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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

1. THE PROPHET AND HIS TIME.—Amos belonged to the herdsmen of Tecoa, famous for a special breed of sheep, of small and stunted growth, and prized on account of their wool. But the prophet had large cattle too under his charge (7:14), and he was besides a cultivator of sycamore trees. Tecoa is no doubt the place of that name about nine miles south of Jerusalem. Though Amos was a native of Juda he was commissioned to preach to the Northern Kingdom; he did not, however, belong to any prophetic guild or college, for he was no “son of a prophet” (4 Kings 4:1, etc.). The year of Ozias’ reign in which the earthquake mentioned in 1:1 took place is not known; but the prophet’s ministry seems to fall in the time of Jeroboam II., after the successes alluded to in 4 Kings 14:25, i.e., about the time 760–746 B.C. The reign of Jeroboam is passed by briefly in the historical books (4 Kings 14:23–29), but it is the culminating point in the history of the Northern Kingdom (4 Kings 14:25; Am. 6:1–5; 4:4 f.; 5:21–23; 6:13; 7:10–17; 8:14. Cf. Driver, Literature of the Old Testament, pp. 293 f.).

2. CONNECTION OF THE PROPHECY WITH ITS CONTEXT.—The book of Amos falls naturally into three parts: a. ch. 1–2 form the introduction; b. ch. 3–6 contain three discourses, each of which begins with the emphatic “hear the word;” c. ch. 7–9 present a series of visions with an historical interlude (7:10–17) and an epilogue (9:7–15). The visions reinforce, under a simple and effective symbolism, the lesson of the previous discourses: in the first two (7:1–6) the threatened judgment is interrupted at the prophet’s intercession; the third, which speaks without any concealment or ambiguity, aroused the alarm and opposition of Amasias the priest of the golden calf at Bethel, and thus gives occasion to the historical notice, 7:10–17. The fourth vision is a fresh and more detailed denunciation of the judgment (8), and in this chapter occurs the prophecy which we are about to consider. The fifth vision depicts the desolation falling upon the people as they are assembled for worship in their own temple, and emphasizes the hopelessness of every effort to escape (9:1–6). The prophecy closes with brighter prediction for a more distant future (9:7–15). Cf. Driver, Literature of the Old Testament, p. 293 ff.

3. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—a. The Midrash on Gen. 5:29, sect. 25, has the following passage on Am. 8:11: “Ten famines came into the world: the first was in the days of the first man, for it is said, Cursed is the ground for thy sake (Gen. 3:14); the second in the days of Lamech, for it is said, Because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed (Gen. 5:29); the third in the days of Abraham (Gen. 12:10); the fourth in the days of Isaac (Gen. 26:1); the fifth in Jacob’s time (Gen. 45:6); the sixth in the time of the Judges (Ruth 1:1); the seventh in the days of David (2 Kings 21:1); the eighth in the days of Eliseus (2 Kings 6:2–8); the tenth will be in the future, as it is said, Behold the days come, saith the Lord; and I will send forth a famine into the land” (Am. 8:11). Since the future in the biblical language is commonly identical with the time of the Messias, it follows that the Rabbinic writer of the Midrash understood the passage of Amos as referring to the Messias.

b. Several interpreters have endeavored to identify the eclipse of which Amos speaks with a real occurrence happening about the time of the prophet. Some place it on August 6, 803 B.C.; others on February 9, 784 B.C. This latter date is said to be the time of Jeroboam II.’s death; but it can hardly be maintained that Amos referred to this phenomenon, since the eclipse was total only 43 degrees south of Samaria, where it hardly attracted attention. Others speak about an eclipse which happened in 771 B.C., November 8, at 12.55 P.M. But all these explanations are at best purely conjectural (cf. Usserius, Calmet, Hitzig).

c. The darkness which the prophet describes is no doubt a metaphor, and refers in its literal sense to the calamity that was to befall the kingdom of Israel at a time when they least expected it; for as one does not expect the setting of the sun at midday, so would the citizens of the Northern Kingdom be surprised by their ruin in their greatest consciousness of security. And as the privation of the light of the sun is the greatest affliction that can befall the earth, so will Samaria be visited with utter destruction. But granting all this, it is not less true that Samaria’s destruction was a type of the future destruction of the Jewish nation on the one hand, and of the whole world on the other. And as according to Matt. 24:37 the second coming of Christ at the end of the world will be preceded by the darkening of the sun, so was the final rejection of the Jewish nation symbolized, as it were, by the darkening of the sun at midday, during the time of Christ’s crucifixion. We must, therefore, conclude that the prophecy of Amos refers literally, but metaphorically, to the Samaritan calamity, while it points typically, but according to the proper sense of the words, to the ruin of the Jewish nation, which was sealed when they crucified their Christ, and again to the coming of Christ as the judge of the living and the dead, which will be preceded by the darkening of the sun and the falling of the stars.

AMOS 8

These things the Lord showed to me: And behold a hook to draw down the fruit. And he said: What seest thou, Amos? And I said: A hook to draw down fruit. And the Lord said to me: The end is come upon my people Israel; I will not again pass by them any more. And the hinges of the temple shall screak in that day, saith the Lord God; many shall die, silence shall be cast in every place. Hear this, you that crush the poor, and make the needy of the land to fail, saying: When will the month be over, and we shall sell our wares; and the sabbath, and we shall open the corn; that we may lessen the measure, and increase the sicle, and may convey in deceitful balances, that we may possess the needy for money, and the poor for a pair of shoes, and may sell the refuse of the corn?

The Lord hath sworn against the pride of Jacob: Surely, I will never forget all their works. Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwelleth therein; and rise up altogether as a river, and be cast out, and run down as the river of Egypt? And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that the sun shall go down at mid-day, and I will make the earth dark in the day of light, and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon every back of yours, and baldness upon every head, and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the latter end thereof as a bitter day. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, and I will send forth a famine into the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord. And they shall move from sea to sea, and from the north to the east; they shall go about seeking the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. In that day the fair virgins, and the young men shall faint for thirst. They that swear by the sin of Samaria and say: Thy God, O Dan, liveth, and the way of Bersabee liveth; and they shall fall and shall rise no more.

Several circumstances make it evident that the prophecies refer not merely to the Samaritan catastrophe or to the time of the national exile, but also to the final destruction of the Jewish commonwealth. We may point, for instance, to the words, “they shall fall and shall rise no more,” or to the circumstance that the sufferers shall move from sea to sea, and from the north to the east, or again to the entire absence of God’s messengers among the afflicted people. All this has been fulfilled to the letter only after the death of Christ had brought on the final rejection of the Jewish theocracy, and after the darkness during the time of the crucifixion had proved ineffective to convert those that witnessed it against their will.








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