The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Amos 2

Amo 2:1

MOAB: Another nation -- like Ammon -- descended from Lot (Gen 19:30-38).

HE BURNED, AS IF TO LIME, THE BONES OF EDOM'S KING: Cp 2Ki 3:26,27. Burning the bones of a dead person dishonored that individual since there was then nothing substantial left of him. This was a despicable crime in the ANE, where a peaceful burial was the hope of every person. This treatment of a dead corpse reflected a lack of respect for human life, life made in the image of God.

In contrast to the other judgments, this was not for a crime against God's people, but against other Gentiles. Amos understood that an aspect of God's law transcended Israel. Crimes against humanity bring God's punishment. This observation is a powerful motivation for God's people to oppose the mistreatment and neglect of their fellow human beings.

Amo 2:2

KERIOTH: A major city in Moab (Jer 48:24).

Amo 2:3

I WILL DESTROY HER RULER AND KILL ALL HER OFFICIALS: Nebuchadnezzar conquered Moab shortly after 598 BC, which opened the way for other Arab tribes to occupy its land.

Amo 2:4

Vv 4-16: Whereas the Gentile nations sinned against God's people, Judah and Israel sinned against God Himself.

JUDAH... THEY HAVE REJECTED THE LAW OF THE LORD AND HAVE NOT KEPT HIS DECREES: God would treat Judah with the same justice that He promised Israel's other neighbor nations. Judah's overflowing sin was her failure to live by the Torah, the instruction that Yahweh had given her, including the Mosaic Covenant (Rom 2:12-15).

Listening to false prophets and worshipping idols (Heb "kazib", a lie, something deceptive) had been major evidences of this apostasy (Deut 6:14; 7:16; 8:19; 11:16,28).

Amo 2:5

I WILL SEND FIRE UPON JUDAH THAT WILL CONSUME THE FORTRESSES OF JERUSALEM: The fulfillment came with Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC (2Ki 25:1-12). Prophesied in Jer 17:27; Hos 8:14.

Amo 2:6

Vv 6-16: Judgments against Israel. The greater length of this oracle as well as its last position in the group of oracles points to its preeminent importance. V 10, by using the second person rather than the third, suggests that all these oracles were originally spoken to Israel.

There are four sections to this oracle: Israel's recent sins (vv 6-8), God's past gracious activity on Israel's behalf (vv 9-11), Israel's response (v 12), and Israel's punishment (vv 13-16).

One may imagine the glee that the men of Israel felt to hear their rival Judah receive its rebuke (vv 4,5)! But wait a moment: now... finally... begins a great rebuke of Israel -- which lasts (in one form or another) almost to the end of the whole prophecy!

ISRAEL... THEY SELL THE RIGHTEOUS FOR SILVER, AND THE NEEDY FOR A PAIR OF SANDALS: Israel's first sin was that the Israelites took advantage of righteous, needy people for their own personal, material advantage and sold them into slavery, perhaps into debt (cf 2Ki 4:1-7). They sold, for the price of what they owed, honest people who would have repaid their debts if given the opportunity. They would even sell into slavery someone who could not pay the small price of a pair of sandals. Another interpretation is that they would take as a bribe as little as what a pair of sandals cost. The Israelites should have been generous and openhanded toward the poor (Deut 15:7-11). Sin often results in the devaluation of human life.

Amo 2:7

THEY TRAMPLE ON THE HEADS OF THE POOR AS UPON THE DUST OF THE GROUND AND DENY JUSTICE TO THE OPPRESSED: The Israelites were perverting the legal system to exploit the poor. The courts were siding with creditors against their debtors; they were "stepping on" the poor. This was as painful and humiliating as having one trample on one's head as it lay in the dust. The oppressors longed to see the poor reduced to extreme anguish. The Mosaic Covenant called for justice in Israel's courts (Exo 23:4; Deu 16:19).

FATHER AND SON USE THE SAME GIRL AND SO PROFANE MY HOLY NAME: The women in view may be temple prostitutes, servant girls taken as concubines, or female relatives (cf Exod 21:7-11; Lev 18:8,15). This showed contempt for Yahweh's holy character (Exo 3:13-15). The Law forbade fornication, including incest (Lev 18:6-18; 20:11,17-21).

