Sunday, March 26th, 2023
the Fifth Sunday of Lent
the Fifth Sunday of Lent
There are 14 days til Easter!
Pett's Commentary on the Bible Pett's Commentary
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Amos 9". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ pet/ amos-9.html. 2013.
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Amos 9". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://studylight.org/
- Henry's Complete
- Clarke Commentary
- Bridgeway Bible Commentary
- Coffman's Commentaries
- Barnes' Notes
- Bullinger's Companion Notes
- Calvin's Commentary
- College Press
- Smith's Commentary
- Dummelow on the Bible
- Constable's Expository Notes
- Darby's Synopsis
- Ellicott's Commentary
- Meyer's Commentary
- Gaebelein's Annotated
- Morgan's Exposition
- Gill's Exposition
- Everett's Study Notes
- Geneva Study Bible
- Haydock's Catholic Commentary
- Commentary Critical
- Commentary Critical Unabridged
- Gray's Concise Commentary
- Parker's The People's Bible
- Sutcliffe's Commentary
- Trapp's Commentary
- Kretzmann's Commentary
- Lange's Commentary
- Henry's Complete
- Henry's Concise
- Poole's Annotations
- Pett's Commentary
- Peake's Commentary
- Preacher's Homiletical
- Poor Man's Commentary
- Benson's Commentary
- Scofield's Notes
- The Biblical Illustrator
- Coke's Commentary
- The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- The Pulpit Commentaries
- Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
- Wesley's Notes
- Whedon's Commentary
- Keil & Delitzsch
- Box on Selected Books
- Ironside's Notes
- Restoration Commentary
- Utley Commentary
- Kelly Commentary
- Zerr's N.T. Commentary
YHWH’s Judgment Against Israel And Their False Altar is Certain And sure (Amos 9:1-4 ).
There is an interesting and possibly significant comparison between Amos 9:1 here and 1 Kings 13:1 (possibly as known to Amos in the tradition). There Jeroboam I had ‘stood by the altar’ at Bethel, only to hear it cursed by the man of God. Now that curse was to be brought to its final fulfilment by YHWH Himself, as He too stood by the altar. But this time it would not only be the altar that would collapse. The command was that the whole building which contained the altar was to be made to collapse on the people, while the remainder of the people would be slain with the sword, no matter where they hid themselves. YHWH would deal with them by earthquake and sword.
‘I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said, “Smite the capitals, that the thresholds may shake, and break them in pieces on the head of all of them, and I will slay the last of them with the sword. There shall not one of them flee away, and there shall not one of them escape.” ’
YHWH had as it were taken up the place usually occupied by the serving priests, but it was not in order to make an offering, but to call for the very structure of the sanctuary to shake and fall in pieces on the heads of all who worshipped there, while any who escaped He would slay to the last man by the sword. Not one would successfully flee away. Not one would escape. The place of sanctuary would have become a place of death. The word for ‘capitals’ is caphtor, a play on words with Caphtor in Amos 9:8. The capitals were part of the pillars which were required to hold up the roofs of all temples around that time. The ‘thresholds’ were the bases for the doorposts. Their smiting and shaking would cause the whole sanctuary to collapse. The ‘smiting’ suggests that He was talking to the men who would carry out the demolition work. The fact that it contained worshippers points to the Canaanite method of worship. Compare how Samson brought their temple down on the heads of the worshippers (Judges 16:29-30).
His listeners would no doubt refer this to the temple at Bethel, but it could equally apply to the Temple in Jerusalem and those who were at ease in Zion (Amos 6:1). As we shall see, in his grand finale Amos dismisses the ideas of both.
Note the stark use of the title ‘Lord’ (adonai - sovereign lord). He was no longer bound to them by the covenant as YHWH, but now acted towards them as He would act towards all the nations (Amos 9:7). They had forfeited their special status.
“Though they dig into Sheol,
From there will my hand take them,
And though they climb up to heaven,
From there will I bring them down.
And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel,
I will search and take them out from there,
And though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea,
From there will I command the serpent, and it will bite them.
And though they go into captivity before their enemies,
From there will I command the sword, and it will slay them,
And I will set my eyes on them for evil,
And not for good.”
