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Judah, and of Jeroboam II. the son of Joash, we are not only informed from the first verse of his predictions, but we also have internal evidence of it, from the argument or subject matter of his book. For the prophet describes the state of the kingdom of Israel, particularly in chap. vi. 12-14., to be precisely such as is described in 2 Kings xiv. 23. et seq. We further learn from Amos i. 1., that he began to prophesy in the second year before the earthquake, in the reign of Uzziah; which is, by Josephus and most commentators, referred to that prince's usurpation of the sacerdotal office when he attempted to offer incense. Consequently Amos was contemporary with Hosea (though he is supposed not to have lived so long as the last-mentioned prophet), with Jonah, and probably also with Joel.
II. The occasion on which Amos delivered his predictions, was the oppression of the Jews and Israelites by the neighbouring nations, and the prosperous state of the two kingdoms under Uzziah and Jeroboam II. (Amos i. compared with 2 Kings xiv. 25–27. and 2 Chron. xxvi. 6—15.) But as the inhabitants of those kingdoms, especially the Israelites, abandoned themselves to idolatry, effeminacy, avarice, and cruelty to the poor, contrary to the divine command, the prophet takes occasion thence to reprove them with the utmost severity for their wickedness.
III. The scope of the book is, to certify to the twelve tribes the destruction of the neighbouring nations; to alarm those who “ were at large in Zion,” living in a state of carnal security, by the denunciation of imminent punishment, to lead them to repentance; and to cheer those who were truly penitent with the promise of deliverance from future captivity, and of the greater prosperity of the Messiah's kingdom, of which we have a particular prediction in ch. ix. 11.
IV. The book of Amos contains nine chapters or discourses, of which Calmet thinks that the seventh is first in order of time : it may be divided into three parts, viz.
Part I. The judgments of God denounced against the neighbouring Gentile nations: as the Syrians (ch. i. 1–5.) which, see fulfilled in 2 Kings xvi. 9. ; the Philistines (i. 6—8.), recorded as accomplished in 2 Kings xviii. 8. Jer. xlvii. 1. 5. and 2 Chron. xxvi. 6.; the Tyrians (i. 9, 10.); the Edomites (i. 11, 12., compared with Jer. xxv. 9. 21. xxvii. 3. 6. and 1 Mac. v. 3.); the Ammonites (13-15.); and the Moabites. (ii. 1--3.)
Part II. The divine judgments denounced against Judah and Israel (ii. 4. — ix. 1-10.); and herein we have, Sect. 1. The divine judgments against Judah (ii. 4, 5.) which were
literally executed about two hundred years afterwards : Sect. 2. Against Israel, to whom the prophet's mission was chiefly
directed, and to whom we have four distinct sermons delivered by nim, viz. DISCOURSE 1. A general reproof and aggravation of their various sins against God
(ii. 6–16.) DISCOURSE 11. A denunciation of the divine judgments, with a particular enume:
ration of their several causes. (iii.) DISCOURSE 11. A reproof of the Israelites for their luxury and oppression. (iv)
DISCOURSE IV. A lamentation over the house of Israel, with an earnest exhorta
tion to them to repent, and to seek the Lord; and to abandon their idolatry, luxurious ease, and sinful alliances with their idolatrous neighbours. (v. vi.) In ch. v. 6. the carrying off the Israelites into captivity, beyond Damascus into Assyria, is explicitly announced: see its fulfilment in 2 Kings xv. 29. and xvii. 5.–23. T'he certainty, nearness, and severity of the judgments thus denounced are confirmed by several prophetic visions, contained in chapters vü. viii.l and ix. 1-10. Part III. Consolatory or evangelical promises describing the restoration of the church by the Messiah, first, under the type of raising up the fallen tabernacle of David (ix. 11, 12.); and secondly, announcing magnificent temporal blessings, viz. great abundance, return from captivity, and re-establishment in their own land, all of which were prophetic of the blessings to be bestowed under the reign of the Messiah. (ix. 13—15.)
V. Jerome calls Amos “rude in speech, but not in knowledge,' applying to him what St. Paul modestly professes of himself. (2 Cor. xi. 6.)
