Amos 2:7
That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in to the same maid, to profane my holy name:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Dust of the earth on the head of the poor.—Can only mean, as Ewald and Keil interpret: they long to see the poor reduced to such distress that dust is thrown on their heads in token of grief. The meek are defrauded as being too weak to claim their own. The latter part of the verse points to the sensuality of the popular worship, the word “maid” being really the prostitute (Heb. k’dēshah) who was devoted to the lustful ritual of Ashera.[17] This obsccnity is regarded by the prophet as part of a deliberate act of desecration to the name of the Holy One of Israel. Moreover, the relation of “father” and “son” was thereby sullied and degraded. (Comp. Leviticus 18:8; Leviticus 18:15; Leviticus 20:11.)

[17] Kuenen, Religion of Israel, vol. 1, pp. 92, 93.

2:1-8 The evil passions of the heart break out in various forms; but the Lord looks to our motives, as well as our conduct. Those that deal cruelly, shall be cruelly dealt with. Other nations were reckoned with for injuries done to men; Judah is reckoned with for dishonour done to God. Judah despised the law of the Lord; and he justly gave them up to strong delusion; nor was it any excuse for their sin, that they were the lies, the idols, after which their fathers walked. The worst abominations and most grievous oppressions have been committed by some of the professed worshippers of the Lord. Such conduct leads many to unbelief and vile idolatry.That pant after the dust of the earth - Literally, "the panters!" with indignation. Not content with having rent from him the little hereditary property which belonged to each Israelite, these creditors grudged him even the "dust," which, as a mourner, he strewed on his head Job 2:12, since it too was "earth." Covetousness, when it has nothing to feed it, craves for what is absurd or impossible. What was Naboth's vineyard to a king of Israel with his "ivory palace?" What was Mordecai's refusal to bow to one in honor like Haman? What a trivial gain to a millionaire? The sarcasm of the prophet was the more piercing, because it was so true. People covet things in proportion, not to their worth, but to their worthlessness. No one covets what he much needs. Covetousness is the sin, mostly not of those who have not, but of those who have. It grows with its gains, is the less satisfied, the more it has to satisify it, and attests its own unreasonableness, by the uselessness of the things it craves for.

And turn aside the way of the meek - So Solomon said, "A wicked" man "taketh a bribe out of the bosom, to pervert the ways of judgment." (Proverbs 17:23. God had laid down the equality of man, made in His own image, and had forbidden to favor either poor Exodus 23:3 or rich Exodus 23:6. Amos calls these by different names, which entitled them to human sympathy; "poor, depressed, lowly; poor," in their absolute condition; "depressed," as having been brought low; "lowly," as having the special grace of their state, the wonderful meekness and lowliness off the godly poor. But all these qualities are so many incentives to injury to the ungodly. They hate the godly, as a reproach to them; because "he is clean contrary to their doings, his life is not like other people's; his ways are of another fashion" (Wisdom Amos 2:12, Amos 2:15). Wolves destroy not wolves but sheep. Bad people circumvent not the bad but the good. Besides the easiness of the gain, there is a devilish fascinating pleasure to the bad, to overreach the simple and meek, because they are such.

They love also to "turn aside the way of the meek," by , "turning them from what is truly right and good; "or from the truth; or again to thwart them in all their ways and endeavors, by open injustice or by perverting justice. Every act of wrong prepares the way for the crowning act; and so "the turning aside the way of the meek" foreshadowed and prepared for the unjust judgment of Him who was "the Meek and Lowly" One Matthew 11:29, the selling the righteous for a trilling sum prepared for the selling "the Holy One and the Just" Acts 3:14 for "the thirty pieces of silver." : "Contrariwise, whoso is truly wise, cordially venerates the humble and abject, the poor and simple, and prefers them in his own heart to himself, knowing that God has 'chosen the poor, and the weak things of the world, and things despised, and things which are not' 1 Corinthians 1:27-28; and that Christ hath likened Himself to such, saying in the Psalm, 'I am poor and sorrowful' Psalm 69:29."

