Amos 4:4
Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Bethel . . . Gilgal.—In bitterly ironical words the prophet summons Israel to the calf-worship of Bethel, and to similar rites of bastard Jehovah-worship at Gilgal. These spots were full of sacred associations. The sarcastic force of the passage is lost in E.V. For “three years” read every three days. The law only required a tithe every third year (Deuteronomy 26:12); but here the prophet is lashing the people with hyperbolical irony for their excessive generosity to the base priests and spurious sanctuaries.

Amos

SMITTEN IN VAIN

Amos 4:4 - Amos 4:13
.

The reign of Jeroboam II. was one of brilliant military success and of profound moral degradation. Amos was a simple, hardy shepherd from the southern wilds of Judah, and his prophecies are redolent of his early life, both in their homely imagery and in the wholesome indignation and contempt for the silken-robed vice of Israel. No sterner picture of an utterly rotten social state was ever drawn than this book gives of the luxury, licentiousness, and oppressiveness of the ruling classes. This passage deals rather with the religious declension underlying the moral filth, and sets forth the self-willed idolatry of the people {Amos 4:4 - Amos 4:5}, their obstinate resistance to God’s merciful chastisement {Amos 4:6 - Amos 4:11}, and the heavier impending judgment {Amos 4:12 - Amos 4:13}.

I. Indignant irony flashes in that permission or command to persevere in the calf worship.

The seeming command is the strongest prohibition. There can be no worse thing befall a man than that he should be left to go on forwardly in the way of his heart. The real meaning is sufficiently emphasised by that second verb, ‘and transgress’. ‘Flock to one temple after another, and heap altars with sacrifices which you were never bid to offer, but understand that what you do is not worship, but sin.’ That is a smiting sentence to pass upon elaborate ceremonial. The word literally means treason or rebellion, and by it Amos at one blow shatters the whole fabric. Note, too, that the offering of tithes was not called for by Mosaic law, ‘every three days’ {Revised Version}, and that the use of leaven in burnt offerings was prohibited by it, and also that to call for freewill offerings was to turn spontaneousness into something like compulsion, and to bring ostentation into worship. All these characteristics spoiled the apparent religiousness, over and above the initial evil of disobedience, and warrant Amos’s crushing equation, ‘Your worship = rebellion.’ All are driven home by the last words of Amos 4:5, ‘So ye love it.’ The reason for all this prodigal ostentatious worship was to please themselves, not to obey God. That tainted everything, and always does.

The lessons of this burst of sarcasm are plain. The subtle influence of self creeps in even in worship, and makes it hollow, unreal, and powerless to bless the worshipper. Obedience is better than costly gifts. The beginning and end of all worship, which is not at same time ‘transgression’ is the submission of tastes, will, and the whole self. Again, men will lavish gifts far more freely in apparent religious service, which is but the worship of their reflected selves, than in true service of God. Again, the purity of willing offerings is marred when they are given in response to a loud call, or, when given, are proclaimed with acclamations. Let us not suppose that all the brunt of Amos’s indignation fell only on these old devotees. The principles involved in it have a sharp edge, turned to a great deal which is allowed and fostered among ourselves.

II. The blaze of indignation changes in the second part of the passage into wounded tenderness, as the Prophet speaks in the name of God, and recounts the dreary monotony of failure attending all God’s loving attempts to arrest Israel’s departure by the mercy of judgment.

Mark the sad cadence of the fivefold refrain, ‘Ye have not returned unto Me, saith the Lord.’ The ‘unto’ implies reaching the object to which we turn, and is not the less forcible but more usual word found in this phrase, which simply means ‘towards’ and indicates direction, without saying anything as to how far the return has gone. So there may have been partial moments of bethinking themselves, when the chastisement was on Israel; but there had been no thorough ‘turning,’ which had landed them at the side of God. Many a man turns towards God, who, for lack of resolved perseverance, never so turns as to get to God. The repeated complaint of the inefficacy of chastisements has in it a tone of sorrow and of wonder which does not belong only to the Prophet. If we remember who it was who was ‘grieved at the blindness of their heart,’ and who ‘wondered at their unbelief’ we shall not fear to recognise here the attribution of the same emotions to the heart of God.

To Amos, famine, drought, blasting, locusts, pestilence, and probably earthquake, were five messengers of God, and Amos was taught by God. If we looked deeper, we should see more clearly. The true view of the relation of all material things and events to God is this which the herdsman of Tekoa proclaimed. These messengers were not ‘miracles,’ but they were God’s messengers all the same. Behind all phenomena stands a personal will, and they are nearer the secret of the universe who see God working in it all, than they who see all forces except the One which is the only true force. ‘I give cleanness of teeth. I have withholden the rain. I have smitten. I have sent the pestilence. I have overthrown some of you.’ To the Prophet’s eye the world is all aflame with a present God. Let no scientific views, important and illuminating as these may be, hide from us the deeper truth, which lies beyond their region. The child who says ‘God,’ has got nearer the centre than the scientist who says ‘Force.’

