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Amos 6:3-7


6:3 You refuse to believe a day of disaster will come, 1 

but you establish a reign of violence. 2 

6:4 They lie around on beds decorated with ivory, 3 

and sprawl out on their couches.

They eat lambs from the flock,

and calves from the middle of the pen.

6:5 They sing 4  to the tune of 5  stringed instruments; 6 

like David they invent 7  musical instruments.

6:6 They drink wine from sacrificial bowls, 8 

and pour the very best oils on themselves. 9 

Yet they are not concerned over 10  the ruin 11  of Joseph.

6:7 Therefore they will now be the first to go into exile, 12 

and the religious banquets 13  where they sprawl on couches 14  will end.

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

2 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.

3 tn Heb “beds of ivory.”

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

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

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

7 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).

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

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

10 tn Or “not sickened by.”

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

12 tn Heb “they will go into exile at the head of the exiles.”

13 sn Religious banquets. This refers to the מַרְזֵחַ (marzeakh), a type of pagan religious banquet popular among the upper class of Israel at this time and apparently associated with mourning. See P. King, Amos, Hosea, Micah, 137-61; J. L. McLaughlin, The “Marzeah” in the Prophetic Literature (VTSup). Scholars debate whether at this banquet the dead were simply remembered or actually venerated in a formal, cultic sense.

14 tn Heb “of the sprawled out.” See v. 4.

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