Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel.
Verse 1-ch. 6:14. - § 8. Third address: the prophet utters a lamentation over the fall of Israel. (Vers. 1-3.) He calls her to repentance, while he shows wherein she has declined from the right way. To make this plain, he contrasts God's power and majesty with the people's iniquity, instances of which he gives (vers. 4-12). The only condition of safety is amendment (vers. 13-15); and as they refuse to reform, they shall have cause to lament (vers. 16, 17). This threat is enforced by the two emphatic "woes" that follow, the first of which demonstrates the baselessness of their trust in their covenant relation to God (vers. 18-27); the second denounces the careless lives of the chiefs, who, revelling in luxury, believed not in the coming judgment (Amos 6:1-6). Therefore they shall go into captivity, and the kingdom shall be utterly overthrown (vers. 7-11), because they act iniquitously and are self-confident (vers. 12-14). Verse 1. - Hear ye this word. To show the certainty of the judgment and his own feeling about it, the prophet utters his prophecy in the form of a dirge (kinah, 2 Samuel 1:17; 2 Chronicles 35:25). Which I take up against you; or, which I raise over you, as if the end had come. O house of Israel; in the vocative. The Vulgate has, Domus Israel cecidit; so the LXX. But the present Hebrew text is most suitable, making the dirge begin at ver. 2. The ten tribes are addressed as in ver. 6.
The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.
Verse 2. - The virgin of Israel; i.e. the virgin Israel; so called, not as having been pure and faithful to God, but as tenderly treated and guarded from enemies (comp. Isaiah 23:12; Isaiah 47:1; Jeremiah 14:17). Is fallen (comp. 2 Samuel 1:19); she shall no more rise. This is apparently a contradiction to the promise of restoration elsewhere expressed, but is to be explained either as referring exclusively to the ten tribes, very few of whom returned from exile, and to the kingdom of Israel which was never reestablished; or, as Pseudo-Rufinus says, "Ita debemus accipere quod lugentis affectu cumulatius aetimavit illata discrimina sicque funditus appellasse deletos, quos ex majore videret parte contritos." Forsaken upon her land; better, she shall be dashed upon her own land; her own soil shall witness her ruin - that soil which was "virgin," unconquered, and her own possession.
For thus saith the Lord GOD; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel.
Verse 3. - The vindication of the prophet's lament. The city that went out by a thousand. Septuagint and Vulgate, "from which went forth thousands," or, "a thousand;" i.e. which could send out a thousand warriors to the fight, in such a city only a tenth of the inhabitants shall remain; and this shall happen to small cities as well as great.
For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
Verse 4. - The more formal proof that Israel has merited her punishment here begins. In calling her to repentance the prophet contrasts God's requirements with her actual conduct. Seek ye me, and ye shall live. Two imperatives: "Seek me, and (so) live;" duty and its reward. "Seek me in the appointed way, and ye shall be saved from destruction" (comp. Genesis 42:18).
But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.
Verse 5. - Bethel... Gilgal. The scenes of idolatrous worship, where was no true seeking of God (see note on Amos 4:4). Beersheba. A spot about fifty miles southsouthwest of Jerusalem, the site of which has never been lost, and is marked to this day by seven much-frequented wells. As being one of the holy places celebrated in the history of the patriarchs (Genesis 21:31, 33; Genesis 26:23, etc.; Genesis 46:1), it had become a shrine of idolatrous worship, to which the Israelites resorted, though it lay far out of their territory (comp. Amos 8:14). Gilgal shall surely go into captivity. There is in the Hebrew a play on the words here and in the following clause (Hag-gilgal galoh yigleh), which commentators have paralleled with such expressions as, Capua capietur, Cremona cremabitur, Paris perira, "London is undone." Or, taking Joshua's explanation of the name, we may say, "Roll-town shall be rolled away." Bethel shall some to nought. As Bethel, "House of God," had become Bethaven, "House of vanity" (see Hosea 4:15), as being the temple of an idol (comp. 1 Corinthians 8:4), so the prophet, with allusion to this, says that "Bethel shall become aven" - vanity, nothingness, itself. No mention is made of the fate of Beersheba, because Amos has in view only the ten tribes, and the destiny of places beyond their territory is not here the object of his prediction; and indeed, when Israel was ruined, Beersheba escaped unharmed.
Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.
Verse 6. - Break out like fire. God is called "a consuming fire" (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29; comp. Jeremiah 4:4). And devour it; Septuagint, Ὅπως μὴ ἀναλάμψη ὡς πῦρ ὁ οϊκος Ἰωσὴφ καὶ καταφάγῃ αὐτόν, "Lest the house of Joseph blaze as fire, and he devour him;" Vulgate, Ne forte comburatur ut ignis domus Joseph, et devorabit. But it is best to take the last member of the sentence thus: "and it (the fire) devour." The house of Joseph. Ephraim, i.e. the kingdom of Israel, of which Ephraim was the distinguishing tribe. In Bethel; or, for Bethel. The LXX., paraphrasing, has, τῷ οἴκῳ Ἰσραήλ, "for the house of Israel."
Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,
Verse 7. - The prophet brings out the con-trust between Israel's moral corruption and God's omnipotence. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood. As Jerome puts it," Converterunt dulcedinem judicii in absinthii amaritudinem," "They turned the sweetness of judgment into the bitterness of absinth" (comp. Amos 6:12). Who make judgment the occasion of the bitterest injustice. There is no syntactical connection between this verse and the last, but virtually we may append it to "seek the Lord." It would sound in people's ears as a reminiscence of Deuteronomy 29:18, 20. The LXX. reads, ὁ ποιῶν εἰς ὕψος κρίμα. "that executeth judgment in the height," referring the sentence to the Lord, or else taking laanah, "wormwood," in a metaphorical sense, as elsewhere they translate it by ἀνάγκη πικρία, ὀδύνη (Deuteronomy 29:18; Proverbs 5:4; Jeremiah 9:15; Jeremiah 23:15). The name "wormwood" is applied to all the plants of the genus that grow in Palestine the taste of which was proverbially bitter. And leave off righteousness in the earth; rather, cast down righteousness to the earth (as Isaiah 28:2), despise it and trample it underfoot (comp. Daniel 8:12). This is Israel's practice; and yet God, as the next verse shows, is almighty, and has power to punish. Righteousness includes all transactions between man and man. The LXX. (still referring the subject to the Lord), καὶ δικαιοσύνην εἰς γῆν ἔθηκεν, "and he established righteousness on earth."
Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:
Verse 8. - Striking instances are given of God's creative power and omnipotence. Seek him that maketh the seven stars. "Seek him" is not in the Hebrew. "He that maketh," etc., is in direct antithesis to "ye who turn," etc. (ver. 7). The seven stars; Hebrew, kimah, "the heap," the constellation of the Pleiades (Job 9:9; Job 38:31). The Septuagint here has, ὁ ποιῶν πάντα, but in Job has πλειάς. The Vulgate gives, facientem Arcturum. Symmachus and Theodotion give πλειάδα in the present passage. The identification of this term is discussed in the 'Dictionary of the Bible,' 2:891. The observation of this most remarkable cluster among the heavenly bodies would be natural to the pastoral life of Amos. And Orion; Hebrew, kesil, "foolish," a rebel, the name being applied to Nimrod, whose representation was found by the Easterns in this constellation. Some render kesil, "gate;" others connect it with the Arabia sohail, equivalent to Sirius, or Canopus. The Septuagint here has, καὶ μετασκευάζων, "and changing," which looks as if the translator was not familiar with the Hebrew word, and substituted something in its place. It reads Ὠρίωνος in Job 38:31. Turneth the shadow of death into the morning. "The shadow of death," the depth of darkness. This and the following clause do not simply state that the regular interchange of day and night is in God's hands, but rather notify that God is a moral Governor of the world. He saves men from the utmost dangers, from the darkness of sin and from the night of ignorance; and, on the other hand, he sends calamity on those that offend his Law (comp. Amos 4:13). Maketh the day dark with night; literally, as the Septuagint ἡμέραν εἰς νύκτα συσκοτάζων, "darkeneth day into night." That calleth for the waters of the sea, etc. As judgments are the prophet's theme, this expression cannot be an intimation of the working of the natural law by which the moisture taken up from the sea as cloud returns upon the earth as rain (comp. Amos 9:6). Rather it is an allusion to the Flood and similar catastrophes, which are proofs of God's judicial government of the universe, when "he maketh the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enemies" (Wisd. 5:17). The Lord is his Name. Jehovah, the self-existent God, doeth all these marvellous things, and men presume to scout his Law and think to be unpunished (Amos 4:13).
