The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Amos 6

Amo 6:1

Amo 6: "The voice of the 'Burden Bearer' continues to describe the sinful condition of the nation and the spiritual decadence of its leaders. He describes them as reclining at their entertainments, upon splendid couches, anointing their guests with rich perfumes, indulging freely in wine, and enjoying vocal and instrumental music, whilst neglecting the true worship of Yahweh (Isa 5:12-13). So he indicts (v 1), warns (v 2), rebukes (vv 3-6), pronounces impending judgment (vv 7-11), and declares that it is inevitable (vv 12-14). His indignation is against the excessive luxury of its leaders. His language is unequivocal and without doubt as to its meaning. His language is descriptive, but very true. There is no doubt that the ecclesia was in a parlous state, and about to be brought into the divine judgment. Thus he sets out: [1] The luxury revelling of the leaders: vv 1-6. [2] The punishment to fit the crime: vv 7-11. [3] The folly of evildoers who think they can resist the divine judgment: vv 12-14" (GEM).

WOE TO YOU WHO ARE COMPLACENT IN ZION: This is the last reference to the people of Zion in this message; from now on Amos spoke only of the Northern Kingdom. He had referred to the Judean leaders because they were also guilty of the same sins (cp Isa. 32:9-11), but judgment was not decreed against them... yet!

AND TO YOU WHO FEEL SECURE IN MOUNT SAMARIA: With masterful irony, Amos addressed the self-satisfied rich, secure in their affluence (cp Luke 6:24,25; 12:13-21).

"It must be one of the biggest curses in the western world. It was the disease that caused the downfall of the greatest world power that ever existed -- Rome. It was one of the main contributors to the downfall of Israel and Judah and it will most likely be the downfall of the world today. How does it affect you?

"The disease is complacency. When our time and possessions are more than we need we can tend to relax and take things easy. We stop working hard and -- because we don't seem to need anything -- we can tend to forget God. When we become complacent we may decide that we don't need to read the Bible -- because we have already read it and we know what it says. At those times we decide that we don't need to attend meetings with other believers to worship, study and encourage one another -- because other things are easier or more fun to do, and we drift from prayer because we have no need of God.

"The message is to snap out of your complacency -- Wake up! Pay attention! and Get going again for God! Israel's complacency led to their deaths. May we snap out of ours before it is too late" (RP).

Amo 6:2

GO TO CALNEH AND LOOK AT IT; GO FROM THERE TO GREAT HAMATH, AND THEN GO DOWN TO GATH IN PHILISTIA. ARE THEY BETTER OFF THAN YOUR TWO KINGDOMS? IS THEIR LAND LARGER THAN YOURS?: Amos challenged these proud leaders to visit other cities that had once considered themselves great. Calneh (or Calno, Isa 10:9) and Hamath were city-states in northern Aram. Shalmaneser III of Assyria had overrun them in 854-846 BC, but Israel controlled them in Amos' day. Gath had been a notable city in Philistia, but it had fallen before King Hazael of Aram in 815 BC and again to King Uzziah of Judah in 760 BC. Presently Judah controlled it. Samaria was no better than those city-states, and their territories were larger than Samaria's. Yet they had fallen to foreign invaders. What had happened to them could happen to Samaria even though the people of Israel believed that Yahweh would protect it.

Amo 6:3

YOU PUT OFF THE EVIL DAY AND BRING NEAR A REIGN OF TERROR: The leaders of Samaria dismissed the possibility that calamity would overtake their city. But they were really hastening that day by refusing to acknowledge and repent of their sins.

This phrase ("to put off the evil day") is still proverbial for a procrastination in doing the job that should be done, but which is unpleasant or onerous. Cp Amo 9:10; Ecc 8:11; Isa 47:7; 56:12; Eze 12:22,27; Mat 24:48; 1Th 5:3; 2Pe 3:4; Rev 18:7.

A REIGN OF TERROR: The 31 years following King Jeroboam II's reign saw increasingly worse conditions for Israel (2Ki 15:8--17:6). Six kings reigned, three of whom seized power by political coup and assassination. Fear and violence marked this period (2Ki 15:16).

Amo 6:4

Vv 4-6: "The leaders of Israel... lie on ivory divans, sprawl on couches, feast of tender lamb and veal, amuse themselves by 'babbling to the sound of the harp' (the word 'chant' [AV; 'improvise' in NIV] is said to suggest a flow of trivial words in which the rhythm of words and music was everything and the sense nothing; the description has a modern sound). David had introduced instruments of music into the service of the temple, but these corrupt leaders debase them for their own amusement. The bowls in which they drink wine are really ewers, often translated 'basons' (AV) ['bowlful': NIV] as used in the service of the tabernacle. Silver bowls were dedicated to that service by the heads of the tribes (Num 7). The finest ointments may have been in imitation of, or in rivalry with, the holy ointment appointed by God and forbidden to be copied. Both these features suggest that the Israelites were using holy things for profane ends. They were intent upon their pleasures, but they did not grieve for the 'breach of Joseph' " (PHZ).

Amo 6:6

YOU DRINK WINE BY THE BOWLFUL AND USE THE FINEST LOTIONS, BUT YOU DO NOT GRIEVE OVER THE RUIN OF JOSEPH: The reference is to Gen 37:25, where Joseph's brothers sat down to enjoy their meal, while Joseph languished in the cistern, waiting to be sold into slavery.

Amo 6:8

THE PRIDE OF JACOB: That is, the city of Samaria.

Amo 6:9

IF TEN MEN ARE LEFT IN ONE HOUSE, THEY TOO WILL DIE: A picture of the survivors (of plague or war) grouping together for support and to sustain life -- all in one house. Yet they too will die.

Amo 6:10

A RELATIVE: "Uncle" in AV -- because the nearer relatives are all dead!?

TO BURN THE BODIES: Because of fear of plague or contagion -- there being so many deaths. The bodies of Saul and his son may have been burned because they had been badly mutilated (1Sa 31:12); but more likely it was necessary to dispose of the bodies in haste before the Philistines could mutilate them further (KD).

WE MUST NOT MENTION THE NAME OF THE LORD: Superstitiously, they would beg him not even to mention the name of Yahweh in anger, lament, or praise, because to do so might draw His attention to them and result in their deaths.

Amo 6:12

THE ROCKY CRAGS: The minds of the Israelites were like ROCKS, unreceptive, impenetrable, unchangeable. Cp the seed falling on rocky places (Mat 13:5).

BITTERNESS: "Hemlock" (KJV), or "wormwood" (cp Amo 5:7; Jer 9:15).

Amo 6:13

YOU WHO REJOICE IN THE CONQUEST OF LO DEBAR AND SAY, "DID WE NOT TAKE KARNAIM BY OUR OWN STRENGTH?": The leaders felt very proud and confident because under Jeroboam II Israel had recaptured some territory that it had formerly lost to Aram (2Ki 14:25). This included the town of Lo-debar in Transjordan (2Sa 9:4; 17:27). Amos, however, cleverly made light of this feat by mispronouncing the city 'Lo-dabar', which means 'not a thing.' They had taken nothing of much value. The people were also claiming that they had taken the town of Karnaim (lit, a pair of horns, symbols of strength) by their own strength. It was not they but Yahweh, however, who had strengthened them to achieve this victory over a symbolically strong town. Really Karnaim was quite insignificant also.

Amo 6:14

FROM LEBO HAMATH TO THE VALLEY OF THE ARABAH: From extreme north to extreme south of the Land.

VALLEY: Heb "nachal": the seasonal stream, or "wadi" -- the dry creek bed of the Negev.

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