AMOS - CHAPTER 5
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2002 James Melough
“Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of
The prophet declares his
intention to continue, as God’s spokesman, exposing Israel’s many sins, while
at the same time uttering a dirge, and thus making it clear that there was no
hope for the rebellious nation - she was as good as dead, having crossed over
the invisible line which separates God’s mercy from His righteous wrath.
While, however, there was no
hope for the nation, salvation, then as now, was available to repentant
individuals who would forsake their sin, and trust in God.
Her fate is simply a
foreshadowing of that which is about to overtake today’s even more sinful
world in the fast approaching Tribulation. She too has passed beyond the pale
“The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise; she is forsaken upon
her land; there is none to raise her up.”
Clearly the word “virgin”
describes her state when God first redeemed her to Himself out of Egyptian
bondage. That one-time virgin nation had become an ungrateful, idolatrous
harlot, worthy only of death.
Some understand the term
“virgin” to refer to her state as a nation which had not yet been conquered.
“... she shall no more rise”
must be understood in context. The nation, as represented by that sinful
generation, would be destroyed; but other sinful generations would arise, each
one having within it a small believing remnant, as did that generation
addressed by Amos, and out of the Tribulation judgments God will yet bring
forth a repentant, converted Israel, a remnant, that will inherit millennial
and also eternal blessings.
Other generations did in fact
arise, one of them being that which rejected and crucified the Lord, and which
was also destroyed in AD 70. And for the past two thousand years generation
has succeeded generation; each one sinful and unbelieving, but having within
it a small believing remnant, the one upon which the world today should focus
its attention being that which has been regathering in Israel since 1948, for
Scripture makes it clear, see Mt 24, that that generation will be the one to
be the vortex of the terrible Tribulation judgments, out of which will emerge
the new believing Israel that will enter the Millennium.
It is to be noted that
Israel’s past judgments - the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, those
suffered under Antiochus Epiphanes, and at the hand of Rome under Titus in AD
70, are themselves foreshadowings of that final and now imminent Tribulation
judgment which will destroy, not only the present unbelieving generation of
Israel, but of the Gentile nations as well. Out of that destruction, however,
God will bring a believing remnant, not only of Israel, but also of the
Gentile nations, they being those who will remain on the earth to enjoy
Christ’s millennial reign.
Under the figure of a dying
woman, lying on the ground, with none to help her, God presents us with a
picture of the Israel to whom Amos spoke. The nation was as good as dead
already. Nothing could avert the judgment of the Almighty.
Spiritually blind eyes fail to
see that today’s corrupt world is also set before us in that dramatic picture,
her judgment being no less certain than was that of Israel long ago.
“For thus saith the Lord God; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave
an hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, to the
house of Israel.”
This is the figurative
description of the extent of the slaughter that would result from the coming
judgment: out of a thousand fighting men who would go out against the enemy
sent by God as His instrument, only a hundred would survive; and out of a
hundred, only ten.
War, famine, and disease will
decimate the population of the world in the coming Tribulation, e.g., the two
hundred million-man army from the east will annihilate a third of the earth’s
people, see Re 9:16-18. In addition, millions more will be swept away by
disease and famine.
It is a dreadful thing to make
oneself the object of the wrath of Almighty God!
“For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall
This is not to be understood
as indicating that there was still opportunity for that generation of Israel
to repent: there wasn’t. Her doom was sealed. It is, rather, the
annunciation of the principle by which men can be saved; but the necessary
repentance must come in God’s time, and the Israel to whom Amos spoke had
already passed beyond that time. God’s priceless gift of life was no longer
available to that unrepentant generation.
The same state marks our
present evil world. A few individuals here and there are being saved, but
they are pitifully few. The vast majority of the world’s population is in
exactly the same spiritual state as was the Israel to whom Amos spoke. Look
at the magnificent “temples” erected by the worshipers of Mammon - the
palatial buildings housing the giant corporations devoted to the ruthless
accumulation of wealth.
