Amos 6:9
And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.
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(9, 10) Ten . . . uncle.—In some large house it might be that ten are left remaining, but even these are devoured by the pestilence which hovers in the track of war. Nine have fallen victims. Fathers and brothers are all gone, and the uncle comes in as the funereal burner, to carry out the corpse to the pyre, and finds in the innermost parts of the house the tenth victim of the fell disease yet alive. A hurried word or two passes between them: “Is there yet another with thee?” and the answer comes, “Not one.” Then shall he say “Hush!” The lonely sufferer begins to curse the Lord for His judgments, or it may be he begins to call upon the Name of the Lord when it is too late, when, as a finishing touch of darkest gloom and despair, he is interrupted by a warning not to stir up Jehovah’s wrath in this day of His visitation by even mentioning His name. This and one other passage (1Samuel 31:12) imply that under special circumstances the Hebrews burned their dead. In this case pestilence made cremation a necessity. The references in 2Chronicles 16:14; 2Chronicles 21:19; Jeremiah 34:5, are to honorific burning of spices in memory of the dead.

Amos 6:9-11. If there remain ten men in one house, &c. — Those that escape the hands of the enemy shall die by the pestilence. And a man’s uncle (or kinsman) shall take him up — Some friend or relation, whose duty it is to perform the last offices for the deceased, shall take him up directly and burn him: for so it should be rendered, and not, AND HE THAT burneth him. The meaning is, that he should not stay to perfume the body with rich ointments, as was the usual custom; nor should he bury it, but burn it to ashes, to prevent infection. To bring out the bones out of the house, &c. — Or rather, that he may bring out, &c., that is, that he may, as soon as possible, cleanse the house by the removal of the body. All that is said here, is strongly expressive of what is the case where a deadly pestilence rages. And shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house — Or near the house, out of which the bones are carried; Is there any yet with thee — Is there any yet living besides thyself belonging to this house? And he shall say, No — All the inhabitants of the house are dead. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue; for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord — As this clause has no immediate connection with, or relation to, the negative answer contained in the preceding clause, it is to be supposed that when the person has given that answer, and said that there was none left alive in the house, he utters, as is natural, some prayer to God for mercy or deliverance; on which the other speaks to him in this manner: as much as to say, It is in vain now to pray, or make supplication; for God will not now hear us, but we also shall be cut off by this dreadful pestilence, as the rest have been. Archbishop Newcome puts a different sense on the last clause, thus: “Solitude shall reign in the house; and if one is left, he must be silent (see Amos 8:3) and retired, lest he be plundered of his scanty provisions.” For behold, the Lord commandeth — Gives forth his commands to the enemy, namely, the Assyrians, to come against Israel. And he will smite the great house, and the little house, &c. — People of all ranks, high and low, shall be sufferers in the common calamities.

6:8-14 How dreadful, how miserable, is the case of those whose eternal ruin the Lord himself has sworn; for he can execute his purpose, and none can alter it! Those hearts are wretchedly hardened that will not be brought to mention God's name, and to worship him, when the hand of God is gone out against them, when sickness and death are in their families. Those that will not be tilled as fields, shall be abandoned as rocks. When our services of God are soured with sin, his providences will justly be made bitter to us. Men should take warning not to harden their hearts, for those who walk in pride, God will destroy.If there shall remain ten men - He probably still denounces the punishment of the rich inhabitants of the palaces, since in these only, of old, would there be found "ten men." They died, it seems, at once, and so probably through the plague, the common companion. of the siege. The prophet had before compared them to Sodom. It may be, that, in this mention of "ten men," he tacitly refers to the history of that destruction. Then God promised, not to destroy the city, if there were ten righteous in it Genesis 18:32. Here were "ten left," not in one city, but in one house. Had God forgotten His loving-kindness? No! but, in Samaria, not even ten who "remained over," and so had survived after the chastisement had begun, turned to God. All then were to be taken or destroyed. The miseries of its three years' siege by Shalmanezer may be filled up from those of its earlier siege by Benhadad 2 Kings 6:24-29, or from those of Jerusalem. The sufferings of a siege are in proportion to the obstinacy of the defense; and Samaria resisted for twice the time in which Jerusalem was reduced by famine at its first captivity. 9. If as many as ten (Le 26:26; Zec 8:23) remain in a house (a rare case, and only in the scattered villages, as there will be scarcely a house in which the enemy will leave any), they shall all, to a man, die of the plague, a frequent concomitant of war in the East (Jer 24:10; 44:13; Eze 6:11). It shall come to pass; the thing is decreed, and shall take effect.

If there remain, or escape the enemies’ sword, or the famine of Samaria, besieged three years.

Ten men in one house; many men, for it is a certain number expressed, though an uncertain be understood.

They shall die, either of pestilence, or by some other stroke of God’s hand; though they escape a while they shall not finally escape, 2 Kings 17:5.

And it shall come to pass,.... When the city is delivered up and taken:

if there remain; who are not carried captive, or destroyed by the sword:

ten men in one house; that is, many, a certain number for an uncertain:

that they shall die; either with famine, or by the pestilence, though they have escaped the other calamities; so general shall the destruction be, by one means or another.

