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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

Amos 4

Verse 1

Amo 4:1 Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that [are] in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.

Ver. 1. Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan ] Obesae et bene pastae, ye fat bawsons (as we use to call them), ye that are

Boeotum in patria, crassoque sub aere natae.

Ye that have hearts as fat as grease, and delight not in God’s law, Psalms 119:70 . Ye that cover your faces with fatness, Job 15:27 , till both your eyes stand out with it, Psalms 73:7-8 (as fulness breeds forgetfulness, Deuteronomy 32:15 , the fed hawk forsakes his master), as untamed heifers fully fed, ye have been unruly and refractory, means of much mischief to my poor afflicted, as was Jezebel to Elijah, Herodias to the Baptist, Eudoxia, the empress, to Chrysostom, Theodora to Belisarius, that brave and noble captain, and others. Poor Tegedine suffered many years’ captivity in misery and irons, by the Turk, for one word in a sermon, which distasted a proud and petulant woman without the least cause. What cruel persecutions raised the Queen Mother of Scotland, about the beginning of the Reformation there! the Queen Mother of France, Katherine de Medicis, for 30 years together! Queen Mary here, being wholly possessed by the bishops, as Alexandra was by the Pharisees, of whom Josephus testifieth that she had the name, but they had all the power of the kingdom! Oh these kine of Bashan, these wanton and wicked women (for so I understand the text after the Jewish doctors Vatablus, Lyra, Lively, &c.), when once they get the reins in their hands there is no hoe with them; when once the devil gets passage, per costam ad cot (as Gregory), by the rib to the heart, what may he not effect? when the hen is suffered to crow, what hope is there of good? David complains of strong bulls of Bashan, Psalms 22:12 , but those he might better deal with than with these cursed cows of Bashan that thrust with side and shoulder, and pushed the diseased with their horns, till they had scattered them abroad, Ezekiel 34:21 .

That are in the mountains of Samaria ] Ladies of the court, accustomed to high titles, such as I, that am non aula sed caula natus et educatus, no courtier but carter rather, and used to call a spade a spade, care not to compliment.

Which oppress the poor, which crush the needy ] As did, much about the same time, Jezebel in Israel, and Athaliah in Judah; and (besides the above mentioned) Dame Alice Piercy, King Edward III’s concubine, an impudent woman; who so far wrought upon the king’s impotencies, and presumed on his favour, that she imprisoned Sir Peter Lamar, speaker in parliament, and intermeddled in courts of justice and other offices; where she herself would sit to effect her desires; which, though in all who are so exalted are ever excessive, yet in a woman most immoderate, as having less of discretion and more of greediness. I have spoken before of Diana Valentina, King Henry II of France’s mistress, to whom he had given all the confiscations of goods made in the kingdom for cause of heresy, whereby many poor Protestants were oppressed, and needy crushed and quashed to pieces; for a poor man in his house is like a snail in his shell; crush that, and you kill his heart.

Which say to their masters ] Or lords, that is, to their husbands; as Sarah called her husband lord, Genesis 18:12 . She in obedience, but these in craft and counterfaisance; that they may the sooner subdue them, and have what they will of them.

Bring and let us drink ] q.d. Fan nobis potestatem in hos aut illos, saith Mercer: that is, Give us authority over such and such, that we may pick their bones, drink their tears, enrich and feast ourselves with their spoils, make no more scruple to undo them by force or forgery, than to eat a meal’s meat when huntry; or than the luxurious Italians (who have twenty distinct species of liquor, to please the gusto) do, to take off a cup of the most delicious, which they profanely call Lachrymae Christi. the tears of Christ.

Verse 2

Amo 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.

