Amos 4:3
And you shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is before her; and you shall cast them into the palace, said the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Every cow . . .—Render each one (ref. to the women, Amos 4:1) straight before her. The enemy shall have broken down the city’s defences, and the women shall tamely go forth through the breaches into captivity. The next clause is very obscure. It is best to take the verb as passive, Ye shall be thrown out. The word that follows is rendered “the palace” by the E.V. with Kimchi and other authorities, under the assumption that the Heb. harmôn is another form of the word elsewhere used in Amos armôn. But this is mere guess-work, and yields no good sense. It would be better to adopt a slight emendation of our text, and treat the obscure word as a proper name (LXX., Targ., Syr., Vulg.). Many commentators (Michaelis, G. Baur, De Wette) follow the Targ. and Syr. and render “Ye shall be cast out to the mountains of Armenia (their place of banishment). For further information see Excursus.

EXCURSUS A (Amos 4:3).

The rendering of the LXX., “to the mountain Remman (or Romman),” has suggested to Ewald the interpretation, And shall cast Rimmona to the mountain, i.e., in their flight (comp. Isaiah 2:18-21), Rimmona being the idol-goddess of love, corresponding to the masculine deity Rimmon (2Kings 5:18). In this ingenious, though somewhat far-fetched, interpretation of a difficult passage, it will be observed that Ewald takes the Hebrew verb as an active, and not a passive. In this he is supported by most MSS.

But the credit of suggesting the most plausible explanation belongs to Hitzig, who, in his commentary, proposes to read Hadad-Rimmon, and translates, Ye shall be cast away to Hadad-Rimmon. On Zechariah 12:11, there is a long note by Steiner supporting the supposition that Hadad-Rimmon was a modified designation of the sun-god, and was likewise the counterpart of the Greek Adonis, over whose wounding and death there was an annual lamentation, in which the women took part, and gave way to all kinds of excess. Hadad-Rimmon was, therefore, the name of the deity and the locality of his worship (comp. Ashtaroth Karnaim and other examples), now called Rummâne, four miles south of Ledshûn (Megiddo). To this spot the women were to be carried off for purposes of prostitution. (Comp. the threat pronounced by the prophet, Amos 7:17.)

Amos 4:3. And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow, &c. — The prophet pursues the metaphor taken from the kine of Bashan, Amos 4:1, and tells the people, that as cattle strive to get out at every breach they can find in a mound or fence: so should they, with all possible haste, endeavour to make their escape at the several breaches which should be made in the walls of Samaria. And ye shall cast them into the palace — The marginal reading is preferable, Ye shall cast away the things; namely, the riches and ornaments, of the palace. Or the clause may be rendered, Ye shall cast out yourselves, that is, ye shall with haste betake yourselves to Harmon: so the Vulgate, Et projiciemini in Armon, that is, says Grotius, “into Armenia. So the Hebrews understand it.”4:1-5 What is got by extortion is commonly used to provide for the flesh, and to fulfil the lusts thereof. What is got by oppression cannot be enjoyed with satisfaction. How miserable are those whose confidence in unscriptural observances only prove that they believe a lie! Let us see to it that our faith, hope, and worship, are warranted by the Divine word.Ye shall go out through the breaches - Samaria, the place of their ease and confidence, being broken through, they should go forth one by one, "each straight before her," looking neither to the right nor to the left, as a herd of cows go one after the other through a gap in a fence. Help and hope have vanished, and they hurry pell-mell after one another, reckless and desperate, as the animals whose life of sense they had chosen.

And ye shall cast them into the palace - Or, better, (since nothing has been named which they could cast) "cast yourselves." The word may describe the headlong motion of the animal, and the desperate gestures of the hopeless. They should cast themselves from palace to palace, from the palace of their luxuries to the palace of their enemies, from a self-chosen life of sensuousness to he concubines in the harem. If the rulers are still included, it was reserved for the rich and noble to become eunuchs in the palace of their Assyrian or Babylonian conquerors, as Isaiah foretold to Hezekiah Isaiah 39:7. It is another instance of that great law of God, "wherewithal a man sinneth, by the same shall he be tormented" (Wisdom Isaiah 11:16). They had lived in luxury and wantonness; in luxury and wantonness they should live, but amid the jealousies of an Eastern harem, and at the caprice of their sensual conquerors.

The word however rendered, "to the palace," occurring only here, is obscure. The other most probable conjecture is, that it is a name of a country, "the mountains of Monah," that is, perhaps Armenia. This would describe accurately enough the country to which they were to be carried; "beyond Damascus; the cities of the Medes." The main sense is the same. They should be cast forth from the scene of their pleasures and oppression, to be themselves oppressed. The whole image is one, which an inspired prophet alone could use. The reproof was not from man, but from God, unveiling their sins to them in their true hideousness. Man thinks nothing of being more degraded than the brutes, so that he can hide from himself, that he is so.

