Amos 4:1
Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) Bashan.—This contained the rich pasture-lands east of the Jordan, between Hermon and the mountains of Gilead, where cattle flourished. The “strong bulls of Bashan” (Psalm 22:12) were descriptive of the malignant enemies of the ideal sufferer. The feminine “kine” refers to the luxurious self-indulgent women of fashion in Samaria.

Which say to their masters (i.e., their husbands), Bring, and let us drink.—Their very debauch being paid for by the robbery of the poor. Some regard the feminines as sarcastic epithets, merely expressing effeminacy on the part of men. But this is not a probable explanation.

Amos 4:1. Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan — Bashan was famous for its flocks and herds, Deuteronomy 32:14; Ezekiel 39:18. The proud and luxurious matrons of Israel may be here described. In this sense the words are understood by Grotius, and some other commentators. Thus rich, proud, and tyrannical men are compared, Psalm 22:13, to the bulls of Bashan; because cattle fed in the pastures of Bashan, which were remarkably rich, were more than commonly large, and wanton, or headstrong, by reason of their full feeding. Which say to their masters — To their husbands; Bring, and let us drink — From these expressions we may infer the dissoluteness and intemperance of the women. And it may be observed here also, that even the women are accused of oppressing the poor, and crushing the needy; from whence we may gather to how great a height cruelty, oppression, and insolence were grown among them, since even the women were guilty of these vices. Some, however, think that the description contained in this verse is not to be confined to the matrons, but that the rich, luxurious, and profligate rulers and nobles are also and even especially intended; and that these might be represented as kine rather than bulls, in order to reprove their effeminacy and cowardice when assaulted by their enemies; while at the same time they crushed and trampled on their unresisting brethren, and sold them for slaves, saying to the masters who bought them, Bring, and let us drink. Having made the iniquitous bargain, perhaps, on low terms, they required from the purchaser to be treated with wine. This is Mr. Scott’s view of the passage.4:1-5 What is got by extortion is commonly used to provide for the flesh, and to fulfil the lusts thereof. What is got by oppression cannot be enjoyed with satisfaction. How miserable are those whose confidence in unscriptural observances only prove that they believe a lie! Let us see to it that our faith, hope, and worship, are warranted by the Divine word.Hear ye this, ye kine of Bashan - The pastures of Bashan were very rich, and it had its name probably from its richness of soil . The Batanea of later times was a province only of the kingdom of Bashan, which, with half of Gilead, was given to the half tribe of Manasseh. For the Bashan of Og included Golan Deuteronomy 4:43, (the capital of the subsequent Gaulonitis, now Jaulan) Beeshterah Joshua 21:27, (or Ashtaroth) 1 Chronicles 6:71, very probably Bostra (see ab. on 1 Chronicles 1:12), and Elrei Deuteronomy 1:4, in Hauran or Auranitis; the one on its southern border, the other perhaps on its northern boundary toward Trachonitis . Its eastern extremity at Salkah Deuteronomy 3:10; Joshua 13:11, (Sulkhad) is the southern point of Batanea (now Bathaniyyeh); Argob, or Trachonitis , (the Lejah) was its north eastern fence.

Westward it reached to Mount Hermon Deuteronomy 3:8; Joshua 12:5; Joshua 13:11; 1 Chronicles 5:23. It included the subsequent divisions, Gaulonitis, Auranitis, Batanea, and Trachonitis. Of these the mountain range on the northwest of Jaulan is still "everywhere clothed with oak-forests." The Ard-el-Bathanyeh , "the country of Batanea or Bashan, is not surpassed in that land for beauty of its scenery, the richness of its pastures, and the extent of its oak forests." "The Arabs of the desert still pasture their flocks on the luxuriant herbage of the Jaulan" . Its pastures are spoken of by Micah M1 Corinthians 7:14 and Jeremiah Jer 50:19. The animals fed there were among the strongest and fattest Deuteronomy 32:14. Hence, the male animals became a proverb for the mighty on the earth Exodus 39:18, the bulls furnished a type for fierce, unfeeling, enemies Psalm 22:12. Amos however, speaks of "kine;" not, as David, of "bulls." He upbraids them not for fierceness, but for a more delicate and wanton unfeelingness, the fruit of luxury, fullness of bread, a life of sense, which destroy all tenderness, dull the mind, "banker out the wits," deaden the spiritual sense.

