|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.
Verse 3. - The top of Carmel. Among the woods and thickets. There are no eaves on the summit of Carmel. "Amos tolls us that in his day the top of it was a place to hide in; nor has it changed its character in this respect ... I would not have been prompted to place 'the top of Carmel' third in such a series of hiding places, yet I can fully appreciate the comparison from my own experience. Ascending from the south, we followed a wild, narrow wady overhung by trees, bushes, and tangled creepers, through which my guide thought we could get up to the top; but it became absolutely impracticable, and we were obliged to find our way back again. And even after we reached the summit, it was so rough and broken in some places, and the thorn bushes so thickset and sharp, that our clothes were torn and our hands and faces severely lacerated; nor could I see my guide at times ten steps ahead of me. From such biblical intimations, we may believe that Carmel was not very thickly inhabited" (Thomson, 'The Land and the Book,' Central Palestine, p. 237, etc.). Other writers speak of the occurrence of caves and deep valleys in the Carmel range. In the bottom of the sea. Both this and heaven (ver. 2) are impracticable hiding places, and are used poetically to show the absolute impossibility of escape. Serpent (nachash, elsewhere called leviathan and tannin, Isaiah 27:1), some kind of seamonster supposed to be venomous. Dr. Pusey mentions that certain poisonous hydrophidae are found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. and may probably infest the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel,.... 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 (w) 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 (x), 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 Psalm 139:9.
(w) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 5. c. 13. p. 747. (x) Natural History of Norway, par. 2. p. 198, 199, 207.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. Carmel—where the forests, and, on the west side, the caves, furnished hiding-places (Am 1:2; Jud 6:2; 1Sa 13:6).
the sea—the Mediterranean, which flows at the foot of Mount Carmel; forming a strong antithesis to it.
command the serpent—the sea-serpent, a term used for any great water monster (Isa 27:1). The symbol of cruel and oppressive kings (Ps 74:13, 14).
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