Amos 4:7
And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7, 8) Three months to the harvest.—The withdrawal of rain at this period (February and March) is at the present day most calamitous to the crops in Palestine.

Caused it to rain . . .—The tenses should be regarded as expressing repetition of the act, and might be, with advantage, rendered as present cause it to rain . . . is rained upon, &c. The inhabitants of the most suffering districts wander, distracted and weary, to a more favoured city, and find no sufficiency. Comp. the graphic description in Jeremiah 14:1-6. Moreover, the specialties of affliction, in particular localities. reveal the purpose of God rather than the operation of universal laws.

4:6-13 See the folly of carnal hearts; they wander from one creature to another, seeking for something to satisfy, and labour for that which satisfies not; yet, after all, they will not incline their ear to Him in whom they might find all they can want. Preaching the gospel is as rain, and every thing withers where this rain is wanting. It were well if people were as wise for their souls as they are for their bodies; and, when they have not this rain near, would go and seek it where it is to be had. As the Israelites persisted in rebellion and idolatry, the Lord was coming against them as an adversary. Ere long, we must meet our God in judgment; but we shall not be able to stand before him, if he tries us according to our doings. If we would prepare to meet our God with comfort, at the awful period of his coming, we must now meet him in Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of the Father, who came to save lost sinners. We must seek him while he is to be found.And I, I too have withholden the rain - Jerome, dwelling in Palestine, says, that "this rain, when "three months yet remained until harvest," was the "latter rain," of the very greatest necessity for the fields of Palestine and the thirsty ground, lest, when the blade is swelling into the crop, and gendering the wheat, it should dry up through lack of moisture. The time intended is the spring, at the end of April, whence, to the wheat-harvest, there remain three months, May, June, July." "God withheld the rain that they might endure, not only lack of bread, but burning thirst and penury of drink also. For in these places, where we now live, all the water, except small fountains, is of cisterns; and if the wrath of God should withhold the rain, there is greater peril of thirst than of hunger, such its Scripture relates to have endured for three years and six months in the days of the prophet Elijah. And lest they should think that this had befallen their cities and people, by a law of nature, or the influence of the stars, or the variety of the seasons, He says, that He rained upon one city and its fields, and from another withheld the rain."

This was a second visitation of God. First, a general famine, "in all their cities;" secondly, a discriminating visitation. "Nature" possesses no discrimination or power over her supplies. Seeming waste is one of the mysteries of God in nature, "to cause it to rain on the earth" Job 38:26 where "no man" is; on "the wilderness wherein" there, "is no man." Ordinarily too, God "maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" Matthew 5:45. But God does not enslave Himself, (as people would have it) to His own laws. Amos appeals to them, that God had dealt with them, not according to His ordinary laws; that not only God had given to one city the rain which he had withheld from another, but that He had made the same difference as to smaller "pieces" of ground, the inherited "portions" of individuals . Some such variations have been observed in Palestine now. But this would have been no indication of God's Providence, had not the consciences of people responded to the prophet's appeal, and recognized that the rain had been given or withheld according to the penitence or impenitence, the deeper or more mitigated idolatry, the greater or less sinfulness of the people. We have. then, in these few words a law of God's dealing with Israel. God, in His word, reveals to us the meaning of His daily variations in the workings of nature; yet, hardly even in such instances, as people can scarcely elude, do they think of God the Creator, rather than of nature, His creation.

7. withholden … rain … three months to … harvest—the time when rain was most needed, and when usually "the latter rain" fell, namely, in spring, the latter half of February, and the whole of March and April (Ho 6:3; Joe 2:23). The drought meant is that mentioned in 1Ki 17:1 [Grotius].

rain upon one city … not … upon another—Any rain that fell was only partial.

I also have withholden the rain from you; your vanities could not, and because ye did so greatly sin against me I would not, give you rain; I forbade the clouds from above, and they, thus prohibited, did withhold their rain, as I threatened, Deu 28:23,24.

