Amos 6:4
That lie on beds of ivory, and stretch themselves on their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the middle of the stall;
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(4) Of ivoryi.e., inlaid with that material.

6:1-7 Those are looked upon as doing well for themselves, who do well for their bodies; but we are here told what their ease is, and what their woe is. Here is a description of the pride, security, and sensuality, for which God would reckon. Careless sinners are every where in danger; but those at ease in Zion, who are stupid, vainly confident, and abusing their privileges, are in the greatest danger. Yet many fancy themselves the people of God, who are living in sin, and in conformity to the world. But the examples of others' ruin forbid us to be secure. Those who are set upon their pleasures are commonly careless of the troubles of others, but this is great offence to God. Those who placed their happiness in the pleasures of sense, and set their hearts upon them, shall be deprived of those pleasures. Those who try to put the evil day far from them, find it nearest to them.That lie upon beds (that is, sofas) of ivory - that is, probably inlaid with ivory. The word might, in itself, express either the bed, in which they slept by night, or the divan, on which the Easterns lay at their meals; "and stretch themselves," literally, "are poured" out , stretching their listless length, dissolved, unnerved, in luxury and sloth, "upon their couches," perhaps under an awning: "and eat the lambs," probably "fatted lambs (as in Deuteronomy 32:14; Psalm 37:20; 1 Samuel 15:9; Jeremiah 51:40), out of the flock," chosen, selected out of it as the best, and "calves out of the midst of the stall;" that is, the place where they were tied up (as the word means) to be fatted. They were stall-fed, as we say, and these people had the best chosen for them.

: "He shews how they 'draw nigh the seat of violence.' They lay on beds or couches of ivory, and expended thereon the money wherewith their poor brethren were to be fed. Go now, I say not into the houses of nobles, but into any house of any rich man, see the gilded and worked couches, curtains woven of silk and gold, and walls covered with gold, while the poor of Christ are naked, shivering, shriveled with hunger. Yet stranger is it, that while this is everywhere, scarce anywhere is there who now blames it. Now I say, for there were formerly. 'Ye array,' Ambrose says , 'walls with gold, men ye bare. The naked cries before your door and you neglect him; and are careful with what marbles you clothe your pavement. The poor seeketh money, and hath it not; man asketh for bread, and thy horse champeth gold. Thou delightest in costly ornaments, while others have not meal. What judgment thou heapest on thyself, thou man of wealth! Miserable, who hast power to keep so many souls from death, and hast not the will! The jewel of thy ring could maintain in life a whole population.' If such things are not to be blamed now, then neither were they formerly."

4. (See Am 2:8).

beds of ivory—that is, adorned, or inlaid, with ivory (Am 3:15).

stretch themselves—in luxurious self-indulgence.

lambs out of the flock—picked out as the choicest, for their owners' selfish gratification.

The woe is to be added to them that, either out of laziness or luxury, and to please the flesh, lay themselves to rest

upon beds of ivory; on beautiful, rich beds, bought with the gain of bribes and oppression.

Stretch themselves upon their couches: this somewhat explains the former; they did extremely indulge their pride and luxury, and on beds or couches laid themselves to feast, when God called them to mourn and weep.

Eat, with excess, as Matthew 24:37,38 Lu 12:19,20.

The lambs out of the flock; the very best in all their flock, and probably they chose them out first, before they set out lambs for sacrifices; or else these gluttonous judges and rulers eat the best lambs, not of their own, but out of poor oppressed men’s flocks.

The calves, those that were fattest too,

out of the midst of the stall; kept on purpose to make them most delicious and nourishing meat. That lie upon beds of ivory,.... That were made of it, or inlaid with it, or covered with it, as the Targum; nor was it improbable that these were made wholly of ivory, for such beds we read of: Timaeus says (r), the Agrigentines had beds entirely made of ivory; and Horace (s) also speaks of such beds: and if any credit can be given to the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem on Genesis 50:1. Joseph made his father Jacob to lie on a bed of ivory. Indeed, the Latin interpreters of these Targums render it a cedar bed; but Buxtorf (t) conjectures that ivory is meant by the word used; and so Bochart (u) translates it; on these they lay either for sleep and rest, or to eat their meals;

and stretch themselves upon their couches; for the same purposes, living in great splendour, and indulging themselves in ease and sloth; as it was the custom of the eastern countries, and is of the Arabs now; that they make little or no use of chairs, but either sitting cross legged, or lying at length, have couches to lie on at their meals; and when they indulge to ease, they cover or spread their floors with carpets, which for the most part are of the richest materials. Along the sides of the wall or floor, a range of narrow beds or mattresses is often placed upon these carpets; and, for their further ease and convenience, several velvet or damask bolsters are placed upon these, or mattresses (w), to lean upon, and take their ease; see Ezekiel 13:18; and thus, and in some such like manner, did the principal men of the people of Israel indulge themselves. Some render it, "abound with superfluities"; the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, "are lascivious"; and the Arabic version, "burn in lust"; and so some of the Jewish writers interpret it of their committing adulteries, and all uncleanness, on their beds and couches;

and eat the lambs out of the flock; pick the best and fattest of them for their use: so the Targum,

"eat the fat of the sheep:''

and the calves out of the midst of the stall; where they are put, and kept to be fattened; from thence they took what they liked best, and perhaps not out of theft own flocks and stalls, but out of others, and with which they pampered themselves to excess.

