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CRITICAL NOTES.] Amos] Different from the father of Isaiah, Amots. Tek.] 2 Chronicles 20:20 Earth.] 2 Chronicles 26:16. A premonitory sign in nature of revolutions in guilty kingdoms (Matthew 24:7-8).
Amos 1:2. Roar] Cf. Joel 3:16; Jeremiah 25:30. God will spread terror like beasts of prey (Psalms 18:3). Zion] Seat of government from whence they revolted. Hab.] Poetical for inhabitants. Carmel] whose summit abounded in olives and rich pastures; owing to its nearness to the sea, renewed its freshness and verdure (Song of Solomon 7:5; Isaiah 33:9; Jeremiah 1:19).
THE MAN AND HIS MESSAGE.—Amos 1:1-2
Amos uttered words which were the embodiment of Divine communications in vision. When engaged in the daily routine of homely duties he received a Divine summons, “Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.” His predictions are wonderful. It was a strange event for a prophet to be sent out of Judah into the kingdom of the ten tribes. For a man of no training and position, to rise up from the rank of a shepherd, and foretell the destruction of a prosperous and powerful nation. This would demand universal attention.
I. The Word of God often comes to men of humble birth. “The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa.” Amos was only a common shepherd and a fig-cultivator. A man of no learning and connection in life. Yet the call came to him. We pander to the prejudice of sects, regard the opinion of the great, and fear the scorn of the ignorant. Most popular and talented men of the times are sought to render our cause welcome to the people. But God “chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” The proud and mighty are passed by, and men from the dunghill are exalted to the throne and the ministry. Elisha from the plough, David from the sheepfold, Matthew from the receipt of custom, and Peter from the fishing-net, are selected to be messengers for God. Christ made publicans and fishermen apostles to men. The philosophers of Greece and the senators of Rome were passed by. “He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.” Men of the greatest eminence and usefulness have risen from the lowest ranks. God knows the “right men” for the times, finds them, and puts them into “the right place.” Many are now cultivating high qualities in humble callings, despised and unknown, but whom God is preparing for more honourable spheres.
This law, though custom now directs the course,
As nature’s institute, is yet in force,
Uncancelled, though diffused: and he whose mind
Is virtuous, is alone of noble kind;
Though poor in fortune, of celestial race,
And he commits the crime who calls him base.
II. The call from God often takes men from a lower to a higher sphere of life. A humble shepherd was sent to warn the kings of Israel. Some men are discontented in their place, think they deserve a higher, and cherish ambitious schemes for the future. But if we are not faithful in little we shall not be in great things. “First deserve and then desire.” If we fill our present position with diligence, faith, and earnestness, we are on the way to honour. “Merit well the honour and you shall obtain it.” “The force of his own merit makes his way.” Moses was a faithful servant in his own house before he became master in Israel. Our secular avocations are sacred and should not be despised, filled with grand possibilities and elevate to higher blessings. God speaks to men in business, awakens dormant powers, and calls to distinguished honour. Cincinnatus was called from the plough to the dictatorship. Matthew from the toll-booth, and Peter from his boat, were called to follow Christ and become historians and ambassadors of the age. Work in your daily tasks and trust God for the future. “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one and setteth up another.”
III. The call from God often comes to men in special times. “In the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam.” “Judge a man by the times in which he lived,” is a common saying. If we thus estimate the prophet Amos, we learn his moral courage and intense feeling as he delivers the burden of the Lord. He was accused of conspiracy and advised to flee, but defends his innocence and authority, and with the heroism of God’s servant repeats the unpleasant message, and unfolds the Divine displeasure. In shepherd’s dress he denounced the idolatry of the court, foretold the destruction of the kingdom and the captivity of the people.
1. Times of natural prosperity. During the vigorous reign of Jeroboam II. the kingdom of Israel enlarged its dominions by the subjugation of adjoining states. With greater security from without, and firmer administration within, there were profound peace, material prosperity, and social gratification. Uzziah also had subdued the Edomites and the Philistines, and made the Ammonites pay tribute. He fortified Jerusalem, and raised a powerful army. His name had spread even to Egypt (2 Chronicles 26:0). Under these kings the two kingdoms had reached the summit of their power and splendour.
