The woes continue to be aimed at those who seem to be at leisure in both Judah (Zion) and Israel (Samaria). These top of society folks are invited to visit Calneh, Hamath and Gath, cities in their vicinity (and who representatively surround them) who have already fallen. God’s people are blind and arrogant, they refuse to repent and bring the disaster upon themselves.
Woe again to the rich. They sleep on rich beds, relax when there is work to be done, eat tender meats, sing (which we already know the Lord despises) and drink whole bowl fulls of wine! Seems a bit over the top, being so rich and wasteful that you slob wine into your mouth from a bowl, but it’s probably the right picture of these people. And they are blind to how the house of Joseph is being ruined (Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons, were given portions of land from Israel/Jacob even though they were his grandchildren not his sons). Israel (the northern kingdom, not the man) was predominantly made up of Ephraim and Manasseh, thus the reference to the ruin of Joseph.
Israel, then, will be exiled before Judah. God abhor’s their pride, their arrogance in walking so far from him and acting as if they are blessed and indestructible. He hates their self-protection (strongholds) so he will deliver their nation over to the Assyrians if that is the only way to get them to repent.
v.9-10 are a bit difficult to discern. Where a group of men remain gathered, they will die. Could be illustrative that even where men gather to defend themselves against what God is to bring they shall perish. But then some dude shows up to bury the dead and another guy shows up and asks if anyone is living and guy 1 tells guy 2 that no one lives and to shut up and don’t even mention the name of the Lord. I really love that story, I’m just not quite sure what it means. (How dare we call upon him now? Don’t speak lest he know we’re here and we die, too? Just not sure.)
This chapter ends with a re-assertion that Israel has chased a strategy that any reasonable person would know was destructive. You don’t try to plow on rocks with either your horse or oxen just like you don’t deny justice and turn it into poison, and you don’t reject righteousness (again, Amos consistently groups these together because poetry. Quit being a barbarian literalist and take in the art form the way the Lord has given it.)
They are fools because they celebrate their capture of Lo-debar and Karnaim, they are full of their own pride at these victories. Yet, God’s justice upon them will be complete from Lebo-hamath (northernmost city) to the Brook of Arabah (southernmost city). The hand of the Lord will not be able to be denied this exile will be so complete. If only they would seek Him and live.
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