Bible Query from
Q: In Am, what is the main point of the book?
A: Amos is a book of reasons and consequences of judgment for living a life of pleasure without God. The book of Amos has a lot of "flavor", probably due to Amos himself. God used the background and experience of this godly country-boy to deliver a message all of Godís sheep, in the city and country, needed to hear.
Q: In Am, what is an outline of the book?
A: Amos is a book of judgment. Here is a simple outline.
1-2 Judgment is coming
3-6 Reasons for Judgment
7-9:10 Five Visions of the Results
9:11-15 Restoration after Judgment
Q: In Am, is his view of suffering different from Job and Daniel? The Bible critic Bart Ehrman writes, "And once you throw the Old Testament into the mix, things get completely jumbled. ... The book of Amos insists that the people of God suffer because God is punishing them for their sins; the book of Job insists that the innocent can suffer; and the book of Daniel indicates that the innocent in fact will suffer. All of these books are different,..." (Jesus, Interrupted p.12)
A: No, Ehrmanís critical spirit is reading in an exclusion that is not present. Amos never said that people only suffer because of their sins; Amos was speaking to a specific situation at his time. Job does show that people suffer for reasons unrelated to the sins of themselves of the people around them, and Daniel does show that Godís people sometimes suffer from unbelievers precisely because they are following God. They do say different things, but they are not incompatible. Different sides of a sculpture look different, but it is the same sculpture. Likewise, truth has different views depending on your focus, but the views are complementary, not incompatible.
Q: In Am 1:1, when was the book of Amos written?
A: Amos 1:1 says it was written two years before the earthquake, which occurred in the year that King Uzziah died. (This is two years before Isaiah 6 was written.) It was written about 762 B.C. According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1426, archaeological evidence at Hazor and Samaria shows an earthquake 760 B.C. 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.203 says it was written between 780 and 760 B.C.
Q: In Am 1:1, was this earthquake merely a legendary rabbinical tradition, as Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.633 claims?
A: No. There are three problems with this.
No rabbis back then: Asimov provides no evidence that this was a rabbinical tradition either. There were priests and Levites back then to teach the people, but there were no "rabbis" in the strict sense of the Pharisees of Jesus time, and later. One should be more inclined to believe Amos, who lived back then, instead of Asimov.
Not all earthquakes were recorded: Earthquakes were common in that region. For example, the archaeology at Qumran shows there was a damaging earthquake in 31 B.C., and yet no ancient writers recorded this event.
But we have found evidence of this earthquake: According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1426, the New International Bible Commentary p.895, and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1113 archaeological evidence at Hazor and Samaria shows an earthquake around 760 B.C.
Q: In Am 1:2, 3:8, was the LORD roaring from Zion (Jerusalem) these judgments or Amos' words?
A: The Hebrew word here for roar can mean a lion's roar or the sound of thunder. They might be two parts of the same things. When God spoke these words of judgment through Amos, implied in this was a promise, that all of this would come to pass. God roared through a nobody, and completely redrew the map of the Mideast.
Q: In Amos 1:3-26, Prov 30:15-31, and Prov 6:16-19, why do they use numerical sequences, such as "for three... even four"?
A: This was a Hebrew literary device sometimes called "a numerical ladder". This is a beautiful expression that serves as an aid in memorization, and it shows the exact number "3" or "4", is not the point, but rather the content of the points. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.430,629, the Believer's Bible Commentary p.868, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.281-282 for more info.
Q: In Am 1:3, did they literally thresh Gilead with iron?
A: Gilead was where Israelites lived east of the Jordan River. The Aramaeans destroyed them in 2 Kings 13:1-9, especially verse 7. A threshing sledge would be a sled with iron pieces on the bottom to separate the grain from the husk. Some commentators see this as a metaphor for how thoroughly they destroyed the Gileadites as The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.283. Others, such as The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1429 think they literally killed some of the Gileadites by driving threshing sledges over them.
Q: In Am 1:4,7,10,12,14; 2:5, why is fire on the wall of the palace so prominently mentioned?
A: That was how the city was destroyed. They did not use metal or rebar in building city walls. They used straw in the bricks, and parts were reinforced with wood.
Q: In Am 1:5, what is the house of Eden?
A: First what is not the answer, and then the answer.
Not the answer: This was a metaphor. The use of "Eden", referring to the Garden of Eden, was a poetic metaphor to Damascus, the "garden spot" of Syria. The NIV Study Bible p.1348 mentions this possibility. However, why would this name be a metaphor and no others?
The answer: The Hebrew word beth and the Aramaic word bit mean "house". The city of Bit-Adini has not been located by archaeologists, but it was mentioned in Akkadian annals. It was conquered by the Assyrians just after Amos' time in 855 B.C.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1422 and the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.10 p.284 for more info.
Q: In Am 1:8, why did the Philistines perish as a people?
A: The Babylonians destroyed the Philistine nation when they conquered Palestine. However, Zechariah 9:5-6 mentions a few that still survived.
Q: In Am 1:9, what did the Phoenicians do wrong?
A: It does not say they were violent, but they sold the Israelites as slaves. The Phoenicians were known as slave traders according to Homer in the odyssey 4.288ff; 15:473ff, according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.287.
Q: In Am 1:9, what was the "brotherly covenant" the Edomites broke?
A: Amos 1:11 provides the answer. This was not a formal treaty or legal document. Rather, it was the expectation that a very closely related people would not have such animosity and hatred as the Edomites had toward the nearby Israelites, from the time of Genesis 33:4-16 on.
Q: In Am 2:6; 8:6, why was it wrong to not just sell the poor, but to sell them for a pair of shoes?
A: If slaves were that inexpensive, there must have been an abundant supply. While slavery was permitted in the Old Testament, slaves were supposed to be freed every seven years, as Deuteronomy 15:12-18 commands. Jeremiah 34:8-21 shows that the Israelites were not doing that, as.
It is one thing to disobey Godís law, and it is another for society to break it so frequently that they institutionalized it.
Q: In Am 2:6, why would God allow the righteous to be sold as slaves?
A: Probably for a similar reason as God would allow obedient Christians, who were hiding Jews in World War II, to be caught and sent to die in Nazi concentration camps. God often allows even His obedient children to suffer harm and injustice in this life. As a matter of fact, Romans 8:36 mentions that at times Godís people faced death so much they resembled sheep to be slaughtered. For an extensive discussion of how God can discipline His people through the agency of an even more evil people, read the book of Habakkuk.
Q: In Am 2:8, what is geographically significant about the places Amos mentioned?
A: The prophecies circle from Damascus (NE), to Gaza and the Philistines (SW), the Tyre and the Phoenicians (NW), Edom (ESE), Ammon (E), Moab (E), then Judah and Israel. It is though God is circling, or spiraling from farther away foreigners, to nations with kinship, to Judah and Israel. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.281-282 and the New International Bible Commentary p.899 for more info.
