Amos 6:6
That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
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(6) Bowls.—The extent of their potations is indicated by the fact that they drink, not from wine-cups, but from large bowls (in which the wine was probably mixed). The same word is used in Exodus 38:3 to describe the sacrificial basons.

And anoint themselves . . .—Render, anoint themselves with the choicest of oils, and are not sick at heart for the ruin of Joseph. Self-indulgence is indifferent to the call of duty or danger.

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 drink wine in bowls - (Literally, as the English margin, "drink in bowls," literally, "sprinkling vessels, of wine"). The word is elsewhere used only of the "bowls," out of which the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled. Probably Amos was referring to the first offering of the Princes in the wilderness, with whom he had already tacitly contrasted these Princes . They had shown zeal for God in offering the massive bowls for the service of the tabernacle: the like zeal had these princes for the service of their own "god Philippians 3:19, their belly." It may be too, (since misbelief and sensuality are necessarily irreverent) that they used for their revels vessels which had at one time been employed in sprinkling the blood of their idol-sacrifices. There was no additional desecration in it. The gold and silver vessels of the temple were consecrated by being offered to God, by His hallowing of the temple through His presence, by being used in the typical sacrifices. The gold and silver, creatures of God, were desecrated by being employed in idol-worship, of which indeed sensuality was a part. Their employment in this luxury was only a continuance of their desecration, which it did but illustrate. It is nothing incredible, since among Christians, the fonts of the Church have been turned into horsetroughs by sects who disbelieved in Baptism. The vessels were, probably, large, since those offered for the tabernacle weighed 70 shekels. Private luxury vied with the fictitious sanctuary, which aped the sanctuary of God. Perhaps Amos would express the capacity of these vessels by saying, "that drink in bowls of wine." Like swine in the trough, they immersed themselves in their drink , "swimming in mutual swill."

All this they did, he expresses, habitually. He speaks of these their acts in a form expressing an ever-renewed present, "the putters off, the liers on couches of ivory, the out-stretched, the eating, the drinking," men whose lives were spent in nothing else; the voluptuaries, sensualists, "good-fellows" of Israel.

Anoint themselves with the chief ointments - Anointing the body was a sort of necessary 2 Chronicles 28:15 in the hot climate of the East, for bodily health. "Not" to anoint the body was the exception, as in mourning 2 Samuel 14:2. But necessaries become a vehicle for luxury. For health, olive-oil sufficed Deuteronomy 28:40. For the service of God, a rich ointment was appointed, to which odorous substances, myrrh, cinnamon, the odoriferous reed, and cassia Exodus 30:23-25. gave a scent emblematic of the fragrance of holiness. In order to separate what was sacred from ordinary uses, God forbade, on pain of death, to imitate this ointment, or "pour it on the flesh of man" Exodus 30:32-33. Luxury vied with religion, and took to itself either the same, or ointment more costly. "They anointed themselves with the chief" (kind) "of ointments;" those which held the first, highest rank among them. Nothing better or so good was left for what they thought to be the service of God, as, in times a little past, anything was thought good enough for a Church, nothing too good for a dwelling-house. Gorgeous adornments of man's house were thought splendor and good taste and fit employment of wealth; slight adornment of the house of God was thought superstition.

But - (And) they are not grieved - (Literally, "grieve not themselves,") admit no grief, shut out all grief, "for the affliction" (literally, "breach") of "Joseph." The name of the patriarch, Ephraim's father, recalled his suffering from his brethren . His brethren cast him into a "pit without water" Genesis 37:24, probalby an empty leaking well, (much as was that into which Jeremiah Jer 38:6 was cast,) damp, fetid, and full of loathsome creatures. They "saw the anguish of his soul when he besought them, and would not hear" Genesis 42:21. But what did they? "They sat down to eat bread" Genesis 37:25. So did these rich men deal with all their brethren, all Ephraim. They suffered not in, or with, any sufferings, present or future, of individuals or the whole. "Cast off thought," "cast off care," is the motto of sensualists and of the worldly; "seize joyous the present hour, and leave the future," said the pagan . This was the effect of their luxury and life of sense.

