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Bible Commentaries
Amos 6

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


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


(1,) The people of Israel and Judah, confiding in their privileges and power, and wallowing in carnal pleasure, are represented as contemning God’s threatenings, and the judgments which had already begun to be executed, Amos 6:1-6 .

(2,) God shows what terrible calamities hung over their heads, and would certainly fall heavy upon, and overwhelm them and their country, Amos 6:7-14 .

Verse 1

Amos 6:1. Wo to them that are at ease in Zion Who are secure, as the margin reads, continuing in their sins, fearless of God’s judgments, and resolved to indulge themselves in that voluptuousness and ease which their riches give them an opportunity of enjoying, notwithstanding the evident tokens of God’s displeasure against the whole nation, both Israel and Judah. For these and the following words contain a threatening against both kingdoms, although the chief design of this prophecy is against the kingdom of Israel. Because the word שׁאננים , which our translation renders at ease, signifies also to be insolent, therefore the LXX. translate the clause, Ουαι τοις εξουθενουσι Σιων , Wo unto them that despise Zion, in which sense the words may fitly belong to the ten tribes, who despised Zion, and the temple, though God had chosen it to place his name there. And trust in the mountain of Samaria In the strength of their capital city, built on the hill of Samaria. Which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came “Zion, or Jerusalem, and Samaria, were the chief seats of the two kingdoms, whither there was the greatest resort of the whole nation. The Chaldee interprets it, ‘Who give names to their children, according to the names of the chief of the heathen, to whom the house of Israel apply themselves for protection.’ Thus, in later times, some of the Jews took the names of Alexander, Antipater, Agrippa, and the like, to compliment some great men among the Greeks or Romans of those names.” Lowth.

Verse 2

Amos 6:2. Pass ye unto Calneh To check their pride and carnal security, the prophet bids them consider the state of those cities in the neighbourhood of Canaan that had been as illustrious in their time as ever Zion and Samaria were, and yet had been destroyed. Calneh, called Calno, (Isaiah 10:9,) was a city in the land of Shinar, or the territory of Babylon, (Genesis 10:10,) supposed by St. Jerome to be the same as Ctesiphon; and, it seems, had been taken and destroyed, probably by some king of Assyria, not long before the uttering of this prophecy. Thence go ye to Hamath the great A city of Syria, on the Orontes. It was conquered by Jeroboam, 2 Kings 14:25; and by the Assyrians, 2 Kings 19:34. It is called here Hamath the great, to distinguish it from another Hamath, mentioned Amos 6:14, which was the northern boundary of Palestine. Then go down to Gath This city was taken by Uzziah, in whose reign Amos prophesied, 2 Chronicles 26:6. Be they better than these kingdoms? The kingdoms of Judah and Israel? The answer seems to be, Yes; they were better, and their border greater than your border. So that they had more reason to be confident of their safety than you have; yet you see what is become of them, and dare you be secure? Thus Nahum asks Nineveh, (Nahum 3:8,) Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, whose rampart was the sea? &c.; yet she was carried away, she went into captivity. By these examples, then, learn to amend your ways, or expect to perish in them. Or, the sense may be, Were these cities more favoured of God than Israel and Judah? or had they a larger and more fertile country to live in, and therefore were more deserving of the wrath of God for their ingratitude? or had they greater riches to tempt the avarice of invaders? In this sense Archbishop Newcome seems to have understood the passage, and therefore supposes the prophet to ask, “Why then do ye worship their gods? and why are ye not grateful to Jehovah?” The prophet, however, seems to have intended rather to check and reprove their presumption than their ingratitude, as appears by the next verse.

Verses 3-6

Amos 6:3-6. Ye that put far away the evil day Ye who persuade yourselves that God’s judgments will not overtake you so soon as the predictions of the prophet import. And cause the seat of violence to come near Who take every opportunity of perverting justice by pronouncing unrighteous decrees, and of turning the seat of justice into the seat of oppression. Or, this latter clause may be interpreted of the Israelites’ bringing the Assyrians, who were to be their destroyers, upon them, by continuing in their sins, and thereby provoking God’s wrath more and more; or by their imprudence, such as that of Menahem, who, having got possession of the throne by slaying Shallum, gave Pul, the king of Assyria, a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand, 2 Kings 15:19. That lie upon beds of ivory This and the two following verses are an elegant description of the bad use men too often make of a plentiful fortune; so that it shuts out all serious consideration, and makes them void of compassion toward persons in want and misery, and to regard nothing but their present gratification; eat the lambs out of the flock The choicest and best of them. That chant to the sound of the viol, &c. Who, though but private persons, make use of all manner of musical instruments, the same as David did, when he was a king; and employ as great a variety of music for their own diversion as he did in the service of God. That drink wine in bowls Not in small, but in large vessels; that is, who drink to excess, and in all respects live very luxuriously. But they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph Do not humble themselves under God’s afflicting hand, nor lay to heart the calamities which the divine judgments have brought, and are still bringing more and more upon the kingdom of Israel, called by the name of Joseph. The words allude to the afflicted state of Joseph, when he was sold by his brethren into Egypt.

