Amos 5:25
Have you offered to me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25, 26) Much uncertainty belongs to the interpretation of these verses and their connection in thought. Some commentators would treat Amos 5:25 as a statement, and not a question, the first word being read as a definite article, and not an interrogative prefix in the Hebrew. But the construction of the following words forbids this supposition, and nearly all exegetes follow the LXX., Vulg., Targ., in taking the sentence as interrogative. Is the expected answer negative or affirmative? Heb. usage points to the former. So Ewald and Keil According to the latter, the words apply to the nation as a whole, or to the great mass of the people, individual exceptions being passed by. The following verse is then taken in an adversative sense, “To me ye have offered no sacrifices, but ye have borne,” &c. The opposition is between the Jehovah-worship, which they suspended, and the idol-worship which they carried on. This is a possible interpretation, as Driver (Heb. Tenses, § 119a, foot-note) admits. But as that writer shows (l.c.), it is more in consonance with grammatical usage to translate in Amos 5:26 by a future, as Ewald does: “So ye shall carry away the tabernacle,” &c., i.e., when driven into exile. To this thought Amos 5:27 forms a natural development: And I will carry you away captive, &c. Moreover, in the light of this interpretation the logical connection of Amos 5:21-27 becomes much simpler: “I, Jehovah, abhor the mechanical round of corrupt and hollow ceremonial cloaking wickedness of conduct. Live righteously. Did I exact punctilious discharge of ceremonial in the desert wanderings? [No.] Therefore I shall submit you once more to the discipline of exile wanderings.” On the meaning of the difficult clause, Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made for yourselves, as well as on the rendering of the LXX. and St. Stephen’s quotation of the passage, see Excursus B. Kuenen is scarcely justified in founding an argument on this passage as to the origin of the Sabbath.

EXCURSUS B (Amos 5:26).

Three obscure points render this verse one of the most difficult in the Old Testament.

1. As to tense. The interpretation to which preference has been given in the commentary on the text—the time being regarded as future—has been decided on grounds of grammatical usage only. But certainly the larger number of commentators have rendered the verb as a past tense, “But ye bore the tabernacle,” &c., the time referred to being that of the desert wanderings. This view is upheld by Hitzig, Kuenen, Keil, Henderson, and also by R. S. Poole. It is also supported by the LXX.

2. The word Sikkûth, rendered tabernacle, or tent, in the E.V. and by the LXX., is derived from a root signifying both to interweave and to cover—an etymology which confirms the above rendering. Ewald’s conjecture that it signifies “stake,” inferred from the Aramaic Sekkitho, is to be rejected. The conception of Moloch being carried in a tent may be illustrated from the Egyptian monuments of Rameses XII. Birch (Egypt, S. P. C. K., p. 149), refers to a tablet found in the south-west corner of Karnak: “The picture of the tablet represents Rameses holding a censer, and worshipping the ark of the god [Khons], which, partly covered with curtains, is placed in a boat . . . Figures of priests, a sphinx, and standards are in the boat, while twelve priests carry it on their shoulders.”

3. Both Moloch and Chiun were evidently star-deities. R. S. Poole endeavours to connect Chiun with Semitic deities worshipped in Egypt (see art. “Remphan,” Smith’s Dict. of the Bible). The name Chiun appears as Remphan in the quotation of this passage in Stephen’s speech (Acts 7:43). And both Remphan and Chiun were held by Mr. Poole to be the corresponding male and female deities of Asiatic type, Renpu and Ken. But the form Remphan can be clearly shown to have arisen from textual corruption, originating, perhaps, in some false analogy. In the New Testament passage the best MSS. read Rephan, and this reading has been adopted in our Revised Version, and occurs in nearly the same form in the LXX., from which Stephen was freely quoting. In the LXX. the original order of the clauses has suffered transposition, and it is certainly safer to adhere to the Hebrew text (as in Amos 9:11-12).

