Amos Chapter 6: Woe unto the 10 Tribe Kingdom

Nov 16th, 2009 | By | Category: Amos, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Amos Chapter 6: Woe unto the 10 Tribe Kingdom

Amos 6:1 Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!

Woe to them [the wealthy class of the ten tribes] that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria [the capital of the ten tribes], which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel [the common people] came!” Those who were “named chief of the nations” are called “the notable men of the foremost nation” in the NIV. Amos was a prophet chiefly to the ten tribes. He was contemporaneous with Hosea and Isaiah and prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah of Judah and Jereboam II of Israel (Amos 1:1).

Those of the ten-tribe kingdom felt that they were God’s elect and that Samaria was the true capital of the nation of Israel—like the woman at the well in Samaria (John 4:7-26). She implied to Jesus that the promises were to the ten tribes. Jesus replied, “Salvation is of the Jews” and “We know what we worship,” meaning that Jerusalem was the proper capital of Israel. The ten tribes, because of their wealth, large numbers, influence, and intercourse with other nations, felt they were more properly representative of the promises to the nation than the two-tribe kingdom. And Catholicism, because of its antiquity, large numbers, etc., feels it has a higher prestige than Protestantism. The ten-tribe kingdom pictures Catholicism, and the two-tribe kingdom portrays Protestantism. Amos was particularly addressing both the natural (or literal) and the nominal spiritual “ten-tribe kingdom.”

Comment: Isaiah 28:1 is similar: “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!”

Reply: Yes, and “wine” is mentioned in Amos 6:6. Spiritually and literally, the ten-tribe kingdom felt a superiority and pride over Judah.

Amos 6:2 Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?

Calneh, established by Nimrod, and Hamath, north of Israel, were heathen cities outside of Israel (Gen. 10:9,10). Both are mentioned in Isaiah 10:9. Hamath is referred to in 2 Kings 18:33,34 in connection with Rab-shakeh and Sennacherib in the days of Isaiah. Sennacherib’s army was threatening Jerusalem, the two-tribe kingdom, but God miraculously delivered the city from destruction.

The implication was that these great cities (Calneh, Hamath, and Gath) had already received judgment—a past event. Earlier Amos prophesied of another judgment to come on Gaza, Ashdod, Ekron, and Ashkelon—a judgment that would be more devastating (Amos 1:6-8).

“Be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your [Israel’s] border?”

Since a past judgment had been inflicted on these three cities, God was asking Israel, “Are you any better than these three?” Notice that “be they,” in italics, is supplied in the King James. The pronoun should be “you.” A judgment was coming on the ten-tribe kingdom, and Amos was saying, “Who do you think you are, Israel? Do you think you are greater than the others who experienced calamities? Their deities were of no avail.”

Amos 6:3 Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;

Comment: In other words, “You who live for the present and do not believe the judgment is near are causing the injustice and violence to increase.” Many have this same attitude today.

Reply: Israel was dealing with the short term and not the ominous future. The people were living for today. The same is true of evildoers at the present time. They put far away from their minds the thought of coming judgment, for they do not want to think about it. Noah was ridiculed and treated sarcastically before the Flood, but the Flood did come. The violence in Amos’s day was entrenched, deep-seated, and an everyday occurrence.

Amos 6:4 That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;

Verse 4 is a picture of luxury, ease, and indolence—the Laodicean spirit! With the wealth came sensuality and moral degeneration.

Comment: The fact that the animals were young (lambs and calves instead of sheep and bullocks) indicates luxury. The wealthy ate the choice, tender, young animals.

Amos 6:5 That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David;

Comment: Verse 5 could be misunderstood. David was approved for his music because it was reverent.

Reply: David’s songs were from the heart. His repentance, joy, and worship were acceptable to the Lord. In the Gospel Age, the services, praise, and singing of God’s elect are most acceptable.

Amos 6:6 That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.

“That drink wine in bowls.” Wine should be drunk from small glasses, not large bowls.

Drinking from bowls not only led to drunkenness but also indicated luxury and excess.

“And anoint themselves with the chief ointments.” Anciently, ointments were expensive and precious. Verse 6 is describing a display of waste and luxury on the part of the wealthy. The spiritual lesson is of the danger to the new creature as one’s income rises. As Jesus said in Mark 10:23, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” The thought is not that the wealthy cannot make their calling and election sure, but that since the road is narrow, having much of this world’s goods makes it more difficult. Conversely, if a wealthy person is faithful unto death, his reward is correspondingly higher because of overcoming more.

The “affliction of Joseph” refers to his unjust treatment from his brothers who sold him into slavery. In other words, the wealthy were ignoring the plight of the common people; they were insensitive and hardened. The ten brothers were jealous of Joseph because he received more favor from Jacob and because of his dream with regard to (1) the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowing down to him and (2) his brothers’ sheaves of wheat bowing down to his sheaf (Gen. 37:1-11). The brothers were guilty not only of putting Joseph in a pit but also of selling him into slavery, thinking they would never hear from him again. It is interesting that the ten tribes were of Joseph. Ephraim and Manasseh were a large portion of the ten tribes. In fact, Ephraim was so numerous that all ten tribes were sometimes referred to as “Ephraim.”

Amos 6:7 Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.

The wealthy, nobles, princes, etc., of the ten tribes would go into captivity first. “The banquet of them that stretched themselves” refers to those who lived luxuriously, wantonly, and indolently—a lifestyle that was comparable to lying upon “beds of ivory” (verse 4).

Amos 6:8 The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.

“The excellency of Jacob” was the pride of Jacob. The people were extremely proud because of (1) their temporal prosperity, (2) the multiplicity of their gods and places of worship, and (3) their military conquests. They credited their material wealth and military triumphs to themselves, and not to God. Why was Jacob’s name used? Since Jacob died and was buried in Hebron (in Machpelah’s cave) in Judah, what really was meant is “the pride of Jacob’s offspring, Ephraim and Manasseh” (Gen. 49:29,30; 50:13). Ephraim was the most numerous tribe, and Manasseh had a large population too. The antitype is the Roman Catholic Church, which claims to be (1) older, (2) blessed because of numbers, and (3) superior because of elaborate cathedrals, art, statuary, etc.

“I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city [Samaria, the capital of the ten tribes] with all that is therein.” Amos issued a threat; namely, the destiny of the ten tribes would be destruction and captivity. As a prophet, he empathized with the message and was disgusted with the behavior of the people in the ten tribes.

Comment: Amos frequently used the term “God of hosts,” and so did Isaiah, Jeremiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The Israelites should have been in awe of this term.

Reply: That was especially true of Isaiah, who was a contemporary of part of Amos’s ministry.

NOTE: When Amos was called to be a prophet (Amos 1:1), he was a shepherd in Tekoa during the reigns of King Uzziah of Judah and King Jereboam II of Israel. But Tekoa was in Judah.

Amos was called from Judah to be a prophet to the ten tribes. The implication is that conditions were so bad in the ten tribes that no one from there was fit to be a prophet. Therefore, Amos was called out of his own domain.

Amos 6:9 And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.

Amos 6:10 And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD.

The “uncle” who would do the burying was a relative, but not one of the “ten men” of verse 9. “Bones” indicate a decomposed body, so there would be a stink. Since burning the corpse was contrary to the normal procedure, the suggestion was that the “ten men in one house” might die from a pestilence.

An uncle would come to dispose of the remains in the house. As he entered the door and called out, “Is anyone here?” a person hiding in a remote part of the house would reply, “No.” The uncle would then say, “Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord.” Why not? The coming judgment would be so severe that the people, who now commonly approached the Lord, would then be fearful they were not in the right condition to be acceptable. They were very far from the Lord in their conduct. The severity of the judgment would make them think, “If we mention the Lord’s name, there may be further vengeance.”

The survivors would reverence the God of Israel and realize the reason for the judgment.

Comment: There is a comparison with the end of the present age. If, back there, the people who were not really trying to serve God reacted with fear and reverence, how much greater will be the reaction with the Holy Remnant, a right-hearted element, when they are delivered out of Jacob’s Trouble!

Reply: Yes, we can see the instructional value of judgment when people realize it is tied in with calamity.

Amos 6:11 For, behold, the LORD commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts.

All would be affected by the coming judgment: the houses of both the wealthy and the common people.

Amos 6:12 Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plow there with oxen? for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock:

“No” is the answer to both questions, for to do so would be foolish. The KJV is correct with regard to the word “oxen.” Why were these illustrations brought in? Amos was saying, “Doesn’t common sense teach you that if you are immersed in evil practices, a judgment will be enacted against you? One does not run horses upon rock lest he injure them. Do you think you can continue in evil and be immune to judgment?”

“Gall” is bitter. When associated with hemlock, it would be like drinking poison. The ten tribes had turned judgment into bitterness and death, which would be the result of drinking hemlock. However, drinking gall has a numbing effect almost like novocaine; it stupefies or deadens the system—and also the subject if continued. To fulfill Scripture, Jesus merely tasted the vinegar and gall and then declined to drink further. He did not want to deaden the pain or dull his senses but to drink the cup to the full.

Amos 6:13 Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength?

In other words, “You rejoice in that which is not a reality. It is a figment of your imagination and lacks substance.” Israel’s confidence regarding the present and the future was not substantiated by the Lord of hosts.

“Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength?” The people attributed everything (temporal prosperity, military conquests, etc.) to their own strength. They prided themselves that with their own strength, power, and ingenuity, they had prospered and should not worry about the future.

Amos 6:14 But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of the wilderness.

“But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation [Assyria], O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts.” The ten-tribe kingdom would be subjugated from Hamath to the Arabah, “the river of the wilderness,” which is quite far south on the Jordan River—that is, the entire ten tribes would be subjugated from north to south. If the whole nation of Israel were being described, including the two tribes, the term would have been “from Dan to Beer-sheba.”

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