The prophet recounts, they stretched themselves listlessly, ate choice food, sang glees, drank deep, anointed themselves with the very best ointment, "and grieved" not themselves for any sufferings of their own flesh and blood. It followed, of necessity, from the rest. Luxury shuts out suffering, because any vivid knowledge of or dwelling upon sufferings must needs disturb its ease. Selfish wealth persuades itself that there is no suffering, lest it should be forced to think of it; it "will" think distress either too little, so that it can relieve itself, or so great that it cannot be relieved; or it will philosophise upon distress and misery, as though it were best relieved by its own luxuries. Any how it will not know or hear of its details, it will not admit grief. Lap.: "Mercilessness is the own daughter of pleasure." "This was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom; pride, fullness of bread, and careless ease had she and her daughters; and the hand of the poor and needy she strengthened not" Ezekiel 16:49. "Seest thou," says Chrysostom , "how he blames a delicate life? For in these words he accuses not covetousness, but prodigality only. And thou eatest to excess, Christ not even for need; thou various cakes, He not so much as dry bread; thou drinkest choice wine, but on Him thou hast not bestowed so much as a cup of cold water in His thirst. Thou art on a soft, embroidered bed; He is perishing with the cold. Be then the banquets clear from covetousness, yet they are accursed because, while thou doest all beyond thy need, to Him thou givest not even His need; and that, living in luxury on what is His!"

And yet what was this luxury, which the prophet so condemns? What, in us, were simplicity. What scarce anyone thought of diminishing, while two million, close by, were wasting away by famine's horrors; chairs or sofas inlaid, fat lamb or veal; wine; perfumes; light music. The most delicate ingredient of those perfumes, cinnamon, enters into our food. "Looking at our times," says a writer at the close of the 16th century , "I marvel at the spareness of the ancients, and think that it would be well with us, if any above the poor were content with what were, of old, delicacies to kings and nobles. Happy were these times, if they could imitate even what the prophets blame in nobles. In the Gospel, "the King" who "made a marriage feast for His Son said, I have prepared My dinner, My oxen and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage" Matthew 22:2, Matthew 22:4.

When a "fatted calf" was killed for a feast, it was thought the best cheer, as when Abraham entertained Angels, or in that feast of the Father who, when He had received back His son, said, "bring hither the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and be merry: for this My son was dead and is alive again" Luke 15:23-24. So then the prophet accuses the nobles of luxury, because they ate fat oxen and lambs. For the table of Solomon, the wealthiest of monarchs, there were brought "fat oxen, and oxen, out of the pastures, sheep, besides hart and roebuck and fallow deer and fatted fowls" 1 Kings 4:23. "Now" whatever is produced in sea or earth or sky, people think to be born to satisfy their appetites. Who could recount the manifold forms of food and condiments, which all-inventing gluttony has devised? Books had to be written; no memory sufficed. In this ocean, wealthiest patrimonies have discharged themselves and disappeared.

Among the Romans, Fabius, for devouring his patrimony, was called Gurges (whirlpool). Were this the practice now, he would have many great people surnamed from him, who, poor through gluttony, prey on the patrimonies of the poor, retain the property of the rich against their wills, and live on what is another's. It were little to consume whole patrimonies in luxury, were it not that the virtues and nerves of the mind were also consumed and vices of all sorts crept in. Shame to copy the luxury of pagan, and despise their care for maintaining temperance. We need not old examples. Such was the frugality of our Spaniards, 70 years ago, before they adopted foreign manners, that the rich had but mutton, roast and boiled, at their tables, nobles alone had poultry. Well were it then, if, in matter of food, we did only, what the prophet in his time blamed." Spain has sunk under its luxury to a third-rate power. What can await England? What can await it, when the prophet's blame were praise, and Dives is the pattern and ideal of the charity of most of us, and luxury, vanity, and selfindulgence are held to be the best way of ministering to the poor? Marvelous "imitation of Christ!" Once, to "forsake all" was to "follow" Christ. Now, to possess all, heap up all, to expend nothing save on self, and to "shew mercy on the poor" by allowing them to minister to our luxuries, is, according to the new philosophy of wealth, to be the counterfeit of Christian charity.

6. drink … in bowls—in the large vessels or basins in which wine was mixed; not satisfied with the smaller cups from which it was ordinarily drunk, after having been poured from the large mixer.

chief ointments—that is, the most costly: not for health or cleanliness, but wanton luxury.

not grieved for the affliction of Joseph—literally, "the breach," that is, the national wound or calamity (Ps 60:2; Eze 34:4) of the house of Joseph (Am 5:6); resembling in this the heartlessness of their forefathers, the sons of Jacob, towards Joseph, "eating bread" while their brother lay in the pit, and then selling him to Ishmaelites.

The prophet continues the woe still to these riotous feasters; the jovial, banqueting, dancing, and singing judges.

