Amos 1:13
Thus said 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:
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(13) Ammon.—See art. in Smith’s Dict. of the Bible. The precise event of atrocious cruelty is not mentioned in the historical books; but the barbarous modes of warfare which prevailed in those days are darkly conveyed in 1Samuel 11:2; 2Kings 15:16; Hosea 13:16, &c., and in Assyrian inscriptions passim.

Amos 1:13-15. For three transgressions of the children of Ammon — The Ammonites descended from Lot: see Genesis 19:38. Their country lay to the east of Jordan, in the neighbourhood of Gilead. Because they have ripped up the women with child — Hazael, king of Syria, grievously afflicted the Israelites that lay eastward of Jordan, particularly the Gileadites: see 2 Kings 10:33. The low condition to which these countries were hereby reduced, might probably encourage the Ammonites to possess themselves of Gilead, and to destroy the inhabitants in the cruel manner here stated. But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah — The chief city of the Ammonites. With shouting in the day of battle — This was intended to express the great violence with which this city should be attacked; and with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind — The destructions of war are often compared to the devastations caused by whirlwinds and tempests; and the metaphor is here introduced very naturally and sublimely. And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the Lord — Foretold also Jeremiah 49:3. 1:18-21 There shall be abundant Divine influences, and the gospel will spread speedily into the remotest corners of the earth. These events are predicted under significant emblems; there is a day coming, when every thing amiss shall be amended. The fountain of this plenty is in the house of God, whence the streams take rise. Christ is this Fountain; his sufferings, merit, and grace, cleanse, refresh, and make fruitful. Gospel grace, flowing from Christ, shall reach to the Gentile world, to the most remote regions, and make them abound in fruits of righteousness; and from the house of the Lord above, from his heavenly temple, flows all the good we daily taste, and hope to enjoy eternally.Ammon - These who receive their existence under circumstances, in any way like those of the first forefathers of Moab and Ammon, are known to be under physical as well as intellectual and moral disadvantages. Apart from the worst horrors, on the one side reason was stupefied, on the other it was active in sin. He who imprinted His laws on nature, has annexed the penalty to the infraction of those laws. It is known also how, even under the Gospel, the main character of a nation remains unchanged. The basis of natural character, upon which grace has to act, remains, under certain limits, the same. Still more in the unchanging east. Slave-dealers know of certain hereditary good or evil qualities in non-Christian nations in whom they traffic. What marvel then that Ammon and Moab retained the stamp of their origin, in a sensual or passionate nature? Their choice of their idols grew out of this original character and aggravated it.

They chose them gods like themselves, and worsened themselves by copying these idols of their sinful nature. The chief god of the fierce Ammon was Milehem or Molech, the principle of destruction, who was appeased with sacrifices of living children, given to the fire to devour. Moab, beside its idol Chemosh, had the degrading worship of Baal Peor Numbers 25:1-3, reproductiveness the counterpart of destruction. And, so. in fierce or degrading rites, they worshiped the power which belongs to God, to create, or to destroy. Moab was the seducer of Israel at Shittim Numbers 25:1-3. Ammon, it has been noticed, showed at different times a special wanton ferocity . Such was the proposal of Nahash to the men of Jabesh-Gilead, when offering to surrender, "that I may thrust out all your right eyes and lay it for a reproach unto all Israel" 1 Samuel 11:1-3.

Such was the insult to David's messengers of peace, and the hiring of the Syrians in an aggressive war against David 2 Samuel 10:1-6. Such, again, was this war of extermination against the Gileadites. On Israel's side, the relation to Moab and Ammon had been altogether friendly. God recalled to Israel the memory of their common descent, and forbade them to war against either. He speaks of them by the name of kindness, "the children of Lot," the companion and friend of Abraham. "I will not give thee of their land for a possession, because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession" Deuteronomy 2:9, Deuteronomy 2:19. Akin by descent, their history had been alike. Each had driven out a giant tribe; Moab, the Emim; Ammon, the Zamzummim Deuteronomy 2:10-11, Deuteronomy 2:20-21. They had thus possessed themselves of the tract from the Arnon, not quite half way down the Dead Sea on its east side, to the Jabbok, about half-way between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee . Both had been expelled by the Amorites, and had been driven, Moab, behind the Arnon, Ammon, behind the "strong border" Numbers 21:24 of the upper part of the Jabbok, what is now the Nahr Amman, "the river of Ammon," eastward.

