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Commentary On Joel Amos Obadiah by Jean Calvin

Amos 4:10

10. I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.

10. Misi in vos pestem secundum rationem Aegypti; percussi gladio robustos vestros, cum captivitate equorum vestrorump; ascendere feci foetorem castrorum vestrorum et ad nares vestras (vel, usque ad nares vestras, ut copula supervacua sit;) et non reversi estis usque ad me, dicit Jehova.

God now expostulates with the people, because their perverseness had not been subdued even by additional punishments; for he had in vain exhorted and stimulated them to repentance. He says, that they had been smitten with pestilence. The Prophet has hitherto spoken only of the sterility of the land, and of the fruit being destroyed by infections; he has hitherto mentioned want only with its causes; this only has been stated: but now he adds that the people had been afflicted with pestilence, and also with war, and that they had still persevered in their wickedness. Whatever measures then God had adopted to correct the vices of the people, the Prophet now complains and deplores, that they all had been tried in vain. But so many upbraidings are mentioned, that God might show that there was no more any hope of pardon, inasmuch as they thus continued to be untractable and perverse.

He then says that he had sent pestilence according to the manner of Egypt drk, darec, means a way, but is taken for mode or manners as the 10^th chapter of Isaiah I will smite him according to the manner of Egypt,' says God, speaking of Sennacherib, as though he said, |Ye know how formerly I checked the fury of Pharaoh; I will now put on the same armor, that I may drive far from you your energy Sennacherib.| But the Prophet says here, that God had exercised towards the Israelites the same extreme rigor which he had used towards the Egyptians; as though he said, |I have been forced by your obstinacy to turn my power against you: ye know how Egypt was formerly smitten by me from kindness to your fathers; I then showed how dear to me was your preservation, by putting forth my strength to destroy the Egyptians: how is it that I now turn my weapons against you for your destruction? I have been indeed always ready to oppose your enemies, and kindly to cherish you in my paternal bosom. As then ye are become to me like the Egyptians, how is this and whence this change, except that ye have constrained me by your irreclaimable wickedness?|

We now then see why the Prophet speaks here expressly of the Egyptians. He intimates that God could not show favor to the Israelites, which he would have continued to show, had they not closed the door against it; as though he said, |I had chosen you from other nations; but now I chastise you, not as I do the uncircumcised Gentiles, but I avowedly carry on war with you, as though ye were Egyptians.| We see how much it serves for amplification, when Amos compares the Israelites to the Egyptians, as though he had said that they, by their perverse wickedness, had extinguished all God's favor, so that the memory of their gratuitous adoption was of no more avail to them. I have therefore sent among you pestilence after the manner of Egypt.

And he adds, I slew with the sword your strong men. It was a different kind of punishment, that all the strong had been slain, that their horses had been led into captivity, and that, finally, the foetor of dead bodies had ascended to suffocate them. These were certainly unusual tokens of God's wrath. As the people had not repented, it became now again quite evident, that their diseases were not healable; for God had effected nothing by the application of so many remedies. These different kinds of punishments ought to be carefully noticed, because the Lord has collected them together, as so many arguments to prove the contumacy of the people.

By saying that the foetor of camps had ascended to their nostrils, it was the same as if he had said, |There has been no need of external force; though no enemy had been hostile to you, ye have yet been suffocated by your own foetor; for this came up from your own camps into your nostrils, and deprived you of life. Since God then had raised up this intestine putridity, ought you not to have been at length seriously affected, and to have returned to a right mind? Inasmuch then as no fruit followed, who does not see, that you have been in vain chastised, and that what alone remains for you is utter destruction? As God has hitherto stimulated you in vain by punishments, were he to proceed, he would lose all his labor. Since then God has hitherto to no purpose visited you with his scourges, there is no reason why he should chastise you more moderately: you must now then be utterly destroyed.| This is the meaning: and he further adds --

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