Cows of Bashan

Bashan is mentioned very early in the Old Testament in regards to one of the kings who opposed the return of the Israelites to the Promised Land, while Moses was still alive. More than fifty additional references casually speak of this location as a well known area within the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 4:43 speaks of a city named Golan in Bashan, one of the designated cities of refuge. In fact, the whole region is now called by the name of that city — the Golan Heights.

Fat and Lazy Cows on the Golan Heights -- Cows of Bashan!

Perhaps the strangest reference to Bashan is from the prophet Amos. For context we have provided not only the verse in focus, but also a few following...

Amos 4:1-5 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, "Bring us some drinks!" 2 The Sovereign Lord has sworn by his holiness: "The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks. 3 You will each go straight out through breaks in the wall, and you will be cast out toward Harmon," declares the Lord. 4 "Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. 5 Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings — boast about them, you Israelites, for this is what you love to do," declares the Sovereign Lord. (NIV)

Why would Amos call the women "cows of Bashan"? It was to paint a word picture, one that clearly portrayed the women as fat and lazy. Don't miss the context though. Yes Amos singled out these woman for condemnation, but He was also warning of judgement against all the people for their rebellious, slothful and complacent ways, a lifestyle that they had chosen in opposition to God.

The Golan Heights are called "heights" for a reason. Steep hillsides, or small mountains, are a major feature of this territory. The Psalmist refers to the beauty of this rugged terrain...

Psalms 68:15 The mountains of Bashan are majestic mountains; rugged are the mountains of Bashan. (NIV)


A steep road descending out of the hills (mountains) of the Golan Heights (Bashan)