Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
The seventh, eighth, and ninth chapters contain
The seventh chapter consists of two parts. First
(1) A vision of grasshoppers or young locusts, which devour the grass, but are
removed at Amos' entreaty; (2) Fire drying up even the deep, and
withering part of the land, but removed at Amos' entreaty; (3) A
plumb-line to mark the buildings for destruction. Secondly
CONSEQUENCE OF THE
1. showed . . . me; and, behold--The same formula prefaces the three
visions in this chapter, and the fourth in
grasshoppers--rather, "locusts" in the caterpillar state, from a
Hebrew root, "to creep forth." In the autumn the eggs are deposited
in the earth; in the spring the young come forth
the latter growth--namely, of grass, which comes up after the mowing.
They do not in the East mow their grass and make hay of it, but cut it
off the ground as they require it.
the king's mowings--the first-fruits of the mown grass, tyrannically
exacted by the king from the people. The literal locusts, as in Joel,
are probably symbols of human foes: thus the "growth" of grass "after
the king's mowings" will mean the political revival of Israel under
after it had been mown down, as it were, by Hazael and Ben-hadad of
2. by whom shall Jacob arise?--If Thou, O God, dost not spare, how can
Jacob maintain his ground, reduced as he is by repeated attacks of
the Assyrians, and erelong about to be invaded by the Assyrian Pul
(2Ki 15:19, 20)?
The mention of "Jacob" is a plea that God should "remember for them His
covenant" with their forefather, the patriarch
he is small--reduced in numbers and in strength.
3. repented for this--that is, of this. The change was not in the mind
but in the effect outwardly. God unchangeably does what is just; it is
just that He should hear intercessory prayer
as it would have been just for Him to have let judgment take its course
at once on the guilty nation, but for the prayer of one or two
righteous men in it (compare
The repentance of the sinner, and God's regard to His own attributes of
mercy and covenanted love, also cause God outwardly to deal with him as
if he repented
whereas the change in outward dealing is in strictest harmony with God's
It shall not be--Israel's utter overthrow now. Pul was influenced by
God to accept money and withdraw from Israel.
4. called to contend--that is, with Israel judicially
He ordered to come at His call the infliction of punishment by "fire"
on Israel, that is, drought (compare
[MAURER]. Rather, war
namely, Tiglath-pileser [GROTIUS].
devoured the . . . deep--that is, a great part of
Israel, whom he carried away. Waters are the symbol for many
did eat up a part--namely, all the land (compare
of Israel east of Jordan
This was a worse judgment than the previous one: the locusts ate up the
grass: the fire not only affects the surface of the ground, but burns
up the very roots and reaches even to the deep.
7. wall made by a plumb-line--namely, perpendicular.
8. plumb-line in . . . midst of . . .
Israel--No longer are the symbols, as in the former two, stated
generally; this one is expressly applied to Israel. God's
long-suffering is worn out by Israel's perversity: so Amos ceases to
The plummet line was used not only in building, but in destroying
Isa 28:17; 34:11;
It denotes that God's judgments are measured out by the most exact
rules of justice. Here it is placed "in the midst" of Israel, that is,
the judgment is not to be confined to an outer part of Israel, as by
Tiglath-pileser; it is to reach the very center. This was fulfilled
when Shalmaneser, after a three years' siege of Samaria, took it and
carried away Israel captive finally to Assyria
(2Ki 17:3, 5, 6, 23).
not . . . pass by . . . any more--not forgive them any more
9. high places--dedicated to idols.
of Isaac--They boasted of their following the example of their
forefather Isaac, in erecting high places at Beer-sheba
Ge 26:23, 24; 46:1);
but he and Abraham erected them before the temple was appointed at
Jerusalem--and to God; whereas they did so, after the temple had been
fixed as the only place for sacrifices--and to idols. In the
Hebrew here "Isaac" is written with s, instead of the
usual ts; both forms mean "laughter"; the change of spelling
perhaps expresses that their "high places of Isaac" may be well so
called, but not as they meant by the name; for they are only fit to be
laughed at in scorn. Probably, however, the mention of "Isaac"
and "Israel" simply expresses that these names, which their degenerate
posterity boasted in as if ensuring their safety, will not save them
and their idolatrous "sanctuaries" on which they depended from ruin
house of Jeroboam with . . . sword--fulfilled in the
extinction of Zachariah, son of Jeroboam II, the last of the
descendants of Jeroboam I, who had originated the idolatry of the
10. priest of Beth-el--chief priest of the royal sanctuary to the
calves at Beth-el. These being a device of state policy to keep Israel
separate from Judah. Amaziah construes Amos words against them as
treason. So in the case of Elijah and Jeremiah
Jer 37:13, 14).