3. go out at the breaches—namely, of the city walls broken by the enemy.

every cow at that which is before her—figurative for the once luxurious nobles (compare "kine of Bashan," Am 4:1) shall go out each one right before her; not through the gates, but each at the breach before him, not turning to the right or left, apart from one another.

ye shall cast them into the palace—"them," that is, "your posterity," from Am 4:2. You yourselves shall escape through the breaches, after having cast your little children into the palace, so as not to see their destruction, and to escape the more quickly. Rather, "ye shall cast yourselves into the palace," so as to escape from it out of the city [Calvin]. The palace, the scene of the princes' riots (Am 3:10, 15; 4:1), is to be the scene of their ignominious flight. Compare in the similar case of Jerusalem's capture, the king's escape by way of the palace, through a breach in the wall (Eze 12:5, 12). Gesenius translates, "Ye shall be cast (as captives) into the (enemy's) stronghold"; in this view, the enemy's stronghold is called "palace," in retributive contrast to the "palaces" of Israel's nobles, the store houses of their robberies (Am 3:10).

And ye, kine of Bashan, oppressors distressed by the just hand of God, and by the violent hand of your enemy, shall go out, endeavour to make your escape by flight, at the breaches, which the besieging enemy made in your walls, when Samaria is besieged.

Every cow at that which is before her: it shall be a universal flight, and with great consternation, they not able to forecast where the safest, but taking which way is readiest.

Ye shall cast them into the palace; either cast away all the riches and ornaments of your palaces, or the prey and bribes you had laid up there, or ye shall abandon the palaces ye dwelt in. And ye shall go out at the breaches,.... Not at the gates of the city, as they had used to do at pleasure; but at the breaches of the walls of it, made by the enemy, in order to make their escape, if possible; they who had broke down the fences of law and justice, and injured the poor and needy, shall now have the walls of their city broken down and they themselves exposed to the most imminent danger, and glad to get out of them to save their lives:

every cow at that which is before her; every woman, as Jarchi and Kimchi; or every great person, compared to the kine of Bashan, shall make up as fast as he can to the breach before him, to get out; shall follow one another as quick as they can, and clamber on one another's backs, as such cattle do, to get out first; which shows the hurry and confusion they should be in, upon the taking of their city Samaria:

and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the Lord; either their children, or their substance, which they shall cast into the royal palace, or fort, or citadel, for safety. Some render it, "ye shall cast yourselves"; so Abarbinel; that is, such as could not get out at the breaches should betake themselves to the palace or fort for their security. The Targum of the whole is,

"and they shall break down the wall upon you, and bring you out, gathered everyone before him, and carry you beyond the mountains of Armenia.''

And so some others, taking it to be the name of a place, render it, "ye shall be cast into Armon", or Mona; which Bochart (r) suspects to be the same with Minni, mentioned with Ararat, a mountain in Armenia, Jeremiah 51:27.

(r) Geograph. Sacr. l. 1. c. 3. col. 20.

And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is before her; and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. shall go out at the breaches] Amos pictures Samaria as captured, and the self-indulgent ladies forced to leave the city, as captives, through the breaches made in the walls by the foe.

every cow at that which is before her] every one straight before her, forced to go on in the train of captives, unable to turn aside or go back to save anything which she has left behind her,—perhaps (if the fig. of Amos 4:1 be still in the prophet’s mind) “as a herd of cows go one after another through a gap in a fence.” For the Hebrew idiom employed, see Joshua 6:5; Joshua 6:20.

and ye shall cast them into the palace] The words are very obscure; and indeed, in all probability, corrupt. The slightest change would be to read, with the alteration of a vowel-point in the verb (supported by Sept. Pesh. Vulg.), And ye shall be cast into Harmon: Harmon would then be the name of the place of exile, or disgrace, into which they were to be ‘cast’ or ‘flung’: the word is used mostly of a corpse, as Jeremiah 22:19, but not always so (see Jeremiah 22:28, ‘cast into’). No place, however, named Harmon is known; nor is the word an appellative in Hebrew. Some of the ancients saw in ‘Harmonah’ an allusion to Armenia: thus the Targ. renders, ‘And they shall carry you into exile beyond the mountains of Harmini’; Pesh. ‘And they shall be cast to the mountain of Armenia’; Symm. ‘into Armenia’; cf. Jerome (in his note), “Et projiciemini in locis Armeniae, quae vocantur Armona.’ In this case we should read, for ההרמנה, הר מני: in Jeremiah 51:27 Minni (Targ. Harmini, as here; Pesh. Armenia) is the name of a people on the S.E. of Ararat, the Mannai of the Assyrian Inscriptions (Schrader, K.A.T[150][151], pp. 423 f.); this would yield a sense in harmony with Jeremiah 51:27 (“beyond Damascus”). It is however doubtful whether it is the original reading; very possibly the corruption lies deeper, and the original reading is irrecoverable.

[150] .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.

