|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:1-10 The prophet, in vision, saw the Lord standing upon the idolatrous altar at Bethel. Wherever sinners flee from God's justice, it will overtake them. Those whom God brings to heaven by his grace, shall never be cast down; but those who seek to climb thither by vain confidence in themselves, will be cast down and filled with shame. That which makes escape impossible and ruin sure, is, that God will set his eyes upon them for evil, not for good. Wretched must those be on whom the Lord looks for evil, and not for good. The Lord would scatter the Jews, and visit them with calamities, as the corn is shaken in a sieve; but he would save some from among them. The astonishing preservation of the Jews as a distinct people, seems here foretold. If professors make themselves like the world, God will level them with the world. The sinners who thus flatter themselves, shall find that their profession will not protect them.
Verses 1-10. - § 6. The fifth vision displays the Lord standing by the altar and commanding the destruction of the temple (ver. 1). No one shall escape this judgment, flee whither he will (vers. 2-4); for God is Almighty (vers. 5, 6). Their election shall not save the guilty Israelites; still they shall not be utterly destroyed (vers. 7-10). Verse 1. - I saw the Lord. It is now no longer a mere emblem that the prophet sees, but actual destruction. He beholds the majesty of God, as Isaiah 6:1; Ezekiel 10:1. Upon (or, by) the altar; i.e. the altar of burnt offering at Jerusalem, Where, it is supposed, the whole nation, Israelites and Judaeans, are assembled for worship. It is natural, at first sight, to suppose that the sanctuary of the northern kingdom is the scene of this vision, as the destruction of idolatry is here emblemized; but more probably Bethel is not meant, for there were more altars than one there (Amos 3:14), and one cannot imagine the Lord standing by the symbol of the calf worship. Smite. The command is mysteriously addressed to the destroying angel (comp. Exodus 12:13; 2 Samuel 24:15, etc.; 2 Kings 19:35). The lintel of the door; τὸ ἱλαστήριον (Septuagint); cardinem (Vulgate); better, the chapiter (Zephaniah 2:14); i.e. the capital of the columns. The word kaphtor is used in Exodus 25:31, etc., for the knop or ornament on the golden candlesticks; here the idea is that the temple receives a blow on the top of the pillars which support it sufficient to cause its overthrow. The LXX. rendering arises from a confusion of two Hebrew words somewhat similar. The posts; the thresholds; i.e. the base. The knop and the threshold imply the total destruction from summit to base. Cut them in the head, all of them; rather, break them [the capital and the thresholds] to pieces upon the head of all. Let the falling building cover them with its ruins. The Vulgate renders, avaritia enim in capite omnium, confounding two words. Jerome had the same Hebrew reading, as he translates, quaetus eorum, avaritia, as if giving the reason for the punishment. The overthrown temple presents a forcible picture of the destruction of the theocracy. The last of them (Amos 4:2); the remnant; any who escape the fall of the temple. He that fleeth, etc. All hope of escape shall be cut off.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I saw the Lord standing upon the altar,.... 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;
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; 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, &c.''
referring the whole to the Jews, and to the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Am 9:1-15. Fifth and Last Vision.
None can escape the coming judgment in any hiding-place: for God is omnipresent and irresistible (Am 9:1-6). 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 (Am 9:7-10). 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 (Am 9:11-15).
1. Lord … upon the altar—namely, in the idolatrous temple at Beth-el; the calves which were spoken of in Am 8:14. 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 elsewhere (compare Eze 8:1-18). This view harmonizes with the similarity of the vision in Amos to that in Isa 6:1-13, at Jerusalem. Also with the end of this chapter (Am 9:11-15), which applies both to Judah and Israel: "the tabernacle of David," namely, at Jerusalem. His attitude, "standing," implies fixity of purpose.
lintel—rather, the sphere-like capital of the column [Maurer].
posts—rather, "thresholds," as in Isa 6:4, 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 Ps 68:21; Hab 3:13).
slay the last of them—their posterity [Henderson]. The survivors [Maurer]. Jehovah's directions are addressed to His angels, ministers of judgment (compare Eze 9:1-11).
he that fleeth … shall not flee away—He who fancies himself safe and out of reach of the enemy shall be taken (Am 2:14).
Amos 9:1 Parallel Commentaries
Amos 9:1 NIV
Amos 9:1 NLT
Amos 9:1 ESV
Amos 9:1 NASB
Amos 9:1 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible