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Amos i. 3-ii.

Like all the prophets of Israel, Amos receives oracles for foreign nations. Unlike them, however, he arranges these oracles not after, but before, his indictment of his own people, and so as to lead up to this. His reason is obvious and characteristic. If his aim be to enforce a religion independent of his people's interests and privileges, how can he better do so than by exhibiting its principles at work outside his people, and then, with the impetus drained from many areas, sweep in upon the vested iniquities of Israel herself? This is the course of the first section of his book—chapters i. and ii. One by one the neighbours of Israel are cited and condemned in the name of Jehovah; one by one they are told they must fall before the still unnamed engine of the Divine Justice. But when Amos has stirred his people's conscience and imagination by his judgment of their neighbours' sins, he turns with the same formula on themselves. Are they morally better? Are they more likely to resist Assyria? With greater detail he shows them worse and their doom the heavier for all their privileges. Thus is achieved an oratorical triumph, by tactics in122 harmony with the principles of prophecy and remarkably suited to the tempers of that time.

But Amos achieves another feat, which extends far beyond his own day. The sins he condemns in the heathen are at first sight very different from those which he exposes within Israel. Not only are they sins of foreign relations, of treaty and war, while Israel's are all civic and domestic; but they are what we call the atrocities of Barbarism—wanton war, massacre and sacrilege—while Israel's are rather the sins of Civilisation—the pressure of the rich upon the poor, the bribery of justice, the seduction of the innocent, personal impurity, and other evils of luxury. So great is this difference that a critic more gifted with ingenuity than with insight might plausibly distinguish in the section before us two prophets with two very different views of national sin—a ruder prophet, and of course an earlier, who judged nations only by the flagrant drunkenness of their war, and a more subtle prophet, and of course a later, who exposed the masked corruptions of their religion and their peace. Such a theory would be as false as it would be plausible. For not only is the diversity of the objects of the prophet's judgment explained by this, that Amos had no familiarity with the interior life of other nations, and could only arraign their conduct at those points where it broke into light in their foreign relations, while Israel's civic life he knew to the very core. But Amos had besides a strong and a deliberate aim in placing the sins of civilisation as the climax of a list of the atrocities of barbarism. He would recall what men are always forgetting, that the former are really more cruel and criminal than the latter; that luxury, bribery and intolerance, the oppression of the poor, the corruption123 of the innocent and the silencing of the prophet—what Christ calls offences against His little ones—are even more awful atrocities than the wanton horrors of barbarian warfare. If we keep in mind this moral purpose, we shall study with more interest than we could otherwise do the somewhat foreign details of this section. Horrible as the outrages are which Amos describes, they were repeated only yesterday by Turkey: many of the crimes with which he charges Israel blacken the life of Turkey's chief accuser, Great Britain.

In his survey Amos includes all the six states of Palestine that bordered upon Israel, and lay in the way of the advance of Assyria—Aram of Damascus, Philistia, Tyre (for Phœnicia), Edom, Ammon and Moab. They are not arranged in geographical order. The prophet begins with Aram in the north-east, then leaps to Philistia in the south-west, comes north again to Tyre, crosses to the south-east and Edom, leaps Moab to Ammon, and then comes back to Moab. Nor is any other explanation of his order visible. Damascus heads the list, no doubt, because her cruelties had been most felt by Israel, and perhaps too because she lay most open to Assyria. It was also natural to take next to Aram Philistia,209209   As is done in chap. vi. 2, ix. 7. as Israel's other greatest foe; and nearest to Philistia lay Tyre. The three south-eastern principalities come together. But there may have been a chronological reason now unknown to us.

The authenticity of the oracles on Tyre, Edom and Judah has been questioned: it will be best to discuss each case as we come to it.

Each of the oracles is introduced by the formula:124 Thus saith, or hath said, Jehovah: Because of three crimes of ... yea, because of four, I will not turn It back. In harmony with the rest of the book,210210   So against Israel in chap. iv. Jehovah is represented as moving to punishment, not for a single sin, but for repeated and cumulative guilt. The unnamed It which God will not recall is not the word of judgment, but the anger and the hand stretched forth to smite.211211   So Isa. v. 25: לא שב אפו ועוד ידו נטויה Cf. Ezek. xx. 22: והשיבותי את ידי After the formula, an instance of the nation's guilt is given, and then in almost identical terms he decrees the destruction of all by war and captivity. Assyria is not mentioned, but it is the Assyrian fashion of dealing with conquered states which is described. Except in the case of Tyre and Edom, the oracles conclude as they have begun, by asserting themselves to be the word of Jehovah, or of Jehovah the Lord. It is no abstract righteousness which condemns these foreign peoples, but the God of Israel, and their evil deeds are described by the characteristic Hebrew word for sin—crimes, revolts or treasons against Him.212212   פשׁעים

