Amos 1:2
And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.
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(2) Roar.—The prolonged thunder-peal, or lion’s roar, of the Divine voice, reverberates from the theocratic metropolis of Zion, to the luxuriant slopes of the noble Carmel, which forms the southern promontory of the Bay of Acre. The “pastures of the Shepherds” remind us of Psalms 23, and refers us to the prophet’s own home in the wilderness of Tekoah. The same expression “head (or ‘top’) of Carmel” occurs in 1Kings 18:42, and in Amos 9:3. Compare the modern name Ras-el-Kerum. The whole country from south to north is summoned to listen to the Divine voice.

Amos 1:2. The Lord will roar from Zion — This and the next clause occur, Joel 3:16, and a similar one, Jeremiah 25:30, where see the notes. The meaning is, that God would soon spread terror, like beasts of prey when they roar, chap. Amos 3:8 : or, that he would soon display his power in executing judgment. And utter his voice from Jerusalem — The city God had chosen, where he dwelt; the seat of his instituted worship, and the royal seat of the kingdom, as God had settled it, but from which, in both respects, the ten tribes had revolted. The habitations of the shepherds shall mourn — The shepherds were wont to pitch their tents where they found pasturage, and to dwell therein, that they might attend their flocks. But it is here foretold, that the pasture-ground should wither and become barren, through a drought which would take place, and of which the prophet speaks, chap. Amos 4:7-8. Carmel was a mountainous tract of ground, which ran through the two tribes of Issachar and Zebulon. It is often described as one of the most fruitful places in all Judea: see Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 35:2 : upon which account the word is sometimes taken appellatively, and translated a fruitful field.

1:18-21 There shall be abundant Divine influences, and the gospel will spread speedily into the remotest corners of the earth. These events are predicted under significant emblems; there is a day coming, when every thing amiss shall be amended. The fountain of this plenty is in the house of God, whence the streams take rise. Christ is this Fountain; his sufferings, merit, and grace, cleanse, refresh, and make fruitful. Gospel grace, flowing from Christ, shall reach to the Gentile world, to the most remote regions, and make them abound in fruits of righteousness; and from the house of the Lord above, from his heavenly temple, flows all the good we daily taste, and hope to enjoy eternally.The Lord will roar - Amos joins on his prophecy to the end of Joel's, in order at once in its very opening to attest the oneness of their mission, and to prepare people's minds to see, that his own prophecy was an expansion of those words, declaring the nearer and coming judgments of God. Those nearer judgments, however, of which he spake, were but the preludes of the judgments of the Great Day which Joel foretold, and of that last terrible voice of Christ, "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," of whom Jacob prophesies; "He couched, He lay down as a lion, and as a young lion; who shall raise Him up?" Genesis 49:9. God is said to "utter His" awful "voice from Zion and Jerusalem," because there He had set His Name, there He was present in His Church. It was, as it were, His own place, which He had hallowed by tokens of His presence, although "the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him." In the outset of his prophecy, Amos warned Israel, that there, not among themselves in their separated state, God dwelt. Jeremiah, in using these same words toward Judah, speaks not of Jerusalem, but of heaven; "The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter His voice from His holy habitation" Jeremiah 25:30. The prophecy is to the ten tribes or to the pagan: God speaks out of the Church. He uttereth His Voice out of Jerusalem, as He saith, "Out of Zion shall go forth, the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" Isaiah 2:3, "where was the Temple and the worship of God, to shew that God was not in the cities of Israel, that is, in Dan and Bethel, where were the golden calves, nor in the royal cities of Samaria and Jezreel, but in the true religion which was then in Zion and Jerusalem."

And the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn - Perhaps, with a feeling for the home which he had loved and left, the prophet's first thought amid the desolation which he predicts, was toward his own shepherd-haunts. The well-known Mount Carmel was far in the opposite direction in the tribe of Asher. Its name is derived from its richness and fertility, perhaps "a land of vine and olive yards." In Jerome's time, it was "thickly studded with olives, shrubs and vineyards." "Its very summit of glad pasturcs."

