a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above


Hear this word, you cows of Bashan

who are on Mount Samaria,

who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,

who say to their husbands, “Bring something to drink!”


The Lord G od has sworn by his holiness:

The time is surely coming upon you,

when they shall take you away with hooks,

even the last of you with fishhooks.


Through breaches in the wall you shall leave,

each one straight ahead;

and you shall be flung out into Harmon,

says the L ord.


Come to Bethel—and transgress;

to Gilgal—and multiply transgression;

bring your sacrifices every morning,

your tithes every three days;


bring a thank offering of leavened bread,

and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them;

for so you love to do, O people of Israel!

says the Lord G od.


Israel Rejects Correction


I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities,

and lack of bread in all your places,

yet you did not return to me,

says the L ord.



And I also withheld the rain from you

when there were still three months to the harvest;

I would send rain on one city,

and send no rain on another city;

one field would be rained upon,

and the field on which it did not rain withered;


so two or three towns wandered to one town

to drink water, and were not satisfied;

yet you did not return to me,

says the L ord.



I struck you with blight and mildew;

I laid waste your gardens and your vineyards;

the locust devoured your fig trees and your olive trees;

yet you did not return to me,

says the L ord.



I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt;

I killed your young men with the sword;

I carried away your horses;

and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils;

yet you did not return to me,

says the L ord.



I overthrew some of you,

as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,

and you were like a brand snatched from the fire;

yet you did not return to me,

says the L ord.



Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;

because I will do this to you,

prepare to meet your God, O Israel!



For lo, the one who forms the mountains, creates the wind,

reveals his thoughts to mortals,

makes the morning darkness,

and treads on the heights of the earth—

the L ord, the God of hosts, is his name!


Amos here declares, in the person of God, that the people in vain hoped for pardon, or for a modification, or an abatement, or an end to their punishment; for God had in vain made the attempt, by many scourges and chastisements, to subdue their extreme arrogance: therefore, he says, thus will I do to you. What does this particle כה, ke, thus, mean? Some think that God here denounces on the Israelites the punishments they had before experienced: but the Prophet, I doubt not, means something much more grievous. He now removes the exception which he lately mentioned as though be had said, that God would execute extreme punishment on this reprobate people without any mitigation. This will I do to thee, Israel: “Thou hast already perceived with how many things I armed myself to take vengeance on the despisers of my law; I will now deal more severely with thee, for thy obstinacy compels me. Since, then, I have hitherto produced no effect on you, I will now bring the last punishment: for remedies cannot be applied to men past recovery.” Thus, then, he says, will I do to thee Israel. 2929     There seems to be a reference in “thus” to the judgment denounced on Israel in the 2nd and 3rd verses of this chapter: he declares that he will deal with Israel “thus,” or in the manner before described. — Ed.

And because I will do this to thee, etc עכב, okob, means often a reward or an end: this place may then be thus rendered: ‘I will at length surely do this to you;’ but the sense the most suitable seems to be this, Because I will this do to you, prepare to meet thy God. The passage may be explained in two ways: either as an ironical sentence, or as a simple and serious exhortation to repentance. If we take it ironically, the sense will be of this kind, “Come, now, meet me with all your obstinacy, and with whatever may serve you; will you be able to escape my vengeance by setting up yourselves against me, as you have hitherto done?” And certainly the Prophet, in denouncing final ruin on the people, seems here as though he wished designedly to touch them to the quick, when he says, “Meet now thy God and prepare thyself:” that is, “Gather all thy strength, and thy forces, and thy auxiliaries; try what all this will avail thee.” But as in the next chapter, the Prophet exhorts again the Israelites to repentance, and sets before them the hope of favor, this place may be taken in another sense, as though he said, “Since thou seest thyself guilty, and also as thou seest that thou art seeking subterfuges in vain, being not able by any means to elude the hand of thy judge, then see at last, that thou meet thy God, that thou mayest anticipate the final ruin which is impending.” The Prophets, we indeed know, after having threatened destruction to the chosen people, ever moderate the asperity of their doctrine, as there were at all times some remnant seed, though hidden. And similar passages we have seen both in Joel and in Hosea. It is not, therefore, improper to explain the words of Amos in this sense, — that though the people were almost past hope, he yet exhorted them to anticipate God’s wrath. Prepare then thyself to meet thy God, as though he said, “However worthy thou art of being destroyed and though the Lord seems to have closed up the door of mercy, and despair meets thee on every side, thou can’t yet mitigate God’s wrath, provided thou prepares to meet him.”

But this preparation includes real renovation of the heart: it then takes place, when men are displeased with themselves, when with a changed mind they submit to God, and humbly pray for forgiveness. There is then an important meaning in the Prophet’s words, Prepare thyself. With regard to meeting God, we know what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9: ,

‘If we judge ourselves, we shall not be judged by the Lord.’

How comes it, then, that God deals severely with us, except that we spare ourselves? Hence this indulgence, with which we flatter ourselves, provokes God’s wrath against us. We cannot then meet God, except we become our own judges, and condemn our sins and feel real sorrow. We now see what the Prophet means, if we regard the passage as not spoken ironically.

But that he might rouse careless men more effectually, he then magnificently extols the power of God; and that he might produce more reverence and fear in men, especially the hardened and the refractory, he adorns his name with many commendations. As it was difficult to turn the headstrong, the Prophet accumulates many titles, to move the people, that they might entertain reverence for God. “God,” he says, “has formed the mountains, and created the spirit,” and further, “he knoweth hearts, and men themselves understand not what they think of, except as far as God sets before them their thoughts; God maketh the morning and the darkness, and walketh in the high places of the earth; and his name is, Jehovah, God of hosts.” Why were all these encomiums added, but that the hearts of men might be touched, who were before void of thought and sunk in blind stupidity? We now understand the Prophet’s object. But what remains to be said on the words will be added in tomorrow’s lecture.

VIEWNAME is study