Amos 1:5 MEANING

Amos 1:5
(5) I will break . . .--The "bar" means the bolt of iron or brass with which the city was defended. But it is possible that it may be used of persons, i.e., princes or leaders (comp. Hosea 4:18; Hosea 11:6); and this seems confirmed by the parallelism. The plain or valley cleft between Libanus and Antilibanus is still called by the Arabs by a name closely resembling the rendering in the margin, "the valley." It is probable that the word rendered "vanity," (aven) is simply a Masoretic reading, and not what Amos intended. It is better to follow the LXX. and read the word On (as in Ezekiel 30:17), the reference being to the Temple of Baalbec, then in ruins, the Syrian Heliopolis. (Comp. Hosea 4:15.)[16] The site of Beth-eden (house of Eden) cannot be satisfactorily determined. Kir is the region of the river Cyrus, or, perhaps, the E. of the Upper Euphrates (see Amos 9:7). (2 Kings 16:9, we see fulfilment of this doom.)

[16] On the other hand the Masoretic reading seems to have been suggested (if not confirmed) by Amos 5:5, where LXX. read aven.

Verse 5. - The bar which secured the gate of the city (1 Kings 4:13; Jeremiah 51:30; Nahum 3:13). Breaking the bar is equivalent to laying the place open to the enemy. From the plain of Avon; Vulgate, de campo idoli; Hebrew, bikath-Aven; Septuagint, ἐκ πεδίου Ων; better, from the valley of Aven, or vanity, perhaps so called analogously with Hosea's naming Bethel, Bethaven, "House of God" and "House of vanity" (Hosea 5:8). Robinson ('Bibl. Res.,' 677) and Pusey refer the name to a valley between Lebanon and Antilibanus, a continuation of the Arabah, still called Bukaa, in the middle of which stood Baalbec, "the Temple of the sun of the valley," called Heliopolis by Greek and Roman writers (see 'Classical Museum,' 3:136). The LXX. Renders "On" in Genesis 41:45 by "Heliopolis;" and On and Baal being both titles of the sun, and indeed synonymous, the introduction of "On" into this passage may be accounted for. Him that holdeth the sceptre. The king and princes, as ver. 8. From the house of Eden; Hebrew, Beth-Eden, "House of delight;" Vulgate, de domo voluptatis; Septuagint, ἐξ ἀνδρῶν Ξαῥῤάν, "out of the men of Charran." This last rendering arises from considering that the reference was to the Eden of Genesis 2, which the translators placed in the region of Haran. The place in the text Keil supposes to be the Paradisus of the Greeks, which Ptolemy (5:15, 20) locates southeast of Laodicea. Schrader suggests a place on the banks of the middle Euphrates between Balis and Biredschich called Bit-Adini in inscriptions of Asurnasirhabal and Salmanassur II. But this seems to be a wrong locality (see 'Die Keilinschriften,' p. 327). The passage means that all the inhabitants of valley and city, king and peasant, shall be cut off. Shall go into captivity. The word implies that the land shall be "stripped" or "bared" of its inhabitants. Wholesale deportation had not hitherto been common in these regions. Kir has been identified with the country on the banks of the river Kar, which flows into the Araxes on the southwest of the Caspian Sea. It forms part of the territory known as Transcaucasia. From this region the Syrians originally emigrated (Amos 9:7), and back to this land a large body were carried when Tiglath-Pileser, some fifty years later, killed Rezin and sacked Damascus, as related in 2 Kings 16:9. Saith the Lord. This is the solemn confirmation of the prophet's announcement, and recurs in vers. 8, 15 and Amos 2:3.

