Amos 6:8
The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, said 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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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). "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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