This is another post in my series, Reader’s Guide to Amos. It works(or at least, I’d like it to) as something between a commentary and a Bible Study. Go read the text. Keep that window open. Read through it once to get a broad view of what is happening. Then come back and read through my notes. I’d suggest going back to the text one more time, read through it and when you get to a word or idea you are unsure of, come back and see if there is something in my Reader’s Guide that helps. You can read my original series introduction and the original posts that cover the text up to this point.
This chapter is very similar to the prior section. It is another woe oracle split into two parts. First, those whom are complacent, secure, at ease and comfortable. Second, a ‘divine oath’ of judgment to a doomed nation.
1-7 – “passage is entirely poetic” WBC
Zion is Jerusalem
Trusting in the Mount is literal. “Samaria’s topography made it a natural fortress” – NAC.
Calneh and Hamath were Syrian city-states under the influence of Israel. Gath was a Philistine city-state under Judean influence. This is a rhetorical question to point out that the leaders of Israel were wrong to think they were bigger or better than surrounding areas.
Tyndale notes that Amos is sarcastic here, pointing out that the leaders who deny a coming day of disaster are inviting a sooner than expected ‘reign of terror.
Those whom are first in luxury, will be first to be exiled. Eating meat was rare, possibly only three times a year for the average Israelite, only on feast days (WBC). Bowls are used instead of cups, which would be smaller; additionally the word connotes the bowls used in ritual temple practices. So, those living in extreme and excess luxury will be the first to be taken capture. This likely ended up happening when taken by Assyria, as the kings, nobility, etc. would have been taken and sent out first.
8-14 – Deliver up – selling into captivity or giving up prisoners. The idea being, every single person, who feels comforted in the fortress of Mount Samaria, will be delivered over to those who God will use for judgement. Verses 9-11 point of the totality of the destruction to come.
Rhetorical questions, horses do not fun on rocks and you cannot plow rocks with oxen (alternative understanding of the Hebrew may ask the question, do you use Oxen to plow the sea. I tend to favor the rock, “there”, interpretation over saying the sea, but the point remains either way).
Lo Debar means ‘not a thing’ – this was a deliberate misspelling of an actual city conquered by Jeroboam II
Karnaim means ‘a pair of horns’ – horns were a symbol of power or authority in OT. The name evokes power, but it was an insignificant and small city.
So, what we have in 13 is a pun with sarcasm, as Israel boast in taking nothing (not a thing) and powerfully named but ultimate unimportant city.
Lebo Hamath was Israel’s northern most board
Valley, brook, or wadi of Arabah was the southernmost boundary.
So a nation will be brought up and will conquer/oppress/subjugate Israel in its entirety, from northern board to the southern border.
Amos, Obadiah, Jonah: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
Joel and Amos (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
Hosea-Jonah, Volume 31 (Word Biblical Commentary)