1. The words of Amos--that is, Amos' oracular
communications. A heading found only in
among the herdmen--rather, "shepherds"; both owning and tending
sheep; from an Arabic root, "to mark with pricks," namely, to select
the best among a species of sheep and goats
ill-shapen and short-footed (as others explain the name from an
Arabic root), but distinguished by their wool
[MAURER]. God chooses
"the weak things of the world to confound the mighty," and makes a
humble shepherd reprove the arrogance of Israel and her king arising
from prosperity (compare
which he saw--in supernatural vision
two years before the earthquake--mentioned in
The earthquake occurred in Uzziah's reign, at the time of his being
stricken with leprosy for usurping the priest's functions [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 9:10.4]. This clause must
have been inserted by Ezra and the compilers of the Jewish canon.
2. will roar--as a lion
Whereas Jehovah is there represented roaring in Israel's behalf, here
He roars against her (compare
from Zion . . . Jerusalem--the seat of the theocracy, from which ye
have revolted; not from Dan and Beth-el, the seat of your idolatrous
worship of the calves.
habitations . . . mourn--poetical personification. Their
inhabitants shall mourn, imparting a sadness to the very
Carmel--the mountain promontory north of Israel, in Asher, abounding in
rich pastures, olives, and vines. The name is the symbol of fertility. When Carmel itself "withers," how utter the desolation!
Isa 33:9; 35:2;
3. Here begins a series of threatenings of vengeance against six other
states, followed by one against Judah, and ending with one against
Israel, with whom the rest of the prophecy is occupied. The eight
predictions are in symmetrical stanzas, each prefaced by "Thus saith the
Lord." Beginning with the sin of others, which Israel would be ready
enough to recognize, he proceeds to bring home to Israel her own guilt.
Israel must not think hereafter, because she sees others visited
similarly to herself, that such judgments are matters of chance; nay,
they are divinely foreseen and foreordered, and are confirmations of the
truth that God will not clear the guilty. If God spares not the nations
that know not the truth, how much less Israel that sins wilfully
(Lu 12:47, 48;
for three transgressions . . . and for four--If Damascus had only
sinned once or twice, I would have spared them, but since, after having
been so often pardoned, they still persevere so continually, I will
no longer "turn away" their punishment. The Hebrew is simply, "I
will not reverse it," namely, the sentence of punishment which
follows; the negative expression implies more than it expresses; that
is, "I will most surely execute it"; God's fulfilment of His threats
being more awful than human language can express. "Three and four"
imply sin multiplied on sin (compare
Pr 30:15, 18, 21;
"six and seven,"
"once and twice,"
"twice and thrice," Margin; "oftentimes," English Version,
"seven and also eight,"
There may be also a reference to seven, the product of
three and four added; seven expressing the full
completion of the measure of their guilt
(Le 26:18, 21, 24;
threshed--the very term used of the Syrian king Hazael's oppression
of Israel under Jehu and Jehoahaz
(2Ki 10:32, 33; 13:7).
The victims were thrown before the threshing sledges, the teeth of
which tore their bodies. So David to Ammon
4. Hazael . . . Ben-hadad--A black marble obelisk
found in the central palace of Nimroud, and now in the British Museum,
is inscribed with the names of Hazael and Ben-hadad of Syria, as well
as Jehu of Israel, mentioned as tributaries of "Shalmanubar," king of
Assyria. The kind of tribute from Jehu is mentioned: gold, pearls,
precious oil, &c. [G. V. SMITH]. The Ben-hadad
here is the son of Hazael
not the Ben-hadad supplanted and slain by Hazael
(2Ki 8:7, 15).
The phrase, "I will send a fire," that is, the flame of war
occurs also in
Am 1:7, 10, 12, 14,
and Am 2:2, 5;
5. bar of Damascus--that is, the bar of its gates (compare
the inhabitant--singular for plural, "inhabitants."
because of the parallel, "him that holdeth the scepter," translates,
"the ruler." But the parallelism is that of one clause complementing the
other, "the inhabitant" or subject here answering to "him that
holdeth the scepter" or ruler there, both ruler and subject alike
being cut off.
Aven--the same as Oon or Un, a delightful valley,
four hours' journey from Damascus, towards the desert. Proverbial in
the East as a place of delight [JOSEPHUS ABASSUS]. It is here parallel to "Eden," which also means
"pleasantness"; situated at Lebanon. As JOSEPHUS
ABASSUS is a doubtful authority, perhaps the
reference may be rather to the valley between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon,
called El-Bekaa, where are the ruins of the Baal-bek temple of
the sun; so the Septuagint renders it On, the same name
as the city in Egypt bears, dedicated to the sun-worship
Heliopolis, "the city of the sun,"
Margin). It is termed by Amos "the valley of Aven," or "vanity,"
from the worship of idols in it.
Kir--a region subject to Assyria
in Iberia, the same as that called now in Armenian Kur, lying by
the river Cyrus which empties itself into the Caspian Sea.
