Amos 6:10
And a man's uncle shall take him up, and he that burns him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say to him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with you? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold your tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
6:8-14 How dreadful, how miserable, is the case of those whose eternal ruin the Lord himself has sworn; for he can execute his purpose, and none can alter it! Those hearts are wretchedly hardened that will not be brought to mention God's name, and to worship him, when the hand of God is gone out against them, when sickness and death are in their families. Those that will not be tilled as fields, shall be abandoned as rocks. When our services of God are soured with sin, his providences will justly be made bitter to us. Men should take warning not to harden their hearts, for those who walk in pride, God will destroy.And a man's uncle ... and he that burneth him - Literally, "and there shall take him up his uncle and his burner," that is, his uncle who, as his next of kin, had the care of his interment, was himself the burner. Burial is the natural following out of the words, "dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return." The common burying-places (such as we find in the history of the patriarchs) were the natural expression of the belief in the Resurrection. The bodies rested together, to be raised together. The pagan burned the bodies of Christian martyrs, and scattered their ashes in mockery of the Resurrection . The pagan noticed that it was matter of piety with the Jews "to bury rather than to burn bodies." The only exceptions are the history of Saul, and this place. Both were cases of emergency. The men of Jabesh-Gilead doubtless burned the bodies of Saul and his sons , for fear the Philistines might disinter them, if buried, and renew their insults upon them. The Israelites still buried what would not be disturbed or could be concealed - the bones. David solemnly buried their remains in the sepulchre of Kish, Saul's father 2 Samuel 21:12-14. So probably here also, it is mentioned as an aggravation, that one who loved them, had to burn their bodies. He does not say, why: but mentions it, as one feature of the common suffering. Parents, brothers - all gone; a man's uncle was his "burner." There was no other interment than this, the most alien from their affections and religion. It may have been on account of the extreme infection (the opening of a forgotten burying place of those who died of the plague of London produced a virulent disease, though 1 12 century had elapsed), or from the delay of burial, when, death reigning all round, there had been none to bury the dead.

He who is "by the sides," that is, the furthest part "of the house." He was the one survivor of the ten, and he too, sick. The question, Is there "yet" any "with thee?" inquires whether there was anyone, alive, to succor, or dead, to burn? There was none. All, even the bodies, had now been removed; one only remained, of all the hum, din, and throng, in that abode of luxury, one only "in the extremity" of its untenanted chambers. Probably the sick man was going to speak of God. The uncle breaks in upon his "No!" with "Hush! for we may not make mention of the Name of the Lord." Times of plague are, with the most, times of religious despair. They who had not feared God in their prosperity, do nothing but fear Him then. Fear, without love, turns man more away from God. He feels then the presence and power of God whom he had forgotten. He owns Him as the Author of his miseries; but, not having known Him before, he knows Him now in no other relation.

The words then, "for not to be mentioned is the Name of the Lord," are very probably the voice of despair. "It is useless to name Him now. We did not name His Name in life. It is not for "us" to name it now, in death." It might be the voice of impatient aversion, which would not bear to hear of God, the Author of its woe; or it might be the voice of superstition, which would not name God's Name, for fear of bringing fresh evil upon itself. All these grounds for not naming the Name of God and others yet worse, recur, again and again, under the pressure of a general sudden destruction. Such times being out the soul to light, as it is. Souls, which have sinned away the grace of God and are beyond its reach, pass unobserved amid the thronging activity of ordinary life. They are arrested then. They must choose then or never. Their unchanged aversion from God, then, unveils what they had been before. They choose once more, deliberately, in the face of God's judgments, what they had habitually chosen before, and, by the dreadful nakedness of their choice of evil, become now unmitigatedly evil. The prophet gives one instance of this utter misery of body and soul, because detail of misery sets the whole calamity more before people's eyes. In one picture, they see all. The words, or what the words imply, that, in extreme calamity, people do not mention the Name of God, come true in different minds out of different characters of irreligion.

It has also been thought, that the brief answer, "Hush!" closes the dialogue. The uncle asks, "is there yet with thee?" He answers, "None." The other rejoins "Hush!" and the prophet assigns the ground; "for the Name of the Lord is not to be named." If people have not sought God earlier, they have, when his hand is heavy upon them, no heart, nor time, nor thought, nor faith to seek Him.

