Amos 1:5
I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD.
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(5) I will break . . .—The “bar means the bolt of iron or brass with which the city was defended. But it is possible that it may be used of persons, i.e., princes or leaders (comp. Hosea 4:18; Hosea 11:6); and this seems confirmed by the parallelism. The plain or valley cleft between Libanus and Antilibanus is still called by the Arabs by a name closely resembling the rendering in the margin, “the valley.” It is probable that the word rendered “vanity,” (aven) is simply a Masoretic reading, and not what Amos intended. It is better to follow the LXX. and read the word On (as in Ezekiel 30:17), the reference being to the Temple of Baalbec, then in ruins, the Syrian Heliopolis. (Comp. Hosea 4:15.)[16] The site of Beth-eden (house of Eden) cannot be satisfactorily determined. Kir is the region of the river Cyrus, or, perhaps, the E. of the Upper Euphrates (see Amos 9:7). (2Kings 16:9, we see fulfilment of this doom.)

[16] On the other hand the Masoretic reading seems to have been suggested (if not confirmed) by Amos 5:5, where LXX. read aven.

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.In Isaiah 51:8, Eden is referred to as a country well known, and as distinguished for its fertility:

For Yahweh shall comfort Zion;

He will comfort all her waste places,

And he will make her wilderness like Eden,

And her desert like the garden of Yahweh.

Thus also in Ezekiel 27:23, we find Eden mentioned in connection with Haran and Canneh. Canneh was probably the same as Calneh Genesis 10:10, the Calno of Isaiah Isa 10:9, and was, doubtless, situated in Mesopotamia, since it is joined with cities that are known to have been there (compare also Ezekiel 31:9, Ezekiel 31:16, Ezekiel 31:18). All these passages demonstrate that there was such a country, and prove also that it was either in Mesopotamia, or in a country adjacent to Mesopotamia. It is not, however, possible now to designate its exact boundaries.

In Telassar - This place is nowhere else mentioned in the Scriptures. Nothing, therefore, is known of its situation. The connection demands that it should be in Mesopotamia. The names of ancient places were so often lost or changed that it is often impossible to fix their exact locality.

Amos 1:5I will also break the bar of Damascus - In the East, every city was fortified; the gates of the stronger cities were cased in iron, that they might not be set on fire by the enemy; they were fastened within with bars of brass 1 Kings 4:13 or iron (Psalm 107:16; Isaiah 45:2; compare Isaiah 48:14; Jeremiah 51:3 O). They were flanked with towers, and built over, so that what was naturally the weakest point and the readiest access to an enemy became the strongest defense. In Hauran the huge doors and gates of a single stone 9 and 10 feet high , and 1 12 foot thick , are still extant, and "the place for the ponderous bars," proportioned to such gates, "may yet be seen." The walls were loosened with the battering-ram, or scaled by mounds: the strong gate was seldom attacked; but, when a breach was made, was thrown open from within. The "breaking of the bar" laid open the city to the enemy, to go in and come out at his will. The whole strength of the kingdom of Damascus lay in the capital. It was itself the seat of the empire and was the empire itself. God says then, that He Himself would shiver all their means of resistance, whatever could hinder the inroad of the enemy.

And cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven - Literally, "from the vale of vanity," the "Bik'ah" being a broad vale between hills . Here it is doubtless the rich and beautiful valley, still called el-bukaa by the Arabs, La Boquea by William of Tyre , lying between Lebanon and Anti-libanus, the old Coele-Syria in its narrowest sense. It is, on high ground, the continuation of that long deep valley which, along the Jordan, the Dead sea, and the Arabah, reaches to the Red Sea. lts extreme length, from its southern close at Kal'at-esh-shakif to Hums (Emesa) has been counted at 7 days journey ; it narrows toward its southern extremity, expands at its northern, yet it cannot any how be said to lose its character of a valley until 10 miles north of Riblah .

Midway, on its ," was Baalbek, or Heliopolis, where the Egyptian worship is said to have been brought of old times from their "city of the sun ." Baalbek, as the ruins still attest, was full of the worship of the sun. But the whole of that beautiful range, "a magnificent vista" , it has been said, "carpeted with verdure and beauty" , "a gem lying deep in its valley of mountains," was a citadel of idolatry. The name Baal-Hermon connects Mount Hermon itself, the snow-capped height which so towers over its southeast extremity, with the worship of Baal or the sun, and that, from the time of the Judges Jdg 3:3. The name Baal-gad connects "the valley of Lebanon," that is, most probably the south end of the great valley, with the same worship, anterior to Joshua Jos 11:17; Joshua 12:7; Joshua 13:5.


