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Commentary On Joel Amos Obadiah by Jean Calvin

Amos 2:14-16

14. Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself:

14. Peribit fuga a veloce, et fortis non roborabit vires suas, et robustus non servabit (non liberabit) animam suam:

15. Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself: neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself.

15. Et tenens arcum non stabit, et velox pedibus suis non liberabit, neque ascensor equi liberabit animam suam.

16. And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the Lord

16. Et qui robustus est corde suo inter fortes nudus fugiet die illa, dicit Jehova.

I explained yesterday the verse, in which the Prophet says, in the name of God, that the people were like a grievous and heavy burden, as though they were a wagon laden with many sheaves. I stated that the Prophet's words are differently explained by many interpreters, who give this view, -- that God compares himself to a loaded wagon, under which the people were to be crushed. But no necessity constrains us to take the same verb in two senses, active and neuter, as they do; and then the comparison seems not quite suitable; and farther, it is better, as I have said, to say, that God complains, that he was loaded and pressed down under the people, than to render tchtykm, tacheticm, |In your place;| for this is wholly a strained rendering. But most suitable is the Prophet's meaning, when understood as the complaint of God, that it was a grievous thing to bear the burdens of the people, when he saw that they were men of levity, and, at the same time, burdensome.

Hence the Prophet now denounces vengeance such as they deserved; and he says first, Perish shall flight from the swift, etc., that is, no one will be so swift as to escape by fleeing; and the valiant shall do nothing by fighting; for it is to confirm strength when one resists an adversary and repels assaults. The valiant, therefore, shall fight with no advantage; and then, The strong shall not deliver his own life: he who holds the bow shall not stand; that is, he who is equipped with a bow, and repels his enemy at a distance, shall not be able to stand in his place. He who is swift on foot shall not be able to flee, nor he who mounts a horse; which means that whether footmen or horsemen, they shall not, by their celerity, be able to escape death. And, lastly, he who is stout and intrepid in heart among the valiant shall flee away naked, being content with life alone, and only anxious to provide for his own safety.

The Prophet intimates by all these words, that so grievous would be the slaughter of the people, that it would be a miracle if any should escape.

We now then see how severely the prophet at the very beginning handled this people. He no doubt observed their great obduracy: for he would not have assailed them so sharply at first, had they not been for a long time rebellious and had despised all warnings and threatening. Amos was not the first who addressed them; but the Israelites had hardened themselves against all threatenings before he came to them. It therefore behaved him sharply to reprove them, as God treats men according to their disposition. I come now to the third chapter.

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