Amos 5:21
I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21, 22) These verses closely resemble the condemnation which Isaiah pronounces (Amos 1:10-15) upon mere ritual, however punctilious, mere profession of orthodoxy, however exacting, which was not accompanied by righteousness and mercy, and was not the expression of inward penitence and purity.

Will not smell in your . . .—A strong expression for “I take no delight in them.” That Baal worship, as well as the worship of the true God, was characterised by similar offerings and sacrificial terms is indicated by a Phœnician tablet inscribed with a code of sacrificial dues, discovered at Marseilles. The word rendered peace offering should be translated as in the margin. The word for “meat offering” is better interpreted “meal offerings,” since it consisted of vegetable products used in food, meal, oil, cakes, &c.

Amos 5:21-24. I hate and despise your feast-days — This and the three following verses are the same in sense with Isaiah 1:11-16, and the other texts referred to in the margin, on which the reader is desired to consult the notes. They all show of how little signification the external rites of religion are, unless they be accompanied with living faith in, and sincere love to God, and a universal obedience to his will; or without holiness of heart and life. Take away from me the noise of thy songs — The psalms and hymns sung with vocal and instrumental music, the usual accompaniments of sacrifices among the Jews and heathen. As the worshippers at Beth-el imitated the temple worship in other particulars,

(see Amos 4:4,) so it is likely they did in this part of the public worship: see Amos 8:3. The prophet calls their songs a noise, like that of an untuneful voice, because their melody, not proceeding from a true principle of religion, was not grateful to God. There are great authority and majesty in this passage, Amos 5:21-24; and the grandeur of the image in the following words, with which it closes, must strike every reader. But let judgment run down as waters — Rather, let justice have its free course, so that the meanest persons may feel the benefit of it; and let your benignity be great and universal to your fellow-creatures.5:18-27 Woe unto those that desire the day of the Lord's judgments, that wish for times of war and confusion; as some who long for changes, hoping to rise upon the ruins of their country! but this should be so great a desolation, that nobody could gain by it. The day of the Lord will be a dark, dismal, gloomy day to all impenitent sinners. When God makes a day dark, all the world cannot make it light. Those who are not reformed by the judgments of God, will be pursued by them; if they escape one, another stands ready to seize them. A pretence of piety is double iniquity, and so it will be found. The people of Israel copied the crimes of their forefathers. The law of worshipping the Lord our God, is, Him only we must serve. Professors thrive so little, because they have little or no communion with God in their duties. They were led captive by Satan into idolatry, therefore God caused them to go into captivity among idolaters.Is the multitude - There was no deficiency in the amount of offerings. It was admitted that they complied in this respect with the requirements of the law; and that they offered an abundance of sacrifices, so numerous as to be called a multitude - רב rôb, a vast number. Hypocrites abound in outward religious observances just in proportion to their neglect of the spiritual requirements of God's word; compare Matthew 23:23.

Your sacrifices - זבחיכב zibechēykeb, from זבח zâbach, to slay; especially to slay for sacrifice. The word used here denotes any sacrifice which was made by blood; but is distinguished from the burnt-offering from the fat, that this was not entirely consumed. It is applied to the sin-offering, trespass-offering, thank-offering. The word also stands opposed to the offerings which were made without blood מנחה minchāh. Any offering that consisted in an animal that was slain came under this general denomination of sacrifice, Exodus 10:25; Leviticus 17:8; Numbers 15:5.

burnt-offerings - עלות 'olôth, from עלה ‛âlâh, to go up, ascend. It is applied to a sacrifice that was wholly consumed, or made to ascend on an altar. It corresponds to the Greek ὁλόκαυστον holokauston, that which is entirely consumed. Such offerings abounded among the Hebrews. The burnt-offering was wholly consumed on the altar, excepting the skin and the blood. The blood was sprinkled round the altar, and the other parts of the animal which was slain, were laid upon the altar and entirely burned; see Leviticus 1. This was commonly a voluntary offering; and this shows their zeal to comply with the external forms of religion.

I am full - שׂבעתי s'âba‛etı̂y, I am satiated. The word is usually applied to food and drink, denoting satisfaction, or satiety. It is used here with great force, denoting that their offerings had been so numerous and so incessant, that God was satiated with them. It means that he was weary, tired, disgusted with them. Thus, in Job 7:4 : 'I am full - שׂבעתי s'âba‛etı̂y - of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day.' Proverbs 25:17 :

Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor's house,

Lest he be weary (Hebrew full) of thee, and hate thee.

