on Amos 2 :8
on Amos 2 :8
They lay themselves down - They condensed sin. By a sort of economy in the toil of sinning, they blended many sins in one; idolatry, sensuality, cruelty, and, in all, the express breach of God's commandments. The "clothes" here are doubtless the same as the "raiment" in the law, the large enfolding cloak, which by day was wrapped over the long loose shirt , the poor man's only dress besides, and by night was his only bedding Exodus 22:26-27. God had expressly commanded, "If the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge" Deuteronomy 24:12-13; in any case "thou shalt deliver him the pledge again, when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee; and it shall be righteousness to thee before the Lord thy God." Here the "garments laid to pledge" are treated as the entire property of the creditors.
They "stretch" their listless length along upon them in their idol-feasts "by every altar." Ezekiel speaks of a "stately bed," upon which they "sat, and a table prepared before it" Ezekiel 23:41. Isaiah; "Upon a lofty and high mountain, hast thou set up thy bed; even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice; thou hast enlarged thy bed; thou hast loved their bed; thou providedst room" Isaiah 57:7-8. In luxury and state then, and withal in a shameless publicity, they "lay on the garments" of the despoiled "by every altar." The multiplication of altars Hosea 8:11; Hosea 10:1; Hosea 12:11 was, in itself, sin. By each of these multiplied places of sin they committed fresh sins of luxury and hard-heartedness, (perhaps, from the character of the worship of nature, yet grosser sins,) "and drink the wine of the condemned," or (as the English margin more exactly) "the amerced," those whom, unjustly, persons in any petty judicial authority had "amerced," expending in revelry and debanchery in the idol's temple what they had unjustly extorted from the oppressed.
There is no mask too transparent to serve to hide from himself one who does not wish to see himself. Nothing serves so well as religion for that self-deceit, and the less there is of it, or the more one-sided it is, the better it serves. For the narrower it is, the less risk of impinging on the awful reality of God's truth; and half a truth as to God is mostly, a lie which its half-truth makes plausible. So this dreadful assemblage of cruelty, avarice, malice, mockery of justice, unnatural debauchery, hard-heartedness, was doubtless smoothed over to the conscience of the ten tribes by that most hideous ingredient of all, that "the house of their god" was the place of their ill-purchased revelry. People do not serve their idols for nothing; this costly service at Bethel was not for nought. They did all these things; but they did something for "the Deity" or "Nature" or "Ashtoreth;" and so "the Deity" was to be at peace with them. Amos, with wonderful irony, marks the ghastly mixture of sin and worship, "they drank the wine of the amerced" - where? "in the house of their God," condemning in five words their luxury, oppression, perversion of justice, cruelty, profaneness, unreal service and real apostasy. What hard-heartedness to the willfully-forgotten poor is compensated by a little Church-going!
on Amos 2 :8
2:8 Lay down - The Jews of old did not sit upright at their meals, but leaned on one side. Upon clothes - Of which the law had expressly said, none should detain them all night, Deut 24:12,13. Every altar - Of their idols. Drink the wine - They offer their drink - offerings in wine, which they bought with the fines laid on the innocent.