Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
None can escape the coming judgment in any hiding-place: for God is
omnipresent and irresistible
As a kingdom, Israel shall perish as if it never was in covenant
with Him: but as individuals the house of Jacob shall not utterly
perish, nay, not one of the least of the righteous shall fall, but only
all the sinners
Restoration of the Jews finally to their own land after the
re-establishment of the fallen tabernacle of David; consequent
conversion of all the heathen
1. Lord . . . upon the altar--namely, in the
idolatrous temple at Beth-el; the calves which were spoken of in
Hither they would flee for protection from the Assyrians, and would
perish in the ruins, with the vain object of their trust [HENDERSON]. Jehovah stands here to direct the destruction
of it, them, and the idolatrous nation. He demands many victims on the
altar, but they are to be human victims. CALVIN
and FAIRBAIRN, and others, make it in the
temple at Jerusalem. Judgment was to descend both on Israel and
Judah. As the services of both alike ought to have been offered on the
Jerusalem temple-altar, it is there that Jehovah ideally stands, as if
the whole people were assembled there, their abominations lying
unpardoned there, and crying for vengeance, though in fact committed
This view harmonizes with the similarity of the vision in Amos to that
at Jerusalem. Also with the end of this chapter
which applies both to Judah and Israel: "the tabernacle of
David," namely, at Jerusalem. His attitude, "standing," implies fixity
lintel--rather, the sphere-like capital of the column
posts--rather, "thresholds," as in
Margin. The temple is to be smitten below as well as above, to
ensure utter destruction.
cut them in the head--namely, with the broken fragments of the capitals
and columns (compare
slay the last of them--their posterity
[HENDERSON]. The survivors
[MAURER]. Jehovah's directions are addressed to His angels, ministers of
he that fleeth . . . shall not flee away--He who fancies himself safe
and out of reach of the enemy shall be taken
2. Though they dig into hell--though they hide ever so deeply in the
though they climb up to heaven--though they ascend the greatest heights
(Job 20:6, 7;
3. Carmel--where the forests, and, on the west side, the caves,
the sea--the Mediterranean, which flows at the foot of Mount Carmel;
forming a strong antithesis to it.
command the serpent--the sea-serpent, a term used for any great water
The symbol of cruel and oppressive kings
(Ps 74:13, 14).
4. though they go into captivity--hoping to save their lives by
voluntarily surrendering to the foe.
5. As Amos had threatened that nowhere should the Israelites be
safe from the divine judgments, he here shows God's omnipotent ability
to execute His threats. So in the case of the threat in
God is here stated to be the first cause of the mourning of "all that
dwell" in the land, and of its rising "like a flood, and of its being
"drowned, as by the flood of Egypt."
6. stories--literally, "ascents," that is, upper chambers, to which
the ascent is by steps
[MAURER]; evidently referring to the words in
Ps 104:3, 13.
GROTIUS explains it, God's royal throne,
expressed in language drawn from Solomon's throne, to which the ascent
was by steps (compare
1Ki 10:18, 19).
founded his troop--namely, all animate creatures, which are God's
troop, or host
doing His will
(Ps 103:20, 21;
MAURER translates, "His vault," that is,
the vaulted sky, which seems to rest on the earth supported by the
7. unto me--however great ye seem to yourselves. Do not rely on
past privileges, and on My having delivered you from Egypt, as if
therefore I never would remove you from Canaan. I make no more account
of you than of "the Ethiopian" (compare
"Have not I (who) brought you out of Egypt," done as much for other
peoples? For instance, did I not bring "the Philistines (see on
&c.) from Caphtor (compare
where they had been bond-servants, and the Syrians from Kir?" It is
appropriate, that as the Syrians migrated into Syria from Kir (compare
Note, see on
so they should be carried back captive into the same land (see on
just as elsewhere Israel is threatened with a return to Egypt whence
they had been delivered. The "Ethiopians," Hebrew, "Cushites,"
were originally akin to the race that founded Babylon: the cuneiform
inscriptions in this confirming independently the Scripture statement
(Ge 10:6, 8, 10).
