Amos 3:9-4:13

This is another post in my series, Reader’s Guide to Amos. It works(or at least, I’d like it to) as something between a commentary and a Bible Study. Go read the text. Keep that window open. Read through it once to get a broad view of what is happening. Then come back and read through my notes. I’d suggest going back to the text one more time, read through it and when you get to a word or idea you are unsure of, come back and see if there is something in my Reader’s Guide that helps. You can read my original series introduction and the first two post that cover the text up to this point.

Amos 3:9-12
9.He starts as if he is calling on emissaries of the foreign superpowers of the time, Assyria and Egypt. Most translations, including the original Hebrew have Ashdod, however the LXX uses Assyria and most commentators agree this is a stand in for them.
The word unrest has a greater sense of panic and oppression is plural. God is calling on the other power to look at them in their punishment.
10.The are greedy and gain through violence and destruction. These are the oppose of doing ‘what is right’.
11 – This is a punishment statement to Israel for their crimes committed in the verse
12 -This is the extent of their punishments, that after the enemy attacks (is allowed to) and overwhelms them, there will be barely anything left, as if mostly devoured by a lion.
Translation – Look other nations upon this one that does not act right. They steal and destroy, so soon, someone will come to them to steal and destroy. Their punishment will be so severe, there will be almost nothing left.

We are not sure to whom this is addressed. Yahweh will destroy Israel, the altar of Bethel (house of worship in the Northern Kingdom). Not only the house of worship, but all houses of luxury and greed – the summer houses, the winter houses and the palaces.

1 – Bashan was a fertile valley, well-known for its lush pastures and fat cows. That’s right, he is calling the women of Israel fat cows.
2 – The hooks and ‘fishhooks’ are unclear. The words used could also mean ropes, staffs or even pots and pans. The NAC concludes the point is that their bodies will pile up and be pulled away with hooks. WBC points out that this would also deny them the burial rights. Tyndale ties it to the next verse, in that they would be poked and prodded out of the city and through the holes in the wall.(unlikely)
3 – The point of the walls is obviously protection. However, the walls will be so broken that their bodies will easily be taken away. Harmon is unclear as there is no such place. Commentators disagree, but it likely means that their bodies will either be taken a long way away, or dumped in a garbage pit.

Bethel and Gilgal were major sites of worship. Amos is being sarcastic, calling them to the temple to sin/rebel (as this is what they were doing anyway. Better translated ‘every three years’ as was required for the benefit of the Levites (Deut 14:28-29)
They brag at how much or how often they give an offering, using it for public gain, while continuing to live in sin.
Curses – Covenantal punishments. God brings punishment after sin, after violating the covenant. In the following verse, Amos is telling them that God has already brought the punishment, yet they have not returned to God.
6 – Famine – some translations, like the ESV keep the literal “cleanliness of teeth’. They are clean because they have not eaten.
7-8. Drought – Such sovereign control of the weather, that it can rain on one city, but not another.
9 Agricultural disaster
10 Pestilence and war
11 – The ultimate symbol of God’s judgement against sin.
Even as a part was pulled from the burning, they still did not return to God.
12 – The Israelites are being told that this level is destruction is what awaits them.
Prepare has the meaning of prepping for war. ‘To meet your God’ has both the focus of ‘your’, a reminder of the covenant relationship, and the theophany (an awesome display of God’s power) and the meeting on Mt. Sinai
13 – Yahweh is not on of the many gods, whom can influence events and outcomes. He is the One and Only. The One whom creates and destroys. Whom has all power in all things. The word for darkness here occurs only elsewhere in Job, in a context of death (NAC).

Commentary Sources:
Amos, Obadiah, Jonah: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
Joel and Amos (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
Hosea-Jonah, Volume 31 (Word Biblical Commentary)

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