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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Amos 5

Verse 1

Amo 5:1. The severe denunciations which the Lord expresses against the people from time to time should not be interpreted as an indication of bit-terness. He is grieved at the wrongs of the nation (hat has always been favored with divine assistance, and these strong declarations are prompted by the spirit of sorrow, hence are said to be In the form of a lamentation

Verse 2

Amo 5:2. The word virgin Is often applied to God’s people because the first definition of the original is, "to separate." Israel had been separated from the other nations of the world to be the Lord's own special people (Deu 7:6; Deu 14:2), hence the term virgin is an appropriate one. Shall >io more rise denotes that Israel had sunk so low as a nation that it would not be able to rise above the fate of the siege and captivity threatened.

Verse 3

Amo 5:3, The nation was destined to be greatly reduced by the exile as Indicated by the contrasting terms thousand and hundred. It is a prediction of the remnant that was salvaged from the captivity, and the fulfillment is in Ezra 2: 1. 64.

Verse 4

Amo 5:4. Seek ye me and ye shall live presents the same apparent contradiction that has been mentioned several times. The explanation lies in the distinction between the nation as a whole, and certain individuals in it. See the long note on the subject, offered with comments on 2Ki 22:17, volume 2 of this Commentaey.

Verse 5

Amo 5:5. The significance of Bethel is in the fact that It was one of the places where the first king of the 10- tribe kingdom of Israel erected an idol calf, and the nation had practiced idolatry ever since. Gilgal is the place where the first king of Judah committed his first great sin after entering upon the throne (1Sa 10:8; 1 Samuel 13 : S-14). Beer-sheba was once a stronghold of idolatry and hence not a proper place to receive a favorable impression on the subject of service to God.

Verse 6

Amo 5:6. Seek the Lord and ye shall live is commented on in verse 4.

Verse 7

Amo 5:7. Wormwood was a very bitter substance and is used much as a figurative likeness of any unpleasant experience. The leaders in Israel were selfish and regulated the lives of others in. view of their own personal interests. Instead of dealing justly with those who looked to them for advice and decisions in times of difficulty, they deprived them of their rights and thus turned their case into bitterness.

Verse 8

Amo 5:8. Seven stars is the same as Pleiades In Job 9:9. the cluster of stars that is popularly called “the seven sisters," and Orion is defined by Strong, "Any notable constellation." Instead of being interested in the gods of the heathen, Israel is exhorted to seek the Maker of these heavenly bodies. He is the one who can rule day and night and turn one into the other at will; who can control the mighty waters of the sea and use them in whatsoever manner He pleases.

Verse 9

Amo 5:9. Strengtheneth the spoiled means to support the man who has been overcome by a stronger force, and enable him to turn against his oppressor successfully.

Verse 10

Amo 5:10. This verse describes a kind of character that has existed ever since there has been man on the earth. It is not always manifested in the same way, but the principle is the same. The reason a man is hated who rebukes sin is that the person rebuked realizes he is guilty and does not want to be reminded of It. The rebuke does not always have to be done directly or in words. It may be done by the righteous life of one in contrast with the wicked life of the other, the good life being a silent rebuke to the other. It is thus we read about the first family where Cain and Abel had their experience. There is nothing said about Abel’s rebuking Cain verbally, but his righteous life was a stinging rebuke of Cain's evil one. So John says that Cain slew Abel "because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous (1Jn 3:12).” The people of Israel did not like to be told of their sins, so they insisted that the teachers give them messages that suited them (Jeremiah 5: 81; Isa 30:10). Since the people wanted the teachers to give this false instruction, they catered to them and hence brought upon them the wrath of God. Another had thing that resulted from the practice of false teaching was the chance it gave them of making improper rules of conduct, and that also opened the way for them to impose upon the poor,

Verse 11

Amo 5:11. We should remember that the rebuking running through most of these verses is addressed chiefly to the leaders of the nation who took advantage of their standing to oppress the poor. They forced them to furnish unjust portions of their crops so that they could live in luxury. They had also indulged themselves with costly houses and had planted vineyards to suit their own extravagant desires. But God now warns them that it will all be taken from them and their luxurious provisions will he in vain.

Verse 12

Amo 5:12. Everything that is done is open before the eyes of the Lord. The leaders took advantage of their position to oppress the poor so that they could enlarge their own possessions. Not only so, but if some one of the poor had the misfortune of being treated with fraud in a deal, it would not avail him anything to appeal to these leaders who were the rulers, for they could be bribed by the fraudulent dealers to render a verdict against the victim.

Verse 13

Amo 5:13. A prudent man is one who does not "speak out of turn," and in the present case it means not to speak any word of protest against what the Lord is threatening to do, The times are so evil that all wise men should endorse the Lord's judgments.

