Amos 8:5 MEANING

Amos 8:5
(5) When . . . gone.--They desired that the festivals of the New Moon and Sabbath should be over, when they might not only return to their secular employments, but pursue their search for ill-gotten gains--a proof that these festivals were observed in the northern nation, even if they were disliked.

Set forth wheat.--The original signifies the opening of the sacks, or granaries, where the wheat was stored. The greedy mercantile class is referred to. The ephah, which was a dry measure (= three English pecks), was "made small," so that a smaller quantity might be sold. The shekel was the weight against which the precious metal was weighed. If this were fraudulently augmented, more of the gold or silver than was due was demanded for the impoverished ephah.

Falsifying the balances . . .--More accurately, falsifying the deceitful balances, so that the very symbol of justice became the implement of committing injustice. This is frequently condemned in the Law and Prophets (Leviticus 19:35-36; Deuteronomy 25:15; Proverbs 11:1; Micah 6:11).

Verse 5. - When? expresses impatience and desire, as in the hymn -

"Thy joys when shall I see?" The new moon. The first day of the month was a holiday, on which all trade was suspended. It is not mentioned in Exodus, Leviticus, or Deuteronomy; but its observance is enjoined in Numbers 28:11, and various notices of this occur in later Scriptures; e.g. 1 Samuel 20:5; 2 Kings 4:23; Hosea 2:11; Colossians 2:16. These greedy sinners kept the festivals, indeed, but they grudged the time given to them, and considered it as wasted. The sabbath. Compare the difficulties with which Nehemiah had to contend in upholding the sanctity of the sabbath (Nehemiah 10:31; Nehemiah 13:15-22). May set forth; literally, open; so Septuagint, καὶ ἀνοίξομεν θησαυρόν. The word expresses the opening of the granaries and storehouses. The ephah, by which corn was measured (see note on Micah 6:10). This they made small, and so gave lees than was paid for. The shekel. The weight by which money was weighed. This they made great, and thus gained too high a price for the quantity of corn. Coined money of determined value seems not to have been used before the return from Captivity, all payments of fixed amount previous to that period being made by weighing (comp. Genesis 23:16; Genesis 33:19; Genesis 43:21; Exodus 30:13; Isaiah 46:6). Falsifying the balances by deceit; better, as in the Revised Version, dealing falsely with balances of deceit. To increase their gains they falsified their scales or used fraudulent weights (see Leviticus 19:36). Thus they cheated the poor probably in three ways - by small measure, exorbitant price, and light weight.

8:4-10 The rich and powerful of the land were the most guilty of oppression, as well as the foremost in idolatry. They were weary of the restraints of the sabbaths and the new moons, and wished them over, because no common work might be done therein. This is the character of many who are called Christians. The sabbath day and sabbath work are a burden to carnal hearts. It will either be profaned or be accounted a dull day. But can we spend our time better than in communion with God? When employed in religious services, they were thinking of marketings. They were weary of holy duties, because their worldly business stood still the while. Those are strangers to God, and enemies to themselves, who love market days better than sabbath days, who would rather be selling corn than worshipping God. They have no regard to man: those who have lost the savour of piety, will not long keep the sense of common honesty. They cheat those they deal with. They take advantage of their neighbour's ignorance or necessity, in a traffic which nearly concerns the labouring poor. Could we witness the fraud and covetousness, which, in such numerous forms, render trading an abomination to the Lord, we should not wonder to see many dealers backward in the service of God. But he who thus despises the poor, reproaches his Maker; as it regards Him, rich and poor meet together. Riches that are got by the ruin of the poor, will bring ruin on those that get them. God will remember their sin against them. This speaks the case of such unjust, unmerciful men, to be miserable indeed, miserable for ever. There shall be terror and desolation every where. It shall come upon them when they little think of it. Thus uncertain are all our creature-comforts and enjoyments, even life itself; in the midst of life we are in death. What will be the wailing in the bitter day which follows sinful and sensual pleasures!Saying, when will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn?.... The first day of every month, on which it was forbid to sell any thing, or do any worldly business, being appointed and used for religious service; see 2 Kings 4:23; and which these carnal earthly minded men were weary of, and wanted to have over, that they might be selling their grain, and getting money, which they preferred to the worship of God. Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it of the month of harvest, when the poor found what to eat in the fields; when they gleaned there, and got a sufficiency of bread, and so had no need to buy corn; and hence these rich misers, that hoarded up the grain, are represented as wishing the harvest month over, that they might sell their grain to the poor, having had, during that month, no demand for it; and so the Targum renders it the month of grain: or the month of intercalation, as Jarchi understands it; every three years a month was intercalated, to bring their feasts right to the season of the year; and that year was a month longer than the rest, and made provision dearer; and then the sense is, when will the year of intercalation come, that we may have a better price for our grain? but the first sense seems best;

and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat; in the shops or markets, for sale: or "open wheat" (b); the granaries and treasures of it, to be seen and sold. Now the sabbath, or seventh day of the week, as no servile work was to be done on it, so no trade or commerce was to be carried on on that day; which made it a long and wearisome one to worldly men, who wished it over, that they might be about their worldly business. Kimchi and Ben Melech, by "sabbath", understand a "week", which these men put off the poor unto, when the price of grain would rise; and so from week to week refused to sell, and longed till the week came when it would be dearer. The Targum and Jarchi interpret it of the seventh year Sabbath, when there was no ploughing, nor sowing, nor reaping, and so no selling of grain, but the people lived upon what the earth brought forth of itself. But the first sense here is also best;

making the ephah small; a dry measure, that held three scabs, or about a bushel of ours, with which they measured their grain and their wheat; so that, besides the exorbitant price they required, they did not give due measure:

and the shekel great; that is, the weight, or shekel stone, with which they weighed the money the poor gave for their grain and wheat; this was made heavier than it should be, and so of course the money weighed against it was too light, and the poor were obliged to make it up with more; and thus they cheated them, both in their measure, and in their money:

and falsifying the balances by deceit? contrary to the law in Deuteronomy 25:13.

(b) "et apericmus frumentam", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; "ut aperiamus frumenti horrea", Junius & Tremellius; "ut aperiamus frumentum", Piscator, Cocceius; "quo far aperiamus", Castalio.

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