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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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AMOS 4

There is a continuation in this chapter of the general thought and movement of the last, consisting of denunciations and exhortations of Israel. First, there is a powerful blast against the idle, sinful and oppressive rich "in the mountain of Samaria" (Amos 4:1-3), then, a sarcastic and ironical "call to worship" at Bethel and Gilgal (Amos 4:4,5), and next, a dramatic reminder by the prophet of the seven disasters God had sent upon Israel with the benign purpose of leading them to repentance (Amos 4:6-12). Some have considered these disasters as progressive in intensity and severity. "Amos has arranged them in climactic form."F1 Mays, however, wrote that:

"There is no perceptible development in the sections, no heightening of the disasters' intensity. Each is terrible in its own right, no worse than the previous one. The sequence gains its effect from repetition, the recollection of one disaster after another as though the narrative meant to exhaust the catalogue of human misery."F2

Of particular interest is May's reference to "repetition," which we have already cited as one of the principal characteristics of this remarkable prophet; and the recurrence of a number of different names for God, the recurrence of identical phrases in his denunciations of the nations (Amos 1--2), and the dramatic repetitions of this section (Amos 1:5-12) are all alike genuine and inseparable from the authentic words of this prophecy. Of this chapter, Mays said:

"The sequence is not the work of a collector assembling units of similar form. The individual sections have no point as isolated sayings. The art of repetition is a feature of Amos' own style."F3

Finally, there is a beautiful but brief doxology in Amos 4:13, a logically placed exclamation, concluding the terrible indictment and announced punishment of Israel.


 
Verse 1
Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, that oppress the poor, that crush the needy, that say unto their lords, Bring, and let us drink.

Ye kine of Bashan…
By far the majority of modern translators and commentators render this. Ye cows of Bashan, making it a reference exclusively to the fat cat women of Samaria. We shall accept this, but it should be noted that most of the older commentators did not go along with that view. Clarke wrote, I think the prophet means men of effeminate and idle lives.F4 The word here is cows, the feminine form of kine having no other meaning; but the uncertainty with regard to the meaning derives from the fact that the Hebrew text in this place uses a mixture of feminine and masculine gender words with some inevitable confusion as to what exactly is meant. The best explanation of this we have seen is this:

"Kine of Bashan ... is figurative for those luxurious nobles mentioned in Amos 3:9, etc. The feminine kine, or cows, not bulls, expresses their effeminacy. This accounts for masculine forms in the Hebrew being intermixed with feminine; the latter being figurative, the former the real persons meant."F5

The fact which overrules the view thus expressed by Jamison derives from the last clause in which they say to "their lords":

Bring, and let us drink…
giving a situation which answers most properly to the assumption that the sinners condemned here are those wicked, dissolute and voluptuous women of Samaria who had only one imperative for their lords, or husbands, and that was, Bring! This means, Get it; we don't care how! The only thing that mattered to them was the procurement of the means to carry forward their luxurious parties.

Cows of Bashan…
Hammershaimb thought that such an expression could have been used in a complimentary fashion, saying that, Oriental writers use the comparison with thoroughbred cows as a compliment to the women's beauty and opulence.F6 We dare not accept this view, however, as that of the prophet. If he had been giving a compliment, it seems incredible that he would have chosen a sleek fat beast as an appropriate comparison.

And let us drink…
Butler's terse paraphrase of this is, You debauched women who nag your husbands to supply you with intoxicants.F7 Thus, the husbands of those women, are induced to deal oppressively with the poor that they may procure the viands needed for their wives' debaucheries.F8 Due to the general character of the language employed here, their drinking, may be understood to have included drinking, feasting, and wanton luxury of every kind.F9 Why was Amos so concerned with the actions of these idle and wicked women? McFadden was right in his declaration that:

"All of the Hebrew prophets knew that for the temper and quality of a civilization the women are greatly responsible. A country is largely what its women make it; if they are cruel or careless or unwomanly, the country is on the road to ruin."F10

