Micah 1:7
And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) And all the hires thereof.—The falling away of Israel from her loyalty to God is compared generally by the prophets to a wife deserting her husband; and these “hires” are the offerings made to the shrines of the idols to which the Israelites forsaking Jehovah had transferred their worship. All these treasures shall be destroyed; the Assyrians shall carry them off for the adornment of their temples.

1:1-7 The earth is called upon, with all that are therein, to hear the prophet. God's holy temple will not protect false professors. Neither men of high degree, as the mountains, nor men of low degree, as the valleys, can secure themselves or the land from the judgments of God. If sin be found in God's people he will not spare them; and their sins are most provoking to him, for they are most reproaching. When we feel the smart of sin, it behoves us to seek what is the sin we smart for. Persons and places most exalted, are most exposed to spiritual diseases. The vices of leaders and rulers shall be surely and sorely punished. The punishment answers the sin. What they gave to idols, never shall prosper, nor do them any good. What is got by one lust, is wasted on another.And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces - Its idols in whom she trusts, so far from protecting her, shall themselves go into captivity, broken up for the gold and silver whereof they were made. The wars of the Assyrians being religious wars , the idolatry of Assyria destroyed the idolatry and idols of Israel.

And all the hires thereof shall be burned with fire - All forsaking of God being spiritual fornication from Him who made His creatures for Himself, the hires are all which man would gain by that desertion of his God, employed in man's contact with his idols, whether as bribing his idols to give him what are the gifts of God, or as himself bribed by them. For there is no pure service, save that of the love of God. God alone can be loved purely, for Himself; offerings to Him alone are the creature's pure homage to the Creator, going out of itself, not looking back to itself, not seeking itself, but stretching forth to Him and seeking Him for Himself. Whatever man gives to or hopes from his idols, man himself is alike his object in both. The hire then is, alike what he gives to his idols, the gold whereof he makes his Baal , the offerings which the pagan used to lay up in their temples, and what, as he thought, he himself received back. For he gave only earthly things, in order to receive back things of earth. He hired their service to him, and his earthly gains were his hire. It is a strong mockery in the mouth of God, that they had these things from their idols. He speaks to them after their thoughts. Yet it is true that, although God overrules all, man does receive from Satan Matthew 4:9, the god of this world 2 Corinthians 4:4, all which he gains amiss. It is the price for which he sells his soul and profanes himself. Yet herein were the pagan more religious than the Christian worldling. The pagan did offer an ignorant service to they knew not what. Our idolatry of mammon, as being less abstract, is more evident self-worship, a more visible ignoring and so a more open dethroning of God, a worship of a material prosperity, of which we seem ourselves to be the authors, and to which we habitually immolate the souls of men, so habitually that we have ceased to be conscious of it.

And all the idols thereof will I lay desolate - Literally, "make a desolation." They, now thronged by their worshipers, should be deserted; their place and temple, a waste. He thrice repeats all; all her graven images, all her hires, all her idols; all should be destroyed. He subjoins a threefold destruction which should overtake them; so that, while the Assyrian broke and carried off the more precious, or burned what could be burned, and, what could not be burned, nor was worth transporting, should be left desolate, all should come to an end. He sets the whole the more vividly before the mind; exhibiting to us so many separate pictures of the mode of destruction.

For from the hire of a harlot she gathered them, and to the hire of a harlot they shall return - Jerome: "The wealth and manifold provision which (as she thought) were gained by fornication with her idols, shall go to another harlot, Nineveh; so that, as they went a whoring in their own land, they should go to another land of idols and fornication, the Assyrians." They Romans 1:23 turned their glory into shame, changing the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man; and so it should turn to them into shame. It sprung out of their shame, and should turn to it again. "Ill got, ill spent." Evil gain, cursed in its origin, has the curse of God upon it, and makes its gainer a curse, and ends accursedly. "Make not ill gains," says even a pagan. (H. 354. L), "ill gains are equal to losses;" and another , "Unlawful sweetness a most bitter end awaiteth."

Probably, the most literal sense is not to be excluded. The degrading idolatrous custom, related of Babylon and Cyprus , still continued among the Babylonians at the date of the book of Baruch (Baruch 6:43), and to the Christian era . Augustine speaks of it as having existed among the Phoenicians, and Theodoret says that it was still practiced by some in Syria. The existence of the idolatrous custom is presupposed by the prohibition by Moses Deuteronomy 23:18; and, in the time of Hosea self-desecration was an idolatrous rite in Israel . In the day of Judgment, when the foundation of those who build their house upon the sand, shall be laid bare, the riches which they gained unlawfully shall be burned up; all the idols, which they set up instead of God , "the vain thoughts, and useless fancies, and hurtful forms and images which they picture in their mind, defiling it, and hindering it from the steadfast contemplation of divine things, will be punished. They were the hire of the soul which went astray from God, and they who conceived them will, with them, become the prey again of that infernal host which is unceasingly turned from God."

