Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, said the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Amos 5:27. Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the Lord, whose name is, &c. — Ye shall be removed further from your own country, than when Hazael, king of Syria, carried away so many Israelites captives to Damascus, (see 2 Kings 10:32-33,) and consequently shall have less hopes of returning home. The king of Assyria carried the ten tribes captive as far as Media, 2 Kings 17:6. Therefore St. Stephen, in the passage above quoted, expressing rather the sense than the words, reads, I will carry you away beyond Babylon, Media being at a much greater distance than Babylon. Both readings imply, that the captivity of the ten tribes would be far worse than that of the two remaining, and likely to be of much longer duration. 2 Kings 13:7. From Syria He had recently, for the time, delivered them, and had given Damascus into their hands 2 Kings 14:25, 2 Kings 14:28. That day of grace had been wasted, and they were still rebellious. Now God would bring against them a mightier enemy. Damascus, the scene of their triumph, should be their pathway to captivity. God would "cause" them "to go into captivity," not to "Damascus," from where they might have easily returned, but "beyond" it, as He did, "into the cities of the Medes." But Israel had, up to the time of Amos and beyond it, no enemy, no war, "beyond Damascus." Jehu had probably paid tribute to Shalmanubar king of Assyria, to strengthen himself . The Assyrian monarch had warred against Israel's enemies, and seemingly received some check from them (see the note above at Amos 1:3).
Against Israel he had shown no hostility. But for the conspiracy of one yet to be born in private life, one of the captains of Israel who by murder, became its sovereign, it might have continued on in its own land. The Assyrian monarchs needed tribute, not slaves; nor did they employ Israel as slaves. Exile was but a wholesale imprisonment of the nation in a large but safe prison-house. Had they been still, they were more profitable to Assyria, as tributaries in their own land. There was no temptation to remove them, when Amos prophesied. The temptation came with political intrigues which had not then commenced. The then Assyrian monarch, Shamasiva, defeated their enemies the Syrians, united with and aiding the Babylonians ; "they" had then had no share in the opposition to Assyria, but lay safe in their mountain-fastness.
It has been said , "Although the kingdom of Israel had, through Jeroboam, recovercd its old borders, yet careless insolence, luxury, unrighteousness, "must" bring the destruction of the kingdom which the prophet foretells. The prophet does but dimly forebode the superior power of Assyria." Solomon had declared the truth, "Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" Proverbs 14:34. But there are many sorts of decay. Decay does not involve the transportation of a people. Nay, decay would not bring it, but the contrary. A mere luxurious people rots on its own soil, and would be left to rot there. It was the little remnant of energy, political cabaling, warlike spirit, in Israel, which brought its ruin from man. Idolatry, "insolence, luxury, unrighteousness," bring down the displeasure of God, not of man. Yet Amos foretold, that God would bring the destruction through man.
They were, too, no worse than their neighbors, nor so bad; not so bad as the Assyrians themselves, except that, God having revealed Himself to them, they had more light. The sin then, the punishment the mode of punishment, belong to the divine revelation. Such sins and worse have existed in Christian nations. They were in part sins directly against God. God reserves to Himself, how and when He will punish. He has annexed no such visible laws of punishment to a nation's sins that man could, of his own wisdom or observation of God's ways, foresee it. They through whom Itc willed to inflict it, and whom Amos pointed out, were not provoked by "those" sins. There was no connection between Israel's present sins, and Assyria's future vengeance. No Eastern despot cares for the oppressions of his subjects, so that his own tribute is collected. See the whole range of Muslim rule now. As far too as we know, neither Assyria nor any other power had hitherto punished rebellious nations by transporting them ; and certainly Israel had not yet rebelled, or meditated rebellion. He only who controls the rebellious wills of people, and through their self-will works out His own all-wise Will and man's punishment, could know the future of Israel and Assyria, and how through the pride of Assyria He would bring down the pride of Samaria.
