Amos 2:9
Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.
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(9) Destroyed I.—Emphasis belongs to the pronoun “I.” The Amorites proper occupied the S.W. coast of the Dead Sea. Their formidable stature and power were attributed occasionally to all the inhabitants of the land. (Joshua 24:18; Judges 6:10.) They were absorbed before the time of Amos.

Amos 2:9. Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them — Namely, when they came out of Egypt. The Amorites include the rest of the Canaanites, and are here mentioned rather than the others, as being the mightiest nation of them all. Here the benefits which God had bestowed upon the Israelites are mentioned that it might appear how great their ingratitude was toward him. Whose height was like that of the cedars — Who were men of a vast stature, and remarkable strength. The image is a grand and natural one. Virgil makes the same comparison, speaking of the Titans, Æneid, lib. 3. ver. 677.

“Concilium horrendum, quales cum vertice celso, Aeriæ quercus, aut coniferæ Cyparissi Constiterunt, sylva alta Jovis, lucusve Dianæ.”

“A dreadful council, with their heads on high, Not yielding to the tow’ring tree of Jove, Or tallest cypress of Diana’s grove.” DRYDEN.

Yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath — The prophet diversifies and continues the image with great beauty. See similar ones, Homer’s Il., 13:389, and Hor. Od., 50. Amos 4:6. So Virgil compares the destruction of Troy to the cutting down a mountain ash; and the fall of Entellus to that of a pine. Æn., 2:626; 5:447.2:9-16 We need often to be reminded of the mercies we have received; which add much to the evil of the sins we have committed. They had helps for their souls, which taught them how to make good use of their earthly enjoyments, and were therefore more valuable. Faithful ministers are great blessings to any people; but it is God that raises them up to be so. Sinners' own consciences will witness that he has not been wanting to them in the means of grace. They did what they could to lead believers aside. Satan and his agents are busy to corrupt the minds of young people who look heavenward; they overcome many by drawing them to the love of mirth and pleasure, and into drinking company. Multitudes of young men who bade fair as professors of religion, have erred through strong drink, and have been undone for ever. The Lord complains of sin, especially the sins of his professing people, as a burden to him. And though his long-suffering be tired, his power is not, and so the sinner will find to his cost. When men reject God's word, adding obstinacy to sin, and this becomes the general character of a people, they will be given up to misery, notwithstanding all their boasted power and resources. May we then humble ourselves before the Lord, for all our ingratitude and unfaithfulness.Yet - (and I) I((Emphatic) destroyed Such were "their" doings; such their worship of "their God." And what had "God" done? what was it, which they thus requited?

The Amorite - These, as one of the mightiest of the Canaanite tribes, stand in Moses for all. Moses, in rehearsing to them the goodness of God and their backsliding, reminds them, how he had said, "Ye have come to the mountain of the Amorites, which the Lord your God giveth you" Deuteronomy 1:20; and that they, using this same word, said, "Because the Lord hateth us, He hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorite to destroy us" Deuteronomy 1:27. The aged Joshua, in rehearsing God's great deeds for Israel, places first by itself the destruction of the Amorite before them, with the use of this same idiom , "I brought you into the land of the Amorites which dwelt on the other side of Jordan - and I destroyed them before you." The Amorites were descended from the 4th son of Canaan Genesis 10:16.

At the invasion of Chedorlaomer, a portion of them dwelt at Hazezon-Tamar or Engedi, half way on the west side of the Dead Sea, and at Hebron near it (Genesis 14:7, Genesis 14:13; compare Genesis 13:18; 2 Chronicles 20:2). Their corruption had not yet reached its height, and the return of Israel was delayed to the four hundredth year, "because the iniquity of the Amorite was not yet full" Genesis 15:16. When Israel returned, the Amorites, (together with the Hittites and the Jebusites) held the hill country Numbers 13:29; Deuteronomy 1:7, Deuteronomy 1:44, Jerusalem, Hebron, Gibeon 2 Samuel 21:2, and, on the skirts of the mountains westward Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon Joshua 10:3, Joshua 10:5. They dwelt on the side of the Jordan westward Joshua 5:1, besides the two kingdoms which they had formed east of Jordan, reaching to Mount Hermon Deuteronomy 3:8 and Bashan up to the territory of Damascus. Afterward a small remnant remained only in the portion of Dan, and in the outskirts of Judah, from the south of the Dead Sea, Maaleh Akrabbim (Scorpion-pass) and Petra Judges 1:35-36. Those near Idumea were probably absorbed in Edom; and the remnant in Dan, after becoming tributary to Ephraim Judges 1:35-36, lost their national existence perhaps among the Philistines, since we have thenceforth only the single notice in the days of Samuel after the defeat of the Philistines, "there was peace between Israel and the Amorites" 1 Samuel 7:14.

