Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Altar, in Jerusalem, chap. viii. 3., and i. 2. God is going to punish Israel, (Calmet) or the two tribes. (Chaldean) (St. Jerome) — The ruin of the altar and temple, imply the abolishing of sacrifices during the captivity, at Babylon. (Worthington) — But Amos speaks rather of Israel. (Calmet) — Sword. The princes and people are all guilty. Septuagint, “strike or cut on the heads of all.” (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Hell; to the deepest caves, where they used to flee, Psalm cxxxviii. 8.
Ver. 3. Top, in woods, or caverns. — Serpent. Fishes and sea monsters are so called.
Ver. 5. A river. Septuagint, “the river of Egypt,” chap. viii. 8., and v. 24. (Calmet) — Grabe’s edition has “its consummation (or utter ruin) shall rise up as a river.” (Haydock)
Ver. 6. Ascension, or his high throne. (Challoner) — Septuagint, “the ascent, and hath founded the declaration (Haydock) or promise upon,” &c., which must be explained in a moral sense. (Calmet) — Bundle. That is, his Church, bound up together by the bands of one faith and communion, (Challoner) which God will protect, and punish sinners. (Worthington) — Hebrew, “his apartments in heaven, and his assembly (or footstool) on earth.” — Sea, by floods, or rather by rain, chap. v. 8. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Ethiopians. That is, as black as they, by your iniquities. (Challoner) Chus was father of the Scythians, Arabs, &c. Yet none of these nations were under the peculiar protection of God. The Israelites depended too much on this prerogative, (Calmet) which they deserved to lose by their sins. (Haydock) — God brought them out of Egypt. But he also took the Philistines from Caphtor, (Calmet) and enabled them to settle in the country. (Haydock) — Cappadocia. Cyprus, (Genesis x. 14.) or rather Crete, 1 Kings. (Calmet) — Cyrene, (Symmachus) “wall,” (Theodotion) or “pit.” (Septuagint) Theglathphalassar took Aram or the people of Damascus into captivity. (Calmet) — Their future return is represented as already past. (Vatable; Mercer.)
Ver. 9. Ground, to be mixed with the good corn. — Israel shall be purified in captivity. (Calmet) — Though many perished, God still preserved his Church. (Worthington)
Ver. 10. Us. Such infidels delayed repentance, (Haydock) or laughed at the menaces of impending ruin, chap. v. 18. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. David. St. James, after St. Peter, explains this of the vocation of the Gentiles, Acts xv. 15. (Worthington) — After the fall of Israel, Juda still flourished: but this cannot be meant. The prosperity after the return from Babylon, or rather under Jesus Christ, must fulfil the prediction. Zorobalel had a very precarious authority, and the Machabees were not of the tribe of Juda, nor was their kingdom so flourishing or durable. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Edom, subdued by Hircan, with the surrounding nations. The same letters may be read Adam, “man,” as the Septuagint have, agreeably to Acts xv. 17. (Calmet) — “That the rest of men might seek the Lord, (Grabe substitutes me) and all the nations upon whom my,” &c. Edom and all mankind shall receive the glad tidings of salvation. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Shall overtake, &c. By this is meant the great abundance of spiritual blessings; which, as it were, by a constant succession, shall enrich the Church of Christ. (Challoner) — Munster, and his imitator, Clarius, see nothing but an allegory in this abundance and return, ver. 14. Yet the literal sense ought to be adopted, when it involves no contradiction. (Houbigant, pref. p. 297.) — God promised a succession of crops to the faithful Israelites, (Leviticus xxvi. 5.) and the return of the ten tribes is frequently specified. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The certainty of the desolation of Israel: the restoring of the tabernacle of David, and the conversion of the Gentiles to the Church; which shall flourish for ever.
1 I saw the Lord standing upon the altar, and he said: Strike the hinges, and let the lintels be shook: for there is covetousness in the head of them all, and I will slay the last of them with the sword: there shall be no flight for them: they shall flee, and he that shall flee of them shall not be delivered.
2 *Though they go down even to hell, thence shall my hand bring them out: and though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down.
3 And though they be hid in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them away from thence: and though they hide themselves from my eyes in the depth of the sea, there will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them.
4 And if they go into captivity before their enemies, there will I command the sword, and it shall kill them. *And I will set my eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.
5 And the Lord, the God of hosts, is he who toucheth the earth, and it shall melt: and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up as a river, and shall run down as the river of Egypt.
6 He that buildeth his ascension in heaven, and hath founded his bundle upon the earth: *who calleth the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth, the Lord is his name.
7 Are not you as the children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel, saith the Lord? did not I bring up Israel out of the land of Egypt: *and the Palestines out of Cappadocia, and the Syrians out of Cyrene?
8 Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth: but yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord.
9 For behold, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as corn is sifted in a sieve: and there shall not a little stone fall to the ground.
10 All the sinners of my people shall fall by the sword: who say: The evils shall not approach, and shall not come upon us.
11 In that day *I will raise up the tabernacle of David, that is fallen: and I will close up the breaches of the walls thereof, and repair what was fallen: and I will rebuild it as in the days of old.
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all nations, because my name is invoked upon them: saith the Lord, that doth these things.
13 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when the ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed: and *the mountains shall drop sweetness, and every hill shall be tilled.
14 And I will bring back the captivity of my people, Israel: and they shall build the abandoned cities, and inhabit them: and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine of them: and shall make gardens, and eat the fruits of them. And I will plant them upon their own land: and I will no more pluck them out of their land, which I have given them, saith the Lord, thy God.
2: Psalm cxxxviii. 8.
4: Jeremias xliv. 11.
6: Amos v. 8.
7: Deuteronomy ii. 25.; Jeremias xlvii. 4.
11: Acts xv. 16.
13: Joel iii. 18.