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Amos 1:1--2:16

Context
Introduction

1:1 The following is a record of what Amos prophesied. 1  He 2  was one of the herdsmen from Tekoa. These prophecies about Israel were revealed to him 3  during the time of 4  King Uzziah of Judah and 5  King Jeroboam son of Joash of Israel, two years before the earthquake. 6 

God Will Judge the Surrounding Nations

1:2 Amos 7  said:

“The Lord comes roaring 8  out of Zion;

from Jerusalem 9  he comes bellowing! 10 

The shepherds’ pastures wilt; 11 

the summit of Carmel 12  withers.” 13 

1:3 This is what the Lord says:

“Because Damascus has committed three crimes 14 

make that four! 15  – I will not revoke my

decree of judgment. 16 

They ripped through Gilead like threshing sledges with iron teeth. 17 

1:4 So I will set Hazael’s house 18  on fire;

fire 19  will consume Ben Hadad’s 20  fortresses.

1:5 I will break the bar 21  on the gate of Damascus.

I will remove 22  the ruler 23  from Wicked Valley, 24 

the one who holds the royal scepter from Beth Eden. 25 

The people of Aram will be deported to Kir.” 26 

The Lord has spoken!

1:6 This is what the Lord says:

“Because Gaza 27  has committed three crimes 28 

make that four! 29  – I will not revoke my decree of judgment. 30 

They deported a whole community 31  and sold them 32  to Edom.

1:7 So I will set Gaza’s city wall 33  on fire;

fire 34  will consume her fortresses.

1:8 I will remove 35  the ruler 36  from Ashdod, 37 

the one who holds the royal scepter from Ashkelon. 38 

I will strike Ekron 39  with my hand; 40 

the rest of the Philistines will also die.” 41 

The sovereign Lord has spoken!

1:9 This is what the Lord says:

“Because Tyre has committed three crimes 42 

make that four! 43  – I will not revoke my decree of judgment. 44 

They sold 45  a whole community 46  to Edom;

they failed to observe 47  a treaty of brotherhood. 48 

1:10 So I will set fire to Tyre’s city wall; 49 

fire 50  will consume her fortresses.”

1:11 This is what the Lord says:

“Because Edom has committed three crimes 51 

make that four! 52  – I will not revoke my decree of judgment. 53 

He chased his brother 54  with a sword;

he wiped out his allies. 55 

In his anger he tore them apart without stopping to rest; 56 

in his fury he relentlessly attacked them. 57 

1:12 So I will set Teman 58  on fire;

fire 59  will consume Bozrah’s 60  fortresses.”

1:13 This is what the Lord says:

“Because the Ammonites have committed three crimes 61 

make that four! 62  – I will not revoke my decree of judgment. 63 

They ripped open Gilead’s pregnant women 64 

so they could expand their territory.

1:14 So I will set fire to Rabbah’s 65  city wall; 66 

fire 67  will consume her fortresses.

War cries will be heard on the day of battle; 68 

a strong gale will blow on the day of the windstorm. 69 

1:15 Ammon’s 70  king will be deported; 71 

he and his officials 72  will be carried off 73  together.”

The Lord has spoken!

2:1 This is what the Lord says:

“Because Moab has committed three crimes 74 

make that four! 75  – I will not revoke my decree of judgment. 76 

They burned the bones of Edom’s king into lime. 77 

2:2 So I will set Moab on fire, 78 

and it will consume Kerioth’s 79  fortresses.

Moab will perish 80  in the heat of battle 81 

amid war cries and the blaring 82  of the ram’s horn. 83 

2:3 I will remove 84  Moab’s leader; 85 

I will kill all Moab’s 86  officials 87  with him.”

The Lord has spoken!

2:4 This is what the Lord says:

“Because Judah has committed three covenant transgressions 88 

make that four! 89  – I will not revoke my decree of judgment. 90 

They rejected the Lord’s law; 91 

they did not obey his commands.

Their false gods, 92 

to which their fathers were loyal, 93 

led them astray.