Whose height was like the height of the cedars - The giant sons of Anak were among the Amorites at "Hebron" Numbers 13:22 (called for a time Kiriath Arba Joshua 14:15; Joshua 15:13-14 from their giant father) "Debir, Ahab, and the mountains of Judah and Israel Joshua 11:21. The valley of Rephaim" 2 Samuel 5:18, southwest of Jerusalem, connects this giant race with the Amorites, as does the fact that Og, king of the Amorites in Basan, was "of the remnant of the Rephaim" Deuteronomy 3:11; Joshua 12:4; Joshua 13:19. Basan and Argob were, in Moses' time, still called "the land of Rephaim" Deuteronomy 3:13. The Rephaim, with the Perizzites, dwelt still in woody mountains near Ephraim; from where, on the complaint that the lot of the sons of Joseph was too narrow, Joshua bade his tribe to expel them Joshua 17:15, Joshua 17:18. The Rephaim are mentioned between the Perizzites and the Amorites Genesis 15:20-21, in God's first promise of the land to Abraham's seed, and perhaps some intermixture of race gave the giant stature to the Amorites. It is clear from Amos that the report of the spies, "all the people that we saw in it were men of stature" Numbers 13:32, was no exaggeration, nor did Joshua and Caleb deny "this." The name of the Amorite is probably connected with "commanding," describing some quality of their forefather, which descended to his race.

Whose height was like the height of cedars - Giant height is sometimes a cause of weakness. Amos, in a degree like Hosea combines distinct images to make up the idea of stateliness and strength. The cedar is the ideal of eastern trees for height Isaiah 2:13; Ezekiel 17:22; Ezekiel 31:3; 1 Kings 4:33; 2 Kings 14:9, stretching forth its arms as for protection , "It groweth to an exceeding height, and with increasing time ever riseth higher." The oak has its Hebrew name from strength. The more majestic the tall strength of the Amorite, the more manifest that Israel "got not the land in possession by their own sword" Psalm 44:3, who had counted themselves, in sight of the Amorite, "as grasshoppers" Numbers 13:33. God, who gave him that strength, took it away, as we say, "root and branch," leaving him no show above, no hope of recovered life below (see Hosea 9:16; Job 18:16; Ezekiel 17:9). Having compared each Amorite to a majestic tree, he compares the excision of the whole nation to the cutting down of that one tree , so swift, so entire, so irrecoverable. Yet the destruction of the Amorite, a mercy to Israel in the purpose of God, was a warning to israel when it became as they. God's terrors are mercies to the repentant; God's mercies are terrors to the impenitent. "Ye shall keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not commit any of these abominations," was the tenure upon which they held the Lord's land, "that the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you" Leviticus 18:26, 38.

9. Yet—My former benefits to you heighten your ingratitude.

the Amorite—the most powerful of all the Canaanite nations, and therefore put for them all (Ge 15:16; 48:22; De 1:20; Jos 7:7).

height … like … cedars—(Nu 13:32, 33).

destroyed his fruit … above … roots … beneath—that is, destroyed him utterly (Job 18:16; Eze 17:9; Mal 4:1).

Yet destroyed I, whom they have ungratefully forgotten and forsaken, and set up idol’s in competition with me; nay, cast off my law and worship, and embraced idolatry, worshipped idols that never could do them good, nor destroy their enemies; this they did after I had destroyed their enemies.