But Amos had another principle, that God sent physical calamities because of moral delinquencies and for moral and religious ends. These disasters were meant to bring Israel back to God, and were at once punishments and reformatory methods. No doubt the connection between sin and material evils was closer under the Old Testament than now. But if we may not argue as Amos did, in reference to such calamities as drought, and failures of harvests, and the like, as these affect communities, we may, at all events, affirm that, in the case of the individual, he is a wise man who regards all outward evil as having a possible bearing on his bettering spiritually. ‘If a drought comes, learn to look to your irrigation, and don’t cut down your forests so wantonly,’ say the wise men nowadays; ‘if pestilence breaks out, see to your drainage.’ By all means. These things, too, are God’s commandments, and we have no right to interpret the consequences of infraction of physical laws as being meant to punish nations for their breach of moral and religious ones. If we were prophets, we might, but not else. But still, is God so poor that He can have but one purpose in a providence? Every sorrow, of whatever sort, is meant to produce all the good effects which it naturally tends to produce; and since every experience of pain and loss and grief naturally tends to wean us from earth, and to drive us to find in God what earth can never yield, all our sorrows are His messengers to draw us back to Him. Amos’ lesson as to the purpose of trials is not antiquated.

But he has still another to teach us; namely, the awful power which we have of resisting God’s efforts to draw us back. ‘Our wills are ours, we know not how,’ but alas! it is too often not ‘to make them Thine.’ This is the true tragedy of the world that God calls, and we do refuse, even as it is the deepest mystery of sinful manhood that God calls and we can refuse. What infinite pathos and grieved love, thrown back upon itself, is in that refrain, ‘Ye have not returned unto Me!’ How its recurrence speaks of the long-suffering which multiplied means as others failed, and of the divine charity, which ‘suffered long, was not soon angry, and hoped all things!’ How vividly it gives the impression of the obstinacy that to all effort opposed insensibility, and clung the more closely and insanely to the idolatry which was its crime and its ruin! The very same temper is deep in us all. Israel holds up the mirror in which we may see ourselves. If blows do not break iron, they harden it. A wasted sorrow-that is, a sorrow which does not drive us to God-leaves us less impressible than it found us.

III. Again the mood changes, and the issue of protracted resistance is prophesied {Amos 4:12 - Amos 4:13}.

‘Therefore’ sums up the instances of refusal to be warned, and presents them as the cause of the coming evil. The higher the dam is piled, the deeper the water that is gathered behind it, and the surer and more destructive the flood when it bursts. Long-delayed judgments are severe in proportion as they are slow. Note the awful vagueness of threatening in that emphatic ‘thus,’ as if the Prophet had the event before his eyes. There is no need to specify, for there can be but one result from such obstinacy. The ‘terror of the Lord’ is more moving by reason of the dimness which wraps it. The contact of divine power with human rebellion can only end in one way, and that is too terrible for speech. Conscience can translate ‘thus.’ The thunder-cloud is all the more dreadful for the vagueness of its outline, where its livid hues melt into formless black. What bolts lurk in its gloom?

The certainty of judgment is the basis of a call to repentance, which may avert it. The meeting with God for which Israel is besought to prepare, was, of course, not judgment after death, but the impending destruction of the Northern Kingdom. But Amos’s prophetic call is not misapplied when directed to that final day of the Lord. Common-sense teaches preparation for a certain future, and Amos’s trumpet-note is deepened and re-echoed by Jesus: ‘Be ye ready also, for . . . the Son of man cometh.’ Note, too, that Israel’s peculiar relation to God is the very ground of the certainty of its punishment, and of the appeal for repentance. Just because He is ‘thy God,’ will He assuredly come to judge, and you may assuredly prepare, by repentance, to meet Him. The conditions of meeting the Judge, and being ‘found of Him in peace,’ are that we should be ‘without spot, and blameless’; and the conditions of being so spotless and uncensurable are, what they were in Amos’s day, repentance and trust. Only we have Jesus as the brightness of the Father’s glory to trust in, and His all-sufficient work to trust to, for pardon and purifying.

