Lectionary Calendar
Monday, May 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Amos 2

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary

Verse 1


(1) Comp. Isaiah 15, 16, Isaiah 25:10-12, and Jeremiah 48:0 Translate “burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom.” The historical reference is obscure. (See 2 Kings 3:26-27.) Whether Moab was guilty of desecrating royal tombs, or offering the heir of the king of Edom in sacrifice, cannot be determined. When Moab took revenge upon Edom, the latter was subject to Jehoram.

Verse 2

(2) Kirioth.—This properly signifies a group of towns, but here refers to a single large town in Moab, the modern Kureiât. (Comp. Jeremiah 48:24.)


Great privileges have met with mad and foolish despite. Exalted to the highest heaven of possibility, Judah has despised the “Law of the Lord,” instead of preserving, with sacred reverence, His ordinances and institutions.

Their lies.—i.e., their false deities, which they have treated as divine. “The lies after which the fathers walked deceived the children. The children canonise the errors of their fathers. Human opinion is as dogmatic as revelation” (Pusey).

Verse 5

(5) Judah.—Such high privilege does not involve immunity from punishment. Judah shall be chastised with the same penalty as Edom, Philistia, Ammon, and Moab.

Verse 6


(6) Transgressions of Israel.—The storm of Divine threatening which had swept over the whole political horizon gathers, at last, over Israel. The sins and ingratitude of the people are aggravated by a recital of the Divine Mercy. By comparing this verse with Amos 8:6, it is clear that the Jewish interpreters (followed by Keil) were incorrect in charging this sin upon corrupt judges, who, by bribery, would deliver unjust judgments against the righteous. The sin consists in the perverse straining of the law, which allowed an insolvent debtor to sell himself into bondage to redeem a debt (comp. 2 Kings 4:1; also Leviticus 25:39). In this case the debtor was a righteous man in sore straits for no fault of his own. Render, on account of a pair of sandals. A paltry debt, equivalent, in worth, to a pair of sandals, would not save him from bondage at the hands of an oppressive ruler (see Introduction).

Verse 7

(7) Dust of the earth on the head of the poor.—Can only mean, as Ewald and Keil interpret: they long to see the poor reduced to such distress that dust is thrown on their heads in token of grief. The meek are defrauded as being too weak to claim their own. The latter part of the verse points to the sensuality of the popular worship, the word “maid” being really the prostitute (Heb. k’dçshah) who was devoted to the lustful ritual of Ashera.[17] This obsccnity is regarded by the prophet as part of a deliberate act of desecration to the name of the Holy One of Israel. Moreover, the relation of “father” and “son” was thereby sullied and degraded. (Comp. Leviticus 18:8; Leviticus 18:15; Leviticus 20:11.)

[17] Kuenen, Religion of Israel, vol. 1, pp. 92, 93.

Verse 8

(8) Rapacity and cruelty follow on pride, selfishness, and lust. With this verse compare the provisions of the Mosaic law (Exodus 22:25). Render, And upon garments received in pledge they stretch themselves, and for “condemned” adopt the marginal translation mulcted. The money that had been wrung from those who could not pay, or, who have been sold into slavery, is spent in rioting and feasting. The LXX. read this passage very differently, but the Masoretic text is justified by the translations of the Targum, Aquila, Symmachus, and Jerome.

In the house of their god.—Probably here, as in the previous verse, we are to understand the high places of syncretic, or heathenish, Jehovah worship as referred to. “They drank the wine of the amerced. Where? ‘In the house of their God.’ What hardheartedness to the wilfully forgotten poor is compensated by a little church-going! (Pusey.)

Verse 9

(9) Destroyed I.—Emphasis belongs to the pronoun “I.” The Amorites proper occupied the S.W. coast of the Dead Sea. Their formidable stature and power were attributed occasionally to all the inhabitants of the land. (Joshua 24:18; Judges 6:10.) They were absorbed before the time of Amos.

Verse 10

(10) Forty years.—The forty years’ wandering was a punishment for fickleness and cowardice, but during the incidence of this judgment, of which we have only one or two events recorded in the Book of Numbers, God was disciplining and organising a tribe of restless wanderers into a nation. (Deuteronomy 32:9-13.)

Verses 11-12

(11, 12) God added to the mercies of His providence, the transcendent blessings of special revelation. The prophets of Israel were numerous, and renowned, and exposed to frequent persecution, e.g., the cases of Micaiah, Elijah, and others. “The Nazarite vow to abstain from wine, which, in the earliest case, that of Samson, appears a life-long vow, was undoubtedly a religious protest against Canaanite civilisation in favour of the simple life of ancient times.” (W. R. Smith, Prophets of Israel, p. 84.) The Nazarite was, moreover, a link between the prophet and the priest, upon whom, without hereditary rank or sacerdotal rite, great privileges were bestowed. The assault upon both is highly characteristic of the disloyalty of Israel.

Verse 13

(13) I am pressed.—Baur, Pusey, and Speaker’s Commentary support this rendering of the Heb. mç‘îq, the corresponding form in the next clause also being taken in the intransitive (i.e., passive sense). But it is unlikely that God, in this passage, should declare Himself “crushed” under the weight of Israel’s sin, for in the context it is Israel, and not God, who is described as the victim, Moreover, grammatical usage is against the rendering of mç‘îq as passive; nor does it favour Ewald’s, as well as Keil’s, interpretation “press you down” Translate (see margin) Behold, I am pressing down beneath you (literally, your place), just as the waggon, filled up with sheaves, presses down. Jehovah, in the awful judgment which He inflicts, is symbolised by the heavily-laden waggon. The expression “beneath you” suggests that the evil is not confined to the present. Israel, the nation weighted with the doom of past iniquities, bequeathes a yet more crushing load to future generations. If the text is sound, this appears the only satisfactory rendering of a difficult passage.

Verse 14

(14) This doom Amos darkly foreshadows to be invasion and military overthrow, with all its attendant calamities.

Verse 15

(15) Is omitted in some of Kennicott’s and De Rossi’s MSS., but without authority.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Amos 2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/amos-2.html. 1905.
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