Amos 7:1
Thus has the Lord GOD showed to me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, see, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) Each of the visions is introduced with closely resembling words. For “grasshopper,” read locusts. The phrase “king’s mowings” suggests that the king claimed tyrannically the first-fruits of the hay harvest, which was ordinarily followed by the early “rain upon the mown grass.” (Comp. 1Kings 18:5.)

Amos 7:1. Thus hath the Lord showed unto me — The Lord also showed me the following things. Here the prophet mentions the first of five prophetic representations of what was coming upon this people. He formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the latter growth — He appeared to me as bringing a vast multitude of grasshoppers upon the land at the season when the grass begins to shoot again after the first mowing. Though this be spoken in a literal sense of a plague of grasshoppers, yet some commentators think it is to be understood metaphorically, and that by the grasshoppers is meant the army of Pul, king of Assyria, mentioned 2 Kings 15:19. After the king’s mowings — It is supposed that the first crop of grass was set apart for the use of the king’s stables.7:1-9 God bears long, but he will not bear always with a provoking people. The remembrance of the mercies we formerly received, like the produce of the earth of the former growth, should make us submissive to the will of God, when we meet with disappointments in the latter growth. The Lord has many ways of humbling a sinful nation. Whatever trouble we are under, we should be most earnest with God for the forgiveness of sin. Sin will soon make a great people small. What will become of Israel, if the hand that should raise him be stretched out against him? See the power of prayer. See what a blessing praying people are to a land. See how ready, how swift God is to show mercy; how he waits to be gracious. Israel was a wall, a strong wall, which God himself reared as a defence to his sanctuary. The Lord now seems to stand upon this wall. He measures it; it appears to be a bowing, bulging wall. Thus God would bring the people of Israel to the trial, would discover their wickedness; and the time will come, when those who have been spared often, shall be spared no longer. But the Lord still calls Israel his people. The repeated prayer and success of the prophet should lead us to seek the Saviour.And behold He formed - (that is, He was forming.) The very least things then are as much in His infinite Mind, as what we count the greatest. He has not simply made "laws of nature," as people speak, to do His work, and continue the generations of the world. He Himself was still framing them, giving them being, as our Lord saith, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" John 5:17. The same power of God is seen in creating the locust, as the universe. The creature could as little do the one as the other. But further, God was "framing" them for a special end, not of nature, but of His moral government, in the correction of man. He was "framimg the locust," that it might, at His appointed time, lay waste just those tracts which He had appointed to them. God, in this vision, opens our eyes, and lets us see Himself, framing the punishment for the deserts of the sinners, that so when hail, mildew, blight, caterpillars, or some other hitherto unknown disease, (which, because we know it not, we call by the name of the crop which it annihilates), waste our crops, we may think, not of secondary causes, but of our Judge. Lap.: "Fire and hail, snow and vapors, stormy wind, fulfill His word, Psalm 148:8, in striking sinners as He wills. To be indignant with these, were like a dog who bit the stone wherewith it was hit, instead of the man who threw it." Gregory on Job L. xxxii. c. 4. L.: "He who denies that he was stricken for his own fault, what does he but accuse the justice of Him who smiteth?"

Grasshoppers - that is, locusts. The name may very possibly be derived from their "creeping" simultaneously, in vast multitudes, from the ground, which is the more observable in these creatures, which, when the warmth of spring hatches the eggs, creep forth at once in myriads. This first meaning of their name must, however, have been obliterated by use (as mostly happens), since the word is also used by Nahum of a flying locust .

The king's mowings - must have been some regalia, to meet the state-expenses. The like custom still lingers on, here and there, among us, the "first mowth" or "first vesture," that with which the fields are first clad, belonging to one person; the pasturage afterward, or "after-grass," to others. The hay-harvest probably took place some time before the grain-harvest, and the "latter grass," "after-grass," (לקשׁ leqesh) probably began to spring up at the time of the "latter rain" (מלקושׁ malqôsh). Had the grass been mourn after this rain, it would not, under the burning sun of their rainless summer, have sprung up at all. At this time, then, upon which the hope of the year depended, "in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter grass," Amos saw, in a vision, God form the locust, and "the green herb of the land" (the word includes all, that which is "for the service of man" as well as for beasts,) destroyed. Striking emblem of a state, recovering after it had been mown down, and anew overrun by a numerous enemy! Yet this need but be a passing desolation. Would they abide, or would they carry their ravages elsewhere? Amos intercedes with God, in words of that first intercession of Moses, "forgive now" Numbers 14:19. "By whom," he adds, "shall Jacob arise?" literally, "Who shall Jacob arise?" that is, who is he that he should arise, so weakened, so half-destroyed? Plainly, the destruction is more than one invasion of locusts in one year. The locusts are a symbol (as in Joel) in like way as the following visions are symbols.