Q: In Am 2:8, are there other examples of near misses and a "circling method" serving as a warning to people?
A: Notice that Amos started with the farthest away nation, not closely related, and hearers might even feel happy that God's judgment was coming to their enemies. But then he gradually circled in until one wondered, how would all those nations be punished for their sins, and Judah and Israel, who were also wicked but knew better, escape? The answer is that they would not. Today America is concerned first about Islamic terrorists, then China in the south China sea and Taiwan, then Russia and the Ukraine. See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.803 for more info.
Q: In Am 2:8, when does God bring judgment on a nation or people?
A: The short answer is: any time he wants to. But some factors might be how much the people are sinning, how serious are the sins, and how long have they had to repent. Finally, how much do they know of the truth, and have they been warned.
Q: In Am 2:9-11, 3:2, what are the reasons God gives here for punishing Judah and Israel as much or more than the surrounding nations?
A: Israel's behavior was worse due to their knowing all that God had done for them. Since Israel wanted to act like those who don't know God, God would treat them no better than those who don't know God.
Amos 3:2 says that God is giving them their punishment not because they don't know Him, but because they do know Him, and still turn their backs on Him.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.803, the New International Bible Commentary p.900, The Minor Prophets p.100, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.633, and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1116 for more info.
Q: In Am 2:14-16, why is God emphasizing the strong will fall?
A: One reason might be that the Israelites had relied upon God to fight for them. "The LORD is with us, was their battle cry in numbers 23:21; Deuteronomy 20:4; 31:8;Judges 6:12; Isaiah 8:10; Zephaniah 3:15,17. God promised to defend His obedient people in times of trouble in Psalm 23:4; 46:7,11. - but no more. But this slogan was outdated, Amos 5:2 shows that they will be abandoned. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1440 for more info.
Q: In Am 3:2 is knowledge of God good or not?
A: Knowing God better is good, but if and only if you want to love and follow him. As Amos 3:1, implies, more of a relationship means more responsibility. The Lord is saying here a reason why Judah and Israel will be punished as bad if not worse than the nations around them. A relationship with God is more important than knowledge.
See The Minor Prophets p.102, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.298, and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1117 for more info.
Q: In Am 3:2, does this mean no one else knew of God but the Israelites?
A: No. All have at least a small amount of revelation about God, just from observing creation, as Romans 1:19-20 and Psalm 19:1-6 show. In addition, God revealed Himself to non-Israelites, including Abraham, Keturah, Adam, Noah, and Enoch. Jonah preached to the Ninevites, and Egyptians, Moabites, Edomites, and so forth knew of the God of the Israelites.
However, until the time of Christ, nobody else had the knowledge of God to the extent that God gave the Jews, who received Godís Torah. The Jews had a special place, both as the chosen people, and as those who were given Godís very words, as Romans 3:1-2 shows.
Q: In Am 3:3, what is meant by two people walking together here?
A: Two people do not walk together down a path if they are not agreed among themselves and wanting to travel to a common place. A western aphorism with similar meaning is, "birds of a feather flock together." Even if you do not want to do a particular evil thing yourself, if you always walk together Two don't walk together unless they agree to do so. See the New International Bible Commentary p.901 and The Minor Prophets p.103 for more info.
Q: In Am 3:3-6, what is the single point of the seven examples in these four verses?
A: God is explaining that their actions and hart are the cause of judgment. Each of these things do not happen unless the antecedent reason is present. Likewise, God's punishing Israel would not happen here either, without them turning their back on Him. Right now they have no intention of returning, so the judgement is inevitable. If they do not want to follow god, then they do not need to live in His land anymore. In the future they would all be exiled and only a small remnant would return. See the New International Bible Commentary p.901-902 for more info.
Q: Am 3:4 why do a hunting lion roar?
A: A lion does not roar when stalking prey but only when it is about to capture it. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.299 and the New International Bible Commentary p.901for more info.
Q: In Am 3:6, does God cause evil / calamity?
A: The word "evil" has two meanings:
Calamity / disaster / harmful things: Yes, God does cause these sometimes.
Moral evil: No, God does not directly cause moral evil. However, God does allow it to occur, and God even "channels" to His ends, and He uses it, weaving it in as a part of His plan.
Muslims should not be surprised that the term "evil" can mean harm, and not just moral evil. The term is used in this way in their own writings, in the Bukhari Hadith volume 3 book 29 ch.7 no.56 p.35.
See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.219-220 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Am 3:7-8, what future catastrophes has God revealed through the prophets?
A: Here are many of them.
Noah was a preacher of righteousness according to 2 Peter 2:5. He had a hundred years to preach while he built the ark.
Divided kingdoms after Solomon's death 1 Kings 11:29-39 Ė 2 Kings 23:15-20
Abijah's death to end Jeroboam's dynasty. 1 Kings 14:1-16 Ė 1 Kings 14:17-18; 15:29
Death of Ahab and Jezebel and their line would become extinct. 1 Kings 21:17-24 Ė 1 Kings 22:29-37
Ahaziah's death 2 Kings 22;29-37; 2 Kings 8:30-10:11
Moab's defeat 2 Kings 3
Repeat of Ahab's dynasty falling 2 Kings 9:7-10
Judah would be exiled to Babylon 2 Kings 20:16-18, 2 Kings 21:10-15, 2 Kings 22:14-20 - 2 Kings 24-25, Jeremiah 29:4-23.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.1433-1434 for more info.
Q: Does Am 3:7 show there must always be a prophet on the earth, as Mormon apostle Bruce McConkie claimed in Doctrinal New Testament Commentary vol.2 p.606?
A: No. There was no one with the office of prophet between the four hundred years of the close of the Old Testament and John the Baptist, so even Mormons cannot say this and be consistent. See When Cultists Ask p.87 for more info.
Q: In Am 3:7, what is the job of Christians today to give warning?
A: When God allowed His chosen people to be captured, exiled, and destroyed as a people, and when God allowed His temple to be destroyed, someone could ask "where is God in all this" and "doesn't God care? The Old Testament prophets gave the message that God did much more than simply know in advanced that this would happen, God cared to make sure that these disasters would happen. The prophets had an important role; when these things happened in the future, the people could remember the words of the prophets, see the consequences, and perhaps repent and turn back to Him.
Who is supposed to fulfill crucial role today? God has His church, and He gave us the command to be a prophetic voice, preaching the gospel. The gospel is not just doom and gloom, but it has a "doom" aspect of repent or perish.
Q: In Am 3:12, what is the usefulness of the torn parts of an animal here?
A: Saying the animal parts are "saved" would be a rather meaning of the word here, as the New International Bible Commentary p.902 says.
But there would be a very small practical positive aspect for the shepherd though. If a sheep were missing, the shepherd would be responsible for making up the loss to the owner, unless the shepherd could prove that it was torn by wild beasts, as Exodus 22:10-13 says. In Genesis 31:39 Jacob tells Laban that when a sheep was torn by wild animals, Jacob paid the loss himself instead of bringing the remains to Laban. See The Minor Prophets p.104, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.300, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.1434 for more on this.
