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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, and I said:

When the Lord roars
    from Jerusalem,
pasturelands and Mount Carmel
    dry up and turn brown.

Judgment on Syria

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.
Now I will burn down the palaces
and fortresses
of King Hazael
    and of King Benhadad.[h]
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

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.

That’s why I will burn down
the walls and fortresses
    of the city of Gaza.
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

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

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.
Now I will send fire to destroy
    the fortresses of Kerioth.[w]
Battle shouts and trumpet blasts
will be heard
as I destroy Moab
    with its king and leaders.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

Judgment on Judah

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.
Now I will send fire on Judah
and destroy the fortresses
    of Jerusalem.

Judgment on Israel

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.
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.
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.

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!
People of Israel,
    I rescued you from Egypt.
Now listen to my judgment
    against you.
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

Can two people walk together
    without agreeing to meet?
Does a lion roar in the forest
unless it has caught
    a victim?
Does it growl in its den
    unless it is eating?
How can anyone catch a bird
    without using a net?
Does a trap spring shut
    unless something is caught?

Isn’t the whole city frightened
when the trumpet
    signals an attack?
Isn’t it the Lord who brings
    disaster on a city?
Whatever the Lord God
    plans to do,
he tells his servants,
    the prophets.
Everyone is terrified
    when a lion roars—
and ordinary people
become prophets
    when the Lord God speaks.

Samaria Is Doomed

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:

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!”
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]
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:

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]
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

I, the Lord, took away the food
from every town and village,
    but still you rejected me.
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.
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!

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

Listen, nation of Israel,
    to my mournful message:
You, dearest Israel, have fallen,
    never to rise again—
you lie deserted in your own land,
    with no one to help you up.

The Lord God has warned,
“From every ten soldiers
    only one will be left;
from a thousand troops,
    only a hundred will survive.”

The Lord keeps saying,
“Israel, turn back to me
    and you will live!
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]

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.
You people are doomed!
You twist the truth
    and stomp on justice.

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.
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]

Footnotes

  1. 1.1 Tekoa: In the hill country of Judah about five miles south of Bethlehem.
  2. 1.1 Uzziah. . . Jeroboam: Uzziah was king of Judah 781-740 B.C., and Jeroboam II was king of Israel 783-743 B.C.
  3. 1.1 Jehoash: The Hebrew text has “Joash,” another spelling of the name.
  4. 1.1 Two years. . . earthquake: Possibly the earthquake of 760 B.C., which seems to have been especially violent.
  5. 1.1 messages: Or “visions.”
  6. 1.3 Syria: The Hebrew text has “Damascus,” the leading city of Syria.
  7. 1.3 logs with spikes: These were dragged over grain to thresh it.
  8. 1.4 Hazael. . . Benhadad: Two Syrian kings.
  9. 1.5 people: Or “king.”
  10. 1.5 Wicked Valley: The Hebrew text has “Aven Valley,” probably the fertile valley between the Lebanon and the anti-Lebanon mountains.
  11. 1.5 I 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.
  12. 1.5 Kir: 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.
  13. 1.6 Philistia: The Hebrew text has “Gaza,” one of the main Philistine cities.
  14. 1.6 my people: The people of Israel.
  15. 1.8 king: Or “people.”
  16. 1.8 Ashdod. . . Ashkelon. . . Ekron: Philistine cities.
  17. 1.9 Phoenicia: The Hebrew text has “Tyre,” which was one of the two Phoenician cities; the other was Sidon, which is not mentioned by Amos.
  18. 1.9 my people: See the note at 1.6.
  19. 1.11 their own relatives: The Edomites were descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob, the ancestor of the Israelites.
  20. 1.12 Teman and Bozrah: These stand for all of Edom; Teman may have been a city or a district. Bozrah, the chief city of northern Edom, was thirty miles southeast of the Dead Sea.
  21. 1.14 Rabbah: The capital city of Ammon.
  22. 2.1 They. . . bones: They dug up the bodies of kings and made lime out of them to use as whitewash on their houses and walls.
  23. 2.2 Kerioth: A leading city of Moab and a center for the worship of Chemosh, the chief god of Moab.
  24. 2.9 Amorites: This word is used for all the people who lived in Canaan at the time Israel took over the land.
  25. 2.11 Nazirites: People who promised the Lord that they would never drink wine or cut their hair or come in contact with a dead body.
  26. 2.13 ground: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 13.
  27. 3.9 Philistia: The Hebrew text has “Ashdod,” one of the leading cities of Philistia.
  28. 3.12 some. . . couches: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  29. 3.12 lion: 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.
  30. 3.14 altar: 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.
  31. 4.1 fat cows: The Hebrew text has “cows of Bashan,” a fertile plain famous for its rich pastures and well-fed cattle.
  32. 4.2 taken. . . hooks: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  33. 4.3 Harmon: Hebrew; some manuscripts of one ancient translation “Mount Hermon,” a mountain in the north of Palestine, on the way to Assyria.
  34. 4.4 Bethel and Gilgal: These were two of the most important centers of worship in northern Israel. Amos mentions these together again in 5.5.
  35. 4.4 Offer. . . 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.
  36. 4.9 Locusts: A type of grasshopper that comes in swarms and causes great damage to plant life.
  37. 4.13 I let. . . thinking: Or “No one’s secret thoughts are hidden from me.”
  38. 5.5 Gilgal. . . Bethel. . . Beersheba: These were ancient places of worship, but the Lord had warned his people to stay away from them.
  39. 5.5 Gilgal. . . 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).
  40. 5.6 descendants of Joseph: Another name for the people of the northern kingdom of Israel.
  41. 5.8 the 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.
  42. 5.15 your people: Hebrew “Joseph’s descendants” (see the note at verse 6).
  43. 5.16 paid to mourn: In ancient times some people were paid to mourn and make loud cries at funerals.
  44. 5.17 Your vineyards. . . weeping: Instead of happy celebrations that were often held in vineyards after the harvest.
  45. 5.26 star: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 26.
  46. 5.27 I, 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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