Therefore thus said the LORD; Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which you shall not remove your necks; neither shall you go haughtily: for this time is evil.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I devise an evil.—As they devise evil against their brethren, so am I devising an evil against them: they shall bow their necks under a hostile yoke.Micah 2:3. Therefore, behold, against this family do I devise evil — As they devise mischief against others, so will I devise an evil against them, as a due punishment for their sin. As they have unjustly deprived others of their inheritances, so a conquering enemy shall dispossess them and carry them into captivity. The word family is equivalent to people, as appears from Jeremiah 1:15. From which ye shall not remove your necks — They laid snares for others, where open force would not suffice, so that the poor could not get out of their hands, but were empoverished and enslaved; and God here threatens that he will deal thus with them by the Assyrians, from whose power they should not be able to defend themselves or to escape. Neither shall ye go haughtily — You have made others hang down their heads, and so shall you now; for this time is evil — You have made it an evil time for sins committed against me, and against the poor and innocent: and I will make it an evil time for calamities and miseries on the whole family of Jacob.
Therefore, thus saith the Lord - Since they oppress whole families, behold I will set Myself against this whole family ; since they devise iniquity, behold I too, Myself, by Myself, in My own Person, am devising. Very awful is it, that Almighty God sets His own Infinite Wisdom against the devices of man and employs it fittingly to punish. "I am devising no common punishment, but one to bow them down without escape; "an evil from which" - He turns suddenly to them, "ye shall not remove your necks, neither shall ye go haughtily." Ribera: "Pride then was the source of that boundless covetousness," since it was pride which was to be bowed down in punishment. The punishment is proportioned to the sin. They had done all this in pride; they should have the liberty and self-will wherein they had wantoned, tamed or taken from them. Like animals with a heavy yoke upon them, they should live in disgraced slavery.
The ten tribes were never able to withdraw their necks from the yoke. From the two tribes God removed it after the 70 years. But the same sins against the love of God and man brought on the same punishment. Our Lord again spake the woe against their covetousness Luke 16:13-14; Luke 11:39; Matthew 23:14, Matthew 23:23, Matthew 23:25; Mark 12:40. It still shut them out from the service of God, or from receiving Him, their Redeemer. They still spoiled the goods Hebrews 10:34 of their brethren. In the last dreadful siege , "there were insatiable longings for plunder, searching-out of the houses of the rich; murder of men and insults of women were enacted as sports; they drank down what they had spoiled, with blood." And so the prophecy was for the third time fulfilled. They who withdraw from Christ's easy yoke of obedience shall not remove from the yoke of punishment; they who, through pride, will not bow down their necks, but make them stiff, shall be bent low, that they go not upright or haughtily anymore Isaiah 2:11. The Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day. For it is an evil time. Perhaps he gives a more special meaning to the words of Amos Amo 5:13, that a time of moral evil will be, or will end in, a time, full of evil, that is, of sorest calamity.
I devise an evil—a happy antithesis between God's dealings and the Jews' dealings (Mic 2:1). Ye "devise evil" against your fellow countrymen; I devise evil against you. Ye devise it wrongfully, I by righteous retribution in kind.
from which ye shall not remove your necks—as ye have done from the law. The yoke I shall impose shall be one which ye cannot shake off. They who will not bend to God's "easy yoke" (Mt 11:29, 30), shall feel His iron yoke.
go haughtily—(Compare Note, see on Jer 6:28). Ye shall not walk as now with neck haughtily uplifted, for the yoke shall press down your "neck."
this time is evil—rather, "for that time shall be an evil time," namely, the time of the carrying away into captivity (compare Am 5:13; Eph 5:16).Therefore; for this great, inhuman, cruel oppression. Thus saith the Lord; the Lord by his prophet declareth what he will do, and adviseth them to consider it, for it is a most manifest retaliation or punishing the offenders, so that every one may see God deals with them, as they dealt with their oppressed neighbours.
Against this family do I devise an evil; they devised, now God will devise; theirs was evil against others, God will devise evil against them; theirs was evil of sin, God’s is an evil of just punishment, against their family, as they devised evil against the family of their poor neighbours. God will bring the Assyrian power upon them.
From which ye shall not remove your necks; they laid snares where open force would not suffice, so that the poor could not get out of their hands, but were impoverished and enslaved; so God will deal with them by the Assyrian, from whose power they shall not escape.
