Amos 7:2
And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) The grass of the land.—The same word is used in the original in Genesis 1:11, signifying herbs and vegetables. Amos saw the first wave of disaster in the destruction of the food of the people, and he interceded for respite and forgiveness. The cry takes the form, Who is Jacob that he should stand? (E.V., “by whom,” is incorrect) for he is small.

Amos 7:2-3. When they had made an end of eating the grass — With us grasshoppers are not hurtful, but those in our text were locusts, as the word גבי, here used, is rendered, Isaiah 33:4 : in which sense the word is understood by the Vulgate and Houbigant: see also Nab. 3:17. By whom shall Jacob arise? — Or, who shall raise up Jacob; for he is small? — If thou suffer these calamities to proceed to extremities, by what means shall the small remains of the riches and strength of the kingdom be rescued from utter destruction? The Lord repented for this, &c. — The prophet here informs us, that it was represented to him in his vision, that the Lord was pleased to hearken to his earnest supplication, and to promise that the threatened judgment should not proceed to an utter destruction of the whole kingdom. Those who suppose all this to be metaphorically expressed, understand this of Pul’s being induced by a sum of money to depart out of the land, as we read 2 Kings 15:20 : but it may be understood of a threatened judgment of locusts and other insects, which was deprecated by the prophet’s prayers, and so not executed.

7:1-9 God bears long, but he will not bear always with a provoking people. The remembrance of the mercies we formerly received, like the produce of the earth of the former growth, should make us submissive to the will of God, when we meet with disappointments in the latter growth. The Lord has many ways of humbling a sinful nation. Whatever trouble we are under, we should be most earnest with God for the forgiveness of sin. Sin will soon make a great people small. What will become of Israel, if the hand that should raise him be stretched out against him? See the power of prayer. See what a blessing praying people are to a land. See how ready, how swift God is to show mercy; how he waits to be gracious. Israel was a wall, a strong wall, which God himself reared as a defence to his sanctuary. The Lord now seems to stand upon this wall. He measures it; it appears to be a bowing, bulging wall. Thus God would bring the people of Israel to the trial, would discover their wickedness; and the time will come, when those who have been spared often, shall be spared no longer. But the Lord still calls Israel his people. The repeated prayer and success of the prophet should lead us to seek the Saviour.And behold He formed - (that is, He was forming.) The very least things then are as much in His infinite Mind, as what we count the greatest. He has not simply made "laws of nature," as people speak, to do His work, and continue the generations of the world. He Himself was still framing them, giving them being, as our Lord saith, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" John 5:17. The same power of God is seen in creating the locust, as the universe. The creature could as little do the one as the other. But further, God was "framing" them for a special end, not of nature, but of His moral government, in the correction of man. He was "framimg the locust," that it might, at His appointed time, lay waste just those tracts which He had appointed to them. God, in this vision, opens our eyes, and lets us see Himself, framing the punishment for the deserts of the sinners, that so when hail, mildew, blight, caterpillars, or some other hitherto unknown disease, (which, because we know it not, we call by the name of the crop which it annihilates), waste our crops, we may think, not of secondary causes, but of our Judge. Lap.: "Fire and hail, snow and vapors, stormy wind, fulfill His word, Psalm 148:8, in striking sinners as He wills. To be indignant with these, were like a dog who bit the stone wherewith it was hit, instead of the man who threw it." Gregory on Job L. xxxii. c. 4. L.: "He who denies that he was stricken for his own fault, what does he but accuse the justice of Him who smiteth?"

Grasshoppers - that is, locusts. The name may very possibly be derived from their "creeping" simultaneously, in vast multitudes, from the ground, which is the more observable in these creatures, which, when the warmth of spring hatches the eggs, creep forth at once in myriads. This first meaning of their name must, however, have been obliterated by use (as mostly happens), since the word is also used by Nahum of a flying locust .

The king's mowings - must have been some regalia, to meet the state-expenses. The like custom still lingers on, here and there, among us, the "first mowth" or "first vesture," that with which the fields are first clad, belonging to one person; the pasturage afterward, or "after-grass," to others. The hay-harvest probably took place some time before the grain-harvest, and the "latter grass," "after-grass," (לקשׁ leqesh) probably began to spring up at the time of the "latter rain" (מלקושׁ malqôsh). Had the grass been mourn after this rain, it would not, under the burning sun of their rainless summer, have sprung up at all. At this time, then, upon which the hope of the year depended, "in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter grass," Amos saw, in a vision, God form the locust, and "the green herb of the land" (the word includes all, that which is "for the service of man" as well as for beasts,) destroyed. Striking emblem of a state, recovering after it had been mown down, and anew overrun by a numerous enemy! Yet this need but be a passing desolation. Would they abide, or would they carry their ravages elsewhere? Amos intercedes with God, in words of that first intercession of Moses, "forgive now" Numbers 14:19. "By whom," he adds, "shall Jacob arise?" literally, "Who shall Jacob arise?" that is, who is he that he should arise, so weakened, so half-destroyed? Plainly, the destruction is more than one invasion of locusts in one year. The locusts are a symbol (as in Joel) in like way as the following visions are symbols.