That drink wine in bowls; not in little vessels, not in moderate glasses or cups, as beseemed sober men, but in great vessels, called bowls; and it is likely they drank these filled as full as they could hold too, and in design to drink each other down.

Anoint themselves with the chief ointments: in those hot countries this anointing was needful to refresh and strengthen the limbs, and it was much used. But here the effeminate use of it, at such a time, and by such men, at feasts, is condemned as a great excess and provoking sin, which God will punish.

But they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph; nothing affected with or troubled for the public calamities of their country, though they were sore ones, brought on them by the Syrians, and by their own divisions and civil wars: both kingdoms of Judah and Israel were in a very low, afflicted state, but these rulers and grandees live, feast, sing, and dance, as if no sad occasion called for other carriage.

That drink wine in bowls,.... Not in small cups or glasses, but in large bowls, that they might drink freely, even to drunkenness; hence we read of the drunkards of Ephraim, or the ten tribes, Isaiah 28:1; or "drink in bowls of wine"; which is much to the: same sense. The Targum is,

"that drink wine in silver phials;''

and anoint themselves with the, chief ointments; which Jarchi says was balsam, and the best is that which grew about Jericho; this they did not for moderate refreshment, but for pleasure, and to indulge themselves in luxury:

but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph; or the "breach" of him (z); that was made upon him by some enemy or another: either what had been already made; Kimchi thinks it respects the carrying captive of some before the reign of Jeroboam; or it may regard the distress Pul king of Assyria gave to Israel, in the times of Menahem; or the carrying captive the inhabitants of several places by Tiglathpileser, king of Assyria, in the times of Pekah, 2 Kings 15:19; or else, as Jarchi thinks, this refers to some breach and affliction to come, which these men were unconcerned about; even what they heard from the mouth of the prophets should come to them; that the kingdom of the house of Israel should case, and be utterly took away, Hosea 1:4; which was fulfilled by Shalmaneser, who carried Israel captive into the cities of the Medes, 2 Kings 17:6; but the prophecy of this did not trouble them, or make them sick at heart, as the word (a) signifies, nor any present affliction that might attend them; they did not weep with them that weep, were men of hard hearts, that had no sympathy with their brethren and fellow creatures. It is thought that here is some allusion to the attitude of Joseph's brethren to him, when in the pit, and sold by them into Egypt; or to the chief butler's forgetfulness of him, when advanced, and amidst his cups.

(z) "super contritione", Pagninus, Montanus; "propter confractienem Josephi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "ob fractionem Josephi", Cocceius. (a) "neque afficiuntur argritudine", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius.

That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not {f} grieved for the affliction of Joseph.

(f) They did not pity their brethren, of which many were now slain and carried away captive.

6. that drink with bowls of wine] Not satisfied with ordinary cups. Bowl is properly a throwing-vessel, the root zâraḳ signifying to throw or dash in a volume, Leviticus 1:5; Leviticus 1:11, &c. (not to sprinkle, which is hizzâh, Leviticus 4:6; Leviticus 4:17, &c.); and elsewhere it is always used of the large bowls or basins from which the blood was thrown in a volume against the altar (Exodus 27:3; 1 Kings 7:40; 2 Kings 12:13; Zechariah 9:15; Zechariah 14:20 : see Leviticus 1:5; Leviticus 1:11; Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 3:8; Leviticus 3:13; 2 Kings 16:13; 2 Kings 16:15; 2 Chronicles 29:22. Sprinkle, in these and similar passages, is incorrect: it should be throw or dash). The luxurious nobles of Samaria at their banquets drank their wine from bowls of similarly large size.

and anoint with the first of oils] oils of the choicest kind. The practice of anointing the body, especially after washing (Ruth 3:3), was common in the East: it both soothed and refreshed the skin, and was a protection against the heat. As a rule, fresh olive-oil was used for the purpose (Deuteronomy 28:40; Micah 6:15), but aromatic spices and perfumes were often added, especially by the rich (1 Kings 10:10; Ezekiel 27:22; cf. Mark 14:3; Mark 14:5); and such choice and costly compounds are alluded to here. Anointing was in particular practised on festal occasions; and oil was accordingly a mark of joy (Psalm 23:5; Psalm 45:7; Psalm 92:10; Isaiah 61:3; Ecclesiastes 9:8), while not to anoint oneself was a token of mourning (2 Samuel 14:2).

but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph] more lit., are not sick for the breach (or wound) of Joseph. The words bring out the irony of their position: immersed themselves in a vortex of pleasure, they are unconcerned by the thought of the breach or wound in the body politic, i.e. the impending material ruin, the signs of which the prophet can only too clearly discern, though they are invisible to the self-satisfied political leaders of the nation. For the term breach (or wound), applied to a nation, cf. Isaiah 30:26; Jeremiah 6:14 (“the breach of the daughter of my people”), Jeremiah 8:21, Jeremiah 10:19, Jeremiah 14:17, Jeremiah 30:12; Jeremiah 30:15; Nahum 3:19; Lamentations 2:13 (A.V., R.V., often “hurt”).