It has been well said by a thoughtful observer of the world's history, "Whosoever attempts to prophesy, not being inspired, is a fool." We English know our own sins, many and grievous; we know of a vast reign of violence, murder, blasphemy, theft, uncleanness, covetousness, dishonest dealing, unrighteousness, and of the breach of every commandment of God: we know well now of an instrument in God's Hands, not far off; like the Assyrian, but within two hours of our coast; armaments have been collected; a harbor is being formed; our own coast openly examined; iron-sheeted vessels prepared; night-signals provided; some of our own alienated population organized; with a view to our invasion. We recognize the likelihood of the invasion, fortify our coast, arm, not as a profession, but for security. Our preparations testify, how widespread is our expectation. No one scarcely doubts that it will be.
Yet who dare predict the issue? Will God permit that scourge to come? Will he prevail? What would be the extent of our sufferings or loss? How would our commerce or our Empire be impaired? Would it be dismembered? Since no man can affirm anything as to this which is close at hand, since none of us would dare to affirm in God's Name, in regard to any one stage of all this future, that this or that would or would not happen, then let people have at least the modesty of the magicians of Egypt, and seeing in God's prophets those absolute predictions of a future, such as their own wisdom, under circumstances far more favorable, could not dare to make, own; "This is the finger of God" Exodus 8:19. Not we alone. We see all Europe shaken; we see powers of all sorts, heaving to and fro; we see the Turkish power ready to dissolve, stayed up, like a dead man, only by un-Christian jealousies of Christians. Some things we may partially guess at.
But with all our means of knowing what passes everywhere, with all our knowledge of the internal impulses of nations, hearing, as we do, almost every pulse which beats in the great European system, knowing the diseases which, here and there, threaten convulsion or dissolution, no one dare stake his human wisdom on any absolute prediction, like these of the shepherd of Tekoa as to Damascus (see the note above at Amos 1:5. pp. 160, 161) and Israel. To say the like in God's Name, unless inspired, we should know to be blasphemy. God Himself set the alternative before men. "Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled; who among them that can declare this, and show former things? Let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified; or let them hear, and say," It is "truth" Isaiah 43:9.
Stephen, in quoting this prophecy, substitutes, Babylon for Damascus, as indeed "the cities of the Medes" were further than Babylon. Perhaps he set the name, in order to remind them, that as God had brought Abraham "out of the land of the Chaldeans" Acts 7:4, leaving the idols which his "fathers" had "served" Joshua 24:14, to serve God only, so they, serving idols, were carried back, from where Abraham had come, forfeiting, with the faith of Abraham, the promises made to Abraham; aliens and outcasts.
Saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts - The Lord of the heavenly hosts for whose worship they forsook God; the Lord of the hosts on earth, whose ministry He employs to punish those who rebel against Him , "For He hath many hosts to execute His judgments, the hosts of the Assyrians, the Medes and Persians, the Greeks and Romans." All creatures in heaven and in earth are, as He says of the holy Angels, "ministers of His, that do His pleasure" Psalm 103:21.Therefore, for all your idolatry and other sins in which you have obstinately continued,
will I cause you to go into captivity; you shall certainly be subdued and captivated; and this shall be done so that my hand shall appear evidently in it.
Beyond Damascus, into Assyria, and into parts beyond Damascus: it is not certain into what corners of the world they were sent, but probably to those parts that lay about the Caspian Sea, more remote from their own country than ever to hope they may get back again. Or thus, You shall be carried into a captivity more grievous by Shalmaneser, than was the captivity of those whom Tiglathpileser led captive when he slew Resin, took Damascus, and wasted Israel in the days of Pekah, when some Israelites were carried captives; but this shall be a more grievous captivity. Acts 7:43;
saith the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts; and therefore is able to do what he threatens; and it might be depended upon it would be certainly done, as it is clear, beyond all contradiction, it has been done; see 2 Kings 17:6.Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 27. - Therefore. The consequence of their continued alienation from God should be deportation to a foreign land, beyond Damascus, far away from the confines of the country once their own possession (2 Samuel 8:6), thus dimly denoting As. syria, at that time not hostile, but known in the time of Tiglath-Pileser I. (see the accomplishment, 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:6). St. Stephen says (Acts 7:43), "beyond Babylon;" "Magis enim," observes Jerome, "intelligentiam quam verbum posuit;" and he is probably blending other prophecies with that of Amos, e.g. Jeremiah 20:4.