Q: In Am 3:14, what is significant about Bethel and its altars?
A: Bethel was a special place for the worship of the Lord that was "re-purposed". Abraham dwelt there in Genesis 12:8, just after he had the vision that God would give his descendants the land. It was there that Jacob had the vision of the angels ascending and descending on a ladder/stairway to heaven. The city was called Luz at the time, but Jacob renamed it to Bethel, which means "house of God". God told Jacob to live in Bethel in Genesis 35:1-15. Deborah, Rachel's nurse died and was buried in Bethel.
But then, when Jeroboam rebelled from Rehoboam, we saw that politically it would not be good for the northern Israelites to frequently go to Jerusalem, in the southern kingdom, to worship. So, Jeroboam set up two altars, one in the far north in Dan, and the other close to the border of Judah in Bethel. Instead of the worship of the LORD, Jeroboam put golden calves for the people to worship instead in 1 Kings 12:32-13:4. Then a man of God came and prophesied that a future king Josiah, would slay the priests of Baal at Bethel, and as a sign, the altar would be split apart. Then the altar split in two. But rather than take to heart the warning and divine miracle, it was a simple matter to just find another large stone, as it was before the time of Jeroboam II. Later this altar would be destroyed permanently by the good king Josiah in 2 Kings 23:15-16.
So, Satan does not need to build anything, he just needs to repurpose what was built for God.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.301-302 for more info.
Q: In Am 3:14, today what is similar to Bethel and its altars?
A: Many cathedrals in Europe took a century or two to build. Despite the time and cost, at least the people knew there would be a permanent place to worship God, built to withstand the ages. However, today some churches and cathedrals have been turned into businesses and even mosques. Yes, the buildings are permanent but their purpose was not.
A second example is that many denominations, which started out to glorify God, have either changed or split to follow their own agenda, and do not make any claim of following everything God has for us to obey in the Bible. For example, if the Bible said that practicing homosexuality was wrong, and Episcopal and United Methodist churches have had homosexual ministers, they are like Bethel after it was "Jereboamized" to a different purpose.
Many seminaries, such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth, were originally good seminaries for training ministers. Now they have departed from teaching that the whole Bible is God's word.
Individually, we need to watch ourselves. God can give us blessings of money, education, and employment experience that can be used for godly purposes or repurposed to serve evil purposes.
Q: In Am 4:1-3, what is the point of the metaphor with female cows here?
A: Bashan was rich pastureland, Jeremiah 50:19; Micah 7:14), with well-fed, or one could say spoiled, cattle (Psalm 22:12; Ezekiel 39:18). These women demanded luxury and pleasure. While the women economically exploited others, they probably were not even aware they were doing so. Perhaps by their drinking and big spending habits, they were driving their husbands to exploit others to support their expected standard of living. There is no mention of sexual immorality here, but these women or sort of the opposite of a noble wife in Proverbs 31:10-31.
Like pampered cattle, these women expected others to meet their demands. Perhaps they were the original "Karens".
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1435, the New International Bible Commentary p.902-903, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.804, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.302-303, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.634 for more info.
Q: In Am 4:2, why do you think the emphasis is here: the LORD God has sworn by His holiness?
A: God says this is certainly going to happen. Any and every precaution they can take, all the money and power they have, will not be able to keep this from happening.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.303,307 for more info.
Q: In Am 4:4, why does it say to go up to Bethel or Gilgal and sin?
A: Amos' statement would be shocking to his hearers, and that was the point. Think of it as an ironic invitation to hurry to their judgment. Amos was sarcastically ridiculing their worship. Sadly, Israelites used to go to Bethel and Gilgal to worship and honor God from the time of Joshua to the time of the building of Solomonís Temple. Now, Israelites were still going to Bethel and Gilgal, but it was to make offerings to false gods, or else offer to both false gods and the Lord together, which was just as bad. Gilgal was still a place of sacrifice according to Amos 5:5; Hosea 4;15; 9:15; and 12:11. Bethel and Dan were the two places Jeroboam set up for the worship of golden calves. A sacrifice is a generic term for any kind of animal or human sacrifice.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1435-1436, the New International Bible Commentary p.903, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.203-204, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.304, and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.804 for more info.
Q: In Am 4:4, when, if at all, should we be sarcastic or ironic in our witnessing?
A: Be very, very careful if you use these tools, as anything you write or say and be copied or repeated, often without the full context. You do not want to come across as mean or unloving.
But if a person does not or will not listen to your warnings, and will not even entertain your arguments, you could respond with something like "Great, go do what you say. You know that this is very likely going to lead to _____. I understand that is what you want, right?" Or, "You are saying this, right? (give them a chance to agree.) Then are you fine with me telling other people that you believe ______. (If they say they are not, then ask them why not.).
Q: In Am 4:6, what did Amos mean by clean teeth?
A: This expression meant their teeth would not have any food particles in them, because they had nothing to eat. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.306 and the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.10 p.272-273 for more info.
Q: In Am 4:6-11, when you we tell people that natural disasters or wars could serve as a warning from God?
A: Some would see that God did these things to the Israelites, but others would see that God simply withdrew his protection from them and left them to disaster. Either way, they should not have failed to discern God's hand in allowing things to happen.
Some Jewish people are disappointed or even disillusioned that if there is a god, He allowed the holocaust to happen. But if Jewish people were no longer obeying the Old Testament Law (sacrifices and all), and they rejected the Messiah, why should they have an expectation that God was obligated to give them special protection.
When calamity happens to a few people, we are not to think that they are more deserving than the people around them that this did not happen to. Jesus said that the Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices and the ones upon whom the Tower of Siloam fell in Luke 13:1-5 were no worse than others. But Jesus also said there was a lesson for everyone here. Unless you repent, you likewise will perish.
Sometimes bad things happen to obedient servants of God, and they, like Job, have no idea why these things happened to them. By all the things that happened just to him and his family, it was clear this was not just coincidence or chance. But still Job did not see any reason.
What we cannot learn from natural disasters or wars:
1) That the individuals harmed were worse or more evil than those who were not harmed.
2) That you will be safe if you are not as evil as those around you.
3) That all the consequences for sin occur in this life.
Three things we can learn from natural disasters or wars:
1) God allows these things to happen, to a nation or region, and does not promise any protection to those who are not following God.
2) Furthermore, bad things even happen to obedient believers, like Job.
3) Life is not just on earth, and it is only after death, on judgment day, that things will be made just.
See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.634, H.A. Ironside's The Minor Prophets p.106-107, and the New International Bible Commentary p.903-904 for more info.
Q: In Am 4:7, why does God sometimes cause injustice?
A: While some might think of "justice" from man, God, and nature, as an alienable right, in this fallen world, both the Bible and empirical evidence show this is not the case. God will provide complete justice, from the young babies who are slaughtered, to the evil oppressors who prosper their entire long lives. However, justice for all will not happen until judgment day.