2. Times of moral corruption. National prosperity is no guarantee for pure religion. It often begets indifference, love of ease, and maturity for judgment. “Prosperous times” are very often the least prosperous. Idolatry was sanctioned by the State, and mixed with the worship of God. The luxuries, debaucheries, and reckless conduct of the rich were upheld by oppressing the poor (ch. Amos 2:7-8; Amos 3:9). Perversion of justice (ch. Amos 2:7; Amos 5:7), bribery (ch. Amos 2:6; Amos 5:12), and false measures abounded. In business a griping, hard fisted bargain was sought (ch. Amos 8:5-6). Everywhere in the events of life, sin showed itself in the vile price given for articles of luxury (ch. Amos 2:6; Amos 8:6). In the palace and the sanctuary, from the metropolis to the borders, moral corruption prevailed. But Amos thundered out the word of God amid the splendour and wickedness that surrounded him. He sets before them their sins and pronounces God’s sentence upon them. “Therefore thus saith the Lord God. Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel. Therefore the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord saith thus” (Amos 3:11; Amos 4:12; Amos 5:16).
3. Times of physical events. “Two years before the earthquake.” Earthquakes are sometimes natural harbingers of coming revolutions. When men are steeped in sin and living in utter carelessness God has many means to rouse them from sleep. When they disregard his word, unnatural and extraordinary signs proclaim his anger. This earthquake must have been very great. It is described as “the earthquake,” and was vividly remembered in the days of Zechariah. Whole cities, like Lisbon, are destroyed by earthquakes in the East, says a writer. Josephus says that in one, a little before the time of Christ, “some ten thousand were buried under the ruined houses.” Referring to this he says, “By it half of a mountain was removed and carried to a plain four furlongs off, and spoiled the king’s gardens.” But in this shaking of the earth we hear the voice of God warning nations of their danger, before the flash falls and the fire consumes them.
IV. The call which comes from God to men is often a call to deliver an unpleasant message. “The Lord will roar from Zion and utter his voice from Jerusalem.” Many are willing to deliver pleasant tidings, to preach “smooth things;” but few have the courage and self-denial to go in the face of public opinion, and declare the truth at the risk of their lives. Amos had to denounce judgments, which are often as necessary as mercies. They both have one aim, and to separate them indicates perverted views of the Divine character and procedure.
1. Judgments authoritative in their origin. “From Zion” and from Jerusalem, where God dwelt and was worshipped. Neither in Bethel nor in Dan, nor in the cities of Samaria and Jezreel, but in the cities of Israel did God manifest himself. Zion was the seat of government and the centre of mercy. From thence issued edicts and decrees for Israel and the world. At the very beginning, therefore, the prophet warned Israel, and declared the name and authority of Jehovah, King in Zion. “The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation.”
2. Judgments loud in their nature. Jehovah will roar against them as a lion, terrible to shepherds and their flocks. His voice must be heard, and the message demands attention. God roars before he tears, and warns before he strikes. “Thus hath the Lord spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.”
3. Judgments specific in their design. “Concerning Israel.” “All troubles,” says Bishop Reynolds, “have their commission and instructions from him—what to do, whither to go, whom to touch, and whom to pass over.” The storm passed over adjacent countries, but at last falls down in terrific power and darkness upon the kingdom of Israel. None are beyond the reach or can escape from the punishment of God. The arrows of the Almighty never miss their mark, and stick fast into those at whom they are shot. Sent in love or judgment, they cause a wound which only he can heal. Under his power and presence men are stricken down, and the slain of the Lord are many when he leads in war. Those who sin against light and privileges deserve greater judgment than others. Israel’s advantages were great, and Israel’s sins were grievous. “Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.”
4. Judgments terrible in their consequence. This is read in the terms which describe them. Not only like the roaring of a lion from his secret place; but like the outburst of a thunder-storm, which sweeps over the land, and carries desolation in its train. (a) The land is smitten. Its fruitful portions are made barren. The summit of Carmel, denoted for its fertility and excellency, was consumed by drought. All herbage and verdure withered like a flower. “Sharon is like a wilderness; and Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits” (Isaiah 33:9). (b) The habitations of men suffer. “The habitations of the shepherds shall mourn.” This is not mere poetic personification. The shepherds mourn at withered pastures, and their habitations are made desolate by the general calamity. Nature, beasts and men, feel the visitation, and mourn in sorrow. God can blight the fairest blessings of men. When “the earth mourneth and languisheth,” let us weep in penitence and turn from sin.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
The same lessons are here repeated and enforced that we have found elsewhere.