Neither shall ye go haughtily; you have made others hang the head, so shall you now. For this time is evil; you great ones have made it all evil time, evil for sin against me and the innocent, and for cries and griefs to the poor; I will make it an evil time, full of penal calamities and miseries on the whole family or posterity of Jacob.
from which ye shall not remove your necks; that is, they should not be able to deliver themselves from it; they would not be able to stop the enemy in his progress, having entered their land; nor oblige him to break up the siege of their city, before which he would sit, and there continue till he had taken it; and being carried captive by him, they would never be able to free themselves from the yoke of bondage put upon them, and under which they remain unto this day. The allusion is to beasts slipping their necks out of the collar or yoke put upon them: these sons of Belial had broke off the yoke of God's commandments, and now he will, put another yoke upon them, they shall never be able to cast off until the time of the restitution of all things, when all Israel shall be saved:
neither shall ye go haughtily; as they now did, in an erect posture, with necks stretched out, and heads lifted up high, and looking upon others with scorn and contempt; but hereafter it should be otherwise, their heads would hang down, their countenances be dejected, and their backs bowed with the burdens upon them:
for this time is evil; very calamitous, afflictive, and distressing; and so not a time for pride and haughtiness, but for dejection and humiliation; see Ephesians 5:16.Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time is evil.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)3. Therefore, &c.] The ‘devising’ of the dishonest grandees is met by the ‘devising’ of Jehovah; oppression is punished by oppression. Comp. the striking correspondences between sins and their punishments in Isaiah 5.
against this family] The grandees, as the heads and representatives of the nation (Isaiah 9:15), have involved all ranks in a common ruin. Israel is disparagingly called ‘this family’ (instead of ‘my family’). Comp. Isaiah 6:10; Isaiah 28:14; Isaiah 29:13, Jeremiah 8:5; Jeremiah 13:10 (where the phrase is used of Judah), Isaiah 8:6; Isaiah 9:16 (where it seems to refer to the northern kingdom), and Jeremiah 33:24 (where it is applied even to the heathen neighbours of the Jews). Here it evidently refers to the northern and southern kingdoms alike—‘the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt’ (Amos 3:1).
your necks] The ‘evil,’ then, is a foreign yoke; comp. Jeremiah 27:12. They are likened to cattle (as Amos 4:1).Verse 3. - The sin shall be followed by its appropriate punishment. As they devised evil, God will devise a penalty. This family. The whole people (Amos 3:1). An evil. A chastisement, a judgment (Amos 3:6). Ye. The prophet suddenly addresses them, the "family." Your necks. He speaks of the calamity as a heavy, galling yoke, from which they should be unable to free themselves (comp. Hosea 10:11). This yoke is their conquest and exile at the hands of foreigners (comp. Jeremiah 27:12). Haughtily. With head erect. Septuagint, ὀρθοί. Their pride shall be brought low. This time is evil; full of calamity, which is announced in the following verses. The words occur in Amos 5:13, but the evil there spoken of is moral (comp. Ephesians 5:16). Amos 5:26 is attached in an adversative sense: "To me (Jehovah) ye have offered no sacrifices, but ye have borne," etc. The opposition between the Jehovah-worship which they suspended, and the idol-worship which they carried on, is so clearly expressed in the verbs הגּשׁתּם and נשׂאתם, which correspond to one another, that the idea is precluded at once as altogether untenable, that "Amo 5:26 refers to either the present or future in the form of an inference drawn from the preceding verse: therefore do ye (or shall ye) carry the hut of your king," etc. Moreover, the idea of the idols being carried into captivity, which would be the meaning of נשׂא in that case, is utterly foreign to the prophetical range of thought. It is not those who go into captivity who carry their gods away with them; but the gods of a vanquished nation are carried away by the conquerors (Isaiah 46:1). To give a correct interpretation to this difficult verse, which has been explained in various ways from the very earliest times, it is necessary, above all things, to bear in mind the parallelism of the clauses. Whereas in the first half of the verse the two objects are connected together by the copula ו (ואת), the omission of both את and the copula ו before כּוכב