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Amos 6:8-14

Context

6:8 The sovereign Lord confirms this oath by his very own life. 1 

The Lord, the God who commands armies, is speaking:

“I despise Jacob’s arrogance;

I hate their 2  fortresses.

I will hand over to their enemies 3  the city of Samaria 4  and everything in it.”

6:9 If ten men are left in one house, they too will die. 6:10 When their close relatives, the ones who will burn the corpses, 5  pick up their bodies to remove the bones from the house, they will say to anyone who is in the inner rooms of the house, “Is anyone else with you?” He will respond, “Be quiet! Don’t invoke the Lord’s name!” 6 

6:11 Indeed, look! The Lord is giving the command. 7 

He will smash the large house to bits,

and the small house into little pieces.

6:12 Can horses run on rocky cliffs?

Can one plow the sea with oxen? 8 

Yet you have turned justice into a poisonous plant,

and the fruit of righteous actions into a bitter plant. 9 

6:13 You are happy because you conquered Lo-Debar. 10 

You say, “Did we not conquer Karnaim 11  by our own power?”

6:14 “Look! I am about to bring 12  a nation against you, family 13  of Israel.”

The Lord, the God who commands armies, is speaking.

“They will oppress 14  you all the way from Lebo-Hamath 15  to the Stream of the Arabah.” 16 

1 tn Heb “swears by his life”; or “swears by himself.”

2 tn Heb “his,” referring to Jacob, which stands here for the nation of Israel.

3 tn The words “to their enemies” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

4 tn Heb “the city”; this probably refers to the city of Samaria (cf. 6:1), which in turn, by metonymy, represents the entire northern kingdom.

5 tn The translation assumes that “their relatives” and “the ones who will burn the corpses” are in apposition. Another option is to take them as distinct individuals, in which case one could translate, “When their close relatives and the ones who will burn the corpses pick up…” The meaning of the form translated “the ones who burn the corpses” is uncertain. Another option is to translate, “the ones who prepare the corpses for burial” (NASB “undertaker”; cf. also CEV). See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 215-16.

6 tn This verse is notoriously difficult to interpret. The Hebrew text literally reads, “And he will lift him up, his uncle, and the one burning him, to bring out bones from the house. And he will say to the one who is in the inner parts of the house, ‘Is there [anyone] still with you?’ And he will say, ‘Be quiet for not to invoke the name of the Lord.’” The translation assumes that the singular pronominal and verbal forms throughout the verse are collective or distributive. This last sentence has been interpreted in several ways: a command not to call on the name of the Lord out of fear that he might return again in judgment; the realization that it is not appropriate to seek a blessing in the Lord’s name upon the dead in the house since the judgment was deserved; an angry refusal to call on the Lord out of a sense that he has betrayed his people in allowing them to suffer.

7 tn Or “is issuing the decree.”

8 tc Heb “Does one plow with oxen?” This obviously does not fit the parallelism, for the preceding rhetorical question requires the answer, “Of course not!” An error of fusion has occurred in the Hebrew, with the word יָם (yam, “sea”) being accidentally added as a plural ending to the collective noun בָּקָר (baqar, “oxen”). A proper division of the consonants produces the above translation, which fits the parallelism and also anticipates the answer, “Of course not!”

9 sn The botanical imagery, when juxtaposed with the preceding rhetorical questions, vividly depicts and emphasizes how the Israelites have perverted justice and violated the created order by their morally irrational behavior.

10 tn Heb “those who rejoice over Lo-Debar.”

sn Lo-Debar was located across the Jordan River in Gilead, which the Israelite army had conquered. However, there is stinging irony here, for in Hebrew the name Lo-Debar means “nothing.” In reality Israel was happy over nothing of lasting consequence.

11 sn Karnaim was also located across the Jordan River. The name in Hebrew means “double horned.” Since an animal’s horn was a symbol of strength (see Deut 33:17), the Israelites boasted in this victory over a town whose very name symbolized military power.

12 tn Or “raise up” (KJV, NASB); NIV “stir up.”

13 tn Heb “house.”

14 sn Once again there is irony in the divine judgment. The oppressive nation itself will suffer oppression. The verb “oppress” (לָחַץ, lakhats) in this verse is not the same as that used in 4:1 (עָשַׁק, ’ashaq).

15 tn Or “from the entrance to Hamath.” The Hebrew term לְבוֹא (lÿvo’) can either be translated or considered a part of the place name.

16 sn Lebo-Hamath refers to the northern border of Israel, the Stream of the Arabah to its southern border. See 2 Kgs 14:25. Through this invader the Lord would reverse the victories and territorial expansion Israel experienced during the reign of Jeroboam II.



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