|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-6 The convincing, awakening word must be heard and heeded, as well as words of comfort and peace; for whether we hear or forbear, the word of God shall take effect. The Lord still proclaims mercy to men, but they often expect deliverance from such self-invented forms as make their condemnation sure. While they refuse to come to Christ and to seek mercy in and by him, that they may live, the fire of Divine wrath breaks forth upon them. Men may make an idol of the world, but will find it cannot protect.
Verse 5. - Bethel... Gilgal. The scenes of idolatrous worship, where was no true seeking of God (see note on Amos 4:4). Beersheba. A spot about fifty miles southsouthwest of Jerusalem, the site of which has never been lost, and is marked to this day by seven much-frequented wells. As being one of the holy places celebrated in the history of the patriarchs (Genesis 21:31, 33; Genesis 26:23, etc.; Genesis 46:1), it had become a shrine of idolatrous worship, to which the Israelites resorted, though it lay far out of their territory (comp. Amos 8:14). Gilgal shall surely go into captivity. There is in the Hebrew a play on the words here and in the following clause (Hag-gilgal galoh yigleh), which commentators have paralleled with such expressions as, Capua capietur, Cremona cremabitur, Paris perira, "London is undone." Or, taking Joshua's explanation of the name, we may say, "Roll-town shall be rolled away." Bethel shall some to nought. As Bethel, "House of God," had become Bethaven, "House of vanity" (see Hosea 4:15), as being the temple of an idol (comp. 1 Corinthians 8:4), so the prophet, with allusion to this, says that "Bethel shall become aven" - vanity, nothingness, itself. No mention is made of the fate of Beersheba, because Amos has in view only the ten tribes, and the destiny of places beyond their territory is not here the object of his prediction; and indeed, when Israel was ruined, Beersheba escaped unharmed.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But seek not Bethel,.... Do not go to Bethel, the place where one of Jeroboam's calves was set up and worshipped, to consult the oracle, idols, and priests there; or to perform religious worship, which will be your ruin, if not prevented by another course of living:
nor enter into Gilgal; another place of idolatry, where idols were set up and worshipped See Gill on Amos 4:4;
and pass not to Beersheba; a place in the further part of the land of Israel; it formerly belonged to Judah, but was now in the hands of the ten tribes, and where idolatrous worship was practised; see Amos 8:14; it having been a place where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had dwelt, and worshipped the true God:
for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity; that is, the inhabitants of it; they will not be able with their idols and idol worship to save themselves, and therefore go not thither. There is an elegant play on words here (b), as there is also in the next words:
and Bethel shall come to nought; which also was called Bethaven, the house of vanity, or of an idol which is nothing in the world; and therefore, because of the idolatry in it, should come to nothing, be utterly destroyed, and the inhabitants of it. So the Targum,
"they, that are in Gilgal, and worship calves in Bethel.''
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. seek not Beth-el—that is, the calves at Beth-el.
Gilgal—(See on Am 4:4).
Beer-sheba—in Judah on the southern frontier towards Edom. Once "the well of the oath" by Jehovah, ratifying Abraham's covenant with Abimelech, and the scene of his calling on "the Lord, the everlasting God" (Ge 21:31, 33), now a stronghold of idolatry (Am 8:14).
Gilgal shall surely go into captivity—a play on similar sounds in the Hebrew, Gilgal, galoh, yigleh: "Gilgal (the place of rolling) shall rolling be rolled away."
Beth-el shall come to naught—Beth-el (that is, the "house of God"), called because of its vain idols Beth-aven (that is, "the house of vanity," or "naught," Ho 4:15; 10:5, 8), shall indeed "come to naught."
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