Amos 3:9
Publish in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria, and behold the great tumults in the middle thereof, and the oppressed in the middle thereof.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) In the palaces.—Rather, on the palaces, i.e., on their roofs in such conspicuous places that the population, high and low, would hear the summons.

Mountains of Samaria.—In the high ground around the city, from which can be observed all that is passing in the metropolis. Foreign people, even Philistines and Egyptians, are gathered to witness the evils of the doomed realm. The marginal rendering “oppressions” should be adopted. This is shown by the parallelism.

Amos 3:9-11. Publish in the palaces at Ashdod, &c. — God here orders the prophet to invite the Philistines and Egyptians, the inveterate enemies of God’s Israel, to come and behold what great wickedness was among them, and what cause he had to execute what he had threatened, and to mark the calamities coming upon them, as the punishment of that wickedness, that these heathen might hereby take warning. Say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria — That is, in the kingdom of the ten tribes, whose capital city was Samaria, built upon a hill of the same name. Or, the mountains of Samaria may be equivalent to the mountains of Israel, mentioned Ezekiel 36:8; Ezekiel 37:22; Samaria being often taken for the whole kingdom of Israel. Behold the great tumults in the midst thereof — The seditious councils and rebellious conspiracies among them. And the oppressed in the midst thereof — The multitude of oppressed ones throughout the whole kingdom; for the usurpers took it to be their interest to crush all they feared or suspected. For they know not to do right — That is, they will not know nor learn to do their duty. Who store up violence, &c. — Who store up in their houses riches gotten by violence and injustice. Therefore, An adversary shall be even round about the land — Shalmaneser the king of Assyria shall invade the land on every side, shall dismantle its fortresses, and plunder its wealthy palaces.3:9-15 That power which is an instrument of unrighteousness, will justly be brought down and broken. What is got and kept wrongfully, will not be kept long. Some are at ease, but there will come a day of visitation, and in that day, all they are proud of, and put confidence in, shall fail them. God will inquire into the sins of which they have been guilty in their houses, the robbery they have stored up, and the luxury in which they lived. The pomp and pleasantness of men's houses, do not fortify against God's judgments, but make sufferings the more grievous and vexatious. Yet a remnant, according to the election of grace, will be secured by our great and good Shepherd, as from the jaws of destruction, in the worst times.Publish - "ye," they are the words of God, commissioning His prophets

In (on) the palaces of Ashdod - , that is, on the flat roofs of their high buidings, from where all can hear

And in (on) the palaces in the land of Egypt - Theodoret: "Since ye disbelieve, I will manifest to Ashdodites and Egyptians the transgressions of which ye are guilty." Amos had already pronounced God's sentence on "the palaces of Ashdod" and all Philistia, for their sins against Himself in His people (see the notes at Amos 1:6-8). Israel now, or a little later, courted Egypt Hosea 7:11; Hosea 12:1. To friend then and to foe, to those whom they dreaded and those whom they courted, God would lay open their sins. Contempt and contumely from an enemy aggravate suffering: man does not help whom he despiseth. "They were all ashamed of a people who could not profit them," saith Isaiah Isa 30:5 subsequently, of Egypt in regard to Judah. From those palaces, already doomed to destruction for their sins, the summons was to go, to visit Samaria, and see her sins, amid grace which those people had not. As our Lord says, "It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment, than for that city" Matthew 10:15. Shame toward man survives shame toward God. What people are not ashamed to do, they are, apart from any consequences, ashamed to confess that they have done. Nay, to avoid a little passing shame, they rush upon "everlasting shame." So God employs all inferior motives, shame, fear, hope of things present, if by any means He can win people, not to offend Him.

Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria - that is, those surrounding it. Samaria was chosen with much human wisdom for the strong capital of a small people. Imbedded in mountains, and out of any of the usual routes , it lay, a mountain-fastness in a rich valley. Armies might surge to and fro in the valley of Jezreel, and be unconscious of its existence. The way from that great valley to Samaria lay, every way, through deep and often narrowing valleys , down which the armies of Samaria might readily pour, but which, like Thermopylae, might be held by a handful of men against a large host.

The broad vale near the hill of Dothan , along which the blinded Syrian army followed Elisha to Samaria, contracts into "a narrow valley" , before it reaches Samaria. The author of the book of Judith, who knew well the country, speaks of "the passages of the hill-country" near Dothaim, "by" which "there was an entrance into Judaea, and it was easy to stop them that would come up, because the passage was strait for two men at the most" . : "A series of long winding ravines open from the mountains to the plain; these were the passes so often defended by the 'horns of Joseph, the ten thousands of Ephraim, and the thousands of Manasseh' against the invaders from the north."

Within these lay "the wide rocky rampart" which fenced in Samaria from the north . "The fine round swelling hill of Samaria, now cultivated to the top, (about 1,100 feet above the sea , and 300 from its own valley ,) stands alone in the midst of a great basin of some two hours (or 5 miles) in diameter surrounded by higher mountains on every side." : "The view from its summit presents a splendid panorama of the fertile basin and the mountains around, teeming with large villages, and includes not less than 25 degrees of the Mediterranean." Such a place, out of reach, in those days, from the neighboring heights, was well-near impregnable, except by famine. But its inhabitants must have had handed down to them the memory, how those heights had once been populated, while their valleys were thronged with "all the hosts" 2 Kings 6:24 of Benhadad, his chariots and his horsemen; and the mountains, in which they had trusted to shut out the enemy, were the prison-walls of their famished people.

From those heights , "the Syrians could plainly distinguish the famishing inhabitants of the city. The adjacent circle of hills were so densely occupied, that not a man could push through to bring provisions to the beleaguered city." The city, being built on the summit and terraced sides of the hill, unfenced and unconcealed by walls which, except at its base, were unneeded, lay open, unsheltered in every part from the gaze of the besiegers. The surrounding hills were one large amphitheater, from where to behold the tragedy of Israel , and enemies were invited to be the spectators. They could see its faminestricken inhabitants totter along those open terraces. Sin had brought this chastisement upon them. God had forgiven them then. When God who had, by His prophet, foretold their relief then 2 Kings 7:1-2, now by His prophet called anew those enemies of Samaria to those same heights to behold her sins, what could this mean but that He summoned them to avenge what He summoned them to behold?

It was no figure of speech. God avenges, as He comforts, not in word, but in deed. The triumph of those enemies David had especially deprecated, "Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumised triumph" 2 Samuel 1:20. To these Israel was to be a gazingstock. They were like "the woman set in the midst John 8:3, amid one encircling sea of accusing insulting faces, with none to pity, none to intercede, none to show mercy to them who "had shewed no mercy." Faint image of the shame of that Day, when not people's deeds only, but "the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed" Romans 2:16, and "they shall begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us, and to the hills, Cover us" Luke 23:30; and of that "shame" there will be no end, for it is "everlasting" Daniel 12:2.

And behold the great tumults - I. e, the alarms, restlessness, disorders and confusion of a people intent on gain; turning all law upside down, the tumultuous noise of the oppressors and oppressed. It is the word which Solomon uses , "Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and tumult therewith," the tumults and restlessness of continual gaining. "And the oppressed," or better (as in the English margin) the oppressions , the manifold ever-repeated acts by which people were crushed and trampled on.

In the midst thereof - Admitted within her, domiciled, reigning there in her very center, and never departing out of her, as the Psalmist says, "Wickedness is in the midst thereof; deciet and guile depart not from her streets" Psalm 55:11. Aforetime, God spared His people, that "His Name Ezekiel 20:9 should not be polluted before the pagan, among whom they were, in whose sight I made Myself known unto them in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt." Now He summons those same pagan as witnesses that Israel was justly condemned. These sins, being sins against the moral law, the pagan would condemn. People condemn in others, what they do themselves. But so they would see that God hated sin, for which He spared not His own people, and could the less triumph over God, when they saw the people whom God had established and protected, given up to the king of Assyria.

9. Publish in … palaces—as being places of greatest resort (compare Mt 10:27); and also as it is the sin of princes that he arraigns, he calls on princes (the occupants of the "palaces") to be the witnesses.

Ashdod—put for all Philistia. Convene the Philistine and the Egyptian magnates, from whom I have on various occasions rescued Israel. (The opposite formula to "Tell it not in Gath," namely, lest the heathen should glory over Israel). Even these idolaters, in looking on your enormities, will condemn you; how much more will the holy God?

upon the mountains of Samaria—on the hills surrounding and commanding the view of Samaria, the metropolis of the ten tribes, which was on a lower hill (Am 4:1; 1Ki 16:24). The mountains are to be the tribunal on which the Philistines and Egyptians are to sit aloft to have a view of your crimes, so as to testify to the justice of your punishment (Am 3:13).

tumults—caused by the violence of the princes of Israel in "oppressions" of the poor (Job 35:9; Ec 4:1).

Publish; you prophets whom I have sent to threaten the sins of my people Israel, now invite strangers to come and observe what just cause I have to do what I threaten.

In the palaces at Ashdod; one of the principal cities of the Philistines, Amos 1:8 Zephaniah 2:4; let those that are in the court at Ashdod, and have a mind to travel a while out of their own land, let them know what strange sights they may see in their neighbour land.

And in the palaces in the land of Egypt; let the young noblemen of Egypt come too, yea, let as many as will come.

Assemble yourselves; by an appointment (if it may be) let them meet together, and make their observations, and then judge between their doings and their sufferings, my judgments and the causes of them.