5. bar of Damascus—that is, the bar of its gates (compare Jer 51:30).

the inhabitant—singular for plural, "inhabitants." Henderson, because of the parallel, "him that holdeth the scepter," translates, "the ruler." But the parallelism is that of one clause complementing the other, "the inhabitant" or subject here answering to "him that holdeth the scepter" or ruler there, both ruler and subject alike being cut off.

Aven—the same as Oon or Un, a delightful valley, four hours' journey from Damascus, towards the desert. Proverbial in the East as a place of delight [Josephus Abassus]. It is here parallel to "Eden," which also means "pleasantness"; situated at Lebanon. As Josephus Abassus is a doubtful authority, perhaps the reference may be rather to the valley between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, called El-Bekaa, where are the ruins of the Baal-bek temple of the sun; so the Septuagint renders it On, the same name as the city in Egypt bears, dedicated to the sun-worship (Ge 41:45; Heliopolis, "the city of the sun," Eze 30:17, Margin). It is termed by Amos "the valley of Aven," or "vanity," from the worship of idols in it.

Kir—a region subject to Assyria (Isa 22:6) in Iberia, the same as that called now in Armenian Kur, lying by the river Cyrus which empties itself into the Caspian Sea. Tiglath-pileser fulfilled this prophecy when Ahaz applied for help to him against Rezin king of Syria, and the Assyrian king took Damascus, slew Rezin, and carried away its people captive to Kir.

I, the mighty God, as Amos 1:4,

will break, weaken and shake into pieces,

the bar; literally, the bar with which the city gates were shut, and both fastened and strengthened, Judges 16:3 Nehemiah 7:3 Psalm 107:16. Metaphorically it contains all the munitions, fortresses, and strength of a place or people: so here. Damascus: see Amos 1:3. It is put here, as before, for the whole kingdom, of which it was the metropolis.

Cut off, by the judgments of war, pestilence, famine, or diseases, all commissioned to do this. The inhabitant, for inhabitants, the singular used for the plural; and may possibly denote the universal excision and destruction of the Syrians, who shall perish as one man: see the like use of the singular number, Exodus 8:6 Jeremiah 8:7.

The plain of Aven: it is possible this may refer to, some peculiar manner which the Syrians observed in their choosing the valley or champaign for the place of worship to their idols; Israel chose high places, the Syrians chose valleys it is likely, and therefore though beaten in the hills, where they thought the gods which Israel worshipped were strongest, yet are confident that in the valleys, where Syrians worshipped their gods, the Syrians would find their gods the stronger, 1 Kings 20:23 for this reason the valley or plain hath its name the plain of liven, of iniquity and vanity, because in it they worshipped vain gods, and their religion was highest idolatry; or it may be that Bikath-aven was the name of some city of Syria well known then, but whose memory is perished with it a great while ago.

Him that holdeth the sceptre; a description of the king of Syria. whose royal dignity shall be no security to him.

The house of Eden; some royal seat, where the kings of Syria did think good to build them a house or palace, for pleasure and delights, and therefore gave it this name, Beth-eden, or the house of pleasure; all their pleasant seats, the king’s summer-houses, shall be laid waste.

The people of Syria; the main body of the subjects and people of Syria; this explains Damascus, Amos 1:3, and in this verse.

Kir; Cyrene of Egypt, say some, but without any probability in this place: there was also Kir of Moab, Isaiah 15:1; but this was not the Kir in the text: this was Kir of Media, Isaiah 22:6, now under the Assyrian yoke; and thither did Tiglath-pileser carry the conquered Syrians, 2 Kings 16:9, and placed them captives in that barren, mountainous country about fifty years after it was foretold by Amos.

Saith the Lord: this gives us an assurance that all here threatened should at last be executed.

