Amos 7

 

כֹּה הִרְאַנִי אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה וְהִנֵּה יוֹצֵר גֹּבַי בִּתְחִלַּת עֲלוֹת הַלָּקֶשׁ וְהִנֵּה־לֶקֶשׁ אַחַר גִּזֵּי הַמֶּלֶךְ׃   7:1

Amos 7:1   Thus the Master, the Lord, showed me, and behold, He will be forming the lucusts of the beginning of the coming up of the latter growth, and behold, it was the latter growth following the mowings of the king,

וְהָיָה אִם־כִּלָּה לֶאֱכוֹל אֶת־עֵשֶׂב הָאָרֶץ וָאֹמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה סְלַח־נָא מִי יָקוּם יַעֲקֹב כִּי קָטֹן הוּא׃   7:2

Amos 7:2   and it would be when it completed devouring the herbage of the earth that I would say,

                     “My Master, O Lord, forgive, I pray You.

                               Who will maintain Jacob if it is insufficient?”

I have two problems with the traditional translation of this verse, as if there were only one translation -- actually there are many differing translations.  The first of my problems relates to the pronoun it in the first line.  Usually it’s translated as he referring, I suppose, to the king mentioned in the preceding verse.  But I believe it refers instead to the locust swarm that the Lord would be forming.  Why else would it be mentioned there?

My second problem encompasses a number of different points centered on the question in the last line.  First, the question Amos poses of the Lord in this verse has been translated in so many different ways that it’s hard to believe they all deal with the same Hebrew.  A composite of those translations that are reasonable goes like this:

                                              “How can Israel stand?  For it is small.”

Here is what I think of that class of translations.  First of all, the word I translate as who cannot be correctly translated as how.  The word for who is spelled mem-yad, as it is above.  The word for how is spelled mem-heh.  In Hebrew that’s a significant difference.  Secondly, I believe Jacob is the object, not the subject, of the verb can ... stand or will maintain.  Finally, I believe the pronoun it in the composite translation refers to Israel.  In my translation, the same word relates to the gleanings of the herbage left after the king and the locusts have gotten to it.  In other words, what if the leftovers were too little for the remnant of Israel to survive on?  And the Lord answers this question in the next verse.  He says He recants and will not form the locusts.  These three verses now seem to make sense.  They clearly comprise a meaningful parable, a metaphor.  The Lord will not bring about the total disaster He first envisioned, as Amos sees it.

נִחַם יְהוָה עַל־זֹאת לֹא תִהְיֶה אָמַר יְהוָה׃   7:3

Amos 7:3   The Lord repented over it. “It shall not be,” said The Lord.

כֹּה הִרְאַנִי אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה וְהִנֵּה קֹרֵא לָרִב בָּאֵשׁ אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה וַתֹּאכַל אֶת־תְּהוֹם רַבָּה וְאָכְלָה   7:4                      אֶת־הַחֵלֶק׃

Amos 7:4   Thus the Master, the Lord, showed me when behold, the Master, the Lord, will be calling to contend by a fire that would consume the great deep, and devour the possession,

וָאֹמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה חֲדַל־נָא מִי יָקוּם יַעֲקֹב כִּי קָטֹן הוּא׃   7:5

Amos 7:5   that I would say,

                     “My Master, O Lord, I pray, leave undone.

                               Who will maintain Jacob if it is insufficient?”

Here we have another parable or metaphor.  Now the Lord recants (in the next verse) over a “fire” that would consume all the water.  Amos asks, what if the water left is not sufficient for the remnant of Israel to survive on?

נִחַם יְהוָה עַל־זֹאת גַּם־הִיא לֹא תִהְיֶה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃   7:6

Amos 7:6   The Lord “repented” over it. “It also shall not be,” said the Master, the Lord.

כֹּה הִרְאַנִי וְהִנֵּה אֲדֹנָי נִצָּב עַל־חוֹמַת אֲנָךְ וּבְיָדוֹ אֲנָךְ׃   7:7

Amos 7:7   Thus He showed me when behold, the Master was standing by a wall He had plumbed, and the plumb line was in His “hand.”

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי מָה־אַתָּה רֹאֶה עָמוֹס וָאֹמַר אֲנָךְ וַיֹּאמֶר אֲדֹנָי הִנְנִי שָׂם אֲנָךְ בְּקֶרֶב עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל   7:8     לֹא־אוֹסִיף עוֹד עֲבוֹר לוֹ׃

Amos 7:8   And the Lord said to me, “What are you looking at, Amos?”  And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Master said,

                     “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people, Israel.

                                I will again no longer be passing over him.”

