Amos 6:8
The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.
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(8) By himself.—Literally, by His soul. Jehovah swears by His life or soul because He could swear by no greater—the eternal “I Am.” (Comp. the formula of Divine asseveration: “As I live, saith the Lord,” which derives illustration from the custom of swearing by the life of a monarch; Genesis 42:15-16.) With the eternal unchangeable being of the Supreme Monarch stands contrasted “the excellency of Jacob,” the false futile glory which Jehovah abhors. In Amos 8:7 the phrase is used for God Himself; not, however, in either passage God’s absolute perfection or objective glory, but the thoughts, sometimes wise, sometimes base, which men have entertained about Him. From the context we infer that the splendid shrine of Samaria, with its unacceptable offerings and calf-worship, is here meant. The reference to the coming destruction of buildings great and small (Amos 6:11) lends colour to this interpretation. (Comp. Amos 6:13.)

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.The Lord God - He who alone is and who alone hath power, "hath sworn by Himself," literally, "by His soul;" as our "self" comes from the same root as "soul." Jerome: "So God saith in Isaiah, "Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hateth" Isaiah 1:14; not that God hath a soul, but that He speaks after the way of human feelings. Nor is it any marvel that He condescends to speak of Himself, as having a soul, seeing He speaks of Himself as having the other members, feet, hands, bowels, which are less precious than the soul. In God the Father, the head, hands, and the rest are not members, but by these words a diversity of powers is expressed. So also by the soul is intended not a substance, but the inward affections, and the seat of thought whereby God indicates His Will." In truth, it is one and the same condescension in Almighty God, to use of Himself any words taken from our nature, our thoughts, acts, feelings, as those taken from the members of the body.

It is a yet greater condescension that God should confirm the truth of His word by an oath. For we call God to witness, lest, by reason of the vast reign of falsehood among people, we should be thought not to speak true. But for God to act as though He needed the assurance of an oath in order to be believed, is more condescending, than for Him to speak as though He had a soul or limbs, such as He gave to man. Yet God, "willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of His promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath. He swore by Himself saying, surely blessing I will bless thee" Hebrews 6:17, Hebrews 6:13-14. "Now," when Israel had, by apostasy, forfeited that blessing, and a portion of it was to be withdrawn from him, God, affirms by an oath that rejection of Israel. If the words, "by His soul," are emphatic, they relate to those attributes in God of which man's holy affections are an image. God's love, justice, righteousness, holiness, were concerned, to vindicate the oppressed and punish the oppressor. To these He appeals. Our oaths mean, "As God is true, and as He avenges untruth, this which I say is true." So God says, "As I am God, this is true." God then must cease to be God, if He did not hate oppression.

I abhor the excellency of Jacob - The word "excellency" is used of the Majesty of God Himself; then, since man's relation to God is his only real greatness, God speaks of Himself as "the Excellency of Jacob" Amos 8:7; then of that "excellency" which God had given to "Jacob" Psalm 47:4. That "excellency of their strength," He had forwarned them in the law, that He would break Leviticus 26:19. Now that Israel took as his own what he held from God, his "excellency" became pride, and God says, "I abhor" it, as a thing loathsome and abominable, and "hate his palaces." For they had been built, adorned, inhabited, filled with luxury, in the midst of, and out of, oppression and hard-hearted exaction. He calls them Jacob, perhaps as Hosea does Hosea 12:12, to remind them of the poverty and low estate of their forefather, out of which God had raised them, and the faithfulness of their forefather in it, in contrast with their luxury and unfaithfulness.

Therefore (And) I will deliver up - Originally, "shut up" (Leviticus 14:23; Leviticus 13:4-5, ...), then, "shut up in the hands of," so that he should have no escape. Here, where the enemy is not spoken of, it may mean, that God "shut up the city," so that there should be no going out or coming in, in the straithess of the siege, whereupon follows the fearful description of the ravages of the pestilence. "The city" is, what was to them, above others, "the" city, the place of their luxury pride and boast, where lay their strength, Samaria.