The Amorite; the mightiest nation of all the Canaanites, and therefore expressly mentioned as an instance of God’s great mercy, and Israel’s great ingratitude: by this nation mentioned all the rest of the Canaanitish nations are to be understood. These Amorites dwelt beyond Jordan, between that and Moab, and their land fell by lot unto Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. Before them, the children of Israel under the conduct of Moses, Deu 2:24, &c.; Deu 3:1-14, at the very sight of whom these mighty men fled, for God had struck them with terror that they might not stand before Israel.

Whose height was like the height of the cedars: the Amorites were men of largest size, they were of the race of the giants, Numbers 13:32,33. This is a proverbial speech, and sets out the Amorites, exceeding ordinary men in stature as much as the cedar exceeds ordinary trees in height.

Strong as the oaks; another proverbial speech, denoting their great strength above the strength of other men.

I destroyed; utterly rooted them out.

His fruit from above: trees propagated by fruit are diminished by destroying the fruit which is the seed of them; so God cut off the children of the Amorites, and thereby prevented all succession.

His roots from beneath: this refers to the destroying the old standards, that present generation: this last clause refers to the command God gave, Deu 7:2. Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them,.... Here the Lord by the prophet reckons up the many favours and blessings he had bestowed upon Israel, which was an aggravation of their sins, and showed them to be guilty of great ingratitude, and a justification of him in his punishment of them he drove out the seven nations of Canaanites from before them, to make way for them, and destroyed them, of which the Amorite was a principal, and is here put for all the rest:

whose height was like the height of the cedars; being both tall of stature, and in great honour and dignity with the other nations, and in very opulent and flourishing circumstances:

and he was strong as the oaks: not only like the tall cedars of Lebanon for their height and largeness of stature, but like the sturdy oaks for the strength of their bodies, being of the race of the giants, Numbers 13:28;

yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath; that is, utterly destroyed him, root and branch, so that nothing of him remained; still persisting in the metaphor of a tree. Jarchi interprets it of their superior and inferior princes; but it seems best to understand it of children with their parents, the one being the fruit, the other the root; and, both being destroyed, there must be utter ruin.

Yet destroyed I the {h} Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.

(h) The destruction of their enemies and his mercy toward them, should have caused their hearts to melt because of love toward him.

9. Yet destroyed I] The pron. is emphatic: ‘Yet I (whom you thus requite) destroyed the Amorites, that mighty and seemingly invincible nation, from before you, and settled you in their land.’ Destroyed before (lit. from before) you: the same expression in Joshua 24:8—a passage belonging to the Hexateuchal narrator, commonly designated by the letter E: “And I brought you into the land of the Amorite, who dwelt beyond Jordan, and they fought with you; and I gave them into your hand, and ye possessed their land, and I destroyed them from before you”; cf. also Deuteronomy 2:21-22. Amorite is the term used (1) in the passage just quoted, and frequently, of the peoples ruled by Sihon and Og, east of Jordan, conquered by the Israelites; (2) as a general designation of the pre-Israelitish population of the territory W. of Jordan, especially in the Hexateuchal writer ‘E,’ and in Deuteronomy (as Genesis 48:22; Deuteronomy 1:7; Deuteronomy 1:19-20; Joshua 24:15; Joshua 24:18, and occasionally besides (as Jdg 1:34-35; Jdg 6:10; 2 Samuel 21:2): see, more fully, the writer’s Commentary on Deuteronomy, pp. 11–12. It is used here, evidently, in the second sense.

like the height of the cedars &c.] A hyperbolical description of the stature and strength of the Amorites: cf. Numbers 13:32; Deuteronomy 1:28 (“a people greater and taller than we; cities great and fenced up to heaven”). The cedar was, among the Hebrews, the type of loftiness and grandeur (Isaiah 2:13; Ezekiel 17:23; Ezekiel 31:3).

his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath] i.e. completely, or, as we might say, root and branch: not only was the fruit which existed destroyed, but the stock from which fresh fruit might have been put forth afterwards was destroyed likewise. For the figure comp. Hosea 9:16, Ezekiel 17:9; and especially Job 18:16, Isaiah 37:31, and the Inscription on the tomb of Eshmunazar, king of Sidon (Corp. Inscr. Sem. I. i. p. 19), Isaiah 50:11-11 (an imprecation uttered against any one who violates the tomb): “may he have no root beneath, or fruit above, or any beauty among the living under the sun.”