The female name, "kine," may equally brand the luxury and effeminacy of the rich men, or the cruelty of the rich women, of Samaria. He addresses these "kine" in both sexes, both male and female . The reproachful name was then probably intended to shame both; men, who laid aside their manliness in the delicacy of luxury; or ladies, who put off the tenderness of womanhood by oppression. The character of the oppression was the same in both cases. It was done, not directly by those who revelled in its fruits, but through the seduction of one who had authority over them. To the ladies of Samaria, "their lord" was their husband, as the husband is so called; to the nobles of Samaria, he was their king, who supplied their extravagances and debaucheries by grants, extorted from the poor.

Which oppress - Literally, "the oppressing!" The word expresses that they habitually oppressed and crushed the poor. They did it not directly; perhaps they did not know that it was done; they sought only, that their own thirst for luxury and self-indulgence should be gratified, and knew not, (as those at ease often know not now,) that their luxuries are continually watered by the tears of the poor, tears shed, almost unknown except by the Maker of both. But He counts willful ignorance no excuse. "He who doth through another, doth it himself," said the pagan proverb. God says, they did "oppress," were "continually oppressing, those in low estate," and "crushing the poor" (a word is used expressing the vehemence with which they "crushed" them.) They "crushed" them, only through the continual demand of pleasures of sense, reckless how they were procured; "bring and let us drink." They invite their husband or lord to joint self-indulgence.

CHAPTER 4

Am 4:1-13. Denunciation of Israel's Nobles for Oppression; and of the Whole Nation for Idolatry; and for Their Being Unreformed Even by God's Judgments: Therefore They Must Prepare for the Last and Worst Judgment of All.

1. kine of Bashan—fat and wanton cattle such as the rich pasture of Bashan (east of Jordan, between Hermon and Gilead) was famed for (De 32:14; Ps 22:12; Eze 39:18). Figurative for those luxurious nobles mentioned, Am 3:9, 10, 12, 15. The feminine, kine, or cows, not bulls, expresses their effeminacy. This accounts for masculine forms in the Hebrew being intermixed with feminine; the latter being figurative, the former the real persons meant.

say to their masters—that is, to their king, with whom the princes indulged in potations (Ho 7:5), and whom here they importune for more wine. "Bring" is singular, in the Hebrew implying that one "master" alone is meant.Israel reproved for oppression, Amos 4:1-3; for idolatry, Amos 4:4,5; and for their incorrigibleness, Amos 4:6-13.

This verse is an introduction to all that follows in this chapter.

Hear attentively, and consider the consequences of it; weigh both what and whose it is that is spoken. This word; prophecy, or sermon of reproof and threatening: see Amos 3:1.

Ye kine of Bashan: so Amos, bred among cattle, compares the mighty, proud, wanton, and oppressive riflers of Israel to those full-fed, strong, and wanton beasts, which in the herds did push at, hurt, and disturb the weaker cattle. Some will by this understand the court ladies of Israel in those times; but this perhaps is too nice: though, as in Ahab’s time Jezebel was at court, and a promoter of oppression and violence, so there might be in aftertimes some like her, and perhaps these may be intended secondarily; yet surely Amos intends the great men and governors, whom he calls kine of Bashan, a fruitful country, of which see Ezekiel 39:18 Nahum 1:4.

In the mountain of Samaria: in a decorum to his first allusion he calls their places of power, authority, and office in the kingdom of Israel, mountains; for as those beasts grazing on mountains grew fat, so these men by their fees, perquisites, and bribes grew insolent and mischievous: see Amos 3:9.

Which oppress the poor; the meaner sort of the people, the commonalty, under their jurisdiction, by colour of law.

Which crush the needy; by force and open violence break in pieces the afflicted, who have neither power nor friend to relieve them.

