Amos 5:9
That strengthens the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.
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(9) That strengthened.—The rendering should be who causeth desolation to gleam upon the strong (who were priding themselves on their immunity), so that desolation cometh on the stronghold.

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.That strengtheneth the spoiled - (Literally, "spoil" English margin) probably That "maketh devastation to smile on the strong." . The "smile," in anger, attests both the extremity of anger, and the consciousness of the ease, wherewith the offence can be punished. They were strong in their own strength; strong, as they deemed, in their "fortress" ; "strong with an evil strength, like one phrensied against his physician." But their strength would be weakness. "Desolation" when God willed, would "smile at" all which they accounted "might," and would "come against the fortress," which, as they deemed, "cut off" all approach. 9. strengtheneth the spoiled—literally, "spoil" or "devastation": hence the "person spoiled." Winer, Maurer, and the best modern critics translate, "maketh devastation (or destruction) suddenly to arise," literally, "maketh it to gleam forth like the dawn." Ancient versions support English Version. The Hebrew is elsewhere used, to make, to shine, to make glad: and as English Version here (Ps 39:13), "recover strength."

the spoiled shall come—"devastation," or "destruction shall come upon" [Maurer]. English Version expresses that, strong as Israel fancies herself after the successes of Jeroboam II (2Ki 14:25), even the weakest can be made by God to prevail against the strong.

That strengtheneth the spoiled; you have been exceedingly weakened and spoiled by your enemies; yet return, repent, seek God, for he can renew your strength, that you shall spoil your spoilers who are strong.

Against the strong; the mighty, victorious, and insolent.

The spoiled, those that had lost their strength, and were as conquered,

shall come against the fortress; shall rally, re-embody, and form a siege against their besiegers: so God, whom you should serve, will soon turn all from dark and dismal into light and pleasing unto you and yours; in your apostacy all will be misery and darkness, but in your return all shall be well and prosperous with you. That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong,.... Such as have been taken by an enemy, who have been stripped of their armour, and spoiled of all their goods and substance, and have no friends nor allies, nor anything to help themselves with; the Lord can supply them with strength, furnish them with weapons, and send them helpers, so that they shall rise up against their conquerors and spoilers, and in their turn subdue them. The Targum is,

"that strengthens the weak against the strong;''

or causes the weak to prevail over the strong. A learned man, from the use of the word in the Arabic language, chooses to render it, "who intends", or "designs, destruction to the strong" (d); that is, in his secret purposes, and which he brings about in providence; though he is doubtful whether it may not have the signification of recreation and refreshment, and whether the construction and circumstances will admit of it; and some do so translate it, "who refreshes himself with destruction against the strong" (e); takes delight and pleasure in it; it is a recreation to him:

so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress: lay siege to it and take it, in which the spoiler thought himself secure with the spoil and substance he had taken from the spoiled; such sudden changes and vicissitudes can God bring upon men when he pleases. Some apply this to the Romans strengthened against the Jews, and besieging their fortified city Jerusalem; but not very aptly.

(d) "qui intendit destinat destructionem forti", Hottinger, Smegma Orientale, l. 1. c. 7. p. 129. (e) "Qui recreat se vastatione contra fortem sive robustum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Tarnovius. So Stockius, p. 136.

