The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Amos 8

Amo 8:2

A BASKET OF RIPE FRUIT: Apparently only one basket, where hundreds might have been expected. So this may be the firstfruit offerings to God. Or possibly an indication of a very poor harvest -- if this is all there is! Or even yet, an indication that only a very small remnant -- out of the whole nation -- will be acceptable to God.

THE TIME IS RIPE FOR MY PEOPLE ISRAEL: Israel was ripe for a "harvest" too, but it would not be pleasant; it was a harvest of judgment!

Amo 8:3

THE SONGS IN THE TEMPLE WILL TURN TO WAILING: ...When the only part of the Temple that shall be left will be the Western Wall, which will become the... "Wailing Wall"!

WAILING: Heb "hellilu". Their "halleluyahs" have become howls ("hellilu").

MANY, MANY BODIES -- FLUNG EVERYWHERE: In keeping with the figure of speech, the dead bodies would be like so much rotten fruit, lying all about on the ground!

Cp the dead bodies that lie in the wide place of the great city (near the Wailing Wall?): Rev 11:8,9.

Amo 8:4

// Amo 5:11.

Amo 8:5

Vv 5,6: These oppressors were eager for the monthly festivals and the weekly Sabbaths to end so they could get back to work -- cheating their fellow countrymen to make big profits. These holidays were days of rest and worship, but the Israelite workaholics did not enjoy them, though they observed them as good religious people. They were anxious to enslave the needy in their debt so they could control them and use them for their own selfish ends (cp Amo 2:6). "These people regarded cereals and human beings equally as stock for sale. Their practices were both dishonest and inhumane" (Anderson and Freedman). Merchandising was their priority, not worshipping. Profit was their god, and they willingly sacrificed more important things for it. People who focus intently on what they will do after worship is over do not engage in true worship or enter into the spirit of worship" (Const).

SKIMPING THE MEASURE, BOOSTING THE PRICE: Literally, "making the ephah small, and the shekel great". The NIV is interpretive.

Amo 8:6

THE SWEEPINGS WITH THE WHEAT: The dust or chaff of the floors, mixed with the wheat, so as to dilute it.

Amo 8:7

THE LORD HAS SWORN: For the third time in this book Amos said that Yahweh took an oath (cp Amo 4:2; 6:8).

THE PRIDE OF JACOB: "The EXCELLENCY of Jacob", that is, Yahweh Himself (cp, generally, 1Sa 15:29).

Amo 8:8

WILL NOT THE LAND TREMBLE FOR THIS...?: A ref to the great earthquake in the days of Uzziah (Amo 1:1)?

THE WHOLE LAND WILL RISE LIKE THE NILE; IT WILL BE STIRRED UP AND THEN SINK LIKE THE RIVER OF EGYPT: Cp Isa 8:7,8, where the Assyrian invasion is pictured as a great river overflowing its banks, flooding the land -- rising and falling like the Nile in flood stage -- and then passing thru, leaving only devastation in its wake.

Amo 8:9

I WILL MAKE THE SUN GO DOWN AT NOON AND DARKEN THE EARTH IN BROAD DAYLIGHT: On the day of judgment Yahweh would send darkness over the land. This may refer to an eclipse of the sun, or it may be a figurative description of the coming judgment as an unnaturally bad day. The figure of the sun going down at noon was particularly appropriate since Jeroboam's reign was the zenith of Israel's prosperity, power, and glory.

Amo 8:10

I WILL TURN YOUR RELIGIOUS FEASTS INTO MOURNING: The Passover feast is turned into mourning for the only-begotten Son (cp v 8: like Egypt; Luk 23:48).

"It was not only iniquity that aroused God's anger, but also piety" (Abraham Heschel). Cp Amo 5:22-24.

Amo 8:11

A time when there is no prophetic vision in Israel. But this "silence" is broken briefly when Christ appears. And then the Holy Spirit is manifested, as a foretaste of powers of future world: Eph 1:13,14; Heb 6:4-6. But meanwhile, the sun will set on the prophets: Mic 3:6,7.

A FAMINE OF HEARING THE WORDS OF THE LORD: The Israelites had rejected the Lord's words to them (Amo 2:11,12; 7:10-13), so He would not send them to them any longer (cp 1Sa 3:1; 28:6). This is a fearful prospect. If we do not listen to the Word of God, we may not be able to hear the Word of God (cp Luke 17:22; John 7:34). This does not mean that God would remove all copies of His Word from them but that when they sought a word of help, advice, or comfort from Him they would not get it.

"Most people have seen the horrible pictures of people who are starving to death. The bloated bellies and the pitiful faces are too much to bear. Yet, there is another famine that is equally tragic and much more widespread, and that is the famine for the word of God.

"The tragedy of this famine is that, unlike a natural famine which is often unavoidable because of climatic events such as drought or flooding, the famine for the word of God is completely manmade. If we use the analogy of the parable of the sower with the seed being the word of God, there are some places that are not being sown because of lack of preaching. How tragic that some will die never having heard the good news. On the other hand, some receive the seed in abundance, but like the lazy fool of Proverbs, he 'buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.' [Prov 26:15] What an incredible picture is brought to the mind: a person starving to death but too lazy of pick up the food that is right there in front of him. How many people do you know that profess to be Christians yet would have great difficulty telling you where in the Bible the book of Hebrews is? Could they even tell you if it was in the Old Testament or the New Testament? Could they even tell you if there was such a book in the Bible? Yet, there are few households in first world countries that don't have a Bible somewhere in them" (KT).

Amo 8:12

MEN WILL STAGGER FROM SEA TO SEA... SEARCHING FOR THE WORD OF THE LORD: "They shall run to and fro" (RSV). Ct last days, Dan 12:4: Many run to and fro, knowledge increased.

Amo 8:13

Ct last days, Joel 2:28: HSp outpoured upon young and old alike.

Amo 8:14

THE SHAME OF SAMARIA: Heb "Ashima" (NIV mg). Amos described the prominent idol in Samaria as Samaria's guilt or shame. One of the idols they worshipped in Samaria was Ashima (cf 2Ki 17:29,30), which Amos apparently alluded to here.

GOD (2nd): Heb "derek", way, work, or power. Apparently, an epithet for the deity of Beersheba (MNIV 99).

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