In vividly descriptive words YHWH assured them that wherever they sought to hide themselves, they would not escape. The grave-world (Sheol) would not protect them (compare Deuteronomy 32:22), He would drag them up from there. The heavenly world would provide no hiding place, He would simply pull them down. The top of Carmel, noted for its height and its hiding places in the caves and forests, would not conceal them, for he would search them out and find them. Even the bottom of the sea would provide no shelter, for He would command one of His great creatures to bite them. Captivity among their enemies would not protect them, for He would command the sword to slay them. And all this was because He had set His eyes on them for evil and not for good. He had had long patience with them, but now that patience was at an end. They would be an example to all of what happened to those who claimed His favour, but broke His covenant.
YHWH Will Inexorably Deal In Judgment With His People, Who Have Forgotten Who And What He Really Is, And There Will Therefore Be No Hiding Place For Them (Amos 9:1-10 ).
There is something genuinely awesome and thrilling about Amos’s opening words here as he declares, ‘I saw YHWH’ (compare Isaiah 6:1). They stand in stark contrast to ‘thus the Lord YHWH showed me’ (Amos 7:1; Amos 7:4; Amos 7:7; Amos 8:1). Amos was no longer involved in what was happening except as a spectator, and was in no position to intervene as he had in Amos 7:2; Amos 7:5. Now YHWH was revealing Himself in all His genuinely awesome power as He personally carried out His judgment alone, and promised that none would escape His purpose for Israel. They had allowed themselves to forget Who and What He was, and so He would now reveal it by His activity. They had considered themselves His special people, but that had only been true while they had obeyed the covenant. Now they must recognise that they were no different than the other nations, apart from the small remnant who were true to Him, not one of whom would be lost.
The unity of the passage is confirmed by the analysis:
a I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said, “Smite the capitals (caphtor), that the thresholds may shake, and break them in pieces on the head of all of them, and I will slay the last of them with the sword. There shall not one of them flee away, and there shall not one of them escape” (Amos 9:1).
b “Though they dig into Sheol, from there will my hand take them, And though they climb up to heaven, from there will I bring them down. And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out from there, And though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, from there will I command the serpent, and it will bite them. And though they go into captivity before their enemies, from there will I command the sword, and it will slay them, And I will set my eyes on them for evil, and not for good.” (Amos 9:2-4).
c “For the Lord, YHWH of hosts, is he who touches the land and it melts, and all who dwell in it will mourn, and it will rise up wholly like the River, and will sink again, like the River of Egypt” (Amos 9:5).
d “He who builds his chambers in the heavens, and has founded his vault on the earth, he who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the face of the earth, YHWH is his name” (Amos 9:6).
c “Are you not as the children of the Ethiopians (of Cush) to me, O children of Israel?” says YHWH. “Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?” (Amos 9:7).
b “Behold, the eyes of the Lord YHWH are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth, except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says YHWH. “For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, in the same way as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet will not the least pebble fall on the earth” (Amos 9:8-9).
a “All the sinners of my people will die by the sword, who say, ‘The evil will not overtake or meet us’ ” (Amos 9:10).
Note the play on words between Amos 9:1 ‘caphtor’ (capitals) and Amos 9:8 ‘caphtor’ (Caphtor). In ‘a’ the ‘last of them’ will be slain with the sword and not one will escape, while in the parallel ‘all the sinners of My people’ will die by the sword who claim that evil will not overtake them. In ‘b’ He will set His eyes on them, and He will search them out and slay them wherever they flee (including among the nations), and in the parallel His eyes are on them, and they will be fully sifted among the nations. In ‘c’ YHWH causes the land to rise and fall like the River of Egypt as He judges His people, and in the parallel the Israelites are declared to have come out of Egypt, but because of His judgment on them not to count for more than Philistia or Aram. Centrally in ‘d’ the greatness of YHWH is revealed.
A Reminder Of Who It Is Who Will Do This (Amos 9:5-6 ).
The Lord YHWH can do all this because he is Lord of earthquakes, and is the One Who has built His mansions in the heavens, and His cellars on the earth, while also controlling the raging of the sea, and turning it into rain and storm.
‘For the Lord, YHWH of hosts, is he who touches the land and it melts, and all who dwell in it will mourn, and it will rise up wholly like the River, and will sink again, like the River of Egypt.’
The picture here is possibly one of earthquakes (compare Amos 1:1) and expresses His total control over the earth. Just as the Nile rises and falls under His control, so does the earth rise and fall when He brings His earthquakes, touching the land and causing it to melt, something which inevitably results in great mourning among those affected. While we may not today see YHWH as directly causing earthquakes on an individual basis, we are equally well aware that His creation has been established in such a way as to make earthquakes certain. They are part of His reminder, deliberately built into His creation, that His judgment is upon sin. His control is no less simply because He has regularised it.
