Amos 3:2
You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
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(2) Known.—The knowledge of God is love. There was special knowledge and intimacy between God and Israel. Upon such knowledge followed advantages and privileges innumerable.

Therefore I will . . .—This may mean, in proportion to your privileges will be your doom—but more probably that this intimacy of knowledge is the ground of gracious chastisement. For nation or man to be allowed to go on in sin without rebuke is the greatest curse that can befall it or him.

3:1-8 The distinguishing favours of God to us, if they do not restrain from sin, shall not exempt from punishment. They could not expect communion with God, unless they first sought peace with him. Where there is not friendship, there can be no fellowship. God and man cannot walk together, except they are agreed. Unless we seek his glory, we cannot walk with him. Let us not presume on outward privileges, without special, sanctifying grace. The threatenings of the word and providence of God against the sin of man are certain, and certainly show that the judgments of God are at hand. Nor will God remove the affliction he has sent, till it has done its work. The evil of sin is from ourselves, it is our own doing; but the evil of trouble is from God, and is his doing, whoever are the instruments. This should engage us patiently to bear public troubles, and to study to answer God's meaning in them. The whole of the passage shows that natural evil, or troubles, and not moral evil, or sin, is here meant. The warning given to a careless world will increase its condemnation another day. Oh the amazing stupidity of an unbelieving world, that will not be wrought upon by the terrors of the Lord, and that despise his mercies!You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities - Such is the one law of God. The nearer anyone is brought unto God, the worse is his fall, and, his trial over, the more heavily is he punished. Nearness to God is a priceless, but an awesome gift. The most intense blessing becomes, by the abuse of free will, the most dreadful woe. For the nearer God places anyone to His own light, the more malignant is the choice of darkness instead of light. The more clearly anyone knows the relation to God, in which God has placed him, the more terrible is his rejection of God. The more God reveals to any, what He is, His essential perfections, His holiness and love, the more utter, tearful malignity it is, to have been brought face to face with God, and to have in deed said to Him, "On Thy terms I will have none of Thee." The angels who sinned against fullest light, had no redemption or repentance; but became devils. "He took not on Him the nature of angels" Hebrews 2:16. "The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitations, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great Day" Jde 1:6.

Of the former people, when their first day of grace was past, Daniel says; "under the whole heaven hath not been done, as hath been done upon Jerusalem" Daniel 9:12. Begin," God saith in Ezekiel's "at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house" Ezekiel 9:6. So our Lord lays down the rule of judgment and punishment hereafter" Luke 12:47-48 "the servant which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not" himself, "neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many" stripes. "But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much has been given, of him shall much be required, and to whom people have committed much, of him they will ask the more. The time is come," says Peter, "that judgment must begin at the house of God" 1 Peter 4:17.

You only I have known - Such care had God had of Israel, so had He known them, and made Himself known to them, as if He had, in comparison, disregarded all besides, as He remained unknown by them. Knowledge, among people, is mutual, and so it seemed as if God knew not those, of whom He was not known. Knowledge, with God, is love, and so He seemed not to have known those, to whom, although "He left not Himself without witness" Acts 14:17, He had shown no such love (see the note at Hosea 13:5). Whence our Lord shall say to the wicked, "I never knew you" Matthew 7:23; and contrariwise, He says, "I am the good Shepherd and know My sheep, and am known of Mine" (John 10:14; see 2 Timothy 2:19). : "Myriads of cities and lands are there under the whole heaven, and in them countless multitudes; but you alone have I chosen out of all, made Myself known and visible among you by many miracles, chosen you out of a bitter unbearable bondage, trained you by My law to be well-pleasing to Me, fenced you with protection, brought you into the land promised to your fathers, enlightened you with prophecies." : "Not, I deem, as though in the time of Israel and of the Old Testament, there were not, in the whole world, some good people and predestinated; but because God did not then choose any nation or whole people, save the children of Israel. For it was meet that that people, of which God willed to be Incarnate, should be distinguished by some special grace."

Therefore I will punish you - o: "To depise God and to neglect the Lord's Will procureth destruction to those who have known Him or been known of Him, and been spiritually made His own." "I made you My own people, friends, sons. As a Father, I cherished, protected, exalted, you. Ye would not have Me as a Father, ye shall have Me as a Judge." Rup.: "As Israel has, in its elect, been glorious above all, so, in the reprobate, has it been made viler than all, both before God and before people." How much more Christians, and, among Christians, priests! It has of old been believed, that the deepest damnation will be that of ungodly priests.