I will break also the bar of Damascus,.... Or bars, the singular for the plural, by which the gates of the city were barred; and, being broken, the gates would be easily opened, and way made for the enemy to pass into the city and spoil it; or it may signify the whole strength and all the fortifications of it. So the Targum,

"I will break the strength of Damascus:''

and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven; or, "of an idol", as the Vulgate Latin version. It is thought to be some place where idols were worshipped by the Syrians; their gods were the gods of the valleys, which they denied the God of Israel to be, 1 Kings 20:23. Mr. Maundrell (g) says, that near Damascus there is a plain still called the valley of Bocat, and which he thinks is the same with this Bicataven, as it is in the Hebrew text; and which lies between Libanus and Antilibanus, near to the city, of Heliopolis and the Septuagint and Arabic versions here call this valley the plain of On, which Theodoret interprets of an idol called On. Father Calmet (h) takes it to be the same with Heliopolis, now called Balbec, or Baalbeck, the valley of Baal; where was a famous temple dedicated to the sun, the magnificent remains whereof are still at this day visible. Balbec is mentioned by the Arabians as the wonder of Syria; and one of their lexicographers says it is three days' journey from Damascus, where are wonderful foundations, and magnificent vestiges of antiquity, and palaces with marble columns, such as in the whole world are nowhere else to be seen; and such of our European travellers as have visited it are so charmed with what they beheld there, that they are at a loss how to express their admiration. On the southwest of the town, which stands in a "delightful plain" on the west foot of Antilibanus, is a Heathen temple, with the remains of some other edifices, and, among the rest, of a magnificent palace (i): Some late travellers (k) into these parts tell us, that

"upon a rising ground near the northeast extremity of this "plain", and immediately under Antilibanus, is pleasantly situated the city of Balbec, between Tripoli of Syria, and Damascus, and about sixteen hours distant from each.----This plain of Bocat (they say) might by a little care be made one of the richest and most fertile spots in Syria; for it is more fertile than the celebrated vale of Damascus, and better watered than the rich plains of Esdraelon and Rama. In its present neglected state it produces grain, some good grapes, but very little wood.--It extends in length from Balbec almost to the sea; its direction is from northeast by north, to southwest by south; and its breadth from Libanus to Antilibanus is guessed to be in few places more than twelve miles, or less than six.''

It seems to be the same with Bicatlebanon, or the valley of Lebanon, Joshua 11:17; and with that which Strabo (l) calls the hollow plain; the breadth of which to the sea (he says) is twenty five miles, and the length from the sea to the midland is double that:

and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden; that is, the king from his pleasure house; or it may be understood of the name of some place in Syria, where the kings of it used sometimes to be, and had their palace there, called Betheden; and it seems there is still a place near Damascus, on Mount Libanus, called Eden, as the above traveller says; and Calmet (m) takes it to be the same that is here spoken of:

and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the Lord; which last clause is added for the certainty of it, and accordingly it was punctually fulfilled; for in the times of Rezin, which was about fifty years after this prophecy of Amos, though Kimchi says but twenty five, Tiglathpileser king of Assyria came up against Damascus, took it, and carried the people captive to Kir, 2 Kings 16:9. The Targum and Vulgate Latin version call it Cyrene, which some understand of Cyrene in Egypt; see Acts 2:10; but this cannot be, since it was in the hands of the king of Assyria; but rather Kir in Media is meant; see Isaiah 22:6; which was under his dominion; and so Josephus says (n), that he carried captive the inhabitants of Damascus into Upper Media.

(g) Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 119, 120. Ed. 7. (h) Dictionary, in the word "Heliopolis". (i) Universal History, vol. 2. p. 266. (k) Authors of "The Ruins of Balbec". (l) Geograph. l. 16. p. 519. (m) Dictionary, in the word "Eden". (n) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 12. sect. 3.

I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto {h} Kir, saith the LORD.

(h) Tiglath Pileser led the Assyrians captive, and brought them to Cyrene, which he here calls Kir.

5. And I will break the bar of Damascus] Damascus will be powerless to resist the besieger. The allusion is to the ‘bars’ of bronze or iron by which the gates of every fortified city were secured (see Deuteronomy 3:5; 1 Kings 4:13), and which, when a city is captured, are spoken of as ‘broken’ (Lamentations 2:9; Jeremiah 51:30), or ‘hewn’ asunder (Isaiah 45:2).

and cut off the inhabitant] better, perhaps (note the parallel clause, him that holdeth the sceptre), as R.V. marg. him that sitteth (enthroned): yâshab (‘to sit’) has sometimes this force, even when standing alone; see Isaiah 10:13 R.V.; Psalm 2:4; Psalm 22:3 (R.V. marg.).

from the plain] Biḳ‘âh (from bâḳa‘, to cleave) is a broad ‘cleft,’ or level (Isaiah 40:4) plain, between mountains: it is applied, for instance, to the plain of Jericho, Deuteronomy 34:3, of Megiddo, Zechariah 12:11, 2 Chronicles 35:22, of Lebanon, Joshua 11:17, i.e. Coele-Syria, the flat and broad plain between the two ranges of Lebanon and Hermon, which is still called (in Arabic) el-Beḳâ‘a, and is probably the plain meant here.

