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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Amos 2

Verse 1

Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:

For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime. When Jehoram of Israel, Jehoshaphat of Judah, and the King of Edom, combined against Mesha, king of Moab, the latter failing in battle to break through to the King of Edom, took the oldest son of the latter, whom the Moabites had taken prisoner (Theodoret), and offered him as a burnt offering on the wall (2 Kin. 2:27 ). Thus, by the term "the king of Edom" here is meant the heir-apparent to the throne of Edom (Michaelis). "The king of Edom" is taken as the heir to the throne of Edom. Or else 'his son' is the King of Moab's own son, whom the father offered to Moloch (Josephus' 'Antiquities,' 9: 3).

Thus the reference here in Amos is not to that fact, but to the revenge which probably the King of Moab took on the King of Edom, when the forces of Israel and Judah had retired after their successful campaign against Moab, leaving Edom without allies. The Hebrew tradition is, that Moab in revenge tore from their grave, and burned the bones of the King of Edom, the ally of Jehoram and Jehoshaphat, who was already buried. Probably the 'burning of the bones' means, he burned the King of Edom alive, reducing his very bones to lime (Maurer). Pusey takes Michaelis' view. An ally, such as was the King of Edom formerly to Moab, when he makes terms with those whom men hate, is often regarded with more indignation by them than is even their enemy. 'When the King of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him,' he was furious with the King of Edom. 'He took with him 700 men to cut through to the King of Edom, and they could not. Escape was not their object. They sought not to cut through the Edomite contingent to the desert, but to the King of Edom. Failing in this, he offered as a sacrifice the King of Edom's son and heir, whom he had taken prisoner. So there was great indignation against Israel' on the part of Edom, since it was through Israel's attack on Moab, in which Judah's tributary, Edom, had taken a part by constraint, that the sacrifice of the Edomite king's son had been occasioned.

Verse 2

But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet:

But I will send a fire ... and it shall devour the palaces of Kirioth - the chief city of Moab, called also Kir-Moab (Isaiah 15:1). The name is very common in various forms: Kiriathaim, the double city; Kerioth (Jeremiah 48:23-24); Kartan (Joshua 21:32); Is-cariot-namely, Judas, a man of Kerioth in Judah, Kartah in Zebulun (Joshua 21:34); the Numidian Cirta. The form is plural here-literally, 'cities,' as including both the acropolis and town itself (see Jeremiah 48:24; Jeremiah 48:41, margin, 'the cities').

And Moab shall die with tumult - i:e., amidst the tumult of battle (Hosea 10:14, "Therefore shall a tumult arise And Moab shall die with tumult - i:e., amidst the tumult of battle (Hosea 10:14, "Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled." So Jeremiah 48:45 foretells that "the tumultuous ones" of Moab should be devoured by the flame of war. So Baalam's prophecy (Numbers 24:17, "A Sceptre ... out of Israel ... shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth"). Rather, 'all the children of tumult' [ bªshaa'own (H7588), i:e., sh'eet] (Pusey).

Verse 3

And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the LORD.

And I will cut off the judge - the chief magistrate (Shophet: answering to the Sufetes, or chief magistrates of Carthage),the supreme source of justice. 'The term "king" not being used, it seems likely a change of government had before this time substituted for kings supreme judges. Perhaps at the time that Jeroboam II wrested Israel's territory from Moab, the line of kings of the latter ceased, and "judges," or magistrates having the power of "princes," were substituted. So Tyre, not long after its 13 years' siege by Nebuchadnezzar, substituted judges; and received princes of their own nation sent from Babylon, Baal, Merbaal, and Hiram.' Nebuchadnezzar utterly subdued Moab; and from that time it ceased to exist as a nation. The Arabs took its place, and sometimes are called by its name.

Verse 4

Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked:

For three transgressions of Judah ... From foreign kingdoms he passes to Judah and Israel, lest it should be said he was strenuous in denouncing sins abroad, but connived at those of his own nation. Judah and Israel, regarded as one, form the seventh people about to be judged. Seven is the number for a complete whole, implying that judgment would go the round of all the guilty peoples, and that not even the people of God, now that it is in apostasy, shall be spared. Judah's guilt differs from that of all the others in that it was directly against God, not merely against man; also because Judah's sin was willful and wittingly against light and knowledge.

Because they have despised the law - the Mosaic code in general.

And have not kept his commandments - or statutes, the ceremonies and civil laws.

And their lies caused them to err - their lying idols (Psalms 40:4; Jeremiah 16:19, "lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit"), from which they drew false hopes. The order is to be observed. The Jews first cast off the divine law, then fall into lying errors; God thus visiting them with a righteous retribution (Romans 1:25-26; Romans 1:28; 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12). The pretext of a good intention is hereby refuted: the "lies" that mislead them are "their (own) lies" (Calvin).

