Amos 8:14
They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Your god, O Dan, lives; and, The manner of Beersheba lives; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.
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(14) Thy God, O Dan, liveth.—Translate, By the life of thy God, O Dan, and by the life of the way of Beersheba. On such forms of oath, see Note on Amos 6:8. The “way of Beersheba” was the ritual practised at Beersheba, another mode of designating the deity himself (probably Baal).[18] So LXX. Similarly the “sin of Samaria” means the golden calf that was worshipped there (Hosea 8:5). The supposition of Hitzig and Duhm (followed by W. R. Smith) that it refere to the Asherah worship (2Kings 13:6) is not so probable.

[18] From chap. 5:5 we infer that Beersheba, lying far south on the borders of Judah (twenty-five geographical miles south of Hebron), was a famous religious centre, so that inhabitants of the northern kingdom were in the habit of “crossing the frontier” in order to pay their vows, or enquire at this high place.

Amos 8:14. They that swear by the sin of Samaria — That is, by the calf which Jeroboam set up as an object of worship at Beth-el, not far from Samaria, committing a great sin in so doing, and making Israel to sin. Swearing, according to the sense in which the word is here taken, is a solemn invocation of the name of God, and an appeal to him; and, as such, is a proper part of divine worship, (see Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20,) and therefore ought not to be given to idols. And say, Thy God — Or, As thy God, O Dan, liveth — That is, who say in the way of an oath, As the god who is worshipped in Dan liveth: at Dan was placed another of Jeroboam’s calves. And, The manner of Beer-sheba liveth — The LXX. render it, the god of Beer-sheba liveth; expressing the sense rather than the words of the original. The way or manner signifies the same with the way of worship; so that the people swore by the religion of Beer-sheba, or the manner of worship used there, which they looked upon as sacred. Thus the Papists swear by the mass: but they who thus give that honour to idols which is due to God alone, will find the God whom they thus affront is made their enemy. And they shall fall, &c. — And the gods they serve cannot raise them up; so that without better help they shall never rise again. 8:11-14 Here was a token of God's highest displeasure. At any time, and most in a time of trouble, a famine of the word of God is the heaviest judgment. To many this is no affliction, yet some will feel it very much, and will travel far to hear a good sermon; they feel the loss of the mercies others foolishly sin away. But when God visits a backsliding church, their own plans and endeavours to find out a way of salvation, will stand them in no stead. And the most amiable and zealous would perish, for want of the water of life, which Christ only can bestow. Let us value our advantages, seek to profit by them, and fear sinning them away.Who swear - Literally, "the swearing," they who habitually swear. He assigns, at the end, the ground of all this misery, the forsaking of God. God had commanded that all appeals by oath should be made to Himself, who alone governs the world, to whom alone His creatures owe obedience, who alone revenges. "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God and serve Him and swear by His Name" Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20. On the other hand Joshua warned them, "Neither make mention of the name of their gods nor cause to swear by them nor serve them" Joshua 23:7. But these "sware by the sin of Samaria," probably "the calf at Bethel," which was near Samaria and the center of their idolatry, from where Hosea calls it "thy calf." "Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off. The calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces" Hosea 8:5-6. He calls it "the guilt of Samaria," as the source of all their guilt, as it is said of the princes of Judah using this same word, "they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served idols, and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass" 2 Chronicles 24:18. "And say, thy god, O Dan! liveth," that is, as surely as thy god liveth! by the life of thy god! as they who worshiped God said, "as the Lord liveth!" It was a direct substitution of the creature for the Creator, an ascribing to it the attribute of God; "as the Father hath life in Himself" John 5:26. It was an appeal to it, as the Avenger of false-swearing, as though it were the moral Governor of the world.

The manner of Beersheba liveth! - Literally, "the way." This may be, either the religion and worship of the idol there, as Paul says, "I persecuted this way unto the death" (Acts 22:4, add Acts 9:2; Acts 19:9, Acts 19:23), from where Muhammed learned to speak of his imposture, as "the way of God." Or it might mean the actual "way to Beersheba," and may signify all the idolatrous places of worship in the way there. They seem to have made the way there one long avenue of idols, culminating in it. For Josiah, in his great destruction of idolatry, "gathered all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places, where the priests sacrificed from Gebah to Beersheba" 2 Kings 23:8; only, this may perhaps simply describe the whole territory of Judah from north to south. Anyhow, Beersheba stands for the god worshiped there, as, "whoso sware by the Temple, sware," our Lord tells us, "by it and by Him that dwelleth therein" Matthew 23:21.