The whole of what became the inheritance of the 2 12 tribes, was in the hands of the Amorites, and threatened very nearly their remaining possessions; since, at "Aroer that is before Rabbah" Joshua 13:25, the Amorites were already over against the capital of Ammon; at the Arnon they were but 2 12 hours from Ar-Moab, the remaining capital of Moab. Israel then, in destroying the Amorites, had been at once avenging and rescuing Moab and Ammon; and it is so far a token of friendliness at this time, that, after the victory at Edrei, the great "iron bedstead" of Og was placed in "Rabbah of the children of Ammon" Deuteronomy 3:11. Envy, jealousy, and fear, united them to "hire Balaam to curse Israel" Deuteronomy 23:4, although the king of Moab was the chief actor in this Numbers 22-24, as he was in the seduction of Israel to idoltary Numbers 25:1-3. Probably Moab was then, and continued to be, the more influential or the more powerful, since in their first invasion of Israel, the Ammonites came as the allies of Eglon king of Moab. "He gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek Judges 3:13. And" they "served Eglon." Yet Ammon's subsequent oppression must have been yet more grievous, since God reminds Israel of His delivering them from the Ammonites Judges 10:11, not from Moab. There we find Ammon under a king, and in league with the Philistines Judges 10:7, "crashing and crushing for 18 years all the children of Israel in Gilead." The Ammonites carried a wide invasion across the Jordan against Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim Judges 10:9, until they were subdued by Jephthah. Moab is not named; but the king of Ammon claims as my land Judges 11:13, the whole which Moab and Ammon had lost to the Amorites and they to Israel, "from Arnon unto Jabbok and unto Jordan" Judges 11:13.

The range also of Jephthah's victories included probably all that same country from the Arnon to the neighborhood of Rabbah of Ammon . The Ammonites, subdued then, were again on the offensive in the fierce siege of Jabesh-Gilead and against Saul (see above the note at Amos 1:11). Yet it seems that they had already taken from Israel what they had lost to the Amorites, for Jabesh-Gilead was beyond the Jabbok ; and "Mizpeh of Moab," where David went to seek the king of Moab 1 Samuel 22:3, was probably no other than the Ramoth-Mizpeh Joshua 13:26 of Gad, the Mizpeh Judges 11:29 from where Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites. With Hanan, king of Ammon, David sought to remain at peace, on account of some kindness, interested as it probably was, which his father Nahash had shown him, when persecuted by Saul 2 Samuel 10:2.

It was only after repeated attempts to bring an overwhelming force of the Syriains against David, that Rabbah was besieged and taken, and that awful punishment inflicted. The severity of the punishment inflicted on Moab and Ammon, in that two-thirds of the fighting men of Moab were put to death 2 Samuel 8:2, and fighting men of "the cities of Ammon" 2 Samuel 12:31 were destroyed by a ghastly death, so different from David's treatment of the Philistines or the various Syrians, implies some extreme hostility on their part, from which there was no safety except in their destruction. Moab and Ammon were still united against Jehoshaphat 2 Chronicles 20, and with Nebuchadnezzar against Jehoiakim 2 Kings 24:2, whom they had before sought to stir up against the king of Babylon Jeremiah 27:3. Both profited for a time by the distresses of Israel, "magnifying" themselves "against her border" Zephaniah 2:8, and taking possession of her cities after the 2 12 tribes has been carried away by Tiglath-pileser. Both united in insulting Judah, and (as it appears from Ezekiel EZechariah 25:2-8), out of jealousy against its religious distinction.

When some of the scattered Jews were reunited under Gedaliah, after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, it was a king of Ammon, Baalis, who instigated Johanan to murder him Jeremiah 40:11-14; Jeremiah 41:10. When Jerusalem was to be rebuilt after the return from the captivity, Ammonites and Moabites Nehemiah 2:10, Nehemiah 2:19; Nehemiah 4:1-3, "Sanballat the Horonite" (that is, out of Horonaim, which Moab had taken to itself Isaiah 15:5; Jeremiah 48:3, Jeremiah 48:5, Jeremiah 48:34.) "and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite," were chief in the opposition to it. They helped on the persecution by Antiochus (1 Macc. 5:6). Their anti-religious character, which showed itself in the hatred of Israel and the hire of Balaam, was the ground of the exclusion of both from admission "into the congregation of the Lord forever" Deuteronomy 23:3. The seduction of Solomon by his Ammonite and Moabite wives illustrates the infectiousness of their idolatry. While he made private chapels "for all his strange wives, to burn incense and sacrifice to their gods" 1 Kings 11:8, the most stately idolatry was that of Chemosh and Molech, the abomination of Moab and Ammon . For Ashtoreth alone, besides these, did Solomon build high places in sight of the temple of God, on a lower part of the Mount of Olives 2 Kings 23:13.

They have ripped up the women with child in Gilead - Since Elisha prophesied that Hazael would be guilty of this same atrocity, and since Gilead was the scene of his chief atrocities , probably Syria and Ammon were, as of old, united against Israel in a war of extermination. It was a conspiracy to displace God's people from the land which He had given them, and themselves to replace them. The plan was effective; it was, Amos says, executed. They expelled and "inherited Gad" Jeremiah 49:1. Gilead was desolated for the sins for which Hosea rebuked it; "blood had blood." It had been "tracked with blood" (see the note at Hosea 6:8); now life was sought out for destruction, even in the mother's womb. But, in the end, Israel, whose extermination Ammon devised and in part effected, survived. Ammon perished and left no memorial.

That they might enlarge their border - It was a horror, then, exercised, not incidentally here and there, or upon a few, or in sudden stress of passion, but upon system and in cold blood. We have seen lately, in the massacres near Lebanon, where male children were murdered on system, how methodically such savageness goes to work. A massacre, here and there, would not have "enlarged their border." They must haw carried on these horrors then, throughout all the lands which they wished to possess, making place for themselves by annihilating Israel, that there might be none to rise up and thrust them from their conquests, and claim their old inheritance. Such was the fruit of habitually indulged covetousness. Yet who beforehand would have thought it possible?

13. Ammon—The Ammonites under Nahash attacked Jabesh-gilead and refused to accept the offer of the latter to save them, unless the Jabesh-gileadites would put out all their right eyes (1Sa 11:1, &c.). Saul rescued Jabesh-gilead. The Ammonites joined the Chaldeans in their invasion of Judea for the sake of plunder.

ripped up … women with-child—as Hazael of Syria also did (2Ki 8:12; compare Ho 13:16). Ammon's object in this cruel act was to leave Israel without "heir," so as to seize on Israel's inheritance (Jer 49:1).

The children of Ammon: this is the fourth kingdom threatened; a people descended from Lot, by his younger daughter, of near kin to Israel, and much-like neighbours as the Edomites, bitter enemies to the Jews: see Ezekiel 25:2.

I will not turn away the punishment thereof: see Amos 1:4.

Ripped up the women with child; a most inhuman practice, yet usual in those times and places, of which mention is made 2 Kings 8:12 15:16 Hosea 13:16: which see. When, or in what particular place, this was done, is not reported in the history of the Bible. Probably it was when Hazael harassed Israel, 2 Kings 8:12, with whom the Ammonites perhaps joined; but the thing was done, though we read not in any particular story when and where; all could not be written which was done in those ages.

Gilead: see Hosea 6:8 Zechariah 10:10: name both of city and country about it, and very rich in excellent spices and balms.

Enlarge their border, by destroying all that dwelt in it, and that hereafter might claim or pretend a title to it. Thus saith the Lord, for three transgressions of the children of Ammon,.... These are the descendants of Benammi, a son of Lots, by one of his daughters, Genesis 19:38; are distinguished from the Ammonites, 2 Chronicles 20:1; were near neighbours of the Jews, but great enemies to them, though akin:

and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; See Gill on Amos 1:3. Among these transgressions, for which God would punish these people, are to be reckoned, not only their ill treatment of the Gileadites after mentioned, but other sins, which are all included in this number, and particularly their idolatry; for idolaters they were, though the children of Lot; and originally might have had better instruction, from which they departed. Mo or Milcom, which signifies a king, was the abomination or idol of the Ammonites, 1 Kings 11:5. The image of this idol, according to the Jews, had seven chapels, and he was within them; and his face was the face of a calf or ox; and his hands were stretched out as a man stretches out his hands to receive anything of his friend; and they set it on fire within, for it was hollow; and everyone according to his offering went into these chapels; he that offered a fowl went into the first chapel; he that offered a sheep, into the second chapel; if a lamb, into the third; a calf, into the fourth; a bullock, into the fifth; an ox, into the sixth; but he that offered his son, they brought him into the seventh; and they put, the child before Mo, and kindled a fire in the inside of him, until his hands were like fire; and then they took the child, and put him within its arms; and beat upon tabrets or drums, that the cry of the child might not be heard by the father (f). Benjamin of Tudela (g) reports, that in his time, at Gibal, the border of the children of Ammon, a day's journey from Tripoli, was found the remains of a temple of the children of Ammon; and an idol of theirs sitting upon a throne; and it was made of stone, and covered with gold; and there were two women sitting, one on its right hand, and the other on its left; and before it an altar, on which they used to sacrifice and burn incense to it, as in the times of the children of Ammon. Chemosh also was worshipped by the Ammonites, Judges 11:24; which was also the god of the Moabites; of which See Gill on Jeremiah 48:7;