1. Those who take no heed to one message may have others louder. (a) Given by strange men. (b) Confirmed by extraordinary signs in nature.
2. But God is slow to anger, and waits patiently. Before the last punishment is inflicted real space is given for repentance. “Two years before the earthquake.”
3. If all warning is despised, the ministry of the prophet and the sufferings of nature, then there is “fearful looking for of judgment,” &c. The populous cities, the peaceful homes, and the fruitful fields will all suffer when God speaks in wrath.
The shepherd has shaken, not one country, but the world; not by a passing earthquake, but by the awe of God, which, with electric force, streamed through his words [Pusey]
Amos 1:1. It is observable that Amos, the shepherd of Tekoa, south of Bethlehem in Judah, directs his prophecies specially to the ten tribes of Israel. He thus presents an example of Divine kindness and tender sympathy for aliens and rebels; and in this respect is like the Good Shepherd, who was born at Bethlehem, and laid down his life for his sheep when they had gone astray [Wordsworth].
God chooses instruments for important service from inferior stations in society.
1. Men should not be ashamed of their mean extraction, or low occupations in life. Some have childishly wished to blot out every incident concerning their origin. Rousseau, a French lyric poet, is said to have been ashamed that he was the son of a shoemaker.
2. Men should not be reproached for former life, if they earnestly discharge the duties of their present position.
3. God thus magnifies his grace, and rebukes human pride. It is a false notion of true dignity and usefulness, to suppose that they belong to an illustrious pedigree or a long purse.
Honour and shame from no condition rise:
Act well your part—there all the honour lies.
Amos 1:2. Roar from zion. Thus Amos joins on his own prophecy of judgment to that of Joel (Joel 3:16). God roared out of Zion by the voice of Joel, and of Amos himself, denouncing his judgments. And God roared by the voice of the earthquake, confirming that denunciation by a solemn peal of subterranean thunder. The earthquake, as it were, an Amen to the prophecy [Wordsworth].
Mourn. Amos, like Joel, notes the sympathy of the natural world with man in his sorrow. He also displays his own sympathy for the class to which he belonged, by remembering the home which he loved and now left.
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 1
Amos 1:1. Station in life. Low station is no obstacle to God’s favour. St John was the son of a fisherman; recommended to our Saviour neither by refinement of education nor by honourable employment, he was diligently engaged in the labours of an humble occupation when chosen to accompany his Lord. For those, indeed, whom it hath pleased God to place in the higher states of life it is right that they should endeavour to perform the duties of their stations, by a due cultivation of their talents, by the acquirement of suitable accomplishments, and by acting up to the rank in society to which by the good providence of God they are born and designated [Bp Manton].
Amos 1:3. Three] The numbers serve to denote the multiplicity of sins, “ungodliness in its worst form” [Luther]. Turn] Reverse, to make a thing go back, to withdraw it (Numbers 23:20; Isaiah 43:13).
Amos 1:4. A fire] Material, as cities burned in war (Psalms 78:63); or an emblem of God’s judgments.
Amos 1:5. Bar] of its gates (Jeremiah 51:30). Inhab.] Subject. Him that holdeth] Ruler. Saith] Strengthens the threat, which was fulfilled when the Assyrian king conquered Damascus and broke up the kingdom (2 Kings 16:9).
THE JUDGMENT ON DAMASCUS.—Amos 1:3-5
The prophet having declared the object of his mission, and the authority by which he was sent, now gives the several messages in order. First to the surrounding nations, grouped together into two classes. Damascus (Syria), Gaza (Philistia), and Tyre, more distantly related to Israel; Edom, Ammon, and Moab allied in origin, and nearer to Israel. Then to Judah, and finally to Israel herself, the chief transgressor. In the succession of groups we see a climax of guilt.
I. The guilt of Damascus. “For three transgressions of Damascus and for four.” All the judgments are introduced by the same formula, which does not mean that four transgressions were added to three, but that there was a series of sins, each one greater than the one before it, and the last the greatest, the climax of all. All these nations were guilty of multiplied sins. We notice those specially mentioned in each case. Damascus, that is, the Syrians under the reign of Hazael, invaded and subdued the eastern regions of Israel. They treated the captured Gileadites with great cruelty, and crushed them under iron threshing-machines (2 Kings 10:32-33; 2 Kings 8:12). Elisha foretold this cruelty, and Hazael actually did it, though he stood aghast at the prediction. The women of Israel were thrown like sheaves on the threshing-floor.