8. the excellency of Jacob—(Ps 47:4). The sanctuary which was the great glory of the covenant-people [Vatablus], (Eze 24:21). The priesthood, and kingdom, and dignity, conferred on them by God. These, saith God, are of no account in My eyes towards averting punishment [Calvin].

hate his palaces—as being the storehouses of "robbery" (Am 3:10, 15). How sad a change from God's love of Zion's gates (Ps 87:2) and palaces (Ps 48:3, 13), owing to the people's sin!

the city—collectively: both Zion and Samaria (Am 6:1).

all that is therein—literally, "its fulness"; the multitude of men and of riches in it (compare Ps 24:1).

The secure, incredulous, and atheistical among the judges of Israel are here spoken to especially, and the prophet assures them that God had sworn by himself that they should be punished, and in the manner he had foretold.

Saith the Lord the God of hosts; God assureth his prophet, that the prophet might attest it to his hearers.

I abhor, I look with detestation, and remember with loathing,

the excellency of Jacob; all that the seed of Jacob account a glory and excellency to them, and in which they do put their trust, all their external privileges and ceremonious worship.

And hate his palaces; in which violence is stored up, in which luxury abounds.

I will deliver up the city; Jerusalem, Samaria, and all the other cities.

With all that is therein, both persons and things; Assyria first shall sweep away all out of Israel and Samaria, and Babylonians next shall carry away Judah, Jerusalem, and all in it.

The Lord God hath sworn by himself,.... Because he could swear by no greater, Hebrews 6:13; which shows the importance and certainty of the thing sworn to, and is as follows:

saith the Lord, the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob; or, "the pride of Jacob" (c); of Israel, of the ten tribes, remarkable for their pride; hence called the crown of pride, Isaiah 28:3; it may include all that was glorious, valuable, and excellent among them, of which they were proud; their kingdom, riches, wealth, and strength, their fortified cities and towns: if Judah is comprehended in this, it may regard the temple, which was their excellency, and in which they gloried. So the Targum paraphrases it,

"the house of the sanctuary of the house of Jacob;''

and in like manner Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, interpret it;

and hate his palaces; the palaces of the king and nobles, and great men, which should fall into the enemy's hand, and be plundered and destroyed; which is meant by the Lord's abhorrence and hatred of them, this being an evidence of it;

therefore will I deliver up the city, with all that is therein; or, "with its fulness" (d); with all its inhabitants and riches; according to Jarchi, the city of Jerusalem is meant; though rather the city of Samaria, unless both are intended, city for cities; since the chief men both of Israel and Judah seem to be addressed, Amos 6:1.

(c) "superbiam", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus; "fastium", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius. (d) "et plenitudinem ejus", Mercerus, Piscator, Cocceius.

{h} The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor {i} the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.

(h) Read Jer 51:14.

(i) That is, the riches and pomp.

8. The contemplation of such strange moral obliquity excites the prophet’s indignation, which finds expression in the oath (cf. Amos 4:2, Amos 8:7), in which Jehovah solemnly affirms that He abhors Israel.

by himself] Lit. by his soul: the same oath, Jeremiah 51:14 only. (Jehovah’s ‘soul,’ Isaiah 1:14; Isaiah 42:1, Jeremiah 5:9; Jeremiah 6:8 al.)

abhor] From being Israel’s guardian and protector He is turned into its foe. Comp. for the general thought Deuteronomy 28:63; Hosea 5:12; Hosea 5:14; Hosea 13:7 f.; Isaiah 63:10; and below, ch. Amos 9:4.

excellency] pride,—whether of Israel’s vain-glorious temper itself (Isaiah 9:9), or of the objects of which it is proud, its affluence, material splendour, military efficiency, &c. The word will bear either sense: see (a) Hosea 5:5; Hosea 7:10, Isaiah 16:6; and (b) Nahum 2:3, Psalm 47:4, Zechariah 9:6. On the feeble and very inadequate rendering ‘excellency,’ see the Additional Note, p. 238.

his palaces] in which Israel’s pride is only too manifest; the homes of the nonchalant nobles, founded on oppression (cf. Jeremiah 22:13-17, of Jehoiakim), and enriched by what had been wrung from the indigent (cf. ch. Amos 3:10).

and I will deliver up &c.] As in Amos 2:14-16, Amos 3:11 f., Amos 4:2 f., Amos 5:16, there rises before the prophet’s eye a vision of invasion, one of the accompaniments of which would be naturally the siege of the strong cities.