CHAPTER 7

Am. 7:1-9. The seventh, eighth, and ninth chapters contain Visions, with Their Explanations. The seventh chapter consists of two parts. First (Am 7:1-9): Prophecies Illustrated by Three Symbols: (1) A vision of grasshoppers or young locusts, which devour the grass, but are removed at Amos' entreaty; (2) Fire drying up even the deep, and withering part of the land, but removed at Amos' entreaty; (3) A plumb-line to mark the buildings for destruction. Secondly (Am 7:10-17): Narrative of Amaziah's Interruption of Amos in Consequence of the Foregoing Prophecies, and Prediction of His Doom.

1. showed … me; and, behold—The same formula prefaces the three visions in this chapter, and the fourth in Am 8:1.

grasshoppers—rather, "locusts" in the caterpillar state, from a Hebrew root, "to creep forth." In the autumn the eggs are deposited in the earth; in the spring the young come forth [Maurer].

the latter growth—namely, of grass, which comes up after the mowing. They do not in the East mow their grass and make hay of it, but cut it off the ground as they require it.

the king's mowings—the first-fruits of the mown grass, tyrannically exacted by the king from the people. The literal locusts, as in Joel, are probably symbols of human foes: thus the "growth" of grass "after the king's mowings" will mean the political revival of Israel under Jeroboam II (2Ki 14:25), after it had been mown down, as it were, by Hazael and Ben-hadad of Syria (2Ki 13:3), [Grotius].The judgment of the grasshoppers, Amos 7:1-3, and of the fire, are diverted by the intercession of Amos, Amos 7:4-6. By a wall and plumbline is signified the desolation of Israel, Amos 7:7-9. Amaziah complaineth of Amos, and forbiddeth him to prophesy at Beth-el, Amos 7:10-13. Amos showeth his calling, Amos 7:14,15, and the judgment upon Amaziah, Amos 7:16,17.

Thus: sometimes this refers to what went before, here it refers to what the prophet saw and is about to declare.

Hath the Lord God showed unto me: this is the first of five visions or prophetic representations of what was coming upon this people for their sins. The Lord gave Amos a clear sight of the future calamity by this vision.

Behold; I could not but observe, and it is worthy your observance too.

He formed: it is not said he called for them, but he formed or created them, probably intimating somewhat extraordinary in them, either in their bigness or number, or rather sudden appearing of them. So the plague signified by them should suddenly come upon them.

Grasshoppers: in our country grasshoppers are not hurtful, but these in our text were locusts, and so rendered Isaiah 33:4 Nahum 3:17; and the word used by Amos here is paraphrased by the Hebrew critics by a word that properly notes locust.

It was the latter growth: the shooting up of the first growth being too luxuriant, they did either mow off the tops, or eat it down with cattle, and this was done for preserving the corn and increase of the harvest; but if the second growth were cut off or eat up, it marred the whole harvest; and these devouring locusts were formed in such time as to do this, and so to bring a famine upon the land.

After the king’s mowings; it is supposed that the first mowing of the luxuriant corn in the blade was for the king’s use, and after this the second springing grew up to the harvest. It may possibly intimate, that though the kings of Israel did as it were mow the luxuriant riches vet they grew again; but when Assyrian locusts come all is devoured.

Thus hath the Lord showed unto me,.... What follows in this and the two chapters, before the prophet delivered what he heard from the Lord; now what he saw, the same thing, the ruin of the ten tribes, is here expressed as before, but in a different form; before in prophecy, here in vision, the more to affect and work upon the hearts of the people:

and, behold, he formed grasshoppers; or "locusts" (u), as the word is rendered, Isaiah 33:4; and so the Septuagint here, and other versions. Kimchi interprets it, and, behold, a collection or swarm of locusts; and the Targum, a creation of them. Though Aben Ezra takes the word to be a verb, and not a noun, and the sense to be, agreeably to our version, he showed me the blessed God, who was forming locusts; it appeared to Amos, in the vision of prophecy, as if the Lord was making locusts, large and great ones, and many of them; not that this was really done, only visionally, and was an emblem of the Assyrian army, prepared and ready to devour the land of Israel; see Joel 1:4. And this was

