Amos 5:24
But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) Mighty stream.—Or rather perennial stream.

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.But - (And) let judgment run down (Literally, "roll" English margin) "like water." The duties of either table include both; since there is no true love for man without the love of God, nor any real love or duty to God without the love of man. People will exchange their sins for other sins. They will not break them off unless they be converted to God. But the first outward step in conversion, is to break off sin. He bids them then "let judgment," which had hitherto ever been perverted in its course, "roll on like" a mighty tide of "waters," sweeping before it all hindrances, obstructed by no power, turned aside by no bribery, but pouring on in one perpetual flow, reaching all, refreshing all, and "righteousness like a mighty (or ceaseless) stream." The word "ethan" may signify "strong or perennial." Whence the seventh month, just before the early rain, was called "the month Ethanim 1 Kings 8:2, that is, the month of the "perennial streams," when they alone flowed. In the meaning "perennial," it would stand tacitly contrasted with "streams which fail or lie." True righteousness is not fitful, like an intermitting stream, vehement at one time, then disappearing, but continuous, unfailing. 24. judgment—justice.

run down—literally, "roll," that is, flow abundantly (Isa 48:18). Without the desire to fulfil righteousness in the offerer, the sacrifice is hateful to God (1Sa 15:22; Ps 66:18; Ho 6:6; Mic 6:8).

But, Heb. And

judgment: some interpret this of penal judgment, by God threatened against these hypocrites; but it is better understood of justice to be administered by rulers, whose office it was to determine between party and party.

Run down as waters; freely, constantly, speedily, and for common benefit of all, as waters run.

Righteousness; equity, relieving justice, the want of which hath been notorious among you.

As a mighty stream, which bears down all that opposeth it: be hindered by none from doing every one right; do this, and you may yet be accepted. But let judgments run down as waters,.... Or "roll" (o); in abundance, with great rapidity, bearing down all before them, which nothing can resist; signifying the plenty of justice done in the land, the full and free exercise of it, without any stoppage or intermission:

and righteousness as a mighty stream; the same thing expressed in different words; though some think that not the execution of judgment and justice by men is here exhorted to, but the vindictive justice of God is threatened; which like a mighty torrent of water should come down, overwhelm, bear away, and destroy all before it, even all the transgressors in Israel.

(o) "volvatur", Munster, Mercerus, Liveleus, Drusius; "volvat se", Montanus, Vatablus; "revolvet se", Piscator; "provolvatur", Cocceius.

But let judgment run down as {m} waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

(m) Do your duty to God, and to your neighbour, and so you will plentifully feel his grace, if you show your abundant affections according to God's word.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. Justice, between man and man, is what Jehovah demands: no ceremonial, however punctiliously observed, is a substitute in Jehovah’s eyes for moral duties. The argument is exactly that of Isaiah 1, where Jehovah rejects similarly the entire body of ritual observances, celebrated at the Temple of Jerusalem, on account of the moral shortcomings of the worshippers; and where the exhortation is similarly to observe the elementary duties of civic morality—“Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes: seek judgement, set right the oppressor, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:10-17).

run down] roll on; R.V. roll down: let justice, which has hitherto been too often thwarted and obstructed in its course, roll on, as waters, in one perpetual flow; and righteousness as an overflowing stream. Stream is in the Heb. naḥal, a word for which there is no proper English equivalent, but which corresponds really to the Arabic wâdy, so often found in descriptions of travel in Palestine. The naḥal, or wâdy, is a torrent running down through a narrow valley, which in the rainy season forms usually a copious stream, while in summer it may be reduced to a mere brook or thread of water, or may even be entirely dry. Righteousness, Jehovah claims, should roll on like a perennial (or ever-flowing) wâdy, like a wâdy which is never so dried up, but flows continuously. The word rendered ever-flowing (êthân) is the term applied specially to characterize such a perennial wâdy. It is one of the words (like hibhlîg, Amos 5:9), of which the true meaning was lost by the Jews, and was recovered only when Arabic began to be compared systematically with Hebrew, some two centuries ago. The renderings strong, mighty, strength, are in reality guesses made from the context by the mediæval Jewish commentators, whom the translators of the Authorised Version often followed as their guide. Examples of the word: Exodus 14:27 (see R.V. marg.), Psalm 74:15; and in a metaphorical sense, Jeremiah 5:15 (of a nation whose numbers are never diminished), Jeremiah 49:19 and Numbers 24:21 (of an abiding, never-failing habitation).