It is one of the most striking natural features of Palestine. It ends a line of hills, 18 miles long, by a long bold headland reaching out far into the Mediterranean, and forming the south side of the Bay of Acco or Acre. Rising 1,200 feet above the sea , it stands out "like some guardian of its native strand;" yet withal, it was rich with every variety of beauty, flower, fruit, and tree. It is almost always called "the Carmel," "the rich garden-ground." From its neighborhood to the sea, heavy dews nightly supply it with an ever-renewed freshness, so that in mid-summer it is green and flowery . Travelers describe it, as "quite green, its top covered with firs and oaks, lower down with olives and laurels, and everywhere excellently watered." "There is not a flower," says Van de Velde , "that I have seen in Galilee or on the plains along the coasts, that I do not find here again on Carmel. It is still the same fragrant lovely mountain as of old." : "Its varied world of flowers attracts such a number of the rarer vari-colored insects that a collector might for a whole year be richly employed." "It is a natural garden and repository of herbs."

Its pastures were rich, so as to equal those of Bashan. "It gives rise to a number of crystal streams, the largest of which gushes from the spring of Elijah" Jeremiah 50:19; Nahum 1:4. It had abundant supplies in itself. If it too became a desert, what else would be spared? "If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" Luke 23:31. All, high and low, shall be stricken in one common desolation; all the whole land, fromm "the pastures of the shepherds" in the south to Mount Carmel in the North. And this, as soon as God had spoken. "He spake, and it was made." So now, contrariwise, He uttercth His Voice, and Carmel hath languished. Its glory hath passed away, as in the twinkling of an eye. God hath spoken the word, and it is gone.

What depended on God's gifts, abides; what depended on man, is gone. There remains a wild beauty still; but it is the beauty of natural luxuriance. "All," says one who explored its depths , "lies waste; all is a wilderness. The utmost fertility is here lost for man, useless to man. The vineyards of Carmel, where are they now? Behold the long rows of stones on the ground, the remains of the walls; they will tell you that here, where now with difficulty you force your way through the thick entangled copse, lay, in days of old, those incomparable vineyards to which Carmel owes its name."

2. will roar—as a lion (Joe 3:16). Whereas Jehovah is there represented roaring in Israel's behalf, here He roars against her (compare Ps 18:13; Jer 25:30).

from Zion … Jerusalem—the seat of the theocracy, from which ye have revolted; not from Dan and Beth-el, the seat of your idolatrous worship of the calves.

habitations … mourn—poetical personification. Their inhabitants shall mourn, imparting a sadness to the very habitations.

Carmel—the mountain promontory north of Israel, in Asher, abounding in rich pastures, olives, and vines. The name is the symbol of fertility. When Carmel itself "withers," how utter the desolation! (So 7:5; Isa 33:9; 35:2; Jer 50:19; Na 1:4).

He; Amos.

The Lord; the Almighty and Eternal, whom you of the ten tribes have forsaken, and thereby have provoked to displeasure.

Will roar: the prophet, alluding to what was dreadful, dangerous, and most rousing to shepherds, the roaring of a hungry lion that comes out of his den for prey, doth express the danger of Israel, and would awaken them to a sense of it, that they might prevent it by repentance, before the Lord tears them in pieces as a lion tears his prey.

From Zion; either the temple, in opposition to Jeroboam’s idolatrous chapels; or intimating their defection and sin in leaving Zion for Dan and Beth-el.

Utter his voice: this explains and confirms the former metaphorical expression of God’s wrath.

From Jerusalem; the city God had chosen, where he dwelt, the seat of God’s instituted worship in the matters of religion, and the royal seat of the kingdom as God had settled it, from which in both respects the ten tribes had revolted. This whole paragraph you have Joel 3:16, which see; and Jeremiah 25:30.

The habitations of the shepherds: where the shepherds found convenient pasturage they pitched their tents, or built them cottages, and dwelt therein, that they might attend the care of their flocks, for which they also made folds; and this was the delight and wealth of these men: now by allusion to these Amos expresseth all the wealth, greatness, and delightfulness of the kingdom of Israel. Princes are, in the Greek dialect, shepherds of the people, people are the flock, towns and cities are the habitations of both; and so the Scripture useth the expression, Jeremiah 2:8 3:15 Ezekiel 34:2,7-9 Na 3:18, which see.

Shall mourn; be made desolate, and reduced to a sad, mournful, and lamentable state, in which men shall see nothing but matter of sadness and tears.