Which say to their masters; husbands, say some, so the Hebrew will bear; or it may refer to some of the greatest officers in Israel, who had inferior officers under them, or the masters of the poor.

Bring; get us commission, or bring them into our court and office.

Let us drink; we will get by them to feast on and revel in drink.

Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan,.... Or "cows of Bashan" (n); a country beyond Jordan, inhabited by the tribes of Gad and Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh, very fruitful of pasturage, and where abundance of fat cattle were brought up; to whom persons of distinction, and of the first rank, are here compared. Aben Ezra, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret them of the wives of the king, princes, ministers of state, and great men; and so it may be thought that Amos, a herdsman, in his rustic manner, compliments the court ladies with this epithet, for their plumpness, wantonness, and petulancy. Though it may be the princes and great men themselves may be rather intended, and be so called for their effeminacy, and perhaps with some regard to the calves they worshipped; and chiefly because being fat and flourishing, and abounding with wealth and riches, they became wanton and mischievous; like fat cattle, broke down their fences, and would be under no restraint of the laws of God and man; entered into their neighbours' fields, seized on their property, and spoiled them of it. So the Targum paraphrases it,

"ye rich of substance.''

In like manner the principal men among the Jews, in the times of Christ, are called bulls of Bashan, Psalm 22:12;

that are in the mountains of Samaria; like cattle grazing on a mountain; the metaphor is still continued: Samaria was the principal city of Ephraim, the metropolis of the ten tribes, Isaiah 7:9; situated on a mountain; Mr. Maundrell (o) says, upon a long mount, of an oval figure, having first a fruitful valley, and then a ring of hills running about it. Here the kings of Israel had their palace, and kept their court, and where their princes and nobles resided. Ahab is said to be king of Samaria, 1 Kings 21:1;

which oppress the poor, which crush the needy; by laying heavy taxes upon them; exacting more of them than they are able to pay; lessening their wages for work done, or withholding it from them; or by taking from them that little they have, and so reducing them to the utmost extremity, and refusing to do them justice in courts of judicature:

which say to their masters, bring, and let us drink; Kimchi, who interprets these words of the wives of great men, supposes their husbands are here addressed, who are, and acknowledged to be, their masters or lords; see 1 Peter 3:6; whom they call upon to bring them money taken from the poor, or for which they have sold them, that they may have wherewith to eat and drink, fare sumptuously, and live in a grand manner, feasting themselves and their visitors: or these are the words of inferior officers to superior ones, desiring they might have leave to pillage the poor, that so they might live in a more gay and splendid manner, and in rioting and drunkenness, in chambering and wantonness. So the Targum,

"give us power, that we may spoil it.''

Or rather these words are directed to the masters of the poor, who had power over them, had them in their clutches, in whose debt they were; or they had something against them, and therefore these corrupt judges, and wicked magistrates, desire they might be brought before them; who for a bribe would give the cause against them, right or wrong, so long as they got something to feast themselves with; or they are spoken by the rich, to the masters of the poor, to whom they had sold them, to bring them the purchase money, that they might indulge and gratify their sensual appetites; see Amos 2:6.

(n) "vaccae Basan", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Vatablus, Drusius, Mercerus, Grotius, Cocceius. (o) Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 59. Ed. 7.

Hear this word, ye {a} kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, {b} Bring, and let us drink.

(a) Thus he calls the princes and governors, who being overwhelmed with the great abundance of God's benefits, forgot God, and therefore he calls them by the name of beasts and not of men.

