Matthew Poole's Commentary
Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings.The judgment of the grasshoppers, Amos 7:1-3, and of the fire, are diverted by the intercession of Amos, Amos 7:4-6. By a wall and plumbline is signified the desolation of Israel, Amos 7:7-9. Amaziah complaineth of Amos, and forbiddeth him to prophesy at Beth-el, Amos 7:10-13. Amos showeth his calling, Amos 7:14,15, and the judgment upon Amaziah, Amos 7:16,17.
Thus: sometimes this refers to what went before, here it refers to what the prophet saw and is about to declare.
Hath the Lord God showed unto me: this is the first of five visions or prophetic representations of what was coming upon this people for their sins. The Lord gave Amos a clear sight of the future calamity by this vision.
Behold; I could not but observe, and it is worthy your observance too.
He formed: it is not said he called for them, but he formed or created them, probably intimating somewhat extraordinary in them, either in their bigness or number, or rather sudden appearing of them. So the plague signified by them should suddenly come upon them.
Grasshoppers: in our country grasshoppers are not hurtful, but these in our text were locusts, and so rendered Isaiah 33:4 Nahum 3:17; and the word used by Amos here is paraphrased by the Hebrew critics by a word that properly notes locust.
It was the latter growth: the shooting up of the first growth being too luxuriant, they did either mow off the tops, or eat it down with cattle, and this was done for preserving the corn and increase of the harvest; but if the second growth were cut off or eat up, it marred the whole harvest; and these devouring locusts were formed in such time as to do this, and so to bring a famine upon the land.
After the king’s mowings; it is supposed that the first mowing of the luxuriant corn in the blade was for the king’s use, and after this the second springing grew up to the harvest. It may possibly intimate, that though the kings of Israel did as it were mow the luxuriant riches vet they grew again; but when Assyrian locusts come all is devoured.
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.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.
The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD.The Lord repented; this, spoke after the manner of man, is to be understood as becomes the immutability and omniscience of God; what a man when he repenteth doth, desisting front the thing, so God, desisting or suspending his own act, doth tell us he repenteth.
It shall not be: this explains the former; that sore famine like to be caused by these locusts came not, Amos prevailed by prayer, and the judgment was diverted.
Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and, behold, the Lord GOD called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part.Thus hath the Lord God showed, in vision or hieroglyphic: see Amos 7:1.
And, behold: see Amos 7:1.
Called to contend by fire; declared he would judge as by fire: literally, say some, God would from heaven by fire punish. Others say metaphorically, by drought which should scorch up all fruits of the earth, and dry up fountains and rivers. Or else by very sore, wasting, and irresistible judgments, that like fire should consume all, hereby denoting the Assyrian rage.
It devoured; eat up, i.e. visionally, or in the emblem.
The great deep; not literally, but, as the other, Amos 7:2, in hieroglyphic; so it appeared to Amos.
And did eat up a part of the land too; it seemed to seize on the earth: now this in vision awakens the prophet, as before, to pray earnestly.
Then said I, O Lord GOD, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.No text from Poole on this verse.
The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD.These two verses are almost word for word the same with Amos 7:2,3, which see.
Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.Thus he shewed me: and, behold: see Amos 7:1.
The Lord; the great God, who had long tried Israel, and often spared.
Stood upon a wall; possibly it may denote his fixed purpose now to proceed to demolish this state.
Made by a plumbline; strongly, regularly, and beautifully built, as art could build it.
With a plumbline in his hand; ready, as an artist, to take the measures of this wall, to discover all the defects of it, and how much it was varied from what it was at first built. This shall be the last measuring it, and on this measuring, whatever is faulty shall be pulled down, though to the very foundation. This was visionally represented to the prophet.
And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:The Lord, who did before show Amos the emblem in landscape or vision.
What seest thou? this God asketh not as if he were ignorant what Amos saw, or as if he would be informed whether he saw aright, but it is introductory to what follows.
