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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Amos 8

 

 

Verse 1

Amos 8:1 Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit.

Ver. 1. Thus hath the Lord God showed unto me] viz. in this fourth vision, whereby (for better assurance, and to shake them out of their desperate security) Israel’s utter ruin is again foretold by a lively type, which is here, 1. propounded; 2. expounded, Amos 8:3; Amos 8:5, that he may run that readeth it, and none may fall, but with open eyes, Habakkuk 2:2.

And behold a basket] Made up haply in the form of a dog, as the word Calub seemeth to import.

Of summer fruit] Heb. of summer; that is, of that which the summer affordeth; toward the end of it especially, when fruits ripen, and even fall into the hand of the gatherer. The summer itself hath its denomination from a root that signifieth to awaken; because then the fruits and flowers, that seemed to be asleep all winter long, do awake, as it were, and show themselves.


Verse 2

Amos 8:2 And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more.

Ver. 2. Amos, what seest thou?] This the Lord asketh, to stir up attention and affection in the prophet; who might haply need as much to be aroused, as Zechariah in like case did, Amos 4:1, with whom it fared as with a drowsy person, who though awaked and set to work, is ready to sleep at it.

And I said, A basket of summer fruit] Apples, saith Jerome; figs, say others; and why not as well grapes ripened in the summer sunshine? Whereby the Holy Ghost in the Revelation, Revelation 14:20; Revelation 19:15, describeth such as are ready ripe for the wine-press of God’s wrath? Nahum compareth them to stubble, laid out in the sun drying, that it may burn the better, Nahum 1:10.

The end is come upon my people] An elegance in the original beyond translation into English: קץ קיץ, the Latin interpreters have (some of them) assayed the like, but they fall far short of it. The Old Testament is full of such surnames; and God seemeth delighted with them. See Jeremiah 1:11-12; Jeremiah 48:2; Jeremiah 49:23-24, Lamentations 3:47, Amos 5:5, Micah 1:10; Micah 1:14, Zephaniah 2:5, Exodus 2:10, Genesis 3:20; Genesis 4:1; Genesis 4:25; Genesis 5:29; Genesis 17:5; Genesis 21:5-6, &c. There is a pedantic style and a majestic; an effeminate eloquence and a manly. This latter is lawful, and may very well become the man of God; who yet must not wit-wanton it in weightiest matters; but shun those more gay and lighter flashes and flourishes, wherewith the emptiest cells affect to be most fraught; as they, who for want of wares in their shops, set up painted blocks to fill up vacant shelves, as one well expresseth it.

The end is come upon my people] Exitus et exitium. As the summer is the end of the year and the time of ripening fruits; so, now that this people are ripe for ruin, "An end is come, is come, is come: it watcheth for them; behold, it is come," Ezekiel 7:6-7, even the precise time and term of their final overthrow.

I will not again pass by them any more] See Amos 7:1-17, Amos 8:1-14. God can pass by, that is, pardon, his people better than any other, Micah 7:18 (like as they that are born of God, and partake of the Divine nature, can bear wrongs best of any; compel them to go a mile they will be content, if it may do good, to go two; yea, as far as the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace will carry them). But as the saints of God may not be therefore injured (which was Julian’s jeering cruelty) because they are meek: so must not God be presumed upon and provoked because he is merciful. "There is mercy with him, that he may be feared," saith the Psalmist; for abused mercy turneth into fury, and opportunities of grace are often so headlong, that if once past they are irrecoverable. Woe be to that people or person to whom God shall say, "I will not again pass by you any more."


Verse 3

Amos 8:3 And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: [there shall be] many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast [them] forth with silence.

Ver. 3. And the songs of the temple shall be howlings] Heb. shall howl, shall be turned into the black santis, as they call it ( cantus in planctum laetitia in lachrymas), such as I hate, Amos 5:23, and feel it grating mine ears, as an harmonia discors.

