Amos 4:3
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.
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(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.
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). Amos 4:3"Hear this word, ye cows of Bashan, that are upon the mountain of Samaria, that oppress there the humble and crush the poor, that say to their lords, Bring hither, that we may drink. Amos 4:2. The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by His holiness: behold, days come upon you, that they drag you away with hooks, and your last one with fish-hooks. Amos 4:3. And ye will go out through breaches in the wall, every one before him, and be cast away to Harmon, is the saying of Jehovah." The commencement of this chapter is closely connected, so far as the contents are concerned, with the chapter immediately preceding. The prophet having there predicted, that when the kingdom was conquered by its enemies, the voluptuous grandees would perish, with the exception of a very few who would hardly succeed in saving their lives, turns now to the voluptuous women of Samaria, to predict in their case a shameful transportation into exile. The introduction, "Hear this word," does not point therefore to a new prophecy, but simply to a fresh stage in the prophecy, so that we cannot even agree with Ewald in taking Amos 4:1-3 as the conclusion of the previous prophecy (Amos 3:1-15). The cows of Bashan are well-fed, fat cows, βόες εὔτροφοι, vaccae pingues (Symm., Jer.), as Bashan had fat pastures, and for that reason the tribes that were richest in flocks and herds had asked for it as their inheritance (Numbers 32). The fuller definitions which follow show very clearly that by the cows of Bashan, Amos meant the rich, voluptuous, and violent inhabitants of Samaria. It is doubtful, however, whether he meant the rich and wanton wives of the great, as most of the modern commentators follow Theodor., Theodoret, and others, in assuming; or "the rulers of Israel, and all the leading men of the ten tribes, who spent their time in pleasure and robbery" (Jerome); or "those rich, luxurious, and lascivious inhabitants of the palace of whom he had spoken in Amos 3:9-10" (Maurer), as the Chald., Luther, Calvin, and others suppose, and whom he calls cows, not oxen, to denote their effeminacy and their unbridled licentiousness. In support of the latter opinion we might adduce not only Hosea 10:11, where Ephraim is compared to a young heifer, but also the circumstance that from Amos 3:4 onwards the prophecy refers to the Israelites as a whole. But neither of these arguments proves very much. The simile in Hosea 10:11 applies to Ephraim as a kingdom of people, and the natural personification as a woman prepares the way for the comparison to an ‛eglâh; whereas voluptuous and tyrannical grandees would be more likely to be compared to the bulls of Bashan (Psalm 22:13). And so, again, the transition in Hosea 10:4 to the Israelites as a whole furnishes no help in determining more precisely who are addressed in Hosea 10:1-3. By the cows of Bashan, therefore, we understand the voluptuous women of Samaria, after the analogy of Isaiah 3:16. and Isaiah 32:9-13, more especially because it is only by forcing the last clause of Isaiah 32:1 that it can be understood as referring to men. שׁמעוּ for שׁמענה, because the verb stands first (compare Isaiah 32:11). The mountain of Samaria is mentioned in the place of the city built upon the mountain (see at Amos 3:9). The sin of these women consisted in the tyrannical oppression of the poor, whilst they asked their lords, i.e., their husbands, to procure them the means of debauchery. For עשׁק and רצץ, compare Deuteronomy 28:33 and 1 Samuel 12:3-4, where the two words are already connected. הביאה stands in the singular, because every wife speaks in this way to her husband.

The announcement of the punishment for such conduct is introduced with a solemn oath, to make an impression, if possible, upon the hardened hearts. Jehovah swears by His holiness, i.e., as the Holy One, who cannot tolerate unrighteousness. כּי (for) before הנּה introduces the oath. Hitzig takes ונשּׂא as a niphal, as in the similar formula in 2 Kings 20:17; but he takes it as a passive used impersonally with an accusative, after Genesis 35:26 and other passages (though not Exodus 13:7). But as נשּׂא unquestionably occurs as a piel in 1 Kings 9:11, it is more natural to take the same form as a piel in this instance also, and whilst interpreting it impersonally, to think of the enemy as understood. Tsinnōth equals tsinnı̄m, Proverbs 22:5; Job 5:5, צנּה equals צּן, thorns, hence hooks; so also sı̄rōth equals sı̄rı̄m, thorns, Isaiah 34:13; Hosea 2:8. Dūgâh, fishery; hence sı̄rōth dūgâh, fish-hooks. 'Achărı̄th does not mean posterity, or the young brood that has grown up under the instruction and example of the parents (Hitzig), but simply "the end," the opposite of rē'shı̄th, the beginning. It is "end," however, in different senses. Here it signifies the remnant (Chaldee), i.e., those who remain and are not dragged away with tsinnōth; so that the thought expressed is "all, even to the very last" (compare Hengstenberg, Christology, i. p. 368). אחריתכן has a feminine suffix, whereas masculine suffixes were used before (אתכם, עליכם); the universal gender, out of which the feminine was first formed. The figure is not taken from animals, into whose noses hooks and rings are inserted to tame them, or from large fishes that are let down into the water again by nose-hooks; for the technical terms applied to these hooks are חח, חוח, and חכּה (cf. Ezekiel 29:4; Job 41:1-2); but from the catching of fishes, that are drawn out of the fish-pond with hooks. Thus shall the voluptuous, wanton women be violently torn away or carried off from the midst of the superfluity and debauchery in which they lived as in their proper element. פּרצים תּצאנה, to go out of rents in the wall, יצא being construed, as it frequently is, with the accusative of the place; we should say, "though rents in the wall," i.e., through breaches made in the wall at the taking of the city, not out at the gates, because they had been destroyed or choked up with rubbish at the storming of the city. "Every one before her," i.e., without looking round to the right or to the left (cf. Joshua 6:5, Joshua 6:20). The words והשּׁלכתּנה ההרמונה are difficult, on account of the ἁπ. λεγ. ההרמונה, and have not yet been satisfactorily explained. The form השׁלכתּנה for השׁלכתּן is probably chosen simply for the purpose of obtaining a resemblance in sound to תּצאנה, and is sustained by אתּנה for אתּן in Genesis 31:6 and Ezekiel 13:11. השׁליך is applied to thrusting into exile, as in Deuteronomy 29:27.