9–12. The ingratitude shewn by Israel, in thus dishonouring its Lord and Benefactor.Verse 9. - God complains of Israel's ingratitude for the favour which he had shown them. And yet I. The personal pronoun has a prominent position, and is continually repeated, to contrast God's faithfulness and the people's unthankfulness. The Amorite (Joshua 24:8, 18). The representative of the seven nations of Canaan who were dispossessed by the Israelites (Genesis 15:16; Exodus 23:27; Exodus 34:11). The hyperbolical description of this people is taken from Numbers 13:32, etc.; Deuteronomy 1:28. Thus is shown Israel's inability to cope with such an enemy, and their entire dependence on the help of the Lord. Fruit... roots. Keil explains that the posterity of a nation is regarded as its fruit, and the kernel of the nation out of which it springs as the root, comparing Job 18:16; Ezekiel 17:9; Hosea 9:16. The expression is equivalent to our "root and branch" (Malachi 4:1). "And tumult will arise against thy peoples, and all thy fortifications are laid waste, as Shalman laid Beth-Arbeel waste in the day of the war: mother and children are dashed to pieces. Hosea 10:15. Thus hath Bethel done to you because of the wickedness of your wickedness: in the morning dawn the king of Israel is cut off, cut off." קאם with א as mater lect. (Ewald, 15, e), construed with ב: to rise up against a person, as in Psalm 27:12; Job 16:8. שׁאון, war, tumult, as in Amos 2:2. בּעמּיך: against thy people of war. The expression is chosen with a reference to rōbh gibbōrı̄m (the multitude of mighty men), in which Israel put its trust. The meaning, countrymen, or tribes, is restricted to the older language of the Pentateuch. The singular יוּשּׁד refers to כּל, as in Isaiah 64:10, contrary to the ordinary language (cf. Ewald, 317, c). Nothing is known concerning the devastation of Beth-Arbeel by Shalman; and hence there has always been great uncertainty as to the meaning of the words. Shalman is no doubt a contracted form of Shalmanezer, the king of Assyria, who destroyed the kingdom of the ten tribes (2 Kings 17:6). Bēth-'arbē'l is hardly Arbela of Assyria, which became celebrated through the victory of Alexander (Strab. Isaiah 16:1, Isaiah 16:3), since the Israelites could scarcely have become so well acquainted with such a remote city, as that the prophet could hold up the desolation that befel it as an example to them, but in all probability the Arbela in Galilaea Superior, which is mentioned in 1 Maccabees 9:2, and very frequently in Josephus, a place in the tribe of Naphtali, between Sephoris and Tiberias (according to Robinson, Pal. iii. pp. 281-2, and Bibl. Researches, p. 343: the modern Irbid). The objection offered by Hitzig, - viz. that shōd is a noun in Hosea 9:6; Hosea 7:13; Hosea 12:2, and that the infinitive construct, with ל prefixed, is written לשׁדד in Jeremiah 47:4; and lastly, that if Shalman were the subject, we should expect the preposition את before בּית, - is not conclusive, and the attempt which he makes to explain Salman-Beth-Arbel from the Sanscrit is not worth mentioning. The clause "mother and children," etc., a proverbial expression denoting inhuman cruelty (see at Genesis 32:12), does not merely refer to the conduct of Shalman in connection with Beth-arbel, possibly in the campaign mentioned in 2 Kings 17:3, but is also intended to indicate the fate with which the whole of the kingdom of Israel was threatened. In 2 Kings 17:16 this threat concludes with an announcement of the overthrow of the monarchy, accompanied by another allusion to the guilt of the people. The subject to כּכה עשׂה is Beth-el (Chald.), not Shalman or Jehovah. Bethel, the seat of the idolatry, prepares this lot for the people on account of its great wickedness. עשׂה is a perf. proph.' and רעת רעתכם, wickedness in its second potency, extreme wickedness (cf. Ewald, 313, c). Basshachar, in the morning-dawn, i.e., at the time when prosperity is once more apparently about to dawn, tempore pacis alluscente (Cocc., Hgst.). The gerund נדמה adds to the force; and מלך ישׂ is not this or the other king, but as in 2 Kings 17:7, the king generally, i.e., the monarchy of Israel.
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