There shall be many dead bodies in every place] Either through pestilence or sword. Others read it thus, In every place it shall be said, Proiece, sile, Out with them, make no words; an earnest aposiopesis (a) [Amos 6:10] {See Trapp on "Amos 6:10"} q.d. Patiently acquiesce in the just judgment of so mighty a God. Or, throw these dead bodies into pits, and say nothing; lest we be sequestered as unclean by the law. It is no small misery to be under hard and heavy crosses, and yet to be forced to dissemble and suppress them; to bite in pain, and to digest grief, as horses do their choler by biting on the bridle. "I was dumb with silence," saith David, "I held my peace, even from good"; that is, from just defense; "but my sorrow was stirred thereby"; my sore was exulcerate, renewed (as the Greek there saith) and increased, Psalms 39:2. Give sorrow a vent, and it will wear away.


Verse 4

Amos 8:4 Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail,

Ver. 4. Hear this, ye that swallow up the needy] That seep them up as drink (our word seep seems to come of the Hebrew Shaaph), that would make but a breakfast, nay, but a bit of them; that would swallow them at once down their wide gullets, and do, for that purpose, pant and even faint, as well nigh windless, after them, to devour them. Hence they are called man eaters, cannibals, Psalms 14:4. See Amos 2:7. {See Trapp on "Amos 2:7"}

Even to make the poor of the land to fail] Heb. the meek of the, land. Poverty should meeken and tame men’s spirits; howbeit, some are humbled but not humble, low but not lowly. Those that are both are often oppressed by the great ones of the earth; and even devoured, as the lesser fish are by the bigger. "Ye have condemned and killed the just," saith St James to the wicked rich men of his time, "and he doth not resist you," James 5:6. He only committeth his cause to him that judgeth righteously, 1 Peter 2:23, and indeed he need do no more than so; for God is the poor man’s king, as James V of Scotland was termed for his charity; yea, he is the world’s refuge, Awlen Penaugh, as the Great Turk vain gloriously styleth himself, and would have the world to take notice, that such poor people as lament to him shall be relieved by him, although his ministers fail them or abuse them, through their injustice, to make the poor of the land fail. "For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him," Psalms 12:5. Neither doth God say it only (though that were sufficient), but swear it too in this chapter, yea, in this text (the two next following verses are put in as by a parenthesis), and these cormorants are called upon to hear it, and not to pass it by with a deaf ear, tanquam monstra marina, as such kind of creatures used to do.


Verse 5

Amos 8:5 Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?

Ver. 5. Saying, When will the new moon be gone, &c.] "O, what a weariness it is! and ye have snuffed at it," Malachi 1:13. See the note there. This ye have said, or thought at least; and God knoweth the language of your hearts. He presseth upon no man; neither will he accept that service that is pressed out of people, as verjuice out of a crab. All his saints are free hearted, Psalms 110:3, all his soldiers volunteers; they welcome the sabbath, as that holy man did, who went forth to meet and salute it with Veni sponsa mea, Come, my sweet spouse, I have dearly longed for thee. The sabbath they call Desiderium dierum a day of delight. They also pass it over with singular delight, Isaiah 58:13, walking into Christ’s garden of spiritual duties, whereof there is so great variety for the good soul to breathe itself in and not be sated; and then are taken into Christ’s wine cellar, and (after a holy manner) inebriated with Divine consolations, Song of Solomon 2:4-5, 2 Corinthians 1:5, such as the cock on the dunghill knows not, such as pass all carnal men’s understanding. They find no more relish in holy days and duties than they do in the white of an egg or in a dry chip; the work they do at such times, for fashion-sake or fear of law, &c., is dead work, as the apostle calleth it; they sit in the stocks when they are at prayers, and come out of the church when the tedious sermon runs somewhat beyond the hour, as prisoners do out of a jail, &c.; they cannot tell how to wear out the sabbath, which therefore they wish over, and constantly violate, either by corporal labour or else (which is as bad, or worse) by spiritual idleness. Full ill would these men, addere de profano ad sacrum (as the Jews say we should do), pronouncing those happy that begin the sabbath with those of Tiberias, and end it with those of Tsepphore; the former began it sooner than others, the latter continued it longer (Buxtorf. Synag. Jud.). Full ill would they have liked our King Edgar’s law, that Sunday should be solemnized from Saturday, nine o’clock, till Monday morning. Full loth would these men be to beg David’s office out of his hand, of being a doorkeeper in God’s house; that is, to be first in and last out. And what would they do to keep an everlasting sabbath in heaven that are so troubled and even tired out with so short an attendance on the Lord’s day; not without a world of wilful distractions, such as spoil and corrupt their performances, so that they stink in the nostrils of the Almighty?

