Amos 3

Every Effect has its Cause

1Listen, you Israelites, to this message which the Lord is proclaiming against
Or “about.”
you! This message is for the entire clan I brought up
One might expect a third person verb form (“he brought up”), since the Lord apparently refers to himself in the third person in the preceding sentence. This first person form, however, serves to connect this message to the earlier indictment (2:10) and anticipates the words of the following verse.
from the land of Egypt:
2“I have chosen
Heb “You only have I known.” The Hebrew verb יָדַע (yada’) is used here in its covenantal sense of “recognize in a special way.”
you alone from all the clans of the earth. Therefore I will punish you for all your sins.”
3 Do two walk together without having met?
The rhetorical questions in vv. 3–5 expect the answer, “No, of course not!” Those in v. 6 anticipate the answer, “Yes, of course they do/he is.” They all draw attention to the principle of cause and effect and lay the logical foundation for the argument in vv. 7–8. Also note the progression from a general question in v. 3 to the “meetings” of two animals (v. 4), to that of an animal and a human trap (v. 5), to a climax with the confrontation with the Lord (v. 6). Each of these meetings is disastrous.

4 Does a lion roar in the woods if he has not cornered his prey?
Heb “without having prey [or “food”].”

Does a young lion bellow from his den if he has not caught something?
5 Does a bird swoop down into a trap on the ground if there is no bait?
Does a trap spring up from the ground unless it has surely caught something?
6 If an alarm sounds
Heb “If the ram’s horn is blown.”
in a city, do people not fear?
Or “tremble” (NASB, NIV, NCV); or “shake.”

If disaster overtakes a
Heb “is in”; NIV, NCV, NLT “comes to.”
city, is the Lord not responsible?
Heb “has the Lord not acted?”

7 Certainly the sovereign Lord does nothing without first revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.
8 A lion has roared!
The roar of the lion is here a metaphor for impending judgment (see 1:2; cf. 3:4, 12). Verses 7–8 justify Amos’ prophetic ministry and message of warning and judgment. The people should expect a prophetic message prior to divine action.
Who is not afraid?
The sovereign Lord has spoken! Who can refuse to prophesy?
Who can refuse to prophesy? When a message is revealed, the prophet must speak, and the news of impending judgment should cause people to fear.

Samaria Will Fall

9 Make this announcement in
Heb “on” or “over” (also later in this verse).
the fortresses of Ashdod
and in the fortresses in the land of Egypt.
Say this:
“Gather on the hills around Samaria!
Samaria might refer here both to the region and to the capital city (later known as Sebaste). On the other hand, there actually are hills that surround the mound upon which the city was built. The implication is that the nations can come and sit and see from those hills the sin of the capital city and its judgment.
For location of the city see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1.

Observe the many acts of violence
The Hebrew noun carries the nuance of “panic” or “confusion.” Here it refers metonymically to the violent deeds that terrorize the oppressed.
taking place within the city,
Heb “in her midst” (so NAB, NASB); NIV “among her people.”

the oppressive deeds
The translation assumes the form is an abstract plural (see Job 35:9; Eccl 4:1). Another option is to understand the form as a substantival passive participle and translate, “the oppressed” (so KJV).
occurring in it.”
Heb “within her.”

10 “They do not know how to do what is right.” (The Lord is speaking.)
“They store up
Heb “those who.”
the spoils of destructive violence
Heb “violence and destruction.” The expression “violence and destruction” stand metonymically for the goods the oppressors have accumulated by their unjust actions.
in their fortresses.
11 Therefore,” says the sovereign Lord, “an enemy will encircle the land.
The MT reads “an enemy and around the land.” It is also possible to take the MT as an exclamation (“an enemy, and all about the land!”; see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 118; NJPS; cf. NLT).Most scholars and versions emend the text to יְסוֹבֵב (yesovev, Polel imperfect), “will encircle.”

