OPPRESSION; AND OF THE
IDOLATRY; AND FOR
PREPARE FOR THE
1. kine of Bashan--fat and wanton cattle such as the rich pasture of
Bashan (east of Jordan, between Hermon and Gilead) was famed for
Figurative for those luxurious nobles mentioned,
Am 3:9, 10, 12, 15.
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.
say to their masters--that is, to their king, with whom
the princes indulged in potations
and whom here they importune for more wine. "Bring" is singular,
in the Hebrew implying that one "master" alone is
2. The Lord--the same Hebrew as "masters"
Israel's nobles say to their master or lord, Bring us drink: but "the
Lord" of him and them "hath sworn," &c.
by his holiness--which binds Him to punish the guilty
he will take yon away--that is God by the instrumentality of the enemy.
with hooks--literally, "thorns" (compare
As fish are taken out of the water by hooks, so the Israelites are to
be taken out of their cities by the enemy
Job 41:1, 2;
The image is the more appropriate, as anciently captives were led by
their conquerors by a hook made to pass through the nose
as is to be seen in the Assyrian remains.
3. go out at the breaches--namely, of the city walls broken by the
every cow at that which is before her--figurative for
the once luxurious nobles (compare "kine of Bashan,"
shall go out each one right before her; not through the gates, but
each at the breach before him, not turning to the right or left,
apart from one another.
ye shall cast them into the palace--"them," that is, "your
You yourselves shall escape through the breaches, after having cast
your little children into the palace, so as not to see their
destruction, and to escape the more quickly. Rather, "ye shall cast
yourselves into the palace," so as to escape from it out of the
city [CALVIN]. The palace, the scene of the
(Am 3:10, 15; 4:1),
is to be the scene of their ignominious flight. Compare in the similar
case of Jerusalem's capture, the king's escape by way of the
palace, through a breach in the wall
(Eze 12:5, 12).
GESENIUS translates, "Ye shall be cast (as captives)
into the (enemy's) stronghold"; in this view, the enemy's stronghold is
called "palace," in retributive contrast to the "palaces" of Israel's
nobles, the store houses of their robberies
4. God gives them up to their self-willed idolatry, that they may see
how unable their idols are to save them from their coming calamities. So
(Ho 4:15; 9:15; 12:11).
sacrifices every morning--as commanded in the law
(Nu 28:3, 4).
They imitated the letter, while violating by calf-worship the spirit, of
the Jerusalem temple-worship.
after three years--every third year; literally, "after three
(years of) days" (that is, the fullest complement of days, or a
year); "after three full years." Compare
and "the days" for the years,
So a month of days is used for a full month, wanting no
day to complete it
Nu 11:20, 21).
The Israelites here also kept to the letter of the law in bringing in
the tithes of their increase every third year
(De 14:28; 26:12).
5. offer--literally, "burn incense"; that is, "offer a sacrifice of
thanksgiving with burnt incense and with leavened bread." The
frankincense was laid on the meat offering, and taken by the priest from
it to burn on the altar
(Le 2:1, 2, 8-11).
Though unleavened cakes were to accompany the peace offering
sacrifice of animals, leavened bread was also commanded
(Le 7:12, 13),
but not as a "meat offering"
this liketh you--that is, this is what ye like.
6-11. Jehovah details His several chastisements inflicted with a view
to reclaiming them: but adds to each the same sad result, "yet have ye
not returned unto Me"
the monotonous repetition of the same burden marking their pitiable
cleanness of teeth--explained by the parallel, "want of bread." The
famine alluded to is that mentioned in
[GROTIUS]. Where there is no food to masticate,
the teeth are free from uncleanness, but it is the cleanness of want.
"Where no oxen are, the crib is clean." So spiritually, where all is
outwardly smooth and clean, it is often because there is no solid
religion. Better fighting and fears with real piety, than peace and
respectable decorum without spiritual life.
7. withholden . . . rain . . . three months to . . . harvest--the time
when rain was most needed, and when usually "the latter rain" fell,
namely, in spring, the latter half of February, and the whole of March
The drought meant is that mentioned in
rain upon one city . . . not . . . upon
another--Any rain that fell was only partial.
8. three cities wandered--that is, the inhabitants of three cities
GROTIUS explains this verse and
"The rain fell on neighboring countries, but not on Israel, which
marked the drought to be, not accidental, but the special judgment of
God." The Israelites were obliged to leave their cities and homes to
seek water at a distance [CALVIN].
9. blasting--the blighting influence of the east wind on the corn
when . . . gardens . . . increased--In vain ye multiplied your gardens,
&c., for I destroyed their produce. BOCHART
supports Margin, "the
multitude of your gardens."
palmer worm--A species of locust is here meant, hurtful to fruits
of trees, not to herbage or corn. The same east wind which brought the
drought, blasting, and mildew, brought also the locusts into Judea
10. pestilence after the manner of Egypt--such as I formerly sent on
(Ex 9:3, 8,
&c.; Ex 12:29;
De 28:27, 60).
Compare the same phrase,
have taken away your horses--literally, "accompanied with the captivity
of your horses"; I have given up your young men to be slain, and their
horses to be taken by the foe (compare
stink of your camps--that is, of your slain men (compare
to come up unto your nostrils--The Hebrew is more emphatic, "to
come up, and that unto your nostrils."
11. some of you--some parts of your territory.
as God overthrew Sodom--
Jer 49:18; 50:40;
"God" is often repeated in Hebrew instead of "I." The
earthquake here apparently alluded to is not that in the reign of
Uzziah, which occurred "two years" later
Traces of earthquakes and volcanic agency abound in Palestine. The
allusion here is to some of the effects of these in previous times.
Compare the prophecy,
with Am 4:6-11
as a firebrand plucked out of . . . burning--(Compare
The phrase is proverbial for a narrow escape from utter extinction.
Though Israel revived as a nation under Jeroboam II, it was but for a
time, and that after an almost utter destruction previously
12. Therefore--as all chastisements have failed to make thee "return
thus will I do unto thee--as I have threatened
(Am 4:2, 3).
prepare to meet thy God--God is about to inflict the last and worst
judgment on thee, the extinction of thy nationality; consider then what
preparation thou canst make for encountering Him as thy foe
Lu 14:31, 32).
But as that would be madness to think of
see what can be done towards mitigating the severity of the coming
judgment, by penitence
This latter exhortation is followed up in
Am 5:4, 6, 8, 14, 15.
13. The God whom Israel is to "prepare to meet"
is here described in sublime terms.
wind--not as the Margin, "spirit." The God with whom thou
hast to do is the Omnipotent Maker of things seen, such as the
stupendous mountains, and of things too subtle to be seen,
though of powerful agency, as the "wind."
declareth unto man . . . his thought--
Ye think that your secret thoughts escape My cognizance, but I am the
searcher of hearts.
maketh . . . morning darkness--
(Am 5:8; 8:9).
Both literally turning the sunshine into darkness, and figuratively
turning the prosperity of the ungodly into sudden adversity
(Ps 73:12, 18, 19;
treadeth upon . . . high places--God treadeth down the proud of the
earth. He subjects to Him all things however high they be
De 32:13; 33:29,
where the same phrase is used of God's people, elevated by God above
every other human height.