Sermon on the Mount – the Merciful, Pure in Heart, and Peacemakers

The past few post I’ve covered the first four beatitudes, which relate to how we respond to God. Today, I’ll move on to Matthew 5:7-9, which relate to how we respond to others.


What does it mean to be merciful? Well, it sounds simple, but it is one who shows mercy. Sure, sounds good, so what is mercy? The Greek word is eleos and is the stand new testament word for mercy, or sometimes compassion. This is in response to pain, misery, and brokenness of others. The word is both used for our reaction to others and God’s reaction to us. The word being used for merciful has an active sense, so we are actively responding to people, we are showing people mercy and compassion.

So, in some ways, this one is fairly simple – show mercy and mercy will be shown to you. Maybe the questions is obvious, but who is showing you mercy? We know that just because you show mercy or kindness to people does not mean that people will show it to you. The answer, as has been to the doer of all the second clauses of the beatitudes, is God. The tense used for ‘be shown mercy’ has a future active sense, leading one translator to make up the word ‘mercied’, which I like as a way to understand this verse. This continues the eschatological theme of the Sermon on Mount. That in our knowledge of God grace and mercy to use in the end, out of gratitude and obedience, we show others mercy and compassion today.


Both verse 7 and 9 are very much continuation of the promises of the Old Testament, but this is probable the most direct of the three. There is almost nothing to comment on. We are supposed to love God with all our…heart. The Psalms call out to God, asking for Him to create in us a clean (leading to pure) heart. One commentator defined the pure heart as one of ‘inner moral purity and single mindedness,’ the single mindedness being in devotion to God.

What do we receive for this pure devotion? To see the face of God. This is the ultimate sense of blessing in the Old Testament, the ultimate way of experiencing the Glory of God. Remember that this is exactly what Moses requested of God, thought even he was only allowed to see God has He passed by.

The most direct connection is Psalm 24:6 – the generation of those whom seek him, will see the face of the God of Jacob.


What exactly is a peacemaker? McKnight says it is one with ‘active entrance into warring parties, to make reconciliation. In Psalm 34:14(?) we are told to turn away from evil, seek peace pursue it. Being sons of God has two distinct meanings in this context. First, there is the obvious, that as a son(child) there would be an inheritance which of course brings us back to the overall eschatological sense of the Sermon on the Mount, specifically as it related to the Kingdom of God. The second, less obvious to modern readers is in the Hebrew, ‘to be called sons,’ has the meaning of sharing the characteristics of a father, in this case, God the Father, though Jesus Christ the Son.

There is a reason Christ is called the Prince of Peace. He is the ultimate reconciler, between us and God. Paul says in Colossian’s 1:20, ‘and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.’

What a great place to end our quick look into these three beatitudes. If you are thinking, aren’t there eight, you only did four earlier. We will look next week at the final one, those persecuted, and look at their connection to the following two verses.

Follow along in the series – Intro, The Poor in Spirit & Those Who Mourn, The Meek and Those Who Hunger & Thirst

Commentaries used in this series:
Sermon on the Mount (The Story of God Bible Commentary)
The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7 : Christian Counter-Culture)
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount
Matthew (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)
The Expositor’s Bible commentary : Matthew, Mark, Luke, with the New international version of the Holy Bible (Expositor’s Bible commentary, Vol.8)
Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)
New Bible Commentary

Sermon on the Mount – The Meek and Those Who Hunger & Thirst

Matthew 5:3-6

Las week, I only made it through verses 3 & 4, so this week I’ll wrap up the first section of the Beatitudes and go through verses 5 & 6. So, let’s jump right in.

Who are the meek? This isn’t a word used often in modern English. Discussing this passage with my study group, we could only come up with that Christmas song where they call Jesus meek and mild. The Greek word is praus, which can mean – humble, gentle, considerate, courteous, long suffering, and free from malice. Barclay calls meek being ‘angry at the right time and never at the wrong time’, and according to Aristotle, meekness is being ‘angry on the right occasion, for the right people, for the right amount, and for the right length of time’.

Maybe because they are homonyms, but I think most people just go straight to associating meekness with weakness. I think quite probably gets in there a good bit to. Other Biblical references include Moses being called meek in Numbers, and both James and Peter writing about meekness as a way to act and receive the Word.