Calmet and many others have followed the authority of Jerome, in speaking of this prophet, as if he were indeed quite rude, ineloquent, and destitute of all the embellishments of composition. The matter, however, as Bishop Lowth has remarked, is far otherwise : "Let any person, who has candour and perspicuity enough to judge, not from the man, but from his writings, open the volume of his predictions, and he will, I think, agree that our shepherd 'is not a whit behind the very chief of the prophets.' (2 Cor. xi. 5.) He will agree, that as, in sublimity and magnificence, he is almost equal to the greatest, so, in splendour of diction, and elegance of expression, he is scarcely inferior to any. The same celestial Spirit, indeed, actuated Isaiah and Daniel in the court, and Amos in the sheep-folds : constantly selecting such interpreters of the divine will as were best adapted to the occasion, and sometimes from the mouth of babes and sucklings perfecting praise,'- constantly employing the natural eloquence of some, and occasionally making others eloquent."3 Many of the most elegant images employed by Amos are drawn from objects in rural life, with which he was, from his avocations, most intimately conversant.
1 An eminent commentator is of opinion that the prophet Amos, in viï. 9, 10. foretels that, during their solemn festivals, the sun should be darkened by an eclipse, which in those days was accounted ominous, and should turn their joy into mourning. According to Archbishop Usher (A. M. 3213), about eleven years after Amos prophesied, there were two great eclipses of the sun, one at the feast of tabernacles, the other at the time of the passover. This prophecy, therefore, may be considered as one of those numerous predictions which we have already shown have a double meaning, and apply to more than one event. See Lowth's Commentary on the Prophets, p. 453. 4th edit.
2 Hieronymi Præf. Comment. in Amos.
ON THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET HOSEA. I. Author and date. — II. Occasion and scope of the prophecy. IN. Synopsis of its contents. — IV. Observations on its style.
BEFORE CHRIST, 810_725. 1. CONCERNING the family of Hosea, we have no certain information, except what is furnished to us by the first verse of his prophecy, which states that he was the son of Beeri, whom some Jewish commentators confound with Beerah, a prince of the Reubenites, who was carried into captivity with the ten tribes, by Tiglath-pilezer king of Assyria. He prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz, and in the third year of Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam II. king of Israel ; and it is most probable that he was an Israelite, and lived in the kingdom of Samaria or of the ten tribes, as his predictions are chiefly directed against their wickedness and idolatry. But, with the severest denunciations of vengeance, he blends promises of mercy; and the transitions from the one to the other are frequently sudden and unexpected. Rosenmüller and Jahn, after Calmet, are of opinion that the title of this book is a subsequent addition, and that Hosea did not prophesy longer than from forty to sixty years, and that he died, or at least wrote his predictions, before. the year 725 before the Christian æra. His writings unquestionably were, originally, in a metrical form, although that arrangement is now, perhaps, irrecoverably lost.
II. The ten tribes (whom this prophet often collectively terms Ephraim, Israel, and Samaria) having revolted from Rehoboam the son of Solomon to Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who set up the two idol calves at Dan and Bethel, consequently deprived themselves of the pure worship of Jehovah at Jerusalem, and speedily fell into the grossest idolatry. Jeroboam II. the son of Joash, was equally wicked with the first sovereign of that name; and the Israelites were but too prone to follow the bad examples of their wicked kings, especially if their affairs were prosperous, as we learn those of Jeroboam II. were. (Compare 2 Kings xiv. 25—27.) In his days, therefore, Jehovah raised up the prophet Hosea, to convince them of their apostacy, and recover them to the worship of the true God. Bishop Horsley, however, is of opinion that Hosea's principal subject is that, which is the principal subject of all the prophets, viz. “ the guilt of the Jewish nation in general, their disobedient refractory spirit
, the heavy judgments that awaited them, their final conversion to God, their re-establishment in the land of promise, and their restoration to God's favour, and to a condition of the greatest national prosperity, and of high pre-eminence among the nations of the earth, under the immediate protection of the Messiah, in the latter ages of the world. He confines himself more closely to this single subject, than any other prophet. He seems, indeed, of all the prophets, if I may so express my conception of his peculiar character, to have been the most of a Jew. Comparatively, he seems to care but little about other people.
