RANDOM, BUT BY
1. children of Israel--not merely the ten tribes, but "the
whole family brought up from Egypt"; all the descendants of
Jacob, including Judah and Benjamin. Compare
and Mic 2:3,
on "family" for the nation. However, as the prophecy following refers to
the ten tribes, they must be chiefly, if not solely, meant: they
were the majority of the nation; and so Amos concedes what they so
often boasted, that they were the elect people of God [CALVIN], but implies that this only heightens
2. You only have I known--that is, acknowledged as My people, and
treated with peculiar favor
Compare the use of "know,"
Ps 1:6; 144:3;
therefore I will punish--the greater the privileges, the heavier the
punishment for the abuse of them; for to the other offenses there is
added, in this case, ingratitude. When God's people do not glorify Him,
He glorifies Himself by punishing them.
3-6. Here follow several questions of a parable-like kind, to awaken
conviction in the people.
Can two walk together, except they be agreed?--Can God's prophets be
so unanimous in prophesying against you, if God's Spirit were not joined
with them, or if their prophecies were false? The Israelites were "at
ease," not believing that God was with the prophets in their denunciations
of coming ruin to the nation
(Am 6:1, 3;
1Ki 22:18, 24, 27;
This accords with
Am 3:7, 8.
So "I will be with thy mouth"
If the prophets and God were not agreed, the former could not predict
the future as they do. In
He had said, the Israelites forbade the prophets prophesying;
Am 3:3, 8,
He asserts the agreement between the prophets and God who spake by them
against Israel [ROSENMULLER]. Rather, "I once
walked with you"
as a Father and Husband
but now your way and Mine are utterly diverse; there can therefore be
no fellowship between us such as there was
I will walk with you only to "punish you"; as a "lion" walks with his
as a bird-catcher with a bird [TARNOVIUS]. The
prophets, and all servants of God, can have no fellowship with the
2Co 6:16, 17;
4. The same idea as in
Where a corrupt nation is, there God's instruments of punishment are
sure also to be. The lion roars loudly only when he has prey in sight.
Will a young lion cry out . . . if he--the "lion," not the "young
have taken nothing?--The young lion just weaned lies silent, until the
old lion brings the prey near; then the scent rouses him. So, the
prophet would not speak against Israel, if God did not reveal to him
Israel's sins as requiring punishment.
5. When a bird trying to fly upwards is made to fall upon the earth
snare, it is a plain proof that the snare is there; so, Israel, now that
thou art falling, infer thence, that it is in the snare of the divine
judgment that thou art entangled [LUDOVICUS
shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing--The bird-catcher does not remove his snare off the ground till he has
caught some prey; so God will not withdraw the Assyrians, &c., the
instruments of punishment, until they have had the success against you
which God gives them. The foe corresponds to the "snare," suddenly
springing from the ground and enclosing the bird on the latter
touching it; the Hebrew is literally, "Shall the snare spring from the earth?" Israel entangled in judgments answers to the bird
6. When the sound of alarm is trumpeted by the watchman in the city,
the people are sure to run to and fro in alarm (Hebrew, literally).
Yet Israel is not alarmed, though God threatens judgments.
shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?--This is
the explanation of the preceding similes: God is the Author of all the
calamities which come upon you, and which are foretold by His prophets.
The evil of sin is from ourselves; the evil of trouble is from God,
whoever be the instruments.
7. his secret--namely, His purpose hidden from all, until it is
revealed to His prophets (compare
In a wider sense, God's will is revealed to all who love God, which it
is not to the world
Joh 15:15; 17:25, 26).
unto his servants--who being servants cannot but obey their Lord
in setting forth His purpose (namely, that of judgment against Israel)
Therefore the fault which the ungodly find with them is groundless
It aggravates Israel's sin, that God is not about to inflict judgment,
without having fully warned the people, if haply they might repent.
8. As when "the lion roars" (compare
none can help but "fear," so when Jehovah communicates His awful
message, the prophet cannot but prophesy. Find not fault with me for
prophesying; I must obey God. In a wider sense true of all believers
(Ac 4:20; 5:29).
9. Publish in . . . palaces--as being places of
greatest resort (compare
and also as it is the sin of princes that he arraigns, he calls
on princes (the occupants of the "palaces") to be the witnesses.
