Amos 2:12
But you gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
2:9-16 We need often to be reminded of the mercies we have received; which add much to the evil of the sins we have committed. They had helps for their souls, which taught them how to make good use of their earthly enjoyments, and were therefore more valuable. Faithful ministers are great blessings to any people; but it is God that raises them up to be so. Sinners' own consciences will witness that he has not been wanting to them in the means of grace. They did what they could to lead believers aside. Satan and his agents are busy to corrupt the minds of young people who look heavenward; they overcome many by drawing them to the love of mirth and pleasure, and into drinking company. Multitudes of young men who bade fair as professors of religion, have erred through strong drink, and have been undone for ever. The Lord complains of sin, especially the sins of his professing people, as a burden to him. And though his long-suffering be tired, his power is not, and so the sinner will find to his cost. When men reject God's word, adding obstinacy to sin, and this becomes the general character of a people, they will be given up to misery, notwithstanding all their boasted power and resources. May we then humble ourselves before the Lord, for all our ingratitude and unfaithfulness.But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink - Literally, "and," (this, on their part, was the consequence of what God did for them) "ye caused the Nazarites to drink wine." God appointed; Israel strove to undo His appointment. God "raised up Nazarites," as a testimony to them; they sought to make His servants break their vow, in order to rid themselves of that testimony. Their pains to destroy it, is a strong proof of its power. The world is mad against true religion, because it feels itself condemned by it. People set themselves against religion and the religious, the Church or the priesthood, only when and because they feel their power on God's side against them. What people despise, they do not oppose. "They kill us, they do not despise us," were true words of a French priest, as to the "reign of reason" in the first French revolution. If the people in power had not respected the Nazarites, or felt that the people respected them, they would not have attempted to corrupt or to force them to break their vow. The word, "cause" them "to drink," does not express whether they used constraint or seduction. Israel's consciences supplied it. Yet since they "persecuted the prophets" and put them to death, it seems likely that Amos means that they used violence, either by forcing the wine into their mouths, as the swine-flesh was forced into the mouth of Eleazar (2 Macc. 6:18), and, in the Decian persecution an infant was made to eat of the idol oblation , or by threat of death.

And commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not - God had commanded the prophets to prophesy. Israel issued and laid upon them his commands against the commands of God. The more God reveals His Will, the directer and more determinate the opposition of those who will not yield. God's perseverance in trying to win them irritates them; they oppose grace, and are angered at not being let alone. This large statement of Amos means much more than the prohibition of Amaziah to himself Amos 7:13. Jeroboam I was prevented only by miracle 1 Kings 13:4 from seizing the prophet who denounced the altar at Bethel. Ahab, during the famine foretold by Elijah, sought him everywhere to destroy him 1 Kings 18:10-12, and Jezebel, after the miracle at Carmel and the death of her prophets, swore by her gods to do so 1 Kings 19:2-3. Ahab's last act was to imprison Micaiah 1 Kings 22:26-27, the son of Imlath, for prophesying his death, when adjured by himself to speak truly.

Ahaziah, his son, undeterred by the fire from heaven which destroyed two captains, each with his fifty, sent yet a 3d to take Elijah, when he prophesied that the king would not recover from his sickness 2 Kings 1:9-13. Jehoram, his second son, swore by God to destroy Elisha, 2 Kings 6:31, laying the evils of the siege to the prophet, as the Romans did the evils of their decaying empire to the Christian. Micah and Isaiah, a little later, speak of such opposition, in Judah, as habitual Micah 2:6; Isaiah 30:10-11; much more in Israel, where the opposition to God's law was more fundamental, and where God's prophet's had been all but exterminated. Even Asa, in his degenerate days, imprisoned Hanani for prophesying that he would "have wars" 2 Chronicles 16:7, 2 Chronicles 16:10; Joash killed Zechariah son of Jehoiada 2 Chronicles 24:20-21; Amaziah silenced the prophet who rebuked him, "Art thou made of the king's council? forbear. Why shouldest thou be smitten?" 2 Chronicles 25:15-16.

