Amos 5:7
You who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,
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(7) Is placed after Amos 5:9 by Ewald, since Amos 5:7-8 stand in the Heb. without any connecting-link. The holy thing “judgment” is perverted into the bitter thing “wormwood,” that which is execrated.

Leave off.—Or rather, cast down righteousness to the earth, i.e., by false judgments and unjust decrees. Pusey sees here the analogue of the humiliation of the Holy One by wicked hands, when He was crowned with thorns, and fell beneath His cross.

Amos 5:7-9. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood — Or into hemlock, as the word here used is translated, Amos 6:12. Ye judges and rulers that pervert the law that was designed to protect innocence, and under colour of it exercise the greatest oppression. True or just judgment is sweet or pleasing; corrupt judgment, mere bitterness. And leave off righteousness — That is, leave off to practise it, or make it to cease in your courts of judicature. Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion — Concerning these constellations see notes on Job 9:9; and Job 38:31. These and the other constellations were commonly thought to have great influence upon the seasons; and therefore their rising and setting used to be particularly taken notice of by husbandmen and shepherds; whose employments lying abroad, made them more observant of the appearances of the heavenly bodies. So this was a dispensation of providence, which it was very suitable for one of Amos’s profession to mention. “But in Arabia and the neighbouring countries, to this present day, not only the shepherds, but the men in general, the women and children, know the names of the stars. Sanctius assures us, that the shepherds in Spain know perfectly well the stars of Ursa Major, Orion, the Pleiades, &c., and that they generally measure the time of night by the course of these stars.” — Dodd. And turneth the shadow of death into the morning — The greatest adversity into as great prosperity; and maketh the day dark with night — Changes prosperity into adversity: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them upon the earth — Who commandeth the seas and the rivers to overflow the earth in great inundations; or rather, commands the vapours to ascend from the sea, turns them into rain, and then pours it from the clouds, to render the earth fruitful. That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong — Who giveth strength to him that hath been conquered and spoiled, and enables him to subdue his conquerors, and become master even of the strongest places. This was very properly mentioned here as one act of God’s great power, because it implied, that the deplorable state of the Israelitish affairs might be retrieved if they sought to him.5:7-17 The same almighty power can, for repenting sinners, easily turn affliction and sorrow into prosperity and joy, and as easily turn the prosperity of daring sinners into utter darkness. Evil times will not bear plain dealing; that is, evil men will not. And these men were evil men indeed, when wise and good men thought it in vain even to speak to them. Those who will seek and love that which is good, may help to save the land from ruin. It behoves us to plead God's spiritual promises, to beseech him to create in us a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within us. The Lord is ever ready to be gracious to the souls that seek him; and then piety and every duty will be attended to. But as for sinful Israel, God's judgments had often passed by them, now they shall pass through them.Ye who turn - Those whom he calls to seek God, were people filled with all injustice, who turned the sweetness of justice into the bitterness of wormwood . Moses had used "gall" and "wormwood" as a proverb; "lest there be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; the Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and His jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him" Deuteronomy 29:18, Deuteronomy 29:20. The word of Amos would remind them of the word of Moses.

And leave off righteousness in the earth - Better, "and set righteousness to rest on the ground" . They dethroned righteousness, the representative and vice-gerent of God, and made it rest on the ground. The "little horn," Daniel says, should "cast truth to the ground" Daniel 8:12. These seem to have blended outrage with insult, as when "the Lord our Righteousness" Jeremiah 23:6 took our flesh, "they put on Him" the "scarlet robe, and the crown of thorns" upon His Head, and bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him," and then "crucified Him." They "deposed" her, "set her down," it may be, with a mock make-believe deference, as people now-a-days, in civil terms, depose God, ignoring Him and His right over them. They set her on the ground and so left her, the image of God. This they did, not in one way only, but in all the ways in which they could. He does not limit it to the "righteousness" shown in doing justice. It includes all transactions between man and man, in which right enters, all buying and selling, all equity, all giving to another his due. All the bands of society were dissolved, and righteousness was placed on the ground, to be trampled on by all in all things.

