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This chapter contains the fifth and last vision the prophet saw; which represents the certain desolation of the land, city, and temple, and the slaughter of all sorts of persons, high and low, none should escape it, ( Amos 9:1); be they where they would, they should be found out, whether in hell or heaven, on the tops of the highest mountains, or in the bottom of the sea, or in a foreign land, since the eyes of the Lord were upon them for evil, ( Amos 9:2-4); nor could they hope to escape, when they considered his greatness and his power, and what he could do, and had done; and how they had behaved towards him, even though they were the people he had brought out of Egypt, ( Amos 9:5-7); but though the sinful kingdom should be destroyed, yet not utterly, a remnant should be saved, ( Amos 9:8-10); and the chapter is concluded with gracious promises of raising up the tabernacle of David fallen down, and of the return of the people of Israel to their own land; and of their settlement and continuance in it, never more to depart from it, ( Amos 9:11-15).
Ver. 1 . And I saw the Lord standing upon the altar , etc.] Either upon the altar of burnt offerings in the temple of Jerusalem, whither he had removed from the cherubim; signifying his being about to depart, and that he was displeased, and would not be appeased by sacrifice: so the Targum, “said Amos the prophet, I saw the glory of the Lord removing from the cherub, and it dwelt upon the altar;” and the vision may refer to the destruction of the Jews, their city and temple, either by the Chaldeans, or by the Romans: or rather, since the prophecy in general, and this vision in particular, seems to respect the ten tribes only, it was upon the altar at Bethel the Lord was seen standing, as offended at the sacrifices there offered, and to hinder them from sacrificing them, as well as to take vengeance on those that offered them, ( 1 Kings 13:1,2); and he said ; the Lord said, either to the prophet in vision, or to one of the angels, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi; or to the executioners of his vengeance, the enemies of the people of Israel: smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake ; the upper lintel, on which pomegranates and flowers were carved, and therefore called “caphtor”, as Kimchi thinks; this was the lintel of the door, either of the temple at Jerusalem, as the Jewish writers generally suppose; or rather of the temple at Bethel, (see 1 Kings 12:31 Amos 7:10,13); which was to be smitten with such three, that the posts thereof should shake; signifying the destruction of the whole building in a short time, and that none should be able to go in and out thereat: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword ; which shows that the lintel and doorposts are not to be taken literally, but figuratively; and that the smiting and cutting of them intend the destruction of men; by the “head”, the king, and the princes, and nobles, or the priests; and, by “the last of them”, the common people, the meanest sort, or those that were left of them, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away ; he that attempts to make his escape, and shall flee for his life, shall not get clear, but either be stopped, or pursued and taken: and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered ; he that does get out of the hands of those that destroy with the sword shall not be delivered from death, but shall die by famine or pestilence. The Targum is, “and he said, unless the people of the house of Israel return to the law, the candlestick shall be extinguished, King Josiah shall be killed, and the house destroyed, and the courts dissipated, and the vessels of the house of the sanctuary shall go into captivity; and the rest of them I will slay with the sword, etc.” referring the whole to the Jews, and to the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem.
Ver. 2. Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them , etc.] That is, they that endeavour to make their escape from their enemies, though they seek for places of the greatest secrecy and privacy; not hell, the place of the damned; nor the grave, the repository of the dead; neither of which they chose to he in, but rather sought to escape them; but the deepest and darkest caverns, the utmost recesses of the earth, the very centre of it; which, could they get into, would not secure them from the power and providence of God, and from their enemies in pursuit of them, by his permission: though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down ; the summit of the highest mountains, and get as near to heaven, and at as great a distance from men, as can be, and yet all in vain. The Targum is, “if they think to be hid as it were in hell, from thence their enemies shall take them by my word; and if they ascend the high mountains, to the top of heaven, thence will I bring them;” (see <19D908> Psalm 139:8).