The magnificent proclamation of the name of the Lord which closes the passage, is meant as at once a guarantee of His judgment and an enforcement of the call to be ready to meet Him. He in creation forms the solid, changeless mountains and the viewless, passing wind. The most stable and the most mobile are His work. He reads men’s hearts, and can tell them their thoughts afar off. He is the Author of all changes, both in the physical and the moral world, bringing the daily wonder of sunrise and the nightly shroud of darkness, and with like alternation blending joy and sorrow in men’s lives. He treads ‘on the high places of the earth,’ making all created elevations the path of His feet, and crushing down whatever exalts itself. Thus, in creation almighty, in knowledge omniscient, in providence changing all things and Himself the same, subjugating all, and levelling a path for His purposes across every opposition, He manifests His name, as the living, eternal Jehovah, the God of the Covenant, and therefore of judgment on its breakers, and as the Commander and God of the embattled forces of the universe. Is this a God whose coming to judge is to be lightly dealt with? Is not this a God whom it is wise for us to be ready to meet?Amos 4:4-5. Come to Beth-el — The known place of the calf-worship; and transgress — A strong irony, giving them over as incorrigible: like that of Ezekiel 20:39, Go ye, serve every man his idols. At Gilgal multiply transgression — This place also, as well as Beth-el, was the scene of idolatry, as appears from the cotemporary Prophet Hosea. And bring your sacrifices every morning — According to the law of the daily burnt- offering, Numbers 28:4, which they observed in the worship of the golden calves. The prophet continues in the same strain of irony to reprove their idolatry, though in it they imitated the instituted worship at Jerusalem. And your tithes after three years — God had commanded, Deuteronomy 14:28, that every third year all the tithe of that year should be brought and laid up in a public storehouse, upon which account the third year is called the year of tithing. And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven — Or, with leavened bread, as the law prescribes, Leviticus 7:13. And proclaim the free-offerings — Or freewill- offerings, as the word is translated in other places. For this liketh you, &c. — Vulgate, sic enim voluistis, for such is your will, or so it pleases you to act. Your hearts are so set upon your idolatrous worship, that it is in vain to use any arguments to dissuade you from 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.Come to Beth-el and transgress - Having foretold their captivity, the prophet tries irony. But his irony is in bidding them go on to do, what they were doing earnestly, what they were set upon doing, and would not be withdrawn from. As Micaiah in irony, until adjured in the name of God, joined Ahab's court-priests, bidding, him "go to Ramoth-Gilead" 1 Kings 22:15, where he was to perish; or Elijah said to the priests of Baal, "Cry aloud, for he is a god" 1 Kings 18:27; or our Lord, "Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers" Matthew 23:32; so Amos bids them do all they did, in their divided service of God, but tells them that to multiply all such service was to multiply transgression. Yet they were diligent in their way. Their offerings were daily, as at Jerusalem; the tithes of the third year for the poor was paid, as God had ordained Deuteronomy 14:28; Deuteronomy 26:12. They were punctual in these parts of the ritual, and thought much of their punctuality.

So well did they count themselves to stand with God, that there is no mention of sin offering or trespass offering. Their sacrifices were "sacrifics of thanksgiving" and "free will offerings," as if out of exuberance of devotion, such as David said that Zion would "offer," when God had been "favorable and gracious unto" her Psalm 51:18-19. These things they did; they "proclaimed" and "published" them, like the hypocrites whom our Lord reproves, "sounding a trumpet before them" Matthew 6:2 when they did alms; proclaiming these private offerings, as God bade proclaim the solemn assemblies. "For so ye love." They did it, because they liked it, and it cost them nothing, for which they cared. It was more than most Christians will sacrifice, two fifteenths of their yearly income, if they gave the yearly tithes, which were to be shared with the poor also. But they would not sacrifice what God, above all, required, the fundamental breach of God's law, on which their kingdom rested, "the sin which Jeroboam made Israel to sin." They did what they liked; they were pleased with it, and they had that pleasure for their only reward, as it is of all which is not done for God.

4. God gives them up to their self-willed idolatry, that they may see how unable their idols are to save them from their coming calamities. So Eze 20:39.

Beth-el—(Am 3:14).

Gilgal—(Ho 4:15; 9:15; 12:11).

sacrifices every morning—as commanded in the law (Nu 28:3, 4). They imitated the letter, while violating by calf-worship the spirit, of the Jerusalem temple-worship.

after three years—every third year; literally, "after three (years of) days" (that is, the fullest complement of days, or a year); "after three full years." Compare Le 25:20; Jud 17:10, and "the days" for the years, Joe 1:2. So a month of days is used for a full month, wanting no day to complete it (Ge 29:14, Margin; Nu 11:20, 21). The Israelites here also kept to the letter of the law in bringing in the tithes of their increase every third year (De 14:28; 26:12).