10. a man's uncle—The nearest relatives had the duty of burying the dead (Ge 25:9; 35:29; Jud 16:31). No nearer relative was left of this man than an uncle.

and he that burneth him—the uncle, who is also at the same time the one that burneth him (one of the "ten," Am 6:9). Burial was the usual Hebrew mode of disposing of their dead. But in cases of necessity, as when the men of Jabesh-gilead took the bodies of Saul and his three sons from the walls of Beth-shan and burned them to save them from being insulted by the Philistines, burning was practised. So in this case, to prevent contagion.

the bones—that is, the dead body (Ge 50:25). Perhaps here there is an allusion in the phrase to the emaciated condition of the body, which was little else but skin and bones.

say unto him that is by the sides of the house—that is, to the only one left of the ten in the interior of the house [Maurer] (compare Note, see on [1140]Isa 14:13).

Hold thy tongue … we may not … mention … the Lord—After receiving the reply, that none is left besides the one addressed, when the man outside fancies the man still surviving inside to be on the point, as was customary, of expressing devout gratitude to God who spared him, the man outside interrupts him, "Hold thy tongue! for there is not now cause for mentioning with praise (Jos 23:7) the name of Jehovah"; for thou also must die; as all the ten are to die to the last man (Am 6:9; compare Am 8:3). Formerly ye boasted in the name of Jehovah, as if ye were His peculiar people; now ye shall be silent and shudder at His name, as hostile to you, and as one from whom ye wish to be hidden (Re 6:16), [Calvin].

A man’s uncle, or some near kinsman, shall take him up, instead of those mercenaries who were wont to do this, and were paid for it; but now none of these to be had, the next to the dead must, as well as he is able, take him up on his shoulders, and carry him, i.e. the last of the ten, the other nine being dead.

He that burneth him: though the Jews mostly buried, yet in some cases they burned the dead bodies, as in this of wasting pestilence, when they could not carry them out, either for fear of infecting others, or for want of help.

To bring out the bones out of the house; all that remained: the flesh of the dead being consumed to ashes, the bones are reserved to be buried, and laid up in some sepulchre of their ancestors.

Shall say; he that doth this office for the last of his dead friends shall inquire of one he seeth either dwelling near, and by the sides of the house out of which the bones are carried, or else of some that lay undiscerned in the corner of the house where so many died,

Is there yet any with thee? is any one living in this your house, hath any one escaped?

He shall say, No; the man of whom the uncle, or whoever carried out the bones, inquireth.

Then shall he say, then shall the inquirer say,

Hold thy tongue; either, Murmur not against God, or mourn not, for so sad is the time that the dead are happier than the living; or, Say nothing, lest all be rifled from thee; for such inhumanity was among them, that there were those who would dare to rifle infected houses. Or else, which suits the next words, Be silent under God’s just displeasure.

We may not make mention of the name of the Lord; now it is too late to seek God, who its executing his immutable decree and sentence, which we were advised to prevent, but did not in season. And a man's uncle shall take him up,.... That is, his father's brother, as Kimchi; or his near kinsman, as the Targum; to whom the right of inheritance belongs, and also the care of his funeral; he shall take up the dead man himself, in order to inter him, there being none to employ in such service; the mortality being so universal, either through the pestilence raging everywhere, or through the earthquake, men being killed by the fall of houses upon them; which Aben Ezra takes to be the case here; see Amos 6:11;

and he that burneth him; which may be read disjunctively, "or he that burneth him" (e); his mother's brother, according to Judah ben Karis in Aben Ezra; for which there seems to be no foundation. The Targum renders it in connection with the preceding clause,

"shall take him up from burning;''

and so Jarchi interprets of a man's being found, and taken up in a house, burnt by the enemy at the taking of the city: but it is best to understand it of one whose business it was to burn the dead; which, though not commonly used among the Jews, sometimes was, 1 Samuel 31:12; and so should be at this time, partly because of the infection, and to stop the contagion; and chiefly because a single man could not well carry whole bodies to the grave, to bury them; and therefore first burnt their flesh, and then buried their bones, as follows:

to bring out the bones out of the house; in order to bury them:

and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house; or "in the corner of it" (f), as the Targum; either the uncle shall say to the burner, that is searching the house for the dead; or the uncle and burner, being one and the same person, shall say to the only surviving one of the ten, that is got into some corner of the house through fear or melancholy, under such a sad calamity,

is there yet any with thee? any dead corpse to be brought out and burned and buried?

and he shall say, no; there are no more: or "there is an end" of them all (g); the last has been brought out: or, as the Targum,

"they are perished;''

they are all dead, and carried out:

then shall he say, hold thy tongue; lest the neighbours should hear, and be discouraged at the number of the dead in one house; or say not one word against the providence of God, nor murmur and repine at his hand, since it is just and righteous:

for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord; being forbid by their superiors; or it is not right to do it by way of complaint, since our sins have deserved such judgments to come upon us; or it will be to no purpose to make mention of the name of the Lord, and pray unto him to turn away his hand, since destruction is determined, the decree is gone forth. The Targum is,

"he shall say, remove (that is, the dead), since while they lived they did not pray in the name of the Lord.''

