We continue on from the previous few weeks with the readers guide to the Minor Prophets. When we left off, Amos had just announced the oracles against other nations. He now starts in on Israel. Go read the passage, then come back for the notes below and then read it again. Hopefully, this helps in understanding the text.
Now Amos focus on the Israelite themselves. He starts with the same pattern (for three…four, shall not turn), but here seems much worse. Instead of the ‘fourth’ we have a list of sins.
The sins are (WBC)
Sale of the poor into Slavery
Oppression of the poor
Exploitation of needy debtors
These are not specific sins, but daily occurrences in Israel
Selling into slavery, silver was a high price, for a pair of sandals (likely hyperbole) was obviously low. Basically saying, you’ll sell anyone for anything you can get.
Treated the poor like dirt.
So, we don’t know who the woman is. EBC says mother-in-law or stepmother, Tyndale says daughter-in-law by corruption of concubinage, others say just a girl. This could be a prostitute or someone at the temple. Either way, if not the both of them are engaging in general sexual sin, one of them is breaking codes of incest and adultery.
It was a common practice t the time to take an item of clothing as a pledge (such as on a debt), but you were required to give it back at night, as the poor would have nothing else to keep warm.
The wine was paid as a fine, possible unjustly imposed, that the priest then drank the wine. Fines are supposed to be for making restitution, not for getting drunk.
This is God’s indignation at Israel. He reminds them that it was He who did all these things and now they profane his name and oppress the poor. Read it as, “After all I’ve done this (the aforementioned crimes) is how you repay me.
12 – Nazerites were ‘consecrated agents of God among his people’(WBC) and among other special rules, did not drink.
I will crush you as if a full cart ran over you, driving you into the ground.
My Translation of 14-16:
You have no chance. The fast will not move, the strong will be weak, and even the might warriors will die. The archers will not even be able to stand, the quick will still die, even if they are on a horse, they cannot outrun me. Even the bravest among you will run away, naked and afraid when my wrath comes.
‘Only you have I known’ means you are the one I’ve made a covenant with, therefore, punishment must come.
This is followed by seven rhetorical questions. E.G. People who are traveling together, have obviously met before. The most important of which is the final question. Basically saying, if I have commanded someone to speak, they must speak (this is over and against what we read earlier, that the prophets were told not to speak).