Amos 3:4
Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?
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(4) Lion.—The questions suggest that the prey is being seized. This is intimated by the lion’s roar, the loud roar of the lion in the forest, the growl of the famished young lions in the den. Aben-Ezra thus interprets; but G. Baur thinks that Caphir distinguishes a “hunting lion” from the beast that growls in his lair. (Comp. Amos 1:2.) Amos, by his graphic representation of the terrifying threat, signifies that nations, and kingdoms, and this family of Israel, are, at the present moment, trembling in the grasp of the great Avenger.

Amos 3:4-6. Will a lion roar, &c., when he hath no prey? — “Naturalists assert that when the lion sees his prey, he roars before he rushes on it; and that at this roaring many animals show great fear. He likewise roars over his prey. The sense seems to be, As the lion roareth on account of his prey, so by my prophets I cry aloud against you, because ye are the objects of my vengeance.” — Newcome. Can a bird fall in a snare where no gin is for him — As a bird does not fall into a snare, unless one has been laid for him, so the people of Israel and Judah would not fall into the calamities coming upon them, had not God, for their ingratitude and other sins, brought these punishments upon them. Figuratively speaking, the Assyrians and Chaldeans were gins or snares which God had laid to take the Israelites. Shall one take up a snare and have taken nothing — As it is not usual for the fowler or hunter to take up the snares he has laid, till he has taken something in them; so neither will the enemies which God will bring upon Israel and Judah depart from them without executing the purpose for which they were brought, namely, making a conquest of the country, and spoiling its inhabitants. Or, God will not remove his judgments when they have begun to take place, till they have attained their proper end, the people’s repentance and reformation. Shall a trumpet be blown and the people not be afraid? — Will not the people of the city, when they first hear the alarm-trumpet blown, be affected with the danger, and run to their arms? and will not ye be moved by the warnings God gives you of approaching judgments? and will ye not be stirred up to repent and amend your ways? Shall there be evil — Such as famine, plague, and war; in a city — Or country; and the Lord hath not done it? — Either immediately by his own hand, or by the hands of those whom he employs. Whoever are the instruments of chastising a people, God is the principal agent. The meaning here is, You may be assured that the calamities you feel, or have just cause to fear, are not the effect of chance, but come upon you by the special direction of Providence.3:1-8 The distinguishing favours of God to us, if they do not restrain from sin, shall not exempt from punishment. They could not expect communion with God, unless they first sought peace with him. Where there is not friendship, there can be no fellowship. God and man cannot walk together, except they are agreed. Unless we seek his glory, we cannot walk with him. Let us not presume on outward privileges, without special, sanctifying grace. The threatenings of the word and providence of God against the sin of man are certain, and certainly show that the judgments of God are at hand. Nor will God remove the affliction he has sent, till it has done its work. The evil of sin is from ourselves, it is our own doing; but the evil of trouble is from God, and is his doing, whoever are the instruments. This should engage us patiently to bear public troubles, and to study to answer God's meaning in them. The whole of the passage shows that natural evil, or troubles, and not moral evil, or sin, is here meant. The warning given to a careless world will increase its condemnation another day. Oh the amazing stupidity of an unbelieving world, that will not be wrought upon by the terrors of the Lord, and that despise his mercies!Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? - Then, further, each question by itself suggests its own thought. Amos had already, in repeating Joel's words, spoken of God's Voice, under the image of a lion roaring (Amos 1:2; Hosea 11:10 (add Hosea 5:14; Hosea 6:1; Hosea 13:7); Jeremiah 25:30). Hosea had likened Israel to "a silly dove without heat Hosea 7:11; on the other hand, he had likened God's loud call to repentance to the roaring of the lion, the conversion of Israel to the return of the dove to its home Hosea 11:10-11. As the roaring of the lion causeth terror, for he sendeth forth his terrible roar when he is about to spring on his prey , so God threatens by His prophets, only when He is about to punish. Yet the lion's roar is a warning to escape. God's threatening is a warning to betake them to repentance, and so to escape from all fear, by fleeing from their sins. If the season is neglected, wilt thou rescue the prey from the lion's grasp, or thyself from the wrath of God? 4. The same idea as in Mt 24:28. Where a corrupt nation is, there God's instruments of punishment are sure also to be. The lion roars loudly only when he has prey in sight.

Will a young lion cry out … if he—the "lion," not the "young lion."

have taken nothing?—The young lion just weaned lies silent, until the old lion brings the prey near; then the scent rouses him. So, the prophet would not speak against Israel, if God did not reveal to him Israel's sins as requiring punishment.

