|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:4-10 The rich and powerful of the land were the most guilty of oppression, as well as the foremost in idolatry. They were weary of the restraints of the sabbaths and the new moons, and wished them over, because no common work might be done therein. This is the character of many who are called Christians. The sabbath day and sabbath work are a burden to carnal hearts. It will either be profaned or be accounted a dull day. But can we spend our time better than in communion with God? When employed in religious services, they were thinking of marketings. They were weary of holy duties, because their worldly business stood still the while. Those are strangers to God, and enemies to themselves, who love market days better than sabbath days, who would rather be selling corn than worshipping God. They have no regard to man: those who have lost the savour of piety, will not long keep the sense of common honesty. They cheat those they deal with. They take advantage of their neighbour's ignorance or necessity, in a traffic which nearly concerns the labouring poor. Could we witness the fraud and covetousness, which, in such numerous forms, render trading an abomination to the Lord, we should not wonder to see many dealers backward in the service of God. But he who thus despises the poor, reproaches his Maker; as it regards Him, rich and poor meet together. Riches that are got by the ruin of the poor, will bring ruin on those that get them. God will remember their sin against them. This speaks the case of such unjust, unmerciful men, to be miserable indeed, miserable for ever. There shall be terror and desolation every where. It shall come upon them when they little think of it. Thus uncertain are all our creature-comforts and enjoyments, even life itself; in the midst of life we are in death. What will be the wailing in the bitter day which follows sinful and sensual pleasures!
Verse 10. - I will turn your feasts into mourning, etc. (comp. ver. 3: Amos 5:16, 17; Lamentations 5:15; Hosea 2:11; Tobit 2:6). Sackcloth. A token of mourning (1 Kings 20:31; Isaiah 15:3; Joel 1:8, 13). Baldness. On shaving the head as a sign of mourning, see note on Micah 1:16; and comp. Job 1:20; Isaiah 3:24; Jeremiah 16:6; Jeremiah 47:5; Ezekiel 7:18). I will make it; Ponam eam (Vulgate); sc. terram. But it is better to take it to refer to the whole state of things mentioned before. The mourning for an only son was proverbially severe, like that of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12, etc.; comp. Jeremiah 6:26; Zechariah 12:10). And the end thereof as a bitter day. The calamity should not wear itself out; it should be bitter unto the end. Septuagint, Θήσομαι... τοὺς μέτ αὐτοῦ ὡς ἡμέραν ὀδύνης, "I will make... those with him as a day of anguish."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation,.... Either their religious feasts, the feasts of pentecost, tabernacles, and passover; at which three feasts there were eclipses of the sun, a few years after this prophecy of Amos, as Bishop Usher (q) observes: the first was an eclipse of the sun about ten digits, in the year 3213 A.M. or 791 B.C., June twenty fourth, at the feast of pentecost; the next was almost twelve digits, about eleven years after, on November eighth, 780 B.C., at the feast of the tabernacles; and the third was more than eleven digits in the following year, 779 B.C., on May fifth, at the feast of the passover; which the prophecy may literally refer to, and which might occasion great sorrow and concern, and especially at what they might be thought to forebode: but particularly this was fulfilled when these feasts could not be observed any longer, nor the songs used at them sung any more; or else their feasts, and songs at them, in their own houses, in which they indulged themselves in mirth and jollity; but now, instead thereof, there would be mourning and lamentation the loss of their friends, and being carried captive into a strange land;
and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins; of high and low, rich and poor; even those that used to be covered with silk and rich embroideries: sackcloth was a coarse cloth put on in times of mourning for the dead, or on account of public calamities:
and baldness upon every head: the hair being either shaved off or pulled off; both which were sometimes done, as a token of mourning:
and I will make it as the mourning of an only son; as when parents mourn for an only son, which is generally carried to the greatest height, and continued longest, as well as is most sincere and passionate; the case being exceeding cutting and afflictive, as this is hereby represented to be:
and the end thereof as a bitter day; a day of bitter calamity, and of bitter wailing and mourning, in the bitterness of their spirits; though the beginning of the day was bright and clear, a fine sunshine, yet the end of it dark and bitter, distressing and sorrowful, it being the end of the people of Israel, as in Amos 8:2.
(q) Annales Vet. Test. ad A. M. 3213.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. baldness—a sign of mourning (Isa 15:2; Jer 48:37; Eze 7:18).
I will make it as … mourning of an only son—"it," that is, "the earth" (Am 8:9). I will reduce the land to such a state that there shall be the same occasion for mourning as when parents mourn for an only son (Jer 6:26; Zec 12:10).
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