Consider the equally
magnificent structures devoted to the worship of the goddess Pleasure - the
ballparks, the football stadiums, the various other sports arenas. View the
theaters which accommodate the devotees of music, dance, stage and screen,
etc., all part of the worship of Pleasure.
Nor should we overlook the
hallowed halls of learning. While most are less palatial than those just
mentioned, they make up in size what they lack in grandeur, many of them
having student populations equal to that of some towns or small cities. The
worshipers of Learning are no less numerous and devoted than are the votaries
of Money and Pleasure.
And like the Israel rebuked by
the prophet, in the midst of all this idolatry they still maintain the charade
of also worshiping God, while at the same time outlawing prayer and the study
of His Word in the schools!
“But seek not Beth-el, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beer-sheba: for
Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Beth-el shall come to nought.”
The Amplified translation of
this verse is, “But seek not [the golden calf at] Bethel, nor enter into
[idolatrous] Gilgal, and pass not over to [the idols of] Beer-sheba; for
Gilgal shall surely go into captivity and exile, and Bethel [house of God]
shall become Bethaven [house of vanity, emptiness, falsity and futility] and
come to nothing.”
Were it not recorded in
Scripture it would be difficult to believe that the places once associated
with the worship of God should have become the centers of evil. Bethel,
meaning God’s house, where God had revealed Himself to Jacob, and which
later became the place where the tribes of Israel gathered to present their
worship, had become the place where they, now become idolatrous, bowed before
a golden calf idol, and worshiped the Baalim, which was in reality to worship
What transformation had come
to Gilgal! It was the place where redeemed Israel, having crossed dry-shod
over a miraculously divided Jordan, to enter Canaan, had set up the memorial
cairn, where the rite of circumcision (the symbolic cutting off of the flesh)
was renewed, where they first ate the corn of the land God had given them, and
to which they constantly returned to offer thanks to Him for the victories
given them in their wars with the Canaanites in the days of Joshua. But
another generation had replaced that early one, and they had forgotten all
God’s blessings. The evil deeds of the flesh, once symbolically cut off
there, had now proliferated and were shamelessly practiced by priest and
people alike. The place that once spoke of reproach rolled away, had itself
become a reproach!
Beer-sheba meaning well of
the oath, the place associated with Abraham, the father of the nation, the
friend of God, had likewise become a center of evil where Abraham’s
descendants bowed to worship idols.
Israel’s sin has been
duplicated by Christendom. God’s earthly house, the professing but apostate
church, now also bows before the false gods mentioned above. The sacred rites
- baptism and the Lord’s supper - appointed for the Church, and foreshadowed
in the activity associated with Gilgal, have become a travesty. (Baptism is
symbolically portrayed in Israel’s crossing Jordan; and the Lord’s supper, in
their eating the corn of Canaan).
What Beer-sheba portrays (the
Scriptures which are the living water of the Word as ministered by the Holy
Spirit), has fared no better in the hands of apostate Christendom, for it is
either totally neglected, or made to justify every conceivable form of sin.
And as God’s judgment fell upon rebel Israel, so will it also just as surely
fall upon this present evil world.
“Seek the Lord, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of
Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.”
The comments on verse four
apply to the first part of this verse also. The generation addressed by Amos
had passed irrevocably beyond hope of mercy.
The nation Israel is often
referred to in Scripture either as Jacob or Israel, but seldom as Joseph, and
since God never acts capriciously, there must be a reason for His describing
them here as “the house of Joseph.” Connected with the name Israel is that
which relates to the spirit; and with Jacob, what relates to the flesh; but
Joseph appears to relate to Israel as she will be in the Tribulation and in
the Millennium, for it isn’t difficult to see in the testings that marked the
first part of Joseph’s life, foreshadowings, not only of what befell the Lord
during His earthly life, but also of what will befall the believing remnant in
the Tribulation. Nor is it difficult to see in Joseph’s later exaltation, not
only that of the Lord Jesus Christ, but of the believing remnant that will
emerge from the Tribulation as the new Israel to which all the nations will be
subject in the Millennium.