7. turn judgment to wormwood—that is, pervert it to most bitter wrong. As justice is sweet, so injustice is bitter to the injured. "Wormwood" is from a Hebrew root, to "execrate," on account of its noxious and bitter qualities.

leave on righteousness in … earth—Maurer translates, "cast righteousness to the ground," as in Isa 28:2; Da 8:12.

Ye; rulers and judges.

Judgment; the righteous sentence of the law, the equity of it, which is sweet and pleasing to just men, and safe for all.

Wormwood; proverbially understood, bitterness, grief, injustice, and oppression.

Leave off righteousness; make it to cease in your courts of judicature, and tread it under foot.

In the earth; or among men, in the land: the latter part of this verse explains the former. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood,.... This seems to be spoken to kings and judges, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi observe; in whose hands is the administration of justice, and who often pervert it, as these did here addressed and complained of; that which was the most useful and salubrious, and so the most desirable to the commonwealth, namely, just judgment, was changed into the reverse, what was as bitter and as disagreeable as wormwood; or "hemlock", as it might be rendered, and as it is in Amos 6:12; even injustice:

and leave off righteousness in the earth; leave off doing it among men: or rather, "leave it on the earth" (c); who cast it down to the ground, trampled upon it, and there left it; which is expressive not only of their neglect, but of their contempt of it; see Daniel 8:12.

(c) "in terram prosterunt", Piscator; "justitiam in terram reliquerunt, i.e. humi prosternitis et deseritis", Mercerus; "collocantes humi", Junius & Tremellius.

Ye who turn {d} judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,

(d) Instead of judgment and fairness they execute cruelty and oppression.

7. Jehovah demands righteousness: the prophet, with passion and indignation, declares abruptly how far Israel is from righteousness, and then proceeds to announce again the doom which it may in consequence confidently expect. As before (Amos 2:6-8, Amos 4:1), Israel’s crying sin is neglect of civil justice, and oppression of the poor: it is the aristocracy who arouse the moral indignation of Amos, as afterwards, in Judah, they aroused that of Isaiah, Micah, and Jeremiah.

turn judgment to wormwood] Instead of being something wholesome and grateful, it is bitter and cruel to those who have to receive it. For wormwood (always as a figure for something bitter), cf. Amos 6:12; Jeremiah 9:15; Jeremiah 23:15; Lamentations 3:15; Lamentations 3:19; Proverbs 5:4; Revelation 8:11. The plant in question (Heb. la‘ǎnâh; Aq. [Prov. and Jer.] ἀψίνθιον, whence Vulg. [everywhere] apsinthium: LXX. paraphrases,—in Amos 6:12 by πικρία) is a species of the genus Artemisium, of which several varieties are found in Palestine (Tristram, N.H.[157]. p. 493; Fauna and Flora of Palestine, p. 331).

[157] .H.B … H. B. Tristram, Natural History of the Bible (1868).