After the which their fathers have walked. We are not to follow the fathers in error, but must follow the Word of God alone. Nay, it was an aggravation of the Jews' sin that it was not confined to preceding generations: the sons rivaled the sins of their fathers (Matthew 23:32; Acts 7:51, "Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye"). (Calvin.)

Verse 5

But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.

But I will send a fire upon Judah - Nebuchadnezzar.

Verse 6

Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes;

For three transgressions of Israel - the ten tribes, the main subject of Amos' prophecies.

Because they sold the righteous for silver - Israel's judges for a bribe are induced to condemn in judgment him who has a righteous cause, in violation of Deuteronomy 16:19.

The poor for a pair of shoes - literally, sandals of wood, secured on the foot by leather straps, less valuable than shoes; often, however, made beautiful and costly for the adornment of Hebrew women. Thus low did they value man, made in the image of God, that they thought needless ornament of more consequence. Compare the same phrase, for the most paltry bribe, Amos 8:6; Ezekiel 13:19; Joel 3:3. They were not driven by poverty to such a sin; beginning with suffering themselves to be tempted by a large bribe, they at last are so reckless of all shame as to prostitute justice for the merest trifle. Pusey takes it of the merciless selling of the debtor by the creditor. The law allowed the Hebrew poor to sell himself (so Leviticus 25:39; Deuteronomy 15:12, ought to be translated). But he was not to be treated as a slave, but as a hired servant or sojourner (Leviticus 25:39-40); and at the year of jubilee he was to be entirely free. The practice of selling an insolvent debtor grew up, though against the law. Still more illegal was the usage of selling the wife and children. (Compare Nehemiah 5:5; Matthew 18:25; 2 Kings 4:1). Amos convicts them of injustice, incestuous unchastity, and oppression first, as these were so notorious that they could not deny them, before he proceeds to reprove their contempt of God, which they would have denied, on the ground that they worshipped God in the form of calves.

Verse 7

That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name:

That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor - i:e., they eagerly thirst for (so "pant" means to 'hasten,' margin, Ecclesiastes 1:5) this object, namely, by their oppression to prostrate the poor, so as to cast the dust of the earth on their heads in mourning; or, they eagerly try to tread down on the earth, and sprinkle with the dust of their feet, the head of the poor (Mercer): or these creditors grudge to the poor debtor even the dust which, as a mourner, he strewed on his head, since it too was earth (Pusey). I prefer the first view as simplest (cf. 2 Samuel 1:2; Job 2:12; Ezekiel 27:30).

And turn aside the way of the meek - pervert their cause (Amos 5:12, "They turn aside the poor in the gate from their right;" Job 24:4, "They turn the needy out of the way;" Isaiah 10:2; Grotius.

A man and his father will go in unto the same maid - crime "not so much as named among the Gentiles" (1 Corinthians 5:1). When God's people sin in the face of light, they often fall lower than even those who know not God.

Go in unto the same maid. From Amos 2:8 it seems likely the damsel meant is one of the prostitutes attached to the idol Astarte's temple, prostitution being part of her filthy worship.

To profane my holy name - Israel in such abominations, as it were designedly, seeks to insult God.

Verse 8

And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god.

And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge - the outer garment, which Exodus 22:25-27 ordered to be restored to the poor man before sunset, as being his only covering. [ Bªgaadiym (H899), chiefly used of the outside cloak wrapped over the long loose shirt, kªtonet (H3801)]. The Hebrew is from a root [ baagad (H898)] to be faithless: clothing having been first used when man became false to his God. It aggravated the crime, that they lay on these clothes in an idol temple. They blended many sins in one, as if they sought novelty and especial enormity in sin.

By every altar - they partook in a recumbent posture of the idolatrous feasts; the ancients being in the habit of reclining at full length in eating, the upper part of the body resting on the left elbow, not sitting as we do.

And they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god - i:e., wine bought with the money of those whom they unjustly fined. So the margin, correctly. Pusey remarks, 'In five (Hebrew) words he condemns their luxury, oppression, perversion of justice, cruelty, profaneness, unreal service of God, and real apostasy. What hard-heartedness to the willfully forgotten poor is compensated by a little church-going!'

Verse 9

Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.

Yet. My former benefits to you heighten your ingratitude.

Destroyed I the Amorite before them. Joshua 8:1-35, preceded Amos in this phrase, "I brought you into the land of the Amorite ... and I destroyed them before you," the most powerful of all the Canaanite nations, and therefore put for them all (Genesis 15:16; Genesis 48:22; Deuteronomy 1:20; Joshua 7:7).

