Matthew Poole's Commentary
The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.The time when Amos prophesied, Amo 1:1-2. He showeth God's judgments upon Syria, Amo 1:3-5; upon the Philistines, Amo 1:6-8 upon Tyre, Amo 1:9-10; upon Edom, Amo 1:11-12; upon Ammon Amo 1:13-15.
The words: the Holy Ghost doth in this expression comprehensively take in all the sermons, visions, and predictions which Amos preached and published; all the exhortations to duty, the menaces against sins, the warnings of dangers coming, and the promises of mercy to them that hear and obey his words: see Hag 1:12. And so what Jeremiah preached to his auditors are the words of Jeremiah, Amo 1:1; and the instructions and counsel of Solomon are the words of the Preacher, Ecc 1:1. Both the things spoken and the words wherein they are spoken are included.
Amos: those who think this was father to the prophet Isaiah, either discern not the difference that is in the two Hebrew words, or pronounce hastily without considering what each is in the Hebrew, in which tongue these words have but two letters the same, i.e. M and O, the other are quite different; as also is the signification of each, for the one imports strength or might, the other imports a burden or heavy weight.
Among the herdmen, or shepherds, but whether one of the meaner or one of the chief, whether a master herdman or a servant, the word imports the former, yet because the Scripture doth not say, we shall not inquire, since it conduceth little to our profiting, nor will it add to his authority, since it is God who sent him.
Tekoa: whether it belonged to Zebulun, Asher, or Judah is not much material, though this last be most likely, for, 2Ch 11:5,6, we read of Rehoboam's building fortresses in Judah, among which Tekoa is mentioned. It was situate on a hill on the north of Judah, as a learned pen describeth it.
He saw; received by revelation: this tells us that the things as well as words were to be understood, when it is said that these were the words of Amos.
Israel; the kingdom of the ten tribes, revolted from the house of David, and now under the government of Jehu's great-grandson.
Uzziah; called also Azariah, who was smitten with a leprosy for intruding into the priest's office, 2Ch 26:16,19.
Judah; including the tribe of Benjamin, and such of the Levites as did adhere to the house of David, the kingdom of the house of David. Jeroboam; not son of Nebat, but grandson of Jehu. Joash; who had some successes against Syria, according to the prophecy of Elisha, by which successes Israel was raised from a declining to a thriving, prosperous state.
The earthquake; of which only this text, and Zec 14:5, do make particular mention, and where somewhat is spoken of it; which see. It is the tradition of the Jews, that this earthquake happened when Uzziah usurped the priest's work and offered incense in the temple, against which violation of Divine rites God testified thus from heaven, say they. Further than this we need not inquire in this matter. It was a great and dismal earthquake, and perhaps by this God did smite the winter and summer houses, as Amo 3:15; however, as it was foretold two years before it came, so we are sure it did come according to the time prefixed by the Lord.
And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.He; Amos.
The Lord; the Almighty and Eternal, whom you of the ten tribes have forsaken, and thereby have provoked to displeasure.
Will roar: the prophet, alluding to what was dreadful, dangerous, and most rousing to shepherds, the roaring of a hungry lion that comes out of his den for prey, doth express the danger of Israel, and would awaken them to a sense of it, that they might prevent it by repentance, before the Lord tears them in pieces as a lion tears his prey.
From Zion; either the temple, in opposition to Jeroboam’s idolatrous chapels; or intimating their defection and sin in leaving Zion for Dan and Beth-el.
Utter his voice: this explains and confirms the former metaphorical expression of God’s wrath.
From Jerusalem; the city God had chosen, where he dwelt, the seat of God’s instituted worship in the matters of religion, and the royal seat of the kingdom as God had settled it, from which in both respects the ten tribes had revolted. This whole paragraph you have Joel 3:16, which see; and Jeremiah 25:30.