On the other hand, the state of things in this fallen world should not be used as an excuse for us not to be just and fair to everyone.
Q: In Am 4:9 what are these pests?
A: The first term is in the family of plant diseases called "blight", funguses that kill plants. The second term is "locust". When a plant has one of these, and it has spread, then without modern chemicals it will not survive. The plant is still alive at present, but its death is slow but inevitable.
Q: In Am 4:13, does God creating the wind prove the Holy Spirit is a created being?
A: Not at all. Amos 4:13 mentions that God forms the mountains and creates the wind. Many times when the Bible mentions natural things, such as mountains and wind, the meaning is simply mountains and wind. If there is no allegorical meaning for "mountains" it is a stretch to try to force "wind", right next to it refer to the Holy Spirit and create a new theological doctrine. While the Holy Spirit has been compared to wind as a metaphor, that does NOT mean that every time the wind blows that every person and animal in the path of the wind is feeling the Holy Spirit.
Historically, Ambrose of Milan is the first known to answer this question in On the Holy Spirit book 2 ch.48 p.120.
Q: As Am 5:1-3 why would Amos, under God's inspiration, lament here?
A: A poetic lament would be common to say or sing at a funeral. A 3+2 meter was common in a funeral dirge, and that is what is written here, as the New International Bible Commentary p.905 points out. The judgment had not happened yet, so that it was like a person hearing their own obituary. Besides Amos saying what was going to happen, chapter 5 tells us how God feels about what is going to happen. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their wickedness and live (Ezekiel 18:23).
See H.A. Ironside's The Minor Prophets p.108, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1438, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.309 for more info.
Q: In Am 5:1-27, what is interesting about the structure of this chapter?
A: Hebrew poetry was not organized by rhyme, like English poetry, but rather but content. Hebrew poetry was often organized as a chiasm, where the last half of the poem is a mirror image of the first half, rephrasing everything in reverse order. Amos 5:1-17 is one chiasm, and Amos 5:18-27 is another chiasm.
5:1-3 God's devastating judgment on the land and cities
- 5:4-6 Seek God, not idol altars, and live
- - 5:7 Injustice against the righteous
- - - 5:8-9 God is sovereign over the heavens and strongholds
- - 5:10-13 Injustice against the upright and poor
- 5:14-15 See good, not evil, and live
5:16-17 God's devastating judgment on the streets and farms
The second chiasm is
5:18-20 The Day of the Lord will be harsh on the evil
- 5:21-22 God hates hypocritical worship by an unjust people
- - 5:23-24 God wants justice and righteousness, not the worship which He hates
- 5:25-26 Even in the Exodus you hypocritically worshipped other gods
5:27 On that day you will be captive beyond Damascus
Amos 5:10-13 is actually a chiasm within a chiasm.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1438 for more info.
Q: As Am 5:1-3 laments the judgment of the wicked, as Jeremiah wept for the people in Jer 4:19; 9:1-2, and as Jesus mourned over Jerusalem in Mt 23:37, when should we publicly mourn a people, their judgment, and their wickedness?
A: First, let's see answer why these people, and us, should lament. The we will see when and how to lament.
Why lament: In general, there are three reasons to lament over a sinful person or people.
a) Because of the evil they are doing: If they claim to be believers especially, we should lament how their sin dishonors God.
b) Because of impending judgment: Because of the judgment that will come on them, in this life and in eternity.
c) Because of what could have been: As Jonah 2:8 says, "Those who regard vain idols forsake their own mercy." (World English Bible)
d) Personally, lamenting over our own sin is a part of repentance.
When to lament: In these examples, it is most effective to lament while there is still hope, before they are killed. When David lamented over his dying son in 2 Samuel 12:16-23, he stopped once his son had died.
How to lament: While different cultures might have different customs, these laments were all public, where others could see, and perhaps, take warning. We can lament verbally, both in a public speech and one-on-one with people. We can lament in writing, on the web, on blogs and social media, and in books and articles. Christians have "lamented" on billboards that people see when they drive by. There are many ways to publicly express our lamentation at a country's turning away from God.
Q: In Am 5:4,6, why does God command people to seek Him?
A: Even in all of these verses of judgment, God offers the people the opportunity to seek Him and live. But Deuteronomy 4:29 and Jeremiah 29:13 says we must seek Him with all our heart. We are to seek the Lord in His terms, not ours.
Seeking God is either a very easy or a very difficult question, depending on if you have the correct theological grounding.
Many hard-core Calvinists have a problem with this verse. Other Calvinists solve their problem by saying God commanded things He never gave some the means to obey, intended them to obey, nor in His secret will even desired them to obey.
Most Christians see that obviously God is commanding something to people that He has given them at least some means to obey. God commands some things of people, gives them the means, but also gives them freedom to obey or to disobey.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.804 for more info.
Q: In Am 5:5b, what is the point of these two warnings?
A: These are prophetic plays on words or puns. While puns are often humorous, these are not, but are a way to remember. Gilgal was originally a memorial for Joshua's entrance into the land, but here Gilgal will be a memory of being taken in exile from the land. Bethel was a special place to Abraham, Jacob, and others, and meant "house of God". But Amos called is Beth 'aven which means, "house of nothing" or "house of evil".
This warning is quite unusual, because normally people are invited to repent and go to a place of worship. But these used to be undefiled places of worship of the true God, but no longer. So instead of "repent and come", the message here is "repent and stay away", from formerly godly places, that are no longer so.
Today when a place, be it a seminary or denomination, has completely turned away from God, we should not try to "come" and reform it from within. There might be a time for that, while they are battling, but there comes a time when it is too late for that. Rather, we should "stay away" and join godly believers versus those who have already committed to turning away from God.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1439 and the New International Bible Commentary p.905 for more info.
Q: In Am 5:8, what is the point of the Pleiades and the constellation Orion in particular?
A: This verse emphasis God's sovereignty overall all the heavens and the earth. But specifically, in astronomy (not astrology), in Palestine the rise of the Pleiades meant the coming of spring, while the rise of Orion means the coming of winter. These constellations would come and go every year like clockwork. In a similar way, God's sovereignty and execution of judgment would occur too. The Pleiades and Orion are also mentioned in Job 9:9 and 38:31.
See H.A. Ironside's The Minor Prophets p.109 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1439 for more info.
Q: In Am 5:10-13, what is the chiasm here?
A: This is a chiasm within the larger chiasm of Amos 5:1-17.
5:10 The righteous are intimidated
- 5:11a The poor are abused
- - 5:11b-12a Judgment of covenant sin
- 5:12b The poor are abused
5:13 The righteous are intimidated
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1439-1440 for more info.
Q: In Am 5:18, are people not supposed to desire the day of the Lord, or desire it as 2 Pet 3:14 shows?
