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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Amos 6

Verses 1-14

The Fourth Address

1-3. False security of Judah and Israel.

4-6. Carelessness and luxury.

7-11. Captivity, siege, death, ruin.

12, 13. Preposterous errors.

14. The coming of the avenger.

1, 2. Render, ’Woe to the easy-going in Zion and to the secure in the mountain of Samaria! Make the round of the foremost nations and come to them, O house of Israel. Pass over to Calneh and see, and from thence go to Hamath Rabbah: then, etc. Are you better than these kingdoms? or is your border,’ etc., that you should be so favoured. The site of Calneh is uncertain. Hamath is the well-known city on the Orontes. 3. They refused to think of the coming retribution; they enthroned violence in their midst.

4. Reclining at meals was a custom introduced from the farther East: contrast 1 Samuel 20:24. The grandees now ’stretched themselves,’ etc.: cp. Spenser’s ’Poured out in loosnesse on the grassy ground’; luxury and idleness are implied. Eat the lambs, etc.] To a frugal shepherd the feeding up of beasts for food seemed shameful extravagance: ’Seldom the nomads eat other flesh than the meat of their sacrifices; but it be some beast that will not thrive, or is likely to die on their hands’ (Doughty).

5. Chant] RV ’sing idle songs’ is an improvement. The musicians were lazy triflers.

Invent to themselves, etc.] In the psalm which closes the Greek Psalter, David is made to assert: ’My hands fashioned an instrument, and my fingers fitted together a psaltery’: see also 2 Chronicles 29:26, 2 Chronicles 29:27.

6. The goblet is not enough, they must have bowls to drink out of, bowls of costly material such as were generally used in divine service (Zechariah 9:15; Zechariah 14:20). The threatened ruin of the nation did not move these unpatriotic feasters to dispense with costly unguents, as men in trouble were usually ready to do (2 Samuel 14:2).

7. First in sin, first in punishment. The banquet, etc.] RV ’The revelry of them that stretched themselves shall pass away.’ A play on sounds: Sar mirzach seruchim.

8. Excellency] i.e. the excellent things of which the nation was proud.

9. The city is besieged, and if there is a house in which the pestilence has left ten men alive their turn shall come.

10. And a man’s uncle, etc.] RV is a little different: ’And when a man’s uncle’ (RM ’kinsman’) ’shall take him up, even he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is in the innermost parts of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No; then,’ etc. Taking this difficult v. as it here stands, we must remember that it was the duty of the next of kin to see to the disposal of the body, and that, whilst interment was the almost universal rule, cremation might be resorted to in special circumstances (1 Samuel 31:12). The plague-stricken man in the inner rooms of the house must not defile the Lord’s name by uttering it in the immediate presence of death, as a Mohammedan may not say his prayers in an unclean spot. A simpler form of the v., suggested in part by LXX, would be: ’A remnant shall be left’ (in the plague-swept house), ’and when men break through to bring out the bones from the house it shall be said to him who is in the recesses of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, None.’

12. Read, ’Shall horses run upon the cliff? Will a man plough the sea with oxen? ’No! but in moral and religious matters they will do things as absurd as these.

13. No alteration of the original is required to obtain the following: ’Ye which rejoice in Lo-Debar, which say, Have we not taken for us Karnaim by our own strength?’ For Lo-Debar see 2 Samuel 9:4; 2 Samuel 17:27, and for Karnaim Genesis 14:5; Deuteronomy 1:4; Joshua 21:27; Joshua 1 Maccabees 5:26: both towns lay E. of the Jordan and may have been taken by Jeroboam II.

A great change had come over the fortunes of Israel during the reigns of Joash of Israel and his son, Jeroboam II. Israel had been reduced to a very low ebb in the time of Jehoahaz by the repeated and successful assaults of the Syrians (2 Kings 13:7, 2 Kings 13:22). With the advent of Joash all this was altered. He recovered ten cities which Hazael had taken, and gained three victories (2 Kings 13:25). Jeroboam II carried these successes still further. ’He restored the border of Israel from the entering in of Hamath unto the sea of the Arabah’ (RV) and appears to have been uniformly victorious. This was largely due to the fact that he never came into collision with Assyria, whereas the power of Syria had been greatly reduced by the campaigns of Shalmaneser III and Assurdan.

Such a collision was, however, inevitable (Amos 6:14). The earliest contact between Israel and Assyria of which we have any record was when Ahab, as an ally of Hadadezer of Damascus, shared in the disastrous defeat inflicted on the Syrian king by Shalmaneser II at the battle of Karkar, 854 b.c. On the famous obelisk of black basalt, now in the British Museum, ambassadors from Jehu are represented bringing tribute to the same Assyrian monarch at Hamath, 842 b.c. Tiglath-pileser III, called in the Bible ’Pul,’ marched against Northern Syria in 738 b.c. and Menahem gave the king a thousand talents of silver, ’that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand’ (2 Kings 15:19). In 732 b.c. Tiglath-pileser III invaded Israel, took a number of towns, including the whole district of Naphtali (2 Kings 15:29), and compelled Pekah, king of Israel, to pay a considerable tribute. The kingdom of Israel was destroyed in the year, 722 b.c., when Samaria was taken by Sargon in the first month of his reign, after a siege which was begun by his predecessor, Shalmaneser IV, and had lasted three years.

14. The entering in of Hemath] the ideal northern boundary of the Holy Land (Numbers 13:21; 2 Kings 14:25-28): it is the great depression between the N. end of Lebanon and the Nusariyeh mountains. The river of the wilderness] RV ’the brook of the Arabah,’ the Wâdî-el-Ahsih, the southern boundary.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Amos 6". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.