How we see who the meek are in this verse is influenced by how we understand the blessing. The reward for being meek is inheriting the earth. The word translated can mean either earth (as in the physical aspect) or land. This has a pretty clear meaning to Israel, but what about today? Similar to those who mourn, you can double dip into eschatological meanings here. For Jews, it is the Messianic Kingdom, for Christians it is the second coming – think inheriting the new Earth. Considering the likelihood that the mourning is the broken world with the blessing being the new Earth, I view the meek as the longsuffering and humble. Combining the two verses, and we should read each in light of the other, that means we mourning the brokenness of the world, but in humility of our own sin, and of course we may live our whole lives in the world, not seeing the restoration, making us long suffering. The blessing for this combined affliction is the same, we will be comforted when we inherit (as heirs to the Kingdom) the new Earth after the second coming, resurrection, final judgement, and restoration of all things.

This is another phrase that is hard to understand in modern American life, hunger for me means something drastically different than to the original hearer/reader (or the majority of Christians over the past 2000 years, or any number of hundreds of millions elsewhere in the world today). I’ll eat breakfast around 6:00, then get to work and get moving and around 11:00 someone will mention lunch, and I’ll think, ‘man, I haven’t eaten since breakfast, I’m starving.’ Compare this to even my grandparents who were growing up before ‘three meals a day’ was even a concept. Or to the original hearer/reader, where there were likely days when on food was consumed. That is real hunger.

Likewise, thirst is a difficult concept. For one, there is no running water, indoor plumbing, etc. You have to go to a well. Now, I live in what was formally a malarial swamp (if you’ve ever wondered why the CDC is in Atlanta…), but the context hear is a desert. The well can run dry and it may not rain for months. I have some neighbors that moved here from LA about a year ago and one of the things they said they enjoyed here was listening to thunderstorms. They tell me that it may rain once, and then not again for a month or so, and that is pretty much the expected outcome. So, this concept is a bit lost on me, as even in our level 3 drought years, we still receive about 30 inches or so of rain. However, I do know you can last weeks without food, but only days without water.

This is a long intro to two commonly used words, but it is helpful for context. The picture here is someone who hasn’t eaten in a week and had no water in a day or two. It is someone who will soon die if they do not find food and water. This is the level to which we should seek righteousness. This is a theme throughout Christ’s ministry, later He will tell us to ‘First, seek the Kingdom and its righteousness”. So we know that He isn’t talking, if you have time, or when it is convenient for you, but seek it as if it is the drop of water that will keep you alive.

Finally, what is the blessing? They will receive it. The BEC translates the promise as, they will be filled. This takes us back to the point from last week about being poor in spirit. We need to empty ourselves to be filled. Those who seek Christ and His righteousness will find it, and He will give it to them. They will be covered in Christ’s righteousness, and it is through Christ that we will one day enter the Kingdom or inherit the new Earth.

That wraps up the section of the Beatitudes about how we relate to God, next week I’ll move into the section about how we relate to each other.

Follow along in the series – Intro, The Poor in Spirit & Those Who Mourn.

Commentaries used in this series:
Sermon on the Mount (The Story of God Bible Commentary)
The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7 : Christian Counter-Culture)
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount
Matthew (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)
The Expositor’s Bible commentary : Matthew, Mark, Luke, with the New international version of the Holy Bible (Expositor’s Bible commentary, Vol.8)
Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)
New Bible Commentary

Intro to Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5-7

This passage is one of the most well-known, while at the same time, it isn’t known very well. That is to say, if you mention Sermon on the Mount to most (church) people, they will know what you are talking about, but following up with any question – when/where/why, or what is in it, what is he saying, and I don’t think you’d get much of a reaction. There are number of ‘famous’ passages within it – the beatitudes (blessed are…) and the Lord’s Prayer probably being the most known, but there are other passages such as His words on Lust/Adultery and Hate/Murder. Really, the simplest way to state it is that the Sermon is a collection of all of the teachings of Jesus found in Matthew, which are not parables.

What exactly was the Sermon? I’m torn on whether I want to get into some of the deeper academic disputes. Was he actually on a mountain? If so, which one? Where there any in the area? Some commentators break this down a bit and say well, it was probably just a hillside, and in kind of a red-neck way, say that the translation could read the sermon up in the hills. Some people were also concerned that it doesn’t align with Luke’s sermon on the plain, and wonder if the Mount is really more of a plateau, but I think all that is beyond what I want to look at and discuss.