And the sabbath] Not the sabbath of the seventh year (called Shemittah, Remission, Leviticus 25:3-7), as some would have it meant; but the weekly sabbath, which the unrighteous Mammonists here cry out of, as if on that day the sun proceeded a slower pace than on others; and they greatly grudged, lucellum suum Dei cultui cedere, that God should be served to their disadvantage. Their fingers therefore itch to be setting out corn; and they as dearly desire it as David did once to come and appear before the Lord. As he had his "When shall I come?" by way of wish, Psalms 42:2, so they had their When shall we sell corn? when shall we set forth wheat? Surely as David’s soul longed sore to go forth unto Absalom, 2 Samuel 13:39, so that he could have found in his heart, but for stark shame, to have gone himself and fetched him home; so was it with these gripple grain masters, these frumenti corrasores et veluti corrosores, Proverbs 11:26. They had a good mind to have been doing on the new moons and sabbaths, but that they were flatly forbidden by the law, made on purpose for "these lawless and disobedient," 1 Timothy 1:9, these masterless monsters, these yokeless Belialists, to be to them as chains and shackles, to confine them, [Exodus 20:8; Exodus 34:21 Leviticus 23:3 Nehemiah 10:32; Nehemiah 13:15] as Solomon’s command did Shimei, that they may not leap over the pale after profit and pleasure, or if they do they may die for it. Isaiah 66:23, it is prophesied that, in the restitution of the Church from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another (as often as they come), without tiresomeness, all flesh shall come to worship before the Lord, they shall "call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable," Isaiah 58:13, be rapt and ravished in spirit, Revelation 1:10, be in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost all the day long: Pνευματικως σαββατιζειν, μελετη νομου χαιροντας, as Ignatius hath it: Sabbatize spiritually, rejoicing in Divine meditations (Epist. 3. ad Magnes.). This well practised would take men off from the world’s tasteless fooleries, as his mouth will not water after homely provisions, that hath lately tasted of delicate sustenance. It would also blessedly free them from those many foolish and hurtful lusts, 1 Timothy 6:9, those heavy sorrows and self-created miseries, wherewith covetous caitiffs pierce themselves through, gall and gore their own hearts, and trouble their own houses, Amos 8:10, taking no more rest than if upon a rack or bed of thorns.

Making the Ephah small, and the shekel great] Selling by small measures but for great rates; which was directly against the law, Deuteronomy 25:13-14, and that golden rule of right, the standard of equity, the royal law of liberty, Matthew 7:12, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." This is the sum of what they have said, for duties of the second table.

And falsifying the balances by deceit?] Heb. perverting the balances of deceit, that is (by a metonymy, as Job 22:6), making those that were right deceitful. See Proverbs 20:10; Proverbs 20:23. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 20:10"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 20:23"} Such falsifiers are counted no better than Canaanites, Hosea 12:7, and shall have small joy of their cursed hoards of evil gotten goods.


Verse 6

Amos 8:6 That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; [yea], and sell the refuse of the wheat?

Ver. 6. That we may buy the poor for silver, &c.] Thus the poor always pay for it; the modest and mild poor especially, as Amos 8:4. Hence poor and afflicted are put for one and the same, Zephaniah 3:12, and to want and to be abased, Philippians 4:12; they that want shall be sure to be abased and abused by the wretched rich, who will ever go over the hedge where it is lowest, and catch the poor by drawing him into the nets, Psalms 10:9, that is, into their debts, bonds, and mortgages, and at length making such their bondmen by abuse of that permission, Leviticus 25:39. See Amos 2:3.

Yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?] Quisqnilias, the husks, more fit for pigs or poultry; hardly man’s meat, and yet held good enough for the poor ( deciduum, purgamenta, the offal); although their flesh was as the flesh of their brethren, and their children as their children, Nehemiah 5:5, however they used them. How far were these rich wretches from considering the poor, as David’s blessed man, Psalms 41:1, and as Dr Taylor the martyr did, whose custom was once in a fortnight at least to go to poor men’s houses, look into their cupboards, see how they fared, and what they lacked, that he might either make or procure them a supply from such as were better able.


Verse 7

Amos 8:7 The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works.

Ver. 7. The Lord hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob] i.e. by himself, the matter of Jacob’s chief boasting, there being no God like unto their God (their enemies themselves being judges, Deuteronomy 32:31), neither any nation so great as to have God so nigh unto them as Israel had, in all things that they called upon him for, Deuteronomy 4:7. So that this oath of God grates upon their ingratitude for such imparallel privileges, and it is uttered in great wrath, as appeareth by the following angry aposiopesis, (a) wherein the apodosis (b) is not set down but understood.

lf I ever forget any of their works] Forget to punish them. These oaths, cum reticentia, are very dreadful. Take heed lest by stubbornness we provoke God to swear in his wrath that we shall not enter into his rest, Psalms 95:11. Take heed lest a promise of entering being left us, and a proffer made us, we should seem to come short of it, to come lag or late, Hebrews 4:1, υστερηκεναι, a day after the fair, an hour after the feast. God is now more quick and peremptory than ever in rejecting men that neglect so great salvation, Hebrews 2:3; the time is shorter, he will not wait so long as he was wont to do. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned," Mark 16:16. Surely God "will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will he make in the earth," Romans 9:28. "The time is short," saith the apostle, 1 Corinthians 7:29, a metaphor, say some, from a piece of cloth rolled up ( συνεσταλμενος), only a little left at the end. "Let us therefore fear" (as the same apostle inferreth upon the consideration of God’s oath, Hebrews 3:18; Hebrews 4:1, and let our fear not weaken but waken our diligence in well doing, lest he swear and repent not, lest he come to a resolution and decree (God’s oath is nothing else but his inviolable and invariable decree) to cast us off as he did Saul, for his wilful disobedience, 1 Samuel 15:20-23. Saul lived long after his utter rejection, and men could see no alteration in his outward condition; but God had sworn, as here, never to forget any of his works. Now, saith Samuel to him (and it is fearful), the eternity of Israel (the excellency of Jacob) "will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent," 1 Samuel 15:29. Do not think this a case that seldom comes; it is done every day upon some or other, saith a great Divine; but woe be to that man upon whom it is done! it had been much better for him that he had not been born, Matthew 26:24. Oh consider this all ye that forget God, lest he swear by his excellency, "Surely I will never forget any of your works."


Verse 8

Amos 8:8 Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwelleth therein? and it shall rise up wholly as a flood; and it shall be cast out and drowned, as [by] the flood of Egypt.

Ver. 8. Shall not the land tremble for this] q.d. So great are the oppressions here exercised, that the very axle of the earth is even ready to crack under them. Amaziah, that hedge priest of Bethel, had said of our prophet, that the land was not able to bear all his words, Amos 7:10, but Amos more truly affirmeth, that the land trembled under their many and mighty sins, and could bear them no longer; the earthquake happened about this time, Amos 1:1, and it was a just wonder, that the earth had not opened her wide mouth, and swallowed them all up quickly into hell, as Numbers 16:31-32, and as it did a great part of the city of Antioch, A. D. 527, for their horrible heresies and blasphemies there held and broached by her bishops.

And every one mourn] i.e. smart, till they mourn. National sins bring national plagues. The Hebrews hold that there is not a worse sin than oppression. St James saith, that it cries to heaven, and entereth into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth, James 5:4, who will not fail to hear, for he is gracious, Exodus 22:27.

