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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Amos 9

 

 

Verse 1

I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.

None can escape the coming judgment in any hiding place: for God is omnipresent and irresistible (Amos 9:1-6). As a kingdom, the ten tribes of Israel shall perish, as if it never was in covenant with Him; but as individuals the house of Jacob shall not utterly perish: nay, not one of the least of righteous shall fall, but only all the sinners (Amos 9:7-10). Restoration of the Jews finally to their own land, after the re-establishment of the fallen tabernacle of David; consequent conversion of all the pagan (Amos 9:11-15).

I saw the Lord standing upon the altar - namely, in the idolatrous temple at Bethel, the calves of which were spoken of in the verse just preceding-namely, Amos 8:14. Here they would flee for protection from the Assyrians, and would perish in the ruins, with the vain object of their trust (Henderson). Yahweh stands here to direct the destruction of it, them, and the idolatrous nation. He demands many victims on the altar but they are to be human victims. Calvin and Fairbairn, etc., make it in the temple at Jerusalem. Judgment was to descend both on Israel and Judah. As the services of both alike ought to have been offered on the Jerusalem temple-altar, it is there that Yahweh ideally stands, as if the whole people were assembled there, their abominations lying unpardoned there, and crying for vengeance, though in fact committed elsewhere (cf. Ezekiel 8:1-18). This view harmonizes with the similarity of the vision in Amos to that in Isaiah 7:1-25, at Jerusalem: also with the end of this chapter (Amos 9:11-15), which applies both to Judah and Israel: "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David" - namely, at Jerusalem. His attitude, standing, implies fixity of purpose.

And he said, Smite the lintel of the door - rather, the sphere-like capital of the column (Maurer).

That the posts may shake - rather, the thresholds, as in Isaiah 6:4, margin, "The posts (thresholds) of the door moved at the voice of Him that cried." The temple is to be smitten below as well as above, to ensure utter destruction; or, being struck above, it reeled to its base. The command of God was given to the angel of the Lord.

And cut them in the head - namely, with the broken fragments of the capitals and columns (cf. Psalms 68:21; Habakkuk 3:13).

And I will slay the last of them with the sword - their posterity (Henderson). The survivors (Maurer). Yahweh's directions are addressed to His angels, ministers of judgment (cf. Ezekiel 9:1, "Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man, with his destroying weapon in his hand"). He that fleeth of them shall not flee away - he who fancies himself safe, and out of reach of the enemy, shall be taken (Amos 2:14, "The flight shall perish from the swift").

He that escapeth of them shall not be delivered - (Amos 2:14, "Neither shall the mighty deliver himself").


Verse 2

Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:

Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them - though they hide ever so deeply in the earth (Psalms 139:8).

Though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down - though they ascend the greatest heights (Job 20:6-7; Jeremiah 51:53; Obadiah 1:4.)


Verse 3

And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:

Though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel - where the forests, and, on the west side, the numerous caves furnished hiding-places (Amos 1:2; Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 13:6).

Though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea - though they hide themselves in the bottom of the Mediterranean, which flows at the foot of mount Carmel, forming a strong antithesis to it.

Thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them - the sea-serpent, a term used for any great water monster (Isaiah 27:1, "the dragon that is in the sea"). The symbol of cruel and oppressive kings (Psalms 74:13-14, "Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength; thou breakest the heads of the dragons in the waters"). Pliny's statement as to the venom of the water serpents found in the Red Sea, the Indian and the Pacific Oceans, is confirmed by modern research (Pliny, 'Natural History,' 29: 4, 22).


Verse 4

And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.

Though they go into captivity before their enemies - going willingly before their foes like a flock of sheep, hoping to save their lives by voluntarily surrendering to the foe.

Thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them - Leviticus 26:33, "I will scatter you among the pagan, and will draw out a sword after you."


Verse 5

And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.

