Amos 4:2
The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness, that, see, the days shall come on you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Fishhooks.—Descriptive of the suddenness and irresistible character of the seizure, whereby, as a punishment for their wanton selfishness, the nobles were to be carried away as captives from their condition of fancied security. The strangeness of the imagery has led to a variety of interpretations. Döderlein translates “ye shall be driven into thorny districts, and among thorn bushes.”

Amos 4:2. The Lord hath sworn by his holiness — As sure as God is holy and true, so certainly will he bring the threatened judgment upon you; that he will take you away with hooks — “The original word in the masculine is used for thorns; but in the feminine it signifies shields. So that, perhaps, a fishing instrument may be denoted, which, like some now in our use, resembled a shield, or a basket, in its form. Our translators render the word hooks, from their analogy to thorns.” — Newcome. And your posterity — Or remainder; with fish-hooks — Invaders and spoilers are often compared to fishers. The sense here seems to be, that the several invaders of Israel, coming after one another, should make an entire riddance of the whole nation, so that their posterity, or remainder, which had escaped the first invaders, should certainly fall into the hands of those that came after.4:1-5 What is got by extortion is commonly used to provide for the flesh, and to fulfil the lusts thereof. What is got by oppression cannot be enjoyed with satisfaction. How miserable are those whose confidence in unscriptural observances only prove that they believe a lie! Let us see to it that our faith, hope, and worship, are warranted by the Divine word.The Lord God hath sworn by His holiness - They had sinned to profane His "Holy Name" (see the note at Amos 2:7). God swears by that holiness which they had profaned in themselves on whom it was called, and which they had caused to be profaned by others. He pledges His own holiness, that He will avenge their unholiness. : "In swearing "by His holiness," God sware by Himself. For He is the supreme uncreated justice and Holiness. This justice each, in his degree, should imitate and maintain on earth, and these had sacrilegiously violated and overthrown."

Days shall come (literally, are among) upon you - God's Day and eternity are ever coming. He reminds them of their continual approach. He says not only that they will certainly come, but they are ever coming. They are holding on their steady course. Each day which passes, they advance a day closer upon the sinner. People put out of their minds what "will come;" they "put far the evil day." Therefore, God so often in His notices of woe to come, (1 Samuel 2:31; Isaiah 39:6; Jeremiah 7:32; Jeremiah 9:25; Jeremiah 17:14; Jeremiah 19:6; Jeremiah 23:5, Jeremiah 23:7; Jeremiah 30:3; Jeremiah 31:27-31, Jeremiah 31:38; Jeremiah 33:14; Jeremiah 48:12; Jeremiah 49:2; Jeremiah 51:47, Jeremiah 51:52. (Ges.); Amos 8:11), brings to mind, that those "days are" ever "coming" ; they are not a thing which shall be only; in God's purpose, they already "are;" and with one uniform steady noiseless tread "are coming upon" the sinner. Those "days shall come upon you," heavily charged with the displeasure of God, crushing you, as ye have crushed the poor. They come doubtless, too, unexpectedly upon them, as our Lords says, "and so that day come upon you unwares."

He (that is one) will take you away - In the midst of their security, they should on a sudden be taken away violently from the abode of their luxury, as the fish, when hooked, is lifted out of the water. The image pictures (see Habakkuk 1:15; Ezekiel 29:4-5,) their utter helplessness, the contempt in which they would be had, the ease with which they would be lifted out of the flood of pleasures in which they had immersed themselves. People can be reckless, at last, about themselves, so that their posterity escape, and they themselves survive in their offspring. Amos foretells, then, that these also should be swept away.

2. The Lord—the same Hebrew as "masters" (Am 4:1). Israel's nobles say to their master or lord, Bring us drink: but "the Lord" of him and them "hath sworn," &c.

by his holiness—which binds Him to punish the guilty (Ps 89:35).

he will take yon away—that is God by the instrumentality of the enemy.

with hooks—literally, "thorns" (compare 2Ch 33:11). As fish are taken out of the water by hooks, so the Israelites are to be taken out of their cities by the enemy (Eze 29:4; compare Job 41:1, 2; Jer 16:16; Hab 1:15). The image is the more appropriate, as anciently captives were led by their conquerors by a hook made to pass through the nose (2Ki 19:28), as is to be seen in the Assyrian remains.

I have often told you that God had spoken, now I assure you that the mighty and eternal God hath sworn the thing, and you must therefore needs conclude it sure and certain.