A: Godís children should desire it, and those who refuse to follow God should not desire it, any more than the Egyptians should haver desired the Passover night in Exodus 12:29. Amos here was speaking to the those that were religious but not right with God. They claimed to desire the day of the Lord, but in reality they should fear it, since they were not following God except in pretense. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.634-635 and the New International Bible Commentary p.906 for more info.
Q: In Am 5:18, how can some people today presume upon God's grace to protect them despite their unfaithfulness and ungodly conduct?
A: Because they talk the talk, they might think they deserve God's blessings. But even if we are fully obedient, both talking the talk and walking the walk, we still don't deserve God's blessings.
See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.634 for more info.
Q: What is the meaning of Am 5:19?
A: Just when they think they think they are safely out of danger, then fatal disaster will strike.
See H.A. Ironside's The Minor Prophets p.110-111, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1441, the New International Bible Commentary p.907, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.315 for more info.
Q: In Am 5:21, why did God despise their religious feasts?
A: First of all, they apparently tried to honor God with His ceremonies, while still doing the idol religious ceremonies at the same time. While God instituted the feasts and rituals in the Old Testament, he despised them keeping these feasts hypocritically. They emphasized keeping the feasts, and they neglected other parts of Godís Law, such as helping the poor and living pure. The only purpose the OT religious feasts served, for them, would be to make them feel good religiously, and God did not want them to have that false feeling.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.204 and H.A. Ironside's The Minor Prophets p.111 for more info.
Q: In Am 5:23, does Godís dislike of instruments here show we should not use instruments in the church?
A: No, rather it shows that stringed instruments were a part of Old Testament worship. God dislikes insincere worship. Amos 5:22-23 does not justify not having instruments in Old Testament times any more than it could justify not having sacrifices in Old Testament times. An interesting note is that the verbs in Amos 5:21-22 are plural, while the verse in Amos 5:23 are singular. So, God is telling individuals to stop doing that if they have not repented.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1441-1442 for more info.
Q: Does Am 5:25 say the Israelite sacrifices in the wilderness for 40 years were not to God, since Ex 24:4 and other texts say they were to God?
A: Certainly Moses and many Israelites did make proper sacrifices to the true God. However, many other Israelites during the Exodus were not intent on serving the true God. Moreover, almost all the Israelites made idolatrous sacrifices to the golden calf at Mt. Sinai. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.47-48 for more info.
Q: In Am 5:25-27, when can reliance upon a religion, even Christian religion, be a false reliance?
A: Obviously, those who rely on a religion of a demon or false god will be in trouble. But even relying on God, and the truth of God's word, is a false hope if you have not made Jesus the Savior and lord of your life.
God does not need or wish for their worship of Him, mixed with hypocrisy and rebellion.
See the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.10 p.288,291 for more info.
Q: In Am 5:26, who are Moloch and Chiun?
A: There is some uncertainty about these names here, as the Masoretic text and Septuagint differ. Regardless, these were idols the Israelites worshipped in the wilderness. Archaeological excavations in Palestine have shown a flourishing cult of idol worship, more or less throughout most of the time of the Israelites up to the Exile. Some liberals have [correctly] pointed out that this polytheistic religion was very different from what is handed down to us in the Bible. Rather than detract from the Bible, this evidence further confirms its authenticity. The Bible itself records almost constant idolatry of some Israelites in the land. The Bible would have left this all out, if it was trying to present a "sanitized" whitewash instead of the true picture of actual history.
These words could mean shrine and pedestal. Another view is that these are synonyms for the idol Saturn. Some think these names are related to gods worshipped by the Assyrians and Aramaeans. Regardless, various idols were worshipped by the peoples northeast of them. The point is, if you worship these idols as gods, you will go into exile where these idols are worshipped.
See the New International Bible Commentary p.907-908 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.316-317 for more info.
Q: In Am 6:1, what was wrong with trusting in the mountain of Samaria?
A: First what is not the answer, and then the answer.
Not the answer, Jerusalem instead: Some from Judea would say that they should have been trusting in Mount Zion (site of Jerusalem), where Godís Temple was, instead of the false religion of Samaria. However, Jeremiah 7 proves that this is the wrong answer.
The answer: We should not be trusting in any religious practices, even the religious practices we do because God commanded us. Of course, people should not trust in idolatrous actions, but they should not trust in their godly obedience either; instead, be trusting in God. In Zephaniah 1:12 people thought that God would not do anything; but here Amos says that God is specifically out to get those who reject Him yet still bear His name.
Q: In Am 6:1-7, how are some people wrongly at ease today, like they were back then?
A: People are at ease when they see no urgency to change, have no desire to change, and do not see any reason to change. They are not close to God, and they have no desire to get any closer because they do not see any need. We should always want to draw nearer to God.
It was thought in Judah that Samaria would first hold off for a while any trouble coming their way.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.805 and H.A. Ironside's The Minor Prophets p.112 for more info.
Q: In Am 6:5, how do some try to emulate great religious leaders today?
A: David's songs and psalms were done for God. They are beautiful in a literary sense as well as a religious sense. These people, who apparently cared little for God, were still trying to emulate what David did.
Today people can admire Christian architecture and art, writings by Christians, but not want to serve and worship Christ. They might have positive feelings towards Christianity, but don't confuse them for genuine Christians if they have not turned over their life to God.
See the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.10 p.299-300 for a different answer.
Q: In Am 6:8, why would God especially hate pride in you?
A: Just one sinful attitude, pride, can cut off many good things, such as gratitude, contentment, and being correctable. It can grow to include envy, unforgiveness, and feeling hurt when others don't recognize your presumed superiority.
There are three slightly different forms of pride:
1) Thinking you are better, or important, or more valuable than someone else.
2) Pride in what you yourself have accomplished, taking credit for what God and others did.
3) Pride in what you have done. We are not significant because of what we have made, but because God made us. We are not loved by God for what we have done, but what God has done.
One aspect of pride is stupidity, because you don't have anything to be proud about in and of yourself.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.805 for more info.
Q: In Am 6:10, why would the people not mention Godís name here?
A: People who in the past blasphemed Godís name so lightly are now fearful of even pronouncing it, because of the wrath that has come upon them.
Q: In Am 6:12 and Ezek 5:6, how do some turn judgment to bitter gall, and the fruit of righteousness to hemlock?
A: One would expect justice from a judge of a case. When a person receives what they understand to be injustice, they can become bitter, and give up on the concept of there ever being justice. Some things make no sense, like horses running on boulders, or oxen plowing there. Likewise, some of the judicial decisions will make no sense. See the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.10 p.303 for more info.
Q: In Am 7, when, if at all, should we intercede before God for wicked people?
A: Everyone stills sins, so in one sense we always pray for sinful people every time we pray for someone. But this context is different; these were unrepentant wicked people. Amos, and us, should still pray for unrepentant wicked people, that they would repent and come to God. Apart from God's grace, we would be exactly in their shoes too, apart from God's grace. See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.805-806 for more info.