The habitations of the shepherds: where the shepherds found convenient pasturage they pitched their tents, or built them cottages, and dwelt therein, that they might attend the care of their flocks, for which they also made folds; and this was the delight and wealth of these men: now by allusion to these Amos expresseth all the wealth, greatness, and delightfulness of the kingdom of Israel. Princes are, in the Greek dialect, shepherds of the people, people are the flock, towns and cities are the habitations of both; and so the Scripture useth the expression, Jeremiah 2:8 3:15 Ezekiel 34:2,7-9 Na 3:18, which see.
Shall mourn; be made desolate, and reduced to a sad, mournful, and lamentable state, in which men shall see nothing but matter of sadness and tears.
Carmel; there were two places of this name, and though distant from each other, yet both very fruitful, and much used by shepherds; the one was in the northern parts of Canaan, whither Elijah resorted; the other in Judah, the southern parts of Canaan: now this was nearer Tekoa, better known to Amos, and therefore some think this to be here intended; but the other was in Israel, which is here threatened, and therefore fitter to be the emblem of the ten tribes, and meant here, say others: whichever you choose, it is no hard thing to accommodate it to the prophet’s purpose of Carmel: see Nahum 1:4.
Shall wither; either blasted, or else dried up with drought, and turned into barrenness. So the whole kingdoms of the people threatened, and of the ten tribes, though as fruitful and pleasant as Carmel, should be made horrid and desolate as a dry and barren wilderness. See Joel 1:12,17.
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:Thus saith the Lord; Amos speaks not by conjecture, or of his own head, but as he comes in the name of the Lord, so he assures us of it by this most solemn attestation.
Three transgressions: this certain number is put for an uncertain; three, i.e. many, especially when, as here, it is joined with four; their transgressions are so multiplied, grown to such height and number.
Damascus was the chief city of the kingdom of Syria, and very ancient; Abraham’s steward was of this city. It was north-east from Canaan; conquered by David, lost by Solomon, recovered by Jeroboam the Second, though soon after lost again, and was in Ahaz’s time the royal seat of Rezin, whom Tiglath-pileser slew, 2 Kings 16:9. While it was in its power and greatness it mightily oppressed Israel. It is here by a synecdoche put for the whole kingdom of Syria.
I will not turn away the punishment thereof: some refer this to the suffering Damascus to be quiet, God threatens that she shall not have rest; others say it is a threat that God would not convert it, but leave the Syrians to their impenitent heart; but our version is full and plain, it is a threat of punishment which they should certainly fall under. God would no longer continue to be patient and gracious towards such sinners, nor divert the menaced punishment foretold by the prophet, deserved by the people, and which shall be executed by an impartial hand. Because they, the Syrians, comprised in the word Damascus, by a synecdoche, have threshed; first gathered, (as husbandmen gather sheafs into a floor,) next trod them under foot, beat them small, i.e. with utmost cruelty destroyed the persons, towns, and cities.
Gilead: of this name there was a great mountain fifty miles in length, saith my author; there was also a country of this name, and a city possessed by the Reubenites, Gadites, and Manassites; now the Gilead in this text is by a very usual figure put for the inhabitants of this country and city, whom Hazael king of Syria, as was foretold by Elisha, 2 Kings 8:12, did most barbarously murder, as appears by the words of this text.
With threshing instruments of iron; rakes, or flails, or harrows, or saws, or heavy wheels of iron; whichsoever of these were the instruments intended, it is most certain it was a very barbarous and cruel manner of using them.
But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad.I the Lord, avenger of mine oppressed Israel, Jehovah, as Amos 1:3.
A fire; either literally understood, or figuratively, famine, pestilence, wars foreign or intestine, effects of God’s great but just displeasure, which destroys all like fire.
The house of Hazael; the family, or the material house in which he dwelt, or both; Hazael’s stately dwelling-place should be consumed by fire, and his whole family be cut off.
Devour; eat up, so as to leave nothing remaining of either.
The palaces; the royal palaces, or those that descended from Hazael, and dwelt in them.
