But seek not Beth-el - There was one of Jeroboam's golden calves, and at Gilgal were carved images; both were places in which idolatry was triumphant. The prophet shows them that all hope from those quarters is utterly vain; for Gilgal shall go into captivity, and Beth-el be brought to naught. There is a play or paronomasia on the letters and words in this clause: לאון יהיה אל ובית יגלה גלה הגלגל haggilgal galoh yigleh, ubeith el yiheyeh leaven . "This Gilgal shall go captive into captivity; and Beth-el (the house of God) shall be for Beth-aven," (the house of iniquity.)
But (and) seek not Bethel - Israel pretended to seek God in Bethel. Amos sets the two seeking, as incompatible. The god, worshiped at Bethel, was not the One God. To seek God there was to lose Him. “Seek not God,” he would say, “and a phantom, which will lead from God.”
And pass not to Beersheba - Jeroboam I pretended that it was too much for Israel to go up to Jerusalem. And Yet Israel thought it not too much to go to the extremest point of Judah toward Idumaea, perhaps, four times as far south of Jerusalem, as Jerusalem lay from Bethel. For Beersheba is thought to have lain some thirty miles south of Hebron, which is twenty-two miles south of Jerusalem; while Bethel is but twelve to the north. So much pains will people take in self-willed service, and yet not see that it takes away the excuse for neglecting the true. At Beersheba, Abraham “called upon the name of the Lord, the everlasting God” Genesis 21:33. There God revealed Himself to Isaac and Jacob Genesis 26:23-24; Genesis 46:1. There, because He had so revealed Himself, Judah made a place of idolatry, which Israel, seeking nought besides from Judah, sought. Beersheba was still a town or large village in the time of Jerome. Now all is swept away, except “some foundations of ruins,” spread over 34 of a mile, “with scarcely one stone upon another”. The wells alone remain, with the ancient names.
Gilgal shall surely go into captivity - The verbal allusions in the prophets are sometimes artificial; sometimes, they develop the meaning of the word itself, as when Zephaniah says, “Ekron (probably the “firm-rooting”) “shall be uprooted” Zephaniah 2:4; sometimes, as here, the words are connected, although not the same. In all cases, the likeness of sound was calculated to fix them in men‘s memories. It would be so, if one with authority could say, “Paris perira”, “Paris shall perish” or “London is undone.” Still more would the words, Hag-gilgal galo yigleh, because the name Gilgal still retained its first meaning, “the great rolling, and the word joined with it had a kindred meaning. Originally it probably means, “swept clear away.” God first “rolled away the reproaeh of Egypt” Joshua 5:9 from His people there. Then, when it made itself like the pagan, it should itself be rolled clear away Jeremiah 51:25. Gilgal was originally in Benjamin, but Israel had probably annexed it to itself, as it had Bethel and Jericho 1 Kings 16:34, both of which had been assigned by Joshua to Benjamin Joshua 18:21-22.
And Bethel shall come to nought - Hosea had called “Bethel, God‘s house,” by the name of “Bethaven Hosea 4:15; Hosea 10:5, Vanity-house.” Amos, in allusion to this probably, drops the first half of the name, and says that it shall not merely be “house of vanity,” but “Aven, vanity” itself. “By sin the soul, which was the house or temple of God, becomes the temple of vanity and of devils.”
“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things?
Prudent, and he shall know them?
For the ways of the Lord are right,
And the just shall walk in them:
But the transgressors shall fall therein.” PK 284.1
Hosea 14:4-9. PK 284
The benefits of seeking God were strongly urged. “Seek ye Me,” the Lord invited, “and ye shall live: but seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.” PK 284.2Read in context »