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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Amos 1

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-15

Let's turn now to the book of Amos. In the first verse of Amos he introduces himself.

These are the words of Amos, who was among the herdmen [or a shepherd] at Tekoa ( Amos 1:1 ),

Now Tekoa is a little valley going down toward the Dead Sea from the area of Bethlehem. Actually, if you're standing on Herodian, that fortress that Herod built sort of east off Bethlehem, looking south, you're looking into the valley of Tekoa, the area from which Amos came. He was a herdsman, and then in chapter 7 he tells us that he was a fruit picker. He picked the sycamore fruit, which was the fig. So he was not a prophet; he was not the son of a prophet. He was not from a line of ministers. He was just a common ordinary person like all of us are. And yet, while he was there watching his sheep, God spoke to him to go up to the Northern Kingdom and prophesy against them.

So suddenly there appeared in Bethel this prophet of God, Amos, who before this was nothing more than just a shepherd, a fruit picker, and God spoke to him and he went out and began to prophesy to the house of Israel. "These are the words of Amos,"

which he saw concerning Israel ( Amos 1:1 )

Now so often we read at the beginning of a book, "The word of the Lord which came to the prophet saying..." But Amos doesn't say, "This is the word of the Lord," he says, "These are the words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw." So it puts, of course, the divine attestation upon it here, "which he saw." So Amos saw these visions from the Lord and he saw them concerning the Northern Kingdom of Israel. And these visions came to him,

during the time that Uzziah was the king in Judah ( Amos 1:1 ),

So it puts him really just a little before Isaiah. Isaiah began his prophecy at the death of Uzziah. Remember in the sixth chapter, "In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and lifted up, sitting upon the throne, His train did fill the temple." Isaiah exercised his ministry mainly during the times of Hezekiah. So during the time of Uzziah, who was a prosperous king in Judah, reigned for fifty-two years,

and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash the king of Israel ( Amos 1:1 ),

And then he dates the prophecy even further.

two years before the earthquake ( Amos 1:1 ).

Now in these years, and somewhere between the year 810 and 792, there was a tremendous earthquake that devastated that whole area. An earthquake that was so severe that according to Zechariah the people fled from that area terrified. Isaiah makes mention of this great earthquake that shook that whole region also. And here again, a reference to the great earthquake. So these prophecies that he received were a couple of years before this great earthquake. So we can put his area of ministry somewhere around 800 B.C., give or take a few years on either side.

Jeroboam was one of the most successful of the kings in Israel as far as bringing the nation to its zenith of glory. During the time that Jeroboam was the king in Israel, Israel was very prosperous from a material standpoint. They were very rich in the material things, but they were very poor in spiritual things. And so Amos comes to awaken them spiritually unto God. He begins his prophecy by declaring, "The Lord."

And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion ( Amos 1:2 ),

When Jesus Christ comes again, according to Joel, Hosea speaks about it, and now Amos also speaks about it, "He will roar from Zion."

he will utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither. Thus saith the LORD ( Amos 1:2-3 );

And now God speaks of the judgment that is going to come against the surrounding nations of Israel. And in each of them He declares,

For three transgressions, and for four ( Amos 1:3 ),

Now He doesn't name three indictments towards each. "For three transgressions, and for four" is a figure of speech that's just declaring a cup of God's indignation is full and is going to overflow now in judgment against Damascus. Damascus is the first, the capital of Syria.

I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron ( Amos 1:3 ):

They came with their iron chariots and they destroyed Gilead.

I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad ( Amos 1:4 ).

When Elijah the prophet had fled from Jezebel and had hid in the cave down in the Sinai, the word of the Lord came to Elijah the prophet saying, "Elijah, what are you doing here?" Now, in reality he was hiding from Jezebel. Really wasn't doing much of anything. He said, "I've been jealous for God and they have killed all the prophets of God, and I only am left, and they are looking for me to take my life. God, You're in trouble. You don't have anybody left representing You except me, and they're out to get me." The word of the Lord came a second time to Elijah saying, "Elijah, what are you doing here?" Elijah didn't understand the question the first time so the Lord repeated it. He still didn't understand it and gave the Lord the same lame answer. The Lord said, "Elijah, get up to Syria and anoint Hazael to be the king over Syria in Benhadad's place." In other words, "You're not doing anything down here. I've got a work for you to do. Get out of here and get back to work now." God commissioned the prophet back to the ministry.

Now when he came to Hazael and went to anoint him and to prophesy over him, he began to weep. Just began to sob. Hazael said, "What's going on? What's the matter with you?" And he said, "I see the evil that you are going to do to the people of God. I see you ripping up the women who are pregnant. I see the horrible cruel things that you're going to do to the servants of God." Hazael said, "Am I a dog that I should do these things?" And he was quite upset. And yet, the scripture records that Hazael came against Israel and did do exactly these things. And because of that, now the time of judgment has come and, "For three transgressions, yea for four against Damascus," their punishment will not really be passed by. God will surely punish them. God speaks of the punishment. "I will send a fire into the house of Hazael," this king who was anointed by Elijah and was so cruel, "which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad," who was his successor who he assassinated in order to take the throne.

I will break the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holds the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD ( Amos 1:5 ).

Now Kir was in Assyria, and just as God predicted through Amos here, the Assyrians came, they captured and destroyed Syria, and they took those of Damascus captives to Kir back in Assyria, and thus the prophecy was literally fulfilled.