So the antitype Jesus was charged
political expediency being made in all ages the pretext for dishonoring
God and persecuting His servants
So in the case of Paul
(Ac 17:6, 7; 24:5).
in the midst of . . . Israel--probably alluding to Amos' own words,
"in the midst of . . . Israel"
foretelling the state's overthrow to the very center. Not
secretly, or in a corner, but openly, in the very center of the
state, so as to upset the whole utterly.
land is not able to bear all his words--They are so many and so
intolerable. A sedition will be the result. The mention of his being
"priest of Beth-el" implies that it was for his own priestly gain, not
for the king or state, he was so keen.
11. Jeroboam shall die, &c.--Amos had not said this: but that "the
house of Jeroboam" should fall "with the sword"
But Amaziah exaggerates the charge, to excite Jeroboam against him. The
king, however, did not give ear to Amaziah, probably from religious awe
of the prophet of Jehovah.
12. Also--Besides informing the king against Amos, lest that course
should fail, as it did, Amaziah urges the troublesome prophet himself to
go back to his own land Judah, pretending to advise him in friendliness.
seer--said contemptuously in reference to Amos' visions which
there eat bread--You can earn a livelihood there, whereas remaining
here you will be ruined. He judges of Amos by his own selfishness, as if
regard to one's own safety and livelihood are the paramount
considerations. So the false prophets
were ready to say whatever pleased their hearers, however false, for
"handfuls of barley and pieces of bread."
13. prophesy not again--
at Beth-el--Amaziah wants to be let alone at least in his own
the king's chapel--Beth-el was preferred by the king to Dan, the other
seat of the calf-worship, as being nearer Samaria, the capital, and as
hallowed by Jacob of old
(Ge 28:16, 19; 35:6, 7).
He argues by implication against Amos' presumption, as a private man,
in speaking against the worship sanctioned by the king, and that in the
very place consecrated to it for the king's own devotions.
king's court--that is, residence: the seat of empire, where the king
holds his court, and which thou oughtest to have reverenced. Samaria was
the usual king's residence: but for the convenience of attending the
calf-worship, a royal palace was at Beth-el also.
14. I was no prophet--in answer to Amaziah's insinuation
that he discharged the prophetical office to earn his "bread" (like
Israel's mercenary prophets). So far from being rewarded, Jehovah's
prophets had to expect imprisonment and even death as the result of
their prophesying in Samaria or Israel: whereas the prophets of Baal
were maintained at the king's expense (compare
I was not, says Amos, of the order of prophets, or educated in their
schools, and deriving a livelihood from exercising the public functions
of a prophet. I am a shepherd (compare
"flock"; the Hebrew for "herdsman" includes the meaning,
in humble position, who did not even think of prophesying among you,
until a divine call impelled me to it.
prophet's son--that is, disciple. Schools of prophets are mentioned
first in First Samuel; in these youths were educated to serve the
theocracy as public instructors. Only in the kingdom of the ten tribes
is the continuance of the schools of the prophets mentioned. They were
missionary stations near the chief seats of superstition in Israel, and
associations endowed with the Spirit of God; none were admitted but
those to whom the Spirit had been previously imparted. Their spiritual
fathers travelled about to visit the training schools, and cared for the
members and even their widows
(2Ki 4:1, 2).
The pupils had their common board in them, and after leaving them still
continued members. The offerings which in Judah were given by the
pious to the Levites, in Israel went to the schools of the prophets
Prophecy (for example, Elijah and Elisha) in Israel was more connected
with extraordinary events than in Judah, inasmuch as, in the absence of
the legal hierarchy of the latter, it needed to have more palpable
sycamore--abounding in Palestine. The fruit was like the fig, but
inferior; according to PLINY,
a sort of compound, as the name expresses,
of the fig and the mulberry. It was only eaten by the poorest (compare
gatherer--one occupied with their cultivation
[MAURER]. To cultivate
it, an incision was made in the fruit when of a certain size, and on the
fourth day afterwards it ripened
[PLINY, Natural History, 13.7,14].
JEROME says, if it be not plucked off and "gathered" (which
favors English Version), it is spoiled by gnats.
15. took me as I followed the flock--So David was taken
Ps 78:70, 71).
Messiah is the antitypical Shepherd
unto my people--"against"
Jehovah claims them still as His by right, though slighting His
authority. God would recover them to His service by the prophet's
16. drop--distil as the refreshing drops of rain
Mic 2:6, 11).
17. Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city--that is, shall be
forced by the enemy, while thou art looking on, unable to prevent her
The words, "saith THE LORD
are in striking opposition to "Thou sayest"
divided by line--among the foe.
a polluted land--Israel regarded every foreign land as that which
really her own land was now, "polluted"