He will take away your power;
Heb “He will bring down your power from you.” Some emend the text to read “Your power will be brought down from you.” The shift, however, from an active to a passive sense also appears at 3:14 (“I will destroy Bethel’s altars. The horns of the altar will be cut off.”) The pronouns (“your…you”) are feminine singular, indicating that the personified city of Samaria is addressed here. Samaria’s “power” here is her defenses and/or wealth.

your fortresses will be looted.”
12 This is what the Lord says:
“Just as a shepherd salvages from the lion’s mouth a couple of leg bones or a piece of an ear,
so the Israelites who live in Samaria will be salvaged.
The verb translated salvaged, though often used in a positive sense of deliverance from harm, is here employed in a sarcastic manner. A shepherd would attempt to salvage part of an animal to prove that a predator had indeed killed it. In this way he could prove that he had not stolen the missing animal and absolve himself from any responsibility to repay the owner (see Exod 22:12–13).

They will be left with just a corner of a bed,
Heb “with a corner of a bed.”

and a part
The meaning of the Hebrew word דְּמֶשֶׁק (demesheq), which occurs only here, is uncertain. If not emended, it is usually related to the term ַדּמֶּשֶׂק (dammeseq) and translated as the “Damask linens” of the bed (cf. NASB “the cover”) or as “in Damascus” (so KJV, NJB, NIV). The differences in spelling (Damascus is spelled correctly in 5:27), historical considerations, and the word order make both of these derivations unlikely. Many emendations have been proposed (e.g., “a part from the foot [of a bed],” based on a different division of the Hebrew letters (cf. NEB, NRSV); “on the edge,” based on a Hebrew term not attested in the Bible (NKJV). Some suggest a resemblance to an Akkadian term which means “sideboard [of a bed],” which is sometimes incorrectly rendered “headboard” (NJPS; see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 121–22). Most likely another part of a bed or couch is in view, but it is difficult to be more specific.
of a couch.”
13 Listen and warn
Or “testify against.”
the family
Heb “house.”
of Jacob!
These words are spoken to either the unidentified heralds addressed at the beginning of v. 9, or to the Egyptians and Philistines (see v. 9b). Another possibility is that one is not to look for a specific addressee but rather appreciate the command simply as a rhetorical device to grab the attention of the listeners and readers of the prophetic message.

The sovereign Lord, the God who commands armies,
Traditionally, “the God of hosts.”
is speaking!
14 “Certainly when
Heb “in the day.”
I punish Israel for their
Heb “his.” With the referent “Israel” here, this amounts to a collective singular.
covenant transgressions,
Traditionally, “transgressions, sins,” but see the note on the word “crimes” in 1:3.

I will destroy
Heb “punish” (so NASB, NRSV).
For location see Map4-G4; Map5-C1; Map6-E3; Map7-D1; Map8-G3.
The horns
The horns of an ancient altar projected upwards from the four corners and resembled an animal’s horns in appearance. Fugitives could seek asylum by grabbing hold of these corners (see Exod 21:14; 1 Kgs 1:50; 2:28). When the altar’s horns were cut off, there would be no place of asylum left for the Lord’s enemies.
of the altar will be cut off and fall to the ground.
15 I will destroy both the winter and summer houses.
Heb “the winter house along with the summer house.”
Like kings, many in Israel’s wealthy class owned both winter and summer houses (cf. 1 Kgs 21:1, 18; Jer 36:22). For a discussion of archaeological evidence relating to these structures, see P. King, Amos, Hosea, Micah, 64–65.

The houses filled with ivory
Heb “houses of ivory.” These houses were not made of ivory, but they had ivory panels and furniture decorated with ivory inlays. See P. King, Amos, Hosea, Micah, 139–48.
will be ruined,
the great
Or “many,” cf. NAB “their many rooms.”
houses will be swept away.”
The translation assumes the form is from the Hebrew verb סָפָה (safah, “to sweep away”) rather than סוּף (suf, “to come to an end”), which is the choice of most versions. Either option effectively communicates the destruction of the structures.

The Lord is speaking!
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