And it shall rise up wholly as a flood] i.e. the land shall rise up, shall seem to do so, when it is floated and flooded with water; as the sluggard’s field is said to rise up or ascend with thorns, that is, to be overgrown therewith. Here then is threatened an overflowing scourge, a universal destruction covering the face of the country, as Nile doth a great part of the land of Egypt every year, leaving much mud behind it; whereof see Pliny and other authors. Mercer thinks the words would be best read by interrogation, as the former, thus, And shall it not rise up wholly as a flood? q.d. shall it not be turned into a large lake, as once Sodom and her sisters were for like cruelties to the poor? Ezekiel 16:46.


Verse 9

Amos 8:9 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:

Ver. 9. And it shall come to pass in that day, &c.] Here the Lord threateneth (saith Mr Diodati) to encumber the land with horrible and mournful calamities, when it shall be least thought of. Earthquakes, inundations, sudden and dreadful darkness, are sure effects and signs of God’s heavy displeasure against men’s sins, Psalms 18:8; Psalms 18:12, Matthew 24:6-7, Luke 21:10-11, Joel 2:10, Jeremiah 15:8-9, and promise contrary to this threat, Job 18:5-6.

I will cause the sun to go down at noon] A sudden change, as was at Sodom; the sun was fair risen upon it that very day that it was destroyed in, Genesis 19:23-24; as at Babylon, when surprised by Cyrus, they could not at first believe their own calamity; as it was with Jerusalem often, and shall be with Rome: Revelation 18:7-8, "She saith in her heart, I shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine," &c., to confute their fond conceit of an eternal empire. "For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape," 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Philosophers say, that before a snow the weather will be warmish; when the wind lies the great rain falls; and the air is most quiet when suddenly there will be an earthquake. Pharaoh had all fair weather made before him till the instant that he was drowned in the sea. Nebuchadnezzar, Herod, and other tyrants were smitten in the height of their pride and ruff of their jollity. Jerusalem had three years’ great plenty before her last destruction, of which some interpret this text. Those seven once flourishing Churches of Asia, how glorious and resplendent were they till they had sinned away their light! The same might be said of many others; and who knows how soon it may be said also of us? who knows whether we be not, even now, upon the very tropics and turning points of time? Surely God’s patience towards us, quo diuturnior eo minacior, the longer it lasteth the more evil is toward us, if we abuse it. If in a land of light we love darkness better than light, we may soon have enough of it. Solem in Britannia non occidere nec resurgero retulit Tacitus. Tacitus telleth us that at some time of the year the sun seemeth neither to rise nor fall in this country; but so lightly to pass from us in the night that you can scarce discern day from night. Of England for this many years it may be said, as Solinus doth of the Rhodes, that it is semper in sole sita, ever in the sun. How long it shall be so, he alone knows that knows all. Walk while ye have the light; and pray that God would discloud these gloomy days with the beams of his mercy, and not cause our sun to go down at noon, nor our land to be darkened in the clear day. Oh stop this Sun of righteousness posting as it may seem from us (when the blind man cried lustily, Jesus, though journeying, stood still), stay him by your importunities, as those two did at Emmaus, and say,

Vespers iam venit; nobiscum, Christe maneto,

Extingui lucem nec patiare tuam. ”


Verse 10

Amos 8:10 And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only [son], and the end thereof as a bitter day.

Ver. 10. And I will turn your feasts into mourning] Whether your idolatrous feasts and templemusic, whereby you vainly conceit to be secured from danger, saying, "Is not the Lord among us? what evil can come unto us?" or your common feasts, whereat you have songs to cheer you up, and so to put sorrow from your hearts and evil from your flesh, nourishing yourselves as in a day of slaughter or good cheer, James 5:5; all shall be turned into mourning, funeral mourning, see Amos 8:3.

And I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins] For a token of your great grief, as the custom then was, and is still for mourning weeds. The Hebrew word sack is the same in almost all languages; which showeth that the Hebrew is the mother of all the rest, saith Mercer.

And baldness upon every head] You shall pull off your hair for grief; or, because they had learned of the heathens, their neighbours, in token of lamentation, to shave their heads, Ezekiel 7:18, Jeremiah 48:37, and beards too, Isaiah 15:2, which yet was forbidden them to do, Leviticus 19:27; Leviticus 21:9, unless it were to show their sorrow for sin, Isaiah 22:12.

