Amos 2:8 MEANING

Amos 2:8
(8) Rapacity and cruelty follow on pride, selfishness, and lust. With this verse compare the provisions of the Mosaic law (Exodus 22:25). Render, And upon garments received in pledge they stretch themselves, and for "condemned" adopt the marginal translation mulcted. The money that had been wrung from those who could not pay, or, who have been sold into slavery, is spent in rioting and feasting. The LXX. read this passage very differently, but the Masoretic text is justified by the translations of the Targum, Aquila, Symmachus, and Jerome.

In the house of their god.--Probably here, as in the previous verse, we are to understand the high places of syncretic, or heathenish, Jehovah worship as referred to. "They drank the wine of the amerced. Where? 'In the house of their God.' What hardheartedness to the wilfully forgotten poor is compensated by a little church-going! (Pusey.)

Verse 8. - The prophet condemns the cruel luxury which, contrary to the Law, made the poor debtor's necessities minister to the rich man's pleasures. They lay themselves down upon; Vulgate, accubuerunt. Ewald translates, "they cast lots upon;" but the Authorized Version is supported by the highest authorities, and gives the most appropriate meaning. The Septuagint, with which the Syriac partly agrees, refers the clause to the immoralities practised in heathen worship, which the perpetrators desired to screen from observation, Τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν δεσμεύοντες σχοινίοις παραπετάσματα ἐποίουν ἐχόμενα τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου, "Binding their clothes with cords, they made them curtains near the altar." This is far from the intention of the prophet's words. Upon clothes laid to pledge; or, taken in pledge. The "clothes" (begadim) are the large outer garments which formed poor men's dress by day and cover by night, and which, if pledged, were ordered to be returned by nightfall (Exodus 22:26, etc.; Deuteronomy 24:12, etc.). These the hardhearted usurers kept as their own, and reclined luxuriously upon them at their feasts and carousals in their temples. By every altar. At the sacrificial feasts in the temples at Dan and Bethel. They drink the wine of the condemned; Septuagint, οϊνον ἐκ συκοφαντιῶν. Wine obtained by fines extorted from the oppressed. So it is better to translate, "of such as have been fined." In the house of their god. The true God, whom they worshipped there under the symbol of the calf.

2:1-8 The evil passions of the heart break out in various forms; but the Lord looks to our motives, as well as our conduct. Those that deal cruelly, shall be cruelly dealt with. Other nations were reckoned with for injuries done to men; Judah is reckoned with for dishonour done to God. Judah despised the law of the Lord; and he justly gave them up to strong delusion; nor was it any excuse for their sin, that they were the lies, the idols, after which their fathers walked. The worst abominations and most grievous oppressions have been committed by some of the professed worshippers of the Lord. Such conduct leads many to unbelief and vile idolatry.And they laid themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar,.... That is, the clothes they took in pledge of poor people, which they should have restored before sun setting, Exodus 22:26; these they spread by every altar, of which they had many erected to their idols, and on these as on carpets they slept by them, as was usual with the Gentiles; who not only in common used to lie and sleep on garments, or carpets, or skins spread on the floor (s), but upon such in the temples of their idols, in order to obtain good dreams; so in the temple of Amphiaraus in Greece, after purgations and sacrifices to him, and to the gods whose names were engraven on the same altar, they slew a ram, and spread the skin, on which they laid themselves down, and had dreams, the signification and events of which they presently interpreted (t); and Jerom says (u), they used to spread the skins of the sacrifices, and lie upon them, that they might by dreams know things to come, which custom in the temple of Aesculapius continued to his times; and this custom might be imitated by the Jews; and so they are described by such, "who sleep in the temples of idols", in the Vulgate Latin version of Isaiah 65:4; See Gill on Isaiah 65:4; but very false it is what Strabo (w) says, that the Jews were taught this custom by Moses; telling them that such as lived soberly and righteously ought to sleep in the temple, where they might expect good dreams for themselves and others, as good gifts and signs from God, which others might not expect: or else the sense is, they laid themselves down on these clothes, and feasted on them; it being their custom at meals not to sit upright, but to recline on couches; or as the manner of the Turks and other eastern nations to sit on carpets; and it was also the custom of the Heathens to feast in their temples, and by their altars, in honour of their gods. So Herodotus relates (x), that at a festival of June with the Argives, the mother of Cleobis and Biton prayed the goddess, whom they had drawn to the temple, oxen not being ready, that she would give to them what was best for men; after which prayer, it is said, they sacrificed and "feasted"; and the young men falling asleep in the temple, never rose more, but finished this life: the deity judging it better for a man to die than to live; and this custom of feasting in idols' temples obtained, in the times of the apostles, as appears from 1 Corinthians 8:10; and which was now observed by the Israelites, with this aggravation of their sin, that they laid themselves on the garments of the poor they had taken for a pawn, when they were performing their idolatrous rites; which must be very provoking to God:

and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god: either wine which used to be given to condemned malefactors to cheer and refresh them; which custom among the Jews was founded on Proverbs 31:6; See Gill on Proverbs 31:6; See Gill on Proverbs 31:7; The manner was to put a grain of frankincense into a cup of wine, which they gave to the malefactor just as he was going to be executed, that his mind might be disturbed and become insensible; and which was usually the free gift of honourable women, out of compassion to the sufferer; and if they did it not, it was provided at the expense of the public (y); but this seems to be done rather to intoxicate and stupefy them, that they might not feel their pain and misery, than to cheer; and is thought to be the potion which was offered to Christ, and he refused, Mark 15:23; but whether such a custom obtained in the times of the prophet is a question; nor does it seem very likely that these men would choose such sort of wine; wherefore rather wine bought with the money they received by the fines and amercements of those they unjustly condemned is intended. The Targum renders it the wine of rapine; and this they were not content to drink only in their own houses, but drank it at their festivals in the temples of their idols, such as were built for the calves of Dan and Bethel, and other idols.

(s) Vid. Gloss in Aristophan. Plutum, p. 55. & Nubes, p. 125. (t) Pausanias, Attica, sive l. 1. p. 65. Vid. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 2.((u) Comment. in Isaiah 65.4. (w) Geograph. l. 16. p. 523. (x) Clio, sive l. 1. c. 31. (y) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 43. 1. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 10. fol. 198. 4. Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 13. sect. 2, 3.

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