Amos 2
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:
1. because he burnt the bones of the king of Edom into lime] A mark of unrelenting hate and vindictiveness: the Moabites pursued their fallen adversary even into the rest of the grave; they not only violated the sanctity of his tomb, but even removed his bones, and treated them with an unwonted and shocking indignity (cf. 2 Kings 23:16). The reverence with which, in ancient times, the tomb was regarded, is well known: and ancient sepulchral inscriptions often invoke terrible maledictions upon those who disturb the remains deposited within[141]. The prophet displays a high-souled superiority to distinctions of race: he reprobates an indignity offered to Israel’s rival not less sternly than one offered to Israel itself. In illustration of the fact, Wellhausen quotes the Kitâb al-’Aghâni xii. 21, 11; Ibn Athir v. 178. 12, 203. 23; Maç. v. 471. Nothing further is known of the deed referred to: it may be conjectured to have been one of recent occurrence which sent a thrill of horror through all who heard of it. The Edomites were neighbours of Moab not less than of Judah; and perhaps similar rivalries were prevalent between them. On the occasion of the joint expedition undertaken by Jehoram, Jehoshaphat, and the king of Edom, for the purpose of coercing the Moabites to obedience, after their revolt under Mesha, the Moabite king is represented (2 Kings 3:26) as actuated by a peculiar animosity against the king of Edom. According to Jerome, it was a Hebrew tradition that this was the king whose bones, after burial, were treated for vengeance in this manner.

[141] Comp. the quotation in the note on v.9; and see also the inscription from el ‘Olâ (S.E. of Edom) translated in Studia Biblica, vol. i. p. 212 (= Euting, Nabatäische Inschriften, 1885. No. 2: see also Nos. 3, 4).

Amos 2:1-3. Moab. The Moabites inhabited the elevated and fertile table-land (Heb. Mîshôr, “level plain,” Deuteronomy 3:10 &c.), on the east of the Dead Sea. By the Israelites, the deep chasm formed by the torrent Arnon was regarded as the northern boundary of Moab: for shortly before Israel’s arrival on the east of Jordan, Sihon, king of the Amorites, had forced the Moabites to retire from their possessions north of the Arnon; and the Israelites, defeating Sihon, occupied his territory, which was afterwards allotted to the pastoral tribe of Reuben (Numbers 21:24-25; Numbers 32:37 f.). Reuben, however, was not strong enough to retain possession of the region thus assigned to it; and hence many of the cities mentioned in Joshua 13:15-21, as belonging to Reuben, are alluded to by Isaiah (ch. 15, 16), and other later writers, as in the occupation of Moab. Moab, like the Ammonites, was subdued by David (2 Samuel 8:1-2), though it must have recovered its independence, probably at the division of the kingdom. From the Inscription of Mesha (2 Kings 3:4), found in 1869 at Dibon, and known commonly as the ‘Moabite Stone,’ we learn that Omri re-subjugated Moab, but that during the reign of his son Ahab it revolted, and regained its independence (cf. 2 Kings 1:1; 2 Kings 3:5). The Inscription states particulars of the revolt: Mesha, for instance, expelled the men of Gad from ‘Aṭârôth, took Něbo by storm, and rebuilt (or fortified) the principal cities of Moab (see a translation of the Inscription in R.P[139][140] ii.194 ff., or in the present writer’s Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel, p. lxxxv ff.). The language of Moab differed only dialectically from Hebrew. From the allusions in the O.T. the Moabites appear to have been a wealthy and prosperous people, hardly inferior in civilization to Israel itself. The abundant vineyards of Moab are noticed by Isaiah (Isaiah 16:8-10): the fertility of its pastures may be inferred from the large tribute of wool paid annually to Israel before its revolt (2 Kings 3:4; cf. Isaiah 16:1). The prophets allude to the independent, encroaching temper shewn by Moab in its relations with Israel (Isaiah 16:6; Zephaniah 2:10; Jeremiah 48:29; Jeremiah 48:42): no doubt attempts were frequently made by the Moabites to gain possession of the cities claimed by Reuben or Gad.

[139] .P.Records of the Past, first and second series, respectively.

[140] … Records of the Past, first and second series, respectively.

But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet:
2. the palaces of Kerioth] more exactly Ḳeriyyoth: named here and Jeremiah 48:41 (cf. Jeremiah 48:24) as a representative city of Moab, and hence evidently a considerable place, if not the capital of Moab. Mesha, also, in a passage of his Inscription (lines 10–13), sufficiently interesting to extract in full, speaks of it in terms implying that it was a place of importance, possessing a sanctuary of the national god (Numbers 21:29; 1 Kings 11:7), and a royal residence: “And the men of Gad had dwelt in the land of Ataroth (Numbers 32:3; Numbers 32:34) from of old; and the king of Israel built for himself Ataroth. And I fought against the city, and took it. And I slew all [the people of] the city, a gazing-stock [cf. Nahum 3:6] to Chĕmôsh, and to Moab. And I brought back [or, took captive] thence the altar-hearth of Davdoh (?), and I dragged it before Chĕmôsh in Ḳeriyyoth.” From the fact that, notwithstanding its importance, it is not mentioned in the long enumeration of Moabite cities in Isaiah 15-16, and that conversely where Ar, the capital of Moab, is named, Ḳeriyyoth is not mentioned, it has been supposed by many that Ar and Ḳeriyyoth were different names of the same place. Its situation is uncertain, though, if it was identical with Ar, it will have lain somewhere on the N. or N.E. border of Moab, in the valley of the Arnon (see Deuteronomy 2:9; Deuteronomy 2:18).

and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the horn] The nation is personified, and pictured here as dying, under the assault of its foes, as in Isaiah 25:11 it is pictured as drowning. The tumult is the confused roar, or din, of the fray (cf. Hosea 10:14; Psalm 74:23; the same word, of a distant roar of a great multitude, or of rushing waters, Isaiah 17:12-13): the shouting, as Amos 1:14, is that of the attacking foe, parallel with die shôphâr or horn, calling them on, as Jeremiah 4:19 (‘the shouting of battle’), Zephaniah 1:16, Job 39:25.

The shpôhâr was the curved horn of a cow or ram, to be carefully distinguished from the long straight metal ḥatzôtzerâh, or trumpet, with expanding mouth, represented on Jewish coins, and on the Arch of Titus (Stainer, Music of the Bible, p. 131; in use also among the Assyrians, ib. p. 132 f.). The shôphâr was principally, and in early Israel perhaps entirely, used for secular purposes, chiefly to give signals in war (Jdg 3:27; 2 Samuel 2:28; 2 Samuel 20:1, &c., and here), or to raise an alarm (see on Amos 3:6), sometimes also to announce or accompany an important public event, such as an accession (1 Kings 1:34; 1 Kings 1:39), or other joyous occasion (2 Samuel 6:15[142]; cf. Psalm 47:5): as a sacred instrument it is mentioned rarely, and mostly, if not entirely, in later writers (Psalm 81:4; Psalm 98:6; Psalm 150:3; 2 Chronicles 15:14; cf. Leviticus 23:24; Leviticus 25:9, and Joel 2:15). The ḥatzôtzerâh, on the other hand, appears rarely as a secular instrument (Hosea 5:8; 2 Kings 11:14), but often, especially in later times, in the Chronicler’s descriptions of religious ceremonies, as a sacred, instrument (2 Kings 12:13; 1 Chronicles 13:8; 1 Chronicles 15:28 [added to the earlier narrative of 2 Samuel 6:5; 2 Samuel 6:15]; 2 Chronicles 15:14; 2 Chronicles 20:28; Ezra 3:10, &c.; cf. Numbers 10:3-9). The two words are very unfortunately confused in the English version, except where they occur together, when shôphâr is rendered ‘cornet’ (e.g. Hosea 5:8; Psalm 98:6; 1 Chronicles 15:28; 2 Chronicles 15:14). Comp. Stainer, Music of the Bible, p. 127; Nowack, Heb. Arch. i. 277 f.

[142] Note that the shôphâr is here in the hands of lay Israelites.

Shôphârs as used in a modern synagogue, on New Year’s Day (Leviticus 23:24, Numbers 29:1), and at the close of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9). (From Engel’s Music of the Most Ancient Nations, 1870, p. 293.)

Two silver ḥatzôtzerahs (Numbers 10:2), as figured on the Arch of Titus, in front of the Table of Shewbread. (From the Speaker’s Commentary, i. 363. Comp. Reland, De Spoliis Templi, 1716, p. 70.)

And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the LORD.
3. the judge] Why is the judge mentioned rather than, as would naturally be expected, the king? One answer is that Moab was at this time subject to Jeroboam II., and hence there was no ‘king’ of Moab, but only an Israelitish deputy or governor. The terms of 2 Kings 14:25 (which describes how Jeroboam II. recovered the old territory of Israel, as far as the Dead Sea) do not, however, prove that Moab was included in Jeroboam’s conquests: and Mesha, at the time when Moab was dependent upon Israel, is still spoken of as ‘king’ (2 Kings 3:4). More probably judge, as in Micah 5:1, is a designation of the king,—derived from the fact that the administration of justice among his subjects was one of the primary duties of an Oriental monarch (2 Samuel 8:15; 2 Samuel 15:2; 1 Kings 7:7; Jeremiah 21:12, &c.).

Both Ammon and Moab are frequently mentioned in the Inscriptions that have been already referred to as paying tribute to the Assyrians,—Sanib of Ammon, and Salman of Moab, for instance, to Tiglath-pileser; Puduil of Ammon, and Kamoshnadab of Moab, to Sennacherib; and Mussuri, king of Moab, to Esarhaddon (K.A.T[143][144], pp. 258, 291, 356). Isaiah, in a striking prophecy, foretells invasion and disaster for Moab (Isaiah 15-16): Jeremiah, a century later, does the same, in a prophecy containing many reminiscences of the oracle of his great predecessor (ch. 48): he also prophesies against Ammon (Jeremiah 49:1-6). Ezekiel uttered prophecies against both nations (Ezekiel 25:1-11; cf. Ezekiel 21:28-32), charging them in particular with malicious exultation over Judah’s fall, and predicting their ruin. See also Zephaniah 2:8-10; and Isaiah 25:10 f. (post-exilic).

