|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 6. - Stories; ἀνάβασιν (Septuagint); ascensionem (Vulgate); upper chambers, or the stages by which is the ascent to the highest heavens (comp. Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 104:3). His troop (aguddah); vault. The word is used for "the bonds" of the yoke in Isaiah 58:6; for "the bunch" of hyssop in Exodus 12:22. So the Vulgate here renders fasciculum suum, with the notion that the stories or chambers just mentioned are bound together to connect heaven and earth. But the clause means, God hath founded the vault or firmament of heaven upon (not in) the earth, where his throne is placed, and whence he sends the rain. The Septuagint renders, τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν αὐτοῦ, "his promise." So the Syriac. The waters of the sea. The reference is to the Deluge (Amos 5:8; Genesis 7:4, 11).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven,.... The three elements, according to Aben Ezra, fire, air, and water; the orbs, as Kimchi, one above another; a word near akin to this is rendered "his chambers", which are the clouds, Psalm 104:3; perhaps the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, which are three stories high, may be meant; we read of the third heaven, 2 Corinthians 12:2; and particularly the throne of God is in the highest heaven; and the "ascents" (y) to it, as it may be rendered. The Targum is,
"who causeth to dwell in a high fortress the Shechinah of his glory:''
and hath founded his troop in the earth; this Kimchi interprets of the three above elements. So the words are translated in the Bishops' Bible in Queen Elizabeth's time,
"he buildeth his spheres in the heaven, and hath laid the foundation of his globe of elements in the earth.''
Aben Ezra interprets it of animals; it may take in the whole compass of created beings on earth; so Jarchi explains it of the collection of his creatures; though he takes notice of another sense given, a collection of the righteous, which are the foundation of the earth, and for whose sake all things stand. Abarbinel interprets it of the whole of the tribe of Israel; and so the Targum paraphrases it of his congregation or church on earth: he beautifies his elect, which are "his bundle" (z), as it may be rendered; who are bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord their God, and are closely knit and united, as to God and Christ, so to one another; and perhaps is the best sense of the words (a):
he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth, the Lord is his name; either to drown it, as at the general deluge; or to water and refresh it, as he does by exhaling water from the sea, and then letting it down in plentiful showers upon the earth; See Gill on Amos 5:8; now all these things are observed to show the power of God, and that therefore there can be no hope of escaping out of his hands.
(y) "ascensiones suus", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Tigurine version, "gradus suo", Vatablus, Drusius, Cocceius. (z) "fasciculum suum", Montanus, Munster, Mercerus, Vatablus, Drusius, Burkius. (a) Schultens in Observ. ad Genesin, p. 197, 198, observes, that "agad", with the Arabs, signifies primarily to "bind", and is by them transferred to a building firmly bound, and compact together; and so may intend here in Amos the Lord's building, the church, which he hath founded in the earth; and so with Golius and Castellus is a building firmly compacted together. is used for a bunch of hyssop, Exodus 12.27. and in the Misnic language for a handful or bundle of anything; see Buxtorf. Lex. Talmud. rad.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. stories—literally, "ascents," that is, upper chambers, to which the ascent is by steps [Maurer]; evidently referring to the words in Ps 104:3, 13. Grotius explains it, God's royal throne, expressed in language drawn from Solomon's throne, to which the ascent was by steps (compare 1Ki 10:18, 19).
founded his troop—namely, all animate creatures, which are God's troop, or host (Ge 2:1), doing His will (Ps 103:20, 21; Joe 2:11). Maurer translates, "His vault," that is, the vaulted sky, which seems to rest on the earth supported by the horizon.
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