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The Basket of Fruit


This is what the Lord G od showed me—a basket of summer fruit. 2He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the L ord said to me,

“The end has come upon my people Israel;

I will never again pass them by.


The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,”

says the Lord G od;

“the dead bodies shall be many,

cast out in every place. Be silent!”



Hear this, you that trample on the needy,

and bring to ruin the poor of the land,


saying, “When will the new moon be over

so that we may sell grain;

and the sabbath,

so that we may offer wheat for sale?

We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,

and practice deceit with false balances,


buying the poor for silver

and the needy for a pair of sandals,

and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”



The L ord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:

Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.


Shall not the land tremble on this account,

and everyone mourn who lives in it,

and all of it rise like the Nile,

and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?



On that day, says the Lord G od,

I will make the sun go down at noon,

and darken the earth in broad daylight.


I will turn your feasts into mourning,

and all your songs into lamentation;

I will bring sackcloth on all loins,

and baldness on every head;

I will make it like the mourning for an only son,

and the end of it like a bitter day.



The time is surely coming, says the Lord G od,

when I will send a famine on the land;

not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water,

but of hearing the words of the L ord.


They shall wander from sea to sea,

and from north to east;

they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the L ord,

but they shall not find it.



In that day the beautiful young women and the young men

shall faint for thirst.


Those who swear by Ashimah of Samaria,

and say, “As your god lives, O Dan,”

and, “As the way of Beer-sheba lives”—

they shall fall, and never rise again.


The Prophet pursues the same subject; but he omits the figurative mode which he had before adopted. He therefore denounces vengeance more openly, — that God would turn their festal-days into mourning, and their songs into lamentation. This was designedly mentioned; for the Israelites, we know, flattered themselves on account of their ceremonies by which at the same time they more and more provoked God’s displeasure: for the worship of God, which they pretended to perform, was mere superstition, and was therefore a profanation of true religion. Though then they thus brought on themselves God’s judgment by their wicked ceremonies, they yet thought that they were sufficiently disguised; for as Jeremiah says, ceremonies are to hypocrites the dens of robbers, (Jeremiah 7:10,11.) So here the Prophet speaks expressly of festal-days and of songs, — “Think ye that I am pacified on your feast-days, when ye offer sacrifices to me, or rather to idols under my name; and think ye that I am delighted with your songs? these things are so regarded by me, that they the more excite my wrath. Your festal-days then will I turn to mourning, and your songs to lamentation. At the same time, the Prophet threatens generally what we have before noticed, — that there would be mourning among the whole people for having too long abused the forbearance of God; I will then turn your joy into mourning. This is the sum of the whole. We have already shown why he names feast-days and songs, and that is, because they thought them to be expiations to turn aside God’s vengeance, when yet they were fans by which they kindled more and more the fire of his displeasure.

He afterwards adds, I will make to come up on all backs the sackcloth, and on every head baldness. These are various modes of speaking, which refer to the same thing: for they were wont to put on sackcloth and they were wont to shave their heads when in grief and mourning. The Prophet then means, that there would be extreme sorrow among the people, that having cast away all delights, they would be constrained to give up themselves entirely to weeping, lamentation, and grief. I will then make to come up on all loins the sackcloth, that is, I will make each one to put off all valuable and soft clothing and to put on sackcloth; and also to shave their heads, and even to tear off their hair, as they were wont to do. We indeed know that the orientals were more disposed to adopt external tokens of sorrow than we are. It was in truth the levity of that country that accounts for their playing the part of actors in mourning; and from this practice of mourning our Prophet borrowed his mode of speaking.

He afterwards subjoins, I will set her (he speaks of the Israelites under the name of land) in mourning as for an only begotten This similitude occurs also in another place, ‘They shall mourn as for an only-begotten,’ says Zechariah 12; so also in other places; so that there is no need of a long explanation. For when one has many children and one dies, he patiently bears his death; but when any one is bereaved of an only-begotten, there is no end nor moderation to his grief; for there is no comfort remaining. This is the reason why the Prophet says, that there would be grief, such as that which is felt for an only-begotten.

And he shows that these calamities would not be for a short time only, Her posterity, he says, shall be as in the day of bitterness 5858     Both this and the former line are rendered differently by Newcome, more consistently with the words of the original —
   And I will make it as a mourning for an only son,
And the end thereof as a day of bitterness.

   The pronoun “it,” and also “thereof,” is the feminine ה: Newcome refers it to הדברה, this matter, or this event, understood: or in case ארף, land, be the antecedent, he thinks that כאבל, “as a mourning,” should be rendered participially, as “one who mourns.” Either of these constructions may suit the original; but another seems preferable. The antecedent to “it appears to be אבל, “mourning,” in the first line of the verse. Our own version is no doubt the correct one, and not that which Calvin adopts; only the last line may be better rendered thus, as Junius and Tremelius do —

   “And the end of it as that of the bitterest day.”

   — Ed.
For hypocrites drive away, or at least moderate, their fear of punishment by imagining that God will not be so severe and rigid but for a short time, — “O! it cannot be God will for long punish our sins; but it will be like mist which soon passes away.” Thus hypocrites felicitate themselves. Then the Prophet does not without reason subjoin this second clause, that their posterity shall be as in the day of bitterness. Hence when they shall think themselves freed from all evils, then new ones shall succeed, so that their posterity shall even doubly grieve; for they shall feel more bitterness than their fathers. It now follows —

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