Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. The locust, &c. These judgments by locusts and fire, which by the prophet’s intercession were moderated, signify the former invasions of the Assyrians under Phul and Theglathphalassar, before the utter desolation of Israel by Salmanasar. (Challoner) — Locusts denoted the Assyrian invaders, 4 Kings xviii. (Worthington) — Formed. Literally, “the maker of the locust, in the beginning of the herbs shooting,” &c., (Haydock) in spring. (St. Jerome) — They pasture in our January: yet the grass of autumn may be meant. The king took the best which grows in summer. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “and lo, a swarm of locusts coming in the morning; and lo, one bruchus, Gog, the king,” (Haydock) or “against king Gog.” (Calmet) — Aquila has, “of the king of Gaza.” He probably left the original term, (St. Jerome) gizze. (Haydock) — The invasion of the Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Scythians is insinuated. (Theodoret) — The latter came the year after the earthquake, chap. i. (Pezron.) — This was the first vision of Amos. (Calmet) — He saw the first and last inroads of the Assyrians, as well as the prosperity of Jeroboam. (Menochius)
Ver. 2. When. Septuagint, “If it shall eat up,” &c. (Haydock) — Little. After Jeroboam II, the kingdom fell to decay, when Manahem called in the Assyrians. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. The. Septuagint, “Repent, O Lord, on this head, and this shall,” &c. — Not be: the grass shall not be totally devoured. (Haydock) — The king of the Assyrians invaded Juda in vain, 4 Kings xix. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Part of the land, if the prophet had not interposed; (ver. 6.; Calmet) or rather civil wars desolated a great part of the kingdom, before the Lord was appeased. (Haydock) — The fire foreshewed the captivity of the two tribes, 4 Kings xxiv. (Worthington)
Ver. 6. The. Septuagint, as ver. 3. (Haydock) — We read not of locusts being sent, ver. 1. But fire of war certainly raged before the final catastrophe of Jehu’s family, when Sellum slew Zacharias, 4 Kings xv. 8. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Plastered. Hebrew, “wall, made by a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand.” (Protestants) (Haydock) — But Septuagint, Syriac, &c., seem more literal, (Calmet) “on a wall of adamant, and a diamond in his hand.” Hebrew anac, (Haydock) whence a diamond was called anactites, (Orpheus) or anachites. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxxvii. 4.) — Saturn had a scythe of adamant, and walls of this kind were deemed impervious even to the inhabitants of heaven. Thus Virgil describes the gates of hell:
Porta adversa ingens solidoque adamante columnæ,
Vis ut nulla virum non ipsi exscindere ferro
Cœlicolæ valeant. —– (Æneid vi.)
— God appearing on such a wall, intimated that the separation between him and his people was complete. (Calmet) — Hic murus aheneus esto. (Horace, i. ep. 1.)
Ver. 8. Plaster. Septuagint, “I will no more pass over it,” the adamantine wall. I will hide their faults no longer. (Haydock) — This third vision alluded to the distress of the ten tribes, 4 Kings xv. 20. (Worthington)
Ver. 9. Idol. Hebrew, “Isaac.” (Calmet) — Septuagint, “laughter.” (Haydock) — Isaac had resided for some time at Bersabee, which was a place frequented by idolaters, chap. v. 5., and viii. 14. Josias overthrew (4 Kings xxiii. 8.; Calmet) the profane “altars.” (Haydock) — Sword. His son Zacharias was slain after six months reign, ver. 6, 11.