For me, there are a few things that matter, one is Jesus probably gave this sermon or message a number of times. It wasn’t uncommon for itinerate teachers (Rabbis) to go around to different towns and villages repeating their message. Luke focused on only a few ‘blesseds’ whereas Matthew had more and left off the ‘woes’. I also think that is why he puts it at the beginning of the his Gospel.

Finally, there is significance to placing it at the Mount (whether it was actually the first instance or not). Matthew is written for a mostly Jewish audience, and they would have seen the connection between Jesus giving the sermon (expanding and explaining the law) and Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the original Law (the 10 commandments). If that wasn’t clear, Jesus Himself draws the connection when He later explains lust and adultery, and hate and murder.

The entire intro Matthew gives us is just two verses (5:1-2), which basically says, people were around, so Jesus started His sermon.

Next week I’ll start going through the beatitudes, but for now, what is exactly are beatitudes? We get with word from the Latin word Beatus which means blessed, which is obviously taken form the start of each verse – ‘blessed are…’. So, what does blessed mean? There are two words typically used in the Greek – Makarious and Ealogetos. The latter is word used when someone is blessed by God that most people think of when they hear bless. The word used is actually the former, it means more something of along the lines of happiness, fortunate, or even congratulate (as the tense is accusative).

This is one reason for wide array of translations for the word, but it makes the sense of the phrase confusing in the English. He isn’t saying that God will bless those who are poor in spirit, He is saying something more along the lines of consider fortunate those who are poor in spirit (on famous sermon even used the translation ‘congratulate those…).

I hope that helps as a basic introduction, next week I’ll started on the Beatitudes and hopefully continue you on through the whole sermon.


Commentaries used in this series:
Sermon on the Mount (The Story of God Bible Commentary)
The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7 : Christian Counter-Culture)
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount
Matthew (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)
The Expositor’s Bible commentary : Matthew, Mark, Luke, with the New international version of the Holy Bible (Expositor’s Bible commentary, Vol.8)
Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)
New Bible Commentary

August Biblical Studies Carnival

When Phil first contacted me about hosting a Biblical Studies Carnival, I expected him to ask for a credit card number or tell me about his friend, a Nigerian prince. I hadn’t come across a Carnival yet, though I had seen (and even followed) most of the blogs/posts that were featured in the series. After checking it out, I became excited to host.I still have no idea what I'm doing.

While most hosts are professors or PhD students, I’m more of a pretend theologian. I’m also someone who’s closer to a book reviewer than a BiblioBlogger. And so this Carnival might be a bit different than what you’re used to reading.

If you are interested in hosting, almost all of 2017 is open, simply contact Phil. Check out last month’s carnival, and look for the upcoming hosts:


Biblical Studies
James offers some short thoughts on the problems with YEC.

If you like Young Earth, there’s great fun for you at Noah’s Ark.jesus-dinosaur1

Related, Peter Enns on getting the Noah Story correct.

Craig asks why Genesis 36 is about Esau.

Bob explains his thoughts on reviewing the ‘raw data’ of the Old Testament. He also shot me one just under the wire look at Isaiah 38.

Cluade Mariottini writes that Judges 19 might be one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible.

Interesting article about the Chinese church and interpreting the Old Testament. Beware, this is a wall of text.

Phil gives us an intro into 4 Ezra, look also for his write-ups on the seven visions of Ezra.

Jeff thinks that maybe Jesus was a rude dinner guest.

Reasons why 1 Timothy is not so simple to translate.

Ethics in Mathew, James, 1 Peter.

R. Scott Clark provides commentary on 1 Peter 5:1-5.

Peter Gurry with some thoughts on the textual variances in Revelation 2:13.

The Bible is not a book of promises.

RJS say literal reading, please, depending on what you mean by literal.

Will Brown has some info on the Apocalypse of Adam, which I didn’t even know was a thing.

Church History/Historical Theology/Theology
St. Patrick had mixed manuscripts based on his use of the Great Commission.

Reflections by Ken offers short bios, with sweet infographics, on Luther, Calvin, and Irenaeus.
How Hell Started
Beck has a few thoughts on the origins of Hell.

Matt Emerson notes an issue with the Vincentian Rule and Christ descending into Hell.


Book Reviews
Phil reviews Engaging the Septuagint.

