Amos 6:9
And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.
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(9, 10) Ten . . . uncle.—In some large house it might be that ten are left remaining, but even these are devoured by the pestilence which hovers in the track of war. Nine have fallen victims. Fathers and brothers are all gone, and the uncle comes in as the funereal burner, to carry out the corpse to the pyre, and finds in the innermost parts of the house the tenth victim of the fell disease yet alive. A hurried word or two passes between them: “Is there yet another with thee?” and the answer comes, “Not one.” Then shall he say “Hush!” The lonely sufferer begins to curse the Lord for His judgments, or it may be he begins to call upon the Name of the Lord when it is too late, when, as a finishing touch of darkest gloom and despair, he is interrupted by a warning not to stir up Jehovah’s wrath in this day of His visitation by even mentioning His name. This and one other passage (1Samuel 31:12) imply that under special circumstances the Hebrews burned their dead. In this case pestilence made cremation a necessity. The references in 2Chronicles 16:14; 2Chronicles 21:19; Jeremiah 34:5, are to honorific burning of spices in memory of the dead.

Amos 6:9-11. If there remain ten men in one house, &c. — Those that escape the hands of the enemy shall die by the pestilence. And a man’s uncle (or kinsman) shall take him up — Some friend or relation, whose duty it is to perform the last offices for the deceased, shall take him up directly and burn him: for so it should be rendered, and not, AND HE THAT burneth him. The meaning is, that he should not stay to perfume the body with rich ointments, as was the usual custom; nor should he bury it, but burn it to ashes, to prevent infection. To bring out the bones out of the house, &c. — Or rather, that he may bring out, &c., that is, that he may, as soon as possible, cleanse the house by the removal of the body. All that is said here, is strongly expressive of what is the case where a deadly pestilence rages. And shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house — Or near the house, out of which the bones are carried; Is there any yet with thee — Is there any yet living besides thyself belonging to this house? And he shall say, No — All the inhabitants of the house are dead. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue; for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord — As this clause has no immediate connection with, or relation to, the negative answer contained in the preceding clause, it is to be supposed that when the person has given that answer, and said that there was none left alive in the house, he utters, as is natural, some prayer to God for mercy or deliverance; on which the other speaks to him in this manner: as much as to say, It is in vain now to pray, or make supplication; for God will not now hear us, but we also shall be cut off by this dreadful pestilence, as the rest have been. Archbishop Newcome puts a different sense on the last clause, thus: “Solitude shall reign in the house; and if one is left, he must be silent (see Amos 8:3) and retired, lest he be plundered of his scanty provisions.” For behold, the Lord commandeth — Gives forth his commands to the enemy, namely, the Assyrians, to come against Israel. And he will smite the great house, and the little house, &c. — People of all ranks, high and low, shall be sufferers in the common calamities.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.If there shall remain ten men - He probably still denounces the punishment of the rich inhabitants of the palaces, since in these only, of old, would there be found "ten men." They died, it seems, at once, and so probably through the plague, the common companion. of the siege. The prophet had before compared them to Sodom. It may be, that, in this mention of "ten men," he tacitly refers to the history of that destruction. Then God promised, not to destroy the city, if there were ten righteous in it Genesis 18:32. Here were "ten left," not in one city, but in one house. Had God forgotten His loving-kindness? No! but, in Samaria, not even ten who "remained over," and so had survived after the chastisement had begun, turned to God. All then were to be taken or destroyed. The miseries of its three years' siege by Shalmanezer may be filled up from those of its earlier siege by Benhadad 2 Kings 6:24-29, or from those of Jerusalem. The sufferings of a siege are in proportion to the obstinacy of the defense; and Samaria resisted for twice the time in which Jerusalem was reduced by famine at its first captivity. 9. If as many as ten (Le 26:26; Zec 8:23) remain in a house (a rare case, and only in the scattered villages, as there will be scarcely a house in which the enemy will leave any), they shall all, to a man, die of the plague, a frequent concomitant of war in the East (Jer 24:10; 44:13; Eze 6:11). It shall come to pass; the thing is decreed, and shall take effect.

If there remain, or escape the enemies’ sword, or the famine of Samaria, besieged three years.

Ten men in one house; many men, for it is a certain number expressed, though an uncertain be understood.

They shall die, either of pestilence, or by some other stroke of God’s hand; though they escape a while they shall not finally escape, 2 Kings 17:5. And it shall come to pass,.... When the city is delivered up and taken:

if there remain; who are not carried captive, or destroyed by the sword:

ten men in one house; that is, many, a certain number for an uncertain:

that they shall die; either with famine, or by the pestilence, though they have escaped the other calamities; so general shall the destruction be, by one means or another.

And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.
9. A house in which ten men were left, surviving the casualties and privations of a siege, must have been a fairly large one: no doubt, Amos has still in view the palaces of the wealthy (cf. Amos 3:15). Those, however, who in such a house have escaped other dangers, shall nevertheless die, viz. by the pestilence, which the prophet pictures tacitly as raging in the city at the time.

9–10. The terrible consequences of the siege.Verse 9. - If there remain ten men in one house. If these escape death in war, they shall die of famine and pestilence in the three years' siege of Samaria (2 Kings 17:5). If the prophet is still referring to the rich chieftains, ten would be only a poor remnant of the inhabitants of their palaces. The LXX. adds, very unnecesarily, Καὶ ὑπολειφθήσονται οἱ κατάλοιποι, "And those remaining shall be left behind." "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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