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2. Nemesis.

Amos ix. 1-6.

There follows a Vision in Bethel, the opening of which, I saw the Lord, immediately recalls the great inauguration of Isaiah. He also saw the Lord; but how different the Attitude, how other the Word! To the statesman-prophet the Lord is enthroned, surrounded by the court of heaven; and though the temple rocks to the intolerable thunder of their praise, they bring to the contrite man beneath the consciousness of a life-long mission. But to Amos the Lord is standing and alone—to this lonely prophet God is always alone—and His message may be summed up in its initial word, Smite. There—Government: hierarchies of service, embassies, clemencies, healings, and though at first devastation, thereafter the indestructible hope of a future. Here—Judgment: that Figure of Fate which terror's fascinated eye ever sees alone; one final blow and irreparable ruin. And so, as with Isaiah we saw how constructive prophecy may be, with Amos we behold only the preparatory havoc, the levelling and clearing of the ground of the future.

I have seen the Lord standing over the Altar, and He said, Smite the capital—of the pillar—that the very thresholds354354   Since it is the capital that has been struck, and the command is given to break the thresholds on the head of all of them, many translate lintels or architraves instead of thresholds (e.g. Hitzig, and Guthe in Kautzsch's Bibel). But the word סִפִּים always means thresholds and the blow here is fundamental. quake, and break them on the head of all of them! It is a shock that makes the temple reel188 from roof-tree to basement. The vision seems subsequent to the prophet's visit to Bethel; and it gathers his whole attack on the national worship into one decisive and irreparable blow. The last of them will I slay with the sword: there shall not flee away of them one fugitive: there shall not escape of them a single survivor! Neither hell nor heaven, mountain-top nor sea-bottom, shall harbour one of them. If they break through to Sheol, thence shall My hand take them; and if they climb to heaven, thence shall I bring them down. If they hide in Carmel's top, thence will I find them out and fetch them; and if they conceal themselves from before Mine eyes in the bottom of the sea, thence shall I charge the Serpent and he shall bite them; and if they go into captivity before their foes—to Israel as terrible a distance from God's face as Sheol itself!—thence will I charge the sword and it shall slay them; and I will set Mine eye upon them for evil and not for good.

It is a ruder draft of the Hundred and Thirty-Ninth Psalm; but the Divine Pursuer is Nemesis, and not Conscience.

And the Lord, Jehovah of the Hosts; Who toucheth the earth and it melteth, and all its inhabitants mourn, and it rises like the Nile, all of it together, and sinks like the Nile of Egypt; Who buildeth His stories in the heavens, and His vault on the earth He foundeth; Who calleth to the waters of the sea and poureth them forth on the face of the earth—Jehovah of Hosts is His Name.355355   LXX. adds of Hosts: on the whole passage see next chapter.


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