Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Amos 4:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan - Such an address was quite natural from the herdsman of Tekoa. Bashan was famous for the fertility of its soil, and its flocks and herds; and the prophet here represents the iniquitous, opulent, idle, lazy drones, whether men or women, under the idea of fatted bullocks, which were shortly to be led out to the slaughter.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Hear ye this, ye kine of Bashan - The pastures of Bashan were very rich, and it had its name probably from its richness of soil. The Batanea of later times was a province only of the kingdom of Bashan, which, with half of Gilead, was given to the half tribe of Manasseh. For the Bashan of Og included Golan Deuteronomy 4:43, (the capital of the subsequent Gaulonitis, now Jaulan) Beeshterah Joshua 21:27, (or Ashtaroth) 1 Chronicles 6:71, very probably Bostra (see ab. on 1 Chronicles 1:12), and Elrei Deuteronomy 1:4, in Hauran or Auranitis; the one on its southern border, the other perhaps on its northern boundary toward Trachonitis. Its eastern extremity at Salkah Deuteronomy 3:10; Joshua 13:11, (Sulkhad) is the southern point of Batanea (now Bathaniyyeh); Argob, or Trachonitis, (the Lejah) was its north eastern fence.

Westward it reached to Mount Hermon Deuteronomy 3:8; Joshua 12:5; Joshua 13:11; 1 Chronicles 5:23. It included the subsequent divisions, Gaulonitis, Auranitis, Batanea, and Trachonitis. Of these the mountain range on the northwest of Jaulan is still “everywhere clothed with oak-forests.” The Ard-el-Bathanyeh, “the country of Batanea or Bashan, is not surpassed in that land for beauty of its scenery, the richness of its pastures, and the extent of its oak forests.” “The Arabs of the desert still pasture their flocks on the luxuriant herbage of the Jaulan”. Its pastures are spoken of by Micah Micah 7:14 and Jeremiah Jeremiah 50:19. The animals fed there were among the strongest and fattest Deuteronomy 32:14. Hence, the male animals became a proverb for the mighty on the earth Exodus 39:18, the bulls furnished a type for fierce, unfeeling, enemies Psalm 22:12. Amos however, speaks of “kine;” not, as David, of “bulls.” He upbraids them not for fierceness, but for a more delicate and wanton unfeelingness, the fruit of luxury, fullness of bread, a life of sense, which destroy all tenderness, dull the mind, “banker out the wits,” deaden the spiritual sense.

The female name, “kine,” may equally brand the luxury and effeminacy of the rich men, or the cruelty of the rich women, of Samaria. He addresses these “kine” in both sexes, both male and female. The reproachful name was then probably intended to shame both; men, who laid aside their manliness in the delicacy of luxury; or ladies, who put off the tenderness of womanhood by oppression. The character of the oppression was the same in both cases. It was done, not directly by those who revelled in its fruits, but through the seduction of one who had authority over them. To the ladies of Samaria, “their lord” was their husband, as the husband is so called; to the nobles of Samaria, he was their king, who supplied their extravagances and debaucheries by grants, extorted from the poor.

Which oppress - Literally, “the oppressing!” The word expresses that they habitually oppressed and crushed the poor. They did it not directly; perhaps they did not know that it was done; they sought only, that their own thirst for luxury and self-indulgence should be gratified, and knew not, (as those at ease often know not now,) that their luxuries are continually watered by the tears of the poor, tears shed, almost unknown except by the Maker of both. But He counts willful ignorance no excuse. “He who doth through another, doth it himself,” said the pagan proverb. God says, they did “oppress,” were “continually oppressing, those in low estate,” and “crushing the poor” (a word is used expressing the vehemence with which they “crushed” them.) They “crushed” them, only through the continual demand of pleasures of sense, reckless how they were procured; “bring and let us drink.” They invite their husband or lord to joint self-indulgence.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
What is got by extortion is commonly used to provide for the flesh, and to fulfil the lusts thereof. What is got by oppression cannot be enjoyed with satisfaction. How miserable are those whose confidence in unscriptural observances only prove that they believe a lie! Let us see to it that our faith, hope, and worship, are warranted by the Divine word.