Verse 14

Amo 5:14. This verse takes the same comments and note as verse 4.

Verse 15

Amo 5:15. There is no uncertainty in the promises of God. It may he has the force of saying “it will be,” on condition that the people will hate evil and love the good. Remnant of Joseph. The 10-tribe kingdom, to which most of these messages are addressed, was also called “Ephraim,” and sinee he was a son of Joseph, the name is used as a designation of the whole group, the remnant meaning those who survive the captivity.

Verse 16

Amo 5:16. When the people see the presence of the Assyrian forces, they will make the wailing here stated. They will even call for a public demonstration of regret over the sad condition Of their country.

Verse 17

Amo 5:17. There were two outstanding occupations in Palestine, the production of sheep and the growing of vineyards. It would therefore be a special cause of regret to be deprived of their vineyards.

Verse 18

Amo 5:18. Woe. . . . desire the day of the Lord. In times of distress men will often call upon the Lord, even though they have been disrespecting Him in the past. These inconsistent leaders will pretend that they would like for the Lord to “show hi3 hand” when the clouds of trouble seem to be gathering. But that is just what He will be doing when those clouds begin to hover, and they will bring national darkness and not light.

Verse 19

Amo 5:19. The comparisons in this verse are similar to a familiar one, "jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.” and the prophet is using them in connection with his statements in verse IS, When a man rebels against the Lord as these wicked leaders had done, it is inconsistent to ex- nect Him to furnish relief; instead. He is the very one whose wrath will be felt if the guilty person turns in that direction.

Verse 20

Amo 5:20. This verse repeats the thought of the preceding ones.(Amo 5:19) Amo 5:21

Verse 21

Before taking up the comments of each verse, I request the reader to indicate, either in bis Bible if he Is marking it, or in whatever place he is making notes, that all of the verses from the present one through the end of the chapter, and through the first 6 verses of the next chapter, are to be regarded as one paragraph with one general subject. That has to do with one of the outstanding apparent contradictions in God's tbreaten- ings and predictions against His people. In more than one place they have seemed to be condemned for doing some of the very things that the Mosaic system required. We cannot be-lieve that God would tell a man to do something, and then condemn him for doing it. When it seems to he so, there Is an explanation in the premises and we should examine them for it. I have composed at length a note, based on the truths and facts of history, both sacred and profane, that fully clarifies this seeming difficulty, and the reader is urged to consult that note again with extreme care, before proceeding with the study of these comments. That note is offered in the comments on Isaiah 1: 10, volume 3 of this Com:- MENTABY. 1 shall now take up the comments on the verse of this paragraph, followed with the others in their order, explaining them in the light of the general subject of the suggested general paragraph. The note referred to will explain why God hated their feast days. In their solemn assemblies they used sweet incense under the law, and the only use that could be made of it would be to smell it. God refused to smell the odor of their incense for the same reason that he hated their feast days.

Verse 22

Amo 5:22. The sacrifices and offerings mentioned were required by the law of Moses, but God was rejecting them for the same reason mentioned above.

Verse 23

Amo 5:23. Instrumental music was not introduced by the law of Moses, hut it was later instituted by David and the Lord sanctioned it by giving it His glory (2Ch 29:25; 2Ch 5:14). But although the Lord had blessed the use of the musical instruments with his glory, after the leaders became so corrupt, that service was rejected on the same ground as were the others mentioned above.

Verse 24

Amo 5:24. Judgment is from mishpat, which Strong defines, "Properly a verdict (favorable or unfavorable) pronounced judicially." Since the term is connected with righteousness as a mighty stream, we know the word means a favorable verdict. The leaders had imposed upon the poor and decided matters unjustly against them. This verse is an exhortation for them to reverse that practice and render decisions that are just.

Verse 25

Amo 5:25. God never asks a question for the sake of his own information, so this one is a reminder for the people of Israel, calling their attention to the practices that they followed alt through the wilderness.

Verse 26

Amo 5:26. The Lord admits that Israel had performed the services stated ill the preceding verse, but they were offset by their practices of idolatry. Moloch was one of the invisible gods of the heathen, and the Israelties look up the worship of that false deity. Chiun was an image that they made, a star or chief article they made in honor of the heathen god that they worshiped.

Verse 27

Amo 5:27. Therefore means that God concluded to punish his people because of these idolatrous practices which they thought they could add to the ordinances of the divine law. Captivity beyond Damascus. That city was the capital of ancient Syria and it was located just north of Palestine. But the Jewish nation was destined to go into captivity under both the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires, which were located far away in the territory of the Euphrates, and that was literally beyond Damascus, The two empires were in. control in succession from one another, hut they were virtually in the same part of the world, hence the Jewish people all came finally to be held in captivity in the same general location according to the various prophecies.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Amos 5". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.