2. by whom shall Jacob arise?—If Thou, O God, dost not spare, how can Jacob maintain his ground, reduced as he is by repeated attacks of the Assyrians, and erelong about to be invaded by the Assyrian Pul (2Ki 15:19, 20)? Compare Isa 51:19. The mention of "Jacob" is a plea that God should "remember for them His covenant" with their forefather, the patriarch (Ps 106:45).

he is small—reduced in numbers and in strength.

Either visionally, the whole scheme represented both locusts, grass, herbs, and corn, and it represented the grass as almost all eaten up, and the locusts ready to fall upon the corn, and all that remained. Or else really, it was acted, and the grass was devoured. Though the former seems most likely, I leave it to every one’s judgment. Amos interceded by prayer for this people in this case; and he sueth for mercy, entreats for pardon, hereby justifying God’s proceedings; and though this people for whom he prays is insensible of their condition, yet the prophet is deeply affected with it, and deprecates the displeasure of God, and implores his mercy; to God belongs forgiveness, to them nothing but shame.

By whom shall Jacob arise? how shall any of Jacob escape? or if thou, O God of Jacob, dost east him down, who will or can lift him up? he must needs perish if thou be still angry and show not pity. For he is small; weak in strength, few in number, not able to resist his enemies the Assyrians.

And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land,.... That is, the grasshoppers or locusts; when in the vision it seemed to the prophet that almost all the grass of the land was eaten up, and they were going to seize upon the corn, and other fruits of the earth: this signifies not Sennacherib's invasion of the land of Judea, but Pul's invasion of the land of Israel, whose army seemed like these locusts; and spreading themselves over the land, threatened it with desolation, as these locusts seemed to have wholly consumed all the grass of the land; then the prophet said what follows:

then I said, O Lord God, forgive, I beseech thee; the sins of the people, as the Targum, which were the cause of these locusts coming, or of the Assyrian army invading the land; and the prophet prays that God would avert this judgment, signified in this vision, or remove it, which is often in Scripture meant by the forgiveness of sin, Exodus 32:31; this is the business of the prophets and ministers of the Lord, to intercede for a people when ruin is near; and happy is that people, when they have such to stand up in the breach for them. The argument the prophet uses is,

by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small; or "little" (a); like the first shooting up of the grass, after it has been own: or, as Noldius (b) renders it, "how otherwise should Jacob stand?" and so Kimchi, how should there be a standing for him? that is, unless God forgives his sin, and turns away his wrath, how shall he stand up under the weight of his sins, which must lie upon him, unless forgiven? and how shall he bear the wrath and indignation of God for them? and so if any sinner is not forgiven, how shall he stand before God to serve and worship him now? or at his tribunal with confidence hereafter? or sustain his wrath and displeasure to all eternity? see Psalm 130:3; or, "who of" or "in Jacob shall stand" (c)? not one will be left; all must be cut off, if God forgive not; for all are sinners, there are none without sin: or, "who shall stand for Jacob?" (d) or intercede for him? it will be to no purpose, if God is inexorable: so the Targum,

"who will stand and ask "pardon" for their sins?''

or, "who will raise up Jacob?" (e) from that low condition in which he is, or likely to be in, if God forgive not, and does not avert the judgment threatened, to a high and glorious state of prosperity and happiness; for, if all are cut off, there will be none left to be instruments of such a work: "for he is small"; few in number, and greatly weakened by one calamity or another; and, if this should take place, would be fewer and weaker still. So the church of Christ, which is often signified by Jacob, is sometimes in a very low estate; the number of converts few; has but a little strength to bear afflictions, perform duty, and withstand enemies; it is a day of small things with it, with respect to light and knowledge, and the exercise of grace, especially faith; when some like the prophet are concerned for it, by whom it shall arise; the God of Jacob can cause it to arise, and can raise up instruments for such service, and make his ministers, and the ministry of the word and ordinances, means of increasing the number, stature, spiritual light, knowledge, grace, and strength of his people.

(a) "parvulus", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus; "parvus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius. (b) "quomodo (alias) surgeret Jacob?" Concord. Ebr. Part. p. 60. No. 1979. "quomodo consistet?" Liveleus; "quomodo surget Jacob?" Drusius. (c) "Quis staret, Jahacobo?" Junius & Tremellius; "quis remaneret Jacobo?" Piscator. (d) "Quis stabit pro Jacobo?" Mercerus. (e) "Quis suseitabit Jahacob?" V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus.

And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. The locusts had eaten up all the herb of the land (Exodus 10:12; Exodus 10:15), when Amos intercedes on behalf of his people, urging its inability to recover itself, if the work of destruction should still continue. The term herb is not limited to grass, but denotes green herbage generally (with the exception of trees): see Genesis 1:11; Genesis 1:29[184].

[184] The Hebrew of והיה אם כלה is peculiar, and can scarcely be right. C. C. Torrey proposes a plausible emendation (Journ. of Bibl. Lit., 1894, p. 63): וַיְהִי הֻא מְכַלֶּה “and it came to pass, as they were making an end,” &c.

how (lit. as who) shall Jacob stand? for he is small] The resources of the nation are not sufficient to enable it to withstand the further progress of calamity.

