Amos 5

CHAPTER V

This chapter opens with a tender and pathetic lamentation, in

the style of a funeral song, over the house of Israel, 1, 2.

The prophet then glances at the awful threatening denounced

against them, 3;

earnestly exhorting them to renounce their idols, and seek

Jehovah, of whom he gives a very magnificent description, 4-9.

He then reproves their injustice and oppression with great

warmth and indignation; exhorts them again to repentance; and

enforces his exhortation with the most awful threatenings,

delivered with great majesty and authority, and in images full

of beauty and grandeur, 10-24.

The chapter concludes with observing that their idolatry was

of long standing, that they increased the national guilt, by

adding to the sins of their fathers; and that their punishment,

therefore, should be great in proportion, 25-27.

Formerly numbers of them were brought captive to Damascus,

2Ki 10:32, 33;

but now they must go beyond it to Assyria,

2Ki 15:29; 17:6.

NOTES ON CHAP. V

Verse 1. Hear ye this word] Attend to this doleful song which I

make for the house of Israel.

Verse 2. The virgin of Israel] The kingdom of Israel, or the ten

tribes, which were carried into captivity; and are now totally

lost in the nations of the earth.

Verse 3. The city that went out by a thousand] The city that

could easily have furnished, on any emergency, a thousand fighting

men, can now produce scarcely one hundred-one in ten of the

former number; and now of the hundred scarcely ten remain: so

reduced was Israel when Shalmaneser besieged and took Samaria, and

carried the residue into captivity.

Verse 4. Seek ye me, and ye shall live] Cease your rebellion

against me; return to me with all your heart; and though consigned

to death, ye shall be rescued and live. Deplorable as your case

is, it is not utterly desperate.

Verse 5. But seek not Beth-el] There was one of Jeroboam's

golden calves, and at Gilgal were carved images; both were

places in which idolatry was triumphant. The prophet shows them

that all hope from those quarters is utterly vain; for Gilgal

shall go into captivity, and Beth-el be brought to naught. There

is a play or paronomasia on the letters and words in this clause:

haggilgal galoh yigleh, ubeith

el yiheyeh leaven. "This Gilgal shall go captive into captivity;

and Beth-el (the house of God) shall be for Beth-aven," (the house

of iniquity.)

Verse 6. Seek the Lord, and ye shall live] Repeated from

Am 5:4.

In the house of Joseph] The Israelites of the ten tribes, of

whom Ephraim and Manasseh, sons of Joseph, were the chief.

Verse 7. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood] Who pervert judgment;

causing him who obtains his suit to mourn sorely over the expenses

he has incurred in gaining his right.

Verse 8. That maketh the seven stars and Orion] Or, Hyades and

Arcturus, Kimah and Kesil.

See Clarke on Job 9:9; "Job 38:32",

where the subject of this verse is largely considered.

Turneth the shadow of death into the morning] Who makes day and

night, light and darkness.

Calleth for the waters of the sea] Raising them up by

evaporation, and collecting them into clouds.

And poureth them out] Causing them to drop down in showers upon

the face of the earth. Who has done this? JEHOVAH is his name.

Verse 9. That strengtheneth the spoiled] Who takes the part of

the poor and oppressed against the oppressor; and, in the course

of his providence, sets up the former, and depresses the latter.

Verse 10. They hate him that rebuketh in the gate] They cannot

bear an upright magistrate, and will not have righteous laws

executed.

Verse 11. Your treading is upon the poor] You tread them under

your feet; they form the road on which ye walk; and yet it was by

oppressing and improverishing them that ye gained your riches.

Ye take from him burdens of wheat] Ye will have his bread for

doing him justice.

Verse 12. I know your manifold transgressions] I have marked the

multitude of your smaller crimes, as well as your mighty offenses.

Among their greater offenses were, 1. Their afflicting the

righteous. 2. Taking bribes to blind their eyes in judgment. And,

3. Refusing to hear the poor, who had no money to give them.

Verse 13. The prudent shall keep silence] A wise man will

consider that it is useless to complain. He can have no justice

without bribes; and he has no money to give: consequently, in such

an evil time, it is best to keep silence.

Verse 14. Seek good, and not evil] Is there a greater mystery in

the world, than that a mall, instead of seeking good, will seek

evil, knowing that it is evil?

And so the Lord] As God is the Fountain of good, so they who

seek the supreme good seek him: and they who seek shall find him;

for the Lord, the God of hosts, shall be with him.

Verse 15. Hate the evil, and love the good] What ruins you,

avoid; what helps you, cleave to. And as a proof that you take

this advice, purify the seats of justice; and then expect God to

be gracious to the remnant of Joseph-to the posterity of the ten

tribes.

Verse 16. They shall call the husbandman to mourning] Because

the crops have failed, and the ground has been tilled in vain.

