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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Amos Chapter 2

Amos 2:1

amo 2:1

Moab. - Amo 2:1. "Thus saith Jehovah: for three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because it has burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime, Amo 2:2. I send fire into Moab, and it will devour the palaces of Kirioth, and Moab will perish in the tumult, in the war-cry, in the trumpet-blast. Amo 2:3. And I cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and all its princes do I strangle with it, saith Jehovah." The burning of the bones of the king of Edom is not burning while he was still alive, but the burning of the corpse into lime, i.e., so completely that the bones turned into powder like lime (D. Kimchi), to cool his wrath still further upon the dead man (cf. Kg2 23:16). This is the only thing blamed, not his having put him to death. No record has been preserved of this event in the historical books of the Old Testament; but it was no doubt connected with the war referred to in 2 Kings 3, which Joram of Israel and Jehoshaphat of Judah waged against the Moabites in company with the king of Edom; so that the Jewish tradition found in Jerome, viz., that after this war the Moabites dug up the bones of the king of Edom from the grace, and heaped insults upon them by burning them to ashes, is apparently not without foundation. As Amos in the case of all the other nations has mentioned only crimes that were committed against the covenant nation, the one with which the Moabites are charged must have been in some way associated with either Israel or Judah, that is to say, it must have been committed upon a king of Edom, who was a vassal of Judah, and therefore not very long after this war, since the Edomites shook off their dependence upon Judah in less than ten years from that time (Kg2 8:20). As a punishment for this, Moab was to be laid waste by the fire of war, and Keriyoth with its palaces to be burned down. הקּריּות is not an appellative noun (τῶν πόλεων αὐτῆς, lxx), but a proper name of one of the chief cities of Moab (cf. Jer 48:24, Jer 48:41), the ruins of which have been discovered by Burckhardt (Syr. p. 630) and Seetzen (ii. p. 342, cf. iv. p. 384) in the decayed town of Kereyat or Krrit. The application of the term מת to Moab is to be explained on the supposition that the nation is personified. שׁאון signifies war tumult, and בּתרוּעה is explained as in Amo 1:14 by בּקול שׁופר, blast of the trumpets, the signal for the assault or for the commencement of the battle. The judge with all the princes shall be cut off miqqirbâh, i.e., out of the land of Moab. The feminine suffix refers to Moab as a land or kingdom, and not to Keriyoth. From the fact that the shōphēt is mentioned instead of the king, it has been concluded by some that Moab had no king at that time, but had only a shōphēt as its ruler; and they have sought to account for this on the ground that Moab was at that time subject to the kingdom of the ten tribes (Hitzig and Ewald). But there is no notice in the history of anything of the kind, and it cannot possibly be inferred from the fact that Jeroboam restored the ancient boundaries of the kingdom as far as the Dead Sea (Kg2 14:25). Shōphēt is analogous to tōmēkh shēbhet in Amo 1:5, and is probably nothing more than a rhetorical expression applied to the מלך, who is so called in the threat against Ammon, and simply used for the sake of variety. The threatening prophecies concerning all the nations and kingdoms mentioned from Amo 1:6 onwards were fulfilled by the Chaldeans, who conquered all these kingdoms, and carried the people themselves into captivity. For fuller remarks upon this point, see at Jeremiah 48 and Eze 25:8.

Amos 2:4

amo 2:4

Judah. - Amo 2:4. "Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because they have despised the law of Jehovah, and have not kept His ordinances, and their lies led them astray, after which their fathers walked, Amo 2:5. I send fire into Judah, and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem." With the announcement that the storm of the wrath of God will also burst upon Judah, Amos prepares the way for passing on to Israel, the principal object of his prophecies. In the case of Judah, he condemns its contempt of the law of its God, and also its idolatry. Toorh is the sum and substance of all the instructions and all the commandments which Jehovah had given to His people as the rule of life. Chuqqı̄m are the separate precepts contained in the thōrâh, including not only the ceremonial commands, but the moral commandments also; for the two clauses are not only parallel, but synonymous. כּזביהם, their lies, are their idols, as we may see from the relative clause, since "walking after" (bâlakh 'achărē) is the standing expression for idolatry. Amos calls the idols lies, not only as res quae fallunt (Ges.), but as fabrications and nonentities ('ĕlı̄hı̄m and hăbhâlı̄m), having no reality in themselves, and therefore quite unable to perform what was expected of them. The "fathers" who walked after these lies were their forefathers generally, since the nation of Israel practised idolatry even in the desert (cf. Amo 5:26), and was more or less addicted to it ever afterwards, with the sole exception of the times of Joshua, Samuel, David, and part of the reign of Solomon, so that even the most godly kings of Judah were unable to eradicate the worship upon the high places. The punishment threatened in consequence, namely, that Jerusalem should be reduced to ashes, was carried out by Nebuchadnezzar.

