|<< Amos 7 >>|
Barnes' Notes on the Bible
The visions of this chapter Amos 7 continue the direct prophecy of the last. That closed in the prophecy of the affliction of Israel through the Assyrian: this foretells three gradations, in which it took place. That spoke of a recovery of Israel after its extreme depression under Hazael; the first of these visions exhibit it as a field shorn to the ground, shooting out anew, but threatened with a fresh destruction. The chastisements are three-fold. Two, at the intercession of Amos, stop short of utter destruction; the third was final. Each also increased in severity. Such were the three invasions of the Assyrians. Pul, invited by Menahem, amid civil war, to establish him on his throne, exacted only a heavy fine. Tiglath-pileser, called in by Ahaz against Pekah, carried off the inhabitants of the east and north of Israel; the invasion of Shalmaneser ended the empire and its idolatry.
1Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings.
And behold He formed - (that is, He was forming.) The very least things then are as much in His infinite Mind, as what we count the greatest. He has not simply made "laws of nature," as people speak, to do His work, and continue the generations of the world. He Himself was still framing them, giving them being, as our Lord saith, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" John 5:17. The same power of God is seen in creating the locust, as the universe. The creature could as little do the one as the other. But further, God was "framing" them for a special end, not of nature, but of His moral government, in the correction of man. He was "framimg the locust," that it might, at His appointed time, lay waste just those tracts which He had appointed to them. God, in this vision, opens our eyes, and lets us see Himself, framing the punishment for the deserts of the sinners, that so when hail, mildew, blight, caterpillars, or some other hitherto unknown disease, (which, because we know it not, we call by the name of the crop which it annihilates), waste our crops, we may think, not of secondary causes, but of our Judge. Lap.: "Fire and hail, snow and vapors, stormy wind, fulfill His word, Psalm 148:8, in striking sinners as He wills. To be indignant with these, were like a dog who bit the stone wherewith it was hit, instead of the man who threw it." Gregory on Job L. xxxii. c. 4. L.: "He who denies that he was stricken for his own fault, what does he but accuse the justice of Him who smiteth?"
Grasshoppers - that is, locusts. The name may very possibly be derived from their "creeping" simultaneously, in vast multitudes, from the ground, which is the more observable in these creatures, which, when the warmth of spring hatches the eggs, creep forth at once in myriads. This first meaning of their name must, however, have been obliterated by use (as mostly happens), since the word is also used by Nahum of a flying locust .
The king's mowings - must have been some regalia, to meet the state-expenses. The like custom still lingers on, here and there, among us, the "first mowth" or "first vesture," that with which the fields are first clad, belonging to one person; the pasturage afterward, or "after-grass," to others. The hay-harvest probably took place some time before the grain-harvest, and the "latter grass," "after-grass," (לקשׁ leqesh) probably began to spring up at the time of the "latter rain" (מלקושׁ malqôsh). Had the grass been mourn after this rain, it would not, under the burning sun of their rainless summer, have sprung up at all. At this time, then, upon which the hope of the year depended, "in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter grass," Amos saw, in a vision, God form the locust, and "the green herb of the land" (the word includes all, that which is "for the service of man" as well as for beasts,) destroyed. Striking emblem of a state, recovering after it had been mown down, and anew overrun by a numerous enemy! Yet this need but be a passing desolation. Would they abide, or would they carry their ravages elsewhere? Amos intercedes with God, in words of that first intercession of Moses, "forgive now" Numbers 14:19. "By whom," he adds, "shall Jacob arise?" literally, "Who shall Jacob arise?" that is, who is he that he should arise, so weakened, so half-destroyed? Plainly, the destruction is more than one invasion of locusts in one year. The locusts are a symbol (as in Joel) in like way as the following visions are symbols.
2And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
3The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD.