Additional Note on Chap. Amos 6:8 (excellent, excellency)

The words excellency and excellent are unfortunately, to the great detriment of the sense, used frequently in both the Authorized and the Revised Versions, to represent various Hebrew words expressive of majesty, pride, glory[230]. Excellency is thus used (as here) for gâ’ôn, majesty, pride (in a good or a bad sense according to the context), in Exodus 15:7 (“in the greatness of thy majesty (cognate with the verb rendered ‘hath triumphed gloriously’ in v. 1, 21; lit. hath risen up majestically) thou overthrowest them that rise up against thee”); Isaiah 13:19 (A.V. pride), Isaiah 60:15 (“an everlasting pride”); Ezekiel 24:21 (R.V. pride, as Leviticus 26:19 in A.V., in the same phrase); Amos 8:7; Nahum 2:2; Psalm 47:4; Job 37:4 (R.V. majesty); for ga’ăwâh, majesty, Deuteronomy 33:26; Deuteronomy 33:29, Psalm 68:34; for gôbah, loftiness, Job 40:10 (R.V. dignity, using ‘excellency’ for gâ’ôn); for hâdâr, splendour, glory, Isaiah 35:2 (‘the splendour of Carmel,’ ‘the splendour of our God’); and excellent for gâ’ôn, Isaiah 4:2 (read this verse, “In that day shall the sprouting of Jehovah be for an ornament and for a glory, and the fruit of the land for majesty and for beauty, to them that escape of Israel,” and it both expresses more exactly the original, and also exhibits more clearly the prophet’s thought that a true glory is to take the place of the false glory which, as ch. 2, 3 has shewn, is to vanish away); for gç’ûth, also majesty, Isaiah 12:5 (R.V. marg. gloriously); for ’addîr, noble or glorious, Psalm 8:1; Psalm 8:9 (“How glorious is thy name in all the earth!”), Psalm 16:3 (the saints of God are the nobles, in whom the Psalmist delights), Psalm 76:4 (“all-bright (?)[231] art thou, and glorious, (coming down) from the mountains of prey”); for nisgâb, exalted (so R.V.), Psalm 148:13 : in the Prayer-Book Version of the Psalms, it stands similarly for ’addîr, Psalm 8:1; Psalm 8:9, for nikbâdôth, ‘glorious things,’ Psalm 87:2, for nisgâb, exalted, Psalm 139:5 (i.e. here, too high for me), Psalm 148:12 : cf. excel for ’addîr, Psalm 16:3. These renderings are the more to be regretted, as the Hebrew words in question are elsewhere expressed quite correctly: thus gâ’ôn is pride in A.V., R.V., of Isaiah 23:9, Jeremiah 13:9 (‘the pride of Judah’), Hosea 5:5; Hosea 7:10, Zechariah 9:6; Zechariah 10:11 &c.; majesty in Isaiah 2:10; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 2:21, Micah 5:4; gç’ûth is majesty, Isaiah 26:10, Psalm 93:1;’addîr is glorious in Isaiah 33:21 (R.V. in majesty); noble, Jeremiah 14:3; Jeremiah 30:21 (R.V. here prince), and the cognate verb is glorious in Exodus 15:6; Exodus 15:11; hâdâr is majesty in Psalm 21:6; Psalm 29:4; Psalm 96:6 and frequently; and nisgâb is constantly exalted (as Isaiah 2:11; Isaiah 2:17 &c.), and with name (exactly as Psalm 148:13), Isaiah 12:4Verse 8. - Hath sworn by himself (nephesh); in anima sua (Vulgate), "by his soul;" a concession to human language (comp. Amos 4:2; Jeremiah 51:14; Hebrews 6:13, 17, 18). God thus shows that the threat proceeds from him, and is immutable. The excellency; the pride (ὕβριν, Septuagint; superbiam, Vulgate); that of which Jacob is proud (Hosea 5:5), as, for instance, his palaces, built by exaction, maintained in voluptuous luxury. Will deliver up to the enemy for destruction (Deuteronomy 32:30; Obadiah 1:14). Amos 6:8This threat is carried out still further in Amos 6:8-11. Amos 6:8. "The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by Himself, is the saying of Jehovah, the God of hosts: I abhor the pride of Jacob, and his palaces I hate; and give up the city, and the fulness thereof. Amos 6:9. And it will come to pass, if then men are left in a house, they shall die. Amos 6:10. And when his cousin lifts him up, and he that burieth him, to carry out the bones out of the house, and saith to the one in the hindermost corner of the house, Is there still any one with thee? and he says, Not one; then will he say, Hush; for the name of Jehovah is not to be invoked. Amos 6:11. For, behold, Jehovah commandeth, and men smite the great house to ruins, and the small house into shivers." In order to show the secure debauchees the terrible severity of the judgments of God, the