The same damsel - This is not expressly forbidden by the law, except in the case of marriage, the father being forbidden to marry his son's widow, and the son to take his father's widow to wife Leviticus 18:8, Leviticus 18:15. Abominations, unless they had become known to Israel in Egypt, were not expressly forbidden, but were included in the one large prohibition, which, as our Lord explains, forbade every offence, bearing upon it. Israel must have so understood the law, since Amos could upbraid them with this, which is not forbidden by the letter of the law, as a willful insult to the Majesty of God. Reverence was due from the son to the father, example from the father to the son. But now the father was an example of evil to the son; and the son sinned in a way which had no temptation except its irreverence. People, sated with ordinary sin seek incitement to sin, in its very horrors. Probably this sin was committed in connection with their idol worship (see the note at Hosea 4:14). The sin of marrying the father's widow was "fornication not so much as named among the Gentiles" 1 Corinthians 5:1; it was unknown, as seemingly legalizing what was so unnatural. Oppression of the poor, wronging the righteous, perverting the way of the meek, laid the soul open for any abomination.

To profane My Holy Name - that is, as called upon them, as the people of God. God had said, "ye shall keep My commandments and do them (Leviticus 22:31-32; add Leviticus 20:3; Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 21:6). "I" am "the Lord, and ye shall not defile My Holy Name. For I will be sanctified among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you." The sins of God's people are a reproach upon Himself. They bring Him, so to say, in contact with sin. They defeat the object of His creation and revelation. He created man in His Image, to bear His likeness, to have one will with Himself. In effect, through sin, He has created rebels, deformed, unlike. So long as He bears with them, it seems as if He were indifferent to them. Those to whom He has not revealed Himself, must needs think that He takes no account of what He permits unnoticed. Israel, whom God had separated from the pagan, did, by "mingling with the pagan and learning their works" Psalm 106:35, all which in them lay, to "profane" His "Holy Name." They acted as if they had no other purpose than to defile it (see the note at Hosea 8:4).

Had such been their object, they could not have done it more effectually, they could not have done otherwise. In deliberate sin, people act, at last, in defiance of God, in set purpose to dishonor Him. The Name of God has ever since been blasphemed, on account of the sins of the Jews, as though it were impossible that God should have chosen for His own, a people so "laden with iniquities" Isaiah 1:4. Nathan's words to David, "Thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme" 2 Samuel 12:14, have been fulfilled until this day. How much more, Christians, who not only are called "the people of God" but bear the name of Christ incorporated in their own. Yet have we not known Muslims flee from our Christian capital, in horror at its sins? "He lives like a Christian," is a proverb of the Polish Jews, drawn from the debased state of morals in Socinian Poland. The religion of Christ has no such enemies as Christians. Dionysius: "As the devout by honoring God, shew that He is Holy, Great, Most High, who is obeyed in holiness, fear and reverence, so the ungodly, by dishonoring God, exhibit God as far as in them lies, as if lie were not holy. For they act so as if evil were well-pleasing to Him, and induce others to dishonor Him. Wherefore the Apostle saith; "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you" Romans 2:24; and by Ezekiel the Lord saith oftentimes, "Ye have profaned My Holy Name. And I will sanctify My great Name which wets profaned among the pagan, which ye hare profaned in the midst of them" Ezekiel 36:23. The devout then are said to "magnify," sanctify, "exalt God;" the unrighteous to "profane Ezekiel 13:19, despise, God."

7. pant after … dust of … earth on … head of … poor—that is, eagerly thirst for this object, by their oppression to prostrate the poor so as to cast the dust on their heads in mourning on the earth (compare 2Sa 1:2; Job 2:12; Eze 27:30).

turn aside … way of … meek—pervert their cause (Am 5:12; Job 24:4 [Grotius]; Isa 10:2).

a man and his father—a crime "not so much as named among the Gentiles" (1Co 5:1). When God's people sin in the face of light, they often fall lower than even those who know not God.

go in unto the same maid—from Am 2:8 it seems likely "the damsel" meant is one of the prostitutes attached to the idol Astarte's temple: prostitution being part of her filthy worship.

to profane my … name—Israel in such abominations, as it were, designedly seeks to insult God.

