Amos 1

 

 

 

The nations bordering on the Holy Land are solemnly summoned to judgment in

ch.1 through ch.2:3.

 

1  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 words” -  So Jeremiah begins his prophecy

(Jeremiah 1:1), and the  writer of  Ecclesiastes (1:1).  That the words are not

those of Amos, but of Jehovah,  is shown by the succeeding clause, “which he

 saw.”   Herdmen. The Hebrew word noked used here is found in II Kings 3:4,

applied to Mesha King of Moab, a great “sheepmaster;” hence some have

considered that Amos was not a mere mercenary, but a rich possessor of flocks.

His own words, however (ch.7:14-15), decide his position as that of a poor laboring

man.  Tekoah. A small town of Judah. He saw, with inward intuition. Hence his

words” were inspired (compare Isaiah 2:1; Habakkuk 1:1). Concerning

Israel chiefly, mention of Judah being introduced only incidentally and as

connected with the destinies of Israel The Septuagint reads, by some

mistake, “concerning Jerusalem.” In the days in the days of Uzziah

King of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash King of

Israel.” Uzziah’s reign (according to data corrected by Assyrian

monuments) lasted from B.C. 792 to 740, and Jeroboam’s from B.C. 790

to 749. The time specified above probably refers to the period during

which the two monarchs were contemporaneous, viz. from B.C. 790 to

749, a period of forty-one years. Another computation assigns Jeroboam’s

reign to B.C. 816-775; but there is still some uncertainty about the exact

date. Hence we cannot determine the time of our prophecy with perfect

satisfaction.  Earthquake. No mention is made of this event in the historical

books. It was remembered in after years (see Zechariah 14:5), and Amos alludes

to it as a token of the judgment which he foretold, such catastrophes being regarded

as signs of the majesty of God and His vengeance on sinners (compare Exodus 19:18:

Psalm 68:8; Micah 1:4; Habakkuk 3:6, 10), Josephus (‘Ant.’ 9:10. 4) attributes this

earthquake to God’s displeasure at Uzziah’s usurpation of the priest’s office

(II Chronicles 26:16).

 

 

A Voice from the Sheepcotes (v. 1)

 

The Jewish nation is almost seven centuries old. A wayward nonage had passed

into a maturity INCORRIGIBLY PERVERSE!   Alarmed by prophetic

thunders, and riven by the lightning bolts of judgment (ch. 4:6-11),

Israel clung to its iniquities in spite of all (ch. 2:4; 5:11; Isaiah 1:5).

Yet God had not cast off His people whom He foreknew (Romans 11:2). There

were other arrows in His quiver still, and He would shoot them against national

obduracy with a stronger bow. Amos shall take up his controversy against

Israel where Moses, and Samuel, and Elijah, and Elisha had laid it down.

Famine and the sword and captivity shall maintain and strengthen his expostulation

(ch.2:14 16). The argument shall at length prevail, and, the irreconcilables

destroyed,  a remnant shall enjoy His grace and choose His way (ch.9:11-15).

In this prefatory word consider:

 

  • THE SEER. An idol priest supplies the title (ch. 7:12), but it is

suitable and endures. A prophet sees, where other men are blind, the

meaning of what is and the nature of what shall be.

 

Ø      His name. Amos signifies “Bearer,” or “Burden,” or “Heavy.” And it

was prophetically significant of the owner’s work. His words were

weighty (ch.7:10), the burden of them was weightier still (ch.6:1),

and WEIGHTIEST OF ALL WAS THE DIVINE AUTHORITY

WITH WHICH THEY CAME!  (v. 3).

 

Ø      His extraction. “From among the shepherds.” These were probably

small sheep owners, who tended their own flocks (Keil, Lange, etc.).

They were in the lower ranks of life, the rank from which God has called,

and calls the majority of His servants (I Corinthians 1:27-28). The poor

man depends for all his well being on spiritual good (Luke 6:24).

He therefore chooses it more readily (Mark 12:37), advances in it more

easily (Matthew 13:22), rejoices in it more entirely (Isaiah 29:19),

and is chosen to it rather than the rich (James 2:5). “Poverty is the

sister of a sound mind,” was a heathen maxim embodying a kindred truth.

 

Ø      His calling. “A herdsman and gatherer of sycamores.” This

occupation would be no mean preparation for his prophetic office.

A true prophet must be a tender of human life, even when he

denounces death; and if from the love of man we may rise to the

love of God (I John 4:20), why not from the love of plant and

animal to the love of man?

 

“He prayeth best, who loveth best

    All things both great and small;

For the dear God who loveth us

    Hath made and loveth all.”

 

Ø      His home. Tekoah, a city south of Bethlehem, in the land of Judah.

Thence he went to Bethel, in the land of Israel, to prophesy. That he

may not be “without honour,” and corresponding influence, he goes

from his own to a neighboring country (Matthew 13:57). Then, like

Elijah and John the Baptist, he goes to the pampered and dissolute

town dwellers, that with the healthy tastes and simple habits and strong

pure life of a dweller in the fields, he might put their laxity and luxury to

shame (ch. 6:1-6).

 

  • THE VISION. The term does not occur in Amos, but the equivalent of

it does, and it is common elsewhere in Scripture (Isaiah 1:1; Habakkuk 2:2).

 

Ø      It was what he saw.” Of the way in which God revealed truth to

inspired men we know nothing. It is above reason and outside revelation.

It was not with the bodily eye, nor in the natural sense, that the vision

was seen; but the revelation was adequate, and the result was

knowledge (Acts 4:20). Their cognizance of matters was at once sure

and clear (I John 1:1), and comparable in both respects to that of Christ

Himself (John 3:11).

 

Ø      It was words.” A word is the body of a thought. A thought is the spirit

of a word. It is only by words, or something answering to words, that

thoughts can be conveyed from man to man. Analogy would suggest that

the same method is employed by God. If, as some hold, we think in

words, the hypothesis would be greatly strengthened. In any case, what

Amos got was not simply thoughts, but words, and the words of Scripture

are, in some real and important sense, “words which the Holy Ghost

teacheth(I Corinthians 2:13; II Samuel 23:2).

 

  • THE SPEAKING OF THE VISION. Coming from his simple

shepherd life into a luxurious city, and with the burden of his heavy tidings

on his heart, the prophet’s speech is:

 

Ø      Deeply serious. A grave character and a grave message make a

prophetic utterance a solemn thing. Amos had to tell of A CUP

OF INIQUITY FULL, of a Divine patience exhausted,

of a dispensation of forbearance EXPIRED,  and of

A NATIONAL RUIN ready to fall; and he tells it as one

weighted down with the piteous tiding, which yet he cannot

choose but speak (ch.3:1; 4:1; 5:1; 6:1).

 

Ø      Blunt. Amos is outspoken and honest, names the condemned, and

unequivocally denounces their impending doom. He may not mince his

tidings who is the messenger of death (Matthew 3:10; Luke 13:3;

Romans 1:18). Suppression would be murder, and even euphemy

would be cruel. Life and death hang on his lips, and all sentiment apart

he must speak out.

 

“The power to bind and loose to truth is given;

The mouth that speaks it is the mouth of Heaven.”

 

Ø      Characteristic. His style is bold and clear and tender, like his own

nature (ch.4:4,12-13; 9:5-6; 6:9-10); and his imagery is racy of the

mountains and fields in which his character was formed (v. 2;

ch. 2:9,13; 3:4-5; 5:19). The word of God in one sense, it is in

another, and no less really, the word of Amos. The Divine Spirit

supplies the breath and the fingering, and determines and directs

the time, but the human instrument gives forth its own characteristic

sound.

 

  • THE WRITING OF THE VISION. Scripture contains matters that

were written at the Divine dictation, and first promulgated in their written

form. But it also contains much that was spoken first and written afterwards,

for preservation. Such is the Book of Amos. The writing of it was:

 

Ø      Some years after the speaking. He spoke years before an earthquake,

after which he wrote his book. This earthquake he had foretold in his oral

prophecy (ch. 8:8; 9:5), and he thus puts on record the fulfillment of

his own prediction. “After fulfilling his mission, he probably returned to

Judah, his native land, where his prophecies were most likely first

committed to writing” (Keil).

 

Ø      In a different form from the speaking. Amaziah (ch.7:10-11)

refers to, and gives a summary of “words” that are not recorded.

The book is a resume of the essential contents of the oral prophecies

(Keil, Lange).  Accordingly, it does not contain them in the very

form, nor necessarily in the exact order, in which they were spoken.

 

Ø      With a widened purpose. The oral prophecies were for those whom

they directly concerned. The written prophecies were for the sages and

the ages that were to follow. They were the flower of the prophecies that

went before (Joel 3:16,18), and the bud of those that came after (Hosea

8:14; 9:3; Jeremiah 49:3,13-27; 46:6; 25:30). They also contain truths

essentially important and requisite for the perfecting of THE MAN

OF GOD IN ALL AGES!   (ch. 3:3,6-7; 5:4-6,14-15; 7:2-3).

 

Ø      Under the same Divine guidance. The contents of the book lie

between the expressions, thus saith the Lord (v.3), and saith the

Lord thy God” (ch.9:15). These formulae cover both the oral and the

written prophecy, each being the subject of a distinct inspiration for its

own special purpose. So Paul takes an inspired utterance of David, and,

under inspiration, charges it with a new lesson (compare Psalm 40:6 with

Hebrews 10:5; also Isaiah 60:1 with Ephesians 5:14).

 

  • THE SUBJECT OF THE VISION. It is brief, but it covers much ground.

