Shaped like the previous unit, it is unclear however whether this is a single disaster, or more.
Is the "plague like the way of Egypt" a possible reference to the plagues preceding the exodus, or something connected to the "road to Egypt" i.e. invading Egyptian forces? In view of the use of the exodus story elsewhere in Amos, and the lack of evidence for an Egyptian threat to Israel in Amos' day, I have preferred the former, and so see more than one disaster in this verse.
The word plague in the first line refers to a lethal illness, while the parallel line says the young men are killed with the sword (i.e. in battle), this is not a contradiction. The two occur together elsewhere (Ex 5:3; Lev 26:25; Jer 14:12; 21:7, 9; etc. Ez 5:17; 6:11-12 etc.). Insanitary living conditions mean that lethal disease is a common consequence of battle.
Horses taken captive render the army less able to continue to resist. Israel, inhabiting mainly the high country of Palestine had few horses in the first place, and enemy cavalry were feared (e.g. Nahum 3:2-3; Jer 6:23 etc.).
The smell arises from the corpses and the results of the plague which follow the military defeat, hence the reference to a camp rather than a town or village.
This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,
© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.