And the Lord God of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt. Since Amos had threatened that the Israelites would be nowhere safe from the divine judgments, he here shows God's omnipotent ability to execute His threats.

And all that dwell therein shall mourn; and it shall rise up wholly like a flood, and shall be drowned as by the flood of Egypt. God is stated to be the first cause of the mourning of all that dwell in the land, and of its rising like a flood, and of its being drowned as by the flood of Egypt-the threat which is previously uttered, in almost the same words, in Amos 8:8.


Verse 6

It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.

It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven - "stories," literally, ascents, i:e., upper chambers, to which the ascent is by steps (Maurer); evidently referring to the words, Psalms 104:3; Psalms 104:13. Grotius explains it, God's royal throne, expressed in language drawn from Solomon's throne, to which the ascent was by steps (cf. 1 Kings 10:18-19).

And hath founded his troop in the earth - namely, all animate creatures which are God's troop, or host (Genesis 2:1), doing His will (Psalms 103:20-21; Joel 2:11). Maurer translates, 'His vault' - i:e. the vaulted sky, which seems to rest on the earth, supported by the horizon. So Pusey, 'His arch'-literally, bands, expressing the firm union of the arch, as our apse is from the Greek, haptoo.


Verse 7

Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?

Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the Lord - however great ye seem to yourselves. Do not rely on past privileges, and on my having delivered you from Egypt, as if therefore I never would remove you from Canaan. I make no more account of you than of "the Ethiopian" (cf. Jeremiah 13:23).

Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir? "Have not I (who) brought you out of Egypt," done as much for other peoples? For instance, did I not bring "the Philistines (notes, Isaiah 14:29, etc.) from Caphtor" where they had been bond-servants, and the Syrians from Kir? (cf. Deuteronomy 2:23; note, Jeremiah 47:4.) Pusey thinks there were different migrations of the same tribe into Palestine, which afterward merged in one common name. The first must have been that of the "Casluhim, out of whom came Philistim" (Genesis 10:14): a second from the Captorim, a kindred people, both being descended from Mizraim (Caphtor answers to Cappadocia); a third was the Cherethim (the Cretans; Crete being an intermediate resting-place in their migrations). It is appropriate that as the Syrians migrated into Syria from Kir (cf. note, Isaiah 22:6, "Kir uncovered the shield"), so they should be carried back captive into the same land (note, Amos 1:5; 2 Kings 16:9), just as elsewhere Israel is threatened with a return to Egypt, whence they had been delivered. The "Ethiopians" - Hebrew, Cushites-were originally akin to the race that founder Babylon: the cuneiform inscriptions found in the mounds of Chaldea Proper being in the Babylonian tongue, the vocabulary of which is proved to be Cushite or Ethiopian, thereby confirm independently the Scripture statement which had been thought by rationalists a mistake of Moses, or the writer of Genesis (Genesis 10:6; Genesis 10:8; Genesis 10:10, "The sons of Ham, Cush (Ethiopia), and Mizraim (Egypt) ... and Cush begat Nimrod ... And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel ... out of that land he went out into Assyria," (margin).


Verse 8

Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.

Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom - i:e., I am watching all its sinful course, in order to punish it (cf. Amos 9:4, "I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good;" Psalms 34:15-16).

And I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob - though, as a "kingdom," the nation is now utterly to perish, a remnant is to be spared for "Jacob" their forefather's sake (cf. Jeremiah 30:11, "Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered thee; yet will I not make a full end of thee"); to fulfill the covenant whereby "the seed of Israel" is hereafter to be "a nation before God forever" (Jeremiah 31:36).


Verse 9

For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.

Sift - I will cause the Israelites to be tossed about through all nations as grain is shaken about in a sieve, in such a way, however, that while the chaff and dust (the wicked) fall through (perish), all the solid grains (the godly elect) remain (are preserved) (Romans 11:26; cf. note, Jeremiah 3:14). So spiritual Israel's final safety is ensured (Luke 22:31-32; John 10:28; John 6:39).