14. swear by the sin of Samaria—namely, the calves (De 9:21; Ho 4:15). "Swear by" means to worship (Ps 63:11).

The manner—that is, as "the way" is used (Ps 139:24; Ac 9:2), the mode of worship.

Thy god, O Dan—the other golden calf at Dan (1Ki 22:26-30).

liveth … liveth—rather, "May thy god … live … may the manner … live." Or, "As (surely as) thy god, O Dan, liveth." This is their formula when they swear; not "May Jehovah live!" or, "As Jehovah liveth!"

They that swear by; who now do, as formerly they have done, trust in, sacrifice to, and swear by; who are obstinate idolaters, and trust to those lies.

The sin, that which was the sin, the occasion of the sin,

of Samaria, the calves at Dan and Beth-el.

And say, think, profess, and swear too,

Thy god, O Dan, liveth; the idol at Dan is the true and living God.

The manner of, the idols at, Beer-sheba, to which the zealous, mad, and bigoted idolaters in Israel made their pilgrimages.

They shall fall, be consumed by famine, sword, and captivity,

and never rise up again; never return out of captivity, nor recover of this consumption. They that swear by the sin of Samaria,.... The calf at Bethel, which was near Samaria, and which the Samaritans worshipped; and was set up by their kings, and the worship of it encouraged by their example, and which is called the calf of Samaria, Hosea 8:5; the making of it was the effect of sin, and the occasion of leading into it, and ought to have been had in detestation and abhorrence, as sin should; and yet by this the Israelites swore, as they had used to do by the living God; so setting up this idol on an equality with him:

and say, thy God, O Dan, liveth; the other calf, which was set up in Dan; and to this they gave the epithet of the bring God, which only belonged to the God of Israel:

and the manner of Beersheba liveth; or, "the way of Beersheba" (r); the long journey or pilgrimage of those at Beersheba; who chose to go to Dan, rather than Bethel, to worship; imagining they showed greater devotion and religion, by going from one extreme part of the land to the other, for the sake of it. Dan was on the northern border of the land of Judea, about four miles from Paneas, as you go to Tyre (s); and Beersheba was on the southern border of the land, twenty miles from Hebron (t); and the distance of these two places was about one hundred and sixty miles (u). And by this religious peregrination men swore; or rather by the God of Beersheba, as the Septuagint render it; though the phrase may only intend the religion of Beersheba, the manner of worship there, it being a place where idolatry was practised; see Amos 5:5. The Targum is,

"the fear (that is, the deity) which is in Daniel 54eth, and firm are the laws of Beersheba;''

even they shall fall, and never rise up again; that is, these idolatrous persons, that swear by the idols in the above places, shall fall into calamity, ruin, and destruction, by and for their sins, and never recover out of it; which was fulfilled in the captivity of the ten tribes, from whence they have never returned to this day.

(r) "via Beersebah", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Vatablus, Mercerus, Tigurine version; "iter, peregrinatio", Drusius; "Bersabanum iter", Castalio. (s) Hieronymus de locis Heb. fol. 92. H. (t) Ibid. fol. 89. F. (u) Ib. Epist. ad Dardanura, fol. 22. I.

They that swear by the sin {i} of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, {k} The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.

(i) For the idolaters used to swear by their idols, which here he calls their sin: and the papists yet swear by theirs.

(k) That is, the common manner of worshipping, and the service or religion used there.

14. They that swear …; even they shall fall] better, Who swear (connecting with Amos 8:13) …; and they shall fall &c.

swear by the Guilt of Samaria] Men swear by that which they revere: the Israelite was commanded to swear by Jehovah (Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20); and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 4:2; Jeremiah 12:16) promises a blessing upon those who swear by Him faithfully. Idolatrous Israelites swore by “not-gods” (Jeremiah 5:7), or by Baal (Jeremiah 12:16), or Milcom (Zephaniah 1:5), &c. The ‘Guilt of Samaria’ is probably the calf at Beth-el, which Hosea alludes to ironically as unworthy of the Israelites’ regard (Hosea 8:5-6, Hosea 10:5): the golden calf which Aaron made is called “your sin” (Deuteronomy 9:21). Others suppose that the reference is to the Ashérah which was made by Ahab in Samaria, and which still stood there, at least in the days of Jehoahaz (2 Kings 13:6)[193]. The Ashérah (cf. Exodus 34:13, R.V. marg.) was a post or pole, regarded seemingly as the representative of the sacred tree, planted in the ground beside an altar, and venerated as a sacred symbol (see further W. R. Smith, Relig. of the Semites, p. 171 ff. (ed. 2, p. 187 ff.); D.B[194][195], s.v.; or the writer’s Commentary on Deuteronomy 16:21).

