“Those at Ease in Zion”
6 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who are at ease and carefree in Zion (Judah)
And to those on the mountain of Samaria who feel secure,
The distinguished men of the foremost of nations,
To whom the house of Israel comes.(A)
Go over to Calneh [in Babylonia] and look,
And from there go [north of Damascus] to the great city of Hamath;
Then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are they better than these kingdoms [of yours],
Or is their territory greater than yours?
Do you put off the day of punishment,
Yet cause the seat of violence to come near?
Those who lie on [luxurious] beds of ivory
And lounge around out on their couches,
And eat lambs from the flock
And calves from the midst of the stall,
Who improvise to the sound of the harp—
Like David they have composed songs for themselves—(B)
Who drink wine from sacrificial bowls
And anoint themselves with the finest oils [reflecting their unrestrained celebration];
Yet they are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph (Israel).(C)
Therefore, they will now go into exile with the first of the captives,
And the cultic revelry and banqueting of those who lounge around [on their luxurious couches] will pass away.
The Lord [a]God has sworn [an oath] by Himself—the Lord God of hosts, says:
“I loathe and reject the [self-centered] arrogance of Jacob (Israel),
And I hate his palaces and citadels;
Therefore, I shall hand over the [idolatrous] city [of Samaria] with all that it contains [to the Assyrian invaders].”
9 And it shall come to pass that if there remain ten men in one house, they shall die [by the pestilence that comes with war]. 10 Then one’s uncle, or his undertaker, shall come to bring the [disease-infected] body out of the house, [to cremate it], and he will say to another in the farthest part of the house, “Is there anyone else with you?” And that one will say, “No one.” Then he will respond, “Hush! Keep quiet! For the name of the Lord is not to be mentioned [even casually, for fear that we might invoke even more punishment].”(D) 11 For behold, the Lord is going to command that the great house be smashed to pieces and the small house to fragments.
Do horses run on rocks?
Do men plow rocks with oxen? [Of course not!]
Yet you have turned justice into poison
And the fruit of righteousness into wormwood (bitterness),
You who [self-confidently] rejoice in [b]Lo-debar (Nothing),
Who say, “Have we not by our own strength taken [c]Karnaim (Strength) for ourselves?”
“For behold, I am going to stir up a nation against you,
O house of Israel,” says the Lord, the God of hosts,
“And they will afflict and torment you [to the entire limits of Israel] from the entrance of Hamath [in the north]
To the brook of the Arabah [in the south].”
Warning Through Visions
7 Thus the Lord God showed me [a vision], and behold, He was forming a swarm of locusts when the spring crop began to sprout. And behold, the spring crop was after the king’s mowing. 2 And when the locusts had finished eating the plants of the land, then I said,
“O Lord God, please forgive!
How can Jacob stand,
For he is so small [that he cannot endure this]?”
The Lord revoked this sentence.
“It shall not take place,” said the Lord.
4 Thus the Lord God showed me, and behold, the Lord God called for punishment with fire, and it devoured the great deep [underground sources of water] and began to consume the land. 5 Then I said,
“O Lord God, please stop!
How can Jacob stand,
For he is so small [that he cannot endure this]?”
The Lord revoked this sentence.
“This also shall not be,” said the Lord God.
7 Thus He showed me [a vision], and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand [to determine if the wall was straight or if it needed to be destroyed].(E) 8 The Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,
“Behold, I am setting a plumb line [as a standard]
Among My people Israel [showing the defectiveness of the nation, requiring judgment].
I shall not spare them any longer. [The door of mercy is shut.]
“And the [idolatrous] high places of Isaac (Israel) will be devastated and deserted,
And the sanctuaries of Israel will be in ruins.
Then I shall rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword [and destroy the monarchy].”
Amos Accused, Answers
10 Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel [site of the golden calf shrine], sent word to [d]Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is unable to endure all his words.(F) 11 For in this way Amos has said, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.’” 12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Go, you seer, run for your life [from Israel] to the land of Judah [your own country] and eat bread and live as a prophet there! 13 But do not prophesy any longer at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal residence.”(G)
14 Then Amos replied to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet [by profession], nor am I a prophet’s son; I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. 15 But the Lord took me as I followed the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’ 16 Now therefore, listen to the word of the Lord: You say, ‘You shall not prophesy against Israel nor shall you speak against the house of Isaac.’ 17 Therefore, thus says the Lord, ‘Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city [when the [e]Assyrians capture Samaria] and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be divided by a measuring line; you yourself shall die in an unclean and defiled [pagan] land, and Israel shall certainly go from its land into exile.’”
Basket of Fruit and Israel’s Captivity
8 Thus the Lord God showed me [a vision], and behold, there was a basket of [overripe] summer fruit. 2 And He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, “The end has come for My people Israel. I will spare them no longer [for the nation is ripe for judgment]. 3 In that day, the songs of the palace shall turn to wailing,” says the Lord God. “There will be many dead bodies; in [sacred] silence they will throw them everywhere.”
4 Hear this, you who trample down the needy, and do away with the poor of the land, 5 saying,
“When will the New Moon [festival] be over
So that we may sell grain,
And the Sabbath ended so that we may open the wheat market,
Making the ephah [measure] smaller and the shekel bigger [that is, selling less for a higher price]
And to cheat by falsifying the scales,
So that we may buy the poor [as slaves] for silver [since they are unable to support themselves]
And the [f]needy for a pair of sandals,
And that we may sell the leftovers of the wheat [as if it were a good grade of grain]?”
