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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Amos 2

Introduction

A.M. 3217. B.C. 787.

We have here God’s controversy with Moab, Amos 2:1-3 ; with Judah, Amos 2:4 , Amos 2:5 ; and with Israel, Amos 2:6-8 . The aggravations of their sins, Amos 2:9-12 . God complains of them, and threatens their ruin, Amos 2:13-16 .

Verses 1-3

Amos 2:1-3. For three transgressions of Moab Moab and Ammon being nearly related, (see Genesis 19:37,) and bordering upon each other, they are usually joined together in the threatenings of the prophets. Because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime To plaster the walls of his house with it, as the Chaldee paraphrase explains the text, which was most ungenerously and cruelly insulting over the dead. A like story is told by Sir Paul Rycaut ( Present State of the Greek Church, chap. 2.) of the walls of the city Philadelphia, made of the bones of the besieged, by the prince that took it by storm. I will send a fire upon Moab Moab was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 27:3; Jeremiah 27:6. It shall devour the palaces of Kirioth A principal city of this country. And Moab shall die with tumult The Moabites shall be destroyed in the tumult of war. And I will cut off the judge in the midst thereof Probably the chief magistrate or king is intended.

Verses 4-5

Amos 2:4-5. For three transgressions of Judah, &c. Having denounced judgments against the heathen nations, he now proceeds to denounce them against God’s professing people, who were more guilty and inexcusable, as sinning against greater light, and abusing greater advantages than those with which the heathen were favoured. Because they have despised the law of the Lord The law which was holy, just, and good, and which raised them in dignity above every other nation. In despising this law they despised the wisdom, justice, and goodness of the Law-maker; and this they did, in effect, when they observed not the commandments of it, and made no conscience of keeping them, or acquainting themselves therewith. And their lies Vulgate, Idola sua, their idols, or fictitious deities, have caused them to err Their idolatry blinded them, partly from the natural tendency of this sin, and partly from the just judgment of God. After the which Idols; their fathers have walked Successively, one generation after another, notwithstanding all the warnings I have given them by my prophets. But I will send a fire upon Judah, &c. Nebuchadnezzar’s army was this fire, that burned many cities of Judah, and at last Jerusalem itself.

Verses 6-7

Amos 2:6-7. For three transgressions of Israel Amos, having first prophesied against the Syrians, Philistines, &c., who dwelt in the neighbourhood of the twelve tribes, and who had occasionally become their enemies and oppressors; and having thus not only taught his countrymen that the providence of God extended to other nations, but conciliated attention to himself by such interesting predictions; “he briefly mentions the idolatries and consequent destruction of Judah, and then passes on to his proper subject, which was to reprove and exhort the kingdom of Israel, and to denounce judgments against it. The reason why that kingdom was particularly addressed seems to have been, that Pul invaded it in the reign of Uzziah, 2 Kings 15:19; and that in less than half a century after the first Assyrian invasion, it was subverted by Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 17:6.” Newcome. Because they sold the righteous for silver, &c. They perverted the cause of the righteous; and gave forth unjust sentences against them for bribes of the smallest value, even for a pair of shoes or sandals. That pant after the dust of the earth That is, silver and gold, white and yellow dust: they covet it earnestly, and levy it on the heads of the poor by their unjust exactions. The Vulgate, however, gives another sense to this sentence. Qui conterunt super pulverem terræ capita pauperum: who tread down the heads of the poor into the dust of the earth: that is, they throw them into the dust and then trample upon them. And turn aside the way of the meek From right and justice. They contrived to do injuries to those who they knew were mild and patient, and would bear injuries; invading their rights, and obstructing the course of justice. Observe, reader, the more patiently men bear the injuries that are done them, the greater is the sin of those that injure them, and the more occasion they have to expect that God will do his people justice, and take vengeance for them. And a man and his father will go in to the same maid Or, young woman; to profane my holy name To the great reproach of my name and religion: being such an instance of fornication as is scarce heard of among the more civilized heathen, as St. Paul observes, 1 Corinthians 5:1.