In this verse, by a double similitude, Amos certifieth the Jews of near and inevitable punishment; first, by similitude of a lion roaring at sight of his prey, which seldom escapes when the lion roareth against it. The lion usually is so nigh to his prey when he roareth, that he leapeth on it presently, and teareth it: so here God would have sinning Israel know that their sins had provoked him to wrath, and that his judgments were near at hand. Nay, nearer yet; like a prey dragged by the old lion into the den for the young lions to feed on, so was their case, their enemies the Assyrians should as certainly devour them as the young lions in the den do devour the prey which is brought to them. If the departure of God from them affect them not, perhaps the fierceness of lion-like enemies may affect them. Will a lion roar in the forest when he hath no prey?.... He will not, unless he has it in his sight, or in his paws; he roars when he first sees it, whereby he terrifies the creature, that it cannot move till he comes up to it; and when he has got it in his paws, he roars over it, to invite others to partake with him. Now prophecy from the Lord is compared to the roaring of a lion, Amos 1:2; and this is never in a way of judgment without a cause; the sin of men, or of a nation, which makes them a prey to the wrath and fury of God;

will a young lion cry, or "give forth his voice";

out of his den, if he have taken nothing? that is, if the old lion has taken nothing, and brought nothing unto him; which signifies the same as before; unless by the young lion is meant the prophets of the Lord, who never prophesy but when they have a commission from him, and a people are pointed out to them as the just prey of his wrath and vengeance. All the images here used are very natural; the lion is for the most part in woods and forests, hence called the "lion out of the forest", Jeremiah 5:6; as he is by Theocritus (d); where his voice is heard, but not unless he is in sight of his prey, or has got it, even though ever so hungry; but when he has it in view, he roars so terribly, that, as Basil (e) observes, many animals that could escape him through their swiftness, yet are so frightened at his roaring, that they have no power to move; and they have their dens either in caves or in thickets, where are the she lioness and the young lions, to whom the prey is brought; see Nahum 2:11.

(d) , Theocrit. Idyll. 1.((e) In Hexaemeron, Homil. 9.

Will a {c} lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?

(c) Will God threaten by his Prophet, unless there is some great occasion?

4. when he hath no prey] i.e. when it is not within his reach: the roar is that with which the lion springs upon its prey: cf. Isaiah 5:29 a (not Isaiah 5:29 b, where the word used is a different one; see below); Psalm 104:21, “roaring for prey”; Ezekiel 22:25, “like a roaring lion, tearing the prey.”

cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?] give forth his voice (Jeremiah 2:15) out of his lair, &c.? the allusion is to the growl of satisfaction with which the animal consumes its prey when caught: hence ‘growl,’ would be a better paraphrase than ‘cry’: see Isaiah 5:29 b (where ‘roar’—nâham, not shâ’ag, as in clause a—should be rather growl: cf. W. R. Smith, The Prophets of Israel, pp. 129, 243).

An ancient Egyptian Bird-trap. (From Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson’s Ancient Egyptians, 1878, ii. 103).Verse 4. - Will a lion roar, etc.? The lion roars when he has his pray in sight, and is about to spring upon it. So God makes the prophet utter his voice because he is ready to execute vengeance. The second clause expresses the same fact in different terms. The young lion (kephir) is not a whelp, but one able to provide for itself. He growls over the prey which he has in his lair. So Israel lies helpless as the words of God's threatenings strike upon him. "They will go after Jehovah; like a lion will He roar; for He will roar: and sons will tremble from the sea. Hosea 11:11. Tremble like birds out of Egypt, and like doves out of the land of Asshur: and I cause them to dwell in their houses, is the saying of Jehovah." When the Lord turns His pity towards the people once more, they will follow Him, and hasten, with trembling at His voice, from the lands of their banishment, and be reinstated by Him in their inheritance. The way for this promise was opened indeed by Hosea 11:9, but here it is introduced quite abruptly, and without any logical particle of connection, like the same promise in Hosea 3:5. הלך אחרי יי, to walk after the Lord, denotes not only "obedience to the gathering voice of the Lord, as manifested by their drawing near" (Simson), but that walking in true obedience to the Lord which follows from conversion (Deuteronomy 13:5; 1 Kings 14:8), so that the Chaldee has very properly rendered it, "They will follow the worship of Jehovah." This faithfulness they will exhibit first of all in practical obedience to the call of the Lord. This call is described as the roaring of a lion, the point of comparison lying simply in the fact that a lion announces its coming by roaring, so that the roaring merely indicates a loud, far-reaching call, like the blowing of the trumpet in Isaiah 27:13. The reason for what is affirmed is then given: "for He (Jehovah) will really utter His call," in consequence of which the Israelites, as His children, will come trembling (chârēd synonymous with pâchad, Hosea 3:5). מיּם, from the sea, i.e., from the distant islands and lands of the west (Isaiah 11:11), as well as from Egypt and Assyria, the lands of the south and east. These three regions are simply a special form of the idea, "out of all quarters of the globe;" compare the more complete enumeration of the several remote countries in Isaiah 11:11. The comparison to birds and doves expresses the swiftness with which they draw near, as doves fly to their dovecots (Isaiah 60:8). Then will the Lord cause them to dwell in their houses, i.e., settle them once more in their inheritance, in His own land (cf. Jeremiah 32:37, where לבטח is added). On the construing of הושׁיב with על, cf. 1 Kings 20:43, and the German auf der Stube sein. The expression נאם יי affixes the seal of confirmation to this promise. The fulfilment takes place in the last says, when Israel as a nation shall enter the kingdom of God. Compare the remarks on this point at Hosea 2:1-3.
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