Ver. 2. The Lord God hath sworn by his holiness ] He hath sworn for more assurance, Hebrews 6:16-18 , it being hard to persuade secure sinners of the certainty and infallibility of the threatenings; which yet will as surely befall them without repentance, as the coat is on their back, or the heart in their bodies. And, "by his holiness," he hath sworn; that is, by himself (as having none greater to swear by); confer Gen 22:16 Jeremiah 51:14 Isaiah 45:23 ; Isaiah 62:8 , where God swears by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength. Exodus 17:16 , he is brought in laying his hand upon his throne, and swearing to root out Amalek. And so some in this place think, that by God’s holiness is meant heaven, the habitation of his holiness, and of his glory, Isaiah 63:15 . But Drusius dislikes that, because swearing by heaven is condemned by Christ, Matthew 5:34 . If God be holiness itself, let him be sanctified in righteousness, Isaiah 5:16 , and let men swear (when called to it, and not till then; the Hebrew word Neshbang here used is passive, and signifieth to be sworn, rather than to swear) "in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness," Jeremiah 4:2 .

Behold, the days come ] Certo et cito, surely and suddenly: even those dismal days of blackness and darkness, of greatest calamities; see Amos 5:18 ; Amos 5:20 . And let this prediction be to you as the knuckles of a man’s hand, to write you your destiny; or as a prophet, to read it unto you.

That he will take you away ] i.e. Ye shall be taken away, and hurried into another country; like as Isaiah 8:4 , He shall take away the spoil of Samaria, i.e. It shall be surely taken away; so Luke 12:20 , They do require thy soul ( απαιτουσι ), that is, it shall be required of thee.

With hooks ] Heb. with thorns, which were wont to be used in fishing, till iron hooks were more frequent. See Job 40:24 Ezekiel 29:4 ; Ezekiel 19:4 , They brought him with hooks, that is, with chains, into the land of Egypt. Those that were overcome were wont to be linked and langold together; and so led captive by their conquerors.

And your posterity with fishhooks ] Heb. that which is last of you; your children, and nephews, as Daniel 11:4 . It is foretold of Alexander the Great that none of his race shall succeed him, but strangers. See enemies compared to fishers, Jeremiah 16:16 Habakkuk 1:16 ; and note, that hereby is intimated, that these insolent dames shall be no more like fat kine, that abide in their pastures; but as fishes hanging on the hook, that are easily pulled up, and quickly carried away with little labour, but much delight to the fisher. See a like comparison from swimming, Isaiah 25:11 , the motion wherein is easy and not strong; to show, that God can subdue his stoutest adversaries with greatest ease.

Verse 3

Amo 4:3 And ye shall go out at the breaches, every [cow at that which is] before her; and ye shall cast [them] into the palace, saith the LORD.

Ver. 3. And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow ] Qua data porta ruitis, ye shall be glad to get out at any breach to save your lives, which now hang in suspense, Deuteronomy 28:66 , yea, to ride one upon the back of another for haste, as kine do, in a narrow strait. Or, ye shall be led into captivity, after the taking and dismantling of your cities; see Ezekiel 12:5 ; Ezekiel 12:12 .

And ye shall cast them into the palace ] Or, ye shall cast away the things of the palace. Ye shall cast them, that is, your children and nephews, Amo 4:2 into the palace; either that ye may not see their destruction, as Genesis 21:16 , or that they might with greater celerity provide for their own safety. That was a singular example of the Vindelici (now called Suevians) subdued by Drusius, the Roman general, under Augustus, but not without great resistance; the women throwing their young children at the Romans instead of darts. These were monstrous mothers, mad cows indeed.

Verse 4

Amo 4:4 Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, [and] your tithes after three years:

Ver. 4. Come to Bethel and transgress ] Do so, if you think it good; and since you are so set upon it, go on, despair, die and be damned: That which will perish, let it perish, quoniam vobis stat sententia, since you are resolved, and there is no removing of you, take your own course, at your own peril. Here then we have a most bitter sarcasm, wherein God, in seeming to command sin, showeth his utmost dislike of it; for he is not a God that loveth wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with him, Psalms 5:4 . See the like ironic expressions, Jer 7:21 Ezekiel 20:39 Ecc 11:9 Num 22:20 Isaiah 29:1 ; Isaiah 8:9 ; Isa 47:12 Jdg 10:14 1 Kings 18:27 . Bethel-Place of Transgression

At Gilgal multiply transgressions ] That your madness may appear to all men, 1 Timothy 4:15 . See Hosea 4:15 . See Trapp on " Hos 4:15 "

And bring your sacrifices every morning ] Like apes, imitate the daily sacrifice; and do those self-same things to your idols which I have commanded to be done to myself alone; and in other places, that should be done at Jerusalem only. Do all this, and try what will come of it. Will you try a fall with God? will you despitefully spit in the face of Heaven? Do ye provoke me to anger, saith the Lord? do ye not provoke yourselves to the confusion of your own faces? Jeremiah 7:19 .

