Amos 9:2
Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:
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(2) Dig.—For this expression break should be substituted. “Hell,” or rather, Hades (Sheôl), the dark abode of the gathered dead, is contrasted with “heaven,” the abode of light. Escape from the universal Lord is impossible.

Amos 9:2-4. Though they dig into hell, &c. — Here the subject is enlarged upon to impress it more deeply on the minds of all that read or hear it. Though they hide themselves in the deepest holes or caverns of the earth, (see Isaiah 2:10,) or take refuge in the highest fortresses, they shall not escape my vengeance, but shall be brought forth to destruction or captivity. And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel — There were great caves formed by nature in the tops of some mountains, where men used to secure themselves in the times of danger. Such was the cave in a mountain of the wilderness of Ziph. I will search and take them out thence —

Neither the thickest bushes nor the darkest caves shall serve to hide them. Though they be hid in the bottom of the sea — The Chaldee reads, in the islands of the sea; but the expression is rather to be understood metaphorically, as signifying that they should not, by any means whatsoever, be able to escape the calamities which God had determined to bring upon them. The word rendered serpent in our translation, is in some versions rendered a whale. Without doubt it should be translated here by the name of some great sea animal. And though they go into captivity, thence will I command the sword, &c. — The same judgment is denounced against them in the passages referred to in the margin.

9:1-10 The prophet, in vision, saw the Lord standing upon the idolatrous altar at Bethel. Wherever sinners flee from God's justice, it will overtake them. Those whom God brings to heaven by his grace, shall never be cast down; but those who seek to climb thither by vain confidence in themselves, will be cast down and filled with shame. That which makes escape impossible and ruin sure, is, that God will set his eyes upon them for evil, not for good. Wretched must those be on whom the Lord looks for evil, and not for good. The Lord would scatter the Jews, and visit them with calamities, as the corn is shaken in a sieve; but he would save some from among them. The astonishing preservation of the Jews as a distinct people, seems here foretold. If professors make themselves like the world, God will level them with the world. The sinners who thus flatter themselves, shall find that their profession will not protect them.Height or depth are alike open to the Omnipresent God. The grave is not so awful as God. The sinner would gladly "dig through" into hell, bury himself, the living among the dead, if so he could escape the sight of God. But thence, God says, "My hand shall take them," to place them in His presence, to receive their sentence. Or if, like the rebel angels, they could "place" their "throne amid the stars Isaiah 14:12-14 of God thence will I bring them down," humbling, judging, condemning. 2. Though they dig into hell—though they hide ever so deeply in the earth (Ps 139:8).

though they climb up to heaven—though they ascend the greatest heights (Job 20:6, 7; Jer 51:53; Ob 4).

When David would describe the omnipresence of God, Psalm 139:7-12, he doth it most elegantly in almost the same manner as our inspired herdman here doth. Wherever these seek to hide themselves from the pursuing vengeance, they shall be found; he is with them, from whom they hide.

Though they dig into hell; the deepest recesses, the heart and centre of the earth or the grave; or literally, for so we may lay the supposition, were it possible to be done, to hide in the centre of the earth, or the depth of hell.

Thence shall mine hand take them; for hell is naked to God, and the grave did not hide some of these sinners; when dead and buried, the rage of famine, or of the enemy, might dig some out of their graves.

Though they climb up to heaven; could they fly up to heaven, they would be out of the reach of men;

thence will I bring them down; but there they would meet an offended God, and he would east them down.

Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them,.... That is, they that endeavour to make their escape from their enemies, though they seek for places of the greatest secrecy and privacy; not hell, the place of the damned; nor the grave, the repository of the dead; neither of which they chose to he in, but rather sought to escape them; but the deepest and darkest caverns, the utmost recesses of the earth, the very centre of it; which, could they get into, would not secure them from the power and providence of God, and from their enemies in pursuit of them, by his permission:

though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down; the summit of the highest mountains, and get as near to heaven, and at as great a distance from men, as can be, and yet all in vain. The Targum is,

"if they think to be hid as it were in hell, from thence their enemies shall take them by my word; and if they ascend the high mountains, to the top of heaven, thence will I bring them;''

see Psalm 139:8.

Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:
2. Two examples of places, inaccessible to man, in which they are pictured hyperbolically as seeking to escape the Divine hand; Sheol, the deep and cavernous (Isaiah 14:15) abode of the dead, which was located by the Hebrews far down below the earth (Deuteronomy 32:22; Job 26:5; Ezekiel 32:18); and the lofty heights of heaven (Jeremiah 51:53). Comp. the words in which the Psalmist expresses the thought of God’s omnipresence, Psalm 139:8; also (with the second clause) Obadiah 1:4.

dig through] The word is used of digging through a wall, Ezekiel 8:8; Ezekiel 12:5; Ezekiel 12:7; Ezekiel 12:12; and the cognate subst. of the act of robbers digging into a house (Exodus 22:2; Jeremiah 2:34); cf. διορύσσειν, Matthew 6:19.

2–4. In whatever direction they flee, wherever they essay to hide themselves, and even though they should be in captivity in the enemy’s land, they will not be able to elude the Divine anger.

Verse 2. - The thought of ver. 1 is further expanded, the notion of flight being, as Jerome says, dissected. For dig, the LXX. reads, "be hidden;" but the expression implies a breaking through (Ezekiel 8:8). Hell (Sheol) is supposed to be in the inmost part of the earth (comp. Psalm 139:7, 8; Obadiah 1:4). Take them. To receive punishment. Amos 9:2The thought is still further expanded in Amos 9:2-6. Amos 9:2. "If they break through into hell, my hand will take them thence; and if they climb up to heaven, thence will I fetch them down. Amos 9:3. And if they hide themselves upon the top of Carmel, I will trace them, and fetch them thence; and if they conceal themselves from before mine eyes in the bottom of the sea, thence do I command the serpent, and it biteth them. Amos 9:4. And if they go into captivity before their enemies, I will command the sword thence, and it slayeth them; and I direct my eye upon them for evil, and not for good." The imperfects, with אם, are to be taken as futures. They do not assume what is impossible as merely hypothetical, in the sense of "if they should hide themselves;" but set forth what was no doubt in actual fact an impossible case, as though it were possible, in order to cut off every escape. For the cases mentioned in Amos 9:3 and Amos 9:4 might really occur. Hiding upon Carmel and going into captivity belong to the sphere of possibility and of actual occurrence. In order to individualize the thought, that escape from the punishing arm of the Almighty is impossible, the prophet opposes the most extreme spaces of the world to one another, starting from heaven and hell, as the loftiest height and deepest depth of the universe, in doing which he has in all probability Psalm 139:7-8 floating before his mind. He commences with the height, which a man cannot possibly climb, and the depth, to which he cannot descend, to show that escape is impossible. חתר, to break through, with ב, to make a hole into anything (Ezekiel 8:8; Ezekiel 12:5, Ezekiel 12:7). According to the Hebrew view, Sheol was deep in the interior of the earth. The head of Carmel is mentioned (see at Joshua 19:26). The reference is not to the many caves in this promontory, which afford shelter to fugitives; for they are not found upon the head of Carmel, but for the most part on the western side (see v. Raumer, Pal. p. 44). The emphasis lies rather upon the head, as a height overgrown with trees, which, even if not very high (about 1800 feet; see at 1 Kings 18:19), yet, in comparison with the sea over which it rises, might appear to be of a very considerable height; in addition to which, the situation of Carmel, on the extreme western border of the kingdom of Israel, might also be taken into consideration. "Whoever hides himself there, must assuredly know of no other place of security in the whole of the land besides. And if there is no longer any security there, there is nothing left but the sea." But even the deep sea-bottom will not shelter from the vengeance of God. God commands the serpent, or summons the serpent to bite him. Nâchâsh, here the water-serpent, called elsewhere livyāthān or tannı̄n (Isaiah 27:1), a sea-monster, which was popularly supposed to be extremely dangerous, but which cannot be more exactly defined. Even by going into captivity, they will not be protected from the sword. בּשּׁבי, not into captivity, but in statu captivitatis: even if they should be among those who were wandering into captivity, where men are generally sure of their lives (see Lamentations 1:5). For God has fixed His eye upon them, i.e., has taken them under His special superintendence (cf. Jeremiah 39:12); not, however, to shelter, to protect, and to bless, but לרעה, for evil, i.e., to punish them. "The people of the Lord remain, under all circumstances, the object of special attention. They are more richly blessed than the world, but they are also more severely punished" (Hengstenberg).
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