of Aven] or of idolatry. The reference is uncertain. The common supposition is that Amos alludes to the worship of the Sun, carried on at a spot in the plain of Coele-Syria, called by the ancients Heliopolis, and now known as Baalbeḳ,—some sixty miles N.N.E of Dan,—where are still, in a partly ruined state, the massive walls and richly decorated pillars and architraves, of two magnificent temples. These temples, dedicated respectively to Jupiter and the Sun, are not of earlier date than the 2nd cent. a.d.,—the temple of Jupiter having been erected as a wonder of the world, by Antoninus Pius (a.d. 133–161); but the massive substructures are considered to date from a much earlier period, and to bear witness to the fact that a temple of the Sun had stood there from a distant past. According to Macrobius (Sat. 1:23) and Lucian (de Dea Syria § 5—both quoted by Robinson, Bibl. Researches, iii. 518) the worship of the Sun as carried on at Heliopolis in Syria was derived from Heliopolis in Egypt; and upon assumption of the correctness of this statement, it has been supposed that, with the worship of the Sun, the Egyptian name of Heliopolis, Aûnû (Heb. On, Genesis 41:45; Genesis 41:50; Genesis 46:20) may have been brought from Egypt; and further that, as the Egyptian On (און) is punctuated in Ezekiel 30:17—by way of contempt—אָוֶן Aven (i.e. idolatry), so here the Syrian On may have been called, whether by Amos himself, or by the later scribes, Aven. These suppositions are however, mere conjectures. The statements of Macrobius and Lucian may be nothing more than inferences from the fact of two celebrated temples being dedicated to a similar cult; and there is no independent evidence that On was a name of the Syrian Heliopolis. (The LXX. rendering here τὸ πεδίον Ὦν is not proof of it: for they represent On in Gen. and Ezek. by Ἡλιούπολις.) In view of the double fact that Coele-Syria was a biḳ‘âh, or broad vale, and that Baalbek, in this vale, was the old-established seat of an idolatrous worship of the Sun, it is not improbable that Amos may mean to allude to it; possibly, also,—though there is no proof that the place was called On,—the designation ‘Plain of Aven (idolatry)’ may have been suggested to him by the thought of the Egyptian On, just as the nickname Beth-Aven for Beth-el (Hosea 4:1; Hosea 4:5; Hosea 5:8; cf. on ch. Amos 5:5) may have been suggested by the place Beth-Aven in the neighbourhood, a little to the east of Beth-el (Joshua 7:2; Joshua 18:12; 1 Samuel 13:5; 1 Samuel 14:23). But the identification cannot be regarded as certain: Wellhausen doubts even whether in the time of Amos Heliopolis was an Aramaic city.

him that holdeth the sceptre] the σκηπτοῦχος βασιλεὺς of Homer (Il. II. 26; Od. ii. 231): comp. the corresponding Aramaic expression (חטראחז) in the Hadad-inscription (8 cent. b.c.) of Zinjirli, lines 15, 20, 25 (see D. H. Müller, Die altsemitischen Inschriften von Sendschirli, 1893, p. 20 sq., or in the Contemp. Review, April, 1894, p. 572 f.).

from the house of Eden] or from Beth-eden. Another uncertain locality. Interpreted as a Hebrew word, ‘Eden—vocalized ‘eden, not ‘çden, as in the ‘garden of Eden’—would signify ‘pleasure.’ Of the identifications that have been proposed, relatively the most probable are, perhaps, either the modern Ehden, a village situated attractively in a fertile valley about 20 miles N.W. of Baalbek or Bît-Adini, a district mentioned in the Assyrian Inscriptions and lying some 200 miles N.N.E. of Damascus, on the Euphrates. The place intended may have been a summer-residence of the kings of Damascus, or the seat of some king who held his position in dependence upon the king of Damascus. See further the Additional Note, p. 228.