2:5 So I will set Judah on fire,

and it will consume Jerusalem’s fortresses.” 94 

God Will Judge Israel

2:6 This is what the Lord says:

“Because Israel has committed three covenant transgressions 95 

make that four! 96  – I will not revoke my decree of judgment. 97 

They sold the innocent 98  for silver,

the needy for a pair of sandals. 99 

2:7 They trample 100  on the dirt-covered heads of the poor; 101 

they push the destitute away. 102 

A man and his father go to the same girl; 103 

in this way they show disrespect 104  for my moral purity. 105 

2:8 They stretch out on clothing seized as collateral;

they do so right 106  beside every altar!

They drink wine bought with the fines they have levied;

they do so right in the temple 107  of their God! 108 

2:9 For Israel’s sake I destroyed the Amorites. 109 

They were as tall as cedars 110 

and as strong as oaks,

but I destroyed the fruit on their branches 111 

and their roots in the ground. 112 

2:10 I brought you up from the land of Egypt;

I led you through the wilderness for forty years

so you could take the Amorites’ land as your own.

2:11 I made some of your sons prophets

and some of your young men Nazirites. 113 

Is this not true, you Israelites?”

The Lord is speaking!

2:12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine; 114 

you commanded the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy!’

2:13 Look! I will press you down,

like a cart loaded down with grain presses down. 115 

2:14 Fast runners will find no place to hide; 116 

strong men will have no strength left; 117 

warriors will not be able to save their lives.

2:15 Archers 118  will not hold their ground; 119 

fast runners will not save their lives,

nor will those who ride horses. 120 

2:16 Bravehearted 121  warriors will run away naked in that day.”

The Lord is speaking!

1 tn Heb “The words of Amos.” Among the prophetic books this opening phrase finds a parallel only at Jer 1:1 but is not that uncommon in other genres (note, e.g., Prov 30:1; 31:1; Eccl 1:1; Neh 1:1).

2 tn Heb “who.” Here a new sentence has been started in the translation for stylistic reasons.

3 tn Heb “which he saw concerning Israel.”

4 tn Heb “in the days of.”

5 tn The Hebrew text repeats, “and in the days of.” This phrase has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons.

6 sn This refers to a well-known earthquake that occurred during the first half of the 8th century b.c. According to a generally accepted dating system, Uzziah was a co-regent with his father Amaziah from 792-767 b.c. and ruled independently from 767-740 b.c. Jeroboam II was a co-regent with his father Joash from 793-782 b.c. and ruled independently from 782-753 b.c. Since only Uzziah and Jeroboam are mentioned in the introduction it is likely that Amos’ mission to Israel and the earthquake which followed occurred between 767-753 b.c. The introduction validates the genuine character of Amos’ prophetic ministry in at least two ways: (1) Amos was not a native Israelite or a prophet by trade. Rather he was a herdsman in Tekoa, located in Judah. His mere presence in the northern kingdom as a prophet was evidence that he had been called by God (see 7:14-15). (2) The mighty earthquake shortly after Amos’ ministry would have been interpreted as an omen or signal of approaching judgment. The clearest references to an earthquake are 1:1 and 9:1, 5. It is possible that the verb הָפַךְ (hafakh, “overturn”) at 3:13-15, 4:11, 6:11, and 8:8 also refers to an earthquake, as might the descriptions at 2:13 and 6:9-10. Evidence of a powerful earthquake has been correlated with a destruction layer at Hazor and other sites. Its lasting impact is evident by its mention in Zech 14:5 and 2 Chr 26:16-21. Earthquake imagery appears in later prophets as well (cf. D. N. Freedman and A. Welch, “Amos’s Earthquake and Israelite Prophecy,” Scripture and Other Artifacts, 188-98). On the other hand, some of these verses in Amos could allude to the devastation that would be caused by the imminent military invasion.

7 tn Heb “he;” the referent (Amos) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

8 sn The Lord, in his role of warrior-king, is compared to a lion. See 3:4, 8.

9 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

10 tn Heb “gives his voice.”