When there were yet three months to the harvest; at a season when your country most usually had, and as then it ever did most need, rain: see Joel 2:23. Three months drought then, as it was unusual in the course of nature, so it was an extraordinary curse and punishment on them. That you might see my hand in it and be instructed, I gave rain to one city, and withheld rain from the next neighbour city; nay, one part of a field, the same field, was watered and flourished, another part dry and withered. All this to convince and turn you. And also I have withholden the rain from you,.... As he did for the space of three years successively in the days of Ahab, as predicted by Elijah, 1 Kings 17:1; the consequences of which are very bad to men and beast, and bring on a scarcity of food for both, and a famine if long withheld:

when there were yet three months to the harvest; that is, three months before the harvest, as Jarchi; when, as Kimchi observes, there was need of rain: this was the latter rain which was usually given and expected about this time, and on which the goodness of the crop, and so of the harvest, greatly depended; these three months before barley harvest were December, January, and February, that being in March; and before the wheat harvest, February, March, and April, that being in May usually:

and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city; so that it might appear to be not by the course of nature, or through the influence of the planets, or by chance; but was according to the direction of divine Providence, the hand of God was manifestly in it: yea,

one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered; one piece of ground or field had a plentiful shower on it, whereby it became fruitful; and another field or close on the other side of the hedge or partition had none, whereby what did spring up withered away and came to nothing: or "one inheritance" (u), or farm, as some render it; one man's estate was well watered with rain from heaven, and brought forth much fruit; and another man's estate, for want of it, was barren, and brought forth nothing: thus God was pleased to do in his providence, to show his sovereignty, and to chastise men for their sins; and in such a manner as that they might, if not blind easily perceive his hand in it.

(u) "fundus", Mercerus, Vatablus; "hereditas", Targum.

And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three {i} months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.

(i) I stopped the rain until the fruits of the earth were destroyed with drought, and yet you would not consider to return to me by repentance.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7–8. Drought.

And I also have withholden the winter-rain from you, when there were &c.]. The Heb. is not mâṭâr, but géshem, i.e. a burst of rain: the heavy rains of winter, which continue as a rule from the end of October to the end of February and are then followed by the ‘latter rain,’ or showers of March and April, which refresh and advance the ripening ears (see on Joel 2:23), had ceased prematurely; the crops were consequently deficient in fulness and strength, and the harvest (which comes in May) was seriously damaged. Something of the same sort happened in the winter of 1895; there had been hardly any rain since the Christmas of 1894, and in a report, dated Feb. 16, it was stated that unless rain fell shortly there would be great deficiency of water, as no houses had their cisterns full (G. A. Smith, p. 161). Géshem, though a general term for an abundant rain (as 1 Kings 17:14; 1 Kings 18:41; 1 Kings 18:44-45), is used specially of the heavy rains of winter in Song of Solomon 2:11; comp. Leviticus 26:4, Ezekiel 34:26, Joel 2:23 (see note).

I caused it to rain &c.] would cause it to rain … would be rained upon … would wither. The tenses, both here and to the end of the verse, are frequentative, indicating what had happened repeatedly.

