notes on 1:13-15

See the general remarks on this series of oracles.

Qasr Amra in contemporary Jordan from Jim Hord of Houston, Texas

People and places

The Ammonites occupied territory east of Jordan centered on Rabbah (today Amman, capital of Jordan). Archaeological evidence shows that after Israel's decline (around or just after the time of Amos) Ammon flourished, this (together with well over a hundred of biblical references including Jud 10:6-11:40; 1 Sam. 11; 2 Sam 12:26-31) suggests something of the rivalry between the two.

Gilead (see above)

Rabbah, the modern Amman, about 28Kms east of the river Jordan. Rabbah means "big" it is the only city associated with the Ammonites in the Bible.

Language and Imagery

"ripped open the pregnant women" some commentators following the medieval Rabbi Kimchi have suggested reading "hills" rather than "pregnant women" (harim הָרִים in place of harchib הַרְחִיב); however, similar phrasing in 2 Kgs 8:12; 15:16 and Hos 14:1 shows that this correction, though less shocking is not correct.
"their king... and his officials" or possibly we could read מלכם as the name of the Ammonite god "Milcom" - there is evidence for this in the earliest translations (some LXX texts and the Vulgate) - the sarim ְשָׂרִים (usually "leaders" or "princes") would then be "priests". Deporting a people's gods along with the human notables was Assyrian custom, so this reading is quite possible. However, it is not necessary, since other oracles in this series make special mention of the king.

The sound of the phrase "then their king shall go" is interesting (with its echoing of melek "king" and halak "go") it reads: "vehalak malkam" this echoing has no effect except to make the text more interesting, it is purely esthetic - but, since there is a verb גלה "go into exile" which Amos uses elsewhere, presumably intended, (vehalak malkam bagolah could have been more simply expressed as vegalah malkam).


 

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