11 tn Lexicographers debate whether there are two roots אָבַל (’aval), one signifying “mourn” and the other “be dry,” or simply one (“mourn”). The parallel verb (“withers”) might favor the first option and have the meaning “wilt away.” It is interesting to note, however, that the root appears later in the book in the context of lament (5:16; 8:8, 10; 9:5). Either 1:2 is a possible wordplay to alert the reader to the death that will accompany the judgment (the option of two roots), or perhaps the translation “mourns” is appropriate here as well (cf. KJV, NASB, NKJV, NJPS; see also D. J. A. Clines, “Was There an ’BL II ‘Be Dry’ in Classical Hebrew?” VT 42 [1992]: 1-10).

12 sn Carmel was a region known for its abundant plants and trees. See Isa 33:9; 35:2; Jer 50:19.

13 sn Loss of a land’s fertility is frequently associated with judgment in the OT and ancient Near Eastern literature.

14 tn Traditionally, “transgressions” or “sins.” The word refers to rebellion against authority and is used in the international political realm (see 1 Kgs 12:19; 2 Kgs 1:1; 3:5, 7; 8:22). There is debate over its significance in this context. Some relate the “rebellion” of the foreign nations to God’s mandate to Noah (Gen 9:5-7). This mandate is viewed as a treaty between God and humankind, whereby God holds humans accountable to populate the earth and respect his image as it is revealed in all people. While this option is a possible theological explanation of the message in light of the Old Testament as a whole, nothing in these oracles alludes to that Genesis passage. J. Barton suggests that the prophet is appealing to a common morality shared across the ancient Near East regarding the conduct of war since all of the oracles can be related to activities and atrocities committed in warfare (Amos’s Oracles against the Nations [SOTSMS], 39-61). The “transgression” then would be a violation of what all cultures would take as fundamental human decency. Some argue that the nations cited in Amos 1-2 had been members of the Davidic empire. Their crime would consist of violating the mutual agreements that all should have exhibited toward one another (cf. M. E. Polley, Amos and the Davidic Empire). This interpretation is connected to the notion that Amos envisions a reconstituted Davidic empire for Israel and the world (9:11-15). Ultimately, we can only speculate what lay behind Amos’ thinking. He does not specify the theological foundation of his universal moral vision, but it is clear that Amos believes that all nations are responsible before the Lord for their cruelty toward other human beings. He also assumes that even those who did not know his God would recognize their inhumane treatment of others as inherently wrong. The translation “crimes” is general enough to communicate that a standard (whether human or divine) has been breached. For a survey of the possible historical events behind each oracle, see S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia).

15 tn Heb “Because of three violations of Damascus, even because of four.”

sn The three…four style introduces each of the judgment oracles of chaps. 1-2. Based on the use of a similar formula in wisdom literature (see Prov 30:18-19, 29-31), one expects to find in each case a list of four specific violations. However, only in the eighth oracle (against Israel) does one find the expected fourfold list. Through this adaptation and alteration of the normal pattern the Lord indicates that his focus is Israel (he is too bent on judging Israel to dwell very long on her neighbors) and he emphasizes Israel’s guilt with respect to the other nations. (Israel’s list fills up before the others’ lists do.) See R. B. Chisholm, “For Three Sins…Even for Four: The Numerical Sayings in Amos,” BSac 147 (1990): 188-97.

16 tn Heb “I will not bring it [or “him”] back.” The pronominal object (1) refers to the decree of judgment that follows; the referent (the decree) has been specified in the translation for clarity. See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 46-47. Another option (2) is to understand the suffix as referring to the particular nation mentioned in the oracle and to translate, “I will not take him [i.e., that particular nation] back.” In this case the Lord makes it clear that he does not intend to resume treaty relations with the nation in view. See M. L. Barré, “The Meaning of lá ásŒybnw in Amos 1:3-2:6,” JBL 105 (1986): 622.

17 tn Heb “they threshed [or “trampled down”] Gilead with sharp iron implements” (NASB similar).

sn Like threshing sledges with iron teeth. A threshing sledge was made of wooden boards embedded with sharp stones or iron teeth. As the sledge was pulled over the threshing floor the stones or iron teeth would separate the grain from the stalks. See O. Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 64-65. Here the threshing metaphor is used to emphasize how violently and inhumanely the Arameans (the people of Damascus) had treated the people of Gilead (located east of the Jordan River).