Ver. 3. And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel , etc.] One of the highest mountains in the land of Israel; in the woods upon it, and caves in it: I will search and take them out from thence : by directing their enemies where to find them: so the Targum, “if they think to be hid in the tops of the towers of castles, thither will I command the searchers, and they shall search them:” and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea ; get into ships, going by sea to distant parts; or make their escape to isles upon the sea afar off, where they may think themselves safe: thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them ; the dragon that is in the sea, ( Isaiah 27:1); the great whale in the sea, or the leviathan, so Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech; and is that kind of whale which is called the “Zygaena”, as Bochart thinks; and which he, from various writers, describes as very monstrous, horrible, and terrible, having five rows of teeth, and very numerous; and which not only devours other large fishes, but men swimming it meets with; and, having such teeth, with great propriety may be said to bite. It appears from hence that there are sea serpents, as well as land ones, to which the allusion is. Erich Pantoppidan, the present bishop of Bergen f238 , speaks of a “see ormen”, or sea snake, in the northern seas, which he describes as very monstrous and very terrible to seafaring men, being of seven or eight folds, each fold a fathom distant; nay, of the length of a cable, a hundred fathom, or six hundred English feet; yea, of one as thick as a pipe of wine, with twenty five folds. Some such terrible creature is here respected, though figuratively understood, and designs some crafty, powerful, and cruel enemy. The Targum paraphrases it, though hid “in the isles of the sea, thither will I command the people strong like serpents, and they shall kill them;” (see <19D909> Psalm 139:9).
Ver. 4 . And though they go into captivity before their enemies , etc.] Alluding to the manner in which captives are led, being put before their enemies, and so carried in triumph; (see Lamentations 1:5); though some think this refers to their going voluntarily into a foreign country, in order to escape danger, as Johanan the son of Kareah with the Jews went into Egypt, ( Jeremiah 43:5-7); in whom Kimchi instances: thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them ; or them that kill with the sword, as the Targum; so that though they thought by going into another country, or into an enemy’s country of their own accord, to escape the sword of the enemy, or to curry favour with them, yet should not escape: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good : this is the true reason, why, let them be where they will, they cannot be safe, because the eyes of the omniscient God, which are everywhere, in heaven, earth, hell, and the sea, are set upon them, for their ruin and destruction; and there is no fleeing from his presence, or getting out of his sight, or escaping his hand. The Targum is, “my Word shall be against them.”
Ver. 5. And the Lord God of hosts [is] he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt , etc.] Which is another reason why it is impossible to escape the hands of a sin revenging God, because he is omnipotent as well as omniscient; he is the Lord of all the armies above and below; and if he but touch the land, any particular country, as the land of Israel, it shakes and trembles, and falls into a flow of water, or melts like wax; as when he toucheth the hills and mountains they smoke, being like fuel to fire; (see <19A432> Psalm 104:32 <19E405> 144:5); and all that dwell therein shall mourn ; their houses destroyed, their substance consumed, and all that is near and dear to them swallowed up: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood, and shall be drowned as [by] the flood of Egypt ; (see Gill on “ Amos 8:8”).
Ver. 6 . [It is] he that buildeth his stories in the heaven , etc.] The three elements, according to Aben Ezra, fire, air, and water; the orbs, as Kimchi, one above another; a word near akin to this is rendered “his chambers”, which are the clouds, ( <19A403> Psalm 104:3,13); perhaps the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, which are three stories high, may be meant; we read of the third heaven, ( 2 Corinthians 12:2); and particularly the throne of God is in the highest heaven; and the “ascents” to it, as it may be rendered. The Targum is, “who causeth to dwell in a high fortress the Shechinah of his glory:” and hath founded his troop in the earth ; this Kimchi interprets of the three above elements. So the words are translated in the Bishops’ Bible in Queen Elizabeth’s time, “he buildeth his spheres in the heaven, and hath laid the foundation of his globe of elements in the earth.”
