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AMOS CHAPTER 2
God’s judgments upon Moab, Amos 2:1-3 upon Judah, Amos 2:4,Amos 2:5, and upon Israel, Amos 2:6-8. God complaineth of Israel’s ingratitude for past kindnesses, and threateneth them for it, Amos 2:9-16.
For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof: in this form the prophet began, Amos 1:3, which see. Here he doth threaten a nation of some kin to Israel, &c., as was Ammon, and almost as much an enemy: they appeared early enemies to Israel, and took most wicked ways to ruin Israel; first hired Balaam to curse them, Numbers 22:0; Numbers 23:0; when this did not succeed, he next acts a vile part, and by lewd harlots draws Israel to sin, Numbers 25:1,Numbers 25:2, &c., that so he might do against sinful Israel what could not be done against innocent Israel. Moab also was the second oppressor of Israel, who for their sins were delivered into the hands of Eglon king of Moab, who oppressed them eighteen years, Judges 3:14; for which, and other hostile carriages, they are here threatened; yet their inhuman cruelty to Edom’s king is only expressed, the other hostilities to Israel are implied.
He; the king of Moab; who particularly this was is not here nor elsewhere mentioned, though some say it was Mesha, and refer this to 2 Kings 3:4; yet it is not very likely that this was the king who acted such cruelty.
Burned the bones; it had been barbarous to have burned the flesh and nerves of an enemy, but to make the fire so hot, and continue it so long, as to burn bones into ashes, is much more barbarous.
Of the king of Edom: this somewhat aggravates the cruelty, he was no common man, but a king, who was so used: his name, and the time when it was done, whether it were some king alive or dead, and his bones digged up, is not mentioned, but every way it was barbarous, though it were done to bones digged out of the grave, as some conjecture.
Into lime, or ashes, calcined the bones, reduced them by fire into fine dust, and (as others conjecture) used these ashes instead of lime to plaster the walls and roofs of his palace; and this was done in hatred and contempt of the king of Edom.
I will send a fire: see Amos 1:4.
Moab; some think, but I know not on what ground, that there was a city of this name, and meant here, but on better reason we conclude it to be the whole country, or by a metonymy the people, who were the posterity of Lot by his elder daughter.
It shall devour the palaces: see Amos 1:4.
Kerioth; a strong and principal city of this country; or the cities, so the word will bear, and then the threat is against all their cities.
Moab, the Moabites, all sorts and ranks of them, shall die, be destroyed, and perish utterly, with tumult; such as soldiers in fight or assaults make, when they carry all by force, bearing down all opposition, and slaying all opposers, with that rigour which in such cases is very usual.
With shouting; as conquerors shout, to the end they may dishearten the enemy, and animate their fellow soldiers.
With the sound of the trumpet: this added partly to explain, and partly to confirm, what the prophet had foretold.
I will cut off, by the sword of the enemy, the judge; the governor, i. e. every one of them; the singular being put for the plural, to intimate the destruction of all of them.
From the midst thereof; either of Kirioth the metropolis, or of every city in which were judges appointed to govern and minister justice to the people; and these should be cut off in these cities, and in the midst of their government.
The princes; either by birth, or by office, or by excellent endowments, the chief among the Moabitish people.
With him; with the supreme governor, before threatened.
Saith the Lord; noting to us the certainty of the thing, the irrevocable sentence passed upon Moab, its king, princes, and judges, who being cut off, the people must needs perish, and come to nothing.
God hath in the former verses threatened the enemies of his people for their outrages against his people; now he does threaten his people for their obstinacy in reiterated sins: see Amos 4:3.
Despised; first slighted it, as if no excellency were in it, and next rejected it, as if it were not worthy of their observance; thus they refused with an abhorrence and detestation
the law of the Lord, the whole law, partly by their immoralities and transgressions against the just commands of it, and partly by their false worship and idolatry: that law which was given with so much majesty and terror. on Mount Sinai; from which they should not have departed either to the right hand or to the left; that law which was perfect, holy, and useful, with which no fault could be justly found. So much the greater were their sins, because committed against so clear, full, and pure a law. Have not kept his commandments, i.e. they have greatly violated, as the Hebrew phrase importeth, Nehemiah 9:34; Daniel 9:5,Daniel 9:10,Daniel 9:11.
Their lies; idols, which are a lie, whether commended to them by their false prophets, or chosen according to their own humour and fancy; all their false, superstitious, and idolatrous worship. Caused them to err; their idolatry was first their error, and this blinded them, made them more sottish and brutish, which was partly from the natural tendency of this sin, and partly from the just judgment of God, Romans 1:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.
After the which, idols or lies,
their fathers, first in Ur of the Chaldees, before Abraham was called, afterwards in Egypt, the wilderness, and in the land of Canaan itself, have walked, successively, one generation after another; idolatry, and superstition, and will-worship have been old hereditary sins, and now shall be punished.
I will send a fire: see Amos 1:4.
