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Amos 5:16-20

Context

5:16 Because of Israel’s sins 1  this is what the Lord, the God who commands armies, the sovereign One, 2  says:

“In all the squares there will be wailing,

in all the streets they will mourn the dead. 3 

They will tell the field workers 4  to lament

and the professional mourners 5  to wail.

5:17 In all the vineyards there will be wailing,

for I will pass through 6  your midst,” says the Lord.

The Lord Demands Justice

5:18 Woe 7  to those who wish for the day of the Lord!

Why do you want the Lord’s day of judgment to come?

It will bring darkness, not light.

5:19 Disaster will be inescapable, 8 

as if a man ran from a lion only to meet a bear,

then escaped 9  into a house,

leaned his hand against the wall,

and was bitten by a poisonous snake.

5:20 Don’t you realize the Lord’s day of judgment will bring 10  darkness, not light –

gloomy blackness, not bright light?

1 tn Heb “Therefore.” This logical connector relates back to the accusation of vv. 10-13, not to the parenthetical call to repentance in vv. 14-15. To indicate this clearly, the phrase “Because of Israel’s sins” is used in the translation.

2 tn Or “the Lord.” The Hebrew term translated “sovereign One” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

3 tn Heb “they will say, ‘Ah! Ah!’” The Hebrew term הוֹ (ho, “ah, woe”) is an alternate form of הוֹי (hoy), a word used to mourn the dead and express outwardly one’s sorrow. See 1 Kgs 13:30; Jer 22:18; 34:5. This wordplay follows quickly, as v. 18 begins with הוֹי (“woe”).

4 tn Or “farmers” (NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

5 tn Heb “those who know lamentation.”

sn Professional mourners are referred to elsewhere in the OT (2 Chr 35:25; Jer 9:17) and ancient Near Eastern literature. See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 180.

6 sn The expression pass through your midst alludes to Exod 12:12, where the Lord announced he would “pass through” Egypt and bring death to the Egyptian firstborn.

7 tn The term הוֹי (hoy, “woe”) was used when mourning the dead (see the note on the word “dead” in 5:16). The prophet here either engages in role playing and mourns the death of the nation in advance or sarcastically taunts those who hold to this misplaced belief.

8 tn The words “Disaster will be inescapable” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

9 tn Heb “went” (so KJV, NRSV).

10 tn Heb “Will not the day of the Lord be.”



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