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Bible Commentaries
Amos 8

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-14

Amos 8:1-3 The Vision of the Basket of Summer Fruit Amos 8:1-3 gives the fourth vision that the prophet received from the Lord called the Vision of the Basket of Summer Fruit.

Amos 8:4-14 Prophecy of Israel’s Certain Doom Amos 8:4-14 contains a prophecy of Israel’s certain doom.

Amos 8:5-6 Comments - Amos 8:5 describes corrupt and abuse in the market places of the nation.

“Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat” Comments - The children of Israel were eager to get past the time of celebrating the Lord of the Harvest during national holidays, and get back to their materialistic pursuits.

“making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?” Comments - These Jewish merchants reduced the portions they sold and raised their prices, deceitfully manipulating their profits. They abused not only their own people, but those foreign merchants whom they traded with.

That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes Comments - This corruption degenerated into wealthy merchants taking pleasure in bankrupting and selling their own people into slavery and bondage.

“yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?” - Comments - Even the products they sold were of inferior quality, being sold at premium prices.

Comments - Amos 8:5-6 describes the behavior I have encountered for years in Uganda’ market places. Such behavior reflects a culture where deceit is systemically embedded within the hearts and minds of a society, so that corruption dominates the behavior of a nation.

Amos 8:7 The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works.

Amos 8:7 Word Study on “the excellency” Strong says the Hebrew word “excellency” “ga'own” ( גָּאֹון ) (H1347) means, “majesty, excellencye” in a positive sense, and “pride, haughtiness” in a bad sense. The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 49 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as “pride 20, excellency 10, majesty 7, pomp 5, swelling 3, arrogancy 2, excellent 1, proud 1.”

Amos 8:7 Comments - In Amos 8:7 the Lord swears by an irrevocable oath for the third time in the book of Amos. God has earlier sworn by “His holiness” (Amos 4:2) and by “Himself” (Amos 6:8).

Amos 4:2, “The Lord GOD hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.”

Amos 6:8, “The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.”

He now swears “by the pride of Jacob” ( בִּגְאֹון יַעֲקֹב ). The phrase “pride of Jacob” is used earlier in Amos 6:8 in a negative sense as a reference to national arrogance, which the Lord abhorred. This same Hebrew phrase is used in Psalms 47:4 in a positive sense to refer to the Lord’s pride in Israel as His excellent people.

Psalms 47:4, “He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.”

Interpreting the Phrase in a Positive Sense The more popular view is to interpret the phrase “by the excellency of Jacob” in a positive sense as a reference to God’s pride in His chosen people, or as an appellation, or title, for God. Stuart interprets this phrase in a positive sense, “Thus Yahweh here ‘swears by’ the ‘sworn land,’ Israel’s most precious possession Yahweh’s great gift to them.” [34] Thomas McComiskey understands this phrase as “an appellation for God,” literally meaning “Jacob’s glory,” which is the Lord. He notes the context of the book of Amos, where the other two oaths (Amos 4:2; Amos 6:8) were made using variations of His name. He also notes Hosea 5:5; Hosea 7:10 where God calls Himself “the Pride of Israel”. [35] Otto Schmoller give the same interpretation and says, “by himself who was the pride and glory of Israel.” [36]

[34] Douglas Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 31, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), comments on Amos 8:7.

[35] Thomas McComiskey, Amos, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 7, ed. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v. 2.8 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corp., 1989-2001), comments on Amos 8:7.

[36] Otto Schmoller, The Minor Prophets, Exegetically, Theologically, and Homiletically Expounded, in Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, vol. 14, ed. Philip Schaff (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1886), 52.

Hosea 5:5, “And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them.”

Hosea 7:10, “And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.”

Most modern English verses translate the phrase, “by the pride of Jacob” ( RSV, YLT), “by the Pride of Jacob” ( NIV), or “by the excellency of Jacob” ( ASV).

Interpreting the Phrase in a Negative Sense A less popular view is to interpret the phrase “by the excellency of Jacob” in a negative sense as the arrogance of a backslidden Israel. William Harper understands this phrase in a negative sense, saying, “it is rather the vainglorious boasting of Israel.” He uses Amos 6:8 and Hosea 5:5; Hosea 7:10 as testimony to support his view. [37] A few modern English versions give a negative sense to this phrase as well, translating it as the Lord swearing “against the pride of Jacob” ( AB, DRC).

[37] William R. Harper, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Amos and Hosea, in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905), 179.

Amos 8:8 Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwelleth therein? and it shall rise up wholly as a flood; and it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.

Amos 8:8 “as by the flood of Egypt” - Comments - The Nile River, as it is called today, had well-known seasons of flooding, until the river’s flow was brought under control in modern times by dams and engineering.

Amos 8:9 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:

Amos 8:10 And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.

Amos 8:10 “and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day” Comments - This phrase in Amos 8:10 reflects the deepest expression of loss and grief in the human heart.

Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

Amos 8:11 Comments - Amos 8:11 serves as a prophecy of the cessation of the prophets in Israel, which was characteristic of the inter-biblical period of Jewish history.

Amos 8:12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

Amos 8:13 In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.

Amos 8:13 Comments - Women trust in beauty and men trust in their strength, but we as Christians will trust in the name of our Lord.

Amos 8:14 They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Amos 8". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/amos-8.html. 2013.
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