Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Destruction of the Sinful Kingdom, and Establishment of the New Kingdom of God - Amos 9:1-15
The prophet sees the Lord standing by the altar, and giving command to overthrow the temple, that the whole nation may be buried beneath the ruins (Amos 9:1). Should any one escape, the Lord will pursue him everywhere, and overtake and destroy him (Amos 9:2-4); for He is the Almighty God, and the Judge of the world (Amos 9:5 and Amos 9:6); and Israel has become like the heathen, so that it deserves no sparing. Nevertheless it shall not be utterly destroyed, but simply sifted, and the sinful mass be slain (Amos 9:7-10). Then will the fallen tabernacle of David be raised up again, and the kingdom of God be glorified by the reception of all nations (Amos 9:12), and richly blessed with the fulness of the gifts of divine grace (Amos 9:13, Amos 9:14), and never destroyed again (Amos 9:15). As the chapter gives the final development of the judgment threatened in the preceding one, so is it also closely attached in form to ch. 7 and Amos 8:1-14, commencing with a vision just as they do. But whilst the preceding visions simply indicate the judgment which is to fall upon the sinful nation, and are introduced with the words, "The Lord showed me" (Amos 7:1, Amos 7:4, Amos 7:7; Amos 8:1), this closing vision shows the Lord engaged in the execution of the judgment, and commences accordingly with the words, "I saw the Lord standing," etc.
I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered."I saw the Lord standing by the altar; and He said, Smite the top, that the thresholds may tremble, and smash them upon the head of all of them; and I will slay their remnant with the sword: a fugitive of them shall not flee; and an escaped one of them shall not escape." The correct and full interpretation not only of this verse, but of the whole chapter, depends upon the answer to be given to the question, what altar we are to understand by hammizbēăch. Ewald, Hitzig, Hofmann, and Baur follow Cyril in thinking of the temple at Bethel, because, as Hitzig says, this vision attaches itself in an explanatory manner to the close of Amos 8:14, and because, according to Hofmann, "if the word of the prophet in general was directed against the kingdom, the royal house and the sanctuary of the ten tribes, the article before hammizbēăch points to the altar of the sanctuary in the kingdom of Israel, to the altar at Bethel, against which he has already prophesied in a perfectly similar manner in Amos 3:14." But there is no ground whatever for the assertion that our vision contains simply an explanation of Amos 8:14. The connection with Amos 8:1-14 is altogether not so close, that the object of the prophecy in the one chapter must of necessity cover that of the other. And it is quite incorrect to say that the word of the prophet throughout is directed simply against the kingdom of the ten tribes, or that, although Amos does indeed reprove the sins of Judah as well as those of Israel, he proclaims destruction to the kingdom of Jeroboam alone. As early as Amos 2:5 he announces desolation to Judah by fire, and the burning of the palaces of Jerusalem; and in Amos 6:1, again, he gives utterance to a woe upon the self-secure in Zion, as well as upon the careless ones in Samaria. And lastly, it is evident from Amos 9:8-10 of the present chapter, that the sinful kingdom which is to be destroyed from the face of the earth is not merely the kingdom of the ten tribes, but the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, which are embraced in one. For although it is stated immediately afterwards that the Lord will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, but will shake the house of Israel among all nations, the house of Jacob cannot mean the kingdom of Judah, and the house of Israel the kingdom of the ten tribes, because such a contrast between Judah and Israel makes the thought too lame, and the antithesis between the destruction of the sinful kingdom and the utter destruction of the nation is quite obliterated. Amos does not generally draw such a distinction between the house of Jacob and the house of Israel, as that the first represents Judah, and the second the ten tribes; but he uses the two epithets as synonymous, as we may see from a comparison of Amos 6:8 with Amos 6:14, where the rejection of the pride of Israel and the hating of its palaces (Amos 9:8) are practically interpreted by the raising up of a nation which oppresses the house of Israel in all its borders (Amos 9:14). And so also in the chapter before us, the "house of Israel" (Amos 9:9) is identical with "Israel" and the "children