[151] … 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 3. - At the breaches made in the city walls, as cattle hurry through gaps in a fence. Thus they should go forth when Samaria was taken. Every cow at that which is before her; better, each straight before her, just where the opening offered itself (comp. Joshua 6:5, 20). The LXX. inserts γυμναί, "naked." And ye shall cast them into the palace; Septuagint, Καὶ ἀποῥῤιφήσεσθε εἰς τὸ ὄρος τὸ Ῥομμάν, ( ῾ρεμμάν, Alex.), "And ye shall be cast forth into the mountain Romman; Vulgate, et projiciemini in Armon. The Syriac and Arabic Versions, and Aquila, render, "unto Mount Armon;" the Chaldee paraphrast, "far beyond the mountains of Armenia." The Hebrew expression haharmonah occurs nowhere else. Our version takes it in the sense of armon, "a palace," intending probably a palace or citadel of the enemy, which certainly ought to have been expressed. Kimchi renders, "Ye shall cast yourselves into the palace of the king." The passage is probably corrupt. If the verb is taken as passive, the unusual word must be considered to denote the place of banishment. Thus, "Ye shall be cast forth into Harmon." Whether Harmon means Armenia, as many ancient commentators thought, or not, cannot be determined. Various opinions may be seen in Keil, Schegg, Trochon, and others; but the simplest explanation is that of Orelli and Ewald, viz. that each fugitive shall fling away her idol Rimmona (the wife of the god Rimmon, 2 Kings 5:18), in order to be more free for flight (comp. Isaiah 2:20). This punishment Israel well deserved. Hosea 12:12. "And Jacob fled to the fields of Aram; and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife did he keep guard. Hosea 12:13. And through a prophet Jehovah brought Israel out of Egypt, and through a prophet was he guarded. Hosea 12:14. Ephraim has stirred up bitter wrath; and his Lord will leave his blood upon him, and turn back his shame upon him." In order to show the people still more impressively what great things the Lord had done for them, the prophet recals the flight of Jacob, the tribe-father, to Mesopotamia, and how he was obliged to serve many years there for a wife, and to guard cattle; whereas God had redeemed Israel out of the Egyptian bondage, and had faithfully guarded it through a prophet. The flight of Jacob to Aramaea, and his servitude there, are mentioned not "to give prominence to his zeal for the blessing of the birthright, and his obedience to the commandment of God and his parents" (Cyr., Theod., Th. v. Mops.); nor "to bring out the double servitude of Israel - the first the one which the people had to endure in their forefather, the second the one which they had to endure themselves in Egypt" (Umbreit); nor "to lay stress upon the manifestation of the divine care towards Jacob as well as towards the people of Israel" (Ewald); for there is nothing at all about this in Hosea 12:12. The words point simply to the distress and affliction which Jacob had to endure, according to Genesis 29-31, as Calvin has correctly interpreted them. "Their father Jacob," he says, "who was he? what was his condition?... He was a fugitive from his country. Even if he had always lived at home, his father was only a stranger in the land. But he was compelled to flee into Syria. And how splendidly did he live there? He was with his uncle, no doubt, but he was treated quite as meanly as any common slave: he served for a wife. And how did he serve? He was the man who tended the cattle." Shâmar, the tending of cattle, was one of the hardest and lowest descriptions of servitude (cf. Genesis 30:31; Genesis 31:40; 1 Samuel 17:20). Sedēh 'ărâm (the field of Aram) is no doubt simply the Hebrew rendering of the Aramaean Paddan-'ărâm (Genesis 28:2; Genesis 31:18 : see at Genesis 25:20). Jacob's flight to Aramaea, where he had to serve, is contrasted in sv. 10 with the leading of Israel, the people sprung from Jacob, out of Egypt by a prophet, i.e., by Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 18:18); and the guarding of cattle by Jacob is placed in contrast with the guarding of Israel on the part of God through the prophet Moses, when he led them through the wilderness to Canaan. The object of this is to call to the nation's remembrance that elevation from the lowest condition, which they were to acknowledge with humility every year, according to Deuteronomy 26:5., when the first-fruits were presented before the Lord. For Ephraim had quite forgotten this. Instead of thanking the Lord for it by love and faithful devotedness to Him, it had provoked Him in the bitterest manner by its sins (הכעיס, to excite wrath, to provoke to anger: tamrūrı̄m, an adverbial accusative equals bitterly). For this should its blood-guiltiness remain upon it. According to Leviticus 20:9., dâmı̄m denotes grave crimes that are punishable by death. Nâtash, to let a thing alone, as in Exodus 23:11; or to leave behind, as in 1 Samuel 17:20, 1 Samuel 17:28. Leaving blood-guiltiness upon a person, is the opposite of taking away (נשׂא) or forgiving the sin, and therefore inevitably brings the punishment after it. Cherpâthō (its reproach or dishonour) is the dishonour which Ephraim had done to the Lord by sin and idolatry (cf. Isaiah 65:7). And this would be repaid to it by its Lord, i.e., by Jehovah.
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