Aben Ezra interprets it of animals; it may take in the whole compass of created beings on earth; so Jarchi explains it of the collection of his creatures; though he takes notice of another sense given, a collection of the righteous, which are the foundation of the earth, and for whose sake all things stand. Abarbinel interprets it of the whole of the tribe of Israel; and so the Targum paraphrases it of his congregation or church on earth: he beautifies his elect, which are “his bundle” f240 , as it may be rendered; who are bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord their God, and are closely knit and united, as to God and Christ, so to one another; and perhaps is the best sense of the words f241 : he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth, the Lord [is] his name ; either to drown it, as at the general deluge; or to water and refresh it, as he does by exhaling water from the sea, and then letting it down in plentiful showers upon the earth; (see Gill on “ Amos 5:8”); now all these things are observed to show the power of God, and that therefore there can be no hope of escaping out of his hands.
Ver. 7 . [Are] ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the Lord , etc.] And therefore had no reason to think they should be delivered because they were the children of Israel, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; since they were no more to God than the children of the Ethiopians, having behaved like them; and were become as black as they through sin, and were idolaters like them; and so accustomed to sin, and hardened in it, that they could no more change their course and custom of sinning than the Ethiopian could change his skin, ( Jeremiah 13:23); The Ethiopians are represented by Diodorus Siculus as very religious, that is, very idolatrous; and as the first that worshipped the gods, and offered sacrifice to them; hence they were very pleasing to them, and in high esteem with them; wherefore Homer speaks of Jupiter, and the other gods, going to Ethiopia to an anniversary feast, and calls them the blameless Ethiopians; and so Lucian speaks of the gods as gone abroad, perhaps to the other side of the ocean, to visit the honest Ethiopians; for they are often used to visit them, and, as he wittily observes, even sometimes without being invited. Jarchi suggests the sense to be, that they were as creatures upon the same foot, and of the same descent, with other nations; and paraphrases it thus, “from the sons of Noah ye came as the rest of the nations.”
Kimchi takes the meaning to be this, “as the children of the Ethiopians are servants so should ye be unto me.”
The Targum is very foreign from the sense, “are ye not reckoned as beloved children before me, O house of Israel?” the first sense is best: have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt ? and therefore it was ungrateful in them to behave as they have done; nor can they have any dependence on this, or argue from hence that they shall be indulged with other favours, or be continued in their land, since the like has been done for other nations, as follows: and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir ? that is, have I not brought up the one from the one place, and the other from the other? the Philistines and Caphtorim are mentioned together as brethren, ( Genesis 10:14); and the Avim which dwelt in the land of Palestine in Hazerim unto Azzah were destroyed by the Caphtorim, who dwelt in their stead, ( Deuteronomy 2:23); from whom, it seems by this, the Philistines were delivered, who are called the remnant of the country of Caphtor, ( Jeremiah 47:4). Aben Ezra understands it as if the Israelites were not only brought out of Egypt, but also from the Philistines, and from Caphtor: others take these two places, Caphtor and Kir, to be the original of the Philistines and Syrians, and not where they had been captives, but now delivered: so Japhet, “ye are the children of one father, God, who brought you out of Egypt, and not as the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir, who were mixed together;” and R. Joseph Kimchi thus, “from Caphtor came destroyers to the Philistines, who destroyed them; and from Kir came Tiglathpileser, the destroyer, to the Syrians, who carried them captive there.”
Of the captivity of the Philistines, and their deliverance from the Caphtorim, we nowhere read; the captivity of the Syrians in Kir Amos prophesied of, ( Amos 1:5); and if he speaks here of their deliverance from it, he must live at least to the times of Ahaz; for in his times it was they were carried captive thither, ( 2 Kings 16:9). Caphtor some take to be Cyprus, because it seems to be an island, ( Jeremiah 47:4); but by it the Targum, Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac and Arabic versions understand Cappadocia; and the Cappadocians used to be called by the Greeks and Persians Syrians, as Herodotus and others, observe.
