1 I am Amos. And I raised sheep near the town of Tekoa[a] when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam[b] son of Jehoash[c] was king of Israel.
Two years before the earthquake,[d] the Lord gave me several messages[e] about Israel, 2 and I said:
When the Lord roars from Jerusalem, pasturelands and Mount Carmel dry up and turn brown.
Judgment on Syria
3 The Lord said:
I will punish Syria[f] for countless crimes, and I won’t change my mind. They dragged logs with spikes[g] over the people of Gilead. 4 Now I will burn down the palaces and fortresses of King Hazael and of King Benhadad.[h] 5 I will break through the gates of Damascus. I will destroy the people[i] of Wicked Valley[j] and the ruler of Beth-Eden.[k] Then the Syrians will be dragged as prisoners to Kir.[l] I, the Lord, have spoken!
Judgment on Philistia
6 The Lord said:
I will punish Philistia[m] for countless crimes, and I won’t change my mind. They dragged off my people[n] from town after town to sell them as slaves to the Edomites.
7 That’s why I will burn down the walls and fortresses of the city of Gaza. 8 I will destroy the king[o] of Ashdod and the ruler of Ashkelon. I will strike down Ekron,[p] and that will be the end of the Philistines. I, the Lord, have spoken!
Judgment on Phoenicia
9 The Lord said:
I will punish Phoenicia[q] for countless crimes, and I won’t change my mind. They broke their treaty and dragged off my people[r] from town after town to sell them as slaves to the Edomites. 10 That’s why I will send flames to burn down the city of Tyre along with its fortresses.
Judgment on Edom
11 The Lord said:
I will punish Edom for countless crimes, and I won’t change my mind. They killed their own relatives[s] and were so terribly furious that they showed no mercy. 12 Now I will send fire to wipe out the fortresses of Teman and Bozrah.[t]
Judgment on Ammon
13 The Lord said:
I will punish Ammon for countless crimes, and I won’t change my mind. In Gilead they ripped open pregnant women, just to take the land.
14 Now I will send fire to destroy the walls and fortresses of Rabbah.[u] Enemies will shout and attack like a whirlwind. 15 Ammon’s king and leaders will be dragged away. I, the Lord, have spoken!
Judgment on Moab
2 The Lord said:
I will punish Moab for countless crimes, and I won’t change my mind. They made lime from the bones[v] of the king of Edom. 2 Now I will send fire to destroy the fortresses of Kerioth.[w] Battle shouts and trumpet blasts will be heard as I destroy Moab 3 with its king and leaders. I, the Lord, have spoken!
Judgment on Judah
4 The Lord said:
I will punish Judah for countless crimes, and I won’t change my mind. They have rejected my teachings and refused to obey me. They were led astray by the same false gods their ancestors worshiped. 5 Now I will send fire on Judah and destroy the fortresses of Jerusalem.
Judgment on Israel
6 The Lord said:
I will punish Israel for countless crimes, and I won’t change my mind. They sell honest people for money, and the needy are sold for the price of sandals. 7 They smear the poor in the dirt and push aside those who are helpless.
My holy name is dishonored, because fathers and sons sleep with the same young women. 8 They lie down beside altars on clothes taken as security for loans. And they drink wine in my temple, wine bought with the money they received from fines.
9 Israel, the Amorites[x] were there when you entered Canaan. They were tall as cedars and strong as oaks. But I wiped them out— I destroyed their branches and their roots. 10 I had rescued you from Egypt, and for forty years I had led you through the desert. Then I gave you the land of the Amorites.
11 I chose some of you to be prophets and others to be Nazirites.[y] People of Israel, you know this is true. I, the Lord, have spoken! 12 But you commanded the prophets not to speak their message, and you pressured the Nazirites into drinking wine.
13 And so I will crush you, just as a wagon full of grain crushes the ground.[z] 14 No matter how fast you run, you won’t escape. No matter how strong you are, you will lose your strength and your life. 15 Even if you are an expert with a bow and arrow, you will retreat. And you won’t get away alive, not even if you run fast or ride a horse. 16 You may be brave and strong, but you will run away, stripped naked. I, the Lord, have spoken! 3 People of Israel, I rescued you from Egypt. Now listen to my judgment against you. 2 Of all nations on earth, you are the only one I have chosen. That’s why I will punish you because of your sins.
The Work of a Prophet
3 Can two people walk together without agreeing to meet? 4 Does a lion roar in the forest unless it has caught a victim? Does it growl in its den unless it is eating? 5 How can anyone catch a bird without using a net? Does a trap spring shut unless something is caught?
6 Isn’t the whole city frightened when the trumpet signals an attack? Isn’t it the Lord who brings disaster on a city? 7 Whatever the Lord God plans to do, he tells his servants, the prophets. 8 Everyone is terrified when a lion roars— and ordinary people become prophets when the Lord God speaks.