The Lord issues a dire warning here.  He will no longer overlook and pardon the sins of Israel.

וְנָשַׁמּוּ בָּמוֹת יִשְׂחָק וּמִקְדְּשֵׁי יִשְׂרָאֵל יֶחֱרָבוּ וְקַמְתִּי עַל־בֵּית יָרָבְעָם בֶּחָרֶב׃   7:9

Amos 7:9   “So the high places of Isaac shall be devastated,

                                 and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be made desolate,

                     and I shall rise up against the house of Jeroboam with a sword.”

It may not be too interesting, but I believe the name Isaac has not been used before to refer to Israel.  Maybe not too interesting, but quite strange.

וַיִּשְׁלַח אֲמַצְיָה כֹּהֵן בֵּית־אֵל אֶל־יָרָבְעָם מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר קָשַׁר עָלֶיךָ עָמוֹס בְּקֶרֶב בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל   7:10

 לֹא־תוּכַל הָאָרֶץ לְהָכִיל אֶת־כָּל־דְּבָרָיו׃

Amos 7:10   Then Amaziah, a priest of Beth-el, sent to Jeroboam, king of Israel, saying, “Amos conspires against you among the house of Israel; the land is not able to contain all his words.”

כִּי־כֹה אָמַר עָמוֹס בַּחֶרֶב יָמוּת יָרָבְעָם וְיִשְׂרָאֵל גָּלֹה יִגְלֶה מֵעַל אַדְמָתוֹ׃   7:11

Amos 7:11   “For thus has Amos said:

                        ‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,

                                 and Israel surely shall be taken away captive from his soil.’”

וַיֹּאמֶר אֲמַצְיָה אֶל־עָמוֹס חֹזֶה לֵךְ בְּרַח־לְךָ אֶל־אֶרֶץ יְהוּדָה וֶאֱכָל־שָׁם לֶחֶם וְשָׁם תִּנָּבֵא׃   7:12

Amos 7:12   And Amaziah said to Amos, “Seer, go, run yourself away to the land of Judah and eat bread there, and there you can prophesy.”

This verse is the basis for the assumption that Amos was a resident of Judah.

וּבֵית־אֵל לֹא־תוֹסִיף עוֹד לְהִנָּבֵא כִּי מִקְדַּשׁ־מֶלֶךְ הוּא וּבֵית מַמְלָכָה הוּא׃   7:13

Amos 7:13   “But of Beth-el, you may not do prophesying again any more, for it is a sanctuary of the king, and it is a house of sovereignty.”

וַיַּעַן עָמוֹס וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־אֲמַצְיָה לֹא־נָבִיא אָנֹכִי וְלֹא בֶן־נָבִיא אָנֹכִי כִּי־בוֹקֵר אָנֹכִי וּבוֹלֵס שִׁקְמִים׃   7:14

Amos 7:14   And Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, and I am not the son of a prophet; I am only a herdsman and a tender of sycamore trees.”

וַיִּקָּחֵנִי יְהוָה מֵאַחֲרֵי הַצֹּאן וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי יְהוָה לֵךְ הִנָּבֵא אֶל־עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃   7:15

Amos 7:15   “But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people, Israel.’”

וְעַתָּה שְׁמַע דְּבַר־יְהוָה אַתָּה אֹמֵר לֹא תִנָּבֵא עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא תַטִּיף עַל־בֵּית יִשְׂחָק׃   7:16

Amos 7:16   “So now hear the word of the Lord!

                       You were saying, ‘You shall not prophesy about Israel

                                 or preach to the house of Isaac.’”

Now Amos mentions the house of Isaac.  This is the only place in the bible where this phrase is used.  Imagine!  Amos gave Isaac homage and honor that no other scribe of the bible had done.  He must have had a special affinity to Isaac, one that no one else did.  Did he know something that no one else knew?  Or did he feel (as I do) that Isaac got a rotten deal?

לָכֵן כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה אִשְׁתְּךָ בָּעִיר תִּזְנֶה וּבָנֶיךָ וּבְנֹתֶיךָ בַּחֶרֶב יִפֹּלוּ וְאַדְמָתְךָ בַּחֶבֶל תְּחֻלָּק וְאַתָּה    7:17      עַל־אֲדָמָה טְמֵאָה תָּמוּת וְיִשְׂרָאֵל גָּלֹה יִגְלֶה מֵעַל אַדְמָתוֹ׃

Amos 7:17   For this, thus says the Lord:

                       “Your wife shall be a harlot in the city,

                                and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,

                       and you shall die on unclean ground.

                                And Israel surely shall be taken away captive from his soil.”

 

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