 

Ø      The Jews. Judah and Israel are mentioned separately, having been

distinct kingdoms for above a century (ch.2:4, 6). The entire Hebrew

people are also grouped together as forming the family of Israel

which God redeemed from Egypt (ch.3:1). It is as earthly kingdoms

that destruction is denounced on both (ch.2:4, 6), but it is as one

covenant people that they survive in a remnant, and are restored

(ch. 9:11-15).

 

Ø      Their oppressors. God had made the neighboring nations the rod of

His anger” (ch. 3:11; 5:27; Isaiah 10:4) to smite Israel. They

accomplished His purpose unconsciously, and impelled by evil motives

of their own (vs. 3, 6, 9, 13; Isaiah 10:7). Accordingly, their wars and

oppressions, inflicted on Israel, were essentially wicked, and deserving

punishment in turn. It is thus that the wrath of man, which He punishes

at last, God makes meanwhile to praise Him by the unwitting execution

of His will. (Psalm 76:10)

 

Ø      Those who resemble either. God acts on the same principles in

 all ages.  (“For I am the Lord, I change not” – Malachi 3:6;

“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to day and for ever” –

Hebrews 13:8). He afflicts the Church for the sins of its members.

To the insincere His judgments mean punishment only (Romans 1:18).

To the sincere but faulty they mean discipline also (II Corinthians 4:17).

To the Church as a whole they mean separation between tares and

wheat (Matthew 13:29-30). To the outside wicked, through whom

they often come, they mean more sin now, and A HEAVIER

PUNISHMENT AT THE LAST!   (Luke 16:25).

 

  • THE TIME OF THE VISION. On this point we have information the

most explicit.

 

Ø      Generally it was in the days of Uzziah and Jeroboam. During those

reigns Judah and Israel were in the zenith of their career. It was,

therefore, a vision of adversity when prosperity was at its height, of

disastrous war when peace by conquest had been obtained with

neighboring powers, of both these as punishment when idolatry and

corruption were at their worst.  This proves its genuineness, as it

could not have been suggested by the observed shadows of coming

events. At the same time, it accounts for its comparative failure as a

warning, THE FUTURE BEING SO UNLIKE THE PRESENT!

 

Ø      Specially it was before the earthquake.  The presumption is natural

that these words indicate not only the period but the motive of the

composition. The approach of the earthquake was the occasion

of the oral prophecy, and the occurrence of it the occasion of the written

one. That the latter should contain a record of the fulfillment of the former

(ch. 8:8; 9:5) is proof that in addition to being genuine the vision is

authentic.

 

2 “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.”  And he said. This is the commencement

ofthe words” of Amos (v. 1); and herein the prophet gives a short summary of the

judgment which he has to pronounce. The following clause is a repetition

of Joel 3:16; and Amos thus connects his prophecy with that of his

predscessor, to show the unity of prophetic mission, and to warn the Jews

that God’s punishments are not directed exclusively on heathen nations. To

the nations denounced by Joel, Amos adds others of Israel’s enemies, viz.

Syria, Ammon, and Moab. Roar… voice. The thunder is the voice of God

announcing His coming to judge. From Zion. Not from Dan and Bethel,

the seats of idolatrous worship, but from Jerusalem, the abode of His

presence. The habitations; better, the pastures. It is only natural that

Amos, the shepherd, should use such terms to express the idea that the

whole land, from Jerusalem on the south to Carmel on the north, should

feel the vengeance of the Lord. Shall mourn; explained by the following

term, shall wither; i.e. shall lose their verdure (compare Jeremiah 12:11;

Hosea 4:3). The top of Carmel. This is the Mount Carmel, which

stretches boldly into the sea on the south of the Bay of Acre, and is

remarkable for its extreme fertility, its rich pastures, its vines, olives, fruits,

and flowers. Thomson, ‘The Land and the Book;’ writes thus about it:

“The celebrated ridge, called in the Bible Mount Carmel, and by the Arabs

Jebel Kurmul, or Mar Elyas, in honor of Elijah, is an extension of the hills

of Samaria, in a northwesterly direction, for a distance of about eighteen

miles, terminating in the bold promontory of Carmel, which descends

almost literally into the sea. It is steep and lofty where it overhangs the

Mediterranean above Haifa, and on that face which overlooks the Plain of

Acre on the north, and that of Esdraelon towards the southeast. There is

no special excellency in Carmel at the present day, whatever may be said of

Sharon. Its name, Kurmul, or Kerm-el, signifies ‘the vineyard of God;’ but

its vineyards have all disappeared. It was a glorious mountain, however,

and a prominent landmark; according to Jeremiah 46:18, Carmel was a resort

of herdsmen. Amos says, ‘The habitations of the shepherds shall mourn,

and the top of Carmel shall wither,’ in the time of the threatened judgment,

and this implies that its pastures were not ordinarily liable to wither. This may,

in part, have been occasioned by the heavy dews which its lofty elevation,

so near the sea, causes to distil nightly upon its thirsty head. I found it quite

green and flowery in midsummer. It was a noble pasture field, and, in reference

to that characteristic, Micah utters his sweet prayer, ‘Feed thy people with thy

rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the

midst of Carmel; let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of

old.’” (Micah 7:14)

 

 

The Thunder that Both Frights and Smites (v. 2)

 

These words are an echo of Joel 3:16. We hence infer the continuity of

the two prophetic messages. The one strikes the keynote, and the other

takes up and continues the strain.

 

  • DIVINE INTERVENTION. This is to end a period of quiescence. It is:

 

Ø      Intervention. “Utters his voice.” The silence of God is often treated

as equivalent to inaction (Psalm 28:1; 50:21). So His speech would

mean His becoming active, whether for good or for evil. Here the

breaking silence is for evil. God bears long with His open enemies,

and longer still with His seeming friends. But inactivity does not

show INDIFFERENCE nor INATTENTION.  It is simply

forbearance, that will not strike till it must. Action delayed is

no less certain, and will be no less vigorous for the delay.

 

Ø      Angry intervention. Shall “roar,” like a lion ready to devour.

Not till His anger burneth sore does God break the silence. But

when He breaks it He does so emphatically. He thunders with His

voice. His roar expresses wrath, and preludes a stroke; and is thus

power and light in one (Job 37:5; 40:9).

 

Ø      Forcible intervention. God’s speech is followed by action. It is more;

it is accompanied by action. It is more still; it is itself action. Creative

power, preserving power, redeeming power, each goes forth in a word

(Psalm 33:6, 9; Matthew 9:2). Christ says, “Be clean,” “Come forth;”

and the sick are whole, and the dead live at His word. In speaking,

God acts. The thunder of His voice is loaded with the electricity of

His power. The vehicle of the Divine active energy is, in fact,

a word.   (“Let there be light, and there was light” (Genesis 1:3);

“For He spake, and it was done” (Psalm 33:9)

 

  • GOD’S BASIS OF OPERATIONS. God intervenes in character, and

along established lines. He operates:

 

Ø      From Jerusalem. (21st century inhabitants take note).  This is God’s

own city, the metropolis of His earthly kingdom. Nothing could be

more appropriate. Going forth to war, the king marches from His

capital. There He has His magazine, His arsenal, and His

headquarters. From thence He can bear down resistlessly on foes

from whatever side, with all the resources of His kingdom.

 

Ø      From Zion. God’s seat and citadel within His city. The place

He loves and chooses and honors above all others (Psalm 87:2;

132:13; 48:12-13). Here He has made His dwelling place

(Psalm 68:16; 132:14). The place out of which go forth salvation

and destruction. The place out of which the things that come are

perfect after their kind. If they be blessings, there are no others

so sweet; if curses, no others so stern. Zion is the beating heart

of the spiritual world, which sends forth pure or poisoned

blood to each greatest and least extremity.

 

Ø      From the temple. This is not mentioned, but it is necessarily

implied. The glory of Jerusalem was Zion, and the glory of Zion

(using the word in its broad sense) was God’s house. This was

His sanctuary. There He dwelt in symbolic presence. There He

revealed Himself in symbolic portraiture.  There He operated in

 unparalleled energy. Thence accordingly we might

expect His activity to issue (Psalm 20:2). There, too, was His

 mercy seat, from which judgment never came till every

merciful expedient had been tried, but would come then

with the fury of outraged goodness. Now, Jerusalem and Zion

and God’s house are each a type, and their common anti-type

is the Church of Christ. And this is God’s base of spiritual

operations through all time (Isaiah 2:3; Luke 24:47). He dwells

in it, speaks by it (Ephesians 3:10), operates through it

(Daniel 2:44), and conquers in it (Ibid. 7:13, 22).

 

  • AFTER THE CAMPAIGN. God makes no fruitless expedition. The

armies of his judgments leave desolation in their track.

 

Ø      The pastures wither. God’s voice, as a A FIGURE FOR

METEOROLICAL PHENOMENA (Were Katrina and Sandy

wasted merciful attempts to get America’s attention?  the

Indonesian and Japaneses tsunamis?  Luke 21:25-26 – CY –

2013) is often spoken of as changing the surface of the earth

(Psalm 29:3-9). Here it stands for many agencies, including these,

and especially drought. Nature is one, and if any part suffers the

other parts suffer with it (Jeremiah 25:36). Amos, as a herdsman,

thinks naturally first of the calamity as it would affect the pastures

by which he made his living. God’s judgments strike each man in

his special interest. It is as menacing this interest chiefly that they

are feared.

 

Ø      The head of Carmel is dried up. Carmel was in the north, and the

pastures in the prophet’s mind were in the south. The enumeration,

therefore, points to the withering as prevailing over the entire land.

Carmel was one of the richest and best-watered spots in Palestine.