in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings; when the first grass was mowed down, and the first crop gathered in, for the use of the king's cattle; as the later grass was just springing up, and promised a second crop, these grasshoppers or locusts were forming, which threatened the destruction of it. This must be towards the close of the summer, and when autumn was coming on, at which time naturalists tell us that locusts breed. So Aristotle (w) says, they bring forth at the going out of the summer; and of one sort of them he says, their eggs perish in the waters of autumn, or when it is a wet autumn; but in a dry autumn there is a large increase of them: and so Pliny says (x), they breed in the autumn season and lie under the earth all the winter, and appear in the spring: and Columella observes (y), that locusts are most suitably and commodiously fed with grass in autumn; which is called "cordum", or the latter grass, that comes or springs late in the year; such as this now was. The Mahometans speak (z) much of God being the Maker of locusts; they say he made them of the clay which was left at the formation of Adam; and represent him saying, I am God, nor is there any Lord of locusts besides me, who feed them, and send them for food to the people, or as a punishment to them, as I:please: they call them the army of the most high God, and will not suffer any to kill them; See Gill on Revelation 9:3; whether all this is founded on this passage of Scripture, I cannot say; however, there is no reason from thence to make the locusts so peculiarly the workmanship of God as they do, since this was only in a visionary way; though it may be observed, that it is with great propriety, agreeable to the nature of these creatures, that God is represented as forming them at such a season of the year. Some, by "the king's mowings", understand the carrying captive the ten tribes by Shalmaneser king of Assyria; so Ribera; after which things were in a flourishing state, or at least began to be so, in the two tribes under Hezekiah, when they were threatened with ruin by the army of Sennacherib, from which there was a deliverance: but as this vision, and the rest, only respect the ten tribes of Israel, "the king's mowings" of the first crop may signify the distresses of the people of Israel, in the times of Jehoahaz king of Israel, by Hazael and Benhadad kings of Syria, 2 Kings 13:3; when things revived again, like the shooting up of the later grass, in the reign of Joash, and especially of Jeroboam his son, who restored the coast of Israel, the Lord having compassion on them, 2 Kings 13:25; but after his death things grew worse; his son reigned but six months, and he that slew him but one; and in the reign of Menahem, that succeeded him, an invasion of the land was made by Pul king of Assyria, 2 Kings 15:19; which is generally thought to be intended here. Or else, as others, it may refer to the troubles in the interregnum, after the death of Jeroboam, to his son's mounting the throne, the space of eleven years, when, and afterwards, Israel was in a declining state.

(u) "ecce fictor locustarum", Pagninus, Montanus; so Munster, Vatablus, Cocceius, Burkius. (w) Hist. Animal. l. 5. c. 28, 29. (x) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29. (y) Apud Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 4. c. 6. col. 484. (z) Vid. Bochart, ib. col. 486.

Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me; and, behold, he formed {a} grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth {b} after the king's mowings.

(a) To devour the land: and he alludes to the invading of the enemies.

(b) After the public commandment for mowing was given: or as some read, when the kings sheep were shorn.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. Thus did the Lord Jehovah shew me] The same formula, Amos 7:4; Amos 7:7, Amos 8:1. Cf. “shewed me” (also in the description of a vision), Jeremiah 24:1; Zechariah 3:1. Lit. caused me to see, the correlative of saw (râ’âh), viz. in a vision, 1 Kings 22:17; 1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 6:1; Ezekiel 1:1; Ezekiel 1:4; Ezekiel 8:2; Zechariah 1:18; Zechariah 2:1, &c.

was forming] Properly forming as a potter, a metaphor often applied to the creative operations of God: see on Amos 4:13. The participle (the force of which is lost in the English version) represents the action as in progress, at the time when Amos saw it in vision.

locusts] Hebrew has many different terms for locust, which cannot now in all cases be exactly distinguished: the word used here (gôbay) perhaps denoted in particular locusts in the ‘larva’-stage, when they were first hatched (comp. the Excursus above, p. 86, No. 5). The derivation of the word is uncertain[183].

[183] In Arabic jabâ is to collect, and jaba’a is said of a serpent or other animal coming forth suddenly from its hole, as also of locusts coming suddenly upon a country, and from each of these words is derived a name for locusts, denoting them either as collecting anything by eating it, or as coming forth suddenly—whether of their swarming forth from the ground, when the warmth of spring hatches the eggs, or of their sudden arrival in a country from elsewhere (see Lane, Arab. Lex. p. 379a top, and pp. 372e top, 373a). It is possible (but not certain) that the Hebrew words referred to above are derived from one of these roots: they would be connected most easily with the first.

in the beginning of the coming up of the latter growth] The precise meaning of léḳesh is uncertain: it may (as in Syriac) denote the after-math, or grass which springs up after the first crop has been cut; or it may denote the spring-crops in general, which are matured under the influence of the malḳôsh, or “latter rain” (see on Joel 2:23), of March and April. In either case the locusts are represented as appearing at a critical moment, and destroying for the year the crops owned by private Israelites. The ‘king’s mowings’ appear to have been “a tribute in kind levied by the kings of Israel on the spring herbage, as provender for their cavalry (cf. 1 Kings 18:5). The Roman governors of Syria levied similarly a tax on pasture-land, in the month Nisan, as food for their horses: see Bruns and Sachau, Syr.-Röm. Rechtsbuch, Text L, § 121; Wright, Notulae Syriacae (1887), p. 6” (W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 228, ed. 2, p. 246). After this tax had been paid, every one would naturally expect to be able to cut his grass for his own use. But the locusts came and devoured it.