Verse 10

All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.

All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword - "the sinners" - answering to the chaff, in the image in Amos 9:9, which falls on the earth, in opposition "to the grain" that does not fall.

Which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us - `come on us from behind' [ba`


Verse 11

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 days of old:

In that day - quoted by James (Acts 15:16-17), "After this" - i:e., in the dispensation of Messiah-the Shiloh, who was to "come" when "the sceptre" had "departed from Judah," and "unto whom the gathering of the people was to be" (Genesis 49:10; Hosea 3:4-5; Joel 2:28; Joel 3:1).

Will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen - not "the house of David," which is used of his affairs when prospering (2 Samuel 3:1), but the tent or booth, expressing the low condition to which his kingdom and family had fallen in Amos' time, and subsequently at the Babylonian captivity, before the restoration; and, secondarily, in the last days preceding Israel's restoration under Messiah, the antitype to David (Psalms 102:13-14; note, Isaiah 12:1; Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 37:24). The type is taken from architecture (Ephesians 2:20). The restoration under Zerubbabel can only be a partial, temporary fulfillment; because it did not include Israel, which nation is the main subject of Amos' prophecies, but only Judah; also Zerubbabel's kingdom was not independent and settled; also, all the prophets end their prophecies with Messiah, whose advent is the cure of all previous disorders. "Tabernacle" is appropriate to Him, as His human nature is the tabernacle which He assumed in becoming Immanuel, "God with us" (John 1:14). "Dwelt" - literally, tabernacled "among us" (cf. Revelation 21:3). Some understand "the tabernacle of David" as that which David pitched for the ark in Zion, after bringing it from Obed-edom's house. It remained there all his reign, for 30 years, until the temple of Solomon was built; whereas the "tabernacle of the congregation" remained at Gibeon (2 Chronicles 1:3), where the priests ministered in sacrifices at "the high place" (1 Chronicles 16:39). Song and praise was the service of David's attendants before the ark-a type of the Gospel separation between the sacrificial service (Messiah's priesthood, now in heaven) and the access of believers on earth to the presence of God, apart from the former (cf. 2 Samuel 6:12-17; 1 Chronicles 16:37-39; 2 Chronicles 1:3).

And close up the breaches thereof - literally, of them, i:e., of the whole nation, Israel as well as Judah. It is striking that Amos prophesying in Israel closes with a promise, not to the ten tribes primarily, but to the royal house of David and to Israel, only through its restoration. 'Strange comment on human greatness, that the royal line was not to be employed in the salvation of the world, until it was "fallen." The royal palace had to become the hut of Nazareth ere the Redeemer of the world could be born, whose glory and kingdom were not of this world ... who came to take from us nothing but our nature, that He might sanctify it-our misery, that He might bear it for us' (Pusey).

And I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old - as it was formerly in the days of David and Solomon, when the kingdom was in its full extent, and undivided.


Verse 12

That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.

That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name - "Edom," the bitter foe, though the brother, of Israel; therefore doomed to be punished (Amos 1:11-12). Israel shall be lord of the "remnant" of Edom left after the punishment of the latter. James quotes it (Acts 15:17), "That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things." For "all the pagan" nations stand on the same footing as Edom: Edom is the representative of them all. The residue or remnant, in both cases, expresses those left after great antecedent calamities (Romans 9:27; Zechariah 14:16). Here the conversion of "all nations" (of which the earnest was given in James' time) is represented as only to be realized on the re-establishment of the theocracy under Messiah, the Heir of the throne of David (Amos 9:11. "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen"). The possession of the pagan nations by Israel is to be spiritual, the latter being the ministers to the former for their conversion to Messiah, King of the Jews; just as the first conversions of individuals of the pagan were through the ministry of the apostles, who were Jews. Compare Isaiah 54:3, "Thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles" (cf. Isaiah 49:8; Romans 4:13). A remnant of Edom became Jews under John Hyrcanus, and the rest amalgamated with the Arabians, who became Christians subsequently. Which are called by my name - i:e., who belong to me, whom I claim as mine (Psalms 2:8, "Ask of me (saith the Father to the Son), and I shall give Thee the pagan for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession"): in the purposes of electing grace, God terms them already called by His name. Compare the title, "the children," applied by anticipation, Hebrews 2:14. Hence, as this is an act of sovereign grace, fulfilling His promise, it is here virtually said by Amos concerning God, 'Proclaim His title as sovereign,' "the Lord that doeth this" ("all these things," Acts 15:17 - namely, all these and such like acts of sovereign love).


