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Amos 7

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Symbolic Visions of Judgment

7:1 The sovereign Lord showed me this: I saw 1  him making locusts just as the crops planted late 2  were beginning to sprout. (The crops planted late sprout after the royal harvest. 3 ) 7:2 When they had completely consumed the earth’s vegetation, I said,

“Sovereign Lord, forgive Israel! 4 

How can Jacob survive? 5 

He is too weak!” 6 

7:3 The Lord decided not to do this. 7  “It will not happen,” the Lord said.

7:4 The sovereign Lord showed me this: I saw 8  the sovereign Lord summoning a shower of fire. 9  It consumed the great deep and devoured the fields.

7:5 I said, “Sovereign Lord, stop!

How can Jacob survive? 10 

He is too weak!” 11 

7:6 The Lord decided not to do this. 12  The sovereign Lord said, “This will not happen either.”

7:7 He showed me this: I saw 13  the sovereign One 14  standing by a tin 15  wall holding tin in his hand. 7:8 The Lord said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” I said, “Tin.” The sovereign One then said,

“Look, I am about to place tin among my people Israel.

I will no longer overlook their sin. 16 

7:9 Isaac’s centers of worship 17  will become desolate;

Israel’s holy places will be in ruins.

I will attack Jeroboam’s dynasty with the sword.” 18 

Amos Confronts a Priest

7:10 Amaziah the priest of Bethel 19  sent this message 20  to King Jeroboam of Israel: “Amos is conspiring against you in the very heart of the kingdom of Israel! 21  The land cannot endure all his prophecies. 22  7:11 As a matter of fact, 23  Amos is saying this: ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will certainly be carried into exile 24  away from its land.’”

7:12 Amaziah then said to Amos, “Leave, you visionary! 25  Run away to the land of Judah! Earn your living 26  and prophesy there! 7:13 Don’t prophesy at Bethel 27  any longer, for a royal temple and palace are here!” 28 

7:14 Amos replied 29  to Amaziah, “I was not a prophet by profession. 30  No, 31  I was a herdsman who also took care of 32  sycamore fig trees. 33  7:15 Then the Lord took me from tending 34  flocks and gave me this commission, 35  ‘Go! Prophesy to my people Israel!’ 7:16 So now listen to the Lord’s message! You say, ‘Don’t prophesy against Israel! Don’t preach 36  against the family of Isaac!’

7:17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says:

‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the streets 37 

and your sons and daughters will die violently. 38 

Your land will be given to others 39 

and you will die in a foreign 40  land.

Israel will certainly be carried into exile 41  away from its land.’”

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1 tn Heb “behold” or “look.”

2 sn The crops planted late (consisting of vegetables) were planted in late January-early March and sprouted in conjunction with the spring rains of March-April. For a discussion of the ancient Israelite agricultural calendar, see O. Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 31-44.

3 tn Or “the mowings of the king.”

sn This royal harvest may refer to an initial mowing of crops collected as taxes by the royal authorities.

4 tn “Israel” is supplied in the translation for clarity.

5 tn Heb “stand” (so ASV, NAB, NASB, NRSV).

6 tn Heb “small.”

7 tn Or “changed his mind about this.”

8 tn Heb “behold” or “look.”

9 tc The Hebrew appears to read, “summoning to contend with fire,” or “summoning fire to contend,” but both are problematic syntactically (H. W. Wolff, Joel and Amos [Hermeneia], 292; S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 230-31). Many emend the text to לרבב אשׁ, “(calling) for a shower of fire,” though this interpretation is also problematic (see F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Amos [AB], 746-47).

10 tn Heb “stand.”

11 tn Heb “small.”

12 tn Or “changed his mind about this.”

13 tn Heb “behold” or “look.”