Syria] Heb. Aram, the name borne regularly in the O. T. by the people (and country) whom the classical writers, through a confusion with Assyrian, knew as Syrians and Syria. (See Nöldeke in Schenkel’s Bibel-Lex. s. v. ‘Aram, or in Hermes Amos 1:3, p. 433 ff., and Z.D.M.[115]. 1871, p. 115.) The people calling themselves Aram were very widely diffused over the regions N.E. of Palestine; their different divisions were distinguished by local designations as ‘Aram of Damascus’ 2 Samuel 8:5 f. (also, as the most important branch, called often, as here, ‘Aram’ simply), ‘Aram of Zobah,’ 2 Samuel 10:6; 2 Samuel 10:8; ‘Aram of Maachah,’ 1 Chronicles 19:6; ‘Aram of Beth-Rĕḥôb,’ 2 Samuel 10:6; ‘Aram of the two Rivers’ (i.e. probably between the Euphrates and the Chaboras), Genesis 24:10 : there were also many other tribes which were reckoned as belonging to ‘Aram,’ Genesis 10:23; Genesis 22:20-24. The language spoken by this people is called “Aramaic”; it exists in many dialects, corresponding to the different localities in which it was spoken, as the Palestinian Aramaic of Ezra and Daniel, the Palmyrene Aramaic, the dialects (not all the same) of the various Targums, the Aramaic of Edessa (commonly known as “Syriac,” par excellence), &c. From Amos 9:7 it appears that recollections of the migrations of some of these tribes were retained, and that Aram—i.e., it may be presumed, ‘Aram of Damascus’—came originally from Kir.

[115] .D.M.GZeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft.

shall go into captivity] Rather into exile. Though in a passage such as the present there is no appreciable difference between the two ideas, yet gâlâh, the word used here, expresses properly migration from a home, exile; and it is better, where possible, not to confuse it with hâlakh bash-shebî, to go into captivity, or nishbâh, to be taken captive.

unto Kir] In Amos 9:7 stated to have been their original home, which Amos accordingly here declares will be also their place of exile. 2 Kings 16:9 shews how within less than a generation the prophecy was fulfilled. The result of the combined attack of Pekah king of Israel and Rezin king of Damascus upon Judah (2 Kings 16:5 ff.; Isaiah 7) was that Ahaz applied for help to Tiglath-pileser, who, responding to the appeal, attacked Damascus, slew Rezin, and carried away the people into exile to Kir.

The brief notice of the book of Kings may be supplemented by the details given in the annals of Tiglath-pileser. From these we learn that in his 13th year (b.c. 733), the king laid siege to Damascus, and that in (probably) the following year (b.c. 732), after ravaging the surrounding country, he took the city, and carried large numbers of its inhabitants into exile. The place to which they were deported is not, however, mentioned in the existing (mutilated) text of the Inscriptions. The situation of Kir is very uncertain. A people of the same name is mentioned in Isaiah 22:6 beside Elam, as supplying a contingent in the Assyrian army. It is generally supposed to have been the district about the river Kur, which flows into the Caspian Sea on the N. of Armenia; but (Schrader in Riehm, H.W.B., s.v.) this region does not seem to have formed part of the Assyrian dominions in the time of either Tiglath-pileser, or Sennacherib; the k in the Assyrian Kurru (Kur) is also not the same as the (q) in ḳir. Others (as Furrer in Schenkel’s Bibel-lex.; Dillm. on Isaiah 22:6) think of the place called by the Greeks Cyrrhus (now Kuris) about 30 miles N.E. of Antioch, which gave to the surrounding region the name of Cyrrhestica. Some region more remote from Damascus itself appears however to be required by the allusions in Amos; Cyrrhus, moreover, there is reason to suppose (Schrader, l.c.), was only so called by the Greeks after a place of the same name in Macedonia.

Additional Note on Chap. Amos 1:5 (‘Eden)

