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Amos 6:1-6

Context
The Party is over for the Rich

6:1 Woe 1  to those who live in ease in Zion, 2 

to those who feel secure on Mount Samaria.

They think of themselves as 3  the elite class of the best nation.

The family 4  of Israel looks to them for leadership. 5 

6:2 They say to the people: 6 

“Journey over to Calneh and look at it!

Then go from there to Hamath-Rabbah! 7 

Then go down to Gath of the Philistines!

Are they superior to our two 8  kingdoms?

Is their territory larger than yours?” 9 

6:3 You refuse to believe a day of disaster will come, 10 

but you establish a reign of violence. 11 

6:4 They lie around on beds decorated with ivory, 12 

and sprawl out on their couches.

They eat lambs from the flock,

and calves from the middle of the pen.

6:5 They sing 13  to the tune of 14  stringed instruments; 15 

like David they invent 16  musical instruments.

6:6 They drink wine from sacrificial bowls, 17 

and pour the very best oils on themselves. 18 

Yet they are not concerned over 19  the ruin 20  of Joseph.

1 tn On the Hebrew term הוֹי (hoy; “ah, woe”) as a term of mourning, see the notes in 5:16, 18.

2 sn Zion is a reference to Jerusalem.

3 tn The words “They think of themselves as” are supplied in the translation for clarification. In the Hebrew text the term נְקֻבֵי (nÿquvey; “distinguished ones, elite”) is in apposition to the substantival participles in the first line.

4 tn Heb “house.”

5 tn Heb “comes to them.”

6 tn The words “They say to the people” are interpretive and supplied in the translation for clarification. The translation understands v. 2 as the boastful words, which the leaders (described in v. 1) spoke to those who came to them (v. 1b). Some interpret v. 2 differently, understanding the words as directed to the leaders by the prophet. Verse 2b would then be translated: “Are you (i.e., Israel and Judah) better than these kingdoms (i.e., Calneh, etc.)? Is your border larger than their border?” (This reading requires an emendation of the Hebrew text toward the end of the verse.) In this case the verse is a reminder to Judah/Israel that they are not superior to other nations, which have already fallen victim to military conquest. Consequently Judah/Israel should not expect to escape the same fate. Following this line of interpretation, some take v. 2 as a later addition since the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser III conquered Calneh, Hamath, and Gath after the time of Amos’ ministry. However, this conclusion is not necessary since the kingdoms mentioned here had suffered military setbacks prior to Amos’ time as well. See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 201-4.

7 tn Or “Great Hamath” (cf. NIV); or “Hamath the great” (cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); the word “rabbah” means “great” in Hebrew.

8 tn Heb “to these,” referring to Judah and Israel (see v. 1a).

9 tn Both rhetorical questions in this verse expect the answer “no.” If these words do come from the leaders, then this verse underscores their self-delusion of power (compare 6:13). The prophet had no such mistaken sense of national grandeur (7:2, 5).

10 tn Heb “those who push away a day of disaster.”

11 tn Heb “you bring near a seat of violence.” The precise meaning of the Hebrew term שֶׁבֶת (shevet, “seat, sitting”) is unclear in this context. The translation assumes that it refers to a throne from which violence (in the person of the oppressive leaders) reigns. Another option is that the expression refers not to the leaders’ oppressive rule, but to the coming judgment when violence will overtake the nation in the person of enemy invaders.

12 tn Heb “beds of ivory.”

13 tn The meaning of the Hebrew verb פָּרַט (parat), which occurs only here in the OT, is unclear. Some translate “strum,” “pluck,” or “improvise.”

14 tn Heb “upon the mouth of,” that is, “according to.”

15 sn The stringed instruments mentioned here are probably harps (cf. NIV, NRSV) or lutes (cf. NEB).

16 tn The meaning of the Hebrew phrase חָשְׁבוּ לָהֶם (khoshvu lahem) is uncertain. Various options include: (1) “they think their musical instruments are like David’s”; (2) “they consider themselves musicians like David”; (3) “they esteem musical instruments highly like David”; (4) “they improvise [new songs] for themselves [on] instruments like David”; (5) “they invent musical instruments like David.” However, the most commonly accepted interpretation is that given in the translation (see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 206-7).

17 sn Perhaps some religious rite is in view, or the size of the bowls is emphasized (i.e., bowls as large as sacrificial bowls).

18 tn Heb “with the best of oils they anoint [themselves].”

19 tn Or “not sickened by.”

20 sn The ruin of Joseph may refer to the societal disintegration in Israel, or to the effects of the impending judgment.



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