Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
The Impenitence of Israel - Amos 4:1-13
The voluptuous and wanton women of Samaria will be overtaken by a shameful captivity (Amos 4:1-3). Let the Israelites only continue their idolatry with zeal (Amos 4:4, Amos 4:5), the Lord has already visited them with many punishments without their having turned to Him (Amos 4:6-11); and therefore He must inflict still further chastisements, to see whether they will not at length learn to fear Him as their God (Amos 4:12, Amos 4:13).
Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink."Hear this word, ye cows of Bashan, that are upon the mountain of Samaria, that oppress there the humble and crush the poor, that say to their lords, Bring hither, that we may drink. Amos 4:2. The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by His holiness: behold, days come upon you, that they drag you away with hooks, and your last one with fish-hooks. Amos 4:3. And ye will go out through breaches in the wall, every one before him, and be cast away to Harmon, is the saying of Jehovah." The commencement of this chapter is closely connected, so far as the contents are concerned, with the chapter immediately preceding. The prophet having there predicted, that when the kingdom was conquered by its enemies, the voluptuous grandees would perish, with the exception of a very few who would hardly succeed in saving their lives, turns now to the voluptuous women of Samaria, to predict in their case a shameful transportation into exile. The introduction, "Hear this word," does not point therefore to a new prophecy, but simply to a fresh stage in the prophecy, so that we cannot even agree with Ewald in taking Amos 4:1-3 as the conclusion of the previous prophecy (Amos 3:1-15). The cows of Bashan are well-fed, fat cows, βόες εὔτροφοι, vaccae pingues (Symm., Jer.), as Bashan had fat pastures, and for that reason the tribes that were richest in flocks and herds had asked for it as their inheritance (Numbers 32). The fuller definitions which follow show very clearly that by the cows of Bashan, Amos meant the rich, voluptuous, and violent inhabitants of Samaria. It is doubtful, however, whether he meant the rich and wanton wives of the great, as most of the modern commentators follow Theodor., Theodoret, and others, in assuming; or "the rulers of Israel, and all the leading men of the ten tribes, who spent their time in pleasure and robbery" (Jerome); or "those rich, luxurious, and lascivious inhabitants of the palace of whom he had spoken in Amos 3:9-10" (Maurer), as the Chald., Luther, Calvin, and others suppose, and whom he calls cows, not oxen, to denote their effeminacy and their unbridled licentiousness. In support of the latter opinion we might adduce not only Hosea 10:11, where Ephraim is compared to a young heifer, but also the circumstance that from Amos 3:4 onwards the prophecy refers to the Israelites as a whole. But neither of these arguments proves very much. The simile in Hosea 10:11 applies to Ephraim as a kingdom of people, and the natural personification as a woman prepares the way for the comparison to an ‛eglâh; whereas voluptuous and tyrannical grandees would be more likely to be compared to the bulls of Bashan (Psalm 22:13). And so, again, the transition in Hosea 10:4 to the Israelites as a whole furnishes no help in determining more precisely who are addressed in Hosea 10:1-3. By the cows of Bashan, therefore, we understand the voluptuous women of Samaria, after the analogy of Isaiah 3:16. and Isaiah 32:9-13, more especially because it is only by forcing the last clause of Isaiah 32:1 that it can be understood as referring to men. שׁמעוּ for שׁמענה, because the verb stands first (compare Isaiah 32:11). The mountain of Samaria is mentioned in the place of the city built upon the mountain (see at Amos 3:9). The sin of these women consisted in the tyrannical oppression of the poor, whilst they asked their lords, i.e., their husbands, to procure them the means of debauchery. For עשׁק and רצץ, compare Deuteronomy 28:33 and 1 Samuel 12:3-4, where the two words are already connected. הביאה stands in the singular, because every wife speaks in this way to her husband.