And I will make it as the mourning of an only son] Which was very bitter, Jeremiah 6:26, Zechariah 12:10. The loss of a loving yoke fellow is more grievous than that of a son; but to father and mother together nothing more bitter than luctuosa faecunditas (Laeta’s case in Jerome), to bury many children, and especially to bury all in one.

And the end thereof as a bitter day] Thereof, that is, either of that land or of that lamentation there shall be bitterness in the end. So the poet (Tibul. lib. 2),

Nunc et amara dies, et noctis amarior umbra est;

Omnia iam tristi tempera felle madent. ”

How could it be otherwise than extreme bitter with this people, when heaven and earth conspired to punish them? neither had they the good word of God (called the word of his patience, Revelation 3:10, written on purpose that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope, Romans 15:4, that out of those breasts of consolation we might suck and be satisfied, Isaiah 66:11), to help them and keep from swooning, Psalms 119:92. And this was the greatest plague of all the rest; and is therefore reserved to the last place, deterrima tanquam colophon, as a most sad catastrophe.


Verse 11

Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

Ver. 11. Behold, the days come] Behold it; for it is a just wonder. The Lord created a new thing in the earth when Israel should want the word; Israel, to whom were committed the oracles of God; Israel, to whom God had spoken "by the mouth of his holy prophets, which had been since the world begun," in a sweet succession, Luke 1:70. See my True Treasure. "He made known his ways to Moses, his acts and monuments to the children of Israel," Psalms 103:7. Yet even these, who had the cornucopia of God’s word, shall now suffer a famine of it; they shall have cause to cry out, "We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet; neither is there among us any that knoweth how long," Psalms 74:9. The word of God shall be precious, 1 Samuel 3:1, and they shall be hard put to it to come by it. Amaziah and his complices shall not need to pack away the prophets, as Amos 7:12, and to bid them go preach elsewhere; for God will, for a singular plague to an unworthy people, withdraw them; the law shall be no more, the prophets also shall find no vision from the Lord, Lamentations 2:9.

That I will send a famine in the land] Heb. I will let it out (sc. out of my treasury of plagues, where I have it ready and desirous to be abroad), and turn it loose ( εξαποστελω, Septung.), which before I kept up, as a wild beast, that it might not hurt nor destroy in all mine holy mountain; now it shall out among you, and the devil with it, Revelation 12:12, with hell at the heels of it.

Not a famine of bread] Though that is very grievous, Lamentations 1:11; Lamentations 1:19; Lamentations 2:12; Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 4:4; Lamentations 4:9; Lamentations 5:9; and puts people to many hard straits and extremities (as were easier to instance), even to the eating of one another.

Nor a thirst for water] A torment more intolerable than the former. Lysimachus to save his life parted with his kingdom for a draught of water.

But of hearing the word of the Lord] Which is pabulum animae, the soul’s proper food, such as she cannot live without; but when God sooth his oracles vilipended and lying under the table, it is just with him to call to the enemy to take away. It was so with those seven Churches of Asia among many others; as also with those of Africa, that vast continent (thrice as large as Europe), in all which there is not any region entirely possessed by Christians but the kingdom of Habassia: for as for the large region of Nubia, which had from the apostles’ time (as it is thought) professed the Christian faith, it hath again over a hundred years since forsaken it, and embraced, instead of it, partly Mahometanism, and partly idolatry; and that by the most miserable occasion that might be, viz. famine of the word of God, for lack of ministers. For, as Alvarez hath recorded, at his being at the king of Habassia’s court, there were ambassadors out of Nubia to entreat him for a supply of ministers to instruct their nation and to repair Christianity, gone to ruin among them; but they were rejected.


Verse 12

Amos 8:12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find [it].

Ver. 12. And they shall wander from sea to sea] Trouble themselves to no purpose, take pains (as Esau did for venison, but lost his labour), run to all coasts and quarters to seek the word of the Lord.

