Amos 1 – Judgment on the Nations & Queen Nefertiti

There were at least two famous and powerful women in ancient history and neither of them was brutal.  The people back then were lucky that Hillary Clinton wasn’t a queen.

So I’m wondering…

Amos 1
Judgment on the Nations

1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdsmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.

Ancient Damascus

 “Amos” – apparently a shortened form of a name like Amasiah (2 Chr 17:16), meaning “The LORD carries” or “The LORD upholds.”

“Herdsmen” – the Hebrew for this word occurs elsewhere in the Old Testament only in reference to the king of Moab where it is translated “sheep master.”  Perhaps Amos was not a simple shepherd but was in charge of the royal flocks where a different Hebrew word is used.

Amos was not a professional prophet who earned his living from his ministry; he stood outside religious institutions.

“Earthquake” – evidently a major shock, long remembered, and probably the one mentioned in Zech 14:5.  Reference to the earthquake suggests that the author viewed it as a kind of divine reinforcement of the words of judgment.

 Amos uses the verb form in 9:1 (shake) to create an envelope effect between the past and coming quake.

2 And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.

3 Thus saith the LORD; for three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:

“For three transgressions…four” – for their many sins, especially the one named, vv. 6, 9, 11, 13, 2:1, 4, 6.

“Damascus” – capital of the Aramean state directly north of Israel and a constant enemy in that day.  Her crime was brutality to the conquered people of Gilead, Israel’s territory east of Galilee.

“Threshed…instruments of iron” – heads of grain were threshed by driving a wooden sledge fitted with sharp teeth over the cut grain.

Damascus in Syria

4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Ben-hadad.

“Send a fire…shall devour” – a common description of the threat of divine judgment, usually carried out by a devastating war that resulted in the burning of major cities and fortresses.

“Hazael” – king of Damascus c. 842-796 B.C. and founder of a new line of kings.

“Ben-hadad” – son of Hazael and the second king with this name, ruling c. 796-775 B.C.

5 I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the scepter from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD.

“Plain of Aven” – possibly the Beqaa Valley between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains, but may refer to the river valley in which Damascus is located, calling it the “valley of wickedness” (“Aven” means “wickedness”).

“House of Eden” – probably Damascus, the garden spot of that region.  Beth Eden was also a powerful Aramean kingdom in upper Mesopotamian.

“Kir” – an unidentified place, possibly in the vicinity of Elam from which the Arameans of Damascus are said to have come.

6 Thus saith the LORD; for three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom:

Gleaming the the desert: Ruins at Palmyra, Syria.

 “Gaza” – one of the five Philistine cities, it guarded the entry to Canaan from Egypt.

“Carried away…the whole” – not just warriors captured in battle.  The reference may be to villages in south Judah on the trade route from Edom to Gaza.

“To Edom” – trading the people like cattle to another country.  Edom is singled out by Amos; he closes with the promise that Israel would “possess” Edom, and it serves as a link word for the following book, Obadiah, “the house of Jacob will possess…”.

7 But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof:

8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the scepter from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD.

“Ashdod…Ashkelon…Ekron” – three more cities of the Philistine group.  Gath the fifth may already have been subdued by Uzziah.

“The remnant” – there would be no remnant.  Philistia was finally destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.

For more than 3,500 years Gaza’s history has been shaped by its location.
It sits on the route linking North Africa with the greener lands of the Levant to the north.

9 Thus saith the LORD; for three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant:

“Tyrus” – the senior Phoenician merchant city allied to Israel by a “brotherly covenant” in the days of David, later in the time of Solomon and later still during the reign of Ahab, whose father-in-law ruled Tyre (the more common spelling) and Sidon.

“They delivered” – their crime was like Philistia’s.

10 But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof.

11 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever:

“Edom” – the nation descended from Esau.

12 But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.

“Teman…Bozrah” – major cities of Edom, the former thought to be near Petra, the latter now identified with Buseirah, 37 miles to the north.  With their destruction, Edom would lose its capacity for continual warfare.

Gaza is said to be one of the world’s oldest living cities.
These were the bones of the ancient Greek city of Antidon. And they were testimony to the extraordinary richness of Gaza’s past.