Jehoiakim sent even into Egypt to fetch Uriah and killed him Jeremiah 26:20-23. Jeremiah's life was one continuous encounter with false accusations Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 37:13; Jeremiah 38:4, contradictions by false prophets (Jeremiah 23:17 ff; Jeremiah 27:9-10, Jeremiah 27:14-16; Jeremiah 28; Jeremiah 29), hatred Jeremiah 15:10, mockery Jeremiah 17:15; Jeremiah 20:7-8; Jeremiah 23:33, persecution Jeremiah 17:18, imprisonment Jeremiah 20:2; Jeremiah 32:3; Jeremiah 33:1; Jeremiah 37:15-21; Jeremiah 38:6-13, attempts to destroy him (Jeremiah 11:18-21; Jeremiah 18:18, Jeremiah 18:20-23; Jeremiah 26:8 ff; Jeremiah 36:26). The complaint was, as here, "wherefore dost thou prophesy?" Jeremiah 32:3. What, when our Lord gives it as the characteristic of Jerusalem , that she was "the slayer of the prophets, the stoner of those sent unto her?" They would not have slain the prophets, if they could have silenced them.

People are loath to go to extremities with God; they will make an armistice with Him; their awe of holiness makes them inwardly shrink from laying hands on it. Like the wolf in the fable, they must have a plea against it; and that plea against those who have the truth is obstinacy . If the Christians would have abstained from converting the world, they would not have been persecuted. The Chief-priests at first sought simply to silence the Apostles Act 4:18, Acts 4:21; then they enforced their command with scourges Acts 5:40; then persecuted them and the Christians to death Acts 7:57-59; Acts 8:1-4; Acts 9:1-2; Acts 12:1-3; Acts 22:4-5. Direct contumacy to God's known voice and silencing His messenger, is a last stage of obduracy and malice, which leaves God no further avenue to the soul or the people. His means of grace are exhausted when the soul or people not only deaden His voice within, but obstruct it without. One who, through vehemence of his passions, refuses to hear, is within the reach of the grace of God, afterward. He who stifles God's word to others has mostly hardened his heart deliberately and maliciously in unlove to man, as well as contempt of God. Hence, God speaks, as though this brought the day of grace to a close.

12. Ye so despised these My favors, as to tempt the Nazarite to break his vow; and forbade the prophets prophesying (Isa 30:10). So Amaziah forbade Amos (Am 7:12, 13, 14). But ye, for whose benefit both Nazarites and prophets were raised, you who should have heard their word, and imitated their example,

gave the Nazarites wine; importuned, urged, or it may be (as is the custom of excessive drinkers) forced them to drink wine, to violate their vow, and contemn God’s law too, Numbers 6:3,4.

Commanded: by this passage it appears that they were men in authority who did this; it is not probable that mean persons who had no authority would enjoin silence on the prophets, Isaiah 30:10 Amos 7:13 Micah 2:6. It is evident Amaziah was chief priest in Beth-el, and by virtue of his jurisdiction there silenceth the prophet.

The prophets; the true, faithful, and plain-dealing prophets, who rebuked their sins, required them to repent, and threatened judgments if they did not repent.

Saying, Prophesy not: see Isaiah 30:10 Amos 7:13 Micah 2:6,11; But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink,.... Contrary to their vow and calling, and in contempt of it, and to make them like themselves; they either persuaded them, or forced them to it:

and commanded the prophets, saying, prophesy not; hard and heavy things, judgments and denunciations of vengeance, only smooth things; by this authoritative language it appears that this is said of the rulers and governors of the people, as king, princes, and priests; see Amos 7:12.

But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. But the Israelites had refused to respect either. They had tempted the Nazirites to break their vow; and had striven to silence the prophets.