Jennifer reviews the Cultural Background Study Bible, concluding that it is a great resource for people lacking in historical/ANE Worldview knowledge.

Scott McKnight reviews The Charity: A place for the Poor in the Biblical Traditions.

Michael C. Thompson reviews Pax Romona: War, Peace, and Conquest in the Roman World.

Chris Stump interviews the author/reviews Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home. (Yep, that’s a textbook. I’ve added a review of a middle school textbook to the Carnival.)

Pete Enns reviews The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel.

Lindsay reviews Progressive Covenantalism.

Jill Firth reviews the Book of Genesis from the Bible in Medieval Tradition series.

John reviews Finding God in the Waves: How I lost My Faith and Found it Again Through Science. Great quote from the article-

But this book will not appeal to most orthodox believers. It is not a simplistic de-conversion/conversion story—the spiritual equivalence of boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. It’s a lot messier than that—more like boy gets girl back…but discovers he’s also got an STD.

Not quite a book review, more of a preview of an upcoming book on Augustine.

Also not quite a book review, but the author guest-posting about his book Q in Matthew.

I guess I can shamelessly plug my review of the second edition of Four Views on Hell.

Calvin reviews a book by Servetus.

Karl Barth was not a fan of the Olympics, or sports in general, it seems.

American JesusMcKnight on what Grudem should have said.

Some new research out from LifeWay has some surprising results.

A new card game, The Cannon, is coming soon, in case you need to have fewer friends.

Finally, a fellow Atlien reminds us of the importance of a well-worn Bible.


Alright, that concludes the August 2016 Biblical Studies Carnival. Casual Friday KevinHopefully, I didn’t veer too far off track or ruin anything (as occasionally happens when I get involved). It was certainly an interesting task to host one of these. I found many really cool articles (sorry, I couldn’t post them all) and discovered great sites that I had never come across. Sorry if I misspelled your name or misrepresented your articles. All errors are those of my editor. Thank you so much to those who sent me articles to post. Thanks for playing along.

Reminder if you’d like to host anytime in 2017, contact Phil (twitter or email – It is an interesting challenge. Do it. I know there are more BiblioBloggers out there. 

Reading Guide to Hosea 3

I am continuing on with my series on reading the minor prophets. See my cheat sheet for the minor prophets, Intro to HoseaHosea 1, and Hosea 2. My recommended way to use this guide is to go read Hosea 3, come back here look through the post, then basically read them side by side, reading through the verse and checking here if there is something you find confusing.

This is a short chapter, but 4 is long and I had planned to have something up yesterday, so I’ll stick with just 3 for now. It is an odd chapter, with many strange phrases and old language/measurements. Plus, James Montgomery Boice calls this the greatest chapter in the Bible. So, no pressure.

Chapter 3
First off, who are we talk about here? Is the focus on ‘again‘ as in returning to Gomer or is it another adulterous wife? Boice and the NAC tend to lean to the former, while Tyndale and WBC say no, it is a new wife. Boice argues that he is buying back one whom has left him for another, as Christ does with his blood. WBC argues that this doesn’t make sense and because in Christ we are a new creation and are a new bride in a eschatological sense. I tend to agree with this logic as well. This is in fact a second wife. However, the implications drawn from the rest of the chapter are the same.

1. Raisin Cakes – raisins were thought to be aphrodisiacs in the ANE. It is also possible that they were associated with cultic temple worship, including temple prostitutes (WBC).

2. He buys here, this would be the bride price (also leading credence to the new wife theory). In the ANE you essentially purchased your wife from her father as she was his property and will now be yours.

Female slaves typically cost about 30 shekels. So, Hosea didn’t quite have the money, as he pays 15 shekels of coins and about 15 shekels worth of barley. A homer was about 6 bushels and a lethech was about 3. Either way, the equivalent is 30 pieces of silver, the same price that was put on Christ’s life.

3. Assuming a new wife, and either an adulterous one or a prostitute (see my earlier explanation), this would be strange to her. She was purchased, but told not to have sex for many days with either him or any other men. Likewise, Hosea will abstain (so will I also be to you).

4. Sacrifice or pillar – two important items of  worship
Ephod – garment worn by priest during divination
Household gold/Teraphim – pagan items that were consulted for divination
The sacrifice and Ephod are orthodox, the pillar and teraphim are ‘abominably pagan’ (WBC). Israel was guilty of syncretism, mixing pagan and true beliefs. They will soon have neither as Hosea’s wife will be with neither him nor another.

5. Future restoration of Israel and the (new) Covenant people. Even though they have sinned and turned from Yahweh, in the end, He will accept them with love and they will seek Him and the Davidic King that is Christ on the Throne.

Hosea, Joel: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
The Minor Prophets: Hosea-Jonah (Expositional Commentary) (Volume 1)
Hosea (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
Hosea-Jonah, Volume 31 (Word Biblical Commentary)

Book Review: What Christians ought to Believe

What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostles’ Creed – Micheal F. Bird


My RatingMust Read

Level Medium length, fairly easy and does not require more than a basic knowledge of the Bible or Theology.

The book is essentially an exposition of The Apostles’ Creed. That is, he goes line by line and explains why we believe it and where the proofs are in Scripture. The first chapter is spent on explaining what exactly a ‘creed’ is – which is incredibly important, especially for us Americans and non-liturgical Protestants, who don’t use them. The second chapter is an argument as to why we need creeds. Among the brief history of the cannon and the early church, I also learned that the ‘Peanut Butter & Jelly’ of Australia is ‘Vegemite & Avocado’. So, there’s that.

The remainder of the book breaks down as follows, with a chapter of exposition on each:

  • I believe – a chapter about faith
  • …in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth
  • I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord – split into two chapters, one on the dual nature (fully human and fully God) and the second on the meaning of Messiah and Lord.
  • He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
  • He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried – this line is also split into two chapters, one on the offense and the other on the victory of the cross.
  • He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
  • He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
  • I believe in the Holy Spirit,
  • …the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
  • the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

My Thoughts
I remember the first time I went to a ‘liturgical church’ – call and response, where the congregation also recites things – which was a word I didn’t even know. It was my freshmen year in college and this was also the first time I’d ever heard the Apostles’ Creed. This is part of the problem with American Protestantism and the ‘no creed but the Bible’ mentality. So few people know what they believe or why – mostly, I think, because we never articulate exactly what it is we believe, giving us the opportunity to teach specifically, and dive into the reason/scriptural proofs for these beliefs. I was likely in my mid-20’s before I even knew what catechisms or confessions were. It was a loss to me, although they are documents that have been used by educated believers for hundreds of years. Even more dramatically, the Apostles’ Creed has been recited by believers for nearly two thousand years.

This book is a depth of riches. It is a must-read for every Christian, whether new or lifelong believer, pastor or laity. It should be given, by the church, to every new church member or professing believer, as well as the basis of a Bible study, Sunday School class, or even sermon series (or at least a reference). Additionally, you should buy a copy for any questioning/curious unbeliever that you may know. It will become more and more important that believers are grounded in the historic faith of the church, and this is an important first step.

Professional Reader
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Reviews: Four Views on the Historical Adam

Four Views on the Historical Adam

My Rating – Put it on Your List

Level – Somewhat technical, requires a higher level knowledge of Genesis and some theology, somewhat short, but at times reads longer than it is.

This book is exactly what the title says, though there is one different aspect that I haven’t seen in other volumes of the series. Outside of the intro but the series editors and the four chapters on the different views, there is a final chapter called ‘pastoral reflection.’ This is basically a ‘unity & love’ chapter, ostensibly because this is a very touchy subject. In fact, Barrick, who in my opinion makes the weakest argument, implies we should be suspicious of the salvation of those with different views than his own. It is a very disappointing view for an author in this series.

The four views are as follows:

Evolutionary Creation – Denis O. Lamoureux
His view is essentially Theistic Evolution, but prefers this name on a semantic level. There is no historical Adam, and there doesn’t need to be. God created the natural order and the world proceeded in an evolutionary way. He has interesting arguments on ‘ancient science’, that is, what the writers of the Bible would have understood as fact. Even if you completely disagree with everything he says, his chapter is worth reading solely for this, as it will challenge you to understand the Bible as the original audience may have viewed it. A clearly brilliant man, with two PhDs, has to waste too much of his word limit ‘proving’ his Christianity.

Archetypal Creation – John H. Walton
Again, we have old-earth creation that views much of the first few chapters of Genesis through a literary lens. However, he is never conclusive as to whether or not there is a historical Adam. He may personally believe there was, but under this view, it can be either way. Basically, ‘Adam’ is an allegorical representation. He is ‘elect’ and chosen, much in the same was as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses, though some of them clearly existed. That isn’t the point of the story, though. Great info in this chapter pertaining to the writings and beliefs of the Ancient Near East.

