on Amos 1 :2
The Lord will roar from Zion - It is a pity that our translators had not followed the hemistich form of the Hebrew: -
Jehovah from Zion shall roar,
And from Jerusalem shall give forth his voice;
And the pleasant dwellings of the shepherds shall mourn,
And the top of mount Carmel shall wither.
Carmel was a very fruitful mountain in the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:56; Isaiah 35:2.
This introduction was natural in the mouth of a herdsman who was familiar with the roaring of lions, the bellowing of bulls, and the lowing of kine. The roaring of the lion in the forest is one of the most terrific sounds in nature; when near, it strikes terror into the heart of both man and beast.
on Amos 1 :2
The Lord will roar - Amos joins on his prophecy to the end of Joel's, in order at once in its very opening to attest the oneness of their mission, and to prepare people's minds to see, that his own prophecy was an expansion of those words, declaring the nearer and coming judgments of God. Those nearer judgments, however, of which he spake, were but the preludes of the judgments of the Great Day which Joel foretold, and of that last terrible voice of Christ, "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," of whom Jacob prophesies; "He couched, He lay down as a lion, and as a young lion; who shall raise Him up?" Genesis 49:9. God is said to "utter His" awful "voice from Zion and Jerusalem," because there He had set His Name, there He was present in His Church. It was, as it were, His own place, which He had hallowed by tokens of His presence, although "the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him." In the outset of his prophecy, Amos warned Israel, that there, not among themselves in their separated state, God dwelt. Jeremiah, in using these same words toward Judah, speaks not of Jerusalem, but of heaven; "The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter His voice from His holy habitation" Jeremiah 25:30. The prophecy is to the ten tribes or to the pagan: God speaks out of the Church. He uttereth His Voice out of Jerusalem, as He saith, "Out of Zion shall go forth, the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" Isaiah 2:3, "where was the Temple and the worship of God, to shew that God was not in the cities of Israel, that is, in Dan and Bethel, where were the golden calves, nor in the royal cities of Samaria and Jezreel, but in the true religion which was then in Zion and Jerusalem."
And the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn - Perhaps, with a feeling for the home which he had loved and left, the prophet's first thought amid the desolation which he predicts, was toward his own shepherd-haunts. The well-known Mount Carmel was far in the opposite direction in the tribe of Asher. Its name is derived from its richness and fertility, perhaps "a land of vine and olive yards." In Jerome's time, it was "thickly studded with olives, shrubs and vineyards." "Its very summit of glad pasturcs."
It is one of the most striking natural features of Palestine. It ends a line of hills, 18 miles long, by a long bold headland reaching out far into the Mediterranean, and forming the south side of the Bay of Acco or Acre. Rising 1,200 feet above the sea , it stands out "like some guardian of its native strand;" yet withal, it was rich with every variety of beauty, flower, fruit, and tree. It is almost always called "the Carmel," "the rich garden-ground." From its neighborhood to the sea, heavy dews nightly supply it with an ever-renewed freshness, so that in mid-summer it is green and flowery . Travelers describe it, as "quite green, its top covered with firs and oaks, lower down with olives and laurels, and everywhere excellently watered." "There is not a flower," says Van de Velde , "that I have seen in Galilee or on the plains along the coasts, that I do not find here again on Carmel. It is still the same fragrant lovely mountain as of old." : "Its varied world of flowers attracts such a number of the rarer vari-colored insects that a collector might for a whole year be richly employed." "It is a natural garden and repository of herbs."
Its pastures were rich, so as to equal those of Bashan. "It gives rise to a number of crystal streams, the largest of which gushes from the spring of Elijah" Jeremiah 50:19; Nahum 1:4. It had abundant supplies in itself. If it too became a desert, what else would be spared? "If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" Luke 23:31. All, high and low, shall be stricken in one common desolation; all the whole land, fromm "the pastures of the shepherds" in the south to Mount Carmel in the North. And this, as soon as God had spoken. "He spake, and it was made." So now, contrariwise, He uttercth His Voice, and Carmel hath languished. Its glory hath passed away, as in the twinkling of an eye. God hath spoken the word, and it is gone.
What depended on God's gifts, abides; what depended on man, is gone. There remains a wild beauty still; but it is the beauty of natural luxuriance. "All," says one who explored its depths , "lies waste; all is a wilderness. The utmost fertility is here lost for man, useless to man. The vineyards of Carmel, where are they now? Behold the long rows of stones on the ground, the remains of the walls; they will tell you that here, where now with difficulty you force your way through the thick entangled copse, lay, in days of old, those incomparable vineyards to which Carmel owes its name."
on Amos 1 :2