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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Amos 1

A.M. 3217. B.C. 787.

In this chapter we have the general title and scope of this prophecy, Amos 1:1 , Amos 1:2 . God’s controversy with Syria, Amos 1:3-5 ; with Palestine, Amos 1:6-8 ; with Tyre, Amos 1:9 , Amos 1:10 ; with Edom, Amos 1:11 , Amos 1:12 ; and Ammon, Amos 1:13-15 .

Verse 1

Amos 1:1. The words of Amos This inscription, and some similar ones prefixed to some of the books of the prophets, seem to have been formed by those who collected their writings together. Which he saw Received by revelation; concerning Israel Namely, the kingdom of the ten tribes, to which this prophecy chiefly refers; although the prophet briefly denounces God’s judgments against Judah, and also against the Syrians, Philistines, and other neighbouring countries. In the days of Uzziah king of Judah Called Azariah in the second book of Kings, chap. 15. And in the days of Jeroboam The great-grandson of Jehu. Two years, before the earthquake Of which only this text, and Zechariah 14:5, make particular mention; but it is thought to be referred to, Isaiah 5:25. And Josephus, who attributes it to Uzziah’s invasion of the priest’s office, recorded 2 Chronicles 26:16, gives us some account of its effects.

Verse 2

Amos 1:2. The Lord will roar from Zion This and the next clause occur, Joel 3:16, and a similar one, Jeremiah 25:30, where see the notes. The meaning is, that God would soon spread terror, like beasts of prey when they roar, chap. Amos 3:8: or, that he would soon display his power in executing judgment. And utter his voice from Jerusalem The city God had chosen, where he dwelt; the seat of his instituted worship, and the royal seat of the kingdom, as God had settled it, but from which, in both respects, the ten tribes had revolted. The habitations of the shepherds shall mourn The shepherds were wont to pitch their tents where they found pasturage, and to dwell therein, that they might attend their flocks. But it is here foretold, that the pasture-ground should wither and become barren, through a drought which would take place, and of which the prophet speaks, chap. Amos 4:7-8. Carmel was a mountainous tract of ground, which ran through the two tribes of Issachar and Zebulon. It is often described as one of the most fruitful places in all Judea: see Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 35:2: upon which account the word is sometimes taken appellatively, and translated a fruitful field.

Verse 3

Amos 1:3. For three transgressions, &c. The prophet first denounces judgments against foreign countries, and afterward comes to Judah and Israel. He begins with Syria, the head or capital city of which was Damascus. By the expression, for three transgressions and for four, used here, and repeatedly afterward, he means, many or multiplied transgressions, a certain number being put, according to a very common way of speaking, for an uncertain. So we read, Job 5:19, He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven no evil shall touch thee: see the like phrase, Proverbs 6:16; Ecclesiastes 11:2; Micah 5:5. Once and twice are used, Psalms 62:11; twice and thrice, Job 33:29, (Hebrews) So that the meaning here is, that on account of the frequent transgressions of Damascus, God was now resolved no longer to spare it. Because they have thrashed Gilead, &c. This alludes to the thrashing- drag, or thrashing-wain, used in the eastern countries, and described in the note on Isaiah 28:27, which see. These instruments, being drawn by horses, or oxen, over the corn-sheaves spread on the floor, were proper and significant emblems of the tyrannical power of Syria, which cruelly oppressed and crushed the weak Gileadites, and other Israelites. It is probable that the cruelties exercised on them by Hazael and Ben-hadad, kings of Syria, are chiefly intended. The fact is recorded 2 Kings 10:32-33; 2 Kings 13:3-7, where it is said that Hazael made them like the dust by thrashing.