of Israel" (Amos 9:7), whom God brought up out of Egypt. But God brought up out of Egypt not the ten tribes, but the twelve. And consequently it is decidedly incorrect to restrict the contents of Amos 9:1-10 to the kingdom of the ten tribes. And if this be the case, we cannot possibly understand by hammizbēăch in Amos 9:1 the altar of Bethel, especially seeing that not only does Amos foretel the visitation or destruction of the altars of Bethel in Amos 3:14, and therefore recognises not one altar only in Bethel, but a plurality of altars, but that he also speaks in Amos 7:9 of the desolation of the high places and sanctuaries in Israel, and in Amos 8:14 places the sanctuary at Daniel on a par with that at Bethel; so that there was not any one altar in the kingdom of the ten tribes, which could be called hammizbēăch, the altar par excellence, inasmuch as it possessed from the very beginning two sanctuaries of equal dignity (viz., at Bethel and Dan). Hammizbēăch, therefore, both here and at Ezekiel 9:2, is the altar of burnt-offering in the temple, at Jerusalem, the sanctuary of the whole of the covenant nation, to which even the ten bribes still belonged, in spite of their having fallen away from the house of David. So long as the Lord still continued to send prophets to the ten tribes, so long did they pass as still forming part of the people of God, and so long also was the temple at Jerusalem the divinely appointed sanctuary and the throne of Jehovah, from which both blessings and punishment issued from the. The Lord roars from Zion, and from Zion He utters His voice (Amos 1:2), not only upon the nations who have shown hostility to Judah or Israel, but also upon Judah and Israel, on account of their departure from His law (Amos 2:4 and Amos 2:6.).
The vision in this verse is founded upon the idea that the whole nation is assembled before the Lord at the threshold of the temple, so that it is buried under the ruins of the falling building, in consequence of the blow upon the top, which shatters the temple to its very foundations. The Lord appears at the altar, because here at the sacrificial place of the nation the sins of Israel are heaped up, that He may execute judgment upon the nation there. נצּב על, standing at (not upon) the altar, as in 1 Kings 13:1. He gives commandment to smite the top. The person who is to do this is not mentioned; but it was no doubt an angel, probably the המּלאך המּשׁחית, who brought the pestilence as a punishment at the numbering of the people in the time of David (2 Samuel 24:15-16), who smote the army of the Assyrian king Sennacherib before Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:35), and who also slew the first-born of Egypt (Exodus 12:13, Exodus 12:23); whereas in Ezekiel 9:2, Ezekiel 9:7, He is represented as accomplishing the judgment of destruction by means of six angels. Hakkaphtōr, the knob or top; in Exodus 25:31, Exodus 25:33, ff., an ornament upon the shaft and branches of the golden candlestick. Here it is an ornament at the top of the columns, and not "the lintel of the door," or "the pinnacle of the temple with its ornaments." For the latter explanation of kaphtōr, which cannot be philologically sustained, by no means follows from the fact that the antithesis to the kaphtōr is formed by the sippı̄m, or thresholds of the door. The knob and threshold simply express the contrast between the loftiest summit and the lowest base, without at all warranting the conclusion that the saph denotes the base of the pillar which culminated in a knob, or kaphtōr, the top of the door which rested upon a threshold. The description is not architectural, but rhetorical, the separate portions of the whole being individualized, for the purpose of expressing the thought that the building was to be shattered to pieces in summo usque ad imum, a capite ad calcem. Would we bring out more clearly the idea which lies at the foundation of the rhetorical mode of expression, we have only to think of the capital of the pillars Jachin and Boaz, and that with special reference to their significance, as symbolizing the stability of the temple. The smiting of these pillars, so that they fall to the ground, individualizes the destruction of the temple, without there being any necessity in consequence to think of these pillars as supporting the roof of the temple hall. The rhetorical character of the expression comes out clearly again in what follows, "and smash them to pieces, i.e., lay them in ruins upon the head of all,"
(Note: Luther's rendering, "for their avarice shall come upon the head of all of them," in which he follows the Vulgate, arose from בּצעם being confounded with בּצעם.)