And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.
9. A house in which ten men were left, surviving the casualties and privations of a siege, must have been a fairly large one: no doubt, Amos has still in view the palaces of the wealthy (cf. Amos 3:15). Those, however, who in such a house have escaped other dangers, shall nevertheless die, viz. by the pestilence, which the prophet pictures tacitly as raging in the city at the time.

9–10. The terrible consequences of the siege.

Verse 9. - If there remain ten men in one house. If these escape death in war, they shall die of famine and pestilence in the three years' siege of Samaria (2 Kings 17:5). If the prophet is still referring to the rich chieftains, ten would be only a poor remnant of the inhabitants of their palaces. The LXX. adds, very unnecesarily, Καὶ ὑπολειφθήσονται οἱ κατάλοιποι, "And those remaining shall be left behind." Amos 6:9This threat is carried out still further in Amos 6:8-11. Amos 6:8. "The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by Himself, is the saying of Jehovah, the God of hosts: I abhor the pride of Jacob, and his palaces I hate; and give up the city, and the fulness thereof. Amos 6:9. And it will come to pass, if then men are left in a house, they shall die. Amos 6:10. And when his cousin lifts him up, and he that burieth him, to carry out the bones out of the house, and saith to the one in the hindermost corner of the house, Is there still any one with thee? and he says, Not one; then will he say, Hush; for the name of Jehovah is not to be invoked. Amos 6:11. For, behold, Jehovah commandeth, and men smite the great house to ruins, and the small house into shivers." In order to show the secure debauchees the terrible severity of the judgments of God, the Lord announces to His people with a solemn oath the rejection of the nation which is so confident in its own power (cf. Amos 6:13). The oath runs here as in Amos 4:2, with this exception, that instead of בּקדשׁו we have בּנפשׁו in the same sense; for the nephesh of Jehovah, His inmost being or self, is His holiness. מתאב, with the guttural softened, for מתעב. The participle describes the abhorrence as a continued lasting feeling, and not a merely passing emotion. גּאון יעקב, the loftiness or pride of Jacob, i.e., everything of which Jacob is proud, the true and imaginary greatness and pride of Israel, which included the palaces of the voluptuous great men, for which reason they are placed in parallelism with גאון יע. This glory of Israel Jehovah abhors, and He will destroy it by giving up the city (Samaria), and all that fills it (houses and men), to the enemies to be destroyed. גאון יע, to give up to the enemy, as in Deuteronomy 32:30 and Obadiah 1:14; not to surround, to which וּמלאהּ is unsuitable. The words not only threaten surrounding, or siege, but also conquest, and (Amos 6:11) the destruction of the city. And then, even if there are ten in one house, they will all perish. אנשׁים: people, men. Ten in one house is a large number, which the prophet assumes as the number, to give the stronger emphasis to the thought that not one will escape from death. This thought is still further explained in Amos 6:10. A relative comes into the house to bury his deceased blood-relation. The suffix to נשׂאו refers to the idea involved in מתוּ, a dead man. Dōd, literally the father's brother, here any near relation whose duty it was to see to the burial of the dead. מסרף for משׂרף, the burner, i.e., the burier of the dead. The Israelites were indeed accustomed to bury their dead, and not to burn the corpses. The description of the burier as mesârēph (a burner) therefore supposes the occurrence of such a multitude of deaths that it is impossible to bury the dead, whose corpses are obliged to be burned, for the purpose of preventing the air from being polluted by the decomposition of the corpses. Of course the burning did not take place at the house, as Hitzig erroneously infers from להוציא עצמים; for עצמים denotes the corpse here, as in Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32, and 2 Kings 13:21, and not the different bones of the dead which remained without decomposition or burning. The burier now asks the last living person in the house, who has gone to the very back of the house in order to save his life, whether there is any one still with him, any one still living in the house beside himself, and receives the answer, אפס (Adv.), "Nothing more;" whereupon he says to him, has, "Be still," answering to our Hush! because he is afraid that, if he goes on speaking, he may invoke the name of God, or pray for the mercy of God; and he explains his words by adding, "The name of Jehovah must not be mentioned." It is not Amos who adds this explanation, but the relation. Nor does it contain "the words of one who despairs of any better future, and whose mind is oppressed by the weight of the existing evils, as if he said, Prayers would be of no use, for we too must die" (Lievl., Ros.). לא להזכּיר, "it is not to (may not) be mentioned," would be unsuitable as an utterance of despair. It rather indicates the fear lest, by the invocation of the name of God, the eye of God should be drawn towards this last remaining one, and he also should fall a victim to the judgment of death. This judgment the Lord accomplishes not merely by a pestilence which breaks out during the siege, and rages all around (there is no ground for any such limitation of the words), but also by sword and plague during the siege and conquest of the town. For the reason assigned for the threat in Amos 6:11 points to the latter. כּי links the words to the main thought in Amos 6:11, or even Amos 6:10: "When the Lord delivers up the city and all that fills it, they will all perish; for, behold, He commands, orders the enemy (the nation in Amos 6:14), and it will smite in pieces the houses, great and small." The singular הבּית is used with indefinite generality: every house, great and small (cf. Amos 3:15).
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