Verse 8

Amos 2:8. They lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge The Jews as well as the Romans used to lie along at their meals on couches, as appears by this verse, compared with Amos 6:4: a custom which was continued in after times as is evident by divers passages in the gospels, read in the original, which speak, not of persons sitting, but lying down, or reclining, at meat. As the prophet here speaks of their laying themselves down by every altar, it is manifest he refers to the feasts which were made of part of their idolatrous sacrifices, and were eaten in some of the apartments of their temples, according to the custom both of the Jews and Gentiles. And the prophet reproves them for three abuses. 1st, That they kept the clothes which they had received as pledges from the poor, contrary to the law, which commanded that the clothes received in pledge should be returned by the going down of the sun: see Exodus 22:6. 2d, That they made feasts in the houses, or temples, of their idols, or golden calves, no longer coming to the temple at Jerusalem; and, as if to insult the holiness of God’s laws, and to carry the marks of their iniquity even to the feet of their altars, they sat down in their temples upon the garments which they had received in pledge from the poor. 3d, That they caroused at the expense of those on whom they had unjustly laid fines, or, as it is expressed in the text, They drank the wine of the condemned in the house of their god As drink-offerings, made with wine, were a necessary part of the sacrifices, so some portion of these was likewise reserved for the entertainments that followed. And this the prophet here signifies was bought with the fines or mulcts laid on the innocent.

Verse 9

Amos 2:9. Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them Namely, when they came out of Egypt. The Amorites include the rest of the Canaanites, and are here mentioned rather than the others, as being the mightiest nation of them all. Here the benefits which God had bestowed upon the Israelites are mentioned that it might appear how great their ingratitude was toward him. Whose height was like that of the cedars Who were men of a vast stature, and remarkable strength. The image is a grand and natural one. Virgil makes the same comparison, speaking of the Titans, Æneid, lib. 3. ver. 677.

“Concilium horrendum, quales cum vertice celso, Aeriæ quercus, aut coniferæ Cyparissi Constiterunt, sylva alta Jovis, lucusve Dianæ.”

“A dreadful council, with their heads on high, Not yielding to the tow’ring tree of Jove, Or tallest cypress of Diana’s grove.” DRYDEN.

Yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath The prophet diversifies and continues the image with great beauty. See similar ones, Homer’s Il., 13: 389, and Hor. Od., 50. Amos 4:6. So Virgil compares the destruction of Troy to the cutting down a mountain ash; and the fall of Entellus to that of a pine. Æn., 2: 626; 5:447.

Verses 11-12

Amos 2:11-12. I raised up your sons for prophets Such were Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and many others; and of your young men for Nazarites Who, by devoting themselves to my service in a peculiar manner, and by observing peculiar rites, were an honour to you. But ye gave the Nazarites wine Ye tempted the Nazarites to violate their vow and contemn God’s law, persuading them to drink wine; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not You bid the prophets hold their peace, and not speak against your actions, nor denounce any punishments against you for them. An example of this we have in Amos himself, chap. 7.

Verses 13-16

Amos 2:13-16. Behold I am pressed under you Your sins have quite tired out my patience, and I am weary with bearing them: compare Isaiah 43:24; Malachi 2:17. In this sense the clause is understood by the LXX. and Vulgate. The marginal reading, however, is preferred by many commentators. Archbishop Newcome renders the verse, Behold, I will press your place as a loaded corn-wain presseth its sheaves; and Secker observes, The next verse being joined to this by the connective particle ( and) makes it more natural that this should begin to express their punishment. Therefore flight shall perish from the swift Even flight shall not secure the swift, for their enemies shall be swifter than they. The strong shall not strengthen his force Their natural strength of body shall not deliver them. And he that is courageous shall flee away naked Having cast away his armour, or upper garments, for greater expedition.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Amos 2". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/amos-2.html. 1857.