where the plural suffix attached to בּצעם (with the toneless suffix for בּצעם; see Ewald, 253, a) cannot possibly be taken as referring to the singular hakkaphtōr, nor even to hassippı̄m alone, but must refer to the two nouns hakkaphtōr and hassippı̄m. the reference to hassippı̄m could no doubt be grammatically sustained; but so far as the sense is concerned, it is inadmissible, inasmuch as when a building falls to the ground in consequence of its having been laid in ruins by a blow from above, the thresholds of the entrance could not possibly fall upon the heads of the men who were standing in front of it. The command has throughout a symbolical meaning, ad has no literal reference to the destruction of the temple. The temple symbolizes the kingdom of God, which the Lord had founded in Israel; and as being the centre of that kingdom, it stands here for the kingdom itself. In the temple, as the dwelling-place of the name of Jehovah, i.e., of the gracious presence of God, the idolatrous nation beheld an indestructible pledge of the lasting continuance of the kingdom. But this support to their false trust is taken away from it by the announcement that the Lord will lay the temple in ruins. The destruction of the temple represents the destruction of the kingdom of God embodied in the temple, with which indeed the earthly temple would of necessity fall to the ground. No one will escape this judgment. This is affirmed in the words which follow: And their last, their remnant ('achărı̄th, as in Amos 4:2), I will slay with the sword; as to the meaning of which Cocceius has correctly observed, that the magnitude of the slaughter is increased exclusione fugientium et eorum, qui videbantur effugisse. The apparent discrepancy in the statement, that they will all be crushed to pieces by the ruins, and yet there will be fugitives and persons who have escaped, is removed at once if we bear in mind that the intention of the prophet is to cut off every loophole for carnal security, and that the meaning of the words is simply this: "And even if any should succeed in fleeing and escaping, God will pursue them with the sword, and slay them" (see Hengstenberg, Christology, on this passage).
Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:The 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).
And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:
And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.
And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.To strengthen this threat, Amos proceeds, in Amos 9:5, Amos 9:6, to describe Jehovah as the Lord of heaven and earth, who sends judgments upon the earth with omnipotent power. Amos 9:5. "And the Lord Jehovah of hosts, who toucheth the earth, and it melteth, and all the inhabitants of thereupon mourn; and the whole of it riseth like the Nile, and sinketh like the Nile of Egypt. Amos 9:6. Who buildeth His stories in heaven, and His vault, over the earth hath He founded it; who calleth to the waters of the sea, and poureth them out over the earth: Jehovah is His name." This description of God, who rules with omnipotence, is appended, as in Amos 4:13 and Amos 5:8, without any link of connection whatever. We must not render it, "The Lord Jehovah of hosts is He who toucheth the earth;" but we must supply the connecting thought, "And He who thus directeth His eye upon you is the Lord Jehovah of hosts, who toucheth the earth, and it melteth." The melting or dissolving of the earth is, according to Psalm 46:7, an effect produced by the Lord, who makes His voice heard in judgments, or "the destructive effect of the judgments of God, whose instruments the conquerors are" (Hengstenberg), when nations reel and kingdoms totter. The Lord therefore touches the earth, so that it melts, when He dissolves the stability of the earth by great judgments (cf. Psalm 75:4). "Israel could not fail to test the truth of these words by painful experience, when the wild hordes of Assyria poured themselves over the western parts of Asia" (Hengstenberg). The following words, depicting the dissolution of the earth, are repeated, with very inconsiderable alterations, from Amos 8:8; we have merely the omission of ונגרשׁה, and the kal שׁקעה substituted for the niphal נשׁקה. In Amos 9:6 there is evidently an allusion to the flood. God, who is enthroned in heaven, in the cloud-towers built above the circle of the earth, possesses the power to pour the waves of the sea over the earth by His simple word. Ma‛ălōth is synonymous with עליּות in Psalm 104:3 : upper rooms, lit., places to which one has to ascend. 'Aguddâh, an arch or vault: that which is called râqı̄ă‛, the firmament, in other places. The heaven, in which God builds His stories, is the heaven of clouds; and the vault, according to Genesis 1:7, is the firmament of heaven, which divided the water above the firmament from the water beneath it. Consequently the upper rooms of God are the waters above the firmament, in or out of which God builds His stories (Psalm 104:3), i.e., the cloud-tower above the horizon of the earth, which is raised above it like a vault. Out of this cloud-castle the rain pours down (Psalm 104:13); and out of its open windows the waters of the flood poured down, and overflowed the earth (Genesis 7:11). When God calls to the waters of the sea, they pour themselves over the surface of the earth. The waves of the sea are a figurative representation of the agitated multitude of nations, or of the powers of the world, which pour their waves over the kingdom of God (see at Amos 7:4).
It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.
Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?The Lord will pour out these floods upon sinful Israel, because it stands nearer to Him than the heathen do. Amos 9:7. "Are ye not like the sons of the Cushites to me, ye sons of Israel? is the saying of Jehovah. Have I not brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines out of Caphtor, and Aram out of Kir?" With these words the prophet tears away from the sinful nation the last support of its carnal security, namely, reliance upon its election as the nation of God, which the Lord has practically confirmed by leading Israel up out of Egypt. Their election as the people of Jehovah was unquestionably a pledge that the Lord would not cast off His people, or suffer them to be destroyed by the heathen. But what the apostle says of circumcision in Romans 2:25 applied to this election also, namely, that it was of benefit to none but those who kept the law. It afforded a certainty of divine protection simply to those who proved themselves to be the children of Israel by their walk and conduct, and who faithfully adhered to the Lord. To the rebellious it was of no avail. Idolaters had become like the heathen. The Cushites are mentioned, not so much as being descendants of the accursed Ham, as on account of the blackness of their skin, which was regarded as a symbol of spiritual blackness (cf. Jeremiah 13:23). The expression "sons (children) of the Cushites" is used with reference to the title "sons (children) of Israel," the honourable name of the covenant nation. For degenerate Israel, the leading up out of Egypt had no higher signification than the leading up of the Philistines and Syrians out of their former dwelling-places into the lands which they at present inhabited. These two peoples are mentioned by way of example: the Philistines, because they were despised by the Israelites, as being uncircumcised; the Syrians, with an allusion to the threat in Amos 1:5, that they should wander into exile to Kir. On the fact that the Philistines sprang from Caphtor, see the comm. on Genesis 10:14.
Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.Election, therefore, will not save sinful Israel from destruction. After Amos has thus cut off all hope of deliverance from the ungodly, he repeats, in his own words in Amos 9:8., the threat already exhibited symbolically in Amos 9:1. Amos 9:8. "Behold, the eyes of the Lord Jehovah are against the sinful kingdom, and I destroy it from off the face of the earth; except that I shall not utterly destroy the house of Jacob: is the saying of Jehovah. Amos 9:9. For, behold, I command, and shake the house of Israel among all nations, as (corn) is shaken in a sieve, and not even a little grain falls to the ground. Amos 9:10. All the sinners of my people will die by the sword, who say, The evil will not overtake or come to us." The sinful kingdom is Israel; not merely the kingdom of the ten tribes however, but all Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes along with Judah, the house of Jacob or Israel, which is identical with the sons of Israel, who had become like the Cushites, although Amos had chiefly the people and kingdom of the ten tribes in his mind. Bammamlâkhâh, not upon the kingdom, but against the kingdom. The directing of the eye upon an object is expressed by על (Amos 9:4) or אל (cf. Psalm 34:16); whereas ב is used in relation to the object upon which anger rests (Psalm 34:17). Because the Lord had turned His eye towards the sinful kingdom, He must exterminate it, - a fate with which Moses had already threatened the nation in Deuteronomy 6:15. Nevertheless (אפס כּי, "only that," introducing the limitation, as in Numbers 13:28; Deuteronomy 15:4) the house of Jacob, the covenant nation, shall not be utterly destroyed. The "house of Jacob" is opposed to the "sinful nation;" not, however, so that the antithesis simply lies in the kingdom and people (regnum delebo, non populum), or that the "house of Jacob" signifies the kingdom of Judah as distinguished from the kingdom of the ten tribes, for the "house of Jacob" is perfectly equivalent to the "house of Israel" (Amos 9:9). The house of Jacob is not to be utterly destroyed, but simply to be shaken, as it were, in a sieve. The antithesis lies in the predicate החטּא, the sinful kingdom. So far as Israel, as a kingdom and people, is sinful, it is to be destroyed from off the face of the earth. But there is always a divine kernel in the nation, by virtue of its divine election, a holy seed out of which the Lord will form a new and holy people and kingdom of God. Consequently the destruction will not be a total one, a השׁמיד אשׁמיד. The reason for this is introduced by kı̄ (for) in Amos 9:9. The Lord will shake Israel among the nations, as corn is shaken in a sieve; so that the chaff flies away, and the dust and dirt fall to the ground, and only the good grains are left in the sieve. Such a sieve are the nations of the world, through which Israel is purified from its chaff, i.e., from its ungodly members. Tserōr, generally a bundle; here, according to its etymology, that which is compact or firm, i.e., solid grain