Upon the mountains of Samaria; either the whole kingdom of Samaria or the ten tribes, or else it may denote the great men and cities of Samaria; let Egyptians and Philistines in their travels up and down over the kingdom of Israel associate themselves with the great men, and converse in the cities.

Behold; take an exact view of all done by them and in them.

The great tumults; the seditious counsels and rebellious conspiracies, begun amongst them on the death of Jeroboam the Second, and continued one after another for many years, like madmen, bent on ruining one another, to the undoing of all: besides all former violences of Baasha, Zimri, Omri, and Jehu, who took the kingdom out of the hands of their masters; those of Shallum, Menahem, Pekah, and Hoshea, acted in the times Amos pointeth at.

The oppressed; multitudes of oppressed ones in those times, when the usurpers took it to be their interest to crush all they feared or suspected.

In the midst thereof; Samaria, the chief city of the kingdom, and in other cities; yea, rather through the whole kingdom of Samaria. Publish in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt,.... This is spoken to the prophets, to publish and declare in all the courts of the Philistines and Egyptians, and among all the princes and great men therein, the sins of the people of Israel, and the punishment God threatened them with; and let them, even these very Heathens, judge whether there was not a just proportion between them, and whether their sins did not deserve such calamities to be brought upon them, the Lord by his prophets had denounced;

and say, assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria; the metropolis of the ten tribes, Isaiah 7:9; and which was built upon a mountain, and several others were about it, and joined to it; where these princes of Ashdod or Azotus in Palestine, and of Egypt, are called to leave their courts, and meet together, to behold the iniquities committed by Israel, and to sit in judgment upon them, and declare their sense of what was just and fitting to be done to such a people:

and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof; the riots of its inhabitants, the noise of the mob committing all manner of outrages and wickedness:

and the oppressed in the midst thereof; the poor, the fatherless, and the widow, injured in their persons and properties, plundered of their substance, or defrauded of it.

Publish in the palaces at {k} Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof, and the oppressed in the midst thereof.

(k) He calls the strangers, such as the Philistines and Egyptians, to be witness of God's judgments against the Israelites for their cruelty and oppression.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9–10. The heathen themselves are invited to bear witness whether the sins of Samaria do not deserve judgement.

Publish &c.] proclaim it (lit. make it to be heard) over the palaces in Ashdod, &c., i.e. on their flat roofs, whence all can hear (cf. Matthew 10:27): the nobles of Ashdod (Amos 1:8) and Egypt are to be invited to come and judge for themselves of the moral condition of Samaria. The persons addressed may be the prophets; or, more probably, those, whoever they might be, capable of bearing the message; cf. Isaiah 40:1; Isaiah 57:14; Isaiah 62:11; Jeremiah 5:1; Jeremiah 5:10; Jeremiah 5:20, &c.

the mountains of Samaria] i.e. surrounding Samaria. Samaria, the hill which Omri fortified and made his capital (1 Kings 16:24), and which, in the days of its prosperity, must have presented to the eye an imposing ‘crown’ (Isaiah 28:1) of battlements, is a fine rounded eminence, standing in the centre of a magnificent amphitheatre of mountains, with the Mediterranean visible through a gap in the distance. Upon these mountains the prophet pictures the inhabitants of the palaces of Ashdod and Egypt assembled, for the purpose of looking down into the Israelite capital and observing the malpractices rampant within her.

the great tumults] or confusions, disorders, the result of a state in which might rules over right. Cf. Ezekiel 22:5 (of Jerusalem).

the oppressed] rather, oppression, as Job 35:9. Cf. Jeremiah 6:6; Ezekiel 22:7; Ezekiel 22:12; Ezekiel 22:29.Verses 9-15. - Having vindicated his own commission, Amos proclaims what God purposes to do unto Israel. He is bidden to summon the heathen Ashdod and Egypt to bear witness to the iniquities of Samaria, which should bring about the overthrow of the kingdom, the destruction of the city with its altars and palaces, and the exile of the people. Verse 9. - Ashdod (Amos 1:8). God bids the prophets (publish ye) summon the inhabitants of the palaces of Philistia (of which Ashdod is the representative) and Egypt, because they had been the chief enemies of his people, and in their sight had mighty works been wrought for Israel; thus they could appreciate her iniquity and ingratitude. Some, translating al "upon," say that the prophets are bidden publish their message upon the flat roofs of the palaces, that it may be heard far and near (comp. 2 Samuel 16:22; Matthew 10:27). Keil thinks that not all the inhabitants of the town are summoned, but only those who live in the palaces, who alone "could pronounce a correct sentence as to the mode of life commonly adopted in the palaces of Samaria." But this seems an unnecessary refinement. The Septuagint reads, Ἀναγγείλατε χώραις ἐν Ἀσουρίοις, "Proclaim ye to the regions among the Assryians," doubtless by some mistake of copyists. Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria. The city of Samaria was built on a hill which stands alone in the valley or basin, but it is surrounded by higher mountains, from whence, though at some distance, spectators could look down into its streets, and, as from the seats in an amphitheatre, behold the iniquities transacted there. Their implacable enemies, the Philistines, and those they were then courting, the Egyptians (Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 12:1), are alike called to witness this spectacle. Tumult; the disorder, where might makes right. LXX., θαυμαστὰ πολλὰ, "many marvels," as if the sight were a surprise even to the heathen. The oppressed (ashuqim); better, the oppressions, i.e. of the weak at the hands of the powerful (comp. Amos 2:6; Amos 4:1). It was to the eternal disgrace of Israel that there were doings in her cities which the very heathen would condemn. "He held his brother's heel in the womb, and in his man's strength he fought with God. Hosea 12:4. He fought against the angel, and overcame; wept, and prayed to Him: at Bethel he found Him, and there He talked with us. Hosea 12:5. And Jehovah, God of hosts, Jehovah is His remembrance." The name Jacob, which refers to the patriarch himself in Hosea 12:3, forms the link between Hosea 12:2 and Hosea 12:3. The Israelites, as descendants of Jacob, were to strive to imitate the example of their forefather. His striving hard for the birthright, and his wrestling with God, in which he conquered by prayer and supplication, are types and pledges of salvation to the tribes of Israel which bear his name.