II. The punishment of Damascus.
1. It is irreversible. “I will not turn away the punishment thereof.” There are antecedent stages when the consequences may be averted. There are times of warning and patient waiting. But when men abuse God’s patience, and continue in sin till there be no remedy, they must reap what they deserve.
2. It is wide-spread. (a) The royal palaces are destroyed. “I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad.” Royal palaces, though richly furnished and strongly built, avail nothing before God. The habitations of the rich are no protection against the wrath of God. They turn to dust and ashes before the fire. (b) The capital is made defenceless. “I will break also the bar of Damascus.” The bar, the gates of the city were broken. It was exposed to the enemy, who could go in and out at pleasure. The seat of empire and the empire itself was shorn of its strength. All means of resistance were shivered Disgrace and ruin followed. “Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap” (Isaiah 17:1). (c) The inhabitants greatly suffered. Some were cut off by the sword. The people from the plain of Aven and princes from the house of Eden, the inhabitants of the valley and the cities, were put to death. Neither their wealth nor their gods could protect them. Others were taken captives to the land of Kir, an Assyrian province on the banks of the river Kir, the modern Georgia. This was accomplished when the king of Assyria took Damascus, and carried away its people into captivity (2 Kings 16:9). How easily can God uproot and transplant a nation that sins against him, and acts with cruelty towards his people! Those who abuse the power which God bestows upon them to uproot others, shall themselves be uprooted.
Amos 1:6. Whole captivity] i.e. left none, but sold them to Edomites, the most deadly enemies to Israel: hence the greatness of the sin.
Amos 1:7. Fire on the wall] An enemy shall destroy it. Fulfilled by Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:8), Sennacherib (Isaiah 47:1), and by Alexander the Great.
THE JUDGMENT ON GAZA.—Amos 1:6-8
In similar terms as before, the special sins of the leading and most influential city of the Philistines are mentioned. Sin in every place grows and ripens for punishment.
I. The sins of Gaza. “For three transgressions,” &c.
1. The provocations were great in kind. They are called transgressions, or rebellions.
2. The provocations were multiplied in number. The sins were not few, but many, and multiplied. “For three and for four,” that is, for continued provocations against God. Sin was continually added to sin.
3. The provocations reached a climax in their cruelty towards the Jews. “Because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom.” (a) This captivity was most complete. The term “whole captivity” means “a full captivity.” The captives were numerous. They took all they could and left none behind. They intended to destroy Israel entirely. “They have said, Come and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance” (Psalms 83:4). (b) This captivity was most cruel. The Philistines appear to have sold their victims partly to the Edomites, the bitterest foes of Israel, and partly to the Phœnicians, who resold them to Edom (Amos 1:9) and to the Grecians (Joel 3:6). Amos emphasizes the hatred of the Philistines. They were not satisfied with taking them captives themselves, but added affliction to affliction, by delivering the Jews into the hands of implacable foes. Fugitives who flee to us for refuge should never be treated with cruelty nor robbed of their liberty. “It was like driving the shrinking flock of sheep to the butcher’s shambles,” says a writer, reeking with the gore of their companions. Yet were they driven there to the slaughter. Open markets there were for Jewish slaves in abundance. “Sell us only not to slaughter,” “Spare the gray-headed,” “Spare my child,” would go up in the ears of those, who though enemies understood their speech. But no! Such was the compact of Tyre, and Philistia, and Edom against the people of God. Not one was to be spared; it was to be a complete captivity, and that to Edom. The bond was fulfilled. “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he too shall cry and not be heard.”
II. The doom of Gaza. “Behold, I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof.” The sentence upon Gaza stands out prominently, because the first city in power and in sin. It was the merchant city of the five. Each had its own petty king. But all formed one whole, and were involved in one sin and ruin. As they had treated Israel, so God would deal with them. Measure for measure. “He shall have judgment without mercy that hath showed no mercy.”
1. Gaza and affiliated cities would be destroyed. The ravages of fire and sword would devour the palaces of the land. Cities strong by nature and art would be smitten by the fire, when human foresight would pronounce them impregnable and secure.