18 tn “Hazael’s house” (“the house of Hazael”) refers to the dynasty of Hazael.

sn Hazael took the throne of Aram in 843 b.c. and established a royal dynasty. See 2 Kgs 8:7-15 and W. Pitard, Ancient Damascus, 145-60.

19 tn Heb “it”; the referent (the fire mentioned in the previous line) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

20 sn Ben-hadad may refer to Hazael’s son and successor (2 Kgs 13:3, 24) or to an earlier king (see 1 Kgs 20), perhaps the ruler whom Hazael assassinated when he assumed power.

21 sn The bar on the city gate symbolizes the city’s defenses and security.

22 tn Heb “cut off.”

23 tn Heb “the one who sits.” Some English versions take the Hebrew term in a collective sense as “inhabitants” (e.g., KJV, NKJV, NASB, NRSV). The context and the parallel in the next clause (“the one who holds the royal scepter”), however, suggest that the royal house is in view. For this term (יוֹשֵׁב, yoshev), see N. K. Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh, 512-30.

24 tn Heb “valley of wickedness.” Though many English versions take the Hebrew phrase בִקְעַת־אָוֶן (biq-ataven) as a literal geographical place name (“Valley of Aven,” so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT), it appears to be a derogatory epithet for Damascus and the kingdom of Aram.

25 tn Many associate the name “Beth Eden” with Bit Adini, an Aramean state located near the Euphrates River, but it may be a sarcastic epithet meaning “house of pleasure.”

26 sn According to Amos 9:7, the Arameans originally came from Kir. The Lord threatens to reverse their history and send them back there.

27 sn Gaza was one of the five major Philistine cities (along with Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, and Gath). It was considered to mark the southern limit of Canaan at the point on the coast where it was located (Gen 10:19).

28 tn Traditionally, “transgressions” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV) or “sins” (NIV). For an explanation of the atrocities outlined in this oracle as treaty violations of God’s mandate to Noah in Gen 9:5-7, see the note on the word “violations” in 1:3.

29 tn Heb “Because of three violations of Gaza, even because of four.”

sn On the three…four style that introduces each of the judgment oracles of chaps. 1-2 see the note on the word “four” in 1:3.

30 tn Heb “I will not bring it [or “him”] back.” The translation understands the pronominal object to refer to the decree of judgment that follows; the referent (the decree) has been specified in the translation for clarity. For another option see the note on the word “judgment” in 1:3.

31 tn Heb “[group of] exiles.” A number of English translations take this as a collective singular and translate it with a plural (e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV).

32 tn Heb “in order to hand them over.”

33 sn The city wall symbolizes the city’s defenses and security.

34 tn Heb “it”; the referent (the fire mentioned in the previous line) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

35 tn Heb “cut off.”

36 tn Heb “the one who sits.” Some translations take this expression as a collective singular referring to the inhabitants rather than the ruler (e.g., NAB, NRSV, NLT).

37 sn Ashdod was one of the five major Philistine cities (along with Ashkelon, Ekron, Gaza, and Gath).

38 sn Ashkelon was one of the five major Philistine cities (along with Ashdod, Ekron, Gaza, and Gath).

39 sn Ekron was one of the five major Philistine cities (along with Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza, and Gath).

40 tn Heb “I will turn my hand against Ekron.” For other uses of the idiom, “turn the hand against,” see Ps 81:14; Isa 1:25; Jer 6:9; Zech 13:7.

41 tn Heb “and the remnant of the Philistines will perish.” The translation above assumes that reference is made to other Philistines beside those living in the cities mentioned. Another option is to translate, “Every last Philistine will die.”

42 tn Traditionally, “transgressions” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV) or “sins” (NIV). For an explanation of the atrocities outlined in this oracle as treaty violations of God’s mandate to Noah in Gen 9:5-7, see the note on the word “violations” in 1:3.

43 tn Heb “Because of three violations of Tyre, even because of four.”

sn On the three…four style that introduces each of the judgment oracles of chaps. 1-2 see the note on the word “four” in 1:3.