[193] So W. R. Smith, Proph., p. 140. Stade and Oort even suppose that guilt (אשמת) is an error for Ashérah (אשרת).

[194] .B.Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, ed. 1, or (from A to J) ed. 2.

[195] … Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, ed. 1, or (from A to J) ed. 2.

and say, (As) thy God, O Dan, liveth] The formula of an oath: cf. the common (As) Jehovah liveth (1 Samuel 14:39 &c.). Here the reference is to the calf set up by Jeroboam I. (1 Kings 12:29) at Dan, in the far North of Israel (now Tel el-Ḳaḍi), near the foot of Hermon, and not far from the principal source of the Jordan.

and, (As) the way of Beer-sheba liveth] For Beer-sheba, see on Amos 5:5. The expression is an unusual one; and it has been doubted whether the text is correct. But probably the reference is to the road taken by the pilgrims to Beer-sheba, which must have been a clearly-marked, much frequented route[196] and which, being regarded by the worshippers as unalterable and permanent, might not unnaturally form the object appealed to in an oath. “Strange as it may appear to us to speak of the life of the lifeless, this often happens among the Semites. To-day Arabs “swear wa hyât, ‘by the life of,’ even of things inanimate; ‘By the life of this fire, or of this coffee’ ” (Doughty, Arabia Deserta, i. 269). And as Amos here tells us that the Israelite pilgrims swore by the way to Beer-sheba, so do the Moslems affirm their oaths by the sacred way to Mecca[197]” (G. A. Smith, p. 186). Others understand ‘way’ in the sense of usage, cult. Although therefore it remains possible that the title of a deity, “thy …,” lies concealed under what is now read as ‘way,’ there seems to be no imperative necessity for questioning the correctness of the text.

[196] Comp. the Derb el Haj, or the route from Damascus to Mecca, a broad, clearly-marked track in the wilderness (Tristram, Moab, p. 170; P.E.F. Qu. St., 1895, p. 229).

[197] Baur, p. 424, who quotes Rückert’s translation of Ḥariri, i. 189 f., “By the pilgrimage, and the height of Mina, where the pious host stone Satan.”

shall fall, &c.] Cf. Amos 5:2.Verse 14. - They who trusted in idols shall find no help in them. They who swear by. Those who reverence and worship, as Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20. The sin of Samaria. The golden calf at Bethel (comp. Deuteronomy 9:21; Hosea 8:5, 6). Septuagint, κατὰ τοῦ ἱλασμοῦ Σαμαρείας, "by the propitiation of Samaria." Thy god, O Dan, liveth; i.e. as thy god liveth, by the life of thy god. This was the other calf erected at Dan, near the source of the Jordan, in the extreme north (1 Kings 12:29). The manner of Beersheba liveth; Septuagint, Ζῆ ὁ θεός σου βηρσαβεέ, "Thy god, O Beersheba, lives." Some commentators, ancient and modern, think that the actual road which led to Beersheba is here meant, and would translate, "As the way to Beersheba liveth," "By the life of the way to Beersheba," as Mohammedans swear by the pilgrimage to Mecca. But it is best to take the word rendered "manner" in the sense of "way," as ὁδὸς is used in Acts (Acts 9:2; Acts 19:9, 23) for mode of worship, or form of religion, the ritual, or use of the service there. (For Beersheba, see note on Amos 5:5.) From Dan to Beersheba is just a hundred and forty-four miles. They shall fall, etc. This was partially fulfilled by the destruction of the kingdom of Israel and the deportation of its inhabitants; and its truth to this day is demonstrated by the fate of the Jews who will not receive Jesus as the promised Messiah.