Bochart is of opinion that that part of Cappadocia is intended which is called Colchis; and the rather since he finds a city in that country called Side, which in the Greek tongue signifies a pomegranate, as Caphtor does in Hebrew; and supposes the richness of the country led the Caphtorim thither, who, having stayed awhile, returned to Palestine, and there settled; which expedition he thinks is wrapped up in the fable of the Greek poets, concerning that of Typhon out of Egypt to Colchis and from thence to Palestine; and indeed the Jewish Targumists every where render Caphtorim by Cappadocians, and Caphtor by Cappadocia, or Caphutkia; but then by it they understand a place in Egypt, even Pelusium, now called Damiata; for the Jewish writers say Caphutkia is Caphtor, in the Arabic language Damiata; so Benjamin of Tudela says f249 , in two days I came to Damiata, this is Caphtor; and no doubt the Caphtorim were in Egypt originally since they descended from Mizraim; but Calmet will have it that the island of Crete is meant by Caphtor; and observes, theft, the Philistines were at first called strangers in Palestine, their proper name being Cherethites, or Cretians, as in ( Ezekiel 25:16 Zephaniah 2:5); as the Septuagint render that name of theirs; and that the language, manners, arms, religion and gods, of the Philistines and Cretians, are much the same; he finds a city in Crete called Aptera, which he thinks has a sensible relation to Caphtor; and that the city of Gaza in Palestine went by the name of Minoa, because of Minos king of Crete, who, coming into that country, called this ancient city by his own name. The Targum and Vulgate Latin version render Kir by Cyrene, by which must be meant, not Cyrene in Africa, but in Media; so Kir is mentioned along with Elam or Persia in ( Isaiah 22:6); whither the people of Syria were carried captive by Tiglathpileser, as predicted in ( Amos 1:5); and, as the above writer observes f251 , not certainly into the country of Cyrene near Egypt, where that prince was possessed of nothing; but to Iberia or Albania, where the river Kir or Cyrus runs, which discharges itself into the Caspian sea; and Josephus says they were transported into Upper Media; and the above author thinks that the Prophet Amos, in this passage, probably intended to comprehend, under the word “Cyr” or “Kir”, the people beyond the Euphrates, and those of Mesopotamia, from whence the Aramaeans in reality came, who were descended from Aram the son of Shem; and he adds, we have no certain knowledge of their coming in particular out of this country, where the river Cyrus flows; and, upon the whole, it is difficult to determine whether this is to be understood of the origin of these people, or of their deliverance from captivity; the latter may seem probable, since it is certain that the prophet speaks of the deliverance of Israel from the captivity of Egypt; and it is as certain that the Syrians were carried captive to Kir, and, no doubt, from thence delivered; though we have no account of the Philistines being captives to Caphtor, and of their deliverance from thence; however, doubtless these were things well known to Amos, and in his times, he here speaks of. In some of our English copies it is read Assyrians instead of Syrians, very wrongly; for “Aram”, and not “Ashur”, is the word here used.
Ver. 8. Behold, the eyes of the Lord God [are] upon the sinful kingdom , etc.] God is omniscient, and his eyes are everywhere, and upon all persons, good and bad, and upon all kingdoms, especially upon a sinful nation: “the sinning kingdom” f253 , or “the kingdom of sin” f254 , as it may be rendered; that is addicted to sin, where it prevails and reigns; every such kingdom, particularly the kingdom of Israel, Ephraim, or the ten tribes, given to idolatry, and other sins complained of in this prophecy; and that not for good, but for evil, as in ( Amos 9:4); in order to cut them off from being a people: and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth : so that it shall be no more, at least as a kingdom; as the ten tribes have never been since their captivity by Shalmaneser; though Japhet interprets this of all the kingdoms of the earth, being sinful, the eyes of God are upon them to destroy them, excepting the kingdom of Israel; so Abarbinel: saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord ; and so it is, that though they have been destroyed as a kingdom, yet not utterly as a people; there were some of the ten tribes that mixed with the Jews, and others that were scattered about in the world; and a remnant among them, according to the election of grace, that were met with in the ministry of the apostles, and in the latter day all Israel shall be saved; (see Jeremiah 30:10,11).