Tiglath-pileser fulfilled this prophecy when Ahaz applied for help to
him against Rezin king of Syria, and the Assyrian king took Damascus,
slew Rezin, and carried away its people captive to Kir.
6. Gaza--the southernmost of the five capitals of the five divisions
of Philistia, and the key to Palestine on the south: hence put for the
whole Philistine nation. Uzziah commenced the fulfilment of this
because they carried away . . . the whole captivity--that is, they left
none. Compare with the phrase here,
"Judah . . . carried captive all of it . . .
wholly carried away." Under Jehoram already the Philistines had
carried away all the substance of the king of Judah, and his wives and
his sons, "so that there was never a son left to him, save Jehoahaz";
and after Amos' time (if the reference includes the future,
which to the prophet's eye is as if already done), under Ahaz
they seized on all the cities and villages of the low country and south
to deliver them up to Edom--Judah's bitterest foe; as slaves
Joe 3:1, 3, 6).
GROTIUS refers it to the fact
that on Sennacherib's invasion of Judah, many fled for refuge to
neighboring countries; the Philistines, instead of hospitably
sheltering the refugees, sold them, as if captives in war, to their
enemies, the Idumeans.
7. fire--that is, the flame of war
Hezekiah fulfilled the prophecy, smiting the Philistines unto Gaza
Foretold also by
Isa 14:29, 31.
8. Ashdod, &c.--Gath alone is not mentioned of the five chief
Philistine cities. It had already been subdued by David; and it, as well
as Ashdod, was taken by Uzziah
Gath perhaps had lost its position as one of the five primary cities
before Amos uttered this prophecy, whence arose his omission of it. So
Zep 2:4, 5.
Subsequently to the subjugation of the Philistines by Uzziah, and then
by Hezekiah, they were reduced by Psammetichus of Egypt,
Nebuchadnezzar, the Persians, Alexander, and lastly the Asmoneans.
9. Tyrus . . . delivered up the . . . captivity to Edom--the same
charge as against the Philistines
remembered not the brotherly covenant--the league of Hiram of Tyre
with David and Solomon, the former supplying cedars for the building of
the temple and king's house in return for oil and corn
1Ki 5:2-6; 9:11-14, 27; 10-22;
2Ch 8:18; 9:10).
Am 1:4, 7;
Many parts of Tyre were burnt by fiery missiles of the Chaldeans under
Nebuchadnezzar. Alexander of Macedon subsequently overthrew it.
11. Edom . . . did pursue his brother--
The chief aggravation to Edom's violence against Israel was that they
both came from the same parents, Isaac and Rebekah (compare
De 23:7, 8;
Ob 10, 12;
cast off all pity--literally, "destroy compassions," that is, did
suppress all the natural feeling of pity for a brother in distress.
his wrath for ever--As Esau kept up his grudge against Jacob, for
having twice supplanted him, namely, as to the birthright and the
so Esau's posterity against Israel
(Nu 20:14, 21).
Edom first showed his spite in not letting Israel pass through his
borders when coming from the wilderness, but threatening to "come out
against him with the sword"; next, when the Syrians attacked Jerusalem
under Ahaz (compare
with 2Ki 16:5);
next, when Nebuchadnezzar assailed Jerusalem
(Ps 137:7, 8).
In each case Edom chose the day of Israel's calamity for venting his
grudge. This is the point of Edom's guilt dwelt on in
God punishes the children, not for the sin of their fathers, but for
their own filling up the measure of their fathers' guilt, as children
generally follow in the steps of, and even exceed, their fathers' guilt
12. Teman--a city of Edom, called from a grandson of Esau
(Ge 36:11, 15;
Ob 8, 9);
situated five miles from Petra; south of the present Wady Musa. Its
people were famed for wisdom
Bozrah--a city of Edom
Selah or Petra is not mentioned, as it had been overthrown by Amaziah
13. Ammon--The Ammonites under Nahash attacked Jabesh-gilead and
refused to accept the offer of the latter to save them, unless the
Jabesh-gileadites would put out all their right eyes
&c.). Saul rescued Jabesh-gilead. The Ammonites joined the Chaldeans
in their invasion of Judea for the sake of plunder.
ripped up . . . women with-child--as Hazael of Syria also did
Ammon's object in this cruel act was to leave Israel without "heir," so
as to seize on Israel's inheritance
14. Rabbah--the capital of Ammon: meaning "the Great." Distinct from
Rabbah of Moab. Called Philadelphia, afterwards, from Ptolemy
tempest--that is, with an onset swift, sudden, and resistless as a
day of the whirlwind--parallel to "the day of battle"; therefore
meaning "the day of the foe's tumultuous assault."
15. their king . . . princes--or else, "their Molech
(the idol of Ammon) and his priests" [GROTIUS and
so uses "princes" for "priests." So
"your Molech"; and
Margin. English Version, however, is perhaps preferable both
here and in