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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Amos 2

 

 


Introduction

Amos 1:3 to Amos 2:5. The Sins of Israel's Neighbours.—According to the present arrangement the prophet begins by arraigning Israel's neighbours. This arrangement may not be original. Yet it is quite likely that he deliberately chose to make a denunciation of the sins of Israel's neighbours lead up gradually to a sudden and even sterner denunciation of the sins of Israel itself. Whether his original denunciations included those of Philistia, Tyre, Edom, and Judah is another question. The present series is confused. A more natural order would be: Aram, Ammon, Moab, Israel (see below). The sins of such peoples are illustrated by certain typical examples.


Verses 1-3

Amos 2:1-3. Moab.—With Moab the prophet concludes his list of Israel's foes. When Israel arrived on the E. of the Jordan, the Moabites inhabited the high tableland E. of the Dead Sea, whither they had been driven recently from the N. of the Arnon by the Amorites (cf. Judges 11:25). They were subdued by David, and again by Omri; but in the reign of Ahab they regained their independence under their king Mesha (2 Kings 3:5 ff.*). As in other cases, the prophet gives here a typical instance of Moabite cruelty. If the text is correct (see for suggested emendations, ICC) the Moabites are accused of burning the bones of a king of Edom "into lime" or "for lime." In other words, they reduced the body to ashes by burning it, or they deliberately burned it in order to make use of the ashes for plaster. No other record of this event has been preserved; but in either case, an act of monstrous desecration is implied. For such acts, the fire of war (Amos 2:2) will come upon Moab and will devour the palaces or strongholds of Keriyyoth (Jeremiah 48:41, and the Moabite Stone, lines Amos 10-13). Moab will perish amid the din of battle, with the triumphant cry of the enemy and the blast of horns ringing in her ears. Thus will Yahweh cut off (Amos 2:3) the ruler (lit. judge) from the midst of her.


Verse 4-5

Amos 2:4 f. Judah.—The genuineness has been questioned by a number of scholars. It is urged that the thought and language are characteristic of the late prophetic school. If the passage is genuine, Judah is reproached (Amos 2:4) with having rejected the "direction" or "instruction" of Yahweh (Isaiah 1:10*) and with having failed to keep His "decrees." If it is a later addition, the reference will be to Yahweh's "law" and His "statutes." Judah has been led astray (Amos 2:4) by its lying gods (Heb. "lies"), the false deities after which their fathers went. Therefore the purging fire (Amos 2:5) will spread even to the palaces or strongholds of Jerusalem.


Verses 6-16

Amos 2:6-16. The Sin and Doom of Israel.—Suddenly the prophet turns and confronts Israel. The benighted heathen nations have sinned and must be punished. What of Israel, God's chosen people? Why, just because they have been chosen and more privileged, failure to act up to their responsibilities and privileges deserves greater condemnation! Of this failure the prophet proceeds to give typical examples, and announces a punishment more severe even than that of Israel's neighbours. The Israelites (Amos 2:6) sell as slaves honest, unimpeachable men who refuse to bribe their judges, and poor men who incur trifling debts to the value of a pair of sandals. They "trample to the dust of the earth the head of the poor" (Amos 2:7*). The rich and powerful callously crush the poor, and obstruct or divert from its natural course the simple path of the humble (cf. Job 24:4). To such cruel oppression they add the sin of unchastity. Contempt for the rights of others goes hand in hand with sexual wrong; and a debased form of religion panders to the passions of the senses. Father and son resort "to a girl" (so MT), in other words, to a Temple prostitute (technically known as a kědçshâh, "consecrated woman," Hosea 4:14, cf. 2 Kings 23:7). Beside the altars of the sanctuaries which they frequent (Amos 2:8) they iniquitously spread themselves on garments taken in pledge, or (slightly correcting MT) "they spread out garments taken in pledge." They pile sin upon sin, holding back unlawfully the poor man's plaid (cf. Exodus 22:25-27, Deuteronomy 24:12 f.). And in what they are pleased to call the house of God they drink the wine of those who have been fined unjustly. All this they do in spite of the fact (Amos 2:9) that it was Yahweh who destroyed the Amorites, i.e. (as often in E) the warlike inhabitants of Canaan, from before them. These powerful giants Yahweh had destroyed root and branch. Yahweh then describes what He had done before this, how He had brought them safely through the wilderness (Amos 2:10) and then (Amos 2:11) how He had chosen some of their sons as prophets and others as men separated and consecrated to God (Nazirites, pp. 103, 105, Numbers 6*, Judges 13:5*). But the Israelites (Amos 2:12) had corrupted the Nazirites and silenced the prophets.

All this has Israel done. What will Yahweh do now? The punishment is announced in Amos 2:13-16. The Israelites have crushed their poorer brethren. Yahweh in turn will crush them (Amos 2:13, but see note) by complete overthrow and exile. They may be swift of foot (Amos 2:14), but there shall be no "place of flight." The strongest shall not be saved by his strength; the most valiant shall not escape. Neither weapons (Amos 2:15), nor the greatest swiftness of foot, nor even horsemanship shall avail to deliver them. In his headlong flight the most stout-hearted of warriors (Amos 2:16) shall fling away everything that impedes him, all the possessions or accoutrements on which he prides himself.

Amos 2:7. that pant . . . poor: i.e. who covet even the dust strewn on the heads of the poor. Two other translations are possible. "Who long for the dust of the earth (earthly possessions) over the heads of (at the expense of) the poor." Or "Who long for the heads (the persons) of the poor together with the dust of the earth (their land)." But it is perhaps better to punctuate hash-shphm, "Who trample to the dust of the earth the head of the poor" (cf. LXX).

Amos 2:13. If RV is correct, the verb rendered "press" is an Aramaism. Perhaps we should translate, "Behold, I will make you groan in your place, as a cart groans that is full of sheaves" (cf. Aquila). A slight emendation has been suggested: "Behold, I will make it (the ground) totter beneath you, as a cart tottereth," etc.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Amos 2:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/amos-2.html. 1919.

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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