Amos 1
Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary


The Prophet. - Amos (עמוס, i.e., Bearer or Burden), according to the heading to his book, was "among the shepherds (nōqedı̄m) of Tekoah" when the Lord called him to be a prophet; that is to say, he was a native of Tekoah, a town situated on the borders of the desert of Judah, two hours to the south of Bethlehem, the ruins of which have been preserved under the ancient name (see at Joshua 15:59, lxx), and lived with the shepherds who fed their sheep in the steppe to the east of Tekoah; of course not as a rich owner of flocks, but simply as a shepherd. For even though nōqēd is applied to the Moabitish king in 2 Kings 3:4 as a rich owner of a choice breed of sheep and goats, the word properly signifies only a rearer of sheep, i.e., not merely the owner, but the shepherd of choice sheep, as Bochart (Hieroz. i. p. 483, ed. Ros.) has proved from the Arabic. But Amos himself affirms, in Amos 7:14, that he was a simple shepherd. He there replies to the priest at Bethel, who wanted to prevent him from prophesying in the kingdom of Israel: "I am not a prophet, nor yet a prophet's pupil, but a herdman (bōqēd) am I, and bōlēs shiqmı̄m, a gatherer of sycamores" (see at Amos 7:14), - i.e., one who fed upon this fruit, which resembles figs, and is described by Pliny (hist. n. 13, 14), as praedulcis, but which, according to Strabo, xvii. 823 (ἄτιμος κατὰ τὴν γεῦσιν), was very lightly esteemed as food, and also, according to Dioscor., was ἄτιμος καὶ κακοστόμαχος, and which is only used in Egypt as the food of the common people (Norden, Reise, p. 118). Consequently we have to regard Amos as a shepherd living in indigent circumstances, not as a prosperous man possessing both a flock of sheep and a sycamore plantation, which many commentators, following the Chaldee and the Rabbins, have made him out to be. Without having dedicated himself to the calling of a prophet, and without even being trained in the schools of the prophets, he was called by the Lord away from the flock to be a prophet, to prophesy concerning Israel (Amos 7:14-15), under the Judaean king Uzziah and the Israelitish king Jeroboam II, i.e., within the twenty-six years of the contemporaneous rule of these two kings, or between 810 and 783 b.c. Amos therefore commenced his prophetic labours about the same time as Hosea, probably a few years earlier, and prophesied in Bethel, the chief seat of the Israelitish image-worship (Amos 7:10). We cannot fix with any greater exactness either the time of his appearing or the duration of his ministry; for the notice in Amos 1:1, "two years before the earthquake," furnishes no chronological datum, because the time of the earthquake is unknown. It is never mentioned in the historical books of the Old Testament, though it can hardly be any other than the terrible earthquake in the time of Uzziah, which the people had not forgotten even after the captivity, inasmuch as Zechariah was able to recal the flight that took place on that occasion (Zechariah 14:5). As Amos has not given the date of the earthquake, his evident intention was not to fix the time when his ministry commenced, or when his book was composed, but simply to point to the internal connection between this event and his own prophetic mission. According to the teaching of Scripture, the earth quakes when the Lord comes to judgment upon the nations (see at Amos 8:8). The earthquake which shook Jerusalem two years after the appearance of Amos as the prophet, was a harbinger of the judgment threatened by Him against the two kingdoms of Israel and the surrounding nations, - a practical declaration on the part of God that He would verify the word of His servant; and the allusion to this divine sign on the part of the prophet was an admonition to Israel to lay to heart the word of the Lord which he had announced to them. So far as the explanation and importance of his prophecies were concerned, it was enough to mention the kings of Judah and Israel in whose reigns he prophesied.