And so the Syriac and Arabic versions make this to be the reason of the mortality, "because they remembered not the name of the Lord"; or, "called not upon" it.

continued...

And a man's uncle {k} shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the {l} sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, {m} Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD.

(k) The destruction will be so great, that almost none will be left to bury the dead: and therefore they will burn them at home, to carry out the burnt ashes with more ease.

(l) That is, to some neighbour that dwells near by.

(m) They will be so astonished at this destruction, that they will not boast any more of the name of God, and that they are his people: but they will be silent when they hear God's name, and abhor it, as those that are desperate, or reprobate.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. A grim episode imagined by the prophet (cf. Isaiah 3:6 f.) for the purpose of illustrating vividly the terrors of the time: the relative of a deceased man enters his house to perform the last duties to his corpse: he finds no living person in it except one, secreted in a far corner, who tells him he is the solitary survivor of the household, all the others having perished (cf. Amos 5:9): so desperate is the outlook that men dread even to mention Jehovah’s name, for fear lest it should call down a fresh judgement upon them.

a man’s uncle] His father and brother are supposed to be dead: so his uncle is his next-of-kin, and, as such, has the care of his interment.

and he that burneth him] As a rule, the Hebrews did not burn their dead, but buried them, the only exceptions noted in the O.T. being the cases of criminals (Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9; Joshua 7:15; Joshua 7:25; cf. Genesis 38:24), and of Saul and his son, whose bodies were burnt by the men of Jabesh-Gilead, after they had rescued them from the wall of Beth-shean. If the rendering given be correct, it must be supposed that Amos pictured burial as being impossible, either on account of the limited space available, in a besieged city, or because of the virulence of the plague. The Heb. is however, literally, not he that burneth him, but his burner; and as the terms used seem to imply that some recognised custom is alluded to, it is quite possible that the reference is to the practice of burning fragrant spices in honour of the dead: see Jeremiah 34:5; and esp. 2 Chronicles 16:14 (“and they laid him [Asa] in the bed [bier], which was filled with sweet odours, and divers kinds of spices, prepared by the perfumer, and they burnt for him a very great burning”); 2 Chronicles 21:19 b.

by the sides] in the innermost parts (R.V.),—the same word which is used of the furthest or innermost parts of a cave (1 Samuel 24:3), of Sheol (Isaiah 14:15), and, as here, of a house, Psalm 128:3.

Is there yet any with thee?] viz. alive.

Then shall he say] And he shall say: the subject is still the survivor, speaking from the corner of the house, the words ‘and he shall say’ being inserted merely for the purpose of separating two parts of the answer which have no immediate connexion with each other (Hitzig compares 2 Kings 6:27 f.; see also Genesis 16:10-11; Genesis 21:7).

Hold thy tongue] Hush!—the exclamation found also in Amos 8:3; Jdg 3:19; Habakkuk 2:20; Zephaniah 1:7; Zechariah 2:13; and in the plural, treated as a verb, Nehemiah 8:11.