Verse 2. - The grass of the land. The term includes vegetables of all sorts, the feed of man and beast (Genesis 1:11; see note on Zechariah 10:1). O Lord,...forgive. The prophet is not concerned to obtain the fulfilment of his prophecy; his heartfelt sympathy for his people yearns for their pardon, as he knows that punishment and restoration depend upon moral conditions. By whom shall Jacob arise? better, How shall Jacob stand? literally, as who? If he is thus weakened, as the vision portends, how shall he endure the stroke? Small; weakened by internal commotions and foreign attack (2 Kings 15:10-16, 19). Amos 7:2The first two visions. - Amos 7:1-3. The Locusts. - Amos 7:1. "Thus the Lord Jehovah showed me; and, behold, He formed locusts in the beginning of the springing up of the second crop; and, behold, it was a second crop after the king's mowing. Amos 7:2. And it came to pass, when they had finished eating the vegetable of the land, I said, Lord Jehovah, forgive, I:pray: how can Jacob stand? for he is small. Amos 7:3. Jehovah repented of this: It shall not take place, saith Jehovah." The formula, "Thus the Lord Jehovah showed me," is common to this and the three following visions (Amos 7:4, Amos 7:7, and Amos 8:1), with this trifling difference, that in the third (Amos 7:7) the subject (the Lord Jehovah) is omitted, and 'Adōnâi (the Lord) is inserted instead, after vehinnēh (and behold). הראני denotes seeing with the eyes of the mind - a visionary seeing. These visions are not merely pictures of a judgment which was ever threatening, and drawing nearer and nearer (Baur); still less are they merely poetical fictions, or forms of drapery selected arbitrarily, for the purpose of clothing the prophet's thoughts; but they are inward intuitions, produced by the Spirit of God, which set forth the punitive judgments of God. Kōh (ita, thus) points to what follows, and vehinnēh (and behold) introduces the thing seen. Amos sees the Lord form locusts. Baur proposes to alter יוצר (forming) into יצר (forms), but without any reason, and without observing that in all three visions of this chapter hinnēh is followed by a participle (קרא in Amos 7:4, and נצּב in Amos 7:7), and that the 'Adōnâi which stands before נצּב in Amos 7:7 shows very clearly that this noun is simply omitted in Amos 7:1, because 'AdōnâI Yehōvâh has immediately preceded it. גּבי (a poetical form for גּבה, analogous to שׂדי for שׂדה, and contracted into גּוב in Nahum 3:17) signifies locusts, the only question being, whether this meaning is derived from גּוּב equals Arab. jâb, to cut, or from גּבה equals Arab. jb‛a, to creep forth (out of the earth). The fixing of the time has an important bearing upon the meaning of the vision: viz., "at the beginning of the springing up of the second crop (of grass);" especially when taken in connection with the explanation, "after the mowings of the king." These definitions cannot be merely intended as outward chronological data. For, in the first place, nothing is known of the existence of any right or prerogative on the part of the kings of Israel, to have the early crop in the meadow land throughout the country mown for the support of their horses and mules (1 Kings 18:5), so that their subjects could only get the second crop for their own cattle. Moreover, if the second crop, "after the king's mowings," were to be interpreted literally in this manner, it would decidedly weaken the significance of the vision. For if the locusts did not appear till after the king had got in the hay for the supply of his own mews, and so only devoured the second crop of grass as it grew, this plague would fall upon the people alone, and not at all upon the king. But such an exemption of the king from the judgment is evidently at variance with the meaning of this and the following visions. Consequently the definition of the time must be interpreted spiritually, in accordance with the idea of the vision. The king, who has had the early grass mown, is Jehovah; and the mowing of the grass denotes the judgments which Jehovah has already executed upon Israel. The growing of the second crop is a figurative representation of the prosperity which flourished again after those judgments; in actual fact, therefore, it denotes the time when the dawn had risen again for Israel (Amos 4:13). Then the locusts came and devoured all the vegetables of the earth. עשׂב הארץ is not the second crop; for עשׂב does not mean grass, but vegetables, the plants of the field (see at Genesis 1:11). Amos 7:2 and Amos 7:3 require that this meaning should be retained. When the locusts had already eaten the vegetables of the earth, the prophet interceded, and the Lord interposed with deliverance. This intercession would have been too late after the consumption of the second crop. On the other hand, when the vegetables had been consumed, there was still reason to fear that the consumption of the second crop of grass would follow; and this is averted at the prophet's intercession. והיה for ויהי, as in 1 Samuel 17:48; Jeremiah 37:11, etc. סלח־נא, pray forgive, sc. the guilt of the people (cf. Numbers 14:19). מי יקוּם, how (מי qualis) can Jacob (the nation of Israel) stand (not arise), since it is small? קטן, small, i.e., so poor in sources and means of help, that it cannot endure this stroke; not "so crushed already, that a very light calamity would destroy it" (Rosenmller). for נחם על, see Exodus 32:14. זאת (this) refers to the destruction of the people indicated in מי יקוּם; and זאת is also to be supplied as the subject to לא תהיה.
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