|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:7-17 The same almighty power can, for repenting sinners, easily turn affliction and sorrow into prosperity and joy, and as easily turn the prosperity of daring sinners into utter darkness. Evil times will not bear plain dealing; that is, evil men will not. And these men were evil men indeed, when wise and good men thought it in vain even to speak to them. Those who will seek and love that which is good, may help to save the land from ruin. It behoves us to plead God's spiritual promises, to beseech him to create in us a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within us. The Lord is ever ready to be gracious to the souls that seek him; and then piety and every duty will be attended to. But as for sinful Israel, God's judgments had often passed by them, now they shall pass through them.
Verse 8. - Striking instances are given of God's creative power and omnipotence. Seek him that maketh the seven stars. "Seek him" is not in the Hebrew. "He that maketh," etc., is in direct antithesis to "ye who turn," etc. (ver. 7). The seven stars; Hebrew, kimah, "the heap," the constellation of the Pleiades (Job 9:9; Job 38:31). The Septuagint here has, ὁ ποιῶν πάντα, but in Job has πλειάς. The Vulgate gives, facientem Arcturum. Symmachus and Theodotion give πλειάδα in the present passage. The identification of this term is discussed in the 'Dictionary of the Bible,' 2:891. The observation of this most remarkable cluster among the heavenly bodies would be natural to the pastoral life of Amos. And Orion; Hebrew, kesil, "foolish," a rebel, the name being applied to Nimrod, whose representation was found by the Easterns in this constellation. Some render kesil, "gate;" others connect it with the Arabia sohail, equivalent to Sirius, or Canopus. The Septuagint here has, καὶ μετασκευάζων, "and changing," which looks as if the translator was not familiar with the Hebrew word, and substituted something in its place. It reads Ὠρίωνος in Job 38:31. Turneth the shadow of death into the morning. "The shadow of death," the depth of darkness. This and the following clause do not simply state that the regular interchange of day and night is in God's hands, but rather notify that God is a moral Governor of the world. He saves men from the utmost dangers, from the darkness of sin and from the night of ignorance; and, on the other hand, he sends calamity on those that offend his Law (comp. Amos 4:13). Maketh the day dark with night; literally, as the Septuagint ἡμέραν εἰς νύκτα συσκοτάζων, "darkeneth day into night." That calleth for the waters of the sea, etc. As judgments are the prophet's theme, this expression cannot be an intimation of the working of the natural law by which the moisture taken up from the sea as cloud returns upon the earth as rain (comp. Amos 9:6). Rather it is an allusion to the Flood and similar catastrophes, which are proofs of God's judicial government of the universe, when "he maketh the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enemies" (Wisd. 5:17). The Lord is his Name. Jehovah, the self-existent God, doeth all these marvellous things, and men presume to scout his Law and think to be unpunished (Amos 4:13).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Seek him that maketh the seven stars,.... Which some connect with the preceding words, without a supplement, "they leave righteousness on the ground, who maketh the seven stars"; understanding it of Christ, the Lord our righteousness, who is made unto us righteousness, whom the Jews rejected and despised, though the Maker of the heavens and the constellations in them. Some continue, and supply the words thus, and remember not him "that maketh the seven stars", as Kimchi; or forget him, as Japhet in Aben Ezra. The Targum is,
"they cease to fear him that maketh, &c.''
they have no regard unto him, no awe and reverence of him, or they would not act so unjustly as they do. There is but one word for the "seven stars" in the original text, which signifies that constellation called the Pleiades, and so the same word is rendered, Job 9:9; and the Vergiliae, because they appear in the spring of the year, when they yield their sweet influences, which the Scripture ascribes to them, and are desirable; hence they have their name in Hebrew from a word which signifies desire:
and Orion; another constellation; for Aben Ezra says, it is not one star, but many; and as he, with the ancients he mentions, takes the former to be the tail of Aries, and the head of Taurus; so this to be the heart of Scorpio. This constellation appears in winter, and is a sign of bad weather. Virgil calls it Nimbosus Orion; and it has its name in Hebrew from unsettledness and inconstancy, the weather being then very variable. Amos, being a herdsman, had observed the appearances and effects of these constellations, and adored the Maker of them, whom others neglected:
and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: maketh the constant revolution of day and night, and the days longer in the summer, and shorter in winter, as Kimchi interprets it; and also the various changes of prosperity and adversity, turning the one into the other when he pleases:
that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth; as in the time of the universal deluge, to which some Jewish writers apply this, as Jarchi observes; or rather draws up by the heat of the sun the waters of the sea into the air, and forms them into clouds, where they lose their saltness, and become sweet; and then lets them down in plentiful and gentle showers, to water, refresh, and fructify the earth; which is an instance of divine power, wisdom, and goodness. The Targum is,
"who commands many armies to be gathered like the waters of the sea, and scatters them upon the face of the earth.''
Some, who understand these words of Christ our righteousness, interpret the whole mystically of his raising up the twelve apostles, comparable to stars; and of his turning the Gentiles, who were darkness itself, to the light of the Gospel; and of his giving up the Jews, who were formerly light, to judicial blindness and darkness; and of his watering the earth with large showers of the divine word;
the Lord is his name; he is the true Jehovah, that can and does do all this.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. the seven stars—literally, the heap or cluster of seven larger stars and others smaller (Job 9:9; 38:31). The former whole passage seems to have been in Amos' mind. He names the stars well known to shepherds (to which class Amos belonged), Orion as the precursor of the tempests which are here threatened, and the Pleiades as ushering in spring.
shadow of death—Hebraism for the densest darkness.
calleth for the waters of the sea—both to send deluges in judgment, and the ordinary rain in mercy (1Ki 18:44).
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