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Amos 4:4-5

Israel has an Appointment with God

4:4 “Go to Bethel 1  and rebel! 2 

At Gilgal 3  rebel some more!

Bring your sacrifices in 4  the morning,

your tithes on 5  the third day!

4:5 Burn a thank offering of bread made with yeast! 6 

Make a public display of your voluntary offerings! 7 

For you love to do this, you Israelites.”

The sovereign Lord is speaking!

Amos 5:4-5


5:4 The Lord says this to the family 8  of Israel:

“Seek me 9  so you can live!

5:5 Do not seek Bethel! 10 

Do not visit Gilgal!

Do not journey down 11  to Beer Sheba!

For the people of Gilgal 12  will certainly be carried into exile; 13 

and Bethel will become a place where disaster abounds.” 14 

Amos 8:12


8:12 People 15  will stagger from sea to sea, 16 

and from the north around to the east.

They will wander about looking for a revelation from 17  the Lord,

but they will not find any. 18 

1 sn Bethel and Gilgal were important formal worship centers because of their importance in Israel’s history. Here the Lord ironically urges the people to visit these places so they can increase their sin against him. Their formal worship, because it was not accompanied by social justice, only made them more guilty in God’s sight by adding hypocrisy to their list of sins. Obviously, theirs was a twisted view of the Lord. They worshiped a god of their own creation in order to satisfy their religious impulses (see 4:5: “For you love to do this”). Note that none of the rituals listed in 4:4-5 have to do with sin.

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

2 tn The Hebrew word translated “rebel” (also in the following line) could very well refer here to Israel’s violations of their covenant with God (see also the term “crimes” in 1:3 [with note] and the phrase “covenant transgressions” in 2:4 [with note]; 3:14).

3 sn See the note on Bethel earlier in this verse.

4 tn Or “for.”

5 tn Or “for.”

6 sn For the background of the thank offering of bread made with yeast, see Lev 7:13.

7 tn Heb “proclaim voluntary offerings, announce.”

8 tn Heb “house.”

9 sn The following verses explain what it meant to seek the Lord. Israel was to abandon the mere formalism and distorted view of God and reality that characterized religious activity at the worship sites, as well as the social injustice that permeated Israelite society. Instead the people were to repent and promote justice in the land. This call to seek the Lord echoes the challenge in 4:13 to prepare to meet him as he truly is.

10 sn Ironically, Israel was to seek after the Lord, but not at Bethel (the name Bethel means “the house of God” in Hebrew).

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

11 tn Heb “cross over.”

sn To worship at Beer Sheba, northern worshipers had to journey down (i.e., cross the border) between Israel and Judah. Apparently, the popular religion of Israel for some included pilgrimage to holy sites in the South.

12 tn Heb “For Gilgal.” By metonymy the place name “Gilgal” is used instead of referring directly to the inhabitants. The words “the people of” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

13 tn In the Hebrew text the statement is emphasized by sound play. The name “Gilgal” sounds like the verb גָּלָה (galah, “to go into exile”), which occurs here in the infinitival + finite verb construction (גָּלֹה יִגְלֶה, galoh yigleh). The repetition of the “ג” (g) and “ל” (l) sounds draws attention to the announcement and suggests that Gilgal’s destiny is inherent in its very name.

sn That the people of Gilgal would be taken into exile is ironic, for Gilgal was Israel’s first campsite when the people entered the land under Joshua and the city became a symbol of Israel’s possession of the promised land.

14 tn Heb “disaster,” or “nothing”; NIV “Bethel will be reduced to nothing.”

sn Again there is irony. The name Bethel means “house of God” in Hebrew. How surprising and tragic that Bethel, the “house of God” where Jacob received the inheritance given to Abraham, would be overrun by disaster.

15 tn Heb “they”; the referent (people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

16 tn That is, from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Dead Sea in the east – that is, across the whole land.

17 tn Heb “looking for the word of.”

18 tn It is not clear whether the speaker in this verse is the Lord or the prophet.

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