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Bible Study, The Minor Prophets: Amos, chapter 5 and 6

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Posted on CCPC's website 2022

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

      This is a long term, in depth, wide focus study of the Minor Prophets, drawing as much from the history of their times as possible, as well as looking at the original language of the prophet.

Chapter 5

      The chapter is sometimes entitled “A Lament for Israel”, as introduced by this verse.
      Here it would appear that the scribe that recorded Amos's words, or perhaps Amos himself, wrote it down directly. We'll see more of this 'first person' recording later.

      A “Lamentation” could be understood as an expression of grief or mourning that, while not expressly a song, is somewhat poetic, and could be sung by a cantor.

      The translations are good. The term “be·tu·lat” (a virgin / maiden) is here used to imply innocence.

      The implication of a ninety percent loss in battle is horrendous, and would be the end of the nation.

      “ki koh 'amar YHWH lebet yisra’el; dirsu ni wihyu”
      (this is the message of YHWH to Israel; 'seek / inquire / investigate' Me, and Stay Alive.)

      It is a promise. Those who had forgotten Him would take it as a threat.

      A list of places NOT to seek God. All of these have been corrupted by idol worship, and worse.
      They include the old holy place of Bethel, and Gilgal the first settlement west of the Jordan from Joshua 4, then it lists Beersheba along the edge of the Negev desert, a site founded by Abraham, Genesis 21, and restated by Issac as the site of his oath (ch 26).
      These three are all significant in the history of Israel as a whole, and as such, important to the Northern Kingdom.

      “dir·su” (seek....) YHWH and 'stay alive'...
      the warning about a fire in Bethel is on track.

      Another paraphrase:
      'You who turn to “laanah” what should be justice and righteousness bury it in the ground.'

A short Wormwood tangent:
      This isn't exactly the same 'wormwood' we saw in Revelation 8, which was the Greek word “Apsinthos”, however, it is drawn from the same general idea, and the translation using the English word makes sense all eight times it is used in the Old Testament, including in the next chapter.
      The Hebrew term “laanah” carries more than just 'bitterness' with it, there is also a sense of remorse from injustice, and oppression, see link below.
      The central idea that links both concepts of wormwood is that it is poisonous, as both the plants that carry that name and the long term effects of being bitter are indeed poisonous. And when you look back in Revelation and see that wormwood in action, it is poisonous as well.
End tangent

      He made the Pleiades and Orion....

A stargazing tangent:
      The first term “kimah” means 'a group of stars', but is generally accepted to mean the grouping known as “the Seven Sisters” and object 45 in the original Messier catalog from 1771 which is estimated to be 440 light years from Earth. The cluster has at least a dozen named stars, and is said to contain at least a thousand of related objects.
      The Pleiades, also mentioned in Job 9 and 38, was known to every ancient culture, and mythology in the Northern hemisphere including in Japan and northern Europe.
      Orion, and especially the three stars of the belt and the nearby nebula, was also known to the ancients, and the constellation in the figure of a man with an upraised weapon was known to the Babylonians and others in the region. In fact, the Hebrew word used here and in Job 9 and Isaiah 13 “kesil” simply means constellation, although in Job 38 the figure's belt is mentioned so it is clearly talking about this particular formation of stars.

      While other star formations were known, the only other one mentioned that can be reliably identified is 'the bear', and there is a question as to whether it is talking about the 'great' or the 'little' bear.
End tangent

      .... morning... rain... YHWH
      The verse is implying the YHWH controls the stars and planets, time, and the weather.
      That is correct. Time, as we understand it, time did not come into existence until verse five of Genesis “evening and morning were first day”, which was before the creation of the sun and moon in verse 16.

      “ham·mab·lig” (He flashes (bursts suddenly)) “sod” (destruction / devastation) upon the “'az” (mighty / fierce) so that “sod” comes upon the “mib sar” (fortified city)

      “sa·ne·’u” (they are filled with hate (they see as the enemy)) “bas sar” (in the gate / marketplace) “mo·w·ki·ah” (the rebuker (in Job 9:33 the word was translated 'umpire' in NAS), and the one that speaks “ta min” (completely / wholly / soundly (implies 'the whole truth)) “ye·ta·‘e·bu” (they despise / detest / abhore)

11 There's a reason Amos is called “The Prophet of Social Justice”
      Therefore because you “bo·wo·sas·kem” (trample / step on) the “dal” (weak / poor (of low caste)), and “u·mas·’at” (extract tribute / taxes) from grain from them, though you have built houses of “gazit” (hewn 'stone') you shall not live in them

      The translations are correct, to paraphrase: GOD is speaking “I know you've been acting like a DC politician”.

      ('perverting justice', 'taking bribes', what would you compare it to?)

