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Amos 3

Every Effect has its Cause

3:1 Listen, you Israelites, to this message which the Lord is proclaiming against 1  you! This message is for the entire clan I brought up 2  from the land of Egypt: 3:2 “I have chosen 3  you alone from all the clans of the earth. Therefore I will punish you for all your sins.”

3:3 Do two walk together without having met? 4 

3:4 Does a lion roar in the woods if he has not cornered his prey? 5 

Does a young lion bellow from his den if he has not caught something?

3:5 Does a bird swoop down into a trap on the ground if there is no bait?

Does a trap spring up from the ground unless it has surely caught something?

3:6 If an alarm sounds 6  in a city, do people not fear? 7 

If disaster overtakes a 8  city, is the Lord not responsible? 9 

3:7 Certainly the sovereign Lord does nothing without first revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.

3:8 A lion has roared! 10  Who is not afraid?

The sovereign Lord has spoken! Who can refuse to prophesy? 11 

Samaria Will Fall

3:9 Make this announcement in 12  the fortresses of Ashdod

and in the fortresses in the land of Egypt.

Say this:

“Gather on the hills around Samaria! 13 

Observe the many acts of violence 14  taking place within the city, 15 

the oppressive deeds 16  occurring in it.” 17 

3:10 “They do not know how to do what is right.” (The Lord is speaking.)

“They store up 18  the spoils of destructive violence 19  in their fortresses.

3:11 Therefore,” says the sovereign Lord, “an enemy will encircle the land. 20 

He will take away your power; 21 

your fortresses will be looted.”

3:12 This is what the Lord says:

“Just as a shepherd salvages from the lion’s mouth a couple of leg bones or a piece of an ear,

so the Israelites who live in Samaria will be salvaged. 22 

They will be left with just a corner of a bed, 23 

and a part 24  of a couch.”

3:13 Listen and warn 25  the family 26  of Jacob! 27 

The sovereign Lord, the God who commands armies, 28  is speaking!

3:14 “Certainly when 29  I punish Israel for their 30  covenant transgressions, 31 

I will destroy 32  Bethel’s 33  altars.

The horns 34  of the altar will be cut off and fall to the ground.

3:15 I will destroy both the winter and summer houses. 35 

The houses filled with ivory 36  will be ruined,

the great 37  houses will be swept away.” 38 

The Lord is speaking!

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1 tn Or “about.”

2 tn One might expect a third person verb form (“he brought up”), since the Lord apparently refers to himself in the third person in the preceding sentence. This first person form, however, serves to connect this message to the earlier indictment (2:10) and anticipates the words of the following verse.

3 tn Heb “You only have I known.” The Hebrew verb יָדַע (yada’) is used here in its covenantal sense of “recognize in a special way.”

4 sn The rhetorical questions in vv. 3-5 expect the answer, “No, of course not!” Those in v. 6 anticipate the answer, “Yes, of course they do/he is.” They all draw attention to the principle of cause and effect and lay the logical foundation for the argument in vv. 7-8. Also note the progression from a general question in v. 3 to the “meetings” of two animals (v. 4), to that of an animal and a human trap (v. 5), to a climax with the confrontation with the Lord (v. 6). Each of these meetings is disastrous.

5 tn Heb “without having prey [or “food”].”

6 tn Heb “If the ram’s horn is blown.”

7 tn Or “tremble” (NASB, NIV, NCV); or “shake.”

8 tn Heb “is in”; NIV, NCV, NLT “comes to.”

9 tn Heb “has the Lord not acted?”

10 sn The roar of the lion is here a metaphor for impending judgment (see 1:2; cf. 3:4, 12). Verses 7-8 justify Amos’ prophetic ministry and message of warning and judgment. The people should expect a prophetic message prior to divine action.

11 sn Who can refuse to prophesy? When a message is revealed, the prophet must speak, and the news of impending judgment should cause people to fear.

12 tn Heb “on” or “over” (also later in this verse).

13 sn Samaria might refer here both to the region and to the capital city (later known as Sebaste). On the other hand, there actually are hills that surround the mound upon which the city was built. The implication is that the nations can come and sit and see from those hills the sin of the capital city and its judgment.

map For location of the city see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1.

