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.

So,

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.

Good government (Sir 10:1-10:5)

“A wise magistrate educates his people.

The rule of an intelligent person is well ordered.

As the people’s judge is,

So are his officials.

As the ruler of the city is,

So are all its inhabitants.

An undisciplined king ruins his people.

A city becomes fit to live in

Through the understanding of its rulers.

The government of the earth

Is in the hands of the Lord.

Over it,

He will raise up the right leader

For the time.

Human success is

In the hand of the Lord.

He confers honor upon the lawgiver.”

Sirach explains why good government is so important. A wise leader educates his people. An intelligent person will have a well ordered city. The city officials get their sense of government from the judge. The inhabitants of a city get their sense of government from their ruler. Rulers are the ones who make a city livable. However, the government is in the hands of the Lord with the divine right of kings. God will then make sure that the right leader is there at the right time. The Lord holds human success in his hands. He is the one who confers honors on his legislators and scribes.