44 tn Heb “I will not bring it [or “him”] back.” The translation understands the pronominal object to refer to the decree of judgment that follows; the referent (the decree) has been specified in the translation for clarity. For another option see the note on the word “judgment” in 1:3.

45 tn Heb “handed over.”

46 tn Heb “[group of] exiles.” A similar phrase occurs in v. 6.

47 tn Heb “did not remember.”

48 sn A treaty of brotherhood. In the ancient Near Eastern world familial terms were sometimes used to describe treaty partners. In a treaty between superior and inferior parties, the lord would be called “father” and the subject “son.” The partners in a treaty between equals referred to themselves as “brothers.” For biblical examples, see 1 Kgs 9:13; 20:32-33.

49 sn The city wall symbolizes the city’s defenses and security.

50 tn Heb “it”; the referent (the fire mentioned in the previous line) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

51 tn Traditionally, “transgressions” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV) or “sins” (NIV). For an explanation of the atrocities outlined in this oracle as treaty violations of God’s mandate to Noah in Gen 9:5-7, see the note on the word “violations” in 1:3.

52 tn Heb “Because of three violations of Edom, even because of four.”

sn On the three…four style that introduces each of the judgment oracles of chaps. 1-2 see the note on the word “four” in 1:3.

53 tn Heb “I will not bring it [or “him”] back.” The translation understands the pronominal object to refer to the decree of judgment that follows; the referent (the decree) has been specified in the translation for clarity. For another option see the note on the word “judgment” in 1:3.

54 sn It is likely that “brother” refers here to a treaty partner (see the note on the word “brotherhood” in 1:9). However, it is possible, if Israel is in view, that Edom’s ancient blood relationship to God’s people is alluded to here. Cf. NCV, NLT “their relatives, the Israelites.”

55 tn Or “He stifled his compassion.” The Hebrew term רָחֲמָיו (rakhamayv) is better understood here (parallel to “brother/treaty partner”) as a reference to “allies” which Edom betrayed. An Aramaic cognate is attested (see DNWSI 2:1069-70). See M. Fishbane, “The Treaty Background of Amos 1:11 and Related Matters,” JBL 89 (1970): 313-18; idem, “Critical Note: Additional Remarks on rh£myw (Amos 1:11),” JBL 91 (1972): 391-93; and M. Barré, “Amos 1:11 reconsidered,” CBQ 47 (1985) 420-27. Some argue that the clause is best translated as “and destroyed his womenfolk.” רַחַם (rakham) means “womb”; the plural here would be a metonymy for “women” and could establish a parallel with the atrocity of 1:13. See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 64-65.

56 tn Heb “his anger tore continually.” The Hebrew verb טָרַף (taraf, “tear apart”) is often used of an animal tearing apart its prey. The word picture here is that of a vicious predator’s feeding frenzy.

57 tn Traditionally, “he kept his fury continually.” The Hebrew term שְׁמָרָה (shÿmarah) could be taken as a Qal perfect 3rd person masculine singular with 3rd person feminine singular suffix (with mappiq omitted), “he kept it” (NASB, NKJV, NRSV). It is also possible in light of the parallelism that שָׁמַר (shamar) is a rare homonym cognate to an Akkadian verb meaning “to rage; to be furious.” Repointing the verb as שָׁמְרָה (shamÿrah, third person feminine singular), one could translate literally, “his fury raged continually” (NIV, NJPS).

58 sn Teman was an important region (or perhaps city) in Edom.

59 tn Heb “it”; the referent (the fire mentioned in the previous line) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

60 sn Bozrah was a city located in northern Edom.

61 tn Traditionally, “transgressions” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV) or “sins” (NIV). For an explanation of the atrocities outlined in this oracle as treaty violations of God’s mandate to Noah in Gen 9:5-7, see the note on the word “violations” in 1:3.

62 tn Heb “Because of three violations of the Ammonites, even because of four.”
On the three…four style that introduces each of the judgment oracles of chaps. 1-2 see the note on the word “four” in 1:3.