On the other hand the picture could equally be that of an invading army, causing the earth to tremble. In inscriptions the great kings of the nations regularly used this kind of language to indicate the nations quaking as they advanced on them. If the approach of great kings could cause upheaval in the land, how much moreso the approach of the Lord YHWH.
‘The Lord, YHWH of hosts.’ This title, although comparable with what is found elsewhere is found in this particular form only here in Amos, possibly because it was part of the source on which he called (see excursus below).
‘He who builds his chambers in the heavens, and has founded his vault on the earth, he who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the face of the earth, YHWH is his name.’
Furthermore YHWH has full control of heaven and earth. He has built His palace chambers in heaven, and sees the earth as His cellar, and has full control over the seas, pouring them out over the earth, both in life-giving rain, and in severe storm, vicious hurricane and deadly tidal wave.
The word for ‘chambers’ comes from the verb ‘to go up or ascend’, and indicates upper rooms, that which is ascended to. The word for ‘vault’ connects with the verb ‘to tie up, bring together’ which here involves bringing together in construction work so as to produce the cellars which are a part of the foundations.
Note how the second part of the verse parallels Amos 5:8 b. It is quite possible that Amos is calling on a hymnic source which he extracts and repeats as he will.
Brief Excursus On The Possible Hymnic Source Used By Amos.
It has been pointed out that there are certain seeming citations in Amos which possibly indicate a hymnic source, which could be either a hymn sung in the Jerusalem Temple, a hymn used by the sanctuary at Bethel, or a hymn written by Amos himself and used by such believers as presumably responded to his ministry. Alternately it may have been part of a kind of statement of faith used in worship, prepared by Amos himself for use with such believers.
Consider in this regard the following different possible citations in Amos, perhaps slightly altered in order to fit the context, which could be seen as coming together to form part of a hymn, as follows:
‘For lo, He Who forms the mountains, and creates the wind,
And declares to man what is His thought,
Who makes the morning darkness,
And treads on the high places of the earth.
YHWH the God of Hosts is His Name.
‘It is He Who makes the Pleiades and Orion,
And turns the deep darkness into the morning,
And makes the day dark with night,
Who calls for the waters of the sea,
And pours them out on the face of the earth
YHWH is His Name.
For YHWH the God of Hosts,
Is He Who touches the land and it melts,
And all who dwell in it will mourn,
And it will rise up wholly like the River,
And will sink again like the River of Egypt,
It is He Who builds His chambers in the heaven,
And has founded His vault on the earth,
He Who calls for the waters of the sea,
And pours them out on the face of the earth,
YHWH is His Name.
It will be noted that the verses contain similar themes and that two sections end with ‘YHWH is His Name’, one ends with ‘YHWH the God of hosts is His Name’, while Amos 9:5 commences with ‘For YHWH the God of Hosts --’. Furthermore lines four & five in Amos 5:8 parallel lines three & four in Amos 9:6, a repetition typical of a number of Psalms (e.g. Psalms 107:8; Psalms 107:15; Psalms 107:21; Psalms 107:31).
There is certainly no reason why Amos should not have used a hymn which was well known in order to reach the minds of his listeners, incorporating it into his prophetically inspired message.
End of excursus.
“Are you not as the children of the Cushites to me, O children of Israel?” says YHWH. “Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Aramaeans (Syrians) from Kir?”
Some see this as indicating that all nations are under YHWH’s care and control for good (compare Deuteronomy 32:8-9), which to some extent is certainly true, but such an interpretation does not fit in with the context. In context it appears rather to imply something undesirable. The Cushites (from around the Sudan area) were proverbially well known for not being easily changeable (see Jeremiah 13:23), and the thought may therefore well be that Israel also had proved intractable, in spite of the fact that YHWH had delivered them from Egypt, indicating that YHWH saw them as incapable of repentance. Alternatively in mind may be the fact that the Cushites were a remote and far off people, with no connections with the land of promise. Thus to be like them was to be removed from any covenant relationship with YHWH of any kind whatsoever. Therefore, while they might think that they could claim special privileges as those who had been brought by YHWH out of Egypt, they should recognise the fact that in reality they were no different from their enemies against whom they boasted, for it was also YHWH Who had brought the Philistines from Caphtor (Crete), and the Aramaeans from Kir (contrast Amos 1:5). All were in the pot of YHWH’s judgment together (chapter 1). So He wanted them to recognise that in view of their disobedience to the covenant, (obedience to which would alone have made them special as His covenant people), they would receive no different treatment from the others. In choosing to withdraw from covenant responsibility they had cancelled their privilege by their behaviour. Once again we have here the clear implication that YHWH controls the whole earth and can do as He will.