(r) Apud Aelian. Var. Hist. l. 12. c. 29. (s) "----Rubro ubi cocco Tincta super lectos cauderet vestis eburnos". Horat. Serm. l. 2. Satyr. 6. v. 102. (t) Lexic. Talmud. col. 2475. (u) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 24. col. 252. (w) See Shaw's Travels, p. 209. Ed. 2.

That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;
4. That lie upon divans (Amos 3:12) of ivory] i.e. divans, the frames of which were inlaid with ivory: cf. the “ivory couches,” and “great ivory seats,” which Sennacherib boasts that he received from Hezekiah (K.A.T[174][175] p. 293 bottom, referred to by Mitchell).

[174] .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.

[175] … 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.

and are stretched out upon their couches] The older custom in Israel was to sit while eating (Genesis 27:19; Jdg 19:6; 1 Samuel 20:5; 1 Samuel 20:24; 1 Kings 13:20), whether upon a rug or carpet spread out on the floor, or (2 Kings 4:10) on a seat: the custom of reclining at table is first mentioned here; it was not impossibly a foreign fashion introduced from Syria, and is in any case viewed by the shepherd-prophet as a signal mark of effeminacy and luxury. Of course, in later times—probably through Greek or Aramaic influence—it became general (Sir 41:19; Matthew 9:10; Matthew 26:7, &c.).

lambs] Heb. kârîm, not the usual word for lambs, and denoting apparently such as, from their age or kind, were a special delicacy (cf. Deuteronomy 32:14; 1 Samuel 15:9).

and calves out of the midst of the stall] Brought directly from the place where they were tied up (such, as Arabic shews, is the meaning of the word) to be fatted. Cf. Luke 15:23.Verse 4. - That lie upon beds of ivory; couches inlaid with ivory (see note on Amos 3:15) at meals. The prophet substantiates his denunciation by describing their selfish luxury and debauchery. Stretch themselves literally, are poured out; Septuagint, κατασπαταλῶντες, "wantoning." Out of the midst of the stall. Calves put up to be fattened. They do this presumably net on festivals, when it would have been proper and excusable, but every day. The affliction is not removed by mourning and lamentation, but only through repentance and supplication to the Lord, who can turn away all evil. The prophet therefore proceeds to call upon the priests to offer to the Lord penitential supplication day and night in the temple, and to call the elders and all the people to observe a day of fasting, penitence, and prayer; and then offers supplication himself to the Lord to have compassion upon them (Joel 1:19). From the motive assigned for this appeal, we may also see that a terrible drought had been associated with the devastation by the locusts, from which both man and beast had endured the most bitter suffering, and that Joel regarded this terrible calamity as a sign of the coming of the day of the Lord. Joel 1:13. "Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests; howl, ye servants of the altar; come, pass the night in sackcloth, ye servants of my God: for the meat-offering and drink-offering are withdrawn from the house of your God. Joel 1:14. Sanctify a fast, call out an assembly, assemble the elders, all ye inhabitants of the land, at the house of Jehovah your God, and cry to Jehovah." From what follows we must supply bassaqqı̄m (with sackcloth) to chigrū (gird yourselves). Gird yourselves with mourning apparel, i.e., put it on (see Joel 1:8). In this they are to pass the night, to offer supplication day and night, or incessantly, standing between the altar and the porch (Joel 2:17). "Servants of my God," i.e., of the God whose prophet I am, and from whom I can promise you a hearing. The reason assigned for this appeal is the same as for the lamentation in Joel 1:9. But it is not the priests only who are to pray incessantly to the Lord; the elders and all the people are to do the same. קדּשׁ צום, to sanctify a fast, i.e., to appoint a holy fast, a divine service of prayer connected with fasting. To this end the priests are to call an ‛ătsârâh, i.e., a meeting of the congregation for religious worship. ‛Atsârâh, or ‛ătsereth, πανήγυρις, is synonymous with מקרא קודשׁ in Leviticus 23:36 (see the exposition of that passage). In what follows, כּל־ישׁבי ה is attached ἀσυνδέτως to זקנים; and the latter is not a vocative, but an accusative of the object. On the other hand, בּית יהוה is an accus. loci, and dependent upon אספוּ. זעק, to cry, used of loud and importunate prayer. It is only by this that destruction can still be averted.
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