[143] .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.

[144] … 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.

Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked:
4. despised] R.V. rejected,—as 1 Samuel 15:23; 1 Samuel 15:26, Isaiah 7:15-16 shew, the better rendering of the Hebrew word used (mâ’as): comp. Isaiah 5:24; Jeremiah 6:19.

the law of the Lord] the direction of Jehovah. See further, on this expression, the Additional Note, p. 230. The reference, as is there shewn, is probably not to ceremonial ordinances, but to spiritual and moral teaching, uttered, as the case might be, by priests or prophets in Jehovah’s name.

not kept his commandments] better, with R.V., his statutes (as ḥoḳ—properly something engraven, viz. on a public tablet, hence fig. decree, statute—is rendered in Deut., and elsewhere): cf. (also with keep) Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 4:40; Deuteronomy 7:11 &c.

their lies] i.e. their unreal gods, whose existence, power, ability to help, &c., are all falsely imagined.

caused them to err] or led them astray: the false gods, set up by the fathers as objects to be revered, beguiled and misled their children. To walk after (sometimes rendered follow) is an expression used often of devotion to idolatry: see Deuteronomy 4:3; Deuteronomy 8:19; Deuteronomy 11:28; Deuteronomy 13:2; Jeremiah 2:5; Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 2:23 &c. (also of devotion to Jehovah, Deuteronomy 13:4 al.).

Additional Note on Chap. Amos 2:4 (‘tôrâh,’ law)

The general sense of ‘law’ (Heb. tôrâh) in the O.T. is authoritative direction (from hôrâh, to point out, Genesis 46:28, or direct, Jdg 13:8)[219], but the kind of ‘direction’ denoted by it varies with the context. Its principal and probably primary application is to oral direction given by the priests in Jehovah’s name, on matters of ceremonial observance, e.g. on distinctions between clean and unclean, on the different species of sacrifice, and the cases in which they were respectively to be offered, on the criteria of leprosy &c.: Leviticus 6:8; Leviticus 6:14; Leviticus 11:46; Leviticus 14:57; Leviticus 15:32; Numbers 5:29 &c.; Jeremiah 18:18 (“direction will never perish from the priest,” i.e. the priest and his functions will never come to an end,—said by those who disbelieved Jeremiah’s predictions of national ruin), Ezekiel 7:26; Haggai 2:11 (‘Ask now direction of the priests,’ after which an example follows); Malachi 2:7 (‘They seek direction at his mouth’): the cognate verb [A.V., R.V. teach] is used similarly, Deuteronomy 24:8 (with reference to leprosy), Deuteronomy 33:10 (“They direct Jacob with thy judgements (Exodus 21:1), and Israel with thy direction”); Micah 3:11 (“Her priests give direction for a price”); Ezekiel 44:23; and elsewhere,—passages which shew that it is the word employed technically to denote this aspect of the priests’ duties. Both the verb and the subst. would be most exactly represented in English by direct and direction, respectively: teach, teaching, and law, when they stand for either, must be understood to possess the same force. The term is however also employed, more generally, both of decisions on points of secular, or civil law (Exodus 18:16; Exodus 18:20), and of the authoritative teaching given in Jehovah’s name, either by priests or prophets, on questions of moral or religious duty. Thus Hosea (Hosea 4:6-8) speaks of Jehovah’s Tôrâh as a moral agency, and attributes the crimes prevalent in Israel (Hosea 4:1 b, Hosea 4:2) to the priests’ forgetfulness of its true character (Amos 4:6 b), and to their worldly unconcern for the “knowledge” of God, which its possession implies (Amos 4:6 a; comp. Jeremiah 2:8): see also Amos 8:1; Amos 8:12. In Isaiah 1:10 the ‘Tôrâh of our God’ is the exposition which follows (Amos 2:11-16) respecting the true character of religious service; Isaiah 5:24 the Tôrâh, which Judah has “rejected” (same word as in Amos 2:4) consists of the precepts of civil righteousness and morality, the disregard of which the prophet has been just denouncing, Amos 2:8-16; Isaiah 8:16; Isaiah 8:20 it denotes the half-political, half-religious advice just given by the prophet (Amos 2:12-15); Isaiah 30:9 it is used similarly of the partly political, partly religious, warnings of the prophets (see Amos 2:10-15); Isaiah 30:20 the prophets are called by the corresponding subst., the ‘directers’ (teachers) of the people of Jerusalem. In Deuteronomy the exposition of moral and religious duty, which occupies the greater part of the book, is repeatedly described as “this Tôrâh” (Deuteronomy 1:5, Deuteronomy 4:8; Deuteronomy 4:44, Deuteronomy 17:18 &c.). Jeremiah uses the word in a similar sense: e.g. Jeremiah 6:19 (as in Isaiah 1:10, of the spirit in which religious duties should be performed, see Isaiah 1:20); Amos 9:13 f. (of exhortations against idolatry—probably those contained in Deuteronomy), Jeremiah 16:11 (similarly), Jeremiah 26:4 (of the preaching of the prophets, see Amos 2:5). It is also used of the authoritative religious and moral teaching, which the prophets picture as being given in the future to the world, either by God Himself, or by His representative: Isaiah 2:3 (= Micah 4:2); Jeremiah 31:33; Isaiah 42:4 (of the preaching of Jehovah’s ideal “Servant”), Isaiah 51:4. Here the context (comp. the note on lies, in the same verse), and the importance which Amos uniformly attaches to moral duties, make it probable that, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, he means by the term spiritual and moral teaching, uttered, whether by priests or prophets, in Jehovah’s name.

[219] The root yârâh signifies, however, properly to throw or cast (Exodus 15:4); and hence it is quite possible that the primitive meaning of hôrâh, in this connexion, was to cast the sacred lot at a sanctuary, for the purpose of ascertaining the will of the deity on behalf of those who came to consult it. Comp. the use made by the priest of the “Ephod,” and “Urim and Thummim” (1 Samuel 14:3; 1 Samuel 14:18 (LXX.), 41 [note esp. LXX.], 42, 1 Samuel 23:9-12, 1 Samuel 28:6, 1 Samuel 30:7-8). Tôrâh, if this view be correct, will have denoted originally the ‘direction’ obtained by means of the sacred lot. It remained a principal duty of the Israelitish priest to teach Jehovah’s Tôrâh, though this particular method of ascertaining it fell no doubt early into abeyance, and the term acquired a more general sense. Comp. Nowack, Hebr. Arch. ii. 97f. In Arabic, it may be observed, kâhin (which corresponds to the Heb. kôhçn, priest) means a diviner, who speaks as the organ of a god or jinn; and a comparison of the Hebrew and Arabic terms makes it probable that the common and primitive meaning of both was one who gave answers, in the name of his god, at a sanctuary: in Arabia, the kâhin was gradually dissociated from the sanctuary and became a mere diviner; in Canaan, his connexion with the sanctuary was preserved, and he acquired important sacrificial functions in addition.

4–5. Judah. The prophet now comes nearer home; and passes sentence on the Southern kingdom.

But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.
5. But I will send a fire upon Judah, &c.] hence, with verbal variations, Jeremiah 17:27 b. In the case of Judah, Amos’s threat did not take effect for more than a century and a half: the ‘fire’ did not ‘devour the palaces of Jerusalem’ until it was taken by the Chaldaeans in b.c. 586 (2 Kings 25:9). On the authenticity of these two verses, see p. 117 f.

Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes;
6. sold the righteous for sliver] The venal Israelitish judges, for a bribe, pronounced the innocent guilty, i.e. ‘sold’ them for a consideration to any one whose advantage it might be to have them condemned: in a civil case, by giving judgement in favour of the party really in the wrong, in a criminal case, by condemning the innocent in place of the guilty. Righteous is used here not in an ethical, but in a forensic sense, of one ‘righteous’ in respect of the particular charge brought against him, exactly as Deuteronomy 25:1. Corrupt justice, that most common of Oriental failings, is the sin which Amos censures first; the sin which legislators in vain strove to guard against (Exodus 23:6-8; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 16:18-20), and which prophet after prophet in vain attacked (Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 3:14 f., Isaiah 5:23, Isaiah 10:1 f.; Micah 3:9-11; Micah 7:3; Jeremiah 5:28; Jeremiah 22:3; Ezekiel 22:29; Malachi 3:5): the great men, the nobles, in whose hands the administration of justice rests, abuse their office for their own ends, are heedless of the rights of the helpless classes (the “needy,” the “poor,” and the “meek”), and sell justice to the highest bidder.

and the poor] R.V. the needy (exactly as Jeremiah 5:28; Jeremiah 22:16 al., in the A. V.); a different word from that rendered poor in Amos 2:7.

for the sake of a pair of sandals] named as an article of trifling value. The reference in this clause is not, it seems, to the unjust judge, but to the hard-hearted creditor who, if his debtor could not pay the value of some trifling article, was forthwith sold by him into slavery (2 Kings 4:1; Matthew 18:25). In the use of the word sell, there is a slight ‘zeugma’: for it is used figuratively in the first clause, and literally in the second.

Amos 2:6-16. The sin of Israel, and its punishment

6–16. At last Amos comes to Israel. The Israelites might listen with equanimity, or even with satisfaction, whilst their neighbours’ faults were being exposed: but they now find that precisely the same standard is to be applied to themselves. The stereotyped form is not preserved after the first verse; both the indictment and the punishment being developed at much greater length than in the case of any of the previous nations. The indictment (Amos 2:6-8) consists of four counts: 1. maladministration of justice; 2. oppression of the poor; 3. immorality; 4. inordinate self-indulgence, practised in the name of religion—all, in view of the signal favours conferred by Jehovah upon Israel in the past, aggravated by ingratitude (Amos 2:9-12). The judgement, viz. defeat and flight before the foe, follows in Amos 2:13-16.