Ver. 9. For, lo, I will command , etc.] What follows; which is expressive of afflictive and trying dispensations of Providence, which are according to the will of God, by his appointment and order, and overruled for his glory, and the good of his people: and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as [corn] is sifted in a sieve ; this is to be understood of spiritual Israel, of those who are Israelites indeed, who are like to corns of wheat, first die before they live; die unto sin, and live unto righteousness; grow up gradually, and produce much fruit; or like to wheat for their choiceness and excellency, being the chosen of God and precious, and the excellent in the earth; and their whiteness and purity, as clothed with Christ’s righteousness washed in his blood, and sanctified by his Spirit; and for their substance and fulness, being filled out of Christ’s fulness, and with all the fulness of God, with the Spirit and his graces, and with all the fruits of righteousness; and for weight and solidity, not as chaff driven to and fro, but are firm and constant, settled and established, in divine things; and yet have the chaff of sin cleaving to them, and have need of the flail and fan of affliction; and this is the sieve the Lord takes into his hands, and sifts them with; whereby sometimes they are greatly unsettled, and tossed to and fro, have no rest and ease, but are greatly distressed on all sides, and are thoroughly searched and tried, and the chaff loosened and separated from them; and sometimes the Lord suffers them to be sifted by the temptations of Satan, whereby they are brought into doubts and fears, and are very wavering and uncomfortable, are sadly harassed and buffeted, and in great danger, were it not for the grace of God, and the intercession of the Mediator, ( Luke 22:31); yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth ; or, “the least stone” f255 ; which is in the spiritual building, and laid on the rock and foundation Christ; or the least corn of wheat, so called because of its weight, solidity, and substance. The meaning is, that the least true Israelite, or child of God, who is the least in the kingdom of heaven, and has the least share of grace and spiritual knowledge, that is even less than the least of all saints, shall not be lost and perish; though they fall in Adam, yet they are preserved in Christ; though they fall into actual sins and transgressions, and sometimes into gross ones, and from a degree of steadfastness in the faith, yet not totally and finally, or so as to perish for ever; no, not a hair of their head shall fall to the ground, or they be hurt and ruined; (see 1 Samuel 14:45 1 Kings 1:52); for they are beloved of God with an everlasting love, ordained, by him to eternal life, adopted into his family, justified by his grace, and are kept by his power, according to his promise, which never fails; they are Christ’s property, given him of his Father, to whom he stands in the relation of Head and Husband; are the purchase of his blood, closely united to him, and for whom he intercedes, and makes preparations in heaven. The Spirit of God is their sanctifier and sealer; he dwells in them as their earnest of heaven; and the glory of all the divine Persons is concerned in their salvation; hence it is that not one of them shall ever perish.
Ver. 10 . All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword , etc.] By the sword of the Assyrians, and of others, into whose countries they shall flee for shelter, ( Amos 9:1,4); even all such who are notorious sinners, abandoned to their lusts, obstinate and incorrigible; live in sin, and continue therein; repent not of sin, disbelieve the prophets of the Lord, and defy his threatenings, and put away the evil day far from them: which say, the evil shall not overtake nor prevent us ; the evil threatened by the prophet, the sword of the enemy, the desolation of their land, and captivity in a foreign land; these evils, if they came at all, which they gave little credit to, yet would not in their days; they would never come so near them, or so close to their heels as to overtake them, and seize them, or to get before them, and stop them fleeing from them; they promised themselves impunity, and were in no pain about the judgments threatened them; so daring and impudent, so irreligious and atheistical, were they in their thoughts, words, and actions; and therefore should all and everyone of them be destroyed.