63 tn Heb “I will not bring it [or “him”] back.” The translation understands the pronominal object to refer to the decree of judgment that follows; the referent (the decree) has been specified in the translation for clarity. For another option see the note on the word “judgment” in 1:3.

64 sn The Ammonites ripped open Gilead’s pregnant women in conjunction with a military invasion designed to expand their territory. Such atrocities, although repugnant, were not uncommon in ancient Near Eastern warfare.

65 sn Rabbah was the Ammonite capital.

66 sn The city wall symbolizes the city’s defenses and security.

67 tn Heb “it”; the referent (the fire mentioned in the previous line) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

68 tn Heb “with a war cry in the day of battle.”

69 tn Heb “with wind in the day of the windstorm.”

sn A windstorm is a metaphor for judgment and destruction in the OT (see Isa 29:6; Jer 23:19) and ancient Near Eastern literature.

70 tn Heb “their”; the referent (Ammon) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

71 tn Heb “will go into exile.”

72 tn Or “princes” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NLT); TEV “officers”; CEV “leaders.”

73 tn The words “will be carried off” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

74 tn Traditionally, “transgressions” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV) or “sins” (NIV). For an explanation of the atrocities outlined in this oracle as treaty violations of God’s mandate to Noah in Gen 9:5-7, see the note on the word “violations” in 1:3.

75 tn Heb “Because of three violations of Moab, even because of four.”

sn On the three…four style that introduces each of the judgment oracles of chaps. 1-2 see the note on the word “four” in 1:3.

76 tn Heb “I will not bring it [or “him”] back.” The translation understands the pronominal object to refer to the decree of judgment that follows; the referent (the decree) has been specified in the translation for clarity. For another option see the note on the word “judgment” in 1:3.

77 sn The Moabites apparently desecrated the tomb of an Edomite king and burned his bones into a calcined substance which they then used as plaster (cf. Deut 27:2, 4). See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 72. Receiving a proper burial was very important in this culture. Desecrating a tomb or a deceased individual’s bones was considered an especially heinous act.

78 sn The destruction of Moab by fire is an example of a judgment in kind – as the Moabites committed the crime of “burning,” so the Lord will punish them by setting them on fire.

79 sn Kerioth was an important Moabite city. See Jer 48:24, 41.

80 tn Or “die” (KJV, NASB, NRSV, TEV); NAB “shall meet death.”

81 tn Or “in the tumult.” This word refers to the harsh confusion of sounds that characterized an ancient battle – a mixture of war cries, shouts, shrieks of pain, clashes of weapons, etc.

82 tn Heb “sound” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV).

83 sn The ram’s horn (used as a trumpet) was blown to signal the approaching battle.

84 tn Heb “cut off” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NAB “root out”; NCV “bring to an end.”

85 tn Heb “the leader [traditionally, “judge”] from her midst.”

86 tn Heb “her”; the referent (Moab) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

87 tn Or “princes” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NLT); TEV, CEV “leaders.”

88 tn This is the same Hebrew term that is translated “crimes” in the previous oracles (see at 1:3). The change to “covenant transgressions” reflects the probability that the prophet is condemning the nation of Israel for violating stipulations of the Mosaic Law.

89 tn Heb “Because of three violations of Judah, even because of four.”

sn On the three…four style that introduces each of the judgment oracles of chaps. 1-2 see the note on the word “four” in 1:3.

90 tn Heb “I will not bring it [or “him”] back.” The translation understands the pronominal object to refer to the decree of judgment that follows; the referent (the decree) has been specified in the translation for clarity. For another option see the note on the word “judgment” in 1:3.

91 tn Or “instruction”; NCV “teachings.”

92 tn Heb “lies.” This may very well be a derogatory term for idols (perhaps also at Ps. 40:4 [Heb 40:5]). Elsewhere false gods are called “vanities” (Deut 32:21; 1 Kgs 16:13, 26) and a delusion (Isa 66:3). In no other prophetic passages, however, are they called “lies.” The term could refer to the deceptions of false prophets (note Ezek 13:6-9; cf. Hab 2:3). See F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Amos (AB), 301-6.

