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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Amos 1

 

 

Verse 1

The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.

The words of Amos - i:e., Amos' oracular communications. A heading found only in Jeremiah 1:1 .

Who was among the herdmen - rather, 'shepherds,' both owning and tending sheep [ noqeed (Hebrew #5349)]; from a Hebrew root [ naaqad (Hebrew #5349)], to mark with pricks, as sheep used to be marked with their owner's sign or brand; or else, from an Arabic root, to select the best among a species of sheep and goats, ill-shapen and short-footed, but distinguished by their wool (Maurer). See Amos 7:15, note. God chooses "the weak things of the world to confound the mighty," and makes a humble shepherd reprove the arrogance of Israel and her king, which was generated by prosperity. So David, with "five smith stones out of the brook, in a shepherd's bag" or "scrip, and a sling in his hand" went against the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17:40).

Of Tekoa - a little village on a high hill, twelve miles southeast from Jerusalem, and 'six miles south of Bethlehem. Beyond it is no village, except some rude huts and movable tents' (Jerome, Preface on Amos). Though belonging to Tekoa, he did not dwell there, but kept his herds and flocks in the wild pastures of the desert, where he received his call from God (Amos 7:14-15).

Which he saw - in supernatural vision (Isaiah 1:1); [ chaazaah (Hebrew #2372), whence comes the Hebrew name for a Seer.]

Two years before the earthquake. This earthquake must have been a terrible visitation, since after the captivity, two and a half centuries after Joel, it is mentioned in Zechariah 14:5 "Ye shall flee, as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah." The earthquake occurred in Uzziah's reign, at the time of his being stricken with leprosy for usurping the priest's functions (Josephus, 'Antiquities,' 9: 10, 4). But this view of Josephus is very uncertain, as Jotham, son of Uzziah, ruled the king's house (2 Chronicles 26:21) when his father was stricken with leprosy. Now Jotham at his accession to the throne was twenty-five years old, and was therefore not born when Jeroboam II. died, for Uzziah survived the latter 26 years. If then, Amos prophesied "in the days of Jeroboam" only, the earthquake must have been prior to Uzziah's leprosy (so Pusey). But this verse may mean, not that Amos' prophesying was limited to Jeroboam's days, but that it continued throughout Jeroboam's days, and so far down also in the reign of the partly contemporary Jewish king as "two years before the earthquake" - that is, many years after Jeroboam's death. Thus Josephus' statement would be quite compatible with the other facts and dates. This clause must have been inserted by Ezra and the compilers of the Jewish canon. Or rather, Amos spake the prophecies "two years before the earthquake" and collected and wrote them in an orderly whole after it. The earthquake was a premonitory symptom in nature of the political convulsions and revolutions about to be caused by God, in judgment upon the guilty nation (cf. Matthew 24:7-8).


Verse 2

And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.

The Lord will roar from Zion - as a lion (derived from Joel 3:16). By opening his prophecy with this quotation, Amos gives inspired sanction to Joel's prophecies. At the same time, hereby Amos, addressing the ten tribes, admonishes them that at "Zion and Jerusalem" is the place where men ought to worship. Whereas Yahweh is there represented roaring in Israel's behalf, here he roars against her (cf. Psalms 18:13; Jeremiah 25:30).

From Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem - the seat of the theocracy, from which ye have revolted; not from Dan and Bethel, the seat of your idolatrous worship of the calves.

And the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn - poetical personification. Their inhabitants shall mourn, imparting a sadness to the very habitations.

Carmel shall wither - the mountain promontory north of Israel, in Asher, abounding in rich pastures, olives, and vines. It reaches out by a bold head-land far into the Mediterranean, forming the south side of the bay of Acco or Acre. The name, according to its meaning, is the symbol of fertility. The term is used for a fertile field [from kerem (Hebrew #3754), a vineyard, and maalee' (Hebrew #4390), full]. It is generally called 'the Carmel' - i:e., the rich garden ground. Owing to its nearness to the sea, heavy dews every night renew its freshness and verdure of vegetation. When Carmel itself "withers," how utter the desolation! (Song of Solomon 7:5, "Thine head upon thee is like Camel;" Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 35:2, "The excellency of Carmel;" Jeremiah 50:19; Nab. 1:4.)


