|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-8 The evil passions of the heart break out in various forms; but the Lord looks to our motives, as well as our conduct. Those that deal cruelly, shall be cruelly dealt with. Other nations were reckoned with for injuries done to men; Judah is reckoned with for dishonour done to God. Judah despised the law of the Lord; and he justly gave them up to strong delusion; nor was it any excuse for their sin, that they were the lies, the idols, after which their fathers walked. The worst abominations and most grievous oppressions have been committed by some of the professed worshippers of the Lord. Such conduct leads many to unbelief and vile idolatry.
Verse 7. - That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor. This is the second charge - oppression of the poor. The obscure expression in the text is capable of two explanations. Hitzig, Pusey, Trochon, assume that its meaning is that in their avarice and cupidity the usurers or tyrannous rich men grudge even the dust which the poor man strews upon his head in token of his sorrow at being brought to so low a state. But this seems unnatural and farfetched, and scarcely in harmony with the simple style of Amos. The other explanation, supported by Kimchi, Sehegg, Keil, and Knabenbauer, is preferable. These oppressors desire eagerly to see the poor crushed to the earth, or so miserable as to scatter dust on their heads (comp. 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; Job 2:12). The poor (dal, not the same word as in ver. 6); depressed, as brought low in condition. The Septuagint joins this with the previous clause, "And the poor for sandals, the things that tread on the dust of the earth, and smote on the heads of the needy." The Vulgate gives, Qui conterunt super pulverem terrae capita pauperum, "Who bruise the heads of the poor on the dust of the earth." Turn aside the way of the meek. They thwart and hinder their path of life, and force them into crooked and evil ways. Or way, according to Kimchi, may mean "judicial process," as Proverbs 17:23. This gives, to the clause much the same meaning as ver. 6. The meek are those who are lowly and unassuming (see note on Zephaniah 2:3). And a man and his father will go in unto the same maid; LXX., Αἰσεπορεύοντο πρὸς τὴν αὐτὴν παιδίσκην. The Vulgate, which omits "the same," is closer to the Hebrew, Et filius ac pater ejus ierunt ad puellam, though the Greek doubtless gives the intended meaning. This sin, which was tantamount to incest, was virtually forbidden (Leviticus 18:8, 15; Leviticus 20:11). Some (as Ewald, Maurer, Gandell) see here an allusion to the organized prostitution in idol temples (Hosea 4:14), but this seems unnecessary. To profane my holy Name (Leviticus 22:32). Such crimes dishonoured the God who called them his people, so that to them could be applied what St. Paul says (Romans 2:24), "The Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you" (comp. Leviticus 20:3; Ezekiel 36:20, 23). The word lemaan, "in order that," implies that they committed these sins, not through ignorance, but intentionally, to bring discredit upon the true faith and worship.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor,.... Either were greedy after money, the dust of the earth, and even that small portion of it the poor were possessed of; they could not be easy that they should enjoy that little of it they did, but were desirous to get it out of their hands by oppression and injustice: or they were eagerly desirous of throwing the poor upon the earth, and trampling upon them, and dragging them through the dust of it, thereby filling their heads and covering their faces with it; and caused them to put their mouths in the dust, and be humble suppliants to them. Some think there is an allusion to an ancient custom, which Joseph ben Gorion (r) speaks of, that a guilty person should stand before the judges, clad in black, and his head covered with dust; and this these judges desired here might be done by the rich, that the poor might be accused by them from whom they expected gifts:
and turn aside the way of the meek; decline doing them justice, pervert it, and hinder the course of it, denying it to those who are humble, meek, and modest; or else by one means or another turned them from the good ways in which they were walking, and by degrees at length brought them to such impudence and immodesty as is next expressed, so Aben Ezra:
and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name; that is, will be guilty of such uncleanness, as not only to have and enjoy the same harlot, but of such incest, as that the son would lie with his father's wife, and the father lie with his son's wife; a sin which was not named among the Gentiles, 1 Corinthians 5:1; and whereby the name of God was blasphemed among them, as if their religion taught them and encouraged them in such filthy actions; see Romans 2:24.
(r) Hist. Heb. c. 44. apud Drusium in loc.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. pant after … dust of … earth on … head of … poor—that is, eagerly thirst for this object, by their oppression to prostrate the poor so as to cast the dust on their heads in mourning on the earth (compare 2Sa 1:2; Job 2:12; Eze 27:30).
turn aside … way of … meek—pervert their cause (Am 5:12; Job 24:4 [Grotius]; Isa 10:2).
a man and his father—a crime "not so much as named among the Gentiles" (1Co 5:1). When God's people sin in the face of light, they often fall lower than even those who know not God.
go in unto the same maid—from Am 2:8 it seems likely "the damsel" meant is one of the prostitutes attached to the idol Astarte's temple: prostitution being part of her filthy worship.
to profane my … name—Israel in such abominations, as it were, designedly seeks to insult God.
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