Bible Commentaries
Amos 9

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3217. B.C. 787.

In this chapter we have,

(1,) Judgments threatened which sinners shall not escape, Amos 9:1-4 ; which shall be inflicted by an Almighty power, Amos 9:5 , Amos 9:6 ; and are deserved by the people, Amos 9:7 , Amos 9:8 ; which nevertheless should not be the utter ruin of their nation, for a remnant of pious persons should escape them, while the wicked should perish, Amos 9:9 , Amos 9:10 .

(2,) Mercy, a restoration, and great prosperity promised, Amos 9:11-15 ; which blessings were to be bestowed in the latter days, the days of the Messiah, Acts 15:16 ; and with these comfortable promises, after the foregoing rebukes and threatenings, the book concludes.

Verse 1

Amos 9:1. I saw Namely, in a vision or ecstasy; the Lord That is, the glory and majesty of the Lord, as Isaiah did, Isaiah 6:1, or a bright glorious light, indicating the presence of God; standing upon the altar Resting upon, or over the altar. The altar of burnt-offering seems to be meant here, and the glory of God resting upon it to have denoted that his justice demanded the lives of the sinners here spoken of to be cut off. “He stands upon the altar,” says Henry, “to show that the ground of his controversy with this people was their profanation of his holy things: here he stands to avenge the quarrel of his altar; as also to signify, that the sin of the house of Israel, like that of the house of Eli, should not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.” And he said To an angel, as Jerome explains it; or rather God here speaks to his people’s enemies, and gives them a commission to destroy them and their temple. Smite the lintel of the door This signified that the temple, which was then represented to the prophet, should be destroyed. Whether this was the temple at Beth-el, or that of Jerusalem, is not quite certain. The Chaldee understands the vision of the kingdom of Judah; if so, the temple at Jerusalem is undoubtedly intended. And even if the vision relates, as most suppose, to the kingdom of Israel, yet still the temple of Jerusalem may be here spoken of, and the scene be laid there, because Israel had forsaken this altar and temple and set up others in opposition to them; and here God, in his jealousy, appears prepared to take vengeance. Possibly, the vision might also be designed to intimate his future departure from Judah too. There Ezekiel 9:2, saw the slaughter-men stand. By the lintel of the door, the chapiter, knop, or ornament that was upon the lintel, is intended, namely, of the door of the gate of the temple, or possibly of the gate that led into the priests’ court. That the posts may shake The posts were the strength and beauty of the gate, and by these the princes, the door-posts as it were of the nation, are supposed to be represented, as the king is by the lintel of the door. And cut them, wound them deep in the head That is, the people who were represented in the vision as standing in the court of the temple. He says in the head, more fully to signify the destroying of the chief or heads of this sinful people. All of them Spare not one of them; let the destruction be general. And I will slay the last of them That is, their posterity and their families them, and all that remain of them, till it come to the last man. Observe, reader, there is no living for those of whom God hath said, I will slay them; no standing before his sword. He that fleeth of them shall not flee away That is, shall not escape. He that escapeth of them shall not be delivered That is, he that escapeth in battle, or escapes one or two, or even several judgments, shall, nevertheless, not escape finally; but shall fall in some other way, or be made captive. The greatest precaution, and the highest station in life, will not avail a man any thing when God is resolved to punish. This is intended for a warning to all that provoke the Lord to jealousy: let sinners read it and tremble. As there is no fighting it out with God, so there is no fleeing from him. His judgments, when they come with commission, as they will overpower the strongest, who think to withstand them, so they will overtake the swiftest, who think to outrun them.

Verses 2-4

Amos 9:2-4. Though they dig into hell, &c. Here the subject is enlarged upon to impress it more deeply on the minds of all that read or hear it. Though they hide themselves in the deepest holes or caverns of the earth, (see Isaiah 2:10,) or take refuge in the highest fortresses, they shall not escape my vengeance, but shall be brought forth to destruction or captivity. And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel There were great caves formed by nature in the tops of some mountains, where men used to secure themselves in the times of danger. Such was the cave in a mountain of the wilderness of Ziph. I will search and take them out thence

Neither the thickest bushes nor the darkest caves shall serve to hide them. Though they be hid in the bottom of the sea The Chaldee reads, in the islands of the sea; but the expression is rather to be understood metaphorically, as signifying that they should not, by any means whatsoever, be able to escape the calamities which God had determined to bring upon them. The word rendered serpent in our translation, is in some versions rendered a whale. Without doubt it should be translated here by the name of some great sea animal. And though they go into captivity, thence will I command the sword, &c. The same judgment is denounced against them in the passages referred to in the margin.