Rêphan arose from the Hebrew text by the change of a single character. Instances of such interchange are not infrequent in the Old Testament. Yet the form Rephan, though corrupt, is invaluable, as indicating the true reading of the Hebrew word. The word for Chiun was read by the Masoretes as Kiyyûn (according to Ewald, “pedestal” [?]). But the LXX. indicate, and much confirmatory testimony establishes the fact, that the word is to be read Kêvan, and that Kêvan, like the Ammonitish Moloch, represented the star-deity Saturn. Thus Kaivono is the form of the word in the Peshito. This view is supported by Aben Ezra and Kimchi, who cite Kivan as the name for the star Saturn in the Persian and Arabic. This star (see quotations in Henderson’s Commentary) was held to exert malignant influence. Schrader (Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament, p. 443) compares the name Ka-ai-vanu, the Assyrian name for that planet.

Amos 5:25. Have ye offered — Or, did you offer, unto me sacrifices and offerings — “Verborum emphasis in MIHI sita est,” says Spencer: The emphasis of the passage lies in ME. “Did ye offer such sacrifices as were acceptable to ME; such an entire and undivided service as I enjoin?” — Newcome. Certainly they did not. They offered sacrifices indeed, but in general did not offer them in a right manner, in a true spirit of piety; in the genuine fear and love of God, and with an upright intention to glorify him. On the contrary, they joined the worship of idols with the worship of God, and thereby polluted it, and rendered it insignificant in God’s sight. Thus Dr. Whitby: “This question is a strong negative, importing, that though they really did offer sacrifices, as he had commanded, yet he did not accept, or look upon them, as offered to him. The expression is like that of the Prophet Zechariah 7:5, When ye fasted, &c., did ye at all fast to me, even to me? And this is here denied, 1st, Because God will accept of no worship as done unto him, which is not done unto him alone; and when any other is worshipped with him, he looks upon himself as not worshipped at all. So, of those nations which came from Assyria into the cities of Samaria, it is said, 2 Kings 17:33, They feared the Lord, and served their own gods; and then it is added, 2 Kings 17:34, They feared not the Lord. 2d, Because God will not own any worship as performed to him, while men continue in their disobedience to his laws, and in their hearts depart from him. Thus the Jews, in Zechariah, are said not to fast to him, because they would not hearken to nor obey his words; and he is said to have been angry with them in the wilderness forty years, because they erred from him in their hearts; that is, says the Chaldee, they had their idols in their hearts.”5:18-27 Woe unto those that desire the day of the Lord's judgments, that wish for times of war and confusion; as some who long for changes, hoping to rise upon the ruins of their country! but this should be so great a desolation, that nobody could gain by it. The day of the Lord will be a dark, dismal, gloomy day to all impenitent sinners. When God makes a day dark, all the world cannot make it light. Those who are not reformed by the judgments of God, will be pursued by them; if they escape one, another stands ready to seize them. A pretence of piety is double iniquity, and so it will be found. The people of Israel copied the crimes of their forefathers. The law of worshipping the Lord our God, is, Him only we must serve. Professors thrive so little, because they have little or no communion with God in their duties. They were led captive by Satan into idolatry, therefore God caused them to go into captivity among idolaters.Have ye offered - (better, "Did ye offer") unto Me sacrifices and offerings? Israel justified himself to himself by his half-service. This had been his way from the first. "Their heart was not whole with God, neither abode they in His covenant" Psalm 78:37. He thought to be accepted by God, because he did a certain homage to Him. He acknowledged God in his own way. God sets before him another instance of this half-service and what it issued in; the service of that generation which He brought out of Egypt, and which left their bones in the wilderness. The idolatry of the ten tribes was the revival of the idolatry of the wilderness. The ten tribes owned as the forefathers of their worship those first idolaters . They identified themselves with sin which they did not commit. By approving it and copying it, they made that sin their own. As the Church of God in all times is one and the same, and Hosea says of God's vision to Jacob, "there He spake with us" , so that great opposite camp, the city of the devil, has a continuous existence through all time. These idolaters were "filling up the measure of" their forefathers, and in the end of those forefathers, who perished in the wilderness where they sinned, they might behold their own. As God rejected the divided service of their forefathers, so He would their's.