“Behold, the eyes of the Lord YHWH are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth, except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says YHWH.’
The fact of Israel’s rejection by YHWH is here confirmed. The eyes of YHWH were on ‘the sinful kingdom’, seeing all that they did, and He would therefore destroy then from the face of the earth. He would not, however, totally destroy the ‘house of Jacob’. The righteous remnant would escape. This was partly because in Judah, members from all ‘the twelve tribes’ who had escaped there, or would subsequently escape there, would survive, thus preserving within Judah that remnant of ‘the house of Jacob’ which did not make up a part of the ‘sinful kingdom’, and partly because some of the poorest people, and some who fled to the mountains, would also survive, some to flee to Judah or Egypt, others to take over small parts of the land in order to scrape a living, once it was safe to do so, before becoming, at least to some extent, absorbed into the incoming population. Thus as in Isaiah 6:13 ‘the holy seed’ would survive.
“For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, in the same way as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet will not the least pebble fall on the earth.”
For Israel were shortly to be sifted among the nations, in the same way as grain was sifted in a sieve. The figure is a vivid one indicating the violent shaking of Israel in order to remove all that was merely ‘waste’. Not one pebble (compare 2 Samuel 7:13) would escape from the sieve and fall on the earth. There is here the hint that the righteous will escape, slipping like good grain through the sieve’s meshes, but the emphasis is on the certainty of judgment for the sinful. Not one would escape. This will be confirmed in Amos 9:10.
Some translate ‘pebble’ as ‘kernel’ (although in its only other usage it meant pebble - 2 Samuel 7:13). If this were the case it would indicate the total extinction of Israel from YHWH’s purposes. There would be no good grain which could escape.
Note that this was all at YHWH’s command. It would not happen by accident, but would be a consequence of His sovereign overlordship. However, as the purpose of sifting in a sieve was so that the good grain would fall through the mesh of the sieve, while the rubbish, such as pebbles, would remain in the sieve, it is more likely that we are to see in it the distinction between YHWH’s treatment of the righteous and the sinful.
‘Among all the nations.’ Amos has already declared that Israelites would be taken captive into foreign countries (Amos 4:2-3; Amos 5:11; Amos 5:27; Amos 6:7; Amos 7:11; Amos 7:17; Amos 8:12; Amos 9:4). Now we learn that it was to end for them in further judgment. They only had been ‘known’ by YHWH of ‘all the families on earth’ (Amos 3:2). Now those very nations would see their shame because they had failed in their response to His purpose for them.
“All the sinners of my people will die by the sword, who say, ‘The evil will not overtake or meet us.’ ”
All who were at present so complacent in their sinfulness, and so sure that Amos could not be right, confidently saying ‘evil will not overtake us’, would die by the sword. None would be left. It will be noted that there is an implied promise here that those few who were faithful to YHWH would in some way have His special hand on them, for they are excluded from the indictment.
The Grand Finale - Out Of Ruin YHWH Will Produce The Fulfilment Of All His Promises (Amos 9:11-15 ).
These verse are not to be seen as something tacked on to the prophecy as a kind of postscript, but as the end to which the whole of Amos’s prophecies have been directed. Coming as he did from Judah he was firmly imbued with the idea of YHWH’s promise to David of the everlasting continuation of his house and of its everlasting rule over the whole of Israel/Judah (2 Samuel 7:4-16). Thus to him all YHWH’s judgments could only have that in mind. It was only because of his determination not to soften the idea of that judgment that he had refrained from speaking of these promises until now (even though he had David in mind - Amos 6:5). The message here was, however, an essential final element in his prophecy, and could not in the end be omitted. It is indeed inconceivable that a Judean prophet would not have had this in mind.
Furthermore his view of the Davidic dynasty as depicted here is very much in line with 2 Samuel 7:0. As a farmer his thought was not set on the Temple and the Jerusalem cult (he never mentions Israel’s desertion of the Temple), but on the pre-temple ‘booth of David’, before all the later intrusions on that simplicity (‘ the booth of David’) had begun to break in an spoil things, and thus on the true house of David. There was to be a restoration of past glory based on that simplicity, the golden era as it was before it had become distorted by Solomon and his descendants. Amos saw Jerusalem as a place were Judah were sinfully ‘at ease’ (Amos 6:1), simply mimicking David (Amos 6:5), and he had little time for temples (Amos 8:3; Amos 9:1). (Kings sees things in the same way. To the prophetic author of Kings the reign of Solomon precipitated the long slide downwards that followed his pockmarked reign). And this view of things is equally true if we translate scth as Succoth rather than booth.