And your tithes after three years ] That so ye may seem to keep my law exactly, Deuteronomy 14:28 , and to be wanting in no duty, either of piety or charity. Wasps also have their honeycombs; idolaters a form of devotion.

Verse 5

Amo 4:5 And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim [and] publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.

Ver. 5. And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven ] Which I have flatly forbidden to be done, Leviticus 2:11 . Neither leaven nor honey (which hath a leavening property in it) might be burnt in any offering made by fire; to show how God hateth hypocrisy; which, as leaven, soureth, swelleth, impureth, both us and our services. Out with it, therefore, 1 Corinthians 5:7 . God indeed permitted his people to offer leavened bread with the peace offerings, Leviticus 7:13 , ut ostenderetur, Deum ferre nostram infirmitatem, saith Alsted, to show that God beareth with our infirmities. But those leavened loaves were not to be burnt upon the altar; they were only for food to be eaten.

And proclaim and publish the free offerings ] That you may not seem in anything to come short of my most forward worshippers; nor to be without your holy convocations solemnly proclaimed. Atque ita omnino in caepta idololatria strenue pergite, and so show yourselves thorough idolaters (Tarnov.); as the historian saith of our Richard III, that knowing it was no good policy to play the villain by half deal, he resolved to suffer never a rub to lie in his way that might hinder the true running of his heart.

For this liketh you ] Heb. so ye love. Idolatry is marvellously pleasing to corrupt nature; as is to be seen in little ones delighting in babies. The whole world wondered after the beast, Revelation 13:3 . The papacy with its pomp and pleasure is an alluring, tempting, bewitching religion. The great whore with her cup of fornications may easily boast, as that harlot in Aelian did, that she could soon get scholars from Socrates; not he from her. But what an odd or rather sad thing is it, that men should so like that which will be their bane? and that God should be put to complain, as here, and Jeremiah 5:31 , "My people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof?" Polybius saith, that whereas man is counted the wisest of all creatures here below, to him he seemeth to be the most foolish; for other things love and seek their own preservation, Solus homo ab aevo ad aevum peccat fere in iisdem et punitur. Man only persisteth in sin, and is punished, as if he were ambitious for destruction.

Verse 6

Amo 4:6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Ver. 6. And I have also given you cleanness of teeth ] So that you need not spend time in picking them, as those that are fully fed; for I have cut you short enough, and held you to hard allowance; as those that would tame wild creatures keep them empty and waking; but you have been, and so continue, untamed and untractable, incorrigibly flagitious, uncapable of repentance. Your diseases are complicated, yea, they are so ingrained, that they are not easily stirred, much less destroyed by any potion I have yet given you. In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction, Jeremiah 2:30 .

In all your cities ] One as well as other, lest you should say as those Philistines, It was a chance, 1 Samuel 6:9 : and as the Rabbis tell us, that the idolatrous priests told Jeroboam that the drying up of his hand happened merely by accident.

And want of bread in all your places ] Thus the Scripture often interpreteth itself, and is ever its own best gloss. Some think that by "want of bread" here, is meant dearth of grain; as by cleanness of teeth, scarcity of flesh; and that by "all your places" we are to understand all your houses. This occured in the times of Elias and Elisha, 1Ki 17:1 2 Kings 6:25 ; 2 Kings 8:1 ; and God would not have it to be forgotten, but is justly angry that they remained so irreformable. That dearth in Elias’ days lasted over three years; and might likely be as extreme as that here in England (about the year 700) of three years’ continuance; and so violent it was, that not only many died daily for hunger, but great numbers, joining hand in hand, 40 or 50 in a company, threw themselves headlong into the sea. A like three years’ famine also we read to have been in Bohemia and Polonia, A.D. 1312, so great, that children devoured their parents, and parents their children; some fed upon the dead carcases that hanged in gibbets. Wolves also were so famished, that they fell upon all they met, and fed upon them.

Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord ] Ye have lost the fruit of your afflictions ( perdidistis fructum afflictionis. Aug.), and all mine hammers hitherto have but beatten cold iron. The bellows are burnt, the lead is consumed, the founder melteth it in vain, for the wicked are not plucked away, sc. from their wickedness; his dross is yet with him, his great scum still in him, Ezekiel 24:6 ; Ezekiel 24:12-13 , it is woven into the very texture of his heart, and cannot be separated. Reprobate silver shall men call him, because he returneth not to God that smiteth him, Jeremiah 6:29-30 Isaiah 9:12-13 .

Verse 7

Amo 4:7 And also I have withholden the rain from you, when [there were] yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.

Ver. 7. And also I have withholden the rain from you, &c. ] And so have punished you with thirst and drought, as well as with dearth and famine: and because I have found you wells without the water of piety, 2 Peter 2:17 , therefore I have refused to rain upon you, as I threatened, Deuteronomy 28:23-24 .

En quia iam vobis sunt ferrea pectora, reddit

Coelum etiam vobis durius aere, Deus. ”

When there were yet three months, &c. ] When you could worst of all want it See Trapp on " Joe 2:23 " for the watering of the seed and opening of the earth.

And I caused it to rain upon one city ] It rains not then by haphazard; neither are the seasons of the year (whether barren or fruitful) ruled by the course of nature or influence of the stars, but by God, Acts 14:17 . It is he that giveth rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons. He covereth the heaven with clouds, he prepareth rain for the earth, he maketh grass to grow upon the mountains, and standing corn in the fields, Psalms 147:8 . He weighs these waters by measure; so that not a drop falls in vain, or in a wrong place, but by Divine decree, Job 28:26 , for the fattening of the earth, allaying the heat, nourishing the herb and tree, Deu 32:2 Isaiah 63:14 , producing unto us "the appointed weeks of harvest," Jeremiah 5:24 , "that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater," Isaiah 55:10 . This the poor Pagans ascribed to their god Jupiter, whom they therefore styled Nεφεληγερετης . Him they confessed the greatest of all, calling him υπατος , the overseer of their trading; hence αγαραιος , the keeper of their houses, hence Jupiter Herceus, from ερκος , a wall, or hedge. This they did, to the great shame of many atheists among us, who hold that all things come either by benign nature or blind chance.

One piece ] sc. Of the same field, was rained upon, and fructified (this was near to a miracle; as when Gideon’s fleece was wet and no place else; and again, every place else, and not Gideon’s fleece, Jdg 6:37 ).

And the piece whereupon it rained not ] It, that is, the cloud, but by God’s appointment; for he it is that filleth those bottles of the sky, and emptieth them again, where and when he pleaseth, either in mercy, as Joe 2:23 Zechariah 10:1 Leviticus 26:4 , or for a judgment, as Joe 1:17 Genesis 17:11-12 1 Samuel 12:18-19 . In the year of grace 1551 a great multitude of men and cattle in Germany were drowned and destroyed; decidentibus subito nubibus, ac effusis certatim aquis, saith Bartholinus; by excessive showers and immoderate waters, pouring down upon people as by spouts. This was the very finger of God, who will one day rain upon the wicked snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest, Psalms 11:6 , Heb. a burning tempest; like as now out of those very clouds where hence he raineth, he doth again scatter sudden fires unto all parts of the earth, astonishing the world with the fearful noise of that eruption.