That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name:
7. That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor] The expression is a singular one; but, if the text be sound, the meaning is probably (Hitzig, Pusey, Duhm), “who are so avaricious that they are eager even to secure the dust strewn upon their heads by the poor, in token of their distress,”—whether after an unjust condemnation, or any other misfortune. Dust on the head was a sign of grief or misfortune: see e.g. 2 Samuel 1:2; 2 Samuel 15:32; Lamentations 2:10. Others (Keil, Gunning) think the meaning is merely, Who are eager to see dust on the head of the poor, i.e. to see them reduced to a state of misery. The former explanation involves a thought which, it must he owned, is somewhat far-fetched; but it is more exact exegetically than the second. Jerome, pronouncing the verb differently (shâphîm, for shô’ăphîm), and not expressing the prep. on, renders; “Who crush (Genesis 3:15; Psalm 94:5, Targ.) the heads of the poor upon the dust of the earth,”—a forcible metaphor (cf. Isaiah’s ‘grind the faces of the poor,’ Amos 3:15), and Micah’s ‘strip the flesh off their bones,’ Amos 3:2-3) for oppression. This yields a good sense, and may be the original text. Wellh. also reads crush, omitting ‘upon the dust of the earth’ (cf. Amos 8:4, “Who pant after [or crush] die needy”); but if these words are not genuine, it is difficult to understand how they found their way into the text.—The word rendered poor (dal) is lit. thin (of kine, Genesis 41:19, of Amnon, 2 Samuel 13:4); fig. reduced in circumstances, poor, Exodus 23:3, and frequently.

turn aside the way of the meek] place hindrances in their way, thwart their purposes, oblige them to turn aside from the path that they would naturally follow, to land them in difficulties. Cf. Job 24:4, “and turn aside the needy from the way” (mentioned among other acts of high-handed oppression). By the meek are meant the humble-minded servants of Jehovah, who by character, and often also by circumstances, were unable to protect themselves against the oppressions or persecutions of a worldly-minded aristocracy, and who, especially in the Psalms, are often alluded to as both deserving and receiving Jehovah’s care. In Isaiah 32:7 they are the victims of the unscrupulous intriguer; in Isaiah 29:19 they are described as able by the overthrow of injustice (Isaiah 29:20-21) to rejoice thankfully in their God; in Isaiah 11:4 the Messianic king judges their cause with righteousness. They are named, as here, in parallelism with the ‘poor’ (dal) in Isaiah 11:4, and with the ‘needy’ (ebhyôn) in Isaiah 29:19; Isaiah 32:7; Psalm 9:19; Job 24:4; see also Isaiah 61:1; Psalm 22:26; Psalm 34:2; Psalm 37:11; Psalm 76:9.

will go in] go (R.V.) i.e. resort: the verb is not the one () used in Genesis 16:4, &c. ‘Will go’ means ‘are in the habit of going’: will having the same force as in Proverbs 19:6; Proverbs 19:24; Proverbs 20:6 &c.); but it is better omitted in translation.

unto the same maid] to a girl: the art. is generic, and, as such, is properly represented in English by the indef. article: the enormity lies not in its being an exaggeration of ordinary immorality (1 Corinthians 5:1), but in the frequency and publicity with which it was practised: father and son are thus found resorting to the same spots. The allusion is in all probability not to common immorality, but to immorality practised in the precincts of a temple, especially in the service of Ashtoreth, as a means by which the worshippers placed themselves under the patronage and protection of the goddess; a singular and revolting practice, found in many Semitic religions, and frequently alluded to in the Old Testament. The persons attached to a temple who prostituted themselves with the worshippers were called Kĕdçshôth, i.e. sacred or dedicated (to the deity in question): see Genesis 38:21-22 and (in N. Israel) Hosea 4:14; and comp. the masc. Kědçshîm, 1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; 1 Kings 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7 (under Manasseh, even in the Temple at Jerusalem). Deuteronomy 23:17 forbids Israelites (of either sex) to be made such temple-prostitutes. Comp. in Babylon Hdt. 1. 199, Bar 6:43, Strabo xvi. 1, 20, in Byblus, Lucian, De dea Syria, § 4, in Cyprus (in the service of the Cyprian Aphrodite, who corresponded to Ashtoreth), Hdt. I. 199 end, Clem. Alex. Protrep. pp. 12, 13; see also the present writer’s note on Deuteronomy 23:17 f.

to profane my holy name] in order to profane &c.: it ought to have been so clear to them that such practices were contrary to Jehovah’s will that Amos represents them as acting in deliberate and intentional contravention of it. To profane Jehovah’s name is an expression used more especially in the “Law of Holiness” (Leviticus 17-26), and by Ezekiel. Jehovah is Israel’s Owner; and as such, His name is ‘called over it’ (see on Amos 9:12): hence the name is said to be ‘profaned,’ when something is done bringing it into discredit, or, in virtue of His connexion with Israel, derogatory to Him: for instance, by the worship of Molech (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:3), perjury (Leviticus 19:12), the humiliation of Israel in exile (Isaiah 48:11; Ezekiel 20:9; Ezekiel 20:14; Ezekiel 36:20-23).

And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god.
8. The self-indulgence, practised by the worldly-minded Israelites in the name of religion, and at the expense of the poor.

upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar] R.V. beside every altar upon clothes taken in pledge. To be understood in connexion with the last clause: the carnally-minded Israelites visit their sanctuaries for the purposes indicated in Amos 2:7; they lay themselves down there, with their partners in sin (Hosea 4:14), beside the altars; and to aggravate their offence they repose, not on their own garments, but on garments which they have taken in pledge from men poorer than themselves, and which, in contravention of the Law, Exodus 22:26 f., they have neglected to return before nightfall. The large square outer garment, or cloak, called the salmah, thrown round the person by day, was used as a covering at night; and hence the provision that, if a poor man (whose sole covering it probably would be) were obliged to pawn it, it should be restored to him for the night.

every altar] Not only at Beth-el (Amos 3:14), Gilgal, and Dan (Amos 3:4 f., Amos 8:14), but also, no doubt, at local sanctuaries in many other parts of the land: comp. Hosea 8:11; Hosea 10:1-2; Hosea 10:8; Hosea 12:11.

drink the wine of the condemned] R.V. drink the wine of such as have been fined: the fines which they have received—if not, as the context suggests, unjustly extorted—from persons brought before them for some offence, are spent by them in the purchase of wine, to be consumed at a sacrificial feast in their temples. The peace-or thank-offering was followed by a sacred meal, in which the worshippers partook of such parts of the sacrificial victim as were not presented upon the altar or did not become the perquisite of the priest; and at such meals wine would naturally be drunk: cf. (in the same connexion) “to eat and drink,” Exodus 24:11; Exodus 32:6; Numbers 25:2; Jdg 9:27 (“in the house of their god”); also 1 Samuel 1:24; 1 Samuel 10:3. For fined cf. Exodus 21:22, Deuteronomy 22:19 (A. V., R.V. amerce), Proverbs 17:26 (see R.V. marg.).

god] or gods, the Hebrew being ambiguous (as is sometimes the case with this word). It is not certain whether the practices referred to were carried on in sanctuaries nominally dedicated to Jehovah, but desecrated by the admixture of heathen rites (as the temple at Jerusalem was in Manasseh’s day), or in sanctuaries avowedly consecrated to Baal (2 Kings 10:21 ff; 2 Kings 11:18) or other Canaanitish deities.

Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.
9. Yet destroyed I] The pron. is emphatic: ‘Yet I (whom you thus requite) destroyed the Amorites, that mighty and seemingly invincible nation, from before you, and settled you in their land.’ Destroyed before (lit. from before) you: the same expression in Joshua 24:8—a passage belonging to the Hexateuchal narrator, commonly designated by the letter E: “And I brought you into the land of the Amorite, who dwelt beyond Jordan, and they fought with you; and I gave them into your hand, and ye possessed their land, and I destroyed them from before you”; cf. also Deuteronomy 2:21-22. Amorite is the term used (1) in the passage just quoted, and frequently, of the peoples ruled by Sihon and Og, east of Jordan, conquered by the Israelites; (2) as a general designation of the pre-Israelitish population of the territory W. of Jordan, especially in the Hexateuchal writer ‘E,’ and in Deuteronomy (as Genesis 48:22; Deuteronomy 1:7; Deuteronomy 1:19-20; Joshua 24:15; Joshua 24:18, and occasionally besides (as Jdg 1:34-35; Jdg 6:10; 2 Samuel 21:2): see, more fully, the writer’s Commentary on Deuteronomy, pp. 11–12. It is used here, evidently, in the second sense.

like the height of the cedars &c.] A hyperbolical description of the stature and strength of the Amorites: cf. Numbers 13:32; Deuteronomy 1:28 (“a people greater and taller than we; cities great and fenced up to heaven”). The cedar was, among the Hebrews, the type of loftiness and grandeur (Isaiah 2:13; Ezekiel 17:23; Ezekiel 31:3).

his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath] i.e. completely, or, as we might say, root and branch: not only was the fruit which existed destroyed, but the stock from which fresh fruit might have been put forth afterwards was destroyed likewise. For the figure comp. Hosea 9:16, Ezekiel 17:9; and especially Job 18:16, Isaiah 37:31, and the Inscription on the tomb of Eshmunazar, king of Sidon (Corp. Inscr. Sem. I. i. p. 19), Isaiah 50:11-11 (an imprecation uttered against any one who violates the tomb): “may he have no root beneath, or fruit above, or any beauty among the living under the sun.”

9–12. The ingratitude shewn by Israel, in thus dishonouring its Lord and Benefactor.

Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.
10. Also I brought you up, &c.] as before, “And I (emph.)” &c. The providential guidance in the wilderness is instanced as a further motive to obedience, the appeal to it being made the more forcible and direct, by the change from the 1st to the 2nd person. Comp. the same motive, Deuteronomy 6:12, Hosea 13:4 (R.V. marg.), and elsewhere.

forty years] Deuteronomy 2:7; Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 29:5 (in nearly the same phrase) &c.

And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD.
11. raised up] Cf. Deuteronomy 18:15, Jeremiah 6:17 : similarly of judges, Jdg 2:16; Jdg 2:18; deliverers (ib. Jdg 3:9; Jdg 3:15); a priest, 1 Samuel 2:35; kings or other rulers, 2 Samuel 7:8, Jeremiah 23:4-5; Jeremiah 30:9, Ezekiel 34:23. “God is said to raise up, when by His providence, or His grace, He calls forth those who had not been called before, for the office for which He designs them” (Dr Pusey on Amos 6:14).

for prophets] as Moses himself (Deuteronomy 34:10; Hosea 12:13), Samuel, Nathan, Gad, Ahijah, Shemaiah, Jehu son of Hanani, Micaiah son of Imlah, Elijah, and Elisha: to say nothing of many, not named individually (comp. 1 Samuel 28:15; Hosea 4:5; Hosea 6:5; Hosea 9:7-8; Hosea 12:10; ch. Amos 3:7, and on ch. Amos 7:14). A succession of prophets had, in various ways, by example and precept, held up before Israel the ideal of a righteous life: but they had refused to listen to them: comp. Hosea 6:5, and especially Amos 9:7-8, a passage which illustrates the opposition and hostility to which, in the age of Amos, the prophets were exposed. On the prophets in early Israel, see an excellent chapter in G. A. Smith’s Book of the Twelve Prophets, Amos 1:11-15 (cf. also pp. 44–58).

Nazirites] The Heb. nâzîr signifies properly one separated from the people at large, or consecrated (though without the special ideas attaching to ḳâdôsh, holy), the particular direction in which the ‘separation’ in question takes effect being fixed by usage. Comp. the corresponding verb (in different applications), Hosea 9:10; Leviticus 15:31; Leviticus 22:2; Ezekiel 14:7; Zechariah 7:3; and with special reference to the ‘separation’ of the Nazirite, Numbers 6:2-3; Numbers 6:5-6; Numbers 6:12 : also the subst. nézer, “separation,” ib. Numbers 6:4-21 (repeatedly). The Nazirites were men who, when the sensual and self-indulgent habits of the Canaanites threatened to make their way into Israel, endeavoured by a vow of abstinence to set an example of moderation and self-denial, which might help to preserve the old simplicity of Israelitish life. The chief obligations of the Nazirite were to abstain from all intoxicating drinks, to eat no “unclean” thing[145], and (according to Numbers 6:6 f.) to avoid the ceremonial “uncleanness” occasioned by contact with a corpse: as a sign of his “separation” (cf. Numbers 6:7 end), also, his hair was not shaved, but suffered to grow in its natural state[146]. The only certain historical example of a Nazirite, mentioned in the O.T., is Samson (cf. Jdg 13:5; Jdg 13:7; Jdg 13:14; Jdg 16:17). Samuel, however, is often considered to have been a Nazirite (cf. 1 Samuel 1:11; 1 Samuel 1:28), though the term itself is not actually applied to him[147]. But from the present passage it may be inferred that they formed a numerous class. The law regulating the vow of the Nazirite is codified in Numbers 6:1-21 : but this, in its present form, springs probably from a later age than that of Amos, and represents the form which the regulations on the subject finally assumed. Samson was dedicated to the life of a Nazirite before his birth, and so also was Samuel (if he is rightly treated as a Nazirite): but this, no doubt, was exceptional; it is implied by Amos that “young men,” when they felt the inner call, spontaneously dedicated themselves to the ascetic life. The Rechabites (Jeremiah 35), whose founder was a contemporary of Jehu’s (2 Kings 10:15 ff.), were a sect or guild, established with the same object of maintaining a simple habit of life, in contrast to the laxity and effeminacy too often prevalent in these cities. Amos regards the Nazirites as a living protest against the luxury and sensuality to which Israel was now too much addicted (cf. Amos 4:1, Amos 6:3-7); and sees in their appearance, as in that of the prophets, a mark of God’s care for the higher welfare of His people. See further, on the Nazirites, Nowack, Hebr. Archäologie, II. pp. 133–138.

[145] At least this may be inferred from the condition imposed upon Samson’s mother (Jdg 13:4; Jdg 13:7; Jdg 13:14).

[146] Cf. with this the rule by which the Arabs, while a sacred obligation rests upon them (as the duty of blood-revenge, or during a pilgrimage) never shave their hair (Wellhausen, Reste Arab. Heidentumes, pp. 116 ff.). Comp. also 1 Samuel 1:11 (of Samuel).