Under these kings the two kingdoms stood at the summit of their prosperity. Uzziah had completely subdued the Edomites, had subjugated the Philistines, and had even made the Ammonites tributary. He had also fortified Jerusalem strongly, and had raised a powerful army; so that his name reached as far as Egypt (2 Chronicles 26). And Jeroboam had completely overcome the Syrians, and restored the original borders of the kingdom from the country of Hamath to the Dead Sea (2 Kings 14:25-28). After the power of the Syrians had been broken, Israel had no longer any foe to fear, for Assyria had not yet arisen as a conquering power. The supposition that Calneh or Ctesiphon is represented in Amos 6:2 as having already been taken (by the Assyrians), rests upon an incorrect interpretation, and is just as erroneous as the inference, also drawn from the same passage, that Hamath was conquered and Gath destroyed. Amos does not mention the Assyrians at all; although in Amos 1:5 he threatens the Syrians with transportation to Kir, and in Amos 5:27 predicts that the Israelites will be carried into captivity beyond Damascus. In the existing state of things, the idea of the approaching fall or destruction of the kingdom of Israel was, according to human judgment, a very improbable one indeed. The inhabitants of Samaria and Zion felt themselves perfectly secure in the consciousness of their might (Amos 6:1). The rulers of the kingdom trusted in the strength of their military resources (Amos 6:13), and were only concerned to increase their wealth by oppressing the poor, and to revel in earthly luxuries and pleasures (Amos 2:6-8; Amos 5:11-12; Amos 6:4-6); so that the prophet denounces woes upon those who are in security upon Zion and without care upon the mountain of Samaria (Amos 6:1), and utters the threat that the Lord will cause the sun to set at noon, and bring darkness over the land in broad daylight (Amos 8:9).

It was at such a time as this that the plain shepherd of Tekoah was sent to Bethel, into the kingdom of the ten tribes, to announce to the careless sinners the approach of the divine judgment, and the destruction of the kingdom. And whilst it was in itself a strange event for a prophet to be sent out of Judah into the kingdom of the ten tribes, - so strange, in fact, that in all probability it had never occurred since the kingdom had been founded, or at any rate, that no second instance of the kind is recorded, from the time when the man of God was sent out of Judah to Bethel in the reign of Jeroboam I((1 Kings 13), down to the time of Amos himself-it must have attracted universal attention, for a man to rise up who belonged to the rank of a shepherd, who had had no training at all for a prophet's vocation, but who nevertheless proved, by the demonstration of the Spirit, that he was a prophet indeed, and who foretold, in the strength of God, what destruction awaited the covenant people, before there was the slightest human probability of any such catastrophe.

The prophet's style of composition does indeed betray the former shepherd in the use of certain words, which evidently belonged to the dialect of the common people, - e.g., מעיק for מציק (Amos 2:13), בּושׁס for בּוסס (Amos 5:11), מתאב for מתעב rof מ (Amos 6:8), מסרף for משׂרף (Amos 6:10), ישׂחק for יצחק (Amos 7:9, Amos 7:16), נשׁקה for נשׁקעה (Amos 8:8), and in many figures and similes drawn from nature and rural life; but for the rest, it indicates a close acquaintance on the part of the prophet with the Mosaic law and the history of his nation, and also considerable rhetorical power, wealth and depth of thought, vivacity and vigour, more especially in the use of bold antitheses, and a truly poetical roll, which rises by no means unfrequently into actual rhythm; so that Lowth has already expressed the following opinion concerning him (De poesi sacr. ed. Mich. p. 433): "Aequus judex, de re non de homine quaesiturus, censebit, credo, pastorem nostrum μηφὲν ὑστερηκέναι τῶν ὑπερλίαν προφητῶν sensuum elatione et magnificentia spiritus prope summis parem, ita etiam dictionis splendore et compositionis elegantia vix quoquam inferiorem." Beyond these facts, which we gather from the prophet's won writings, nothing further is known of the circumstances connected with his life. After fulfilling his mission, he probably returned to Judah, his native land, where his prophecies were most likely first committed to writing. The apocryphal accounts of his death, in Pseud.-Epiphanius, c. 12, and Pseudo-Doroth. (see Carpzov, p. 319), have no historical value whatever.

