Sacred Texts  Christianity  Calvin  Index  Previous  Next 

Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 27: Joel, Amos, Obadiah, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

Addenda to AMOS

Amos 2:7, Who pant, etc. Our common version is the literal one, which is followed by Henderson, but altered for the worse by Newcome, who was led astray by Hobigant and the Septuagint. Not only are the words inverted, but a change is made in the verb, without the authority of any MS. It is a strong mode of expression to set forth the extreme cruelty and avariciousness of the persons referred to. “They even begrudged them,” as Henderson observes, “the small quantity of dust they had cast on their heads in token of mourning:” or, as Parkhurst says, They “longed to see the poor and miserable still more wretched: a most diabolical character surely!” To cast dust on the head was then customary in seasons of great distress. See Job 2:12; Eze 27:30; and 2Sa 13:19

Amos 3:5, Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth without a fowler? etc. Newcome, with whom Henderson materially agrees, renders this verse differently, —

“Can a bird fall into a snare upon the earth,
Where no gin
is set for him?
Will a snare spring from the ground,
When it hath not taken anything

The comparison is more appropriate according to the version of Calvin; and the probability is that it is the right one. The word מוקש, rendered, “gin” by Newcome, as it is in our version, is considered by Henderson as redundant; and this very circumstance creates a suspicion that the passage is not rightly understood. This word is often rendered in our version “snare,” but it means more properly the act, ensnaring, than the instrument, snare: and it may be considered here a Hiphil participle — “he who ensnares,” or, “the ensnarer.” It is rendered ἱξευτης, a bird catcher by the Septuagint. Then the two following lines will admit naturally of Calvin’s rendering, and there will be no need of having recourse to Henderson’s “elastic snare,” or to Adam Clarke’s “spring-trap,” neither of which is, I believe, intended by the word פח, which signifies a snare spread out, or an expanded net. See Job 18:9, Ps. 140:5, Ps. 142:3

Amos 4:3, And ye shall cast yourselves down from the palace. This difficult line is variously rendered. Dathius renders it, “To Amenia shall ye be led away;” Newcome, following Houbigant, who always mends the text, “And I will cast it forth, and will utterly destroy it;” Henderson, “Ye shall be even thrown out of the palace;” and Horsley, following Parkhurst, “And ye shall be thrown into the shambles.” The whole difficulty lies in the word ההרמונה, found only here. The idea of shambles agrees well with the context, in which cows are mentioned. Parkhurst, after Schultens, derives it from הרם, not found in Hebrew as a verb, but it means in Arabic, “to cut into small pieces.” Hence as a noun, הרמון seems to denote the place in which meat is thus cut. The ה, as Parkhurst observes, is evidently radical, as it is preceded by ה servile. This appears to be the best solution of the difficulty.

Amos 4:5, And burn incense, etc. The word for incense is not in the form of a verb. Both Houbigant and Horsley take it here not a verb but a noun: but their transpositions are by no means necessary. The latter part of the fourth verse, and the whole of this, I would render thus, —

And bring, in the morning, your sacrifices,
In the third year, your tithes,

5. And incense with the leaven of thank-offering,
Yea, publish vows, proclaim
For thus ye love
to do, O children of Israel,
Saith the Lord Jehovah.


Amos 5:24, And run down, etc.,

“But judgment shall come rolling on like waters,
And justice like a resistless torrent.

“That is, the irresistible judgment and justice of God shall come upon those hypocrites like an inundation, and sweep them away like a torrent.” — Horsley.

Amos 6:1, which have been renowned, etc. Various are the expositions of this and the following line. Newcome’s version overleaps the rule of grammar, —

“That are named after the chief of the nations,
And to them the house of Israel resort.”

The explanation is this, — “They call themselves, not after their religious ancestors, but after the chief of the idolatrous nations, with whom they intermarry contrary to their law.” How foreign to everything in the context is this! Henderson’s rendering is more like a version of the original, —

“The distinguished men of the first of nations,
To whom the house of Israel come.”

He considers that the chief persons of the Hebrew nation are here spoken of, to whom the house of Israel, the community, came for judgment: and this has little to do with the context. Horsley seems to have given the most literal version, and the most suitable to this place, —

“Marking out the first of the nations,
Go unto them, O house of Israel.

And then the Prophet mentions in the next who these nations were, “Pass over,” he says, “into Calneh,” etc. So that this distich is connected with the following verses. For נקבי, one copy of Kennicott has נקבו, “Mark ye out,” or, notice; this would make the line complete. Though the Septuagint here goes much astray, yet it gives the verb used here in the third person plural: and that person in Hebrew is the same as the second person plural of the imperative.

Amos 9:12, That possess they may, etc. Both this and the preceding verse are quoted, in Acts 15:16, 17, not literally, but mainly from the Septuagint, which differs considerably in words, but not in sense, from the Hebrew. Newcome, with the view of producing a verbal agreement, has changed and altered the Hebrew text without the authority of a single MS. This is rightly disapproved both by Adam Clarke and Henderson. The former says, “We must dismiss all these conjectural emendations, and take the Hebrew text as we find it. That it speaks of the conversion of the Jews in gospel times, we have the authority of the New Testament; and if we cannot make the words, as they stand there, entirely to agree with the words here, the subject is not affected by it.”

Next: Indexes