1. Aram of Damascus.Thus hath Jehovah said: Because of three crimes of Damascus, yea, because of four, I will not turn It back; for that they threshed Gilead with iron—or basalt threshing-sledges. The word is iron, but the Arabs of to-day call basalt iron; and the threshing-sledges, curved slabs213213   Called lûh, i.e. slab. drawn rapidly by horses over the heaped corn, are studded with sharp basalt teeth that not only thresh out the grain, but chop the straw into little pieces. So cruelly had Gilead been chopped by Hazael and his son Ben-Hadad some fifty125 or forty years before Amos prophesied.214214   These Syrian campaigns in Gilead must have taken place between 839 and 806, the long interval during which Damascus enjoyed freedom from Assyrian invasion. Strongholds were burned, soldiers slain without quarter, children dashed to pieces, and women with child put to a most atrocious end.215215   2 Kings viii. 12; xiii. 7: cf. above, p. 31. But I shall send fire on the house of Hazael, and it shall devour the palaces of Ben-Hadad—these names are chosen, not because they were typical of the Damascus dynasty, but because they were the very names of the two heaviest oppressors of Israel.216216   He delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Aram, and into the hand of Ben-Hadad the son of Hazael, continually (2 Kings xiii. 3). And I will break the bolt217217   No need here to render prince, as some do. of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from Biḳ'ath-Aven—the Valley of Idolatry, so called, perhaps, by a play upon Biḳ'ath On,218218   So the LXX. presumably the valley between the Lebanons, still called the Beḳ'a, in which lay Heliopolis219219   The present Baalbek (Baal of the Beḳ'a?). Wellhausen throws doubt on the idea that Heliopolis was at this time an Aramean town.and him that holdeth the sceptre from Beth-Eden—some royal Paradise in that region of Damascus, which is still the Paradise of the Arab world—and the people of Aram shall go captive to Ḳir—Kir in the unknown north, from which they had come:220220   ix. 7. Jehovah hath said it.

2. Philistia.Thus saith Jehovah: For three crimes of Gaza and for four I will not turn It back, because they led captive a whole captivity, in order to deliver them up to Edom. It is difficult to see what this means if not the wholesale depopulation of a district in contrast to the enslavement of a few captives of war. By all tribes126 of the ancient world, the captives of their bow and spear were regarded as legitimate property: it was no offence to the public conscience that they should be sold into slavery. But the Philistines seem, without excuse of war, to have descended upon certain districts and swept the whole of the population before them, for purely commercial purposes. It was professional slave-catching. The Philistines were exactly like the Arabs of to-day in Africa—not warriors who win their captives in honourable fight, but slave-traders, pure and simple. In warfare in Arabia itself it is still a matter of conscience with the wildest nomads not to extinguish a hostile tribe, however bitter one be against them.221221   Doughty: Arabia Deserta, I. 335. Gaza is chiefly blamed by Amos, for she was the emporium of the trade on the border of the desert, with roads and regular caravans to Petra and Elah on the Gulf of Akaba, both of them places in Edom and depots for the traffic with Arabia.222222   On the close connection of Edom and Gaza see Hist. Geog., pp. 182 ff. But I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and the holder of the sceptre from Askalon, and I will turn My hand upon Ekron—four of the five great Philistine towns, Gath being already destroyed, and never again to be mentioned with the others223223   See Hist. Geog., pp. 194 ff. Wellhausen thinks Gath was not yet destroyed, and quotes vi. 2; Micah i. 10, 14. But we know that Hazael destroyed it, and that fact, taken in conjunction with its being the only omission here from the five Philistine towns, is evidence enough. In the passages quoted by Wellhausen there is nothing to the contrary: vi. 2 implies that Gath has fallen; Micah i. 10 is the repetition of an old proverb.and the last of the Philistines shall perish: Jehovah hath said it.