If this is correct, then the
warning would be to millennial Israel, the necessity of that warning being
revealed in the fact that even in that halcyon age there will develop also an
apostate Israel, and apostate Gentiles, whose allegiance to God will be
feigned, and whose destruction will be to perish as described in Re 20:9, “...
and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
“Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,”
God’s warning is here directed
to those who perverted justice, so that while the corruption of the law courts
was as the bitter poison of wormwood to the helpless victims of the corrupt
system, it would also be as poison to Israel: God was about to destroy her.
Another translation of “leave
off righteousness in the earth,” is “You cast down righteousness to the
earth,” in other words, righteousness meant nothing to them. All they cared
about were the accumulation of riches by fair means or foul, and the
gratification of every lust.
“Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of
death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for
the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The
Lord is his name:”
It is small wonder that the
science of astronomy has been largely discredited in the eyes of Christians,
by the Satanic counterfeit, astrology, for careful scholars have provided
abundant evidence that before there was written language God revealed Himself
and His great plan of salvation in the constellations. For those interested
in studying this matter in more detail the following books will be very
helpful: The Witness of the Stars by E.W. Bullinger and published by
Kregel; The Gospel in the Stars by Joseph A. Seiss also published by
Kregel; and God’s Voice in the Stars by Kenneth C. Fleming, published
by Loizeaux Brothers. I strongly recommend Fleming’s book because it is
concise, free from unnecessary technical detail, and very easy to understand.
The prophet, with good cause,
urges Israel and all men to seek to know the God Who has created the
constellations, and placed them in just the right position in the heavens so
that they display His wondrous plan of salvation through the vicarious death
and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That same God is the One, Who
through the death and resurrection of His Son, changes the darkness of death
into the light of eternal life for everyone who trusts that Son as Savior.
But for those who refuse to avail themselves of His mercy He has also the
power to change the brief day of earthly life into the unfathomable darkness
of an eternal night in hell and the lake of fire.
He is the God Who causes the
sea water to ascend into the atmosphere, where He purges it of its deadly
salt, and causes it to fall back upon the earth as life-giving rain. Nor do
spiritually enlightened minds have any difficulty seeing in that process a
typological picture of what occurs at conversion. The sea’s restless waters
represent earth’s unconverted masses, see Isa 57:20, “The wicked are like the
troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.”
That water drawn up out of the
ocean into the realm of the air represents men and women born of the Spirit,
and lifted up into the sphere of the Spirit at the moment of conversion; but
then, like the literal water drawn up by evaporation, and returning in the
form of rain and dew to bring life to the earth, so are believers sent back
into the world to bring spiritual life to men and women through the Gospel.
Some understand the reference
to be to the flood of Noah’s day.
“That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall
come against the fortress.”
“Spoiled” here refers not to
people who have been wronged, but to forces such as violence, desolation,
destruction, wasting, the ASV translation being, “... that bringeth sudden
destruction upon the strong, so that destruction cometh upon the fortress.”
Phillips translates it, “He it is who flings ruin in the face of the strong,
and rains destruction upon the fortress.”
God continued to warn the
wicked nation of that day of the certainty of His judgment against them, and
His warning is no less applicable to the wicked of this present generation.
Judgment for them is no less certain, coming in the form of the terrible
impending Tribulation judgments.
“They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh
The gate was the place where
justice was administered. They hated honest judges and witnesses, and anyone
who dared to denounce the pervasive evil. Little has changed since then.
“Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him
burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell
in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of
They had trodden down, or
oppressed the poor, taking from them unjust taxes, and exorbitant interest on
loans, in spite of the fact that God had forbidden the lending of money at
usury. By dishonest means the rich seized the lands of the poor, and then
permitted them to work those lands, but only in exchange for an exorbitant
share of the crops.