Fat ... - They were required to offer, not the lame, or the diseased Deuteronomy 15:21; Deuteronomy 17:1; Leviticus 23:12; Malachi 1:7-8; and God admits here that they had externally complied with this requirement. The fat was burned on the altar.

I delight not - That is; I delight; not in them when offered without the heart; or I delight not in them in comparison with works of righteousness; see Amos 5:21-24; Psalm 4:9-13; Psalm 51:16-19.

Amos 5:21I hate, I despise your feasts - Israel clave to its heart's sin, the worship of the true God, under the idol-form of the calf; else, it would fain be conscientious and scrupulous. It had its "feasts" of solemn "joy" and the "restraint" of its "solemn assemblies" , which all were constrained to keep, abstaining from all servile work. They offered "whole burnt offerings," the token of self-sacrifice, in which the sacrificer retained nothing to himself, but gave the whole freely to God. They offered also "peace offerings," as tokens of the willing thankfulness of souls at peace with God. What they offered, was the best of its kind, "fatted beasts." Hymns of praise, full-toned chorus, instrumental music! What was missing, Israel thought, to secure them the favor of God? Love and obedience. "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." And so those things, whereby they hoped to propitiate God, were the object of His displeasure. "I hate, I despise, I will not accept" with good pleasure; "I will not regard," look toward, "I will not hear, will not smell." The words, "I will not smell," reminded them of that threat in the law" Leviticus 26:31, "I will make your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savor of your sweet odors." In so many ways does God declare that He would not accept or endure, what they all the while were building upon, as grounds of their acceptance. And yet so secure were they, that the only sacrifice which they did not offer, was the sin or trespass offering. Worshiping "nature," not a holy, Personal, God, they had no sense of unholiness, for which to plead the Atoning Sacrifice to come. Truly each Day of Judgment unveils much self-deceit. How much more the Last!

21. I hate, I despise—The two verbs joined without a conjunction express God's strong abhorrence.

your feast days—yours; not Mine; I do not acknowledge them: unlike those in Judah, yours are of human, not divine institution.

I will not smell—that is, I will take no delight in the sacrifices offered (Ge 8:21; Le 26:31).

in your solemn assemblies—literally, "days of restraint." Isa 1:10-15 is parallel. Isaiah is fuller; Amos, more condensed. Amos condemns Israel not only on the ground of their thinking to satisfy God by sacrifices without obedience (the charge brought by Isaiah against the Jews), but also because even their external ritual was a mere corruption, and unsanctioned by God.

I hate, I despise your feast days; impure and unholy they are, whatever they seem to be, and therefore the Lord hateth them, they are abomination to him, Proverbs 15:8 Isaiah 1:13,14. Worthless and contemptible they are, and as such God rejecteth them, Isaiah 1:10-12, &c. There is no goodness that I should value in them, there is all that vileness in them which attends deep hypocrisy, for which I do hate them. The apostate Israelites imitated the Jews in many things, amongst which they retained their festivals, in which they multiplied their ceremonial sacrifices; and yet God owns them not as his; but brands them with this, They are yours, therefore unwarrantable, will-worship, and displeasing to God.

I will not smell a savour of rest or delight, I will not accept and be pleased with, Genesis 8:21,

your solemn assemblies; appointed, as you think, on very weighty reasons, and by sufficient authority, and celebrated with rich sacrifices, in mighty crowds, and in excellent order; all is yours, not mine. I hate, I despise your feast days,.... Kimchi thinks this is said, and what follows, with respect to the kingdom of the house of Judah, which kept the feast the Lord commanded; but it is not necessary so to understand it; for doubtless the ten tribes imitated the worship at Jerusalem, and kept the feasts as the Jews did there, in the observance of which they trusted; but the Lord rejects their vain confidence, and lets them know that these were no ways acceptable to him; and were so far from atoning for their sins, that they were hated, abhorred, and despised by him, being observed in such a manner and with such a view as they were;

and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies; a sweet savour of rest, as in Genesis 8:21; take no pleasure in their duties and services performed, in their solemn assemblies convened together for religious purposes, nor accept of them; but, on the contrary, dislike and abhor them; see Isaiah 1:11.

