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Amos 9:1-9

Context

9:1 I saw the sovereign One 1  standing by the altar 2  and he said, “Strike the tops of the support pillars, 3  so the thresholds shake!

Knock them down on the heads of all the people, 4 

and I will kill the survivors 5  with the sword.

No one will be able to run away; 6 

no one will be able to escape. 7 

9:2 Even if they could dig down into the netherworld, 8 

my hand would pull them up from there.

Even if they could climb up to heaven,

I would drag them down from there.

9:3 Even if they were to hide on the top of Mount Carmel,

I would hunt them down and take them from there.

Even if they tried to hide from me 9  at the bottom of the sea,

from there 10  I would command the Sea Serpent 11  to bite them.

9:4 Even when their enemies drive them into captivity, 12 

from there 13  I will command the sword to kill them.

I will not let them out of my sight;

they will experience disaster, not prosperity.” 14 

9:5 The sovereign Lord who commands armies will do this. 15 

He touches the earth and it dissolves; 16 

all who live on it mourn.

The whole earth 17  rises like the River Nile, 18 

and then grows calm 19  like the Nile in Egypt. 20 

9:6 He builds the upper rooms of his palace 21  in heaven

and sets its foundation supports 22  on the earth. 23 

He summons the water of the sea

and pours it out on the earth’s surface.

The Lord is his name.

9:7 “You Israelites are just like the Ethiopians in my sight,” 24  says the Lord.

“Certainly I brought Israel up from the land of Egypt,

but I also brought the Philistines from Caphtor 25  and the Arameans from Kir. 26 

9:8 Look, the sovereign Lord is watching 27  the sinful nation, 28 

and I will destroy it from the face of the earth.

But I will not completely destroy the family 29  of Jacob,” says the Lord.

9:9 “For look, I am giving a command

and I will shake the family of Israel together with all the nations.

It will resemble a sieve being shaken,

when not even a pebble falls to the ground. 30 

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

2 sn The altar is perhaps the altar at Bethel.

3 tn Or “the capitals.” The Hebrew singular form is collective.

4 tn Heb “cut them off on the head of all of them.” The translation assumes the objective suffix on the verb refers to the tops of the pillars and that the following prepositional phrase refers to the people standing beneath. Another option is to take this phrase as referring to the pillars, in which case one could translate, “Knock all the tops of the pillars off.”

5 tn Heb “the remnant of them.” One could possibly translate, “every last one of them” (cf. NEB “to the last man”). This probably refers to those who survive the collapse of the temple, which may symbolize the northern kingdom.

6 tn Heb “a fugitive belonging to them will not run away.”

7 tn Heb “a survivor belonging to them will not escape.”

8 tn Heb “into Sheol” (so ASV, NASB, NRSV), that is, the land of the dead localized in Hebrew thought in the earth’s core or the grave. Cf. KJV “hell”; NCV, NLT “the place of the dead”; NIV “the depths of the grave.”

9 tn Heb “from before my eyes.”

10 tn Or perhaps simply, “there,” if the מ (mem) prefixed to the adverb is dittographic (note the preceding word ends in mem).

11 sn If the article indicates a definite serpent, then the mythological Sea Serpent, symbolic of the world’s chaotic forces, is probably in view. See Job 26:13 and Isa 27:1 (where it is also called Leviathan). Elsewhere in the OT this serpent is depicted as opposing the Lord, but this text implies that even this powerful enemy of God is ultimately subject to his sovereign will.

12 tn Heb “Even if they go into captivity before their enemies.”

13 tn Or perhaps simply, “there,” if the מ (mem) prefixed to the adverb is dittographic (note the preceding word ends in mem).

14 tn Heb “I will set my eye on them for disaster, not good.”

15 tn The words “will do this” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

16 tn Or “melts.” The verb probably depicts earthquakes and landslides. See v. 5b.

17 tn Heb “all of it.”

18 tn Heb “the Nile.” The word “River” is supplied in the translation for clarity.

19 tn Or “sinks back down.”

20 sn See Amos 8:8, which is very similar to this verse.

21 tc The MT reads “his steps.” If this is correct, then the reference may be to the steps leading up to the heavenly temple or the throne of God (cf. 1 Kgs 10:19-20). The prefixed מ (mem) may be dittographic (note the preceding word ends in mem). The translation assumes an emendation to עֲלִיָּתוֹ (’aliyyato, “his upper rooms”).

22 tn Traditionally, “vault” (so ASV, NAB, NRSV). The precise meaning of this word in this context is unclear. Elsewhere it refers to objects grouped or held together. F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman (Amos [AB], 845-46) suggest the foundational structure of a building is in view.

23 sn Verse 6a pictures the entire universe as a divine palace founded on the earth and extending into the heavens.

24 tn The Hebrew text has a rhetorical question, “Are you children of Israel not like the Cushites to me?” The rhetorical question has been converted to an affirmative statement in the translation for clarity. See the comment at 8:8.

sn Though Israel was God’s special covenant people (see 3:2a), the Lord emphasizes they are not inherently superior to the other nations subject to his sovereign rule.

25 sn Caphtor may refer to the island of Crete.

26 tn The second half of v. 7 is also phrased as a rhetorical question in the Hebrew text, “Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and Aram from Kir?” The translation converts the rhetorical question into an affirmation for clarity.

27 tn Heb “the eyes of the sovereign Lord are on.”

28 tn Or “kingdom.”

29 tn Heb “house” (also in the following verse).

30 tn Heb “like being shaken with a sieve, and a pebble does not fall to the ground.” The meaning of the Hebrew word צְרוֹר (tsÿror), translated “pebble,” is unclear here. In 2 Sam 17:13 it appears to refer to a stone. If it means “pebble,” then the sieve described in v. 6 allows the grain to fall into a basket while retaining the debris and pebbles. However, if one interprets צְרוֹר as a “kernel of grain” (cf. NASB, NIV, NKJV, NLT) then the sieve is constructed to retain the grain and allow the refuse and pebbles to fall to the ground. In either case, the simile supports the last statement in v. 8 by making it clear that God will distinguish between the righteous (the grain) and the wicked (the pebbles) when he judges, and will thereby preserve a remnant in Israel. Only the sinners will be destroyed (v. 10).



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