God does not say that they did not offer sacrifice at all, but that they did not offer unto "Him." The "unto Me" is emphatic. If God is not served wholly and alone, He is not served at all. : "He regardeth not the offering, but the will of the offerer." Some sacrifices were offered during the 38 years and a half, after God had rejected that generation, and left them to die in the wilderness. For the rebellion of Korah and his company was a claim to exercise the priesthood, as Aaron was exercising it Numbers 16:5, Numbers 16:9-10. When atonement was to be made, the "live coals" were already on the altar Numbers 16:46. These, however, were not the free-will offerings of the people, but the ordinance of God, performed by the priests. The people, in that they went after their idols, had no share in nor benefit from what was offered in their name. So Moses says, "they sacrificed to devils, not to God" Deuteronomy 32:17; and Ezekiel, "Their heart went after their idols" Ezekiel 20:16.

Those were the gods of their affections, whom they chose. God had taken them for His people, and had become their God, on the condition that they should not associate other gods with Him Exodus 20:2-5. Had they loved God who made them, they would have loved none beside Him. Since they chose other gods, these were the objects of their love. God was, at most, an object of their fear. As He said by Hosea, "their bread is for themselves, it shall not enter into the house of the Lord" Hosea 9:4, so here He asks, and by asking denies it, "Did ye offer unto Me?" Idolatry and heresy feign a god of their own. They do not own God as He has revealed Himself; and since they own not God as He is, the god whom they worship, is not the true God, but some creature of their own imaginings, such as they conceive God to be. Anti-Trinitarianism denies to God His essential Being, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Other heresies refuse to own His awful holiness and justice; others, the depth of His love and condescension. Plainly, their god is not the one true God. So these idolaters, while they associated with God gods of cruelty and lust, and looked to them for things which God in His holiness and love refused them, did not own God, as the One Holy Creator, the Sole Disposer of all things.

25, 26. Have ye offered? &c.—Yes: ye have. "But (all the time with strange inconsistency) ye have borne (aloft in solemn pomp) the tabernacle (that is, the portable shrine, or model tabernacle: small enough not to be detected by Moses; compare Ac 19:24) of your Molech" (that idol is "your" god; I am not, though ye go through the form of presenting offerings to Me). The question, "Have ye," is not a denial (for they did offer in the wilderness to Jehovah sacrifices of the cattle which they took with them in their nomad life there, Ex 24:4; Nu 7:1-89; 9:1, &c.), but a strong affirmation (compare 1Sa 2:27, 28; Jer 31:20; Eze 20:4). The sin of Israel in Amos' time is the very sin of their forefathers, mocking God with worship, while at the same time worshipping idols (compare Eze 20:39). It was clandestine in Moses' time, else he would have put it down; he was aware generally of their unfaithfulness, though not knowing the particulars (De 31:21, 27).

Molech … Chiun—"Molech" means "king" answering to Mars [Bengel]; the Sun [Jablonski]; Saturn, the same as "Chiun" [Maurer]. The Septuagint translates "Chiun" into Remphan, as Stephen quotes it (Ac 7:42, 43). The same god often had different names. Molech is the Ammonite name; Chiun, the Arabic and Persian name, written also Chevan. In an Arabic lexicon Chiun means "austere"; so astrologers represented Saturn as a planet baleful in his influence. Hence the Phœnicians offered human sacrifices to him, children especially; so idolatrous Israel also. Rimmon was the Syrian name (2Ki 5:18); pronounced as Remvan, or "Remphan," just as Chiun was also Chevan. Molech had the form of a king; Chevan, or Chiun, of a star [Grotius]. Remphan was the Egyptian name for Saturn: hence the Septuagint translator of Amos gave the Egyptian name for the Hebrew, being an Egyptian. [Hodius II, De Bibliorum Textibus Originalibus. 4.115]. The same as the Nile, of which the Egyptians made the star Saturn the representative [Harenberg]. Bengel considers Remphan or Rephan akin to Teraphim and Remphis, the name of a king of Egypt. The Hebrews became infected with Sabeanism, the oldest form of idolatry, the worship of the Saba or starry hosts, in their stay in the Arabian desert, where Job notices its prevalence (Job 31:26); in opposition, in Am 5:27, Jehovah declares Himself "the God of hosts."