Q: In Am 7:7-9, what exactly does a plumb line do?
A: It simply shows, to both the person who set it and everyone else if something is straight and on the level, or crooked. A partially built wall that is crooked can be torn down and rebuilt. An old wall can be tested to see if it is still good, or if it should be pulled down. A plumb line will measure Jerusalem, to see if it should be wiped out, in 2 Kings 21:13
A plumb line does not do anything itself but shows that is crooked and needs to be destroyed. God's judgment would not be arbitrary, but according to the plumbline of His law. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1445, the New International Bible Commentary p.910, the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.10 p.310-311, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.806, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.321 for more info.
Q: In Am 7, Amos was denounced as a traitor for saying things they did not want to hear. How might a person today be falsely accused of being disloyal?
A: Many people fundamentally misunderstand the concept of loyalty.
Loyalty to a country vs. a political leader: If you think the current political is not the best for your country, and another one should be voted in, some might call you disloyal to the country. They don't see a difference between following a leader no matter what and loyalty to a country. Because of that, paradoxically, you might be more loyal to the country than your accuser. There is a concept that has been lost today for some, called "the loyal opposition." On the positive side, I have heard, in multiple churches, where the pastor has said that listeners should check out what he says with what the Bible says. If they find a place where he is saying something against what the Bible says, the pastor said in that case don't listen to him, follow the Bible.
Loyalty against the organization: A boss might expect you to always be loyal to them, even when they want you to do things that are against the company's or organization's best interests.
No constructive criticism: Finally, some think loyalty means always being positive, and it is disloyal not to be a "yes-man". The trouble is, when there needs to be a change in direction, nobody will tell the leader he or she needs to change. After they are forced out they might wonder what happened, and why didn't anyone tell them. However, they fail to realize that they fostered a culture where nobody could speak up and say something is not the best way, without fear or repercussions.
See H.A. Ironside's The Minor Prophets p.115-116, the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.10 p.311-312, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.635-636 for more info.
Q: In Am 7:10-17, how did Amos answer this charge that he was not qualified to be a prophet?
A: Amos was like a plumb line for an individual: the priest Amaziah. Amos actually gives two complementary answers. Amos agrees that he is not qualified by any human, or any human standards. Thus, he is not a professional prophet, or making his living as a prophet, as Amaziah insinuates. But Amos says that despite that God called Amos directly. See H.A. Ironside's The Minor Prophets p.116-117, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1445-1447, the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.10 p.312, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.636, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.323 for more info.
Q: In Am 7:10-17, what should you do when someone orders you to do something?
A: It all depends. Obey if what they are ordering is not against what God commands, and either they are in a position where you should obey them (like a policeman, judge, your boss, or your teacher). Romans 12:18 says that as far as possible, be at peace with everyone. If they are not in a position of authority over you, still obey them if you know that what they are asking is what you should be doing. But if it is not something you should obey, your reaction might depend on the circumstances. Sometimes you might just tell them you are not going to do it, and why, as Peter did in Acts 4:19-20. Sometimes the best thing is to secretly do something, as Joseph of Arimathea did in John 19:38. Sometimes the best thing to do is flee, as Jesus commanded believers in Matthew 24:16-18.
The ministry site of a good Christian apologist was taken down, unknown to the apologist. When he asked the webmaster why it was taken down, it was because someone called the webmaster and said he did not want it anymore, so get rid of it. So the webmaster, without doing any verification of who was calling, took the web site down. Once the apologist saw this, then it was put back up.
In my ministry I once received an email saying I was saying wrong things about Islam and that I should take my web site down, and there was a veiled threat of legal action if I did not. I responded apologizing for any mistakes that I might have made, and that I will correct those mistakes promptly. But show me any places where I did say something wrong that for me to correct. I never heard back from them again.
See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1118 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1446 for more info.
Q: In Am 7, how might people today try to control or suppress a divinely-given ministry, like the evil priest Amaziah tried back then?
A: Someone might oppose a ministry, initiative, or other work, for at least three reasons: control, envy, or counter-purposes.
Control: Someone in authority might be against a ministry or church just for the simple reason that they are not controlling it. They fell all the direction should come from them, and they should control it. Someone could see that the "optics" would look bad on this, as why are you a leader or manager if you can't put this under your control.
Envy: Under different circumstances they might support the ministry, but they are loyal to a different organization, and they see the success of a ministry as cutting into the success of what they want. It is not about having the best thing being done, but about them and their organization doing the best thing. Sometimes in a workplace setting, upper management and unintentionally foster this by focusing on individual results to the exclusion of teamwork and supporting other groups. Someone could feel that the "optics" would not look good on this, because if another group were doing all they were doing, people might come back and ask what you are doing.
Counter-purposes: Fundamentally the ministry might be persuading people to go a certain direction or believe or act a certain way, and someone might be fundamentally opposed to that. Someone could think that the "optics" would look bad on this, as here your boss, manager, or king wants you to be loyal and go in a certain direction, and you are tolerating someone else working at cross-purposes to this.
In Amaziah's case, it might have been all three, with a special emphasis on the third. Today when someone opposes a good thing you or your group is doing, it might be good to attempt to understand why. It might be because you just have a bad idea and don't know it. That might or might not be true, though they will always tell you that, if given a chance. But also consider that the opposition might be for one of these three reasons; instead of instinctively reacting to opposition, it is better to intelligently respond. You might be able to assuage them, partner with them, or else get allies who are over their head.
See H.A. Ironside's The Minor Prophets p.117 for a different discussion.
Q: In Am 8:1-2, what is the significance of the rising of the summer fruit?
A: This shows that, like summer fruit, the Israelites were ready to be judged. This represents the full cycle of growth to the results of the growth. In Hebrew the word for ripe fruit / summer fruit (qayis) sounds like the phrase "the time is ripe" (qes). H.A. Ironside's The Minor Prophets p.118 and the New International Bible Commentary p.911 say this was overripe, decaying fruit.
In general, people forget that God has a strong sense of timing.
Specifically, the time of avoiding the judgment was passing away.
Our sins have a "shelf-life" that God temporarily allows for a while, but their shelf-life was just about expired.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1447, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.636, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.806, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.325 for more info.
Q: In Am 8:5, what was sinful here, since they were obeying the Law?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
Partial obedience: God wants more than just obeying some of the rituals, and disobeying other laws by cheating and oppressing others, as James 2:10-11 also shows.
Inward obedience: God wants more than just outward actions, but an inward heart of obedience.
They were outwardly observing the New Moon festivals, though in their heart they could not wait until they were over. Though they were religious, they were using dishonest scales and oppressing and buying the poor. Even today it should be no surprise that some wicked people, far from God, are still religious.
See H.A. Ironside's The Minor Prophets p.119 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.325 for more info and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1448 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Am 8:9, when will the sun go down at noon?
A: There are two views, and the answer could be considered a dual fulfillment.