Ver. 10. Words. Nothing could be more unfounded. Amos had indeed denounced many judgments; but he was not wanting in respect to the king. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Sword. The prophet did not say this, but that the Lord would rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword; which was verified when Zacharias, the son and successor of Jeroboam, was slain by the sword, 4 Kings xv. 10. (Challoner) — The false prophet was therefore guilty of a lie. They accuse the preachers of truth as traitors. (Worthington) — Thus many missionary priests have been traduced in England. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Seer. This was the ancient title of prophets; (1 Kings ix. 9.; Calmet) but it is here used contumeliously. (Haydock) — We know not whether Amasias acted by the king’s order or not. He was less afraid of the predictions than of losing his employment. (Calmet)
Ver. 13. Sanctuary, or “palace.” (Kimchi) — The kings resided commonly in Samaria; but they came hither to practise their religion, and had a palace. (Calmet) — The king’s choice was all that Amasias regarded, as many seem still to do, without examining whether the religion be true or false! Will the king screen them from the indignation of the just Judge at the hour of death? (Haydock)
Ver. 14. I am not a prophet. That is, I am not a prophet by education: nor is prophesying my calling or profession: but I am a herdsman, whom God was pleased to send hither to prophesy to Israel. (Challoner) — He speaks with the like humility as [John] the baptist, John i. 21., and Luke vii. 26. It seems the prophets usually left their trade, and applied to meditation, Zacharias viii. 5. Septuagint, “I was not a prophet, nor,” &c. — Plucking. Septuagint (Theodotion), “pricking.” (Calmet) — This was requisite to make the fruit ripen in four days’ time. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xiii. 7., and xvi. 27. — Wild fig-trees have three sorts of fruits. The flies which proceed from some of them, prick the sweet figs, and make them ripen. (Tournefort i. let. 8.) — Amos probably conveyed such wild figs to be near those of the garden, while at other times he fed his cattle.
Ver. 16. Drop; menaces, Ezechiel xx. 46. Septuagint, “thou shalt not disturb (Calmet) or threaten the house of Jacob.” (St. Jerome) — Idol; the calf, worshipped in Bethel. (Challoner) — Hebrew, “Isaac,” as [in] ver. 9. (Haydock)
Ver. 17. Play. Symmachus has better, “shall be treated as a harlot.” A “husband would rather hear that his wife had been slain than defiled.” (St. Jerome) — Line, and divided among strangers. — Land, out of Palestine. All other countries were deemed unclean. Amasias was probably exiled, or led captive by Theglathphalassar, as Salmanasar did not come till sixty-two years after the death of Jeroboam. We know no more of the history of Amasias. The martyrologies say he slew Amos. (Calmet) — His name means “rigid,” and he was a true image of a heretic. “All that he possesses shall fall to the share of devils.” (St. Jerome)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The prophet sees, in three visions, evils coming upon Israel: he is accused of treason by the false priest of Bethel.
1 These things the Lord God shewed to me: and behold, the locust was formed in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter rain; and lo, it was the latter rain after the king’s mowing.
2 And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, I said: O Lord God, be merciful, I beseech thee: who shall raise up Jacob, for he is very little?
3 The Lord had pity upon this: It shall not be, said the Lord.
4 These things the Lord God shewed to me: and behold, the Lord called for judgment unto fire, and it devoured the great deep, and eat up a part at the same time.
5 And I said: O Lord God, cease, I beseech thee, who shall raise up Jacob, for he is a little one?
6 The Lord had pity upon this: Yea, this also shall not be, said the Lord God.
7 These things the Lord shewed to me: and behold, the Lord was standing upon a plastered wall, and in his hand a mason’s trowel.
8 And the Lord said to me: What seest thou, Amos? And I said: A mason’s trowel. And the Lord said: Behold, I will lay down the trowel in the midst of my people, Israel. I will plaster them over no more.
9 And the high places of the idol shall be thrown down, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste: and I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.
10 And Amasias, the priest of Bethel, sent to Jeroboam, king of Israel, saying: Amos hath rebelled against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.
11 For thus saith Amos: Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall be carried away captive out of their own land.
12 And Amasias said to Amos: Thou seer, go, flee away into the land of Juda: and eat bread there, and prophesy there.
13 But prophesy not again any more in Bethel: because it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is the house of the kingdom.
14 And Amos answered, and said to Amasias: I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet: but I am a herdsman, plucking wild figs.
15 And the Lord took me when I followed the flock, and the Lord said to me: Go, prophesy to my people Israel.
16 And now, hear thou the word of the Lord: Thou sayest: Thou shalt not prophesy against Israel, and thou shalt not drop thy word upon the house of the idol.
17 Therefore, thus saith the Lord: Thy wife shall play the harlot in the city, and thy sons, and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be measured by a line: and thou shalt die in a polluted land, and Israel shall go into captivity out of their land.