14 tn Or “the Lord.” The Hebrew term translated “sovereign One” here and in the following verse is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

15 tn The Hebrew word אֲנָךְ (’anakh, “tin”) occurs only in this passage (twice in this verse and twice in the following verse). (Its proposed meaning is based on an Akkadian cognate annaku.) The tin wall of the vision, if it symbolizes Israel, may suggest weakness and vulnerability to judgment. See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 233-35. The symbolic significance of God holding tin in his hand and then placing tin among the people is unclear. Possibly the term אֲנָךְ in v. 8b is a homonym meaning “grief” (this term is attested in postbiblical Hebrew). In this case there is a wordplay, the אֲנָךְ (“tin”) of the vision suggesting the אֲנָךְ (“grief”) that judgment will bring upon the land. See F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Amos (AB), 759. Another option is to maintain the meaning “tin” and understand that the Lord has ripped off a piece of the tin wall and placed it in front of all to see. Their citadels, of which the nation was so proud and confident, are nothing more than tin fortresses. The traditional interpretation of these verses (reflected in many English versions) understands the term אֲנָךְ to mean “lead,” and by extension, “plumb line.” In this case, one may translate: “I saw the sovereign one standing by a wall built true to plumb holding a plumb line in his hand. The Lord said to me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ I said, ‘A plumb line.’ The sovereign one then said, ‘Look, I am about to place a plumb line among my people…’” According to this view, the plumb line symbolizes God’s moral standards by which he will measure Israel to see if they are a straight or crooked wall.

16 tn Heb “And I will no longer pass over him.”

17 tn Traditionally, “the high places” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “pagan shrines.”

18 tn Heb “And I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with a sword.”

19 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

20 tn The direct object of the verb translated “sent” is elided in the Hebrew text. The words “this message” are supplied in the translation for clarity and for stylistic reasons.

21 tn Heb “in the middle of the house of Israel.”

22 tn Heb “words.”

23 tn Or “for.”

24 tn See the note on the word “exile” in 5:5.

25 tn Traditionally, “seer.” The word is a synonym for “prophet,” though it may carry a derogatory tone on the lips of Amaziah.

26 tn Heb “Eat bread there.”

27 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

28 tn Heb “for it is a temple of a king and it is a royal house.” It is possible that the phrase “royal house” refers to a temple rather than a palace. See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 243.

29 tn Heb “replied and said.” The phrase “and said” is pleonastic (redundant) and has not been included in the translation.

30 tn Heb “I was not a prophet nor was I the son of a prophet.” The phrase “son of a prophet” refers to one who was trained in a prophetic guild. Since there is no equative verb present in the Hebrew text, another option is to translate with the present tense, “I am not a prophet by profession.” In this case Amos, though now carrying out a prophetic ministry (v. 15), denies any official or professional prophetic status. Modern English versions are divided about whether to understand the past (JB, NIV, NKJV) or present tense (NASB, NEB, NRSV, NJPS) here.

31 tn Heb “for.”

32 tn Heb “gashed”; or “pierced.”

sn For a discussion of the agricultural background, see O. Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 128-29.

33 sn It is possible that herdsmen agreed to care for sycamore fig trees in exchange for grazing rights. See P. King, Amos, Hosea, Micah, 116-17. Since these trees do not grow around Tekoa but rather in the lowlands, another option is that Amos owned other property outside his hometown. In this case, this verse demonstrates his relative wealth and is his response to Amaziah; he did not depend on prophecy as a profession (v. 13).

34 tn Heb “from [following] after.”

35 tn Heb “and the Lord said to me.”

36 tn The verb, which literally means “to drip,” appears to be a synonym of “to prophesy,” but it might carry a derogatory tone here, perhaps alluding to the impassioned, frenzied way in which prophets sometimes delivered their messages. If so, one could translate, “to drivel; to foam at the mouth” (see HALOT 694 s.v. נטף).

37 tn Heb “in the city,” that is, “in public.”

38 tn Heb “will fall by the sword.”

39 tn Heb “will be divided up with a [surveyor’s] measuring line.”

40 tn Heb “[an] unclean”; or “[an] impure.” This fate would be especially humiliating for a priest, who was to distinguish between the ritually clean and unclean (see Lev 10:10).

41 tn See the note on the word “exile” in 5:5.



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