3. Tyre.—Thus saith Jehovah: Because of three crimes127 of Tyre and because of four I will not turn It back; for that they gave up a whole captivity to Edom—the same market as in the previous charge—and did not remember the covenant of brethren. We do not know to what this refers. The alternatives are three: that the captives were Hebrews and the alliance one between Israel and Edom; that the captives were Hebrews and the alliance one between Israel and Tyre;224224   Farrar, 53; Pusey on ver. 9; Pietschmann, Geschichte der Phönizier, 298. that the captives were Phœnicians and the alliance the natural brotherhood of Tyre and the other Phœnician towns.225225   To which Wellhausen inclines. But of these three alternatives the first is scarcely possible, for in such a case the blame would have been rather Edom's in buying than Tyre's in selling. The second is possible, for Israel and Tyre had lived in close alliance for more than two centuries; but the phrase covenant of brethren is not so well suited to a league between two tribes who felt themselves to belong to fundamentally different races,226226   Gen. x. as to the close kinship of the Phœnician communities. And although, in the scrappy records of Phœnician history before this time, we find no instance of so gross an outrage by Tyre on other Phœnicians, it is quite possible that such may have occurred. During next century Tyre twice over basely took sides with Assyria in suppressing the revolts of her sister cities.227227   Under Asarhaddon, 678-676 b.c., and later under Assurbanipal (Pietschmann, Gesch., pp. 302 f.). Besides, the other Phœnician towns are not included in the charge. We have every reason, therefore, to believe that Amos expresses here not resentment against a128 betrayal of Israel, but indignation at an outrage upon natural rights and feelings with which Israel's own interests were not in any way concerned. And this also suits the lofty spirit of the whole prophecy. But I will send fire upon the wall of Tyre, and it shall devour her palaces....

This oracle against Tyre has been suspected by Wellhausen,228228   And he omits it from his translation. for the following reasons: that it is of Tyre alone, and silence is kept regarding the other Phœnician cities, while in the case of Philistia other towns than Gaza are condemned; that the charge is the same as against Gaza; and that the usual close to the formula is wanting. But it would have been strange if from a list of states threatened by the Assyrian doom we had missed Tyre, Tyre which lay in the avenger's very path. Again, that so acute a critic as Wellhausen should cite the absence of other Phœnician towns from the charge against Tyre is really amazing, when he has just allowed that it was probably against some or all of these cities that Tyre's crime was committed. How could they be included in the blame of an outrage done upon themselves? The absence of the usual formula at the close may perhaps be explained by omission, as indicated above.229229   So far from such an omission proving that the oracle is an insertion, is it not more probable that an insertor would have taken care to make his insertion formally correct?

4. Edom.Thus saith Jehovah: Because of three crimes of Edom and because of four I will not turn It back; for that he pursued with the sword his brother, who cannot be any other than Israel, corrupted his natural feelings—literally his bowels of mercies—and129 kept aye fretting230230   There seems no occasion to amend with Olshausen to the kept of Psalm ciii. 9. his anger, and his passion he watched—like a fire, or paid heed to it—for ever.231231   Read with LXX. שׁמר לנצח, though throughout the verse the LXX. translation is very vile. But I will send fire upon Teman—the South Region belonging to Edom—and it shall devour the palaces of Boṣrah—the Edomite Boṣrah, south-east of Petra.232232   In other two passages, Boṣrah, the city, is placed in parallel not to another city, but just as here to a whole region: Isa. xxxiv. 6, where the parallel is the land of Edom, and lxiii. 1, where it is Edom. There is therefore no need to take Teman in our passage as a city, as which it does not appear before Eusebius. The Assyrians had already compelled Edom to pay tribute.233233   Under Rimmân-nirari III. (812-783). See Buhl's Gesch. der Edomiter, 65: this against Wellhausen.