He hath sworn by his holiness, by himself, as he is the holy God, and cannot lie: see Psalm 89:35.

The days of darkness, slaughter, famine, desolation, and captivity, threatened against you, shall come upon you, oppressors that crush the poor.

He will take; God by the Assyrian army under Shalmaneser, nay, before that time you shall be taken, as fish are taken with the hook, during the intestine wars that are coming upon you.

You, who now live, and hear the word of Amos and Hoses, but notwithstanding do continue to act the same violence still.

With hooks, or thorns, as the Hebrew, with which they did pierce the greater fish, before they had the skill of making iron darts, as some observe.

Your posterity; the children of these oppressors.

With fish-hooks; shall be taken as silly fish, and as easily carried away; the enemy shall with delight insnare and destroy them. The Lord God hath sworn by his holiness,.... That is, by himself, holiness being his nature, and an essential attribute of his; this is done to ascertain the truth of what is after said, and that men may be assured of the certain performance of it. Some render it, "by his holy place"; and interpret it of heaven; so Aben Ezra and Kimchi; which is not likely; see Matthew 5:34. The Targum is,

"the Lord God hath sworn by his word in his holiness;''

that, lo, the days shall come upon you; speedily, swiftly, and at an unawares:

that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fish hooks; the enemy, the king of Assyria, or God by him, would take them out of their own land, as fish out of water, out of their own element, and carry them captive into a strange land, both them and their posterity; and which should be as easily done as fish are taken with the hook, even though they were as the kine of Bashan. The word for fish hooks signifies "thorns" (p), and is by some so rendered; these perhaps being used in angling, before iron hooks were invented. The Targum is,

"that people shall take you away on their shields, and your daughters in fishermen's (q) boats;''

see Jeremiah 16:16.

(p) "spinis", Mercerus, Liveleus, Drusius, Grotius. (q) So it is interpreted by R. Sol Urbin Ohel Moed, fol. 65. 2. likewise Elias says the word signifies a small ship, or a boat that is in a large ship, Tishbi, p. 59. So Vatablus interprets it, "scaphas piscatorias, sive cymbas"; and some in Munster.

The Lord GOD hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with {c} hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.

(c) He alludes to fishers, who catch fish by hooks or thorns.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. Jehovah’s indignation is aroused; and He swears (cf. Amos 6:8, Amos 8:7), that retribution will overtake them for such selfishness and cruelty.

hath sworn by his holiness] God’s holiness is made the pledge of the validity of the oath: so Psalm 89:35; cf. Jeremiah 44:26.

behold, days are coming &c.] The expression implies a sudden and unexpected reversal of what at present prevails: it occurs besides, Amos 8:11, Amos 9:13; 1 Samuel 2:31; 2 Kings 20:17 (= Isaiah 39:6), and fifteen times in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:32; Jeremiah 9:24; Jeremiah 16:14; Jeremiah 19:6; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 23:7; Jeremiah 30:3, &c.).

he will take you away with hooks &c.] rather, ye shall be taken &c. The image is one partly of ignominy, partly of helplessness. The women of Samaria are no longer like fat cattle, proudly disdainful of all who may approach them: they are dragged violently by the foe out of the ease and luxury of their palaces, like fishes out of their native element, the water.