Amos 2:6

amo 2:6

After this introduction, the prophet's address turns to Israel of the ten tribes, and in precisely the same form as in the case of the nations already mentioned, announces the judgment as irrevocable. At the same time, he gives a fuller description of the sins of Israel, condemning first of all the prevailing crimes of injustice and oppression, of shameless immorality and daring contempt of God (Amo 2:6-8); and secondly, its scornful contempt of the benefits conferred by the Lord (Amo 2:9-12), and threatening inevitable trouble in consequence (Amo 2:13-16). Amo 2:6. "Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because they sell the righteous for money, and the poor for a pair of shoes. Amo 2:7. They who pant after dust of the earth upon the head of the poor, and bend the way of the meek: and a man and his father go to the same girl, to desecrate my holy name. Amo 2:8. And they stretch themselves upon pawned clothes by every altar, and they drink the wine of the punished in the house of their God." The prophet condemns four kinds of crimes. The first is unjust treatment, or condemnation of the innocent in their administration of justice. Selling the righteous for silver, i.e., for money, refers to the judges, who were bribed to punish a man as guilty of the crime of which he was accused, when he was really tsaddı̄q, i.e., righteous in a judicial, not in a moral sense, or innocent of any punishable crime. Bakkeseph, for money, i.e., either to obtain money, or for the money which they had already received, viz., from the accuser, for condemning the innocent. בּעבוּר, on account of, is not synonymous with ב pretii; for they did not sell the poor man merely to get a pair of sandals for him, as the worst possible slave was certainly worth much more than this (cf. Exo 21:32); but the poor debtor who could not pay for a pair of shoes, i.e., for the merest trifle, the judge would give up to the creditor for a salve, on the strength of the law in Lev 25:39 (cf. Kg2 4:1).