A plumbline; or perpendicular, to which masons first build and frame walls of houses, and by which they do at any time measure them, whether they stand upright, or any way belly out and decline.
I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel; I will exactly measure my people Israel, the whole fabric of the ten kingdoms. I will take a particular view of all, and how far it is right, or how far it is out of order.
I will not again pass by them any more; I will no more forbear, but I will pull down all that is faulty, though I pull up the very foundations; and this is confirmed in what followeth.
And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.The high places; the temples on high mountains built to idols, or for the worship of God, though he forbade them. Of Isaac: the father is here named, but his children are intended, all the seed of Isaac. I cannot, though some do, think the prophet alludes to Isaac’s being offered upon a high mountain.
Shall be desolate; shall be rased to the foundation, or left to moulder and fall with length of time, and assaults of storms and weather.
The sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste: this explains the former, and, speaking after the custom of those times, the prophet calls the idol temples sanctuaries, whether in Dan and Beth-el or elsewhere.
I will rise; God will, but not immediately, rise up: he will stir up some or other to do what he threatens.
Against the house of Jeroboam; in the days of Zachariah, (son of Jeroboam,) murdered by Shallum. With the sword, first of a conspirator, Shallum, next of civil war.
Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.Then; after that Amos had expressly and peremptorily foretold the ruin of idolatry and kingdom of Israel for their sins. Amaziah: it appears not what family he was of, nor is it much material we should know; it is probable he might be of some mean family, or possibly an apostate priest of the tribe of Levi.
The priest, by way of eminency; no common priest, but the chief priest.
Of Beth-el; to the calf at Beth-el; and it is like he was prefect or governor for the king in the civil affairs of that city and country.
Sent; gave information by messengers sent.
To Jeroboam; the second of that name, of Jehu’s race: the third from Jehu.
King of Israel; at that time living, and on the throne of Israel.
Saying, Amos hath conspired against thee: he accused the prophet of high treason, and conspiring to raise war against his sovereign.
In the midst of the house of Israel; openly and publicly, or hath endeavoured to raise all Israel into sedition or rebellion against their own king.
The land is not able to bear all his woods: either thus, If what he threateneth should come to pass, it will be ruin and utter desolation to all: or thus, The people are incensed so much against this prophet for his harsh predictions, that he must be made an example to quiet and content them. What he saith will come, if it doth come, will certainly ruin all, high and low, and a well-ordered government may not bear such a prophet. Thus far the general accusation.
For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.Thus Amos saith; so Amaziah falsely reports the prophet.
Jeroboam shall die by the sword: he no where said so, nor did he insinuate so much, but spake of his house distinguished from his person, as Amos 7:9.
Israel shall surely be led away captive: this indeed he foretold, but did no more contribute to it, or contrive it, than the physician doth who foretells the death of an uncounsellable patient, sick of a mortal disease.
Out of their own land: this is added to signify the greatness of the captivity.
Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:Also Amaziah said unto Amos: it is probable enough that this arch-priest of Beth-el did send this advice, or gave it to the prophet so soon as he had accused the prophet to Jeroboam; and perhaps he thus intended to insinuate a great good-will towards the prophet, presuming the prophet knew nothing that Amaziah had accused him.
O thou seer: whether this be spoken in scorn, or giving him the respect due to a prophet, I determine not.
Flee thee away into the land of Judah; be advised, stay not here, but with all speed flee out of the kingdom, get thee into Judah whence thou camest, there thou mayst be safe.
There eat bread: thou wilt never get thy bread here by this kind of preaching; in Judah it is likely thou mayst get thy livelihood by thy prophetic art; thither go,
and prophesy there; there thou mayst freely declaim against our vices, and predict our fall, which we do as little as thou dost much believe.
But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king's chapel, and it is the king's court.Prophesy not again any more at Beth-el; as a friend I advise thou do not, and as having authority from the king, I do declare thou shalt not, prophesy in Beth-el.