(Note: "He shows what good Jacob received, and the son is named in the father: he calls to remembrance the ancient history, that they may see both the mercy of God towards Jacob, and his resolute firmness towards the Lord." - Jerome.)

עקב, a denom. from עקב, "to hold the heel" equals אחז בּעקב in Genesis 25:26, which the prophet has in his mind, not "to overreach," as in Genesis 27:36 and Jeremiah 9:3. For the wrestling with God, mentioned in the second clause of the verse, proves most indisputably that Jacob's conduct is not held up before the people for a warning, as marked by cunning or deceit, as Umbreit and Hitzig suppose, but is set before them for their imitation, as an eager attempt to secure the birthright and the blessing connected with it. This shows at the same time, that the holding of the heel in the mother's womb is not quoted as a proof of the divine election of grace, and, in fact, that there is no reference at all to the circumstance, that "even when Jacob was still in his mother's womb, he did this not by his own strength, but by the mercy of God, who knows and loves those whom He has predestinated" (Jerome). בּאונו, is his manly strength (cf. Genesis 49:3) he wrestled with God (Genesis 32:25-29). This conflict (for the significance of which in relation to Jacob's spiritual life, see the discussion at Genesis l.c.) is more fully described in Hosea 12:4, for the Israelites to imitate. מלאך is the angel of Jehovah, the revealer of the invisible God (see the Commentary on the Pentateuch, pp. 118ff. transl.). ויּכל is from Genesis 32:29. The explanatory clause, "he wept, and made supplication to Him" (after Genesis 32:27), gives the nature of the conflict. It was a contest with the weapons of prayer; and with these he conquered. These weapons are also at the command of the Israelites, if they will only use them. The fruit of the victory was, that he (Jacob) found Him (God) at Bethel. This does not refer to the appearance of God to Jacob on his flight to Mesopotamia (Genesis 28:11), but to that recorded in Genesis 35:9., when God confirmed his name of Israel, and renewed the promises of His blessing. And there, continues the prophet, He (God) spake with us; i.e., not there He speaks with us still, condemning by His prophets the idolatry at Bethel (Amos 5:4-5), as Kimchi supposes; but, as the imperfect ידבּר corresponds to ימצאנּוּ, "there did He speak to us through Jacob," i.e., what He there said to Jacob applies to us.

(Note: "Let it be carefully observed, that God is said to have talked at Bethel not with Jacob only, but with all his posterity. That is to say, the things which are here said to have been done by Jacob, and to have happened to him, had not regard to himself only, but to all the race that sprang from him, and were signs of the good fortune which they either would, or certainly might enjoy" (Lackemacher in Rosenmller's Scholia).)

The explanation of this is given in Hosea 12:5, where the name is recalled in which God revealed Himself to Moses, when He first called him (Exodus 3:15), i.e., in which He made known to him His true nature. Yehōvâh zikhrō is taken literally from זה זכרי לדר דּר; but there the name Jehovah is still further defined by "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," here by "the God of hosts." This difference needs consideration. The Israelites in the time of Moses could only put full confidence in the divine call of Moses to be their deliverer out of the bondage of Egypt, on the ground that He who called him was the God who had manifested Himself to the patriarchs as the God of salvation; but for the Israelites of Hosea's time, the strength of their confidence in Jehovah arose from the fact that Jehovah was the God of hosts, i.e., the God who, because He commands the forces of heaven, both visible and invisible, rules with unrestricted omnipotence on earth as well as in heaven (see at 1 Samuel 1:3).

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