history of the surrounding heathen nations. He meddles not, like Daniel, with the revolutions of the great empires of the world. His own country seems to engross his whole attention ; her privileges, her crimes, her punishment, her pardon. He predicts, indeed, in the strongest and clearest terms, the ingrafting of the Gentiles into the church of God. But he mentions it only generally : he enters not, like Isaiah, into a minute detail of the progress of the business. Nor does he describe, in any detail, the previous contest with the apostate faction in the latter ages. He makes no explicit mention of the share which the converted Gentiles are to have in the re-establishment of - the natural Israel in their antient seats ; subjects which make so striking a part of the prophecies of Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, Haggai, and, occasionally, of the other prophets. He alludes to the calling of our Lord from Egypt: to the resurrection on the third day; he touches, but only in general terms, upon the final overthrow of the Antichristian army in Palestine, by the immediate interposition of Jehovah ; and he celebrates, in the loftiest strains of triumph and exultation, the Saviour's final victory over death and hell. But yet, of all the prophets, he certainly enters the least into the detail of the mysteries of redemption. We have nothing in him descriptive of the events of the interval between the two advents of our Lord. Nothing diffuse and circumstantial, upon the great and interesting mysteries of the incarnation, and the atonement. His country and his kindred, is the subject next his heart. Their crimes excite his indignation; their sufferings interest his pity; their future exaltation is the object on which his imagination fixes with delight. It is a remarkable dispensation of Providence, that clear notices, though in general terms, of the universal redemption, should be found in a writer so strongly possessed with national partialities. This Judaism seems to make ibe particular character of Hosea as a prophet. Not that the ten tribes are exclusively bis subject. His country is indeed his particular and constant subject; but his country generally, in both its branches, not in either taken by itself.”l
According to this view of the subject, the general argument of Hosea's prophecy “appears to be the fortunes of the whole Jewish nation in its two great branches; not the particular concerns (and least of all the particular temporal concerns) of either branch exclusively. And to this grand opening the whole sequel of the prophecy corresponds. In setting forth the vices of the people, the picture is chiefly taken, as might naturally be expected, from the manners of the prophet's own times; in part of which the corruption, in either kingdom, was at the greatest height; after the death of Jeroboam, in the kingdom of Israel ; in the reign of Ahaz, in the kingdom of Judah. And there is occasionally much allusion, sometimes predictive allusion, to the principal events of the prophet's times.' And much more to the events in the kingdom of Israel
, than to those in Judah. Perhaps, because the danger being more immediately imminent in the former kingdom, the state of things in that was more alarming, and the occurrences, for that
1 Bishop Horsley's Hosea, Preface, pp. vii. viii.
reason, more interesting. Still the history of his own times in detail in either kingdom, is not the prophet's subject. It furnishes similies and allusions, but it makes no considerable part, indeed it makes no part at all, of the action (if I may so call it) of the poem. The action lies in events beyond the prophet's times : the commencement indeed within them ; but the termination, in times yet future ; and, although we may hope the contrary, for aught we know with certainty, remote. The deposition of Jehu's family, by the murder of Zedekiah, the son and successor of Jeroboam, was the commencement ; the termination will be the restoration of the whole Jewish nation under one head, in the latter days, in the great day of Jezräel : and the intermediate parts of the action are the judgments, which were to fall, and accordingly have fallen, upon the two distinct kingdoms of Israel and Judah, typified by Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi.”!
The scope of this prophet's prediction is, 1. Partly to detect, reprove, and convince the Jewish nation generally, and the Israelites in particular, of their many and heinous sins, especially of their gross idolatry ; the corrupt state of the kingdom is also incidentally noticed ;-2. Partly to denounce the imminent and utter rejection, final captivity, and destruction of the Israelites by the Assyrians (if the former persisted in their wicked career,) notwithstanding all their vain confidence in the assistance to be afforded them by Egypt ; and 3. Partly to invite them to repentance with promises of mercy, and evangelical predictions of the future restoration of the Israelites and Jews, and their ultimate conversion to Christianity.
III. The prophecy of Hosea contains fourteen chapters, which may be divided into five sections or discourses, exclusive of the title in ch. i. 1. viz. DISCOURSE 1. Under the figure of the supposedo infidelity of the pro
phet's wife is represented the spiritual infidelity of the Israelites, a remnant of whom, it is promised, shall be saved (i. 2-11.) and they are exhorted to forsake idolatry. (ii. 1-11.) Promises are then introduced, on the general conversion of the twelve tribes to Christianity ; and the gracious purposes of Jehovah towards the ten tribes, or the kingdom of Israel in particular, are represented under the figure of the prophet taking back his wife on her amend
ment. (ii. 11–23. iii.) DISCOURSE 2. The prophet, in direct terms, inveighs against the
bloodshed and idolatry of the Israelites (iv. 1-14. 17–19.) against which the inhabitants of Judah are exhorted to take warning. (15, 16.) In chap. v. 1–14. the divine judgments are denounced against the priests, the people, and the princes of Israel, to whom are held out promises of pardon in v. 15. which are continued through verses 1-3. of chap. vi. The metaphors used by the prophet on this occasion are remarkably strong and beautiful. The resurrection, the morning, and the refreshing showers, in 1 Bishop Horsley's Hosea, Preface, p. xxvi.
2 Bishop Horsley contends at great length, contrary to most interpreters, that the prophet's marriage was a real transaction, and a type of the whole Jewish nation, distinct parts of which were typified by the three children, Jezrael, Lo-ru