Ver. 11 . In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen , etc.] Not in the day of Israel’s ruin, but in the famous Gospel day, so often spoken of by the prophets; and this prophecy is referred to the times of the Messiah by the ancient Jews; and one of the names they give him is taken from hence, “Barnaphli” f257 , the Son of the fallen. R. Nachman said to R. Isaac, hast thou heard when Barnaphli comes? to whom he said, who is Barnaphli? he replied, the Messiah; you may call the Messiah Barnaphli; for is it not written, “in that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen down?” and they call him so, not because the son of Adam; but because he was the son of David, and was to spring from his family, when fallen into a low and mean condition; yea, they sometimes seem by the tabernacle of David to understand the dead body of the Messiah to be raised, whose human nature is by the New Testament writers called a tabernacle, ( Hebrews 8:2 9:11); (see John 1:14); for, having mentioned that passage in ( Jeremiah 30:9); “they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their King, whom I will raise up unto them”, add, whom I will raise up out of the dust; as it is said, “I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen down”; but elsewhere it is better interpreted of the Messiah’s raising up Israel his people out of captivity; they say, “her husband shall come, and raise her out of the dust; as it is said, “I will raise up the tabernacle of David”, etc. in the day the King Messiah shall gather the captivity from the ends of the world to the ends of it, according to ( Deuteronomy 30:4);” and which they understand of their present captivity, and deliverance from it, as in ( Amos 9:14). Tobit seems to have reference to this passage, when he thus exhorts Zion, “praise the everlasting King, that his tabernacle may be built again in thee;” and expresses his faith in it, that so it would be, “afterwards they (the Jews) shall return from all places of their captivity, and build up Jerusalem gloriously; and the house of God shall be built in it, as the prophets have spoken concerning it, for ever;” agreeably to which Jarchi paraphrases it, “in the day appointed for redemption;” and so the Apostle James quotes it, and applies it to the first times of the Gospel, ( Acts 15:15-17). The Targum interprets this “tabernacle” of the kingdom of the house of David: this was in a low estate and condition when Jesus the Messiah came, he being the carpenter’s son; but it is to be understood of the spiritual kingdom of Christ, the church; Christ is meant by David, whose son he is, and of whom David was an eminent type, and is often called by his name, ( Ezekiel 34:23,24 37:24,25 Hosea 3:5); and the church by his “tabernacle”, which is of his building, where he dwells, and keeps his court; and which in the present state is movable from place to place: and this at the time of Christ’s coming was much fallen, and greatly decayed, through sad corruption in doctrine by the Pharisees and Sadducees; through neglect of worship, and formality in it, and the introduction of things into it God never commanded; through the wicked lives of professors, and the small number of truly godly persons; but God, according to this promise and prophecy, raised it up again by the ministry of John the Baptist, Christ and his apostles, and by the conversion of many of the Jews, and by bringing in great numbers of the Gentiles, who coalesced in one church state, which made it flourishing, grand, and magnificent; and thus the prophecy was in part fulfilled, as the apostle has applied it in the above mentioned place: but it will have a further and greater accomplishment still in the latter day, both in the spiritual and personal reign of Christ: and though this tabernacle or church of Christ is fallen to decay again, and is in a very ruinous condition; the doctrines of the Gospel being greatly departed from; the ordinances of it changed, or not attended to; great declensions as to the exercise of grace among the people of God; and many breaches and divisions among them; the outward conversation of many professors very bad, and few instances of conversion; yet the Lord will raise it up again, and make it very glorious: he will close up the breaches thereof, and will raise up his ruins ; the doctrines of the Gospel will be revived and received; the ordinances of it will be administered in their purity, as they were first delivered; great numbers will be converted, both of Jews and Gentiles; and there will be much holiness, spirituality, and brotherly love, among the saints: and I will build it as in the days of old ; religion shall flourish as in the days of David and Solomon; the Christian church will be restored to its pristine glory, as in the times of the apostles.
Ver. 12. That they may possess the remnant or Edom, and of all the Heathen, which are called by my name , etc.] Or that these may be possessed; that is, by David or Christ, who shall have the Heathen given him for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, ( Psalm 2:8); when the remnant, according to the election of grace, in those nations that have been the greatest enemies to Christ and his Gospel, signified by Edom, shall be converted, and call upon the name of the Lord, and worship him; and be called by his name, Christians, and so become his inheritance and possession. The Targum understands, by the Heathen or people, all the people of the house of Israel; and Kimchi, Aben Ezra, and Ben Melech, think the words are to be inverted, thus, “that all the people on whom my name is called, nay possess the remnant of Edom;” and the forager says, that all the Edomites shall be destroyed in the days of the Messiah, but Israel shall inherit their land; and Aben Ezra says, that if this prophecy is interpreted of the Messiah, the matter is clear; as it is in the sense we have given, and as the apostle explains it; (see Gill on “ Acts 15:17”). Some render the words, “that the remnant of Edom, and of all the Heathen, that are” (that is, shall be) “called by my name, may possess me the Lord” f262 . The truth and certainty of its performance is expressed in the following clause, saith the Lord, that doeth this : whose word is true, whose power is great, whose grace is efficacious, to accomplish all that is here promised and foretold.
Ver. 13 . Behold, the days come, saith the Lord , etc.] Or “are coming” f263 ; and which will commence upon the accomplishment of the above things, when the church of Christ is raised up and established, the Jews converted, and the Gentiles brought in: that the ploughman shall overtake the reaper ; or “meet the reaper” f264 ; or come up to him, or touch him, as it may be rendered; and so the Targum; that is, before the reaper has well cut down the grain, or it is scarce gathered in, the ploughman shall be ready to plough up the ground again, that it may be sown, and produce another crop: and the treaders of grapes him that soweth seed ; or “draweth seed” f265 ; out of his basket, and scatters it in the land; signifying that there should he such an abundance of grapes in the vintage, that they would continue pressing till seedtime; and the whole denotes a great affluence of temporal good things, as an emblem of spiritual ones; (see Leviticus 26:5); where something of the like nature is promised, and expressed in much the same manner: and the mountains shall drop sweet wine ; or “new wine” f266 ; intimating that there shall be abundance of vines grow upon the mountains, which will produce large quantities of wine, so that they shall seem to drop or flow with it: and all the hills shall melt ; with liquors; either with wine or honey, or rather with milk, being covered with flocks and herds, which shall yield abundance of milk; by all which, plenty of spiritual things, as the word and ordinances, and rich supplies of grace, as well as of temporal things, is meant; (see Joel 3:18).
Ver. 14. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel , etc.] Which is not to be understood of the captivity of the Jews in Babylon, and their return from thence, with whom some of the ten tribes of Israel were mixed; for they were not then so planted in their own land as no more to be pulled up again, as is here promised; for they afterwards were dispossessed of it by the Romans, and carried captive, and dispersed among the nations again; but the captivity both of Judah and Israel is meant, their present captivity, which will be brought back, and they will be delivered from it, and return to their own land, and possess it as long as it is a land; (see Jeremiah 30:3,10,18); as well as be freed from the bondage of sit, Satan, and the law, under which they have been detained some hundreds of years; but now shall be delivered into the glorious liberty of the children of God, of Christians, with which Christ has made them free: and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit [them] ; literally the cities in Judea wasted by the Turks, and others; and mystically the churches of Christ, of which saints are fellow citizens, and will be in a desolate condition before the conversion of the Jews, and the gathering in the fulness of the Gentiles; but by these means will be rebuilt, and be in a flourishing condition, and fall of inhabitants: and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them ; which, as before, will be literally true; and in a spiritual sense may signify the churches of Christ, compared to vineyards and gardens, which will be planted everywhere, and be set with pleasant and fruitful plants, and will turn to the advantage of those who have been instruments in planting them; (see Song of Solomon 6:2 7:12 8:11 1 Corinthians 9:7).
Ver. 15. And I will plant them upon their land , etc.] The land of Israel, as trees are planted; and they shall take root and flourish, and abound with all good things, temporal and spiritual: and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God ; by which it appears that this is a prophecy of things yet to come; since the Jews, upon their return to their own land after the Babylonish captivity, were pulled up again, and rooted out of it by the Romans, and remain so to this day; but, when they shall return again, they will never more be removed from it; and of this they may he assured; because it is the land the Lord has, “given” them, and it shall not be taken away from them any more; and, because he will now appear to be the “Lord their God”, the “loammi”, ( Hosea 1:9), will he taken off from them; they will be owned to be the Lords people, and he will be known by them to be their covenant God; which will ensure all the above blessings to them, of whatsoever kind; for this is either said to the prophet, “the Lord thy God”, or to Israel; and either way it serves to confirm the same thing.