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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Amos 9

CHAP. IX.

The certainty of the desolation. The restoring of the tabernacle of David.

Before Christ 787.

Verse 1

Amos 9:1. Upon the altar Near the altar. As this prophesy is against the kingdom of Israel, it is probable that this altar was dedicated to the purposes of idolatry, especially as God appears near it, in order to foretel its ruin, and consequently that of the kingdom of Israel. Instead of lintel, we may read chapiter. Instead of, and cut them in the head, &c. Houbigant reads, for I will wound them all in the head, and I will slay their posterity with the sword.

Verse 2

Amos 9:2. Though they dig into hell Into the lowest parts of the earth; the deepest cavern. See Psalms 139:8. &c.

Verse 5

Amos 9:5. And it shall rise up, &c.— See on chap. Amos 8:8.

Verse 6

Amos 9:6. It is he that buildeth, &c.— See the note on Jer 22:13-14 where it is remarked, from the Observations, that the chief rooms of the houses in the East are those above. Perhaps our prophet refers to this circumstance, when he speaks of the heavens as God's stories or chambers; the most noble and splendid apartments of the palace of God, and where his presence is chiefly manifested; and the bundle or collection (the troop) of its offices, its numerous little mean apartments, the divisions of this earth. Capellus observes, that the word אגדה aguddah, rendered troop, signifies those store-houses and cellars which are usual in great palaces: thus, says he, the heaven is, as it were, God's place of dwelling, his principal apartment; the earth is that to him which the cellars are in a large house.

Verse 7

Amos 9:7. Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians Amos, to take away from the Israelites their false presumption, that the Lord was too much interested in their preservation to prevent their total ruin, says that, in consequence of their infidelity and revolt, God regards them no otherwise than as Ethiopians. "You have rendered yourselves unworthy the name of my people; you have renounced by your idolatry the privileges of that peculiar covenant which I entered into with your fathers; you have given up me, and I give you up in my turn. But, Lord, is it not thou who hast brought us out of Egypt? Yes, doubtless: but have I not also brought up the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir? Yet, are they the more my servants and my people on this account?" See Calmet.

Verse 9

Amos 9:9. I will sift the house of Israel This prophesy remarkably agrees with the present state of the Jews. "I will mingle and scatter the Israelites among all nations, just as good and bad grain are mingled in a sieve; but will so order it, that the good grain (the souls faithful to the grace of God) shall be preserved." See Mat 3:12 and Lowth.

Verse 11

Amos 9:11. In that day, &c.— "After the fall of the kingdom of Israel, that of Judah shall continue for a long time in a flourishing state after their return from the captivity." But the prophesy has a still farther respect, and carries us beyond the times of the Babylonish captivity, to those of the Lord Jesus Christ; to which it is applied by the best authority possible; see Acts 15:16.

The tabernacle of David, says Houbigant, signifies the church, which consists not only of Jews, but of Gentiles. Some part of this prophecy had its completion in the times of the apostles, and afterwards in the light of the gospel, which shone both upon Jews and Gentiles. The prophesy will then be in a great measure completed, when the people of Israel shall return into their own land, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards and gardens; Amos 9:14. But in the great millennium it will have its final accomplishment in the fullest and most glorious sense.

