AMOS CHAPTER 6
The voluptuousness of Israel, Amos 6:1-6, shall be punished with desolation, Amos 6:7-11. Their perversion of justice and vain confidence shall end in affliction, Amos 6:12-14.
Woe! this compriseth many and great sorrows, all that God intends against these sinners.
To them that are at ease; who live in abundance, eat, drink, sleep, and are secure, that think to-morrow shall be as this day, and neither fear nor believe the threatened judgments of God. Zion, by a synecdoche put for the kingdom of the two tribes, and principally the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Zion; the ten tribes were hitherto threatened, now the prophet warns the two tribes.
And trust in the mountain of Samaria; woe to them also who rely upon the strength, wealth, and policy of the king, princes, cities, and kingdom of Samaria or Israel!
Which, which two cities, Zion and Samaria, are named chief of the nations; accounted chief cities among the known cities of that part of the world. Others refer this passage to the nobles, wise men, and great men of each place, men that were heads among their own people.
To whom the house of Israel came; to which places all Israel had recourse; so the two tribes went up to Zion, the ten tribes went to Samaria: or, to whom, i.e. to which nobles and rulers, the people of each kingdom did go on all occasions for judgment, counsel, or refuge.
Pass ye unto Calneh; run over the history of that great and ancient city; as, Go to Shiloh, Jeremiah 7:12. It was built by Nimrod, Genesis 10:10, and after a long growth to power, wealth, and security, through near one thousand three hundred years, was at last ruined, as is probable, in the civil wars which ended in the utter ruin of Sardanapalus by Arbaces, and Pul-belochus, grandfather to Shalmaneser who captivated Israel; the story of which, fresh in the days of Amos, is thus referred unto for warning to Israel. And see; consider well what befell that city built on Euphrates, rich, delightful, and, as you, full of sin.
Hamath; head of the Syrian kingdom, lately overthrown by Tiglath-pileser; a very fresh instance of God’s just indignation against secure sinners, and a very fit warning to Israel.
Gath; the chief city of the Philistines, a few years before wasted by the arms and cruelty of Hazael, 2 Kings 12:17; by these examples learn to amend your ways, or expect to perish in them.
Be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border? The reading this passage interrogatively renders it darker than if it were read assertively, Yet they were better, i.e. greater, than these kingdoms of Israel and Judah; and their borders, i.e. the bounds of those kingdoms, greater than these of Israel and Judah. But if you retain our version, it will amount to this; Are they, i.e. Israel and Judah, better, more just, thankful, and merciful than these kingdoms, that they should hope to escape? or is the border of these two kingdoms greater, that they should hope to stand by power?
Woe to you that flatter yourselves that the day of darkness and misery foretold is far off! See Poole "Ezekiel 12:27". These were great ones too, that the prophet here threateneth, who thus postponed the day of Israel’s and Judah’s calamities.
The evil day; not as if it should be a short calamity, as a day; but it speaks the determinate, fixed time, and the haste wherewith the execution shall be made.
The seat; the throne, or judgment-seat, which should relieve the oppressed, condemn the wicked, and acquit the innocent, this is made a seat of violence, where unjust judges condemn the just and take bribes.
To come near; thus you draw the judgments of God on yourselves, by acting violence against the poor, and contemning the threats of the prophets.
The woe is to be added to them that, either out of laziness or luxury, and to please the flesh, lay themselves to rest
upon beds of ivory; on beautiful, rich beds, bought with the gain of bribes and oppression.
Stretch themselves upon their couches: this somewhat explains the former; they did extremely indulge their pride and luxury, and on beds or couches laid themselves to feast, when God called them to mourn and weep.
Eat, with excess, as Matthew 24:37,38 Lu 12:19,20.
The lambs out of the flock; the very best in all their flock, and probably they chose them out first, before they set out lambs for sacrifices; or else these gluttonous judges and rulers eat the best lambs, not of their own, but out of poor oppressed men’s flocks.