Verses 5-6

Amos 9:5-6. And Or, for, the Lord toucheth the land, and it shall melt The least token of God’s displeasure is sufficient to put the whole frame of nature out of order. See the margin. And when God’s hand is visibly stretched out against a people, they become altogether dispirited; the stoutest men lose their courage, their hearts failing them for fear, and out of a dreadful expectation of the miseries which are coming upon them. See the explanation of the next clause, Amos 8:8. He that buildeth his stories in the heavens This is an awful description of God’s power, discovering itself in the works of the creation, particularly in his making several regions of the air as so many apartments which lead to the highest heavens, the seat of his glory. Archbishop Newcome renders it, He buildeth his upper chambers in the heavens; alluding to the circumstance of the chief and most ornamented apartments in the East being upper rooms. And hath founded his troop in the earth Or, as the old English translation renders the clause, And hath laid the foundation of his globe of elements in the earth; the word rendered troop being taken to signify the collection of elements and other creatures, which furnish the earth, expressed by the word צבא , host, Genesis 2:1. Many learned interpreters, however, render the word his storehouses, supposing that there is an allusion to repositories in the lower parts of houses, or to such as were sometimes dug in the fields. Thus Capellus: The heaven is, as it were, God’s place of dwelling, his principal apartment; the earth is that to him which the cellars are in a large house. He that calleth for the waters, &c. See on chap. Amos 5:8. “The power and sure vengeance of the Deity,” says Bishop Newcome, “are very sublimely described in this and the four preceding verses.”

Verse 7

Amos 9:7. Are ye not as the children of the Ethiopians, &c. The prophet, to take away from the Israelites their false confidence, that the Lord was too much interested in their preservation to permit their total ruin, says, that in consequence of their idolatry and other sins, they were no more esteemed by him than the Ethiopians, a barbarous and cruel race of people: as if he had said, You have rendered yourselves unworthy the name of my people; you have renounced, by your idolatry, the privileges of my covenant; you have given up me, and I give you up in my turn. You may think my former kindness in delivering you out of the Egyptian bondage, and giving you the land of Canaan, obliges me still to continue to be your protector. But I have showed the like favour to other nations, particularly to the Philistines, who had their original from Caphtor, and afterward dispossessed the old inhabitants of Palestine, and dwelt in their stead; and to the Syrians, whom I brought from Kir; and yet against these very nations have I denounced my judgments for their sins.

Verses 8-10

Amos 9:8-10. The eyes of the Lord are upon the sinful kingdom See Amos 9:4. Saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob God still promises to preserve a remnant in the midst of his heaviest judgments, that he may perform the promises made to their fathers. Lo, I will sift the house of Israel among all nations I will mingle, or scatter, the Israelites among other nations, just as good and bad grain are mingled in a sieve; but will so order it, that none of the good grain shall be lost or fall to the ground. Though the good shall be involved in the calamities which are sent to punish the wicked, yet shall they be preserved from destruction. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword Those unbelieving and obstinately wicked men who have paid no regard to the warnings of the prophets, and have given no credit to their predictions, shall all perish by the sword, or by some judgment sent by me. Which say, The evil shall not overtake us Who indulge themselves in their carnal security, without any dread or apprehension of the divine judgments denounced against them.