the star of your god—R. Isaac Caro says all the astrologers represented Saturn as the star of Israel. Probably there was a figure of a star on the head of the image of the idol, to represent the planet Saturn; hence "images" correspond to "star" in the parallel clause. A star in hieroglyphics represents God (Nu 24:17). "Images" are either a Hebraism for "image," or refer to the many images made to represent Chiun.

Their fathers and they, though at so great distance of time, are one people, and so the prophet considers them in this place.

Have ye offered? did you not frequently omit to offer, and yet were not reproved or plagued for the omission, when your frequent removes, and many other difficulties, made it unpracticable? so little is sacrifice with your God! and yet, when you did offer, was it to me only? or did you not sacrifice to idols and false gods, and provoked me? Will-worship and idolatry have been hereditary diseases in your generations; and it is well known, too, that these idolaters fell in the wilderness, and are made admonitions to you.

Sacrifices of beasts slain, as the word properly speaks.

Offerings: minchah, in general, is any gift or present made, but particularly here it is a gift or present of fine flour, oil, and frankincense unto God with the sacrifice.

In the wilderness forty years: it was a broken number of years in exact account, that is, thirty-eight years and eleven months; but, as is common in such cases, the full and round number is taken and so the account runs here, and in Acts 7:42, forty years.

O house of Israel; you of the ten tribes. Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings,.... No; they were not offered to God, but to devils, to the golden calf, and to the host of heaven: so their fathers did

in the wilderness forty years; where sacrifices were omitted during that time, a round number for a broken one, it being about thirty eight years; and these their children were imitators of them, and offered sacrifice to idols too, and therefore deserved punishment as they: even ye,

O house of Israel? the ten tribes, who are here particularly charged and threatened; See Gill on Acts 7:42.

Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
25. Did ye bring unto me sacrifices &c.] The question evidently requires a negative answer; and the emphatic words in the sentence are not, as has been sometimes supposed, unto me (which hold in the Hebrew quite a subordinate position), but sacrifices and offerings (which follow immediately after the interrogative particle). The prophet shews that sacrifice is no indispensable element of religious service, from the fact that during the 40 years in the wilderness—which, nevertheless, was a period when, above all others, Jehovah manifested His love and favour towards Israel (Amos 2:9-10)—it was not offered.

bring] of a sacrifice, as Exodus 32:6; Leviticus 8:14; 1 Samuel 13:9.