When it was withered, all other places must have been scorched.

God’s judgments come seldom, and with tardy foot; but they are

thorough, and make an end of their work (I Samuel 3:12;

Isaiah 60:12). Nor was this a passing visitation. It remains in its

leading characteristics till the present day. Carmel, as its name

implies, was rich in vineyards. Now there is only scrub,

and the debris of ruined walls. The “head” is dried up, that

might once have been said to “drop down new wine.”

 

From v. 3 to v.3 of ch.2, we have a hexade of woes.  In these verses is denounced

a series of six woes, on six of the oppressing nations, round about the land of

Israel. Each woe has characteristics peculiar to itself, but there are points

common to them all to which it will be well to make preliminary reference.

 

  • IN EVERY CASE JUDGMENT IS THE ACT OF GOD. “I will

send;” “I will kindle” (vs. 4,7,10,12). It is not fate, whose “winged shaft”

is but a fantasy. It is not chance, which is but another name for inscrutable

direction. It is not idols, the guesswork likenesses of imaginary things. It

is not natural laws, which am simply forces put into things by their Maker.

IT IS GOD — God in intelligence of device and energy of execution, who

creates evil” (Isaiah 45:7) — the evil of calamitous events.

 

  • IN EVERY CASE GOD’S JUDGMENT IS THE COMPLEMENT OF

MAN’S SIN. “Because they have threshed;” “Because they carried away”

(vs. 3,6).  The connection between human sin and human suffering is original,

constant, and necessary. They came together, dwell together, and will die

together. And just as our common suffering is the abiding result of our

common sinfulness, so SPECIAL SUFFERING connects itself somewhere

with SPECIAL SIN!  Its relation to the sin, whether as a punishment, a

deterrent, or a chastisement, is often obscure. The particular sin, or even the particular sinner, can seldom be pointed to with certainty. There is a

warning against judging harshly of the specially afflicted (Luke 13:4-5).

Yet the plain teaching of Scripture and experience and reason is that sin

has “brought death into the world, and all our woe” (Romans 5:12;

Job 4:7-8).

 

  • IN EVERY CASE THE SIN SELECTED FOR PUNISHMENT IS

THAT COMMITTED AGAINST GOD’S PEOPLE. In five cases out

of the six the sin was committed directly against Israel, and in the sixth

case it was committed against their ally. God loves the world as a whole,

but He loves His people best (John 3:16; 14:23). He gives to the wicked

life and breath and all things” (Genesis 6:17; Acts 17:25),  but He gives

to His saints the wicked, and all they have (I Corinthians 3:21-22;

Ephesians 1:22). He avenges the ill done even to the sinner, but He avenges

more sternly, because He personally feels, the ill done to His people

(Zechariah 2:8-9). Their persons are more sacred than those of others

(Matthew 10:30), and their lives more precious in His sight (Psalm 72:14; 116:15). Accordingly, the worst form of murder is martyrdom (Luke 18:7-8),

and the worst form of theft is sacrilege (Malachi 3:8).

 

  • JUDGMENT IS PRECIPITATED BY PERSEVERANCE IN SIN.

“For three, transgressions and for four” is the invariable formula. The

expression means for many transgressions, culminating in a FINAL

ONE!  Persistent sin means cumulative guilt. Drop is added to drop

till at last the cup is full. The tendency toward sin God warns; the

first sin He rebukes; the second He threatens; the third He menaces

with uplifted hand; the fourth He smites.  God bears long with the

wicked, but they may sin once too often. Your past offences have

escaped, your next one may endanger the Divine forbearance,

“Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”  (John 5:14)

 

  • IN EVERY CASE THE EXTREME OF GUILT INVOLVES THE

EXTREME OF PUNISHMENT OR ENTIRE DESTRUCTION.

 This is inflicted by FIRE,  the most destructive element in each case.

God employed fire in many of His most startling miracles (Genesis 19:24;

Exodus 9:23; Numbers 11:1; 16:35; Leviticus 10:2; II Kings 1:10,12).

In the language of figure it is the ideal destructive agent (Isaiah 4:4;

9:5; note this last reference is one verse before God’s revelation

of the Messiah, whose government shall be eternal – vs. 6-7 – CY –

2013). In prophecy, too, fire is or symbolizes the agent that destroys the

beast, the false prophet, and all the wicked (Daniel 7:11; Revelation

19:20; 20:10,15). To the impenitent, fire will be a destroying, not a

cleansing power. It points onward to THE VENGEANCE OF

ETERNAL FIRE, which will be THE FITTING RETRIBUTION

OF SIN AT LAST!  (To the advocates and practitioners of

homosexuality, God  has not left Himself without witness, since

Sodom and Gomorrah, to this day, suffer the vengeance of eternal

fire and are an example to what shall be the end of ALL SUCH

PERVERSION – Jude 1:7 – I highly recommend arkdiscovery.com

and search the section on Sodom and Gomorrah – CY – 2013) 

 

Before announcing the judgment on Israel, Amos  proclaims the punishment on neighboring heathen nations for their injurious treatment of the chosen people,

thus showing God’s care for His elect, and leading them to fear vengeance for

their own greater sins towards Him. The order observed in denouncing these

nations is not geographical, but is regulated by the nature of each people’s

relation to Israel, and the degree in which they have sinned against her.

The denunciation begins with Syria, her hitherto most oppressive enemy,

and the least akin.

 

3 “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:”

For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four. This

form of expression is repeated in each of the following strophes, and some

critics have taken the terms literally, and have tried to identify that

particular number of transgressions in each case; but this is trifling. The

phrase and others similar to it are not uncommon, and are used to signify a

great number, the last mentioned being supposed to fill up the measure and

make it overflow  (compare Genesis 15:16).  Thus Job 5:19, “He shall deliver

thee in six troubles, yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee” (compare

Proverbs 30:15, 18, 21; Ecclesiastes 11:2). Damascus had been an active enemy

of Israel since the time that Rezon threw off his allegiance (I Kings 11:23), and seized

Damascus, which had been tributary to David (II Samuel 8:5). The history of the

wars carried on by Syria against the Jews may be read in the sacred books (see

I Kings 15:19; chps. 20 and 22; II Chronicles 16:2; 24:23; II Kings ch.7; 9:14,

10:32, etc.;12:18; 13:5, 25; 14:28). I will not turn away the punishment

 thereof. So in the following strophes. Literally, I will not reverse it. Amos

does not expressly say what; but he means the sentence or judgment (compare

Numbers 23:20, “I cannot reverse it,” where the same word is used). The

Latin Vulgate gives, Non convertam eum, i.e. Damascum, which Knabenbauer

explains, “I will not avert its destruction, will not turn it aside from its downward

course.” The Septuagint  renders, Oujk ajpostrafh>somai aujto>n ouk

apostraphaesomai auton -  “I will not turn away from it,” i.e., as explained

by Theodoret, “I will no longer disregard its sins.” Because they have threshed

Gilead. This is the culminating offence of the Syrians. The word rendered

threshing instrument” (charutz) signifies a kind of corn drag made of

heavy planks fastened together and armed beneath with sharp stones or iron

points. This machine, weighted with the driver who sat or stood upon it, was

drawn by oxen over the corn (compare Isaiah 28:27; 41:15).  Such an instrument,

set with sharp flints in rows, was to be seen in the Indian and Colonial

Exhibition of the year 1886, in the Cyprus department.  Such an implement was

used in the infliction of capital punishment by David (II Samuel 12:31; compare

Proverbs 20:26). Gilead is here put for all the country east of Jordan (Joshua 22:9).

The cruel treatment referred to in the text occurred in the time of Hazael during

the reign of Jehu (II Kings 10:32; compare 13:7). The Septuagint has, “Because

with iron saws they sawed asunder women with child.” This is doubtless a

reminiscence of Elisha’s words to Hazael (II Kings 8:12).

 

4 “But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour

the palaces of Benhadad.”  Fire. Material fire, though elsewhere the term is

used metaphorically for war and its evils (compare Numbers 21:28; Psalm 78:63;

Jeremiah 48:45). This passage of Amos, combined with v. 14, is quoted by Jeremiah

(49:27), where he is pronouncing the doom of Damascus. House of Hazael

 palaces of Benhadad. The two expressions are parallel, or they may signify the

family of Hazael, and Damascus itself with its magnificent royal palaces. There

were three kings of Syria named Benhadad. The first of the name made alliance

with Asa, and fought successfully against Baasha (I Kings 15:20); Benhadad II.

was the contemporary of Ahab, and carried on war for many years with the

northern kingdom (1 Kings 20). He was murdered either by Hazael or his

servants (II Kings 8:15). Benhadad III., the son of Hazael, was a

monarch of small ability, and Syria under his sway sank into insignificance

(II Kings 13:4; 14:27; 15:17). All this happened before the time of

Amos, who probably refers to all the kings of that name, Benhadad, “Son

of the Sun,” being the title of the dynasty.

 

5 “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.”  The bar which secured the gate of the city (I Kings

4:13; Jeremiah 51:30; Nahum 3:13). Breaking the bar is equivalent to

laying the place open to the enemy. From the plain of Aven; Vulgate, de

campo idoli; Hebrew, bikath-Aven; Septuagint, ejk pedi>ou Wn ek

pediou On - better, from the valley of Aven, or vanity, perhaps so called

analogously with Hosea’s naming Bethel, Bethaven, “House of God” and

“House of vanity” (Hosea 5:8). Robinson (‘Bibl. Res.,’ 677) and Pusey

refer the name to a valley between Lebanon and Antilibanus, a continuation

of the Arabah, still called Bukaa, in the middle of which stood Baalbec, “the

Temple of the sun of the valley,” called Heliopolis by Greek and Roman

writers. The Septuagint Renders “On” in Genesis 41:45 by “Heliopolis;” and On

and Baal being both titles of the sun, and indeed synonymous, the introduction

of “On” into this passage may be accounted for. Him that holdeth the sceptre.

