Amos 8:3
And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence.
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(3) Temple.—The word thus rendered (hêchal) also signifies “palace,” and this is probably the meaning in this passage. The “songs” have been already spoken of in Amos 6:5. The construction of the following clauses in the original is somewhat doubtful. Some commentators would break up the sentence into abrupt ejaculations. Thus Keil:—“corpses in multitude; in every place he hath cast them forth: Hush!” For “he hath cast,” some would read (with 2 Heb. MSS.) the imperative, “cast them forth.” But it would be better, and more in consonance with the style of Amos, to connect the clauses together thus: There shall be many corpses in every place that one hath cast away in hushed silence. The words describe the reign of death and doom, with none to bury or make lamentation—a full end.

Amos 8:3. And the songs of the temple shall be howlings, &c. — Houbigant renders it, And the singers of the palace shall howl, the word היכל, signifying palace as well as temple; and as Amos prophesied against Israel, not against Judah, the temple, properly so called, could not be meant here. There shall be many dead bodies in every place — In cities, towns, and the country; in all places shall the bloody effects produced by the enemies’ sword, and by famine and pestilence, be seen. They shall cast them forth with silence — The enemy will make such slaughter among the people, and the dead will be so numerous, that there will be no opportunity of using public mournings, or lamentations, at funerals, as had been usual in other cases; but the friends of the deceased will be glad to hurry them to their graves with as much silence and privacy as possible.

8:1-3 Amos saw a basket of summer fruit gathered, and ready to be eaten; which signified, that the people were ripe for destruction, that the year of God's patience was drawing towards a conclusion. Such summer fruits will not keep till winter, but must be used at once. Yet these judgments shall not draw from them any acknowledgement, either of God's righteousness or their own unrighteousness. Sinners put off repentance from day to day, because they think the Lord thus delays his judgments.The songs of the temple shall be howlings - Literally, "shall howl." It shall be, as when mirthful music is suddenly broken in upon, and, through the sudden agony of the singer, ends in a shriek or yell of misery. When sounds of joy are turned into wailing, all must be complete sorrow. They are not hushed only, but are turned into their opposite. Since Amos is speaking to, and of, Israel, "the temple" is, doubtless, here the great idol-temple at Bethel, and "the songs" were the choral music, with which they counterfeited the temple-music, as arranged by David, praising (they could not make up their minds which,) Nature or "the God of nature," but, in truth, worshiping the creature. The temple was often strongly built and on a height, and, whether from a vague hope of help from God, (as in the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans,) or from some human trust, that the temple might be respected, or from confidence in its strength, or from all together, was the last refuge of the all-but-captive people. Their last retreat was often the scene of the last reeling strife, the battle-cry of the assailants, the shrieks of the defenseless, the groans of the wounded, the agonized cry of unyielding despair. Some such scene the prophet probably had before his mind's eye, for he adds;

There shall be "many dead bodies," literally, "Many the corpse in every place." He sees it, not as future, but before him. The whole city, now so thronged with life, "the oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely," lies before him as one scene of death; every place thronged with corpses; none exempt; at home, abroad, or, which he had just spoken of, the temple; no time, no place for honorable burial. "They," literally, "he casts forth, hush!" Each casts forth those dear to him, as "dung on the face of the earth" (Jeremiah 8:2, etc.). Grief is too strong for words. Living and dead are hushed as the grave. "Large cities are large solitudes," for want of mutual love; in God's retribution, all their din and hum becomes anew a solitude.

3. songs of … temple—(Am 5:23). The joyous hymns in the temple of Judah (or rather, in the Beth-el "royal temple," Am 7:13; for the allusion is to Israel, not Judah, throughout this chapter) shall be changed into "howlings." Grotius translates, "palace"; compare Am 6:5, as to the songs there. But Am 5:23, and Am 7:13, favor English Version.

they shall cast them forth with silence—not as the Margin, "be silent." It is an adverb, "silently." There shall be such great slaughter as even to prevent the bodies being buried [Calvin]. There shall be none of the usual professional mourners (Am 5:16), but the bodies will be cast out in silence. Perhaps also is meant that terror, both of God (compare Am 6:10) and of the foe, shall close their lips.

The songs; which were composed by choicest wits, and set to sweetest tunes, and chanted out by most skilful singers to the best musical instruments.

Of the temple; either to take in Judah, and foretell the desolation of their temple; or else, by an irony, the idol temples; or else of the palace, as the word in the Hebrew. All court mirth and jollity, balls and music entertainments.

Shall be howlings, Heb. shall howl; be turned into the hideous out cries of undone and despairing men.

In that day; when God shall execute his judgments threatened, as he did begin on the death of Jeroboam, and continued that day of vengeance till Shalmaneser finished the work in the ruin of Samaria and its captivity.

Saith the Lord God: this is added to assure Israel that what Amos did foretell should be accomplished, for God spake it.

There shall be many dead bodies; so there were when Shallum slew Zachariah, so there were when Menahem slew Shallum, when he came with his army against Samaria, when he ripped up the women with child in Tiphsah, 2 Kings 15:16, and when other usurpers pressed through blood and treason to the crown; beside the howlings when Pul, Tiglath-pileser, and Shalmaneser cruelly wasted all.