And shall not find it] And why? they despised it when it was in their power; they rejected the counsel of God against themselves, with those lawyers, Luke 7:30. He would have gathered them, but they would not be gathered; he would have purged them, but they would not be purged, Ezekiel 24:13-14, they are therefore miserable by their own election; as Saul was, who slighted Samuel while he was alive, and would have been fully glad of his counsel when he was dead. He that would not once worship God in Samuel worships at length Samuel in Satan; and no marvel. Satan was now become his refuge, and preacheth his funeral; his Urim now was darkness, his prophet a ghost: O woeful condition! But what should a parent do when the child loathes and spills his victuals? snatch it from him, and lay it out of his reach. Samaria felt this more severe famine, when carried captive especially; so did Jerusalem, after Malachi, whose prophecy the Jews fitly call Chathimath Chazon, the sealing up of vision. Bath Chol, or the echo from heaven, they had now and then after this time, Matthew 3:17, John 12:28; they had also the writings of Moses and the prophets interpreted after a sort by the Scribes and Pharisees, whom (while they sat close in Moses’ chair, and kept it warm) men were bound to hear, Matthew 23:2-3, which because Dives did not, he suffered hunger and thirst in hell for ever, Luke 16:24. And had he been granted the liberty of hearing again upon earth but one more sermon, how far would not he gladly have gone for it! and how, as for life, would he have listened to it! But this could not possibly be, for out of hell there is no redemption, Psalms 49:8-9, and when the night of death once comes men can work no more. Night is a time not of doing work, but of receiving wages; up therefore and be doing, while it is yet day, John 12:35-36. "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found," Isaiah 55:6, seek him seasonably, seek him seriously: "Then shall ye seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart," Jeremiah 29:13. That was a dismal doom that our Saviour passed upon those stiffnecked Jews and uncircumcised in hearts and ears (as St Stephen rightly styles them, Acts 7:51), that were as good at resisting the Holy Ghost as ever their fathers had been before them. "Ye shall seek me, and yet shall die in your sins: whither I go ye cannot come," John 8:21. Ye shall wander up and down for meat, making a noise like a hungry dog, and grudge that ye be not satisfied, Psalms 59:14-15. Do not the miserable Jews do so all the world over to this day, expecting their Messiah? quem tantis ululatibus exposcunt, throwing open their windows to behold him, and praying for the rebuilding of their temple, thus (Buxtorf. Synag. Jud. cap. 13), Templum tuum brevi, valde cito, valde cito, in diebus nostris citissime, nunc aedifica templum tuum brevi: Merciful God, great God, bountiful God, beautiful God, sweet God, mighty God, thou God of the Jews, now build thy temple, do it shortly, suddenly, quickly, very quickly, very quickly, very quickly, even in our days now, this day before the next, &c. Ah, poor creatures! they would not, when time was, know in that their day the things which belonged to their peace; therefore to this day they are hid from their eyes, and wrath is come upon them to the utmost, Luke 19:42. Alterius perditio tun sit caudio, Let their harms be our warning, not to stand out the day of grace, not to surfeit of the word, lest we suffer a famine of it; not to retain the snuffs of our sins, lest they dim our candlestick; a removal whereof, except we repent, may be as certainly foreseen and foretold as if visions and letters were sent us from heaven, as once to Ephesus telling them so, Revelation 2:5. And indeed it hath been the opinion, and is still the fear of some not unconsiderable divines, that Antichrist, before his abolition, shall once again overflow the whole face of the West, and suppress the whole Protestant Churches. Now if ever this come to pass (as justly we may fear it will), what may we thank but our detestable lukewarmness and loathing of the heavenly manna, our not receiving the love of the truth, that we might be saved? for which cause, if God shall send us strong delusions, even the efficacy of error, that we should believe a lie, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11, that being infatuated we should be seduced, and being seduced be damned, as Austin glosseth that text, whom can we blame for it?


Verse 13

Amos 8:13 In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.

