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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Amos 4

Verses 1-13


The Second Address

1-3. The heartless luxury of the rich women.

4, 5. The elaborate sacrifices and pilgrimages.

6-12. The failure of God’s chastisements to produce amendment.

1. These pampered women are compared to cows grown fat through feeding in the rich pastures of Bashan (Numbers 32:1-5; Deuteronomy 32:14; Micah 7:14).

Masters] RV ’lords,’ i.e. husbands (1 Peter 3:6).

2. He] RV ’they,’ i.e. the conquerors.

Your posterity] RV ’your residue.’ Those farthest removed from danger will be dragged out of their retreats like fish from the water.

3. Like excited cattle each woman would make for the nearest breach in the city wall and endeavour to escape through it. The second half of the v. is corrupt. Possibly it may have run: ’And ye shall be cast out of your palaces’ (Micah 2:9).

4. This v. shows that the pilgrimage to a holy place was then, as it has been in almost all times and lands, one of the popular forms of devotion. The pious Jew delighted in the annual visit to Jerusalem for the Feasts of Passover or of Tabernacles. Jeroboam I set apart Bethel and Dan as the two sanctuaries to be visited by his subjects (1 Kings 12:29-32) for the same purpose. Other places were venerated in like fashion. Amos mentions Beer-sheba (Amos 8:14) and Gilgal. The latter place, which was situated between Jericho and the Jordan, derived its name, ’a circle,’ from the circle of sacred stones which existed there from time immemorial. Joshua 4, 5 speak of it as the site of the first camp of the Hebrews in western Palestine and the scene of the circumcision of the great mass of the people.

The prophet asserts that these journeys to the holy places, for the purpose of worship, failed to win the favour of God: the more zealously they were engaged in the greater the guilt of the pilgrims. The reason was that men substituted such devotions in place of good morals. There is an Arabic proverb concerning the ceremonies performed by pilgrims to Mecca: ’Circumambulate, and run, and commit the seven deadly sins!’ Another plays thus on words: Al-haram f’il Haramayn= ’Unholiness dwelleth in the two holy cities.’

Every morning.. after three years] ’in the morning.. on the third day,’ seems preferable. On the morning after arrival the pilgrims brought an oblation: on the next day—the third, according to Heb. reckoning—they paid the tithes. In the great Mohammedan pilgrimage to Mecca the observances due on each day are strictly defined.

5. According to the Levitical legislation leaven might not be burned as part of a sacrifice (Exodus 23:18; Leviticus 2:12); but even in those laws there are traces of some degree of freedom (Leviticus 7:13; Leviticus 23:17). And in northern Israel it would seem that leavened cakes were consumed on the altar as a praise or thank offering. This liketh you] i.e. this is what you like.

6. Doughty speaks of an Arab who ’would often show that he had nothing left to eat.. in crackling the thumb nail from the backward upon the upper front teeth.’ Yet have ye not returned unto me] a pathetic refrain, expressing His disappointment and His appealing love. All warnings have been in vain.

7. In the plains harvest comes at the end of April; a month later in the hills. Heavy rains are necessary from Nov. to Jan. to soften the ground sufficiently for ploughing and sowing.

One piece was rained upon, etc.] cp. Gideon’s fleece (Judges 6:37-40).

8. Cities] i.e. the inhabitants.

9. Blasting] the effect produced on grain by the burning wind from the desert (Genesis 41:6).

Palmerworm] or locust.

10. After the manner of Egypt] ’Life and death march in “double companies” through Egypt. All epidemics revel here.’ 2 Kings 13:7 is an illustration of the loss of horses. We are to think of the people as shut up in a fetid camp, with decaying bodies of men and horses, and all the other foul odours of the East.

11. The overthrow of these cities had become a type of utter destruction (Deuteronomy 29:23; Isaiah 1:7-8; Isaiah 13:19; Jeremiah 49:18; Jeremiah 50:40). The brand plucked out of the burning is a figure for grievous damage.

12. Thus] but we are not told how. Imagination is to fill up the blank, and the partial overthrow already inflicted is enough to indicate what the final and total ruin will be. They must meet God as a foe (Joshua 5:13).

13. This verse, Amos 5:8-9, and Amos 9:6, were probably written on the margin by an admirer of Job 9:4-10. His thought] i.e. the determination He has arrived at. He darkens the heavens with storms and eclipses. He marches majestically over the mountains in clouds and thunder (Deuteronomy 33:13; Micah 1:3; Habakkuk 3:19; Job 9:8).

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Amos 4". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/amos-4.html. 1909.