Old Testament Commentary - Amos 4

by Don R. Hender

Scriptural Text [& Editorial]
Commentary & Explanation
Footnotes ~ References ~ JST
            CHAPTER 4             

The Lord withholds rain, sends famine and pestilence, and destorys gardens and vineyards as judgments upon his people, yet they do not return unto the Lord.

 1 HEAR this word, ye akine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of bSamaria, which oppress the cpoor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.
 2 The Lord GOD hath sworn by his aholiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.
 3 And ye shall go out at the abreaches, every cow at that which is before her; and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the LORD.
 4 ¶ Come to Beth-el, and transgress; at aGilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your btithes after cthree years:
 5 And offer a sacrifice of athanksgiving with bleaven, and proclaim and publish the cfree offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
 6 ¶ And I also have given you acleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not breturned unto me, saith the LORD.
 7 And also I have withholden the arain 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.
 8 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.
 9 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.
 10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your ayoung 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.
 11 I have overthrown some of you, as God aoverthrew bSodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a cfirebrand plucked out of the dburninga: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
 11a a firebrand plucked out of the burning This is the same expression used in Zechariah 3:2 and is likely a proverbial or specialized phrase which has meaning in its context beyond the mere definitions of the words used. In Zechariah 3:2 the translation is yielded as 'a brand plucked out of the fire', which is most likely the exact same expression. The word translated 'firebrand' in Amos is the exact same Hebrew word translated as merely 'brand' in Zechariah. And the ending word of each identical phrase is only distinguished by the use of a Hebrew word translated as 'burning' in comparison to a Hebrew word 'esh translated as 'fire' which also means 'burning' (See Lexicon Strong's number 784). Thus in effect these two uses are in effect the exact same 'colloquial expression'.
Now what does that 'expression' mean, from whence did it come? The trial of this earth is to prove ourselves herewith whereupon God's judgment is determined through the 'refiner's' fire of this time of proving. The time of one's 'burning', 'proving' or 'refiner's fire' is that time when one comes out and throught to a purified or true result. One's 'true colors are exposed'. And while a cowboy's 'branding iron' is a modern possible related expression, the actual meaning of the ancient sayings is more tied to one's own time of proving and/or burning and the resultant burnt or set in judgment of God so labeled or 'branded' upon that person. If a person of good character is so 'branded', he is thus proven himself 'worthy', but by that same process, one whose character is lacking, will find himself so 'branded' or judged to be of an 'unworthy' character.
 12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.
 13 For, lo, he that aformeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his bthought, that maketh the cmorning ddarkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORDa, The God of hosts, is his namea.
13a The LORD ... is his name Now the Hebrew name used here for LORD is 'yehvah' which is the 'hwhy' name Y@hovah or Jehovah. Yet the translation is yeilded as LORD for the care of the sacred name of God. (See Hebrew Lexicon, Strong's number 3068)