Monday, February 1, 2016
Judgment to Come on Israel’s Neighbors
“The words of Amos, who was among the herdsmen 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. And he said, Jehovah will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the pastures of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.” (Amos 1:1-2)
According to Amos’ statement, these prophecies were given between 760 and 750 BC according to geologists and archaeologists. Under Jeroboam II, Israel had entered her final decline although they would not be destroyed by the Assyrians for about another sixty years. Under Uzziah, Judah was serving God and would continue to do so through Jotham’s reign. The prophecies relate to both Israel and Judah as well as their neighboring countries. God will speak from Jerusalem and the temple, and there will be drought in the mountains and pasture lands of Israel, with the trees dying on Mount Carmel., even though it is right on the coast and would normally have plenty of moisture.
“Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Damascus, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron: but I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, and it shall devour the palaces of Ben-hadad. And I will break the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the valley 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 Jehovah.” (Amos 1:3-5)
Abraham was originally a Syrian and for centuries, there had been close contact between Israel and Syria. After the split between Israel and Judah there had been serious conflicts between Syria and Israel, with Syria repeatedly invading Israel under the leadership of Benhadad and his successors. God said the entire Syrian royal family would be destroyed and the Syrian people taken in to slavery to Kir. The Assyrians routinely relocated the people they conquered to prevent them uniting and breaking away. Tiglath-pileser later conquered Syria and relocated a large contingent of the Syrians. Some think they were relocated to a region of northeastern Armenia along the Kur river, while others think they were relocated to Kir-heres in Moab. Amos’ prophecy against Moab in Amos 2:1 certainly leaves the possibility for them to have been relocated to Moab. .
“Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Gaza, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole people, to deliver them up to Edom: but I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, and it shall devour the palaces thereof. And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon; and I will turn my hand against Ekron; and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord Jehovah.” (Amos 1:6-8)
Throughout the centuries, the Philistines had repeatedly attacked Israel, and that continued up until the collapse of Israel. When Judah was fighting Edom to the south east, the Philistines attacked from the west, splitting their forces and giving Edom the victory. They would be punished for their rejection of God and repeated attacks on his people.
“Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Tyre, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole people to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant: but I will send a fire on the wall of Tyre, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.” (Amos 1:9-10)
In David and Solomon’s times there had been a close alliance between Israel and the Zidonians, Later, the Phoenicians would occupy those cities and turn on Israel, aiding their enemies and forgetting the former treaties. As a result Tyre would be completely destroyed. When it was rebuilt, it was relocated to an island just off the coast for protection. Later the ruins of the original city were used to build a causeway to enable the Greeks to conquer the city again.
“Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Edom, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever: but I will send a fire upon Teman, and it shall devour the palaces of Bozrah. “ (Amos 1:11-12)
Esau’s descendants, the Edomites occupied the area south and east of the dead sea. After the split between Judah and Israel, they attacked repeatedly, doing their very best to wipe out the entire nation. Their rejection of God and repeated attacks on Israel would be punished with the Edomite kingdom being conquered and eventually taken over by the Nabateans.
“Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they may enlarge their border. But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind; and their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith Jehovah.” (Amos 1:13-15)
The Ammonites were descendants of Abraham’s nephew, Lot. They had long been bitter enemies of Israel and Judah, attacking the area east of the Jordan and murdering the inhabitants in an effort to expand their territory. They would be conquered and the rulers carried away as captives, as if by a fire or tornado. Their capital, Rabbah was on the site of the present capitol of Jordan, Amman.
“Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Moab, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime: but I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth; and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet; and I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith Jehovah.” (Amos 2:1-3)
The Moabites were also descendants of Lot. Like the Ammonites, they had been cruel enemies of Israel, but they had been equally cruel to the Edomites, even breaking open their graves and burning the bones of their ancestors. Moab would be destroyed in battle, and the entire nation would die and be forgotten. They would not even have a major city, such as Amman named after them to remind people of their existence.