Withered ] It must needs do so; and so must God’s own vineyard, the Church, when he shall command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it, Isaiah 5:6 , that is, his ministers, that they drop no doctrine upon it, Deu 32:2 Eze 21:2 Amos 7:16 , fitly resembled to rain in regard, 1. of cooling heat; 2. quenching thirst; 3. cleansing the air; 4. allaying the winds; 5. mollifying and mellowing the parched and heat hardened earth; 6. causing all things to grow and fructify. This rain of righteousness goes sometimes by coasts, as here: God tying up the tongues of his most faithful labourers, and withholding their showers, though they be clouds thick, and full, and likely enough to drop down in abundance; see Eze 3:26-27 Hos 9:7 Proverbs 16:1 . Pray, therefore, oh pray earnestly, both ministers, for ability and liberty to "drop their word toward the holy places, and prophesy," Ezekiel 21:2 , and people, that he would fill their ministers as full of good matter as ever Elihu was, Job 32:18 , and then be with their mouths, Exodus 4:12 , yea, stretch out his holy hand, and touch them, Jeremiah 1:9 , performing that piece of midwifery, Proverbs 16:1 , that they may freely utter their conceptions, "and come to their hearers in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of peace," Romans 15:29 . In the Island of St Thomas, on the back side of Africa, in the midst of it, is a hill; and over that a continual cloud, wherewith the whole island is watered. This is our happiness for present. Oh that we knew but this gift of God, John 4:10 , and were answerably thankful and fruitful! Oh, how cursed a generation are those that repine at it, saying, Never was merry world, since so much preaching, &c. How shall such miscreants one day wish to have but one drop fall from these full clouds to cool the heat and horrors of their consciences, but shall not obtain it.

Verse 8

Amo 4:8 So two [or] three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Ver. 8. So two or three cities wandered ] Necessity is a hard weapon: and want of water will make men wander far and part with anything for it; as Lysimachus did with his kingdom, sacrificing his estate to the service of his life. Oh that we were as solicitous for our souls! Those good souls, Psalms 84:7 , went "from strength to strength," travelled many a mile to see God’s face, though but in that dark glass of the ceremonies. The good Shunammite went every sabbath and new moon to the prophet. Our forefathers were unweariable in making out after the means, which we vilipend, and make no reckoning of.

To drink water ] Rain water; for in those countries (as Jerome testifieth, who lived there many years, and therefore knew the situation and nature thereof) they have but few springs, and no considerable rivers, but only Jordan; and are therefore glad to keep rain water in cisterns for all uses; being much afflicted with thirst and drought, if it rain not.

But they were not satisfied ] Either because there was not enough to be had; or by a singular curse of unsatisfiableness, see Haggai 1:6 . See Trapp on " Hag 1:6 "

Yet have ye not returned unto me ] Usque ad me, so far as me. You have made some faint overtures and essays of returning, but they have not reached out unto me; they have not amounted to the full measure of a sound conversion. Plectimur, may you well say, nec tamen flectimur: corripimur, sed non corrigimur (Salvian). God rained not upon us that we might return unto him, and learn righteousness, Isaiah 26:10 , that we might pour out a prayer when his chastening was upon us, Isaiah 26:16 ; Isaiah 26:18 . But we, alas, have done nothing less; "we have turned every one to his own way"; and done what in us lies to defeat God and undo ourselves by our incorrigibleness and uncurableness.

Verse 9

Amo 4:9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured [them]: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Ver. 9. I have smitten you with blasting and mildews ] This by immoderate rain; that by drought caused by an east wind, that ventus urens et exsiccans. God cannot possibly want a weapon to tame a rebel.

When your gardens and your vineyards increased ] Or were trimmed and tricked up. Taxat nimium eorum studium, saith Mercer. The prophet here taxeth their overmuch pains taken and cost cast away in multiplying and dressing their orchards and vineyards; when, in the mean while, they neglected the sincere service of God; and suffered their own hearts to lie like the sluggard’s field, that was all grown over with thorns and briars, Proverbs 24:31 , that is, with lusts and sins, under which lurketh that old serpent.

The palmerworm ] Which is worse than the locust, as Jerome noteth; for the locust feeds only on the tops of the ears of grain as he flies (and thence hath his name in Greek, ακρις ), but palmerworms stick close to the fruits or flowers they light on; and will not off till all be consumed. It is the last and worst of evils, saith he; and leaves nothing behind it: omnia corrodit et converrit, makes clean work. See Joel 1:4 ; Joel 1:10-12 . See Trapp on " Joe 1:4 " See Trapp on " Joe 1:10 " See Trapp on " Joe 1:11 " See Trapp on " Joe 1:12 "

Yet have ye not returned unto me ] No, not yet; but have rejected the remedy of your recovery: see Amos 4:8 .