The announcement of the punishment for such conduct is introduced with a solemn oath, to make an impression, if possible, upon the hardened hearts. Jehovah swears by His holiness, i.e., as the Holy One, who cannot tolerate unrighteousness. כּי (for) before הנּה introduces the oath. Hitzig takes ונשּׂא as a niphal, as in the similar formula in 2 Kings 20:17; but he takes it as a passive used impersonally with an accusative, after Genesis 35:26 and other passages (though not Exodus 13:7). But as נשּׂא unquestionably occurs as a piel in 1 Kings 9:11, it is more natural to take the same form as a piel in this instance also, and whilst interpreting it impersonally, to think of the enemy as understood. Tsinnōth equals tsinnı̄m, Proverbs 22:5; Job 5:5, צנּה equals צּן, thorns, hence hooks; so also sı̄rōth equals sı̄rı̄m, thorns, Isaiah 34:13; Hosea 2:8. Dūgâh, fishery; hence sı̄rōth dūgâh, fish-hooks. 'Achărı̄th does not mean posterity, or the young brood that has grown up under the instruction and example of the parents (Hitzig), but simply "the end," the opposite of rē'shı̄th, the beginning. It is "end," however, in different senses. Here it signifies the remnant (Chaldee), i.e., those who remain and are not dragged away with tsinnōth; so that the thought expressed is "all, even to the very last" (compare Hengstenberg, Christology, i. p. 368). אחריתכן has a feminine suffix, whereas masculine suffixes were used before (אתכם, עליכם); the universal gender, out of which the feminine was first formed. The figure is not taken from animals, into whose noses hooks and rings are inserted to tame them, or from large fishes that are let down into the water again by nose-hooks; for the technical terms applied to these hooks are חח, חוח, and חכּה (cf. Ezekiel 29:4; Job 41:1-2); but from the catching of fishes, that are drawn out of the fish-pond with hooks. Thus shall the voluptuous, wanton women be violently torn away or carried off from the midst of the superfluity and debauchery in which they lived as in their proper element. פּרצים תּצאנה, to go out of rents in the wall, יצא being construed, as it frequently is, with the accusative of the place; we should say, "though rents in the wall," i.e., through breaches made in the wall at the taking of the city, not out at the gates, because they had been destroyed or choked up with rubbish at the storming of the city. "Every one before her," i.e., without looking round to the right or to the left (cf. Joshua 6:5, Joshua 6:20). The words והשּׁלכתּנה ההרמונה are difficult, on account of the ἁπ. λεγ. ההרמונה, and have not yet been satisfactorily explained. The form השׁלכתּנה for השׁלכתּן is probably chosen simply for the purpose of obtaining a resemblance in sound to תּצאנה, and is sustained by אתּנה for אתּן in Genesis 31:6 and Ezekiel 13:11. השׁליך is applied to thrusting into exile, as in Deuteronomy 29:27.
The ἁπ. λεγ. ההרמונה with ה htiw loc. appears to indicate the place to which they were to be carried away or cast out. But the hiphil השׁלכתּנה does not suit this, and consequently nearly all the earlier translators have rendered it as a passive, ἀποῤῥι-φήσεσθε (lxx), projiciemini (Jerome); so also the Syr. and Chald. ויגלון יתהון, "men will carry them away captive." One Hebrew codex actually gives the hophal. And to this reading we must adhere; for the hiphil furnishes no sense at all, since the intransitive or reflective meaning, to plunge, or cast one's self, cannot be sustained, and is not supported at all by the passages quoted by Hitzig, viz., 2 Kings 10:25 and Job 27:22; and still less does haharmōnâh denote the object cast away by the women when they go into captivity.
(Note: The Masoretic pointing probably originated in the idea that harmōnâh, corresponding to the talmudic harmânâ', signifies royal power or dominion, and so Rashi interprets it: "ye will cast away the authority, i.e., the almost regal authority, or that pride and arrogance with which you bear yourselves to-day" (Ros.). This explanation would be admissible, if it were not that the use of a word which never occurs again in the old Hebrew for a thing so frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, rendered it very improbable. At any rate, it is more admissible than the different conjectures of the most recent commentators. Thus Hitzig, for example (Comm. ed. 3), would resolve haharmōnâh into hâhâr and mōnâh equals meōnâh ("and ye will plunge headlong to the mountain as a place of refuge"). The objections to this are, (1) that hishlı̄kh does not mean to plunge headlong; (2) the improbability of meōnâh being contracted into mōnâh, when Amos has meōnâh in Amos 3:4; and lastly, the fact that meōnâh means simply a dwelling, not a place of refuge. Ewald would read hâhâr rimmōnâh after the lxx, and renders it, "ye will cast Rimmonah to the mountain," understanding by Rimmonah a female deity of the Syrians. But antiquity knows nothing of any such female deity; and from the reference to a deity called Rimmon in 2 Kings 5:18, you cannot possibly infer the existence of a goddess Rimmonah. The explanation given by Schlottmann (Hiob, p. 132) and Paul Btticher (Rudimenta mythologiae semit. 1848, p. 10) - namely, that harmōnâh as the Phoenician goddess Chusarthis, called by the Greeks Ἁρμονία - is still more untenable, since Ἁρμονία is no more derived from the talmudic harmân than this is from the Sanscrit pramāna (Btticher, l.c. p. 40); on the contrary, harmân signifies loftiness, from the Semitic root הרם, to be high, and it cannot be shown that there was a goddess called Harman or Harmonia in the Phoenician worship. Lastly, the fanciful idea of Btticher, that harmōnâh is contracted from hâhar rimmōnâh, and that the meaning is, "and then ye throw, i.e., remove, the mountain (your Samaria) to Rimmon, that ancient place of refuge for expelled tribes" (Judges 20:45.), needs no refutation.)
