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ble yourselves, ye neighbouring nations, upon the mountains of Samaria and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof, and the oppressed in the midst thereof; be witnesses of God's 10 righteousness and their calamity. For they know not to do
right, saith the LORD, who store up violence and robbery, the 11 goods gotten by injustice, in their palaces. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; An adversary [there shall be] even round about the land, that is, the king of Assyria; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be 12 spoiled. Thus saith the LORD; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out, the greatest part of the people shall be destroyed, and but a small remnant left, that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus [in] a couch; though they hide themselves under beds and couches, or fly to Damascus for shelter, the same judgment shall pursue 13 them. Hear ye, O ye priests, the words dictated to the prophets,
and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, make proclamation of it among those of the ten tribes, 14 to move them to repentance, That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him, I will also visit the altars of Bethel; my judgments shall be particularly visible on the places dedicated to idolatry: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground; that is, the little square corners, which were raised up like turrets, and into which they poured some of the blood of the sacrifices, these shall be cut off and the altars ruined; so unable shall their idols be to protect 15 their worshippers. And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory, those houses which were inlaid with it, shall perish, shall lie in ruins, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the LORD; none of the inhabitants of the land shall rebuild them.
E may observe, that their guilt is greatly aggravated who live in sin, after having received distinguishing favours from God; such as national privileges, pious parents, a good education, providential favours, and, above all, spiritual mercies; who have made a profession of religion, and are under solemn engagements to God. Such shall be remarkably punished, because they offer a greater affront to God, and do a greater injury to religion, than others can do. Privileges will not save the wicked from punishment, but greatly increase it. To whom much is given, of them much will be required
2. Observe the absolute necessity there is of reconciliation to God. Man, as sinful, is at enmity with his Maker; and there
can be no friendship or fellowship, till the variance is removed; that is, till the enmity on our part is slain. In order to which, there must be a change in the heart; it must be brought to love God above all, and to desire his favour as the main thing. There can be no comfortable walking with God till we are thus reconciled to him; and this is to be sought through Christ, who is our peace, and who suffered the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.
3. See the importance of hearkening to God's voice, whether that be his word, or his rod. The threatenings of his word are not mere bug bears, but will surely be fulfilled; and when there is evil in a city he gives warning by it. Calamities and afflictions are of his doing, and designed to alarm and rouse men, like the sound of a trumpet, or the roaring of a lion; and when the Lord's voice thus crieth, wise men learn instruction. Hear ye, therefore, the rod, and who hath appointed it.
4. If men have been guilty of violence or robbery, the judg ments of God will follow them. Though they live in palaces of ivory, strong and beautiful; though they have town and country houses; yet, if built, furnished, or adorned from the spoils of the poor, the gain of oppression, the effects of fraud and covet ousness, God will smite them. Their wealth and their glory shall have an end; and the possessors shall be banished from their own houses, and from the house of God above, to that place of torment prepared for the wicked : for the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
The three first verses of this chapter are a prophecy against the ladies of Israel, reproving their vices, and threatening them with severe judgments; the latter part is addressed to the people in general.
EAR this word, ye kine of Bashan, that [are] in the mountain of Samaria, who are wanton and luxurious, like cattle in rich pastures, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink; whose masters and husbands abet their oppressions, and their perverting of justice, to maintain them in their extrav2 agance. The Lord God hath sworn by his holiness, that lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fish hooks; intimating in what abundance their enemies should take their prey, and how 3 unable they should be to resist. And ye shall go out at the breaches, every [cow at that which is] before her, as fat cattle erowding through the first breaches in a fence, and ye shall cast
[them] into the palace, saith the LORD; or, cast away the things of the palace, the furniture of the palace, and the choicest things of it, as incumbrances.
Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; at places where the divine favour has been shown to you, but which are now devoted to idolatry; and bring your sacrifices every morning, [and] your tithes after three years; those tithes which every third year ought to be brought to Jerusalem, to support the worship of God there, but which are now 5 brought to your idolatrous altars: And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim [and] publish the free offerings for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD; ye are incorrigible, and therefore shall be given up to your own lusts, and be ruined by your idolatry.