That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.
Verse 9. - That strengtheneth, etc. Translate, That causeth destruction to flash forth upon the strong, so that destruction cometh upon the fortress. The idea is that God, as with a lightning flash, smites the strongest man, and no fortress is a refuge from him. Septuagint, Ὁ διαιρῶν συντριμμὸν ἐπὶ ἰσχύν, "Who divideth destruction unto strength." The Vulgate, taking the Hebrew verb balag in the sense of lighting up the countenance, renders, Qui subridet vastitatem super robustum, which means that the Lord smiles while he brings desolation on the mighty - a figurative expression denoting his anger at man's pride, and the ease with which he punishes. We may add that Rosenmuller agrees with the Authorized Version in the first clause: "Who strengtheneth the weak against the strong, and giveth the plunderers power over the fortresses of the strong."
They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.
Verses 10-12. - The prophet gives further instances of the people's corruption. Verse 10. - Him that rebuketh in the gate (Isaiah 29:21). The gate of Eastern cities was the place of public resort (Proverbs 1:21), either for business (Deuteronomy 25:7), or the administration of justice (2 Samuel 15:2), or for gossip. So "he that rebuketh in the gate" may be a judge, or a chief, or a prophet (Jeremiah 17:19; Jeremiah 19:2). It seems better to take the words thus than to join "in the gate" to "they hate," with the meaning that those who resort to the gate - kings, chiefs, judges - hate the prophet's reproof, for the following verses show that Amos is referring chiefly to judicial proceedings, and not to his own mission. Uprightly; literally, perfectly; Vulgate, perfecte; i.e. without reserve, keeping nothing back.
Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them.
Verse 11. - Therefore. Because ye refuse reproof, and oppress the poor. Your treading is upon the poor; ye trample upon. The Hebrew word boshes is found nowhere else, and is variously explained. Septuagint, κατεκονδύλιζον, "smote with the fists;" so the Syriac; Vulgate, diripiebatis, with which the Chaldee agrees. Keil, Schegg, and most modern commentators explain the word, by a slight dialectical variation, as equivalent to conculcare. Burdens of wheat; rather, tribute, exactions of wheat, or presents like enforced "benevolences." They exacted such gifts before they would do justice to the poor. Or it may refer to interest for money or victuals lent, which took the form of presents in order to evade the Law (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:37; Deuteronomy 23:19). Septuagint, δῶρα ἐκλεκτά: Vulgate, praedam electam, the Hebrew word bar meaning either "wheat" or "elect." Hewn stone. Houses thus built were a mark of luxury and wealth, sun-dried brick being the usual material employed (comp. Isaiah 9:10; Ezekiel 12:5, 7). Ye shall not dwell in them. This is the punishment of their evil doings, according to the threat in Deuteronomy 28:30, 39. The people shall be banished and the land desolated (Micah 6:15; Zephaniah 1:13).
For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.