because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border; this Hazael king of Syria did, according to Elisha's prophecy; and very likely the children of Ammon might join with him, inasmuch as they bordered on the countries which he smote, 2 Kings 8:12. This was an instance of shocking cruelty and inhumanity, to destroy at once the innocent and the impotent, though frequently done by enemies, 2 Kings 15:16. The reason of it was not only that they might possess their land, but keep it when they had got it; there being no heir to claim it, or molest them in the possession of it; see Jeremiah 49:1; though some read the words, "because they divided, or cleaved the mountain of Gilead" (h); so Aben Ezra and Kimchi, though they mention the other sense: this they did to get into the land of Gilead, as Hannibal cut through the Alps; or rather to remove the borders of it, and lay it even with their own, and so enlarge theirs; which, as Kimchi says, was a very great iniquity, being one of the curses written in the law, Deuteronomy 27:17; thus one sin leads on to another. Some by "mountains" understand towers or fortified cities as Kimchi and Ben Melech observe; such as were built on mountains, which sense is approved by Gussetius (i).

(f) Yelammedenu apud Yalkut Simeoni in Jeremiah 7.31. fol. 61. 4. (g) Itinerarium, p. 33. (h) "eo quod sciderint montes", Pagninus; so some in Drusius. (i) Ebr. Comment. p. 216.

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 {m} have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border:

(m) He notes the great cruelty of the Ammonites, that did not spare the women, but most tyrannously tormented them, and yet the Ammonites came from Lot, who was of the household of Abraham.

13. because they have ript up the women with child of Gilead] A barbarity probably not uncommon in ancient warfare, at least among more cruel or uncivilized combatants: see 2 Kings 8:12 (Hazael), 2 Kings 15:16 (Menahem); Hosea 13:16; cf. Hosea 10:14 : comp. the similar cruelty of dashing children in pieces (2 Kings 8:12; Hosea 13:16; Nahum 3:10; Isaiah 13:16; Psalm 137:9). “In the embittered border-feuds between Arabian tribes the same ghastly barbarity is often mentioned; Ibn Athir iv. 256. 1, 258. 6, 260. 60, 262. 11 sqq.; Kitâb al-’Aghani, xix. 129. 12 sq., xx. 128. 13; Tabari ii. 755. 19” (Wellh.).

that they might enlarge their border] Such cruelty was not perpetrated in self-defence, but in cold blood, simply from a desire to augment their territory, at the expense of their Israelitish neighbours on the N. and W. (cf. at a later date Jeremiah 49:1).

13–15. The Ammonites. The Ammonites occupied the district E. of Jordan bounded by the Arnon on the S., and by the territory of Reuben and the upper course of the Jabbok, on the W. Their capital was Rabbah, mentioned in Amos 1:14. They were closely related to their neighbours on the S., the Moabites, being reckoned as a brother-nation (Genesis 19:37 f.); but (cf. D.B[137] s.v.), to judge from allusions in the O. T., they seem to have been less settled and civilised: their inhumanity in warfare appears from Amos 1:13, and the proposal in 1 Samuel 11:2; and a suspicious discourtesy towards allies is evinced in 2 Samuel 10:1-5. David reduced the Ammonites to the condition of tributaries (2 Samuel 8:12; cf. 2 Samuel 12:31); but it does not seem that they continued in this condition for long. Various examples of their hostility towards Israel are recorded in Jdg 10:7 ff. (their oppression of the trans-Jordanic Israelites, which was put an end to by Jephthah, ib. Jdg 11:33); 1 Samuel 11; 2 Kings 24:2; Jeremiah 40:14; Nehemiah 2:10; Nehemiah 4:3; Nehemiah 4:7; comp. also Zephaniah 2:8, Jeremiah 49:1, Ezekiel 21:28; Ezekiel 25:2; Ezekiel 25:6, which shew now they evinced a malicious satisfaction in Israel’s troubles, and sought to turn them to their own profit.