Out of their ill-gotten gains
they had built themselves magnificent houses, and planted lush vineyards, but
God assured them that they would neither continue to enjoy those houses, nor
drink the wine from those vineyards. He would deliver them and all that they
had into the hands of their enemies. Today’s corrupt society stands on the
brink of similar judgment.
“For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict
the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from
The God from Whose knowledge
nothing can be hidden, was fully aware of all their sinful activity. He
beheld their persecution of the righteous; their bribery of the judges, and
the eager acceptance of those bribes by the judges. He beheld with righteous
anger the failure of the venal judges to render justice to the poor in the law
courts. But, He will! is the resounding answer to the question, “Shall not
the judge of all the earth do right?” Ge 18:25.
“Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil
Because that time was one in
which evil men ruled, wise men kept silent. The wicked were the powerful
majority, and the iniquity so pervasive, that just men were powerless to stop
the swiftly rising tide of evil; and so is it also in today’s world. But
every spring tide has its corresponding neap. The evil of today’s world will
reach its zenith under the rule of the Beast, but the end of the Tribulation
will see the might of man shattered as the Lord returns in power and glory to
judge the world, banish every foe, and inaugurate His millennial kingdom of
righteousness and blessing.
“Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the Lord, the God of hosts,
shall be with you, as ye have spoken.”
“... as ye have spoken” is
literally “as you say he is,” or “as you claim that he is.” In spite of their
claim that God was with them, He wasn’t, for He will never bless sin. His
command to them to seek good simply emphasizes that they were diligent in the
pursuit of evil; and His statement “that ye may live” clearly implies that
their continued pursuit of sin would bring death. It is to be noted also that
this is the declaration of a general principle, not of a possibility available
to Israel nationally. Repentant individuals could still be saved, but it was
too late for the sinful nation to repent. Her doom was irrevocable.
Christendom also claims that
God is with them, but they are guilty of even greater wickedness than was the
Israel addressed by Amos; and like Israel, their doom is also irrevocable,
salvation being available only to the few who will repent and turn to God in
“Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment (justice) in the
gate (the courts): it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious unto
the remnant of Joseph.”
This continues to be the
annunciation of a principle, rather than the offer of possible blessing for
Israel. That generation had sinned away their day of grace. They had passed
for ever beyond hope of mercy.
“... the remnant of Joseph”
relates to the small believing remnant within the apostate mass of the
nation. While they too would experience the effects of God’s judgment on the
wicked nation, they had the assurance that their ultimate end would be
blessed, that blessing being the same as will be enjoyed by every believer: it
will be in resurrection in heaven.
The believing remnant of the
Tribulation era will have the same experience: they will feel the effects of
God’s judgments poured out on a wicked world, the living survivors being
delivered at the Lord’s coming to inaugurate His millennial kingdom.
It is the same with the small
believing remnant of true believers within the professing but apostate mass of
Christendom: they also experience the consequences of God’s punishment of the
evil mass, but even in the midst of it they have the assurance of eternal
bliss in resurrection, or deliverance at the Lord’s coming to rapture the
“Therefore the Lord, the God of hosts (armies), the Lord, saith thus; Wailing
shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas!
and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skillful of
lamentation to wailing.”
There would be no place where
men could go to escape God’s judgment, for it would be in the cities,
villages, highways, and countryside. So numerous would be the dead that there
would not be enough professional mourners to lead the wailing, so that even
the farmers would be called upon to act as mourners. On the day when Amos
spoke, however, he seems to have been the only mourner. The sinful nation
didn’t believe that Divine judgment was about to destroy her. She was at the
zenith of prosperity and power.
A similar visitation is coming
upon today’s apostate Christendom.
“And in all the vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee,
saith the Lord.”