Whose height was like the height of the cedars - (Numbers 13:22; Numbers 13:32-33, "All the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature"). The sons of Anak (meaning long-necked) were among the Amorites at Hebron. Their King Og was of the remnant of the Rephaim (from Rapha, tall). Intermixture with these gave their height of stature to the Amorites, these name means commanding-speaking with authority. Compare the Arabian Emir (Pusey).

Yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath - i:e., I destroyed him utterly (Job 18:16; Ezekiel 17:9, "Shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither?" Malachi 4:1). God, who had made the Amorite majestic as the cedar and strong as the oak, cut him down "root and branch," leaving him as a fallen tree, no fruit above, no root, as the hope of recovery of life, beneath.

Verse 10

Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.

Also I brought you up from ... Egypt - "brought up" is the phrase, as Egypt was low and flat and Canaan hilly. As also, in a moral point of view, the promised land was considered as occupying a dignity and elevation above idolatrous Egypt.

To possess the land of the Amorite. The Amorites strictly occupied both sides of the Jordan, and the mountains afterward possessed by Judah; but they here, as in Amos 2:9, stand for all the Canaanites.

And led you forty years through the wilderness. God kept Israel forty years in the wilderness, which tended to discipline them in His statutes, so as to be the better fitted for entering on the possession of Canaan.

Verse 11

And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD.

And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Additional obligations under which Israel lay to God; the prophets and Nazarites appointed by Him to furnish religious instruction and examples of holy self-restraint.

Of your young men. It was a specimen of Israel's highly favoured state, that, of the class most addicted to pleasures, God chose those who by a solemn vow bound themselves to abstinence from all produce of the vine, and from all ceremonial and moral defilement. The Nazarite also was bound not to shave, nor to cut his hair; and he was to be "holy unto the Lord." His consecrated hair, which was woven into seven locks (the number of consecration), was called by the same name as the mitre of the priest [ neezer (H5145)]. (Judges 15:13; Numbers 6:2, etc.) God left nothing undone to secure the purity of their worship, and their faithfulness to it (Lamentations 4:7, "Her Nazarites were purer than snow; they were whiter than milk; they were more ruddy in body than rubies; their polishing was of sapphire"). The name comes from a Hebrew root [ naazar (H5144)], 'to set apart.' Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist were Nazarites.

Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? Will any of you dare to deny it is so?

Verse 12

But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.

But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink - ye so despised these my favours as to tempt the Nazarite to break his vow.

And commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not - and forbade the prophets prophesying (Isaiah 30:10). So Amaziah forbade Amos (Amos 7:12-14, "Prophesy not again anymore at Beth-el").

Verse 13

Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.

I am pressed under you - so Calvin (cf. Isaiah 1:14). Margin translates actively, 'I will depress your place,' - i:e., I will make it narrow, a metaphor for afflicting a people; the opposite of enlarging - i:e., relieving (Psalms 4:1; Proverbs 4:12). Maurer translates, 'I will press you down' (not as margin, 'your place;' so the Hebrew, Job 40:12, "Tread down the wicked in their place;" or Amos 2:7 in Hebrew text). But Pusey rightly supports the English version, objecting to the other view, that the object of the verb could not be omitted, as if 'press down under you' could stand for 'press you down.' Translated literally [ mee`iyq (H5781)], 'I press' or 'straiten myself under you, as the wain full for itself of sheaves is straitened.' Amos, as a shepherd, appropriately draws his similes from rustic scenes.

Verse 14

Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself:

Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift - even the swift shall not be able to escape. Or, "flight" may be put for "a place of flight" (Psalms 142:4-5; Job 11:20, margin).

And the strong shall not strengthen his force - i:e., shall not be able to use his strength.

Neither shall the mighty be able to deliver himself - literally, his life.

Verse 15

Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself: neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 16

And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD. And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD.

And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked - if any escape, it must be with the loss of accoutrements, and all that would impede rapid flight. They must be content with saving their life alone.

Remarks:

(1) Moab's spite against Edom, her former ally, when the latter acted in concert with her enemies, illustrates the principle that men are often more indignant with a friend who has come to an understanding with their enemy than with the enemy himself (Amos 2:1). The malice which vents itself on the insensible corpse is the impotent rage of one who would, if only he could, pursue everlastingly the soul that is beyond his reach. 'Hatrod which death cannot extinguish is the beginning of the eternal hate of hell!' (Pusey). For once, though probably by constraint, Edom was on the side of the people of God: therefore Moab hated him with an unrelenting hatred. This malice of Moab sealed her doom.