For it is the king’s chapel, where I am by the king’s authority empowered to give license, or impose silence, and to see that none but fit persons preach before the king, who doth there pay his devotions.
And it is the king’s court, where all his nobles attend him, and where no ordinary, obscure, and uncourtly doctor may appear: besides, such preaching so near to the king’s court will be speedily punished; therefore, as thou lovest thyself, Amos, follow my advice, and let the king’s court and this country hear no more of thee.
Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit:Then answered Amos: so soon as this false accuser had under the vizard of friendship given advice, and withal intimated his resolution to use his authority to make Amos desist if he did not do it voluntarily, Amos gives him answer readily, boldly, and yet smoothly, and outshoots the court pontiff in his own bow.
Said to Amaziah; not fearing his person or his power.
I was no prophet; not originally, or by succession, or by study, or by any human designation and preparation, as many have been;
neither was I a prophet’s son; my father was no prophet, nor was I bred up in the school of the prophets, such as 2 Kings 2:3,5,7,15 4:38 6:1. Though you call me seer, whether ironically or seriously, I matter not, but assure you I am not such by art, or trade, or for a livelihood.
But I was a herdman; by breeding, choice, and occupation I was and still am a herdman, and have my concerns in that mystery in or near Tekoa in Judah, on which I can live; though I prophesy without stipend or salary, I needed not to run into the prophet’s work for my bread.
And a gatherer of sycomore fruit: the tree and fruit is known by one name; Palestine abounded with both; and the fruit was sweet, not large, yet good for food for man or cattle, as some fruits are with us; on these I could still, as I formerly did, live, and be content.
And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.The Lord, the great and jealous God, whom you oppose by idols, took me; by an extraordinary power of his Spirit took me off from my old, mean, and private employment and recess, and I could not withstand him.
As I followed the flock; a description of a shepherd’s employment.
The Lord said unto me; commanded, whether by voice from heaven. or extraordinary irradiation of his mind, or impulse of the Divine prophetic Spirit, comes all to one, his authority is Divine.
Go out of Judah.
Prophesy; as a prophet instruct, threaten, promise, invite. and foretell.
My people Israel; the ten tribes, which with like civility are called by Amos God’s people as he is called seer.
Now therefore hear thou the word of the LORD: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac.Now; when forbidden, Amos, undaunted, prophesieth to him that forbade him.
Hear thou, Amaziah, who hast accused, yet pretendest to wish and advise my safety, the word of the Lord, who sent me, whom thou contradictest; from him I have somewhat to say to thee, and of much concern also to thee.
Thou sayest, usest thy power to silence me,
Prophesy not against Israel; preach not sedition, or what tends to it, under pretence that God speaks it against Israel: if thou canst speak good of us, and to us, this may be good for thee; but if thou wilt speak sad news against us, it will not be believed; it may hurt thee, it will do no good to others.
Drop not; distil not: see Ezekiel 21:2 Micah 2:6.
Against the house of Isaac; the posterity of Isaac: this explains the former, and is a hendiadis, or elegant ingemination.
Therefore thus saith the LORD; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.Therefore; because thou hast so directly and strenuously opposed the Lord.
Thy wife shall be a harlot, which to a man of sense is a great affliction.
A harlot; a common whore. In the city; a notorious one, that plays not the adulteress in secret at home, but so that all take notice of it, and brand her for it.
Thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword; which in all likelihood doth intimate their slaughter by Shallum when he slew Zachariah, Jeroboam’s son, with whom no doubt but his friends fell, among which this family was; or else by the sword of Menahem, who slew Shallum.
Thy land shall be divided by line; thy estate, which no doubt was large, shall be shared among the soldiers and courtiers of Menahem.
And thou shalt die; thy dishonour by a lewd wife, thy childless solitariness, and thy poverty, shall come on thee ere thou die; it is probable he fled to save his life.
In a polluted land; among the heathen, where thou mayst be sure my word was true. Israel, the ten tribes,
shall surely go into captivity forth of his land: see Amos 7:11.