Come to Beth-el, the known place of the moscholatria, calf-worship: see Amos 3:14.

And transgress: this clears it to be an irony, either throwing them up to their obstinate way of sinning, giving them over as hopeless and incorrigible sinners, or deriding their trust and dependence on idols, to which they sacrificed at Beth-el: See what will be the issue hereof, how you shall succeed herein.

At Gilgal multiply transgression; Gilgal was a place also where much idolatry was acted: see Hosea 4:15 9:15 12:11. Since you will not be warned, go on, try whether God likes your sacrifices there as well as you like them, and whether they will be a means to preserve from judgments, or sins hastening judgments’ on you.

Bring your sacrifices every morning: in the same irony God doth by Amos express his own displeasure, reprove their sin, and threaten it, though they imitate the instituted worship at Jerusalem, Exodus 29:38,39 Num 28:3,4.

And your tithes after three years; God had, Deu 14:28, commanded every third year that all the tithe of that year should be brought, and laid up in a public storehouse; to this law, with the same irony, doth the prophet allude here. Come to Bethel and transgress,.... and what follows, are ironic and sarcastic speeches, not giving liberty to sin, but in this way reproving for it: Bethel was one of the places where the calves were placed and worshipped: and here they are bid to go thither, and go on with and continue in their idolatrous worship, by which they transgressed the law of God, and mark what would be the issue of it. The sense is the same with Ecclesiastes 11:9; see Ezekiel 20:29;

at Gilgal multiply transgression; that is, multiply acts of idolatry: Gilgal was a place where high places and altars were erected, and idols worshipped; as it had formerly been a place of religious worship of the true God, the ten tribes made use of it in the times of their apostasy for idolatrous worship; see Hosea 4:15;

and bring your sacrifices every morning; and offer them to your idols, as you were wont formerly to offer them unto the true God, according to the law of Moses, Exodus 29:38;

and your tithes after three years; the third year after the sabbatical year was the year of tithing; and after the tithe of the increase of the fruits of the earth, there was "maaser sheni", the second tithe, the same with "maaser ani", the poor's tithe, which was given to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless; and the widow, to eat with them, Deuteronomy 14:22; and this they are sarcastically bid to observe in their idolatrous way. It is, in the Hebrew text, "after three days"; and so the Targum,

"your tithes in three days;''

days being put for years, as Kimchi and Ben Melech observe. It may be rendered, "after three years of days" (s); three complete years.

(s) "post tres annos dierum", Piscator.

Come to {d} Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three {e} years:

(d) He speaks this in contempt of those who resorted to those places, thinking that their great devotion and good intention was sufficient to have bound God to them.

(e) Read De 14:28.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. Come to Beth-el, and transgress &c.] The words are meant of course ironically. Amos bids the people come to Beth-el, the principal and most splendid centre of their worship, and transgress, to Gilgal, another representative centre, and multiply transgression: their religious services, partly on account of the moral unfitness of the worshippers (Amos 2:6-9), partly on account of the unspiritual character of their worship, have no value in Jehovah’s eyes, they are but transgression,—or, more exactly (see on Amos 1:3), rebellion.

Gilgal] alluded to also in ch. Amos 5:5, Hosea 4:15; Hosea 9:15; Hosea 12:11, as a seat of the idolatrous worship of Jehovah. It was the first camping-spot of the Israelites on the west of Jordan (Joshua 4:19-20), and it is alluded to frequently as an important place (1 Samuel 7:16; 1 Samuel 11:14-15; 1 Samuel 15:12; 1 Samuel 15:21, 2 Samuel 19:15). That it lay in the Jordan valley, between the Jordan and Jericho, is evident from Joshua 4:19; Joshua 5:10; but the actual site of Gilgal was only recovered by Zschokke in 1865, at Tell Jiljûl, 4½ miles from the Jordan, and 1½ mile from Erîḥa (Jericho)[152]. In Joshua 5:9 the name is connected with gâlal, to roll away; but it means really a wheel (Isaiah 28:28), or circle,—in particular, a circle of stones, or, as we might say, a cromlech, such as Joshua 4:20 shews must have stood there in historical times. (In the Heb., the word has always the article, implying that the appellative sense, “the Circle,” was still felt).

