(Calvin, Commentary on Amos, part 21)

Lecture Sixty-ninth.
    In yesterday's Lecture, we could not finish the verse in which
Amos says, that the Idumeans and other nations would come under the
power of the people of God. As to the first clause there is no
ambiguity, but the latter admits of two meanings. Some take its
sense to be this, "Other nations on whom my name is called:" and
others refer this to the children of Abraham in this way, "That
possess the remnants of Edom and all nations they may, upon whom,"
&c.; that is, that they on whom my name is called, even the
descendants of Abraham, may possess the Idumeans and all other
nations. If we choose the reference to be made to the chosen people,
the order of the words seems to be somewhat broken; and yet this
sense is very suitable, - that possess their enemies the faithful
may, on whom my name is called; for the reason appears to be here
expressed by the Prophet, why he promised a large kingdom to the
Israelites, and that is, because they were enrolled in God's name,
the Lord owned them as his people, inasmuch as he had chosen and
adopted them in the person of their father Abraham. But if the other
view be more approved, then the particle "'asher" is not, as I
think, a pronoun relative, but an adverb expressing a cause, "That
they may possess the remnants of Edom and all nations, for my name
shall have been, or shall be, called on them:" for who can have
possession of this right or title but those who, having been aliens,
shall pass over into the family of Abraham? Israel is indeed said to
possess whatever comes from another quarter, and is incorporated
into the body of the Church.
    But on this point I will not contend; for this main thing is
evident to us, - that the extension of the kingdom under Christ is
here promised as though he had said that the Jews were included
within narrow bounds, even when the kingdom of David especially
flourished, but that God would under Christ extend their borders,
and cause them to rule far and wide. What it is to call God's name
on a people, we have elsewhere stated. Let us now go on with the

Amos 9:13
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall
overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed;
and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall

    Here the Prophet describes the felicity which shall be under
the reign of Christ: and we know that whenever the Prophets set
forth promises of a happy and prosperous state to God's people, they
adopt metaphorical expressions, and say, that abundance of all good
things shall flow, that there shall be the most fruitful produce,
that provisions shall be bountifully supplied; for they accommodated
their mode of speaking to the notions of that ancient people; it is
therefore no wonders if they sometimes speak to them as to children.
At the same time, the Spirit under these figurative expressions
declares, that the kingdom of Christ shall in every way be happy and
blessed, or that the Church of God, which means the same thing,
shall be blessed, when Christ shall begin to reign.
    Hence he says, "Coming are the days, saith Jehovah, and the
plowman shall draw nigh, or meet, the reaper". The Prophet no doubt
refers to the blessing mentioned by Moses in Lev. 26: for the
Prophets borrowed thence their mode of speaking, to add more credit
and authority to what they taught. And Moses uses nearly the same
words, - that the vintage shall meet the harvest, and also that
sowing shall meet the plowing: and this is the case, when God
supplies abundance of corn and wine, and when the season is pleasant
and favorable. We then see what the Prophet means, that is, that God
would so bless his people, that he would suffer no lack of good
    "The plowman then shall come nigh the reaper; and the treader
of grapes, the bearer of seed". When they shall finish the harvest,
they shall begin to plow, for the season will be most favorable; and
then when they shall complete their vintage, they shall sow. Thus
the fruitfulness, as I have said, of all produce is mentioned.
    The Prophet now speaks in a hyperbolical language, and says,
"Mountains shall drop sweetness, and all the hills shall melt", that
is, milk shall flow down. We indeed know that this has never
happened; but this manner of speaking is common and often occurs in
Scripture. The sum of the whole is, that there will be no common or
ordinary abundance of blessings, but what will exceed belief, and
even the course of nature, as the very mountains shall as it were
flow down. It now follows -