sacrifices and offerings] Rather, and meal-offerings: see on Amos 5:22. The same combination, Isaiah 19:21; Psalm 40:6.Verse 25. - Ye have always been idolaters, corrupters of pure worship. Your service in the wilderness, when you were little exposed to external influence, was no more true and faithful than that which you offer now; that was as unacceptable as this. Have ye offered unto me? Did ye offer unto me? The answer expected is "No;" i.e. you did not so really, because your worship was mixed with falsehood, and was not offered simply and genuinely to me. It is certain, too, that during the sojourn in the wilderness sacrificial worship fell greatly into desuetude, as we know that the rite of circumcision was suspended (Joshua 5:5-7), the Passover was not duly celebrated, and Joshua urged the people to put away the strange gods from among them (Joshua 24:23). Moses, too, doubtless with a view to existing practices, warns them against worshipping the heavenly bodies (Deuteronomy 4:19), and offering sacrifice unto devils (seirim), "after whom they had gone a-whoring" (Leviticus 17:7). The prophets, too, allude to the idolatry practised in the desert (see Ezekiel 20:7-26; Hosea 9:10). But to argue (as some neologians do) from this passage of Amos that the Israelites during those forty years knew nothing of Jehovah, or that Amos himself denies that they offered him any worship, is absurd, seeing that the prophet presupposes the fact, and blames them for corrupting the Divine service and mingling the prescribed and enacted ritual with idolatrous accretions. Sacrifices; slain, bloody sacrifices. Offerings; bloodless sacrifices, meal offerings. The whole nation is to mourn over this devastation. Joel 1:8. "Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. Joel 1:9. The meat-offering and the drink-offering are destroyed from the house of Jehovah. The priests, the servant of Jehovah. mourn. Joel 1:10. The field is laid waste, the ground mourns: for the corn is laid waste: the new wine is spoiled, the oil decays. Joel 1:11. Turn pale, ye husbandmen; howl, ye vinedressers, over wheat and barley: for the harvest of the field is perished. Joel 1:12. The vine is spoiled, and the fig-tree faded; the pomegranate, also the palm and the apple tree: all the trees of the field are withered away; yea, joy has expired from the children of men." In Joel 1:8 Judah is addressed as the congregation of Jehovah. אלי is the imperative of the verb אלה, equivalent to the Syriac 'elā', to lament. The verb only occurs here. The lamentation of the virgin for the בּעל נעוּריה, i.e., the beloved of your youth, her bridegroom, whom she has lost by death (Isaiah 54:6), is the deepest and bitterest lamentation. With reference to חגרת־שׂק, see Delitzsch on Isaiah 3:24. The occasion of this deep lamentation, according to Joel 1:9, is the destruction of the meat-offering and drink-offering from the house of the Lord, over which the servants of Jehovah mourn. The meat and drink offerings must of necessity cease, because the corn, the new wine, and the oil are destroyed through the devastation of the field and soil. Hokhrath minchâh does not affirm that the offering of the daily morning and evening sacrifice (Exodus 29:38-42) - for it is to this that מנחה ונסך chiefly, if not exclusively, refers - has already ceased; but simply that any further offering is rendered impossible by the failure of meal, wine, and oil. Now Israel could not suffer any greater calamity than the suspension of the daily sacrifice; for this was a practical suspension of the covenant relation - a sign that God had rejected His people. Therefore, even in the last siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, the sacrificial worship was not suspended till it had been brought to the last extremity; and even then it was for the want of sacrificers, and not of the material of sacrifice (Josephus, de bell. Jud. vi. 2, 1). The reason for this anxiety was the devastation of the field and land (Joel 1:10); and this is still further explained by a reference to the devastation and destruction of the fruits of the ground, viz., the corn, i.e., the corn growing in the field, so that the next harvest would be lost, and the new wine and oil, i.e., the vines and olive-trees, so that they could bear no grapes for new wine, and no olives for oil. The verbs in Joel 1:11 are not perfects, but imperatives, as in the fifth verse. הבישׁ has the same meaning as bōsh, as in Jeremiah 2:26; Jeremiah 6:15, etc., to stand ashamed, to turn pale with shame at the disappointment of their hope, and is probably written defectively, without ו, to distinguish it from הובישׁ, the hiphil of יבשׁ, to be parched or dried up (Joel 1:10 and Joel 1:12). The hope of the husbandmen was disappointed through the destruction of the wheat and barley, the most important field crops. The vine-growers had to mourn over the destruction of the vine and the choice fruit-trees (Joel 1:12), such as the fig and pomegranate, and even the date-palm (gam-tâmâr), which has neither a fresh green rind nor tender juicy leaves, and therefore is not easily injured by the locusts so as to cause it to dry up; and tappūăch, the apple-tree, and all the trees of the field, i.e., all the rest of the trees, wither. "All trees, whether fruit-bearing or not, are consumed by the devastating locusts" (Jerome). In the concluding clause of Joel 1:12, the last and principal ground assigned for the lamentation is, that joy is taken away and withered from the children of men (hōbbı̄sh min, constr. praegn.). כּי introduces a reason here as elsewhere, though not for the clause immediately preceding, but for the הבישׁוּ and הילילוּ in Joel 1:11, the leading thought in both verses; and we may therefore express it by an emphatic yea.
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