as distinguished from loose chaff. In 2 Samuel 17:13 it is used in a similar sense to denote a hard piece of clay or a stone in a building. Not a single grain fill fall to the ground, that is to say, not a good man will be lost (cf. 1 Samuel 26:20). The self-secure sinners, however, who rely upon their outward connection with the nation of God (compare Amos 9:7 and Amos 3:2), or upon their zeal in the outward forms of worship (Amos 5:21.), and fancy that the judgment cannot touch them (הקדּים בּעד, to come to meet a person round about him, i.e., to come upon him from every side), will all perish by the sword. This threat is repeated at the close, without any formal link of connection with Amos 9:9, not only to prevent any abuse of the foregoing modification of the judgment, but also to remove this apparent discrepancy, that whereas in Amos 9:1-4 it is stated that not one will escape the judgment, according to Amos 9:8, the nation of Israel is not to be utterly destroyed. In order to anticipate the frivolity of the ungodly, who always flatter themselves with the hope of escaping when there is a threatening of any general calamity, the prophet first of all cuts off all possibilities whatever in Amos 9:1-4, without mentioning the exceptions; and it is not till afterwards that the promise is introduced that the house of Israel shall not be utterly annihilated, whereby the general threat is limited to sinners, and the prospect of deliverance and preservation through the mercy of God is opened to the righteous. The historical realization or fulfilment of this threat took place, so far as Israel of the ten tribes was concerned, when their kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians, and in the case of Judah, at the overthrow of the kingdom and temple by the Chaldeans; and the shaking of Israel in the sieve is still being fulfilled upon the Jews who are dispersed among all nations.
For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.
All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:The Kingdom of God Set Up. - Since God, as the unchangeable One, cannot utterly destroy His chosen people, and abolish or reverse His purpose of salvation, after destroying the sinful kingdom, He will set up the new and genuine kingdom of God. Amos 9:11. "On that day will I set up the fallen hut of David, and wall up their rents; and what is destroyed thereof I will set up, and build it as in the days of eternity. Amos 9:12. That they may taken possession of the remnant of Edom, and all the nations upon which my name shall be called, is the saying of Jehovah, who doeth such things." "In that day," i.e., when the judgment has fallen upon the sinful kingdom, and all the sinners of the people of Jehovah are destroyed. Sukkâh, a hut, indicates, by way of contrast to bayith, the house or palace which David built for himself upon Zion (2 Samuel 5:11), a degenerate condition of the royal house of David. This is placed beyond all doubt by the predicate nōpheleth, fallen down. As the stately palace supplies a figurative representation of the greatness and might of the kingdom, so does the fallen hut, which is full of rents and near to destruction, symbolize the utter ruin of the kingdom. If the family of David no longer dwells in a palace, but in a miserable fallen hut, its regal sway must have come to an end. The figure of the stem of Jesse that is hewn down, in Isaiah 11:1, is related to this; except that the former denotes the decline of the Davidic dynasty, whereas the fallen hut represents the fall of the kingdom. There is no need to prove, however, that this does not apply to the decay of the Davidic house by the side of the great power of Jeroboam (Hitzig, Hofmann), least of all under Uzziah, in whose reign the kingdom of Judah reached the summit of its earthly power and glory. The kingdom of David first became a hut when the kingdom of Judah was overcome by the Chaldeans, - an event which is included in the prediction contained in Amos 9:1., and hinted at even in Amos 2:5. But this hut the Lord will raise up again from its fallen condition. This raising up is still further defined in the three following clauses: "I wall up their rents" (pirtsēhen). The plural suffix can only be explained from the fact that sukkâh actually refers to the kingdom of God, which was divided into two kingdoms ("these kingdoms," Amos 6:2), and that the house of Israel, which was not to be utterly destroyed (Amos 9:8), consisted of the remnant of the people of the two kingdoms, or the ἐκλογή of the twelve tribes; so that in the expression גדרתי פרציהן there is an allusion to the fact that the now divided nation would one day be united again under the one king David, as Hosea (Hosea 2:2; Hosea 3:5) and Ezekiel (ch. Ezekiel 37:22) distinctly prophesy. The correctness of this explanation of the plural suffix is confirmed by הרסתיו in the second clause, the suffix of which refers to David, under whom the destroyed kingdom would rise into new power. And whilst these two clauses depict the restoration of the kingdom from its fallen condition, in the third clause its further preservation is foretold.