The following are the principal identifications that have been proposed for ‘Eden (or Beth-‘eden). (1) ‘Edçn, as it is called in Syriac, or ’Ehden, as it is called in Arabic, a village some 20 miles N.W. of Baalbek, on the opposite (N. W.) slope of Lebanon, attractively situated on the side of a rich and highly-cultivated valley, near the cedars, described by Amira—the author of the first Syriac grammar published in Europe (1596, p. 59), whose native place it was—as “loci situ, aquarum copia, terrae fertilitate, aeris temperie, in toto Libano praestantissima; unde non immerito tali nomine est nuncupata” (quoted by Payne Smith, Thesaurus Syriacus, col. 2810). The accounts given by modern travellers fully bear out this description: Lord Lindsay, for instance (cited by Dr Pusey) speaks of the slopes of the valleys about it as “one mass of verdure,” with “the springs of Lebanon gushing down, fresh, cool, and melodious, in every direction.” The place is said to be at present a favourite summer resort for the wealthier inhabitants of Tripoli. (2) Bêt-jenn, at the foot (E.) of Anti-Libanus, about 12 miles N.E. of Banias, and 25 miles S.S.W. of Damascus, watered by the Nahr-jennâni, which, flowing down from Anti-Libanus, forms one of the two sources of the A‘waj (the Pharpar), the second great river near Damascus (Porter, Damascus, ed. 2, p. 117 sq.). (3) Jubb ‘Adin, a village situated in the hills, about 25 miles N.E. of Damascus, and 20 miles S.E. of Baalbek. (4) The place called by the Greeks Paradisus, identified by Robinson (B.R[213] III. 544, 556) with old-Jûsieh, far up the valley of Coele-Syria, near Riblah, some 30 miles N.E. of Baalbek—a spot described as being now, at any rate, remarkably “dreary and barren” (Porter, Handbook to Palestine, p. 577). (5) The ‘Eden of Ezekiel 27:23, 2 Kings 19:12 (= Isaiah 37:12), which Schrader (K.A.T[214][215] p. 327) is disposed to identify with the Bît-Adini, often mentioned in the Inscriptions of Asshurnazirpal and Shalmaneser II., a district lying on both sides of the Euphrates, in the middle part of its course, between Bâlis and Biredschik, some 200 miles N.N.E. of Damascus.

[213] .R. … Edw. Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine (ed. 2, 1856).

[214] .A.T. … Eb. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das A. T., ed. 2, 1883 (translated under the title The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the O. T. 1885, 1888). The references are to the pagination of the German, which is given on the margin of the English translation.

[215] … Eb. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das A. T., ed. 2, 1883 (translated under the title The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the O. T. 1885, 1888). The references are to the pagination of the German, which is given on the margin of the English translation.

None of these identifications can be regarded as certain: and the grounds upon which some of them have been suggested are very insufficient. The name Bêt-jenn, for instance, was formerly supposed to be Bêt el-janne, i.e. “house, or place, of the garden (Paradise),” which bore the appearance of being an Arabic translation of Beth-‘eden; but this supposition appears not to be correct[216]. The Greek—or ultimately Persian—word Paradisus, again, does not mean a ‘Paradise,’ in our sense of the term, but merely an enclosed park. Jubb ‘Adin would seem to be a place of too little note to have been signalized by the prophet in such a connexion. On the whole, either (1) or (5) appears to be, relatively, the most probable. Bît-Adini (5) might indeed be thought to be too distant from Damascus; but it has been observed that thirty-two kings are mentioned as being in alliance with Ben-hadad (I.), in 1 Kings 20:1; 1 Kings 20:16, and twelve ‘kings of the land of the Hittites,’ or of the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, are mentioned as allies of the same king by Shalmaneser II. (K.A.T[217][218], pp. 202, 203); hence the allusion may not impossibly be to one or other of the subordinate kings who held rule under the suzerainty of the king of Damascus, and who, the prophet declares, will be involved with him in his fall. Perhaps there were various Aramaean settlements in Coele-Syria and Mesopotamia governed in this way; and the “plain of Aven” and “Eden”—whether this be the Syrian ‘Edçn, or Bît-adini—may have been mentioned as representing these. Others have supposed the allusion to be to a summer residence of the kings of Damascus themselves. It is impossible to speak more definitely for lack of the necessary data. We must be content to know that some place or other, connected politically with Damascus, and, no doubt, prominent at the time, is intended by the prophet.

[216] See Robinson, B.R. iii. 447; Porter, Damascus, l. c.; Socin in Bädeker’s Palästina und Syrien, ed. 2, p. 283; all of whom write Bêt-jenn.

[217] .A.T. … Eb. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das A. T., ed. 2, 1883 (translated under the title The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the O. T. 1885, 1888). The references are to the pagination of the German, which is given on the margin of the English translation.

[218] … Eb. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das A. T., ed. 2, 1883 (translated under the title The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the O. T. 1885, 1888). The references are to the pagination of the German, which is given on the margin of the English translation.