That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor; or swallow up, as the word is most frequently turned by our interpreters; and so perhaps more plainly is their cruelty and violence set forth, in that they make a prey of the poor, who walk with dust on their heads by reason of distresses that are upon them, and, without any compassion towards them, greedily, and as at once, swallow up and devour the poor, whom, by the law of God, and the office they bear as judges, they should deliver out of the hand of the oppressor.

Turn aside the way of the meek; perversely and maliciously misinterpret the actions, words, and designs of the humble and meek, of the compassionate and merciful, who pity the poor in these straits and dangers. These corrupt judges and violent oppressors are also shameless adulterers and fornicators, they commit that lewdness which the better-tutored heathens abhor and forbear; a kind of incestuous pollution; the father and son keep the same harlot, and go in unto her. Thus they profanely dishonour me, by casting off my law, and doing that which is so shamefully indecent and unlawful; and giving heathens occasion to blaspheme my name, and either think, or say, Like people, like God. That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor,.... Either were greedy after money, the dust of the earth, and even that small portion of it the poor were possessed of; they could not be easy that they should enjoy that little of it they did, but were desirous to get it out of their hands by oppression and injustice: or they were eagerly desirous of throwing the poor upon the earth, and trampling upon them, and dragging them through the dust of it, thereby filling their heads and covering their faces with it; and caused them to put their mouths in the dust, and be humble suppliants to them. Some think there is an allusion to an ancient custom, which Joseph ben Gorion (r) speaks of, that a guilty person should stand before the judges, clad in black, and his head covered with dust; and this these judges desired here might be done by the rich, that the poor might be accused by them from whom they expected gifts:

and turn aside the way of the meek; decline doing them justice, pervert it, and hinder the course of it, denying it to those who are humble, meek, and modest; or else by one means or another turned them from the good ways in which they were walking, and by degrees at length brought them to such impudence and immodesty as is next expressed, so Aben Ezra:

and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name; that is, will be guilty of such uncleanness, as not only to have and enjoy the same harlot, but of such incest, as that the son would lie with his father's wife, and the father lie with his son's wife; a sin which was not named among the Gentiles, 1 Corinthians 5:1; and whereby the name of God was blasphemed among them, as if their religion taught them and encouraged them in such filthy actions; see Romans 2:24.

(r) Hist. Heb. c. 44. apud Drusium in loc.

That pant after the {e} dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name:

(e) When they have robbed him and thrown him to the ground, they open wide their mouths for his life.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor] The expression is a singular one; but, if the text be sound, the meaning is probably (Hitzig, Pusey, Duhm), “who are so avaricious that they are eager even to secure the dust strewn upon their heads by the poor, in token of their distress,”—whether after an unjust condemnation, or any other misfortune. Dust on the head was a sign of grief or misfortune: see e.g. 2 Samuel 1:2; 2 Samuel 15:32; Lamentations 2:10. Others (Keil, Gunning) think the meaning is merely, Who are eager to see dust on the head of the poor, i.e. to see them reduced to a state of misery. The former explanation involves a thought which, it must he owned, is somewhat far-fetched; but it is more exact exegetically than the second. Jerome, pronouncing the verb differently (shâphîm, for shô’ăphîm), and not expressing the prep. on, renders; “Who crush (Genesis 3:15; Psalm 94:5, Targ.) the heads of the poor upon the dust of the earth,”—a forcible metaphor (cf. Isaiah’s ‘grind the faces of the poor,’ Amos 3:15), and Micah’s ‘strip the flesh off their bones,’ Amos 3:2-3) for oppression. This yields a good sense, and may be the original text. Wellh. also reads crush, omitting ‘upon the dust of the earth’ (cf. Amos 8:4, “Who pant after [or crush] die needy”); but if these words are not genuine, it is difficult to understand how they found their way into the text.—The word rendered poor (dal) is lit. thin (of kine, Genesis 41:19, of Amnon, 2 Samuel 13:4); fig. reduced in circumstances, poor, Exodus 23:3, and frequently.