The Lord repented for this - God is said to "repent, to have strong compassion upon" or "over" evil, which He has either inflicted Deuteronomy 32:36; 1 Chronicles 21:15, or has said that He would inflict Exodus 32:12; Joel 2:13; Jonah 3:10; Jeremiah 18:8, and which, upon repentance or prayer, He suspends or checks. Here, Amos does not intercede until after the judgment had been, in part, inflicted. He prayed, when in vision the locust "had made an end of eating the grass of the land," and when "the fire had eaten up a part." Nor, until Israel had suffered what these visions foretold, was he "small," either in his own or in human sight, or in relation to his general condition. The "this" then, "of which God repented" and said, "it shall not be," is that further undefined evil, which His first infliction threatened. Evil and decay do not die out, but destroy. Oppression does not weary itself out, but increases. Visitations of God are tokens of His displeasure, and, in the order of His justice, rest on the sinner. Pul and Tiglath-pileser, when they came with their armies on Israel, were instruments of God's chastening. According to the ways of God's justice, or of man's ambition, the evil now begun, would have continued, but that God, at the prayer of the prophet, said, "Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further" Job 38:11.
4Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and, behold, the Lord GOD called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part.
God called to contend by fire - that is, He "called" His people to maintain their cause with Him "by fire," as He says, "I will plead" in judgment "with him" (Gog) "with" (that is," by") pestilence and blood" Ezekiel 38:22; and, "by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh" Isaiah 66:16; and, "The Lord standeth up to plead and standeth to judge the people" Isaiah 3:13. Man, by rebellion, challenges God's Omnipotence. He will have none of Him; he will find his own happiness for himself, apart from God and in defiance of Him and His laws; he plumes himself on his success, and accounts his strength or wealth or prosperity the test of the wisdom of his policy. God, sooner or later, accepts the challenge. He brings things to the issue, which man had chosen. He "enters into judgment" (Isaiah 3:14, etc.) with him. If man escapes with impunity, then he had chosen well, in rejecting God and choosing his own ways. If not, what folly and misery was his short-sighted choice; short-lived in its gain; its loss, eternal! "Fire" stands as the symbol and summary of God's most terrible judgments. It spares nothing, leaves nothing, not even the outward form of what it destroys. Here it is plainly a symbol, since it destroys "the sea" also, which shall be destroyed only by the fire of the Day of Judgment, when "the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" 2 Peter 3:10. The sea is called the "great deep," only in the most solemn language, as the history of the creation or the flood, the Psalms and poetical books. Here it is used, in order to mark the extent of the desolation represented in the vision.
And did eat up a part - Rather literally, "The portion," that is, probably the definite "portion" foreappointed by God to captivity and desolation. This probably our English Version meant by "a part." For although God calls Himself "the Portion" of Israel Deuteronomy 32:9; Jeremiah 10:16; Zechariah 2:12, and of those who are His (Psalm 16:5; Psalm 73:26, etc; Jeremiah 10:16), and reciprocally He calls the people "the Lord's portion Jeremiah 12:10, and the land, the portion Micah 2:4 of God's people; yet the land is nowhere called absolutely "the portion," nor was the country of the ten tribes specially "the portion," given by God. Rather God exhibits in vision to the prophet, the ocean burned up, and "the portion" of Israel, upon which His judgments were first to fall. To this Amos points, as "the portion." God knew "the portion," which Tiglath-Pileser would destroy, and when he came and had carried captive the east and north of Israel, the pious in Israel would recognize the second, more desolating scourge, foretold by Amos; they would own that it was at the prayer of the prophet that it was stayed and went no further, and would await what remained.
5Then said I, O Lord GOD, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
As our Lord repeated the same words in the Garden, so Amos interceded with God with words, all but one, the same, and with the same plea, that, if God did not help, Israel was indeed helpless. Yet a second time God spared Israel. To human sight, what so strange and unexpected, as that the Assyrian and his army, having utterly destroyed the kingdom of Damascus, and carried away its people, and having devoured, like fire, more than half of Israel, rolled back like an ebb-tide, swept away to ravage other countries, and spared the capital? And who, looking at the mere outside of things, would have thought that that tide of fire was rolled back, not by anything in that day, but by the prophet's prayer some 47 years before? Man would look doubtless for motives of human policy, which led Tiglath-pileser to accept tribute from Pekah, while he killed Rezin; and while he carried off all the Syrians of Damascus, to leave half of Israel to be removed by his successor.
