Amos 4

CHAPTER IV

Israel reproved for their oppression, 1-3;

idolatry, 4, 5;

and for their impenitence under the chastising hand of God,

6-11.

The omniscience and uncontrollable power of God, 12, 13.

NOTES ON CHAP. IV

Verse 1. Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan] Such an address was

quite natural from the herdsman of Tekoa. Bashan was famous for

the fertility of its soil, and its flocks and herds; and the

prophet here represents the iniquitous, opulent, idle, lazy

drones, whether men or women, under the idea of fatted bullocks,

which were shortly to be led out to the slaughter.

Verse 2. He will take you away with hooks] Two modes of fishing

are here alluded to: 1. Angling with rod, line, and baited hook.

2. That with the gaff, eel-spear, harpoon, or such like; the first

used in catching small fish, by which the common people may be

here represented; the second, for catching large fish, such as

leave the sea, and come up the rivers to deposit their spawn; or

such as are caught in the sea, as sharks, whales, dolphins, and

even the hippopotamus, to which the more powerful and opulent

inhabitants may be likened. But as the words in the text are

generally feminine, it has been supposed that the prophecy is

against the proud, powerful, voluptuous women. I rather think that

the prophet speaks catachrestically; and means men of effeminate

manners and idle lives. They are not the bulls of Bashan, but the

cows; having little of the manly character remaining. Some

understand the latter word as meaning a sort of basket or wicker

fish-nets.

Verse 3. And ye shall go out at the breaches] Probably the

metaphor is here kept up. They shall be caught by the hooks, or by

the nets; and though they may make breaches in the latter by their

flouncing when caught, they shall be taken out at these very

breaches; and cast, not in the palace, but into a reservoir, to be

kept awhile, and afterwards be taken out to be destroyed. Samaria

itself is the net; your adversaries shall besiege it, and make

breaches in its walls. At those breaches ye shall endeavour to

make your escape, but ye shall be caught and led into captivity,

where most of you shall be destroyed. See Houbigant on this

passage.

Verse 4. Come to Beth-el and transgress] Spoken ironically. Go

on to worship your calves at Beth-el; and multiply your

transgressions at Gilgal; the very place where I rolled away the

reproach of your fathers, by admitting them there into my covenant

by circumcision. A place that should have ever been sacred to me;

but you have now desecrated it by enormous idolatries. Let your

morning and evening sacrifices be offered still to your

senseless gods; and continue to support your present vicious

priesthood by the regular triennial tithes which should have

been employed in my service; and,

Verse 5. Over a sacrifice of thanksgiving] To the senseless

metal, and the unfeeling stock and stone images, from which ye

never did, and never could receive any help. Proceed yet farther,

and bring free-will offerings; testify superabundant gratitude to

your wooden and metallic gods, to whom ye are under such immense

imaginary obligations! Proclaim and publish these offerings, and

set forth the perfections of the objects of your worship; and see

what they can do for you, when I, Jehovah, shall send drought, and

blasting, and famine, and pestilence, and the sword among

you.

Verse 6. Cleanness of teeth] Scarcity of bread, as immediately

explained. Ye shall have no trouble in cleaning your teeth, for ye

shall have nothing to eat.

Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.] This

reprehension is repeated five times in this chapter; and in it are

strongly implied God's longsuffering, his various modes of

fatherly chastisement, the ingratitude of the people, and their

obstinate wickedness. The famine mentioned here is supposed to be

that which is spoken of 2Ki 8:1; but it is most likely to have

been that mentioned by Joel, Joe 1:1-2:17.

Verse 7. When there were yet three months to the harvest] St.

Jerome says, from the end of April, when the latter rain falls,

until harvest, there are three months, May, June, and July, in

which no rain falls in Judea. The rain, therefore, that God had

withheld from them, was that which was usual in the spring months,

particularly in April.

I caused it to rain upon one city] To prove to them that this

rain did not come fortuitously or of necessity, God was pleased to

make these most evident distinctions. One city had rain, and could

fill all its tanks or cisterns, while a neighbouring city had

none. One farm or field was well watered, and abundant in its

crops, while one contiguous to it had not a shower. In these

instances a particular providence was most evident. "And yet, they

did not return to the Lord."

Verse 9. I have smitten you with blasting and mildew] He sent

blasting and mildew on the crops, and the locust on the

gardens, vineyards, and fields; and this in such a way as to

show it was a Divine judgment. They saw this; "yet they did not

return to the Lord!"

Verse 10. I have sent-the pestilence] After the blasting and the

mildew, the pestilence came; and it acted among them as one of the

plagues of Egypt. Besides this, he had suffered their enemies to

attack and prevail against them; alluding to the time in which the

Syrians besieged Samaria, and reduced it to the most extreme

necessity, when the head of an ass was sold for eighty pieces of

silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung for five; and

mothers ate the flesh of their children that had died through

hunger, 2Ki 6:25. And the people were miraculously relieved by

the total slaughter of the Syrians by the unseen hand of God,

2Ki 7:1, &c. And yet, after all those signal judgments, and

singular mercies, "they did not return unto the Lord!"

Verse 11. I have overthrown some of you] In the destruction of

your cities I have shown my judgments as signally as I did in the

destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; and those of you that did

escape were as "brands plucked out of the fire;" if not consumed,

yet much scorched. And as the judgment was evidently from my hand,

so was the deliverance; "and yet ye have not returned unto me,

saith the Lord."

Verse 12. Therefore thus will I do unto thee] I will continue my

judgments, I will fight against you; and, because I am thus

determined,-

Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.] This is a military phrase,

and is to be understood as a challenge to come out to battle. As

if the Lord had said, I will attack you immediately. Throw

yourselves into a posture of defense, summon your idols to your

help: and try how far your strength, and that of your gods, will

avail you against the unconquerable arm of the Lord of hosts! This

verse has been often painfully misapplied by public teachers; it

has no particular relation to the day of judgment, nor to the hour

of death. These constructions are impositions on the text.

Verse 13. He that formeth the mountains] Here is a powerful

description of the majesty of God. He formed the earth; he created

the wind; he knows the inmost thoughts of the heart; he is the

Creator of darkness and light; he steps from mountain to mountain,

and has all things under his feet! Who is he who hath done and can

do all these things? JEHOVAH ELOHIM TSEBAOTH, that is his name. 1.

The self-existing, eternal, and independent Being. 2. The God who

is in covenant with mankind. 3. The universal Commander of all the

hosts of earth and heaven. This name is farther illustrated in the

following chapter. These words are full of instruction, and may be

a subject of profitable meditation to every serious mind.

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