Amo 2:8

THEY LIE DOWN BESIDE EVERY ALTAR ON GARMENTS TAKEN IN PLEDGE: They failed to return garments taken as collateral for debts owed them. The Law specified that the Israelites could take a garment as a pledge, except the garment of a widow (Deu 24:17), but that they were to return it to the owner before nightfall (Exo 22:26,27; Deut. 24:10-13; cp Deut 24:6; Job 22:6). The Israelites were even taking these garments with them and displaying them at the public feasts honoring whatever god they worshipped.

IN THE HOUSE OF THEIR GOD THEY DRINK WINE TAKEN AS FINES: They had worshipped other gods (cp v 4). They were using the wine that they had received as fines, or had extracted from the poor, to honor heathen gods. The proper course of action would have been to drink wine that the worshipper had paid for himself, or to present it in worship of the true God.

Amo 2:9

THE AMORITE: Here the Amorites, the most formidable of the Canaanites, represent all the Canaanites, by metonymy (cf Gen 15:16). The defeat of these giants demonstrated Yahweh's superior power as well as His love for His people. By implication, if God drove the Amorites out of the land, He might also drive the Israelites out.

I DESTROYED THE AMORITE BEFORE THEM: The Israelites had committed the previous breaches of covenant in spite of God's having driven the giant Amorites out of the Promised Land for them (Num 13:22-33).

THOUGH HE WAS TALL AS THE CEDARS AND STRONG AS THE OAKS: These enemies had been as strong and tall as cedar or oak trees (Num 13:28-33; Deu 1:26-28), but the Lord destroyed them completely.

I DESTROYED HIS FRUIT ABOVE AND HIS ROOTS BELOW: Destruction of "his fruit" left no possibility of future life from seed. Destruction of "roots" left no possibility of future life from the tree. God is able to deal decisively with the enemies of His people -- thus leaving of this great symbol of fertility nothing but a lifeless stake!

Amo 2:10

I BROUGHT YOU UP OUT OF EGYPT, AND I LED YOU FORTY YEARS IN THE DESERT TO GIVE YOU THE LAND OF THE AMORITES: Going back even further in their history, Yahweh reminded His people that He had redeemed them from slavery in Egypt and had led them safely through the wilderness for 40 years. He had preserved them so they could take possession of the Promised Land, the land of the Amorites. By shifting to the second person, Amos strengthened the force of God's appeal.

Amo 2:11

I ALSO RAISED UP PROPHETS FROM AMONG YOUR SONS AND NAZIRITES FROM AMONG YOUR YOUNG MEN: In the land, God had raised up prophets and godly Nazirites from among the Israelites' sons. Prophets relayed God's messages to them, and Nazirites were examples of ordinary citizens who dedicated themselves completely to the Lord. These individuals were blessings to the nation because by their words and deeds they encouraged the people to follow the Lord faithfully.

Amo 2:12

BUT YOU MADE THE NAZIRITES DRINK WINE AND COMMANDED THE PROPHETS NOT TO PROPHESY: Even though God gave His people prophets and Nazirites, the Israelites had encouraged the Nazirites to compromise their dedication to Yahweh and the prophets to stop prophesying -- thus the Israelites showed that they were uncommitted to God and unwilling to hear and obey His Word.

This graphically describes the manner in which those who have turned aside from God's ways will try to carry the righteous with them to the same level of sin. If we allow ourselves to keep company with those whose moral standards are not scripturally upheld, we can be sure they will make the same effort with us. Separation from evildoers is still the only answer.

Amo 2:13

I WILL CRUSH YOU AS A CART CRUSHES WHEN LOADED WITH GRAIN: Two possibilities: (1) God felt burdened by the sinfulness of His people, as heavy as a wagon filled to its capacity with grain. Or (2) He will crush Israel like an object under the wheels of a heavily laden cart.

Amo 2:14

Vv 14-16: The fulfillment of this threatened judgment came when the Assyrians besieged and destroyed Samaria, Israel's capital, in 722 BC, and carried many of the people of that land into captivity.

Amo 2:16

EVEN THE BRAVEST WARRIORS WILL FLEE NAKED ON THAT DAY: In the Day of God's great judgment, we will all stand "naked" and open before our Judge (Heb 4:13). And those who have denied their God will be stripped of their garments -- the robes of righteousness given them by God (Rev 3:3; 16:15).

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