But these particular women so vigorously condemned by God's prophet had done what no animal could do, "They had made coarse pleasure the deliberate end of life."F11

The great ladies of Samaria! What were they, really? Intent only upon pleasure, cruel and oppressive to subordinates, dominating and demanding of their husbands, competing endlessly with their contemporaries for preeminence in staging one debauchery after another, with never a thought of God, or of any fellow human, what were they? Just, "so many prime beasts from Bashan, sunk in a purely animal existence."F12

Bashan…
Before leaving this verse, it should be remembered that Bashan was proverbially the home of fine pastures and fat cattle. The bulls of Bashan were mentioned by the Psalmist (Psalms 22:12). It was the land lying eastward from the sea of Galilee and somewhat to the north.

One other thing of interest is the way some have tried to downgrade Amos' denunciation of these sensual women with the assertion that:

"There is something about fashionable upper-class women that brings out the venom in a puritan. They epitomize for him the most offensive vices of society. Isaiah reacts to them much as Amos does (Isa. 3:16--4:1)."F13

How blind are they who can get nothing out of this passage of the Word of God except what they call "the venom" of a humble prophet! What a low concept such so-called "scholars" have of the word of the Lord, and how clearly their prejudice in favor of the "upper-class" appears in words which suggest approval of their wicked and dissolute conduct. Given such a glimpse of the writer's "soul" as afforded by the above quotation, one need not be troubled at all regarding his allegations against the Bible. It would be impossible for them to be otherwise than opposed to the truth.


 
Verses 2, 3
The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that they shall take you away with hooks, and your residue with fish-hooks. And ye shall go out at the breaches, every one straight before her; and ye shall cast [yourselves] into Harmon, saith Jehovah.

The exact meaning of this passage is very difficult to determine, due to the damaged nature of the Hebrew text from which it is translated. Some widely different translations have come down to us. Wolfe translated it thus:

"You shall be dragged by the nose with hooks,
And by your buttocks with fish spears;
Even as dung you shall be hauled out, one by one,
To be cast forth on the dump heap naked."F14
The Septuagint and Vatican renditions of this place have: "And fiery destroyers shall cast those with you into boiling cauldrons."F15 Such uncertainties are due to the fact that the words translated "hooks," "fish-hooks" and "Harmon" are not exactly known, as to their meanings. Such difficulties, however, do not in any sense obscure the meaning of the prophet in this passage, that being that a terrible fate is in store for the sensual profligates called the "kine of Bashan." The leading of captives by "hooks" which is certainly one of the possible meanings here was no unlikely event, for:

"The Assyrian illustrations depict such scenes with captives being led with hooks through their noses or mouths, and Amos was no doubt familiar with this barbaric practice."F16

The breaches…
mentioned here indicate that the city will be overthrown by military action and that its citizens shall be removed through the breaches made in the wails.

Harmon…
is sometime construed as naked and sometimes as a place-name; but if it is the latter, no such place has ever been identified.


 
Verses 4, 5
Come to Beth-el, and transgress; to Gilgal, [and] multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, [and] your tithes every three days; and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill-offerings and publish them: for this pleaseth you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah.

False religion is the root of all social ills, and here the prophet poured out God's wrath upon the polluted, innovative, and unauthorized worship that marked the religious culture of Israel.

Come to Bethel, and transgress…
Of course, they called it worship; but it was no such thing. It was, first of all, conducted at an unauthorized place, Jerusalem only being the appropriate place for the Jews to worship God. They pretended, of course, that it was the true God whom they adored there, but it was not true. The god they really worshipped was the filthy Baal, the old god of the Canaanites, and with all the drunkenness, fornication and other debaucheries practiced by the pagans for centuries prior to God's placing Israel in their land. The identification of such human lust with the worship of Almighty God was at the very seat of all Israel's troubles. We have no desire at all to accommodate with that school of expositors who are willing to declare that the only thing wrong in Israel was social injustice as manifested in the oppression of the poor. That was only the froth that had risen to the top of the barrel of rotten irreligion that characterized Israel's culture at that time. What do such exegetes suppose was the utility of those garments of the poor spread out around every altar in Israel?

Your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes every three days…
To interpret this as it stands in our version, Amos exaggerates in order to emphasize the beloved fallacyF17 that the more they served god (!) the better things would be for them. The tithes were due once a year, but in this place Amos seems to say, If you tithed your possessions every three days it would be only an increase in your sins! Why? nothing connected with that worship at either Gilgal or Bethel had any genuine connection whatever with the true worship of the Lord. The New English Bible, of course, translates this:

Bring your sacrifices for the morning,

And your tithes within three days.

We believe that our own version is better and that Amos used hyperbole. Amos utterly rejected the worship of Israel because it was not offered to the true God, but to Baal, because the idolatrous images of the calf were adored there, because the so-called "worship" consisted of drunkenness, fornication, gluttonous feasting, and other low forms of debauchery, because they were violating the clear rules of the Pentateuch regarding freewill offerings, by publishing the names of the donors, and by offering leavened bread, which was contrary to the law of God, and because their oppression of the poor indicated their heartless and disobedient disregard for the entirety of God's law.

Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving which is leavened…
Here is a clear, forceful, and undeniable denunciation by the prophet Amos of a violation regarding one of the rituals in the service of God. The Mosaic law has this:

"Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread." (Exodus 23:18).

However, some expositors of God's message in Amos are very unwilling to let this go unchallenged, because it contradicts their major premise that only the social ills were of any concern to Amos. Well, there's no social ill involved here, however it may be sought; and that is the mountain truth that set off a series of comments like this:

"Amos does not here refer to the transgression of any law in existence.F18 It is not, however, likely that Amos is sarcastically charging Israelites with a breach of ritual regulations.F19 Amos is not condemning the offering of sacrifice with leaven because it was forbidden in the law, but because the presence of leaven was simply another sign of their affluence."F20

Despite postulations such as those, it is quite clear that the Law of Moses was indeed in existence when Amos wrote, and it was known wherever Jews lived; and this prohibition in that law would never have been mentioned in the context here unless that is the way it was. As for Smith's notion that "leaven" was the sign of anyone's affluence (!), one would be hard-pressed indeed to come up with anything more ridiculous. The children of Israel, while in slavery, had plenty of leaven, hence, the prohibition that the Passover should be celebrated with "unleavened" bread.

Note also another violation of the Mosaic law in the matter of publishing the names of donors of "freewill offerings."

And proclaim freewill offerings, and publish them…
The violation here is two-fold. Freewill-offerings were not supposed to be motivated by any specific regulation, but the people of Amos' day had proclaimed freewill-offerings, that is, exhorting the people to give them. They were supposed to be absolutely spontaneous; and these proclamations were a violation of that intention. Furthermore, as an added incentive, they were publishing the freewill-offerings, that is, they were publishing the names of the donors! This, of course, was a good fund-raising device, but it was contrary to God's will.

Now, in the light of these very specific, yet incidental, references to the Law of Moses, it is impossible logically to support the notion that no such law existed when Amos wrote. If no such law had been in existence, it would have been necessary for him to explain why the things mentioned were sinful; and the fact of no explanation being offered proves the prior existence of the Mosaic law which included those prohibitions. The mere denials of scholars who wish to think otherwise are worthless in such a clear-cut demonstration as is found here.

For this pleaseth you…
The ancient Israelites had fallen into the error of supposing that whatever was pleasing and acceptable to themselves was allowable in the worship of God. Many moderns are blinded by the same delusion. The determinative factor regarding what is, or is not, acceptable to God in his worship is the fact of whether or not God has commanded whatever actions, sacrifices, etc., are offered. The proposition that God has no concern with regard to how he is worshipped by men is refuted on every page of the Bible. Cain was condemned for violating God's prescription for worship; and, both in that instance, and here, there is no way to limit God's displeasure to prior social injustice on the part of the worshipper. And why do men do otherwise than what God has commanded in their worship? The answer is right here. As in this case with ancient Israel, they do what pleases them and not what pleases God.

