Against Damascus (Am 1:3-1:5)

“Thus Says Yahweh.

For three transgressions

Of Damascus,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

They have threshed Gilead

With threshing sledges

Of iron.

So,

I will send a fire

On the house of Hazael.

It shall devour

The strongholds of Ben-hadad.

I will break the gate bars

Of Damascus.

I will cut off

The inhabitants

From the Valley of Aven.

I will cut of

The one who holds

The scepter from Beth-eden.

The people of Syria

Shall go into exile

To Kir.’

Says Yahweh.”

In typical prophetic language, Amos said that that Yahweh had spoken to him about Damascus, one of the neighbors of the northern kingdom of Israel, the Syrian capital city, about 130 miles northeast of Jerusalem, fairly close to the older northeastern territory of Manasseh. Damascus was under Aramean rule from 950-732 BCE, so that it is often referred to in the Bible as Aram instead of Syria. However, the Assyrian people conquered them in 732 BCE. The idea of numbering iniquities could be found later in the numerical Proverbs, chapter 30, talking about 3 and 4 things. The fact that Amos ranted against the neighbors of Israel was like Isaiah in chapter 17. These people of the north had defeated Gilead in 2 Kings, chapter 10. Hazel and Ben-hadad III were rulers in Damascus. The Valley of Aven or On was near Lebanon. They would be exiled to Kir, the place of their origins.

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Against the Ammonites (Ezek 25:1-25:2)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Set your face

Toward the Ammonites,

Prophesy against them.’”

Now there are a series of oracles against the various countries around Israel and Judah. As usual, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. He was to set his face against the Ammonites and prophesy against them. Who are the Ammonites? In the biblical sense, they are the descendants of Ammon, the son of Lot from the incest incident with his daughter in Genesis, chapter 19. They seem to have been east of the Jordan and north of Moab, but south of Assyria. The country of Ammon existed from about the 10th century to the 4th century BCE in what would have been the Gad territory as outlined in Joshua, chapter 13. Today it is part of the country of Jordan. Jeremiah, chapter 49, had also spoken out against them. They along with the Moabites were the constant enemies of Judah and Israel. At some point, they became part of the Assyrian empire and eventually ceased to exist. They certainly were related to Canaan and spoke a Semitic language.