The ἁπ. λεγ. ההרמונה with ה htiw loc. appears to indicate the place to which they were to be carried away or cast out. But the hiphil השׁלכתּנה does not suit this, and consequently nearly all the earlier translators have rendered it as a passive, ἀποῤῥι-φήσεσθε (lxx), projiciemini (Jerome); so also the Syr. and Chald. ויגלון יתהון, "men will carry them away captive." One Hebrew codex actually gives the hophal. And to this reading we must adhere; for the hiphil furnishes no sense at all, since the intransitive or reflective meaning, to plunge, or cast one's self, cannot be sustained, and is not supported at all by the passages quoted by Hitzig, viz., 2 Kings 10:25 and Job 27:22; and still less does haharmōnâh denote the object cast away by the women when they go into captivity.

(Note: The Masoretic pointing probably originated in the idea that harmōnâh, corresponding to the talmudic harmânâ', signifies royal power or dominion, and so Rashi interprets it: "ye will cast away the authority, i.e., the almost regal authority, or that pride and arrogance with which you bear yourselves to-day" (Ros.). This explanation would be admissible, if it were not that the use of a word which never occurs again in the old Hebrew for a thing so frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, rendered it very improbable. At any rate, it is more admissible than the different conjectures of the most recent commentators. Thus Hitzig, for example (Comm. ed. 3), would resolve haharmōnâh into hâhâr and mōnâh equals meōnâh ("and ye will plunge headlong to the mountain as a place of refuge"). The objections to this are, (1) that hishlı̄kh does not mean to plunge headlong; (2) the improbability of meōnâh being contracted into mōnâh, when Amos has meōnâh in Amos 3:4; and lastly, the fact that meōnâh means simply a dwelling, not a place of refuge. Ewald would read hâhâr rimmōnâh after the lxx, and renders it, "ye will cast Rimmonah to the mountain," understanding by Rimmonah a female deity of the Syrians. But antiquity knows nothing of any such female deity; and from the reference to a deity called Rimmon in 2 Kings 5:18, you cannot possibly infer the existence of a goddess Rimmonah. The explanation given by Schlottmann (Hiob, p. 132) and Paul Btticher (Rudimenta mythologiae semit. 1848, p. 10) - namely, that harmōnâh as the Phoenician goddess Chusarthis, called by the Greeks Ἁρμονία - is still more untenable, since Ἁρμονία is no more derived from the talmudic harmân than this is from the Sanscrit pramāna (Btticher, l.c. p. 40); on the contrary, harmân signifies loftiness, from the Semitic root הרם, to be high, and it cannot be shown that there was a goddess called Harman or Harmonia in the Phoenician worship. Lastly, the fanciful idea of Btticher, that harmōnâh is contracted from hâhar rimmōnâh, and that the meaning is, "and then ye throw, i.e., remove, the mountain (your Samaria) to Rimmon, that ancient place of refuge for expelled tribes" (Judges 20:45.), needs no refutation.)

The literal meaning of harmōnâh or harmōn still remains uncertain. According to the etymology of הרם, to be high, it apparently denotes a high land: at the same time, it can neither be taken as an appellative, as Hesselberg and Maurer suppose, "the high land;" nor in the sense of 'armōn, a citadel or palace, as Kimchi and Gesenius maintain. The former interpretation is open to the objection, that we cannot possibly imagine why Amos should have formed a word of his own, and one which never occurs again in the Hebrew language, to express the simple idea of a mountain or high land; and the second to this objection, that "the citadel" would require something to designate it as a citadel or fortress in the land of the enemy. The unusual word certainly points to the name of a land or district, though we have no means of determining it more precisely.

(Note: Even the early translators have simply rendered haharmōnâh according to the most uncertain conjectures. Thus lxx, εἰς τὸὄρος τὸ Ῥομμάν (al. Ῥεμμάν); Aq., mons Armona; Theod., mons Mona; the Quinta: excelsus mons (according to Jerome); and Theodoret attributes to Theodot. ὑψηλὸν ὄρος. The Chaldee paraphrases it thus: להלאה מן טוּרי הרמיני, "far beyond the mountains of Armenia." Symmachus also had Armenia, according to the statement of Theodoret and Jerome. But this explanation is probably merely an inference drawn from 2 Kings 17:23, and cannot be justified, as Bochart supposes, on the ground that mōnâh or mōn is identical with minnı̄.)

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