Amos 9:14
And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and
they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit [them]; and they
shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also
make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
    As the prophecy we have noticed was one difficult to be
believed, especially when the people were led away into exile, the
Prophet comes to the help of this lack of faith, and shows that this
would be no hindrance to God to lead his people to the felicity of
which he speaks. These things seem indeed to be quite contrary, the
one to the other, - that the people, spoiled of all dignity, should
be driven to a far country to live in miserable exile, and that they
should also be scattered into various parts and oppressed by base
tyranny; - and that at the same time a most flourishing condition
should be promised them, and that such an extension of their kingdom
should be promised them, as had never been previously witnessed.
Lest then their present calamities should fill their minds with fear
and bind them fast in despair; he says that the Israelites shall
return from exile, not indeed all; but as we have already seen, this
promise is addressed to the elect alone: at the same time he speaks
here simply of the people. But, this prophecy is connected with
other prophecies: it ought not therefore to be extended except to
that remnant seed, of whom we have before taken notice.
    "Restore then will I the captivity of my people Israel"; and
then, "They shall build nested cities and dwell there; they shall
plant vineyards, and their wine shall they drink; they shall make
gardens, and shall eat their fruit". He reminds the people here of
the blessings mentioned in the Law. They must indeed have known that
the hand of the Lord was opposed to them in their exile. Hence the
Prophet now shows, that as soon as the Lord would again begin to be
propitious to them, there would be a new state of things; for when
God shows his smiling countenance, prosperity follows and a blessed
success in all things. This then is what the Prophet now intends to
show, that the miserable exiles might not faint in despair, when the
Lord chastised them. It follows at last -

Amos 9:15
And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be
pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD
thy God.
    The Prophet further mentions here a quiet dwellings in the
land, for it was not enough for the people to be restored to their
country, except they lived there in safety and quietness; for they
might soon afterwards have been removed again. It would have been
better for them to pine away in exile, than to be restored for the
sake, as it were, of sporting with them, and in a short time to be
again conquered by their enemies, and to be led away into another
country. Therefore the Prophet says, that the people, when restored,
would be in a state of tranquillity.
    And he uses a most suitable comparison, when he says, "I will
plant them in their own land, nor shall they be pulled up any more":
for how can we have a settled place to dwell in, except the Lord
locates us somewhere? We are indeed as it were flitting beings on
the earth, and we may at any moment be tossed here and there as the
chaff. We have therefore no settled dwelling, except as far as we
are planted by the hand of God, or as far as God assigns to us a
certain habitation, and is pleased to make us rest in quietness.
This is what the Prophet means by saying, "I will plant them in
their own land, nor shall they any more be pulled up". How so?
"Because, he says, I have given to them the land". He had indeed
given it to them before, but he suffered them to be pulled up when
they had polluted the land. But now God declares that his grace
would outweigh the sins of the people; as though he said, "However
unworthy the people are, who dwell in this land, my gift will yet be
effectual: for I will not regard what they deserve at my hands, but
as I have given them this land, they shall obtain it." We now
apprehend the meaning of the Prophet.
    Now, if we look on what afterwards happened, it may appear that
this prophecy has never been fulfilled. The Jews indeed returned to
their own country, but it was only a small number: and besides, it
was so far from being the case, that they ruled over neighbouring
nations, that they became on the contrary tributaries to them: and
further still, the limits of their rule were ever narrow, even when
they were able to shake off the yoke. In what sense then has God
promised what we have just explained? We see this when we come to
Christ; for it will then be evident that nothing has been in vain
foretold: though the Jews have not ruled as to the outward
appearance, yet the kingdom of God was then propagated among all
nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun; and then, as we
have said in other places, the Jews reigned.
    Further, what is here said of the abundance of corn and wine,
must be explained with reference to the nature of Christ's kingdom.
As then the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, it is enough for us,
that it abounds in spiritual blessings: and the Jews, whom God
reserved for himself as a remnant, were satisfied with this
spiritual abundance.
    If any one objects and says, that the Prophet does not speak
here allegorically; the answer is ready at hand, even this, - that
it is a manner of speaking everywhere found in Scripture, that a
happy state is painted as it were before our eyes, by setting before
us the conveniences of the present life and earthly blessings: this
may especially be observed in the Prophets, for they accommodated
their style, as we have already stated, to the capacities of a rude
and weak people. But as this subject has been discussed elsewhere
more at large, I only touch on it now as in passing and lightly. Now
follows the Prophecy of Obadiah, who is commonly called Abdiah.

End of the Commentaries on Amos.

Calvin, Commentary on Amos
(... end)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-4/cvams-21.txt