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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Amos 3

Verses 1-15

Amos 3:1 . Against the whole family of the twelve tribes, which I brought up from Egypt. It was a laborious work to make them hear. The prophets did not confine their labours to local districts.

Amos 3:2 . You only have I known of all the families of the earth. When they had become idolaters, the Lord, ever rich in mercy, called Abraham out of Chaldea. Ingratitude is therefore the greatest reproach to any people. On this sin the fine allegory of Ezekiel is built; on this, the keen reproach of queen Dido is turned on Æneas. See Ezekiel 16:0.

Amos 3:4 . Will a lion roar in the forest when he hath no prey? The combined armies of Egypt and Philistia, invading the land, shall be as the lions of the forest in full pursuit of prey. They will “shed the blood of the people like water.”

Amos 3:7 . He revealeth his secret to the prophets. See on Psalms 25:14. All the oriental nations had their pretended seers or prophets, who were regarded as a kind of court chaplains.

Amos 3:9 . Publish in the palaces of Ashdod, and in the palaces of Egypt, my high commands to go against backsliding Israel. God, in like manner, commissioned the Assyrian, the rod of his anger, to go against a hypocritical nation. Isaiah 10:5. Wars and sieges are the Lord’s doings: in him alone is our help.

Amos 3:12 . Out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear. This simile shows how small was the remnant of the ten tribes which Salmanezer carried away from Samaria. 2 Kings 17:6. Nine tenths of them had perished, as in Amos 5:3.

The corner of a bed. Lying on the side of their bed, and in their damask couches. So the Vulgate may be read. All oriental nations indolently recline on couches; and the corner of a bed or couch is reckoned the most honourable seat. Harmer, vol. 2:60. See the Synopsis on the word Damascus in the text.

Amos 3:15 . I will smite the winter house with the summer house. Kings and princes in general have their town and country houses; and mention is made of the winter palace of the kings of Judea. Jeremiah 36:22. The opulent citizens in all places build mansions on the rising ground; the people of London, by visits to the coasts, provided they are temperate, revive their health and strength by such excursions. But the sins of Israel turned all the enlivened cosmography of the country into mournful desolations.

REFLECTIONS.

The prophet here infers the fury of the divine vengeance, from the impetuosity of the spirit. It was as the vehemence of a father lamenting the profligacy of his children; it was as the fury of a lion roaring on his prey; it was as the blowing of a trumpet in the time of danger. Nor could it be otherwise: for how could God and Israel walk together when they were totally disagreed.

The danger threatened was the coming of Pharaoh-necho on the mountains of Samaria with a great army; for the Lord did nothing of this nature without revealing it to his servants the prophets. He revealed his secrets to them, and invited them to trace the wisdom and equity of his ways for the instruction of the church, that all men might learn out of the scriptures the ways of righteousness and truth. Yet when we suffer evil from men by war, or by fire, we should take it as more from the hand of God than from the enemy.

The Lord in early visitations mixes mercy with judgment. He would not now utterly exterminate Israel. But as a shepherd delivers a part of the prey out of the mouth of the lion, so he caused the Egyptians to be smitten near the Euphrates, and Samaria received a reprieve. Happy is the sinner who profits by the gentler strokes of justice.

But the heaviest strokes fell on the priests, the princes, and the nobles of Israel; and this was heavier still, because they sat at ease on couches of effeminate pleasure. They had winter houses in the city, and country residences for the summer. They took the lead in every corruption and crime; and now God was resolved that they should take the lead in the reception of punishment. While the generous invader pitied to touch the cottage, he took peculiar pride to plunder, to burn and demolish the lordly mansion; and to make the haughty the most unhappy in the land. The humble shrub is bended by the hurricane, while the stately oak is stripped of its verdure, and dismembered of its branches. Thus it is safest for all men to place a humble reliance on providence, and repose their confidence in the divine protection.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Amos 3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/amos-3.html. 1835.