Verse 3

Thus saith the LORD For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:

Thus saith the Lord. Here begins a series of threatenings of vengeance against six other states, followed by one against Judah, and ending with one against Israel, with whom the rest of the prophecy is occupied. The eight predictions are in symmetrical stanzas, each prefaced by "Thus saith the Lord." Beginning with the sin of others, which Israel would be ready enough to recognize, he proceeds to bring home to Israel her own guilt. Israel must not think hereafter, because she sees others visited similarly to herself, that such judgments are matters of chance; nay, they are divinely foreseen and foreordered, and are confirmations of the truth that God will not clear the guilty. If God spares not the nations that know not the truth, how much less Israel that sins willfully (Luke 12:47-48; James 4:17).

For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof - if Damascus had only sinned once or twice, I would have spared them, but since, after having been so often pardoned, they still persevere so continually, I will no longer "turn away" their punishment. The Hebrew is simply, 'I will not reverse it,' namely, the sentence of punishment which follows: the negative expression implies more than it expresses - i:e., 'I will most surely execute it;' God's fulfillment of His threats being more awful than human language can express. The suppression of what it is that He 'will not reverse,' is more awful than, if it were expressed in full. 'Three and four' imply sin multiplied on sin. Compare Exodus 20:5, 'of God's deliverances of His people;' Proverbs 30:15, "There are three things that are never satisfied, yea four things say not, It is enough;" Proverbs 30:18; Proverbs 30:21; "six and seven," Job 5:19; "once and twice," of God's speaking to man, yet man not perceiving it, Job 33:14 - `twice and thrice,' margin; "oftentimes," the English version: Job 33:29; "Give a portion to seven, and also to eight," Ecclesiastes 11:2. There may be also a reference to seven, the product of three and four added; seven expressing the full completion of the measure of their guilt (Leviticus 26:18; Leviticus 26:21; Leviticus 26:24 : cf. Matthew 23:32).

Because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron. The very term used of the Syrian king Hazael's oppression of Israel under Jehu and Jehoahaz (2 Kings 10:32-33; 2 Kings 13:7). Jerome describes the threshing instrument as a sort of wain, rolling on iron wheels set with teeth, so that it both threshed out the grain, and bruised and cut in pieces the straw, as food for cattle, for lack of hay. The victims were thrown before the threshing sledges, the teeth of which tore their bodies. So David did to Ammon (2 Samuel 12:31 : cf. Isaiah 28:27).


Verse 4

But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Ben-ha'dad.

But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Ben-hadad.} A black marble obelisk found in the central palace of Nimroud, and now in the British Museum, is inscribed with the names of Hazael and Ben-hadad of Syria, as well as Jehu of Israel, mentioned as tributaries of 'Shalmanubar,' king of Assyria. The kind of tribute from Jehu is mentioned, gold, pearls, precious oil, etc. (George Vance Smith.) The Ben-hadad here is the son of Hazael (2 Kings 13:3) into whose hand the Lord in anger delivered Israel, not the Ben-hadad supplanted and slain by Hazael (2 Kings 8:7; 2 Kings 8:15). Hazael assumed the common title of the Syrian kings, in order to connect his house with the ancient dynasty. Ben-hadad means son or worshipper of the idol Hadad, or 'the sun.' The name Hazael means 'whom God looks on.' and implies that he originally owned the true God. The phrase, "I will send a fire," etc. - i:e., the flame of war (Psalms 78:63, "The fire consumed their young men"), occurs a lso Amos 1:7; Amos 1:10; Amos 1:12; Amos 1:14, and Amos 2:2; Amos 2:5; Jeremiah 49:27; and seems to be derived from Hosea 8:14.


Verse 5

I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD.

I will break also the bar of Damascus - i:e., the bar of its gates (cf. Jeremiah 51:30, "her (Babylon's) bars are broken"). And cut off the inhabitant - singular for plural, 'inhabitants.' Henderson, because of the parallel,

Him that holdeth the sceptre, translates, 'the ruler.' But the parallelism is that of one clause complementing the other, "the inhabitant" or subject here answering to "him that holdeth the sceptre" or ruler there, both ruler and subject alike being cut off.

From the plain of Aven - the same as Oon or Un, a delightful valley, four hours' journey from Damascus, toward the desert; proverbial in the East as a place of delight (Josephus Abassus). It is here parallel to "Eden"

(From the house of Eden), which also means pleasantness; situated at Lebanon. Since Josephus Abassus is a doubtful authority, perhaps the reference may be rather to the valley between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, called El-Bekaa, where are the ruins of the Baal-bec temple of the sun; so the Septuagint render it On, the same name as the city in Egypt bears dedicated to the sun-worship (Genesis 41:45; "Aven," margin, Ezekiel 30:17, Heliopolis, i:e., 'the city of the sun'). It is termed by Amos "the valley of Aven," or vanity from the worship of idols in it. The name Baal-bec is an abbreviation of Baal-bik'ah, 'Baal (i:e., the sun-god) of the valley,' Bik'ah means a broad vale between hills.