Verse 13

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.

Behold, the days come - at the future restoration of the Jews to their own land.

That the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed - fulfilling Leviticus 26:5, "Your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely"). Such shall be the abundance, that the harvest and vintage can hardly be gathered before the time for preparing for the next crop shall come. Instead of the greater part of the year being spent in war, the whole shall be spent an sowing and reaping the fruits of the earth. Compare Isaiah 65:21-23 ("They shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat ... They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble: for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them") as to the same period.

Soweth seed - literally, draweth it forth, namely, from the sack, in order to sow it.

And the mountains shall drop sweet wine - margin, 'new wine;' an appropriate image, as the vines in Palestine were trained on terraces at the sides of the hills. Derived from Joel 3:18 ("The mountains shall drop down new wine"), whereby Amos gives inspired sanction to Joel's prophecies.


Verse 14

And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.

They shall build the waste cities - (Isaiah 61:4, "They shall build the old wastes, and they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations;" Ezekiel 36:33-36, "They shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. Then the pagan that are left round about you shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it").


Verse 15

And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up

And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up - (Jeremiah 32:41, "I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart, and with my whole soul").

Which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God - "thy God," Israel's God: this is the ground of their restoration, God's original choice of them as His.

Remarks:

(1) Every altar which man erects to idolatry, literal or spiritual, shall be smitten by the Lord; and all idols and all their worshippers shall perish together (Amos 9:1).

(2) Flight from the Omnipotent and Omnipresent Yahweh is vain. Height or depth alike are within His reach. "The sea" (Amos 9:3), as in Jonah's case, so far from being a way of escape, brings the sinner into more immediate contact with God's avenging power. "And in the great day of judgment the sea will give up the dead which are in it, and death and hell shall deliver up the dead which are in them" (Revelation 20:13). Not even captivity exhausted the woes that pursued the apostate Israelites wheresoever they went. As it is the greatest joy and comfort of believers to know that God sets His eyes upon them for good, so it shall be the greatest of miseries to the lost to feel the eye of the avenging God ever set upon them for evil.

(3) At the mere "touch" of God, the land that is under His displeasure melteth, and its inhabitants mourn, and destruction, as an overwhelming "flood" (Amos 9:5). sweeps every trace of its prosperity away. How as a nation we should fear and obey this Almighty and holy "Lord God of hosts," that so we may enjoy the bliss of His favour, rather than incur the terrible consequences of His frown!

(4) The vast spaces occupied by the starry hosts, so incalculably distant, and the interval again between the material heavens and the heaven of angels, and the interval again between the heaven of angels and the heaven of heavens (1 Kings 8:27), are as it were so many "steps" (Amos 9:6) to the presence of the Great King, who is "above all heavens" (Ephesians 4:10). Yet still He stoopeth down to regard the things upon earth; yea, by successive spiritual steps, He is conducting the stunt so as ultimately to be admitted into His immediate presence.

(5) Israel vainly relied on her past privileges as the elect people of God (Amos 9:7). But God chose them only that they might choose Him. By casting Him off they became castaways from Him. Thenceforth his having brought them up out of Egypt lest all its spiritual meaning to them; and no more availed them for safety from punishment than the bringing up of the Philistines from Caphtor, or the Syrians from Kir, availed them both respectively for deliverance from the penalty of their sins. Privileges are of no avail for salvation to those who neglect or abuse them.