The objections to the authenticity of this oracle are more serious than those in the case of the oracle on Tyre. It has been remarked234234   Wellhausen, in loco. that before the Jewish Exile so severe a tone could not have been adopted by a Jew against Edom, who had been mostly under the yoke of Judah, and not leniently treated. What were the facts? Joab subdued Edom for David with great cruelty.235235   2 Sam. viii. 13, with 1 Kings xi. 16. Jewish governors were set over the conquered people, and this state of affairs seems to have lasted, in spite of an Edomite attempt against Solomon,236236   1 Kings xi. 14-25. till 850. In Jehoshaphat's reign, 873-850, there was no king of Edom, a deputy was king, who towards 850 joined the kings of Judah and Israel in an invasion of Moab through his territory.237237   2 Kings iii. But, soon after this invasion and perhaps in consequence of its failure, Edom revolted from Joram of Judah (849-842),130 who unsuccessfully attempted to put down the revolt.238238   2 Kings viii. 20-22. The Edomites appear to have remained independent for fifty years at least. Amaziah of Judah (797-779) smote them,239239   2 Kings xiv. 10. but not it would seem into subjection, for, according to the Chronicler, Uzziah had to win back Elath for the Jews after Amaziah's death.240240   2 Chron. xxvi. 2. The history, therefore, of the relations of Judah and Edom before the time of Amos was of such a kind as to make credible the existence in Judah at that time of the feeling about Edom which inspires this oracle. Edom had shown just the vigilant, implacable hatred here described. But was the right to blame them for it Judah's, who herself had so persistently waged war, with confessed cruelty, against Edom? Could a Judæan prophet be just in blaming Edom and saying nothing of Judah? It is true that in the fifty years of Edom's independence—the period, we must remember, from which Amos seems to draw the materials of all his other charges—there may have been events to justify this oracle as spoken by him; and our ignorance of that period is ample reason why we should pause before rejecting the oracle so dogmatically as Wellhausen does. But we have at least serious grounds for suspecting it. To charge Edom, whom Judah has conquered and treated cruelly, with restless hate towards Judah seems to fall below that high impartial tone which prevails in the other oracles of this section. The charge was much more justifiable at the time of the Exile, when Edom did behave shamefully towards Israel.241241   See, however, Buhl, op. cit., 67. Wellhausen points out that Teman and Boṣrah are names which do not occur in131 the Old Testament before the Exile, but this is uncertain and inconclusive. The oracle wants the concluding formula of the rest.242242   It is, however, no reason against the authenticity of the oracle to say that Edom lay outside the path of Assyria. In answer to that see the Assyrian inscriptions, e.g. Asarhaddon's: cf. above, p. 129, n. 233.

5. Ammon.Thus saith Jehovah: Because of three crimes of Ammon and because of four I will not turn It back; for that they ripped up Gilead's women with child—in order to enlarge their borders! For such an end they committed such an atrocity! The crime is one that has been more or less frequent in Semitic warfare. Wellhausen cites several instances in the feuds of Arab tribes about their frontiers. The Turks have been guilty of it in our own day.243243   Notably in the recent Armenian massacres. It is the same charge which the historian of Israel puts into the mouth of Elisha against Hazael of Aram,244244   2 Kings viii. 12. and probably the war was the same; when Gilead was simultaneously attacked by Arameans from the north and Ammonites from the south. But I will set fire to the wall of Rabbah—Rabbath-Ammon, literally chief or capital of Ammon—and it shall devour her palaces, with clamour in the day of battle, with tempest in the day of storm. As we speak of "storming a city," Amos and Isaiah245245   xxviii. 2, xxvii. 7, 8, where the Assyrian and another invasion are both described in terms of tempest. use the tempest to describe the overwhelming invasion of Assyria. There follows the characteristic Assyrian conclusion: And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes246246   The LXX. reading, their priests and their princes, must be due to taking Malcam = their king as Milcom = the Ammonite god. See Jer. xlix. 3. together, saith Jehovah.


6. Moab.Thus saith Jehovah: Because of three crimes of Moab and because of four I will not turn It back; for that he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime.247247    "Great Cæsar dead and turned to clay Might stop a hole to turn the wind away." In the great invasion of Moab, about 850, by Israel, Judah and Edom conjointly, the rage of Moab seems to have been directed chiefly against Edom.248248   2 Kings iii. 26. So rightly Pusey. Whether opportunity to appease that rage occurred on the withdrawal of Israel we cannot say. But either then or afterwards, balked of their attempt to secure the king of Edom alive, Moab wreaked their vengeance on his corpse, and burnt his bones to lime. It was, in the religious belief of all antiquity, a sacrilege; yet it does not seem to have been the desecration of the tomb—or he would have mentioned it—but the wanton meanness of the deed, which Amos felt. And I will send fire on Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of The-Cities—Ḳerîoth,249249   Jer. xlviii. 24 without article, but in 41 with. perhaps the present Ḳureiyat,250250   Though this is claimed by most for Ḳiriathaim. on the Moab plateau where Chemosh had his shrine251251   Moabite Stone, l. 13.and in tumult shall Moab die—to Jeremiah252252   xlviii. 45. the Moabites were the sons of tumult—with clamour and with the noise of the war-trumpet. And I will cut off the ruler—literally judge, probably the vassal king placed by Jeroboam II.—from her253253   The land's. midst, and all his254254   The king's. princes will I slay with him: Jehovah hath said it.