13 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border:

“Ammon” – judgment centered on Rabbah, modern Amman.  Greed for land bred a brutal genocide that would be punished by a tumult of men and nature, leaving the state without leaders to continue such practices.

14 But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind:

15 And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the LORD.

“Captivity” – note how Amos uses this as an “envelope” word (9:14).  It should be remembered that the Assyrians had not yet instituted the practice of wholesale deportation.  It is small wonder then that Israel found Amos’s message about impending captivity unbelievable.

Queen Nefertiti

Nefertiti as portrayed by the sculpture Thutmose.

No queen was portrayed more often in Egyptian paintings and sculptures than the lovely Nefertiti. She became a virtual goddess in Akhenaten’s new cult, although officially Aten was the only deity.

 Egyptians prayed to her, and she may have helped fill the void left when the cults of goddesses were suppressed.

Although Akhenaten had only one god, he did not limit himself to one wife. Inscriptions tell of another woman, named Kiya, who appears on monuments with Akhenaten and may have rivaled Nefertiti.

Nefertiti had many titles including:

Hereditary Princess (iryt-p`t)
Great of Praises (wrt-hzwt)
Lady of Grace (nbt-im3t)
Sweet of Love (bnrt-mrwt)
Lady of The Two Lands (nbt-t3wy)
Main King’s Wife, his beloved (hmt-niswt-‘3t meryt.f)
Great King’s Wife, his beloved (hmt-niswt-wrt meryt.f)
Lady of all Women (hnwt-hmwt-nbwt)
Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt (hnwt-Shm’w-mhw).

GERMANY – CIRCA 1987: stamp printed in Germany, shows queen Nefertiti of Egypt, circa 1987.

Later in Akhenaten’s reign, however, references to Kiya were scratched out and replaced with the names of Nefertiti’s daughters. Nefertiti evidently solidified her position as the king’s principal wife—an exalted figure closer to Akhenaten and his heavenly father, Aten, than any woman on earth.

She was made famous by her bust, now in Berlin’s Neues Museum. The bust is one of the most copied works of ancient Egypt. It was attributed to the sculptor Thutmose, and it was found in his workshop.

The bust is notable for exemplifying the understanding Ancient Egyptians had regarding realistic facial proportions. Some scholars believe that Nefertiti ruled briefly as Neferneferuaten after her husband’s death and before the accession of Tutankhamun, although this identification is a matter of ongoing debate.

Death

Nefertiti’s name was erased from historical records and her likeness defaced after her death.
The mummy was first discovered in 1898 and ignored. Fletcher was drawn to the tomb again during an expedition in June 2002 after she identified a Nubian-style wig worn by royal women during Akhenaten’s reign. The wig was found near three unidentified mummies, two of them women and one a young boy.

One of the mummies is now believed to be Nefertiti, it had a swan-like neck comparable to the queen, despite
post-mortem blows to her face.

Fletcher also found other physical links, including the impression of a tight-fitting brow-band she once wore, a double-pierced ear lobe and shaved head. Nefertiti was one of only two of Egypt’s royal women believed to have worn two earrings in each ear.
he mummy on the right is that identified as perhaps being Queen Nefertiti.

Around year 14 of Akhenaten’s reign, under pre-2012 Egyptological theories, Nefertiti was thought to vanish from the historical record with no word of her after that date.

The hypothesis here included a sudden death by a plague that was sweeping through the city or another natural death. This theory is based on the discovery of several shabti fragments inscribed for Nefertiti.

A previous theory that she fell into disgrace is now discredited, since the deliberate erasures of monuments belonging to a queen of Akhenaten have been shown to refer to Kiya instead.

Burial

There are many theories regarding her death and burial but, to date, the mummy of this famous queen, her parents or her children has not been found or formally identified. In 1898, archeologist Victor Loret found two female mummies inside the tomb of Amenhotep II in the Valley of the Kings.

These two mummies, named “The Elder Lady” and “The Younger Lady”, are likely candidates of her remains.

…was there a big difference between Queen Nefertiti and Cleopatra?