Carmel; there were two places of this name, and though distant from each other, yet both very fruitful, and much used by shepherds; the one was in the northern parts of Canaan, whither Elijah resorted; the other in Judah, the southern parts of Canaan: now this was nearer Tekoa, better known to Amos, and therefore some think this to be here intended; but the other was in Israel, which is here threatened, and therefore fitter to be the emblem of the ten tribes, and meant here, say others: whichever you choose, it is no hard thing to accommodate it to the prophet’s purpose of Carmel: see Nahum 1:4.

Shall wither; either blasted, or else dried up with drought, and turned into barrenness. So the whole kingdoms of the people threatened, and of the ten tribes, though as fruitful and pleasant as Carmel, should be made horrid and desolate as a dry and barren wilderness. See Joel 1:12,17.

And he said,.... That is, the Prophet Amos, before described; he, being under divine inspiration, said as follows:

the Lord will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; not from Samaria, nor from Dan and Bethel, but from Zion and Jerusalem, where the temple of the Lord stood; and out of the holy of holies in it, where was the seat of the divine Majesty; and his voice being compared to the roaring of a lion, denotes his wrath and vengeance; and is expressive of some terrible threatening prophecy he would send from hence, by one or other of his prophets; perhaps Amos may mean himself; and who, having been a shepherd or herdsman in the wilderness, had often heard the terrible roaring of the lion, to which he compares his prophecy concerning the judgments of God on nations. Some think reference is had to the earthquake, as Aben Ezra; and which might be attended with thunder and lightning, the voice of God:

and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn; that is, the huts or cottages they dwell in, erected for the more convenient care of their flocks; these, by a figure, are said to mourn, because exposed to the violent heat of the sun in this time of drought; or because forsaken by the shepherds; or it may design the shepherds themselves that dwelled in them, that should mourn because there was no pasture for their flocks, the grass being dried up, and withered away: and indeed it may be rendered, "the pastures of the shepherds shall mourn" (s); being destroyed by the drought, as the cattle upon them are said to mourn and groan, Joel 1:18;

and the top of Carmel shall wither; a fruitful mountain in the land of Israel; there were two of this name, one in the tribe of Judah, near which Nabal dwelt, 1 Samuel 25:2; another in the tribe of Asher, near to Ptolemais or Aco; some think the former is meant, as being nearer Tekoa, and more known to Amos; others the latter, because Israel or the ten tribes are prophesied against; though Carmel may be taken for any and all fruitful places in the land; and the top or chief of it withering may signify the destruction of everything pleasant and useful. Some think Amos speaks figuratively in the language of a herdsman or shepherd, as artificers and mechanics do in their own way (t); and so by "shepherds" he means kings and princes; and, by their "habitations", their kingdoms, cities, towns, and palaces; and, by "Carmel", their wealth, riches, and precious things, which should all be destroyed; and to this agrees the Targum,

"the habitations of kings shall become desolate, and the strength of their fortresses shall be made a desert.''

(s) "pascua pastorum", Vatablus, Piscator, Grotius, Burkius. (t) "Navita de ventis, de tauris narrat arator, Enumerat miles vulnera, pastor oves". Propert. I. 2. Eleg. 1.

And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top {d} of Carmel shall wither.

(d) Whatever is fruitful and pleasant in Israel, will shortly perish.

Amos 1:2. The Exordium

2. The Lord] Jehovah,—or, strictly, Yahwèh,—the personal name by which the supreme God was known to the Hebrews. The name—whatever its primitive signification may have been—was interpreted by them (see Exodus 3:14) as signifying He that is (or He that will be), viz. not in an abstract sense, He that exists, but He that comes to be, i.e. He whose nature it is ever to express Himself anew, and to manifest Himself under fresh aspects to His worshippers, but who at the same time is determined only by Himself (“I will be that which I will be”), and who is therefore self-consistent, true to His promises, and morally unchangeable[112].

[112] See more fully an Essay by the present writer on the Tetragrammaton, in Studia Biblica, vol. i. (1885), p. 15–18; Schultz, Theol. of the O. T. ii. 138.