And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places; such a dreadful famine, that there was hardly any thing to eat yet have ye 7 not returned unto me, saith the LORD. And also I have withholden the rain from you, when [there were] yet three months to the harvest; that is, the latter rain, in February, on which their harvest, which was in May, so much depended and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city; perhaps in Judea, but not in Samaria; or, on one city which was more pure from idolatry, but not on others; or, on the fields of the pious only one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not, withered. So two [or] three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied; there was not sufficient for them yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. I have smitten you with blasting and mildew when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmer worm devoured [them] yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the 10 LORD. I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt; that is, infectious diseases your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses, which were carried away by the enemy, or destroyed by distempers; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils; through the number of men and beasts which were slain by disease or the sword: yet have ye not re11 turned unto me, saith the LORD. I have overthrown [some]
of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning; most of your houses were destroyed, and your towns half burned, and yet those of you that escaped were not suitably impressed by these judgments: 12 yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel; I will overthrow thea suith a still greater overthrow: [and] because I will do this
unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel; do not think to escape me, but prepare to meet me : in arms if thou canst; if not, by humble submission and earnest supplication; remember
13 that I who threaten, am able to execute vengeance: For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what [is] his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, that overcasteth the day, or causeth the eclipse of the sun, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, spurns and treads into the dust all those fortresses that you may vainly pride yourselves in, The LORD, The God of hosts, [is] his name.
TOW justly is God displeased with the luxury and extravagance even of women. The prophet here addresses the ladies of Israel in no very courtly strains; but they deserved the severest language. Through idleness and high living, they pampered themselves, like beasts; and thus, to support their extravagance, joined with their husbands in oppression and cruelty. They did not keep within the bounds of reason and decency, and therefore God gave them as a prey to their enemies. How necessary is it for all to guard against luxury and extravagance, if they desire to be just to men, and righteous toward God.
2. Let us learn to observe the hand of God in the calamities of life, and attend to his design in sending them. In how beautiful and instructive a manner is God's providence in afflictive events described in this chapter! He sends famine, withholds rain, or gives it where he pleases; blasts the products of the earth by weather or insects; and sends fire, diseases, and enemies. All are his servants, and his design in all is, to bring back his wandering, revolting creatures to their God and their duty. His aim is merciful; and it becomes us to acknowledge his agency, and submit to him: especially should those do so who have received remarkable deliverances, (being, as it were, brands plucked out of the burning,) and whose guilt will be aggravated, if they be not suitably impressed.
3. Let all men prepare to meet God in the way of his judgments. A most instructive exhortation, plainly intimating the vanity of attempting to fly from God, or to oppose him. There is no meeting him as an enemy, for he will overcome: therefore our wisdom will be to meet him with humble, penitent submission, and prayer, considering how vast is his knowledge and his power. He formed those things which are greatest and most stupendous, as the mountains; and created the wind, which is most subtile and powerful in its operations; he knows what is most secret, as men's thoughts; and he can destroy all those things in which
sinners place their confidence. Let us then fear this great and glorious Being; humble ourselves before him; and be above all things solicitous that he may be our God: then all this knowl. edge, power, and grandeur will be engaged to promote and se cure our felicity.
Contains a lamentation for Israel; an exhortation to repentance; and God's rejection of their hypocritical services.
EAR ye this word which I take up against you, [even] a lamentation, O house of Israel, over the dead and 2 dying, and over the kingdom irrecoverably lost. The virgin of Israel, so called, in allusion to her being espoused to God, she is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; [there is] none to raise her up; she lies like an help3 less infant. For thus saith the Lord GOD; The city that went out [by] a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth [by] an hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel; so greatly shall the number of soldiers be diminished by slaughter.
4 For, or rather, Therefore thus saith the LORD unto the 5 house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live: But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba; do not persist in the idolatries practised in those places, as if you studied to affront God: for Gilgal shall surely go into captiv6 ity, and Bethel shall come to nought. Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour [it,] and [there be] none to quench [it] in Bethel; for be assured that no idol or idolatrous services will 7 avail. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, who make that which should be the 8 support and comfort, to be the abhorrence of the public. [Seek him] that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD [is] his name: who formed the constellations of heaven, who fixed the revolutions of day and night, and causeth storms and inundations 9 on the earth; That strengtheneth the spoiled against the
strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress and 10 take it. They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they
abhor him that speaketh uprightly; wicked oppressors hate 11 active magistrates and faithful prophets. Forasmuch therefore as your treading [is] upon the poor, and ye take from him bure, VOL. VI.