And him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden - not Eden, man's original Paradise, with the first syllable long [ `Eeden (Hebrew #5730)], but Eden [ `Eden (Hebrew #5729)], with the first syllable short. The house of pleasure, at the foot of Anti-Libanus, probably the summer pleasure-house of the King of Damascus, where, in the midst of his earthly delights, he was to be cut off by God. Such is the end of unsanctified pleasure.

And the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir - a region subject to Assyria (Isaiah 22:6) in Iberia, the same as that called now, in Armenian, Kur, lying by the river Cyrus, which empties itself into the Caspian Sea. Kur is part of the present name Kurgistan, our 'Georgia.' Esarhaddon subdued Armenia, according to the Assyrian inscriptions (Rawlinson, Herodotus, 1: 481). His father Sennacherib had been slain by the two parricides, who fled into Armenia; hence, probably, Esarhaddon made war against that country. Tiglath-pileser fulfilled this prophecy, when Ahaz applied for help to him against Rezin, king of Syria, and the Assyrian king took Damascus, slew Rezin, and carried away its people captive to Kir. Aram, the Hebrew for Syria, means lofty (implying some quality of the son of Shem of that name), as Canaan, on the contrary, means crouching in submission, according to Noah's prophecy of him. Aram fled from some oppressing power, to the mountains of Armenia (originally Minni, har meaning mountain). From the Armenian Kir the Syrian descendants of Aram had been led to settle in the lovely region of Damascus. Now they must go back to their rugged ancient home, against their will (Pusey). As they had tried to lay bare the Holy Land of its Israelite owners, so must they go away themselves, leaving their own land bare [ gaalaah (Hebrew #1540)] of its inhabitants.


Verse 6

Thus saith the LORD For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom:

For three transgressions of Gaza - the southernmost of the five capitals of the five divisions of Philistia, and the key to Palestine on the south: hence, put for the whole Philistine nation. Uzziah commenced the fulfillment of this prophecy (see 2 Chronicles 26:6).

Because they carried away captive the whole captivity - i:e., they left none. Compare with the phrase here Jeremiah 13:19, "Judah shall be carried away captive all of it, it shall be wholly carried away." Under Jehoram already the Philistines had carried away all the substance of the King of Judah, and his wives and his sons, "so that there was never a son left to him, except Jehoahaz;" and after Amos' time (if the reference include the future, which to the prophet's eye is as if already done), under Ahaz, they seized on all the cities and villages of the low country and south of Judah (2 Chronicles 28:18).

To deliver them up to Edom - Judah's bitterest foe; as slaves (Amos 1:9; cf. Joel 3:1; Joel 3:3; Joel 3:6). Grotius refers it to the fact that, on Sennacherib's invasion of Judah, many fled for refuge to neighbouring countries; the Philistines, instead of hospitably sheltering the refugees, sold them, as if captives in war, to their enemies, the Idumeans. Compare Isaiah 16:4. "Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab: be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler."


Verse 7

But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof:

But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza - i:e., the flame of war (Numbers 21:28; Isaiah 26:11, "The fire of thine enemies shall devour them"). For "but" translate and: so Gaza had done: and so accordingly will the Lord reward her.

On the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof. Hezekiah fulfilled the prophecy, "smiting the Philistines unto Gaza and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city" (2 Kings 18:8). Sennacherib also smote it; then Pharaoh-necho (Isaiah 47:1); then Alexander, after a two months' siege. Foretold also by Isaiah 14:29; Isaiah 14:31.


Verse 8

And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD.

I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod ... Ashkelon ... Ekron. Gath alone is not mentioned of the five chief Philistine cities. It had already been subdued by David; and it, as well as Ashdod, was taken by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6). Tartan, the general of the Assyrian king, Sargon, subsequently took it (Isaiah 20:1). Gath perhaps had lost its position as one of the five primary cities before Amos uttered this prophecy, whence arose his omission of it. So Zephaniah 2:4-5 mentions the same four cities, and omits Gath. Five was the political number prevalent among the Philistines in their organization. Hence, "five golden mice were sent as a trespass offering, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines" (1 Samuel 6:4). The five formed one unity as a state. 'Ashkelon signifies hanging' (Pusey), in reference to its high situation. Its name is found on a monument of Karnac, as a city of Canaan taken by the conqueror Raamses II (Compare Jeremiah 47:4; Ezekiel 25:16). Subsequently to the subjugation of the Philistines by Uzziah, and then by Hezekiah, they were reduced by Psammeticus of Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar, the Persians, Alexander, and lastly the Asmoneans. Ashdod means the mighty: Ekron, the firm-rooted. Ashdod was 34 miles from Gaza, on the great route from Egypt northward. Ashkelon lay to the left of the road, near the sea, rather more than halfway. Ekron lay to the right of the road, northward from Gaza, farthest from the sea (Pusey).

