Prophet Amos, old Russian Orthodox icon

Exegetical Study of Amos 9:1-15 [The Destruction and Restoration of Israel]


Amos 9:1-15 (NRSV)

Note: All quoted passages in paper will be from the NASB

1a I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said:
1b Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake,
and shatter them on the heads of all the people;
1c and those who are left I will kill with the sword;
not one of them shall flee away,
not one of them shall escape.
2 Though they dig into Sheol,
from there shall my hand take them;
though they climb up to heaven,
from there I will bring them down.
3 Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
from there I will search out and take them;
and though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea,
there I will command the sea-serpent, and it shall bite them.
4 And though they go into captivity in front of their enemies,
there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them;
and I will fix my eyes on them
for harm and not for good.
5 The Lord, God of hosts,
he who touches the earth and it melts,
and all who live in it mourn,
and all of it rises like the Nile,
and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt;
6 who builds his upper chambers in the heavens,
and founds his vault upon the earth;
who calls for the waters of the sea,
and pours them out upon the surface of the earth—
the Lord is his name.

7     Are you not like the Ethiopians to me,
O people of Israel? says the Lord.
Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt,
and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?
8     The eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom,
and I will destroy it from the face of the earth
—except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,
says the Lord. 
9     For lo, I will command,
and shake the house of Israel among all the nations
as one shakes with a sieve,
but no pebble shall fall to the ground.
10   All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword,
who say, “Evil shall not overtake or meet us.”
 
11   On that day I will raise up
the booth of David that is fallen,
and repair its breaches,
and raise up its ruins,
and rebuild it as in the days of old;
12   in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations who are called by my name,
says the Lord who does this.
13   The time is surely coming, says the Lord,
when the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps,
and the treader of grapes the one who sows the seed;
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and all the hills shall flow with it.
14   I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
15   I will plant them upon their land,
and they shall never again be plucked up
out of the land that I have given them,


I. Date & Composition


Amos appears to be an early prophetic composition, pre-exilic, but also shows signs of later redactions. It is most likely that the original composition was done by Amos and then copied later by a scribe. However, since all of the known Amos manuscripts are rather late, it is currently impossible to pinpoint an exact date. In the following section the closest estimate and it’s reasoning will be presented for when and how Amos was composed.

Internal Evidence

The dating methods based on linguistic studies can be hard when all the manuscripts are rather late, however, internal clues in the book will help lead us toward a date range that should be agreeable to most readers.

  1. The earliest (oldest) that it could be is a short time after the death of Uzziah, King of Judah and Jeroboam (II), son of Joash. Uzziah died in 740 BCE and Jeroboam II died around 742 BCE. Since they are both mentioned by the author of this book, it is safe to assume that the author lived during or after their lifetimes.
  2. The author mentions that Amos’ vision happened “2 years after the earthquake”. In 750 BCE there was believed to be a large earth quake in Irsael, evidenced by findings at Tel Hazor, by Yigael Yadin and Israel Finkelstein. Assuming that Amos was recorded right after the prophet’s ministry (2 years before the quake), the oldest it could be is as early as 752 BCE.

With these two points in mind, it is reasonable to conclude that Amos could not have been written before 752, give or take a few years. However, the possibility for a late date is still possible. Once again, internal evidence will provide a window for how late this date could be.

  1. Amos’ audience was the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The words of his prophecy were mainly directed towards them, not Judah. During the time of Amos and Hosea it was Judah who was considered the obedient child and Israel to be the wayward child. Given the neutral stance in the book towards Judah and the tone of destruction over Israel, it is likely that the latest this book was composed was while Judah was still a nation. It’s possible that after Israel fell in 722 BCE to the Assyrians that Amos’ works was composed to demonstrate that his prophetic words were from God. However, if the book was composed any time later than that it’s likely that Judah would have also been included in the warnings since they were destroyed in about 587 BCE. The lack of concern about Judah’s well-being and the danger surrounding Israel points to a late boundary before 587 BCE.
  2. Amos criticizes the worship locations of Israel, such as bethel, which were places deeply hate by the Judeans as they were places of “pagan” worship. Including these oracles in the final composition would make no sense had Judah already been exiled by the Babylonians in 587 BCE. However, this clue does point towards an early date for the oracles in the book because Babylon was not yet threatening to exile Judah. Had this threat been real at the time of the book’s composition, one can be sure that the pro-Judah language in the book would have been muted or not included at all. Since the Babylonians did not overtake the Assyrians until about 612 BCE, once can safely say that Amos’ composition was sometime before the Babylonian threat.