2. The Book. - Although Amos was sent by the Lord to Bethel, to prophesy to the people of Israel there, he does not restrict himself in his prophecy to the kingdom of the ten tribes, but, like his younger contemporary Hosea, notices the kingdom of Judah as well, and even the surrounding nations, that were hostile to the covenant nation. His book is not a mere collection of the addresses delivered in Bethel, but a carefully planned, complete work, in which Amos, after the occurrence of the earthquake in the time of Uzziah, gathered together all the essential contents of the prophecies he had previously uttered at Bethel. It consists of a lengthy introduction (Amos 1:1-15, 2) and two parts, viz., simple prophetic addresses (ch. 4-6), and visions with short explanations (ch. 7). In the introduction the prophet proclaims, in the following manner, the judgment about to fall upon Damascus, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah, and Israel. The storm of the Lord, which bursts upon all these kingdoms, remains suspended over the kingdom of Israel, which is mentioned last. This is evident from the fact, that the sin of Israel is depicted more fully than that of the other nations; and the threatening of judgment is couched in such general terms, that it can only be regarded as a provisional announcement, or as the introduction to the body of the book by which it is followed. The first part contains an extended address, divided into three sections by the recurrence of שׁמעוּ (hear ye) in Amos 3:1; Amos 4:1, and Amos 5:1. The address consists of a "great warning to repent," in which the prophet holds up before the sinful Israelites, especially the rulers of the kingdom, the arts of injustice and wickedness that are current among them, and proclaims a judgment which embraces the destruction of the palaces and holy places, the overthrow of the kingdom, and the transportation of the people. In Amos 3:1-15 the sin and punishment are described in the most general form. In Amos 4:1-13 the prophet sweeps away from the self-secure sinners the false ground of confidence afforded by their own worship, recals to their mind the judgments with which God has already visited them, and summons them to stand before God as their judge. In ch. 5 and Amos 6:1-14, after a mournful elegy concerning the fall of the house of Israel (Amos 5:1-3), he points out to the penitent the way to life coupled with the repeated summons to seek the Lord, and that which is good (Amos 5:4, Amos 5:6, Amos 5:14); and then, in the form of a woe, for which a double reason is assigned (Amos 5:18; Amos 6:1), he takes away all hope of deliverance from the impenitent and hardened. Throughout the whole of this address Amos prophesies chiefly to the ten tribes, whom he repeatedly addresses, predicting ruin and exile. At the same time, he not only addresses his words in the introduction (Amos 3:1-2) to all Israel of the twelve tribes, whom Jehovah brought out of Egypt, but he also pronounces the last woe (Amos 6:1) upon the secure ones on Zion, and the careless ones on the mountain of Samaria; so that his prophecy also applies to the kingdom of Judah, and sets before it the same fate as that of the kingdom of the ten tribes, if it should fall into the same sin. The second part contains five visions, and at the close the proclamation of salvation. the first two visions (Amos 7:1-3 and Amos 7:4-6) threaten judgments; the next two (Amos 7:7-9; Amos 8:1-3) point out the impossibility of averting the judgment, and the ripeness of the people for it. Between these, viz., in Amos 7:10-17, the conversation between the prophet and the chief priest at Bethel is related. The substance of the fourth vision is carried out still further, in a simple prophetic address (Amos 8:4-14). Lastly, the fifth vision (Amos 9:1) shows the overthrow and ruin of the whole of Israel, and is also still further expanded in a plain address (Amos 9:2-10). To this there is appended the promise of the restoration of the fallen kingdom of God, of its extension through the adoption of the Gentiles, and of its eternal glorification (Amos 9:11-15). This conclusion corresponds to the introduction (Amos 1:1-15 and 2). Like all the nations that rise up in hostility to the kingdom of God, even Judah and Israel shall fall victims to the judgment, on account of their unrighteousness and idolatry, in order that the kingdom of God may be purified from its dross, be exalted to glory, and so be made perfect. This is the fundamental thought of the writings of Amos, who was called by the Lord to preach this truth to the nation of Israel. And just as the close of his book points back to the introduction (Amos 1:1-15 and 2), so also do the visions of the second part correspond to the addresses of the first, embodying the substance of the addresses in significant symbols. The parallel between the fifth vision and the elegy struck up in Amos 5:1 is very conspicuous; and it is also impossible to overlook the material agreement between the first and second visions and the enumeration in Amos 4:6-11, of the divine visitations that had already fallen upon Israel; whilst the third and fourth visions set clearly before the eye the irrevocable character of the judgments with which careless and wanton sinners are threatened in ch. 3-6.

