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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Amos 3

 

 


Introduction

Amos 3-6. Fuller Statement of Israel's Sin and Doom.—There are three main sections, each beginning "Hear ye this word" (Amos 3:1, Amos 4:1, Amos 5:1).


Verses 1-8

Amos 3:1-8. Israel's Responsibility and the Prophet's Obligation.—Amos, after addressing "the children of Israel," includes Judah by adding "the whole family," unless this is a gloss, as it may be, since the inclusion of Judah here seems inappropriate. Yahweh had selected Israel for special notice and favour. On that account its apostasy and sin were all the more deserving of punishment. The law of cause and effect applies here as elsewhere. When two walk "in accord" (so Ehrlich, comparing Genesis 22:8), the reason is that they have made an appointment (mg.). When a lion roars, it is because he scents the prey. When vv. young lion growls from his lair, it is because he has made a capture. When a bird falls on the ground, it is because a boomerang has struck it. When a trap springs up from the ground, it is because it has caught something. When a horn is blown in the city, it is because there is some cause for alarm. And when some calamity befalls a city, it is because Yahweh has caused it. In like manner when the prophets speak, it is because Yahweh has revealed His secret to them (Amos 3:7 may, however, be a gloss). So Amos' own speaking and prophesying are due to the same law of cause and effect.

Amos 3:3. except they have agreed: LXX for nô‘âdu implies nôdâ‘u, "unless they know each other." This would give the words a more general application. But for safety two men journeying through a desert may agree to walk together without knowing one another.

Amos 3:5 a. Translate, "Will a bird fall to the earth (omitting pah here with LXX), when there is no boomerang for it?" Mokesh here probably denotes a boomerang such as we find depicted on Egyptian monuments (so Marti; see W. Max Mueller, Asien und Europa, 123f.).


Verses 9-15

Amos 3:9-15. Guilt and Doom of Samaria.—The prophet proceeds to apply the lesson. The peoples are summoned to proclaim the fate that has befallen (Amos 3:9*) the castles of Ashdod and those in the land of Egypt, and then to assemble and witness the sins of Samaria. From the mountains of Samaria, the city presents a spectacle of great turmoil and deep-rooted oppression. And the reason is (Amos 3:10) that the ruling classes have no proper sense of what is right or "straightforward." Wrong thought brings wrong doing, and wrong doing inevitably brings punishment. Therefore an adversary will succeed in encompassing the land and will be the means of bringing low the proud and rich potentates. Amos knew by experience that when the lion attacks the sheep, often all that can be saved is two legs or the piece of an ear (Genesis 31:39*, Exodus 22:13). In like manner the Israelites who dwell in Samaria and pride themselves on their possessions will escape with nothing more than the corner of a couch or the Damascus-cloth of a divan (see below). If Amos 3:13 is genuine the prophet introduces a reference to Judah; but the verse is perhaps secondary. When the day of reckoning comes (Amos 3:14) the punishment will extend to the altars or altar (so Guthe) of Bethel, because Bethel was the centre of Israel's false worship. False worship and selfish luxury are bosom friends. They must die together. An end will be put to the superfluous houses of the rich.

Amos 3:9. Translate with Ehrlich, "Proclaim concerning (the fate of) the castles in Ashdod and concerning (the fate of) the castles in the land of Egypt." If the usual interpretation (RV) is adopted, "Assyria" (so LXX) should probably be read for "Ashdod"; this gives a better parallel.

Amos 3:11. Translate, "an enemy shall come round about the land," reading sar yesbhbh or s. sbhbh).

Amos 3:12 b. The word translated "sit" may equally well mean "dwell." The word translated "silken cushions" is demeshek. This is probably a mistake for děmesek. The Arabic dimaks probably has nothing to do with Damascus, but that is no reason why the word here should not denote some kind of covering material manufactured in Damascus. Translate with Ehrlich, "So shall the children of Israel who dwell in Samaria escape with the corner of a couch or with the Damascus-cloth of a divan."

Amos 3:13. The people addressed are apparently the same as in Amos 3:9.

Amos 3:15 b. 1 Kings 22:39 implies that a "house of ivory" was something very exceptional. Ehrlich is perhaps right, therefore, in reading "houses of (in) Bashan" (hab-bâshân for hash-shçn).—great: rather "many" (mg.).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Amos 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/amos-3.html. 1919.

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