[137] .B.Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, ed. 1, or (from A to J) ed. 2.Verses 13-15. - The judgment on Ammon. Verse 13. - Ammon was connected with Israel as being sprung from Lot, and together with Moab, which had the same origin, retained the stamp of its incestuous birth in habits, character, and worship (Genesis 19:30, etc.). The Ammonites seem to have been a predatory and roving nation, though the abundance of rains in the district shows that they possessed fixed abodes; but Rabbah was the only city of importance in their territory (2 Samuel 11:1). Their hostility to Israel was first shown in their participation with Moab in the affair of Balsam (Deuteronomy 23:4). Other instances are seen in their treatment of Jabesh-Gilead (1 Samuel 11:1-3) and of David's messengers, and in hiring the Syrians to make war on David (2 Samuel 10:1-6). We have no historical account of the atrocious outrage on the Gileadites mentioned in the text, but it is quite in character with the ferocity of their disposition, and was doubtless intended to depopulate the territory which they wished to acquire. This barbarity is spoken of in connection with Hazael (2 Kings 8:12), in concert with whom probably the Ammonites acted (comp. 2 Kings 15:16; Hosea 13:16). Another rendering would refer the clause to the removing of landmarks, and yet a third to the storming of lofty fortresses. But the Authorized Version is undoubtedly correct. That they might enlarge their border. The Ammonites laid claim to the territory which the Israelites had wrested from Sihon, lying between the Araon and Jabbok, and made an attempt upon it in the time of Jephthah (Judges 11.), and in later years seized on the possessions of Gad - a proceeding which brought upon them the denunciation of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:2-6). In a fresh turn the concluding thought of the last strophe (Hosea 9:10) is resumed, and the guilt and punishment of Israel still more fully described in two sections, Hosea 10:1-8 and Hosea 10:9-15. Hosea 10:1. "Israel is a running vine; it set fruit for itself: the more of its fruit, the more altars did it prepare; the better its land, the better pillars did they make. Hosea 10:2. Smooth was their heart, ow will they atone. He will break in pieces their altars, desolate their pillars. Hosea 10:3. Yea, now will they say, No king to us! for we feared not Jehovah; and the king, what shall he do to us?" Under the figure of a vine running luxuriantly, which did indeed set some good fruit, but bore no sound ripe grapes, the prophet describes Israel as a glorious plantation of God Himself, which did not answer the expectations of its Creator. The figure is simply sketched in a few bold lines. We have an explanatory parallel in Psalm 80:9-12. The participle bōqēq does not mean "empty" or "emptying out" here; for this does not suit the next clause, according to which the fruit was set, but from the primary meaning of bâqaq, to pour out, pouring itself out, overflowing, i.e., running luxuriantly. It has the same meaning, therefore, as ג סרחת in Ezekiel 17:6, that which extends its branches far and wide, that is to say, grows most vigorously. The next sentence, "it set fruit," still belongs to the figure; but in the third sentence the figure passes over into a literal prophecy. According to the abundance of its fruit, Israel made many altars; and in proportion to the goodness of its land, it made better מצּבות, Baal's pillars (see at 1 Kings 14:23); i.e., as Israel multiplied, and under the blessing of God attained to prosperity, wealth, and power in the good land (Exodus 3:8), it forgot its God, and fell more and more into idolatry (cf. Hosea 2:10; Hosea 8:4, Hosea 8:11). The reason of all this was, that their heart was smooth, i.e., dissimulating, not sincerely devoted to the Lord, inasmuch as, under the appearance of devotedness to God, they still clung to idols (for the fact, see 2 Kings 17:9). The word châlâq, to be smooth, was mostly applied by a Hebrew to the tongue, lip, mouth, throat, and speech (Psalm 5:10; Psalm 12:3; Psalm 55:22; Proverbs 5:3), and not to the heart. But in Ezekiel 12:24 we read of smooth, i.e., deceitful prophesying; and there is all the more reason for retaining the meaning "smooth" here, that the rendering "their heart is divided," which is supported by the ancient versions, cannot be grammatically defended. For châlâq is not used in kal in an intransitive sense; and the active rendering, "He (i.e., God) has divided their heart" (Hitzig), gives an unscriptural thought. They will now atone for this, for God will destroy their altars and pillars. ערף, "to break the neck of the altars," is a bold expression, applied to the destruction of the altars by breaking off the horns (compare Amos 3:14). Then will the people see and be compelled to confess that it has no longer a king, because it has not feared the Lord, since the king who has been set up in opposition to the will of the Lord (Hosea 8:4) cannot bring either help or deliverance (Ezekiel 13:10). עשׂה, to do, i.e., to help or be of use to a person (cf. Ecclesiastes 2:2).
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