Verse 10

Amo 4:10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Ver. 10. I have sent among you the pestilence ] That evil angel, Psalms 78:49 , that το θειον , eminent hand of God, as Hippocrates calleth it; that destruction that walketh in darkness and wasteth at noon day, as the Psalmist styleth it, Psalms 91:6 . This God sent; for it is a messenger of his sending, an arrow of his shooting, 2 Samuel 24:15 , and may better be called morbus sacer than the falling sickness; as being an extraordinary hand of God, such as was that Sudor Anglicus, in the days of Edward VI the sweating sickness that raged very violently for forty years together here in England (as Sennertus testifieth), and slew so many, that strangers wondered how this island could be so populous as to bear and bury such incredible multitudes. No stranger in England was touched with this disease; and yet the English were chased therewith not only here, but in other countries abroad; which made them, like tyrants, both feared and avoided wherever they came. So long as the ferventness of this plague lasted, there was crying, Peccavi, Peccavi; I have sinned, I have sinned, and some pretences of turning to the Lord. The ministers were sought for in every corner (saith Mr Bradford), Oh, you must come to my lord, you must come to my lady. Thus, "when he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and inquired early after God. Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and lied unto him with their tongues," Psalms 78:34 ; Psalms 78:36 ; as the fox, when taken in a snare, looks pitifully, but it is only that he may get out; as ice melts in the day and hardeneth again in the night; or as iron is very soft and malleable while in the fire, but soon after returneth to its former hardness.

After the manner of Egypt ] In the way to Egypt (so some read it), as you were trudging down to Egypt for help against enemies, or for corn in time of famine (for Egypt was the world’s granary), I have stretched my net over you: Egypt hath gathered you up, Memphis hath buried you, Hosea 9:6 . But taking the words as we translate them, "After the manner of Egypt," i.e. so as I plagued the Egyptians, when you were among them see Exo 12:29 with mortality of men and murrain of cattle, Exodus 9:15 . The plague of Athens is graphically described by Thucydides; whence Ovid and Virgil are thought to have borrowed their descriptions of the pestilence. The plague of Italy is set forth in lively colours by Dionys. Halicarnass. lib. xi. Antiq. That of Constantinople by Nicephorus and Sigebertus.

Your young men have I slain with the sword ] Iuvenes a iuvando, saith Varro: because they are able and apt by arms to defend the commonwealth, and to help it at a dead lift. In Hebrew they have their name a delectu; because they are chosen to fight and do business, as fittest for the purpose, Exodus 17:9 2 Samuel 6:1 . These God had slain with the sword, which cutteth its way through a wood of men, and heweth down the youngest and strongest; spareth neither lord nor losel, as they say; is despatched with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood, Isaiah 9:5 .

And I have made the stink of your camps ] By means of the slain, both men and horses, that lie unburied, and poison the air; see Joe 2:20 Isaiah 34:3 .

And yet have ye not returned ] Nec sic tamen: Vide contumaciam, saith Mercer here. Obstinate men will sooner break than bend. Monoceros interimi potest, non capi. The unicorn is able to be kiiled but not captured.

Verse 11

Amo 4:11 I have overthrown [some] of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Ver. 11. I have overthrown some of you ] Some and not all: thus, in the midst of judgment he remembered mercy, he did not stir up all his wrath, Psalms 78:38 , he let fall some drops, but would not shed the whole shower of it; for he remembered that they were but flesh. Some he hanged up in gibbets, as it were, for example to the rest: as St Jude saith he dealt by Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, thrown forth for an instance of Divine vengeance to all succeeding ages, Judges 1:7 ( προκεινται ); and as Herodotus telleth us, that the sparks and ashes of burnt Troy served for a lasting monument of God’s great displeaure against great sinners. See the like threatened to Babylon, Isaiah 13:19-20 .

As God overthrew Sodem ] As Jehovah from Jehovah rained hell out of heaven upon them, Genesis 19:24 , that is, God the Son from God the Father: and so Eusebius observeth that the Father here saith of the Son, that he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah (De Praepar. Evang. 1. 5, c. 23. Vide Socrat. Hist. Eccles. l. 2. c. 30.): "he condemned them with an overthrow," 2 Peter 2:6 , he overthrew them and repented not, Jeremiah 20:16 , he overthrew them in a moment, and no hand stayed on them, Lamentations 4:6 . And yet worse shall be the condition of those that despise the grace of the gospel, which is the great sin of these last times, Matthew 11:24 ; yea, the devils will keep holy-day, as it were, in hell, in respect of such sinners against their own souls.