It will also be noted that in chapter 1 Amos had laid great emphasis on the evil of Edom (Amos 1:6; Amos 1:9; Amos 1:11-12) as one who influenced the nations in the enslavement of Israel. Edom was very much involved with the nations. Now what remained of Edom was to be ‘possessed’, and the position therefore reversed, and included in that possession would be ‘all the (other) nations’. We have a reflection here of the ideas in Psalms 2:0. Note also that while the cities will necessarily be restored as centres of administration and places of refuge, it is the agricultural side of things that is pre-eminent. Not for Amos the glory of Jerusalem. His ideal Israel is based on the idea of the rural communities connected with local centres.
“In that day will I raise up the booth (or ‘Succoth’) of David which is fallen, and close up its breaches, and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations who are called by my name, says YHWH who is doing this.”
Much depends in our interpretation of these words on how we interpret the words ‘the booth (scth) of David which is fallen’. A number of suggestions have been made:
1) That it refers to the destruction and restoration of the Temple. But it is very unlikely that the Temple would be thought of in terms of a booth (a rough shepherd’s or agriculturalist’s hut) when other words indicating its temporary nature could have been used which would immediately connect with the Temple. Nor does such an interpretation explain the ‘they’ which follows.
2) That it refers to the condition into which dynasty of David had fallen, indicating that his house had become a broken down booth. But Amos was speaking in the days of Uzziah when the house of David was prospering, and we would therefore have expected that any reference to his house at this stage would have referred to it proudly as the ‘house of David’.
3) That it refers to the once united but now divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah whose unity had collapsed and who had sunk into sin and depravity. This would tie in with the need for its breaches to be restored, and for it to be rebuilt as in the days of old. It would also explain the use of ‘they’. But it could be argued that had the two kingdoms been thought of in terms of ‘the booth of David’ in Amos’s mind we might have expected some reference to their connection with the house of David earlier.
4) That it refers to the idea of the simplicity of David’s early life (when he dwelt regularly in booths, firstly as a shepherd and then as a refugee from Saul, and also when he went out to battle - consider 2 Samuel 11:11) and thus of his early kingship before he established Jerusalem and lived in palaces. There is no question but that Amos would have seen the extravagant ways of Israel and Judah as indicating that they had fallen into moral ruin as compared with earlier better days, a situation which needed to be reverted.
5) That the letters scth refer to Succoth, a town in Transjordan from which David had possibly conducted operations against his enemies (consider the possible translation of 2 Samuel 11:11 as referring to Succoth). Succoth was at this time probably still somewhat broken down as a result of the activities of the Aramaeans (2 Kings 10:32-33), so that the need for it to be rebuilt would be apparent. Its rebuilding would indicate going back to the secure times of David, along with the ideas that went with that of its being an important centre for activity among the nations.
What seems most likely to us is that there is here a somewhat idealistic reference to a return to the ‘simple’ life prior to the establishment of great fortresses and temples when the eyes of kings and of men were on YHWH. It was in booths (or Succoth) that David’s men dwelt when they were serving YHWH in the field, the place where a malingering David should have been (2 Samuel 11:11). It was to his shepherd’s tent that David took the armour of Goliath. YHWH too was content to dwell in a tent and informed David that He wanted nothing more ‘sophisticated’ (2 Samuel 7:6). This could then be seen as incorporated with the idea of the need for the restoration of Israel/Judah. Amos could thus be seen as prophesying the restoration of the idealistic days of David’s purity, with a new David ruling over God’s new people in accordance with the ideal pattern.
But while speaking idealistically Amos would be well aware that people would not actually go back to living in booths, so that he might well therefore have pictured YHWH as rebuilding the ‘booth of David’ in terms of houses and regional centres without it involving the setting up of a major bureaucratic centre. (He was not an economist).
‘I will close up its breaches, and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.’ While this would aptly tie in with the interpretation that considers that scth means Succoth, it can equally aptly be seen simply as a practical acceptance of what would be involved in the establishment of a king in the pattern of the ideal David. The idea is indeed that Israel as a whole will be restored to a simple lifestyle, under the coming king of the house of David, and thus to being what it was originally ideally intended to be, (and as it idealistically was when it lived in booths in the wilderness), living under the scion of the house of David in accordance with the Law of Moses and the covenant with David as a witness to the nations.
