Woe to them that are at ease¹ in Zion²,
and trust³ in the mountain⁴ of Samaria⁵,
which are named⁶ chief⁷ of the nations⁸,
to whom the house of Israel⁹ came!
¹) Carelessly, arrogantly at ease.
²) Zion means “parched place”; It is another name for Jerusalem especially in the prophetic books.
³) Have confidence in.
⁴) Or hill.
⁵) Samaria means “watch mountain”;
It is the name of the northern region of Palestine, associated with the northern kingdom of the 10 tribes of Israel which split from the kingdom after the death of Solomon, during the reign of his son Rehoboam, and were ruled by Jeroboam.
It is also the name of the capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel located 30 miles (50 km) north of Jerusalem and 6 miles (10 km) northwest of Shechem.
⁶) Designated, or specified as.
⁷) Or beginning, best, chief.
⁸) Or people, usually of non–Hebrew people, but also of descendants of Abraham, of Israel.
⁹) The name Israel means “God prevails”. It was the second name for Jacob given to him by God after the great prayer – struggle with the angel at Peniel (Genesis 32:28) because “as a prince he had power with God and prevailed.”
It is also the common name of the descendants and the nation of the descendants of Jacob.
It was the name of the whole people, the whole nation, of the twelve tribes. They were called “Israelites,” the “children of Israel” (Joshua 3:17, 7:25; Judges 8:27; Jeremiah 3:21) and the “house of Israel” (Exodus 16:31, 40:38) This name Israel is sometimes used emphatically for the true Israel (Psalms 73:1; Isaiah 45:17, 49:3; John 1:47; Romans 9:6, 11:26)
After the death of Solomon, and the split, the ten tribes, under Jeroboam, arrogated to themselves this name, as if they were the whole nation (2 Samuel 2:9,10,17,28, 3:10,17, 19:40–43). The southern kingdom was known as Judah.
And after the Exile the name Israel was assumed as designating the entire nation.
From other translations:
Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and to those on the mountain of Samaria who are careless and feel secure, the notable men of the chief [because chosen by God] of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! [AMP] "Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! [ESV] Woe to you who think you live on easy street in Zion, who think Mount Samaria is the good life. You assume you're at the top of the heap, voted the number-one best place to live. [MSB] Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came! [KJV] Woe to those who are at ease in Zion And to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria, The distinguished men of the foremost of nations, To whom the house of Israel comes. [NASB] Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! [NIV] How terrible it will be for you who lounge in luxury and think you are secure in Jerusalem and Samaria! You are famous and popular in Israel, you to whom the people go for help. [NLT] Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, And trust in Mount Samaria, Notable persons in the chief nation, To whom the house of Israel comes! [NKJV]
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The prophet continues to seriously hold the people of God’s covenant to account for their course of life, which is not in harmony with the law of God. In the meantime, they behave like confident people. Carefree and proud.
Of course we should not understand from the text that it would be wrong to be sure of the Lord and His grace! Security of faith is a gift that we may desire from the Lord. Just think of the Apostle Paul, who exclaims, I am assured … that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.
Here, however, is the carelessness in which people lead their own lives without thinking about their neighbors. The leaders in Zion and Samaria live proudly, haughty, looking only for their own benefit.
They go lavishly over the earth. The wine flows freely. Skin care is number one (Amos 6:6). Such certainty is only apparent and cannot exist in God’s judgment.
God wants humility and charity!
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