piece] i.e. plot of land, or portion belonging to a particular proprietor (Ruth 2:3; Ruth 4:3; 2 Samuel 14:30). The same partial character of the rain-fall is still sometimes observable in Palestine.Verse 7. - The second punishment is drought, as predicted (Leviticus 26:19, etc.; Deuteronomy 28:23). When there were yet three months to the harvest, and when rain was most necessary to swell the grain. The season meant is in February and March, when what was called "the latter rain" fell. In the south of Palestine the harvest commenced at the end of April, but in the northern parts it was some weeks later, so that it might be said in round numbers that it took place three months after the latter rain. I caused it to rain upon one city. That they might not attribute this drought to the blind laws of nature, God caused it to be of a partial character, giving rain to one city while he withheld it from another. One piece. The portion of ground belonging to an individual is so called (Deuteronomy 33:21; Ruth 2:3; Ruth 4:3). Because Israel would not desist from its idolatry, and entirely forgot the goodness of its God, He would destroy its might and glory (Hosea 13:1-8). Because it did not acknowledge the Lord as its help, its throne would be annihilated along with its capital; but this judgment would become to all that were penitent a regeneration to newness of life. Hosea 13:1. "When Ephraim spake, there was terror; he exalted himself in Israel; then he offended through Baal, and died. Hosea 13:2. And now they continue to sin, and make themselves molten images out of their silver, idols according to their understanding: manufacture of artists is it all: they say of them, Sacrificers of men: let them kiss calves." In order to show how deeply Israel had fallen through its apostasy, the prophet points to the great distinction which the tribe of Ephraim formerly enjoyed among the tribes of Israel. The two clauses of Hosea 13:1 cannot be so connected together as that נשׂא should be taken as a continuation of the infinitive דּבּר. The emphatic הוּא is irreconcilable with this. We must rather take רתת (ἁπ. λεγ., in Aramaean equals רטט, Jeremiah 49:24, terror, tremor) as the apodosis to kedabbēr 'Ephraim (when Ephraim spake), like שׂאת in Genesis 4:7 : "As Ephraim spake there was terror," i.e., men listened with fear and trembling (cf. Job 29:21). נשׂא is used intransitively, as in Nahum 1:5; Psalm 89:10. Ephraim, i.e., the tribe of Ephraim, "exalted itself in Israel," - not "it was distinguished among its brethren" (Hitzig), but "it raised itself to the government." The prophet has in his mind the attempts made by Ephraim to get the rule among the tribes, which led eventually to the secession of the ten tribes from the royal family of David, and the establishment of the kingdom of Israel by the side of that of Judah. When Ephraim had secured this, the object of its earnest endeavours, it offended through Baal; i.e., not only through the introduction of the worship of Baal in the time of Ahab (1 Kings 16:31.), but even through the establishment of the worship of the calves under Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:28), through which Jehovah was turned into a Baal. ויּמת, used of the state or kingdom, is equivalent to "was given up to destruction" (cf. Amos 2:2). The dying commenced with the introduction of the unlawful worship (cf. 1 Kings 12:30). From this sin Ephraim (the people of the ten tribes) did not desist: they still continue to sin, and make themselves molten images, etc., contrary to the express prohibition in Leviticus 19:4 (cf. Exodus 20:4). These words are not merely to be understood as signifying, that they added other idolatrous images in Gilgal and Beersheba to the golden calves (Amos 8:14); but they also involve their obstinate adherence to the idolatrous worship introduced by Jeroboam (compare 2 Kings 17:16). בּתבוּדם from תּבוּנה, with the feminine termination dropped on account of the suffix (according to Ewald, 257, d; although in the note Ewald regards this formation as questionable, and doubts the correctness of the reading): "according to their understanding," i.e., their proficiency in art.

The meaning of the second hemistich, which is very difficult, depends chiefly upon the view we take of זבחי אדם, viz., whether we render these words "they who sacrifice men," as the lxx, the fathers, and many of the rabbins and Christian expositors have done; or "the sacrificers of (among) men," as Kimchi, Bochart, Ewald, and others do, after the analogy of אביוני אדם in Isaiah 29:19. Apart from this, however, zōbhechē 'âdâm cannot possibly be taken as an independent sentence, such as "they sacrifice men," or "human sacrificers are they," unless with the lxx we change the participle זבחי arbitrarily into the perfect זבחוּ. As the words read, they must be connected with what follows or with what precedes. But if we connect them with what follows, we fail to obtain any suitable thought, whether we render it "human sacrificers (those who sacrifice men) kiss calves," or "the sacrificers among men kiss calves." The former is open to the objection that human sacrifices were not offered to the calves (i.e., to Jehovah, as worshipped under the symbol of a calf), but only to Moloch, and that the worshippers of Moloch did not kiss calves. The latter, "men who offer sacrifice kiss calves," might indeed be understood in this sense, that the prophet intended thereby to denounce the great folly, that men should worship animals; but this does not suit the preceding words הם אמרים, and it is impossible to see in what sense they could be employed. There is no other course left, therefore, than to connect Zōbhechē 'âdâm with what precedes, though not in the way proposed by Ewald, viz., "even to these do sacrificers of men say." This rendering is open to the following objections: (1) that הם after להם would have to be taken as an emphatic repetition of the pronoun, and we cannot find any satisfactory ground for this; and, (2) what is still more important, the fact that 'âmâr would be used absolutely, in the sense of "they speak in prayer," which, even apart from the "prayer," cannot be sustained by any other analogous example. These difficulties vanish if we take Zōbhechē 'âdâm as an explanatory apposition to hēm: "of them (the ‛ătsabbı̄m) they say, viz., the sacrificers from among men (i.e., men who sacrifice), Let them worship calves." By the apposition zōbhechē 'âdâm, and the fact that the object ‛ăgâlı̄m is placed first, so that it stands in immediate contrast to 'âdâm, the absurdity of men kissing calves, i.e., worshipping them with kisses (see at 1 Kings 19:18), is painted as it were before the eye.

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