There is evidently no foundation for the assumption that the second part contains "the true kernel of his work," namely, "the addresses which Amos originally delivered at Bethel;" and that the first part, together with the introduction (ch. 1-6) and the Messianic conclusion (Amos 9:11-15), is purely a written description, composed by Amos after his return from Bethel to Judah, to give a further expansion to his original utterances (Ewald, Baur). This by no means follows, either from the fact that the account of what the prophet experienced at Bethel is inserted in the series of visions, as it moves on step by step, and that the place in which it occurs (viz., ch. 7) is evidently its original position, or from the circumstance that Amos commences his work with a saying of Joel (compare Amos 1:2 with Joel 3:16), and evidently refers to Joel (Joel 3:18) even in the promise at the close (Amos 9:13). For the position of this account in ch. 7 proves nothing further than that Amos related those visions in Bethel; and the allusion to Joel simply presupposes an acquaintance with the predictions of this prophet. If there were no previous addresses, the visions in ch. 7 and 8 would have nothing to explain their occurrence, and would also be lacking in the requisite clearness. Moreover, the work of Amos in Bethel cannot possibly be limited to ch. 7-9. And lastly, the addresses in ch. 4-6 are throughout so individual, so full of life, and so impressive, that they clearly reflect the original oral delivery, even though it may be nothing more than the essential substance of what was orally delivered, that has been given here. Only Amos 1:1-15 and 2 appears to have been really conceived in the form of a written composition, and placed at the head of the book at the time when it was first compiled, although certain thoughts that had been orally expressed may lie at the foundation even there.

For the exegetical writings upon Amos, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, pp. 284-5.

I. The Approaching Judgment - Amos 1:1-15 and 2

Starting from the saying of Joel (Joel 3:16), "Jehovah will roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem," Amos announces the wrath of the Lord, which will discharge itself upon Damascus (Amos 1:3-5), Philistia (Amos 1:6-8), Tyre (Amos 1:9-10), Edom (Amos 1:11-12), Ammon (Amos 1:13-15), Moab (Amos 2:1-3), Judah (Amos 2:4-5), and Israel (Amos 2:6-16). The announcement of this judgment maintains a certain uniformity throughout; every one of these nations being threatened with the destruction of the kingdom, or with ruin and exile, "for three or four transgressions;" and the threat, as Rckert has well expressed it, "rolling like a storm, in strophe after strophe, over all the surrounding kingdoms," touching Judah as it passes along, and eventually resting over Israel. The six heathen nations mentioned, three of which are related to the covenant nation, represent all the Gentile nations, which rise up in hostility to the people or kingdom of God. For the sins on account of which they are to be punished, are not certain general breaches of morality, but crimes which they have committed against the people of God; and in the case of Judah, contempt of the commandments of the Lord, and idolatry. The whole section, not merely Amos 1:2-2:5, but also Amos 2:6-16, has an introductory character. Whilst, on the one hand, the extension of the prediction of judgment to the Gentile nations indicates the necessity and universality of the judgment, which is sent to promote the interests of the kingdom of God, and preaches the truth that every one will be judged according to his attitude towards the living God; on the other hand, the place assigned to the Gentile nations, viz., before the covenant nation, not only sharpened the conscience, but taught this lesson, that if even the nations which had only sinned indirectly against the living God were visited with severe punishment, those to whom God had so gloriously revealed Himself (Amos 2:9-11; Amos 3:1) would be punished still more surely for their apostasy (Amos 3:2). It is with this design that Judah is also mentioned along with Israel, and in fact before it. "The intention was to impress this truth most strongly upon the people of the ten tribes, that not even the possession of such glorious prerogatives as the temple and the throne of David could avert the merited punishment. If this be the energy of the justice of God, what have we to look for?" (Hengstenberg).

The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.
Amos 1:1 contains the heading, which has already been discussed in the Introduction; and אשׁר חזה ("which he saw") refers to דּברי עמוס (the words of Amos). Amos 1:2 forms the Introduction, which is attached to the heading by ויּאמר, and announces a revelation of the wrath of God upon Israel, or a theocratic judgment. Amos 1:2. "Jehovah roars out of Zion, and He utters His voice from Jerusalem; and the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the head of Carmel withers." The voice of Jehovah is the thunder, the earthly substratum in which the Lord manifests His coming to judgment (see at Joel 3:16). By the adoption of the first half of the verse word for word from Joel, Amos connects his prophecy with that of his predecessor, not so much with the intention of confirming the latter, as for the purpose of alarming the sinners who were at east in their security, and overthrowing the delusive notion that the judgment of God would only fall upon the heathen world. This delusion he meets with the declaration, that at the threatening of the wrath of God the pastures of the shepherds, i.e., the pasture-ground of the land of Israel (cf. Joel 1:19), and the head of the forest-crowned Carmel, will fade and wither. Carmel is the oft-recurring promontory at the mouth of the Kishon on the Mediterranean (see the comm. on Joshua 19:26 and 1 Kings 18:19), and not the place called Carmel on the mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:55), to which the term ראשׁ (head) is inapplicable (vid., Amos 9:3 and Micah 7:14). Shepherds' pastures and Carmel individualized the land of Israel in a manner that was very natural to Amos the shepherd. With this introduction, Amos announces the theme of his prophecies. And if, instead of proceeding at once to describe still further the judgment that threatens the kingdom of Israel, he first of all enumerates the surrounding nations, including Judah, as objects of the manifestation of the wrath of God, this enumeration cannot have any other object than the one described in our survey of the contents of the book. The enumeration opens with the kingdoms of Aram, Philistia, and Tyre (Phoenicia), which were not related to Israel by any ties of kinship whatever.