(6) In all God's threats against the kingdom of Israel, He makes an exception in favour of the house of Jacob-that is, the remnant according to the election of grace, who constitute the true descendants of the believing patriarch. The house of Israel has been violently "sifted," not merely among some, but "among all nations." In every nation of the world Jews have been and are found. Yet, amidst this ceaseless tossing to and fro, no one true spiritual Israelite has been finally lost, whom God in His electing grace willed to be saved. The literal Israel, too, which is reserved for the coming national restoration, is similarly secured by the watchful guardianship of Yahweh. In the Church of Christ also, while the chaff is driven away by the winds of temptation and persecution "not the least grain" of the wheat of real faith and love "shall fall upon the earth." Believers, like Simon, are shaken in the sieve by Satan, the world, and the flesh; but this very sifting is overruled by God to the very opposite of what Satan intended: the dust and chaff of self-confidence and worldly-mindedness are shaken off, and they learn more wholly to rest all their hopes of salvation, righteousness, and strength in God alone. None of Christ's elect shall ever perish, nor shall any power ever pluck them out of His Almighty hand.

(7) As not one goodly grain shall be lost, so not one particle of ungodly chaff shall be saved: "All the sinners shall die ... which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us" (Amos 9:10). The children of Israel," when they apostatized from Israel's faith, became in the eyes of God as "children of the Ethiopians," the unchangeableness of whose black skin represents their unchangeableness in all that is evil (Amos 9:7). Therefore they can only expect the curse of Ham, from whom Cush derived his origin. Their false security is the forerunner of their destruction. So it is with all who deceive themselves with false pleas. None are so likely to perish as those who think they are safe in deferring repentance and faith to some future time.

(8) Amos closes his prophecy of calamities to Israel with one bright and glorious promise of coming temporal and spiritual good to Israel, and, through Israel, to "all the pagan" or Gentiles (Amos 9:11). He foretells that it should be when David's house had become but a tabernacle or hut, and that "tabernacle fallen;" then God would "raise it up" (Amos 9:11), and close up the breaches made in it by the various Gentile enemies of the theocracy. It is God's way often to wait until man's extremity, and then to interpose, as His most fitting opportunity, that the glory of salvation may be all His own. It was when David's princely palace had become the hut of Nazareth and the stable of Bethlehem that the Saviour was born of David's royal seed. It shall be also at the coming time of Israel's greatest "trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7) that the Divine Son of Man shall interpose in His people's behalf, and shall, as the 'Son of the fallen' (one of Messiah's titles among the Jews, 'Bereshith Rabba,' sec. 88:, end, quoted by Schoetigen in Pusey.), raise the house of David in His own person to a transcendent glory never attained before.

Not only Israel and Judah then, but "all the pagan" also, shall belong to Christ in reality as well as name, being taken by the Israelites into their spiritual "possession" (Amos 9:12). As individual Jews (the Lord Jesus and His apostles) gained possession of the individuals among the nations who formed the nucleus of the present election-church, so the converted Israelite nation shall at Christ's coming again take spiritual possession of all Gentile nations for our common Lord. As the tabernacle service of praise in Zion and the priestly service at Gibeon were united in the temple of Solomon, so, under our antitypical Solomon, the Prince of Peace, at His coming again, the service of praise on earth and His sacerdotal ministry above, which are now separate, shall then be united in that millennial period of perfect liturgy. Unparalleled national prosperity also shall attend Israel, "planted" once more in her own land, from which she is never to be "pulled up" again (Amos 9:13-15). Spiritually, too, seedtime and harvest shall be continuous (John 4:35). Let us pray for the blessed time when Israel's God shall manifest Himself, according to His everlasting purpose, as both her God and the God of the whole earth!

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Amos 9:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/amos-9.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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