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Lecture Fifty-seventh

We have explained the last verse of the fourth chapter, except that there remains something to be said of the glorious representation given of God by the Prophet. He says first, that he had formed the mountains then that he had created the spirits, afterwards that he declares to man what is his thoughts, makes the morning and the darkness, and walks on the high places of the earth Such an accumulation of words might seem superfluous, only this main thing must be borne in mind, that it was necessary for men, whose minds were exceedingly torpid to be aroused that they might seriously consider what we have seen had been denounced on them. Hence the Prophet sought to shake off from the Israelites their thoughtlessness, by setting God before them in his greatness; for when his name only is announced, he is wholly neglected by the greatest part of men. It was therefore necessary that something should be added, that they who were asleep might be awakened, and understand how great and how fearful the power of God is. This is the design of all that we read here.

The word רוח, ruch, is interpreted in two ways. Some refer it to the wind, and others to the soul of man. If we take it for the wind, it will join suitably with the creation of mountains, for the winds emerge from them on account of their cavity. If you understand it of man’s soul, it will agree with the following clause. It appears to me more probable that the Prophet speaks of man’s soul; though one may possibly choose to connect both, so that there is an allusion to wind, and that yet Amos, about to speak of thought, first mentions the spirit.

But what the Prophet says, that God announces to men what their thought is — this is done in various ways. We indeed know that the end of teaching is, that men may confess their guilt, who before flattered themselves; we know also that the word of God is like a two-edged sword, which penetrates into the bones and marrow, and distinguishes between thoughts and feelings, (Hebrews 4:12) God then thus draws men out of their recesses into the light; and he also convinces them without the word; for we know how powerful are the secret movements (instinctus — influences) of the Spirit. But the Prophet meant only here, that the Israelites had to do with God, who is the searcher of hearts, and from whom nothing is hid, however concealed it may be. Each one is to himself the best witness of his own thoughts; but the Prophet ascribes to God a higher degree, for he understands whatever any one conceives in his mind, better than he who seems to have all his own thoughts well understood. 3030     This conjecture is fully borne out by the fact, that the copulative ו, vau, is found in more than twenty MSS., as given by Kennicott: it is also found in the Septuagint. — Ed. Since men therefore craftily hide themselves, the Prophet here reminds them that they cannot succeed, for God understands what they inwardly think better than they themselves. We now then perceive what he substantially means.

Some explain the words, that God makes the morning darkness, as if Amos had said, that he converts light into darkness; but we ought rather to consider a copulative to be understood; for he here declares the power of God, not only as displayed in once creating the world, but also in preserving the order of nature, and in minutely regulating the changes of times and seasons. Let us now proceed to the fifth chapter.

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