DISASTERS GOD HAD SENT UPON ISRAEL

In Amos 4:6-12, are listed no less than seven calamities which the Lord had visited upon Israel in the hope of inducing them to repentance and wooing them to return unto the Lord. The lesson to be derived from such events is one which has proved to be very difficult for the human race to learn; and yet it is one of the oldest admonitions in the Holy Scriptures:

"And unto Adam he said, because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and has eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Genesis 3:17-19).

The simple and obvious meaning of this passage is that man's environment shall exhibit a certain hostility to him throughout man's pilgrimage upon earth. Also, the opposition which shall arise from the environment itself has a benign purpose, not the mere punishment of man, but "for his sake," in order that he might not forget God. This principle, from the very first book in the Bible is carried forward in the last book of the Bible, in Rev. 8--9, in which is related the story of the seven trumpets sounding over the human environment; and significantly, the disasters foretold there are part and parcel with the disasters visible in this section regarding God's dealings with ancient Israel.

Amos' view of these calamities is clearly that of emphasis upon their relationship to the long-standing covenant with God. If the Pentateuch did not exist, if there had been no solemn covenant with God, then this portion of Amos makes no sense at all; but, of course, they did exist, and had long existed when Amos wrote. Speaking of Amos' view of these events, Howard said, "Such an interpretation of history can only possess significance within the covenant situation."F21

Regarding the disasters mentioned here, Motyer enumerated them as follows:

"God sent his people seven warning chastisements: famine (Amos 4:6); drought (Amos 4:7,8); mildew (Amos 4:9a); locusts (Amos 4:9b); epidemic (Amos 4:10a); war (Amos 4:10b); and earthquake (Amos 4:11), before the great threat of direct confrontation."F22

The ancients regarded "seven" as a round, perfect number, and the appearance of this number of disasters in this list proves that this denunciation is not "a fragment," or that any of it is missing; it is all here. It is the cumulative weight of these calamities which was supposed to have its effect upon Israel. Time after time, God had sent punishments upon them, but in every instance, he had received only obstinate and stubborn rebellion from his people. This situation clearly called for redress, and Amos here proclaimed God's intention to destroy the Northern Kingdom, showing by these repeated opportunities Israel had had for repentance, that despite the ultimate severity of God's judgment, his final destruction was nevertheless one that bore testimony to his longsuffering, as well as to his justice and holiness.


 
Verse 6
And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places; yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

Cleanness of teeth…
If there is nothing to eat, one has no difficulty keeping his teeth clean; they stay clean! As Jamieson put it, Where there is no food to masticate, the teeth are free of uncleanness.F23 This is not the only place in the Bible where cleanness is made to stand for something else. Where no oxen are, the crib is clean (Proverbs 14:4).This is the first of the seven disasters that had fallen upon Israel.

Yet have ye not returned unto me…
Note the purpose of human disasters which, in their aggregate, are due to the displeasure of heaven with a fallen and rebellious race of men, that purpose being benign. God's purpose had been that difficulties would turn the hearts of his people toward himself; but, in the case of Israel nothing like that had occurred.


 
Verse 7
And I also have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest; and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.

The disaster in view here is that of drought. The ultimate authority and power for sending either rain or drought is resident not in men but in God. Man finds it absolutely impossible to predict weather even for periods that lie immediately in the future; and all over the earth are startling evidences that areas once favored with abundant rains are now arid and barren. Look at the ancient rain forests of Arizona. Its huge trees are now almost as hard as diamonds; and they lie glistening in the desert sun, startling adornments of an environment which now provides hardly enough rain to grow a cactus. God is the author of such changes, despite the eagerness of some men to deny it.