indicates most obviously that כּוכב אלהיכם does not introduce a third object in addition to the two preceding ones, but rather that the intention is to define those objects more precisely; from which it follows still further, that סכּוּת מלכּכם and כּיּוּן צלמיכם do not denote two different kinds of idolatry, but simply two different forms of the very same idolatry. The two ἁπ. λεγ. sikkūth and kiyyūn are undoubtedly appellatives, notwithstanding the fact that the ancient versions have taken kiyyūn as the proper name of a deity. This is required by the parallelism of the members; for צלמיכם stands in the same relation to כיון as מלככם to סכות. The plural צלמיכם, however, cannot be in apposition to the singular כיון (kiyyūn, your images), but must be a genitive governed by it: "the kiyyūn of your images." And in the same way מלככם is the genitive after סכות: "the sikkūth of your king." Sikkūth has been taken in an appellative sense by all the ancient translators. The lxx and Symm. render it τὴν σκηνήν; the Peshito, Jerome, and the Ar. tentorium. The Chaldee has retained sikkūth. The rendering adopted by Aquila, συσκιασμός, is etymologically the more exact; for sikkūth, from סכך, to shade, signifies a shade or shelter, hence a covering, a booth, and is not to be explained either from sâkhath, to be silent, from which Hitzig deduces the meaning "block," or from the Syriac and Chaldee word סכתא, a nail or stake, as Rosenmller and Ewald suppose. כּיּוּן, from כּוּן, is related to כּן, basis (Exodus 30:18), and מכונה, and signifies a pedestal or framework. The correctness of the Masoretic pointing of the word is attested by the kiyyūn of the Chaldee, and also by צלמיכם, inasmuch as the reading כּיון, which is given in the lxx and Syr., requires the singular צלמכם, which is also given in the Syriac. צלמים are images of gods, as in Numbers 33:52; 2 Kings 11:18. The words כּוכב אל which follow are indeed also governed by נשׂאתם; but, as the omission of ואת clearly shows, the connection is only a loose one, so that it is rather to be regarded as in apposition to the preceding objects in the sense of "namely, the star of your god;" and there is no necessity to alter the pointing, as Hitzig proposes, and read כּוכב, "a star was your god," although this rendering expresses the sense quite correctly. כּוכב אלהיכם is equivalent to the star, which is your god, which ye worship as your god (for this use of the construct state, see Ges. 116, 5). By the star we have to picture to ourselves not a star formed by human hand as a representation of the god, nor an image of a god with the figure of a star upon its head, like those found upon the Ninevite sculptures (see Layard). For if this had been what Amos meant, he would have repeated the particle ואת before כּוכב. The thought is therefore the following: the king whose booth, and the images whose stand they carried, were a star which they had made their god, i.e., a star-deity (אשׁר refers to אלהיכם, not to כּוכב). This star-god, which they worshipped as their king, they had embodied in tselâmı̄m. The booth and the stand were the things used for protecting and carrying the images of the star-god.
Sikkūth was no doubt a portable shrine, in which the image of the deity was kept. Such shrines (ναΐ́σκοι) were used by the Egyptians, according to Herodotus (ii. 63) and Diodorus Sic. (i.:97): they were "small chapels, generally gilded and ornamented with flowers and in other ways, intended to hold a small idol when processions were made, and to be carried or driven about with it" (Drumann, On the Rosetta Inscription, p. 211). The stand on which the chapel was placed during these processions was called παστοφόριον (Drumann, p. 212); the bearers were called ἱεραφόροι or παστοφόροι (D. p. 226). This Egyptian custom explains the prophet's words: "the hut of your king, and the stand of your images," as Hengstenberg has shown in his Dissertations on the Pentateuch, vol. i. p. 161), and points to Egypt as the source of the idolatry condemned by Amos. This is also favoured by the fact, that the golden calf which the Israelites worshipped at Sinai was an imitation of the idolatry of Egypt; also by the testimony of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 20:7.), to the effect that the Israelites did not desist even in the wilderness from the abominations of their eyes, namely the idols of Egypt; and lastly, by the circumstance that the idea of there being any allusion in the words to the worship of Moloch or Saturn is altogether irreconcilable with the Hebrew text, and cannot be historically sustained,