Verse 12. - Your punishment is richly deserved, for "I know how many are your transgressions and how mighty are your sins," especially, as it follows, your sins of oppression and injustice. They afflict the just. The construction is continuous: "afflicters of the just." Hostes justi (Vulgate); καταπατοῦντες δίκαιον, "trampling down the just" (Septuagint); comp. Wisd. 2:12-15. They take a bribe. The translation of kopher as "bribe" is justified, perhaps, by 1 Samuel 12:3; but the word is elsewhere used for "ransom," redemption money paid to escape the consequences of crime (Proverbs 6:35), in direct opposition to the Law in Numbers 35:31, which forbade any ransom to be taken for the life of a murderer. The Septuagint has, λαμβάνοντες ἀλλάγματα "taking wares;" the Vulgate (with which the Syriac agrees), accipientes munus. Turn aside the poor in the gate from their right; or, bow down the needy in the gate, i.e. in the place of judgment (see note on ver. 10). Vulgate, pauperes deprimentes in porta; Septuagint, πένητας ἐν πύλαις ἐκκλίνοντες, "turning aside the poor in the gates." The crime specified is that of wresting judgment in the case of the poor, or not giving the poor man justice unless he could pay for it (comp. Exodus 23:6; Deuteronomy 16:19).
Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.
Verse 13. - Even while he speaks, the prophet feels that his reproof is useless (comp. Jeremiah 7:27, etc.; Hosea 4:1, 17). In that time; at such a time as this, the man who acts wisely holds his peace, because it is a time of moral corruption and of personal danger. But the prophet cannot restrain his call (comp. Ezekiel 33:3, etc.). In Micah 2:3 the "evil time" is one of calamity.
Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.
Verse 14. - He repeats his loving summons to repentance, as in vers. 4, 6, showing that their only hope of safety lay in amendment of life (comp Zephaniah 2:3). Seek good, and not evil. Use that diligence and zeal in pursuing what is good which you have hitherto shown in the pursuit of evil. The Lord, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken; or, as ye say. The Israelites fancied that, owing to their covenant relation to God, he would be always with them and ready to help them under any circumstances. Their prosperity under Jeroboam II, as Calmet remarks seemed an argument in their favour, proving that God blessed them, and that they had no cause for fear (comp. Jeremiah 7:4, etc.; Micah 3:11; Matthew 3:9; John 8:39). But really God's help and favour were conditioned by their obedience.
Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.
Verse 15. - Reverse your former conduct, undo what ye have done (ver. 10). This verse emphasizes the preceding; hating and loving are more real and hearty than mere seeking. The LXX. makes this clause to be what the people said, Ον τρόπον εἴπατε, μεμισήκαμεν τὰ πονρὰ καὶ ἠγαπήσαμεν τὰκαλά, "As ye said, We have hated evil, and loved good." Establish judgment. Maintain justice in your tribunals (in contrast to ver. 7); then it may be that the Lord will have mercy on you or some of you. The remnant of Joseph; implying that only a few of them will be saved after this heavy chastisement, which points to the final ruin of their city and nation. The prophet speaks of the "remnant of Joseph" instead of Ephraim, to remind them of their forefather, who received the patriarchal blessing of Jacob, for whose sake this remnant should be spared (comp. Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 10:21, etc.; Joel 2:32; Romans 11:4, etc.).
Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing.
Verses 16, 17. - The retribution for their incorrigible iniquity is here announced. For "they that would not be reformed by that correction, wherein he dallied with them, shall feel a judgment worthy of God" (Wisd. 12:26). Verse 16. - Therefore. The prophet returns to what was said in ver. 13 about the uselessness of reproof; yore. 14 and 15 being a kind of parenthetical exhortation which his love for his nation forced from him. "Jehovah, the God of hosts, the Lord," Adonai, saith what follows, these solemn titles being used to add solemnity, certainty, and weight to the announcement. Wailing; misped, "the death wail." Streets; broad places; πλατείαις (Septuagint); plateis (Vulgate). Highways; the narrower streets; ὁδοῖς (Septuagint); in cunctis quae foris sunt (Vulgate). Everywhere in town and country shall the wail be heard. Alas! alas! ho! ho! This is the death wail (comp. Jeremiah 22:18), which should sound abroad when Samaria was besieged and taken. They shall call the husbandman to mourning. The husbandman shall be called from his labour in the fields to mourn for a calamity in his house. Pusey thinks the mourning is for his occupation gone, his tillage now only furnishing food for the enemy; but the context involves the notion of death. And such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing; literally, proclaim wailing to such, etc. These are the hired mourners, both male and female, who sang mournful songs at deaths (comp. 2 Chronicles 35:25; Jeremiah 9:17; Matthew 9:23).