I will turn mine hand - literally, bring back mine hand, visiting them anew with the same punishment.


Verse 9

Thus saith the LORD For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant:

For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom - the same charge as against the Philistines (Amos 1:6).

And remembered not the brotherly covenant - the league of Hiram of Tyre with David and Solomon, the former supplying "cedars, carpenters, and masons" (the Sidonians being famed for their skill in hewing timber) for the building of the temple and king's house, in return for oil and grain (2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5:2-6; 1 Kings 9:11-14; Hiram also supplied Solomon with shipmen to man his fleet, and also ships, 1 Kings 9:27; 1 Kings 10:22; 1 Chronicles 14:1; 2 Chronicles 8:18; 2 Chronicles 9:10). Hiram recognized David as specially established by the Lord on the throne, and was therefore "ever a lover of David" (1 Kings 5:1). The recognition of the God of Israel as the true God was evidently implied in the covenant (Berith) which Hiram and Solomon made (1 Kings 5:12). The covenant, doubtless, guaranteed safety and religious privileges as to the undisturbed exercise of the Jews' faith when sojourning in Tyre. This Tyre grossly violated.


Verse 10

But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof.

But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus - (cf. Amos 1:4; Amos 1:7; notes, Isaiah 23:1-18, "the burden of Tyre," etc., etc.) The Phoenicians had aided the Syrian Ben-hadad in his unsuccessful rebellion against Shalmanubar. But as yet Amos had no indication to suggest his prophecy of their coming doom; Ezekiel 26:1-21; Ezekiel 27:1-36; Ezekiel 28:1-26). Sargon, according to the Assyrian inscriptions, took Tyre, and imposed tribute on Cyprus at Idalium, where a monument has been found bearing his name (Rawlinson, 'Herodotus'). Many parts of Tyre were burnt by fiery missiles of the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar. He took it after a 13 years' siege. Alexander of Macedon subsequently overthrew it.


Verse 11

Thus saith the LORD For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever:

For three transgressions of Edom ... because he did pursue his brother with the sword - (Isaiah 34:5). The chief aggravation to Edom's violence against Israel was, that they were twin brothers, and had the same parents, Isaac and Rebecca (cf. Genesis 25:24-26). The Mosaic law had enjoined the Israelite, therefore, to be kind to the Edomite, "Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother ... The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the Lord in their third generation" (Deuteronomy 23:7-8). On the other hand, Edom is punished for his unbrotherly conduct to Israel, "For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever ... thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction" (Obadiah 1:10; Obadiah 1:12; Malachi 1:2).

And did cast off all pity - literally, destroy compassions - i:e., did suppress all the natural feeling of pity for a brother in distress.

And he kept his wrath forever - as Esau kept up his grudge against Jacob, because having twice supplanted him-namely, as to the birthright and the blessing (Genesis 27:41), so Esau's posterity against Israel (Numbers 20:14; Numbers 20:21). Israel's wars with Edom had been defensive, not aggressive. The valley of salt (2 Samuel 8:13), when David had defeated them, was within the borders of Judah (Joshua 15:62). Psalms 60:1-12 speaks of severe suffering inflicted by Edom. To restrain their violence, Edom had been garrisoned by David. In Jehoshaphat's days, again, when he was weakened by defeat at Ramoth-gilead, Edom joined Moab and Ammon in the effort to cast out Judah from his inheritance (2 Chronicles 20:10-11): and yet Judah, though restraining Edom by garrisons, had not taken away any of Edom's land. Edom first showed his spite in not letting Israel pass through his borders when coming from the wilderness, but threatening to "come out against him with the sword;" again, when the Syrians attacked Jerusalem under Ahaz, "The Edomites came and smote Judah, and carried away captives" (cf. 2 Chronicles 28:17 with 2 Kings 16:5); next, when Nebuchadnezzar assailed Jerusalem (Psalms 137:7). In each case Edom chose the day of Israel's calamity for venting his grudge. This is the point of Edom's guilt dwelt on in Obadiah 1:10-13. God punishes the children, not for the sin of their fathers, but for their own filling up the measure of their father's guilt, as children generally follow in the steps of, and even exceed, their father's guilt (cf. Exodus 20:5).