[152] This is the ordinary view; but G. A. Smith (The Book of the Twelve, p. 79: cf. p. 37) and Buhl (Geogr. des alten Pal., 1896, p. 202 f.) think that the Gilgal of Am. and Hos. is the modern Julêjîl, on the E. of the plain in front of Ebal and Gerizim (cf. Deuteronomy 11:30).

every morningevery three days] Generally understood as an ironical exaggeration: bring your sacrifices every morning, instead of, as the practice was, once a year (1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 1:7; 1 Samuel 1:21); and your tithes every three days, instead of, as it may be inferred from Deuteronomy 14:28; Deuteronomy 26:12 was an ancient custom, every three years. Still the exaggeration thus implied would be somewhat extreme; and Wellhausen (who is followed by Nowack, Heb. Arch. ii. 258) adopts another rendering (which the Hebrew equally permits), viz. “in the morning … on the third day,” supposing it to have been the custom of the pilgrims to bring their sacrifices on the morning after their arrival at Beth-el, and to pay their tithes on the third day. The routine of sacrifice is punctiliously observed: but the moral and spiritual temper of which it should be the expression is absent.

The custom of paying tithes was not peculiar to the Hebrews, but prevailed widely in antiquity: the Greeks, for instance, often rendered a tithe to the gods, on spoil taken in war, on the annual crops, on profits made by commerce, &c. By religious minds it was regarded as an expression of gratitude to the Deity, for the good things sent by Him to man; but it was often exacted as a fixed impost, payable, for instance, by the inhabitants of a particular district, for the maintenance of a priesthood or sanctuary. In the oldest Hebrew legislation, the “Book of the Covenant” (Exodus 21-23), no mention is made of tithes; but in the Deuteronomic legislation (7th cent. b.c.) the payment of tithes upon vegetable produce appears as an established custom, which the legislator partly presupposes, and partly regulates (Deuteronomy 12:6; Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 12:17; Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Deuteronomy 26:12). In Deut., in accordance with one of the fundamental aims of the book, payment at the central sanctuary (i.e. Jerusalem) is strongly insisted on: this passage shews that, at least in the Northern kingdom, it was customary to pay tithes at Beth-el. Probably, as Beth-el was an ancient sanctuary, this was a long-established practice there, the origin of which it seems to be the intention of Genesis 28:22 to attribute to the vow of the patriarch, Jacob. See further, on Hebrew tithe, and especially on the discrepancies between the Deuteronomic and the priestly legislation on the subject, the writer’s Commentary on Deuteronomy, pp. 168–173.

4–13. Here the people at large are addressed by the prophet, perhaps at some festal religious gathering.Verse 4. - The prophet now turns to Israel, and ironically bids them exhibit their zeal for idolatry, and thus increase their guilt. Bethel; as the chief seat of idol worship (Amos 3:14). At Gilgal; rather, to Gilgal, "come ye" being repeated in thought. Gilgal was a strong position in the plain of Jordan, three miles east of Jericho, taking its name probably from the stone circles erected for purposes of worship in very early times. Joshua (Joshua 5:9) gave a new meaning to the old name. There is a large pool of water in this neighbourhood called Jil-julieh, about four miles from the Jordan, which is doubtless a corruption of the ancient name Gilgal. It seems to have been regarded as a holy place in Samuel's days or even before (see Judges 3:19; 1 Samuel 7:16; 1 Samuel 10:8; 1 Samuel 11:14, etc.; 1 Samuel 13:8, etc.); and later was appropriated to false worship, though we have no information as to the date of this declension. Gilgal and Bethel are associated together in idolatrous worship (Amos 5:5 and in Hosea 4:15; Hosea 9:15; Hosea 12:11). Bring your sacrifices every morning. They were careful to maintain the outward semblance of the regular Levitical worship, even beyond the letter of the Law in some respects, though their service was all the time idolatry. As this and the following clause are still ironical, Amos is speaking, not of the daily-prescribed sacrifice (olah, Numbers 28:3), but of the offerings (zebach) of individual Israelites which were not required to be presented every day. Your tithes after three years; literally, on the three of days; lishlosheth yamim; Vulgate, tribus diebus; Septuagint, εἰς τριημερίαν, "every third day." Revised Version, "every three days." So Gesenius, Ewald, Keil, Schegg, Hitzig, Baur. The prophet bids them bring their tithes, not as the Law ordered, every year (Leviticus 27:30), or, as in the case of the second tithe, every three years (Deuteronomy 14:28; Deuteronomy 26:12), but, by an ironical exaggeration, "every three days." Dr. Pusey defends the English Version on the ground of the idiomatic use of "days" for one circle of days, i.e. a year (Leviticus 25:29; Judges 17:10; 1 Samuel 27:7). But this loses the irony which is so marked in the whole passage. Keil, "If ye would offer slain sacrifices every morning, and tithe every three days, ye would only thereby increase your apostasy from the living God." 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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