בּנה does not mean to "build" here, but to finish building, to carry on, enlarge, and beautify the building. The words כּימי עולם (an abbreviated comparison for "as it was in the days of the olden time") point back to the promise in 2 Samuel 7:11-12, 2 Samuel 7:16, that God would build a house for David, would raise up his seed after him, and firmly establish his throne for ever, that his house and his kingdom should endure for ever before Him, upon which the whole of the promise before us is founded. The days of the rule of David and of his son Solomon are called "days of eternity," i.e., of the remotest past (compare Micah 7:14), to show that a long period would intervene between that time and the predicted restoration. The rule of David had already received a considerable blow through the falling away of the ten tribes. And it would fall still deeper in the future; but, according tot he promise in 2 Samuel 7, it would not utterly perish, but would be raised up again from its fallen condition. It is not expressly stated that this will take place through a shoot from its own stem; but that is implied in the fact itself. The kingdom of David could only be raised up again through an offshoot from David's family. And that this can be no other than the Messiah, was unanimously acknowledged by the earlier Jews, who even formed a name for the Messiah out of this passage, viz., בר נפלין, filius cadentium, He who had sprung from a fallen hut (see the proofs in Hengstenberg's Christology, vol. i. p. 386 transl.). The kingdom of David is set up in order that they (the sons of Israel, who have been proved to be corn by the sifting, Amos 9:9) may take possession of the remnant of Edom and all the nations, etc. The Edomites had been brought into subjection by David, who had taken possession of their land. At a late period, when the hut of David was beginning to fall, they had recovered their freedom again. This does not suffice, however, to explain the allusion to Edom here; for David had also brought the Philistines, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Aramaeans into subjection to his sceptre, - all of them nations who had afterwards recovered their freedom, and to whom Amos foretels the coming judgment in Amos 1:1-15. The reason why Edom alone is mentioned by name must be sought for, therefore, in the peculiar attitude which Edom assumed towards the people of God, namely, in the fact "that whilst they were related to the Judaeans, they were of all nations the most hostile to them" (Rosenmller). On this very ground Obadiah predicted that judgment would come upon the Edomites, and that the remnant of Esau would be captured by the house of Jacob. Amos speaks here of the "remnant of Edom," not because Amaziah recovered only a portion of Edom to the kingdom (2 Kings 14:7), as Hitzig supposes, but with an allusion to the threat in Amos 1:12, that Edom would be destroyed with the exception of a remnant. The "remnant of Edom" consists of those who are saved in the judgments that fall upon Edom. This also applies to כּל־הגּוים. Even of these nations, only those are taken by Israel, i.e., incorporated into the restored kingdom of David, the Messianic kingdom, upon whom the name of Jehovah is called; that is to say, not those who were first brought under the dominion of the nation in the time of David (Hitzig, Baur, and Hofmann), but those to whom He shall have revealed His divine nature, and manifested Himself as a God and Saviour (compare Isaiah 63:19; Jeremiah 14:9, and the remarks on Deuteronomy 28:10), so that this expression is practically the same as אשׁר יהוה קרא (whom Jehovah shall call) in Joel 3:5. The perfect נקרא acquires the sense of the futurum exactum from the leading sentence, as in Deuteronomy 28:10 (see Ewald, 346, c). יירשׁוּ, to take possession of, is chosen with reference to the prophecy of Balaam (Numbers 24:18), that Edom should be the possession of Israel (see the comm. on this passage). Consequently the taking possession referred to here will be of a very different character from the subjugation of Edom and other nations to David. It will make the nations into citizens of the kingdom of God, to whom the Lord manifests Himself as their God, pouring upon them all the blessings of His covenant of grace (see Isaiah 56:6-8). To strengthen this promise, נאם יי וגו ("saith Jehovah, that doeth this") is appended. He who says this is the Lord, who will also accomplish it (see Jeremiah 33:2).
