Amos 4:2
The Lord GOD hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon 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.) Amos 4:2"Hear this word, ye cows of Bashan, that are upon the mountain of Samaria, that oppress there the humble and crush the poor, that say to their lords, Bring hither, that we may drink. Amos 4:2. The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by His holiness: behold, days come upon you, that they drag you away with hooks, and your last one with fish-hooks. Amos 4:3. And ye will go out through breaches in the wall, every one before him, and be cast away to Harmon, is the saying of Jehovah." The commencement of this chapter is closely connected, so far as the contents are concerned, with the chapter immediately preceding. The prophet having there predicted, that when the kingdom was conquered by its enemies, the voluptuous grandees would perish, with the exception of a very few who would hardly succeed in saving their lives, turns now to the voluptuous women of Samaria, to predict in their case a shameful transportation into exile. The introduction, "Hear this word," does not point therefore to a new prophecy, but simply to a fresh stage in the prophecy, so that we cannot even agree with Ewald in taking Amos 4:1-3 as the conclusion of the previous prophecy (Amos 3:1-15). The cows of Bashan are well-fed, fat cows, βόες εὔτροφοι, vaccae pingues (Symm., Jer.), as Bashan had fat pastures, and for that reason the tribes that were richest in flocks and herds had asked for it as their inheritance (Numbers 32). The fuller definitions which follow show very clearly that by the cows of Bashan, Amos meant the rich, voluptuous, and violent inhabitants of Samaria. It is doubtful, however, whether he meant the rich and wanton wives of the great, as most of the modern commentators follow Theodor., Theodoret, and others, in assuming; or "the rulers of Israel, and all the leading men of the ten tribes, who spent their time in pleasure and robbery" (Jerome); or "those rich, luxurious, and lascivious inhabitants of the palace of whom he had spoken in Amos 3:9-10" (Maurer), as the Chald., Luther, Calvin, and others suppose, and whom he calls cows, not oxen, to denote their effeminacy and their unbridled licentiousness. In support of the latter opinion we might adduce not only Hosea 10:11, where Ephraim is compared to a young heifer, but also the circumstance that from Amos 3:4 onwards the prophecy refers to the Israelites as a whole. But neither of these arguments proves very much. The simile in Hosea 10:11 applies to Ephraim as a kingdom of people, and the natural personification as a woman prepares the way for the comparison to an ‛eglâh; whereas voluptuous and tyrannical grandees would be more likely to be compared to the bulls of Bashan (Psalm 22:13). And so, again, the transition in Hosea 10:4 to the Israelites as a whole furnishes no help in determining more precisely who are addressed in Hosea 10:1-3. By the cows of Bashan, therefore, we understand the voluptuous women of Samaria, after the analogy of Isaiah 3:16. and Isaiah 32:9-13, more especially because it is only by forcing the last clause of Isaiah 32:1 that it can be understood as referring to men. שׁמעוּ for שׁמענה, because the verb stands first (compare Isaiah 32:11). The mountain of Samaria is mentioned in the place of the city built upon the mountain (see at Amos 3:9). The sin of these women consisted in the tyrannical oppression of the poor, whilst they asked their lords, i.e., their husbands, to procure them the means of debauchery. For עשׁק and רצץ, compare Deuteronomy 28:33 and 1 Samuel 12:3-4, where the two words are already connected. הביאה stands in the singular, because every wife speaks in this way to her husband.

The announcement of the punishment for such conduct is introduced with a solemn oath, to make an impression, if possible, upon the hardened hearts. Jehovah swears by His holiness, i.e., as the Holy One, who cannot tolerate unrighteousness. כּי (for) before הנּה introduces the oath. Hitzig takes ונשּׂא as a niphal, as in the similar formula in 2 Kings 20:17; but he takes it as a passive used impersonally with an accusative, after Genesis 35:26 and other passages (though not Exodus 13:7). But as נשּׂא unquestionably occurs as a piel in 1 Kings 9:11, it is more natural to take the same form as a piel in this instance also, and whilst interpreting it impersonally, to think of the enemy as understood. Tsinnōth equals tsinnı̄m, Proverbs 22:5; Job 5:5, צנּה equals צּן, thorns, hence hooks; so also sı̄rōth equals sı̄rı̄m, thorns, Isaiah 34:13; Hosea 2:8. Dūgâh, fishery; hence sı̄rōth dūgâh, fish-hooks. 'Achărı̄th does not mean posterity, or the young brood that has grown up under the instruction and example of the parents (Hitzig), but simply "the end," the opposite of rē'shı̄th, the beginning. It is "end," however, in different senses. Here it signifies the remnant (Chaldee), i.e., those who remain and are not dragged away with tsinnōth; so that the thought expressed is "all, even to the very last" (compare Hengstenberg, Christology, i. p. 368). אחריתכן has a feminine suffix, whereas masculine suffixes were used before (אתכם, עליכם); the universal gender, out of which the feminine was first formed. The figure is not taken from animals, into whose noses hooks and rings are inserted to tame them, or from large fishes that are let down into the water again by nose-hooks; for the technical terms applied to these hooks are חח, חוח, and חכּה (cf. Ezekiel 29:4; Job 41:1-2); but from the catching of fishes, that are drawn out of the fish-pond with hooks. Thus shall the voluptuous, wanton women be violently torn away or carried off from the midst of the superfluity and debauchery in which they lived as in their proper element. פּרצים תּצאנה, to go out of rents in the wall, יצא being construed, as it frequently is, with the accusative of the place; we should say, "though rents in the wall," i.e., through breaches made in the wall at the taking of the city, not out at the gates, because they had been destroyed or choked up with rubbish at the storming of the city. "Every one before her," i.e., without looking round to the right or to the left (cf. Joshua 6:5, Joshua 6:20). The words והשּׁלכתּנה ההרמונה are difficult, on account of the ἁπ. λεγ. ההרמונה, and have not yet been satisfactorily explained. The form השׁלכתּנה for השׁלכתּן is probably chosen simply for the purpose of obtaining a resemblance in sound to תּצאנה, and is sustained by אתּנה for אתּן in Genesis 31:6 and Ezekiel 13:11. השׁליך is applied to thrusting into exile, as in Deuteronomy 29:27.

