The Second Woe of Judgment
Verse 1 – Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, and trust in Mount Samaria, notable peoples in the chief nation, to whom the house of Israel comes!
Verse 2 – Go over to Calneh and see; and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory?
Calneh was in Syria, which had been destroyed by the Assyrians. God wanted them to go see what He had done to these great cities because it was going to happen to them.
Verse 3 – Woe to you who put far off the day of doom, who cause the seat of violence to come near;
Verse 4 – Who lie on beds of ivory, stretch out on your couches, eat lamb from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall;
Ivory was an imported luxury and a couch or bed inlaid with it showed the gross waste of resources that should have been used to help the poor.
Verse 5 – Who chat to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David;
Verse 6 – Who drink wine from bowls, and anoint yourselves with the best ointment, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
The Israelite aristocracy enjoyed what the Greeks would call “symposium”, in which participants lounged on couches, drank wine, and listened to music.
Verse 7 – Therefore they shall now go captive as the first of the captives, and those who recline at banquets shall be removed.
Verse 8 – The Lord God has sworn by Himself the Lord God of hosts says: “I abhor the pride of Jacob, and hate his palaces; therefore I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.”
Verse 9 – Then it shall come to pass, that if ten men remain in one house, they shall die.
Verse 10 – And when a kinsman of the dead, with one who will burn bodies, picks up the bodies to take them out of the house, he will say to one inside the house, “Are there any more with you?” Then someone will say, “None.” And he will say, “Hold your tongue! For we dare not mention the name of the Lord.”
Casualties in the city will be so numerous that a household with 10 men will be wiped out. Then when the funerals are performed they could not invoke the name of God because there were so many dead.
Verse 11 – For behold, the Lord gives a command: He will break the great house into bits, and the little house into pieces.
The people had built luxurious homes to flaunt their achievements. While to live in nice houses is not wrong, it can’t be allowed to inflate one’s pride and self-glorification.
Verse 12 – Do horses run on rocks? Does one plow there with oxen? Yet you have turned justice into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood,
Verse 13 – You have rejoiced over Lo Debar, who say, “Have we not taken Karnaim for ourselves by our own strength?”
Verse 14 – But, behold, I will raise up a nation against you, O house of Israel,” says the Lord God of hosts; “And they will afflict you from the entrance of Hamath to the Valley of the Arabah.”
The entrance of Hamath, also called Lebo-hamath, was the northern limit of Israel’s domain. Arabah, was the southern border, which might also be the Brook of Egypt, the traditional southern border of Israel. The point being, that the Lord will drive the Israelites from all the land that had been given by the Lord.