Ben-hadad: whether this were some one of the Syrian kings before Hazael, or the Ben-hadad slain by Hazael, or son and successor to Hazael, is uncertain; nor can we know particularly who this was by this name Ben-hadad, which to the Syrian kings was a common name, as Pharaoh to the ancient Egyptian kings, Caesar to the Roman emperors, and Czar to the Muscovite at this day: three Ben-hadads are mentioned in the books of the Kings, as 1 Kings 15:18 2 Kings 8:7 13:3.
I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD.I, the mighty God, as Amos 1:4,
will break, weaken and shake into pieces,
the bar; literally, the bar with which the city gates were shut, and both fastened and strengthened, Judges 16:3 Nehemiah 7:3 Psalm 107:16. Metaphorically it contains all the munitions, fortresses, and strength of a place or people: so here. Damascus: see Amos 1:3. It is put here, as before, for the whole kingdom, of which it was the metropolis.
Cut off, by the judgments of war, pestilence, famine, or diseases, all commissioned to do this. The inhabitant, for inhabitants, the singular used for the plural; and may possibly denote the universal excision and destruction of the Syrians, who shall perish as one man: see the like use of the singular number, Exodus 8:6 Jeremiah 8:7.
The plain of Aven: it is possible this may refer to, some peculiar manner which the Syrians observed in their choosing the valley or champaign for the place of worship to their idols; Israel chose high places, the Syrians chose valleys it is likely, and therefore though beaten in the hills, where they thought the gods which Israel worshipped were strongest, yet are confident that in the valleys, where Syrians worshipped their gods, the Syrians would find their gods the stronger, 1 Kings 20:23 for this reason the valley or plain hath its name the plain of liven, of iniquity and vanity, because in it they worshipped vain gods, and their religion was highest idolatry; or it may be that Bikath-aven was the name of some city of Syria well known then, but whose memory is perished with it a great while ago.
Him that holdeth the sceptre; a description of the king of Syria. whose royal dignity shall be no security to him.
The house of Eden; some royal seat, where the kings of Syria did think good to build them a house or palace, for pleasure and delights, and therefore gave it this name, Beth-eden, or the house of pleasure; all their pleasant seats, the king’s summer-houses, shall be laid waste.
The people of Syria; the main body of the subjects and people of Syria; this explains Damascus, Amos 1:3, and in this verse.
Kir; Cyrene of Egypt, say some, but without any probability in this place: there was also Kir of Moab, Isaiah 15:1; but this was not the Kir in the text: this was Kir of Media, Isaiah 22:6, now under the Assyrian yoke; and thither did Tiglath-pileser carry the conquered Syrians, 2 Kings 16:9, and placed them captives in that barren, mountainous country about fifty years after it was foretold by Amos.
Saith the Lord: this gives us an assurance that all here threatened should at last be executed.
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom:Three transgressions: see Amos 1:3.
Gaza; the principal city of the Philistines; all the rest are to be understood; and here the city is named, but the inhabitants are meant also with the city; ancient and strong, the seat of the Anakims, conquered by Judah, yet lost soon after to the old inhabitants.
I will not turn away the punishment thereof: see Amos 1:3. They carried away captive: this refers to the inroad by the Philistines and Arabians made upon Judah in the days of Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, the violence and cruelty of which is set forth 2 Chronicles 21:16,17, about A.M. 3116; and this is that which is here threatened, as a sin that should be punished.
Edom; the posterity of Esau, who were inveterate enemies to the posterity of Jacob, and as ill neighbours are, so were these, the worst enemies the Jacobites had, as appears Ezekiel 25:12 Ob 10-14 Psa 137:7. These Edomites were ever ready to Oppress, enslave, and tyrannize over the Jews, if by any means they could by force or fraud get them into their hands.
But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof:I will send a fire; see Amos 1:4; desolating judgments, expressed here by fire.
On the wall; which was strong, and a mighty defence to the city; this only mentioned, but all the power and strength of Gaza, and of whole Palestina, is here included, and the judgment denounced is here intended against all the munitions of that people: Gaza: see Amos 1:6.