(b) They encourage those who have authority over the people to oppress them, so that they may have profit by it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. Hear this word] Amos 4:1, Amos 5:1.

ye kine of Bashan] Bashan was the fertile region on the E. of Jordan, bounded on the S. by the Jarmuk, and a line passing through Edrei to Salecah, on the W. by Geshur and Maacah, on the N. extending towards Hermon (cf. Joshua 12:1; Joshua 12:5), and on the E. as far as the Jebel Hauran, some 40 miles E.S.E. of the Sea of Galilee. The soil of Bashan consists in many parts of a rich disintegrated lava, and is extremely fertile. The name (which here, as usually in Heb., has the article) means probably a stoneless and fertile plain (see Wetzstein in Delitzsch’s Job, ed. 2, pp. 557 f.). Its pasture-grounds are alluded to in Micah 7:14, and its oak-forests (Isaiah 2:13; Zechariah 11:2) in Golan on the W., and on the slopes of the Jebel Hauran on the E., are still often mentioned by travellers: its strong and well-nourished herds (Deuteronomy 32:14; Ezekiel 39:18) are in Psalm 22:12 symbols of the Psalmist’s wild and fierce assailants. The wealthy ladies of Samaria are here called kine of Bashan, because they live a life of purely animal existence, proudly and contentedly going their own way, resenting interference, and intent solely upon their own food and enjoyment.

which oppress the poor, which crush the needy] The same two words in parallelism, 1 Samuel 12:3-4, Deuteronomy 28:33 : cf. the corresponding substantives, Jeremiah 22:17. The word rendered oppress has often the force of defraud, Leviticus 19:13, Deuteronomy 24:14 (note the context), 1 Samuel 12:3-4 (where it is so rendered); cf. oppression, Jeremiah 22:17. The wages, or other dues, unjustly withheld from the poor, enabled the ladies of Samaria the more readily to indulge their own luxurious and expensive tastes.

masters] R.V. lords, i.e. husbands (Genesis 18:12; Psalm 45:11 &c.). They press their husbands to supply them with the means for enjoying a joint carouse.