The Lord has sworn [an oath] by the pride of Jacob,
“Surely I shall never forget [nor leave unpunished] any of their [rebellious] acts.
“Because of this [coming judgment] will the land not quake
And everyone mourn who dwells in it?
Indeed, all of it shall rise up like the Nile,
And it will be tossed around [from the impact of judgment]
And [afterward] subside again like the Nile of Egypt.
“It shall come about in that day,” says the Lord God,
“That I shall cause the sun to go down at noon,
And I shall darken the earth in broad daylight.(H)
“And I shall turn your festivals and feasts into mourning
And all your songs into dirges (funeral poems to be sung);
And I shall cause sackcloth to be put on everyone’s [g]loins
And baldness on every head [shaved for mourning].
And I shall make that time like a time of mourning for an only son [who has died],
And the end of it shall be like a bitter day.
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“When I will send hunger over the land,
Not hunger for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather [a hunger] for hearing the words of the Lord.
“People shall stagger from sea to sea [to the very ends of the earth]
And from the north even to the east;
They will roam here and there to seek the word of the Lord [longing for it as essential for life],
But they will not find it.
“In that day the beautiful virgins
And [even the vigorous] young men shall faint from thirst.
“Those who swear [their oaths] by the sin (guilt) of Samaria or Ashimah (a pagan goddess),
Who say, ‘By the life of your god [the golden calf], O Dan!’
And [swear], ‘By the life of the way of [idolatrous] Beersheba,’
They shall fall and not rise again.”
God’s Judgment Unavoidable
9 I saw [in a vision] the Lord standing at the altar, and He said,
“Destroy the capitals (tops) of the pillars so that the thresholds will shake,
And break them on the heads of all of the people!
Then I will kill the rest of them with the sword;
They will not have a fugitive who will get away,
Or a survivor who will escape.
“Though they dig into [h]Sheol [to hide in the deepest pit],
From there My hand will take them [for judgment];
And though they climb up to heaven [to hide in the realm of light],
From there will I bring them down [for judgment].
“Though they hide on the summit of [Mount] Carmel,
I will track them down and take them from there;
And though they hide from My sight on the floor of the sea,
From there I shall command the serpent and it will bite them.
“And though they go into captivity before their enemies,
From there I shall command the sword to kill them,
And I will set My eyes against them for evil (judgment, punishment) and not for good [that is, not for correction leading to restoration].”
The Lord God of hosts [the Omnipotent Ruler],
It is He who touches the earth [in judgment] and it melts,
And all who dwell on it mourn [in despair and fear],
And all of it rises up like the Nile
And subsides like the Nile of Egypt;
It is He who builds His upper chambers in the heavens
And has established His vaulted dome (the firmament of heaven) over the earth,
He who calls to the waters of the sea
And pours them out on the face of the earth—
The Lord is His name.
“Are you [degenerate ones] not as the [despised] sons of Ethiopia to Me,
O sons of Israel?” says the Lord.
“Have I not brought up Israel from the land of Egypt,
And the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans (Syrians) from Kir?
“Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful [northern] kingdom [of Israel’s ten tribes]
And I shall destroy it from the face of the earth;
But I shall not totally destroy the house of Jacob [that is, the entire nation of Israel],”
Says the Lord.
“For behold, I am commanding,
And I shall shake and sift the house of Israel among all nations [and cause it to tremble]
Like grain is shaken in a sieve [removing the chaff],
But not a kernel [of the faithful remnant] shall fall to the ground and be lost [from My sight].(I)
“All the sinners among My people will die by the sword,
Those who say [defiantly], ‘The disaster will not overtake or confront us.’
The Restoration of Israel
“In that day I shall raise up and restore the fallen [i]tabernacle (booth) of David,
And wall up its breaches [in the city walls];
I will also raise up and restore its ruins
And rebuild it as it was in the days of old,
That they may possess the remnant of Edom (ancient enemies)
And all the nations that are called by My name,”
Says the Lord who does this.(J)
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“When the plowman shall overtake the one who gathers the harvest,
And the one who treads the grapes [shall overtake] him who sows the seed [for the harvest continues until planting time];
When the mountains will drip sweet wine
And all the hills shall melt [that is, everything that was once barren will overflow with streams of blessing].(K)
“Also I shall bring back the exiles of My people Israel,
And they will rebuild the deserted and ruined cities and inhabit them:
They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine,
And make gardens and eat their fruit.
“I will also plant them on their land,
And they shall never again be uprooted from their land
Which I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.
- Amos 6:8 Heb YHWH, usually rendered Lord.
- Amos 6:13 Lit a thing of nothing. Lo-debar and Karnaim apparently were Aramean sites that had been captured by Israel. Amos uses the meanings of these names in a play on words to rebuke Israel.
- Amos 6:13 Lit a pair of horns. The horns of animals were regarded as symbols of power. Amos condemns Israel for claiming that their victories were achieved without God’s help.
- Amos 7:10 Jeroboam II ruled Israel from 793-753 b.c.
- Amos 7:17 Assyria invaded Israel during the reign of Hoshea (2 Kin 17:5, 6).
- Amos 8:6 See 2:6.
- Amos 8:10 The midsection of the body between the lower ribs and the thighs.
- Amos 9:2 Hades, nether world, the place of the dead.
- Amos 9:11 Possibly referring to the Davidic kingdom.