And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD.
Verse 17. - Vineyards. The place of mirth and gladness, that, says St. Jerome, "ubi quondam fuit materia laetitiae, sit origo lacrymarum" (Isaiah 16:10). I will pass through thee. A terrible echo of the last plague of Egypt (Exodus 12:12), when God will not "pass over" thee as he did then, but treat thee as Egypt, and "pass through" to smite and punish (Nahum 1:12).
Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.
Verses 18-27. - The prophet enforces the threat by denouncing woe on those that trust to their covenant relation to God, expecting the day when he would punish the heathen for their sakes, and thinking that external, heartless worship was acceptable to him. Verse 18. - The day of the Lord. Anycrisis in the nation's history is so called, when God interposes to punish and correct. To our minds it looks forward to the final judgment. It is often mentioned by the prophets (e.g. Isaiah 2:12; Isaiah 13:6, 9; Joel 2:1, 11; Joel 3:18; Zephaniah 1:7, 14) as a time when the heathen should be judged, all the enemies of Israel defeated, and when Israel herself was exalted to the highest pitch of prosperity and dominion. Without any regard to the moral condition affixed to the realization of these expectations (see Joel 2:32), the people "desired" the appearance of this day, thus foolishly confirming themselves in their sinful life and false security. Some think scoffers are intended, but the context shows that the persons signified are sincere but mistaken believers in the safety of Israel's covenant position. To what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness; Why would ye have the day of the Lord? It is darkness. Why do ye, such as ye are, want this day to come? Ye know not what ye ask. It will be the very contrary to your expectations; it will be darkness, and not light, tribulation and misery, not joy and triumph for you (comp. Micah 7:8).
As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.
Verse 19. - Amos explains the dangers of this judgment day by illustrations drawn from pastoral life, equivalent to the rushing from Charybdis into Scylla. Every place is full of danger - the open country, the shelter of the house. Jerome applies the passage to the fate of the kingdom in general: "Fugientibus vobis a facie Nabuchodonosor leonis occurrent Medi, Persae, demum Antiochus Epiphanes, qui moretur in templo et vos instar colubri mordeat, nequaquam foris in Babylone, sed intra terminos terrae sanctae."
Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?
Verse 20. - The character of the day of the Lord is enforced with reiterated earnestness (ver. 18) by an appeal to the conscience of e hearers. Do you not feel in your inmost hearts that in the case of such guilt as yours the Lord can visit but to punish?
I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
Verse 21. - Outward, formal worship will not avert the threatened danger or secure the favour of God in the day of visitation. Your feast days (chaggim); your feasts; your counterfeit worship, the worship of the true God under an idol symbol (compare God's repudiation of merely formal worship in Isaiah 1:11-15). I will not smell; οὐ μὴ ἀσφρανθῶ θυσίας (Septuagint). No sweet savour ascends to God from such sacrifices; so the phrase is equivalent to "I will not accept," "I will take no delight in" (comp.. Genesis 8:21; Exodus 29:18; Leviticus 26:31). Solemn assemblies; πανηγύρεσιν (Septuagint); atsaroth; the convocations for the keeping of the great festivals.
Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.
Verse 22. - They maintained the formal ritual of the Mosaic worship in their idolatry. The various offerings are here enumerated. Burnt offerings; ὁλοκαυτώματα (Exodus 29:38, 42; Numbers 28:9-11). Meat offerings; θυσίας (Septuagint); munera (Vulgate); Exodus 29:40, 41; Leviticus 2:1. Peace offerings of your fat beasts; σωτηρίους ἐπιφανείας, "your grand peace offerings" (Septuagint); vota pinguium vestrorum (Vulgate); Leviticus 3:1, etc.
Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
Verse 23. - The noise of thy songs. Their psalms and hymns of praise were mere noise in God's ear, and wearied him (Isaiah 1:14; Isaiah 24:8; Ezekiel 26:13). Viols (Amos 6:5); ὀργάνων (Septuagint). The nebel, usually translated "psaltery," was a kind of harp. Josephus ('Ant.,' 7:12. 3) describes it as having twelve strings, played by the fingers. Music, both instrumental and vocal, was used in the temple worship (see 1 Chronicles 16:42; 1 Chronicles 23:5; and 25.).
But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Verse 24. - But let judgment run down as waters; let judgment roll on; Septuagint, καὶ κυλισθήσεται ὡς ὕδωρ κρίμα, "and judgment shall roll along as water." Et revelabitur quasi aqua judicium (Vulgate). This verse has been explained in different ways. Hitzig, Keil, with many ancient commentators, find in it a threat of chastisement, "the flooding of the land with judgment and the punitive righteousness of God." Pusey, Professor Gandell, and others consider it to be a call to amendment. "He bids them let judgment, which had hitherto been perverted in its course, roll on like a mighty tide of waters, sweeping before it all hindrances," filling the whole land with righteousness. Schegg makes it to be a promise of the coming of the day of the Lord, that is, the revelation of Messiah. But such a promise in this position is very forced and unnatural. The second interpretation seems most suitable. In the midst of the denunciation of men's formal worship, the prophet announces their duty in the present crisis, attention to which could alone win God's favour. Judgment and righteousness, long neglected and forgotten, should permeate the land like refreshing streams of water - a simile of special signification to an inhabitant of an Eastern country, where the neighbourhood of a perennial stream was as delightful as it was unusual. Mighty (ethan); ἄβατος, "impassable" (Septuagint); fortis (Vulgate). The word may mean "strong," or "perennial." "Whence the seventh month, just before the early rain, was called the month Ethanim, i.e. the month of the perennial streams, when they alone flowed" (Pusey).
Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?
Verse 25. - Ye have always been idolaters, corrupters of pure worship. Your service in the wilderness, when you were little exposed to external influence, was no more true and faithful than that which you offer now; that was as unacceptable as this. Have ye offered unto me? Did ye offer unto me? The answer expected is "No;" i.e. you did not so really, because your worship was mixed with falsehood, and was not offered simply and genuinely to me. It is certain, too, that during the sojourn in the wilderness sacrificial worship fell greatly into desuetude, as we know that the rite of circumcision was suspended (Joshua 5:5-7), the Passover was not duly celebrated, and Joshua urged the people to put away the strange gods from among them (Joshua 24:23). Moses, too, doubtless with a view to existing practices, warns them against worshipping the heavenly bodies (Deuteronomy 4:19), and offering sacrifice unto devils (seirim), "after whom they had gone a-whoring" (Leviticus 17:7). The prophets, too, allude to the idolatry practised in the desert (see Ezekiel 20:7-26; Hosea 9:10). But to argue (as some neologians do) from this passage of Amos that the Israelites during those forty years knew nothing of Jehovah, or that Amos himself denies that they offered him any worship, is absurd, seeing that the prophet presupposes the fact, and blames them for corrupting the Divine service and mingling the prescribed and enacted ritual with idolatrous accretions. Sacrifices; slain, bloody sacrifices. Offerings; bloodless sacrifices, meal offerings.
But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.