The literal meaning of harmōnâh or harmōn still remains uncertain. According to the etymology of הרם, to be high, it apparently denotes a high land: at the same time, it can neither be taken as an appellative, as Hesselberg and Maurer suppose, "the high land;" nor in the sense of 'armōn, a citadel or palace, as Kimchi and Gesenius maintain. The former interpretation is open to the objection, that we cannot possibly imagine why Amos should have formed a word of his own, and one which never occurs again in the Hebrew language, to express the simple idea of a mountain or high land; and the second to this objection, that "the citadel" would require something to designate it as a citadel or fortress in the land of the enemy. The unusual word certainly points to the name of a land or district, though we have no means of determining it more precisely.
(Note: Even the early translators have simply rendered haharmōnâh according to the most uncertain conjectures. Thus lxx, εἰς τὸὄρος τὸ Ῥομμάν (al. Ῥεμμάν); Aq., mons Armona; Theod., mons Mona; the Quinta: excelsus mons (according to Jerome); and Theodoret attributes to Theodot. ὑψηλὸν ὄρος. The Chaldee paraphrases it thus: להלאה מן טוּרי הרמיני, "far beyond the mountains of Armenia." Symmachus also had Armenia, according to the statement of Theodoret and Jerome. But this explanation is probably merely an inference drawn from 2 Kings 17:23, and cannot be justified, as Bochart supposes, on the ground that mōnâh or mōn is identical with minnı̄.)
The Lord GOD hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.
And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is before her; and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the LORD.
Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years:After this threat directed against the voluptuous women of the capital, the prophecy turns again to all the people. In bitter irony, Amos tells them to go on with zeal in their idolatrous sacrifices, and to multiply their sin. But they will not keep back the divine judgment by so doing. Amos 4:4. "Go to Bethel, and sin; to Gilgal, multiply sinning; and offer your slain-offerings in the morning, your tithes every three days. Amos 4:5. And kindle praise-offerings of that which is leavened, and cry out freewill-offerings, proclaim it; for so ye love it, O sons of Israel, is the saying of the Lord, of Jehovah." "Amos here describes how zealously the people of Israel went on pilgrimage to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Beersheba, those places of sacred associations; with what superabundant diligence they offered sacrifice and paid tithes; who they would rather do too much than too little, so that they even burnt upon the altar a portion of the leavened loaves of the praise-offering, which were only intended for the sacrificial meals, although none but unleavened bread was allowed to be offered; and lastly, how in their pure zeal for multiplying the works of piety, they so completely mistook their nature, as to summon by a public proclamation to the presentation of freewill-offerings, the very peculiarity of which consisted in the fact that they had no other prompting than the will of the offerer" (v. Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, p. 373). The irony of the summons to maintain their worship comes out very distinctly in the words וּפשׁעוּ, and sin, or fall away from God. הגּלגּל is not a nominative absolute, "as for Gilgal," but an accusative, and בּאוּ is to be repeated from the first clause. The absence of the copula before הרבּוּ does not compel us to reject the Masoretic accentuation, and connect הגּלגּל with פּלשׁעוּ, as Hitzig does, so as to obtain the unnatural thought, "sin ye towards Gilgal." On Gilgal mentioned along with Bethel as a place of idolatrous worship (here and Amos 5:5, as in Hosea 4:15; Hosea 9:15, and Hosea 12:12), see at Hosea 4:15. Offer your slain-offerings labbōqer, for the morning, i.e., every morning, like layyōm in Jeremiah 37:21. This is required by the parallel lishlōsheth yâmı̄m, on the three of days, i.e., every three days. זבחים ... הביאוּ does not refer to the morning sacrifice prescribed in the law (Numbers 28:3) - for that is always called ‛ōlâh, not zebach - but to slain sacrifices that were offered every morning, although the offering of zebhâchı̄m every morning presupposes the presentation of the daily morning burnt-offering. What is said concerning the tithe rests upon the Mosaic law of the second tithe, which was to be brought every three years (Deuteronomy 14:28; Deuteronomy 26:12; compare my Bibl. Archol. 