Amos 4 - Outline of Amos (Book Notes menu page)
Israel's Pleasure in Iniquity had brought Chastening...
1. Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that [are] in the mountain of Samaria,
which oppress the poor, which crush the needy,
which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.
2 The Lord GOD hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you,
that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.
3 And ye shall go out at the breaches, every [cow at that which is] before her;
and ye shall cast [them] into the palace, saith the LORD. kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria...
The LORD is not addressing cows {'kine'}, but rather the leaders of Samaria, who occupied the positions of power (symbolized by the 'mountain'). Bashan was a fertile region east of the Sea of Galilee which was known for its well fed cattle. The implicaton is that Israel's leaders were prosperous because they were indulging themselves at the expense of the poor and needy.
     Because the word 'kine' is feminine, some scholars think this is an accusation aimed at women living in luxury. Other scholars see this as a possible reference to leaders living in homosexuality.
Hear this word... the Lord GOD hath sworn by His holiness...-
The holiness of God demanded that He judge His sinful people
...that He will take you away with hooks... ye shall go out at the breaches...
The leaders and the people alike would be led away in shackles by their captors.
They would exit the city through the many places where its walls would be broken down.
...every cow to that which is before her... -
Each individual to the fate that awaited 'her'. (eg., Jer 15:2)
4 Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression;
and bring your sacrifices every morning, [and] your tithes after three years:
5 And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven,
and proclaim [and] publish the free offerings:
for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
Come... and transgress...
Amos delivers this invitation to worship, with biting sarcasm.
     Bethel was the first center of idolatrous worship, established by Jeroboam I shortly after Israel separated from Judah. It was complete with altars and priests and a golden calf (1Kin 12:26-30).
     Gilgal was Israel's first encampment in the land of promise after their wilderness journey. There, Joshua circumcised the people to roll away the reproach of Egypt (Josh 5:9). It was a place of renewed commitment to the LORD. But now, it had become another center of idolatry.
     Everything about these places and their idols was an affront to the Lord God of Israel. Yet, the people gave themselves enthusiastically to religious rituals, which were distortions of the Law of Moses.
  • bring your sacrifices every morning (Num 28:1-4).
  • bring your tithes after three years (Deu 14:28).
  • offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven... proclaim... the free offerings...
    Most of the Levitical sacrifices were to be offered without leaven, because leaven is a symbol of corruption. However, the 'thank offering' had two parts:
    1. a Godward aspect, which included unleavened bread (Lev 7:12), and
    2. a manward aspect, which included leavened bread (Lev 7:13). The leavened bread was intended to picture the acceptance of imperfect people, on the basis of God's provision of salvation, for which the offerer was thankful.
    However, here, there is no mention of the Godward aspect.
         In contrast to the other offerings, where the meat was either totally consumed by fire or eaten by the priests, the major portion of the 'thank offering' was to be eaten by the offerers and their guests (Lev 7:14-17). At Bethel, the people were making a party out of their religious rituals. It was the way they 'liked' it: all for them, with no thought of the true and living God.
Because of Israel's error, in turning from Him, He had sought to correct them with various chastenings...
6. And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities,
and want of bread in all your places:
yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
...cleanness of teeth... want of bread...
He had afflicted them with famine, as He had forewarned them (eg., Lev 26:26; Deu 28:38).
7 And also I have withholden the rain from you,
when [there were] yet three months to the harvest:
and I caused it to rain upon one city,
and caused it not to rain upon another city:
one piece was rained upon,
and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.
8 So two [or] three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water;
but they were not satisfied:
yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew:
when your gardens and your vineyards
and your fig trees and your olive trees increased,
the palmerworm devoured [them]:
yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
...I have withholden the rain... I have smitten you with blasting and mildew...
He had afflicted them with drought, with crop blight and pests. (Lev 26:18-20; Deu 28:23-24,42)
10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt:
your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses;
and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils:
yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
...the pestilence... the sword...
He had afflicted man and beast with death through sickness and also in battle, causing the stench of death to hang over their camps (Lev 26:16-17,25).
11 I have overthrown [some] of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning:
yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
...overthrown some of you... as Sodom...
He had made a few Israelites examples to the nation, afflicting them with supernatural destruction, comparable to the brimstone and fire that destroyed those ancient cities. (Isa 1:9; 2Pet 2:6).
...yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
The nation had refused to respond to His chastening. What more could He do to get their attention?
12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel:
[and] because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.
13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind,
and declareth unto man what [is] his thought,
that maketh the morning darkness,
and treadeth upon the high places of the earth,
The LORD, The God of hosts, [is] his name.
Therefore thus will I do unto thee...
He was done with chastening. He would take the more severe measures ('thus...'), mentioned in v.2,3, and described further in the next chapters.
...prepare to meet thy God, O Israel...
They would soon meet the true God of Israel, in their death.
Because they had forgotten Him, He reminds them of who He is... (in v.13)
  • The all powerful Creator and Controller of creation.
  • The all knowing God, from whom a man's innermost thoughts are not hidden.
  • The all present God, from whose judgment there is no escaping. All earthy things, no matter how exalted, are under His feet. If necessary, they will be trampled into submission.
  • His Name: The LORD {the ever-living I Am, the covenant keeping God of Israel},
    the God {HB=elohim, Ruler, Mighty One} of hosts {armies}-
    - The eternal One, who possesses all power, will accomplish His purposes without fail.

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