I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. I hate, I reject your feast days] your pilgrimages, ḥaggim denoting not feasts or festivals in general, but in particular the three great annual feasts (viz. of Unleavened Cakes, Weeks, and Booths), which were accompanied by a pilgrimage to a sanctuary, and at which, according to the old law, every male was required to appear yearly before Jehovah (Exodus 23:14; Exodus 23:17; Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16 f.). Ḥag (the sing.) is the same word as the Arab. ḥaj, the name by which the great Meccan pilgrimage is known. Reject, as Jeremiah 2:37; Jeremiah 6:30 al.; cf. on Amos 2:4.

I will not smell in] fig. for take no delight in (R.V.): cf. Leviticus 26:31 and Isaiah 11:3.

solemn assemblies] ‘ăẓârâh (or ‘ăẓéreth) means a gathering or assembly (Jeremiah 9:2), especially one held for a religious purpose, πανήγυρις, as 2 Kings 10:20 (in honour of Ba‘al): it is used here in a general sense, as Isaiah 1:13 (where the thought also is parallel), Joel 1:14; Joel 2:15; but it is also used specially (a) of the gathering of pilgrims on the 7th day of the Feast of Unleavened Cakes (Deuteronomy 16:8); (b) of the gathering on the 8th or supernumerary day of the Feast of Booths (Leviticus 25:30; Numbers 29:35; Nehemiah 8:18; 2 Chronicles 7:9); (c) by the later Jews, of the Feast of Weeks, Jos. Ant. iii. 10, 6 (Ἀσάρθα), and in the Mishna, &c.

21–26. Do you think to win Jehovah’s favour by your religious services? On the contrary, He will have none of them: what He demands is not sacrifice, or even praise, but justice; in the wilderness your ancestors offered no sacrifices, without forfeiting Jehovah’s regard; your mistake is a fatal one, and its end will be exile.Verse 21. - Outward, formal worship will not avert the threatened danger or secure the favour of God in the day of visitation. Your feast days (chaggim); your feasts; your counterfeit worship, the worship of the true God under an idol symbol (compare God's repudiation of merely formal worship in Isaiah 1:11-15). I will not smell; οὐ μὴ ἀσφρανθῶ θυσίας (Septuagint). No sweet savour ascends to God from such sacrifices; so the phrase is equivalent to "I will not accept," "I will take no delight in" (comp.. Genesis 8:21; Exodus 29:18; Leviticus 26:31). Solemn assemblies; πανηγύρεσιν (Septuagint); atsaroth; the convocations for the keeping of the great festivals. Joel 1:1 contains the heading to the book, and has already been noticed in the introduction. Joel 1:2. "Hear this, ye old men; and attend, all ye inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing indeed happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Joel 1:1. Ye shall tell your sons of it, and your sons their sons, and their sons the next generation. Joel 1:4. The leavings of the gnawer the multiplier ate, and the leavings of the multiplier the licker ate, and the leavings of the licker the devourer ate." Not only for the purpose of calling the attention of the hearers to his address, but still more to set forth the event of which he is about to speak as something unheard of - a thing that has never happened before, and therefore is a judgment inflicted by God - the prophet commences with the question addressed to the old men, whose memory went the furthest back, and to all the inhabitants of Judah, whether they had ever experienced anything of the kind, or heard of such a thing from their fathers; and with the command to relate it to their children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

(Note: "As he is inquiring concerning the past according to the command of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:7, he asks the old men, who have been taught by long experience, and are accustomed, whenever they see anything unusual, to notice that this is not according to the ordinary course of nature, which they have observed for so many years. And since this existing calamity, caused by the insects named, has lasted longer and pressed more heavily than usual, he admonishes them to carry their memory back to the former days, and see whether anything of the kind ever happened naturally before; and if no example can be found, the prophet's advice is, that they should recognise this as the hand of God from heaven." - Tarnov.)