Verse 5. - The bar which secured the gate of the city (1 Kings 4:13; Jeremiah 51:30; Nahum 3:13). Breaking the bar is equivalent to laying the place open to the enemy. From the plain of Avon; Vulgate, de campo idoli; Hebrew, bikath-Aven; Septuagint, ἐκ πεδίου Ων; better, from the valley of Aven, or vanity, perhaps so called analogously with Hosea's naming Bethel, Bethaven, "House of God" and "House of vanity" (Hosea 5:8). Robinson ('Bibl. Res.,' 677) and Pusey refer the name to a valley between Lebanon and Antilibanus, a continuation of the Arabah, still called Bukaa, in the middle of which stood Baalbec, "the Temple of the sun of the valley," called Heliopolis by Greek and Roman writers (see 'Classical Museum,' 3:136). The LXX. Renders "On" in Genesis 41:45 by "Heliopolis;" and On and Baal being both titles of the sun, and indeed synonymous, the introduction of "On" into this passage may be accounted for. Him that holdeth the sceptre. The king and princes, as ver. 8. From the house of Eden; Hebrew, Beth-Eden, "House of delight;" Vulgate, de domo voluptatis; Septuagint, ἐξ ἀνδρῶν Ξαῥῤάν, "out of the men of Charran." This last rendering arises from considering that the reference was to the Eden of Genesis 2, which the translators placed in the region of Haran. The place in the text Keil supposes to be the Paradisus of the Greeks, which Ptolemy (5:15, 20) locates southeast of Laodicea. Schrader suggests a place on the banks of the middle Euphrates between Balis and Biredschich called Bit-Adini in inscriptions of Asurnasirhabal and Salmanassur II. But this seems to be a wrong locality (see 'Die Keilinschriften,' p. 327). The passage means that all the inhabitants of valley and city, king and peasant, shall be cut off. Shall go into captivity. The word implies that the land shall be "stripped" or "bared" of its inhabitants. Wholesale deportation had not hitherto been common in these regions. Kir has been identified with the country on the banks of the river Kar, which flows into the Araxes on the southwest of the Caspian Sea. It forms part of the territory known as Transcaucasia. From this region the Syrians originally emigrated (Amos 9:7), and back to this land a large body were carried when Tiglath-Pileser, some fifty years later, killed Rezin and sacked Damascus, as related in 2 Kings 16:9. Saith the Lord. This is the solemn confirmation of the prophet's announcement, and recurs in vers. 8, 15 and Amos 2:3. Amos 1:5Aram-Damascus. - Amos 1:3. "Thus saith Jehovah, For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because they have threshed Gilead with iron rollers, Amos 1:4. I send fire into the house of Hazael, and it will eat the palaces of Ben-hadad, Amos 1:5. And break in pieces the bolt of Damascus, and root out the inhabitant from the valley of Aven, and the sceptre-holder out of Beth-eden: and the people of Aram will wander into captivity to Kir, saith Jehovah." In the formula, which is repeated in the case of every people, "for three transgressions, and for four," the numbers merely serve to denote the multiplicity of the sins, the exact number of which has no bearing upon the matter. "The number four is added to the number three, to characterize the latter as simply set down at pleasure; in other words, it is as much as to say that the number is not exactly three or four, but probably a still larger number" (Hitzig). The expression, therefore, denotes not a small but a large number of crimes, or "ungodliness in its worst form" (Luther; see at Hosea 6:2)

(Note: J. Marck has correctly explained it thus: "When this perfect number (three) is followed by four, by way of gradation, God not only declares that the measure of iniquity is full, but that it is filled to overflowing and beyond all measure.").

