Amos 4:8
So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
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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.Two or three cities wandered into one city - Those then who were punished, were more than those who were reprieved. The word "wandered" literally, "trembled," expresses the unsteady reeling gate of those exhausted, in quest of food . They staggered through weakness, and uncertain, amid the general drought, whither to betake themselves. This was done, not in punishment but to heal. God paused, in order to give them opportunity to repent; in deed, His long-suffering only showed to themselves and to others, that they would not; "and ye returned not not Me; saith the Lord." 8. three cities wandered—that is, the inhabitants of three cities (compare Jer 14:1-6). Grotius explains this verse and Am 4:7, "The rain fell on neighboring countries, but not on Israel, which marked the drought to be, not accidental, but the special judgment of God." The Israelites were obliged to leave their cities and homes to seek water at a distance [Calvin]. Two or three, a certain for an uncertain number,

cities, the places for the inhabitants, by a usual metonymy,

wandered unto one city to drink water: it seems to imply that they travelled at some uncertainty, as they do who wander and rove about. It is not unlikely but that in the prophet’s times the story might be well known and fresh in memory, though here no mention is made of these cities.

But they were not satisfied; either that city they went to had not enough for them, or durst not part with it; or, though they quenched their thirst, yet because they must return back to their own dry and waterless cities, or because God withdrew his blessing, they were never the better, or else not much or long the better.

Yet have ye not returned unto me: see Amos 4:6.

So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water,.... Two or three cities, that is, the inhabitants of them, being without water, went up and down in quest of any city or place where they could find water for themselves and cattle to drink:

but they were not satisfied; could not get enough for their present use and much less to carry back with them to supply them for any length of time; such a scarcity there was of it in other parts; see 1 Kings 18:5;

yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord; this had no more effect upon them than the other to relinquish their former courses, and return unto the Lord by humiliation and repentance.

So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were {k} not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

(k) They could not find enough water where they had heard that it had rained.

8. wandered &c.] would totter … but would not be satisfied: the frequentative tenses are continued. Eastern cities are dependent largely for their water upon underground cisterns in which the rain is collected and stored; but the quantity thus supplied in the more fortunate city would not suffice for the wants of so many more than its normal inhabitants. The word rendered wander means properly to move with an unsteady, uncertain gait, to totter; it is thus used of one drunken (Isaiah 24:20; Isaiah 29:9, Psalm 107:27 [R.V. stagger]), or blind (Lamentations 4:14), or, as Psalm 59:15 and here, of one exhausted for want of food (cf. of beggars, Psalm 109:10). Cf. ch. Amos 8:12. For droughts in Palestine, cf. Deuteronomy 11:17; Deuteronomy 28:22; 1 Kings 8:35; 1 Kings 17:1 ff.; Jeremiah 3:3; Jeremiah 14:2-6; Haggai 1:10 f.

Verse 8. - This want of rain produced great dearth of water to drink, and persons had to go long distances to procure supplies. Wandered; literally trembled, staggered, as spent and exhausted by thirst. The word is used in Psalm 59:15; Psalm 109:10. The supply thus used was soon exhausted, and brought no permanent relief. Amos 4:8"And I have also withholden the rain from you, in yet three months to the harvest; and have caused it to rain upon one city, and I do not cause it to rain upon another. One field is rained upon, and the field upon which it does not rain withers. Amos 4:8. And two, three towns stagger to one town to drink water, and are not satisfied: and ye have not returned to me, is the saying of Jehovah." The second punishment mentioned is the withholding of rain, or drought, which was followed by the failure of the harvest and the scarcity of water (cf. Leviticus 26:19-20; Deuteronomy 28:23). The rain "in yet (i.e., at the time when there were yet) three months to the harvest" is the so-called latter rain, which falls in the latter half of February and the first half of March, and is of the greatest importance to the vigorous development of the ears of corn and also of the grains. In southern Palestine the harvest commences in the latter half of April (Nisan), and falls for the most part in May and June; but in the northern part of the land it is from two to four weeks later (see my Archologie, i. pp. 33, 34, ii. pp. 113, 114), so that in round numbers we may reckon three months from the latter rain to the harvest. But in order to show the people more clearly that the sending and withholding of rain belonged to Him, God caused it to rain here and there, upon one town and one field, and not upon others (the imperfects from 'amtı̄r onwards express the repetition of a thing, what generally happens, and timmâtēr, third pers. fem., is used impersonally). This occasioned such distress, that the inhabitants of the places in which it had not rained were obliged to go to a great distance for the necessary supply of water to drink, and yet could not get enough to satisfy them. נוּע, to stagger, to totter, expresses the insecure and trembling walk of a man almost fainting with thirst.
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