Others understand judgement and righteousness here of God’s punitive justice (cf. Isaiah 1:27; Isaiah 5:16; Isaiah 28:17; and for the figure, Isaiah 10:22 “a consumption, overflowing with righteousness”); but the former interpretation, which is the usual one, is more agreeable with the context.Verse 24. - But let judgment run down as waters; let judgment roll on; Septuagint, καὶ κυλισθήσεται ὡς ὕδωρ κρίμα, "and judgment shall roll along as water." Et revelabitur quasi aqua judicium (Vulgate). This verse has been explained in different ways. Hitzig, Keil, with many ancient commentators, find in it a threat of chastisement, "the flooding of the land with judgment and the punitive righteousness of God." Pusey, Professor Gandell, and others consider it to be a call to amendment. "He bids them let judgment, which had hitherto been perverted in its course, roll on like a mighty tide of waters, sweeping before it all hindrances," filling the whole land with righteousness. Schegg makes it to be a promise of the coming of the day of the Lord, that is, the revelation of Messiah. But such a promise in this position is very forced and unnatural. The second interpretation seems most suitable. In the midst of the denunciation of men's formal worship, the prophet announces their duty in the present crisis, attention to which could alone win God's favour. Judgment and righteousness, long neglected and forgotten, should permeate the land like refreshing streams of water - a simile of special signification to an inhabitant of an Eastern country, where the neighbourhood of a perennial stream was as delightful as it was unusual. Mighty (ethan); ἄβατος, "impassable" (Septuagint); fortis (Vulgate). The word may mean "strong," or "perennial." "Whence the seventh month, just before the early rain, was called the month Ethanim, i.e. the month of the perennial streams, when they alone flowed" (Pusey). In order that Judah may discern in this unparalleled calamity a judgment of God, and the warning voice of God calling to repentance, the prophet first of all summons the wine-bibbers to sober themselves, and observe the visitation of God. Joel 1:5. "Awake, ye drunken ones, and weep! and howl, all ye drinkers of wine! at the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth. Joel 1:6. For a people has come up over my land, a strong one, and innumerable: its teeth are lion's teeth, and it has the bite of a lioness. Joel 1:7. It has made my vine a wilderness, and my fig-tree into sticks. Peeling, it has peeled it off, and cast it away: its shoots have grown white." הקיץ to awake out of the reeling of intoxication, as in Proverbs 23:35. They are to howl for the new wine, the fresh sweet juice of the grape, because with the destruction of the vines it is taken away and destroyed from their mouth. Joel 1:6 and Joel 1:7 announce through whom. In the expression gōi ‛âlâh (a people has come up) the locusts are represented as a warlike people, because they devastate the land like a hostile army. Gōi furnishes no support to the allegorical view. In Proverbs 30:25-26, not only are the ants described as a people (‛âm), but the locusts also; although it is said of them that they have no king. And ‛âm is synonymous with gōi, which has indeed very frequently the idea of that which is hostile, and even here is used in this sense; though it by no means signifies a heathen nation, but occurs in Zephaniah 2:9 by the side of ‛âm, as an epithet applied to the people of Jehovah (i.e., Israel: see also Genesis 12:2). The weapons of this army consist in its teeth, its "bite," which grinds in pieces as effectually as the teeth of the lion or the bite of the lioness (מתלּעות; see at Job 29:17). The suffix attached to ארצי does not refer to Jehovah, but to the prophet, who speaks in the name of the people, so that it is the land of the people of God. And this also applies to the suffixes in גּפני and תּאנתי in Joel 1:7. In the description of the devastation caused by the army of locusts, the vine and fig-tree are mentioned as the noblest productions of the land, which the Lord has given to His people for their inheritance (see at Hosea 2:14). לקצפה, εἰς κλασμόν, literally, for crushing. The suffix in chăsâphâh refers, no doubt, simply to the vine as the principal object, the fig-tree being mentioned casually in connection with it. Châsaph, to strip, might be understood as referring simply to the leaves of the vine (cf. Psalm 29:9); but what follows shows that the gnawing or eating away of the bark is also included. Hishlı̄kh, to throw away not merely what is uneatable, "that which is not green and contains no sap" (Hitzig), but the vine itself, which the locusts have broken when eating off its leaves and bark. The branches of the vine have become white through the eating off of the bark (sârı̄gı̄m, Genesis 40:10).

(Note: H. Ludolf, in his Histor. Aethiop. i. c. 13, 16, speaking of the locusts, says: "Neither herbs, nor shrubs, nor trees remain unhurt. Whatever is either grassy or covered with leaves, is injured, as if it had been burnt with fire. Even the bark of trees is nibbled with their teeth, so that the injury is not confined to one year alone.")

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