That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.
9. That strengthened the spoiled against the strong &c.] that causeth devastation to flash forth (R.V. marg.) upon the strong, so that devastation cometh (R.V.) upon the fortress. From illustrations of Jehovah’s power as displayed in the physical government of the world, the prophet passes to examples supplied by the moral government of the world: He brings sudden destruction upon the mighty, so that even their strongest fortresses cannot save them. The word rendered strengtheneth occurs also Job 9:27; Job 10:20, Psalm 39:13, and a cognate subst. in Jeremiah 8:18. The meaning was forgotten by the Jews; and hence the mediaeval commentators, as David Kimchi, conjectured a sense to strengthen or become strong, more or less consonant with the context in the various passages where the word occurred, which was followed by the Auth. Version of 1611 (in Job and Jer. comfort myself, or take comfort [Lat. ‘comfortare’]; in Psalms 39 recover strength; and here strengtheneth). When, however, subsequently, Arabic was again studied, and compared (especially by Alb. Schultens) with the cognate Semitic languages, the true meaning of the word was speedily discovered: balija, the corresponding word in Arabic, is to have a clear, uncontracted brow, then figuratively, to have a bright, cheerful countenance, or more generally, to be joyous; applied to the dawn, or the sun, to be bright, shine brightly (see Schultens, Origines Hebracae, 1761, p. 19. f.; Lane, Arab. Lex. p. 245). One or other of these meanings suits all the passages in which the word occurs in Hebrew: accordingly in R.V. Job 9:27 is rendered be of good cheer, with marg. “Heb. brighten up”; Job 10:20, Psalm 39:13 the old renderings are retained, but the same margin is repeated: here the text (“bringeth sudden destruction”) is also a paraphrase, but the more literal rendering is given on the margin, “causeth destruction to flash forth.”—The repetition of the same word in the two clauses is inelegant: the LXX. for the second שד (‘devastation’) read probably שבר, destruction; cf. Isaiah 59:7; Isaiah 60:18.Verse 9. - That strengtheneth, etc. Translate, That causeth destruction to flash forth upon the strong, so that destruction cometh upon the fortress. The idea is that God, as with a lightning flash, smites the strongest man, and no fortress is a refuge from him. Septuagint, Ὁ διαιρῶν συντριμμὸν ἐπὶ ἰσχύν, "Who divideth destruction unto strength." The Vulgate, taking the Hebrew verb balag in the sense of lighting up the countenance, renders, Qui subridet vastitatem super robustum, which means that the Lord smiles while he brings desolation on the mighty - a figurative expression denoting his anger at man's pride, and the ease with which he punishes. We may add that Rosenmuller agrees with the Authorized Version in the first clause: "Who strengtheneth the weak against the strong, and giveth the plunderers power over the fortresses of the strong." After the prophet has set before the sinful nation in various ways its own guilt, and the punishment that awaits it, viz., the destruction of the kingdom, he concludes his addresses with a call to thorough conversion to the Lord, and the promise that the Lord will bestow His grace once more upon those who turn to Him, and will bless them abundantly (Hosea 14:1-8). Hosea 14:1. (Heb. Bib. v. 2). "Return, O Israel, to Jehovah thy God; for thou hast stumbled through thy guilt. Hosea 14:2. Take with you words, and turn to Jehovah; say ye to Him, Forgive all guilt, and accept what is good, that we may offer our lips as bullocks. Hosea 14:3. Asshur will not help us: we will not ride upon horses, nor say 'Our God' any more to the manufacture of our own hands; for with Thee the orphan findeth compassion." There is no salvation for fallen man without return to God. It is therefore with a call to return to the Lord their God, that the prophet opens the announcement of the salvation with which the Lord will bless His people, whom He has brought to reflection by means of the judgment (cf. Deuteronomy 4:30; Deuteronomy 30:1.). שׁוּב עד יי, to return, to be converted to the Lord, denotes complete conversion; שׁוּב אל is, strictly speaking, simply to turn towards God, to direct heart and mind towards Him. By kâshaltâ sin is represented as a false step, which still leaves it possible to return; so that in a call to conversion it is very appropriately chosen. But if the conversion is to be of the right kind, it must begin with a prayer for the forgiveness of sin, and attest itself by the renunciation of earthly help and simple trust in the mercy of God. Israel is to draw near to God in this state of mind. "Take with you words," i.e., do not appear before the Lord empty (Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:20); but for this ye do not require outward sacrifices, but simply words, sc. those of confession of your guilt, as the Chaldee has correctly explained it. The correctness of this explanation is evident from the confession of sin which follows, with which they are to come before God. In כּל־תּשּׂא עון, the position of col at the head of the sentence may be accounted for from the emphasis that rests upon it, and the separation of ‛âvōn, from the fact that col was beginning to acquire more of the force of an adjective, like our all (thus 2 Samuel 1:9; Job 27:3 : cf. Ewald, 289, a; Ges. 114, 3, Anm. 1). Qach tōbh means neither "accept goodness," i.e., let goodness be shown thee (Hitzig), nor "take it as good," sc. that we pray (Grotius, Ros.); but in the closest connection with what proceeds: Accept the only good thing that we are able to bring, viz., the sacrifices of our lips. Jerome has given the correct interpretation, viz.: "For unless Thou hadst borne away our evil things, we could not possibly have the good thing which we offer Thee;" according to that which is written elsewhere (Psalm 37:27), "Turn from evil, and do good." שׂפתינוּ ... וּנשׁלּמה, literally, "we will repay (pay) as young oxen our lips," i.e., present the prayers of our lips as thank-offerings. The expression is to be explained from the fact that shillēm, to wipe off what is owing, to pay, is a technical term, applied to the sacrifice offered in fulfilment of a vow (Deuteronomy 23:22; Psalm 22:26; Psalm 50:14, etc.), and that pârı̄m, young oxen, were the best animals for thank-offerings (Exodus 24:5). As such thank-offerings, i.e., in the place of the best animal sacrifices, they would offer their lips, i.e., their prayers, to God (cf. Psalm 51:17-19; Psalm 69:31-32). In the Sept. rendering, ἀποδώσομεν καρπὸν χείλεων, to which there is an allusion in Hebrews 13:15, פּרים has been confounded with פּרי, as Jerome has already observed. but turning to God requires renunciation of the world, of its power, and of all idolatry. Rebellious Israel placed its reliance upon Assyria and Egypt (Hosea 5:13; Hosea 7:11; Hosea 8:9). It will do this no longer. The riding upon horses refers partly to the military force of Egypt (Isaiah 31:1), and partly to their own (Hosea 1:7; Isaiah 2:7). For the expression, "neither will we say to the work of our hands," compare Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 44:17. אשׁר בּך, not "Thou with whom," but "for with Thee" ('ăsher as in Deuteronomy 3:24). The thought, "with Thee the orphan findeth compassion," as God promises in His word (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 10:18), serves not only as a reason for the resolution no longer to call the manufacture of their own hands God, but generally for the whole of the penitential prayer, which they are encouraged to offer by the compassionate nature of God. In response to such a penitential prayer, the Lord will heal all His people's wounds, and bestow upon them once more the fulness of the blessings of His grace. The prophet announces this in Isaiah 44:4-8 as the answer from the Lord.
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