Verse 12

But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah. But I will send a fire upon Teman - a city of Edom, called from a grandson of Esau (Genesis 36:11; Genesis 36:15; Obadiah 1:8-9). Situated five miles from Petra; south of the present Wady Musa. Its people were famed for "wisdom," (Jeremiah 49:7, "Is wisdom no more in Teman?")

Bozrah - a city of Edom (Isaiah 63:1): literally, 'which cuts off approach' (Pusey). Selah or Petra is not mentioned, as it had been overthrown by Amaziah, and named Joktheel-`which God subdued' (2 Kings 14:7).


Verse 13

Thus saith the LORD For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border:

For three transgressions of ... Ammon. The Ammonites under Nahash attacked Jabesh-gilead, and refused to accept the offer of the latter to save them, unless the Jabesh-gileadites would put out all their right eyes, (1 Samuel 11:1, etc.) Saul rescued Jabesh-gilead. The Ammonites joined the Chaldeans in their invasion of Judea for the sake of plunder.

Because they have ripped up the women with child - foretold in Hosea 13:16 : Hazael of Syria also perpetrated the same cruelty (2 Kings 8:12). Ammon's object in this cruel act was to leave Israel without "heir," so as to seize on Israel's inheritance, "Gad" and the other territory east of Jordan (Jeremiah 49:1). Since Hazael and Ammon were guilty of the same cruelty, probably Syria and Ammon were banded together, as in the days of David, for Israel's extermination.


Verse 14

But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind:

But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah - the capital of Ammon: meaning 'the Great.' Distinct from Rabbah of Moab. Called Philadelphia, afterward, from Ptolemy Philadelphus.

With a tempest - i:e., with an onset swift, sudden, and resistless as a hurricane.

In the day of the whirlwind - parallel to the 'day of battle;' therefore meaning 'the day of the foe's tumultuous assault.'


Verse 15

And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the LORD.

Their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes - or else, 'their Moloch (the idol of Ammon) and his priests,' (Grotius and the Septuagint) Isaiah 43:28 - "the princes (holy princes, margin) of the sanctuary" - so uses "princes" for priests. So Amos 5:26, "your Moloch;" and Jeremiah 49:3, "their king (Melcom, margin) shall go into captivity." The English version, however, is perhaps preferable both here and in Jeremiah 49:3; see notes there. Though there is probably a secondary allusion to the idol-king Moloch. Thus the prophet implies that their earthly king and their idol should both alike be unavailing to save them, or even to save themselves.

Remarks:

(1) God often uses "the weak things of the world to confound the mighty:" and so He chose a simple shepherd, Amos, as His prophet, to reprove Israel and her king, Jeroboam II, in the height of their prosperity. The words which Amos spake as a burden falling heavily upon Israel (so the Hebrew expresses), were the embodiment in divinely-taught speech of a divinely-sent vision. A warning, and two years' time for repentance, were given before the terrible earthquake came, which, with still more awful impressiveness, foreshadowed the coming upheaval and overturn of the whole state.

(2) No seeming prosperity of a nation is a guarantee for its permanence where the moral basis of the fear of God is wanting. Alike the populous city, and the peaceful "habitations" of the country, and the fruitful hills, shall suffer when the mighty voice of God from His holy hill speaks in His wrath.

(3) The nations threatened are seven, besides Israel herself. From her oppressive enemy, Syria, the denunciation of judgment passes to Philistia, her ancient and continual antagonist. Then the merchant city, Tyre, is threatened for her selfish disregard to the brotherly covenant which formerly subsisted between the Tyrian and the Israelite kings. Then Edom, Ammon, and Moab are denounced for that they set aside the tie of blood, and perpetrated abominable cruelties. Then come last Judah and Israel themselves. If the less favoured Gentile nations were to be punished for sin, how could the people of God hope to escape, seeing that their transgressions were committed in the face of greater light and higher spiritual privileges? This is an eternal principle with God, that the greater the light, the greater is the responsibility. As higher privileges, when used aright, give a greater capacity for heavenly blessedness, so the same, when abused, give a greater capacity for misery, and prepare a man for heavier punishment.