1–3. The women of Samaria.Verses 1-13. - § 2. Second address. The prophet reproves the voluptuous women of Samaria, and fortells their captivity (vers. 1-3); with bitter irony he describes the people's devotion to idolatry (vers. 4, 5): he shows how incorrigible they have proved themselves under God's chastisements (vers. 6-11); therefore they must expect further punishment, if so be that they will learn to fear the Lord (vers. 12, 13). Verse 1. - The very women are leaders in dissoluteness and oppression. Ye kine of Bashan. Fat and well liking, such as the rich pastures of Bashan produce. Some have supposed that by this term are meant the luxurious nobles of Samaria, who are called "cows" as being effeminate and licentious. This is possible; but such grandees would be called rather "bulls of Bashan," and the "masters" mentioned just below signify more naturally these women's husbands than the kings. Pussy notes that the genders in the sentence are interchanged. "Hear ye," "your Lord," "upon you," "they shall take you," being masculine; "that oppress," "that crush," "that say," "your posterity," "ye shall go out," "each before her," "ye shall cast," feminine. Evidently the prophet addresses his reproaches to the luxurious of both sexes, though he begins with the women. The land of Bashan extended from Hermon to the Jabbok, including Gaulonitis, Auronitis, Batauea, and Trachonitis. It was always famous for its pasturage, cattle, and oaks. The Vulgate takes the term as metaphorical, and has, vaccae pingues. So Symmachus, βόες εὔτροφοι, which translation Jerome adopts. Mountain of Samaria. The hill of Shomer, on which Samaria was built (see note on ch. 3:9). Oppress the poor. This they did in ministering, or getting their husbands to minister, to their luxury and debauchery. Apparently they urged their husbands to violence and fraud in order to obtain means to satisfy their extravagance. A bad woman is thoroughly unscrupulous (see the case of Ahab and Naboth, 1 Kings 21:7, etc.). Their masters; their lords; i.e. husbands (comp. Genesis 18:12; 1 Peter 3:6). Bring, and let us drink. They invite their husbands to supply the means of debauchery and to join in their revels. "Yet am I Jehovah thy God, from the land of Egypt hither: I will still cause thee to dwell in tents, as in the days of the feast. Hosea 12:10. I have spoken to the prophets; and I, I have multiplied visions, and spoken similitudes through the prophets. Hosea 12:11. If Gilead (is) worthlessness, they have only come to nothing: in Gilgal they offered bullocks: even their altars are like stone-heaps in the furrows of the field." The Lord meets the delusion of the people, that they had become great and powerful through their own exertion, by reminding them that He (ואנכי is adversative, yet I) has been Israel's God from Egypt hither, and that to Him they owe all prosperity and good in both past and present (cf. Hosea 13:4). Because they do not recognise this, and because they put their trust in unrighteousness rather than in Him, He will now cause them to dwell in tents again, as in the days of the feast of Tabernacles, i.e., will repeat the leading through the wilderness. It is evident from the context that mō‛ēd (the feast) is here the feast of Tabernacles. מועד (the days of the feast) are the seven days of this festival, during which Israel was to dwell in booths, in remembrance of the fact that when God led them out of Egypt He had caused them to dwell in booths (tabernacles, Leviticus 23:42-43). אד אושׁיבך stands in antithesis to הושׁבתּי ot si in Leviticus 23:43. "The preterite is changed into a future through the ingratitude of the nation" (Hengstenberg). The simile, "as in the days of the feast," shows that the repetition of the leading through the desert is not thought of here merely as a time of punishment, such as the prolongation of the sojourn of the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years really was (Numbers 14:33). For their dwelling in tents, or rather in booths (sukkōth), on the feast of Tabernacles, was intended not so much to remind the people of the privations of their unsettled wandering life in the desert, as to call to their remembrance the shielding and sheltering care and protection of God in their wandering through the great and terrible wilderness (see at Leviticus 23:42-43). We must combine the two allusions, therefore: so that whilst the people are threatened indeed with being driven out of the good and glorious land, with its large and beautiful cities and houses full of all that is good (Deuteronomy 6:10.), into a dry and barren desert, they have also set before them the repetition of the divine guidance through the desert; so that they are not threatened with utter rejection on the part of God, but only with temporary banishment into the desert. In Hosea 12:10 and Hosea 12:11 the two thoughts of Hosea 12:9 are still further expanded. In Hosea 12:10 they are reminded how the Lord had proved Himself to be the God of Israel from Egypt onwards, by sending prophets and multiplying prophecy, to make known His will and gracious counsel to the people, and to promote their salvation. דּבּר with על, to speak to, not because the word is something imposed upon a person, but because the inspiration of God came down to the prophets from above. אדמּה, not "I destroy," for it is only the kal that occurs in this sense, and not the piel, but "to compare," i.e., speak in similes; as, for example, in Hosea 1:1-11 and Hosea 3:1-5, Isaiah 5:1., Ezekiel 16 etc.: "I have left no means of admonishing them untried" (Rosenmller). Israel, however, has not allowed itself to be admonished and warned, but has given itself up to sin and idolatry, the punishment of which cannot be delayed. Gilead and Gilgal represent the two halves of the kingdom of the ten tribes; Gilead the land to the east of the Jordan, and Gilgal the territory to the west. As Gilead is called "a city (i.e., a rendezvous) of evil-doers" (פּעלי און) in Hosea 6:8, so is it here called distinctly און, worthlessness, wickedness; and therefore it is to be utterly brought to nought. און and שׁוא are synonymous, denoting moral and physical nonentity (compare Job 15:31). Here the two notions are so distributed, that the former denotes the moral decay, the latter the physical. Worthlessness brings nothingness after it as a punishment. אך, only equals nothing, but equivalent to utterly. The perfect היוּ is used for the certain future. Gilgal, which is mentioned in Hosea 4:15; Hosea 9:15, as the seat of one form of idolatrous worship, is spoken of here as a place of sacrifice, to indicate with a play upon the name the turning of the altars into heaps of stones (Gallim). The desolation or destruction of the altars involves not only the cessation of the idolatrous worship, but the dissolution of the kingdom and the banishment of the people out of the land. שׁורים, which only occurs in the plural here, cannot of course be the dative (to sacrifice to oxen), but only the accusative. The sacrifice of oxen was reckoned as a sin on the part of the people, not on account of the animals offers, but on account of the unlawful place of sacrifice. The suffix to mizbechōthâm (their sacrifices) refers to Israel, the subject implied in zibbēchū.
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