1:18-21 There shall be abundant Divine influences, and the gospel will spread speedily into the remotest corners of the earth. These events are predicted under significant emblems; there is a day coming, when every thing amiss shall be amended. The fountain of this plenty is in the house of God, whence the streams take rise. Christ is this Fountain; his sufferings, merit, and grace, cleanse, refresh, and make fruitful. Gospel grace, flowing from Christ, shall reach to the Gentile world, to the most remote regions, and make them abound in fruits of righteousness; and from the house of the Lord above, from his heavenly temple, flows all the good we daily taste, and hope to enjoy eternally.I will break also the bar of Damascus,.... Or bars, the singular for the plural, by which the gates of the city were barred; and, being broken, the gates would be easily opened, and way made for the enemy to pass into the city and spoil it; or it may signify the whole strength and all the fortifications of it. So the Targum,

"I will break the strength of Damascus:''

and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven; or, "of an idol", as the Vulgate Latin version. It is thought to be some place where idols were worshipped by the Syrians; their gods were the gods of the valleys, which they denied the God of Israel to be, 1 Kings 20:23. Mr. Maundrell (g) says, that near Damascus there is a plain still called the valley of Bocat, and which he thinks is the same with this Bicataven, as it is in the Hebrew text; and which lies between Libanus and Antilibanus, near to the city, of Heliopolis and the Septuagint and Arabic versions here call this valley the plain of On, which Theodoret interprets of an idol called On. Father Calmet (h) takes it to be the same with Heliopolis, now called Balbec, or Baalbeck, the valley of Baal; where was a famous temple dedicated to the sun, the magnificent remains whereof are still at this day visible. Balbec is mentioned by the Arabians as the wonder of Syria; and one of their lexicographers says it is three days' journey from Damascus, where are wonderful foundations, and magnificent vestiges of antiquity, and palaces with marble columns, such as in the whole world are nowhere else to be seen; and such of our European travellers as have visited it are so charmed with what they beheld there, that they are at a loss how to express their admiration. On the southwest of the town, which stands in a "delightful plain" on the west foot of Antilibanus, is a Heathen temple, with the remains of some other edifices, and, among the rest, of a magnificent palace (i): Some late travellers (k) into these parts tell us, that

"upon a rising ground near the northeast extremity of this "plain", and immediately under Antilibanus, is pleasantly situated the city of Balbec, between Tripoli of Syria, and Damascus, and about sixteen hours distant from each.----This plain of Bocat (they say) might by a little care be made one of the richest and most fertile spots in Syria; for it is more fertile than the celebrated vale of Damascus, and better watered than the rich plains of Esdraelon and Rama. In its present neglected state it produces grain, some good grapes, but very little wood.--It extends in length from Balbec almost to the sea; its direction is from northeast by north, to southwest by south; and its breadth from Libanus to Antilibanus is guessed to be in few places more than twelve miles, or less than six.''

It seems to be the same with Bicatlebanon, or the valley of Lebanon, Joshua 11:17; and with that which Strabo (l) calls the hollow plain; the breadth of which to the sea (he says) is twenty five miles, and the length from the sea to the midland is double that:

and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden; that is, the king from his pleasure house; or it may be understood of the name of some place in Syria, where the kings of it used sometimes to be, and had their palace there, called Betheden; and it seems there is still a place near Damascus, on Mount Libanus, called Eden, as the above traveller says; and Calmet (m) takes it to be the same that is here spoken of:

and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the Lord; which last clause is added for the certainty of it, and accordingly it was punctually fulfilled; for in the times of Rezin, which was about fifty years after this prophecy of Amos, though Kimchi says but twenty five, Tiglathpileser king of Assyria came up against Damascus, took it, and carried the people captive to Kir, 2 Kings 16:9. The Targum and Vulgate Latin version call it Cyrene, which some understand of Cyrene in Egypt; see Acts 2:10; but this cannot be, since it was in the hands of the king of Assyria; but rather Kir in Media is meant; see Isaiah 22:6; which was under his dominion; and so Josephus says (n), that he carried captive the inhabitants of Damascus into Upper Media.

(g) Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 119, 120. Ed. 7. (h) Dictionary, in the word "Heliopolis". (i) Universal History, vol. 2. p. 266. (k) Authors of "The Ruins of Balbec". (l) Geograph. l. 16. p. 519. (m) Dictionary, in the word "Eden". (n) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 12. sect. 3.

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