With these points in mind we can now construct a crude window for the books composition. Somewhere between 752 BCE and 612 BCE (140 years), the book of Amos was compiled and redacted by Amos’ disciples. The book almost certainly contains the actual words and sermons given by Amos which are going to be slightly older than the rest of the text. We can be sure that the book was not compiled by just Amos because Amos is mentioned in the 3rd person in a number of locations (most notably in 1:1 & 7:10-11).

We can be sure that at least the oracles of Amos were in the 8th century, even if the composition of the book was later and redactions even post-exilic. In fact, the oracles contained in the book can be dated before 732 BCE since Damascus and Aram are mentioned.

“I will also abreak the gate bar of Damascus,
And cut off the inhabitant from the 1valley of Aven,
And him who holds the scepter, from Beth-eden;
So the people of Aram will go exiled to bKir,”
Says the Lord. (Amos 1:5)

Aram was invaded by the Assyrians in 732 BCE so mentioning their future exile in a time period where they did not exist would be counterproductive. Almost certainly, the oracles at least partially date back to pre-732 BCE. Thus, the oldest material in the book is reasonably estimated to have been written in the mid-8th century.


II. Historical, socio, and spiritual context


During Amos’ ministry he faced opposition from both the religious and governing leaders of Israel. His message was in direct contrast with the norms of society. At this point in history, Israel was a wealthy and prosperous nation, successful in military accomplishments and business. They were still enjoying the wealth of the Davidic and Solomonic reigns, even though the unified kingdom had split between Solomon’s sons (Rehoboam in the south and Jeroboam in the north).

At the time of Amos, King Jeroboam II was on the throne in the northern kingdom of Israel (786-746 B.C.), whilst Uzziah was enthroned in Judah from 783-742 B.C. The upper and lower dating limits on Amos’ ministry would be 786-742 B.C. Jeroboam’s reign in the north was a time of peace for Israel, with little threat from outside foes. The biggest threat could have only come from Assyria; however Israel had successfully allied with them in the mid-8th century B.C. in order to drive the Arameans from their land. Unfortunately, their alliance with (and dependence on) Assyria caused them to become more dedicated to the foreign nation than to the leading of Yahweh. 

Because of this socio-economical success, Israel became bloated and arrogant, forgetting that it was the Lord who made them into a nation (Amos 2:10). They were becoming a corrupt nation. Their religious heritage was slowly melting away. The decline in obedience to the Law and God’s direction can be found in the many charges that Amos brings on Israel. In 2:12 he states that the Nazarites are forced to corrupt themselves by drinking wine. In addition, the prophets are commanded to no longer prophesy. They were trampling the poor and making court rulings for pay. The culture was wholly perverted.

they sell the righteous for silver,
    and the needy for a pair of sandals—
those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth
    and turn aside the way of the afflicted;
a man and his father go in to the same girl,
    so that my holy name is profaned;
(Amos 2:6b-7)

Israel had become largely unjust. The rich had become exceedingly richer at the expense of the poor. They owned multiple homes which was condemned as a sign excess (3:15). They placed a heavy rent upon the poor (5:11), while the rich had houses built of well-made stone and didn’t even live in them. The poor are rejected at the city gates (5:12), as well as the oppressed and needy (4:1). They also used dishonest scales to make improper transactions (Amos 8:4-6). The corruption is so severe that Amos says in 5:13 that a wise person would be smart to just keep their mouth shut in the midst of God’s judgment and keep silent.

For I know how many are your transgressions
    and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
    and turn aside the needy in the gate.
13 Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time,
    for it is an evil time.
(Amos 5:12-13)

Israel had also turned to Idolatrous practices. Multiple times the altar at Bethel is condemned by the Lord, and in 3:14 God remarks that the horns of the altar will be broken right off.  He detests their offerings and their false worship. Amos even mocked their pagan worship.