7. all the hires—the wealth which Israel boasted of receiving from her idols as the "rewards" or "hire" for worshipping them (Ho 2:5, 12).

idols … will I … desolate—that is, give them up to the foe to strip off the silver and gold with which they are overlaid.

she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot—Israel gathered (made for herself) her idols from the gold and silver received from false gods, as she thought, the "hire" of her worshipping them; and they shall again become what they had been before, the hire of spiritual harlotry, that is, the prosperity of the foe, who also being worshippers of idols will ascribe the acquisition to their idols [Maurer]. Grotius explains it, The offerings sent to Israel's temple by the Assyrians, whose idolatry Israel adopted, shall go back to the Assyrians, her teachers in idolatry, as the hire or fee for having taught it. The image of a harlot's hire for the supposed temporal reward of spiritual fornication, is more common in Scripture (Ho 9:1).

All the graven images; erected in honour to the idols they worshipped, which usually were the images or similitudes resembling their idols, their gods of silver, gold, or stone and brass, or wood.

Shall be beaten to pieces; pulled out of their chapels, shrines, or repositories by the conquering Assyrians, who would as was customary with such nations, deal with the gods as with enemies conquered, trample upon them, and use them most contemptibly; and when they break into pieces idols of rich materials, it was to carry them away with them as their booty; others were broken in contempt of them.

All the hires, or rewards, or gifts, which idolaters thought their idols gave them, as Hosea 2:5; or the rich gifts given for the honour and service of the idols by deceived idolaters; or all the wealth Israel got by leagues with idolaters.

Shall be burnt with the fire; when their cities or temples are burnt, as no doubt many were burnt by the Assyrian before he could reduce them to obedience, in which conflagrations many rich donatives belonging to idols were consumed to ashes, or melted down.

And all the idols thereof will I lay desolate; thus shall the idols of Samaria be made desolate, i.e. their temples burnt, their images either beaten in pieces in contempt, or to be carried away (if the materials they were made of were worth the carriage); however, they shall neither remain, nor be worshipped any more in Israel or Samaria, but be carried away captives with their captive worshippers.

For she, the kingdom of the ten tribes, or Samaria, gathered it, their wealth, or the rich presents made to their idols, or both, of the hire of a harlot; as harlots get rich gifts of their lovers, so did this deceived people think, and say, that their idols gave them the wealth they had; or else as impudent adulteresses, that hire lewd men to come in to them; so this hire was that these blind idolaters (like shameless adulteresses) gave to their idols.

And they, these rich presents,

shall return to the hire of an harlot; shall be either turned by the Assyrians to the service and honour of their idols, presented as gifts in acknowledgment of their greatness and prosperity, to be the blessings their idols have. given to them, as Hosea 10:6; or else thus, as what is got by harlots brings shame and a curse with it, and never continues long, but is as basely wasted as it was gotten, so shall it be with all the ill-gotten goods of these Samaritan idolaters, and all their wealth. And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces,.... By the Assyrian army, for the sake of the gold and silver of which they were, made, or with which they were adorned, as was usually done by conquerors to the gods of the nations they conquered; these were the calf of Samaria, and other idols; and not only those in the city of Samaria, but in all the other cities of Israel which fell into the hands of the Assyrian monarch; see Isaiah 10:11;

and all the hires thereof shall be burnt with fire; this the Targum also interprets of idols; such as escaped the plunder of the soldiers should be burnt with fire: Kimchi, by "hires", understands the beautiful garments, and other ornaments, with which they adorned their idols, which were gifts unto them; and they committing spiritual adultery with them, these are compared to the hire of a harlot: or it may design their fine houses, and the furniture of them, all their substance and riches, which they looked upon as obtained by entering into alliances with idolatrous nations, and as the hire and reward of their idolatry; all these should be consumed by fire when the city was taken:

