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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Amos 3

Introduction

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

Here,

(1,) Judgments are denounced against Israel, 1-8.

(2,) They are shown, that unless they repented and reformed their conduct, those judgments would certainly fall upon them, 9-15.

Verses 1-2

Amos 3:1-2. Hear this word against the whole family, &c. All that family of which Jacob, or Israel, was the head. The word family is equivalent to people here and in the following verse. You only have I known Acknowledged, by revealing myself to you, protecting you, and conferring on you peculiar privileges. Therefore will I punish you Your sins, therefore, shall be punished, and that in an exemplary manner; because you have sinned against greater light and higher obligations than other nations are or have been favoured with; and you have manifested an ungrateful, as well as a disobedient spirit. For the same reason the angel is commanded to begin his execution at the sanctuary, Ezekiel 9:6; and St. Peter observes, that judgment must begin at the house of God, 1 Peter 4:17: see also the margin.

Verse 3

Amos 3:3. Can two walk together Comfortably as friends; except they be agreed Except they be in peace with each other? So neither can I conduct myself toward you as a friend or benefactor, nor can you have my presence with you, while you walk so contrary to me, and act in such perfect opposition to my nature and laws.

Verses 4-6

Amos 3:4-6. Will a lion roar, &c., when he hath no prey? “Naturalists assert that when the lion sees his prey, he roars before he rushes on it; and that at this roaring many animals show great fear. He likewise roars over his prey. The sense seems to be, As the lion roareth on account of his prey, so by my prophets I cry aloud against you, because ye are the objects of my vengeance.” Newcome. Can a bird fall in a snare where no gin is for him As a bird does not fall into a snare, unless one has been laid for him, so the people of Israel and Judah would not fall into the calamities coming upon them, had not God, for their ingratitude and other sins, brought these punishments upon them. Figuratively speaking, the Assyrians and Chaldeans were gins or snares which God had laid to take the Israelites. Shall one take up a snare and have taken nothing As it is not usual for the fowler or hunter to take up the snares he has laid, till he has taken something in them; so neither will the enemies which God will bring upon Israel and Judah depart from them without executing the purpose for which they were brought, namely, making a conquest of the country, and spoiling its inhabitants. Or, God will not remove his judgments when they have begun to take place, till they have attained their proper end, the people’s repentance and reformation. Shall a trumpet be blown and the people not be afraid? Will not the people of the city, when they first hear the alarm-trumpet blown, be affected with the danger, and run to their arms? and will not ye be moved by the warnings God gives you of approaching judgments? and will ye not be stirred up to repent and amend your ways? Shall there be evil Such as famine, plague, and war; in a city Or country; and the Lord hath not done it? Either immediately by his own hand, or by the hands of those whom he employs. Whoever are the instruments of chastising a people, God is the principal agent. The meaning here is, You may be assured that the calamities you feel, or have just cause to fear, are not the effect of chance, but come upon you by the special direction of Providence.

Verses 7-8

Amos 3:7-8. The Lord will do nothing, but he revealeth, &c. As if he had said, You cannot complain of your not being forewarned of these calamities coming upon you, for God hath not done, nor will do any thing, without revealing it to his prophets, and by them to you; so that you have now warning of all that he intends to do, unless you prevent it by an alteration in your behaviour. It may be observed further on this verse, that there was no great revolution in the affairs, either of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, or in those of the neighbouring nations, which the prophets of God did not foretel; in order that the Jews might constantly be reminded of their God, either as a rewarder or punisher. The lion hath roared, who will not fear? As when a lion roars, no one who hears can avoid fearing, so now, God having threatened, all who are made acquainted with the threatening ought to be alarmed and to stand in awe. The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy? When God himself speaks, or commands, who will dare to do otherwise than obey? or, what prophet will have courage to refuse or forbear uttering what God reveals to him, and orders him to utter; for if the anger of a lion is to be feared, how much more the anger of God?

Verses 9-11

Amos 3:9-11 . Publish in the palaces at Ashdod, &c. God here orders the prophet to invite the Philistines and Egyptians, the inveterate enemies of God’s Israel, to come and behold what great wickedness was among them, and what cause he had to execute what he had threatened, and to mark the calamities coming upon them, as the punishment of that wickedness, that these heathen might hereby take warning. Say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria That is, in the kingdom of the ten tribes, whose capital city was Samaria, built upon a hill of the same name. Or, the mountains of Samaria may be equivalent to the mountains of Israel, mentioned Ezekiel 36:8; Ezekiel 37:22; Samaria being often taken for the whole kingdom of Israel. Behold the great tumults in the midst thereof The seditious councils and rebellious conspiracies among them. And the oppressed in the midst thereof The multitude of oppressed ones throughout the whole kingdom; for the usurpers took it to be their interest to crush all they feared or suspected. For they know not to do right That is, they will not know nor learn to do their duty. Who store up violence, &c. Who store up in their houses riches gotten by violence and injustice. Therefore, An adversary shall be even round about the land Shalmaneser the king of Assyria shall invade the land on every side, shall dismantle its fortresses, and plunder its wealthy palaces.

Verse 12

Amos 3:12. As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, &c. When a lion hath for some time ravaged the flock, but is at last frighted away by the noise of the shepherds and their dogs, or by darts and other offensive weapons thrown at him, then all that, in such a case, the shepherd can hope to save will be but some poor remains of the prey that the lion hath seized. And thus shall it be at the taking of Samaria: only a small remainder of the inhabitants shall escape the search of their enemies, though they try to hide themselves in their most retired apartments. In the corner of a bed In some dark corner behind a bed; and in Damascus Supposing some of them have fled thither; in a couch Some few of the poor may escape when the enemy finds them sick upon their couches. But the marginal reading, on the bed’s feet, is thought by some to give a better sense: or, as the word rendered Damascus also signifies a corner, the clause may be properly rendered, In the side or corner of a couch, an interpretation approved by Aben Ezra. See Buxtorf.

Verses 13-15

Amos 3:13-15. Hear ye, and testify, &c. These words are directed to the prophets whom God sends to declare his will. In the day that I shall visit, &c. In the general destruction of the ten tribes, my judgments will be particularly visible upon the places dedicated to idolatrous worship, especially Beth-el, the principal place of that kind. And the horns of the altar shall be cut off These were squares placed at the four corners of the altar, and hollow in the middle, into which some of the blood of the sacrifices was poured. And I will smite the winter-house with the summer- house The kings and great men had different houses and apartments for spending the winter and summer in. These were placed and made suitable to those different seasons. And the houses of ivory shall perish We read 1 Kings 22:49, that King Ahab built himself an ivory house, that is, a house ceiled or wainscoted with ivory: or at least inlaid in some parts of it with ivory; and it is probable that other great men followed his example.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Amos 3". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/amos-3.html. 1857.