The king and princes, as v. 8. From the house of Eden; Hebrew, Beth-Eden,

“House of delight;” Vulgate, de domo voluptatis; Septuagint, ejx ajndrw~n CarjrJa>n,

- ex andron Charran - “out of the men of Charran.” This last rendering arises from

considering that the reference was to the Eden of Genesis 2., which the translators

placed in the region of Haran. The place in the text Keil supposes to be the Paradisus

of the Greeks, which Ptolemy (5:15, 20) locates southeast of Laodicea. Schrader

suggests a place on the banks of the middle Euphrates between Balis and

Biredschich called Bit-Adini in inscriptions of Asurnasirhabal and

Salmanassur II. But this seems to be a wrong locality (see ‘Die

Keilinschriften,’ p. 327). The passage means that all the inhabitants of

valley and city, king and peasant, shall be cut off. Shall go into captivity.

The word implies that the land shall be “stripped” or “bared” of its

inhabitants. Wholesale deportation had not hitherto been common in these

regions. Kir has been identified with the country on the banks of the river

Kar, which flows into the Araxes on the southwest of the Caspian Sea. It

forms part of the territory known as Transcaucasia. From this region the

Syrians originally emigrated (ch.9:7), and back to this land a large

body were carried when Tiglath-Pileser, some fifty years later, killed Rezin

and sacked Damascus, as related in II Kings 16:9. Saith the Lord. This

is the solemn confirmation of the prophet’s announcement, and recurs in

vs. 8, 15 and ch.2:3.

 

 

The Woe against Damascus (vs. 3-5)

 

The kingdom of Syria is here named from its capital The crime charged

against it had been foretold by Elisha to Hazael, and by him indignantly

repudiated (II Kings 8:12-13). But a man in one set of circumstances

little knows what he would do under an entirely different set; especially a

man beginning a sinful life, the magnitude of the crimes of which he may

yet be capable. Accordingly, Hazael fulfilled one prophecy, and supplied

the materials of another, by smiting Israel as the man of God had said

(Ibid. ch.10:32-33).

 

  • THE CRIMINAL. Damascus stands by metonymy for Syria, judging of

whom by her representative we see that:

 

Ø      Riches do not prevent rapacity. (Take note America – if for no

reason than the 55,000,000 abortions since 1973 – see under

the next head – THE CRIME - Using instrument for which they

were not designed – threshing instruments were agricultural

implements, neither were scapels, forceps, saline solutions

designed to kill babies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -  I last taught this lesson

on June 3, 2001 – following is an excerpt from my notes:

 

Who is doing the threshing and ripping today?

Heard this week of Planned Parenthood’s

recruitment on colleges campuses for abortionist

doctors.  CY – 2001 and 2013

 

                                We studied recently in Hosea 11:10 that God shall “roar

                        like a lion:  when He shall roar, then the children shall

                        tremble from the west.”  When studying this I did not

                        notice the word west.  Whether it means us or not then,

                        everything is in order for US NOW!   This next line was

                        in the 2001 notes immediately following the other above

                        references – CY  - 2013)

 

                        God is against thee and you will know when He

roars as in days of old!  (I highly recommend

Ezekiel – Study of God’s Use of the Word Know –

this web site – This is timely since I saw on the internet

a few minutes ago, this being January 2 – Will Israel Survive

2013?  Syria is full of troubles today and Damascus, the oldest

continually inhabited city in the world is in the news – CY – 2013) 

 

Damascus was noted for wealth, the fertile neighborhood being

irrigated by numerous canals, and the city itself lying in the

highway of commerce. Yet greed instigated the barbarous

treatment described. The wars waged against Israel were wars

of rapine and annexation. “The eye that loveth silver shall not

be satisfied with silver” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).  Rather does the

lust of gain grow by what it feeds on. Whether it be culture, or

power, or pleasure, or wealth, men tend to make a god of the

thing they abound in. It was when Israel was richest that her

oppression of the poor was most extreme. It was by her richest

neighbours that she herself was most rapaciously despoiled.

It is thus that the conditions leading men to sin are the

 guarantee of its punishment in kind.

 

Ø      Beautiful surroundings do not humanize. Writers speak in

Glowing terms of the unrivalled beauty of this ancient city.

“Its white buildings, embedded in the deep green of its engirdling orchards, were like diamonds encircled by emeralds” (Pusey).

Yet here, in scenes of ideal beauty, GREW UP THE

MONSTERS OF BARBARITY  who took the women and children

of Gilead, and, “casting them as into a sort of threshing floor,

savagely threshed them out like ears of corn with saw-armed

wheels (see II Kings 13:7).  Physical scenery and moral

character have no necessary connection. The fairest lands have

often produced the coarsest and most cruel men. The

determining element is the presence or absence of the gospel

of Christ.   (Thus, the great folly of America’s war on

Christianity through the Courts, the Halls of Congress

and leadership in the White House!!!!!!  Jeremiah asked the

right question -  “For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see;

and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if

there be such a thing.  Hath a nation changed their

gods, which are yet not gods?  But my people have

changed their glory for that which doth not profit.  Be

astonished…….and be horribly afraid….saith the Lord” –

Jeremiah 2:10-12).  It is not aesthetics, but TO CHRIST

we must look to for the moral elevation of men.

 

Ø      The possession of strength is a temptation to violence. The beauty

Of Damascus was also its strength. The miles on miles of walled

orchards in which it was set formed an admirable defense against

an advancing enemy, and, thus entrenched, the legions of Syria

were strong beyond their seeming. Now, just as the subtle choose diplomacy and the rich subsidy in the settlement of disputed matters,

so do the strong choose force. It is the readiest and most effective

weapon within their reach. How many wars, how much bloodshed

and desolation and misery, are directly traceable to “the strong man glorying in his strength”!  (Jeremiah 9:23)

 

  • THE CRIME. Gilead, meaning the whole land given to the two tribes

and a half is here put by metonymy for the inhabitants. The horrible and

atrocious outrages on the people described by Amos suggest that:

 

Ø      The obverse (other side of the coin) of ungodliness is

INHUMANITY!  (Exhibit A – Abortion on Demand in

America – CY – 2013)  The relation to God is the fundamental

one. If it be wrong, all others are awry. MORALITY  has its basis

in RELIGION.   (Thus, the purging of Christianity from the United

States in the last half century by the ACLU is showing up in

the Connecticut School Shooting [“Thou shalt not kill” is the

issue:  Satan and his cronies blame it on guns].  A nation that

will not allow the Ten Commandments as a part of its vocabulary

or daily life, can only expect more of the same violence!   Our

freedom of expression at the expense of self-control is manifested by

Hollywood, Broadway and Wall Street   Then take, the idea

of denied, but camouflaged “death panels” in the in the Health

Care law is unnerving – Only to God can one look when it

gets to this stage -  CY  - 2013)  There is no duty to men

apart from a God and a revelation of His will. There is no good will toward men apart from His gracious influence (Titus 3:3). The mere animal nature is selfish, and regardless of all life but its own. It will

kill for the most trifling advantage, and sometimes in the lust of blood for no advantage at all. Heathen hearts are “hateful and hating one another,” and a heathen home is “a habitation of cruelty.”

 

Ø      Bloodthirsty men make war even with the implements of peace. There

Is a time coming when warlike weapons will be converted into farming

implements (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3). This will be when the gospel

shall universally prevail. Meanwhile a readier ear is leant to Joel 

“Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks

into spears:  let the weak say I am strong.” (Joel 3:10) than to

Micah, and the converse process goes on instead. The

threshing instrument was not made, but only pressed into service,

for the occasion. FALLEN MAN IS AT HEART A SAVAGE

 and, under excitation, his inner nature will break out through

THE ARTIFICIAL HABITS OF PEACE!  (“There is no

peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22; 57:21).

So little is there between work and war, between lawful industry

and lawless murder, in the godless life.

 

Ø      Ideal cruelty is utterly indiscriminate. Elisha’s prophecy to Hazael

(II Kings 8:12), of which this horrid butchery was the fulfillment,

mentions women and children as the chief victims of the outrage.

There is a bloodhound instinct in wicked men which is aroused to

fury by the taste of blood. The horrors of the French Revolution and

of the Spanish Inquisition reveal it in the infidel and the fanatic respectively. (The Enlightenment brought about a blood bath and

America is high on the doctrines of those French pseudo-philosophes

CY – 2013)  It knows no distinction of age, or condition, or sex.

It simply wants to “slay, and slay, and slay.” It is a humiliating

thought about our species, but it is a fact that must be faced by all

who would humanize the race (humanism is taught in public

schools and of which children are fed a steady diet – CY –

2013)    Secular Humanism is “a doctrine, an attitude, a way

of life, centered upon human interests or values; a philosophy

 that asserts the dignity and  self-worth of man and his capacity

 for self-realization through reason and that usually rejects supernaturalism [religion]Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary –

CY – 2013).  The tie of blood is perhaps a natural one, and respected

more or less by even heathen peoples, as it is by the very beasts that perish. But even this scarcely operates beyond the filial relation

and the period of childhood. And then, as for friendship and

philanthropy, they have no place in the sphere of mere nature. The

question, “Is man utterly selfish?” is rather a nice one than practical.