The ἁπ. λεγ. ההרמונה with ה htiw loc. appears to indicate the place to which they were to be carried away or cast out. But the hiphil השׁלכתּנה does not suit this, and consequently nearly all the earlier translators have rendered it as a passive, ἀποῤῥι-φήσεσθε (lxx), projiciemini (Jerome); so also the Syr. and Chald. ויגלון יתהון, "men will carry them away captive." One Hebrew codex actually gives the hophal. And to this reading we must adhere; for the hiphil furnishes no sense at all, since the intransitive or reflective meaning, to plunge, or cast one's self, cannot be sustained, and is not supported at all by the passages quoted by Hitzig, viz., 2 Kings 10:25 and Job 27:22; and still less does haharmōnâh denote the object cast away by the women when they go into captivity.

(Note: The Masoretic pointing probably originated in the idea that harmōnâh, corresponding to the talmudic harmânâ', signifies royal power or dominion, and so Rashi interprets it: "ye will cast away the authority, i.e., the almost regal authority, or that pride and arrogance with which you bear yourselves to-day" (Ros.). This explanation would be admissible, if it were not that the use of a word which never occurs again in the old Hebrew for a thing so frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, rendered it very improbable. At any rate, it is more admissible than the different conjectures of the most recent commentators. Thus Hitzig, for example (Comm. ed. 3), would resolve haharmōnâh into hâhâr and mōnâh equals meōnâh ("and ye will plunge headlong to the mountain as a place of refuge"). The objections to this are, (1) that hishlı̄kh does not mean to plunge headlong; (2) the improbability of meōnâh being contracted into mōnâh, when Amos has meōnâh in Amos 3:4; and lastly, the fact that meōnâh means simply a dwelling, not a place of refuge. Ewald would read hâhâr rimmōnâh after the lxx, and renders it, "ye will cast Rimmonah to the mountain," understanding by Rimmonah a female deity of the Syrians. But antiquity knows nothing of any such female deity; and from the reference to a deity called Rimmon in 2 Kings 5:18, you cannot possibly infer the existence of a goddess Rimmonah. The explanation given by Schlottmann (Hiob, p. 132) and Paul Btticher (Rudimenta mythologiae semit. 1848, p. 10) - namely, that harmōnâh as the Phoenician goddess Chusarthis, called by the Greeks Ἁρμονία - is still more untenable, since Ἁρμονία is no more derived from the talmudic harmân than this is from the Sanscrit pramāna (Btticher, l.c. p. 40); on the contrary, harmân signifies loftiness, from the Semitic root הרם, to be high, and it cannot be shown that there was a goddess called Harman or Harmonia in the Phoenician worship. Lastly, the fanciful idea of Btticher, that harmōnâh is contracted from hâhar rimmōnâh, and that the meaning is, "and then ye throw, i.e., remove, the mountain (your Samaria) to Rimmon, that ancient place of refuge for expelled tribes" (Judges 20:45.), needs no refutation.)

The literal meaning of harmōnâh or harmōn still remains uncertain. According to the etymology of הרם, to be high, it apparently denotes a high land: at the same time, it can neither be taken as an appellative, as Hesselberg and Maurer suppose, "the high land;" nor in the sense of 'armōn, a citadel or palace, as Kimchi and Gesenius maintain. The former interpretation is open to the objection, that we cannot possibly imagine why Amos should have formed a word of his own, and one which never occurs again in the Hebrew language, to express the simple idea of a mountain or high land; and the second to this objection, that "the citadel" would require something to designate it as a citadel or fortress in the land of the enemy. The unusual word certainly points to the name of a land or district, though we have no means of determining it more precisely.

(Note: Even the early translators have simply rendered haharmōnâh according to the most uncertain conjectures. Thus lxx, εἰς τὸὄρος τὸ Ῥομμάν (al. Ῥεμμάν); Aq., mons Armona; Theod., mons Mona; the Quinta: excelsus mons (according to Jerome); and Theodoret attributes to Theodot. ὑψηλὸν ὄρος. The Chaldee paraphrases it thus: להלאה מן טוּרי הרמיני, "far beyond the mountains of Armenia." Symmachus also had Armenia, according to the statement of Theodoret and Jerome. But this explanation is probably merely an inference drawn from 2 Kings 17:23, and cannot be justified, as Bochart supposes, on the ground that mōnâh or mōn is identical with minnı̄.)

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