      Therefore the “ham·mas·kil” (prudent / 'those with' understanding) at that “ba 'et” (time) “yid dom” (remain silent (as if unable to speak 'dumb')), for the times are “ra' ah” (a malignancy / evil)

      “dir su” (search for) “to wb” (agreeable / good), and not “ra'” (malignant evil (again)) that you may live, and so that YHWH will be with you, 'as you have always claimed'

      They have bragged about being The Chosen People, but they don't act like it!

      “sin 'u” (hate / see as the enemy (same root as verse 10)) “ra'” (evil (again)), and love “to wb” and establish justice in the gate! “ye·he·nan” (will show favor / be gracious) to you YHWH, God of hosts, to the remainder of Joseph.

      That's NOT Judah. The two sons of Joseph that were granted his share of the land were Manasseh and Ephraim (see Genesis 48). Those tribes went with the Northern Kingdom of Israel, not the south. However, Manasseh is named as one of the twelve tribes that have a remnent saved in Revelation 7. Ephraim (and Dan) are left out of that list.

16 and 17
      Then Joel repeats, The Lord of hosts, God, YHWH....
      This is clearly for emphasis, the use of the formal name of GOD is enough to make it clear that this is a “thus sayth the Lord” type of statement.
      .... in the “re·ho·bo·wt” (open plaza (city square)) there shall be “misped” (lamentation (another form of nearly theatrical crying)) and in the “hu·so·wt” (streets) they shall say “how, how” (alas, alas), and they shall call 'the farmer' to mourning, and to “misped” “yhu·so·wt” (known / acknowledged) “nehi” (mourning song (implies a professional dirge singer))
      ... and in the vineyards, “’e·‘e·bor” (I will pass) “be·qir·be·ka” (among / in your midst) says YHWH

      “How” (woe / alas) unto you that desire “yowm YHWH”....

A special look at “the Day of the Lord”
      What exactly is meant by the term? As opposed to “the Lord's Day” which, in the church is Sunday, and in the Jewish world is the Sabbath.

      In both the Old and New Testament it refers to a time, not necessarily a 'day' when the Deity interacts directly with humanity in some way.
      In the OT, we see in Isaiah 2 that day implies a reckoning with those that are “proud and lofty”, see verse 2.
      The beginning of Joel 2 equates the day with the invasion by a swarm of locusts, and then later with a foreign army coming to town, and yet in 2 : 28 through 32 there is hope.
      In Malachi 4 it has another meaning involving eternity, while Daniel 12 seems to state that the day is a finite period of time.

      When you come to the NT you see Joel 2 quoted in Acts 2 in regard to the outpouring of the Spirit.
      Paul uses the phrase in direct reference to the Second Coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 5. A scene described in detail by Christ in Matthew 24.
      Peter uses the image of the day as “a thief in the night” in 1 Peter 3 : 10
      And, of course, Revelation.

      So the phrase “yowm YHWH” (time of the Lord) is better rendered as the Time or Age of the Lord. But the concept remains that when GOD decides that it is His Day, then it is His Day and humanity can only stand and watch it happen. This is seen in the events in the books we are discussing, and foretold in Revelation.
End Special Look
      ... 'why?' ... the Day of YHWH is “ho sek” (darkness / obscurity) and not “'o wr”(light)

      The prophet is asking a question of those who want That Day to come. He says that's not something to wish for because it will be 'dark', which is exactly the opposite of what is thought of as the Presence and Work of God. And not a good time for them, as is explained in the following verse.

19 and 20
      The 'bad luck' of the translations is accurate.
      As is the 'darkness'.

      “sa·ne·tî” (I hate (includes 'unloved')), “ma·’as·ti” (abhor / reject) “hag·ge·kem” (festival gatherings / feasts), and I do not accept your “be·‘as·se·ro·te·kem” (solemn assemblies (implies 'group worship'))

22 and 23
      The translations are right about the offerings being rejected.
      And God not wanting to even listen to them.

      “weyiggal kammayim mispat usedaqah kenahal 'etan”
      An alternative to the last few verses is offered: “But let flow down like water justice and righteousness like a stream eternal.”

      History lesson from the Exodus

      You carried your “sikkut” (possibly a sky god from the east) “mal·ke·kem” (form of 'Moloch / Molek' which was both a pagan god (see below) and a king of the Ammonites) and “ki yun” your “sal·me·kem” (images / idols), the “kokab” (star) “’e·lo·he·kem” (of your gods) 'which you made for yourselves'.

      In this verse the 1611 and some of the other translations add information trying to make sense of what's in the Hebrew. We don't do that here, the Hebrew above is what it is, and we're about to take our best guess as to what it means.
      While the identity of “sikkut/sikkuth” is still unclear, there is no doubt as to who and/or what Moloch (spellings vary) was, as it/he is mentioned everywhere from Leviticus 18 on through Deuteronomy 12 and 18, into 2 Kings 16, and on through Jeremiah 7 and Ezekiel 16, and elsewhere in the OT. As to whether or even if Moloch was in some way related to Ba'al is still debated. Here and now we can say this: there were similarities, and in some areas, there was at least some 'cross-pollination', however, they appear to have been, at least in most areas and for most of their history, separate entities. Of course, there are some who are now apologists for Molech and say that instead of a blood-soaked pagan idol, it was instead only ever the well meaning and misunderstood foreign king. Which totally rejects the testimony recorded in Acts 7 beginning at 39 and especially 43.
      The point is, the Jews have made the adoration of idols a competitive sport, and after all these years, they're good at it.

