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Commentary On Joel Amos Obadiah by Jean Calvin

Amos 5:3

3. 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.

3. Quia sic dicit Dominus Jehova, Urbs e qua egrediebantur mille, manebunt in ea centum; et e qua egrediebantur centum, manebunt (ad verbum, restabunt) decem domui Israel.

The Prophet now expresses more clearly what he had before said, -- that the kingdom would perish and yet so that the Lord would preserve some remnants. Then as to the body of the people, Israel had fallen; but as to a few remnants they were saved; but they were a small numbers such as the Prophet mentions. We hence see that some hope of mercy was given to God's chosen people, and that in the meantime destruction was denounced on the whole nation. We have already seen that their wickedness was past hope; it was therefore necessary to announce to them the sentence of final ruin; but it was so done, as not to drive to despair the faithful few, who remained hid among the multitude.

The city then, from which a thousand went forth, shall have a hundred remaining; and the city from which went forth a hundred, shall have ten. Armies were wont formerly to be decimated, when any sedition had been made: but God threatens the Israelites here with a much heavier judgment, that only the tenth part would be saved from ruin. We now then perceive the design of the Prophet. Now this could not alleviate the grief of the people; but the hypocrites were more exasperated, on hearing that few would be saved, and that all hope of deliverance was cut off from them. When, therefore, they saw that God dealt with them with so much severity, envy increased their griefs and more embittered their minds; and this was what the Prophet designed; for it was of no use to apply any solace to the despisers of God: but as God knew that there were some seed remaining among the people, he intended to provide for the miserable, who would have been a hundred times swallowed up with grief, had no mitigation been offered them. The Prophet then directs his discourse to the few, when he says, |In the city from which a thousand had gone forth there will be a hundred; and in that from which a hundred went forth, ten will remain alive.| It now follows --

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