And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:
Aram-Damascus. - Amos 1:3. "Thus saith Jehovah, For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because they have threshed Gilead with iron rollers, Amos 1:4. I send fire into the house of Hazael, and it will eat the palaces of Ben-hadad, Amos 1:5. And break in pieces the bolt of Damascus, and root out the inhabitant from the valley of Aven, and the sceptre-holder out of Beth-eden: and the people of Aram will wander into captivity to Kir, saith Jehovah." In the formula, which is repeated in the case of every people, "for three transgressions, and for four," the numbers merely serve to denote the multiplicity of the sins, the exact number of which has no bearing upon the matter. "The number four is added to the number three, to characterize the latter as simply set down at pleasure; in other words, it is as much as to say that the number is not exactly three or four, but probably a still larger number" (Hitzig). The expression, therefore, denotes not a small but a large number of crimes, or "ungodliness in its worst form" (Luther; see at Hosea 6:2)

(Note: J. Marck has correctly explained it thus: "When this perfect number (three) is followed by four, by way of gradation, God not only declares that the measure of iniquity is full, but that it is filled to overflowing and beyond all measure.").

That these numbers are to be understood in this way, and not to be taken in a literal sense, is unquestionably evident from the fact, that nit he more precise account of the sins which follows, as a rule, only one especially grievous crime is mentioned by way of example. לא אשׁיבנּוּ (I will not reverse it) is inserted before the more minute description of the crimes, to show that the threat is irrevocable. השׁיב signifies to turn, i.e., to make a thing go back, to withdraw it, as in Numbers 23:20; Isaiah 43:13. The suffix attached to אשׁיבנּוּ refers neither to qōlō (his voice), nor "to the idea of דּבר which is implied in כּה אמר (thus saith), or the substance of the threatening thunder-voice" (Baur); for hēshı̄bh dâbhâr signifies to give an answer, and never to make a word ineffectual. The reference is to the punishment threatened afterwards, where the masculine stands in the place of the neuter. Consequently the close of the verse contains the epexegesis of the first clause, and Amos 1:4 and Amos 1:5 follow with the explanation of לא אשׁיבנו (I will not turn it). The threshing of the Gileadites with iron threshing-machines is mentioned as the principal transgression of the Syrian kingdom, which is here named after the capital Damascus (see at 2 Samuel 8:6). This took place at the conquest of the Israelitish land to the east of the Jordan by Hazael during the reign of Jehu (2 Kings 10:32-33, cf. 2 Kings 13:7), when the conquerors acted so cruelly towards the Gileadites, that they even crushed the prisoners to pieces with iron threshing-machines, according to a barbarous war-custom that is met with elsewhere (see at 2 Samuel 12:31). Chârūts ( equals chârı̄ts, 2 Samuel 12:31), lit., sharpened, is a poetical term applied to the threshing-roller, or threshing-cart (mōrag chârūts, Isaiah 41:15). According to Jerome, it was "a kind of cart with toothed iron wheels underneath, which was driven about to crush the straw in the threshing-floors after the grain had been beaten out." The threat is individualized historically thus: in the case of the capital, the burning of the palaces is predicted; and in that of two other places, the destruction of the people and their rulers; so that both of them apply to both, or rather to the whole kingdom. The palaces of Hazael and Benhadad are to be sought for in Damascus, the capital of the kingdom (Jeremiah 49:27). Hazael was the murderer of Benhadad I, to whom the prophet Elisha foretold that he would reign over Syria, and predicted the cruelties that he would practise towards Israel (2 Kings 8:7.). Benhadad is generally regarded as his son; but the plural "palaces" leads us rather to think of both the first and second Benhadad, and this is favoured by the circumstance that it was only during his father's reign that Benhadad II oppressed Israel, whereas after his death, and when he himself ascended the throne, the conquered provinces were wrested from him by Joash king of Israel (2 Kings 13:22-25). The breaking of the bar (the bolt of the gate) denotes the conquest of the capital; and the cutting off of the inhabitants of Biq‛ath-Aven indicates the slaughter connected with the capture of the towns, and not their deportation; for hikhrı̄th means to exterminate, so that gâlâh (captivity) in the last clause applies to the remainder of the population that had not been slain in war. In the parallel clause תּומך שׁבם, the sceptre-holder, i.e., the ruler (either the king or his deputy), corresponds to yōshēbh (the inhabitant); and the thought expressed is, that both prince and people, both high and low, shall perish.