2. The people were doomed to perish. So complete would be the destruction that “the remnant,” those who were left after one destruction, should fall in the other. The political strength which escaped one calamity should be overtaken in another. God will make a full end of those who sought to exterminate his people. Judgment upon judgment fell upon Philistia, until they ceased to be a nation (Jeremiah 47:0). Cruelty to the helpless, and persecution of God’s people, ripen nations and individuals for destruction with great rapidity. Flourishing families and magnificent palaces are destroyed, as if by tremendous fire. Fortified cities are leveled to the dust, fertile regions are depopulated, princes are dethroned, and mighty empires are reduced to slavery and ruin. “Rejoice not thou, whole Philistia, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.”
Amos 1:9-10. Tyrus] The crime here is sale of prisoners, like the preceding, to Edom; a violation of the covenant of David and Solomon with the king of Tyre (2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5:1; 1 Kings 9:11).
THE JUDGMENT ON TYRE.—Amos 1:9-10
The third people spoken against are the inhabitants of Tyre.
I. The ground of the judgment. Like other nations they were guilty of many sins.
1. They trafficked in human souls. If they did not carry away, “they delivered up the whole captivity” to the mortal enemy of the Jews. They sold their captives to Grecians far away (Joel 3:3), and cared not for the hardships of those who fled to them for shelter.
2. They violated the sacred covenant. “And remembered not the brotherly covenant.” David and Solomon entered into a friendly alliance with the king of Tyre (2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5:15). Hiram supplied Solomon with timber and carpenters in return for oil and corn; recognized David as chosen of God, and was “ever a lover of David” (1 Kings 5:1). The covenant no doubt recognized God as the true God, and guaranteed religious privileges, undisturbed peace and safety. No king of Israel or Judah had ever made war with Phœnicia. Yet they forgot this friendly feeling, and remembered not the brotherly covenant. They sinned in helping Edom in their vile trade; in forgetting their solemn obligation, and in disregarding God for the sake of mercantile gain. A costlier object than man does not exist. He who seeks to enrich himself by the possession and traffic of his fellow-creatures will be branded as a pest to humanity.
God gave us over beast, fish, fowl,
Dominion absolute; that right we hold
By his donation; but man over man
He made not lord, such title to himself
Reserving—human left for human free.
II. The nature of the punishment. “I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof.” Many parts of Tyre were burnt by fiery missiles of the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar. He took it after a thirteen eos’ siege. Alexander of Macedon subsequently overthrew it. “Note,” says one, “that though the crime charged may have been immediately due to the greed of the merchants of Tyre, acting in their private capacity, the whole community is held responsible for their deeds. It is the duty of every State to restrain and punish the unjust aggressions of its citizens on other communities, and if it fails to do so, it must abide the consequences.”
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 1
Amos 1:9. Brotherly covenant. Be steadfast in thy covenant, and be conversant therein, and wax old in thy work (Sir. 11:20). Remember thy covenants, and bear no malice to thy neighbour (Sir. 28:7).
Amos 1:11-12. Edom] No particular crime, but implacable hatred charged, which broke out into acts of cruelty.
THE JUDGMENT OF EDOM.—Amos 1:11-12
Edom and the two following nations were related to Israel by lineal descent. But they set aside the ties of blood, and perpetrated abominable cruelties.
I. The reason of the judgment. A relentless hatred towards God’s people, breaking out in acts of cruelty, from one generation to another.
1. It was unnatural hatred. “Did cast off all pity.” His better feelings were subdued. Natural pity for a brother in distress was stifled or suppressed as if pity were evil in itself, and to be extinguished within us. This is most sinful and unnatural. It corrupts, deadens a man’s feelings, and “steels him against sympathy with others.” “For pity melts the mind to love.” “Compassion is an emotion of which we ought never to be ashamed,” says Blair. “Graceful is the tear of sympathy, and the heart that melts at the tale of woe; we should not permit ease and indulgence to contract our affections, and wrap us up in a selfish enjoyment. But we should accustom ourselves to think of the distresses of human life, of the solitary cottage, the dying parent, and the weeping orphan.”
2. It was cruel hatred. “He did pursue his brother with the sword.” His malice destroyed his compassion. He cast off the pity of man and indulged in the fierceness of a beast. His anger was insatiable and knew no bounds. “Fierce are the wars of brethren; and they who love exceedingly also hate exceedingly,” says the proverb. No hatred seems so intense as that between relations and brothers. To slay a neighbour is to slay a man, and to pursue a brother is fratricide. “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?”