He has shown himself sufficiently selfish to make unsafe the life of

any human being whom he could gain by killing.

 

  • THE SENTENCE. This is severe, detailed, and striking.

 

Ø      It falls on the things in which the nation was preeminent.

“I will break also the bar of Damascus.” The bar or bolt which

secured the gate was an essential part of the city defense. To break

it would be to throw open the city to the enemy. By this figure is

meant the breaking of the national strength and means of

 resistance, and leaving the nation helpless before its enemies.

(How on earth can one not see what is happening in America?

Being overrun by immigrants, attacks on our own soil by

our enemies – 9/11 – and just today, January 3, 2013, the

news comes that Famously liberal Al Gore is poised to sell his

struggling TV network to conservative America’s foe: Arab broadcaster

Al JazeeraI am so lazy that I copied this from Yahoo as it is

in a different font – really I couldn’t spell Al Jazeera - our

 enemy not only is building a mosque in tribute to their success

near “Ground Zero” but now is getting a foothold for propaganda

purposes – One would have to be blind to not see this – II Peter 3:5

calls such,  “willingly ignorant.”  I had a dear friend of 85 years

pass on New Years Day.  Her name was Augusta Freeman and

she had been blind for a half century.  I used to read to her

weekly – we both especially liked Charles Haddon Spurgeon –

Blind as Miss Augusta was, the blindness and ignorance of

a majority of American citizens in our time puts Miss Augusta

in a league by herself because “she being blind could see!”

I mourn for her and I MOURN MUCH MORE GREATLY

 for the passing of the United States of America, not from death

 unto life as Jesus said – John 5:24, but from LIFE UNTO

DEATH!   And while on this roll, may I say that I think it is

wonderful in a secular society that I can still type in my browser

passing from death unto life” and it immediately refers me to 

John 5:24, however, to show us where the heart of secularism

is, a millisecond prior to giving me John 5:24, it wanted to

refer me to “passing gallstones”  -  The moral is – America

is more concerned for her physical well being than her

spiritual.  I remember one time in teaching high school

that I was in the middle of a very important point and a

student had his hand raised and when I recognized him,

he said, “Mr. Yahnig, there is a roach crawling up the

wall” – basically, to me, this is an illustration of the

lack of mental toughness or concentration of Americans

when it comes to spiritual things – also, back in the

days where we had a public dumpster at Herndon, a

short distance from my home, when taking garbage,

often I would look to see what other men’s trash was,

because it might be my treasure.  Well, on one such

occasion, I retrieved numerous Open Windows type

quarterly devotional books which I kept in my truch

and from time to time would read the lesson of the day.

One time, there was one which I will relate.  It told of

a preacher, I think in England, who was very concerned

about the spiritual welfare of a man in his parish, who

was well-known as a pick-pocket.  Try, with God’s help,

as he may, he never could reach the heart of his friend. 

Then one day, the friend was taken to the hospital seriously

ill and the preacher was called for – The preacher, told

him about Jesus and that by confessing his sins, he could have

eternal life with God for ever – suddenly, the man sat up

in his bed, had a beautiful glow and smile on his face and

then keeled over dead – the first thought of the preacher

was that the man had received Jesus at last until he looked

down and the man had the preacher’s gold watch in his

hand!  Both stories make the same point – Americans

often have their minds in the wrong places when such

important issues as men’s souls are at stake -  CY – 2013)

Thus God declares Himself omnipotent. Those who glory in their

strength are broken, and those who trust in their riches are

impoverished (Isaiah 2:11; 13:11; Psalm 52:7). Punishment

adjusted so is more effectual for its purpose, whether of mercy

or of judgment, for it brings the criminal to his knees at once.

The niceness of the adjustment is, moreover, a revelation of the

Divine directing hand in the whole event, and so a lesson in itself.

 

Ø      It strikes at the national sin. The “vale of Aven,” whose inhabitant

was to be cut off, was remarkable as containing Baalbec, or Heliopolis,

the seat and center of the Syrian sun worship. There were observed idolatrous orgies, in which men and women abandoned themselves to shameless profligacy; and there, where their “offence smells rank to Heaven,” the hottest bolts of Heaven’s vengeance fall. Others would

be carried into captivity, but the inhabitants of Aven would be utterly

cut off. The flies of God’s judgment alight upon the sores of our idol

sins. He strikes the covetous in his pocket, and the self-indulgent in

his power of enjoyment.  (syphilis, gonorrhea, AIDS, etc – a basic

incapacitation – Proverbs 5:11; Romans 1:27).  And so in every other

case. The practice that provokes His judgment is the one on which its

first and heaviest effects fall.

 

Ø      It includes the royal house. The king is in a sense the figurehead of

the nation. His policy embodies the national sentiment, if it does not inspire it. Accordingly, national guilt culminates in him. It would be

an anomaly if the people were to perish and he escape. Then the destruction that includes king and people is utter and irretrievable.

(“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not

saved.”  Jeremiah 8:20)  There could be no restoration, no

resurrection. When only ashes remain, the rekindling of the fire of

national existence has become impossible.

 

Ø      It denounces on all poetic justice. “Shall go into captivity to Kir.”

From Kir the forefathers of the Syrians had, of their own will, been

brought by the good all-disposing providence of God. Now,

SOFTENED AS THEY WERE BY LUXURY,  they were to be transported back to the austere though healthy climate whence they

had come” (Think of the whining about the economic situation in

our country today, AS IF THAT WAS ALL THAT MATTERED!

- CY – 2013). The family of Ne’er-do-well fall into the mud out

of which they were raised at first, and find it has got deeper in the

interval. The last state of the abuser of good, in the nature of the

case, is worse than the first.

 

  • THE EXECUTION. The woe fell half a century later, in the time of

Tiglath-Pileser, who slew Rezin the king, and carried the Syrians away

captive. Thus the event was fifty years after the prediction. Prophecy by

the Spirit of God is as easy to the prophet a millennium before the event as

n hour. But if it has not been forgotten in the mean time, it is the more

impressive and striking, the longer the interval between the utterance and

the fulfillment. Then the evil prophesied was one previously unheard of,

and antecedently most unlikely.  (i.e. – it had never rained before the

Flood).  The transportation of whole populations was not, so far as we

know, any part of Eastern policy at the time of the prophet. There are

unfulfilled predictions, loaded with the world’s weal or ill, whose

fulfillment is even more distant and more unlikely. But the “sure Word

 of prophecy” (II Peter 1:19) overrides both time and chance, and lifts

remotest events above the horizon, and into the light of decisive certitude.

For all we fear and hope this is the guarantee, “Hath he said it, and

shall He not do it? Hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good!”

(Numbers 23:19)

 

Vs. 6-8 deal with the judgment on Philistia.

 

6“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:  Gaza is here used as the representative of the five cities of the

Philistines. Three others are mentioned in v. 8, Gath being omitted as

having long lost its importance, if not already destroyed (compare II

Chronicles 26:6; Jeremiah 25:20; Zephaniah 2:4, where see note;

Zechariah 9:5-6). Gaza, modern Guzzeh, was the most southern city of

Philistia in the immediate neighborhood of the desert.  The whole captivity;

Hebrew, “an entire captivity,” the whole people, so that neither age nor sex

was spared. A similar complaint is made in Joel 3:4, 6. What the Septuagint

meant by their rendering here and v. 9, aijcmalwsi>an tou~ Salwmw<n

aichmalosian tou Salomon - it is very hard to say. Probably they punctuated

the word translated “perfect” (shelemah) shelomoh, making “Solomon” stand

for his people Israel. Cyril supposes that the reference is to cities which Solomon

established among neighboring nations; these had now been destroyed or seized.

The event referred to may be the invasion of Judah by Philistines and Arabians in

the time of Jehoram, mentioned in II Chronicles 21:16, and in which it is

possible that a compact was made that the captive Judaeans should be

delivered to their bitterest enemies, the Edomites. One would rather have

expected a reference to some evil inflicted on Israel (as in v. 3) instead of

an injury done to Judah.

 

7 “But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the

palaces thereof:”  A fire. Each guilty city is to have its own special punishment,

though probably the calamity of each is common to all. Gaza was

conquered by Sennacherib when he invaded Judea in the time of Hezekiah,

by Pharaoh-Necho (Jeremiah 47:1), and by Alexander the Great, who

spent more than two months in its siege (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 11:8, 4; Arrian.,

2:27; see note on Zephaniah 2:4).

 

8 “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.”  Ashdod, “the Waster,” hod. Esdud, or Shdood (called

Azotus in Acts 8:40), and still a large village, lay about thirty-five miles north

of Gaza, three miles from the sea. Ashkelon was situated between the two.

Askelon differs from the other celebrated cities of the Philistines, being

seated on the sea, while Ekron, Gath, Jamnia, Ashdod, and Gaza are in the

interior. It never could have had a harbor of any considerable size,

however.... The topography of the place is peculiar. An abrupt ridge begins

near the shore, runs up eastward, bends round to the south, then to the

west, and finally northwest to the sea again, forming an irregular

amphitheater. On the top of this ridge ran the wall, which was defended at

its salient angles by strong towers. The specimens which still exist show

that it was very high and thick, built, however, of small stones, and bound

together by broken columns of granite and marble. This clearly proves that

it is patchwork, and not Askelon’s original rampart....The position is one of

the fairest along this part of the Mediterranean coast; and when the interior

of the amphitheater was adorned with splendid temples and palaces,

ascending, rank above rank, from the shore to the summit, the appearance

from the sea must have been very imposing. Now the whole area is planted

over with orchards of the various kinds of fruit which flourish in this

region” (Thomson, ‘The Land and the Book,’ Southern Palestine, p. 171).