“Come to Bethel, and transgress;
    to Gilgal, and multiply transgression;
bring your sacrifices every morning,
    your tithes every three days;
offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened,
    and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them;
    for so you love to do, O people of Israel!”
declares the Lord God.
(Amos 4:4-5)


III. Character of the prophet, Amos


The prophet Amos did not regard himself as a true prophet (“Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son” Amos 7:14). However, the Lord did call upon and use Amos to fill such a prphetic role. He was even recognized by the priest of Bethel, Amaziah, as the prophet of Judah (Amos 7:10-17). His main profession was as a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. In the opening verse of Amos he is introduced as a sheepherder from Tekoa, which is located in the Highlands of Judah, about 10 miles south of Jerusalem. Thus, we can conclude Amos’ prophetic activity caused him to travel from his home since he was prophesying to the northern kingdom of Israel. He was a fish out of water.

However, Amos was no an uneducated man. He demonstrates his knowledge of the geography and socio-political situation in his many references to locations, nations, and names that are located outside of his native land of Judah. He is also keen on the many occurrences of evil that has occurred in the surrounding nations. The whole first chapter depicts the crimes of the nations who Israel would have opposed. His message is very strategic geographically as he accuses Israel’s enemies first of transgressing the Law of God, then Israels nemesis, Judah, and lastly Israel. One must assume that either the Lord revealed such information to Amos or he was acutely aware of the transgressions and current state of being that each of the territories he listed.


IV. Contextual Outline


The outline of the book of Amos has been theorized in many ways. Some propose an over-all chiastic structure centering on verse 5:8 (“the Lord is His name”); however, a lot of fudging has to be done to make this setup work. The closest over-all chiastic structure found in the book is noted in the outline below, but is still theoretical since it is such a loose format. This chiastic layout provided by Thomas Finley leaves out nearly six chapters of book. With slight revisions a chiastic can be used for an outline and cover all the chapters of the book, with all the closing parts of the chiasm.

The outline below shows the entire book of Amos with the 9th chapter broken out into a deeper outline since that is the passage focus for the exegetical study.

A  Judgment of the Land (1:2)
1. The pastures mourn (1:2b)
2. The Summit of Carmel dries up (1:2c)

B  Judgment of the Nations (1:3–2:3)
1. Transgressions of Damascus (1:3-5)
2. Transgressions of Gaza (1:6-8)
3. Transgressions of Tyre (1:9-10)
4. Transgressions of Edom (1:11-12)
5. Transgressions of the Ammonites (1:13-15)
6. Transgressions of Moab (2:1-3)
7. Transgressions of Judah (2:4-5)
8. Transgressions of Israel (2:6-16)

C  Judgment of Israel (3:1–9:10)
1. All the Sons of Israel are Guilty (3:1-15)
2. Israel has not heeded the Correction of the Lord (4:1-13)
3. Delivering the Justice of the Lord (5:1-27)
4. The Destruction of Israel coming (6:1-14)
5. God gives Amos Visions of His Destruction of Israel (7:1-9)
6. God declares His Destruction over the King of Israel (7:10-17)
7. The Final Vision of Destruction given to Amos (8:1-14)
8. The Lord commands Amos in a Vision to begin the Destruction of Israel (9:1-10)

i. Amos sees the Lord beside the Alter (9:1a)
ii. God commands Amos to destroy the Capitals (9:1b)
iii. Next God will slay those who remain (9:1c)

a. They will dig to Sheol, but God will reach them (9:2a)
b. They will ascend to the Heavens, but God will bring them down (9:2b)
c. They will hide on Mount Carmel, but God will find them (9:3a)
d. They will hide in the Sea, but God will command the Serpent (9:3b)
e. Even in exile, God till bring destruction to them (9:4a)
f. God will set his eyes on them for evil (9:4b)

iv. The Lord God of Hosts is The One (9:5-6) (mini chiasm)

a. God over the waters and earth (9:5) 
b. God over the Heavens (9:6a)
a’. God over the Waters and the Earth (9:6b)

v. The Lord is His name (9:6c)

Israel has become like the other Nations (9:7)
Israel will not be completely destroyed (9:8)

vi. Israel will be sifted (9:9-10)

a. No Impurities will survive (9:9)
b. All the sinners will die by the sword (9:10)

C´ Restoration of Israel (9:11)
1. The Booth of David will be restored (9:11a)

2. The City will be rebuilt as in the Days of Old (9:11b)

B´ Restoration of the Nations (9:12)
1. Israel will possess the remnant of Edom (9:12a)

2. Israel will include all Nations who are called by His Name (9:12b)

A´ Restoration of the Land (9:13–15)
1. The Harvest of Wine will be great (9:13)
2. The Cities and Vineyards will be restored (9:14)
3. They will not be rooted from their Land, which the Lord has given (9:15)

 

 


V. Genres & Literary features


The Genre of Amos, chapter nine, is largely poetic, with a judgment prophecy in the framework of a legal document.

Poetic

The prophetic aspect of this chapter is seen clearly in the opening of 9:1 where Amos declares that he saw (רָאִ֨יתִי) and heard (וַיֹּאמֶר) from the Lord, concerning future events that were going to occur. The passage also contains phrases such as “in that day,” (9:11) and “declares the Lord,” (9:7, 8, 12) which are both common components of prophetic literature. The poetic features are made up of various parallel styles, and extensive use of word plays. In verses 9:1-6 Amos repeatedly contrasts things and ideas that are in the extremities of the universe while referring to the incapableness and the complete authority possessed by the Lord.

“If they dig into Sheol,
    from there shall my hand take them;
if they climb up to heaven,
    from there I will bring them down.
If they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
    from there I will search them out and take them;
and if they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea,
    there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them.
(Amos 9:2-3)

 

One of the literary features that is most noticeable to the reader is the parallelism found throughout chapter nine of Amos.  The Amos 9:2-6 is a poetic explanation of the ending statement in verse one, which states that the Lord’s wrath will be inescapable. Verses 2-6 use antithetic parallels to describe the extent of God’s ability to exercise his wrath. The introduction to this section starts with a command from God, but even it contains a reference to something that has both a high and low extremity. The “capitals” mentioned in verse 1 which Amos was to strike were the top-most portion of a building column/pillar, and the next line mentions that this will be done so that the foundation or the “thresholds” will shake. In verse two the Lord declares through Amos that even if those who are trying to escape God’s wrath try to dig to Sheol that He will be able to reach them (1:2). If they ascend into the heavens then He will bring them down. If they can neither hide on the top of mount Carmel, nor the bottom of the sea floor.

Amos also uses loosely put together poetic structures such as 9:13-15, which is designed with parallel lines in a synonymous style, but these verses also construct a partial chiasm. The order is {A-B-C-B’-C’} which is a chiasm that is missing the matching A’ portion at the end, and is replaced by a reiteration of the main point in the passage represented by C. While this is not uncommon in Amos’ writing, it is difficult to label what form of poetry this quasi-chiasm is to be called. What is clear, however, is that this passage is employing synonymous parallelism. Another example of Amos’ loose but structured chiastic writing is 9:5-6, which has an {A-B-C-A’-B’-A’} format that in embedded in an inclusio declaring that the Lord is the one who does the powerful acts mentioned within the inclusio.

Legal

Amos 9:1-15 also fits into the legal genre since it is the judgment or sentencing portion of a covenant lawsuit, which is the over-arching format of the book of Amos. The covenant lawsuit begins like a legal proceeding with the introduction of the judge and plaintiff. This occurs in 1:2-2:8, when God is seen bringing charges against the nations and then Judah and Israel. The next step is a historical legal review which begins at 2:9, where God begins to recall their past covenant agreement. Chapters three through six all discuss a mix of indictments against God’s people with a mix of historical review, and a call to witness in 3:13, “Hear and testify against the house of Jacob.” Chapter five is a call to repentance which is the fifth part of a covenant lawsuit. The call to repentance is simple and to the point. “Seek the Lord that you may live,” (5:6) quotes the prophet to the people of Israel in response to the Lord’s indictment. The last phase of the lawsuit is the verdict or the judgment on the plaintiff. This might explain the change of tone in the last vision of judgments given to Amos in chapter nine. In the previous chapters Amos is drawn into council with the Lord and asked to participate in God’s working. In chapter seven Amos’ input on the judgment over the Israelites is considered and God changes his mind (7:3). However, by chapter nine, God’s judgments have become final and firm. God is no longer asking for Amos’ input and his judgment is inescapable (9:2-6). Verse 1:1 sets the tone for the rest of the chapter; God starts by giving a command to Amos to strike the capitals of the temple and begin the delivering of judgment on the people.

Other Features

Another interesting feature in this chapter that is common to the book of Amos is the repetition of the identification of the Lord. The phrase “declares the Lord” appears four times within the chapter, and these are accompanied by other phrases that emphasis something about the Lord. In verse five, the Lord is the “God of hosts.” In verse 5-6 it is declared that the name of the one who commands the powers of the earth is יהוה. In verse 15, Amos calls the Lord “your God,” referring to the people of Israel. It seems clear that this final prophetic vision is focusing on who God is and His unstoppable plan of wrath and redemption for Israel.


VI. Amos 9 Exegesis and Commentary


Outline

Amos chapter nine is divided into two parts. The first part is 9:1-10 which is concerning God’s verdict over Israel and 9:11-15 God’s promise of future restoration covenant promise reiteration. The first section divides into three sub-sections. The first section is 9:1-4 which focuses on God’s overwhelming ability to distribute His wrath without hindrance. The next sub-section of 9:1-10 is 9:5-6 which is a short doxology describing God’s power over the natural universe. The third sub-section is 9:7-10 which is a comparison of Israel to the nations that surround them. The second section of this chapter, 9:11-15, can be divided into two parts. The first sub-section is 11-13, which is a promise of restoration focused on a Davidic reign. The second sub-section is 13-15, which describes God’s restoration of Israel’s land and prosperity.

  1. The Lord commands Amos in a Vision to begin the Destruction of Israel (9:1-10)
    1. Amos sees the Lord beside the Alter (9:1a)
    2. God commands Amos to destroy the Capitals (9:1b)
    3. Next God will slay those who remain (9:1c-4b)
      1. They will dig to Sheol, but God will reach them (9:2a)
      2. They will ascend to the Heavens, but God will bring them down (9:2b)
      3. They will hide on Mount Carmel, but God will find them (9:3a)
      4. They will hide in the Sea, but God will command the Serpent (9:3b)
      5. Even in exile, God till bring destruction to them (9:4a)
      6. God will set his eyes on them for evil (9:4b)
    4. The Lord God of Hosts is The One (9:5-6)
      1. God over the waters and earth (9:5)
      2. God over the Heavens (9:6a)
      3. God over the Waters and the Earth (9:6b)
    5. The Lord is His name (9:6c-8)
      1. Israel has become like the other Nations (9:7)
      2. Israel will not be completely destroyed (9:8)
    6. Israel will be sifted (9:9-10)
      1. No Impurities will survive (9:9)
      2. All the sinners will die by the sword (9:10)
  2. Restoration of Israel (9:11)
    1. The Booth of David will be restored (9:11a)
    2. The City will be rebuilt as in the Days of Old (9:11b)
  3. Restoration of the Nations (9:12)
    1. Israel will possess the remnant of Edom (9:12a)
    2. Israel will include all Nations who are called by His Name (9:12b)
  4. Restoration of the Land (9:13–15)
    1. The Harvest of Wine will be great (9:13)
    2. The Cities and Vineyards will be restored (9:14)
    3. They will not be rooted from their Land, which the Lord has given (9:15)

Amos 9:1

I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said:
Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake,
    and shatter them on the heads of all the people;
and those who are left I will kill with the sword;
    not one of them shall flee away,
    not one of them shall escape.

Amos 9:1 begins the chapter with a vision of the Lord standing next to the altar, presumably in Bethel since this is the most mentioned altar in the book and because it appears that God is going to destroy the pagan place of worship. This would have been the most revered place of worship for the people in Israel and Allen Guenther suggests that this first act of God’s judgment was quite severe as this temple would be Israel’s last place of hope in being able to appeal and plead before the Lord. Thus, God’s judgment is coming and there is no longer room for discussion.

Amos 9:2-4

Though they dig into Sheol,
    from there shall my hand take them;
though they climb up to heaven,
    from there I will bring them down.
Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
    from there I will search out and take them;
and though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea,
    there I will command the sea-serpent, and it shall bite them.
And though they go into captivity in front of their enemies,
    there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them;
and I will fix my eyes on them
    for harm and not for good.

This destruction theme is further developed by the ending portion of 9:1-4 when God declares the no one will be able to escape, neither fugitive nor refugee (9:1c). Verses 2-4 describe this inescapable destruction in detail. In a series of five if-then statements, God describes His ability to enforce His judgment. Verse 9:2 starts with two opposite and extreme locations. If (אמ) they dig [down] to Sheol then from there (משׂם) He will take them. If they go in the opposite direction and go up to the heavens, from there God will bring them down. In verse three He reuses the same pattern but with earthly locations as opposed to locations related to the otherworldly. If they hide in the forest covered tops of Mount Carmel, from there God still diligently seek them out. Conversely, if they hide on the bottom of the sea floor, from there God will command the serpent to bite them. In final statement of His authority God foreshadows what is coming for Israel in the near future. Even if they go into exile, God will still command the sword against them (9:4). In this final apodosis statement God is finished using references to places of possible refuge and uses a reference that is already dreaded. However, even in exile their punishment is not finished, for God will command the sword against them and fix his eyes upon them for evil. It should be noted that in the Ancient Near East, the fixing of eyes upon someone for evil was thought to be the process of casting a curse upon someone.


Amos 9:5-6

5 The Lord, God of hosts,
he who touches the earth and it melts,
and all who live in it mourn,
and all of it rises like the Nile,
and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt;
6 who builds his upper chambers in the heavens,
and founds his vault upon the earth;
who calls for the waters of the sea,
and pours them out upon the surface of the earth—
the Lord is his name.

This section is a doxological portion beginning and ending with an inclusio about the Lord. However, a chiasm can also be placed over these two verses without much effort. It is just the center portion that becomes hard to pair up for a proper chiasm. 9:5 starts the inclusio by simply introducing the Lord, who is the God of hosts. The remaining portion is describing “the one who” is and does. 9:6 closes the inclusio by reiterating the name of the one who does and is, YHWH, or The Lord for English readers. 

The theme of the inclusio starts in verse 5 by setting up a description of power and being. HE is the one who can touch the land so that it melts, and also control the rising and lowering of the Nile. This is a big statement because the Nile and all other natural objects in Egypt were thought to be controlled by a particular God. He is the God over of the entire earth and in verse six He is the God of the heavens and sky. He is also the provider of rain for the crops which he pours out over the face of the earth. In a final and definite statement at the end of verse six, the prophet declares that the one who is the God over all these things is named YHWH. This passage is likely a direct attack against the apparent idolatry that Amos opposed in 5:26.

In 5:26 Amos condemns to worship of Sikkuth and Kiyyun, as well as a third deity thought to control the skies and heavenly bodies. Smith and Page suggest that Sikkuth is referring to either the shrine of the Assyrian king, with which Israel was paying tribute to at the time, or the Assyrian god of war. Either one would fit the context of the culture at the time. Kiyyun should be interpreted as the Assyrian god of the stars.


Amos 9:7-10

7  Are you not like the Ethiopians to me,
O people of Israel? says the Lord.
Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt,
and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?
8  The eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom,
and I will destroy it from the face of the earth
—except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,
says the Lord. 
9  For lo, I will command,
and shake the house of Israel among all the nations
as one shakes with a sieve,
but no pebble shall fall to the ground.
10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword,
who say, “Evil shall not overtake or meet us.”

In 9:7-10 God begins to compare Israel with some of the surrounding nations which would have been detestable to Israel. The first comparison is between Israel and the Cushites. The New American Standard renders them as Ethiopians, but it makes more sense to render it in a more rigid sense as “sons of Cushites,” because this emphasizes the geographical relationship within Egyptian territory, which is mentioned in the very next line. In addition, the Ethiopian rendering for Cushites would represent a modern location encompassing the Ethiopians but not an ancient one. The next line in 9:7 should be set against the previous statement about Cush. The Lord inquires of Israel concerning their being no different than Cushites, “did I not bring you up from the land of Egypt?” Here God is really asking, did I not remove you from those people and set you apart? Why are you trying to be like them? The Lord continues on this particular note of exodus in the final line of verse seven saying “and (ו) the Philistines from Caphtor and Arameans from Kir?” The significant part of this is that God takes something that is of the essence of Israel’s identity and degrades it. The exodus event for Israel was monumental in the formation of their identity, and here God is placing their exodus on the same playing field of the Philistines who are enemies of Israel and also the Arameans who were also hated enemies.

He has reduced their status by placing them on the same level as those who are not only enemies of Israel but also considered to be opposing the Lord.

Verses 8-10 are appending verse seven in that God delivers His verdict of what He is going to do to the “sinful kingdom” that Israel has become. The function of these verses help to bridge the previous section of judgment to the section that is coming which speak of restoration. God declares that their punishment is destruction from the face of the earth. However, He will not totally wipe them out (9:8). Verses 9-10 describe more accurately what is meant by God’s decision to destroy the House of Jacob, but not completely. He likens His plan to the operation of a sieve in verse 9:9. The House of Israel will be shaken in a sieve among the nations and none of the sinners will be able to escape. Those who remain will be a remnant in which the Lord can rebuild, which begins the transition of the chapter into restoration.


Amos 9:11-15

11   On that day I will raise up
the booth of David that is fallen,
and repair its breaches,
and raise up its ruins,
and rebuild it as in the days of old;
12   in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations who are called by my name,
says the Lord who does this.
13   The time is surely coming, says the Lord,
when the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps,
and the treader of grapes the one who sows the seed;
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and all the hills shall flow with it.
14   I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
15   I will plant them upon their land,
and they shall never again be plucked up
out of the land that I have given them,

Verse 9:11 introduces a new theme and also a new genre type within this prophecy. This new genre is often called Restoration Prophecy. Restoration Prophecy often begins with the phrase “in that day” or “the days are coming.” This type of prophecy differs from Judgment prophecy in that a Judgment Prophecy usually includes an action being done in the present tense or as an infinitive. For example, in Amos 9:9 God says “I am commanding.” In Isaiah 5:5 God’s judgment is is also prefaced with a present tense phrase, “now let me tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard.However, Restoration Prophecy is a vision of what is happening post-judgment.

Therefore it is worded with a future tense. Verse 9:11 declares that “in the day of restoration, the booth (סֻכַּ֥ת) of David will be raised up and will be fixed as it was in the days of old.” The use of the word סֻכַּ֥ת (booth) can seem strange until the reader understands that this is a word-play referring to the geographical location Succoth, where David was victorious in battle, over Israel’s enemy Edom, which is mentioned at the beginning of verse 9:12. The word סֻכַּ֥ת is the same root word that makes up the town Succoth (סֻכּוֹת). This reference would echo the idea that Israel would be restored as the days of old which includes their military and political status.

The first line of verse 9:12 declares that they will also “possess” the remnant of Edom, not just be restored. Not only will they possess Edom, but they will also possess all nations who “call upon themselves the name of the Lord.” Verse 12 concludes in typical fashion for the book of Amos, with the phrase “declaration of the Lord,” (נְאֻם־יְהוָ֖ה). 

The last sub-section of chapter nine starts at 9:13 and goes through to the end of the chapter, 9:15. Here starts the description of the land which will be restored. Amos also emphasizes that this restoration is from the Lord, not by their own might. Verses 13-15 are bracketed by stating, two different ways, that this is from the Lord.

Again Amos looks to the future and says “behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord; when the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps”. This phrase depicts a rich image in which the harvest is so plentiful that the harvester will be so busy harvesting that he will harvest right up to the season of sowing. It is an illustration of abundance. Not just of abundance but of over-flowing abundance. One may be reminded of the words of King David in Psalm 23; “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows“. It is important to remember that at the time of Amos’ writing, Kind David was already 

The next image in verse 9:13 is of the grape treader who does the same as the reaper in the previous with the one who sews seed. This is an example of synonymous parallelism, where the same image is repeated using different terms. Verse 9:14 gives explanation and reiteration to verse 9:13 and declares that the captive will be restored and their cities will be rebuilt. They will have a bounty in the land and enjoy their fruits. The final verse continues with the image of planting and bearing fruit. God declares that the exiles will return and be planted in their land, and will not be uprooted. The word used here for plant (נטע) is the same word used in the previous verse when God said that they will plant vineyards and drink their wine. The image of Israel being planted is compared to a fruitful vineyard. They will be planted and they will multiply; harkening back to the command given to humans in Genesis. The final part of 9:15 is the declaration that this oracle is from the Lord, “your” God. It should be noted the word used (אלהיך) is only used three times in the book of Amos. All three times it is connected with the idea of God or gods taking action on behalf of his people. This is the final reminder in the book of Amos that the Lord (יהוה) is the one who acts on Israel’s behalf.


VII. Theological Message


The theological message of Amos can be summed up by verses 5:4-6, seek the Lord so that you may live. The future of the Israelites, both good and bad, is in the hands of the Lord and how they seek him. In 9:1-15, one sees both the wrath of God for not seeking him and blessings of the Lord for those who talk in his ways. God is depicted as having supreme authority over the heavens (9:2, 6), the earth (9:2-6), and all their extremities. God has the ultimate authority over their fate just as he does for the other nations of the world like the philistines, and the Arameans, who the Israelites are no different from (9:7-8).


VIII. Applications for the Audience


For the original audience of Amos, chapter nine, this would serve as a strong rebuke and judgment for breaking the covenant made with the Lord, but also as a promise of covenant renewal. The fact that God is not only disciplining his people, but also restoring them reinforces that He intends to continue fulfilling His covenant promises, despite the fact that Israel has not kept theirs. Israel’s dependence on foreign military aid and the riches of their nation is idolatrous to the Lord and Amos’ message calls them to cast down their false worship and chase of their God, who was the one who had brought them out of Egypt (Amos 2:10, 3:1, 4:10, 9:7). The message of Amos should have produced a coming back to trust in the Lord and His covenant relationship with them.


IX. Application for today’s Audience


The essence of Amos’ message is still relevant for today. Being in relationship with the Lord and putting our trust in Him is a timeless principle. Abraham trusted the Lord and was blessed because of it (Hebrews 11:8-17). Job had a heart to please the Lord and he was considered righteous in the eyes of the Lord (Job 1:1-5). Jesus sums up the whole of the law in Matthew 22:37-39 by stating that we must love the Lord with all our hearts, and love our neighbors as ourselves. These two things are the goal of the law and prophets.

In response to the message of Amos 9:1-15 we should submit ourselves to the Lord who has all authority over the universe and wants to blessed us. We should also remember the importance of concerning ourselves with being obedient to the commands of God and upholding the covenant relationship we have with him.


Bibliography

Axelsson, Lars. “Tekoa (Place).” In The Yale Anchor Bible Dictionary. edited by David Noel Freedman, Vol. 6:343. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Finley, Thomas J. Joel, Amos, Obadiah, In The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary. edited by Kenneth Barker, Chicago: Moody Press, 1990.

Guenther, Allen R. Hosea, Amos. Believers church Bible commentary. Scottsdale: Herald Press, 1998.

Johnston, Philip S. Amos. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. edited by John H. Walton, Vol. 5:54-89. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.

Matthews, Victor Harold; Chavalas Mark W. and Walton, John H. The IVP Bible Background Commentary : Old Testament, electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

Niehaus, Jeffrey. Amos, The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical & Expository Commentary. edited by Thomas Edward McComiskey, Vol. 1:315-494. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.

Smith Billy K. and Page, Frank S. Amos, Obadiah, Jonah. New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995.

Stuart, Douglas. Hosea-Jonah. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word Incorporated, 2002. 283.

Hadjiev, Tchavdar S. “The Composition and Redaction of the Book of Amos.” Beihefte Zur Zeitschrift Für Die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 2009


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