Verses 4-5

Amos 1:4-5. But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael God’s judgments are often compared to fire. But perhaps the expression may here signify, that the fine palaces of Hazael, and his son and successor Ben- hadad, should be burned down, as they probably were in the taking of Damascus by Tiglath-pileser. I will break also the bar of Damascus The gates and fortifications thereof, in which its strength consists, shall be broken down: and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven Or, Bikath-aven. The word signifies, the plain of vanity; from whence some conjecture it was a place in Syria remarkable for idolatry, as Beth-el was called Beth-aven for the idolatry practised there. And him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden That is, the house of pleasure. Probably one of the pleasant palaces of the kings of Syria is intended. But Eden was likewise a country bordering on Syria, mentioned 2 Kings 19:12; Ezekiel 27:23. And the people of Syria shall go into captivity All this was fulfilled when Tiglath-pileser took Damascus, and carried the people captive to Kir, and slew Rezin their king: see the margin.

Verses 6-8

Amos 1:6-8. For three transgressions of Gaza, &c. From Syria he passes to Palestine, upon the coast of which Gaza was situated. It is one of the places threatened by Joel 3:6. Because they carried away the whole captivity Or, a peaceable captivity, as Mr. Locke renders גלות שׁלמה ; that is, a captivity not taken in war, but by deceit: or, a perfect captivity, that is, not to be recovered. It appears, from 2 Chronicles 21:16; 2 Chronicles 28:18, that the Philistines (for the town of Gaza belonged to them) made frequent incursions upon the Jews and Israelites. And it is probable from this passage that they were guilty of some injustice and cruelty, beyond the usual practice of war, in making captives, perhaps taking the peaceable inhabitants and all without distinction, the old and infirm as well as the young and healthy: or, making these incursions when Judah and Israel were at peace with them. Or, perhaps, their cruelty consisted in selling those they made captives to the Edomites, whom they knew to be mortal enemies of the Jews, and consequently, they might reasonably suppose, would treat them with great severity and tyranny. But I will send a fire, &c. What is here foretold respecting the destruction of the cities of the Philistines, was fulfilled by Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:8. The same was predicted by Isaiah, chap. Isaiah 14:29. And the remnant of the Philistines shall perish These were cut off by the Assyrians: see Isaiah 20:0.

Verse 9

Amos 1:9. For three transgressions of Tyrus, &c. This prediction is probably to be understood of the destruction of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar, as foretold by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel: see the margin. Because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom Without doubt the Edomites used the Jewish captives with great barbarity, as the delivering of these captives up to them is also assigned as a principal reason of the punishment of Tyre, as it was of the punishment of Damascus, Amos 1:6. And remembered not the brotherly covenant That strict league and friendship begun between David and Hiram, king of Tyre, and afterward continued by Solomon, (see the margin,) Hiram giving Solomon the title of My brother, as we read 1 Kings 9:13.

Verses 11-12

Amos 1:11-12. For three transgressions of Edom, &c. The Edomites, or Idumeans, are often threatened for their enmity against the Israelites, because they took all occasions to oppress and insult over them in their distress. Because he did pursue his brother with the sword The Edomites retained the same hatred and animosity against their brethren, the Israelites, which their father Esau had expressed against his brother Jacob. But I will send a fire upon Teman, &c. Teman and Bozrah were two principal cities of Idumea. The destruction here denounced against them was afterward brought upon them, in some degree, by Sennacherib, but more especially by Nebuchadnezzar: see notes on Jeremiah 49:7-22, and Ezekiel 25:15.

Verses 13-15

Amos 1:13-15. For three transgressions of the children of Ammon The Ammonites descended from Lot: see Genesis 19:38. Their country lay to the east of Jordan, in the neighbourhood of Gilead. Because they have ripped up the women with child Hazael, king of Syria, grievously afflicted the Israelites that lay eastward of Jordan, particularly the Gileadites: see 2 Kings 10:33. The low condition to which these countries were hereby reduced, might probably encourage the Ammonites to possess themselves of Gilead, and to destroy the inhabitants in the cruel manner here stated. But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah The chief city of the Ammonites. With shouting in the day of battle This was intended to express the great violence with which this city should be attacked; and with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind The destructions of war are often compared to the devastations caused by whirlwinds and tempests; and the metaphor is here introduced very naturally and sublimely. And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the Lord Foretold also Jeremiah 49:3.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Amos 1". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/amos-1.html. 1857.