(Note: This explanation of the words is simply founded upon the rendering of the lxx: καὶ ἀνελάβετε τὴν σκηνὴν τοῦ Μολόχ καὶ τὸ ἄστρον τοῦ Θεοῦ ὑμῶν Ῥαιφάν, τοὺς τύπους οὓς ἐποιήσατε ἑαυτοῖς. These translators, therefore, have not only rendered מלכּכם erroneously as Μολόχ, but have arbitrarily twisted the other words of the Hebrew text. For the Hebrew reading מלככם is proved to be the original one, not only by the τοῦ βασιλέως ὑμῶν of Symm. and Theod., but also by the Μαλχόμ of Aquila and the malkūm of the Peshito; and all the other ancient translators enter a protest against the displacing of the other words. The name Ῥαιφάν (Ῥηφαν), or Ῥεμφάν (Acts 7:43), however, owes its origin simply to the false reading of the unpointed כיון as ריפן, inasmuch as in the old Hebrew writings not only is כ similar to ר, but ו is also similar to פ; and in 2 Samuel 22:12, where חשׁרת־מים is rendered σκοτός (i.e., חשׁכת) ὑδάτων, we have an example of the interchange of כ and ר. There was no god Rephan or Rempha; for the name never occurs apart from the lxx. The statement made in the Arabico-Coptic list of planets, edited by Ath. Kircher, that Suhhel (the Arabic name of Saturn) is the same as Ῥηφάν, and the remark found in a Coptic MS on the Acts of the Apostles, "Rephan deus temporis," prove nothing more than that Coptic Christians supposed the Rephan or Remphan, whose name occurred in their version of the Bible which was founded upon the lxx, to be the star Saturn as the god of time; but they by no means prove that the ancient Egyptians called Saturn Rephan, or were acquainted with any deity of that name, since the occurrence of the Greek names Υλια and Σελινη for sun and moon are a sufficient proof of the very recent origin of the list referred to. It is true that the Peshito has also rendered כּיּוּן by ke'wām (כּיון), by which the Syrians understood Saturn, as we may see from a passage of Ephraem Syrus, quoted by Gesenius in his Comm. on Isaiah (ii. p. 344), where this father, in his Sermones adv. haer. s. 8, when ridiculing the star-worshippers, refers to the Kevan, who devoured his own children. But no further evidence can be adduced in support of the correctness of this explanation of כּיון. The corresponding use of the Arabic Kaivan for Saturn, to which appeal has also been made, does not occur in any of the earlier Arabic writings, but has simply passed into the Arabic from the Persian; so that the name and its interpretation originated with the Syrian church, passing thence to the Persians, and eventually reaching the Arabs through them. Consequently the interpretation of Kevan by Saturn has no higher worth than that of an exegetical conjecture, which is not elevated into a truth by the fact that כיון is mentioned in the Cod. Nazar. i. p. 54, ed. Norb., in connection with Nebo, Bel, and Nerig ( equals Nergal). With the exception of these passages, and the gloss of a recent Arabian grammarian cited by Bochart, viz., "Keivan signifies Suhhel," not a single historical trace can be found of Kevan having been an ancient oriental name of Saturn; so that the latest supporter of this hypothesis, namely Movers (Phnizier, i. p. 290), has endeavoured to prop up the arguments already mentioned in his own peculiar and uncritical manner, by recalling the Phoenician and Babylonian names, San-Choniâth, Kyn-el-Adan, and others. Not even the Graeco-Syrian fathers make any reference to this interpretation. Theodoret cannot say anything more about Μολόχ καὶ Ῥεφάν, than that they were εἰδώλων ὀνόματα; and Theod. Mops. has this observation on Ῥεμφάν: φασὶ δὲ τὸν ἑωσφόρον οὕτω κατὰ τὴν Ἑβραίων γλῶτταν. It is still very doubtful, therefore, whether the Alexandrian and Syrian translators of Amos really supposed Ῥαιφάν and כּיון to signify Saturn; and this interpretation, whether it originated with the translators named, or was first started by later commentators upon these versions, arose in all probability simply from a combination of the Greek legend concerning Saturn, who swallowed his own children, and the Moloch who was worshipped with the sacrifice of children, and therefore might also be said to devour children; that is to say, it was merely an inference drawn from the rendering of מלככם as Μολόχ. But we are precluded from thinking of Moloch-worship, or regarding מלככם, "your king," as referring to Moloch, by the simple circumstance that כּוכב אלהיכם unquestionably points to the Sabaean (sidereal) character of the worship condemned by Amos, whereas nothing is known of the sidereal nature of Moloch; and even if the sun is to be regarded as the physical basis of their deity, as Mnter, Creuzer, and others conjecture, it is impossible to discover the slightest trace in the Old Testament of any such basis as this.