Humanly speaking, it was a mistake. He "scotched" his enemy only, and left him to make alliance with Egypt, his rival, who disputed with him the possession of the countries which lay between them. If we knew the details of Assyrian policy, we might know what induced him to turn aside in his conquest. There were, and always are, human motives. They do not interfere with the ground in the mind of God, who directs and controls them. Even in human contrivances, the wheels, interlacing one another, and acting one on the other, do but transmit, the one to the other, the motion and impulse which they have received from the central force. The revolution of the earth around its own center does not interfere with, rather it is a condition of its revolving round the center of our system, and, amidst the alternations of night and day, brings each several portion within the influence of the sun around which it revolves. The affairs of human kingdoms have their own subordinate centers of human policy, yet even thereby they the more revolve in the circuit of God's appointment. In the history of His former people God gives us a glimpse into a hidden order of things, the secret spring and power of His wisdom, which sets in motion that intricate and complex machinery which alone we see, and in the sight of which people lose the consciousness of the unseen agency. While man strives with man, prayer, suggested by God, moves God, the Ruler of all.
6The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD.
7Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.
Stood upon - (Rather "over" "a wall" made by "a plumbline;" lit. "a wall of a plumbline," that is, (as our's has it) "made" straight, perpendicular, "by" it. The wall had been "made by a lead" or "plumbline;" by it, that is, according to it, it should e destroyed. God had made it upright, He had given to it an undeviating rule of right, He had watched over it, to keep it, as He made it. Now "He stood over it," fixed in His purpose, to destroy it. He marked its inequalities. Yet this too in judgment. He destroys it by that same rule of right wherewith He had built it. By that law, that right, those providential leadings, that grace, which we have received, by the same we are judged.
8And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:
Amos, what seest thou? - o: "He calls the prophet by name, as a familiar friend, known and approved by Him, as He said to Moses, "I know thee by name" Exodus 33:12, Exodus 33:17. For "the Lord knoweth them that are His. What seest thou?" 2 Timothy 2:19. God had twice heard the prophet. Two judgments upon His people He had mitigated, not upon their repentance, but on the single intercession of the prophet. After that, He willed to be no more entreated. And so He exhibits to Amos a symbol, whose meaning He does not explain until He had pronounced their doom. "The plumbline" was used in pulling down, as well as in building up. Whence Jeremiah says, "The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion; He hath stretched out a line; He hath not withdrawn His hand from destroying; therefore He made the rampart and wall to lament" Lamentations 2:8 : and Isaiah; "He shall stretch out upon it the line of wasteness" (as in Genesis 1:2) "and the stone of emptiness" Isaiah 34:11 (as in Genesis 1:2): and God said of Judah, "I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab" 2 Kings 21:13.
Accordingly God explains the vision, "Behold I will set," that is, shortly, (literally, "am setting") "a plumbline in the midst of My people Israel." The wall, then, is not the emblem of Samaria or of any one city. It is the strength and defense of the whole people, whatever held it together, and held out the enemy. As in the vision to Belshazzar, the word "Tekel," He "weighed," was explained, "Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting" Daniel 5:27, so God here applies the plumbline, at once to convict and to destroy upon conviction. In this Judgment, as at the Last Day, God would not condemn, without having first made clear the justice of His condemnation. He sets it "in the midst of" His "people," showing that He would make trial of all, one by one, and condemn in proportion to the guilt of each. But the day of grace being past, the sentence was to be final. "I will not pass by them," literally, "I will not pass over" (that is, their transgressions) "to them (as in Amos 8:2) anymore," that is, I will no more forgive them.
