The destruction of the Amorites (Am 2:9-2:10)

“Yet I destroyed

The Amorites

Before them.

Their height was

Like the height of cedar trees.

They were

As strong

As the oak trees.

I destroyed

His fruit above.

I destroyed

His roots beneath.

I brought you up

Out of the land of Egypt.

I led you forty years

In the wilderness.

Thus,

You possess

The land of the Amorites’”

The literary tone changed, as Yahweh, via Amos, reminded the people of Israel on how he had destroyed the Amorites, the people who lived in the Promise Land before the Israelites arrived. These Amorites or Canaanites were very tall like cedar trees and very strong like oak trees. However, Yahweh completely destroyed them including the fruit of their trees above ground as well as the roots of their trees beneath ground, a complete annihilation. After all, he had brought the Israelites out of Egypt. He had protected them for 40 years, while they were in the wilderness or desert. Finally, Yahweh let the Israelites possess the land of the Amorites.

Achior explains the Israelite history in Egypt (Jdt 5:10-5:16)

“When a famine spread over the land of Canaan, they went down to Egypt. They lived there as long as they had food. They became so great a multitude that their race could not be counted. So the king of Egypt became hostile to them. He exploited them. He forced them to make bricks. They cried out to their God. Their God afflicted the whole land of Egypt with incurable plagues. So the Egyptians drove them out of their sight. Then God dried up the Red Sea before them. He led them by the way of Sinai and Kadesh-barnea. They drove out all the people of the wilderness. They took up residence in the land of the Amorites. By their might they destroyed all the inhabitants of Heshbon. Then they crossed over the Jordan and took possession of all the hill country. They drove out before them the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Shechemites, and all the Gergesites. They have lived there a long time.”

Achior tells the story of how these Israelites went to Egypt and came back.   Once again, there is no mention of a specific leader like Joseph, Moses, or Joshua. The Israelites were in a famine and went to Egypt, where they became a great race. However, the king of Egypt turned on them and forced them to make bricks. In their struggle, they cried out to their God, who then inflicted the Egyptians with plagues. Then the Egyptians drove them out as their God dried up the Red Sea. They even drove out the people in the wilderness. They took the land of the Amorites around Heshbon. Then they crossed the Jordan and defeated the traditional enemies, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Shechemites, and all the Gergesites. This is the Exodus story with an emphasis on how they got to Egypt and who they wiped out along the way. Apparently, they had lived in Canaan a long time.

 

Ezra explains the landing in the Promised Land (Neh 9:22-9:25)

“You gave them kingdoms and peoples.

You allotted to them every corner.

They took possession of the land of King Sihon of Heshbon.

They took possession of the land of King Og of Bashan.

You multiplied their descendants like the stars of heaven.

You brought them into the land

That you had told their ancestors to enter and possess.

The descendants went in and possessed the land.

You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites.

You gave them into their hands,

With their kings and the peoples of the land.

Thus they might do with them as they pleased.

They captured fortified cities and a rich land.

They took possession of houses filled with all sorts of goods.

They took possession of hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive orchards

And fruit trees in abundance.

They ate.

They were filled.

They became fat.

They delighted themselves in your great goodness.”

Our ancestors got to the Promised Land. They took possession of the kingdoms of Heshbon and Bashan on the east side of the Jordan. Their descendents became as numerous as the stars. They took over the land and the people inhabited by the Canaanites. They captured the fortified cities and the rich land. They took possession of the cisterns, the vineyards, and the olive trees already there. They ate and became fat. They delighted themselves with the great goodness that they had received.

 

Marriages with foreigners (Ezra 9:1-9:4)

“After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said. ‘The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations. They were intermingling with the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons. Thus the holy seed has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. In this faithlessness the officials and leaders have led the way.’ When I heard this, I tore my garments and my mantle. I pulled hair from my head and beard. I sat appalled. Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered round me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice.”

Once they were settled, a new problem arose. The returning Jews from the exile were marrying the locals who had stayed behind, the hated “people of the land.” Not only the Jews in general but also the priests, the Levites, the officials, and the leaders were involved in marriages with non-Jewish people. Some of them were not Jews but the hated list of the usual suspects, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. Now this had not been a problem for Moses or King Solomon since they married non-Jewish wives. The fear as usual was that the female wives would want to worship their gods rather than Yahweh. Thus these wily females would lead astray the poor weak Jewish men into false worship. This had been a problem in the northern area of Israel before the captivity. The new post-exilic group wanted a pure race of Jewish people. They did not want the holy seed mixed with “the people of the land.” When Ezra found out about this, he was really upset. He tore his clothes and pulled his hair out. As he said in the first person singular, “I was appalled.”

People nations that remained in Canaan (Judg 3:1-3:6)

“Now these are the nations that Yahweh left, to test all those in Israel who had no experience of any war in Canaan. It was only that successive generations of Israelites might know war, to teach those who had no experience of it before. The five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as the Lebo-hamath. They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of Yahweh, which he commanded their ancestors by Moses. So the Israelites lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. They took their daughters as wives for themselves, and their own daughters they gave to their sons. They worshipped their gods.”

Once again we have the traditional enemies that came be found as far back as Genesis, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The Israelites needed to learn about war and so they were tested. Yahweh let these 6 groups remain. However, 2 new groups were added, the Philistines and the Sidonians. The Israelites were not following Yahweh’s law because they intermarried with these other groups and worshipped their gods, a very serious transgression.