Samaria Is Doomed
9 Here is a message for the leaders of Philistia[aa] and Egypt— tell everyone to come together on the hills of Samaria. Let them see the injustice and the lawlessness in that city. 10 The Lord has said that they don’t even know how to do right. They have become rich from violence and robbery. 11 And so the Lord God has sworn that they will be surrounded. Enemies will break through their defenses and steal their treasures.
12 The Lord has promised that only a few from Samaria will escape with their lives and with some broken pieces of their beds and couches.[ab] It will be like when a shepherd rescues two leg bones and part of a sheep’s ear from the jaws of a lion.[ac]
The Altars at Bethel
13 The Lord God All-Powerful told me to speak this message against Jacob’s descendants: 14 When I, the Lord, punish Israel for their sins, I will destroy the altars at Bethel. Even the corners of the altar[ad] will be left in the dirt. 15 I will tear down winter homes and summer homes. Houses decorated with ivory and all other mansions will be gone forever. I, the Lord, have spoken!
The Women of Samaria
The Lord said:
4 You women of Samaria are fat cows![ae] You mistreat and abuse the poor and needy, then you say to your husbands, “Bring us more drinks!” 2 I, the Lord God, have sworn by my own name that your time is coming. Not one of you will be left— you will be taken away by sharp hooks.[af] 3 You will be dragged through holes in your city walls, and you will be thrown toward Harmon.[ag] I, the Lord, have spoken!
Israel Refuses To Obey
The Lord said:
4 Come to Bethel and Gilgal.[ah] Sin all you want! Offer sacrifices the next morning and bring a tenth of your crops on the third day.[ai] 5 Bring offerings to show me how thankful you are. Gladly bring more offerings than I have demanded. You really love to do this. I, the Lord God, have spoken!
How the Lord Warned Israel
6 I, the Lord, took away the food from every town and village, but still you rejected me. 7 Three months before harvest, I kept back the rain. Sometimes I would let it fall on one town or field but not on another, and pastures dried up. 8 People from two or three towns would go to a town that still had water, but it wasn’t enough. Even then you rejected me. I, the Lord, have spoken!
9 I dried up your grain fields; your gardens and vineyards turned brown. Locusts[aj] ate your fig trees and olive orchards, but even then you rejected me. I, the Lord, have spoken!
10 I did terrible things to you, just as I did to Egypt— I killed your young men in war; I let your horses be stolen, and I made your camp stink with dead bodies. Even then you rejected me. I, the Lord, have spoken!
11 I destroyed many of you, just as I did the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. You were a burning stick I rescued from the fire. Even then you rejected me. I, the Lord, have spoken!
12 Now, Israel, I myself will deal with you. Get ready to face your God!
13 I created the mountains and the wind. I let humans know what I am thinking.[ak] I bring darkness at dawn and step over hills. I am the Lord God All-Powerful!
Turn Back to the Lord
5 Listen, nation of Israel, to my mournful message: 2 You, dearest Israel, have fallen, never to rise again— you lie deserted in your own land, with no one to help you up.
3 The Lord God has warned, “From every ten soldiers only one will be left; from a thousand troops, only a hundred will survive.”
4 The Lord keeps saying, “Israel, turn back to me and you will live! 5 Don’t go to Gilgal or Bethel or even to Beersheba.[al] Gilgal will be dragged away, and Bethel will end up as nothing.”[am]
6 Turn back to the Lord, you descendants of Joseph,[an] and you will live. If you don’t, the Lord will attack like fire. Bethel will burn to the ground, and no one can save it. 7 You people are doomed! You twist the truth and stomp on justice.
8 But the Lord created the stars and put them in place.[ao] He turns darkness to dawn and daylight to darkness; he scoops up the ocean and empties it on the earth. 9 God destroys mighty soldiers and strong fortresses.
Choose Good Instead of Evil!
The Lord said:
10 You people hate judges and honest witnesses; 11 you abuse the poor and demand heavy taxes from them. You have built expensive homes, but you won’t enjoy them; you have planted vineyards, but you will get no wine. 12 I am the Lord, and I know your terrible sins. You cheat honest people and take bribes; you rob the poor of justice. 13 Times are so evil that anyone with good sense will keep quiet.
14 If you really want to live, you must stop doing wrong and start doing right. I, the Lord God All-Powerful, will then be on your side, just as you claim I am. 15 Choose good instead of evil! See that justice is done. Maybe I, the Lord All-Powerful, will be kind to what’s left of your people.[ap]
Judgment Is Coming
16 This is what the Lord has sworn:
Noisy crying will be heard in every town and street. Even farmers will be told to mourn for the dead, together with those who are paid to mourn.[aq] 17 Your vineyards will be filled with crying and weeping,[ar] because I will punish you. I, the Lord, have spoken!
