenses of whose kitchen amounted to more than two millions of gold), having eaten up his estate, and fearing poverty, poisoned himself; leaving behind him ten books of direction how to furnish and set forth a feast with all manner of varieties, which now he could sooner talk of than take of. The word here rendered banquet is taken for a funeral feast, Jeremiah 16:5 , and so some think the sense here is; they shall be carried captive into a far country, and there be deprived of the honour of burials; which is a judgment elsewhere threatened, Jeremiah 22:18-19 . Aben Ezra rendereth it, facesset canticum, the song of the wanton shall be set packing; and for this he allegeth, that in the Arabic dialect the root word here used signifieth to lift up the voice, either for joy or grief. The Seventy render it the neighing of horses; as noting their immoderate lust, according to Jeremiah 5:8 . And this sense Ribera commendeth.

Verse 8

The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.

The Lord God hath sworn by himself — Heb. by his soul, which is himself; since whatsoever is in God is God. So Amos 5:2 Genesis 22:16 Hebrews 6:16-17 . Or, He hath sworn by his soul, that is, Serie et ex animo, Seriously and heartily. Among the heathens ex animi sui sententia was instead of an oath.

Saith the Lord God of hosts — Who hath power enough in his hand to perform what he hath so solemnly assured.

I abhor the excellency (or, the pomp and pride) of Jacob — So Basil, speaking of the Western Church, Odi fastum istius Ecclesiae, saith he, I hate their pride. This he elsewhere calleth οφρυν δυτικην , the Western brow, from the forehead, that seat of pride and arrogance, which at length occasioned that lamentable separation of the Eastern or Greek Church from communion with the Latin; the other four patriarchs dividing themselves from the bishop of Rome. Pride is an odious evil; fitly compared by one to a great swelling in the body, which unfits it for any good service; and is apt to putrify, and break, and run with loathsome and foul matter; so doth pride disable the soul from doing duty, and at last breaks forth into odious deeds, abominable to God and man. There are those who by excellence or glory here understand their glorious temple and other privileges, wherein they so much gloried, see Psalms 47:5 ; but Mercer thinks it rather meant of the ten tribes than of the two, whose crown of pride is elsewhere taxed, Isaiah 28:1 Hosea 7:10 . "The pride of Israel testifieth to his face," it breaketh out in his forehead, as a great master pock.

Therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein — Heb. with the fulness thereof; both persons and things are all forfeited, and shall be seized by the enemy; be the city of Samaria never so rich a Cargazon, so full a magazine of men and means, I will shut them up (so the word signifieth), after a strait siege, into the enemies’ hand, who shall make a spoil of them.

Verse 9

And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.

And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men, … — That is, many, as Zechariah 8:23 Leviticus 26:26 , because ten is the utmost of single number: q.d. though a considerable company escape the enemy, yet pestilence or some other destruction shall put an end to them.

They shall die — See this fulfilled 2 Kings 17:5 . In which common calamity what a happiness had they, that belonging to the election of grace, could confidently say, as Habakkuk 1:12 , "Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? We shall not die" (or if we do, death may kill us, but cannot hurt us, Occidere potest, non laedere ). "O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction." The wicked are killed with death, Revelation 2:23 , undone by it; to them it is no other but a trap door to hell, as to the saints it is as the valley of Achor, a door of hope, the very daybreak of eternal brightness, Hosea 2:15 .

Verse 10

And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that [is] by the sides of the house, [Is there] yet [any] with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD.

And a man’s uncle shall take him up — Him, that is, every one of the ten before mentioned, being now dead of the plague, shall his uncle or dearest friend take up on his own shoulders, for want of the ordinary mercenary officers (called by the Latins Vespillones, Libitinarii, Pollinctores ), their best friends shall be forced to bury or burn their dead corpses. So Seneca in Oedipo.

portat hunc aeger parens

Supremum ad ignem, mater hunc amens gerit,

Properatque ut alium regerat in eundem rogum. ”

To bring out the bones out of the house — For burial, as 1 Samuel 31:13 , the flesh being first burnt. Bones are a part of a man’s body; and therefore to be committed to the earth, or laid up in a safe place, as Joseph’s were, Exodus 13:19 Joshua 24:32 , and with his, the rest of the patriarchs doubtless, Acts 7:16 . This is one of the dues of the dead, τα νομιζομενα : 1. In honour of God, who made man’s body with admirable art, Psalms 139:5 , and as it were by the book, Psalms 139:14-16 . Psalms 139:2 . Next because the dead body was sometime a temple of the Holy Ghost, and an instrument of many holy actions, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 2 Corinthians 6:16 . 2 Corinthians 6:3 . Because it shall be raised one day and conformed to Christ’s glorious body, the standard, Philippians 2:21 . "We know," saith the same apostle, "that when Christ, our life, shall appear, we shall appear with him in glory"; like as in the transfiguration, that body of Moses which was hidden in the valley of Moab appeared with Christ in the hill of Tabor.

And shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house — To him that burneth the dead, as before, that assisteth a man’s uncle to inter him. The Jews did not usually burn, but bury; yet sometimes they did, Jeremiah 34:5 1 Kings 13:2 ; and at this time they were forced by the raging pestilence to do it (as Jerome here noteth), for the preventing of stench and further infection.

Is there yet any with thee — sc. left alive; or hath death made a clean riddance? Or thus: Are there yet any more dead corpses which I may carry forth for the burial?

And he shall say, No — Or, And he shall say an end, a total consumption; they are all dead and gone. A sad verdict.

Then shall he say, Hold thy tonguesc. bear it patiently, fret not, murmur not, it is God’s doing, Psalms 39:9 . Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God, Zephaniah 1:7 .

For we may not make mention of the name of the Lord — This is vox desperantis, the voice of despair and despondency; and it is as if he had said, it is bootless to pray; for God is set to plague us, and will not be pacified: Surely there is no hope; but we are all "free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom God remembereth no more," Psalms 88:5 , neither helpeth it us to remember or mention him any more. Men under sharp afflictions are apt to think that there is left them neither hope of better nor place of worse, as the Church in the Lamentations. Others sense it otherwise; but to me this seemeth the likeliest.

Verse 11

For, behold, the LORD commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts.

For, behold, the Lord commandeth — Calamities, and they come; the Chaldeans, and they are at hand with their battle axes, but it is he that gives them their commission, and biddeth them fall on.

And he will smite the great house with breaches, …i.e. He will destroy rich and poor together; pale death will knock at both their houses with an even foot ( aequo pulsat pede ), as in time of plague, earthquake, or the like epidemic evil. The grave is the congregation house of all living, Job 30:23 , whereinto men chop often before they think; as a man that walks in the snow may fall into a clay pit. The mortal scythe is master of the royal sceptre; and it mows down the lilies of the crown as well as the grass of the field. Death is the only king "against whom there is no rising up," as Agur phraseth the most absolute predominance, Proverbs 30:31 ; it levelleth lords and lowlies, and lays all waste; breaking down the greater houses and cleaving the lesser, with an utter extermination of all. Search you therefore, search you, O nation not desired; before the decree come forth, …, Zephaniah 2:1-2 . Being wise after the fact helps not; repentance, though true, may come too late in respect of temporal judgments, as in Moses, Deuteronomy 1:37 , and David, 2 Samuel 12:10 .

Verse 12

Shall horses run upon the rock? will [one] plow [there] with oxen? for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock:

Shall horses run upon the rock — Is it possible they should do so and not first break their hoofs, and then their necks? will the rider therefore venture there? were it not matchless madness in him?

Will one plough there with oxen — Sure he will conceive it too hard a tug, and too vain a labour. Jerome rendereth it Bubalis, with wild oxen; which, not accustomed to the yoke, are like to make but wild work wherever they are ploughed with. Now as there is no good horse racing upon a rock, nor fit ploughing there; so neither must you ever hope to escape unpunished, or to keep up your commonwealth unshattered, so long as ye deal thus preposterously, perversely, and absurdly, Proverbs 14:14 . That of Virgil is not much unlike:

Atque idem iungat vulpes, et mulgeat hircos.

For ye have turned judgment into gall, … — Or into poison; the Chaldee rendereth it, into the head of hurtful serpents. The word seemeth to signify the poison of serpents, which is in the head. See Hosea 10:4 . See Trapp on " Hosea 10:4 "