for we must not mention, &c.] lest, namely—such, at least, appears to be the meaning—by an injudicious utterance some fresh judgement should be invoked upon the panic-stricken survivors. It may have been the custom, upon occasion of a death, to offer some prayer or invocation to Jehovah; and the speaker, unmanned by the terrible mortality about him, feels a superstitious dread of mentioning Jehovah’s name, lest He should be moved by it to manifest some fresh token of His displeasure (comp. partly Isaiah 19:17).Verse 10. - The prophet gives an instance of the terror and misery in that common calamity. He depicts a scene where the nearest surviving kinsman comes into the house to perform the funeral rites for a dead man. And a man's uncle; better, and when a man's kinsman; the apodosis being at the end of the verse, "Then shall he say." Dod is sometimes rendered "beloved," but usually "father's brother," but it may mean any near relation upon whom, in default of father and brethren, would devolve the duty of burying the corpse. Septuagint, el οἰκεῖοι αὐτῶν: propinquus suus (Vulgate). And he that burneth him; literally, and his burner. This is the same person as the kinsman. the butler; but tot some reason, either from the number of deaths, or from the pestilence, or from the distance of the burying place, which would be out of the city and inaccessible in the blockade, he cannot lay the body in the brave, and is forced to take and burn it. Though the Jews generally buried dead bodies, cremation was sometimes used, both in honour or emergency (1 Samuel 31:12) and in punishment (Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9). The bones; i.e. the corpse, as in Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32; and 2 Kings 13:21; Keil. The kinsman takes it up to bring it out of the house to burn it. Him that is by the sides of the house; him that is in the innermost parts of the house; qui in penetralibus domus est (Vulgate). This is the last living person, who had hidden himself in the most remote chambers; or it may be a messenger whom the kinsman had sent to search the house. He asks him - Is there yet any with thee? Is there any one left alive to succour, or dead to bury? And he shall say, No; Vulgate, et respondebit, Finis est. Then he (the kinsman) shall say, Hold thy tongue (Has!); Hush! He stays the man in the inner chamber from speaking; and why? For we may not make mention of the name of the Lord; Vulgate, et non recorderis nominis Domini. Some, as Pussy, Schegg, and Gandell, see here the voice of despair. It is too late to call upon God now; it is the time of vengeance. We rejected him in life; we may not cry to him in death. St. Jerome refers the prohibition to the hardness of heart and unbelief of the people, who even in all this misery will not confess the name of the Lord. Keil says, "It indicates a fear lest, by the invocation of the name of God, his eye should be drawn towards this last remaining one, and he also should fall a victim to the judgment of death." Others again think that the notion in the mind of the impious speaker is that Jehovah is the Author of all their calamities, and that he is impatient at the very mention of his name. The simplest explanation is the first, or a modification of it The person addressed is about to pray or to call on God in his distress. "Be silent," says the speaker; "we can no longer appeal to Jehovah as the covenant God; by naming him we call to his remembrance how we have broken the covenant, violated our relation to him; therefore provoke him not further by making mention of his name." "Is not the food destroyed before our eyes, joy and exulting from the house of our God? Joel 1:17. The grains have mouldered under their clods, the storehouses are desolate, the barns have fallen down; because the corn is destroyed. Joel 1:18. How the cattle groan! the herds of oxen are bewildered, for no pasture was left for them; even the flocks of sheep suffer." As a proof that the day of the Lord is coming like a devastation from the Almighty, the prophet points in Joel 1:16 to the fact that the food is taken away before their eyes, and therewith all joy and exulting from the house of God. "The food of the sinners perishes before their eyes, since the crops they looked for are snatched away from their hands, and the locust anticipates the reaper" (Jerome). אכל, food as the means of sustenance; according to Joel 1:19, corn, new wine, and oil. The joy is thereby taken from the house of Jehovah, inasmuch as, when the crops are destroyed, neither first-fruits nor thank-offerings can be brought to the sanctuary to be eaten there at joyful meals (Deuteronomy 12:6-7; Deuteronomy 16:10-11). And the calamity became all the more lamentable, from the fact that, in consequence of a terrible drought, the seed perished in the earth, and consequently the prospect of a crop the following year entirely disappeared. The prophet refers to this in Joel 1:17, which has been rendered in extremely different ways by the lxx, Chald., and Vulg., on account of the ̔απ. λεγ. עבשׁוּ, פּרדות, and מגרפות (compare Pococke, ad h. l.). עבשׁ signifies to moulder away, or, as the injury was caused by dryness and heat, to dry up; it is used here of grains of corn which lose their germinating power, from the Arabic ‛bs, to become dry or withered, and the Chaldee עפשׁ, to get mouldy. Perudōth, in Syriac, grains of corn sowed broadcast, probably from pârad, to scatter about. Megrâphōth, according to Ab. Esr., clods of earth (compare Arab. jurf, gleba terrai), from gâraph, to wash away (Judges 5:21) a detached piece of earth. If the seed-corn loses its germinating power beneath the clod, no corn-harvest can be looked for. The storehouses ('ōtsârōth; cf. 2 Chronicles 32:27) moulder away, and the barns (mammegurâh with dag. dirim. equals megūrâh in Haggai 2:19) fall, tumble to pieces, because being useless they are not kept in proper condition. The drought also deprives the cattle of their pasture, so that the herds of oxen and flocks of sheep groan and suffer with the rest from the calamity. בּוּך, niphal, to be bewildered with fear. 'Ashēm, to expiate, to suffer the consequences of men's sin.

The fact, that even irrational creatures suffer along with men, impels the prophet to pray for help to the Lord, who helps both man and beast (Psalm 36:7). Joel 1:19. "To Thee, O Jehovah, do I:cry: for fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and flame has consumed all the trees of the field. Joel 1:20. Even the beasts of the field cry unto Thee; for the water-brooks are dried up, and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness." Fire and flame are the terms used by the prophet to denote the burning heat of the drought, which consumes the meadows, and even scorches up the trees. This is very obvious from the drying up of the water-brooks (in Joel 1:20). For Joel 1:20, compare Jeremiah 14:5-6. In Jeremiah 14:20 the address is rhetorically rounded off by the repetition of ואשׁ אכלה וגו from Jeremiah 14:19.

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