As a second crime, Amos reproves in v. 7a their thirst for the oppression of the quiet in the land. דּלּים, ταπεινοί, and ענוים, πραεῖς. The address is carried on in participles, in the form of lively appeal, instead of quiet description, as is frequently the case in Amos (cf. Amo 5:7; Amo 6:3., 13, Amo 8:14), and also in other books (cf. Isa 40:22, Isa 40:26; Psa 19:11). In the present instance, the article before the participle points back to the suffix in מכרם, and the finite verb is not introduced till the second clause. שׁאף, to gasp, to pant, to long eagerly for earth-dust upon the head of the poor, i.e., to long to see the head of the poor covered with earth or dust, or to bring them into such a state of misery, that they scatter dust upon their head (cf. Job 2:12; Sa2 1:2). The explanation given by Hitzig is too far-fetched and unnatural, viz., that they grudge the man in distress even the handful of dust that he has strewn upon his head, and avariciously long for it themselves. To bend the way of the meek, i.e., to bring them into a trap, or cast them headlong into destruction by impediments and stumblingblocks laid in their path. The way is the way of life, their outward course. The idea that the way refers to the judgment or legal process is too contracted. The third crime is their profanation of the name of God by shameless immorality (Amo 2:7); and the fourth, desecration of the sanctuary by drinking carousals (Amo 2:8). A man and his father, i.e., both son and father, go to the girl, i.e., to the prostitute. The meaning is, to one and the same girl; but 'achath is omitted, to preclude all possible misunderstanding, as though going to different prostitutes was allowed. This sin was tantamount to incest, which, according to the law, was to be punished with death (cf. Lev 18:7, Lev 18:15, and Lev 20:11). Temple girls (qedēshōth) are not to be thought of here. The profanation of the name of God by such conduct as this does not indicate prostitution in the temple itself, such as was required by the licentious worship of Baal and Asherah (Ewald, Maurer, etc.), but consisted in a daring contempt of the commandments of God, as the original passage (Lev 22:32) from which Amos took the words clearly shows (cf. Jer 34:16). By lema‛an, in order that (not "so that"), the profanation of the holy name of God is represented as intentional, to bring out the daring character of the sin, and to show that it did not arise from weakness or ignorance, but was practised with studious contempt of the holy God. Begâdı̄m chăbhulı̄m, pawned clothes, i.e., upper garments, consisting of a large square piece of cloth, which was wrapt all around, and served the poor for a counterpane as well. If a poor man was obliged to pawn his upper garment, it was to be returned to him before night came on (Exo 22:25), and a garment so pawned was not to be slept upon (Deu 24:12-13). But godless usurers kept such pledges, and used them as cloths upon which they stretched their limbs at feasts (yattū, hiphil, to stretch out, sc. the body or its limbs); and this they did by every altar, at sacrificial meals, without standing in awe of God. It is very evident that Amos is speaking of sacrificial feasting, from the reference in the second clause of the verse to the drinking of wine in the house of God. עמוּשׁים, punished in money, i.e., fined. Wine of the punished is wine purchased by the produce of the fines. Here again the emphasis rests upon the fact, that such drinking carousals were held in the house of God. 'Elōhēhem, not their gods (idols), but their God; for Amos had in his mind the sacred places at Bethel and Dan, in which the Israelites worshipped Jehovah as their God under the symbol of an ox (calf). The expression col-mizbēăch (every altar) is not at variance with this; for even if col pointed to a plurality of altars, these altars were still bāmōth, dedicated to Jehovah. If the prophet had also meant to condemn actual idolatry, i.e., the worship of heathen deities, he would have expressed this more clearly; to say nothing of the fact, that in the time of Jeroboam II there was no heathenish idolatry in the kingdom of the ten tribes, or, at any rate, it was not publicly maintained.

Amos 2:9

amo 2:9

And if this daring contempt of the commandments of God was highly reprehensible even in itself, it became perfectly inexcusable if we bear in mind that Israel was indebted to the Lord its God for its elevation into an independent nation, and also for its sacred calling. For this reason, the prophet reminds the people of the manifestations of grace which it had received from its God (Amo 2:9-11). Amo 2:9. "And yet I destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and who was strong as the oaks; and I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath. Amo 2:10. And yet I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years in the desert, to take possession of the land of the Amorite." The repeated ואנכי is used with peculiar emphasis, and serves to bring out the contrast between the conduct of the Israelites towards the Lord, and the fidelity of the Lord towards Israel. Of the two manifestations of divine grace to which Israel owed its existence as an independent nation, Amos mentions first of all the destruction of the former inhabitants of Canaan (Exo 23:27., Exo 34:11); and secondly, what was earlier in point of time, namely, the deliverance out of Egypt and guidance through the Arabian desert; not because the former act of God was greater than the latter, but in order to place first what the Lord had done for the nation, that he may be able to append to this what He still continues to do (Amo 2:11). The nations destroyed before Israel are called Amorites, from the most powerful of the Canaanitish tribes, as in Gen 15:16; Jos 24:15, etc. To show, however, that Israel was not able to destroy this people by its own strength, but that Jehovah the Almighty God alone could accomplish this, he proceeds to transfer to the whole nation what the Israelitish spies reported as to their size, more especially as to the size of particular giants (Num 13:32-33), and describes the Amorites as giants as lofty as trees and as strong as trees, and, continuing the same figure, depicts their utter destruction or extermination as the destruction of their fruit and of their roots. For this figure of speech, in which the posterity of a nation is regarded as its fruit, and the kernel of the nation out of which it springs as the root, see Eze 17:9; Hos 9:16; Job 18:16. These two manifestations of divine mercy Moses impressed more than once upon the hearts of the people in his last addresses, to urge them in consequence to hold fast to the divine commandments and to the love of God (cf. Deu 8:2., Deu 9:1-6; Deu 29:1-8).