Such as are skilful of lamentation] See Clarke on Jer 9:17.

Verse 17. And in all vineyards shall be wailing] The places

where festivity especially used to prevail.

I will pass through thee] As I passed, by the ministry of the

destroying angel, through Egypt, not to spare, but to destroy.

Verse 18. Wo unto you that desire the day of the Lord] The

prophet had often denounced the coming of God's day, that is, of a

time of judgment; and the unbelievers had said, "Let his day come,

that we may see it." Now the prophet tells them that that day

would be to them darkness-calamity, and not light-not prosperity.

Verse 19. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him]

They shall go from one evil to another. He who escapes from the

lion's mouth shall fall into the bear's paws:-

Incidit in Scyllam, cupiens vitare Charybdim.

The Israelites, under their king Menahem, wishing to avoid a

civil war, called in Pul, king of Assyria, to help them. This led

to a series of evils inflicted by the Syrian and Assyrian kings,

till at last Israel was ravaged by Shalmaneser, and carried into

captivity. Thus, in avoiding one evil they fell into another still

more grievous.

Leaned his hand on a wall, and a serpent bit him.] Snakes and

venomous animals are fond of taking up their lodging in walls of

houses, where they can either find or make holes; and it is

dangerous to sit near them or lean against them. In the East

Indies they keep the faithful mongose, a species of ichneumon, in

their houses, for the purpose of destroying the snakes that infest

them.

Verse 21. I hate, I despise your feast days] I abominate those

sacrificial festivals where there is no piety, and I despise them

because they pretend to be what they are not. This may refer to

the three annual festivals which were still observed in a certain

way among the Israelites.

Verse 22. The peace-offerings of your fat beasts.]

merieychem probably means buffaloes; and so Bochart.

Verse 23. The noise of thy songs-the melody of thy viols.] They

had both vocal and instrumental music in those sacrificial

festivals; and God hated the noise of the one and shut his ears

against the melody of the other. In the first there was nothing

but noise, because their hearts were not right with God; and in

the latter there could be nothing but ( zimrath) cutting and

scraping, because there was no heart-no religious sense in the

thing, and nearly as little in them that used it. See on Am 6:5.

Verse 24. Let judgment run down] Let the execution of justice be

everywhere like the showers that fall upon the land to render it

fertile; and let righteousness in heart and life be like a mighty

river, or the Jordan, that shall wind its course through the whole

nation, and carry every abomination into the Dead Sea. Let justice

and righteousness prevail everywhere, and sweep their contraries

out of the land.

Verse 25. Have ye offered unto me sacrifices] Some have been led

to think that "during the forty years which the Israelites spent

in the wilderness, between Egypt and the promised land, they did

not offer any sacrifices, as in their circumstances it was

impossible; they offered none because they had none." But such

people must have forgotten that when the covenant was made at

Sinai, there were burnt-offerings and peace-offerings of oxen

sacrificed to the Lord, Ex 24:5; and at the setting up of the

tabernacle the twelve princes of the twelve tribes offered each a

young bullock, a ram, and a lamb, for a burnt-offering; a

kid for a sin-offering; two oxen, five rams, five he-goats,

and five lambs, for a peace-offering, Nu 7:12, &c.; which

amounted to an immense number of victims offered in the course of

the twelve days during which this feast of the dedication lasted.

At the consecration of priests, bullocks and rams to a

considerable number were offered, see Le 8:1, &c.; but they were

not offered so regularly, nor in such abundance, as they were

after the settlement in the promised land. Learned men, therefore,

have considered this verse as speaking thus: Did ye offer to me,

during forty years in the wilderness, sacrifices in such a way as

was pleasing to me? Ye did not; for your hearts were divided, and

ye were generally in a spirit of insurrection or murmuring.

Verse 26. But ye have borne] The preceding verse spoke of their

fathers; the present verse speaks of the Israelites then

existing, who were so grievously addicted to idolatry, that they

not only worshipped at stated public places the idols set up by

public authority, but they carried their gods about with them

everywhere.

The tabernacle of your Moloch] Probably a small portable shrine,

with an image of their god in it, such as Moloch; and the star or

representative of their god Chiun. For an ample exposition of

this verse, See Clarke on Ac 7:42; to which let me add, that

from Picart's Religious Ceremonies, vol. iii. p. 199, we find that

there was an idol named Choun worshipped among the Peruvians from

the remotest antiquity.

Verse 27. Will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus]

That is, into Assyria, the way to which, from Judea, was by

Damascus.

But St. Stephen says, Ac 7:43,

beyond Babylon; because the Holy Spirit that was in him chose to

extend the meaning of the original text to that great and final

captivity of the Jews in general, when Zedekiah, their last king,

and the people of Judea, were carried into Mesopotamia, Armenia,

and Media; see 2Ki 17:7, 24. This captivity happened after the

time of Amos.

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