When the Lord Judges
18 You look forward to the day when the Lord comes to judge. But you are in for trouble! It won’t be a time of sunshine; all will be darkness. 19 You will run from a lion, only to meet a bear. You will escape to your house, rest your hand on the wall, and be bitten by a snake. 20 The day when the Lord judges will be dark, very dark, without a ray of light.
What the Lord Demands
21 I, the Lord, hate and despise your religious celebrations and your times of worship. 22 I won’t accept your offerings or animal sacrifices— not even your very best. 23 No more of your noisy songs! I won’t listen when you play your harps. 24 But let justice and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry.
25 Israel, for forty years you wandered in the desert, without bringing offerings or sacrifices to me. 26 Now you will have to carry the two idols you made— Sakkuth, the one you call king, and Kaiwan, the one you built in the shape of a star.[as] 27 I will force you to march as captives beyond Damascus. I, the Lord God All-Powerful, have spoken![at]
1.1Tekoa: In the hill country of Judah about five miles south of Bethlehem.
1.1Uzziah. . . Jeroboam: Uzziah was king of Judah 781-740 B.C., and Jeroboam II was king of Israel 783-743 B.C.
1.1Jehoash: The Hebrew text has “Joash,” another spelling of the name.
1.1Two years. . . earthquake: Possibly the earthquake of 760 B.C., which seems to have been especially violent.
1.5Wicked Valley: The Hebrew text has “Aven Valley,” probably the fertile valley between the Lebanon and the anti-Lebanon mountains.
1.5I will. . . Beth-Eden: Or “I will destroy the people of Wicked Valley and the king who rules from Beth-Eden.” Beth-Eden was a city-state on the banks of the Euphrates River.
1.5Kir: The exact location of this country is not known; in 9.7 Amos refers to Kir as the original home of the Syrians, and so the verse probably means that the Syrians will lose everything they have gained as a people.
1.6Philistia: The Hebrew text has “Gaza,” one of the main Philistine cities.
2.1They. . . bones: They dug up the bodies of kings and made lime out of them to use as whitewash on their houses and walls.
2.2Kerioth: A leading city of Moab and a center for the worship of Chemosh, the chief god of Moab.
2.9Amorites: This word is used for all the people who lived in Canaan at the time Israel took over the land.
2.11Nazirites: People who promised the Lord that they would never drink wine or cut their hair or come in contact with a dead body.
2.13ground: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 13.
3.9Philistia: The Hebrew text has “Ashdod,” one of the leading cities of Philistia.
3.12some. . . couches: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
3.12lion: When a wild animal attacked and killed a sheep, the shepherd had to rescue part of the sheep and take it to the owner as proof that it had been killed by an animal. Otherwise, the shepherd had to pay the owner the cost of the sheep.
3.14altar: Altars were places of worship but also places of protection. People whose lives were in danger could grab hold of the corners of an altar, and no one was allowed to kill them.
4.1fat cows: The Hebrew text has “cows of Bashan,” a fertile plain famous for its rich pastures and well-fed cattle.
4.2taken. . . hooks: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
4.3Harmon: Hebrew; some manuscripts of one ancient translation “Mount Hermon,” a mountain in the north of Palestine, on the way to Assyria.
4.4Bethel and Gilgal: These were two of the most important centers of worship in northern Israel. Amos mentions these together again in 5.5.
4.4Offer. . . day: Or “Offer sacrifices each morning and bring a tenth of your crops every three days.” In verses 4,5 God is condemning the people for meaningless acts of worship.
4.9Locusts: A type of grasshopper that comes in swarms and causes great damage to plant life.
4.13I let. . . thinking: Or “No one’s secret thoughts are hidden from me.”
5.5Gilgal. . . Bethel. . . Beersheba: These were ancient places of worship, but the Lord had warned his people to stay away from them.
5.5Gilgal. . . nothing: In Hebrew “Gilgal” and “dragged away” sound something alike. Bethel (meaning “house of God”) is sometimes called “house of nothing” or “house of sin” by the prophets (see Hosea 4.15; 5.8; 10.5-8).
5.6descendants of Joseph: Another name for the people of the northern kingdom of Israel.
5.8the stars. . . place: The Hebrew text mentions two groups of stars, Pleiades and Orion. Since the Lord is the Creator of the stars, he controls the seasons that are signaled by the different positions of the stars. Moreover, the stars are created objects and should not be worshiped.
5.15your people: Hebrew “Joseph’s descendants” (see the note at verse 6).
5.16paid to mourn: In ancient times some people were paid to mourn and make loud cries at funerals.
5.17Your vineyards. . . weeping: Instead of happy celebrations that were often held in vineyards after the harvest.
5.26star: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 26.
5.27I, the Lord. . . spoken: Israel did not offer sacrifices and gifts to the Lord during the time they wandered through the desert. But now they have made idols to carry during their ceremonies. So the Lord warns that he will make them “march” away as captives beyond Damascus, where Israel had extended its borders by victories in war (see 2 Kings 14.28).
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