‘That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations who are called by My Name, says YHWH who does this.’ ‘Called by My Name’ may well have in mind the nations of chapters 1-2, the nations who either dwelt in the land given by YHWH to Abraham and Israel, and had themselves been brought there by YHWH (Amos 9:7), or who had been allocated land because such land had ideally been allocated to their founders by YHWH as a result of their relationship with Abraham (Deuteronomy 2:5; Deuteronomy 2:9; Deuteronomy 2:19,. And the idea would be that what remained of these nations who lived within YHWH’s inheritance, but had previously oppressed Israel/Judah, would now be brought under their sway, and respond to their teaching of the Law. All these nations, including Edom ( 1Sa 14:47 ; 2 Samuel 8:11-14; 1 Kings 11:21-22; 1 Kings 11:25), had continually harassed Israel/Judah when they were in a position to do so (as chapters 1-2 make clear), or had indeed at times even been harassed by them. But one day all of them would be possessed by the house of David as one great kingdom under YHWH (as they had been theoretically in the days of David). Alternatively we might see the nations ‘called by My Name’ as being all nations worldwide who would respond to the call of YHWH. Either way the central thought is of a great kingdom of peace under the rule of the coming ideal David.
“Behold, the days come, says YHWH, that the ploughman will overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed, and the mountains will drop sweet wine, and all the hills will melt.”
When that time comes, said YHWH, there will be prosperity and fruitfulness in a way never known before. So productive will be the land that the plougher will follow rapidly on the heels of the reaper (there will be no need to wait for the ‘proper season’, for it will always be the proper season, and the rain will be there when needed), the treader of grapes on the heels of the one who sows the seed from which the vineyard will grow (which would normally have taken four years to mature). Even the remote mountains will be full of vineyards dropping sweet wine, and the hills will seem as though they are melting as the wine flows down them. Although this is clearly not intended to be taken literally the picture is of continual fruitfulness and abundant harvests, an agriculturalist’s heaven.
Such times of prosperity would indeed come to Israel at various times after the different exiles had occurred, when Israelites would return through the activities of such as Cyrus, and the land would again bloom and blossom, but the final idea in mind is undoubtedly the everlasting ideal kingdom, pictured in the terms of those days.
“And I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel, and they will build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they will plant vineyards, and drink their wine. They will also make gardens, and eat their fruit.”
The exile of YHWH’s people Israel would be reverted. They would be restored to their land and would rebuild their ruined cities, and inhabit them. They would re-plant their vineyards and drink their wine. They would make ‘gardens’ and eat of their fruit. Once again we have the agriculturalist’s Paradise. And once again it would have partial fulfilment after the Exiles, but is pointing finally to the ideal state.
“And I will plant them on their land, and they will no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, says YHWH your God.”
And once this replanting of His people on the land had taken place they would never again be plucked up out of their land, the land which He had given them. And this was the word of YHWH their God. It is an eternal promise, and can in the end only relate to the eternal kingdom.
So Amos is promising the fulfilment of God’s promises to Abraham in the fullest possible ideal way. This has, of course, never literally taken place, and indeed if we are to accept Hebrews 11:10-14 (where we learn that Abraham and his descendants looked for the fulfilment of the promises of the land in a new ‘heavenly country’, that is the new heaven and the new earth) will not be. We should remember that Amos’s words here were spoken of YHWH’s refined people, ‘the righteous’, the only ones, we have been told earlier, who would survive. This has nothing to do with a modern man-made group of people who have taken to themselves the name of Israel in Palestine who are mostly no more true descendants of Abraham than the best of us. It refers to the righteous remnant of Israel through whom YHWH would establish His Kingly Rule. And as the New Testament tells us, that righteous remnant was made up of the Apostles, and the other disciples, and the Jews who responded to their Messiah through their message, and then to the Gentiles who were incorporated into the new Israel by adoption in accordance with the Law of Moses, in other words to Christ’s new ‘congregation’ which was and is the true Israel, that is, the true people of God made up of all true believers (John 15:1-6; Matthew 16:18; Romans 2:28-29; Romans 11:17-28; Galatians 3:29; Galatians 4:21-31; Galatians 6:16; Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 Peter 1:1; 1 Peter 2:9; James 1:1). Thus Amos here, without of course knowing the full facts, is speaking of the coming Kingly Rule of God established in Christ Jesus, which will enjoy such privileges here on earth, but which is looking with Abraham for their final fulfilment above (Hebrews 11:10-14).