Verse 26. - This verse has occasioned great perplexity to commentators. The connection with the context, the meaning of some of the terms, and whether the reference is to past, present, or future, are questions which have roused much controversy. We need not here recapitulate the various opinions which have been held. It will be sufficient to state what seems to be the simplest and most probable explanation of the passage. But we must not omit to mention first the explanation adopted by Ewald, Schrader, Farrar, Konig, and others, viz. that this verse refers to the punitive deportation which was to be the people's lot, when they should take their shrines and images with them into captivity. "So shall ye take (into exile) Sakkuth your king," etc. But the punishment is foretold in ver. 27; and this verse contrasts their idol worship with the neglected worship of Jehovah (ver. 25). But ye have borne; and ye bare; καὶ ἀνελάβετε (Septuagint); et portastis (Vulgate). Ye offered me no pure worship in the wilderness, seeing that ye took false gods with you, and joined their worship with, or substuted it for, mine. The tabernacle of your Moloch; τὴν σκηνὴν τοῦ Μολόχ (Septuagint); tabernaculum Moloch vestro (Vulgate). The Hebrew word rendered "tabernacle" (sikkuth). which is found nowhere else, has been variously explained. Aquila gives συσκιασμούς: Theodotion, "vision," reading the whole sentence thus: Καὶ ἤρατε τὴν ὅρασιν τοῦ Θεοῦ ὑμῶν ὑμῶν ἄστρον τοῦ Θεοῦ ὑμῶν. Many moderns render, "stake," "column," or "shrine." Others suppose it to be equivalent to Sakkuth, an Assyrian name for Molech (or Adar); but this is very uncertain (see 'Studien und Kritiken.' 1874, p. 887), sad the parallelism requires the word to be an appellative and not a proper name. It most probably means "shrine," a portable shrine, like those spoken of in Acts 19:24 in connection with the worship of Diana. The Syriac and Arabic versions call it "tent," and thus the reproach stands forth emphatically that, instead of, or in conjunction with, the true tabernacle, they bore aloft, as if proud of their apostasy, the tabernacle of a false god. Such shrines were used by the Egyptians, according to Herodotus (2:63, where see Rawlinson's note) and Diod. Sic. (1:97). Many such may be seen in the Egyptian room of the British Museum. Keil quotes Drumann, 'On the Rosetta Inscription,' p. 211, "These 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." Hence we must look to Egypt as the source of this idolatry. Moloch, though sanctioned by the LXX. and St. Stephen (Acts 7:43), is a mistranslation. De Rossi, indeed, mentions that one Hebrew manuscript gives Moloch, but the received reading is Melkekem, which is confirmed by Symmachus and Theodotion, who have τοῦ βασιλέως ὑμῶν, and by the Syriac. The translation, therefore, should run, "Ye took up the shrine of your king," i.e. of him whom ye made your king in the place of Jehovah, meaning some stellar divinity. And Chiun your images; καὶ τὸ ἄστρον τοῦ θεοῦ ὑμῶν Ῥαμφάν, "and the star of your god Raephan "(Septuagint); et imaginem idolorum vestrorum; literally, the kiyyun of your images. The parallelism again requires us to take this unknown word as an appellative; and according to its probable derivation, its meaning is "pedestal," or "framework," that on which the image stood. The Greek rendering is, as Keil thinks, owing to a false reading of the unpointed text, in old Hebrew kaph and resh being easily confounded, and vau and pe. Theodotion considered the word a common noun, translating it by ἀμαύρωσιν. It is probably a mere coincidence that in some Assyrian inscriptions the name Kairan occurs as that of a deity, who is identified with Saturn; that the Egyptians (from whom the Israelites must have derived the notion) ever acknowledged such a deity is quite unproved. St. Stephen merely quotes the Textus Receptus of his day, which was close enough to the original for his argument. The star of your god. These words are in loose apposition with the preceding, and are equivalent to "your star god," or the star whom ye worship as god. Whether some particular star is meant, or whether the sun is the deity signified, cannot be determined, although the universal prevalence of the worship of sun gods in Egypt makes the latter supposition very probable. St. Stephen puts the sin in a general form: "God gave them up to serve the host of heaven" (Acts 7:42; comp. Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3). Which ye made to yourselves. This was the crime, self-will, desertion of the appointed way for devices of their own invention.
Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.
Verse 27. - Therefore. The consequence of their continued alienation from God should be deportation to a foreign land, beyond Damascus, far away from the confines of the country once their own possession (2 Samuel 8:6), thus dimly denoting As. syria, at that time not hostile, but known in the time of Tiglath-Pileser I. (see the accomplishment, 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:6). St. Stephen says (Acts 7:43), "beyond Babylon;" "Magis enim," observes Jerome, "intelligentiam quam verbum posuit;" and he is probably blending other prophecies with that of Amos, e.g. Jeremiah 20:4.