The calves, those that were fattest too,
out of the midst of the stall; kept on purpose to make them most delicious and nourishing meat.
Woe to them that, in a time of deepest morning, do entertain themselves with songs, and with greatest skill sing to their musical instruments, as if they had no greater thing to mind!
Viol; or lute, or gittern, one kind put for every one used in their feastings at this time of Amos.
Invent to themselves instruments of music; not content with known, old-fashioned music, they find out new instruments, new songs and tunes.
Like David; in imitation of David, as they profanely pretend, or else emulating his skill, and preferring their own feast songs and music before his temple music and songs. We may imagine what songs such ungodly, cruel, voluptuous men would sing, and what tunes they would set too, on such occasions, viz. loose, profane, and impure enough.
The prophet continues the woe still to these riotous feasters; the jovial, banqueting, dancing, and singing judges.
That drink wine in bowls; not in little vessels, not in moderate glasses or cups, as beseemed sober men, but in great vessels, called bowls; and it is likely they drank these filled as full as they could hold too, and in design to drink each other down.
Anoint themselves with the chief ointments: in those hot countries this anointing was needful to refresh and strengthen the limbs, and it was much used. But here the effeminate use of it, at such a time, and by such men, at feasts, is condemned as a great excess and provoking sin, which God will punish.
But they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph; nothing affected with or troubled for the public calamities of their country, though they were sore ones, brought on them by the Syrians, and by their own divisions and civil wars: both kingdoms of Judah and Israel were in a very low, afflicted state, but these rulers and grandees live, feast, sing, and dance, as if no sad occasion called for other carriage.
Therefore; for this sin of unseasonable feasting added to all former sins; much like that Isaiah 22:14.
Now shall they go captive, who ruled others, and whose character you have Amos 6:1-3, &c., who put far from them the evil day, &c., these shall certainly be carried captive.
With the first that go captive; and as they deserve by their sins, so shall they be carried away the first of any; God’s hand in punishing them shall be as eminent as their hand was in sinning.
The banquet, the feastings of voluptuous ones, shall cease.
That stretched themselves: see Amos 6:4.
Shall be removed; God will send the Assyrians to take away the banquet, and to bring in a bill, a reckoning, for these secure sinners, who shall be removed too, as well as their banquet is; they shall go into captivity, and there in sorrows dearly pay for all their luxury, inhumanity, and security.
The secure, incredulous, and atheistical among the judges of Israel are here spoken to especially, and the prophet assures them that God had sworn by himself that they should be punished, and in the manner he had foretold.
Saith the Lord the God of hosts; God assureth his prophet, that the prophet might attest it to his hearers.
I abhor, I look with detestation, and remember with loathing,
the excellency of Jacob; all that the seed of Jacob account a glory and excellency to them, and in which they do put their trust, all their external privileges and ceremonious worship.
And hate his palaces; in which violence is stored up, in which luxury abounds.
I will deliver up the city; Jerusalem, Samaria, and all the other cities.
With all that is therein, both persons and things; Assyria first shall sweep away all out of Israel and Samaria, and Babylonians next shall carry away Judah, Jerusalem, and all in it.
It shall come to pass; the thing is decreed, and shall take effect.
If there remain, or escape the enemies’ sword, or the famine of Samaria, besieged three years.
Ten men in one house; many men, for it is a certain number expressed, though an uncertain be understood.
They shall die, either of pestilence, or by some other stroke of God’s hand; though they escape a while they shall not finally escape, 2 Kings 17:5.
A man’s uncle, or some near kinsman, shall take him up, instead of those mercenaries who were wont to do this, and were paid for it; but now none of these to be had, the next to the dead must, as well as he is able, take him up on his shoulders, and carry him, i.e. the last of the ten, the other nine being dead.
He that burneth him: though the Jews mostly buried, yet in some cases they burned the dead bodies, as in this of wasting pestilence, when they could not carry them out, either for fear of infecting others, or for want of help.
