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The Bible

Amos 3-5




Middle East: Ancient Israel


Hear this word the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel--against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt:  You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins.  Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?  Does a lion roar in the thicket when he has no prey? Does he growl in his den when he has caught nothing?  Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground where no snare has been set? Does a trap spring up from the earth when there is nothing to catch?  When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?  Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.  The lion has roared-- who will not fear? The Sovereign LORD has spoken-- who can but prophesy?  Proclaim to the fortresses of Ashdod and to the fortresses of Egypt: Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria; see the great unrest within her and the oppression among her people.  They do not know how to do right, declares the LORD, who hoard plunder and loot in their fortresses.  Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: An enemy will overrun the land; he will pull down your strongholds and plunder your fortresses.

This is what the LORD says: As a shepherd saves from the lion's mouth only two leg bones or a piece of an ear, so will the Israelites be saved, those who sit in Samaria on the edge of their beds and in Damascus on their couches. [1]  Hear this and testify against the house of Jacob, declares the Lord, the LORD God Almighty.  On the day I punish Israel for her sins, I will destroy the altars of Bethel; the horns of the altar will be cut off and fall to the ground.  I will tear down the winter house along with the summer house; the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed and the mansions will be demolished, declares the LORD.

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, Bring us some drinks!  The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his holiness: The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks.  You will each go straight out through breaks in the wall, and you will be cast out toward Harmon, [2]  declares the LORD.  Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. [3]  Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings-- boast about them, you Israelites, for this is what you love to do," declares the Sovereign LORD.  

I gave you empty stomachs [4] in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD.  I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up.  People staggered from town to town for water but did not get enough to drink, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD.  Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, I struck them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD.  I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD.  I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. [5]  You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD.  Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.  

He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth-- the LORD God Almighty is his name.

Hear this word, O house of Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:  Fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again, deserted in her own land, with no one to lift her up.  This is what the Sovereign LORD says: The city that marches out a thousand strong for Israel will have only a hundred left; the town that marches out a hundred strong will have only ten left.

This is what the LORD says to the house of Israel: Seek me and live; do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba. For Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing. [6]  Seek the LORD and live, or he will sweep through the house of Joseph like a fire; it will devour, and Bethel will have no one to quench it.  You who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground (he who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns blackness into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land-- the LORD is his name--he flashes destruction on the stronghold and brings the fortified city to ruin), you hate the one who reproves in court and despise him who tells the truth.  You trample on the poor and force him to give you grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine.  For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.  Therefore the prudent man keeps quiet in such times, for the times are evil.

Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.  Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.

Therefore this is what the Lord, the LORD God Almighty, says: There will be wailing in all the streets and cries of anguish in every public square. The farmers will be summoned to weep and the mourners to wail.  There will be wailing in all the vineyards, for I will pass through your midst," says the LORD.  Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light.  It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.  Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light-- pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?  I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.  Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, [7] I will have no regard for them.  Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.  But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!  Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?  You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god [8] -- which you made for yourselves.  Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus, says the LORD, whose name is God Almighty.


[1] The meaning of the Hebrew for this line is uncertain.

    [2] Masoretic Text; with a different word division of the Hebrew (see Septuagint) out, O mountain of oppression

    [3] Or tithes on the third day

   [4] Hebrew you cleanness of teeth

   [5] Hebrew God

[6] Or grief; or wickedness; Hebrew aven, a reference to Beth Aven (a derogatory name for Bethel)

    [7] Traditionally peace offerings

   [8] Or lifted up Sakkuth your king and Kaiwan your idols, your star-gods; Septuagint lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star of your god Rephan, their idols.

This text version based on the New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved. Original electronic version from The Christian Classics Ethereal Library. This text modified for classroom use.

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