8. eyes . . . upon the sinful kingdom--that is, I am watching all its
sinful course in order to punish it (compare
Ps 34:15, 16).
not utterly destroy the house of Jacob--Though as a "kingdom" the
nation is now utterly to perish, a remnant is to be spared for "Jacob,"
their forefather's sake (compare
to fulfil the covenant whereby "the seed of Israel" is hereafter to be
"a nation for ever"
9. sift--I will cause the Israelites to be tossed about through all
nations as corn is shaken about in a sieve, in such a way, however, that
while the chaff and dust (the wicked) fall through (perish), all the
solid grains (the godly elect) remain (are preserved),
compare Note, see on
So spiritual Israel's final safety is ensured
Joh 10:28; 6:39).
10. All the sinners--answering to the chaff in the image in
which falls on the earth, in opposition "to the grain" that does not
overtake . . . us--"come on us from behind"
11. In that day--quoted by James
(Ac 15:16, 17),
"After this," that is, in the dispensation of Messiah
Ho 3:4, 5;
Joe 2:28; 3:1).
tabernacle of David--not "the house of David," which is
used of his affairs when prospering
but the tent or booth, expressing the low condition to
which his kingdom and family had fallen in Amos' time, and subsequently
at the Babylonian captivity before the restoration; and secondarily, in
the last days preceding Israel's restoration under Messiah, the
antitype to David
(Ps 102:13, 14;
Eze 34:24; 37:24;
The type is taken from architecture
The restoration under Zerubbabel can only be a partial, temporary
fulfilment; for it did not include Israel, which nation is the main
subject of Amos' prophecies, but only Judah; also Zerubbabel's kingdom
was not independent and settled; also all the prophets end their
prophecies with Messiah, whose advent is the cure of all previous
disorders. "Tabernacle" is appropriate to Him, as His human nature is
the tabernacle which He assumed in becoming Immanuel, "God with us"
"Dwelt," literally, tabernacled "among us" (compare
Some understand "the tabernacle of David" as that which David pitched
for the ark in Zion, after bringing it from Obed-edom's house. It
remained there all his reign for thirty years, till the temple of
Solomon was built, whereas the "tabernacle of the congregation"
remained at Gibeon
where the priests ministered in sacrifices
Song and praise was the service of David's attendants before the ark
(Asaph, &c.): a type of the gospel separation between the sacrificial
service (Messiah's priesthood now in heaven) and the
access of believers on earth to the presence of God, apart from
the former (compare
breaches thereof--literally, "of them," that is, of the whole nation, Israel as well as Judah.
as in . . . days of old--as it was formerly in the days of David and
Solomon, when the kingdom was in its full extent and undivided.
12. That they may possess . . . remnant of Edom, and of all the
heathen--"Edom," the bitter foe, though the brother, of Israel;
therefore to be punished
(Am 1:11, 12),
Israel shall be lord of the "remnant" of Edom left after the punishment
of the latter. James quotes it, "That the residue of men might
seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles," &c. For "all the
heathen" nations stand on the same footing as Edom: Edom is the
representative of them all. The residue or remnant in
both cases expresses those left after great antecedent calamities
Here the conversion of "all nations" (of which the earnest was
given in James's time) is represented as only to be realized on the
re-establishment of the theocracy under Messiah, the Heir of the throne
The possession of the heathen nations by Israel is to be spiritual, the
latter being the ministers to the former for their conversion to
Messiah, King of the Jews; just as the first conversions of pagans were
through the ministry of the apostles, who were Jews. Compare
"thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles" (compare
A remnant of Edom became Jews under John Hyrcanus, and the rest
amalgamated with the Arabians, who became Christians subsequently.
which are called by my name--that is, who belong to Me, whom I
claim as Mine
in the purposes of electing grace, God terms them already called by
His name. Compare the title, "the children," applied by
Hence as an act of sovereign grace, fulfilling His promise, it is
spoken of God. Proclaim His title as sovereign, "the Lord that doeth
this" ("all these things,"
namely, all these and such like acts of sovereign love).
13. the days come--at the future restoration of the Jews to their own
ploughman shall overtake . . . reaper . . .
treader of grapes him that soweth--fulfilling
Such shall be the abundance that the harvest and vintage can hardly be
gathered before the time for preparing for the next crop shall come.
Instead of the greater part of the year being spent in war, the whole
shall be spent in sowing and reaping the fruits of earth. Compare
as to the same period.
soweth seed--literally, "draweth it forth," namely, from the sack in
order to sow it.
mountains . . . drop sweet wine--an appropriate image, as the vines in
Palestine were trained on terraces at the sides of the hills.
14. build the waste cities--
15. plant them . . . no more be pulled up--
thy God--Israel's; this is the ground of their restoration, God's
original choice of them as His.