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11 “I overthrew some of you the way God[a] overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.[b]

You were like a burning stick[c] snatched from the flames.
Still you did not come back to me.”
The Lord is speaking
12 “Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel.

Because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, Israel!”[d]
13 For here he is!

He[e] formed the mountains and created the wind.
He reveals[f] his plans[g] to men.
He turns the dawn into darkness[h]
and marches on the heights of the earth.
The Lord God of Heaven’s Armies[i] is his name!

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  1. Amos 4:11 tn Several English versions substitute the first person pronoun (“I”) here for stylistic reasons (e.g., NIV, NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT).
  2. Amos 4:11 tn Heb “like God’s overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah.” The divine name may be used in an idiomatic superlative sense here, in which case one might translate, “like the great [or “disastrous”] overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah.”sn The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is described in Gen 19:1-29.
  3. Amos 4:11 tn Heb “like that which is burning.”
  4. Amos 4:12 tn The Lord appears to announce a culminating judgment resulting from Israel’s obstinate refusal to repent. The following verse describes the Lord in his role as sovereign judge, but it does not outline the judgment per se. For this reason F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman (Amos [AB], 450) take the prefixed verbal forms as preterites referring to the series of judgments detailed in vv. 6-11. It is more likely that a coming judgment is in view, but that its details are omitted for rhetorical effect, creating a degree of suspense (see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 149-50) that will find its resolution in chapter 5. This line is an ironic conclusion to the section begun at 4:4. Israel thought they were meeting the Lord at the sanctuaries, yet they actually had misunderstood how he had been trying to bring them back to himself. Now Israel would truly meet the Lord—not at the sanctuaries, but face-to-face in judgment.
  5. Amos 4:13 tn Heb “For look, the one who.” This verse is considered to be the first hymnic passage in the book. The others appear at 5:8-9 and 9:5-6. Scholars debate whether these verses were originally part of a single hymn or three distinct pieces deliberately placed in each context for particular effect.
  6. Amos 4:13 tn Or “declares” (NAB, NASB).
  7. Amos 4:13 tn Or “his thoughts.” The translation assumes that the pronominal suffix refers to God and that divine self-revelation is in view (see 3:7). If the suffix refers to the following term אָדַם (ʾadam, “men”), then the expression refers to God’s ability to read men’s minds.
  8. Amos 4:13 tn Heb “he who makes dawn, darkness.” The meaning of the statement is unclear. The present translation assumes that allusion is made to God’s approaching judgment, when the light of day will be turned to darkness (see 5:20). Another interpretation is, “He makes the dawn [and] the darkness.” A few Hebrew mss, as well as the LXX, add the conjunction (“and”) between the two nouns. A third possibility is, “He turns darkness into glimmering dawn” (NJPS). See S. M. Paul (Amos [Hermeneia], 154), who takes שָׁחַר (shakhar) as “blackness” rather than “dawn” and עֵיפָה (ʿefah) as “glimmering dawn” rather than “darkness.”
  9. Amos 4:13 tn Traditionally, “God of Hosts.”