And the fruit of righteousness into hemlock — Or wormwood, as if ye were akin to that star in the Revelation that is styled Wormwood, Revelation 8:11 , that great Antichrist, who would make the world believe that he hath power, de iniustitia facere iustitiam, ex nihilo aliquid, ex virtute vitium, that is, of injustice to make justice, of nothing to make something, of virtue vice, to dispense with any of the Ten Commandments, to make new articles of the Creed, to dispose of all kingdoms at his pleasure, and what not (Bellarm. lib. 4, de Pontif. Roman.)? Pope John XXIII saith, that he may grant a dispensation against the law of nature and of nations, against St. Paul and St Peter, against the four Gospels. The Council of Constance comes in with a Non obstante against Christ’s own institution, withholding the cup from the sacrament; and the like for priests’ marriages, prayers in a known tongue, singing of Psalms. When the cardinals meet to choose a Pope they make a vow, whosoever is chosen he shall swear to such articles as they make. And Sleidan telleth us, that the Pope is no sooner chosen but he breaks them all, and checks their insolencies, as if they went about to limit his power, to whom all power is given both in heaven and earth, both in spirituals and temporals. And, indeed, he is called the beast, in respect of his civil power, and the false prophet, in respect of his spiritual; and the star Wormwood, because being himself in the gall of bitterness and bond of perdition, he turneth all judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousess into wormwood: see Amos 5:7 .

Verse 13

Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength?

Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought — In the creature, saith a Lapide, which is a mere nothing: in your wealth and strength (called horns in the next clause), which are an uncertainty, an obscurity ( αδηλοτης ), as the apostle deemed them, 1 Timothy 6:17 , and have no solid subsistence, said Solomon, Proverbs 23:5 , though the foolish world call them substance and goods. Indeed, it is only opinion that sets the price upon them, as when gold is raised from twenty shillings to twenty-two, the gold is the same; estimation only raiseth it. It is said of the people of the East Indies, in the Isle Ceylon, that having an ape’s tooth gotten from them, which was a consecrated thing by them, they offered an incredible mass of treasure to recover it. Such things of nought are highly prized and pursued by the world’s ουτιδανοι , by worthless persons, such as Antiochus was in all his state, Daniel 11:21 , and Agrippa in all his pomp (or as the Greek hath it, in all his phantasy or vain show, μετα παλλης φαντασιας , Acts 25:23 ), and as these voluptuaries in the text, who had their wine and their music, fat calves and choicest ointments, wherein they held themselves happy, Amos 6:4-6 , but the prophet telleth them that in rejoicing in these low things they rejoiced in a thing of nought; they fed altogether upon ashes, a deceived heart had turned them aside, so that they could not deliver themselves from these empty vanities, nor say (as wise men would have done), "Is there not a lie in my right hand?" Isaiah 44:20 .

Which say, Have we not taken to us horns — Yet, no doubt, but such as God, by his carpenters, can soon cut off, Zechariah 1:20-21 , or without them, by his own bare hand, Psalms 75:10 . But what an arrogant brag is here! Have we not taken? and to us? and horns? and by our own strength? Hic Deus nihil fecit, Here God did nothing; they were all the doers; so small a wind blows up a bubble,

Sic leve sic parvum est, animum quod laudis avarum

Subruit, aut reficit. - ”

It is a notable witty expression of Luther; By men’s boasting of what they have done, saith he, Haec ego feci, haec ego feci, This and that I have done, they become nothing else but faeces, that is, dregs: if themselves were anything they would not thus rejoice in a thing of nothing; they would not crack in this sort.

Verse 14

But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness.

But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, … — Which shall be a cooler to your courage, a rebater to your swelth, a means to take you a link lower, and to stain the glory of your pride. I tell you not what a nation it is, that you may imagine the worst; but you will find their quiver is an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men, and no less merciless, Jeremiah 5:16-17 .

And they shall afflict you (or crush you) from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of the wilderness — From one end of your land to the other; that as ye have filled it from corner to corner with your uncleannesses, Ezra 9:11 , so there may pass over it an overflowing scourge to wash the foul face of it, as once the old world. Hamath was before noted to be Antiochia, which was one of the bounds of the land of Israel to the north-east.

The river of the wilderness — Is elsewhere called the river of Egypt, as some will have it: see Numbers 34:5 ; Numbers 34:8 Deuteronomy 3:17 Joshua 13:3 ; Joshua 15:47 , where the wilderness was, Joel 1:20 . I cannot but concur with Kimchi, who by the river of the valleys here understandeth the Dead Sea, comparing this text with 2 Kings 14:25 Deuteronomy 3:17 , it being common in Scripture to call lakes and great rivers by the name of seas, Luke 5:1 cf. Numbers 34:11 . The Dead Sea also is in human authors called the lake Asphaltites, the lake of Palestina, of Sodom, … It lieth to the south-west; and is elsewhere made the bound of the promised land, Numbers 34:3 Joshua 15:2 .

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Amos 6". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/amos-6.html. 1865-1868.
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