The Alexandrian translation of this passage, which we have thus shown to rest upon a misinterpretation of the Hebrew text, has acquired a greater importance than it would otherwise possess, from the fact that the proto-martyr Stephen, in his address (Acts 7:42-43), has quoted the words of the prophet according to that version, simply because the departure of the Greek translation from the original text was of no consequence, so far as his object was concerned, viz., to prove to the Jews that they had always resisted the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as the Alex. rendering also contains the thought, that their fathers worshipped the στρατιᾶ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.)
whereas star-worship, or at any rate the worship of the sun, was widely spread in Egypt from the very earliest times. According to the more recent investigations into the mythology of the ancient Egyptians which have been made by Lepsius (Transactions of the Academy of Science at Berlin, 1851, p. 157ff.), "the worship of the sun was the oldest kernel and most general principle of the religious belief of Egypt;" and this "was regarded even down to the very latest times as the outward culminating point of the whole system of religion" (Lepsius, p. 193). The first group of deities of Upper and Lower Egypt consists of none but sun-gods (p. 188).
(Note: It is true, that in the first divine sphere Ra occupies the second place according to the Memphitic doctrine, namely, after Phtha (Hephaestos), and according to the Theban doctrine, Amen (Ἄμων). Mentu and Atmu stand at the head (Leps. p. 186); but the two deities, Mentu, i.e., the rising sun, and Atmu, i.e., the setting sun, are simply a splitting up of Ra; and both Hephaestos and Amon (Amon-Ra) were placed at the head of the gods at a later period (Leps. pp. 187, 189).)
Ra, i.e., Helios, is the prototype of the kings, the highest potency and prototype of nearly all the gods, the king of the gods, and he is identified with Osiris (p. 194). But from the time of Menes, Osiris has been worshipped in This and Abydos; whilst in Memphis the bull Apis was regarded as the living copy of Osiris (p. 191). According to Herodotus (ii. 42), Osiris and Isis were the only gods worshipped by the ancient Egyptians; and, according to Diodorus Sic. (i. 11), the Egyptians were said to have had originally only two gods, Helios and Selene, and to have worshipped the former in Osiris, the latter in Isis. The Pan of Mendes appears to have also been a peculiar form of Osiris (cf. Diod. Sic. i. 25, and Leps. p. 175). Herodotus (ii. 145) speaks of this as of primeval antiquity, and reckons it among the eight so-called first gods; and Diodorus Sic. (i. 18) describes it as διαφερόντως ὑπὸ τῶν Αἰγυπτίων τιμώμενον. It was no doubt to these Egyptian sun-gods that the star-god which the Israelites carried about with them in the wilderness belonged. This is all that can at present be determined concerning it. There is not sufficient evidence to support Hengstenberg's opinion, that the Egyptian Pan as the sun-god was the king worshipped by them. It is also impossible to establish the identity of the king mentioned by Amos with the שׂעירים in Leviticus 17:7, since these שׂעירים, even if they are connected with the goat-worship of Mendes, are not exhausted by this goat-deity.
The prophet therefore affirms that, during the forty years' journey through the wilderness, Israel did not offer sacrifices to its true King Jehovah, but carried about with it a star made into a god as the king of heaven. If, then, as has already been observed, we understand this assertion as referring to the great mass of the people, like the similar passage in Isaiah 43:23, it agrees with the intimations in the Pentateuch as to the attitude of Israel. For, beside the several grosser outbreaks of rebellion against the Lord, which are the only ones recorded at all circumstantially there, and which show clearly enough that it was not devoted to its God with all its heart, we also find traces of open idolatry. Among these are the command in Leviticus 17, that every one who slaughtered a sacrificial animal was to bring it to the tabernacle, when taken in connection with the reason assigned, namely, that they were not to offer their sacrifices any more to the Se‛ı̄rı̄m, after which they went a whoring (Amos 5:7), and the warning in Deuteronomy 4:19, against worshipping the sun, moon, and stars, even all the host of heaven, from which we may infer that Moses had a reason for this, founded upon existing circumstances. After this further proof of the apostasy of Israel from its God, the judgment already indicated in Amos 5:24 is still further defined in Amos 5:27 as the banishment of the people far beyond the borders of the land given to it by the Lord, where higlâh evidently points back to yiggal in Amos 5:24. מהלאה ל, lit., "from afar with regard to," i.e., so that when looked at from Damascus, the place showed itself afar off, i.e., according to one mode of viewing it, "far beyond Damascus."
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