1–3. The first vision. The devouring locusts.Verse 1-ch. 9:10. - Part III. FIVE VISIONS, WITH EXPLANATIONS, CONTINUING AND CONFIRMING THE PREVIOUS PROPHECY. The afflictions are climactic, increasing in intensity. The first two symbolize judgments which have been averted by the prophet's intercession; the third and fourth adumbrate judgments which are to fall inevitably; and the fifth proclaims the overthrow of the temple and the old theocracy. Verses 1-3. - § 1. The first vision, of locusts, represents Israel as a field eaten down to the ground, but shooting up afresh, and its utter destruction postponed at the prophet's prayer. Verse 1. - Thus hath the Lord God showed unto me. By an inward illumination (comp. vers. 4, 7; and Amos 8:1; Jeremiah 24:1-3). He formed grasshoppers; rather, locusts (Nahum 3:17). This points to the moral government of God, who uses nature to work his purposes, "wind and storm fulfilling his word." In the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; when the aftermath was beginning to grow under the influence of the latter rains. If the herbage was destroyed then, there would be no hope of recovery in the rest of the year. After the king's mowings. It is deduced from this expression that the first crop on certain grounds was taken for the king's use - a kind of royal perquisite, though there is no trace of such a custom found in Scripture, the passage in 1 Kings 18:5, where Ahab sends Obadiah to search for pasture, having plainly nothing to do with it; and in this case, as Keil remarks, the plague would seem to fall upon the people only, and the guilty king would have escaped. But to interpret the expression entirely in a spiritual sense, with no substantial basis, as "Jehovah's judgments," destroys the harmony of the vision, ignoring its material aspect altogether. It is quite possible that the custom above mentioned did exist, though it was probably limited to certain lands, and did not apply to the whole pasturage of the country. It is here mentioned to define the time of the plague of locusts - the time, in fact, when its ravages would be most irremediable. The LXX., by a little change of letters, render, ἰδοὺ βροῦχος εῖς Γὼν ὁ βασιλεύς, by which they imply that the locusts would be as innumerable as the army of Gog. The whole version is, "Behold, a swarm of locusts coming from the East; and behold, one caterpillar, King Gog." The vision is thought to refer to the first invasion by the Assyrians, when Pul was bribed by Menahem to withdraw. In Joel 2:4-6 we have a description of this mighty army of God, and of the alarm caused by its appearance among all nations. Joel 2:4. "Like the appearance of horses is its appearance; and like riding-horses, so do they run. Joel 2:5. Like rumbling of chariots on the tops of the mountains do they leap, like the crackling of flame which devours stubble, like a strong people equipped for conflict. Joel 2:6. Before it nations tremble; all faces withdraw their redness." The comparison drawn between the appearance of the locusts and that of horses refers chiefly to the head, which, when closely examined, bears a strong resemblance to the head of a horse, as Theodoret has already observed; a fact which gave rise to their being called Heupferde (hay-horses) in German. In Joel 2:4 the rapidity of their motion is compared to the running of riding-horses (pârâshı̄m); and in Joel 2:5 the noise caused by their springing motion to the rattling of chariots, the small two-wheeled war-chariots of the ancients, when driven rapidly over the rough mountain roads. The noise caused by their devouring the plants and shrubs is also compared to the burning of a flame over a stubble-field that has been set on fire, and their approach to the advance of a war force equipped for conflict. (Compare the adoption and further expansion of these similes in Revelation 9:7, Revelation 9:9). At the sight of this terrible army of God the nations tremble, so that their faces grow pale. ‛Ammı̄m means neither people (see at 1 Kings 22:28) nor the tribes of Israel, but nations generally. Joel is no doubt depicting something more here than the devastation caused by the locusts in his own day. There are differences of opinion as to the rendering of the second hemistich, which Nahum repeats in Joel 2:11. The combination of פּארוּר with פּרוּר, a pot (Chald., Syr., Jer., Luth., and others), is untenable, since פּרוּר comes from פּרר, to break in pieces, whereas פּארוּר ( equals פּארוּר) is from the root פאר, piel, to adorn, beautify, or glorify; so that the rendering, "they gather redness," i.e., glow with fear, which has an actual but not a grammatical support in Isaiah 13:8, is evidently worthless. We therefore understand פּארוּר, as Ab. Esr., Abul Wal., and others have done, in the sense of elegantia, nitor, pulchritudo, and as referring to the splendour or healthy ruddiness of the cheeks, and take קבּץ ekat dn as an intensive form of קבץ, in the sense of drawing into one's self, or withdrawing, inasmuch as fear and anguish cause the blood to fly from the face and extremities to the inward parts of the body. For the fact of the face turning pale with terror, see Jeremiah 30:6.
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