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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Amos 5

 

 

Verses 1-27

Amos 5:2. The virgin of Israel is fallen. Babylon, which had never been stormed by a besieging army, is called a virgin. Isaiah 47:1. Thus Israel, whose kingdom had never yet been wholly subdued, is called a virgin. Jeremiah 18:13. Referring to her vile idolatries, the prophet says, “The virgin daughter of Israel hath done a very horrible thing.” Alas, the virgin of Samaria is fallen; the Assyrians have overleaped her walls, and she is fallen to rise no more.

Amos 5:5. Seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal. That would be to roll back the reproach which was once taken away by circumcision, as stated by Joshua 5:2. Pass not to Beersheba, the favoured abode of Abraham, where he had planted a grove. Idolatry was crafty in establishing its haunts and altars in these three places, once so highly favoured with the divine presence. All this was recession and apostasy from the only altar of the Lord.

Amos 5:7. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, or baneful hemlock, for favour or reward, and abandon the cause of righteousness to be trampled down upon the earth; a double corruption in the elders who filled the bench of justice. They hated him that rebuked in the gate. O tempora! O mores!

Amos 5:8. The seven stars and Orion. See the note on Job 9:9, and Schulten’s remarks on these terms. Amos was among the shepherds learned in practical astronomy. The seven stars are called the Hiadees by the Vulgate, and the Pleiades in modern versions. Some think that they refer to the warmth of the spring, and Orion or Arcturus to the tempestuous seasons.

Amos 5:17. In all vineyards shall be wailing. In these places they indulged in gambols and in feasting, when the fruits were gathered: but soon alas they shall be burned and destroyed by the insolent and wanton invaders.

Amos 5:26. Ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch. Literally, ye have borne Siccuth your king. Dr. Lightfoot reads it so, and also Kimchi. Hence Siccuth was an idol, sometimes written moloch, molech, milchom, and malcham. It is expressly the same with Baal, unless two idols stood in one place. So Jeremiah 32:35. “They built the high places of Baal to offer their sons to Moloch.” So also 2 Chronicles 28:2-3. See the note in that chapter. Ahab, it would seem, from the bloody worship of Baal’s prophets, had introduced this idol, or rather revived its worship after Solomon. 1 Kings 11 :2 Kings 18.

Moloch and Chiun. Ham is the Cronus of the Greeks. His wife was Ashteroth or Astarte. קרן karen is the etymology of his name. The LXX read ραιφας which in the new testament is altered to ρεφαν. Acts 7:43. The name Rephas was Ham’s title; and being father of the Rephaim, smitten by Chedorlaomer in Ashteroth-karnaim, is so called because Astarte was worshipped there. Genesis 14:5. They chose therefore to call themselves by his more honourable appellation. The Coptics gave his name to a star, which was worshipped at large in the east. Cicero admits that Venus was the Astarte of Syria. Moloch, Melech, or Malchus is a title given to Ham, who offered his son Jeoud, a λυτρον, an expiatory sacrifice in the time of a plague. Hence the cruel influence it had on his posterity, in making their children pass through the fire to his statue. See Euseb. Præparat. Also the note on Leviticus 18:21.

Amos 5:27. Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus. The empire of the Assyrians beyond the Euphrates is understood; but the districts adjacent to the Caspian sea were then but little known to the jews.

REFLECTIONS.

The holy prophets spake from the mouth of the Lord. Their mission was clothed with the glory of divine majesty. This elevation of thought and purity of character inspired them to reprove sin, and preach righteousness in a manner that no other men could do. How grand are the arguments in calling a backsliding nation from dumb idols to worship the true and living God, who made the constellations of heaven, who sends a morning sun to chase away the shades of night, who raises vapours from the sea in the ever-changing scenes of beauteous clouds.

On sincerely returning to the Lord, the worst of sinners need not despair of mercy, even they who have hated rebuke, and abhorred the upright; while on the other hand, incorrigible wickedness will disinherit the oppressor; and though he build his house with hewn stones, it shall not be able to protect him.

A woe is denounced against those who desire the day of the Lord, in which Israel should be overthrown, hoping that the Assyrian tyrants would be milder than the oppressors in Samaria, who turned judgment to wormwood. Ah no: it is all a delusion. It is like avoiding the lion, and meeting the bear. We had better pray for our rulers and governors than wish for a change of masters. Sinners seldom get advantage by a change, unless they exchange the yoke of Satan for that of Christ.

The devotion of wicked men is peculiarly abhorrent to God. He hates, he despises their festivals, and turns away his nostrils from the incense of their prayers; their devotion is as carnal as their worldly wishes. Hence he informs Israel, if we may read the text in the future tense after Rabbi Solomon, that instead of receiving protection from their idols, they should carry them on their shoulders, or by some means beyond Damascus. Ah, most intolerable load, when mortals carry their mortal gods! Yet so it is still; when men make gods of their gold, they have to carry their cares, nor can their riches protect them in the day of the Lord. Let us abide in covenant with our Lord and Saviour, for he only is a sure defence.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Amos 5:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/amos-5.html. 1835.

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Friday, January 24th, 2020
the Second Week after Epiphany
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