Devour: see Amos 1:4.
The palaces thereof: see Amos 1:4. What is here foretold was fulfilled partly by Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:6-8, and partly by Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:8, and partly by Sennacherib, Isaiah 20:1.
And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD.The inhabitant: see Amos 1:5.
Ashdod: see Zephaniah 2:4 Zechariah 9:6. This was one of the five cities of the Philistines, and had its roitelet. it was afterwards called
Azotus, Acts 8:40. In this city was Dagon’s temple and statue, 1 Samuel 5:1-3. The like threat against Ashdod did Jeremiah denounce, Jeremiah 25:16, with Jeremiah 25:20.
Him that holdeth the sceptre: see Amos 1:5. Ashkelon; another city of the Palestine pentarchy, and a very strong one, of which see Zephaniah 2:7 Zechariah 9:5,6, which shall perish with the king and inhabitants thereof; which (besides what Shalmaneser, Sennacherib, or Sargon, kings of Assyria, did, and besides what Hezekiah did against Ashkelon) had some accomplishment in Nabopolassar’s and Nebuchadnezzar’s time, and in Alexander the Great, to whom this city, as well as Gaza and Ashdod, became subject.
I will turn mine hand against Ekron; having destroyed these, saith the Lord, I will proceed on to Ekron, another of the five cities of the Philistines, strong, but, as the rest, cruel to Israel, and very sinfully idolatrous, worshipping Baal-zebub, for which this shall be destroyed also: see Zephaniah 2:4 Zechariah 9:5.
The remnant of the Philistines; what remaineth either of cities, towns, or people, not already expressly mentioned and threatened.
Shall perish; be cut off, and wasted utterly.
Saith the Lord God; when all this shall be done, though perhaps ye may not know, yet know ye this, that assuredly it shall be done in its time, for the Lord hath said it.
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant:The prophet having foretold the destruction of the Syrians and the Philistines, for their inhumanity and barbarous cruelty against the Jews, he doth now in the same manner and words foretell the destruction of the Tyrians. See Amos 1:3.
Because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom: see Amos 1:6, where these passages are already explained.
And remembered not the brotherly covenant, which was between Hiram on the one part, and David and Solomon on the other part, on account whereof these Tyrians ought to have befriended the Jews, and not betrayed them; so some: others thus, The nearness of blood between Israel and Edom should have been remembered by the Tyrians, and they should therefore have persuaded Edom to carry it as became a brother, and by their mediation the Tyrians should have made peace between Israel and Edom; but they did not so, they took advantage of times, and made merchandise of Israel, sold such as either fled for refuge from other enemies, or such as fell into the hands of the Tyrians, joining with Hazael and Ben-hadad in their wars against Israel. What other sins Tyre added to this between this time and Nebuchadnezzar’s besieging and subduing Tyre were then punished, when after thirteen years’ siege it was taken, of which see Ezekiel 26$ 27$ 28$, where at large Tyre is spoken of.
But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof.No text from Poole on this verse.
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever:Three transgressions: see Amos 1:3.
Edom: see Amos 1:6.
I will not turn away the punishment thereof: see Amos 1:3. He did pursue; watch for and lay hold on every occasion to oppress Israel.
His brother; Jacob and his posterity here are meant, as is Esau and his posterity. Esau personally considered was an enemy to the person of Jacob, and vowed his ruin, forced him to flee into Padan-aram, and on his return thence frighted Jacob too by coming out with four hundred men armed; the posterity of Esau behaved themselves no whit more friendly.
With the sword; either joining with the enemies, as Psalm 83:6-8 137:7, or setting a war on foot on their own account, as 2 Chronicles 28:17, against them.