and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate; such as were not broke to pieces, nor burnt, should be thrown down, and trampled upon, and made no account of, or carried away with other spoil. The Targum interprets it of the houses or temples of their idols, which should be demolished. By this and the preceding clause it appears, that, besides the golden calf, there were other idols worshipped in Samaria. In the times of Ahab was the image of Baal, with others, for which he built an altar and a temple in Samaria, and a grove, 1 Kings 16:31; and at the time it was taken by Shalmaneser there were idols in it, as appears from Isaiah 10:10; and there were still more after a colony of the Babylonians and others were introduced into it; the names of which were Succothbenoth, Nergal, Ashima, Nibhaz, Tartak, Adrammelech, and Anammelech. The first of these is thought, by Selden (e) to be Venus; and the two last, both by him and Braunius (f), to be the same with Mo, having the signification of a king in them, as that word signifies, and children being burnt unto them: they are all difficult to be understood. The account the Jews (g) give of them is, that "Succothbenoth" were images of a hen and chickens; "Nergal", a cock; "Ashima", a goat without hair; "Nibhaz", or "Nibchan", as sometimes read, a dog; and "Tartak", an ass; "Adrammelech", a mule, or a peacock; and "Anammelech", a horse, or a pheasant. And it was not unusual for some of these creatures to be worshipped by the Heathens, as a cock by the Syrians, and others; a goat by the Mendesians; and the dog Anubis, perhaps the same with Nibhaz, by the Egyptians (h). And though the inhabitants of Samaria might be better instructed, after Manasseh and other Jews came to reside among them in later times, still they retained idolatrous practices; and, even in the times of our Lord, they were ignorant of the true object of religious worship, John 4:22; and they are charged by the Jewish writers (i) with worshipping the image of a dove on Mount Gerizim, and also such strange gods, the teraphim, which Jacob hid under the oak at Sichem; however, let their idols be what they will they worshipped, they are now utterly destroyed, according to this prophecy;

for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot; as all the riches of Samaria and its inhabitants were gathered together as the reward of their idolatry, as they imagined, so they should return to idolaters, the Assyrians; to Nineveh, called the well favoured harlot, Nahum 3:4; the metropolis of the Assyrian empire; and to the house or temple of those that worshipped idols, as the Targum; with which they should adorn their idols, or use them in idolatrous worship: or the sense in general is, that as their riches were ill gotten, as the hire of a harlot, and which never prospers, so theirs should come to nothing; as it came, so it should go: according to our proverb, "lightly come, lightly go". The allusion seems to be to harlots prostituting themselves in the temples of idols, which was common among the Heathens, as at Comana and Corinth, as Strabo (k) relates; and particularly among the Babylonians and Assyrians, which may be here referred to: for Herodotus (l) says, it was a law with the Babylonians that every woman of that country should once in her life sit in the temple of Venus, and lie with a strange man: here women used to sit with a crown upon their heads: nor might they return home until some stranger threw money into their laps, and took them out of the temple, and lay with them; and he that cast it must say, I implore the goddess Mylitta for thee; the name by which the Assyrians call Venus; nor was it lawful to reject the price or the money, be it what it would, for it was converted to holy uses, and Strabo (m) affirms much the same. So the Phoenician women used to prostitute themselves in the temples of their idols, and dedicate there the hire of their bodies to their gods, thinking thereby to appease their deities, and obtain good things for themselves (n).

(e) De Dis Syris Syntagm. 2. c. 7. p. 309. (f) Selecta Sacra, l. 4. c. 8. sect. 117. p. 465. (g) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 2. Vid. etiam T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 42. 3, 4. (h) Vid. Godwin's Moses and Aaron, l. 4. c. 7. (i) Maimon. in Misn. Beracot, c. 8. sect. 11. & Bartenora in ib. c. 7. sect. 1. & in Nidda, c. 4. sect. 1. Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 15. 2.((k) Geograph. l. 12. p. 385. (l) Clio, sive l. 1. c. 199. (m) Ibid. l. 16. p. 513. (n) Athanasius contra Gentes, p. 21.

And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the {f} hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return {g} to the hire of an harlot.

(f) Which they gathered by evil practices, and thought that their idols had enriched them with these wages because of their service to them.

(g) The gain that came by their idols will be consumed as a thing of nothing: for as the wages or riches of harlots are wickedly gotten, so are they vilely and quickly spent.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. the hires] i.e. the rich votive offerings in the sanctuaries, shortly afterwards called ‘the hire of a harlot,’ with reference to the shameful practices of heathenish religion (Deuteronomy 23:17-18).