In spite of its bad harbor, it carried on a lucrative foreign commerce,

which was the chief cause of its power and importance (Ewald, ‘Hist. of

Israel,’ 1:247, Eng. transl.). It was about fifty Roman miles from

Jerusalem. In mediaeval times there were two cities of the name, one on

the coast (Jeremiah 47:7), the same as Herod’s Ascalon, and one

inland. In its palmiest days the former could never have had a real harbor

(‘Survey Memoirs,’ 3, pp. 245, 246). Ekron, hod. Akir, was twelve miles

northeast of Ashdod, and some nine from the coast. Ashdod was taken by

Uzziah (II Chronicles 26:6), by the tartan, or commander-in-chief, of

Sargon (Isaiah 20:1), and by Psammetichus King of Egypt (so. 635),

when it sustained a siege of twenty-nine years (Herod., 2:157).

Sennacherib, in a cuneiform inscription, records how he treated the two

other cities: “Zedekiah King of Ashkelon,” he says, “who had not

submitted himself to my yoke, himself, the gods of the house of his fathers,

his wife, his sons, his daughters, and his brothers, the seed of the house of

his fathers, I removed, and I sent him to Assyria. I set over the men of

Ashkelon, Sarludari, the son of Rukipti, their former king, and I imposed

upon him the payment of tribute, and the homage due to my majesty, and

he became a vassal.… I marched against the city of Ekron, and put to

death the priests and the chief men who had committed the sin (of

rebellion), and I hung up their bodies on stakes all round the city. The

citizens who had done wrong and wickedness I counted as a spoil”

(Professor Sayce, ‘Fresh Light from the Monuments,’ pp. 120, 121). I will

turn mine hand; literally, will bring back my hand; visit again with

punishment, or repeat the blow (Isaiah 1:25; Jeremiah 6:9). The remnant.

All the Philistines who had as yet escaped destruction (compare ch. 9:12;

Jeremiah 6:9).

 

 

The Woe against Philistia (vs. 6-8)

 

Gaza was one of the capitals of Philistia, and is put for the country as a

whole. Its wealth and strength and special activity against Israel fitted it to

be the representative of all the other capitals which are afterwards (v. 8)

enumerated as sharing its punishment. The outrage charged against Gaza is

probably that recorded in II Chronicles 21:16 and Joel 3:6, and

which occurred in the time of Jehoram. The crime denounced was:

 

  • THE CROWNING ACT OF A LONG SERIES. Israel and Philistia

were hereditary foes. In the history of their feud were many bloody acts,

which culminated in this wholesale deportation. In the judgment provoked

by it, however, these acts would all be punished. So the murders of the

prophets, throughout a series of ages, remained unavenged till they

culminated in the death of Christ, and then it and they were all avenged

together (Luke 11:49-51). Thus vicarious is much of human suffering.

God visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children generally

(Exodus 20:5), and specially on those like minded with the fathers

(Matthew 23:34-36 – I once was sympathetic to the teenagers

who were slain by two she bears in II Kings 2:23-24, but when I

understood they would only grow up to be like their fathers, then

I understood the gravity of their sin!  CY – 20-13). The sufferings

of each age are largely an inheritance from the ages before.

 

  • AN ACT OF WHOLESALE DESTRUCTION. “Because they carried

away captives in full number.” This cruelty was gratuitous, as many

captives could have given their captors no offence; and it was senseless as

well, for many would be utterly worthless as slaves. It indicated deep and

indiscriminating hate of the entire people, and a fixed purpose to root out

and utterly exterminate them. Such hatred, directed doubtless against Israel

in their character as the people of God, is specially criminal, and calls for

special punishment.

 

  • AN ACT OF AGGRAVATED CRUELTY. Not satisfied with the

suffering they could inflict themselves, they called in the help of Israel’s

bitterest foe. They sold the people to the Edomites, and so became

responsible for the intolerable cruelties to which they were handed over.

We are in God’s sight as guilty of the crime we procure as of the crime we

commit. The Church’s mediaeval device of condemning heretics, and

handing them over to the civil power to be executed, was as vain as the

washing of Pilate’s hands. The blood shed at our instigation, and with our

connivance or through our indifference, is blood that will be required of us

in the great day (Ezekiel 3:18-20).

 

  • A PUNISHMENT IN WHICH THE CAPITAL CITIES ARE

SPECIALLY PROMINENT. Of the five capitals of Philistia, four are

mentioned by name, and the fifth is included under the word “remnant”

Capitals are centers of opinion, and are largely responsible for the

molding of the national sentiment. They are centers of power, and take

the lead in determining the national policy. They were in this case centers

of commerce, and so took a prominent part in the work of bartering Israel

to the Edomites. Moreover Gaza, the one singled out and emphasized, was

through its character and position the chief sinner in this business, and so is

the chief sufferer. They were also the seats of as many different idols —

Ashdod of Dagon, Ashkelen of Derceto, Ekron of Baalzebub, and Gaza of

Marua — and therefore CENTERS OF NATIONAL SIN.  (So also many

our major cities who vie to outstrip Washington, D.C. in corruption and sin!

Add to this that they were the national depots and strongholds, and

THEREFORE THE PLACES WHICH WOULD MOST WEAKEN

THE NATION!

 

  • A PUNISHMENT TO BE FRAMED AFTER THE FASHION OF

THE CRIME. “The remnant of the Philistines shall perish. As they

had spared none, so none of them would be spared. This is God’s way

often.  That it may be adequate, and all may be able to recognize it,

punishment often comes in the likeness of the crime. The rule, “Whoso

sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed ” (Genesis 9:6).

(This is a tremendous albatross around the neck of the United States,

Judicial system and the American citizenry who tolerate it!  And it

is not just criminals that I am talking about – we have the blood of

55,000,000 infants on our hands – May God be merciful to those of

us who suffer because of the proverb “If the foundations be

destroyed, what can the righteous do?” – Psalm 11:3 – CY – 20-13) -

 embodies the principle that like will be the punishment of like. It

reappears in the gospel dictum, “With what measure ye mete, it shall

 be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:2).  (I recommend Proverbs

ch 14 v14 – Spurgeon Sermon – How a Man’s Conduct Comes Home

to Him – this web site – CY – 2013)  Not only will sin be punished,

it will all be punished, and punished fully. When God’s last word

has been spoken, the criminal shall be even as his victim, and be God’s

enemy besides.

 

Verses 9-10 give the account of  the Judgment on Tyre.

 

9  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:”  They delivered up the whole captivity (see note on

v. 6). The sin of Tyre, the great Phoenician merchant city, was committed in

concert with the Philistines (compare Psalm 83:7), and was of the same

character, except that she is not accused of carrying away the captives, but

only of handing them over to the Edomites. It is probable that the

Phoenicians had gotten into their hands, by purchase or some other means,

Israelitish prisoners, whom they delivered over to the Edomites, forgetting

the brotherly covenant made by their forefathers with David and Solomon

(II Samuel 5:11; I  Kings 5:1,7-11; 9:11-14; II Chronicles 2:11).  The cruel

conduct of Tyre was quite unprovoked, as no Jewish king had made war

against Phoenicia or its capital.

 

10 “But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the

palaces thereof.”  A fire, as v. 7: see Ezekiel’s prophecy against Tyre (ch.26).

She had long been tributary to Assyria, but, revolting, was punished by Sargon,

and later was attacked by Nebuchadnezzar, who besieged it for thirteen

years, with what success is not known. The Assyrian monuments afford no

account of its capture by this monarch (compare Isaiah ch.23.; Jeremiah

47:4 -  For its capture and destruction by Alexander the Great, see notes

on Zechariah 9:2, 4.)

 

The woe against Tyre (vs. 9-10)

 

Tyre stands for Phoenicia, of which it was the capital. It was a renowned

and very ancient city. Greatest, richest, proudest, and most luxurious,

perhaps, of all the cities of its time, it passed through vicissitudes which

were equally beyond the common lot. As with most ancient capitals, there

were points at which its path and that of Israel crossed, involving that there

should be corresponding points where they would recross, and on these the

prophet has intently fixed his eye. Of the denunciation against it observe:

 

  • IT SINNED IN CHARACTER. The Phoenicians were a commercial

people, and theirs was a commercial sin. “They delivered up the whole

captivity to Edom.” They did not make war, nor take prisoners, but they

traded in them as slaves — bought them probably from the Syrians and

sold them to the Ionians (“Grecians,” Joel 3:6). For this their woe is

denounced; and thus early was branded with condemnation “the wild and

guilty fantasy that man can hold a property in man.” (A historical

mistake made by the people of the United States of which we are all

aware.  I think of how ironical it is, that the people in American

slavery were very religious and how just for them, when they trusted

God, to be heirs of Heaven and Eternal Life THROUGH JESUS

CHRIST and now their descendants, deep in unforgiveness and

racism, many of which has taken the bait which Satan has dangled, the

fast track to riches through the drug culture, with all its gangs and

violence, and to be set up and expedited, again misused and abused,

along the road to the Devil’s Hell, which was not meant for man,

but for the Devil and his angels - CY – 2013) THE IMAGE OF GOD

IS NOT TO BE TRAFFICKED IN  The law” is against men stealers

(I Timothy 1:10) among other criminals. A man’s liberty is precious to him

next to life itself. Slavery is the intolerable theft of his manhood and moral

agency, and is CONTRARY TO THE SPIRIT OF THE BIBLE!

