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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Amos 6

 

 


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 1-7

Amos 6:1-7. The Luxury of Israel's Rulers.—Extravagance in ritual often indicates a perverted sense of what constitutes a true philosophy of life. The price of luxury is far greater than men realise. The prophet now contrasts the careless luxury of the rich with the misery that is soon to overtake them (cf. Amos 6:8-14). The reference to Zion in Amos 6:1 has been suspected, on the ground that Amos preached exclusively to the Northern Kingdom. But a slight changes gives: "Woe to those that are at ease in (their) pride" (so Ehrlich). Woe to the rulers of the people in Israel and Samaria, "the men of mark" of Israel, "the first of the nations." Consider the fate of other nations (Isaiah 10:9*, 2 Kings 18:33-35; 2 Kings 19:12 f.). Look (Amos 6:2) at Calneh, Hamath, and Gath! Amos 6:2 is regarded by some scholars (e.g. Kent) as a later addition, because these cities were not destroyed till after the days of Amos. Hamath was not taken until 720 B.C.; Calneh (if it be the same as Calno) was not conquered much before 701. But the identification of Calneh (cf. Isaiah 10:9; possibly the Kullani of Assyrian inscriptions, a place in the N. of Syria) is very doubtful; and, as Ehrlich says, Hamath may have suffered severely from other foes long before its conquest by Sargon. Hamath (2 Kings 14:25*) was an important town on the Orontes, about 100 miles N. of Damascus and S. of Arpad. Gath, the identification of which is uncertain, was the fifth of the chief Philistine towns (cf. Amos 1:8). It was destroyed at a later date (2 Chronicles 26:6). The prophet asks: Are ye better than these kingdoms, or is your territory larger than their territory (see below)? What right have ye to expect to escape their fate? Ye who refuse to contemplate the day of calamity, who are installed by violence; who (Amos 6:4) lie upon beds of ivory and sprawl (so translate) on couches; who feed on dainty lambs and stalled calves; who (Amos 6:5) improvise idly to the sound of the harp and like a David compose "all sorts of melodies" (so Nowack, slightly emending text); who drink bowls of wine and use the most costly ointments. Woe to such triflers! They cannot spare a thought (Amos 6:6) for "the ruin of Joseph" (cf. Nahum 3:19). But (Amos 6:7) now the revelry of the sprawlers shall come to an end. They have prided themselves on being the first of the nations. Therefore they shall now march into captivity at the head of captured peoples!

Amos 6:2. Read, "Are ye better?"—Read, "or is your territory larger than their territory" (gěbulekem miggěbulâm).

Amos 6:3. Oettli reads "sceptre" (shbet).

Amos 6:5. Better, "all sorts of melodies (kŏl for kělê).


Verses 8-14

Amos 6:8-14. The Miserable Fate of these Rulers.—Yahweh solemnly declares (Amos 6:8) that the pride (mg.) of Jacob, the vainglory which has displaced true glory, has become an abomination to Him. There follows a difficult section, Amos 6:9 f., which does not suit the context very well and may have been added by a scribe. It seems to describe the horrors of a siege or plague. So terrible is the scourge that in a house where there are ten men none may escape (Amos 6:9). A kinsman (mg.), whose privilege it is to burn sacred spices in honour of the dead (cf. Jeremiah 34:5, 2 Chronicles 16:14), visits the house with some friends to carry away the bones (Amos 6:10). Calling to a friend who has penetrated farther into the house, he asks: "Have you any more there?" and receives the answer "No." Then he says "Hush!" Yahweh is angry and has brought a terrible punishment. Let us beware of even mentioning His name. The mere mention of it might excite Him to even greater wrath. Amos 6:11 is more in the line of thought of Amos 6:8. Yahweh commands destruction. The great houses of the rich will be reduced to fragments; the smaller houses of the poor, which can hardly escape the blow altogether, will suffer rents (for word, cf. Isaiah 22:9). The unnatural perversity of Israel must bring an inevitable punishment (Amos 6:12). Do horses run upon rocks, or does one plough (the rocks) with oxen? (but see below) No. Why, then, does Israel do something equally perverse, turning right into poison and the fruits of righteousness into wormwood? Why, again, is she so perverse (Amos 6:13) as to boast of a power (karnayim, cf. Jeremiah 48:25) that is worthless, "a thing of naught"? To punish her, Yahweh is bringing against her a nation (Assyria) which will make her suffer (Amos 6:14) from her furthest northern limit to the "wâdy of the Arabah" (cf. 2 Kings 14:25) or the "brook of the willows" (reading hâ-‘ărâbîm, cf. Isaiah 15:7) in the S., probably the Wâdi el-Achsâ.

Amos 6:10. even he that burneth him: the Hebrews did not burn the dead, unless they were criminals or enemies (Joshua 7:25, 1 Samuel 31:12). The reference must, therefore, be to the burning of spices (Jeremiah 34:5, 2 Chronicles 16:5); but even this is rather forced. Ehrlich thinks that u-mĕsârepho is to be read u-mĕsappero, "and the one who removes him" (sâphar = Ar. safara, "to sweep" a house). Others emend the first three words of Heb. more radically. Marti either, "and a family of scant number shall be left," or "and the remnant of his (i.e. Jacob's) family are few." He would read further, "the dead" (mçthîm) for "the bones."

Amos 6:12. Read with Michaelis, 'im-yçhsârçsh babbâḳâr yâm, "or is the sea ploughed with oxen?" though we should expect hay-yâm.

Amos 6:13. It has been suggested that the words translated "a thing of nought" and "horns" may be proper names (cf. Marti): "Who rejoice because of Lodebar, who say, ‘Have we not captured Karnaim by our might?'" In that case the reference is to two towns (cf. 2 Samuel 9:4 f; 2 Samuel 17:27, 1 Maccabees 5:26, Genesis 14:5) on the E. of the Jordan which may recently have been taken by the Israelites. Ehrlich interprets only the second expression as a proper name. The Israelites rejoiced greatly over the recovery of a town (Karnaim) which was of no importance.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Amos 6:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/amos-6.html. 1919.

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