Thus hath the Lord showed unto me
What follows in this and the two chapters, before the prophet delivered what he heard from the Lord; now what he saw, the same thing, the ruin of the ten tribes, is here expressed as before, but in a different form; before in prophecy, here in vision, the more to affect and work upon the hearts of the people: and, behold, he formed grasshoppers;
or "locusts" F21, as the word is rendered, ( Isaiah 33:4 ) ; and so the Septuagint here, and other versions. Kimchi interprets it, and, behold, a collection or swarm of locusts; and the Targum, a creation of them. Though Aben Ezra takes the word to be a verb, and not a noun, and the sense to be, agreeably to our version, he showed me the blessed God, who was forming locusts; it appeared to Amos, in the vision of prophecy, as if the Lord was making locusts, large and great ones, and many of them; not that this was really done, only visionally, and was an emblem of the Assyrian army, prepared and ready to devour the land of Israel; see ( Joel 1:4 ) ( Nahum 3:17 ) . And this was in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, [it
was] the latter growth after the king's mowings;
when the first grass was mowed down, and the first crop gathered in, for the use of the king's cattle; as the later grass was just springing up, and promised a second crop, these grasshoppers or locusts were forming, which threatened the destruction of it. This must be towards the close of the summer, and when autumn was coming on, at which time naturalists tell us that locusts breed. So Aristotle F23 says, they bring forth at the going out of the summer; and of one sort of them he says, their eggs perish in the waters of autumn, or when it is a wet autumn; but in a dry autumn there is a large increase of them: and so Pliny says F24, they breed in the autumn season and lie under the earth all the winter, and appear in the spring: and Columella observes F25, that locusts are most suitably and commodiously fed with grass in autumn; which is called "cordum", or the latter grass, that comes or springs late in the year; such as this now was. The Mahometans speak F26 much of God being the Maker of locusts; they say he made them of the clay which was left at the formation of Adam; and represent him saying, I am God, nor is there any Lord of locusts besides me, who feed them, and send them for food to the people, or as a punishment to them, as I please: they call them the army of the most high God, and will not suffer any to kill them; (See Gill on Revelation 9:3); whether all this is founded on this passage of Scripture, I cannot say; however, there is no reason from thence to make the locusts so peculiarly the workmanship of God as they do, since this was only in a visionary way; though it may be observed, that it is with great propriety, agreeable to the nature of these creatures, that God is represented as forming them at such a season of the year. Some, by "the king's mowings", understand the carrying captive the ten tribes by Shalmaneser king of Assyria; so Ribera; after which things were in a flourishing state, or at least began to be so, in the two tribes under Hezekiah, when they were threatened with ruin by the army of Sennacherib, from which there was a deliverance: but as this vision, and the rest, only respect the ten tribes of Israel, "the king's mowings" of the first crop may signify the distresses of the people of Israel, in the times of Jehoahaz king of Israel, by Hazael and Benhadad kings of Syria, ( 2 Kings 13:3 2 Kings 13:4 2 Kings 13:22 ) ; when things revived again, like the shooting up of the later grass, in the reign of Joash, and especially of Jeroboam his son, who restored the coast of Israel, the Lord having compassion on them, ( 2 Kings 13:25 ) ( 2 Kings 14:25 2 Kings 14:26 ) ; but after his death things grew worse; his son reigned but six months, and he that slew him but one; and in the reign of Menahem, that succeeded him, an invasion of the land was made by Pul king of Assyria, ( 2 Kings 15:19 ) ; which is generally thought to be intended here. Or else, as others, it may refer to the troubles in the interregnum, after the death of Jeroboam, to his son's mounting the throne, the space of eleven years, when, and afterwards, Israel was in a declining state.
F21 (ybg) "ecce fictor locustarum", Pagninus, Montanus; so Munster, Vatablus, Cocceius, Burkius.
F23 Hist. Animal. l. 5. c. 28, 29.
F24 Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29.
F25 Apud Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 4. c. 6. col. 484.
F26 Vid. Bochart, ib. col. 486.