turn aside the way of the meek] place hindrances in their way, thwart their purposes, oblige them to turn aside from the path that they would naturally follow, to land them in difficulties. Cf. Job 24:4, “and turn aside the needy from the way” (mentioned among other acts of high-handed oppression). By the meek are meant the humble-minded servants of Jehovah, who by character, and often also by circumstances, were unable to protect themselves against the oppressions or persecutions of a worldly-minded aristocracy, and who, especially in the Psalms, are often alluded to as both deserving and receiving Jehovah’s care. In Isaiah 32:7 they are the victims of the unscrupulous intriguer; in Isaiah 29:19 they are described as able by the overthrow of injustice (Isaiah 29:20-21) to rejoice thankfully in their God; in Isaiah 11:4 the Messianic king judges their cause with righteousness. They are named, as here, in parallelism with the ‘poor’ (dal) in Isaiah 11:4, and with the ‘needy’ (ebhyôn) in Isaiah 29:19; Isaiah 32:7; Psalm 9:19; Job 24:4; see also Isaiah 61:1; Psalm 22:26; Psalm 34:2; Psalm 37:11; Psalm 76:9.

will go in] go (R.V.) i.e. resort: the verb is not the one () used in Genesis 16:4, &c. ‘Will go’ means ‘are in the habit of going’: will having the same force as in Proverbs 19:6; Proverbs 19:24; Proverbs 20:6 &c.); but it is better omitted in translation.

unto the same maid] to a girl: the art. is generic, and, as such, is properly represented in English by the indef. article: the enormity lies not in its being an exaggeration of ordinary immorality (1 Corinthians 5:1), but in the frequency and publicity with which it was practised: father and son are thus found resorting to the same spots. The allusion is in all probability not to common immorality, but to immorality practised in the precincts of a temple, especially in the service of Ashtoreth, as a means by which the worshippers placed themselves under the patronage and protection of the goddess; a singular and revolting practice, found in many Semitic religions, and frequently alluded to in the Old Testament. The persons attached to a temple who prostituted themselves with the worshippers were called Kĕdçshôth, i.e. sacred or dedicated (to the deity in question): see Genesis 38:21-22 and (in N. Israel) Hosea 4:14; and comp. the masc. Kědçshîm, 1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; 1 Kings 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7 (under Manasseh, even in the Temple at Jerusalem). Deuteronomy 23:17 forbids Israelites (of either sex) to be made such temple-prostitutes. Comp. in Babylon Hdt. 1. 199, Bar 6:43, Strabo xvi. 1, 20, in Byblus, Lucian, De dea Syria, § 4, in Cyprus (in the service of the Cyprian Aphrodite, who corresponded to Ashtoreth), Hdt. I. 199 end, Clem. Alex. Protrep. pp. 12, 13; see also the present writer’s note on Deuteronomy 23:17 f.