(4) The last sin in each case is that whereby the measure of men's sins, whenever all but already full, is made to overflow. God then no longer suspends the judgment which had been long since deserved, and which nothing but His long suffering had withheld from descending. A space for repentance was given to each of the doomed nations after the first, the second, and even the third offence (Amos 1:3). But when the fourth was added, the sinner's doom was fixed, and henceforth there could be no more reversal of the sentence. Sin and punishment are indissolubly connected. Hazael had a knowledge of the God of Israel, whose prophet, Elisha, had foretold his usurpation of the Syrian throne. But Hazael abused his knowledge of futurity thus obtained, as though it gave him a divine license to perpetrate odious cruelties. Tyrants and successful usurpers have often cloaked their wickedness under the pretext of a heavenly mission. But God's foreordinance of events does not excuse the sin of those by whom He executes His vengeance upon other transgressors. In due time He will reckon severely with the former, as He has with the latter already. Syri a and Israel alone of the nations here denounced were to be carried away by a complete captivity. Having tried to uproot the Lord's people, the Syrians were to be uprooted themselves.

(5) As the first man was turned out of the garden of Eden through sin, so doth ungodliness sooner or later put a sudden end to every pleasure. Such was the portion of "him that held the sceptre" of Syria-unexpectedly "cut off from the house of Eden," his abode of pleasure (Amos 1:5). Truly "the pleasures of sin are but for a season" (Hebrews 11:25).

(6) Special judgments are inflicted upon those who show no mercy. As the Philistines had again and again turned their hands against Israel, and not only smitten them, but had given them up to their bitterest foe, Edom, so the Lord would "turn his hand against" them (Amos 1:8). "He shall have judgment without mercy that hath showed no mercy" (James 2:13).

(7) God is the avenger of broken covenants (Amos 1:9). Brotherly love, when once begun, should continue. It was the selfish violation of this brotherly covenant, on the part of Tyre, which provoked the vengeance of God on her, for her having, through mercantile covetousness, delivered up the whole captivity of the Israelites to their bitter enemy, Edom.

(8) The aggression of Edom's offence was manifold (Amos 1:11). It was against his own brother by birth. Tyre was Israel's brother only by covenant. But Edom was so by blood. Jacob and Esau, the respective ancestors of the two nations, were twin brothers: and little as we think of the tie of relationship after a few generations, in the sight of God a quarrel between those so related is peculiarly revolting. At the same time God would have us also to enlarge our view, and to regard all men as our brothers in a common parentage, and, above all, in a common redemption.

(9) Edom, moreover, "pursued" the object of his hatred with unrelenting violence. The natural "yearnings" of a brother's "pity" were stifled in him; and Edom only remembered the relationship to hate Israel the more. To be "without natural affection" is one of the marks given of the Gentiles in their past apostasy (Romans 1:31), and also of the same in their coming anti-Christian apostasy (2 Timothy 3:3). No wars are so fierce as those between brethren (Aristotle, 'Politics,' 7: 7). How zealously, therefore, ought brethren to cultivate love, and to keep alive by exercise the natural affections! Israel was forbidden to do any act of unkindness toward Edom. And it was only when perpetual "anger," that like a wild beast "did tear perpetually," required to be curbed, the Israelite kings were constrained to take up the sword against Edom in self-defense. In Israel's day of calamity especially did Edom maliciously triumph and trample upon his fallen brother. But God was Israel's avenger: and in Edom's case we learn the eternal principle, "He that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished" (Proverbs 17:5).

(10) Ammon and Moab, the offspring of the incestuous sin of Lot, ever retained the stamp of their origin. Ferocity and sensuality characterized them and their idols, Moloch and Baal-peor, which were but the reflection of themselves. Again and again they "crushed" Israel as in the days of Jephthah (Judges 10:8). They ripped up the pregnant women of Gilead (Amos 1:13), on a deliberate system, in order to exterminate Israel from that region, and so enlarge their own border. Therefore destruction from the Lord should come swift, sudden, and irresistible as "the whirlwind" on Ammon, its capital, its king, and its princes (Amos 1:14-15). Thus the Prophets are the inspired commentary on the Sacred History. They illustrate for us, and for all generations, the righteous principles of God's government, and show that though much for the present seems confused in the world's politics, yet "verily He is a God that judgeth in the earth" (Psalms 58:11), giving an earnest of the full and perfect judgment which shall vindicate all His ways at the last.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Amos 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/amos-1.html. 1871-8.

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Monday, May 25th, 2020
the Seventh Week after Easter
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