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Amos 5:10-13

Context

5:10 The Israelites 1  hate anyone who arbitrates at the city gate; 2 

they despise anyone who speaks honestly.

5:11 Therefore, because you make the poor pay taxes on their crops 3 

and exact a grain tax from them,

you will not live in the houses you built with chiseled stone,

nor will you drink the wine from the fine 4  vineyards you planted. 5 

5:12 Certainly 6  I am aware of 7  your many rebellious acts 8 

and your numerous sins.

You 9  torment the innocent, you take bribes,

and you deny justice to 10  the needy at the city gate. 11 

5:13 For this reason whoever is smart 12  keeps quiet 13  in such a time,

for it is an evil 14  time.

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

2 sn In ancient Israelite culture, legal disputes were resolved in the city gate, where the town elders met.

3 tn Traditionally, “because you trample on the poor” (cf. KJV, ASV, NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT). The traditional view derives the verb from בּוּס (bus, “to trample”; cf. Isa. 14:25), but more likely it is cognate to an Akkadian verb meaning “to exact an agricultural tax” (see H. R. Cohen, Biblical Hapax Legomena [SBLDS], 49; S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 172-73).

4 tn Or “lovely”; KJV, NASB, NRSV “pleasant”; NAB “choice”; NIV “lush.”

5 tn Heb “Houses of chiseled stone you built, but you will not live in them. Fine vineyards you planted, but you will not drink their wine.”

6 tn Or “for.”

7 tn Or “I know” (so most English versions).

8 tn Or “transgressions,” “sins.” See the note on the word “crimes” in 1:3 and on the phrase “covenant violations” in 2:4.

9 tn Heb “Those who.”

10 tn Heb “turn aside.” They “turn aside” the needy by denying them the justice they deserve at the city gate (where legal decisions were made, and therefore where justice should be done).

11 sn Legal disputes were resolved in the city gate, where the town elders met.

12 tn Or “the wise”; or “the prudent.” Another option is to translate “the successful, prosperous” and understand this as a reference to the rich oppressors. See G. V. Smith, Amos, 169-70. In this case the following verb will also have a different nuance, that is, the wealthy remain silent before the abuses they perpetuate. See the note on the verb translated “keeps quiet” later in this verse.

13 tn Or “moans, laments,” from a homonymic verbal root. If the rich oppressors are in view, then the verb (whether translated “will be silenced” or “will lament”) describes the result of God’s judgment upon them. See G. V. Smith, Amos, 170.

14 tn If this is a judgment announcement against the rich, then the Hebrew phrase עֵת רָעָה (’et raah) must be translated, “[a] disastrous time.” See G. V. Smith, Amos, 170.



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