Verse 13

Amos 9:13. Behold, the days come, &c.— In the note on Neh 4:7 we have observed, that the Arabs frequently robbed the countryman of his seed-corn. They treat the fruit-trees after the same manner, and oblige the inhabitants of those countries to gather the fruits before they are ripe, when they apprehend any danger from these mischievous neighbours. Maillet, speaking of the province of Fioume, says, "It is surrounded with Arabs, who frequently make incursions into it, especially in the season in which the fruits begin to ripen, which that district produces in great abundance. It is to save them from the depredations of the Arabs, that the inhabitants of this country gather them before they come to maturity, sending them to Cairo, where they find no difficulty to dispose of them, though they are not ripe." This circumstance may perhaps serve to explain the passage before us. Behold, the days come, &c.; that is to say, "The days shall come, when the grapes shall not be gathered, as they were wont before to be, in a state of immaturity, for fear of Arabs or other destroying nations; but they shall be suffered to hang even till the time of ploughing, so perfect shall be the security of those times; nor shall the ploughman have any thing to do, after committing the seed to the earth, but wait in undisturbed quiet for the time of reaping; no intervening labours of defence and war separating the harvest from the seed-time." This explanation removes the difficulty which might otherwise arise here; for the rains falling in the beginning of November in the Holy Land, and the sowing following presently after, what would there be astonishing in the treader of grapes overtaking, or meeting with him that sowed seed? since the travels of Egmont and Heyman expressly affirm, that the vintage at Aleppo lasts from the 15th of September to the same day in November; and the vegetable productions of Judaea, Aleppo, and Barbary, are nearly contemporary. It is certain, that, according to those travellers, nothing is more common at Aleppo than this running of the vintage and summer season into one; since in the same page that they affirm the vintage lasted till the 15th of November, they say, the sowing season begins there towards the close of October, and lasts all November. The grape, however, ripens much sooner; for Dr. Shaw tells us, that in Barbary it is ready for the vintage in September, and ripens towards the latter end of July; and consequently, when surrounded with Arabs, Judaea, through fear of them, became obliged to hurry on the vintage. On the other hand, though the grapes of Judaea might be sufficiently ripened for the vintage in common by September; yet it being very well known, that their hanging long on the trees makes the wine much the richer, more generous and sweet, the delaying the time of treading the grapes there till the time of sowing, perfectly well answers the latter part of the verse, And the mountains shall drop sweet wine. Answerable to this, La Roque found the monks of Canubin, in mount Lebanon, absent from their monastery, for the most part, and busied in their vintage, when he was there, at the end of October, or beginning of November; who are noted for the richness and excellence of their wines. Amos then speaks of their perfect quiet and freedom from disturbances in that country, in those days to which the prophesy relates; whereas all commentators, so far as I have observed, suppose that this passage either expresses the temperateness of the season only, or the abundance of the productions of the earth in those times; neither of which is the complete thought of the prophet, though they may both be indirectly involved in his expression. The following words of building the waste cities, and inhabiting them, planting vineyards, and drinking the wine of them, &c. perfectly agree with this explanation. But it very ill suits with the opinion of those who suppose abundance only to be intended; and that the first part of the verse, in that view, only speaks of abundance of work, and long-continued ploughing, and says nothing of the plenty of the crop. See Observations, p. 54.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The judgments of God against a people devoted to destruction are here fearfully declared.

1. The awful command for the execution of these criminals is issued. I saw the Lord standing upon the altar, at Beth-el probably, as about to stamp it into powder, and destroy the idols with their worshippers; and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake, intimating the demolition of the idol temples; and cut them in the head all of them, and I will slay the last of them with the sword, the king, princes, priests, and people who committed idolatry there.

2. All attempts to escape from God's avenging arm will be fruitless: they shall be arrested in their flight, and no place afford them protection in this day of wrath. Could they dig into hell, it would not conceal them; or could they climb the heights of heaven, thence would he drag them down. The caves or thickets of Carmel could not hide them from his all-piercing eye, nor the depths of the sea cover them: God has even there his instruments of vengeance. Nay, when in a miserable captivity they might have hoped that the vengeance of God would rest, the sword should still pursue them, and make them exchange a wretched life for a more tormenting death. Note; When God is against us, it matters not who are for us; they can afford us neither help nor hope.

3. He that pronounces their doom is fully able to execute his threatenings. The Lord God of Hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt: a touch, a frown from him can dissolve the earth, or deluge it with waters; and all that dwell therein shall mourn in bitterness the loss of all their substance, and whatever is dear to them besides, swallowed up in the flood of his judgments. It is he, that great Creator of all, that buildeth his stories in the heaven, like a stately palace reared by his power and supported by his providence; and hath founded his troops in the earth, all things here below being the instruments of his pleasure, and ready to execute his commands: he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth, to descend in tempests from the clouds, or burst from the bosom of the deep to punish guilty mortals: the Lord is his name, able to perform all the purposes of his will. As happy and safe as it is to have him for our friend, so miserable and fatal must it be to have him for our enemy.