Judah; the kingdom of the two tribes; Benjamin is to be included with Judah, as elsewhere hath been already often observed. It shall devour the palaces: see Amos 1:4.
Jerusalem; the chief city of Judah’s kingdom, the city of God, where was the temple of God, and where were the seats of judicature; the holy city, but now to be destroyed for its sins, as well as other incorrigible nations. Now this was fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar, about two hundred years after this prophecy of Amos.
For three transgressions: see Amos 1:3.
Israel; the kingdom of the ten tribes, under the government of Jeroboam the Second at this time, against which the prophet was chiefly sent, though he began with Syria and others, by the threats against which nations he prepared both Judah and Israel to hearken and consider.
I will not turn away the punishment: see Amos 1:3.
They; those who by the appointment of the law had power to hear and decide causes between man and man; judges and witnesses, like the corrupt judges,
sold, for bribes were their aim, and they would at any time sell justice to the highest bidder.
The righteous; the innocent, or those who had a just and righteous cause, for the prophet here speaks of the justness of the cause, not of the exact justice or absolute righteousness of the person.
For silver: money was the most current and prevailing commodity with these judges, but money’s worth would do the feat too, if money were out of the way.
The poor: when poor men went to law with poor men before these judges, and the thing they contended for was of small value, the contenders too had light purses, and could not give a considerable bribe;
a pair of shoes, a very poor bribe, expressed here proverbially, would sway with these judges, who gaped still after somewhat of gain from all.
That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor; or swallow up, as the word is most frequently turned by our interpreters; and so perhaps more plainly is their cruelty and violence set forth, in that they make a prey of the poor, who walk with dust on their heads by reason of distresses that are upon them, and, without any compassion towards them, greedily, and as at once, swallow up and devour the poor, whom, by the law of God, and the office they bear as judges, they should deliver out of the hand of the oppressor.
Turn aside the way of the meek; perversely and maliciously misinterpret the actions, words, and designs of the humble and meek, of the compassionate and merciful, who pity the poor in these straits and dangers. These corrupt judges and violent oppressors are also shameless adulterers and fornicators, they commit that lewdness which the better-tutored heathens abhor and forbear; a kind of incestuous pollution; the father and son keep the same harlot, and go in unto her. Thus they profanely dishonour me, by casting off my law, and doing that which is so shamefully indecent and unlawful; and giving heathens occasion to blaspheme my name, and either think, or say, Like people, like God.
The Jews of old did not, as we, sit upright at their feasts, and meals, but in a posture of greater ease did lean, or lie on one side; so here
they lay themselves down, i.e. put themselves in a feasting posture,
upon clothes laid to pledge, of which the law had expressly said none should detain files all night, Deuteronomy 14:12,Deuteronomy 14:13.
By every altar: impudent sinners, who dare thus before the altar, where they suppose that God is present, bring their crying, inexcusable oppressions; and feast in sacred places, on sacred viands, with bloody minds and oppressive practices; and seek mercy from God when they show, no mercy to the poor!
They drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god; to complete their wickedness, they offer their drink offerings in wine which they bought with the fines and pecuniary mulcts laid on the innocent and guiltless, and thus rejoice in their violence, whilst God hates robbery for a burnt-offering.
Yet destroyed I, whom they have ungratefully forgotten and forsaken, and set up idol’s in competition with me; nay, cast off my law and worship, and embraced idolatry, worshipped idols that never could do them good, nor destroy their enemies; this they did after I had destroyed their enemies.
The Amorite; the mightiest nation of all the Canaanites, and therefore expressly mentioned as an instance of God’s great mercy, and Israel’s great ingratitude: by this nation mentioned all the rest of the Canaanitish nations are to be understood. These Amorites dwelt beyond Jordan, between that and Moab, and their land fell by lot unto Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. Before them, the children of Israel under the conduct of Moses, Deuteronomy 2:24, &c.; Deuteronomy 3:1-14, at the very sight of whom these mighty men fled, for God had struck them with terror that they might not stand before Israel.
Whose height was like the height of the cedars: the Amorites were men of largest size, they were of the race of the giants, Numbers 13:32,Numbers 13:33. This is a proverbial speech, and sets out the Amorites, exceeding ordinary men in stature as much as the cedar exceeds ordinary trees in height.
Strong as the oaks; another proverbial speech, denoting their great strength above the strength of other men.
I destroyed; utterly rooted them out.
His fruit from above: trees propagated by fruit are diminished by destroying the fruit which is the seed of them; so God cut off the children of the Amorites, and thereby prevented all succession.
His roots from beneath: this refers to the destroying the old standards, that present generation: this last clause refers to the command God gave, Deuteronomy 7:2.
You did not rescue yourselves out of the hands of your enemies, I did in mere mercy with a mighty arm save and rescue you, and brought you up from the land of Egypt, where you were oppressed servants, and exposed to ruin.
