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Amos 3:12

Context

3:12 This is what the Lord says:

“Just as a shepherd salvages from the lion’s mouth a couple of leg bones or a piece of an ear,

so the Israelites who live in Samaria will be salvaged. 1 

They will be left with just a corner of a bed, 2 

and a part 3  of a couch.”

1 sn The verb translated salvaged, though often used in a positive sense of deliverance from harm, is here employed in a sarcastic manner. A shepherd would attempt to salvage part of an animal to prove that a predator had indeed killed it. In this way he could prove that he had not stolen the missing animal and absolve himself from any responsibility to repay the owner (see Exod 22:12-13).

2 tn Heb “with a corner of a bed.”

3 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word דְּמֶשֶׁק (dÿmesheq), which occurs only here, is uncertain. If not emended, it is usually related to the term ַדּמֶּשֶׂק (dammeseq) and translated as the “Damask linens” of the bed (cf. NASB “the cover”) or as “in Damascus” (so KJV, NJB, NIV). The differences in spelling (Damascus is spelled correctly in 5:27), historical considerations, and the word order make both of these derivations unlikely. Many emendations have been proposed (e.g., “a part from the foot [of a bed],” based on a different division of the Hebrew letters (cf. NEB, NRSV); “on the edge,” based on a Hebrew term not attested in the Bible (NKJV). Some suggest a resemblance to an Akkadian term which means “sideboard [of a bed],” which is sometimes incorrectly rendered “headboard” (NJPS; see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 121-22). Most likely another part of a bed or couch is in view, but it is difficult to be more specific.



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