Now he prophesies against the Philistines and the country of the Philistines. Now, there were five major cities of the Philistines. I think four of them come into view in this prophecy. Gaza was one of the chief cities of the Philistines and then Ekron, and Ashdod, and Ashkelon, the major cities there in the Philistine territory.

Now thus saith the LORD, For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof ( Amos 1:6 );

The indictment that God gives against them:

they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them to Edom ( Amos 1:6 ):

So in their conquering of the people of God, they turned the captives, or sold them to the Edomites their perennial enemies.

But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza [or of Gaza], which shall devour the palaces thereof: And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod [the coastal fortress], and him that holds the sceptre from Ashkelon [another coastal city], and I will turn my hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD ( Amos 1:7-8 ).

How many of you have met a Philistine lately? No, you see, God's Word came to pass. The Philistines were wiped out. They don't exist anymore.

Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Tyrus ( Amos 1:9 ),

Now Tyrus was that coastal city which was the headquarters of the ancient Phoenicians. It was a very wealthy, prosperous, and powerful kingdom. Their merchant ships ruled the Mediterranean. They carried the goods from the east to the marketplaces of Europe. Tyrus had been consistently a friend of Israel. David and Hiram had made a covenant together which was carried on by Solomon, the son of David. Hiram the king of Tyre furnished the cedars for David's palace and later for the great temple of Solomon. But in time, Tyrus also turned against Israel. Thus, the prophecy against Tyrus. "Thus saith the Lord, for three transgressions of Tyrus,"

and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity up to Edom ( Amos 1:9 ),

The same punishment that was against the Philistines. However, he adds:

and they remembered not the brotherly covenant ( Amos 1:9 ):

That beautiful covenant that was made between David and Hiram, for Hiram was a great admirer of David. But they broke that covenant that had been made.

Now as we see the judgment of God coming against these various nations around Israel, Syria, the Philistines, Tyrus, next the Edomites, and then the Ammonites, and then the Moabites, in each case the judgment is coming because of their ill treatment of God's people, the children of Israel.

Now God's people were in the wrong, and God was judging His people because they were in the wrong. But God had said, "You're not to touch My anointed, and do My prophets no harm" ( 1 Chronicles 16:22 ). God had said to Abraham, "I will bless those that bless you, and I will curse those that curse you" ( Genesis 12:3 ). I don't care how wrong the children of God are, don't you touch them. You know my kids may be brats, but don't you touch them. I'll do the correction of my children. If someone else should come in and touch my children, then I rise in defense for them. So would God in His children. Though they were wrong, though they deserved the punishment, that's something that God reserved for Himself. "I'll take care of them, don't you touch them."

So it is, I believe, even to the present day that God still blesses those that bless them, and curses those that curse them. And when the day of judgment will come and Christ comes again, Matthew 25 , and He gathers the nations for judgment, the nations will be judged according to their treatment of the nation of Israel. No nation has remained prosperous who dared to put a hand against the people of God, the nation of Israel. I would be very, very careful about what I said or did that would be contrary to the nation of Israel. So in each of these cases it was because of their mistreatment of God's people that God is judging them.

So I will send a fire upon the wall of Tyrus, that will devour the palaces thereof ( Amos 1:10 ).

And that, of course, took place under Nebuchadnezzar, a partial fulfillment; it was completed by Alexander the Great, and Tyrus was destroyed. Ezekiel gives a more complete prophecy against Tyrus describing in great detail the two sieges of Tyrus, first by Nebuchadnezzar and later by Alexander the Great.

Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Edom ( Amos 1:11 ),

Now Edom was south and east of Israel. It is south and east of the area of the Dead Sea. An area that today is pretty much barren wilderness.

I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother ( Amos 1:11 )

Now the Edomites were descendants of Esau. Esau was the brother of Jacob, and thus God still looks at them as a brotherly relationship. The Edomites were really kin to, or brothers to, because Jacob and Esau were twin brothers. Yet the hatred that Esau had for Jacob never ceased in the descendants. The Edomites were the perennial enemies of Israel. Every opportunity they had, they attacked. Whenever Israel would be occupied with an enemy from the north, they'd always attack from the south. They sought to take advantage of every situation to destroy Israel. There was a hatred constantly simmering and kindling among the Edomites. The last recorded Edomite was, of course, the house of Herod, Herod the Great and his descendants. From then on the Edomites have been lost from history. Herod was an Idumean, an Edomite. So God promises the judgment.

because they did pursue their brothers with a sword, they had no pity, and in their anger they tore perpetually, and their wrath never ceased: So I will send a fire upon Teman [which was, of course, the capital of Edom], and it shall devour the palaces of Bozrah. Thus saith the LORD ( Amos 1:11-13 );

And now we turn to Ammonites. And the word Ammon is, change the pronunciation, the spelling is the same, and you have Ammon, the modern capital of Jordan. And you have also the area of Ammon, and the Ammonites, was directly east from Jerusalem, across the great African rift in the area that today is Ammon.

and for three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, three and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead ( Amos 1:13 ),

Gilead, of course, was soundly defeated by the Syrians, and they came into judgment for it, and now also the Ammonites.

that they might enlarge their border ( Amos 1:13 ):

I thought that was interesting. They came over into the west bank to enlarge their borders. Times really haven't changed that much, have they? We're still having problems because Jordan was driven from the west bank, and in the 1967 war, and there's still that endeavor to again take control of the west bank.

But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind: And their king shall go into captivity, and his princes together, saith the LORD ( Amos 1:14-15 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Amos 1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/amos-1.html. 2014.
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