That these numbers are to be understood in this way, and not to be taken in a literal sense, is unquestionably evident from the fact, that nit he more precise account of the sins which follows, as a rule, only one especially grievous crime is mentioned by way of example. לא אשׁיבנּוּ (I will not reverse it) is inserted before the more minute description of the crimes, to show that the threat is irrevocable. השׁיב signifies to turn, i.e., to make a thing go back, to withdraw it, as in Numbers 23:20; Isaiah 43:13. The suffix attached to אשׁיבנּוּ refers neither to qōlō (his voice), nor "to the idea of דּבר which is implied in כּה אמר (thus saith), or the substance of the threatening thunder-voice" (Baur); for hēshı̄bh dâbhâr signifies to give an answer, and never to make a word ineffectual. The reference is to the punishment threatened afterwards, where the masculine stands in the place of the neuter. Consequently the close of the verse contains the epexegesis of the first clause, and Amos 1:4 and Amos 1:5 follow with the explanation of לא אשׁיבנו (I will not turn it). The threshing of the Gileadites with iron threshing-machines is mentioned as the principal transgression of the Syrian kingdom, which is here named after the capital Damascus (see at 2 Samuel 8:6). This took place at the conquest of the Israelitish land to the east of the Jordan by Hazael during the reign of Jehu (2 Kings 10:32-33, cf. 2 Kings 13:7), when the conquerors acted so cruelly towards the Gileadites, that they even crushed the prisoners to pieces with iron threshing-machines, according to a barbarous war-custom that is met with elsewhere (see at 2 Samuel 12:31). Chârūts ( equals chârı̄ts, 2 Samuel 12:31), lit., sharpened, is a poetical term applied to the threshing-roller, or threshing-cart (mōrag chârūts, Isaiah 41:15). According to Jerome, it was "a kind of cart with toothed iron wheels underneath, which was driven about to crush the straw in the threshing-floors after the grain had been beaten out." The threat is individualized historically thus: in the case of the capital, the burning of the palaces is predicted; and in that of two other places, the destruction of the people and their rulers; so that both of them apply to both, or rather to the whole kingdom. The palaces of Hazael and Benhadad are to be sought for in Damascus, the capital of the kingdom (Jeremiah 49:27). Hazael was the murderer of Benhadad I, to whom the prophet Elisha foretold that he would reign over Syria, and predicted the cruelties that he would practise towards Israel (2 Kings 8:7.). Benhadad is generally regarded as his son; but the plural "palaces" leads us rather to think of both the first and second Benhadad, and this is favoured by the circumstance that it was only during his father's reign that Benhadad II oppressed Israel, whereas after his death, and when he himself ascended the throne, the conquered provinces were wrested from him by Joash king of Israel (2 Kings 13:22-25). The breaking of the bar (the bolt of the gate) denotes the conquest of the capital; and the cutting off of the inhabitants of Biq‛ath-Aven indicates the slaughter connected with the capture of the towns, and not their deportation; for hikhrı̄th means to exterminate, so that gâlâh (captivity) in the last clause applies to the remainder of the population that had not been slain in war. In the parallel clause תּומך שׁבם, the sceptre-holder, i.e., the ruler (either the king or his deputy), corresponds to yōshēbh (the inhabitant); and the thought expressed is, that both prince and people, both high and low, shall perish.

The two places, Valley-Aven and Beth-Eden, cannot be discovered with any certainty; but at any rate they were capitals, and possibly they may have been the seat of royal palaces as well as Damascus, which was the first capital of the kingdom. בּקעת און, valley of nothingness, or of idols, is supposed by Ewald and Hitzig to be a name given to Heliopolis or Baalbek, after the analogy of Beth-aven equals Bethel (see at Hosea 5:8). They base their opinion upon the Alex. rendering ἐκ πεδίου Ὦν, taken in connection with the Alex. interpretation of the Egyptian On (Genesis 41:45) as Heliopolis. But as the lxx have interpreted אן by Heliopolis in the book of Genesis, whereas here they have merely reproduced the Hebrew letters און by Ὦν, as they have in other places as well (e.g., Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:8; Hosea 10:5, Hosea 10:8), where Heliopolis cannot for a moment be thought of, the πέδιον Ὦν of the lxx furnishes no evidence in favour of Heliopolis, still less does it warrant an alteration of the Hebrew pointing (into און). Even the Chaldee and Syriac have taken בּקעת און as a proper name, and Ephraem Syrus speaks of it as "a place in the neighbourhood of Damascus, distinguished for idol-chapels." The supposition that it is a city is also favoured by the analogy of the other threatenings, in which, for the most part, cities only are mentioned. Others understand by it the valley near Damascus, or the present Bekaa between Lebanon and Antilibanus, in which Heliopolis was always the most distinguished city, and Robinson has pronounced in favour of this (Bibl. Res. p. 677). Bēth-‛Eden, i.e., house of delight, is not to be sought for in the present village of Eden, on the eastern slope of Lebanon, near to the cedar forest of Bshirrai, as the Arabic name of this village 'hdn has nothing in common with the Hebrew עדן (see at 2 Kings 19:12); but it is the Παράδεισος of the Greeks, which Ptolemy places ten degrees south and five degrees east of Laodicea, and which Robinson imagines that he has found in Old Jusieh, not far from Ribleh, a place belonging to the times before the Saracens, with very extensive ruins (see Bibl. Researches, pp. 542-6, and 556). The rest of the population of Aram would be carried away to Kir, i.e., to the country on the banks of the river Kur, from which, according to Amos 9:7, the Syrians originally emigrated. This prediction was fulfilled when the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser conquered Damascus in the time of Ahaz, and broke up the kingdom of Syria (2 Kings 16:9). The closing words, 'âmar Yehōvâh (saith the Lord), serve to add strength to the threat, and therefore recur in Amos 1:8, Amos 1:15, and Amos 2:3.

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