Lord announces to His people with a solemn oath the rejection of the nation which is so confident in its own power (cf. Amos 6:13). The oath runs here as in Amos 4:2, with this exception, that instead of בּקדשׁו we have בּנפשׁו in the same sense; for the nephesh of Jehovah, His inmost being or self, is His holiness. מתאב, with the guttural softened, for מתעב. The participle describes the abhorrence as a continued lasting feeling, and not a merely passing emotion. גּאון יעקב, the loftiness or pride of Jacob, i.e., everything of which Jacob is proud, the true and imaginary greatness and pride of Israel, which included the palaces of the voluptuous great men, for which reason they are placed in parallelism with גאון יע. This glory of Israel Jehovah abhors, and He will destroy it by giving up the city (Samaria), and all that fills it (houses and men), to the enemies to be destroyed. גאון יע, to give up to the enemy, as in Deuteronomy 32:30 and Obadiah 1:14; not to surround, to which וּמלאהּ is unsuitable. The words not only threaten surrounding, or siege, but also conquest, and (Amos 6:11) the destruction of the city. And then, even if there are ten in one house, they will all perish. אנשׁים: people, men. Ten in one house is a large number, which the prophet assumes as the number, to give the stronger emphasis to the thought that not one will escape from death. This thought is still further explained in Amos 6:10. A relative comes into the house to bury his deceased blood-relation. The suffix to נשׂאו refers to the idea involved in מתוּ, a dead man. Dōd, literally the father's brother, here any near relation whose duty it was to see to the burial of the dead. מסרף for משׂרף, the burner, i.e., the burier of the dead. The Israelites were indeed accustomed to bury their dead, and not to burn the corpses. The description of the burier as mesârēph (a burner) therefore supposes the occurrence of such a multitude of deaths that it is impossible to bury the dead, whose corpses are obliged to be burned, for the purpose of preventing the air from being polluted by the decomposition of the corpses. Of course the burning did not take place at the house, as Hitzig erroneously infers from להוציא עצמים; for עצמים denotes the corpse here, as in Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32, and 2 Kings 13:21, and not the different bones of the dead which remained without decomposition or burning. The burier now asks the last living person in the house, who has gone to the very back of the house in order to save his life, whether there is any one still with him, any one still living in the house beside himself, and receives the answer, אפס (Adv.), "Nothing more;" whereupon he says to him, has, "Be still," answering to our Hush! because he is afraid that, if he goes on speaking, he may invoke the name of God, or pray for the mercy of God; and he explains his words by adding, "The name of Jehovah must not be mentioned." It is not Amos who adds this explanation, but the relation. Nor does it contain "the words of one who despairs of any better future, and whose mind is oppressed by the weight of the existing evils, as if he said, Prayers would be of no use, for we too must die" (Lievl., Ros.). לא להזכּיר, "it is not to (may not) be mentioned," would be unsuitable as an utterance of despair. It rather indicates the fear lest, by the invocation of the name of God, the eye of God should be drawn towards this last remaining one, and he also should fall a victim to the judgment of death. This judgment the Lord accomplishes not merely by a pestilence which breaks out during the siege, and rages all around (there is no ground for any such limitation of the words), but also by sword and plague during the siege and conquest of the town. For the reason assigned for the threat in Amos 6:11 points to the latter. כּי links the words to the main thought in Amos 6:11, or even Amos 6:10: "When the Lord delivers up the city and all that fills it, they will all perish; for, behold, He commands, orders the enemy (the nation in Amos 6:14), and it will smite in pieces the houses, great and small." The singular הבּית is used with indefinite generality: every house, great and small (cf. Amos 3:15).
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