 

  • IT SINNED AGAINST A COVENANT. This was no doubt the

covenant between Hiram and Solomon (I Kings 5:12). It was a

covenant of peace, of which the trading in Hebrew captives was a flagrant

violation. This circumstance made the detestable traffic doubly guilty. It

was two sins in one — perjury added on to oppression. (So was perjury

added to murder in Roe v. Wade – when the plaintiff lied as to her

condition, saying she was raped – CY – 2013).  And all Christian

sin is in this respect,  its counterpart. The believer is in covenant with God.

He has said, “This God is my God forever and ever:   He will be our

guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48:14).   Any after sin is,

therefore, a breach both of God’s Law and his own vow. The believing

sinner has broken through more restraints and violated more laws than the

unbelieving, and so is double dyed in guilt. The difficulty of bringing such

to repentance again (Hebrews 6:4-6) is no doubt closely connected with

this fact.

 

  • THE FORGOTTEN COVENANT WAS A BROTHERLY

COVENANT. This circumstance aggravated the guilt of the violation.

Ties are strong in proportion as they are amicable. The electric core of

friendship in the cable of a mutual tie gives it a character all its own. The

breaking of it means to both parties more of change and loss in proportion

as this core is relatively large. The Phoenicio-Israelitish covenant was

brotherly:

 

Ø      In its origin. It was the outcome of brotherly feeling and affection

previously existing. “Hiram,” we read, “was ever a lover of David”

(I Kings 5:1), and in token of it he had voluntarily sent materials and

workmen, and had built him a house (II Samuel 5:11). And the

feeling was evidently transferred to Solomon. Hiram and he were

on such cordial terms that he asked for, and Hiram readily sent him,

skilful Sidonian woodmen to hew trees, and an accomplished

Tyrian graver to act as foreman over his own workmen in carving, engraving, embroidery, and doing other cunning work for the temple

(II Chronicles 2:3-16). Solomon in turn gave Hiram wheat and oil in liberal measure for provisioning his house, and the outcome of these cordial relations was that “they two made a league together”

(I Kings 5:11-12), the brotherly covenant referred to. The covenant

was brotherly also:

 

Ø      In its working. It was renewed from time to time with various

additions, and was long kept by both parties. Israel never made war against Tyre, nor broke the letter or spirit of their fraternal league.

The heartless sin of Tyre was, therefore, not only a violation of the covenant provisions, but of the intimate and cordial relations which

it both expressed and fostered. It was a sin against both vows and

close relations, and put on thus an aspect of double criminality.

 

Ø      The covenant had even a religious aspect. Hiram grounds the good

will and help, extended to Solomon, on the facts that the people he

ruled and the house he was going to build were God’s, as well as on

the fact that he had a special gift of wisdom from above (II Chronicles 2:11-12). His covenant was thus made with Israel as God’s people,

and in testimony of his belief in Jehovah as the true God, and his

desire to advance His glory.  This fact adds much to the significance

and solemnity of the covenant, and so of the breach of it. What is

done in God’s name and as an act of homage to Him is done under

the highest sanctions possible. The commonest act is glorified, the smallest act becomes great in the greatness of its underlying

principle. And as is the doing so is the undoing. The higher the

promiser has risen, the lower has the violator fallen. Tyre’s sin

implied and sealed a large amount of previous deterioration, and

so the more emphatically sealed her doom.

 

Verses 11-12 deal with the judgment on Edom.

 

11 “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:”

His brother. The prophet proceeds to denounce the three

nations cognate to Israel, of which the Edomites were the nearest and the

most inimical. From the time of Esau until now they had been consistent in

enmity, and it is this unbrotherly conduct rather than any specific outrages

which Amos here condemns. Edom is accused of relentless persecution,

inhumanity, savage fury, and persistent anger. (For the brotherhood of

Edom, see Numbers 20:14; Deuteronomy 2:4-5, 8; 23:7. For his hostility to

Israel, see Numbers 20:18; I Kings 11:14; II Kings 8:20; II  Chronicles 20:10;

25:11-12; 28:17.) The prophecy of Obadiah is directed against Edom (compare

also Ezekiel 25:12; 35:5,15; Joel 3:19). Did cast off all pity; literally, corrupted

 his compassions; i.e. did violence to his natural feelings. So Ezekiel 28:17, “Thou

hast corrupted thy wisdom,” perverted it from its proper end. The Septuagint gives,

ejlumh>nato mhte>ra ejpi<gh~velumaenato maetera epigaes - “did violence to

 the mother that bare them.”  Did tear, as a wild beast tears his prey. So in

Job 16:9, where the same word is used, “He hath torn me in His wrath”

(compare Hosea 6:1). And he kept his wrath forever; more literally,

and its fury it (Edom) keeps forever. The quarrels of relations are

proverbially bitter.

 

12 “But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces

of Bozrah.”  Teman is the region of Idumaea, of which Bozrah is the

capital. Both Jerome and Eusebius (‘Onomast.’) speak of a city so called

not far from Petra; but in the Old Testament the name is applied to a

district; and as the word in Hebrew means “south,” it is probably the

southern portion of the land of Edom. Bozrah (hod. Busaireh) was the old

capital of Edom, situated on a hill south of the Dead Sea (see Genesis 36:33;

Isaiah 34:6). Jeremiah in ch.49:17 predicts the punishment of Edom, and

Ezekiel in ch.25:12-14 does likewise. The monologue of Obadiah has been

already referred to. The instrument of vengeance in the present case was

Nebuchadnezzar, though it suffered much at the hands of other enemies,

as the Nabathaeans and Maccabees.

 

 

The Woe against Edom (vs. 11-12)

 

We have here an inspired description of an ideal hate. It is loaded with

every quality, and emphasized by every circumstance, and stained by every

act, which could conspire to establish for it an “unparalleled record” in the

emulation of evil passions.

 

  • IT RESTS ON A BROTHER. Over and above the brotherhood arising

out of their common humanity (Acts 17:26; Genesis 9:5), Israel and

Edom were bound by the nearer tie of descent from the twin sons of their

common ancestor Isaac. And on the basis of this relation they are spoken

of as brothers in a special sense (Deuteronomy 23:5). To the relation of

brotherhood belongs the duty of love (I John 2:10), which must be

distinctive in proportion as the relation is close (I Peter 2:17). And the

breach of this law of love is great in proportion to its normal strength. It is

bad to hate an enemy, but it is worse to hate a friend, and worse still to

hate a brother. It is against nature, for “no man hateth his own flesh”

(Ephesians 5:29). It is against our innate tendency to love them that

love us. And it is against the popular sentiment which expects us to “love

as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous” (I Peter 3:8).  Hatred of a brother

is the grossest hate there is.

 

  • IT IS AGGRESSIVE. “He pursues his brother with the sword.” It is

hard for hatred to be still. It is a restless devil in the heart. It wants to

inflict injury. It actually inflicts it the first opportunity. If opportunity does

not come, it seeks it and makes it. In the presence of the hated one it can

no more be quiescent than fire in contact with fuel. Edom’s hatred of Israel

did not fail thus to express its intensity. On every opportunity it broke out

into offensive and cruel action (II Chronicles 28:17; Psalm 137:7;

Ezekiel 25:12). Rapine, outrage, and murder, and the incitement of

others to these, are fitting credentials to an ideal hate.

 

  • IT IS MURDEROUS. “Tears in pieces.” It inflicts not injury only, but

deadly injury. It must have blood. And it not only kills, but murders.

Unable to fight Israel in battle, Edom always played the part of “wrecker,”

and spoiled the dead, and murdered the wounded, after some stronger

enemy had defeated them (Psalm 137:7). Then it murdered with an

excess of truculence and savage cruelty that were natural to weakness

rather than to strength. Hatred is a passion “blood alone can quell.”

“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer” (I John 3:15), a murderer

in fact if opportunity offers, in any case a murderer in heart. Let hatred

enter your heart, and from the moment it settles you wear the brand of

Cain.

 

  • IT IS PITILESS. “Did cast off all pity.” No special occasion or act is

mentioned, because the thing was habitual. A traditional and inordinate

hate of Israel was fostered till it became a first principle of the Edomite’s

creed, and was gratified till it ate all his humanity out. Too weak to be a

soldier, he became a murderous looter, and when the Assyrian or Philistine

had vanquished Israel in battle, the Edomite came vulture-like on the scene

to butcher the living, and pillage and mangle the dead Obadiah 1:10-14).

There is a pity proper to the human heart on the platform of mere

nature. Of the “flowers of Eden we still inherit” is a remorse that shrinks

from murder in cold blood. Where the crime is committed, this feeling has

previously been choked out. The power to do this, to harden and deaden

his own nature, is one of man’s most fatal gifts. He disregards the voice of

pity till it becomes dumb. He fights against the moving of passion till at

last they are felt no more.

 

  • IT IS INSATIABLE.His anger endures forever.The persistence of

Edom’s hate was matter of contemporary notoriety (Ezekiel 35:5), and

it was precisely what one might expect. There is an infinity that belongs to

the human soul, and which imparts itself to all its affections. Love is not

exhausted by indulgence, but strengthened. It goes on and grows forever,

and so with hate. One who knew well has said:

 

“Now hatred is by far the longest pleasure;

Men love in haste, but they detest at leisure.”

(Byron.)

 

Hate is fed by indulgence as a fire is fed by fuel. Do not think your hatred

will be appeased when you have got what you consider a just revenge. It

will only then begin to burn with normal fierceness. Such feelings grow

by what they feed on. THE ONLY WAY TO BANISH THEM IS TO

CUT OF THE SUPPLIES.  Starve a hungry hate, by giving it neither

outlet nor audience, and it will soon atrophy and die.