27 ....we'll paraphrase this one with:
      'Therefore, you'll exit, stage left,' says YHWH.

Chapter 6

      Woe “has·sa·’a·nan·nim” (at ease / undisturbed (implies a pride in their situation)) in Zion, and trust in Mount Samaria, “ne·qu·be” (appointed / named) “resit” (chief / first) “hag·go·w·yim” (of the nations) and comes to whom the house of Israel.

      “Kalneh / Calneh / Kalnow” (may be the Babylonian city mentioned in Genesis 10 :10 as founded by Nimrod)
      “Hamath / Hamat” (probably the Syrian city north of Kadesh. Named in Genesis 10 :18 and Numbers 34. Solomon built storehouses there 2 Chronicles 8)
      “Gath of the Philistines” (ancient city confirmed archaeologically between Jerusalem and the coast, then a border area between the Philistines and Judah)
      At the time, all three were under the control of a foreign power.

      The translations are all different again.
      Paraphrase: “woe to you who thinks the day of doom is a long way off, and bring near the home of violence”

4, 5, 6
      The descriptions of the 'leisure class' in the translations is pretty close to the Hebrew, (including the drinking of wine “out of bowls”!)
      ..... but are not “neh·lu” (implies being 'worried sick') for the “se ber” (crushing / breaking) of “yo·w·sep”

7 Remember what we said about Amos being the Prophet of Social Justice? It's true:
      The 'leisure class' of the previous verses shall...
      “.... go into captivity as the first of the captives, and “we sar” (depart / taken away) “mirzah” (feast / banquet) “sarach” (sprawl out (may also imply those that 'spread out' a banquet)).”
      The idea being that those that give, and those that attend, these sorts of festivities will be the first to 'go away'.

      “nis ba'” (sworn / adjure (solemn pledge)) “’a·do·nay YHWH” “be·nap·sow” (of / by Himself) , says “YHWH 'elohe seba 'o wt” (YHWH GOD of Hosts), I “ta'eb” (loathe / abhor) “ge 'o wn” (majesty / pride / arrogance) of Jacob and his “’ar·me·no·taw” (citadels (fortress)) “saneti” (hate) 'will deliver up' the city.

      “there will come a time”.....
Verse 9 is a bit grim, but there is an explanation for it, first the Hebrew:
.... if “yiw·wa·te·ru” (remain / left (includes 'survive')) “‘a·sa·rah” (ten) “’a·na·sim” (men) “be·ba·yit” (house) “’e·had” (one / single), “wa·me·tu” (they will die).
      This is clearly prophesy about coming events. "ten men in a house - all die", ten tribes in North cease to exist as meaningful entities, coincidence?

      “and when picks up”...
      The verse describes a male relative (the term “do dow” can mean uncle, but includes other male blood kin) who comes to claim the bodies with somebody who will cremate the dead, one will ask the other if there are any more inside, and they'll answer 'no' or 'no one'...
      Then it gets strange.
      .... “we 'a mar” ((an imperative) !Keep Quiet! / !Be Silent!) “ki lo” (do not) “le·haz·kir” ('call to remembrance') the name “YHWH”

      For behold YHWH “me·saw·weh” (commands / orders), “we·hik·kah” (defeat / break) the “hab·ba·yit” (house) “hag·ga·do·wl” (great / mighty) “re·si·sim” (pieces), and the house 'little' into “be qi 'im” (fragments)

      The rocks in verse 12 imply a boulder field, not just some stones along the ground, which is normal for the Middle East. ... yet you have turned into “le ros” (venom / poison (not 'gall')) - “mis pat” (justice), and turn “u·pe·ri” (fruit of) “se da qah” (righteousness) into “le·la·‘a·nah” (wormwood, same as 5:7)

      “has·se·me·him” (rejoice / be glad (implies 'raise a cheer')) “lelo dabar” (not / no words / things (nothing)), 'say, have we not taken 'a horn' (possibly the name of an unknown city) by our own strength?'

      'I will raise up against the house of Israel a nation'...
      “we·la·ha·su” (oppress / squeeze) you from the entrance to Hamath (see verse 2) to the Valley of Arabah (the Rift Valley that runs south from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.

End 6

Selected Sources for this chapter:

Sikkuth And Chiun:

Sources used throughout entire study:
Bible Hub Interlinear pages:

the Geneva Bible downloadable

the 1611 KJV

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.

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