your posterity] your residue (R.V.),—any of you who happen to escape the ‘hooks’ of the preceding clause. It is a total destruction which the prophet contemplates.Verse 2. - By his holiness. God swears by his holiness, which cannot tolerate iniquity, and which they had profaned (Amos 2:7; comp. Amos 6:8). That he will take you away. "That one, or they, shall take you away;" the enemy, the instrument of God's vengeance, is meant. With hooks; tsinnoth; Septuagint, ἐν ὅπλοις: Vulgate, in contis. The translation, "with hooks," is correct, the idea being that the people shall be utterly helpless and taken for destruction, like fish caught with hooks (Jeremiah 16:16; Habakkuk 1:15). Your posterity; acharith (Amos 9:1); better, your residue, those who have not been destroyed previously. The Septuagint and the Vulgate give quite a different notion to the passage. The former (according to the Vatican manuscript) has, Καὶ τοὺς μεθ ὑμῶν εἰς λέβητας ὑποκαιομένους ἐμβαλοῦσιν ἔμπυροι λοιμοί, "And fiery destroyers shall cast those with you into boiling caldrons;" the latter, Et levabunt vos in contis, et reliquias vestras in ollis ferventibus. (For the explanation of these versions, which arise from mistakes in the meanings of ambiguous words, see Schegg and Kuabenbauer.) "Yet am I Jehovah thy God, from the land of Egypt hither: I will still cause thee to dwell in tents, as in the days of the feast. Hosea 12:10. I have spoken to the prophets; and I, I have multiplied visions, and spoken similitudes through the prophets. Hosea 12:11. If Gilead (is) worthlessness, they have only come to nothing: in Gilgal they offered bullocks: even their altars are like stone-heaps in the furrows of the field." The Lord meets the delusion of the people, that they had become great and powerful through their own exertion, by reminding them that He (ואנכי is adversative, yet I) has been Israel's God from Egypt hither, and that to Him they owe all prosperity and good in both past and present (cf. Hosea 13:4). Because they do not recognise this, and because they put their trust in unrighteousness rather than in Him, He will now cause them to dwell in tents again, as in the days of the feast of Tabernacles, i.e., will repeat the leading through the wilderness. It is evident from the context that mō‛ēd (the feast) is here the feast of Tabernacles. מועד (the days of the feast) are the seven days of this festival, during which Israel was to dwell in booths, in remembrance of the fact that when God led them out of Egypt He had caused them to dwell in booths (tabernacles, Leviticus 23:42-43). אד אושׁיבך stands in antithesis to הושׁבתּי ot si in Leviticus 23:43. "The preterite is changed into a future through the ingratitude of the nation" (Hengstenberg). The simile, "as in the days of the feast," shows that the repetition of the leading through the desert is not thought of here merely as a time of punishment, such as the prolongation of the sojourn of the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years really was (Numbers 14:33). For their dwelling in tents, or rather in booths (sukkōth), on the feast of Tabernacles, was intended not so much to remind the people of the privations of their unsettled wandering life in the desert, as to call to their remembrance the shielding and sheltering care and protection of God in their wandering through the great and terrible wilderness (see at Leviticus 23:42-43). We must combine the two allusions, therefore: so that whilst the people are threatened indeed with being driven out of the good and glorious land, with its large and beautiful cities and houses full of all that is good (Deuteronomy 6:10.), into a dry and barren desert, they have also set before them the repetition of the divine guidance through the desert; so that they are not threatened with utter rejection on the part of God, but only with temporary banishment into the desert. In Hosea 12:10 and Hosea 12:11 the two thoughts of Hosea 12:9 are still further expanded. In Hosea 12:10 they are reminded how the Lord had proved Himself to be the God of Israel from Egypt onwards, by sending prophets and multiplying prophecy, to make known His will and gracious counsel to the people, and to promote their salvation. דּבּר with על, to speak to, not because the word is something imposed upon a person, but because the inspiration of God came down to the prophets from above. אדמּה, not "I destroy," for it is only the kal that occurs in this sense, and not the piel, but "to compare," i.e., speak in similes; as, for example, in Hosea 1:1-11 and Hosea 3:1-5, Isaiah 5:1., Ezekiel 16 etc.: "I have left no means of admonishing them untried" (Rosenmller). Israel, however, has not allowed itself to be admonished and warned, but has given itself up to sin and idolatry, the punishment of which cannot be delayed. Gilead and Gilgal represent the two halves of the kingdom of the ten tribes; Gilead the land to the east of the Jordan, and Gilgal the territory to the west. As Gilead is called "a city (i.e., a rendezvous) of evil-doers" (פּעלי און) in Hosea 6:8, so is it here called distinctly און, worthlessness, wickedness; and therefore it is to be utterly brought to nought. און and שׁוא are synonymous, denoting moral and physical nonentity (compare Job 15:31). Here the two notions are so distributed, that the former denotes the moral decay, the latter the physical. Worthlessness brings nothingness after it as a punishment. אך, only equals nothing, but equivalent to utterly. The perfect היוּ is used for the certain future. Gilgal, which is mentioned in Hosea 4:15; Hosea 9:15, as the seat of one form of idolatrous worship, is spoken of here as a place of sacrifice, to indicate with a play upon the name the turning of the altars into heaps of stones (Gallim). The desolation or destruction of the altars involves not only the cessation of the idolatrous worship, but the dissolution of the kingdom and the banishment of the people out of the land. שׁורים, which only occurs in the plural here, cannot of course be the dative (to sacrifice to oxen), but only the accusative. The sacrifice of oxen was reckoned as a sin on the part of the people, not on account of the animals offers, but on account of the unlawful place of sacrifice. The suffix to mizbechōthâm (their sacrifices) refers to Israel, the subject implied in zibbēchū.
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