71, Anm. 7). The two clauses, however, are not to be understood as implying that the Israelites had offered slain sacrifices every morning, and tithe every three days. Amos is speaking hyperbolically, to depict the great zeal displayed in their worship; and the thought is simply this: "If ye would offer slain sacrifices every morning, and tithe every three days, ye would only thereby increase your apostasy from the living God." The words, "kindle praise-offerings of that which is leavened," have been misinterpreted in various ways. קטּר, an inf. absol. used instead of the imperative (see Ges. 131, 4, b). According to Leviticus 7:12-14, the praise-offering (tōdâh) was to consist not only of unleavened cakes and pancakes with oil poured upon them, but also of cakes of leavened bread. The latter, however, were not to be placed upon the altar, but one of them was to be assigned to the priest who sprinkled the blood, and the rest to be eaten at the sacrificial meal. Amos now charges the people with having offered that which was leavened instead of unleavened cakes and pancakes, and with having burned it upon the altar, contrary to the express prohibition of the law in Leviticus 2:11. His words are not to be understood as signifying that, although outwardly the praise-offerings consisted of that which was unleavened, according to the command of the law, yet inwardly they were so base that they resembled unleavened cakes, inasmuch as whilst the material of the leaven was absent, the true nature of the leaven - namely, malice and wickedness - was there in all the greater quantity (Hengstenberg, Dissertations, vol. i. p. 143 translation). The meaning is rather this, that they were not content with burning upon the altar unleavened cakes made from the materials provided for the sacrifice, but that they burned some of the leavened loaves as well, in order to offer as much as possible to God. What follows answers to this: call out nedâbhōth, i.e., call out that men are to present freewill-offerings. The emphasis is laid upon קראוּ, which is therefore still further strengthened by השׁמעוּ. Their calling out nedâbhōth, i.e., their ordering freewill-offerings to be presented, was an exaggerated act of zeal, inasmuch as the sacrifices which ought to have been brought out of purely spontaneous impulse (cf. Leviticus 22:18.; Deuteronomy 12:6), were turned into a matter of moral compulsion, or rather of legal command. The words, "for so ye love it," show how this zeal in the worship lay at the heart of the nation. It is also evident from the whole account, that the worship in the kingdom of the ten tribes was conducted generally according to the precepts of the Mosaic law.
And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.But as Israel would not desist from its idolatrous worship, Jehovah would also continue to visit the people with judgments, as He had already done, though without effecting any conversion to their God. This last thought is explained in Amos 4:6-11 in a series of instances, in which the expression ולא שׁבתּם עדי (and ye have not returned to me), which is repeated five times, depicts in the most thorough manner the unwearied love of the Lord to His rebellious children.
"And I have also given you cleanness of teeth in all your towns, and want of bread in all your places: and ye have not returned to me, is the saying of Jehovah." The strongly adversative וגם אני forms the antithesis to כן אהבתּם: Ye love to persist in your idolatry, and yet I have tried all means of turning you to me. Cleanness of teeth is explained by the parallel "want of bread." The first chastisement, therefore, consisted in famine, with which God visited the nation, as He had threatened the transgressors that He would do in the law (Deuteronomy 28:48, Deuteronomy 28:57). For שׁוּב עד, compare Hosea 14:2.