Verse 11

Amos 9:11. In that day In this and the following verses, to the end of the chapter, we have a most consolatory conclusion of this prophecy in sundry evangelical promises, after so many very severe and sharp menaces. The phrase, in that day, signifies here the same as afterward, or, after this, for so St. James interprets it when quoting this very verse, Acts 15:16. And there are other places of Scripture where then, or in that day, signifies afterward. Will I raise up the tabernacle of David This promise seems, at least in the first place, to be intended of the return of the Jews from the land of their captivity, their resettlement in Judea, rebuilding Jerusalem, and attaining to that height of power and glory which they enjoyed in the days of the Maccabees. This restoration was an event so extraordinary, and the hope of it so necessary to be maintained in the minds of the Jewish people, in order to their support under the calamity of their seventy years’ captivity, that God was pleased to foretel it by the mouth of all his prophets. And though we suppose the prophecy before us to appertain chiefly to the kingdom of Israel, yet a promise of a future restoration was no less proper and necessary, in order to their encouragement, to be annexed to God’s threatenings against them: because it was his purpose to restore Israel in general, that is, the whole twelve tribes, and to make them one nation, as they were before their unhappy division. The edict of Cyrus was general, giving liberty to all the posterity of Jacob, wheresoever dispersed, to return to Judea. And many of the ten tribes certainly did return, though the main body of those who returned consisted of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. This prophecy, however, must also be extended to the days of the Messiah, and to the calling of the Gentiles to the knowledge of the true God: and so St. James expounds it, Acts 15:16; for this was, emphatically speaking, raising up the tabernacle of David, both in the person of Christ, who is frequently styled David, and the seed of David in the prophets, and also in respect to what peculiarly distinguished David and Israel in God’s sight, namely, their having the knowledge of the true God, and worshipping of him alone.

Verse 12

Amos 9:12. That they may possess the remnant of Edom This the restored Jews did in the time of Hyrcanus, when they made an entire conquest of Edom, as Josephus relates. And of all the heathen (or nations) which are called by my name Or rather, which have been called by my name; for so it is rendered in other versions. The Ishmaelites, Ammonites, Moabites, and other neighbouring nations, were in the beginning worshippers of the true God, as being descendants from Abraham, Lot, &c., with whom the knowledge of the true God was preserved. And the Jews subdued a considerable part of these nations in the times of the Maccabees. But this is also a prophecy of setting up the kingdom of the Messiah, and bringing in the Gentiles.

Verse 13

Amos 9:13. Behold the days come Here we have another promise, literally to be understood of the abundant plenty which God would bestow on the returned captives, and mystically of the abundant grace given and blessings conferred in gospel days. That the ploughman shall overtake the reaper He who breaks up the ground, and prepares it for the seed, shall be ready to tread on the heels of the reaper; who shall have a harvest so large, that before he can gather it all in, it shall be time to plough the ground again. And the treader of grapes him that soweth seed This is to be understood in the same sense as the foregoing clause: so great shall their vintage be, that before the treaders of grapes can have finished their work, the seedsman shall be sowing his seed against the next season. And the mountains shall drop sweet wine The vineyards shall be so fruitful, and shall produce such abundance of grapes, that wine shall appear to be as plentiful as if it ran down from the mountains. And all the hills shall melt Hebrew, shall flow. The meaning is, that they should afford such plenty of rich feeding to the cattle, that they should in consequence thereof give a large quantity of milk. The parallel expression to this, in the prophecy of Joel, is, The hills shall flow with milk. As these predictions were not fulfilled in their literal sense between the time of the return of the Jews from Babylon and the coming of Christ, it is evident they are either to be figuratively understood of gospel blessings, or, if taken in their literal sense, they respect the happy state of things during the millennium, which may be supposed to begin after the future restoration of the Jews to their own country. See notes on Joel 3:18. The prophets, it may be observed, frequently describe the days of the Messiah in terms similar to those which the poets used in describing the golden age.

Verses 14-15

Amos 9:14-15. I will bring again the captivity of my people I will restore them to their own country, and settle them in it. See the following verse, and notes on Isaiah 11:12; and Ezekiel 28:25. They shall build the waste cities, &c. Compare the texts referred to in the margin. This and the following part of the verse contains a promise that they should enjoy the fruit of their labours, in opposition to that curse denounced against them, chap. Amos 5:11; Deuteronomy 28:30, that they should build houses and not dwell in them. I will plant them, &c., they shall no more be pulled up This part of the prophecy will receive its completion on the future restoration of the Jews to their own land.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Amos 9". Benson's Commentary. 1857.