Yet since almost all punishment in this life is remedial, the saying admits another meaning that God would leave no sin unchastened in those whom He had made His own. Both are true meanings, fulfilled at different times. God chastens in proportion to His love, in the Day of grace. He punishes, in proportion to the grace and love despised and trampled upon without repentance in eternity. Here , "the most merciful Physician, cutting away the cancrous flesh, spareth not, that He may spare; He pitieth not, that He may the more pity. For 'whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.'" Hence, the prayer , "Burn, cut, here; and spare forever." Contrariwise , "we should esteem any sinner the more miserable, when we see him left in his sin, unscourged. Whence it is said, "The turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them" Proverbs 1:32. For whoso "turneth away" from God and is "prosperous," is the nearer to perdition, the more he is removed from the severity of discipline." : "This is the terrible, this the extreme case, when we are no longer chastened for sins, when we are no more corrected for offending. For when we have exceeded the measure of sinning, God, in displeasure, turneth away from us His displeasure." : "When you see a sinner, affluent, powerful, enjoying heath, with wife and circle of children, and that saying is fulfilled, 'They are not in trouble' Psalm 73:5 as other 'men, neither are they plagued like' other 'men,' in him is the threat of the prophet fulfilled, 'I will not visit. '"

2. You only have I known—that is, acknowledged as My people, and treated with peculiar favor (Ex 19:5; De 4:20). Compare the use of "know," Ps 1:6; 144:3; Joh 10:14; 2Ti 2:19.

therefore I will punish—the greater the privileges, the heavier the punishment for the abuse of them; for to the other offenses there is added, in this case, ingratitude. When God's people do not glorify Him, He glorifies Himself by punishing them.

You only have I known; chosen, made near to myself adopted to be my peculiar ones, to be sons and daughters to me; to you only have I revealed my whole will, and given you my law for your rule and direction, and my promises for your encouragement, and required you to have no other gods before me. Of all the families of the earth: this possibly may intimate God’s choosing them when they were but a small family, as in Abraham’s day, and when other families were as considerable as that of Abraham was; the growth of which into a mighty nation was from the favour and blessing of God, performing his promises to their forefathers; and this will aggravate their apostacy from God, which in the next words he threatens to punish.

Therefore: here is an elliptic speech, for God doth not punish his peculiar people because they are so near and dear to him, but for that, being so, they had forgotten their duty and obligations to God, and had abused all these his mercies.

I will punish you; my hand shall punish certainly, whoever are the means, and whatever is the manner, of which you shall hear more, but I will certainly visit for it. For all your iniquities; all your idolatries, and sins against the precepts of the first table, and all your injustices, and sins against the second table; all your desertings of the law of piety and justice; none of their works shall ever be forgotten, Amos 8:7. You only have I known of all the families of the earth,.... All the families or nations of the earth, and all the inhabitants of it, are known by the Lord, as he is the omniscient God; but none had been known by him as a family, or a nation, with that love and affection as this family had been, or distinguished by his favours and blessings as they, not only temporal, but spiritual; besides the land of Canaan, and all the good things in it, they had the law of the Lord, his word, worship, and ordinances, among them; he chose them for himself above all people, and gave peculiar marks of his affection to them, and special instances of his goodness, and of his care over them, and concern for them; see Deuteronomy 4:6;

therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities; or "visit upon you" (c); or "against you"; in a way of chastisement and correction; they were a family he had highly favoured, and yet departed from him; children he had brought up in a tender manner, and brought out of a most miserable condition, and yet rebelled against him; he had followed and loaded them with his benefits, and they had proved ungrateful to him; he had given them a revelation of his mind and will, and they had rejected it, and therefore knowing, and not doing it, were worthy of more stripes; their sins were more aggravated than others, being against goodness and mercy, light and knowledge; and therefore the Lord was determined to make an example of them; see 1 Peter 4:17.

(c) "visitabo super vos", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus; "visito", i.e. "visitare soleo", Mercerus; "super vobis", Cocceius; "contra vos", Piscator.

You {a} only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.

(a) I have only chosen you to be mine among all other people, and yet you have forsaken me.

2. You only &c.] The pron. is emphatic by its position, in the Heb., as in the English.

known] i.e. known favourably, noticed, regarded: so Genesis 18:19, “I have known him to the end that he may command his children and his household after him that they may keep the way of Jehovah,” &c.; Hosea 13:5, “I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought”; Psalm 1:6; Psalm 37:18, and elsewhere. Israel was the only nation whom Jehovah ‘knew’ in this special sense, and visited with the tokens of His friendship.

families of the earth] Genesis 12:3; Genesis 28:14.

therefore I will punish you &c.] The Israelites argued, from the privileges bestowed upon them, that they were the recipients of God’s favour, irrespectively of their deeds: Amos retorts that, so far from this being the case, their privileges augment their responsibilities: instead of proving Himself their saviour, whether they are obedient to His will or not, He will, if they are disobedient, visit their iniquities upon them. So in Jeremiah 7 the men of Judah point to the material Temple in their midst as the palladium of their security; but the prophet retorts in a similar strain, that, if they desire to merit Jehovah’s protection, and wish Jerusalem to escape the fate of Shiloh, they must ‘amend their ways,’ and practise more consistently than they have done hitherto the ordinances of civil righteousness (Jeremiah 7:3-15).

punish you for] R.V. more lit., visit upon you, as the same phrase is often rendered, Amos 3:14; Exodus 20:5; Jeremiah 5:9; Jeremiah 5:29; Jeremiah 23:2 (but punish, Jeremiah 11:22, Jeremiah 25:12, Jeremiah 29:32, &c.). The expression is particularly frequent in Jeremiah.

iniquities] the conventional, and sufficient rendering of ‘âwôn. Etymologically, however, as Arabic shews (where the corresponding verb ghawâ means to err, or go astray), the idea expressed by it is that of deviation from the right track, error: so the corresponding verb, 2 Samuel 7:14; 2 Samuel 24:17; 1 Kings 8:47 al. Comp. the writer’s Notes on the Hebrew Text of Samuel, on 1 Samuel 20:30.Verse 2. - Have I known; i.e. loved, acknowledged, chosen. So in Hosea 13:5 God says. "I knew thee in the wilderness;" and St. Paul (2 Timothy 2:19), "The Lord knoweth them that are his" (comp. Nahum 1:7). The peculiar relation in which God allowed Israel to stand to him is much dwelt upon (see Deuteronomy 4:8, 20; Deuteronomy 14:2; 2 Samuel 7:23; 1 Chronicles 17:21). Therefore I will punish you; literally, visit upon you. They must not presume upon their privileges; the retention of God's favour depended upon obedience to his Word (Exodus 19:5): the nearer they were brought to God, the greater their guilt if they fell from him. Unlike the nations denounced in the former chapters, Israel had sinned against light and knowledge and love, therefore the sentence on her must be heavier (comp. Ezekiel 9:6; Luke 12:47; 1 Peter 4:17). They deserved to be utterly destroyed for this, and would have been if the compassion of God had not prevented it. With this turn a transition is made in Hosea 11:8 from threatening to promise. Hosea 11:8. "How could I give thee up, O Ephraim! surrender thee, O Israel! how could I give thee up like Admah, make thee like Zeboim! My heart has changed within me, my compassion is excited all at once. Hosea 11:9. I will not execute the burning heat of my wrath, I will not destroy Ephraim again: for I am God, and not man, the Holy One in the midst of thee: and come not into burning wrath." "How thoroughly could I give thee up!" sc. if I were to punish thy rebellion as it deserved. Nâthan, to surrender to the power of the enemy, like miggēn in Genesis 14:20. And not that alone, but I could utterly destroy thee, like Admah and Zeboim, the two cities of the valley of Siddim, which were destroyed by fire from heaven along with Sodom and Gomorrha. Compare Deuteronomy 29:22, where Admah and Zeboim are expressly mentioned along with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha, which stand alone in Genesis 19:24. With evident reference to this passage, in which Moses threatens idolatrous Israel with the same punishment, Hosea simply mentions the last two as quite sufficient for his purpose, whereas Sodom and Gomorrha are generally mentioned in other passages (Jeremiah 49:18; cf. Matthew 10:15; Luke 10:12). The promise that God will show compassion is appended here, without any adversative particle. My heart has turned, changed in me (על, lit., upon or with me, as in the similar phrases in 1 Samuel 25:36; Jeremiah 8:18). יחד נכמרוּ, in a body have my feelings of compassion gathered themselves together, i.e., my whole compassion is excited. Compare Genesis 43:30 and 1 Kings 3:26, where, instead of the abstract nichūmı̄m, we find the more definite rachămı̄m, the bowels as the seat of the emotions. עשׂה חרון אף, to carry out wrath, to execute it as judgment (as in 1 Samuel 28:18). In the expression לא אשׁוּב לשׁחת, I will not return to destroy, שׁוּב may be explained from the previous נהפּך לבּי. After the heart of God has changed, it will not return to wrath, to destroy Ephraim; for Jehovah is God, who does not alter His purposes like a man (cf. 1 Samuel 15:29; Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6), and He shows Himself in Israel as the Holy One, i.e., the absolutely pure and perfect one, in whom there is no alternation of light and darkness, and therefore no variableness in His decrees (see at Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 6:3). The difficult expression בּעיר cannot mean "into a city," although it is so rendered by the ancient versions, the Rabbins, and many Christian expositors; for we cannot attach any meaning to the words "I do not come into a city" at all in harmony with the context. עיר signifies here aestus irae, the heat of wrath, from עוּר, effervescere, just as in Jeremiah 15:8 it signifies the heat of alarm and anxiety, aestus animi.
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