Led you, as a shepherd leads his flock: nay, miraculously conducting by the pillar of a cloud and fire, and feeding with manna from heaven.
Forty years, reckoning from their coming out of Egypt.
Through the wilderness: they passed through many wildernesses, named in Scripture according as they were then called, but all these lay so contiguous to each other, that they all made up one great wilderness, as the many names given to parts of the sea make us know what particular part is spoken of, but all make one sea.
To possess, as an heir possesseth that he hath a hereditary right to, the land of the Amorite, including all the rest of the accursed and dispossessed nations.
I raised up; gave prophetic endowments, stirred up their minds, commissioned them to prophesy, and carried them through by an undaunted courage given to them, that they, should not fear to set upon, or faint in attending to, their office.
Of your sons for prophets; did not employ strangers, whose affections you might with some colour of reason suspect, but your own sons, whose affections to you and to their own country are unquestionable, were sent prophets to tell you of your sins, to foretell your dangers, and to importune you to repent of your sins, and to prevent your dangers.
Your young men; though that age be generally inclined to please their own fancies, to walk after the sight of their eyes, Ecclesiastes 11:9, yet did God change the mind of some of them in their youth, and inclined them to eminency in religion, to be examples to others.
Nazarites; which were religious persons under vow bound to a very sober, abstemious, and holy life; either for some certain limited time, or for their whole life: see Numbers 6:1,Numbers 6:2, &c. These were not to drink any strong or intoxicating liquors.
Is it not even thus? God appeals to them in this matter whether he had not done this for them, given prophets to teach them, and Nazarites to be examples to them, in both which God showed his love and care of them.
Ye children of Israel; apostatized Israel, you of the ten tribes.
Saith the Lord: this is added to excite them to serious pondering what is said to them.
But ye, for whose benefit both Nazarites and prophets were raised, you who should have heard their word, and imitated their example,
gave the Nazarites wine; importuned, urged, or it may be (as is the custom of excessive drinkers) forced them to drink wine, to violate their vow, and contemn God’s law too, Numbers 6:3,Numbers 6:4.
Commanded: by this passage it appears that they were men in authority who did this; it is not probable that mean persons who had no authority would enjoin silence on the prophets, Isaiah 30:10; Amos 7:13; Micah 2:6. It is evident Amaziah was chief priest in Beth-el, and by virtue of his jurisdiction there silenceth the prophet.
The prophets; the true, faithful, and plain-dealing prophets, who rebuked their sins, required them to repent, and threatened judgments if they did not repent.
Saying, Prophesy not: see Isaiah 30:10; Amos 7:13; Micah 2:6,Micah 2:11;
Hitherto the Lord by the prophet had declared the sins of the kingdom of the ten tribes, now he is about to pronounce judgment against them; he calls for their attention, and diligent weighing what he is about to speak.
I, the Lord, who have so multiplied mercies to this people,
am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves: some read this passage actively, and make this the sense, I will lead you with these judgments as a cart is loaded, and you shall cry and groan under these judgments, as a cart heavy loaded makes a noise in its motion under such pressures. Perhaps sheaves, the loading of a harvest season, are mentioned, to intimate the ripeness of their sins, and God’s reaping them or cutting them down by his judgments, and carrying them together to be thrashed by further judgments.
Therefore; because they first loaded God with their sins, and now he loads them with punishments, no way of escape shall be left.
The flight shall perish from the swift; not by swiftness of foot fleeing from the judgments, for their enemies shall be swifter than they, Isaiah 30:16.
The strong shall not strengthen his force; natural strength of body shall not deliver; such, though they might do more than weaker men, yet shall not save themselves, for they shall not know how to use their strength they shall want courage to do it.
The mighty, the valiant, and man of greatest courage, shall not be able to deliver himself, his courage shall fail.
Neither shall he stand; though at distance from the enemies, yet shall not dare to keep his place.
That handleth the bow; much used in the wars of those times, and used by strong and valiant men, but now both strength and valour should fail Israel’s bow-men.
He that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself: this is the same, and explains that in the 14th verse.
Neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself: here the prophet foretells that the swiftness of the horse, which some will make use of, shall as little avail, nor his strength joined with his speed shall deliver the rider; neither the strength of the horse shall carry him through, nor his swiftness carry him away from the hand of the pursuer.
This verse is not a bare repetition of what he had said before, to confirm it, but he doth foretell an inevitable ruin to those who were the most likely to escape, and a most shameful manner of flight.
Courageous among the mighty; a description of the most famous warriors amongst Israel, such as were known for valour among the mighty and valiant ones, like David’s worthies, such as had the heart of a lion.
Shall flee away naked; either without his clothes and furniture, or without his weapons and arms, which were cast away to expedite his flight.
In that day; when God will by the Assyrians, under the conduct of Tiglath-pileser first, and finally under the conduct of Shalmaneser, straiten these sinners. and besiege them in their cities.
Saith the Lord; all confirmed under the seal of Heaven.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Amos 2". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20