3. It was perpetual hatred. “His anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever.” Their enmity was intensified by their kinship, and the murderous thoughts of Esau towards Jacob seemed to be revived in posterity, and become a prominent feature in national character (Ezekiel 35:5; Obadiah 1:1). Wrath was not kept in restraint, but let loose like a raging beast. It was hereditary, full of revenge, which they gratified by outrageous cruelties. “Thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel, by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity.”
II. The character of the judgment. Their cities would be overthrown, and their capital destroyed by tire. God may forbear awhile, even with the worst persecutors, but their cruelty will at length bring vengeance to their own doors. “The fire of our anger against our brethren kindles the fire of God’s anger against us,” says an old writer. “For I have sworn by myself, saith the Lord, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse” (Jeremiah 49:13).
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 1
Amos 1:11. Cast off pity. Bonaparte carried the town of Jaffa by assault, and many of the garrison were put to the sword. But the greater part fled into mosques, implored mercy from their pursuers, and were granted their lives. But Napoleon expressed resentment at the conduct of the troops, lost all pity, and to relieve himself of the care of his prisoners, ordered nearly 4000 to march on rising ground to be shot. When Bonaparte saw the smoke from volleys of musketry and grape, it is said that he could not contain his joy.
Pity is the virtue of the law,
And none but tyrants use it cruelly.
Amos 1:13-15. Ammon] Ammonites joined the Chaldeans to invade and plunder Judea. Hazael perpetrated the cruelty predicted (2 Kings 8:12). Ripped up] A cruel act, done to leave Israel without heir, so as to secure the inheritance. The punishment is by foreign invasion, swift, sudden, and resistless as a tempest; violent and terrific as a whirlwind. King] “Their Moloch (the idol of Ammon) and his priests” [Grotius and LXX.]. Or, as the English, their king and his princes would go together into captivity. The reigning head and those who shared his counsels were removed. Their idols and their earthly kings were unable either to save themselves, or those who submitted to them. “Hand in hand the wicked shall not be unpunished” (Proverbs 11:21).
THE JUDGMENT ON AMMON.—Amos 1:13-15
In the fifth place the Ammonites are accused of guilt, and their punishment is described.
I. Their crimes, consisted in most atrocious deeds towards the Gileadites.
1. Barbarous cruelty. “They have ripped up the women with child.” Hazael and Ammon were guilty of this barbarity. Probably Syria and Ammon were leagued together for the extermination of Israel. The offspring of the incest of Lot ever retained the stamp of their origin, and were noted for sensuality and ferocity. One would think that human beings could not become so inhuman, but history opens its pages of darkness and blood.
2. Unbounded selfishness. “That they might enlarge their border.” These deeds were not only performed in rage, but in deliberate design to extirpate the people and take possession of the land. Covetousness leads to great cruelty, and those that seek to extend their borders often use unscrupulous means to accomplish their design. Pharaoh killed the Israelites, and Ammon displayed unwonted ferocity towards the women of Gilead. But neither their kings nor their idols could protect them from the coming storm.
II. Their punishment. Their attempts to exterminate others recoiled upon themselves.
1. Their chief city was burned. “I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah.” It was a strong city with a stronger citadel, but it was utterly destroyed. Its ruins still exist, some of which perhaps date back to this prophecy. “I will make Rabbah a stable for camels, and the Ammonites a couching place for flocks.”
2. War desolated the country. “Shouting in the day of battle.” Foreign invasion would sweep the land like a storm. (a) Swift as a tempest. (b) Violent as a whirlwind. The onset would be irresistible. Like the hurricane carrying the caravans of the desert, so the enemy would carry the walls and fortress of the city.
3. Kings and princes were taken into captivity. There would be no one left to resist and renew the revolt. On every side waste land and ruined cities. All defences, human and religious, were impotent. Inhabitants and gods were carried into a foreign country. Kings and counsellors, priests and people, linked together and driven to one common destruction. “Cry, ye daughters of Rabbah, gird you with sackcloth; lament and run to and fro by the hedges, for their king shall go into captivity, and his priests and his princes together” (Jeremiah 49:3).
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 1
Amos 1:13. Heathenism is cruel, and multitudes of victims have been destroyed under the sanction of the gods. But what can we say when kings and enlightened nations commit such deeds as these?
“What will not ambition and revenge descend to?” [Milton.]
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Amos 1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent