Amos Part 1
Amos 1:1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.
Amos 1:2 And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.
Amos 1:1-2 (KJV)
These two verses alone are packed with information. We’ll start with verse number two, simply because verse one is just an introduction paragraph. “And he said, the LORD will roar from Zion…” I looked at some of the cross references in the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (TSK) and KJV Cross-References and found that there are two other verses in the Old Testament where this phrase is mentioned. We will take a look at one in the Book of Jeremiah.
Jer 25:30 Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread [the grapes], against all the inhabitants of the earth.
Jeremiah 25:30 (KJV)
Right now, from these verses, we can easily see that the Lord is angry. We do not yet know who He is angry with, but we do know that he is angry. If we look up the word “roar” in the Strong’s Dictionary, the Hebrew word transliterates to “rumble or moan.” Basically, God is both angry and sorrowful. He is moaning in agony at someone or something and he is about to rumble or roar at someone or something because He is wroth. In the next few verses of Amos, the Bible reveals exactly who the Lord is angry with.
Amos 1:3 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:
Amos 1:4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad.
Amos 1:3-4 (KJV)
In verse three, we clearly see that God is not angry with Israel, but with Damascus. Now, the question is: why is God angry with Damascus? Let’s read the last part of verse three again: “…because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron.” Let’s examine this a little further.
The Strong’s dictionary transliterates the Hebrew word used for “threshed” in the King James (dowsh/diysh) as to “trample or thresh”. The Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines thresh as to “beat out grain from the husk or pericarp with a flail; as, to thrash wheat, rye or oats.” Basically, God is saying that the people of Damascus have beat out Gilead. Now, another question is raised? To what people is God referring to when He says “Gilead”? Once again, taking a look at the Strong’s Dictionary, the Hebrew word used for Gilead (gilad) has two meanings:
1. Gilad, a region East of the Jordan.
2. (also) the name of three Israelites.
Let’s read the verse again to determine the context of this word:
“…because they have threshed Gilead.”
Here, Gilead is the direct object of the word “threshed”. Therefore, the second definition would be more appropriate in this context. Therefore, we can reasonably infer that God is talking about the Israelites. Basically, God is saying that He is angry with Damascus, because they have beat out the Israelites with “threshing instruments of iron.” So, what is God referring to here? It is not immediately apparent whether or not God is speaking figuratively or literally, here. Let’s do a little bit of word study to find out.
The Strong’s Dictionary tells me that there is only one Hebrew word used for the phrase “with threshing instruments”. Therefore, it is a little harder to decipher, since the one, simple Hebrew word transliterates to several English meaning/phrases. Here’s a snippet of the meanings in the Strong’s:
H2742 חָרוּץ charuwts (chaw-roots’) prt.
חָרֻץ charuts (chaw-roots’)
1. (properly) incised.
2. (active) incisive.
3. (as noun, masculine or feminine) a trench (as dug).
4. (also) gold (as mined).
5. (also) a threshing-sledge (having sharp teeth).
6. (figuratively) determination.
7. (also) eager.
[passive participle of H2782]
The Hebrew word used for this phrase (charuwts) has only one figurative meaning: determination. Looking at the context of the verse, we can see that this definition doesn’t fit. Definitions 3 and 4 don’t work either, since the verse is not referring to gold or a trench. Rather, the fifth definition seems to fit better than all the rest: “a threshing sledge (having sharp teeth).” This type of instrument (weapon) would only be used for punishment and/or torture. Therefore, it can be reasonably inferred that God is not speaking figuratively here; he is talking about a real, physical instrument that used to beat the Israelites.
Now the passage is starting to come together. God is angry with the people of Damascus because they beat the Israelites with harmful weapons and God is about to execute His righteous judgment on Damascus for two reasons:
- Their cruel treatment of God’s People, the Israelites
- Their wickedness and arrogance and defiance toward Almighty God
Once again, verse 3 reveals why God is angry with the people of Damascus, and verse 4 reveals the judgment of God upon the people of Damascus. Let’s read verse 4 again:
Amos 1:4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad.
Amos 1:4 (KJV)
In this verse, God says he will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad. It appears that God is talking literally in this verse, however, let’s do some word study just to be sure.
The Hebrew word used for fire in this verse (esh) can be interpreted both figuratively and literally. So that really doesn’t help us much. However, based upon the context, God says that the fire “shall devour the palaces of Benhadad.” The Hebrew word used for devour literally means “to eat.” Therefore, it can be reasonably inferred that God is talking about literal fire that will destroy, or “eat up” the palaces of Benhadad.
Now that we have cleared that up, we are left with yet another question about verse number 4: who were Hazael and Benhadad?
Thankfully, the TSK has some cross-references that reveal the identity of Hazael and Benhadad. Turn in your Bible to 1 Kings 19:15:
1Kgs 19:15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael [to be] king over Syria:
1 Kings 19:15 (KJV)
The book of 1 Kings clearly states that Hazael was king over Syria. Notice the language of the last half of the verse: “anoint Hazael [to be] king over Syria.” God chose to make Hazael the king over Syria. God was actively involved in this decision. So, if that’s the case, why would God want to send a fire that would devour Hazael? Let’s take a look at 2 Kings 8:7-15:
2Kgs 8:7 And Elisha came to Damascus; and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither.
2Kgs 8:8 And the king said unto Hazael, Take a present in thine hand, and go, meet the man of God, and enquire of the LORD by him, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?
2Kgs 8:9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels’ burden, and came and stood before him, and said, Thy son Benhadad king of Syria hath sent me to thee, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?
2Kgs 8:10 And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die.
2Kgs 8:11 And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept.
2Kgs 8:12 And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child.
2Kgs 8:13 And Hazael said, But what, [is] thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The LORD hath shewed me that thou [shalt be] king over Syria.
2Kgs 8:14 So he departed from Elisha, and came to his master; who said to him, What said Elisha to thee? And he answered, He told me [that] thou shouldest surely recover.
2Kgs 8:15 And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth, and dipped [it] in water, and spread [it] on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead.
2 Kings 8:7-15 (KJV)
It can be inferred that the events outlined in these verses take place before the events of 1 Kings 19. 2 Kings tells us what led up to the anointing of King Hazael, while 1 Kings doesn’t go into detail; it simply says that God anointed Hazael to be king over Syria. Based on verse 7, King Benhadad was king over Syria prior to King Hazael. The prophet Elisha prophesied that Benhadad would recover from his illness albeit he would still die despite his recovery. We see that in verse 11, Elisha (the man of God) wept. It is interesting to note that in verse 12, the Bible tells us that Elisha did not weep because Benhadad was going to die, Elisha wept because the Lord showed him the evil that Hazael would do to the children of Israel once he became king. It is evident that in the book of Amos, this prophecy has come to fruition and the Lord is executing his judgment on Hazael just like the prophet Elisha prophesied back in 2 Kings. Thus, Amos 1:4 is simply the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.
Now, back to the book of Amos.
Amos 1:5 I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD.
Amos 1:5 (KJV)
Here, we see that God does not just punish Hazael for his deeds, he punishes the entire nation. Let’s take a close look at the first half of that verse: “I will break also the bar of Damascus.” What bar is God referring to? Let’s take a look at the Strong’s really quickly:
H1280 בְּרִיחַ briyach (ber-ee’-ach) n-m.
KJV: bar, fugitive.
The Hebrew word used for this phrase (briyach) literally means a bolt. Basically, God would unlock or break the bolt (or hold) that the Syrians had on the Israelites and would end the torture of Syria upon the Israelites.
The middle part of verse five is very self-explanatory and it can be interpreted literally. Just for clarification, the word “sceptre” is used to refer not to a literal rod but to the leader of the house (or clan) of Eden. The last half of the verse is also very self-explanatory: “…and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir.” God prophesied that Syria would fall into the hands of Kir. Based on history, we know that the Syrians were indeed conquered, and the Babylonians were the next to conquer Israel. The Bible is definitely true, praise God!
This ends our study of Amos for today. Tomorrow, we will cover verses 5-10. On Friday, we will cover verses 10-15. On Saturday, we will post a summary of Chapter 1. I hope you enjoyed the study!