The explanation given above is also in harmony with the use made by James of our prophecy in Acts 15:16-17, where he derives from Amos 9:11 and Amos 9:12 a prophetic testimony to the fact that Gentiles who became believers were to be received into the kingdom of God without circumcision. It is true that at first sight James appears to quote the words of the prophet simply as a prophetic declaration in support of the fact related by Peter, namely, that by giving His Holy Spirit to believers from among the Gentiles as well as to believers from among the Jews, without making any distinction between Jews and Gentiles, God had taken out of the Gentiles a people ἐπὶ τῶ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ, "upon His name" (compare Acts 15:14 with Acts 15:8-9). But as both James and Peter recognise in this fact a practical declaration on the part of God that circumcision was not a necessary prerequisite to the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of Christ, while James follows up the allusion to this fact with the prophecy of Amos, introducing it with the words, "and to this agree the words of the prophets," there can be no doubt that James also quotes the words of the prophet with the intention of adducing evidence out of the Old Testament in support of the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God without circumcision. But this proof is not furnished by the statement of the prophet, "through its silence as to the condition required by those who were pharisaically disposed" (Hengstenberg); and still less by the fact that it declares in the most striking way "what significance there was in the typical kingdom of David, as a prophecy of the relation in which the human race, outside the limits of Israel, would stand to the kingdom of Christ" (Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, pp. 84, 85). For the passage would contain nothing extraordinary concerning the typical significance possessed by the kingdom of David in relation to the kingdom of Christ, if, as Hofmann says (p. 84), the prophet, instead of enumerating all the nations which once belonged to the kingdom of David, simply mentions Edom by name, and describes all the others as the nations which have been subject like Edom to the name of Jehovah. The demonstrative force of the prophet's statement is to be found, no doubt, as Hofmann admits, in the words כּל־הגּוים אשׁר נקרא שׁמי עליהם. But if these words affirmed nothing more than what Hofmann finds in them - namely, that all the nations subdued by David were subjected to the name of Jehovah; or, as he says at p. 83, "made up, in connection with Israel, the kingdom of Jehovah and His anointed, without being circumcised, or being obliged to obey the law of Israel" - their demonstrative force would simply lie in what they do not affirm, - namely, in the fact that they say nothing whatever about circumcision being a condition of the reception of the Gentiles. The circumstance that the heathen nations which David brought into subjection to his kingdom were made tributary to himself and subject to the name of Jehovah, might indeed by typical of the fact that the kingdom of the second David would also spread over the Gentiles; but, according to this explanation, it would affirm nothing at all as to the internal relation of the Gentiles to Israel in the new kingdom of God. The Apostle James, however, quotes the words of Amos as decisive on the point in dispute, which the apostles were considering, because in the words, "all the nations upon whom my name is called," he finds a prediction of what Peter has just related, - namely, that the Lord has taken out of the heathen a people "upon His name," that is to say, because he understands by the calling of the name of the Lord upon the Gentiles the communication of the Holy Ghost to the Gentiles.
(Note: Moreover, James (or Luke) quotes the words of Amos according to the lxx, even in their deviations from the Hebrew text, in the words ὅπως ἂν ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων με (for which Luke has τὸν κύριον, according to Cod. Al.), which rest upon an interchange of למען יירשׁוּ את־שׁארית אדום with למען ידרשׁוּ שׁארית אדם; because the thought upon which it turned was not thereby altered, inasmuch as the possession of the Gentiles, of which the prophet is speaking, is the spiritual sway of the people of the Lord, which can only extend over those who seek the Lord and His kingdom. The other deviations from the original text and from the lxx (compare Acts 15:16 with Amos 9:11) may be explained on the ground that the apostle is quoting from memory, and that he alters ἐν τῆ ἡμερᾶ ἐκείνη ἀναστήσω into μετὰ ταῦτα ἀναστρέψω καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω, to give greater clearness to the allusion contained in the prnophecy to the Messianic times.)