Ver. 13. In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst] When God depriveth a People of his ordinances, and so withdraweth his gracious presence from them, what wonder though temporal judgments come rushing in as by a sluice? "Persecute and take him" (said David’s enemies), "for God hath forsaken him, and there is none to deliver him," Psalms 71:11. "The Philistines are upon me," saith Saul, "for God hath forsaken me." "Behold, I am cast out from thy presence," said Cain (that is, from my father’s house where thine ordinances are administered), "and therefore every one that findeth me shall slay me," Genesis 4:14. In that day of the want of the word, in the day of spiritual famine and thirst, behold, aliud ex alio malum, another thirst shall seize upon the choicest and fairest; as flies settle upon the sweetest perfumes, when they are cold, and corrupt them.

Shall the fair virgins] Whom all men favour for their comeliness, οτι καλον φιλον εστι. Beauty is of itself lovely and attractive, it needeth no letters of commendations: but God is no respecter of persons, and beauty abused is like a fair house with an ill inhabitant, said Diogenes; like a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, said Solomon, Proverbs 11:22. Some are Helenas without, but Hecubas within, painted sepulchres, Egyptian temples; like Aurelia Orestilla, of whom Sallust saith, that she had nothing in her praise worthy but her beauty: fair she was and foolish, not καλη και σοφη, beautiful and wise, as it is reported of Aspasia, Cyrus’s concubine (Athenaeus). Now these fair maids, together with the choice young men, best able to endure thirst a long season,

Shall faint for thirst] Heb. shall be overcovered with grief, shall be troubled and perplexed, shall faint and swoon, shall find by experience that all flesh is grass, and the glory thereof as the flower of the field, that "even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint," Isaiah 40:30-31.


Verse 14

Amos 8:14 They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.

Ver. 14. They that swear by the sin of Samaria] i.e. By the calf set up at Bethel, not far from Samaria. This calf is called the sin, or guilt, of Samaria, to show the abomination of it; for which cause also Paul calls it sinful sin, Romans 7:13, as not finding for it a worse epithet; and antichrist for like cause he calleth "that man of sin," 2 Thessalonians 2:3, to note him merum scelus, pure wickedness, saith Beza, merely made up of sin. Now, to swear by this of Samaria was to deify it; to swear by anything besides the true God is to forsake him, Jeremiah 5:7, which is a hateful wickedness, Jeremiah 2:12-13; as in Papists who familiarly swear by their he-saints and she-saints, and so sacrilegiously transfer upon the creature that which pertaineth to God alone.

And say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth] God only liveth, to speak properly, 1 Timothy 6:17, but to say that Dan’s Deunculus lived (being no better than a dumb and dead idol), and to swear by the life of it (as the Spaniards do now in the pride of their monarchy, by the life of their king), this is horrible impiety. As for that of Abigail to David, 1 Samuel 25:26, "Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth," the former was an oath, the latter was not an oath, but an asseveration or obtestation only, conjoined with an oath.

And, The manner of Beersheba liveth] That is, the forms and rites of worshipping in Beersheba (another nest of idolatry, Amos 5:5, Hosea 10:13), as the Chaldee paraphraseth it. Durandus hath written, the Romish ritual, the way of worship used in that synagogue of Satan: Mercer rendereth it, Vivit peregrinatio Beersheba, the way or passage of Beersheba liveth. Beersheba had an idol, and was the way to Dan and Bethel; hence this superstitious oath drawn out to the full length, By the sin of Samaria, by the god of Dan, and by the manner of Beersheba: like as the Great Turk, Mahomet, promising his soldiers the spoil of Constantinople for three days together, if they could win it, for confirmation of his oath solemnly swore by the immortal God, and by the four hundred prophets, by Mahomet, by his father’s soul, by his own children, and by the sword wherewith he was girt, faithfully to perform whatsoever he had to them in his proclamation promised.

Even they shall fall, and never rise up again] Fall fatally, ferally, irrecoverably, as old Eli did when his neck was broken, but first his heart. The ten tribes, for their idolatry and contempt of the word, never returned out of captivity. From the famine foretold what could follow but irreparable ruin, though for a time they might flourish? see Proverbs 29:1. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 29:1"} Of that spiritual famine let us be most impatient, and say as Luther did, I would not live in paradise without the word; but with it I could make a shift to live in hell itself.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Amos 8:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/amos-8.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 9th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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