9And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.
The high places of Isaac - He probably calls the ten tribes by the name of Isaac, as well as of Israel, in order to contrast their deeds with the blameless, gentle piety of Isaac, as well as the much-tried faithfulness of Israel. It has been thought too that he alludes to the first meaning of the name of Isaac. His name was given from the joyous laughter at the unheard-of promise of God, to give children to those past age; their high places should be a laughter, but the laughter of mockery . The "sanctuaries" were perhaps the two great idol-temples at Bethel and Dan, over against the one "sanctuary" of God at Jerusalem; the "high places" were the shrines of idolatry, especially where God had shown mercy to the patriarchs and Israel, but also all over the land. All were to be wasted, because all were idolatrous.
I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword - God speaks after the manner of people, who, having been still, arise against the object of their enmity. He makes Himself so far one with the instruments of His sentence, that, what they do, He ascribes to Himself. Jeroboam II must, from his military success, have been popular among his people. Successful valor is doubly prized, and he had both valor and success. God had "saved Israel by" His "hand" 2 Kings 14:27. A weak successor is often borne with for the merits of his father. There were no wars from without which called for strong military energy or talent, and which might furnish an excuse for superseding a faineant king. Ephraim had no ambition of foreign glory, to gratify. Zechariah, Jeroboam's son, was a sensualist ; but many sensualists have, at all times, reigned undisturbed. Shallum who murdered Zechariah was simply a "conspirator" 2 Kings 15:10; he represented no popular impulse, and was slain himself a month 2 Kings 15:13-14 after. Yet Amos foretells absolutely that the house of Jeroboam should perish by the sword, and in the next generation his name was clean put out.
10Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.
Amaziah, the priest of Bethel - Was probably the high priest, in imitation of the high priest of the order of Aaron and of God's appointment. For the many high places around Bethel required many idol-priests; and a splendid counterfeit of the ritual at Jerusalem, which should rival it in the eyes of Israel, was part of the policy of the first Jeroboam. Amaziah was at the head of this imposture, in a position probably of wealth and dignity among his people. Like "Demetriers the silversmith" Acts 19, he thought that the craft whereby he had his wealth was endangered. To Jeroboam, however, he says nothing of these fears. To the king he makes it an affair of state. He takes the king by what he expected to be his weak side, fear for his own power or life. "Amos hath conspired against thee." So to Jeremiah "the captain of the ward" said, "Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans" Jeremiah 37:13.
And the princes; "Let this man be put to death, for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt" Jeremiah 38:4. And of our Lord they said to Pilate, "If thou let this Man go, thou art not Caesar's friend. Whosoever maketh himself a king, is an enemy to Caesar" John 19:12. And of the Apostles; "these men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans" Acts 16:20-21; and, "these that have turned the world upside down are come hither also - and these all do contrary to the decrees of Cesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus" Acts 17:6-7. And so the pagan, who were ever conspiring against the Roman Emperors, went on accusing the early Christians as disloyal to the Emperors, factious, impious, because they did not offer sacrifices for them to false gods, but prayed for them to the True God . Some doubtless, moved by the words of Amos, had forsaken the state-idolatry, reformed their lives, worshiped God with the prophet; perhaps they were called in contempt by his name, "Amosites" or "Judaizers," and were counted as "his" adherents, not as the worshipers of the one true God, "the God of their fathers." Whence Amaziah gained the plea of a "conspiracy," of which Amos was the head. For a "conspiracy" cannot be of one man. The word, by its force, signifies "banded;" the idiom, that he "banded" others "together against" 1 Samuel 22:8, 1 Samuel 22:13; 1 Kings 15:27; 1 Kings 16:9, 1 Kings 16:16; 2 Kings 10:9; 2 Kings 14:19; 2 Kings 15:10, 2 Kings 15:15, 2 Kings 15:25; 2 Kings 21:23 the king. To us Amaziah attests the power of God's word by His prophet; "the land," that is, the whole people, "is not able to bear his words," being shaken through and through.
