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9. Israel to Be Destroyed

I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered. 2Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: 3And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them: 4And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good. 5And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt. 6 It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is his name. 7 Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the Lord. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir? 8Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord. 9For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. 10All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.

11In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: 12That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this. 13Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. 14And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.

As the prophecy we have noticed was one difficult to be believed, especially when the people were led away into exile, the Prophet comes to the help of this lack of faith, and shows that this would be no hindrance to God to lead his people to the felicity of which he speaks. These things seem indeed to be quite contrary, the one to the other, — that the people, spoiled of all dignity, should be driven to a far country to live in miserable exile, and that they should also be scattered into various parts and oppressed by base tyranny; — and that at the same time a most flourishing condition should be promised them, and that such an extension of their kingdom should be promised them, as had never been previously witnessed. Lest then their present calamities should fill their minds with fear and bind them fast in despair; he says that the Israelites shall return from exile, not indeed all; but as we have already seen, this promise is addressed to the elect alone: at the same time he speaks here simply of the people. But, this prophecy is connected with other prophecies: it ought not therefore to be extended except to that remnant seed, of whom we have before taken notice.

Restore then will I the captivity of my people Israel; and then, They shall build nested cities and dwell there; they shall plant vineyards, and their wine shall they drink; they shall make gardens, and shall eat their fruit. He reminds the people here of the blessings mentioned in the Law. They must indeed have known that the hand of the Lord was opposed to them in their exile. Hence the Prophet now shows, that as soon as the Lord would again begin to be propitious to them, there would be a new state of things; for when God shows his smiling countenance, prosperity follows and a blessed success in all things. This then is what the Prophet now intends to show, that the miserable exiles might not faint in despair, when the Lord chastised them. It follows at last —

The Prophet further mentions here a quiet dwellings in the land, for it was not enough for the people to be restored to their country, except they lived there in safety and quietness; for they might soon afterwards have been removed again. It would have been better for them to pine away in exile, than to be restored for the sake, as it were, of sporting with them, and in a short time to be again conquered by their enemies, and to be led away into another country. Therefore the Prophet says, that the people, when restored, would be in a state of tranquillity.

And he uses a most suitable comparison, when he says, I will plant them in their own land, nor shall they be pulled up any more: for how can we have a settled place to dwell in, except the Lord locates us somewhere? We are indeed as it were flitting beings on the earth, and we may at any moment be tossed here and there as the chaff. We have therefore no settled dwelling, except as far as we are planted by the hand of God, or as far as God assigns to us a certain habitation, and is pleased to make us rest in quietness. This is what the Prophet means by saying, I will plant them in their own land, nor shall they any more be pulled up How so? “Because, he says, I have given to them the land”. He had indeed given it to them before, but he suffered them to be pulled up when they had polluted the land. But now God declares that his grace would outweigh the sins of the people; as though he said, “However unworthy the people are, who dwell in this land, my gift will yet be effectual: for I will not regard what they deserve at my hands, but as I have given them this land, they shall obtain it.” We now apprehend the meaning of the Prophet.

Now, if we look on what afterwards happened, it may appear that this prophecy has never been fulfilled. The Jews indeed returned to their own country, but it was only a small number: and besides, it was so far from being the case, that they ruled over neighboring nations, that they became on the contrary tributaries to them: and further still, the limits of their rule were ever narrow, even when they were able to shake off the yoke. In what sense then has God promised what we have just explained? We see this when we come to Christ; for it will then be evident that nothing has been in vain foretold: though the Jews have not ruled as to the outward appearance, yet the kingdom of God was then propagated among all nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun; and then, as we have said in other places, the Jews reigned.

Further, what is here said of the abundance of corn and wine, must be explained with reference to the nature of Christ’s kingdom. As then the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, it is enough for us, that it abounds in spiritual blessings: and the Jews, whom God reserved for himself as a remnant, were satisfied with this spiritual abundance.

If any one objects and says, that the Prophet does not speak here allegorically; the answer is ready at hand, even this, — that it is a manner of speaking everywhere found in Scripture, that a happy state is painted as it were before our eyes, by setting before us the conveniences of the present life and earthly blessings: this may especially be observed in the Prophets, for they accommodated their style, as we have already stated, to the capacities of a rude and weak people. But as this subject has been discussed elsewhere more at large, I only touch on it now as in passing and lightly. Now follows the Prophecy of Obadiah, who is commonly called Abdiah. 6666     There is no Prayer here, for the Lecture is not completed: it includes a portion of the Book of Obadiah. — Ed.

End of the Commentaries on Amos.


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