(2) Other nations were to be punished for offences against the laws of nature and of conscience, and natural feeling: Judah was to be punished for offences against the revealed will and law of God. God is no respecter of persons: nor will the mere possession of religious privileges save any man; but, on the contrary, will only increase the condemnation of those who sin in the face of them. Professors of religion, who join with transgressors in sin, shall be joined by God with them in their punishment. Judah, by "not keeping," virtually "despised" God's law: and then, by choosing willfully his own "lies" (Amos 2:4), he was, in judicial retribution, given up to be deluded by them. A liar, conscious of his lie at the first, comes to believe it himself at the last. He who deals dishonestly with conscience, and tries to explain away the holy strictness of God's law, in order to justify his own wrong practice, is sooner or later "caused to err" by his own "lies," and loses the power to discriminate between truth and error.

(3) Judah's error then became hereditary. The children stereotyped the false maxims of their fathers, and filled up the measure of their guilt. We must not follow the precepts or practice even of the so-called 'fathers' of the Church, whereinsoever they cannot be proved to accord with the Word of God. Evil acquires authority by time and long usage. Therefore we must make Scripture the test, and not walk after the ways of the 'fathers,' except their ways be also the ways of God. Our prayer should be that of David, whenever we are tempted by the deceits, of gain, pleasure, pride, self-love, or vanity, "Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me thy law graciously" (Psalms 119:29).

(4) The fire that consumed Judah (Amos 2:5) should ever remind us of the "fiery stream" (Daniel 7:10) which shall come forth before the coming Judge of all men, to consume all that is dross, however specious it may look now. Two centuries elapsed after Amos' prophecy before the first "fire devoured the palaces of Jerusalem; and men therefore thought it would never come: yet it did come in the exact time appointed by God. Let us beware lest the seeming delay in Christ's second coming should be abused to generate in us a virtual unbelief as to His coming at all. He will come just at the time when men least expect His coming. Let us, therefore, watch and always be ready.

(5) Amos finally convicts of sin Israel, to whom especially he was sent. They perverted justice; oppressed the needy, the meek, and the lowly; practiced incestuous abominations; and combined shameless luxury with barefaced idolatry (Amos 2:6-8). Covetousness is generally the sin, not of the destitute, but of the affluent. It grows with that which it feeds on-gain. The more it has, the more it "pants after" (Amos 2:7). And it is reckless of the misery it inflicts on the poor. For the most paltry gain it will trample upon the lowly (Amos 2:6). The culmination of the nation's sin in this respect was when, for thirty pieces of 'silver, the sold the righteous, meek, and lowly' Saviour.

(6) When the people of God fall, they often fall even lower than the people of the world: and so the holy name of (6) When the people of God fall, they often fall even lower than the people of the world: and so the holy name of God, and His religion, are profaned in the person of those who are presumed to be His and its representatives. The religion of Christ has no such enemies as inconsistent Christians.

(7) What a contrast to Israel's conduct toward God and man is presented by God's course toward herself! When she was a bond-servant in Egypt, God delivered her from bondage; and again, when she was a homeless wanderer for forty years in the wilderness, God led her through it, to possess the land of the Amorites. The more stately was "the height" of the Amorites, the more evident was it that Israel "got not the land in possession by their own sword" (Psalms 44:3), but that it was "God's right hand, and God's arm, and the light of God's countenance, because He had a favour unto them." Then also God's spiritual favours to Israel were still greater than the temporal ones. He had raised up for them a long succession of prophets, from Samuel the Ephrathite to Elijah and Elisha, and now, more recently, Hosea, Jonah, and Amos. Then, as God had given them prophets to instruct them in heaven-taught wisdom, so He had also raised up of their young men Nazarites, as living representatives of the principle of separation from the ungodly world, which was designed to be the distinguishing characteristic of the people of God. Their outward aspect and whole life was a standing rebuke to a life of sensuality; and this in the season of youth, when the animal appetites are strongest.

(8) Israel herself must confess that God's grace was even so great. Yet Israel perverted God's good gifts into an occasion for greater sin. Her people seduced or forced the Nazarites to break their vow by drinking wine; and they commanded their prophets, "Prophesy not" (Amos 2:12). How awful is the responsibility of those who corrupt the young, when the latter are turning their faces heavenward! Thousands of the young, who once promised well, have made shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience through strong drink. And how dreadful is the doom awaiting those who are so hardened against the truth that they try to stifle the voice of God's ministers, when these hold out to the lost the offer of grace! Even the long-suffering of God is at last wearied out with the obstinacy of sinners (Amos 2:13). Then neither swiftness of foot, nor strength of hands, nor courage of spirit, can save the object of His wrath. Where can they flee that have God, who is the only true place of refuge, as their Pursuer? (Amos 2:14.) Let us humble ourselves now before Him, that He may deliver us from falling into the ingratitude and unfaithfulness, and so incurring the doom, of the apostates of Israel!

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Amos 2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/amos-2.html. 1871-8.