Immediate: According to the Assyrian Chronicles there was an eclipse on 6/15/763 B.C. during a revolt in the Assyrian city of Asshur. (Encylopaedia Britannica 1956 vol.7 p.913) (Asshur is 500 to 600 miles away from Jerusalem.) This referred to a solar eclipse during Godís day of judgment according to the New International Bible Commentary p.911. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1148 says this could refer to two eclipses: 784 B.C. and 763 B.C. The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.7 p.326 says Amos 8:9 should be understood as immediate and not in terms of end times.
End times: Amos 8:9 says this will happen "in that day". That day is the Day of the Lord, which came the first time the Lord came. The sun went down in the middle of the day when Jesus was crucified on the cross. The Day of the Lord is also when Jesus returns again, the sun will go down.
Q: In Am 8:10, when would they mourn as for an only son?
A: This will happen when the Jews turn en masse to Christ in the end times. Zechariah 12:10 also discusses this.
Q: In Am 8:11, how will there be a famine of hearing Godís word?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. People can reject following God, and God allows them to later repent and follow Him.
2. However, when an individual refuses to listen to the truth God has given them for long enough, there comes a times when they will almost nothing of Godís word. A term some people use for this process is "judicial hardening", and this hardening is something in which both the individual and God have a part. If people do not want to follow God, the Lord is under no obligation to give them his Lord. In fact, it might be better on the day of judgment for them to know as little as possible, if they were set on rejecting God anyway.
3. Of course, there comes a final time, at death, where there are no more second chances.
4. For a people, there likewise comes a time when Godís word is scarce among them. There also comes a time when the group is dispersed and their identity as a people is lost.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1448-1449, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.637, and When Critics Ask p.303 for more info.
Q: Does Am 8:11-12, refer to Israel, or all nations?
A: These verses directly relate to the Israelites, and their half-breed descendants the Samaritans. However, the general principle generally still applies to other nations, too.
Q: In Am 8:12, why do they seek the word of the LORD and not find it, when Mt 7:7-8 says he who asks receives and he who seeks finds?
A: First what is not the answer and then the answer.
Not the answer: Jesus said these words centuries after Amos, and things are different in New Testament times than before. Also, there was a 400-year period of silence, where no scripture was given, right before Jesus came. Finally, the knowledge that Jesus gave us was not available even to godly people who lived before Jesus. But while these three statements are all true, they miss the timeless truth, and the warning, that are the main point of Amos 8:12-14.
The answer: There are two levels of the answer.
Specifically, Amos 8:12-14 referred to those (mainly Samaritans) in the land [of Israel] who went after the idols of the northern kingdom as well as God. As long as they tried to follow both, they would not find the word of God.
Generally, Amos 8:12-14 is a warning for all people. Matthew 7:7-8 does not mean to ask just anybody; it means you have to ask the One True God. If you want to combine the truth of God with the falsehood of idols and other religions, you will have a famine of truth, not a fulfilling of truth. You have to seek God with all your heart, not part of your heart seeking God and part of your heart seeking idols.
See H.A. Ironside's The Minor Prophets p.119-120, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.297, and the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.10 p.317-318 for more info.
Q: In Am 9:1-4 what is the meaning of these verses?
A: You can run, but you can't hide from God's wrath. God is not merely allowing this destruction; He is supervising it! If someone runs into a temple or their house to hide, the agents of wrath will be at the doorposts breaking them down. If someone runs somewhere else, God's wrath will still catch up with them. Even if someone is one of god's chosen people, which will not save them either.
Mt. Carmel is probably mentioned because there are thousands of limestone caves there, mainly on the western side, where a fugitive could hide. The top is heavily forested, and one could try to hide there too.
See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.637, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.806, the New International Bible Commentary p.912, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1449,1450, and Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.10 p.319-320 for more info.
Q: In Am 9:3, does God cause physical evil?
A: There are two kinds of things denoted by the Hebrew (as well as English) words for evil.
Moral evil is wickedness, and while God allows that, God does not directly cause that.
Physical evil is harm or death, and sometimes God does directly cause that.
Muslims should not be surprised that the term "evil" can mean harm, and not just moral evil. The term is used in this way in their own writings, in the Bukhari Hadith volume 3 book 29 ch.7 no.56 p.35.
Q: In Am 9:7, how were the Jews like Ethiopians?
A: Just as two houses can be the same, except for the paint job, we are all the same to God, as our "paint job" makes no difference to God.
Q: Does Am 9:7 show that the Jewish people were black?
A: No, not unless skin color is the only way God tells people apart. Mideastern people were Caucasian. Egyptians were primarily Caucasian, with some black blood. However, in ancient Egypt, Egyptians with red hair were considered ugly, and would shave their heads. How could they have red hair, if they were all black...?
God used the example of a people that looked very different physically, to drive home the point that underneath the skin we are all the same to God. Galatians 3:28 also shows that we are all sons of God, regardless of our race or whether we are male or female. In the early church, people from Ethiopia to Russia to France all worshipped God as one accord to Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) Irenaeus Against Heresies book 1 ch.10.2 p.331
Q: In Am 9:7, where were Caphtor and Kir?
A: Caphtor was the ancestral home of the Philistines prior to them coming to southeast Palestine. Kir was the ancestral home of the Aramaeans prior to them coming to modern-day Syria. We are not sure where these places were. However, the Philistines were an Aegean people, and it is believed that they likely came from the Island of Crete.
Q: In Am 9:11-15, why the message of hope right after such a wrathful prophecy?
A: Many other prophets also end with a bright note about the future for at least a remnant. From the first half of chapter 9 one could wonder if God was all done with the Israelites, until they were destroyed forever. But Amos 9:11-15 shows this is not so; God still has a wonderful plan for their descendants in future generations in the time of the millennium and after. See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.806, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1450-1451, the New International Bible Commentary p.913, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.328 for more info.
Q: In Am 9:12, when did the Jews possess the remnant of Edom?
A: This not only refers to the land but the people. During the time of Herod of Great, a little before Christís birth, Herod forced the Edomites to become assimilated with the Jews. But not only Edom, but God's people would include Gentiles in general. James the Lord's brother brought up this point, quoting Amos 9:11-12, at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:1-20. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1451 for more info.
Q: In Am, what are some of the earliest manuscripts that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea scrolls: (c.1 B.C.) There are three copies of Amos among the Dead Sea scrolls, labeled 4Q78 (=4QXIIc), 4Q82 (=4AXIIg), and 5Q4 (=5QAmos). (The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated p.479)
4Q78 contains Amos 2:11-16; 3:1-15; 4:1-2; 6:13-14; 7:1-4,7-9,12-16
4Q82 contains Amos 1:3-15; 2:1,7-9,15-16; 3:1-2; 4:4-9; 5:1-2,9-18; 6:1-4,6-14; 7:1,7-12,14-17; 8:1-5,11-14; 9:1,6,14-15
5Q4 contains Amos 1:3-5.
However, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated p.479 says 4Q82 (4QXIIg) of the minor prophets contains the remains of Hosea and Nahum, but it does not mention Amos. Also, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls only shows 5:26-27; 8:11; and 9:11 for Amos.
Nahal Hever is a cave near Engedi, that has a fragment of the minor prophets in Greek (8 Hev XIIgr). According to Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.34, it was written between 50 B.C. and 50 A.D.. It was hidden during the Bar Kokhba revolt against Rome. It is a revision of the Septuagint, made in Judea, and almost identical to the Masoretic text.
The wadi Murabb'at scroll of the Minor Prophets (Mur XII) is from c.132 A.D. It contains Amos 1:5-15; 2:1; 6:1?; 7:3-17; 8:3-7,11-14; 9:1-15.
Overall, preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Nahal Hever and wadi Murabbíat we have the following verses of Amos: Amos 1:3-15; 2:1,7-9,11-16; 3:1-15; 4:1-2,4-9; 5:1-2,9-18; 6:1-4,6-14; 7:1-4,7-17; 8:1-5,11-14; 9:1,6,14-15. See The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more details.
Christian Bible manuscripts, from about 350 A.D., contain the Old Testament, including Amos. Two of these are Vaticanus (325-250 A.D.) and Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.), where the books of the twelve minor prophets were placed before Isaiah. Amos is complete in both Vaticanus and Alexandrinus.
Hosea, Amos, and Micah were never present in Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.).
Q: Which early writers referred to Amos?
A: Pre-Nicene writers who referenced or alluded to verses in Amos are:
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.22 p.205 quotes Amos 5:18-6:7 as being by Amos.
Melito of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.) (Implied) mentions the "Old Testament" and lists the books. He does not list the twelve minor prophets individually but calls them The Twelve. Fragment 4 from the Book of Extracts vol.8 p.759
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) also refers to Amos 1:2; 5:25,26; 8:9,10; 9:11-12.
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.)
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.)
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.)
Origen (240 A.D.) "For, why do you desire the Day of the Lord? And it is darkness and not light, says the Prophet Amos." (cf. Amos 5:18) Homilies on Jeremiah Homily 12 ch.10.1 p.123 (Greek)
Novatian (250/254-256/7 A.D.)
Cyprian of Carthage (248-258 A.D.)
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) quotes Amos 5:8 as by the prophet. Dialogue on the True Faith 5th part ch.18b p.172.
Methodius of Olympus and Patara (270-311/312 A.D.)
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.)
After Nicea (325 A.D.):
Athanasius of Alexandria (367 A.D.) (Implied because mentions the twelve prophets) "There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; ... then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book...." Athanasius Easter Letter 39 ch.4 p.552.
Jerome (373-420 A.D.) discusses the books of the Old Testament. He specifically discusses Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, the Pentateuch, Job, Jesus son of Nave [Joshua], Judges, Ruth, Samuel Kings (2 books), twelve prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai,, Zechariah, Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Letter 53 ch.7-8 p.99-101.
After Nicea there are other writers too.
Q: In Am, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint?
A: The Septuagint is about 3,219 words in Greek. Focusing on chapter 5 (489 Greek words), the first alternative is the Masoretic text, the second is the Greek Septuagint, unless otherwise noted.
Am 3:9 "Ashdod" (Masoretic) vs. "Assyria" (Septuagint)
Am 5:1 "word" vs. "word of the Lord"
Am 5:1 "lamentation/dirge, which I take up against you" vs. "which I am lifting up against you, a lamentation/dirge"
Am 5:1-2 "O house of Israel. The virgin of Israel has fallen, and will not rise again; she lies forsaken on her land; there is no one raising her up." vs. "The house of Israel is fallen; it shall no more rise. The virgin of Israel has fallen upon his land; there is none that shall raise her up."
Am 5:4,6 "and live" vs. "and you shall live"
Am 5:5 "Gilgal" vs. "Galgala"
Am 5:5 "Beersheba" vs. "well of the oath" (The name of the town of Beersheba means well of the oath)
Am 5:6 "He shall not break out like a fire [on] the house of Joseph, and consume; and no one is putting it out for Bethel." vs. "lest the house of Joseph blaze as a fire, and it devour him, and there shall be none to quench it for the house of Israel."
Am 5:7 "He abandoned those who turn justice and righteousness into wormwood on the earth" vs. "[It is he] that executes judgment in the heights [above], and he has established justice on the earth"
Am 5:8 "He who made the Pleiades and Orion" (constellations in the sky) vs. "He who made all things, and changes [them]"
Am 5:9 "who causes destruction to flash out against the strong" vs. "who dispenses ruin to strength"
Am 5:9 "destruction comes against the fortress" vs. "and brings distress upon the fortress."
Am 5:10 "despise him who speaks uprightly" vs. "abhorred holy speech."
Am 5:11 "your trampling on the poor: vs. "they have smitten the poor with their fists"
Am 5:15 "Hate evil and love good" vs. "We have hated evil, and loved good"
Am 5:17 "in all vineyards" vs. "in all the ways"
Am 5:18 "those desiring" vs. "you that desire"
Am 5:18 "this" vs. "this day of the Lord"
Am 5:18 "The Day of the Lord is darkness" vs. "whereas it is darkness"
Am 5:20 "brightness in it" vs. "brightness"
Am 5:21 "despise you feast days" vs. "reject your feasts"
Am 5:21 "not delight in your solemn assemblies" vs. "not smell [your] meat-offerings in your general assemblies."
Am 5:22 "I will not be pleased" vs. "I will not accept them"
Am 5:23 "stringed instruments" vs. "instruments"
Am 5:24 "waters ... ever-flowing stream" vs. "water ... impassible torrent"
Am 5:25 "sacrifices and food offerings" vs. "victims and offerings"
Am 5:25 forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?" vs. "O house of Israel, forty years in the wilderness?"
Am 5:26 "Yea, you have carried the booth of your king and Kiyyun/Kaiwan, your images, the star of your gods..." vs. "Yea, you took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the start of your god Raephan/Rephan, the images of them..."
Am 5:27 "Therefore" vs. "And"
Am 8:1 "said" (Masoretic, Septuagint) vs. "said to me" (Syriac, Theodore of Mopsuestia Commentary on Amos ch.8 p.164)
Am 8:8 "swell like the light" (Masoretic) vs. "swell like the [Nile] River" (some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Targum, Syriac, Vulgate)
Am 9:12a "seek after/possess Edom" (Masoretic, Vulgate, Peshitto, Targum) vs. "mankind/men may seek after/possess the Lord" (Septuagint, Arabic) See The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.2 p.322.
Am 9:12b "bear my name" (Masoretic) vs. "bear my name may seek the Lord" (Septuagint)
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Greenís Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brentonís translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositor's Bible Commentary and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV Bibles also were used.
For more info please contact Christian Debater™ P.O. Box 144441 Austin, TX 78714. www.BibleQuery.org