93 tn Heb “after which their fathers walked.” The expression “to walk after” is an idiom meaning “to be loyal to.” See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 75-76.

sn Here the idolatry of the parents carried over to the children, who persisted in worshiping the idols to which their fathers were loyal.

94 map For the location of Jerusalem see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

95 tn For this translation see the note at 2:4.

96 tn Heb “Because of three violations of Israel, even because of four.”

sn On the three…four style that introduces each of the judgment oracles of chaps. 1-2 see the note on the word “four” in 1:3. Only in this last oracle against Israel does one find the list of four specific violations expected based on the use of a similar formula elsewhere in wisdom literature (see Prov 30:18-19, 29-31). This adaptation of the normal pattern indicates the Lord’s focus on Israel here (he is too bent on judging Israel to dwell very long on her neighbors) and emphasizes Israel’s guilt with respect to the other nations (Israel’s list fills up before the others’ lists do). See R. B. Chisholm, “‘For three sins...even for four’: the numerical sayings in Amos,” BSac 147 (1990) 188-97.

97 tn Heb “I will not bring it [or “him”] back.” The translation understands the pronominal object to refer to the decree of judgment that follows; the referent (the decree) has been specified in the translation for clarity. For another option see the note on the word “judgment” in 1:3.

98 tn Or “honest” (CEV, NLT). The Hebrew word sometimes has a moral-ethical connotation, “righteous, godly,” but the parallelism (note “poor”) suggests a socio-economic or legal sense here. The practice of selling debtors as slaves is in view (Exod 21:2-11; Lev 25:35-55; Deut 15:12-18) See the note at Exod 21:8 and G. C. Chirichigno, Debt-Slavery in Israel and the Ancient Near East (JSOTSup). Probably the only “crime” the victim had committed was being unable to pay back a loan or an exorbitant interest rate on a loan. Some have suggested that this verse refers to bribery in legal proceedings: The innocent are “sold” in the sense that those in power pay off the elders or judges for favorable decisions (5:12; cf. Exod 23:6-7).

99 tn Perhaps the expression “for a pair of sandals” indicates a relatively small price or debt. Some suggest that the sandals may have been an outward token of a more substantial purchase price. Others relate the sandals to a ritual attached to the transfer of property, signifying here that the poor would be losing their inherited family lands because of debt (Ruth 4:7; cf. Deut 25:8-10). Still others emend the Hebrew form slightly to נֶעְלָם (nelam, “hidden thing”; from the root עָלַם, ’alam, “to hide”) and understand this as referring to a bribe.

100 tn Most scholars now understand this verb as derived from the root II שָׁאַף (shaaf, “to crush; to trample”), an alternate form of שׁוּף (shuf), rather than from I שָׁאַף (shaaf, “to pant, to gasp”; cf. KJV, ASV, NASB).

101 tn Heb “those who stomp on the dirt of the ground on the head of the poor.” It is possible to render the line as “they trample the heads of the poor into the dust of the ground,” thereby communicating that the poor are being stepped on in utter contempt (see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 79-80). The participial form הַשֹּׁאֲפִים (hashoafim) is substantival and stands in apposition to the pronominal suffix on מִכְרָם (mikhram, v. 6b).

sn The picture of the poor having dirt-covered heads suggests their humiliation before their oppressors and/or their sorrow (see 2 Sam 1:2; 15:32).

102 tn Heb “they turn aside the way of the destitute.” Many interpreters take “way” to mean “just cause” and understand this as a direct reference to the rights of the destitute being ignored. The injustice done to the poor is certainly in view, but the statement is better taken as a word picture depicting the powerful rich pushing the “way of the poor” (i.e., their attempt to be treated justly) to the side. An even more vivid picture is given in Amos 5:12, where the rich are pictured as turning the poor away from the city gate (where legal decisions were made, and therefore where justice should be done).