Wine is a biblical symbol of
joy, see e.g., Ps 104:15 “... wine that maketh glad the heart of man.” The
vineyards were normally the scene of joy, particularly at the time of the
grape harvest, but for the apostate nation which had sealed her doom by
refusal to repent, those days were gone. Her laughter was about to be
exchanged for tears and mourning.
A pleasure-crazed Christendom
is about to have the same bitter experience.
“Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the
day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.”
In the context of this verse
“the day of the Lord” is the day when Christ (Messiah) will return in glory to
end the Tribulation, and inaugurate His millennial kingdom, and Israel
foolishly believed that day was imminent. That day, however, will be a day of
light and gladness only for believers. For unbelievers - and in spite of all
their profession, that generation of Israel were unbelievers - it will be the
day when they will be banished into the darkness and torment of hell to await
their ultimate consignment to the eternal torment of the lake of fire.
“As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house,
and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.”
In that day the unbeliever
will be like a man running in terror from a lion, only to fall into the
clutches of an angry bear; or like a man running into his own home, only to be
bitten there by a snake. In other words, that day will seal the unbeliever’s
doom. Instead of remaining on the earth to enjoy the Millennium, he will be
cast into hell, and from there into the eternal torment of the lake of fire.
“Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark,
and no brightness in it?”
The vain expectation of the
Israel addressed by Amos was of the coming of Messiah to deliver them and set
up His earthly kingdom; but their expectation was a delusion. When that day
does come it will be to deliver the believing remnant of Israel and of the
nations, but how different will be the fate of all unbelievers, both Jews and
Gentiles! They will never see the millennial kingdom, but will instead be
cast into the torment of hell.
The same fate awaits
unbelieving Christendom, but there is a difference between them and the Israel
addressed by the prophet. That generation of Israel expected Messiah to come
and set up the millennial kingdom; but the majority of Jews, and of those who
comprise Christendom today, know nothing of the biblical Millennium. They are
looking to the schemes of the world’s politicians, educators, and scientists
to bring in a glorious new world order where war will be unknown, where
science will have conquered disease, where hunger will be banished, etc. But
a terrible awakening awaits them. The biblical Millennium is a reality, and
its inauguration imminent, but these dupes of Satan and of the world’s
educational system will never see it. First, the Church will be caught up to
heaven (and it could be today); after a short interval the Tribulation will
begin, the latter three and a half years of which will bring the destruction
of the whole present world order; and out of that destruction Christ returning
in power and glory, will bring in the glorious biblical Millennium. And while
the living believers from the Tribulation era will be enjoying the transformed
earth, the unbelievers will be enduring the darkness and torment of hell.
“I hate, I despise (reject) your feast days,, and I will not smell in your
God was not impressed with
Israel’s outward empty ritualistic worship, nor is He with that of
Christendom. What He seeks is the unfeigned love of an obedient life, yielded
not out of slavish fear, but out of appreciation of Who and What He is, and
out of gratitude for His love and kindness to us, as declared in the words of
John, “We love him, because he first loved us,” 1 John 4:19. The Lord Himself
also declared willing obedience to be the most perfect expression of love, see
John 14:15 and 21, “If ye love me, keep my commandments .... He that hath my
commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me
shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself
unto him.” See also 1 Sa 15:22, “... hath the Lord as great delight in burnt
offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to
obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
“... I will not smell in your
solemn assemblies” is also translated, “I will take no delight in...” and
means simply that God rejected the whole hypocritical sham. The smoke of
offerings presented to Him as the expression of a heart filled with love, was
as incense which delighted Him; but that of sacrifices offered ritualistically
without love was a stench in His nostrils.
The great desire of David’s
heart was that he be preserved from just such loveless ritualistic worship,
see Ps 141:2, “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the
lifting up of my hands, as the evening sacrifice.” It should be our prayer
“Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat (meal) offerings, I will not
accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.”
Conspicuously absent is any
mention of the Trespass and Sin offerings.
