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He was of no Prophetic school, with no regular Prophetic gifts '-one of the shepherds who frequented the wild uplands near Tekoa, and who combined with his pastoral life the care of the sycamores in the neighbouring gardens. He was, Amos. as has been well ? said, 'a child of nature.' The imagery of his visions is full of his country life, whether in Judæa or Ephraim. The locusts in the royal meadows, the basket of fruit, vineyards and fig-trees, the herds of cows rushing beedlessly along the hills of Samaria, the shepherds fighting with the lions for their prey, the lion and the bear, the heavyladen waggon, the sifting of corn-these are his figures. He was not a poet, so much as an orator. His addresses are poetical, not from rhythm, but from the sheer force and pathos of his diction.
He appears on the hill of 3 Samaria to denounce the luxurious nobles. He appears in the very sanctuary of Bethel, like Iddo, to 4 predict the violent death of the royal house, if not of the King,—the fall of the kingdom, the fall of the sacred altar.
It was not now, as formerly, the King who confronted the Prophet. It was the chief-priest Amaziah, who sent to the King to inform bim of the new-comer, and himself warned him off the sacred and royal precincts. He was living there with his wife, his sons and his daughters, and on thein Amos turned the curse which he had before called down on the nation. Such an apparition may well have roused the anger and alarm of the easy revellers 'who put far away, the evil day.' • The land could not bear' those piercing moral invectivesthat cry then first uttered, a hundred times repeated since, Prepare to meet thy God.'? Whether or not we attach any
1 Amos i. 1, vii. 14, 15.
* Ibid. vi. 14, vii. 9, ix. 1, viii, 3. Whether the words in vii. 10 are represented as having been spoken by Amos, or only put into his mouth by
Amaziah, is uncertain. It is more in
• Amos vi. 3.
Calami. ties :
credence to the tradition, that he was beaten and wounded by the indignant hierarchy of Bethel, and carried back halfdead to his native place, it is the fate which such a rough plain-spoken preacher would naturally invite, and it would almost seem as if faint allusions to it transpire in more than one place in the New Testament.' Well had he said, in the bitterness of his heart, The prudent shall keep silence in that time, for it is an evil time.'
The calamities which Amos described or invoked, gathered fast over the devoted kingdom. The great physical disasters, which we shall have to consider more at length in their relation to Judah, had also extended to Israel. The visitation of locusts, which passed over the south, also reached to the gardens and vineyards, the fig-trees and olive-trees of Samaria. 3 Their corn and wine · failed; blasting and mildew smote 5 them ; drought and famine fell upon them.
. Rain was withholden in the early spring, or fell partially only on one city; so that the inhabitants of two or three cities crowded to one for the sake of water. The pastures of the shepherds were dried up, and the woods of Carmel withered.7 The plague, so common in Egypt, so rare in Palestine, sprang up, amidst the festering carcases (whether as cause or effect), of the dead men and dead horses which lay around, as after a terrible 8 carnage. The celebrated earthquake which shook the Temple of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives in the reign of Uzziah was heard and felt throughout Palestine. The Temple at Bethel, like the Temple at Jerusalem, with its altar and its pillars, the ivory palaces of Jezreel and Samaria, are smitten,' shake," "fall,' and perish, and come to an end.'! There were three nearly
Pseudo-Epiphanius, Vit. Proph. ii. 145 (Pusey, 150). Compare Heb. xi. 35 ; Matt. xxi. 36.
? Amos v. 13.
5 Amos ir. 7, 9.
• Ibid. ii. 14, 15, ix. l. See Lecture XXXVII.
total eclipses during this period. One of these was visible
· The exact calculation I owe to my friend Professor Donkin. The possibility of the allusion had been already noticed by Ussher.
? Amos viii. 9.
• Layard's Nineveh and Babylon, p. 613: see Rawlinson's Ancient Mon
archies, ii. p. 365.
• Amos i. 2-15, vi. 14, rii. 17, ix. 7-10. That these are distinct predictions is maintained by Ewald, Gesch. iii. 303.
Hosea v. 13, x. 6.
End of the
armies; their savage warfare, their strange language, the speed of their march, their indefatigable energy, their arrows sharp, their bows bent, their horses' hoofs like Aint, and their chariots like a whirlwind.'?
In the midst of these dark misfortunes and darker terrors, the dynasty of Jehu came to its end. The curse of Amos was fulfilled, though not on the King himself. The great Jeroboam died in peace, and was buried in royal state. But his son was the last regular occupant of the throne of Israel. There was, as it would seem, a revel prepared for him by the nobles. They were kept up to the mark as of a burning fever by some one powerful plotter, who is compared to a baker heating and stirring the oven. They drug the unhappy prince with wine till he is sick with drunkenness, and joins freely in their debauchery. Then in the morning the conspiracy breaks out, and the King is slain. The year of Zachariah's death was probably the year of the great eclipse already mentioned. The time at which he died was known as that in which the kings fell," and apparently also as the month in which the three shepherds
were smitten.'4 From that moment the kingdom was occupied by a rapid succession of fierce soldiers, who reigned for the next fifty years, leaving little but their names behind. The “military despotism,' which had characterised the kingdom of Israel more or less even from the time of Saul, now beld unbridled and undivided sway. Zachariah was, it would seem, succeeded by a king whose very name is almost lost to us, • Kobolam, and Kobolam was succeeded by Shallum.
5 The troubled monarchy settled down for a time under Menahem and his son Pekahiah, till he too perished, in the midst of his harem, by the hand of Pekah. By this time
A. D. 771.
1 Isa. v. 26-30.
2 Kings 1r. Ewald, iii. 598).
6 Ibid. xv, 13-31.
A. D. 757-730.
the Assyrian conquerors broke upon the country; and the struggles of the various states of Western Asia, in their agony to escape from this overwhelming enemy, became more and more complicated, as the danger drew nearer and nearer.
In the presence of this threatened destruction, the long feud between Israel and Damascus was reconciled. An adventurer who had placed himself on the throne of Syria combined with Pekah to defend themselves against Assyria by attacking Judah.' The effect of this alliance, as regards the kingdom of Israel, was but to hasten its doom. In a few short years ? it was broken up. Tiglath-Pileser, the Assyrian king, whose predecessor, Pul, had been satisfied with tribute from Menahem, descended upon the allied kingdoms. The kingdom of 4 Damascus was now finally extinguished, and its inhabitants carried off to Kir, an unknown Eastern spot, the cradle, and now the grave, of that proud Aramaic nation.
And now the first great rent was made in the kingdom Fall of of Israel. The Trans-jordanic tribes had long hung but
jordanic loosely on its skirts. Uzziah, King of Judah, had of late tribes. acquired royal pasturages in the downs 6 of Gilead. . But now they were to lose even this protection. We see little of their last expiring struggles.
But their wild history ends, as it had begun, in bloodshed and violence: Gilead was a city of evildoers, polluted with blood.'? Now for the first time, just in the very crisis of their own fate, they were in possession of the throne. Menahem and Pekabiah
1 2 Kings xvi. 5; 2 Chr. xxviii. 5, 6. ? Isa. vii. 16.
• Pul cannot be exactly identified (Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies, ii. 387). Tiglath-Pileser II. seems to be the founder of a new dynasty (ibid. ii. 393).
Pileser's inscriptions (Rawlinson, ü.
2 Kings xvi. 9; Amos i. 5; and
* This is mentioned in Tiglath
6 2 Chr. xxvi. 10 ('the plains,' Heb, mishor).
? Hos, vi. 8.