[147] At least, until Sir 46:13 (Heb. and Syr.).

saith Jehovah] more lit. “(’tis) Jehovah’s whisper (or oracle)!” a solemn asseverative interjection, usually thrown in parenthetically in the middle or at the end of a sentence. It is very common in the prophets, occurring for instance in this book, Amos 2:16, Amos 3:10; Amos 3:13; Amos 3:15, Amos 4:3; Amos 4:5-6; Amos 4:8 &c. (in Amos 1:8; Amos 1:15, Amos 2:3, Amos 5:16-17; Amos 5:27, Amos 7:3, Amos 9:15, on the contrary, the word is the usual one for say). Only very rarely is a human speaker the subject, if the reference be to some prophetic or oracular declaration (Numbers 24:3; Numbers 24:15; 2 Samuel 23:1; Proverbs 30:1; cf. Psalm 36:1). The word is in form a passive participle, from a verb which however does not appear to have been generally in use, though it is coined from the subst. for a special purpose in Jeremiah 23:31 (“and say, ‘He saith’,” i.e. use this solemn prophetic formula without authority [cf. Ezekiel 13:6-7]: more lit. “and oracle oracles”). The root in Arabic signifies to utter a low sound; and hence the Hebrew term probably denoted properly a whispered or murmured utterance, of a revelation heard quietly by the mental ear: cf. Job 4:12 (though the word here rendered whisper is a different one); and the expression to uncover the ear (viz. to whisper something into it) said of a man, 1 Samuel 20:2; 1 Samuel 20:12-13 al., and of God, speaking to the mental ear, 1 Samuel 9:15, Job 33:16; Job 36:10; Job 36:15; cf. 2 Samuel 7:27.

11–12. Further marks of God’s favour. He had not only bestowed on them material blessings; He had provided also for their moral and spiritual needs: He had raised up among them prophets to declare His will, and Nazirites to be examples of abstemious and godly living. But they had refused to listen to either.

But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.
12. But the Israelites had refused to respect either. They had tempted the Nazirites to break their vow; and had striven to silence the prophets.

Ye shall not prophesy] Cf. 1 Kings 22:13-28 (Micaiah); Amos 7:13; Amos 7:16; Hosea 9:8; Isaiah 30:10-11; Micah 2:6; Jeremiah 11:21; Jeremiah 20:7-10.

Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.
13. Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed &c.] The intransitive sense of the Hifil conjugation העיק (properly, to shew pressure, or constraint), though just possible, cannot be said to be probable; and Behold (with the ptcp.) strongly supports the view that the verse introduces the description of the punishment. Better, therefore, with R.V., and many ancient and modern expositors (Targ., Ibn Ezra, Kimchi; Ges., Ew., Keil, &c.): “Behold, I will press (you) in your place, as a cart presseth that is full of sheaves” [in Hebrew beneath a person is said idiomatically for in his place, where he stands: see e.g. Jdg 7:21; Isaiah 25:10; Job 40:12]: Jehovah will press them where they stand, like a cart laden with sheaves, so that they will be held fast and unable to escape. The verb is, however, an Aramaic rather than a Hebrew one; nor does it occur elsewhere in the O.T. (only two derivatives in Psalm 55:4; Psalm 66:11): it is properly the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebr. הציק to constrain, distress (Jdg 14:17; Jeremiah 19:9; Isaiah 29:2; Isaiah 51:13); and is used for it in the Targum of the three passages last quoted. It is doubtful, therefore, whether the text is correct. A plausible emendation is that of Wellh. (adopted with slight modification from Hitzig), מֵפִיק for מֵעִיק, and תָּפוּק for תָּעִיק: “Behold, I will make it totter beneath you, as a cart tottereth that is full of sheaves”; the ground will totter or give way under their feet,—the symbol of an approaching ruin.

13–16. The retribution.

Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself:
14–16. A disaster, in which neither the swiftest nor the best equipped warrior will be able to escape, brings the kingdom of Israel to its end.

Therefore] simply And (as R.V.).

the flight shall perish from the swift] rather place of flight, refuge; for perish from we should say fail (R.V. marg.). The idiom used occurs elsewhere, viz. Jeremiah 25:35; Job 11:20 (see R.V. marg.); Psalm 142:4 (A.V. “refuge failed me”).

the strong shall not strengthen his force] i.e. not collect his powers; he will be unmanned in presence of the foe.

the mighty] or the warrior. The word means specifically one mighty in war: see Isaiah 3:2; Jeremiah 46:6; Jeremiah 46:12; Isaiah 42:13; Nahum 2:4 (noticing in each case the context): in the plural it is the term used to denote David’s select band of warriors, 2 Samuel 16:6; 2 Samuel 23:8, &c.

Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself: neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself.
15. stand] i.e. keep his place, or halt in the flight: so Nahum 2:8; Jeremiah 46:21.

swift of foot] For this virtue of a warrior cf. 2 Samuel 1:23; 2 Samuel 2:18 (the same expression as here), 1 Chronicles 12:8.

deliver himself] As the text stands, himself must be understood from the next clause: but it is better, with a change of vowel-points, to read yimmâlçṭ, which will itself mean ‘deliver himself.’

And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD.
16. courageous] lit. strong (cognate with strengthen, Amos 2:14) of his heart: cf. Psalm 27:14; Psalm 31:24 (“Be firm; and let thy (your) heart shew strength,” i.e. let it take courage). Mighty, as Amos 2:14.

naked] having thrown off everything, whether weapon, or armour, or article of dress, which might encumber him in his flight.

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