"The inhabitants of the land" are the inhabitants of Judah, as it was only with this kingdom that Joel was occupied (cf. Joel 1:14 and Joel 2:1). זאת is the occurrence related in Joel 1:4, which is represented by the question "Has this been in your days?" as a fact just experienced. Yether haggâzâm, the leavings of the gnawer, i.e., whatever the gnawer leaves unconsumed of either vegetables or plants. The four names given to the locusts, viz., gâzâm, 'arbeh, yeleq, and châsil, are not the names applied in natural history to four distinct species, or four different generations of locusts; nor does Joel describe the swarms of two successive years, so that "gâzâm is the migratory locust, which visits Palestine chiefly in the autumn, 'arbeh the young brood, yeleq the young locust in the last stage of its transformation, or before changing its skin for the fourth time, and châsı̄l the perfect locust after this last change, so that as the brood sprang from the gâzâm, châsı̄l would be equivalent to gâzâm" (Credner). This explanation is not only at variance with Joel 2:25, where gâzâm stands last, after châsı̄l, but is founded generally merely upon a false interpretation of Nahum 3:15-16 (see the passage) and Jeremiah 51:27, where the adjective sâmâr (horridus, horrible), appended to yeleq, from sâmâr, to shudder, by no means refers to the rough, horny, wing-sheath of the young locusts, and cannot be sustained from the usage of the language, It is impossible to point out any difference in usage between gâzâm and châsı̄l, or between these two words and 'arbeh. The word gâzâm, from gâzâm, to cut off (in Arabic, Ethiopic, and the Rabb.), occurs only in this passage, in Joel 2:25, and in Amos 4:9, where it is applied to a swarm of flying locusts, which leave the vine, fig-tree, and olive, perfectly bare, as it is well known that all locusts do, when, as in Amos, the vegetables and field fruits have been already destroyed. 'Arbeh, from râbhâh, to be many, is the common name of the locust, and indeed in all probability of the migratory locust, because this always appears in innumerable swarms. Châsı̄l, from châsal, to eat off, designates the locust (hâ'arbeh), according to Deuteronomy 28:38, by its habit of eating off the field crops and tree fruits, and is therefore used in 1 Kings 8:37; 2 Chronicles 6:28; Psalm 78:46, as synonymous with hâ'arbeh, and in Isaiah 33:4 in its stead. Yeleq, from yâlaq equals lâqaq, to lick, to lick off, occurs in Psalm 105:34 as equivalent to 'arbeh, and in Nahum as synonymous with it; and indeed it there refers expressly to the Egyptian plague of locusts, so that young locusts without wings cannot possibly be thought of. Haggâzâm the gnawer, hayyeleq the licker, hechâsı̄l the devourer, are therefore simply poetical epithets applied to the 'arbeh, which never occur in simple plain prose, but are confined to the loftier (rhetorical and poetical) style. Moreover, the assumption that Joel is speaking of swarms of locusts of two successive years, is neither required by Joel 2:25 (see the comm. on this verse), nor reconcilable with the contents of the verse itself. If the 'arbeh eats what the gâzâm has left, and the yeleq what is left by the 'arbeh, we cannot possibly think of the field and garden fruits of two successive years, because the fruits of the second year are not the leavings of the previous year, but have grown afresh in the year itself.

(Note: Bochart (Hieroz. iii. p. 290, ed. Ros.) has already expressed the same opinion. "If," he says, "the different species had been assigned to so many different years, the 'arbeh would not be said to have eaten the leavings of the gâzâm, or the yeleq the leavings of the 'arbeh, or the châsı̄l the leavings of the yeleq; for the productions of this year are not the leavings of last, nor can what will spring up in future be looked upon as the leavings of this. Therefore, whether this plague of locusts was confined to one year, or was repeated for several years, which seems to be the true inference from Joel 2:25, I do not think that the different species of locusts are to be assigned to different years respectively, but that they all entered Judaea in the same year; so that when one swarm departed from a field, another followed, to eat up the leavings of the previous swarm, if there were any; and that this was repeated as many times as was necessary to consume the whole, so that nothing at all should be left to feed either man or beast.")

The thought is rather this: one swarm of locusts after another has invaded the land, and completely devoured its fruit. The use of several different words, and the division of the locusts into four successive swarms, of which each devours what has been left by its precursor, belong to the rhetorical drapery and individualizing of the thought. The only thing that has any real significance is the number four, as the four kinds of punishment in Jeremiah 15:3, and the four destructive judgments in Ezekiel 14:21, clearly show. The number four, "the stamp of oecumenicity" (Kliefoth), indicates here the spread of the judgment over the whole of Judah in all directions.

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