That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.To the setting up of the kingdom and its outward extension the prophet appends its inward glorification, foretelling the richest blessing of the land (Amos 9:13) and of the nation (Amos 9:14), and lastly, the eternal duration of the kingdom (Amos 9:15). Amos 9:13. "Behold, days come, is the saying of Jehovah, that the ploughman reaches to the reaper, and the treader of grapes to the sower of seed; and the mountains drip new wine, and all the hills melt away. Amos 9:14. And I reverse the captivity of my people Israel, and they build the waste cities, and dwell, and plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; and make gardens, and eat the fruit thereof. Amos 9:15. And I plant them in their land, and they shall no more be torn up out of their land which I have given them, saith Jehovah thy God." In the new kingdom of God the people of the Lord will enjoy the blessing, which Moses promised to Israel when faithful to the covenant. This blessing will be poured upon the land in which the kingdom is set up. Amos 9:13 is formed after the promise in Leviticus 26:5, "Your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing-time;" but Amos transfers the action to the persons employed, and says, "The ploughman will reach to the reaper." Even while the one is engaged in ploughing the land for the sowing, the other will already be able to cut ripe corn; so quickly will the corn grow and ripen. And the treading of the grapes will last to the sowing-time, so abundant will the vintage be. The second half of the verse is taken from Joel 3:18; and according to this passage, the melting of the hills is to be understood as dissolving into streams of milk, new wine, and honey, in which the prophet had the description of the promised land as a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8, etc.) floating before his mind. In the land so blessed will Israel enjoy unbroken peace, and delight itself in the fruits of its inheritance. On שׁוּב את־שׁבוּת, see the exposition of Hosea 6:11. That this phrase is not used here to denote the return of the people from captivity, but the turning of misfortune and misery into prosperity and salvation, is evident from the context; for Israel cannot be brought back out of captivity after it has already taken possession of the Gentiles (Amos 9:12). The thought of Amos 9:14, as attached to Amos 9:13, is the following: As the land of Israel, i.e., the territory of the re-erected kingdom of David, will no more be smitten with the curse of drought and failing crops with which the rebellious are threatened, but will receive the blessing of the greatest fertility, so will the people, i.e., the citizens of this kingdom, be no more visited with calamity and judgment, but enjoy the rich beneficent fruits of their labour in blessed and unbroken peace. This thought is individualized with a retrospective glance at the punishment with which the sinners are threatened in Amos 5:11, - namely, as building waste cities, and dwelling therein, and as drinking the wine of the vineyards that have been planted; not building houses for others any more, as was threatened in Amos 5:11, after Deuteronomy 28:30, Deuteronomy 28:39; and lastly, as laying out gardens, and eating the fruit thereof, without its being consumed by strangers (Deuteronomy 28:33). This blessing will endure for ever (Amos 9:15). Their being planted in their land denotes, not the settling of the people in their land once more, but their firm and lasting establishment and fortification therein. The Lord will make Israel, i.e., His rescued people, into a plantation that will never be torn up again, but strikes firm roots, sends forth blossom, and produces fruit. The words point back to 2 Samuel 7:10, and declare that the firm planting of Israel which was begun by David will be completed with the raising up of the fallen hut of David, inasmuch as no further driving away of the nation into captivity will occur, but the people of the Lord will dwell for ever in the land which their God has given them. Compare Jeremiah 24:6. This promise is sealed by אמר יי אל.
We have not to seek for the realization of this promise in the return of Israel from its captivity to Palestine under Zerubbabel and Ezra; for this was no planting of Israel to dwell for ever in the land, nor was it a setting up of the fallen hut of David. Nor have we to transfer the fulfilment to the future, and think of a time when the Jews, who have been converted to their God and Saviour Jesus Christ, will one day be led back to Palestine. For, as we have already observed at Joel 3:18, Canaan and Israel are types of the kingdom of God and of the church of the Lord. The raising up of the fallen hut of David commenced with the coming of Christ and the founding of the Christian church by the apostles; and the possession of Edom and all the other nations upon whom the Lord reveals His name, took its rise in the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of heaven set up by Christ. The founding and building of this kingdom continue through all the ages of the Christian church, and will be completed when the fulness of the Gentiles shall one day enter into the kingdom of God, and the still unbelieving Israel shall have been converted to Christ. The land which will flow with streams of divine blessing is not Palestine, but the domain of the Christian church, or the earth, so far as it has received the blessings of Christianity. The people which cultivates this land is the Christian church, so far as it stands in living faith, and produces fruits of the Holy Ghost. The blessing foretold by the prophet is indeed visible at present in only a very small measure, because Christendom is not yet so pervaded by the Spirit of the Lord, as that it forms a holy people of God. In many respects it still resembles Israel, which the Lord will have to sift by means of judgments. This sifting will be first brought to an end through the judgment upon all nations, which will attend the second coming of Christ. Then will the earth become a Canaan, where the Lord will dwell in His glorified kingdom in the midst of His sanctified people.
And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.