to profane my holy name] in order to profane &c.: it ought to have been so clear to them that such practices were contrary to Jehovah’s will that Amos represents them as acting in deliberate and intentional contravention of it. To profane Jehovah’s name is an expression used more especially in the “Law of Holiness” (Leviticus 17-26), and by Ezekiel. Jehovah is Israel’s Owner; and as such, His name is ‘called over it’ (see on Amos 9:12): hence the name is said to be ‘profaned,’ when something is done bringing it into discredit, or, in virtue of His connexion with Israel, derogatory to Him: for instance, by the worship of Molech (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:3), perjury (Leviticus 19:12), the humiliation of Israel in exile (Isaiah 48:11; Ezekiel 20:9; Ezekiel 20:14; Ezekiel 36:20-23).Verse 7. - That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor. This is the second charge - oppression of the poor. The obscure expression in the text is capable of two explanations. Hitzig, Pusey, Trochon, assume that its meaning is that in their avarice and cupidity the usurers or tyrannous rich men grudge even the dust which the poor man strews upon his head in token of his sorrow at being brought to so low a state. But this seems unnatural and farfetched, and scarcely in harmony with the simple style of Amos. The other explanation, supported by Kimchi, Sehegg, Keil, and Knabenbauer, is preferable. These oppressors desire eagerly to see the poor crushed to the earth, or so miserable as to scatter dust on their heads (comp. 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; Job 2:12). The poor (dal, not the same word as in ver. 6); depressed, as brought low in condition. The Septuagint joins this with the previous clause, "And the poor for sandals, the things that tread on the dust of the earth, and smote on the heads of the needy." The Vulgate gives, Qui conterunt super pulverem terrae capita pauperum, "Who bruise the heads of the poor on the dust of the earth." Turn aside the way of the meek. They thwart and hinder their path of life, and force them into crooked and evil ways. Or way, according to Kimchi, may mean "judicial process," as Proverbs 17:23. This gives, to the clause much the same meaning as ver. 6. The meek are those who are lowly and unassuming (see note on Zephaniah 2:3). And a man and his father will go in unto the same maid; LXX., Αἰσεπορεύοντο πρὸς τὴν αὐτὴν παιδίσκην. The Vulgate, which omits "the same," is closer to the Hebrew, Et filius ac pater ejus ierunt ad puellam, though the Greek doubtless gives the intended meaning. This sin, which was tantamount to incest, was virtually forbidden (Leviticus 18:8, 15; Leviticus 20:11). Some (as Ewald, Maurer, Gandell) see here an allusion to the organized prostitution in idol temples (Hosea 4:14), but this seems unnecessary. To profane my holy Name (Leviticus 22:32). Such crimes dishonoured the God who called them his people, so that to them could be applied what St. Paul says (Romans 2:24), "The Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you" (comp. Leviticus 20:3; Ezekiel 36:20, 23). The word lemaan, "in order that," implies that they committed these sins, not through ignorance, but intentionally, to bring discredit upon the true faith and worship. The call to repentance and reformation of life is then appended in Hosea 10:12, Hosea 10:13, clothed in similar figures. Hosea 10:12. "Sow to yourselves for righteousness, reap according to love; plough for yourselves virgin soil: for it is time to seek Jehovah, till He come and rain righteousness upon you. Hosea 10:13. Ye have ploughed wickedness, ye have reaped crime: eaten the fruit of lying: because thou hast trusted in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men." Sowing and reaping are figures used to denote their spiritual and moral conduct. לצדקה, for righteousness, is parallel to לפי חסד; i.e., sow that righteousness may be able to spring up like seed, i.e., righteousness towards your fellow-men. The fruit of this will be chesed, condescending love towards the poor and wretched. Nı̄r nı̄r, both here and in Jeremiah 4:3 to plough virgin soil, i.e., to make land not yet cultivated arable. We have an advance in this figure: they are to give up all their previous course of conduct, and create for themselves a new sphere for their activity, i.e., commence a new course of life. ועת, and indeed it is time, equivalent to, for it is high time to give up your old sinful says and seek the Lord, till (עד) He come, i.e., till He turn His grace to you again, and cause it to rain upon you. Tsedeq, righteousness, not salvation, a meaning which the word never has, and least of all here, where tsedeq corresponds to the tsedâqâh of the first clause. God causes righteousness to rain, inasmuch as He not only gives strength to secure it, like rain for the growth of the seed (cf. Isaiah 44:3), but must also generate and create it in man by His Spirit (Psalm 51:12). The reason for this summons is given in Hosea 10:13, in another allusion to the moral conduct of Israel until now. Hitherto they have ploughed as well as reaped unrighteousness and sin, and eaten lies as the fruit thereof, - lies, inasmuch as they did not promote the prosperity of the kingdom as they imagined, but only led to its decay and ruin. For they did not trust in Jehovah the Creator and rock of salvation, but in their way, i.e., their deeds and their might, in the strength of their army (Amos 6:13), the worthlessness of which they will now discover.
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