These, then, are the charges which Amos brings against the heathen neighbours of Israel.


If we look as a whole across the details through which we have been working, what we see is a picture of the Semitic world so summary and so vivid that we get the like of it nowhere else—the Semitic world in its characteristic brokenness and turbulence; its factions and ferocities, its causeless raids and quarrels, tribal disputes about boundaries flaring up into the most terrible massacres, vengeance that wreaks itself alike on the embryo and the corpse—cutting up women with child in Gilead, and burning to lime the bones of the king of Edom. And the one commerce which binds these ferocious tribes together is the slave-trade in its wholesale and most odious form.

Amos treats none of the atrocities subjectively. It is not because they have been inflicted upon Israel that he feels or condemns them. The appeals of Israel against the tyrant become many as the centuries go on; the later parts of the Old Testament are full of the complaints of God's chosen people, conscious of their mission to the world, against the heathen, who prevented them from it. Here we find none of these complaints, but a strictly objective and judicial indictment of the characteristic crimes of heathen men against each other; and though this is made in the name of Jehovah, it is not in the interests of His people or of any of His purposes through them, but solely by the standard of an impartial righteousness which, as we are soon to hear, must descend in equal judgment on Israel.

Again, for the moral principles which Amos enforces no originality can be claimed. He condemns neither war as a whole nor slavery as a whole, but limits his curse to wanton and deliberate aggravations of them: to the slave-trade in cold blood, in violation of treaties134 and for purely commercial ends;255255   See above, p. 126. to war for trifling causes, and that wreaks itself on pregnant women and dead men; to national hatreds, that never will be still. Now against such things there has always been in mankind a strong conscience, of which the word "humanity" is in itself a sufficient proof. We need not here inquire into the origin of such a common sense—whether it be some native impulse of tenderness which asserts itself as soon as the duties of self-defence are exhausted, or some rational notion of the needlessness of excesses, or whether, in committing these, men are visited by fear of retaliation from the wrath they have unnecessarily exasperated. Certain it is, that warriors of all races have hesitated to be wanton in their war, and have foreboded the special judgment of heaven upon every blind extravagance of hate or cruelty. It is well known how "fey" the Greeks felt the insolence of power and immoderate anger; they are the fatal element in many a Greek tragedy.256256   δυσσεβίας μὲν ὕβρις τέκος (Æschylus, Eumen., 534): cf. Odyssey, xiv. 262; xvii. 431. But the Semites themselves, whose racial ferocity is so notorious, are not without the same feeling. "Even the Beduins' old cruel rancours are often less than the golden piety of the wilderness. The danger past, they can think of the defeated foemen with kindness, ... putting only their trust in Ullah to obtain the like at need for themselves. It is contrary to the Arabian conscience to extinguish a Kabîla."257257   I.e. a tribe; Doughty, Arabia Deserta, I. 335. Similarly in Israel some of the earliest ethical movements were revolts of the public conscience against horrible outrages, like that, for instance,135 done by the Benjamites of Gibeah.258258   Judges xix., xx. Therefore in these oracles on his wild Semitic neighbours Amos discloses no new ideal for either tribe or individual. Our view is confirmed that he was intent only upon rousing the natural conscience of his Hebrew hearers in order to engage this upon other vices to which it was less impressionable—that he was describing those deeds of war and slavery, whose atrocity all men admitted, only that he might proceed to bring under the same condemnation the civic and domestic sins of Israel.