Old-Earth Creation – C. John Collins
Collins isn’t too different than Walton. He would agree with most of my summary above, but on Adam and Eve he has a little more nuance. He still does not require historic, first human Adam, but he does view him as historical. He has an interesting view of historical but not ‘literalistic,’ while arguing that we should not get too bogged down on this historical person of Adam.  So, it is history, was written to be history, was read as history, it’s just not a type of history (historicity) that we deal with today. This is an important distinction for many evangelicals to consider while researching their view of Genesis 1-11 in general and Adam in particular.

Young-Earth Creation – William D. Barrick
This is the view that people think of or the media mean when they use the term creationist. That is, a focus on the world being created exactly as described roughly six thousand years ago. This obviously is in great conflict with science, as well as most Christians and theologians. Science aside, this view also fails in light of literature and history, which is clearly demonstrated by the other views. There is not much evidence proposed in this chapter and is fairly weak in my view.

My Thoughts
Of course, I think everyone should be reading books in this series. However, I couldn’t quite put this on the must read list. Partly because I like to keep those in that rating small, but also this book does get somewhat academic. That being said, if you are already familiar with the theological issues involved with a historical Adam and have a broad understanding of the relations between Genesis and the age of the universe, then this book would probably be considered a must if this is an issue that you care about.

I personally found myself in agreement with multiple points from the first three authors. I thought Walton made an interesting point of Genesis 1 vs. 2, as being two completely different stories. The idea of historical Adam and billions of years old universe are important issues. I still haven’t full development my own theology on the issue. I tend to lean towards an understanding of an historical Adam, but I in no way think the world is not millions and billions of years old. My view is somewhere between Archetypal and Old-Earth, that is an ‘elect’ historical Adam that had some sort of special interaction/relation with God, but isn’t necessarily a special or first creation.

Reader’s Guide to Amos (1:3-2:5)

Editor – I posted the wrong section last week. This goes first, obviously. Read through these oracles and then read my previous post, it will make that post seem more coherent. I’ve updated links in this post to reflect the screw up.


Three weeks ago, I outlined how to read the first oracles of Amos. Today, I want to point out some notes that are helpful in understanding what is going on as you read. This covers Amos 1:3-2:5 and contains the seven oracles against other nations. The best way to use this would be to go read my previous post about the structure of the oracles, then read through verses themselves while using these notes when words, phrases, or places are unfamiliar. Hope it helps.

Aram (1:3-5)
Damascus is the capital of Aram.
Modern version read “threshed Gilead” older manuscripts such as those at Qumran or the LXX inserts ‘the pregnant women.” Threshing was/is the process of removing seed from stalk. So, if this accusation is literal, it is quite heinous. Threshing spikes were used to increase the efficacy in the threshing.
Hazael was king of Aram. He assumed the throne by killing Ben-Hadad (son of Hadad, a storm god). Interestingly, Hazael’s son, once king, assumed the name Ben-Hadad. It’s unclear which Amos is referring to, but points to more than a single person or event, but rather a geo-political group.
“Gate-bar” in movies after the hero comes ridding in through the gates of the fortress after escaping the (following, attacking, pursuing) foe, they shut the giant wooden gates and then lay are large wood/iron bar across to prevent the doors from being opened. Yahweh will destroy this bar, which not only shows his power, but leaves them unable to protect themselves by shutting the gate again.
Valley of Aven and Beth Eden are places in the region of Aram. The one ‘sitting’ and one who ‘holds the scepter’ are the rulers of the area. The message is, all of Aram, not just Damascus and all those in charge, so that no other family takes over rule.
Kir is unknown, but is possibly the place the Arameans came from. Either way, they are exiled and no longer have a land their own.

Philistia (1:6-8)
Gaza was the most prominent and powerful city in the region. Ashdod, Ashkelon and Ekron are all areas of Philistia.
“Exiled a whole people” not just the soldiers/prisoners of war. Instead, they took whole towns communities, men women and children and sold them into slavery.

Phoenicia (1:9-10)
Tyure was the strongest Phoenician City.
“Forgot the covenant of brotherhood” the broke the treaty with someone, we do not know whom.
Same crime and punishment as to Philisia. Continue reading