Amos 6:4

4 That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch[a] themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;

Amos 6:4 Meaning and Commentary

Amos 6:4

That lie upon beds of ivory
That were made of it, or inlaid with it, or covered with it, as the Targum; nor was it improbable that these were made wholly of ivory, for such beds we read of: Timaeus says F18, the Agrigentines had beds entirely made of ivory; and Horace F19 also speaks of such beds: and if any credit can be given to the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem on ( Genesis 50:1 ) . Joseph made his father Jacob to lie on a bed of ivory. Indeed, the Latin interpreters of these Targums render it a cedar bed; but Buxtorf F20 conjectures that ivory is meant by the word used; and so Bochart F21 translates it; on these they lay either for sleep and rest, or to eat their meals; and stretch themselves upon their couches;
for the same purposes, living in great splendour, and indulging themselves in ease and sloth; as it was the custom of the eastern countries, and is of the Arabs now; that they make little or no use of chairs, but either sitting cross legged, or lying at length, have couches to lie on at their meals; and when they indulge to ease, they cover or spread their floors with carpets, which for the most part are of the richest materials. Along the sides of the wall or floor, a range of narrow beds or mattresses is often placed upon these carpets; and, for their further ease and convenience, several velvet or damask bolsters are placed upon these, or mattresses F23, to lean upon, and take their ease; see ( Ezekiel 13:18 ) ; and thus, and in some such like manner, did the principal men of the people of Israel indulge themselves. Some render it, "abound with superfluities"; the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, "are lascivious"; and the Arabic version, "burn in lust"; and so some of the Jewish writers interpret it of their committing adulteries, and all uncleanness, on their beds and couches; and eat the lambs out of the flock;
pick the best and fattest of them for their use: so the Targum,

``eat the fat of the sheep:''
and the calves out of the midst of the stall;
where they are put, and kept to be fattened; from thence they took what they liked best, and perhaps not out of theft own flocks and stalls, but out of others, and with which they pampered themselves to excess.

F18 Apud Aelian. Var. Hist. l. 12. c. 29.
F19 "----Rubro ubi cocco Tincta super lectos cauderet vestis eburnos". Horat. Serm. l. 2. Satyr. 6. v. 102.
F20 Lexic. Talmud. col. 2475.
F21 Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 24. col. 252.
F23 See Shaw's Travels, p. 209. Ed. 2.

Amos 6:4 In-Context

2 Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?
3 Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;
4 That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;
5 That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David;
6 That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. stretch...: or, abound with superfluities
The King James Version is in the public domain.