We turn with him, then, to Israel. But in his book as it now stands in our Bibles, Israel is not immediately reached. Between her and the foreign nations two verses are bestowed upon Judah: Thus saith Jehovah: Because of three crimes of Judah and because of four I will not turn It back; for that they despised the Torah of Jehovah, and His statutes they did not observe, and their falsehoods—false gods—led them astray, after which their fathers walked. But I will send fire on Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem. These verses have been suspected as a later insertion,259259   Duhm was the first to publish reasons for rejecting the passage (Theol. der Propheten, 1875, p. 119), but Wellhausen had already reached the same conclusion (Kleine Propheten, p. 71). Oort and Stade adhere. On the other side see Robertson Smith, Prophets of Israel, 398, and Kuenen, who adheres to Smith's arguments (Onderzoek). on the ground that every reference to Judah in the Book of Amos must be late, that the language is very formal, and that the phrases in which the sin of Judah is described sound like echoes of Deuteronomy. The first of these reasons may be dismissed as absurd; it would have been far more strange if Amos had136 never at all referred to Judah.260260   "It is plain that Amos could not have excepted Judah from the universal ruin which he saw to threaten the whole land; or at all events such exception would have required to be expressly made on special grounds."—Robertson Smith, Prophets, 398. The charges, however, are not like those which Amos elsewhere makes, and though the phrases may be quite as early as his time,261261   Ibid. the reader of the original, and even the reader of the English version, is aware of a certain tameness and vagueness of statement, which contrasts remarkably with the usual pungency of the prophet's style. We are forced to suspect the authenticity of these verses.

We ought to pass, then, straight from the third to the sixth verse of this chapter, from the oracles on foreign nations to that on Northern Israel. It is introduced with the same formula as they are: Thus saith Jehovah: Because of three crimes of Israel and because of four I will not turn It back. But there follow a greater number of details, for Amos has come among his own people whom he knows to the heart, and he applies to them a standard more exact and an obligation more heavy than any he could lay to the life of the heathen. Let us run quickly through the items of his charge. For that they sell an honest man262262   צדיק, righteous: hardly, as most commentators take it, the legally (as distinguished from the morally) righteous; the rich cruelly used their legal rights to sell respectable and honest members of society into slavery. for silver, and a needy man for a pair of shoes—proverbial, as we should say "for an old song"—who trample to the dust of the earth the head of the poor—the least improbable rendering of a corrupt passage263263   By adapting the LXX. So far as we know Wellhausen is right in saying that the Massoretic text, which our English version follows, gives no sense. LXX. reads, also without much sense as a whole, τὰ πατοῦντα ἐπὶ τὸν χοῦν τῆς γῆς, καὶ ἐκονδύλιζον εἰς κεφαλὰς πτῶχων.and pervert the way of humble men. And a man and137 his father will go into the maid, the same maid,264264   So rightly the LXX. Or the definite article may be here used in conformity with the common Hebrew way of employing it to designate, not a definite individual, but a member of a definite, well-known genus. to desecrate My Holy Name—without doubt some public form of unchastity introduced from the Canaanite worship into the very sanctuary of Jehovah, the holy place where He reveals His Name—and on garments given in pledge they stretch themselves by every altar, and the wine of those who have been fined they drink in the house of their God. A riot of sin: the material of their revels is the miseries of the poor, its stage the house of God! Such is religion to the Israel of Amos' day—indoors, feverish, sensual. By one of the sudden contrasts he loves, Amos sweeps out of it into God's ideal of religion—a great historical movement, told in the language of the open air: national deliverance, guidance on the highways of the world, the inspiration of prophecy, and the pure, ascetic life. But I, I destroyed the Amorite265265   On the use of Amorite for all the inhabitants of Canaan see Driver's Deut., pp. 11 f. before you, whose height was as the cedars, and he was strong as oaks, and I destroyed his fruit from above and his roots from below. What a contrast to the previous picture of the temple filled with fumes of wine and hot with lust! We are out on open history; God's gales blow and the forests crash before them. And I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you through the wilderness forty years, to inherit the land of the Amorite. Religion is not chambering and wantonness; it is not selfish138 comfort or profiting by the miseries of the poor and the sins of the fallen. But religion is history—the freedom of the people and their education, the winning of the land and the defeat of the heathen foe; and then, when the land is firm and the home secure, it is the raising, upon that stage and shelter, of spiritual guides and examples. And I raised up of your sons to be prophets, and of your young men to be Nazirites—consecrated and ascetic lives. Is it not so, O children of Israel? (oracle of Jehovah). But ye made the Nazirites drink wine, and the prophets ye charged, saying, Prophesy not!