Cast off all pity; common humanity was by Edom cast off, when Jacob’s posterity needed it, as appears by their denial of passage and selling to them necessaries for their relief in travelling by their country, Numbers 20:14-21; nay, they armed against Israel, Numbers 20:20. Common pity would have forborne strangers travelling by our coasts; how much more brethren. The inhumanity of the Edomites appeared yet further in this, that they were chapmen to buy all the captive Israelites, and to sell them to the heathen for slaves, which is certainly the height of inhumanity.
His anger, which is expressed by fierceness, and with vehemency,
did tear, as a ravenous, hungry, and fierce lion tears the prey; so the word.
Perpetually; though sometimes this anger did intermit for want of opportunity, yet on every occasion it revived, and showed itself again.
Kept his wrath for ever; lest the fire of his wrath should extinguish, Edom did record, treasure up, and reserved the seeds of his displeasure, as men rake up fire in ashes to blow it up into a flame; such was Edom’s wrath, a wrath that exceeded all bounds, as the word imports, and never ceased.
But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.I will send a fire: see Amos 1:4,7.
Teman; metropolis of Idumea, called from Esau’s grandson of that name; of this see Ezekiel 25:13 Habakkuk 3:3. And this here taken synecdochically implieth the inhabitants of this city, and of the whole country, which shall perish when the judgment here threatened shall be executed.
Which shall devour the palaces: see Amos 1:4.
Bozrah; a city bordering on Moab and Idumea, and which sometimes belonged to the one, sometimes to the other, as events of war determined. It may be there might be two cities of this name, the one in Moab, the other in Edom, or Idumea; however, this was a very strong city, and one of the chiefest in the whole kingdom, so that in the menace against Bozrah and Teman the strength and glory of Edom is threatened with an utter overthrow, as of that which is burnt up by fire.
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border:The children of Ammon: this is the fourth kingdom threatened; a people descended from Lot, by his younger daughter, of near kin to Israel, and much-like neighbours as the Edomites, bitter enemies to the Jews: see Ezekiel 25:2.
I will not turn away the punishment thereof: see Amos 1:4.
Ripped up the women with child; a most inhuman practice, yet usual in those times and places, of which mention is made 2 Kings 8:12 15:16 Hosea 13:16: which see. When, or in what particular place, this was done, is not reported in the history of the Bible. Probably it was when Hazael harassed Israel, 2 Kings 8:12, with whom the Ammonites perhaps joined; but the thing was done, though we read not in any particular story when and where; all could not be written which was done in those ages.
Gilead: see Hosea 6:8 Zechariah 10:10: name both of city and country about it, and very rich in excellent spices and balms.
Enlarge their border, by destroying all that dwelt in it, and that hereafter might claim or pretend a title to it.
But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind:I will kindle a fire in the wall: see Amos 1:4, where the phrase is explained: as to the time when this prophecy was fulfilled, it was partly when the Assyrian kingdom flourished, and partly by Nebuchadnezzar, as was foretold by Ezekiel, Ezekiel 25:1-3, &c., which see.
Rabbah; the chief city of the kingdom of Ammon, 2 Samuel 11:1 12:26, which by a usual figure compriseth all the Ammonites, and all their strength, wealth, and glory, all which shall be devoured. It shall devour the palaces thereof: see Amos 1:4.
With shouting in the day of battle; a mixed and horrid noise of trumpets, and alarms of war, with howlings of the distressed, groans of the dying, and acclamations of the conquerors.
With a tempest in the day of the whirlwind, i.e. with irresistible force, and surprising swiftness, as the similitude imports.
And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the LORD.Their king; or Milchore, or Moloch, the idol of the Ammonites, so it signifieth, as well as king. I suppose the prophet may intend both, their god as well as their king shall be carried captive, as was customary with conquerors, 1 Samuel 5:2 Isaiah 46:2.
He: this repeats and confirms the threat, whether it refer to the idol or the king.
His princes; either nobles and ministers of state, who attend and serve the king, or the priests and ministers of the idol; here both may be included, and the utter overthrow of their affairs in religion and state be signified and foretold.
Saith the Lord: this, as elsewhere, doth ratify and insure all; it shall so be, for God hath spoken it.