Thus saith the Lord, for three transgressions of the children
These are the descendants of Benammi, a son of Lots, by one of his daughters, ( Genesis 19:38 ) ; are distinguished from the Ammonites, ( 2 Chronicles 20:1 ) ; were near neighbours of the Jews, but great enemies to them, though akin: and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof;
(See Gill on Amos 1:3). Among these transgressions, for which God would punish these people, are to be reckoned, not only their ill treatment of the Gileadites after mentioned, but other sins, which are all included in this number, and particularly their idolatry; for idolaters they were, though the children of Lot; and originally might have had better instruction, from which they departed. Moloch or Milcom, which signifies a king, was the abomination or idol of the Ammonites, ( 1 Kings 11:5 1 Kings 11:7 ) . The image of this idol, according to the Jews, had seven chapels, and he was within them; and his face was the face of a calf or ox; and his hands were stretched out as a man stretches out his hands to receive anything of his friend; and they set it on fire within, for it was hollow; and everyone according to his offering went into these chapels; he that offered a fowl went into the first chapel; he that offered a sheep, into the second chapel; if a lamb, into the third; a calf, into the fourth; a bullock, into the fifth; an ox, into the sixth; but he that offered his son, they brought him into the seventh; and they put, the child before Moloch, and kindled a fire in the inside of him, until his hands were like fire; and then they took the child, and put him within its arms; and beat upon tabrets or drums, that the cry of the child might not be heard by the father F6. Benjamin of Tudela F7 reports, that in his time, at Gibal, the border of the children of Ammon, a day's journey from Tripoli, was found the remains of a temple of the children of Ammon; and an idol of theirs sitting upon a throne; and it was made of stone, and covered with gold; and there were two women sitting, one on its right hand, and the other on its left; and before it an altar, on which they used to sacrifice and burn incense to it, as in the times of the children of Ammon. Chemosh also was worshipped by the Ammonites, ( Judges 11:24 ) ; which was also the god of the Moabites; of which (See Gill on Jeremiah 48:7); because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they
might enlarge their border;
this Hazael king of Syria did, according to Elisha's prophecy; and very likely the children of Ammon might join with him, inasmuch as they bordered on the countries which he smote, ( 2 Kings 8:12 ) ( 2 Kings 10:32 2 Kings 10:33 ) . This was an instance of shocking cruelty and inhumanity, to destroy at once the innocent and the impotent, though frequently done by enemies, ( 2 Kings 15:16 ) ( Hosea 13:16 ) . The reason of it was not only that they might possess their land, but keep it when they had got it; there being no heir to claim it, or molest them in the possession of it; see ( Jeremiah 49:1 ) ; though some read the words, "because they divided, or cleaved the mountain of Gilead" F8; so Aben Ezra and Kimchi, though they mention the other sense: this they did to get into the land of Gilead, as Hannibal cut through the Alps; or rather to remove the borders of it, and lay it even with their own, and so enlarge theirs; which, as Kimchi says, was a very great iniquity, being one of the curses written in the law, ( Deuteronomy 27:17 ) ; thus one sin leads on to another. Some by "mountains" understand towers or fortified cities as Kimchi and Ben Melech observe; such as were built on mountains, which sense is approved by Gussetius F9.
F6 Yelammedenu apud Yalkut Simeoni in Jer. vii. 31. fol. 61. 4.
F7 Itinerarium, p. 33.
F8 (twrh Meqb) "eo quod sciderint montes", Pagninus; so some in Drusius.
F9 Ebr. Comment. p. 216.