The perversity, if we may call it that, of man's natural environment is a condition ordered and directed by God himself as a response to the human race which is in open rebellion against God, a situation that has existed ever since God cursed the ground for Adam's sake (Genesis 3:17-19), and a condition that should not be expected to change. Despite the sorrows and; inconveniences that come as a result of environmental woes, God's purpose in it is surely that of leading men to repentance, and not merely that of punishing men.

When there were yet three months to the harvest…
This was drought at the most critical part of the crop-year, with the result of almost certain crop failure.

Rain upon one city. not to rain on another ..…
This merely describes the capricious and indiscriminate aspect of the drought; but there is no thought here that cities blessed with rain were any more righteous than the ones without it. Jesus taught quite clearly that the rain falls on the just mid unjust, and God sends the sunshine upon the good and bad alike. It is the over-all condition that is sent by God, the controlling pattern which produces failures and blessings indiscriminately mingled. Men proved to be undependable in their responses to the will of God; and therefore, God has sent them an environment in which to live which is also not dependable. Men should get the message and repent and turn to God.


 
Verse 8
So two or three cities wandered unto one city to drink water, and were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

The efforts of scholars to reduce this chapter to the status of a poem are frustrated by Amos' inclusion here of material which defies such a classification; and, as should be expected, the liberal critics cry, "Interpolation!"F24 However, as many scholars have testified, the Hebrew text of Amos is one of the best preserved of all Old Testament texts; and there is no evidence whatever of any interpolation here, the "alleged evidence" being nothing more than the ephemeral and uncertain imagination of men seeking to overthrow portions of the Holy Scriptures.

Yet have ye not returned unto me…
After each visitation, she (Israel) seemed to plunge deeper into immorality and crime. Instead of being brought to a reflective mood, the national conscience had become increasingly dulled.F25


 
Verse 9
I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: the multitude of your gardens and your vineyards and your fig-trees and your olive-trees hath the palmer-worm devoured: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

The two disasters recorded here are (1) the blasting and mildew, and (2) the invasion of the palmer-worm, or locust (as in some versions). Some doubt persists as to which insect, exactly, is mentioned; but, whatever it was, the effect of it was totally ruinous.

Blasting and mildew…
Barnes noted that:

"Both words are doubly intensive. They stand together in the prophecy of Moses (Deuteronomy 28:22), among the other scourges of disobedience; and the mention of these would awaken in those who would hear, the memory of a long train of other warnings and other judgments."F26


 
Verse 10
I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have carried away your horses; and I have made the stench of your camp to come up even into your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.
Two more disasters are recounted here, (1) pestilence, and (2) military disaster. The New English Bible renders plagues of Egypt instead of pestilence after the manner of Egypt; but despite this there remains some doubt of what, exactly, is meant. All of the disasters mentioned in these verses were known to the Israelites, either as experiences through which they themselves had passed, or as experiences of their ancestors known by tradition. Amos had no need to explain any of them. Thorogood also believed that Amos has in mind here the plagues of Egypt, and also:

There is some likeness to the terrible series of warnings (@@28:15-57): "All these curses shall come upon you ·.. because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God."F27

Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah…
This dire lament is dramatically repeated five times (Amos 4:6,8,9,10,12), somewhat like a refrain. It has the utility of constant emphasis upon the truth that the disasters were not mere punishments, but solicitations for the chosen people to repent and return to the Lord, the purpose of the Father being benign throughout.


 
Verse 11
I have overthrown [cities] among you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a brand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

In a sense, Sodom and Gomorrah were surely "cities among" the Israelites; and yet, despite the fact that Israel was actually "more corrupt than they (Sodom and Gomorrah)" (Ezek. 16:47f), God had nevertheless spared them. This truth, that Israel was worse than Sodom and Gomorrah is seldom stressed, but it is profoundly evident in the Bible; and the only reason that God spared Israel, as far as we are able to discern, was that the promise of the Messiah to come through Israel had not yet been realized; and, in a sense, God was "stuck" with the chosen people until that promise should become a reality. Instead of being humbled by the judgment of other nations around them, Israel only presumed upon God's unlimited tolerance of their wickedness, a presumption that nerved them to the murder of the Son of God Himself when he finally arrived.

