2:6 This is what the Lord says:
“Because Israel has committed three covenant transgressions 1 –
They sold the innocent 4 for silver,
the needy for a pair of sandals. 5
they push the destitute away. 8
A man and his father go to the same girl; 9
2:8 They stretch out on clothing seized as collateral;
they do so right 12 beside every altar!
They drink wine bought with the fines they have levied;
They were as tall as cedars 16
and as strong as oaks,
but I destroyed the fruit on their branches 17
and their roots in the ground. 18
2:10 I brought you up from the land of Egypt;
I led you through the wilderness for forty years
so you could take the Amorites’ land as your own.
2:11 I made some of your sons prophets
and some of your young men Nazirites. 19
Is this not true, you Israelites?”
The Lord is speaking!
you commanded the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy!’
2:13 Look! I will press you down,
like a cart loaded down with grain presses down. 21
strong men will have no strength left; 23
warriors will not be able to save their lives.
fast runners will not save their lives,
nor will those who ride horses. 26
The Lord is speaking!
2 tn Heb “Because of three violations of Israel, even because of four.”
sn On the three…four style that introduces each of the judgment oracles of chaps. 1-2 see the note on the word “four” in 1:3. Only in this last oracle against Israel does one find the list of four specific violations expected based on the use of a similar formula elsewhere in wisdom literature (see Prov 30:18-19, 29-31). This adaptation of the normal pattern indicates the
3 tn Heb “I will not bring it [or “him”] back.” The translation understands the pronominal object to refer to the decree of judgment that follows; the referent (the decree) has been specified in the translation for clarity. For another option see the note on the word “judgment” in 1:3.
4 tn Or “honest” (CEV, NLT). The Hebrew word sometimes has a moral-ethical connotation, “righteous, godly,” but the parallelism (note “poor”) suggests a socio-economic or legal sense here. The practice of selling debtors as slaves is in view (Exod 21:2-11; Lev 25:35-55; Deut 15:12-18) See the note at Exod 21:8 and G. C. Chirichigno, Debt-Slavery in Israel and the Ancient Near East (JSOTSup). Probably the only “crime” the victim had committed was being unable to pay back a loan or an exorbitant interest rate on a loan. Some have suggested that this verse refers to bribery in legal proceedings: The innocent are “sold” in the sense that those in power pay off the elders or judges for favorable decisions (5:12; cf. Exod 23:6-7).
5 tn Perhaps the expression “for a pair of sandals” indicates a relatively small price or debt. Some suggest that the sandals may have been an outward token of a more substantial purchase price. Others relate the sandals to a ritual attached to the transfer of property, signifying here that the poor would be losing their inherited family lands because of debt (Ruth 4:7; cf. Deut 25:8-10). Still others emend the Hebrew form slightly to נֶעְלָם (ne’lam, “hidden thing”; from the root עָלַם, ’alam, “to hide”) and understand this as referring to a bribe.
6 tn Most scholars now understand this verb as derived from the root II שָׁאַף (sha’af, “to crush; to trample”), an alternate form of שׁוּף (shuf), rather than from I שָׁאַף (sha’af, “to pant, to gasp”; cf. KJV, ASV, NASB).
7 tn Heb “those who stomp on the dirt of the ground on the head of the poor.” It is possible to render the line as “they trample the heads of the poor into the dust of the ground,” thereby communicating that the poor are being stepped on in utter contempt (see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 79-80). The participial form הַשֹּׁאֲפִים (hasho’afim) is substantival and stands in apposition to the pronominal suffix on מִכְרָם (mikhram, v. 6b).
sn The picture of the poor having dirt-covered heads suggests their humiliation before their oppressors and/or their sorrow (see 2 Sam 1:2; 15:32).
8 tn Heb “they turn aside the way of the destitute.” Many interpreters take “way” to mean “just cause” and understand this as a direct reference to the rights of the destitute being ignored. The injustice done to the poor is certainly in view, but the statement is better taken as a word picture depicting the powerful rich pushing the “way of the poor” (i.e., their attempt to be treated justly) to the side. An even more vivid picture is given in Amos 5:12, where the rich are pictured as turning the poor away from the city gate (where legal decisions were made, and therefore where justice should be done).
9 sn Most interpreters see some type of sexual immorality here (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT), even though the Hebrew phrase הָלַךְ אֶל (halakh ’el, “go to”) never refers elsewhere to sexual intercourse. (The usual idiom is בוֹא אֶל [bo’ ’el]. However, S. M. Paul (Amos [Hermeneia], 82) attempts to develop a linguistic case for a sexual connotation here.) The precise identification of the “girl” in question is not clear. Some see the referent as a cultic prostitute (cf. NAB; v. 8 suggests a cultic setting), but the term נַעֲרָה (na’arah) nowhere else refers to a prostitute. Because of the contextual emphasis on social oppression, some suggest the exploitation of a slave girl is in view. H. Barstad argues that the “girl” is the hostess at a pagan מַרְזֵחַ (marzeakh) banquet (described at some length in 6:4-7). In his view the sin described here is not sexual immorality, but idolatry (see H. Barstad, The Religious Polemics of Amos [VTSup], 33-36). In this case, one might translate, “Father and son go together to a pagan banquet.” In light of this cultic context, F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman argue that this is a reference to a specific female deity (“the Girl”) and correlate this verse with 8:14 (Amos [AB], 318-19).
10 tn Or “pollute”; “desecrate”; “dishonor.”
11 tn Heb “my holy name.” Here “name” is used metonymically for God’s moral character or reputation, while “holy” has a moral and ethical connotation.
12 tn The words “They do so right” are supplied twice in the translation of this verse for clarification.
13 tn Heb “house.”
14 tn Or “gods.” The Hebrew term אֱלֹהֵיהֶם (’elohehem) may be translated “their gods” (referring to pagan gods), “their god” (referring to a pagan god, cf. NAB, NIV, NLT), or “their God” (referring to the God of Israel, cf. NASB, NRSV).
15 tn Heb “I destroyed the Amorites from before them.” The translation takes מִפְּנֵי (mippÿney) in the sense of “for the sake of.” See BDB 818 s.v. פָּנֻה II.6.a and H. W. Wolff, Joel and Amos (Hermeneia), 134. Another option is to take the phrase in a spatial sense, “I destroyed the Amorites, [clearing them out] from before them [i.e., Israel]” (cf. NIV, NRSV).
16 tn Heb “whose height was like the height of cedars.”
17 tn Heb “his fruit from above.”
18 tn Heb “and his roots from below.”
21 tn The precise meaning of this verse is unclear. Various suggested meanings have been proposed (see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 94): (1) One option is to relate the verb to an Arabic verb, meaning “to hinder; to hamper,” and translate, “I am making you immobile, like a cart filled with grain is immobile.” In this case, the
22 tn Heb “and a place of refuge will perish from the swift.”
23 tn Heb “the strong will not increase his strength.”
24 tn Heb “the one who holds the bow.”
25 tn For the idiom of “holding [or “standing”] one’s ground” in battle, there is a similar phrase in Ezek 13:5; also related is the expression “to hold one’s own against” (or “to withstand”) in Judg 2:14; 2 Kgs 10:4; Dan 8:7 (see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 97). Other options include “will not endure” or “will not survive.”
26 tn The last two lines read literally, “The one fast in his feet will not rescue [his life], and the rider of the horse will not rescue his life.” The phrase “his life” does double duty in the parallelism and should be understood in both lines.
27 tn Or “the most stouthearted” (NAB); NRSV “those who are stout of heart.”