 

  • IT IS ALL ON ONE SIDE. Israel’s relation to Edom as friendly,

considerate, and disinterested, was laid down in explicit terms

(Deuteronomy 23:7; 2:4-5), whilst the brotherhood of the two nations

was emphasized (Numbers 20:14; Deuteronomy 2:8). Cruel things

were done in spite of this (I Samuel 14:47; II Samuel 8:14; I  Kings

1:15-16), but they were done in defensive wars, and after Edom’s

enmity had proved itself incurable. It is a robust and thoroughly

 MALIGNANT HATE  that beats down and burns in spite of others’

friendly attitude and feeling. Such hate belongs to a nature utterly

inverted, and no longer human but devilish. And in proportion as it

is such it becomes impossible of cure. The fire that burns without fuel,

and in spite of water, has the elements of perpetuity in it. It is the

beginning of THE FIRE THAT SHALL NEVER BE QUENCHED!

(Mark 9:43,48)

 

 

Verses 13-15 tell of the judgment on Ammon.

 

13 “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:”  Ammon was connected with Israel as

being sprung from Lot, and together with Moab, which had the same origin,

retained the stamp of its incestuous birth in habits, character, and worship

(Genesis 19:30-38). The Ammonites seem to have been a predatory and roving

nation, though the abundance of rains in the district shows that they possessed

fixed abodes; but Rabbah was the only city of importance in their territory

(II Samuel 11:1). Their hostility to Israel was first shown in their

participation with Moab in the affair of Balaam (Deuteronomy 23:4).

Other instances are seen in their treatment of Jabesh-Gilead (I Samuel

11:1-3) and of David’s messengers, and in hiring the Syrians to make war

on David (II Samuel 10:1-6). We have no historical account of the

atrocious outrage on the Gileadites mentioned in the text, but it is quite in

character with the ferocity of their disposition, and was doubtless intended

to depopulate the territory which they wished to acquire. This barbarity is

spoken of in connection with Hazael (II Kings 8:12), in concert with

whom probably the Ammonites acted (compae Ibid. ch.15:16; Hosea 13:16).

Another rendering would refer the clause to the removing of landmarks, and

yet a third to the storming of lofty fortresses. But the Authorized Version is

undoubtedly correct. That they might enlarge their border. The Ammonites

laid claim to the territory which the Israelites had wrested from Sihon, lying

between the Arnon and Jabbok, and made an attempt upon it in the time of

Jephthah (Judges 11.), and in later years seized on the possessions of Gad —

a proceeding which brought upon them the denunciation of Jeremiah in ch.49:2-6).

 

14 “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:”  Rabbah, “the Great,” or

Rabbath-Ammon, the capital of Ammon, was situated on the southern arm

of the Jabbok, and was a place of remarkable strength (see Deuteronomy 3:11;

II Samuel 11:1; 12:26; I Chronicles 20:1-3). “For picturesqueness of situation, I

know of no ruins to compare with Ammon. The most striking feature is the

citadel, which formerly contained not merely the garrison, but an upper

town, and covered an extensive area. The lofty plateau on which it was

situated is triangular in shape; two sides are formed by the valleys which

diverge from the apex, where they are divided by a low neck, and thence

separating, fall into the valley of the Jabbok, which forms the base of the

triangle, and contained the lower town. Climbing up the citadel, we can

trace the remains of the moat, and, crossing it, find ourselves in a maze of

ruins. The massive walls — the lower parts of which still remain, and

which, rising from the precipitous sides of the cliff, rendered any attempt at

scaling impossible — were evidently Ammonite. As I leaned over them and

looked sheer down about three hundred feet into one wady, and four

hundred feet into the other, I did not wonder at its having occurred to King

David that the leader of a forlorn hope against these ramparts would meet

with certain death, and consequently assigning the position to Uriah.…

(II Samuel 11:14-17).  Joab afterwards took the lower city, which he called

the city of waters,’ indicating very probably that the Jabbok was dammed

into a lake near the lower city, to which the conformation of the valley would

lend itself” (Oliphant, ‘Land of Gilead,’ p. 259, etc.). The city was taken by

Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 27:3, 6; 49:2-3), either at the time of the

destruction of Jerusalem, or in the course of his Egyptian campaign

(Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 10:9. 7). The expression, I will kindle a fire (not

send,” as elsewhere), possibly implies, as Pusey suggests, a conflagration

from within. The shouting is the battle cry of the opposing host, which

adds to the horror of the scene (Job 39:25). With a tempest. The idea

is that the walls should fall before the invaders, as if they were tents swept

away in a whirlwind.

 

15 “And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together,

saith the LORD.”  Their king; Septuagint, oi Jbasilei~v aujth~v

hoi basileis autaestheir king.  So Keil, Trochon, and others consider that the

King of the Ammonites is meant. The Vulgate, with Aquila, Symmachus, the

Syriac, and Jerome, retains the word Melchous, or Melcham, which is the same

as Molech, their god. This interpretation is favoured by passages in Jeremiah,

of which one is evidently quoted from Amos, “For Malcam shall go into captivity,

his priests and his princes together” (Jeremiah 49:3); and the other

(Jeremiah 48:7) is similar, with the substitution of “Chemosh,” the god

of Moab, for “Malcam.” That the localized deity should share the fortunes

of his worshippers is quite in accordance with the ideas of the time (comp.

Isaiah 46:1-2). Probably Amos meant to include both notions — their

Malcam,” whether king or god. should be carried into captivity,

accompanied by the princes, all the chiefs, military and sacerdotal, so that

no one should be left to head a future revolt.

 

 

       The Woe against Ammon: Brutality in its Element (vs. 13-15)

 

There is a climax in these woes as we advance. Each seems to outdo in

horror the one before. This one in which Ammon figures has circumstances

of wanton atrocity and senseless savagery in it unparalleled in any other.

 

  • UNNATURAL CONNECTIONS MAY BE EXPECTED TO BREED

UNNATURAL MONSTERS. Ammon and Moab were the children of

unnatural and shameful lust (Genesis 19:30-38). Begotten in

drunkenness, and conceived in a paroxysm of lewdness, their chance of

inheriting a healthy physical, mental, or moral organization was very

small  (A word to the wise – CY – 2013).  The almost inevitable moral

twist with which they entered the world, their education by dissolute

mothers would only strengthen and confirm. And the passionate and

sensual nature he inherited, Ammon transmitted to the nation of which

he became the father. An illustration of this inherited coarse corruption

in the Ammonites was their gross and indecent treatment of David’s

servants, sent on a friendly errand (II Samuel 10:4-5). The other

occasion, recorded in our text, is an example of savage and senseless

atrocity unparalleled in the annals of human violence. As to the women,

it was from their number that Solomon’s harem was largely recruited

(I Kings 11:1, 7), and they took to harlotry as easily as their ancestress

herself (Numbers 25:1; 31:16). Our besetting sins are likely to be those

of our forefathers, and therefore against these we should be specially on

our guard. They are likely also to beset our children after us, and should be

all the more vigorously rooted out, lest we transmit to posterity the

heritage of our sin and shame. That the thing can be done, let the

virtuous simplicity of Ruth the Moabitess prove. Trained and molded in

a godly Hebrew family, she responds to religious influence, and exhibits a character that has been the admiration of all the ages.

 

  • OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, THAT IS THE GREATEST SIN

FOR WHICH THERE IS THE LEAST OCCASION. He who has

committed injustice for a less advantage has done it under the impulse of a

less temptation The more paltry it is in respect of profit, the more profane

it may be in respect of principle. In the case of Ammon there was the

extreme of disproportion between the crime and the incentive to it.

The object was to enlarge their border, an object:

 

Ø      unnecessary,

Ø      under the circumstances unjust,

Ø      in itself supplying no occasion for the horrid outrage, and

Ø      to the attainment of which the atrocity was in no wise essential.

 

The act was simply one of stolid barbarism, unsoftened by any extenuating

circumstance, and unaccounted for by any consideration of need or fitness.

 

  • MURDER AS AN ACT OF REPRISAL IS STILL MURDER. David

had put the inhabitants of Rabbah of the sons of Ammon to a death as

dreadful as that inflicted on the women in Gilead (II Samuel 12:31).

The present act of Ammon might look like a just retaliation. But, whatever

may be thought of David’s conduct, it is clear that sin does not justify

 more sin. Then David’s siege and destruction of Rabbah was a natural and

suitable act of defensive warfare against persistent attacks by Ammon in

league with Syria. The aggressor in such a case is responsible for the

bloodshed on both sides. Man has a natural right to kill in self-defense, and

he whose action necessitates such bloodshed is the party on whose head

the guilt of it must lie.

 

  • GOD’S JUDGMENTS STRIKE THE DEVISERS OF WICKEDNESS

AS WELL AS THE DOERS OF IT. “The king and his princes,”

These ancient kings were absolute monarchs. Every national act

was an expression of their will. With them, therefore, the responsibility for

it ultimately rested. It was done by their direction and under their

superintendence, done often in part by their own hand, and so was in every

case their own act. And the princes, as the king’s advisers, were parties to

it. Therefore kings and princes alike must suffer. To strike them was to

strike the criminal on the head. Thus far and wide do the consequences of

sin reach, DEVOURING ON EVERY SIDE.  The committer of sin, the suggester of sin, the deviser of sin, the tempter to sin, the procurer of sin,

the knowing occasion of sin, the person privy to sin, all are sinners, and

as such are written down for the sword. Some are nearer the center than

others, but all are in the vortex, and all must be swallowed up together.

 

Additonal comments on this section will be included in notes on ch.2 which

in the early verses are connected.

 

 

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