I have overthrown cities among you…
This is generally taken to refer to an earthquake of extreme severity,F28 an opinion followed by Barnes,F29 Smith,F30 and many others; but it appears to us that a specific reference to the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah is made. Of course, that event was accompanied by a great earthquake also.

McFadden's quotation from Lecky is:

"The theological habit of interpreting the catastrophes of nature as Divine warnings or punishments or discipline, is a baseless and pernicious superstition."F31

This is a fair representation of so-called "scientific" or "modern man"; and, while true enough, that each individual disaster might not be attributed to the immediate sin of the victim (John 9:1-10), there is nevertheless a direct and pertinent connection between the disasters of earth and the rebellion of Adam's race.

"To the sensitive heart, every disaster speaks an urgent message. We have no right to interpret it as the punishment of others, but we have every right to regard it as a call to ourselves, a call to reflection and repentance."F32

Amos 4:6-11 have recounted the seven great disasters through which Israel had passed, ending in the same plaintive cry every time. "Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah."

Some critics make a big thing out of God being referred to in this verse (Amos 4:11) in the third person, whereas, the first person is otherwise prominent throughout; but this is not due to any interpolation, and only signifies that Amos unconsciously reverted to quotations from the Pentateuch in mentioning Sodom and Gomorrah, as any one familiar with the Bible would have done.

It should be noted, as Smith pointed out, that:

"The oracles in Amos 1 and Amos 2 were addressed to seven nations before reaching Israel. Here seven calamities strike before the final act of judgment is experienced."F33

That final judgment upon the Northern Kingdom will be uttered in the very next verse.


 
Verse 12
Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel; [and] because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.

Thus will I do unto thee…
Nothing specific is mentioned in this verse, for it was unnecessary. The carrying away of the people from Samaria, the Northern capital, had been factually and dramatically prophesied in Amos 4:1-5, above; and this is a terse reference to what was already prohesied. This arrangement proves the unity of the whole passage, in fact, the whole prophecy; because all that the prophet says in any portion of this book is evidently in the mind of the author throughout all of it.

Prepare to meet thy God…
Howard saw in this a summons for Israel, to meet her God in the final judgment;F34 and although true in a typical, or ultimate, sense, something much more immediate was in store for Israel. The people were to be carried away captive with hooks, a prophecy which the Assyrians fulfilled in the customary habit of taking away the captives of the lands they ravaged with hooks in their lips, or noses, and fastened together in chains. There was still time for Israel to repent and turn to the Lord in order to avert the impending judgment; but they never heeded it. They simply overlooked the truth that God will not indefinitely warn and threaten; for the incorrigibly wicked, there remains the final and ultimate confrontation of God; and, for Israel, the time was growing short indeed.


 
Verse 13
For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought; that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the Earth--jehovah, the God of hosts, is his name.

We should begin the study of this verse with the words of Smith who wrote:

"There is very little agreement among scholars as to the origin of this verse and the reason for its being placed where it is ... Of course, if one accepts the tradition that Amos wrote all of this book, just as we have it, there can be no problem here except a difficulty in understanding why he put a hymn of praise immediately after an announcement of terrible judgment."F35

We are happy indeed to be placed among those who indeed accept the view that Amos wrote this whole book, just as we have it; for that is our deep and abiding conviction. Furthermore, the book itself carries the unmistakable imprimature of the Holy Spirit, not the least of which is observable in this very verse. In placing this hymn of praise in close juxtaposition with the announcement of judgment, Amos was writing in the tradition later followed by the holy apostles of Christ who did exactly the same thing. In the Book of Revelation, the apostle John frequently inserted, immediately following the announcements of great and terrible judgments, a proleptic vision of the saints rejoicing in heaven, that being, in fact, one of the outstanding characteristics of that prophecy; and it is a very similar thing which Amos has done here. The truth is that any mind fully attuned to the will of God should have expected this doxology precisely where it is located. As Hammershaimb said:

This concluding doxology which describes the might of Jehovah serves to assure the hearers that he will also be able to carry out what he threatens. It is therefore a complete misunderstanding that many commentators have wanted to explain this doxology and the two in Amos 4:5:8f and Amos 4:9:5f as secondary because they do not fit the style of the context.F36

The beautiful doxology with which this chapter closes has another valid utility:

"Some have claimed that Israel did not have a developed doctrine of creation until the postexilic period. Such claims are no longer valid. Amos 4:13 has five phrases describing Yahweh as the Lord of creation."F37

Motyer's summary of this verse is:

"God is sovereign over things visible (the mountains), things invisible (the wind), and things rational (man and his thought). He is in direct executive control of the world, as is evident when he makes the morning darkness, i.e., brings about the sequence of day and night. No place is beyond his reach, even the heights of the earth being beneath his feet."F38

Jehovah, the God of hosts, is his name…
This means that the eternal God has every conceivable power and ability to do as he wills. Blessed be his name forever.


Footnotes for Amos 4
1: Paul T. Butler, The Minor Prophets (Joplin: College Press, 1968), p. 311.
2: James Luther Mays, Amos, A Commentary (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1961), p. 78.
3: Ibid.
4: Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Whole Bible (New York: T. Mason and G. Lane, 1837), p. 680.
5: Robert Jamieson, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1961), p. 793.
6: Erling Hammershaimb, The Book of Amos, translated by John Sturdy (New York: Schocken Books, 1970), p. 65.
7: Paul T. Butler, op. cit., p. 307.
8: William Rainey Harper, Amos and Hosea (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910), p. 86.
9: Ibid.
10: John Edgar McFadden, A Cry for Justice (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1912), p. 36.
11: Ibid.
12: J. A. Motyer, The New Bible Commentary, Revised (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 733.
13: Henry McKeating, CBC, Amos (Cambridge: University Press, 1971), p. 32.
14: Rolland Emerson Wolfe, Meet Amos and Hosea (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1945), p. 24.
15: W. J. Deane, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 14, Amos (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 61.
16: J. Keir Howard, The New Layman's Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), p. 960.
17: J. A. Motyer, op. cit., p. 733.
18: William Rainey Harper, op. cit., p. 91.
19: James Luther Mays, op. cit., p. 75.
20: Ralph L. Smith, Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. 7 (Nashville: The Broadman Press, 1972), p. 104.
21: J. Keir Howard, op. cit., p. 961.
22: J. A. Motyer, op. cit., p. 733.
23: Robert Jamieson, op. cit., p. 794.
24: William Rainey Harper, op. cit., p. 98.
25: Rolland Emerson Wolfe, op. cit., p. 34.
26: Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament, Vol. 1, The Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953), p. 285.
27: Bernard Thorogood, A Guide to the Book of Amos (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1971), p. 44.
28: Hughell E. W. Fosbroke, The Interpreter's Bible, Vol. VI (New York: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 807.
29: Albert Barnes, op. cit., p. 286.
30: Ralph L. Smith, op. cit., p. 106.
31: John Edgar McFadden, op. cit., p. 46.
32: Ibid.
33: Ralph L. Smith, op. cit., p. 107.
34: J. Keir Howard, op. cit., p. 962.
35: Ralph L. Smith, op. cit., p. 107.
36: Erling Hammershaimb, op. cit., p. 74.
37: Ralph L. Smith, op. cit., p. 107.
38: J. A. Motyer, op. cit., p. 733.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Amos 4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=am&chapter=004>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  

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