In 1 Sa 16:7 it is written,
“... the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward
appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Israel’s observance of the
outward form of worship might have impressed man, but God’s omniscient eye
discerns what is in the heart, and as He looked into the hearts of the men of
Israel, conspicuously absent was any trace of that essential element, love,
and without it all the offerings Israel might bring were worthless.
“Take away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of
thy viols (harps).”
The offering of the prescribed
sacrifices was accompanied also by vocal and instrumental music, but this too
Jehovah rejected, even though He Himself had originally ordained it, see e.g.,
1 Chr 15:16,19. No matter how costly the sacrifice, or magnificent the
ritual, what is not impelled by love is worthless in God’s sight.
Spiritual minds will have no
difficulty seeing how closely Israel’s pretentious but hypocritical worship is
paralleled by that of today’s Christendom, nor should they have difficulty in
seeing what an abomination all of it is to God. The same judgment that ended
the one will just as surely also end the other.
“But let judgment (justice) run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty
Jehovah was disgusted with the
hypocritical charade which Israel mistook for worship; nor is He any less
revolted by that of Christendom. What He desired from Israel were the
administration of justice according to His perfect standard, and an end to the
venality that robbed the poor of justice. He wanted grasping, heartless greed
banished, and replaced with goodness and kindness flowing like a mighty river
throughout the land.
He has the same desire for
today’s world, nor will He rest until His desire has become reality, as it
will in the Millennium as a result of the Tribulation judgments that will
destroy the whole great edifice of the present evil world system.
“Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty
years, O house of Israel?”
The question appears to be
both rhetorical and ironic. They had, of course, presented the prescribed
offerings, but it is to be remembered that from the beginning idolatry lurked
in their hearts as is evidenced by their worship of the golden calf even while
Moses was up in the mountain receiving the tablets of the law shortly after
their deliverance from Egypt, see Exodus 32.
The idolatry denounced by Amos
was no new thing: it was in their hearts from the very beginning, as, in fact,
it is in the heart of every man until banished by the new birth. Throughout
Israel’s history true worship was offered only by the believing remnant, a
small minority within the apostate mass of the nation. The rest of the people
engaged outwardly in the same ritual, but with them it was only a ritual, and
as soon as opportunity presented itself to worship gods conceived by their own
evil imaginations, they seized it. And as that first idolatrous generation
had worshiped the calf made by Aaron, and had been prevented from entering
Canaan, so now was this present idolatrous generation to be carried out of the
land into captivity in Assyria.
“But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the
star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.”
Here God is declaring that
even while Israel carried the Tabernacle with them through the wilderness, and
engaged outwardly in the order of worship which He had prescribed, they - with
the exception of the small believing remnant - hankered in their hearts after
the worship of the gods they had worshiped in Egypt.
Moloch (Molech) was an
Ammonite god to whom children were sacrificed. Some translations render
Moloch as Sikkut or Sakkuth, also known as Adar, the Assyrian god of war and
Chiun or Kaiwan was the
Assyrian name for the planet Saturn which was also an object of worship.
“... the star of your god”
seems to be related to the fact that many of the stars were worshiped. Their
having borne the tabernacles of these so-called gods is understood by some to
refer to their having carried away from conquered nations the idols of these
gods, and adding them to those they already worshiped.
Relative to the universal
idolatrous worship of the stars, it is instructive to note that in His naming
and placing the twelve signs of the Zodiac, God has displayed symbolically in
the heavens the story of the Gospel before there was written language, but
Satan, through astrology, has sought to corrupt the message, see comments on
“Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the
Lord, whose name is The God of hosts.”
Because of idolatry Israel was
to be carried away captive, “beyond Damascus” being literally Assyria which
lay of course beyond Damascus.
Stephen in Acts 7:43 quotes
these last two verses of Amos 5, but speaks of Babylon rather than Damascus,
and he may have had in mind the later captivity of Judah by the Babylonians.