11For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.
For thus Amos saith - Amos had said, "Thus saith the Lord;" he never fails to impress on them, whose words he is speaking. Amaziah, himself bound up in a system of falsehood and imposture, which, being a creature-worship, gave itself out as the worship of the true God, believed all besides to be fraud. Fraud always suspects fraud; the irreligious think devotion, holiness, saintliness to be hypocrisy: vice imagines virtue to be well-masked vice. The false priest, by a sort of law of corrupt nature, supposed that Amos also was false, and treats his words as the produce of his own mind.
Jeroboam shall die by the sword - Amos had not said this. The false prophet distorts the last words of Amos, which were yet in his ears, and reports to Jeroboam, as said of himself, what Amos had just said of his "house." Amos "was" opposed to the popular religion or irreligion of which Jeroboam was the head, to the headship over which he had succeeded. Jeroboam, like the Roman Emperors, was high priest, Pontifex Maximus, in order to get the popular worship under his control. The first Jeroboam had himself consecrated the calf-priests 1 Samuel 22:8, 1 Samuel 22:13; 1 Kings 15:27; 1 Kings 16:9, 1 Kings 16:16; 2 Kings 10:9; 2 Kings 14:19; 2 Kings 15:10, 2 Kings 15:15, 2 Kings 15:25; 2 Kings 21:23. Amos bore also the message from God, that the reprieve, given to the house of Jehu, would not be extended, but would end. Amaziah would act on the personal fears of the king, as though there had been some present active conspiracy against him. A lie, mixed with truth, is the most deadly form of falsehood, the truth serving to gain admittance for the lie, and color it, and seeming to require explanation, and being something to full back upon. Since thus much is certainly true, why should not the rest be so? In slander, and heresy which is slander against God, truth is used to commend the falsehood; and falsehood, to destroy the truth. The poison is received the more fearlessly because wrapt up in truth, but loses none of its deadliness.
And Israel shall surely be led away captive - This was a suppression of truth, as the other was a falsification of it. Amaziah omits both the ground of the threat, and the hope of escape urged and impressed upon them. On the one side he omits all mention of what even such a king as Jeroboam would respect, the denunciation of oppression of the poor, injustice, violence, robbery, and all their other sins against man. On the other hand, he omits the call to repentance and promises on it, "seek ye the Lord and live." He omits too the prophet's intercession for his people, and selects the one prophecy, which could give a mere political character to the whole. Suppression of truth is a yet subtler character of falsehood. Hence, witnesses on oath are required to tell, not the truth only., but the whole truth. Yet in daily life, or in accusation of others, in detraction, or evil-speaking, people daily act, as though, suppression were no lie.
12Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:
Jeroboam apparently took no account of the false priest's message. Perhaps the memory of the true prophecies of Elisha as to the successes of his father, and of Jonah as to his own, fulfilled in his own person and still recent, inspired him with a reverence for God's prophets. To know his motive or motives, we must know his whole character, which we do not. Amaziah, failing of his purpose, uses his name as far as he dares. "Seer, go flee thee." He probably uses the old title for a prophet, in reference to the visions which he had just related. Perhaps, he used it in irony also . "Thou who seest, as thou deemest, what others see not, "visionary! visionist!" flee thee," that is, for thy good; (he acts the patron and the counselor;) "to the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and there prophesy." Worldly people always think that those whose profession is religious make "a gain of godliness." "He is paid for it," they say. "Whose bread I eat, his song I sing." Interested people cannot conceive of one disinterested; nor the worldly, of one unworldly; nor the insincere, of one sincere. Amaziah thought then that Amos, coming out of Judah, must he speaking in the interests of Judah; perhaps, that he was in the pay of her king. Anyhow, prophecies, such as his against Israel, would be acceptable there and be well paid. The words are courteous, like so much patronizing language now, as to God or His revelation, His prophets or His Apostles, or His divine word. The words are measured: the meaning blasphemy. Perhaps, like the Scribes and Pharisees afterward, "he feared the people" Matthew 21:26; Acts 5:26. : "Seeing that there were many among the people who beard him gladly, he dared not do him any open wrong, lest he should offend them."