103 sn Most interpreters see some type of sexual immorality here (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT), even though the Hebrew phrase הָלַךְ אֶל (halakhel, “go to”) never refers elsewhere to sexual intercourse. (The usual idiom is בוֹא אֶל [bo’ ’el]. However, S. M. Paul (Amos [Hermeneia], 82) attempts to develop a linguistic case for a sexual connotation here.) The precise identification of the “girl” in question is not clear. Some see the referent as a cultic prostitute (cf. NAB; v. 8 suggests a cultic setting), but the term נַעֲרָה (naarah) nowhere else refers to a prostitute. Because of the contextual emphasis on social oppression, some suggest the exploitation of a slave girl is in view. H. Barstad argues that the “girl” is the hostess at a pagan מַרְזֵחַ (marzeakh) banquet (described at some length in 6:4-7). In his view the sin described here is not sexual immorality, but idolatry (see H. Barstad, The Religious Polemics of Amos [VTSup], 33-36). In this case, one might translate, “Father and son go together to a pagan banquet.” In light of this cultic context, F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman argue that this is a reference to a specific female deity (“the Girl”) and correlate this verse with 8:14 (Amos [AB], 318-19).

104 tn Or “pollute”; “desecrate”; “dishonor.”

105 tn Heb “my holy name.” Here “name” is used metonymically for God’s moral character or reputation, while “holy” has a moral and ethical connotation.

106 tn The words “They do so right” are supplied twice in the translation of this verse for clarification.

107 tn Heb “house.”

108 tn Or “gods.” The Hebrew term אֱלֹהֵיהֶם (’elohehem) may be translated “their gods” (referring to pagan gods), “their god” (referring to a pagan god, cf. NAB, NIV, NLT), or “their God” (referring to the God of Israel, cf. NASB, NRSV).

109 tn Heb “I destroyed the Amorites from before them.” The translation takes מִפְּנֵי (mippÿney) in the sense of “for the sake of.” See BDB 818 s.v. פָּנֻה II.6.a and H. W. Wolff, Joel and Amos (Hermeneia), 134. Another option is to take the phrase in a spatial sense, “I destroyed the Amorites, [clearing them out] from before them [i.e., Israel]” (cf. NIV, NRSV).

110 tn Heb “whose height was like the height of cedars.”

111 tn Heb “his fruit from above.”

112 tn Heb “and his roots from below.”

113 tn Or perhaps “religious devotees” (also in the following verse). The Hebrew term נָזִיר (nazir) refers to one who “consecrated” or “devoted” to God (see Num 6:1-21).

114 sn Nazirites were strictly forbidden to drink wine (Num 6:2-3).

115 tn The precise meaning of this verse is unclear. Various suggested meanings have been proposed (see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 94): (1) One option is to relate the verb to an Arabic verb, meaning “to hinder; to hamper,” and translate, “I am making you immobile, like a cart filled with grain is immobile.” In this case, the Lord refers to Israel’s inability to escape his coming judgment (see vv. 14-16; NJPS). (2) Another view relates the verb to a different Arabic verb meaning “to cut in pieces,” translating “I will cut you in pieces as a cart cuts in pieces [the earth],” referring to the ruts and rifts in the ground caused by an earthquake. (3) Some relate the verb to an Arabic root meaning “to groan” with the idea that the Lord causes the ground underneath Israel to groan (cf. NLT). (4) The translation connects the verb to an Aramaism signifying to “press down” (cf. NIV, NRSV). Some English versions translate the verb in an intransitive sense as “I am weighted down” (cf. NASB, NKJV) or “I groan beneath you” (NEB). For this last option, see F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Amos (AB), 334.

116 tn Heb “and a place of refuge will perish from the swift.”

117 tn Heb “the strong will not increase his strength.”

118 tn Heb “the one who holds the bow.”

119 tn For the idiom of “holding [or “standing”] one’s ground” in battle, there is a similar phrase in Ezek 13:5; also related is the expression “to hold one’s own against” (or “to withstand”) in Judg 2:14; 2 Kgs 10:4; Dan 8:7 (see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 97). Other options include “will not endure” or “will not survive.”

120 tn The last two lines read literally, “The one fast in his feet will not rescue [his life], and the rider of the horse will not rescue his life.” The phrase “his life” does double duty in the parallelism and should be understood in both lines.

121 tn Or “the most stouthearted” (NAB); NRSV “those who are stout of heart.”



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