[Are] ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children
of Israel? saith the Lord
And therefore had no reason to think they should be delivered because they were the children of Israel, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; since they were no more to God than the children of the Ethiopians, having behaved like them; and were become as black as they through sin, and were idolaters like them; and so accustomed to sin, and hardened in it, that they could no more change their course and custom of sinning than the Ethiopian could change his skin, ( Jeremiah 13:23 ) ; The Ethiopians are represented by Diodorus Siculus
F2 as very religious, that is, very idolatrous; and as the first that worshipped the gods, and offered sacrifice to them; hence they were very pleasing to them, and in high esteem with them; wherefore Homer
F3 speaks of Jupiter, and the other gods, going to Ethiopia to an anniversary feast, and calls them the blameless Ethiopians; and so Lucian F4 speaks of the gods as gone abroad, perhaps to the other side of the ocean, to visit the honest Ethiopians; for they are often used to visit them, and, as he wittily observes, even sometimes without being invited. Jarchi suggests the sense to be, that they were as creatures upon the same foot, and of the same descent, with other nations; and paraphrases it thus,
``from the sons of Noah ye came as the rest of the nations.''Kimchi takes the meaning to be this,
``as the children of the Ethiopians are servants so should ye be unto me.''The Targum is very foreign from the sense,
``are ye not reckoned as beloved children before me, O house of Israel?''the first sense is best: have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt?
and therefore it was ungrateful in them to behave as they have done; nor can they have any dependence on this, or argue from hence that they shall be indulged with other favours, or be continued in their land, since the like has been done for other nations, as follows: and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?
that is, have I not brought up the one from the one place, and the other from the other? the Philistines and Caphtorim are mentioned together as brethren, ( Genesis 10:14 ) ; and the Avim which dwelt in the land of Palestine in Hazerim unto Azzah were destroyed by the Caphtorim, who dwelt in their stead, ( Deuteronomy 2:23 ) ; from whom, it seems by this, the Philistines were delivered, who are called the remnant of the country of Caphtor, ( Jeremiah 47:4 ) . Aben Ezra understands it as if the Israelites were not only brought out of Egypt, but also from the Philistines, and from Caphtor: others take these two places, Caphtor and Kir, to be the original of the Philistines and Syrians, and not where they had been captives, but now delivered: so Japhet,
``ye are the children of one father, God, who brought you out of Egypt, and not as the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir, who were mixed together;''and R. Joseph Kimchi thus,
``from Caphtor came destroyers to the Philistines, who destroyed them; and from Kir came Tiglathpileser, the destroyer, to the Syrians, who carried them captive there.''Of the captivity of the Philistines, and their deliverance from the Caphtorim, we nowhere read; the captivity of the Syrians in Kir Amos prophesied of, ( Amos 1:5 ) ; and if he speaks here of their deliverance from it, he must live at least to the times of Ahaz; for in his times it was they were carried captive thither, ( 2 Kings 16:9 ) . Caphtor some take to be Cyprus, because it seems to be an island, ( Jeremiah 47:4 ) ; but by it the Targum, Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac and Arabic versions understand Cappadocia; and the Cappadocians used to be called by the Greeks and Persians Syrians, as Herodotus F5 and others, observe. Bochart F6 is of opinion that that part of Cappadocia is intended which is called Colchis; and the rather since he finds a city in that country called Side, which in the Greek tongue signifies a pomegranate, as Caphtor does in Hebrew; and supposes the richness of the country led the Caphtorim thither, who, having stayed awhile, returned to Palestine, and there settled; which expedition he thinks is wrapped up in the fable of the Greek poets, concerning that of Typhon out of Egypt to Colchis and from thence to Palestine; and indeed the Jewish Targumists F7 every where render Caphtorim by Cappadocians, and Caphtor by Cappadocia, or Caphutkia; but then by it they understand a place in Egypt, even Pelusium, now called Damiata; for the Jewish writers say F8 Caphutkia is Caphtor, in the Arabic language Damiata; so Benjamin of Tudela says F9, in two days I came to Damiata, this is Caphtor; and no doubt the Caphtorim were in Egypt originally since they descended from Mizraim; but Calmet F11 will have it that the island of Crete is meant by Caphtor; and observes, theft, the Philistines were at first called strangers in Palestine, their proper name being Cherethites, or Cretians, as in ( Ezekiel 25:16 ) ( Zephaniah 2:5 ) ; as the Septuagint render that name of theirs; and that the language, manners, arms, religion and gods, of the Philistines and Cretians, are much the same; he finds a city in Crete called Aptera, which he thinks has a sensible relation to Caphtor; and that the city of Gaza in Palestine went by the name of Minoa, because of Minos king of Crete, who, coming into that country, called this ancient city by his own name. The Targum and Vulgate Latin version render Kir by Cyrene, by which must be meant, not Cyrene in Africa, but in Media; so Kir is mentioned along with Elam or Persia in ( Isaiah 22:6 ) ; whither the people of Syria were carried captive by Tiglathpileser, as predicted in ( Amos 1:5 ) ; and, as the above writer observes F12, not certainly into the country of Cyrene near Egypt, where that prince was possessed of nothing; but to Iberia or Albania, where the river Kir or Cyrus runs, which discharges itself into the Caspian sea; and Josephus F13 says they were transported into Upper Media; and the above author thinks that the Prophet Amos, in this passage, probably intended to comprehend, under the word "Cyr" or "Kir", the people beyond the Euphrates, and those of Mesopotamia, from whence the Aramaeans in reality came, who were descended from Aram the son of Shem; and he adds, we have no certain knowledge of their coming in particular out of this country, where the river Cyrus flows; and, upon the whole, it is difficult to determine whether this is to be understood of the origin of these people, or of their deliverance from captivity; the latter may seem probable, since it is certain that the prophet speaks of the deliverance of Israel from the captivity of Egypt; and it is as certain that the Syrians were carried captive to Kir, and, no doubt, from thence delivered; though we have no account of the Philistines being captives to Caphtor, and of their deliverance from thence; however, doubtless these were things well known to Amos, and in his times, he here speaks of. In some of our English copies it is read Assyrians instead of Syrians, very wrongly; for "Aram", and not "Ashur", is the word here used.
F2 Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 143, 144.
F3 Ibid. 1. l. 423.
F4 In Jupiter Tragaedus.
F5 Clio, sive l. 1. 72. Terpsichore, sive l. 5. c. 40. & Polymnia, sive l. 7. c. 72. Vid. Strabo. Geograph. l. 22. p. 374.
F6 Phaleg. l. 4. c. 32. col. 291, 292.
F7 Targum Onkelos, Jon. & Jerus. in Gen. x. 4. & Ben Uzziel in Jer. xlvii. 4. & in loc.
F8 Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Cetubot, c. 13. sect. 11.
F9 Itinerarium, p. 125.
F11 Dictionary in tile word "Caphtor".
F12 Dictionary, in the word "Cyrene".
F13 Antiqu. l. 9. c. 12. sect. 3.