Amos 2:11

amo 2:11

But Jehovah had not only put Israel into possession of Canaan; He had also continually manifested Himself to it as the founder and promoter of its spiritual prosperity. Amo 2:11. "And I raised up some of your sons as prophets, and some of your young men as dedicated ones (Naziraeans). Ah, is it not so, ye sons of Israel? is the saying of Jehovah. Amo 2:12. But ye made the dedicated drink wine, and ye commanded the prophets, saying, Ye shall not prophesy." The institution of prophecy and the law of the Nazarite were gifts of grace, in which Israel had an advantage over every other nation, and by which it was distinguished above the heathen as the nation of God and the medium of salvation. Amos simply reminds the people of these, and not of earthly blessings, which the heathen also enjoyed, since the former alone were real pledges of the covenant of grace made by Jehovah with Israel; and it was in the contempt and abuse of these gifts of grace that the ingratitude of the nation was displayed in the most glaring light. The Nazarites are placed by the side of the prophets, who proclaimed to the nation the counsel and will of the Lord, because, although as a rule the condition of a Nazarite was merely the consequence of his own free will and the fulfilment of a particular vow, it was nevertheless so far a gift of grace from the Lord, that the resolution to perform such a vow proceeded from the inward impulse of the Spirit of God, and the performance itself was rendered possible through the power of this Spirit alone. (For a general discussion of the law of the Nazarite, see the commentary on Num 6:2-12, and my biblical Antiquities, 67.) The raising up of Nazarites was not only intended to set before the eyes of the people the object of their divine calling, or their appointment to be a holy nation of God, but also to show them how the Lord bestowed the power to carry out this object. But instead of suffering themselves to be spurred on by these types to strive earnestly after sanctification of life, they tempted the Nazarites to break their vow by drinking wine, from which they were commanded to abstain, as being irreconcilable with the seriousness of their sanctification (see my Bibl. Ant. 67); and the prophets they prohibited from prophesying, because the word of God was burdensome to them (cf. Amo 7:10.; Mic 2:6).

Amos 2:13

amo 2:13

This base contempt of their covenant mercies the Lord would visit with a severe punishment. Amo 2:13. "Behold, I will press you down, as the cart presses that is filled with sheaves. Amo 2:14. And the flight will be lost to the swift, and the strong one will not fortify his strength, and the hero will not deliver his soul. Amo 2:15. And the carrier of the bow will not stand, and the swift-footed will not deliver, and the rider of the horse will not save his soul. Amo 2:16. And the courageous one among the heroes will flee away naked in that day, is the saying of Jehovah." The Lord threatens as a punishment a severe oppression, which no one will be able to escape. The allusion is to the force of war, under which even the bravest and most able heroes will succumb. העיק, from עוּק, Aramaean for צוּק, to press, construed with tachath, in the sense of κατὰ, downwards, to press down upon a person, i.e., to press him down (Winer, Ges., Ewald). This meaning is established by עקה in Psa 55:4, and by מוּעקה in Psa 66:11; so that there is no necessity to resort to the Arabic, as Hitzig does, or to alterations of the text, or to follow Baur, who gives the word the meaning, "to feel one's self pressed under another," for which there is no foundation in the language, and which does not even yield a suitable sense. The comparison instituted here to the pressure of a cart filled with sheaves, does not warrant the conclusion that Jehovah must answer to the cart; the simile is not to be carried out to this extent. The object to תּעיק is wanting, but may easily be supplied from the thought, namely, the ground over which the cart is driven. The להּ attached to המלאה belongs to the latitude allowed in ordinary speech, and gives to מלאה the reflective meaning, which is full in itself, has quite filled itself (cf. Ewald, 315, a). In Amo 2:14-16 the effects of this pressure are individualized. No one will escape from it. אבד מנוס, flight is lost to the swift, i.e., the swift will not find time enough to flee. The allusion to heroes and bearers of the bow shows that the pressure is caused by war. קל בּרגליו belong together: "He who is light in his feet." The swift-footed will no more save his life than the rider upon a horse. נפשׁו .esroh in Amo 2:15 belongs to both clauses. אמּץ לבּו, the strong in his heart, i.e., the hearty, courageous. ערום, naked, i.e., so as to leave behind him his garment, by which the enemy seizes him, like the young man in Mar 14:52. This threat, which implies that the kingdom will be destroyed, is carried out still further in the prophet's following addresses.

Next: Amos Chapter 3