In every place; in cities, towns, and country, in palaces and temples too, in all which the bloody effects of enemies’ swords, the wastes of famine and pestilence, should be seen.

They, who howl, who see this,

shall cast them forth with silence; either shall secretly bury them, so some, or, to rid themselves of that trouble, shall cast them out wherever they can, with silence, that none may observe them; so great calamitous mortality, that the living suffice not to bury the dead; or so great cruelty by the enemy used against them, that they dare not bury them, or if they do, it must be undiscerned: see Amos 6:10.

And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day,

saith the Lord God,.... Not the songs sung by the Levites in the temple of Jerusalem, this prophecy respects the ten tribes only; but those in imitation of them, sung in the temple at Bethel, and other idol temples; or profane songs in the palaces of princes and nobles; that is, instead of these, there should be howlings for the calamities come upon them. So the Targum,

"they shall howl, instead of a song, in their houses then;''

particularly because of the slain in them, as follows; see Amos 5:23;

there shall be many dead bodies in every place; in all houses and palaces, in all towns and cities; and especially in Samaria, during the siege, and when taken, partly through the famine, and partly through the sword:

they shall cast them forth with silence; they that have the care of burying the dead bodies shall either cast them out of the houses upon the bier or cart in which they are carried to the grave, or into the pit or grave without any funeral lamentation: or, "they shall cast them forth", and say, "be silent"; that is, as Kimchi explains it,

"one of them that casts them forth shall say to his companion, be silent;''

say not one word against God and his providence, since this is righteously come upon us; or say nothing of the number of the dead, lest the hearts of those that hear should become tender, and be discouraged, as Aben Ezra; or the enemy should be encouraged to go on with the siege.

And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with {b} silence.

(b) There will be none left to mourn for them.

3. The nature of the ‘end’ more fully described: the songs of the temple will be turned into loud cries of woe; so many will be the slain that they will be flung out unburied and unlamented.

temple] The word might equally be rendered palace; and hence some have thought the allusion to be to the sounds of revelry (Amos 6:5), which were heard in the “palaces” (Hosea 8:14) of Israel. But more probably the reference is to the songs (Amos 5:23) of the worshippers assembled (Amos 9:1) in the sanctuary of Beth-el.

shall be howlings] lit. shall howl,—a mark of uncontrolled grief, as Isaiah 15:2-3; Isaiah 16:7; Micah 1:8 &c. Used of “songs,” however, the expression is a strange one; Hoffmann and Wellh. would read shârôth “singing-women” for shîrôth “songs.”

many the corpses! in all places have they cast them forth: hush!] By the use of the perfect tenses the prophet represents the future vividly as already accomplished (the “prophetic perfect,” frequent in the prophets, e.g. Isaiah 9:2-3). He sees the corpses flung forth heedlessly and indiscriminately upon the ground. There is no time, or place, for honourable burial. The survivors do their work in despairing silence, stopping any one who would say a word, as before (Amos 6:10), with Hush!

Amos 8:3Vision of a Basket of Ripe Fruit. - Amos 8:1. "Thus did the Lord Jehovah show me: and behold a basket with ripe fruit. Amos 8:2. And He said, What seest thou, Amos? And I said, A basket of ripe fruit. Then Jehovah said to me, The end is come to my people Israel; I will not pass by them any more. Amos 8:3. And the songs of the palace will yell in that day, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah: corpses in multitude; in every place hath He cast them forth: Hush!" כּלוּב from כּלך, to lay hold of, to grasp, lit., a receiver, here a basket (of basket-work), in Jeremiah 5:27 a bird-cage. קיץ: summer-fruit (see at 2 Samuel 16:1); in Isaiah 16:9; Isaiah 28:4, the gathering of fruit, hence ripe fruit. The basket of ripe fruit (qayits) is thus explained by the Lord: the end (qēts) is come to my people (cf. Ezekiel 7:6). Consequently the basket of ripe fruit is a figurative representation of the nation that is now ripe for judgment, although qēts, the end, does not denote its ripeness for judgment, but its destruction, and the word qēts is simply chosen to form a paronomasia with qayits. לא אוסיף וגו as in Amos 7:8. All the joy shall be turned into mourning. the thought is not that the temple-singing to the praise of God (Amos 5:23) would be turned into yelling, but that the songs of joy (Amos 6:5; 2 Samuel 19:36) would be turned into yells, i.e., into sounds of lamentation (cf. Amos 8:10 and 1 Maccabees 9:41), namely, because of the multitude of the dead which lay upon the ground on every side. השׁליך is not impersonal, in the sense of "which men are no longer able to bury on account of their great number, and therefore cast away in quiet places on every side;" but Jehovah is to be regarded as the subject, viz., which God has laid prostrate, or cast to the ground on every side. For the adverbial use of הס cannot be established. The word is an interjection here, as in Amos 6:10; and the exclamation, Hush! is not a sign of gloomy despair, but an admonition to bow beneath the overwhelming severity of the judgment of God, as in Zephaniah 1:7 (cf. Habakkuk 2:20 and Zechariah 2:13).
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