Jehovah will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem] The words recur verbatim, Joel 3 :(4) 16, and with a modification of the thought, Jeremiah 25:30 (“Jehovah will roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation”). The temple on Zion is Jehovah’s earthly abode; and from it the manifestations of His power over Israel or the world are conceived as proceeding. By the use of the term roar, the prophet shews that he has the figure of a lion in his mind (see Amos 3:8; and cp. Hosea 11:10; also Isaiah 31:4; Hosea 13:7-8); and as the ‘roar’ (shâ’ag, not nâham) is the loud cry with which the animal springs upon its prey, it is the sound of near destruction which the prophet hears pealing from Zion. In utter (lit. give) his voice the roar of Jehovah’s voice is compared further with the rolling thunder (cf. Psalm 18:13; Psalm 46:6; Psalm 68:33; Joel 2:11; Isaiah 30:30): it was the Hebrew idea that in a thunderstorm Jehovah descended and rode through the heavens enveloped in a dark mass of cloud: the lightning-flashes were partings of the cloud, disclosing the brilliancy concealed within (Psalm 18:9-13; Job 36:29-32; Job 37:2-5); and the thunder was His voice (comp. the common expression voices for thunder, Exodus 9:23; Exodus 9:28-29; Exodus 9:33-34; Exodus 19:16; Exodus 20:18; 1 Samuel 12:17-18; Job 28:26; Job 38:25; and see also Psalm 29:3-9).

and the pastures of the shepherds] not habitations; for they are spoken of as ‘springing with young grass’ (Joel 2:22; cp. Psalm 23:2), as ‘dropping’ (with fertility) Psalm 65:12, and as being ‘dried up’ Jeremiah 23:10 : at most, if the text of Psalm 74:20 be sound (see Cheyne and Kirkpatrick), ne’ôth will be a word like homestead, including both the farm and the dwellings upon it. Even, however, if this be the case, habitations is a bad rendering, being much too general. The term is a pastoral one; and Amos, in using it, may have thought primarily of the pastures about his own native place, Tekoa.

shall mourn] partly in consternation (Amos 8:8, Amos 9:5), as they hear the peal of Jehovah’s thunder, partly on account of the desolation, which (see the next clause) that thunder is conceived as producing. A land, when its vegetation is dried up, or destroyed (Jeremiah 12:11), is said poetically to ‘mourn’: for mourn and be dried up, as here, in parallelism, see Jeremiah 12:4; Jeremiah 23:10; comp. mourn and languish (of the land, or its products) Isaiah 24:7; Isaiah 33:9; Joel 1:10.

the top of Carmel] Jehovah’s judgment does not stop at Tekoa; it sweeps northwards, and embraces even the majestic, thickly-wooded headland of Carmel. Carmel—in the Heb. usually with the art., the Carmel, i.e. the garden-land—is the bold, bluff promontory, one of the most conspicuous of the natural features of Palestine, formed by a ridge of hills, some 18 miles long, and 1200–1600 feet high, stretching out far into the Mediterranean Sea, and forming the S. side of the Bay of Acre. It still bears the character which its name suggests. “Modern travellers delight to describe its ‘rocky dells with deep jungles of copse’—‘its shrubberies thicker than any others in central Palestine’ (Stanley)—‘its impenetrable brushwood of oaks and other evergreens, tenanted in the wilder parts by a profusion of game and wild animals’ (Porter), but in other parts bright with hollyhocks, jasmine, and various flowering creepers” (D.B[113][114] s.v.). The luxuriant forests of Carmel are often alluded to in the O.T.: ch. Amos 9:3 (as a hiding-place), Isaiah 35:2 (‘the majesty of Carmel’), Micah 7:14; and (poetically) as shaking off their leaves, or languishing, Isaiah 33:9, Nahum 1:4.

[113] .B.Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, ed. 1, or (from A to J) ed. 2.

[114] … Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, ed. 1, or (from A to J) ed. 2.

shall be dried up] as the blood runs cold through terror, so Amos pictures the sap of plants and trees as ceasing to flow, when Jehovah’s thunder is heard pealing over the land. Cf. Nahum 1:4. In Joel 3:16 the effects of His thunder are that “the heavens and the earth shake.”