And ye were as a firebrand ] Ambustus et fumigans titio, smutchy and smoky, and scarcely escaping with the skin of your teeth, Job 19:20 , as Lot out of Sodom, as the man of Benjamin out of the army, 1 Samuel 2:12 , as the young man that fled naked away at Christ’s attachment, Mark 14:52 , or as Hunniades narrowly escaping with his life from the battle of Varna; where he had like to have fallen with that perjured Popish king, as good Jehoshaphat had for joining with Ahab. It is as if God should say: There are not many of you that are left, and have your lives for a prey; howbeit they are ill bestowed upon you, for any good use you have made of my forbearance. "Let favour be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness," Isaiah 26:10 ; and if thou deliver him once, yet thou must do it again, and when all is done that can be done. "A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment," Proverbs 19:19 ; and so (to be sure of it) shall a man of great stomach and stubbornness, that refuseth to return, as these of whom the fifth time it is here complained.

And yet ye have not returned, &c. ] O prorsus obstinati! saith Tarnovius here: Prorsus indurati et contumaces, saith Mercer. "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, do ye thus always resist the Holy Ghost?" Acts 7:51 : will ye needs be like horse and mule, uncounsellable, untractable? will ye, after conviction, needs run away with the bit in your mouths and take your swing in sin. If so resolved, yet stay, saith the Psalmist, and take this along with you, "Many sorrows shall be to the wicked," Psalms 32:10 ; your preservation from one evil shall be but a reservation to seven worse, Leviticus 26:21 , as it fared with Pharaoh, Sennacherib, and others; God will surely subdue or subvert you.

Verse 12

Amo 4:12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: [and] because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.

Ver. 12. Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel ] Thus? how? Non nominat mala ut omnia timeant, saith Ribera. He tells them not how, that they may fear the worst; even all that is written and unwritten. It was the very policy of Julius Caesar never to extenuate or deny to his soldiers the danger of an enemy, but rather to raise up thoughts of valour by aggravating the contrary forces: and this way he did (not seldom) hyperbolically rhetoricate saith the story. Now the Lord need not do so; since his judgments are a great deep, neither can any man know the power of his anger, Psalms 90:11 : let a man fear it never so much, he is sure to feel it a great deal more if he once fall into his fingers. Is it nothing to drink the dregs of God’s displeasure, when it is eternity unto the bottom? Is it nothing to launch into an infinite ocean of scalding lead, and to swim naked in it for ever? Oh, do anything rather than be damned; and as Lewis, King of France, cast the pope’s bulls into the fire, saying, he had rather they should burn than himself fry in hell for obeying them; or as Mary, Queen of England, restored again all the ecclesiastical livings assumed to the crown, saying that she set more by the salvation of her own soul than she did by ten kingdoms; so "let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on him; and to our God, that he may multiply pardon," Isaiah 55:7 .

And because I will do this unto thee ] Which (had I not wished thee well) I would never have told thee. But God loves to forewarn; and therefore threateneth evil that he may not inflict it ( Ideo minatur ut non puniat ): he would gladly be prevented by our humble addresses unto him, and by our entreaties of peace. Hear him else.

Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel ] Turn and try; thou canst not likely lose thy labour; or if thou shouldest, yet thou hast lost many a worse. Let Ephraim but bemoan himself, and God will soon melt over him, Jeremiah 31:20 . Let God’s prodigals return to their merciful Father and he will meet them half-way, and receive them with all sweetness. Tantum velis, et Deus tibi praeoccurret. Do as those, Jeremiah 3:17 . Alexander’s Macedonians, being sensible of his displeasure, laid by their arms, put on their mourning attire, came trooping to his tent, where, for almost three days, they remained with loud cries and abundance of tears, testifying their remorse for offending him, beseeching his pardon, which at last they gained. And Guicciardin tells us, that Lewis XII of France (when he entered Genoa in his triumphant chariot with his sword naked), resolved to make a prey of their riches, and an example of many of the chief among them, and to leave the rest to his soldiers’ mercies. But being met first by the chief, afterward by the multitude, making great lamentation for their folly, with abundance of tears and cries, his wrath was appeased toward them. The like we read of Henry VII, emperor, toward the citizens of Cremona; of our Edward III toward the inhabitants of Calais. And in Cade’s conspiracy here, after that twenty-six of the chief rebels were executed, the multitude, naked in their shirts, met the king on Blackheath, humbly praying mercy; which they obtained.

