Amos 4:8
So two or three cities wandered to one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have you not returned to me, said 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. They prepare for themselves swift destruction in consequence. Hosea 13:3. "Therefore will they be like the morning cloud, and like the dew that passes early away, as chaff blows away from the threshing-floor, and as smoke out of the window." Lâkhēn, therefore, viz., because they would not let their irrational idolatry go, they would quickly perish. On the figures of the morning cloud and dew, see at Hosea 6:4. The figure of the chaff occurs more frequently (vid., Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 41:15-16; Psalm 1:4; Psalm 35:5, etc.). יס'ער is used relatively: which is stormed away, i.e., blown away from the threshing-floor by a violent wind. The threshing-floors were situated upon eminences (compare my Bibl. Archol. ii. p. 114). "Smoke out of the window," i.e., smoke from the fire under a saucepan in the room, which passed out of the window-lattice, as the houses were without chimneys (see Psalm 68:3).
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