4. Their iniquities had cut them off from their former honourable relation to this Almighty God. They were become, by their sins, like Ethiopians, spiritually black, guilty, and unholy; nor should they count upon the mercies which God had shewed in bringing them from Egypt, as if these were so peculiarly distinguishing, or insured his future favour; for he had brought the Philistines from Caphtor, the place of their nativity, or whither they had been carried captives; and the Assyrians from Kir, the land of their captivity, 2 Kings 16:9. Yet neither of these nations would escape at last his judgments. For, behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, on every guilty land, especially on Israel, whose guilt was most aggravated; and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth, as was done by Salmaneser. Note; When professors degenerate, and in spirit depart from God, their privileges will stand them in no stead, but rather aggravate their guilt beyond that of the vilest heathens.

5. A remnant of Israel, even those who have preserved their fidelity, shall be preserved amid the general ruin. I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord; his eyes behold the men that sigh, and cry for all the abominations of the land; and they shall be hid in the day of his fierce anger. For lo, I will command, by his over-ruling providence, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve; all the afflictions coming upon them shall be so ordered as to separate the precious from the vile; yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth, all the truly faithful shall be preserved; but all the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us, so daring in wickedness were they grown; but shall find, to their everlasting confusion, the vanity of their impious boasts. Note; When the sinner most confidently flatters himself with assurances of impunity, there is a lie in his right hand, and vengeance is at his heels.

2nd, With one bright beam of hope the prophesy closes, and, in the promised Messiah, still a glorious prospect remains of Israel's restoration; for to him bear all the prophets witness.
1. In the Messiah shall the glory of David's throne be restored. In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the day of old; to what event this refers we can have no doubt, having an infallible interpreter for our guide; Acts 15:16. When Christ came into the world, the church, the spiritual kingdom of our David, was apparently fallen as low as the royal family whence the Redeemer sprung; but in and by him the breaches were repaired, the gospel of the kingdom was preached at his command, and religion revived its drooping head, and shone more gloriously than in the brightest days of old. Nor were the higher privileges of grace now confined to one nation or people; but Gentiles, as well as Jews, became the happy subjects of Christ's peculiar kingdom—the Christian church. A remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, will now become the church's possession in this high and glorious sense, and be called by the name of Christ, admitted into the fellowship and privileges of the gospel, saith the Lord who doeth this, whose power and grace can and will accomplish what he hath promised for every faithful soul; and blessed be his name for what we have seen of the fulfilment hereof, and shall see daily, till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and all the faithful Israel of God be finally saved.

2. The most abundant measure of spiritual blessings in these last days will be diffused, signified by images of the most abundant plenty; the harvest and vintage being so vast, that it should continue till seed-time again, and the very mountains, as if dissolved, pour down streams of wine, and milk, and honey; the gifts, the graces, and consolations of the holy spirit in the times of the gospel, being bestrowed in a more eminent and extensive manner than ever before; but more especially in the last days, and during the glorious millennium, to which the conclusion of this chapter particularly refers.
3. The captivity of Israel will then be at an end; they shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, and help to build the walls of the spiritual temple; enjoying, as members of the church of Christ, that peace, prosperity, and plenty of heavenly blessings, which would be better than the fruit of gardens or vineyards: though this may also be well referred to the literal accomplishment of the prophesy, when the Jews converted to Christ in the latter day will be planted upon their own land, and enjoy all that outward prosperity here described.

4. This happy estate of God's Israel during this blessed millennium shall suffer no interruption. They shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God; he will preserve them from corruptions within, as well as from their spiritual enemies without; God, their God, their covenant God, shall fulfil all his promises unto them.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Amos 9". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/amos-9.html. 1801-1803.