Amos 8


This chapter begins with a fourth vision denoting the certainty

and nearness of the destruction of Israel, 1-3.

The prophet then proceeds to reprove their oppression and

injustice, 4-7.

Strong and beautiful figures, by which is represented the

complete dissolution of the Israelitish polity, 8-10.

The people threatened with a most awful judgment; a FAMINE of

the word of God, 11-14.


Verse 1. A basket of summer fruit.] As summer fruit was not

proper for preserving, but must be eaten as soon as gathered, so

the Lord intimates by this symbol that the kingdom of Israel was

now ripe for destruction, and that punishment must descend upon it

without delay. Some think the prophet means the fruits at the end

of autumn. And as after the autumn no fruit could be expected, so

Israel's summer is gone by, her autumn is ended, and she shall

yield no more fruit. Or, the autumn of her iniquity is come; the

measure is filled up, and now she shall gather the fruit of her

sin in the abundance of her punishment.

Verse 2. A basket of summer fruit] kelub kayits; the

end is come- ba hakkets: here is a paronomasia or play upon

the words kayits, summer fruit, and kets, the end, both coming

from similar roots. See Clarke on Eze 7:2, where there is a

similar play on the same word.

I will not again pass by them any more.] I will be no longer

their Guardian.

Verse 3. The songs of the temple] Instead of shiroth,

songs, Houbigant reads shoroth, the singing women; and

Newcome follows him: "And the singing women of the palace shall

howl in that day." Instead of joyous songs, they shall have

nothing but lamentation.

They shall cast them forth with silence.] Every place shall be

filled with the dead, and a dreadful silence shall reign

universally; the few that remain being afraid either to speak or

complain, or even to chant a funeral dirge for the most

respectable of the dead.

Verse 4. Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy] Ye that

bruise the poor; exact from them, and tread them under foot.

Verse 5. When will the new moon be gone] This was kept as a kind

of holy day, not by Divine command, but by custom. The Sabbath

was strictly holy; and yet so covetous were they that they grudged

to give to God and their own souls this seventh portion of time!

But bad and execrable as they were, they neither set forth their

corn, nor their wheat, nor any other kind of merchandise, on the

Sabbath. They were saints then, when compared to multitudes

called Christians, who keep their shops either partially or

entirely open on the Lord's day, and buy and sell without any

scruples of conscience. Conscience! alas! they have none; it is

seared as with a hot iron. The strong man armed, in them, is

quiet, for all his goods are in peace.

Making the ephah small, and the shekel great] Giving short

measure, and taking full price; or, buying with a heavy weight,

and selling with one that was light.

Falsifying the balances] Having one scale light, and the other

weighty; one end of the beam long, and the other short. A few

months ago I detected a knave with such balances; with a slip of

his finger along the beam he altered the centre, which made three

ounces short weight in every pound. He did it so dexterously, that

though I knew he was cheating, or, as the prophet expresses it,

was falsifying the balances by deceit, it was some time before I

could detect the fraud, and not till I had been several times

cheated by this accomplished knave. So we find that though the

knaves of ancient Israel are dead, they have left their successors

behind them.

Verse 6. That we may buy the poor for silver] Buying their

services for such a time, with just money enough to clear them

from other creditors.

And the needy for a pair of shoes] See Am 2:6.

And sell the refuse of the wheat!] Selling bad wheat and damaged

flour to poor people as good, knowing that such cannot afford to

prosecute them.

Verse 7. By the excellency of Jacob] By the state of eminence to

which he had raised the descendants of Jacob; or, by the excellent

ONE of Jacob, that is, HIMSELF. The meaning is: "As surely as I

have raised you to such a state of eminence, so surely will I

punish you in proportion to your advantages and your crimes."

Verse 8. Shall not the land tremble for this] It is supposed

that an earthquake is here intended, and that the rising up and

subsiding as a flood refers to that heaving motion that takes

place in an earthquake, and which the prophet here compares to the

overflowing and subsiding of the waters of the Nile. But it may

refer to commotions among the people.

Verse 9. I will cause the sun to go down at noon] This may

either refer to that darkness which often precedes and accompanies

earthquakes, or to an eclipse. Abp. Usher has shown that about

eleven years after Amos prophesied there were two great eclipses

of the sun; one at the feast of tabernacles, and the other some

time before the passover. The prophet may refer to the darkness

occasioned by those eclipses; yet I rather think the whole may

refer to the earthquake.

Verse 10. I will turn your feasts into mourning] See on Am 8:3.

A bitter day.] A time of grievous calamity.

Verse 11. A famine in the land] The most grievous of all

famines, a famine of the words of Jehovah; a time in which no

prophet should appear, no spiritual counsellor, no faithful

reprover, none any longer who would point out the way of

salvation, or would assure them of the mercy of God on their

repentance and return to him. This is the severest of God's

judgments on this side the worm that never dieth, and the fire

that is never quenched.

Verse 12. They shall wander front sea to sea] From the

Mediterranean to the Dead Sea or from west to east, and from north

to south, to seek the word of the Lord; to find a prophet, or any

person authorized by God to show them the end of their calamities.

In this state they shall continue, because they have rejected Him

who is the bread of life.

Verse 14. By the sin of Samaria] Baal, who was worshipped here.

Thy god, O Dan] The golden calf, or ox, the representative of

the Egyptian god Apis, or Osiris.

The manner of Beer-sheba] The worship, or object of worship.

Another of the golden calves which Jeroboam had set up there. The

word derech, way, is here taken for the object and mode

of worship; see Ac 19:9, where

way is taken for the creed and form of Divine worship as

practiced by the followers of Christ, and by which they were

distinguished from the Jews. See also Ac 9:2.

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