Joel 1:8. "Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. Joel 1:9. The meat-offering and the drink-offering are destroyed from the house of Jehovah. The priests, the servant of Jehovah. mourn. Joel 1:10. The field is laid waste, the ground mourns: for the corn is laid waste: the new wine is spoiled, the oil decays. Joel 1:11. Turn pale, ye husbandmen; howl, ye vinedressers, over wheat and barley: for the harvest of the field is perished. Joel 1:12. The vine is spoiled, and the fig-tree faded; the pomegranate, also the palm and the apple tree: all the trees of the field are withered away; yea, joy has expired from the children of men." In Joel 1:8 Judah is addressed as the congregation of Jehovah. אלי is the imperative of the verb אלה, equivalent to the Syriac 'elā', to lament. The verb only occurs here. The lamentation of the virgin for the בּעל נעוּריה, i.e., the beloved of your youth, her bridegroom, whom she has lost by death (Isaiah 54:6), is the deepest and bitterest lamentation. With reference to חגרת־שׂק, see Delitzsch on Isaiah 3:24. The occasion of this deep lamentation, according to Joel 1:9, is the destruction of the meat-offering and drink-offering from the house of the Lord, over which the servants of Jehovah mourn. The meat and drink offerings must of necessity cease, because the corn, the new wine, and the oil are destroyed through the devastation of the field and soil. Hokhrath minchâh does not affirm that the offering of the daily morning and evening sacrifice (Exodus 29:38-42) - for it is to this that מנחה ונסך chiefly, if not exclusively, refers - has already ceased; but simply that any further offering is rendered impossible by the failure of meal, wine, and oil. Now Israel could not suffer any greater calamity than the suspension of the daily sacrifice; for this was a practical suspension of the covenant relation - a sign that God had rejected His people. Therefore, even in the last siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, the sacrificial worship was not suspended till it had been brought to the last extremity; and even then it was for the want of sacrificers, and not of the material of sacrifice (Josephus, de bell. Jud. vi. 2, 1). The reason for this anxiety was the devastation of the field and land (Joel 1:10); and this is still further explained by a reference to the devastation and destruction of the fruits of the ground, viz., the corn, i.e., the corn growing in the field, so that the next harvest would be lost, and the new wine and oil, i.e., the vines and olive-trees, so that they could bear no grapes for new wine, and no olives for oil. The verbs in Joel 1:11 are not perfects, but imperatives, as in the fifth verse. הבישׁ has the same meaning as bōsh, as in Jeremiah 2:26; Jeremiah 6:15, etc., to stand ashamed, to turn pale with shame at the disappointment of their hope, and is probably written defectively, without ו, to distinguish it from הובישׁ, the hiphil of יבשׁ, to be parched or dried up (Joel 1:10 and Joel 1:12). The hope of the husbandmen was disappointed through the destruction of the wheat and barley, the most important field crops. The vine-growers had to mourn over the destruction of the vine and the choice fruit-trees (Joel 1:12), such as the fig and pomegranate, and even the date-palm (gam-tâmâr), which has neither a fresh green rind nor tender juicy leaves, and therefore is not easily injured by the locusts so as to cause it to dry up; and tappūăch, the apple-tree, and all the trees of the field, i.e., all the rest of the trees, wither. "All trees, whether fruit-bearing or not, are consumed by the devastating locusts" (Jerome). In the concluding clause of Joel 1:12, the last and principal ground assigned for the lamentation is, that joy is taken away and withered from the children of men (hōbbı̄sh min, constr. praegn.). כּי introduces a reason here as elsewhere, though not for the clause immediately preceding, but for the הבישׁוּ and הילילוּ in Joel 1:11, the leading thought in both verses; and we may therefore express it by an emphatic yea.
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