shall return] i.e. shall again become (as Genesis 3:19 ‘unto dust shalt thou return’). The material of the costly images acquired through the offerings of devotees shall again be used for votive offerings in other no less shameful religions, based, like those of heathen Syria, on the worship of the powers and processes of nature.Verse 7. - Graven images. The stone idols (Isaiah 10:10). Septuagint, τὰ γλυπτά. The hires thereof. The word properly means, "the wages of prostitution." Idolatry is viewed as spiritual fornication, and the offerings made to the idol temples are reckoned to be harlot gifts. Hosea speaks in the same way (Hosea 2:5, 8, 12; Hosea 9:1; comp. Isaiah 23:17; Ezekiel 16:31). There may be allusion to the shameful practices consecrated with the name of religion, the proceeds of which went to the support of idolatry (see Baruch 6:43; Herod., 1:199; Strabo, 16:1). Idols; more costly images, made probably of or plated with precious metals. For she gathered it; rather, them, the images and idols, from the offerings made by idolaters, spiritual fornicators, hence called the hire of an harlot. They shall return to the hire of an harlot. The treasures obtained by idolatry shall go to another idolatrous people, viz. the Assyrians; the dedicated offerings in the temples at Samaria shall be carried off to Nineveh to adorn the temples there (comp. Daniel 1:2; Daniel 5:3; Ezra 1:7). The sentence seems to be a kind of proverbial saying, like the Latin, Male parta, male dilabuntur. Sehegg compares the German, Wie gewonnen, so zerronnen, and Unrect Gut that sein Gut. The judgment on Samaria was executed by the Assyrians. Three times in his short reign of less than six years did Shalmaneser IV. invade Israel. Shortly after his accession, having reason to suspect the fidelity of Hoshea, he "came up against him" (2 Kings 17:3), and so overawed him by the exhibition of his superior power that the King of Israel submitted without a struggle, "became his servants and gave him presents," or rendered him tribute. But Hoshea's allegiance was not yet secured. Encouraged by the enterprise and success of the Ethiopian monarch So, or Shebek, who had defeated and slain the Egyptian king, and established himself firmly on the throne of Upper Egypt, Hoshea, in reliance on Egyptian aid, again threw off the yoke of Assyria, and refused the customary tribute. His punishment was speedy and sharp. Shalmaneser had no difficulty in making himself master of his person, "shut him up and bound him in prison." On a fresh act of rebellion, of what nature we are not informed, Shalmaneser made his third attack. This time he was everywhere resisted, and ended by laying siege to Samaria itself. Before this city his forces were detained for more than two years; nor was it till B.C. 722, when apparently his own reign had come to an end, that Samaria was taken, his successor Sargon claiming the conquest as appertaining to his first year (Rawlinson, 'Ancient Monarchies,' 2. ch. 9.). "Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live; and so Jehovah the God of hosts may be with you, as ye say. Amos 5:15. Hate evil, and love good, and set up justice in the gate; perhaps Jehovah the God of hosts will show favour to the remnant of Joseph." The command to seek and love good is practically the same as that to seek the Lord in Amos 5:4, Amos 5:6; and therefore the promise is the same, "that ye may live." But it is only in fellowship with God that man has life. This truth the Israelites laid hold of in a perfectly outward sense, fancying that they stood in fellowship with God by virtue of their outward connection with the covenant nation as sons of Israel or Abraham (cf. John 8:39), and that the threatened judgment could not reach them, but that God would deliver them in every time of oppression by the heathen (cf. Micah 3:11; Jeremiah 7:10). Amos meets this delusion with the remark, "that Jehovah may be so with you as ye say." כּן neither means "in case ye do so" (Rashi, Baur), nor "in like manner as, i.e., if ye strive after good" (Hitzig). Neither of these meanings can be established, and here they are untenable, for the simple reason that כּן unmistakeably corresponds with the following כּאשׁר. It means nothing more than "so as ye say." The thought is the following: "Seek good, and not evil: then will Jehovah the God of the heavenly hosts be with you as a helper in distress, so as ye say." This implied that in their present condition, so long as they sought good, they ought not to comfort themselves with the certainty of Jehovah's help. Seeking good is explained in v. 15 as loving good, and this is still further defined as setting up justice in the gate, i.e., maintaining a righteous administration of justice at the place of judgment; and to this the hope, so humiliating to carnal security, is attached: perhaps God will then show favour to the remnant of the people. The emphasis in these words is laid as much upon perhaps as upon the remnant of Joseph. The expression "perhaps He will show favour" indicates that the measure of Israel's sins was full, and no deliverance could be hoped for if God were to proceed to act according to His righteousness. The "remnant of Joseph" does not refer to "the existing condition of the ten tribes" (Ros., Hitzig). For although Hazael and Benhadad had conquered the whole of the land of Gilead in the times of Jehu and Jehoahaz, and had annihilated the Israelitish army with the exception of a very small remnant (2 Kings 10:32-33; 2 Kings 13:3, 2 Kings 13:7), Joash and Jeroboam II had recovered from the Syrians all the conquered territory, and restored the kingdom to its original bounds (2 Kings 13:23., 2 Kings 14:26-28). Consequently Amos could not possibly describe the state of the kingdom of the ten tribes in the time of Jeroboam II as "the remnant of Joseph." As the Syrians had not attempted any deportation, the nation of the ten tribes during the reign of Jeroboam was still, or was once more, all Israel. If, therefore, Amos merely holds out the possibility of the favouring of the remnant of Joseph, he thereby gives distinctly to understand, that in the approaching judgment Israel will perish with the exception of a remnant, which may possibly be preserved after the great chastisement (cf. Amos 5:3), just as Joel (Joel 3:5) and Isaiah (Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 10:21-23) promise only the salvation of a remnant to the kingdom of Judah.
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