In Joel 3:2 and Joel 3:3 Joel is speaking not of events belonging to his own time, or to the most recent past, but of that dispersion of the whole of the ancient covenant nation among the heathen, which was only completely effected on the conquest of Palestine and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and which continues to this day; though we cannot agree with Hengstenberg, that this furnishes an argument in favour of the allegorical interpretation of the army of locusts in ch. 1 and 2. For since Moses had already foretold that Israel would one day be driven out among the heathen (Leviticus 26:33.; Deuteronomy 28:36.), Joel might assume that this judgment was a truth well known in Israel, even though he had not expressed it in his threatening of punishment in ch. 1 and 2. Joe 3:3 depicts the ignominious treatment of Israel in connection with this catastrophe. The prisoners of war are distributed by lot among the conquerors, and disposed of by them to slave-dealers at most ridiculous prices, - a boy for a harlot, a girl for a drink of wine. Even in Joel's time, many Israelites may no doubt have been scattered about in distant heathen lands (cf. v. 5); but the heathen nations had not yet cast lots upon the nation as a whole, to dispose of the inhabitants as slaves, and divide the land among themselves. This was not done till the time of the Romans.

(Note: After the conquest and destruction of Jerusalem, Titus disposed of the prisoners, whose number reached 97,000 in the course of the war, in the following manner: Those under seventeen years of age were publicly sold; of the remainder, some were executed immediately, some sent away to work in the Egyptian mines, some kept for the public shows to fight with wild beasts in all the chief cities of Rome; and only the tallest and most handsome for the triumphal procession in Rome (compare Josephus, de bell. Jud. vi. 9, 2, 3). And the Jews who were taken prisoners in the Jewish war in the time of Hadrian, are said to have been sold in the slave-market at Hebron at so low a price, that four Jews were disposed of for a measure of barley. Even in the contests of the Ptolemaeans and Seleucidae for the possession of Palestine, thousands of Jews were sold as prisoners of war. Thus, for example, the Syrian commander Nicanor, in his expedition against the Jews in the Maccabaean war, sold by anticipation, in the commercial towns along the Mediterranean, such Jews as should be made prisoners, at the rate of ninety prisoners for one talent; whereupon 1000 slave-dealers accompanied the Syrian army, and carried fetters with them for the prisoners (1 Maccabees 3:41; 2 Maccabees 8:11, 25; Jos. Ant. xii. 7, 3).)

But, as many of the earlier commentators have clearly seen, we must not stop even at this. The people and inheritance of Jehovah are not merely the Old Testament Israel as such, but the church of the Lord of both the old and new covenants, upon which the Spirit of God is poured out; and the judgment which Jehovah will hold upon the nations, on account of the injuries inflicted upon His people, is the last general judgment upon the nations, which will embrace not merely the heathen Romans and other heathen nations by whom the Jews have been oppressed, but all the enemies of the people of God, both within and without the earthly limits of the church of the Lord, including even carnally-minded Jews, Mohammedans, and nominal Christians, who are heathens in heart.

(Note: As J. Marck correctly observes, after mentioning the neighbouring nations that were hostile to Judah, and then the Syrians and Romans: "We might proceed in the same way to all the enemies of the Christian church, from its very cradle to the end of time, such as carnal Jews, Gentile Romans, cruel Mohammedans, impious Papists, and any others who either have borne or yet will bear the punishment of their iniquity, according to the rule and measure of the restitution of the church, down to those enemies who shall yet remain at the coming of Christ, and be overthrown at the complete and final redemption of His church.")

Before depicting the final judgment upon the hostile nations of the world, Joel notices in Joel 3:4-8 the hostility which the nations round about Judah had manifested towards it in his own day, and foretels to these a righteous retribution for the crimes they had committed against the covenant nation. Joel 3:4. "And ye also, what would ye with me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all ye coasts of Philistia? will ye repay a doing to me, or do anything to me? Quickly, hastily will I turn back your doing upon your head. Joel 3:5. That ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have brought my best jewels into your temples. Joel 3:6. And the sons of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem ye have sold to the sons of Javan, to remove them far from their border. Joel 3:7. Behold, I waken them from the place whither ye have sold them, and turn back your doing upon your head. Joel 3:8. And sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of Javan, and they sell them to the Sabaeans, to a people far off; for Jehovah has spoken it." By vegam the Philistines and Phoenicians are added to the gōyim already mentioned, as being no less culpable than they; not, however, in the sense of, "and also if one would inquire more thoroughly into the fact" (Ewald), or, "and even so far as ye are concerned, who, in the place of the friendship and help which ye were bound to render as neighbours, have oppressed my people" (Rosenmller), for such additions as these are foreign to the context; but rather in this sense, "and yea also ... do not imagine that ye can do wrong with impunity, as though he had a right so to do." מה־אתּם לי does not mean, "What have I to do with you?" for this would be expressed differently (compare Joshua 22:24; Judges 11:12); but, "What would ye with me?" The question is unfinished, because of its emotional character, and is resumed and completed immediately afterwards in a disjunctive form (Hitzig). Tyre and Sidon, the two chief cities of the Phoenicians (see at Joshua 19:29 and Joshua 11:8), represent all the Phoenicians. כל גּלילות פל, "all the circles or districts of the Philistines," are the five small princedoms of Philistia (see at Joshua 13:2). גּמוּל, the doing, or inflicting (sc., of evil), from gâmal, to accomplish, to do (see at Isaiah 3:9). The disjunctive question, "Will ye perhaps repay to me a deed, i.e., a wrong, that I have done to you, or of your own accord attempt anything against me?" has a negative meaning: "Ye have neither cause to avenge yourselves upon me, i.e., upon my people Israel, nor any occasion to do it harm. But if repayment is the thing in hand, I will, and that very speedily (qal mehērâh, see Isaiah 5:26), bring back your doing upon your own head" (cf. Psalm 7:17). To explain what is here said, an account is given in Joel 3:5, Joel 3:6 of what they have done to the Lord and His people, - namely, taken away their gold and silver, and brought their costly treasures into their palaces or temples. These words are not to be restricted to the plundering of the temple and its treasury, but embrace the plundering of palaces and of the houses of the rich, which always followed the conquest of towns (cf. 1 Kings 14:26; 2 Kings 14:14). היכליכם also are not temples only, but palaces as well (cf. Isaiah 13:22; Amos 8:3; Proverbs 30:28). Joel had no doubt the plundering of Judah and Jerusalem by the Philistines and Arabians in the time of Jehoram in his mind (see 2 Chronicles 21:17). The share of the Phoenicians in this crime was confined to the fact, that they had purchased from the Philistines the Judaeans who had been taken prisoners, by them, and sold them again as salves to the sons of Javan, i.e., to the Ionians or Greeks of Asia Minor.

(Note: On the widespread slave-trade of the Phoenicians, see Movers, Phnizier, ii. 3, p. 70ff.)

The clause, "that ye might remove them far from their border," whence there would be no possibility of their returning to their native land, serves to bring out the magnitude of the crime. This would be repaid to them according to the true lex talionis (Joel 3:7, Joel 3:8). The Lord would raise up the members of His own nation from the place to which they had been sold, i.e., would bring them back again into their own land, and deliver up the Philistines and Phoenicians into the power of the Judaeans (mâkhar beyâd as in Judges 2:14; Judges 3:8, etc.), who would then sell their prisoners as slaves to the remote people of the Sabaeans, a celebrated trading people in Arabia Felix (see at 1 Kings 10:1). This threat would certainly be fulfilled, for Jehovah had spoken it (cf. Isaiah 1:20). This occurred partly on the defeat of the Philistines by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6-7) and Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:8), where Philistian prisoners of war were certainly sold as slaves; but principally after the captivity, when Alexander the Great and his successors set many of the Jewish prisoners of war in their lands at liberty (compare the promise of King Demetrius to Jonathan, "I will send away in freedom such of the Judaeans as have been made prisoners, and reduced to slavery in our land," Josephus, Ant. xiii. 2, 3), and portions of the Philistian and Phoenician lands were for a time under Jewish sway; when Jonathan besieged Ashkelon and Gaza (1 Maccabees 10:86; 11:60); when King Alexander (Balas) ceded Ekron and the district of Judah (1 Maccabees 10:89); when the Jewish king Alexander Jannaeaus conquered Gaza, and destroyed it (Josephus, Ant. xiii. 13, 3; bell. Jud. i. 4, 2); and when, subsequent to the cession of Tyre, which had been conquered by Alexander the Great, to the Seleucidae, Antiochus the younger appointed Simon commander-in-chief from the Ladder of Tyre to the border of Egypt (1 Maccabees 1:59).

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