Against Moab (Am 2:1-2:3)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Moab,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because he burned to lime

The bones

Of the king of Edom.


I will send a fire

On Moab.

It shall devour

The strongholds

Of Kerioth.

Moab shall die

Amid uproar,

Amid shouting,

Amid the sound

Of the trumpet.

I will cut off

The ruler

From its midst.

I will kill

All its officials with him.’

Says Yahweh.”

Moab was the ancient enemy of Israel on the southeast side of the Jordan River. According to Genesis, chapter 19, the Moabites were the descendants of Lot through the incest he had with his daughter. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, and Ammon. He also used the same non-forgiving numeric formula of 3 and 4, as in Proverbs, chapter 30. The Moabites apparently burned the bones of the king of Edom in lime. Edom was their southern neighbors, so that this was a terrible insulting crime. Thus, Yahweh was going to punish the people of Moab by devouring their fortresses at Kerioth. Moab was going to die in a great tumult, with uproars, shouts, and trumpets. Yahweh would kill their ruler and all their officials. This clearly was an oracle of Yahweh, via Amos.

Adultery and fornication (Deut 22:22-22:30)

“If a man is caught lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman as well as the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.”

Simple enough, adultery is punishable by death to both the man and woman, in order to purge the evil from Israel.

If there is a young woman, a virgin already engaged to be married, and a man meets her in the town and lies with her, you shall bring both of them to the gate of that town, and stone them to death. The young woman because she did not cry for help in the town.  The man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

Once again, simple enough, there is a communal stoning for anyone, male or female who is engaged, having sex with someone else, when they are not married. The woman should have cried for help. Being engaged was almost the equivalent of being the wife.

“But if in the man meets the engaged woman in the open country and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. You shall do nothing to the young woman. The young woman has not committed an offense punishable by death, because this case is like that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor. Since he found her in the open country, the engaged woman may have cried for help, but there was no one to rescue her.”

Okay, rape is wrong and punishable by death. Since no one could help the young woman in the open country, there was no blame on her. The man only has to die because rape was considered like an attack or murder.

“If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of sliver to the young woman’s father. She shall become his wife. Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives.”

If you rape a young unengaged girl, you pay the father 50 shekels. Then you now have a wife for life without any divorce.

“A man shall not marry his father’s wife, thereby violating his father’s rights.”

Sons were not to have sex with their mother or step mother, but there is no indication of any punishment for this, other than a violation of his father’s rights.

The incest of Rueben (Gen 35:22-Gen 35:22)

“While Israel dwelt in that land, Reuben went and laid with Bilhah his father’s concubine.  Israel heard of it.”

This is a strange notation.  Rueben, the oldest son of Leah, slept with his father’s concubine, Bilhah.  Bilhah was Rachel’s maid.  Her two children were Dan and Naphtali so that Reuben and Dan and Naphtali had the same father but different mothers.  So Reuben has sex with his step mother.   Now Israel heard about it, but there is nothing to indicate that he did anything about it.