The Words of Amos

Chapter 8

By a basket of summer fruit is shown the approach of Israel's end, 1-3. Oppression is reproved, 4-10. A famine of the word of God threatened, 11-14.

1 Thus the Lord GOD has shown to me, and behold, a basket of summer fruit. 2 And he said, "Amos, what do you see?" And I said, "A basket of summer fruit." Then the LORD said to me, "The end has come upon my people of Israel. I will not again pass by them anymore. 3 And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day," says the Lord GOD. "There shall be many dead bodies in every place. They shall cast them forth with silence.

4 Hear this, O you who swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail,

5 Saying, 'When will the new moon be gone so that we may sell corn, and the sabbath so that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit,

6 So that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes, and even sell the refuse of the wheat?'"

7 The LORD has sworn by the excellence of Jacob, "Surely I will never forget any of their works.

8 Shall the land not tremble for this, and everyone mourn who dwells in it? It shall rise up wholly as a flood, and it shall be cast out and drowned as by the flood of Egypt.

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

10 I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation, 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 its end as a bitter day.

11 Behold, the days come," says 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.

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.

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

14 Those who swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, 'Your god, O Dan, lives,' and, 'The manner of Beer-sheba lives,' even they shall fall and never rise again."

Commentary

Matthew Henry Commentary - Amos, Chapter 8

Notes

John Gill's Chapter Summary:

In this chapter a fourth vision is delivered, the vision of a basket of summer fruit; signifying the destruction of the ten tribes, for which they were ripe, and which would quickly come upon them (verses 1-3); the rich are reproved for their oppression of the poor, their covetousness and earthly mindedness (verses 4-6); for which they are threatened with entire ruin, sudden calamities, and very mournful times, instead of light, joy, and gladness (verses 7-10); and particularly with a famine of hearing the word of God (verses 11-12); the consequence of which would be, a fainting of the young men and virgins for thirst, and the utter and irrecoverable ruin of all idolaters (verses 13-14).

[v.1] - "summer fruit" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "We may understand cherries by summer-fruit, and those fruits which have no solid vigor to remain long; but this is too refined. I take the simple meaning, that punishment had now become ripe; for the people had not repented, though they had been so often warned; it was then as it were summer."

[v.2] - In this verse, God explains that the sins of Israel were now ripe and that it was time to reap the fruits of that labor (Galatians 6:7-8), in other words, the punishment was now at hand.

[v.3] - "There shall be many dead bodies in every place. They shall cast them forth with silence" - Perhaps a near literal translation of this passage will give it more gravity. "There shall be many dead bodies in every place. Throw them away. Be silent."

[v.5a] - "When will the new moon be gone" - This may also be read as, "When will the month pass...?"

[v.5b] - "and the sabbath, so that we may set forth wheat" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "As it was not lawful to carry on business either on the Sabbath or on the new-moon, whenever they rested but one day, they thought that so much time was lost to them."

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 7:16-8:5:

Grant, Almighty, that as you do not cease daily to warn us in time to repent and anticipate your judgment,— O grant, that we may not be so deaf and slow, as to delay until our vices be ripened, lest no remedy should remain for us; but, on the contrary, that being tamed and subdued by your threatening, we may flee to your mercy, and so consider your judgments while at a distance, that we may not provoke your wrath by our perverseness, but rather dispose you to pardon by striving to be reconciled to you in the name of Christ your Son, and by doing this not only with the mouth and tongue, or by any other outward means, but also with a real feeling of heart and a life corresponding thereto, so that we may present ourselves in uprightness and sincerity, as your children, that you may also show yourself as a Father to us in the same Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.

[v.8] - "flood" - Both uses of this word in this verse are, by simile, referring to a river, specifically the Nile River. An allusion is made to this by the phrase, "as by the flood of Egypt." The Hebrew word used is יְאֹר, yeor (yeh-ore'), which means, stream of the Nile, Nile River, stream, canal.

[v.9] - "I will cause the sun to go down at noon" - This is a figurative expression. From John Gill's Exposition: "Or to be so dark as if it was set; as at the time of our Lord's crucifixion, to which many of the ancient fathers refer this prophecy, though it has respect to other times and things... It doubtless designs the kingdom of Israel, their whole policy, civil and ecclesiastic, and the destruction of it; particularly their king, princes, and nobles, that should be in great adversity, and that suddenly and unexpectedly; it being a fine sunshine morning with them, and they in great prosperity, and yet by noon their sun would be set, and they in the utmost darkness and distress."

[v.10] - "the mourning of an only son" - A similar expression is made in Zechariah 12:10.

[v.11-12] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Inasmuch then as we are too much entangled by our flesh, these words ought to arouse us, that we may more attentively reflect on this dreadful punishment, and learn to fear the famine or want of the soul more than that of our bodies... But we must observe, that the Prophet does not speak here strictly of famine, as though he said, that the Israelites would feel the want of God's word, that they would really look for it, that they would sincerely seek it, but that they would perceive by the punishment itself, that nothing is more to be dreaded than to be deprived of the spiritual food of the soul."

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 6-14:

Grant, Almighty God, that as you continue to recall us to yourself, and though you see us to be alienated from you, you yet extend your hand to us, and often exhort and stimulate us by holy admonitions, and even frighten us by punishments, that we may not run headlong to our own ruin,— O grant, that we may not be deaf to admonitions so holy and gracious, nor be hardened against your threatening, but that we may become instantly submissive, and also return to the right way and constantly proceed in it, and follow one vocation through our whole life, as long as you continue it to us, until we at length reach the mark which is set before us, even until we be gathered into your celestial kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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