13But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king's chapel, and it is the king's court.
It is the king's chapel - Better, as in the English margin, "sanctuary." It is the name for "the sanctuary" of God. "Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them" Exodus 25:8. "Ye shall reverence My sanctuary: I am the Lord" Leviticus 19:30; Leviticus 26:2. It is most often spoken of as, "The sanctuary" ; elsewhere, but always with emphasis, of reverence, sanctity, devotion, protection, it is called "His sanctuary; My sanctuary; Thy sanctuary; the sanctuary of the Lord of God, of his God ; whence God Himself is called "a sanctuary" Isaiah 8:14; Ezekiel 11:16, as a place of refuge. In three places only, is it called the sanctuary of Israel; "her sanctuary." God, in His threat to cast them off, says, "I will bring your sanctuaries to desolation" Leviticus 26:31; Jeremiah laments, "the pagan have entered into her sanctuary" Lamentations 1:10; he says, "the place of our sanctuary is a glorious high throne from the beginning" Jeremiah 17:12, inasmuch as God was enthroned there.
In this case too it is "the sanctuary for" Israel, not a mere property of Israel. "The sanctuary of God" could not he called the sanctuary of any man. One man could not so appropriate "the sanctuary." God had ordained it for Himself. His presence had sanctified it. Heresy, in unconsciousness, lets out more truth than it means. A high priest at Jerusalem could not have said this. He knew that "the temple" was the "sanctuary" of God, and could not have called it the "king's sanctuary." The sanctuary at Bethel had no other sanction, than what it had from the king. Jeroboam I consecrated it and its priests 1 Kings 12:31-33; and from him it and they had their authority. Amaziah wished to use a popular plea to rid himself of Amos. Bethel was "the king's sanctuary and the house," not of God, but "of the kingdom," that is, "the house," which had the whole royal sanction, which with its Worship was the creature of royal authority, bound up in one with the kingdom, and belonging to it.
Or it may be, "a royal house," (not a palace, or court, for the king's palace was at Samaria, but) "a royal temple," the state-Church. So the Arians betrayed their worldliness by dating one of their Creeds from the Roman Consuls of the year, its month and day" , thereby to show all thinking people, that their faith dates, not of old but now." Their faith was of yesterday. "They are accustomed to say," says Jerome, "the Emperor communicates with us, and, if anyone resists them, immediately they calumniate. 'Actest thou against the Emperor? Despisest thou the Emperor's mandate?' And yet we may think, that many Christian kings who have persecuted the Church of God, and essayed to establish the Arian impiety in the whole world, surpass in guilt Jeroboam king of Israel. He despised the message of a false priest, nor would he make any answer to his suggestions. But these, with their many Amaziahpriests, have slain Amos the prophet and the priest of the Lord by hunger and penury, dungeons and exile."
14Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit:
I was no prophet - The order of the words is emphatic. "No prophet I, and no prophet's son I, for a herdsman I, and dresser of sycamores." It may be, Amos would meet, for the people's sake, Amaziah's taunt. He had a living, simple indeed, yet that of the prophets was as simple. But chiefly he tells them of the unusual character of his mission. He did not belong to the order of the prophets, nor had he been educated in the schools of the prophets, nor had he any human training. He was thinking of nothing less; he was doing the works of his calling, until "God took him from following the flock," and gave him his commission. Rup.: "He promises humbly what he had been, what he had been made, not by merits, but by grace, that he had not assumed the prophetic office by hereditary right, nor had he begun to prophesy out of his own mind, but, being under the necessity of obeying, he had fulfilled the grace and the command of God who inspired and sent Him." Twice he repeats, "The Lord took me; the Lord said unto me;" inculcating that, what Amaziah forbade, God bade. All was of God. "He" had but obeyed. Jerome: "As then the Apostles, when the Scribes and Pharisees forbade them to teach in the Name of Jesus, answered, 'We must obey God rather than man' Acts 5:29, so Amos, when forbidden by the idol-priests to prophesy, not only prophesies, shewing that he feared God bidding, more than their forbidding, but he boldly and freely denounces the punishment of him who endeavored to forbid and hinder the word of God." Rup.: "heaven thundered and commanded him to prophesy; the frog croaked in answer out of his marsh, 'prophesy no more. '"
15And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
16Now therefore hear thou the word of the LORD: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac.
Amaziah then was in direct rebellion and contradiction against God. He was in an office forbidden by God. God's word came to him. He had his choice; and, as people do, when entangled in evil courses, he chose the more consciously amiss. He had to resign his lucrative office and to submit to God speaking to him through a shepherd, or to stand in direct opposition to God, and to confront God; and in silencing Amos, he would silence God. But, like one who would arrest the lightning, he draws it on his own head. Amos contrasts the word of Amaziah, and the word of God; Rup.: "Hear thou the word of the Lord; Thou sayest; prophesy not against Israel. Therefore thus saith the Lord." Not only will I not cease to prophesy against Israel, but I will also prophesy to thee. Hear now thine own part of the prophecy."
Drop not - The form of expression, (not the word) is probably taken from Moses. "My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew; as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass" Deuteronomy 32:2. Micah speaks of the word as used by those who forbade to prophesy, as though the prophecy were a continual wearisome "dropping." God's word comes as a gentle dew or soft rain, not beating down but refreshing; not sweeping away, like a storm, but sinking in and softening even hard ground, all but the rock; gentle, so as they can bear it. God's word was to people, such as they were toward it; dropping like the dew on those who received it; wearing, to those who hardened themselves against it. It drops in measure upon the hearts which it fertilizes, being adapted to their capacity to receive it. And so contrariwise as to the judgments with which God's prophets are charged. : "The prophets do not discharge at once the whole wrath of God, but, in their threatenings, denounce little drops of it."
17Therefore thus saith the LORD; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.
Thy wife shall be a harlot - These were, and still are, among the horrors of war. His own sentence comes last, when he had seen the rest, unable to hinder it. Against his and her own will, she should suffer this. Jerome: "Great is the grief, and incredible the disgrace, when the husband, in the midst of the city and in the presence of all, cannot hinder the wrong done to his wife , for the husband had rather hear that his wife had been slain, than defiled." What he adds "thy daughters" (as well as his "sons") "shall fall by the sword," is an unwonted barbarity, and not part of the Assyrian customs, who carried off women in great numbers, as wives for their soldiery .
Perhaps Amos mentions the unwonted cruelty, that the event might bring home the more to the minds of the people the prophecies which relate to themselves. When this had been fulfilled before his eyes , "Amaziah himself, who now gloried in the authority of the priesthood, was to be led into captivity, die in a land polluted by idols, yet not before be saw the people whom he had deceived, enslaved and captive." Amos closes by repeating emphatically the exact words, which Amaziah had alleged in his message to Jeroboam; "and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land." He had not said it before in these precise words. Now he says it, without reserve of their repentance, as though he would say, "Thou hast pronounced thine own sentence; thou hast hardened thyself against the word of God; thou hardenest thy people against the word of God; it remains then that it should fall on thee and thy people." Rup.: "How and when the prophecy against Amaziah was fulfilled, Scripture does not relate. He lies hid amid the mass of miseries" . Scripture hath no leisure to relate all which befalls those of the viler sort "The majesty of Holy Scripture does not lower itself to linger on baser persons, whom God had rejected.