The two places, Valley-Aven and Beth-Eden, cannot be discovered with any certainty; but at any rate they were capitals, and possibly they may have been the seat of royal palaces as well as Damascus, which was the first capital of the kingdom. בּקעת און, valley of nothingness, or of idols, is supposed by Ewald and Hitzig to be a name given to Heliopolis or Baalbek, after the analogy of Beth-aven equals Bethel (see at Hosea 5:8). They base their opinion upon the Alex. rendering ἐκ πεδίου Ὦν, taken in connection with the Alex. interpretation of the Egyptian On (Genesis 41:45) as Heliopolis. But as the lxx have interpreted אן by Heliopolis in the book of Genesis, whereas here they have merely reproduced the Hebrew letters און by Ὦν, as they have in other places as well (e.g., Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:8; Hosea 10:5, Hosea 10:8), where Heliopolis cannot for a moment be thought of, the πέδιον Ὦν of the lxx furnishes no evidence in favour of Heliopolis, still less does it warrant an alteration of the Hebrew pointing (into און). Even the Chaldee and Syriac have taken בּקעת און as a proper name, and Ephraem Syrus speaks of it as "a place in the neighbourhood of Damascus, distinguished for idol-chapels." The supposition that it is a city is also favoured by the analogy of the other threatenings, in which, for the most part, cities only are mentioned. Others understand by it the valley near Damascus, or the present Bekaa between Lebanon and Antilibanus, in which Heliopolis was always the most distinguished city, and Robinson has pronounced in favour of this (Bibl. Res. p. 677). Bēth-‛Eden, i.e., house of delight, is not to be sought for in the present village of Eden, on the eastern slope of Lebanon, near to the cedar forest of Bshirrai, as the Arabic name of this village 'hdn has nothing in common with the Hebrew עדן (see at 2 Kings 19:12); but it is the Παράδεισος of the Greeks, which Ptolemy places ten degrees south and five degrees east of Laodicea, and which Robinson imagines that he has found in Old Jusieh, not far from Ribleh, a place belonging to the times before the Saracens, with very extensive ruins (see Bibl. Researches, pp. 542-6, and 556). The rest of the population of Aram would be carried away to Kir, i.e., to the country on the banks of the river Kur, from which, according to Amos 9:7, the Syrians originally emigrated. This prediction was fulfilled when the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser conquered Damascus in the time of Ahaz, and broke up the kingdom of Syria (2 Kings 16:9). The closing words, 'âmar Yehōvâh (saith the Lord), serve to add strength to the threat, and therefore recur in Amos 1:8, Amos 1:15, and Amos 2:3.