Verses 7-8

Amos 6:7-8. Therefore now shall they go captive with the first, &c. As they were reckoned the first among the people, and claimed the preference in every thing, so now shall they be the first that shall be carried into captivity. And the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed They who indulged themselves in ease and luxury shall have no more costly banquets spread before them: all their luxurious living shall be at an end. The Lord hath sworn by himself And will not violate his oath; I abhor the excellency of Jacob Whatever the kingdoms of Israel and Judah value themselves for is hateful to me, as having been abused by them, and made instrumental in dishonouring me. Or, the words should rather be rendered, I abhor the pride of Jacob. Inhumanity and hardness of heart, as well as many other vices, are generally the companions of pride; and therefore God always expresses, in the Scriptures, the utmost abhorrence of that sin. Therefore I will deliver up the city Namely, the city of Samaria first, and then that of Jerusalem.

Verses 9-11

Amos 6:9-11. If there remain ten men in one house, &c. Those that escape the hands of the enemy shall die by the pestilence. And a man’s uncle (or kinsman) shall take him up Some friend or relation, whose duty it is to perform the last offices for the deceased, shall take him up directly and burn him: for so it should be rendered, and not, AND HE THAT burneth him. The meaning is, that he should not stay to perfume the body with rich ointments, as was the usual custom; nor should he bury it, but burn it to ashes, to prevent infection. To bring out the bones out of the house, &c. Or rather, that he may bring out, &c., that is, that he may, as soon as possible, cleanse the house by the removal of the body. All that is said here, is strongly expressive of what is the case where a deadly pestilence rages. And shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house Or near the house, out of which the bones are carried; Is there any yet with thee Is there any yet living besides thyself belonging to this house? And he shall say, No All the inhabitants of the house are dead. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue; for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord As this clause has no immediate connection with, or relation to, the negative answer contained in the preceding clause, it is to be supposed that when the person has given that answer, and said that there was none left alive in the house, he utters, as is natural, some prayer to God for mercy or deliverance; on which the other speaks to him in this manner: as much as to say, It is in vain now to pray, or make supplication; for God will not now hear us, but we also shall be cut off by this dreadful pestilence, as the rest have been. Archbishop Newcome puts a different sense on the last clause, thus: “Solitude shall reign in the house; and if one is left, he must be silent (see Amo 8:3 ) and retired, lest he be plundered of his scanty provisions.” For behold, the Lord commandeth Gives forth his commands to the enemy, namely, the Assyrians, to come against Israel. And he will smite the great house, and the little house, &c. People of all ranks, high and low, shall be sufferers in the common calamities.

Verse 12

Amos 6:12. Shall horses run upon the rock? “Is it possible that horses should run upon the steep and craggy cliffs? So impossible is it that ye Israelites should continue to prosper, while ye remain thus sinful.” Bishop Hall. Or, “as horses and oxen are useless in such places, so are ye evidently useless to God.” Grotius. Several other interpretations are given of this obscure verse. Mr. Scott’s is, “It was as perilous to endeavour to reform the people as it would be to ride a race on the top of a craggy rock, where both horses and horsemen would be in danger of being killed; and as vain as to plough there with oxen, when no impression could be made or increase expected.” For ye have turned judgment into gall, &c. Ye have rendered the administration of public justice as bitter as gall, and the fruit of righteousness, or the observance of religious ceremonies, as poisonous as hemlock.

Verses 13-14

Amos 6:13-14 . Ye which rejoice in a thing of naught Ye who place confidence in your strength, which will avail you nothing when God withdraws his blessing from you; which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our strength? Have we not, by our strength, been victors over our neighbours? This boast seems chiefly founded upon the success which Jeroboam II. had in restoring the ancient dominion of Israel, and recovering it from the Syrians, who had brought them very low: see 2 Kings 13:3; 2Ki 13:7 ; 2 Kings 14:15. But behold, I will raise up against you a nation, &c. The Assyrians were the nation here spoken of, who, it is here denounced, should afflict them from one end of the land to the other; which they accordingly did some time after, making an entire conquest of the country. Hamath was the boundary of the land of Israel to the north: see Numbers 34:8; 2 Kings 14:25: and the river of the wilderness, by which is meant the river Nile, or, as it is called, Joshua 15:47, the river of Egypt, was the southern boundary.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Amos 6". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/amos-6.html. 1857.
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