Verse 6. - Wine in bowls (misraqim); sacrificial bowls; used in libations of wine and in the sprinkling of blood (comp. Exodus 38:3; Numbers 7:13, etc.; 1 Chronicles 28:17; 2 Chronicles 4:8, 22; Zechariah 9:15; Zechariah 14:20). These vessels the luxurious and sacrilegious princes employed in their feasts, proving thus their impiety and their excess (comp. Daniel 5:2). Septuagint, οἱ πίνοντες τὸν διυλισμένον οϊνον, "who drink strained wine." The chief ointments. Such as were used in Divine service (Exodus 30:23, etc.), and nowhere else. If they had felt as they ought to feel in this time of rebuke and sorrow, they would, like mourners, have refrained from anointing themselves (Ruth 3:3; 2 Samuel 14:2); but, on the contrary, they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. The coming ruin of the ten tribes affects them not; in their selfish voluptuousness they have no sympathy with calamity and suffering, and shut their eyes to coming evil. "The affliction of Joseph" is probably a proverbial expression derived from the narratives in Genesis 37:25, etc., and Genesis 40:14, 23 (comp. Genesis 42:21). Amos 6:6This forgetfulness of God shows itself more especially in the reckless licentiousness and debauchery of these men. Amos 6:4. "They who lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves out of the fattening stall. Amos 6:5. Who prattle to the tune of the harp; like David, they invent string instruments. Amos 6:6. Who drink wine out of sacrificial bowls, and anoint themselves with the best oils, and do not afflict themselves for the hurt of Joseph." They lie stretched, as it were poured out (סרחים), upon beds inlaid with ivory, to feast and fill their belly with the flesh of the best lambs and fattened calves, to the playing of harps and singing, in which they take such pleasure, that they invent new kinds of playing and singing. The ἁπ. λεγ. pârat, to strew around (cf. peret in Leviticus 19:10), in Arabic to throw many useless words about, to gossip, describes the singing at the banquets as frivolous nonsense. כּלי שׁיר, articles or instruments of singing, are not musical instruments generally, but, as we may see from 2 Chronicles 34:12, compared with 2 Chronicles 29:26-27, and 1 Chronicles 23:5, the stringed instruments that were either invented by David (e.g., the nebel), or arranged by him for the sacred song of the temple, together with the peculiar mode of playing them; in other words, "the playing upon stringed instruments introduced by David." Consequently the meaning of Amos 6:5 is the following: As David invented stringed instruments in honour of his God in heaven, so do these princes invent playing and singing for their god, the belly. The meaning to invent or devise, which Baur will not allow to חשׁב, is established beyond all doubt by Exodus 31:4. They drink thereby out of sacrificial bowls of wine, i.e., drink wine out of sacrificial bowls. שׁתה with ב, as in Genesis 44:5. Mizrâq, in the plural mizrâqı̄m and mizrâqōth, from zâraq, to sprinkle, was the name given both to the vessels used for the sprinkling of the blood, and also to the bowls made use of for pouring the libation of wine upon the table of shew-bread (2 Chronicles 4:8). This word is applied by Amos to the bowls out of which the gluttons drank their wine; with special reference to the offering of silver sacrificial bowls made by the tribe-princes at the consecration of the altar (Numbers 7), to show that whereas the tribe-princes of Israel in the time of Moses manifested their zeal for the service of Jehovah by presenting sacrificial bowls of silver, the princes of his own time showed just as much zeal in their care for their god, the belly. Mizrâqı̄m does not mean "rummers, or pitchers used for mixing wine." Lastly, Amos refers to their anointing themselves with the firstling of the oils, i.e., the best oils, as a sign of unbridled rejoicing, inasmuch as the custom of anointing was suspended in time of mourning (2 Samuel 14:2), for the purpose of appending the antithesis ולא גחלוּ, they do not afflict or grieve themselves for the ruin of Israel. Shēbher, breach, injury, destruction. Joseph signifies the people and kingdom of the ten tribes.
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