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Amos 6:1 . The mountain of Samaria. This city was built on a hill, like Zion, to make it impregnable. See note on Isaiah 28:1.
Amos 6:2 . Calneh, or Ctesiphon. It was situate almost opposite Seleucia, above Bagdad, and was a royal city. Genesis 10:10. Here stood the temple of Diana on seven hundred pillars, each of which was sixty feet high. The length was four hundred and twenty five feet, and the breadth two hundred. It was two hundred years in building. Ctesiphon, whom Pliny calls Chersiphron, was the principal architect. This temple was one of the seven wonders of the world. All Asia minor contributed towards the expense, and one hundred and twenty seven kings contributed towards the pillars. Pliny, book 36. chap. 14. Vitruvius adds, that Ctesiphon invented the machines for raising the stones. De Ivigne’s Dict. Paris, 1646. Art. Antiochus. See also the note on Daniel 9:24.
Amos 6:5 . Invent to themselves instruments of music, like David. The royal and inspired bard is not censured here. His instruments being devoted to sacred song, the censure is on those princes and people who had perverted them to soothe their passions in their carousings, and in the feasts of Baal. David, as a man of genius, did invent and improve instruments of music, but it was for high and holy purposes. All sounds are communicated by air; whether they proceed from the vibrations of the bell, the ring, the cord, or the flute. The genius of the musician is displayed in communicating these diversity of sounds. But no sounds are sweeter than the Eolian harp, where nature is untouched by art.
Amos 6:10 . He that burneth him. The heathen custom of burning the dead, to preserve the ashes in urns, was now obtaining among the jews, which is here satirised by the prophet.
Amos 6:14 . I will raise up against you a nation. The Assyrians should overspread the whole land, from Hamath, in the north-west passage, to the river leading to Egypt.
What dark and terrific addresses do we find in the prophets; yet such as were well adapted to the times. What powerful eloquence, what enlivened rhetoric, what cogent arguments does Amos employ to rouse his country, sleeping in their sins! He sends his slumbering countrymen to the far-famed Calneh for wisdom; to Emesa, the capital of Hamath; and to Gath, then recently taken by king Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:6, to enquire whether they were better than those ancient cities. He thunders against the supineness of Judah, who trusted in Zion; against the security of Samaria, who deemed their city impregnable.
Full of carnal security, they slept on beds decorated with ivory, they reposed on the crimson couch, they dined daily at the sumptuous feast, they chanted to melodious instruments, they regaled themselves with goblets of wine; and conscious of superior discernment, they sneered at the judgments denounced by the Lord. What a portrait of the gay and giddy age in which we now live. How little they think of sermons, of the visitations of God, and of the enemy who has repeatedly sworn to destroy the new Carthage.
No nation is wise that makes heaven its foe: but the woe applies with double force to hypocrites and lukewarm professors, who are at ease in the christian Zion. Is God less holy? Is sin less heinous than in ancient times? May we now be saved with an accommodating religion; and forget the duties we owe to the unregenerate world? The giddy age is gone after pleasure; and many of those who hear the gospel conform to the world, and grasp at gain. But let us ask in the words of the prophet, Was Calneh safe; or could her temple save her? Were Hamath and Gaza secure by their strength? Ah, their glory was lost in a cloud. Yes, and did not Jerusalem and Samaria fall by terrible sieges? God can vanquish the strongest nations, and inspire a foe to storm cities hitherto deemed impregnable, with the same ease as a mortal can crush a worm.
The Lord’s anger was so far roused against the men who disregarded the nature and consequences of crime, as to swear by himself, that instead of being indulged with licentious liberty, they should go into a galling captivity; instead of enjoying ease, they should endure pain; instead of blooming with health, they should waste with pestilence; yea, that the whole nation should waste away, except a remnant for exile. Thus the Lord sent the nobles first into Assyria, with Coniah, for he hated their palaces, and abhorred the excellence of Jacob.
It was worse still, that prayer in the evil day was not allowed to be made for Israel. They had such a consciousness of guilt as to say, we may not mention the name of the Lord: or if we read, because they set not themselves to mention the name of the Lord, it equally marks a people abandoned to misery and despair. Oh that we may be made wise by the unaccountable obstinacy of impenitent men.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Amos 6". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26