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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Amos 7

 

 


Introduction

Amos 7:1 to Amos 9:8. Visions of the Prophet Amos.—This section contains a series of visions, interrupted by a historical passage (Amos 7:10-17). The visions are described and then interpreted as symbolical illustrations of apostate Israel's fate.


Verses 1-3

Amos 7:1-3. The Vision of the Locusts.—On one occasion the prophet saw (Amos 7:1) and behold, Yahweh formed locusts at the beginning of the coming up of the "late spring grass" (lekesh, RV "latter growth"), the grass brought on by the late spring rain (malkosh, cf. Joel 2:23), and further described here as coming up "after the king's shearing" or "after the king's mowings." The king's mowings may mean (cf. Driver) that the mowings were taken as tribute by the king. (Ehrlich takes it to mean "national mowings.") The locusts were beginning to work havoc (Amos 7:2). Then, "when they would have wholly devoured the herbage of the land," the prophet interceded with Yahweh, who relented (Amos 7:3). Thus Amos 7:1-3 seems to refer to a physical calamity, a plague of locusts (cf. Amos 7:4).

Amos 7:1. he formed locusts: read perhaps (cf. LXX), "and behold, a brood of locusts" (or, "of a locust-swarm," cf. Nahum 3:17).—and, lo, it was the latter growth: apparently a gloss. If original, read yelek (LXX) for lekesh: "and behold, there were mature young locusts."

Amos 7:2. when they . . . land: translated as above. But read probably, "and when they were making an end of devouring" (wa-yehi hu' mekalleh lě'ěkôl).


Verses 4-6

Amos 7:4-6. The Vision of Fire.—Another time the prophet saw a fire-phenomenon. Yahweh (Amos 7:4) "called down a fire to punish" (or judge). This devoured the great deep (Genesis 1:6 f.*), whence came the rivers and fountains, and would have devoured "the tilled land," when the prophet interceded (Amos 7:5) and Yahweh relented (Amos 7:6).


Verses 7-9

Amos 7:7-9. The Vision of the Wall.—The third vision is more difficult. The prophet saw (Amos 7:7) "and behold, Yahweh stood by a wall of 'anak, and in His hand 'anak." 'Anak is usually translated "plummet." By a wall that had once been found perpendicular, a plummet-wall, Yahweh stood with a plummet in His hand. What exact significance (Amos 7:8) had this plummet? Yahweh is tired of relenting; He will simply apply the plummet to His people, and once for all destroy an edifice which is no longer worthy to stand. Kent's omission of the first 'anak is an improvement: "And behold the Lord was standing behind a wall, with a plumbline in His hand." Other Semitic languages seem to favour the view (so Marti) that 'anak may denote a hard or heavy kind of metal, possibly lead or steel. Marti translates, "Thus the Lord showed me, and behold one standing on a wall of steel with steel in his hand." Amos beholds a man unconquerable, equipped with iron and sword (Amos 7:7), and Yahweh explains (Amos 7:8) that this man is about to turn his sword against Israel, because he cannot again spare her. In the utter devastation of the country, Israel's places of worship will be laid low (Amos 7:9).

Amos 7:8. The plummet is usually explained as "a crucial moral test" (Driver). Ehrlich, however, explains it as a figure for the execution of judgment (cf. 2 Kings 21:13, Lamentations 2:8).


Verses 10-17

Amos 7:10-17. Effect of Amos' Public Utterances.—A historical episode is here interposed. Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, interrupts the work of Amos, charging him, by twisting his words, with conspiracy (Amos 7:10). So revolutionary is he that "the earth (not the land) cannot bear all his words." Really he had spoken not of "Jeroboam" but of "the house of Jeroboam." There is perhaps a note of scorn in the word "seer" (almost equivalent to visionary). Amos had better flee to Judah and earn his bread and prophesy there. Amos retorts that he was no professional prophet. He had earned his bread by tending sheep and cultivating fig-mulberries (rather than sycamore trees). In Syria these did not grow in such high and cold regions as Tekoa, but the pasture-grounds and gardens of its shepherds may well have extended on the E. down to the Dead Sea (cf. G. A. Smith). Amos refuses for the moment to be silenced (Amos 7:16), and does not leave Amaziah without a word of warning and denunciation (Amos 7:17 f.). His own wife will become a prey to the outrages of a powerful enemy; and the priest and his people will be led into captivity.

Amos 7:14. For "herdman" (bôkçr) Marti and others would read "shepherd" (nôkçd) as in Amos 1:1*.—The fig-mulberry was common in parts of Palestine. The fruit had to be nipped or punctured to release an insect and thus render it eatable.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Amos 7:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/amos-7.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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