To bring out the bones out of the house; all that remained: the flesh of the dead being consumed to ashes, the bones are reserved to be buried, and laid up in some sepulchre of their ancestors.
Shall say; he that doth this office for the last of his dead friends shall inquire of one he seeth either dwelling near, and by the sides of the house out of which the bones are carried, or else of some that lay undiscerned in the corner of the house where so many died,
Is there yet any with thee? is any one living in this your house, hath any one escaped?
He shall say, No; the man of whom the uncle, or whoever carried out the bones, inquireth.
Then shall he say, then shall the inquirer say,
Hold thy tongue; either, Murmur not against God, or mourn not, for so sad is the time that the dead are happier than the living; or, Say nothing, lest all be rifled from thee; for such inhumanity was among them, that there were those who would dare to rifle infected houses. Or else, which suits the next words, Be silent under God’s just displeasure.
We may not make mention of the name of the Lord; now it is too late to seek God, who its executing his immutable decree and sentence, which we were advised to prevent, but did not in season.
For, behold; consider this well: it seems to be the continued speech of him who took care of the dead, Amos 6:10.
The Lord commandeth; God, provoked by our sins, hath sent out thy enemies; war, famine, and pestilence all come commissioned of God, and when the arrow is shot it will hit and kill.
He will smite the great house with breaches; the palaces of great men, and their families, shall have great breaches made in them, by which they shall be ruined.
And the little house with clefts; the cottages and lesser dwellings of poor men, with their families, shall by lesser strokes be ruined, their clefts shall be enough to do this. All shall be overthrown, and we must submit to it.
Shall horses run upon the rock? would it not be dangerous to horse and rider? If prophets and pious men exhort, threaten, or advise, they endanger themselves, it does no more good than if you would run your horse on the slippery precipices of rocks. Or, all is lost labour on these hardened sinners.
Will one plough there with oxen? your hearts are hard as the rocks; my prophets’ preaching, my lesser judgments warning you, all gentler means used, are but as a husbandman’s ploughing the rocks. These shall therefore be torn up by the roots, your state and kingdom shall be utterly overthrown.
For ye, you judges and governors in the ten tribes, and in Judah too,
have turned judgment, see Amos 5:7,
into gall, or poison; by those laws they took away life, and forfeited estate, which, had the laws been rightly executed, had saved both.
The fruit of righteousness, all that fruit which equity and justice would have produced by due application of the law, hath been wormwood, grief, and complaints, by your wresting and perverting the law.
Into hemlock, a deadly and pernicious weed so the course of your courts have been.
Ye which rejoice, glorying with a joy and satisfaction, with hope and confidence,
in a thing of nought; in your victories, alliances, fortifications, and idols, all which draw you away from God, and from seeking him as he will be found.
Which say, tell the prophets that reprove you and foretell your downfall, you say to them, notwithstanding all that God threatens,
Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength? you have raised yourselves to dominion and greatness by your wisdom, courage, and success, and by the same you will maintain it and so you put off the day of evil.
But; notwithstanding all your boasts and carnal confidences.
Behold; observe and weigh well what is said. ir will raise up; awaken, call together, strengthen, succeed, and prosper in the attempt against you.
A nation; Pul hath, and Tiglath-pileser hath, or now doth, afflict and break you, but Shalmaneser shall utterly destroy you; if his strength were not enough of itself, mine arm should strengthen him to bring all your hopes to nought.
O house of Israel; kingdom of the ten tribes.
Saith the Lord the God of hosts; who doth what he saith, who commands and it is done, whom none can resist.
They, the Assyrians and their confederates, shall afflict you; distress you and press you hard on all sides, it shall be a great and a universal oppression of you.
From the entering in of Hemath, a city of Syria bordering on the land of Israel north-east, and was an inlet into Syria from the north of Canaan,
unto the river of the wilderness, which is Sichor, in the most south-west parts of Canaan towards Egypt. So all your country, Judah and all, shall be oppressed by that nation which I will raise and strengthen against you.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Amos 6". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany