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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Amos 4

Amos 3-6. Fuller Statement of Israel’ s Sin and Doom.— There are three main sections, each beginning “ Hear ye this word” ( Amos 3:1, Amos 4:1, Amos 5:1).

Verses 1-3

Amos 4:1-3 . The Women of Samaria.— Like Isaiah ( Isaiah 31:6-9), Amos turns to denounce the extravagant and wicked frivolity of the women of the upper classes. He is not necessarily charging them with responsibility for the sins of the men; from those to whom much has been given (by Divine favour) much is required. The idle and pampered women of Samaria are described as “ kine of Bashan” ( cf. Deuteronomy 32:14, Psalms 22:12), or, as we should say, prize cows. They gratify their fads and fancies at the expense of the poor, since extravagance always involves injustice. The prophet may not intend to charge them with drunkenness, but rather, as Ehrlich suggests, with inducing their husbands to rob and wrong their poor neighbours in order without much trouble to procure the water which they demand. The punishment is to come by war, and in war it is the women who suffer most. Amos 4:2 f . is very difficult, owing probably to textual corruption, but the general meaning is clear. The women who have strutted about so proudly and chosen their steps so fastidiously will one and all (even the last of them) be dragged along by means of hooks through the first breach that occurs in the wall, and will be hastened (lit. thrown or hurled) to Harmon.

Amos 4:2 . Translate “ even the last of you with fish-hooks.” Fish-hooks may, of course, mean hooks like fish-hooks. The allusion may be to the Assyrian practice of leading captives by hooks or rings.

Amos 4:3 . The form for “ cast yourselves” is irregular. A slight change gives, “ ye shall be cast.”— Harmon has not been identified; perhaps Armenia ( har-minni, cf. Jeremiah 51:27) was originally intended.

Verses 4-13

Amos 4:4-13 . Israel’ s Denseness.— What is the real cause of conduct that merits such punishment? At the root of all the evil is a sham religion, a religion which in its mere formality and gross corruption has degenerated into a blasphemous hypocrisy. Come to Bethel! says the prophet ( Amos 4:4). And do what? Why, simply rebel (against Yahweh)! It is useless to multiply religious observances and to invent new rites, to sacrifice every morning instead of once a year, to pay tithes every three days instead of every three years, and to invent new rites such as that of burning cakes of leavened bread ( Amos 4:5) as a thank-offering. The futility of such sins has been demonstrated again and again ( Amos 4:6-11). By way of warning and punishment, Yahweh had sent various calamities. He had sent hunger (“ cleanness of teeth” ) and famine ( Amos 4:6). He had withheld the rain-showers, which are welcomed in March and April; and had thus threatened the harvest, which falls a few months later, in May and June ( Amos 4:7). When this happened ( Amos 4:7), the fields would become parched (frequentative tenses), and people, lacking even water sufficient to quench their thirst, would stagger from various cities (two or three cities; an indefinite number) to some other city, seeking water in vain. He had sent blasting and mildew to devastate gardens and vineyards, and the locust (lit. the “ shearer” ) to devour the fig-trees and olive-trees. He had sent a pestilence ( Amos 4:10). This is described as “ after the manner of Egypt,” i.e. of the Egyptian kind, or “ by the way of Egypt,” i.e. a pestilence which spread from Egypt. We learn from inscriptions that such pestilences visited Western Asia in 765 and 759 B.C. He smote the young men with the best of their horses (see below). He brought destruction like that of Sodom and Gomorrah ( Amos 4:11). In spite of all such visitations, Israel refused to turn from its evil ways and return to Yahweh. Therefore ( Amos 4:12) He is about to take further measures, and the prophet warns the people to prepare to face its God. In Amos 4:13 is added a short hymn or doxology which is perhaps a late insertion. The Almighty Creator declares to men His thought (lit. meditation), He who maketh “ dawn and darkness” SO LXX).

Amos 4:4 . We may translate, “ And bring your sacrifices in the morning, your tithes on the third day.”

Amos 4:5 . and offer . . . leavened: better, “ and burn ( cf mg.) some leavened bread as a thank-offering.” Usually the leavened bread was not burned. Marti thinks that there had grown up the practice of throwing cakes of leavened bread into the flames as a thank-offering.

Amos 4:7 c. Translate, with Marti, “ One field would be rained upon, and the field which I did not rain upon (reading ‘ amtir) would be dried up.”

Amos 4:9 . the multitude . . . devoured: translate, “ I laid waste (reading hehל rabti), your gardens and vineyards; and your fig-trees and your olive-trees the locust devoured.”

Amos 4:10 . and have carried away your horses: MT has ( cf. mg.), “ together with the captivity (or captives) of your horses.” But the word for captivity or captives ( shל bhî) is never used of animals. I would suggest ṣ?ל bhî for shל bhî : “ the best (beauty) of your horses.”

Amos 4:11 . I have overthrown some among you: better, “ I have brought an overthrow among you.” The word is always used in reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Amos 4". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.