Luxury, then, and a very sensual conception of religion, with all their vicious offspring in the abuse of justice, the oppression of the poor, the corrupting of the innocent, and the intolerance of spiritual forces—these are the sins of an enlightened and civilised people, which Amos describes as worse than all the atrocities of barbarism, and as certain of Divine vengeance. How far beyond his own day are his words still warm! Here in the nineteenth century is Great Britain, destroyer of the slave-traffic, and champion of oppressed nationalities—yet this great and Christian people, at the very time they are abolishing slavery, suffer their own children to work in factories and clay-pits for sixteen hours a day, and in mines set women to a labour for which horses are deemed too valuable. Things improve after 1848, but how slowly and against what callousness of Christians Lord Shaftesbury's long and often disappointed labours painfully testify. Even yet our religious public, that curses the Turk, and in an indignation, which can never be too warm, cries out against the Armenian atrocities, is callous, nay, by the avarice of some, the139 haste and passion for enjoyment of many more, and the thoughtlessness of all, itself contributes, to conditions of life and fashions of society, which bear with cruelty upon our poor, taint our literature, needlessly increase the temptations of our large towns, and render pure childlife impossible among masses of our population. Along some of the highways of our Christian civilisation we are just as cruel and just as lustful as Kurd or Turk.

Amos closes this prophecy with a vision of immediate judgment. Behold, I am about to crush or squeeze down upon you, as a waggon crushes266266   The verb עוק of the Massoretic text is not found elsewhere, and whether we retain it, or take it as a variant of, or mistake for, צוק, or adopt some other reading, the whole phrase is more or less uncertain, and the exact shade of meaning has to be guessed, though the general sense remains pretty much the same. The following is a complete note on the subject, with reasons for adopting the above conclusion.
    (1) LXX.: Behold, I roll (κυλίω) under you as a waggon full of straw is rolled. A.V.: I am pressed under you as a cart is pressed. Pusey: I straiten myself under you, etc. These versions take עוּק in the sense of צוּק, to press, and תחת in its usual meaning of beneath; and the result is conformable to the well-known figure of the Old Testament by which God is said to be laden and weary with the transgressions of His people. But this does not mean an actual descent of judgment, and yet vv. 14-16 imply that such an intimation has been made in ver. 13; and besides טעיק and תעיק are both in the Hiphil, the active, to press, or causative, make to press. (2) Accordingly some, adopting this sense of the verb, take תחת in an unusual sense of down upon. Ewald: I press down upon you as a cart that is full of sheaves presseth. Guthe (in Kautzsch's Bibel): Ich will euch quetschen. Rev. Eng. Ver.: I will press you in your place.—But עוק has been taken in other senses. (3) Hoffmann (Z.A.T.W., III. 100) renders it groan in conformity with Arab. 'îḳ. (4) Wetzstein (ibid., 278 ff.) quotes Arab. 'âḳ, to stop, hinder, and suggests I will bring to a stop. (5) Buhl (12th Ed. of Gesenius' Handwört, sub עוּק), in view of possibility of עגלה being threshing-roller, recalls Arab. 'aḳḳ, to cut in pieces. (6) Hitzig (Exeg. Handbuch) proposed to read מפיק and תפיק: I will make it shake under you, as the laden waggon shakes (the ground). So rather differently Wellhausen: I will make the ground quake under you, as a waggon quakes under its load of sheaves.

    I have only to add that, in the Alex. Cod. of LXX., which reads κωλύω for κυλίω, we have an interesting analogy to Wetzstein's proposal; and that in support of the rendering of Ewald, and its unusual interpretation of תחתיכם which seems to me on the whole the most probable, we may compare Job xxxvi. 16, לא מוצק תחתיה. This, it is true, suggests rather the choking of a passage than the crushing of the ground; but, by the way, that sense is even more applicable to a harvest waggon laden with sheaves.
that is full140 of sheaves.267267   Waggon full of sheaves.—Wellhausen goes too far when he suggests that Amos would have to go outside Palestine to see such a waggon. That a people who already knew the use of chariots for travelling (cf. Gen. xlvi. 5, JE) and waggons for agricultural purposes (1 Sam. vi. 7 ff.) did not use them at least in the lowlands of their country is extremely improbable. Cf. Hist. Geog., Appendix on Roads and Wheeled Vehicles in Syria. An alternative reading supplies the same general impression of a crushing judgment: I will make the ground quake under you, as a waggon makes it quake, or as a waggon itself quakes under its load of sheaves. This shock is to be War. Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not prove his power, nor the mighty man escape with his life. And he that graspeth the bow shall not stand, nor shall the swift of foot escape, nor the horseman escape with his life. And he that thinketh himself strong among the heroes shall flee away naked in that day—'tis the oracle of Jehovah.

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