Verse 2. - And he said. This is the commencement of "the words" of Amos (ver. 1); and herein the prophet gives a short summary of the judgment which he has to pronounce. The following clause is a repetition of Joel 3:16; and Amos thus connects his prophecy with that of his predscessor, to show the unity of prophetic mission, and to warn the Jews that God's punishments are not directed exclusively on heathen nations. To the nations denounced by Joel, Amos adds others of Israel's enemies, viz. Syria, Ammon, and Moab. Roar... voice. The thunder is the voice of God announcing his coming to judge. From Zion. Not from Dan and Bethel, the seats of idolatrous worship, but from Jerusalem, the abode of his presence. The habitations; better, the pastures. It is only natural that Amos, the shepherd, should use such terms to express the idea that the whole land, from Jerusalem on the south to Carmel on the north, should feel the vengeance of the Lord. Shall mourn; explained by the following term, shall wither; i.e. shall lose their verdure (comp. Jeremiah 12:11; Hosea 4:3). The top of Carmel. This is the Mount Carmel, which stretches boldly into the sea on the south of the Bay of Acre, and is remarkable for its extreme fertility, its rich pastures, its vines, olives, fruits, and flowers. Thomson, 'The Land and the Book;' writes thus about it: "The celebrated ridge, called in the Bible Merest Carmel, and by the Arabs Jebel Kurmul, or Mar Elyas, in honour of Elijah, is an extension of the hills of Samaria, in a northwesterly direction, for a distance of about eighteen miles, terminating in the bold promontory of Carmel, which descends almost literally into the sea. It is steep and lofty where it overhangs the Mediterranean above Haifa, and on that face which overlooks the Plain of Acre on the north, and that of Esdraelon towards the southeast. There is no special excellency in Carmel at the present day, whatever may be said of Sharon. Its name, Kurmul, or Kerm-el, signifies 'the vineyard of God;' but its vineyards have all disappeared. It was a glorious mountain, however, and a prominent landmark; according to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 46:18), Carmel was a resort of herdsmen. Amos says, 'The habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither,' in the time of the threatened judgment, and this implies that its pastures were not ordinarily liable to wither. This may, in part, have been occasioned by the heavy dews which its lofty elevation, so near the sea, causes to distil nightly upon its thirsty head. I found it quite green and flowery in midsummer. It was a noble pasture field, and, in reference to that characteristic, Micah utters his sweet prayer, 'Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel; let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.'" Amos 1:2Amos 1:1 contains the heading, which has already been discussed in the Introduction; and אשׁר חזה ("which he saw") refers to דּברי עמוס (the words of Amos). Amos 1:2 forms the Introduction, which is attached to the heading by ויּאמר, and announces a revelation of the wrath of God upon Israel, or a theocratic judgment. Amos 1:2. "Jehovah roars out of Zion, and He utters His voice from Jerusalem; and the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the head of Carmel withers." The voice of Jehovah is the thunder, the earthly substratum in which the Lord manifests His coming to judgment (see at Joel 3:16). By the adoption of the first half of the verse word for word from Joel, Amos connects his prophecy with that of his predecessor, not so much with the intention of confirming the latter, as for the purpose of alarming the sinners who were at east in their security, and overthrowing the delusive notion that the judgment of God would only fall upon the heathen world. This delusion he meets with the declaration, that at the threatening of the wrath of God the pastures of the shepherds, i.e., the pasture-ground of the land of Israel (cf. Joel 1:19), and the head of the forest-crowned Carmel, will fade and wither. Carmel is the oft-recurring promontory at the mouth of the Kishon on the Mediterranean (see the comm. on Joshua 19:26 and 1 Kings 18:19), and not the place called Carmel on the mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:55), to which the term ראשׁ (head) is inapplicable (vid., Amos 9:3 and Micah 7:14). Shepherds' pastures and Carmel individualized the land of Israel in a manner that was very natural to Amos the shepherd. With this introduction, Amos announces the theme of his prophecies. And if, instead of proceeding at once to describe still further the judgment that threatens the kingdom of Israel, he first of all enumerates the surrounding nations, including Judah, as objects of the manifestation of the wrath of God, this enumeration cannot have any other object than the one described in our survey of the contents of the book. The enumeration opens with the kingdoms of Aram, Philistia, and Tyre (Phoenicia), which were not related to Israel by any ties of kinship whatever.
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