on Amos 6 :2
Pass ye unto Calneh - This is, says Calmet, the Ctesiphon on the river Tigris.
Hamath - The same as Emesa. Hamath was a city on the Orontes, in Syria.
Gath - A well-known town, and head of one of the five seignories of the Philistines.
Be they better - You have no more reason to expect exemption from the consequences of your sins than they had. They have been punished; so shall you. Why then will ye trust in their gods, that could not save their own cities?
on Amos 6 :2
Pass over to Calneh - He bids them behold, east, north, and west, survey three neighboring kingdoms, and see whether God had not, even in the gifts of this world, dealt better with Israel. Why then so requite Him? "Calneh" (which Isaiah calls "Calno" Isaiah 10:9, Ezekiel, "Canneh Ezekiel 27:23), was one of the four cities, built by Nimrod "in the land of Shinar Genesis 10:10, the beginning of his kingdom." From that time, until this of Amos, no mention of it occurs. It, probably, was more than once conquered by the Assyrians , lying, as it did, on the Tigris, some 40 miles perhaps from Babylon. Hence, it was said, under its new name Ctesiphon , to have been built, that is, rebuilt, by the Macedonians , and again by the Parthians, , whose "kings made it their winter residence on account of its good air."
It was anew destroyed by Severus , rebuilt by Sapor II in the 4th Century . Julian's generals held it impregnable , being built on a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the Tigris . It became the scene of repeated persecutions of Christianity ; Nestorianism was favored . A center of Persian luxury, it tell at once and forever before Omar , and the Persian empire perished with it. It was replaced by the neighboring Bagdad. The history illustrates the tenacity of life in those well-chosen sites, and the character of the place, of whose conquest Sennacherib boasted, with which Amos compared the land of Israel.
Go thence to Hamath the great - Originally, a Canaanite kingdom Genesis 10:18. "The entrance to" it was assigned as the northern border of Israel Numbers 34:7-8; Joshua 13:5. In David's time its king was at war with the king of Zobah 2 Samuel 8:9-10, and made presents to David on his subdual. In Solomon's time it had fallen under the power of the king of Zobah, from where it was called Hamath-zobah. Solomon won it from him, incorporated it with Israel, and built towns in its territory 2 Chronicles 8:3-4. The "Hamathites" were, under their own king, united with Benhadad, the Hittites, and the Phoenicians in their war with Shalmanubar, and defeated by him . Ezekiel speaks of the "border of Damascus" and "the coast of Hamath" Ezekiel 47:16; Ezekiel 48:1, as of places of like importance, and Zechariah Zechariah 9:1-2, of their joint subdual by Alexander. To judge from the present site, it in some respects resembled Samaria. It lay in a narrow oval valley of the Orontes; its citadel on a round hill in the center.
The city rises up the steep sides of the hills which enclose it . Vast water-wheels , some of a diameter of 67 , 80, 90 feet, raise the water of the Orontes to supply, by aid of aqueducts, the upper city, or to water the neighboring gardens. : "The western part of its territory is the granary of northern Syria." Even when Antiochus Epiphanes called it after himself Epiphania, its inhabitants called it after its old name . Mention occurs of it in the crusades . In the 13th century it had its own well-known prince ; and has still a population of some 30,000 .
Gath - (Winepress) must, from its name have been situated in a rich country. It lay on the confines of Judea and Philistia, for Rehoboam fortified it as a border-fortress 2 Chronicles 11:8. It had been contrariwise fortified by the Philistines against Judah, since, when David took it "out of the hand of the Philistines," it had the title (2 Samuel 8:1, compare 1 Chronicles 18:1) "methegammah," "bridle of the mother city," or metropolis. It had at that time "daughter towns" 1 Chronicles 18:1 dependent upon it. It must also have been near Micah's birthplace, "Moresheth Gath," that is, Moresheth of Gath, which in Jerome's time was "a small village near Eleutheropolis," (Bethgabrin). Of Gath itself Jerome says , "It is one of the five cities of Philistia, near the confines of Judea, and now too a very large village on the way from Eleuthcropolis to Gaza." Eusebius says , "about the 5th milestone from Eleutheropolis to Diospolis" (Lydda).
Since the Philistines carried the ark of God from Ashdod to Gath, and thence to Ekron 1 Samuel 5:8, 1 Samuel 5:10, it seems likely that Gath lay nearer to Ashdod than Ekron, although necessarily more inland than either, since it was a border-city to Judah. The Tel-es-Safiyeh corresponds with these conditions, lying at the entrance of the Shephelah, about 5 miles from Beit-Jibrin on the road to Lydda, (Ludd). It "rises about 100 feet above the eastern ridge which it terminates, and perhaps 200 over the plain which terminates its western base. The ruins and subterranean reservoirs shew that it is a site of high antiquity, great strength, and importance." Gath had at this time probably been taken by Uzziah who "broke down" its "wall" 2 Chronicles 26:6; and since it is not mentioned with the other four Philistine cities, whose sentence is pronounced by Amos Amo 1:7-8 himself, Zephaniah ZEphesians 2:4, and Zechariah Zechariah 9:5, it is probable that it never recovered.
Be they better than these kingdoms? - The prophet seems purposely to say less than he might, in order that his hearers might have to supply the more. Calneh, Hamath, Gath, had not been more guilty against God than Ephraim, yet probably they had all been conquered: Gath by Judah; Hamath by Israel (see the note below at Amos 6:14) himself; Calneh by Assyria. Both Shalmanubar and Shamasiva conquered in Babylonia ; and Shamasiva "declares that he took above 200 towns" in Babylonia. Amos, then, upbraids Israel for their ingratitude, both as to the original gift of their good land, and its continuance. The pagan had suffered; they, the guiltier, had been spared; yet still they acted no otherwise than these pagan.
Rib.: "What spacious, what wide border have we, boundless as the life of God and eternity!" Lap.: "Our hopes and the bounds of our bliss are measured, not like those of the worldly and ungodly, by the limits of a petty time or by this dot of earth, but by the boundless space of eternity and of heaven; so that we may say confidently to the ungodly, 'Is not our border wider than your border? '"
on Amos 6 :2