Ye shall not prophesy] Cf. 1 Kings 22:13-28 (Micaiah); Amos 7:13; Amos 7:16; Hosea 9:8; Isaiah 30:10-11; Micah 2:6; Jeremiah 11:21; Jeremiah 20:7-10.Verse 12. - Ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink. Far from profiting by their example, or acknowledging the grace of God displayed in their holy lives, ye tried to get rid of their testimony by seducing or forcing them to break their vow. Prophesy not. Israel was impatient of the continued efforts of the prophets to warn and to win; and, unmindful of the fact that the man of God had a message which he was bound to deliver (comp. Jeremiah 20:9; 1 Corinthians 9:16), this ungrateful nation systematically tried to silence the voices which were a standing rebuke to them. Thus Amos himself was treated (Amos 7:10, etc.). (For proof of this opposition, see 1 Kings 13:4; 1 Kings 18:10, etc.; 1 Kings 19:2; 22:26, 27; 2 Kings 6:31; 2 Chronicles 25:15, 16; and comp. Isaiah 30:10, etc.; Micah 2:6; Matthew 23:37. The prophet goes back a third time (cf. Hosea 10:1; Hosea 9:10) to the early times of Israel, and shows how the people had repaid the Lord, for all the proofs of His love, with nothing but ingratitude and unfaithfulness; so that it would have merited utter destruction from off the earth, if God should not restrain His wrath for the sake of His unchangeable faithfulness, in order that, after severely chastening, He might gather together once more those that were rescued from among the heathen. Hosea 11:1. "When Israel was young, then I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt. Hosea 11:2. Men called to them; so they went away from their countenance: they offer sacrifice to the Baals, and burn incense to the idols." Hosea 11:1 rests upon Exodus 4:22-23, where the Lord directs Moses to say to Pharaoh, "Israel is my first-born son; let my son go, that he may serve me." Israel was the son of Jehovah, by virtue of its election to be Jehovah's peculiar people (see at Exodus 4:22). In this election lay the ground for the love which God showed to Israel, by bringing it out of Egypt, to give it the land of Canaan, promised to the fathers for its inheritance. The adoption of Israel as the son of Jehovah, which began with its deliverance out of the bondage of Egypt, and was completed in the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, forms the first stage in the carrying out of the divine work of salvation, which was completed in the incarnation of the Son of God for the redemption of mankind from death and ruin. The development and guidance of Israel as the people of God all pointed to Christ; not, however, in any such sense as that the nation of Israel was to bring forth the son of God from within itself, but in this sense, that the relation which the Lord of heaven and earth established and sustained with that nation, was a preparation for the union of God with humanity, and paved the way for the incarnation of His Son, by the fact that Israel was trained to be a vessel of divine grace. All essential factors in the history of Israel point to this as their end, and thereby become types and material prophecies of the life of Him in whom the reconciliation of man to God was to be realized, and the union of God with the human race to be developed into a personal unity. It is in this sense that the second half of our verse is quoted in Matthew 2:15 as a prophecy of Christ, not because the words of the prophet refer directly and immediately to Christ, but because the sojourn in Egypt, and return out of that land, had the same significance in relation to the development of the life of Jesus Christ, as it had to the nation of Israel. Just as Israel grew into a nation in Egypt, where it was out of the reach of Canaanitish ways, so was the child Jesus hidden in Egypt from the hostility of Herod. But Hosea 11:2 is attached thus as an antithesis: this love of its God was repaid by Israel with base apostasy. קראוּ, they, viz., the prophets (cf. Hosea 11:7; 2 Kings 17:13; Jeremiah 7:25; Jeremiah 25:4; Zechariah 1:4), called to them, called the Israelites to the Lord and to obedience to Him; but they (the Israelites) went away from their countenance, would not hearken to the prophets, or come to the Lord (Jeremiah 2:31). The thought is strengthened by כּן, with the כּאשׁר of the protasis omitted (Ewald, 360, a): as the prophets called, so the Israelites drew back from them, and served idols. בּעלים as in Hosea 2:15, and פּסלים as in 2 Kings 17:41 and Deuteronomy 7:5, Deuteronomy 7:25 (see at Exodus 20:4).
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