and lay righteousness down on the earth] instead of maintaining it erect, in its place (cf. Amos 5:15), they (Pusey) ‘dethrone’ it, and lay it (Isaiah 28:2) ignominiously on the ground: we should rather say, ‘trample it under foot’ (Hitz.). ‘Righteousness,’ as the context shews, means here civil justice (as 2 Samuel 8:15, Jeremiah 22:3, and frequently). The virtue is almost personified (cf. Isaiah 59:14).Verse 7. - The prophet brings out the con-trust between Israel's moral corruption and God's omnipotence. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood. As Jerome puts it," Converterunt dulcedinem judicii in absinthii amaritudinem," "They turned the sweetness of judgment into the bitterness of absinth" (comp. Amos 6:12). Who make judgment the occasion of the bitterest injustice. There is no syntactical connection between this verse and the last, but virtually we may append it to "seek the Lord." It would sound in people's ears as a reminiscence of Deuteronomy 29:18, 20. The LXX. reads, ὁ ποιῶν εἰς ὕψος κρίμα. "that executeth judgment in the height," referring the sentence to the Lord, or else taking laanah, "wormwood," in a metaphorical sense, as elsewhere they translate it by ἀνάγκη πικρία, ὀδύνη (Deuteronomy 29:18; Proverbs 5:4; Jeremiah 9:15; Jeremiah 23:15). The name "wormwood" is applied to all the plants of the genus that grow in Palestine the taste of which was proverbially bitter. And leave off righteousness in the earth; rather, cast down righteousness to the earth (as Isaiah 28:2), despise it and trample it underfoot (comp. Daniel 8:12). This is Israel's practice; and yet God, as the next verse shows, is almighty, and has power to punish. Righteousness includes all transactions between man and man. The LXX. (still referring the subject to the Lord), καὶ δικαιοσύνην εἰς γῆν ἔθηκεν, "and he established righteousness on earth." "For he will bear fruit among brethren. East wind will come, a wind of Jehovah, rising up from the desert; and his fountain will dry up, and his spring become dried. He plunders the treasuries of all splendid vessels." The connection between the first clause and the previous verse has been correctly pointed out by Marck. "Hos 13:15," he says, "adduces a reason to prove that the promised grace of redemption would certainly stand firm." כּי cannot be either a particle of time or of condition here (when, or if); for neither of them yields a suitable thought, since Ephraim neither was at that time, nor could become, fruit-bearing among brethren. Ewald's hypothetical view, "Should Ephraim be a fruitful child," cannot be grammatically sustained, since kı̄ is only used in cases where a circumstance is assumed to be real. For one that is merely supposed to be possible, אם is required, as the interchange of אם and כּי, in Numbers 5:19-20, for example, clearly shows. The meaning of יפריא is placed beyond all doubt by the evident play upon the name Ephraim; and this also explains the writing with א instead of ה fo d, as well as the idea of the sentence itself: Ephraim will bear fruit among the brethren, i.e., the other tribes, as its name, double-fruitfulness, affirms (see at Genesis 41:52). This thought, through which the redemption from death set before Israel is confirmed, is founded not only upon the assumption that the name must become a truth, but chiefly upon the blessing which the patriarch promised to the tribe of Ephraim on the ground of its name, both in Genesis 48:4, Genesis 48:20, and Genesis 49:22. Because Ephraim possessed such a pledge of blessing in its very name, the Lord would not let it be overwhelmed for ever in the tempest that was bursting upon it. The same thing applies to the name Ephraim as to the name Israel, with which it is used as synonymous; and what is true of all the promises of God is true of this announcement also, viz., that they are only fulfilled in the case of those who adhere to the conditions under which they were given. Of Ephraim, those only will bear fruit which abides to everlasting life, who walk as true champions for God in the footsteps of faith and of their forefathers, wrestling for the blessing of the promises. On the other hand, upon the Ephraim that has turned into Canaan (Hosea 12:8) an east wind will come, a tempest bursting from the desert (see at Hosea 12:2), and that a stormy wind raised by Jehovah, which will dry up his spring, i.e., destroy not only the fruitful land with which God has blessed it (Deuteronomy 33:13-16), but all the sources of its power and stability. Like the promise in Hosea 13:14, the threatening of the judgment, to which the kingdom of Israel is to succumb, is introduced quite abruptly with the word יבוא. The figurative style of address then passes in the last clause into a literal threat. הוּא, he, the hostile conqueror, sent as a tempestuous wind by the Lord, viz., the Assyrian, will plunder the treasure of all costly vessels, i.e., all the treasures and valuables of the kingdom. On kelı̄ chemdâh compare Nahum 2:10 and 2 Chronicles 32:27. We understand by it chiefly the treasures of the capital, to which a serious catastrophe is more especially predicted in the next verse (Hosea 14:1), which also belongs to this strophe, on account of its rebellion against God.
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