And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered."And I have also withholden the rain from you, in yet three months to the harvest; and have caused it to rain upon one city, and I do not cause it to rain upon another. One field is rained upon, and the field upon which it does not rain withers. Amos 4:8. And two, three towns stagger to one town to drink water, and are not satisfied: and ye have not returned to me, is the saying of Jehovah." The second punishment mentioned is the withholding of rain, or drought, which was followed by the failure of the harvest and the scarcity of water (cf. Leviticus 26:19-20; Deuteronomy 28:23). The rain "in yet (i.e., at the time when there were yet) three months to the harvest" is the so-called latter rain, which falls in the latter half of February and the first half of March, and is of the greatest importance to the vigorous development of the ears of corn and also of the grains. In southern Palestine the harvest commences in the latter half of April (Nisan), and falls for the most part in May and June; but in the northern part of the land it is from two to four weeks later (see my Archologie, i. pp. 33, 34, ii. pp. 113, 114), so that in round numbers we may reckon three months from the latter rain to the harvest. But in order to show the people more clearly that the sending and withholding of rain belonged to Him, God caused it to rain here and there, upon one town and one field, and not upon others (the imperfects from 'amtı̄r onwards express the repetition of a thing, what generally happens, and timmâtēr, third pers. fem., is used impersonally). This occasioned such distress, that the inhabitants of the places in which it had not rained were obliged to go to a great distance for the necessary supply of water to drink, and yet could not get enough to satisfy them. נוּע, to stagger, to totter, expresses the insecure and trembling walk of a man almost fainting with thirst.
So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD."I have smitten you with blight and yellowness; many of your gardens, and of your vineyards, and of your fig-trees, and of your olive-trees, the locust devoured; and ye have not returned to me, is the saying of Jehovah." The third chastisement consisted in the perishing of the corn by blight, and by the ears turning yellow, and also in the destruction of the produce of the gardens and the fruits of the trees by locusts. The first is threatened in Deuteronomy 28:22, against despisers of the commandments of God; the second points to the threatenings in Deuteronomy 28:39-40, Deuteronomy 28:42. The infin. constr. harbōth is used as a substantive, and stands as a noun in the construct state before the following words; so that it is not to be taken adverbially in the sense of many times, or often, as though used instead of harbēh (cf. Ewald, 280, c). On gâzâm, see at Joel 1:4. The juxtaposition of these two plagues is not to be understood as implying that they occurred simultaneously, or that the second was the consequence of the first; still less are the two to be placed in causal connection with the drought mentioned in Amos 4:7, Amos 4:8. For although such combinations do take place in the course of nature, there is no allusion to this in the present instance, where Amos is simply enumerating a series of judgments, through which Jehovah had already endeavoured to bring the people to repentance, without any regard to the time when they occurred.
I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.The same thing may be said of the fourth chastisement mentioned in Amos 4:10, "I have sent pestilence among you in the manner of Egypt, have slain your young men with the sword, together with the booty of your horses, and caused the stench of your camps to ascend, and that into your nose; and ye have not returned to me, is the saying of Jehovah." In the combination of pestilence and sword (war), the allusion to Leviticus 26:25 is unmistakeable (compare Deuteronomy 28:60, where the rebellious are threatened with all the diseases of Egypt). בּדרך מצרים, in the manner (not in the road) of Egypt (compare Isaiah 10:24, Isaiah 10:26; Ezekiel 20:30), because pestilence is epidemic in Egypt. The idea that there is any allusion to the pestilence with which God visited Egypt (Exodus 9:3.), is overthrown by the circumstance that it is only a dreadful murrain that is mentioned there. The slaying of the youths or young men points to overthrow in war, which the Israelites endured most grievously in the wars with the Syrians (compare 2 Kings 8:12; 2 Kings 13:3, 2 Kings 13:7). עם שׁבי סוּסילם does not mean together with, or by the side of, the carrying away of your horses, i.e., along with the fact that your horses were carried away; for שׁבי does not mean carrying away captive, but the captivity, or the whole body of captives. The words are still dependent upon הרגתּי, and affirm that even the horses that had been taken perished, - a fact which is also referred to in 2 Kings 13:7. From the slain men and animals forming the camp the stench ascended, and that into their noses, "as it were, as an 'azkârâh of their sins" (Hitzig), but without their turning to their God.