But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad.
I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD.
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom:
Philistia. - Amos 1:6. "Thus saith Jehovah, For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because they carried away captives in full number to deliver them up to Edom, Amos 1:7. I send fire into the wall of Gaza, and it will eat their palaces; Amos 1:8. And I exterminate the inhabitant from Ashdod, and the sceptre-holder from Askelon, and turn my hand against Ekron, and the remnant of the Philistines will perish, saith the Lord Jehovah." Instead of the Philistines generally, the prophet mentions Gaza in Amos 1:6. This is still a considerable town, bearing the old name Guzzeh (see the comm. on Joshua 13:3), and was the one of the five capitals of the Philistines which had taken the most active part as a great commercial town in handing over the Israelitish prisoners to the Edomites. For it is evident that Gaza is simply regarded as a representative of Philistia, from the fact that in the announcement of the punishment, the other capitals of Philistia are also mentioned. Gâlūth shelēmâh is correctly explained by Jerome thus: "a captivity so perfect and complete, that not a single captive remained who was not delivered to the Idumaeans." The reference is to captive Israelites, who were carried off by the Philistines, and disposed of by them to the Edomites, the arch-enemies of Israel. Amos no doubt had in his mind the invasion of Judah by the Philistines and tribes of Arabia Petraea in the time of Joram, which is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 21:16, and to which Joel had already alluded in Joel 3:3., where the Phoenicians and Philistines are threatened with divine retribution for having plundered the land, and sold the captive Judaeans to the Javanites (Ionians). But it by no means follows from this, that the "sons of Javan" mentioned in Joel 3:6 are not Greeks, but the inhabitants of the Arabian Javan noticed in Ezekiel 27:19. The fact was simply this: the Philistines sold one portion of the many prisoners, taken at that time, to the Edomites, and the rest to the Phoenicians, who disposed of them again to the Greeks. Joel simply mentions the latter circumstance, because, in accordance with the object of his prophecy, his design was to show the wide dispersion of the Jews, and their future gathering out of all the lands of their banishment. Amos, on the other hand, simply condemns the delivering of the captives to Edom, the arch-foe of Israel, to indicate the greatness of the sin involved in this treatment of the covenant nation, or the hatred which the Philistines had displayed thereby. As a punishment for this, the cities of Philistia would be burned by their enemies, the inhabitants would be exterminated, and the remnant perish. Here again, as in Amos 1:4, Amos 1:5, the threat is rhetorically individualized, so that in the case of one city the burning of the city itself is predicted, and in that of another the destruction of its inhabitants. (On Ashdod, Askelon, and Ekron, see the comm. on Joshua 13:3.) השׁיב יד, to return the hand, i.e., to turn or stretch it out again (see comm. on 2 Samuel 8:3). The use of this expression may be explained on the ground, that the destruction of the inhabitants of Ashdod and Askelon has already been thought of as a stretching out of the hand. The fifth of the Philistian capitals, Gath, is not mentioned, though not for the reason assigned by Kimchi, viz., that it belonged to the kings of Judah, or had been conquered by Uzziah, for Uzziah had not only conquered Gath and Jabneh, but had taken Ashdod as well, and thrown down the walls (2 Chronicles 26:6), and yet Amos mentions Ashdod; nor because Gath had been taken by the Syrians (2 Kings 12:18), for this Syrian conquest was not a lasting one, and in the prophet's time (cf. Amos 6:2), and even later (cf. Micah 1:10), it still maintained its independence, and was a very distinguished city; but for the simple reason that the individualizing description given by the prophet did not require the complete enumeration of all the capitals, and the idea of been named, but all that was still in existence, and had escaped destruction" (Amos 9:12 and Jeremiah 6:9), it nevertheless includes not merely the four states just named, but every part of Philistia that had hitherto escaped destruction, so that Gath must be included.

But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof:
And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD.
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant:
Tyre or Phoenicia. - Amos 1:9. "Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because they have delivered up prisoners in full number to Edom, and have not remembered the brotherly covenant, Amos 1:10. I send fire into the wall of Tyrus, and it will devour their palaces." In the case of Phoenicia, the capital only (Tzōr, i.e., Tyrus; see at Joshua 19:29) is mentioned. The crime with which it is charged is similar to the one for which the Philistines were blamed, with this exception, that instead of על־הגלותם להסגּיר (Amos 1:6) we have simply על־הסגּירם. If, therefore, Tyre is only charged with delivering up the captives to Edom, and not with having carried them away, it must have bought the prisoners from an enemy of Israel, and then disposed of them to Edom. From what enemy they were purchased, it is impossible to determine with certainty. Probably from the Syrians, in the wars of Hazael and Benhadad with Israel; for there is nothing at variance with this in the fact that, when they purchased Israelitish captives in the time of Joram, they sold them to Javan. For a commercial nation, carrying on so extensive a trade as the Phoenicians did, would have purchased prisoners in more than one war, and would also have disposed of them as slaves to more nations than one. Tyre had contracted all the more guilt through this trade in Israelitish salves, from the fact that it had thereby been ummindful of the brotherly covenant, i.e., of the friendly relation existing between Israel and itself-for example, the friendly alliance into which David and Solomon had entered with the king of Tyre (2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5:15.) - and also from the fact that no king of Israel or Judah had ever made war upon Phoenicia.

But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof.
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever:
Edom. - Amos 1:11. "Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because it pursues its brother with the sword, and stifles its compassion, and its anger tears in pieces for ever, and it keeps its wrath for ever, Amos 1:12. I send fire into Teman, and it will devour the palaces of Bozrah." Edom and the two following nations were related to Israel by lineal descent. In the case of Edom, Amos does not condemn any particular sins, but simply its implacable, mortal hatred towards its brother nation Israel, which broke out into acts of cruelty at every possible opportunity. ושׁחת רחמיו, he annihilates, i.e., suppresses, stifles his sympathy or his compassionate love; this is still dependent upon על רדפו, the preposition על continuing in force as a conjunction before the infinitive (i.e., as equivalent to על אשׁר), and the infinitive passing into the finite verb (cf. Amos 2:4). In the next clause אפּו is the subject: its wrath tears in pieces, i.e., rages destructively (compare Job 16:9, where târaph is applied to the wrath of God). In the last clause, on the other hand, Edom is again the subject; but it is now regarded as a kingdom, and construed as a feminine, and consequently עברתו is the object, and placed at the head as an absolute noun. שׁמרה, with the tone upon the penult. (milel) on account of netsach, which follows with the tone upon the first syllable, stands for שׁמרהּ (it preserves it), the mappik being omitted in the toneless syllable (compare Ewald, 249, b). If עברתו were the subject, the verb would have to be pointed שׁמרה. Again, the rendering proposed by Ewald, "his fury lies in wait for ever," is precluded by the fact that שׁמר, when applied to wrath in Jeremiah 3:5, signifies to keep, or preserve, and also by the fact that lying in wait is generally inapplicable to an emotion. Teman, according to Jerome (ad h. l.), is Idumaeorum regio quae vergit ad australem partem, so that here, just as in Amos 2:2 and Amos 2:5, the land is mentioned first, and then the capital.

(Note: It is true that, according to Eusebius, Jerome does also mention in the Onom. a villa (κώμη) named Teman, which was five Roman miles from Petra, and in which there was a Roman garrison; and also that there is a Teman in Eastern Hauran (see Wetzstein in Delitzsch's Comm. on Job, i. 73); but in the Old Testament Teman is never to be understood as referring to a city.)

Bozrah, an important city, supposed to be the capital of Idumaea (see comm. on Genesis 36:33). It was to the south of the Dead Sea, and has been preserved in el-Buseireh, a village with ruins in Jebl (see Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 570), and must not be confounded with Bossra in Hauran (Burckhardt, Syr. p. 364).

But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border:
Ammon. - Amos 1:13. "Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because they have ripped up the pregnant women of Gilead, to widen their border, Amos 1:14. I kindle fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it will devour its palaces, with the war-cry on the day of slaughter, in the storm on the day of the tempest. Amos 1:15. And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes all at once, saith Jehovah." The occasion on which the Ammonites were guilty of such cruelty towards the Israelites as is here condemned, is not recorded in the historical books of the Old Testament; possibly during the wars of Hazael with Israel, when they availed themselves of the opportunity to widen their territory by conquering back the land which had been wrested from them by Sihon king of the Amorites, and was then taken possession of by the Israelites, when he was overcome by them, - a thing which they had attempted once before in the time of Jephthah the judge (Judges 11:12.). We may see from Jeremiah 49:1. that they had taken possession of the territory of the tribe of Gad, which lay nearest to them, though probably not till after the carrying away of the tribes beyond Jordan by the Assyrians (2 Kings 15:29). The ripping up of the women with child (see at 2 Kings 8:12) is singled out as the climax of the cruelties which the Ammonites inflicted upon the Israelites during the war. As a punishment for this, their capital was to be burned, and the king, with the princes, to wander into exile, and consequently their kingdom was to be destroyed. Rabbâh, i.e., the great one, is the abbreviated name of the capital; Rabbah of the children of Ammon, which has been preserved in the ruins of Aurân (see at Deuteronomy 3:11). The threat is sharpened by the clause בּתרוּעה וגו, at the war-cry on the field of battle, i.e., an actual fact, when the enemy shall take the city by storm. בּסער וגו is a figurative expression applied to the storming of a city carried by assault, like בּסוּפה in Numbers 21:14. The reading מלכּם, "their (the Ammonites') king," is confirmed by the lxx and the Chaldee, and required by ושׂריו (cf. Amos 2:3), whereas Μαλχόμ, Melchom, which is found in Aq., Symm., Jerome, and the Syriac, rests upon a false interpretation.

But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind:
And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the LORD.
Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch [1857-78].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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