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 you: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
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(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.
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). In Joel 2:4-6 we have a description of this mighty army of God, and of the alarm caused by its appearance among all nations. Joel 2:4. "Like the appearance of horses is its appearance; and like riding-horses, so do they run. Joel 2:5. Like rumbling of chariots on the tops of the mountains do they leap, like the crackling of flame which devours stubble, like a strong people equipped for conflict. Joel 2:6. Before it nations tremble; all faces withdraw their redness." The comparison drawn between the appearance of the locusts and that of horses refers chiefly to the head, which, when closely examined, bears a strong resemblance to the head of a horse, as Theodoret has already observed; a fact which gave rise to their being called Heupferde (hay-horses) in German. In Joel 2:4 the rapidity of their motion is compared to the running of riding-horses (pârâshı̄m); and in Joel 2:5 the noise caused by their springing motion to the rattling of chariots, the small two-wheeled war-chariots of the ancients, when driven rapidly over the rough mountain roads. The noise caused by their devouring the plants and shrubs is also compared to the burning of a flame over a stubble-field that has been set on fire, and their approach to the advance of a war force equipped for conflict. (Compare the adoption and further expansion of these similes in Revelation 9:7, Revelation 9:9). At the sight of this terrible army of God the nations tremble, so that their faces grow pale. ‛Ammı̄m means neither people (see at 1 Kings 22:28) nor the tribes of Israel, but nations generally. Joel is no doubt depicting something more here than the devastation caused by the locusts in his own day. There are differences of opinion as to the rendering of the second hemistich, which Nahum repeats in Joel 2:11. The combination of פּארוּר with פּרוּר, a pot (Chald., Syr., Jer., Luth., and others), is untenable, since פּרוּר comes from פּרר, to break in pieces, whereas פּארוּר ( equals פּארוּר) is from the root פאר, piel, to adorn, beautify, or glorify; so that the rendering, "they gather redness," i.e., glow with fear, which has an actual but not a grammatical support in Isaiah 13:8, is evidently worthless. We therefore understand פּארוּר, as Ab. Esr., Abul Wal., and others have done, in the sense of elegantia, nitor, pulchritudo, and as referring to the splendour or healthy ruddiness of the cheeks, and take קבּץ ekat dn as an intensive form of קבץ, in the sense of drawing into one's self, or withdrawing, inasmuch as fear and anguish cause the blood to fly from the face and extremities to the inward parts of the body. For the fact of the face turning pale with terror, see Jeremiah 30:6.
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