I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD."I have destroyed among you, like the destruction of God upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were like a brand plucked out of the fire; and ye have not returned to me, is the saying of Jehovah." Proceeding from the smaller to the greater chastisements, Amos mentions last of all the destruction similar to that of Sodom and Gomorrah, i.e., the utter confusion of the state, by which Israel was brought to the verge of ruin, so that it had only been saved like a firebrand out of the fire. הפכתּי does not refer to an earthquake, which had laid waste cities and hamlets, or a part of the land, say that mentioned in Amos 1:1, as Kimchi and others suppose; but it denotes the desolation of the whole land in consequence of devastating wars, more especially the Syrian (2 Kings 13:4, 2 Kings 13:7), and other calamities, which had undermined the stability of the kingdom, as in Isaiah 1:9. The words כּמהפּכת אלהים וגו are taken from Deuteronomy 29:22, where the complete desolation of the land, after the driving away of the people into exile on account of their obstinate apostasy, is compared to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. By thus playing upon this terrible threat uttered by Moses, the prophet seeks to show to the people what has already happened to them, and what still awaits them if they do not eventually turn to their God. They have again been rescued from the threatening destruction like a firebrand out of the fire (Zechariah 3:2) by the deliverer whom the Lord gave to them, so that they escaped from the power of the Syrians (2 Kings 13:5). But inasmuch as all these chastisements have produced no fruit of repentance, the Lord will now proceed to judgment with His people.
Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel."Therefore thus will I do to thee, O Israel; because I will do this to thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. Amos 4:13. For, behold, He that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and maketh known to man what is his thought; who maketh dawn, darkness, and goeth over the high places of the earth, Jehovah God of hosts is His name." The punishment which God is now about to inflict is introduced with lâkhēn (therefore). כּה אעשׁה cannot point back to the punishment threatened in Amos 4:2, Amos 4:3, and still less to the chastisements mentioned in Amos 4:6-11; for lâkhēn kōh is always used by Amos to introduce what is about to ensue, and any retrospective allusion to Amos 4:6-11 is precluded by the future אעשׂה. What Jehovah is now about to do is not expressed here more iratorum, but may clearly be discerned from what follows. "When He has said, 'This will I do to thee,' He is silent as to what He will do, in order that, whilst Israel is left in uncertainty as to the particular kind of punishment (which is all the more terrible because all kinds of things are imagined), it may repent of its sins, and so avert the things which God threatens here" (Jerome). Instead of an announcement of the punishment, there follows in the words, "Because I will do this to thee (זאת pointing back to כּה), prepare to meet thy God," a summons to hold themselves in readiness liqra'th 'ĕlōhı̄m (in occursum Dei), i.e., to stand before God thy judge. The meaning of this summons has been correctly explained by Calvin thus: "When thou seest that thou hast resorted in vain to all kinds of subterfuges, since thou never wilt be able to escape from the hand of thy judge; see now at length that thou dost avert this last destruction which is hanging over thee." But this can only be effected "by true renewal of heart, in which men are dissatisfied with themselves, and submit with changed heart to God, and come as suppliants, praying for forgiveness." For if we judge ourselves, we shall not be judged by the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:31). This view is shown to be the correct one, by the repeated admonitions to seek the Lord and live (Amos 5:4, Amos 5:6; cf. Amos 5:14). To give all the greater emphasis to this command, Amos depicts God in Amos 4:13 as the Almighty and Omniscient, who creates prosperity and adversity. The predicates applied to God are to be regarded as explanations of אלהיך, prepare to meet thy God; for it is He who formeth mountains, etc., i.e., the Almighty, and also He who maketh known to man מה־שּׂחו, what man thinketh, not what God thinketh, since שׂח equals שׂיח is not applicable to God, and is only used ironically of Baal in 1 Kings 18:27. The thought is this: God is the searcher of the heart (Jeremiah 17:10; Psalm 139:2), and reveals to men by prophets the state of their heart, since He judges not only the outward actions, but the inmost emotions of the heart (cf. Hebrews 4:12). עשׂה שׁחר עיפה might mean, He turns morning dawn into darkness, since עשׂה may be construed with the accusative of that into which anything is made (compare Exodus 30:25, and the similar thought in Amos 5:8, that God darkens the day into night). But both of these arguments simply prove the possibility of this explanation, not that it is either necessary or correct. As a rule, where עשׂה occurs, the thing into which anything is made is introduced with ל (cf. Genesis 12:2; Exodus 32:10). Here, therefore, ל may be omitted, simply to avoid ambiguity. For these reasons we agree with Calvin and others, who take the words as asyndeton. God makes morning-dawn and darkness, which is more suitable to a description of the creative omnipotence of God; and the omission of the Vav may be explained very simply from the oratorical character of the prophecy. To this there is appended the last statement: He passes along over the high places of the earth, i.e., He rules the earth with unlimited omnipotence (see at Deuteronomy 32:13), and manifests Himself thereby as the God of the universe, or God of hosts.
For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.