Verse 13

Amo 4:13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what [is] his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, [is] his name.

Ver. 13. For lo, he that formeth the mountains, &c. ] q.d. If my mercy move thee not to a humble submission, let my majesty; and for that end consider and tremble at my Nomen Maiestativum, my transcendent excellencies as they are here displayed, descried, and described, for thy learning, with a great deal of solemnity and state; to the end that thou mayest not expect evils, but prevent them, as Demosthenes counselled his countrymen.

He that formeth the mountains ] At first, doubtless, with the rest of the universe (though some held they were cast up by Noah’s flood); see Psalms 90:1-2 ; by his mere Fiat, without tool or toil, Isaiah 40:28 . This the blind heathens saw, and thus hieroglyphically set forth: in Thebes, a town of Egypt, they worshipped a God, whom they acknowledged to be immortal. And how painted they him? In the likeness of a man blowing an egg out of his mouth; to signify that he made the round world by his word.

And createth the wind ] The world’s besom (as Rupertus calleth it) wherewith God sweepeth his great house, and whereby he setteth forth his inexpressible power. See for this Psalms 18:11 ; Psa 148:8 Job 28:25 Jeremiah 10:12 ; Senec. lib. v. Nat. Quaest. cap. 18. And although we cannot tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth, John 3:8 , yet can we with Cruciger contemplate the footsteps of God in this and other creatures; saying with Paul, that God is so near unto us, that he may almost be felt with our hands, ψηλαφησειαν , Acts 17:29 .

And declareth unto man what is his thought ] What language he hath in his heart, what he talketh within himself ( quid sermocinetur, quidve cogitet, Drus.), as the rich fool did, Luke 12:17 . Jesus knew the Pharisee’s thoughts; yea, "thou understandest my thought afar off," saith David, Psalms 139:2 , even before I conceive them. Jerome and Theodotion refer the affix to God, and renders it thus, Who declareth unto man his word and will therein revealed, Eloquium suum, τον λογον αυτου . The Seventy read thus, Who declareth unto man his Christ τον χριστον αυτου , sensu pio et egregio, saith Mercer, sed alieno; for Ma-sicho they read Meshicho; perperam. wrongly.

That maketh the morning darkness ] As he did at Sodom, whereon the sun shone bright in the morning, but ere night there was a dismal change. So in Egypt, Exodus 10:22 ; so in Jewry at Christ’s death, Matthew 27:45 . Let this teach us to bless God for the light both natural, Genesis 1:4 , and supernatural, 2 Corinthians 4:4-5 , and to pray, that our gospel sun may not set at noon tide, nor our light be put out in obscure darkness; but rather that he would make our darkness morning (for so the words may be read here), by clearing up those truths to us that yet lie in part undiscovered. Oh, cry after Christ, as the poor man in the Gospel, "Lord, that mine eyes might be opened!" Oh that thou wouldest give me sight and light! Sun of righteousness, shine upon my dark soul.

And treadeth upon the high places of the earth ] As being "higher than the highest," excelsus super excelsos, Ecclesiastes 5:8 , "terrible to all the kings of the earth" (those dread sovereigns), Psalms 76:12 , "the most high God," Genesis 14:18 ; Genesis 14:22 , that hath heaven for his throne and earth for his footstool; yea, those highest places of the earth, the tops of mountains, and rocks inaccessible. "But who is this King of glory?"

The Lord, the God of hosts is his name ] "Give therefore unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due to his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness," &c.: "Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy," Psalms 29:1-2 ; Psalms 99:5 .

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Amos 4". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.