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Verse 3

Amos 1:3. For three transgressions, &c. The prophet first denounces judgments against foreign countries, and afterward comes to Judah and Israel. He begins with Syria, the head or capital city of which was Damascus. By the expression, for three transgressions and for four, used here, and repeatedly afterward, he means, many or multiplied transgressions, a certain number being put, according to a very common way of speaking, for an uncertain. So we read, Job 5:19, He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven no evil shall touch thee: see the like phrase, Proverbs 6:16; Ecclesiastes 11:2; Micah 5:5. Once and twice are used, Psalms 62:11; twice and thrice, Job 33:29, (Hebrews) So that the meaning here is, that on account of the frequent transgressions of Damascus, God was now resolved no longer to spare it. Because they have thrashed Gilead, &c. This alludes to the thrashing- drag, or thrashing-wain, used in the eastern countries, and described in the note on Isaiah 28:27, which see. These instruments, being drawn by horses, or oxen, over the corn-sheaves spread on the floor, were proper and significant emblems of the tyrannical power of Syria, which cruelly oppressed and crushed the weak Gileadites, and other Israelites. It is probable that the cruelties exercised on them by Hazael and Ben-hadad, kings of Syria, are chiefly intended. The fact is recorded 2 Kings 10:32-33; 2 Kings 13:3-7, where it is said that Hazael made them like the dust by thrashing.

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