14 tn The Hebrew noun carries the nuance of “panic” or “confusion.” Here it refers metonymically to the violent deeds that terrorize the oppressed.

15 tn Heb “in her midst” (so NAB, NASB); NIV “among her people.”

16 tn The translation assumes the form is an abstract plural (see Job 35:9; Eccl 4:1). Another option is to understand the form as a substantival passive participle and translate, “the oppressed” (so KJV).

17 tn Heb “within her.”

18 tn Heb “those who.”

19 tn Heb “violence and destruction.” The expression “violence and destruction” stand metonymically for the goods the oppressors have accumulated by their unjust actions.

20 tc The MT reads “an enemy and around the land.” It is also possible to take the MT as an exclamation (“an enemy, and all about the land!”; see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 118; NJPS; cf. NLT).Most scholars and versions emend the text to יְסוֹבֵב (yÿsovev, Polel imperfect), “will encircle.”

21 tn Heb “He will bring down your power from you.” Some emend the text to read “Your power will be brought down from you.” The shift, however, from an active to a passive sense also appears at 3:14 (“I will destroy Bethel’s altars. The horns of the altar will be cut off.”) The pronouns (“your…you”) are feminine singular, indicating that the personified city of Samaria is addressed here. Samaria’s “power” here is her defenses and/or wealth.

22 sn The verb translated salvaged, though often used in a positive sense of deliverance from harm, is here employed in a sarcastic manner. A shepherd would attempt to salvage part of an animal to prove that a predator had indeed killed it. In this way he could prove that he had not stolen the missing animal and absolve himself from any responsibility to repay the owner (see Exod 22:12-13).

23 tn Heb “with a corner of a bed.”

24 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word דְּמֶשֶׁק (dÿmesheq), which occurs only here, is uncertain. If not emended, it is usually related to the term ַדּמֶּשֶׂק (dammeseq) and translated as the “Damask linens” of the bed (cf. NASB “the cover”) or as “in Damascus” (so KJV, NJB, NIV). The differences in spelling (Damascus is spelled correctly in 5:27), historical considerations, and the word order make both of these derivations unlikely. Many emendations have been proposed (e.g., “a part from the foot [of a bed],” based on a different division of the Hebrew letters (cf. NEB, NRSV); “on the edge,” based on a Hebrew term not attested in the Bible (NKJV). Some suggest a resemblance to an Akkadian term which means “sideboard [of a bed],” which is sometimes incorrectly rendered “headboard” (NJPS; see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 121-22). Most likely another part of a bed or couch is in view, but it is difficult to be more specific.

25 tn Or “testify against.”

26 tn Heb “house.”

27 tn These words are spoken to either the unidentified heralds addressed at the beginning of v. 9, or to the Egyptians and Philistines (see v. 9b). Another possibility is that one is not to look for a specific addressee but rather appreciate the command simply as a rhetorical device to grab the attention of the listeners and readers of the prophetic message.

28 tn Traditionally, “the God of hosts.”

29 tn Heb “in the day.”

30 tn Heb “his.” With the referent “Israel” here, this amounts to a collective singular.

31 tn Traditionally, “transgressions, sins,” but see the note on the word “crimes” in 1:3.

32 tn Heb “punish” (so NASB, NRSV).

33 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

34 sn The horns of an ancient altar projected upwards from the four corners and resembled an animal’s horns in appearance. Fugitives could seek asylum by grabbing hold of these corners (see Exod 21:14; 1 Kgs 1:50; 2:28). When the altar’s horns were cut off, there would be no place of asylum left for the Lord’s enemies.

35 tn Heb “the winter house along with the summer house.”

sn Like kings, many in Israel’s wealthy class owned both winter and summer houses (cf. 1 Kgs 21:1,18; Jer 36:22). For a discussion of archaeological evidence relating to these structures, see P. King, Amos, Hosea, Micah, 64-65.

36 tn Heb “houses of ivory.” These houses were not made of ivory, but they had ivory panels and furniture decorated with ivory inlays. See P. King, Amos, Hosea, Micah, 139-48.

37 tn Or “many,” cf. NAB “their many rooms.”

38 tn The translation assumes the form is from the Hebrew verb סָפָה (safah, “to sweep away”) rather than סוּף (suf, “to come to an end”), which is the choice of most versions. Either option effectively communicates the destruction of the structures.

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