Ashdod--put for all Philistia. Convene the Philistine and the Egyptian
magnates, from whom I have on various occasions rescued Israel. (The
opposite formula to "Tell it not in Gath," namely, lest the heathen
should glory over Israel). Even these idolaters, in looking on your
enormities, will condemn you; how much more will the holy God?
upon the mountains of Samaria--on the hills surrounding and commanding
the view of Samaria, the metropolis of the ten tribes, which was on a
The mountains are to be the tribunal on which the Philistines and
Egyptians are to sit aloft to have a view of your crimes, so as to
testify to the justice of your punishment
tumults--caused by the violence of the princes of Israel in
"oppressions" of the poor
10. know not to do--Their moral corruption blinds their power of
discernment so that they cannot do right
Not simple intellectual ignorance; the defect lay in the heart and
store up violence and robbery--that is, treasures obtained by "violence
11. Translate, "An adversary (the abruptness produces a startling
effect)! and that too, from every side of the land." So in the
"The king of Assyria (Shalmaneser) came up throughout all the
land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years."
bring down thy strength from thee--that is, bring thee down from thy
strength (the strength on which thou didst boast thyself): all thy
palaces shall be spoiled--a just retribution in kind
The palaces in which spoils of robbery were stored
up, "shall be spoiled."
12. shepherd--a pastoral image, appropriately used by Amos, a shepherd
piece of . . . ear--brought by the shepherd to the owner of the sheep,
so as not to have to pay for the loss
So if aught of Israel escapes, it shall be a miracle of God's goodness.
It shall be but a scanty remnant. There is a kind of goat in the East
the ears of which are a foot long, and proportionally broad. Perhaps
the reference is to this. Compare on the image
1Sa 17:34, 35;
that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed--that is, that live
luxuriously in Samaria (compare
Am 6:1, 4).
"A bed" means here the Oriental divan, a raised part of the room
covered with cushions.
in Damascus in a couch--Jeroboam II had lately restored Damascus to
(2Ki 14:25, 28).
So the Israelites are represented as not merely in "the corner of a
bed," as in Samaria, but "in a (whole) couch," at Damascus, living in
luxurious ease. Of these, now so luxurious, soon but a remnant shall be
left by the foe. The destruction of Damascus and that of Samaria shall
be conjoined; as here their luxurious lives, and subsequently under
Pekah and Rezin their inroads on Judah, were combined
(Isa 7:1-8; 8:4, 9; 17:3).
The parallelism of "Samaria" to "Damascus," and the Septuagint
favor English Version rather than GESENIUS:
"on a damask couch." The Hebrew pointing, though
generally expressing damask, may express the city "Damascus";
and many manuscripts point it so. Compare for Israel's overthrow,
2Ki 17:5, 6; 18:9-12.
13. testify in the house, &c.--that is, against the house of
Jacob. God calls on the same persons as in
namely, the heathen Philistines and the Egyptians to witness with their
own eyes Samaria's corruptions above described, so that none may be
able to deny the justice of Samaria's punishment [MAURER].
God of hosts--having all the powers of heaven and earth at His command,
and therefore One calculated to strike terror into the hearts of the
guilty whom He threatens.
14. That--rather, "since," or "for." This verse is not, as
English Version translates, the thing which the witnesses cited
are to "testify"
but the reason why God calls on the heathen to witness Samaria's guilt;
namely, in order to justify the punishment which He declares He will
I will also visit . . . Beth-el--the golden calves which were the
source of all "the transgressions of Israel"
(1Ki 12:32; 13:2;
2Ki 23:15, 16),
though Israel thought that by them their transgressions were atoned for
and God's favor secured.
horns of the altar--which used to be sprinkled with the blood of
victims. They were horn-like projecting points at the corners of ancient
altars. The singular, "altar," refers to the great altar erected by
Jeroboam to the calves. The "altars," plural, refer to the lesser
ones made in imitation of the great one
Ho 8:11; 10:1).
15. winter . . . summer house--
Winter houses of the great were in sheltered positions facing the south
to get all possible sunshine, summer houses in forests and on hills,
facing the east and north.
houses of ivory--having their walls, doors, and ceilings inlaid with
ivory. So Ahab's GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH