Eclectic Topics in no Particular Order
Various Topics Discussed
I was asked to explain "AMOS 3:1-2 Hear this word that the L-RD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt, saying: You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will visit upon you all your iniquities. WHO is speaking in the verse number 1? WHO says that "L-RD hath spoken " ....and "I brought up.." ??? "
Let's read the Judaica Press Translation: "Hearken to this word which the L-rd spoke about you, O children of Israel, about the entire family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: Only you did I love above all the families of the earth; therefore, I will visit upon you all your iniquities. Will two walk together unless they agreed?" Amos 3:1 - 3.
Amos 3:1 - 3 (in Christian bibles, 3:1 -2 in the T'nach (Jewish bible) speaks of Israel.
So the first question to answer is "which Israel?"
יִשְׂרָאֵל / Y'srael / Israel can refer to:
So one must ask the question: to which יִשְׂרָאֵל / Y'srael / Israel. is the prophet referring?
To understand one must read the entire book of Amos -- this is the only way to understand Amos' context. Although the questioner began with chapter 3 -- the fact is that chapters are a Christian invention (they began primarily in the 13th century -- created by an archbishop and cardinal). To understand Amos we must begin with chapter 1.
Amos was a wealthy shepherd from יְהוּדָה / Y'hudah / Judah (the southern Kingdom). before G-d called upon him to prophesy to the northern kingdom of יִשְׂרָאֵל / Y'srael / Israel. in 621 BCE. The image of Amos by the artist Chagall is shown in this post.
Amos spoke of the need to be good people -- and that G-d was far more concerned with good people than sacrifices or prayer. Amos demand fair treatment of the poor and sincere repentance. This made Amos an unpopular man in יִשְׂרָאֵל / Y'srael / Israel -- with many demanding he be banished.
The prophet begins by speaking of many peoples whom G-d forgave for three sins -- but would not forgive the fourth sin. Speaking for Hashem Amos speaks of one nation after another with the infamous rebuke of, “For the three sins of [name of nation] I can forgive but for the fourth sin I cannot forgive.”
Amos begins by rebuking Damascus, the people of Aram (who would be exiled). Next comes Gaza, a city of Philistines, who would be exiled and lost, the people of Tzor (Tyre), Edom and Ammon. This is all discussed in chapter 1.
Chapter 2 continues the theme with Moab.
Next Amos speaks of the southern Jewish kingdom of יְהוּדָה / Y'hudah / Judah (the southern Kingdom).. He says that their fourth sin was rejecting the Torah and not keeping the mitzvot. They followed false prophets -- and Amos says that G-d will send fire into Judah to consume Jerusalem.
Finally Amos speaks of the northern kingdom of יִשְׂרָאֵל / Y'srael / Israel. Their fourth sin was unjust courts. The northern kingdom's courts accepted bribes to condemn the innocent. They conspired to cheat the poor out of their few possessions. They defiled girls, too -- and all in the service of false gods / idols.
Amos is telling בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל / Bnei Y'srael / children of Israel to repent and turn to G-d.
Amos, speaking for G-d, makes the point that all eight peoples with the fourth and unforgivable sins share one great sin -- and that greatest sin is אכזריות -- out of control , inhumane, cruelty. G-d can forgive almost anything in His infinite mercy -- excepting cruelty of man against man.
Inhumanity -- savagery -- threatens the entire world -- and it cannot be ignored.
Hashem is willing to forgive the worst of sins, but when it comes to אכזריות, Hashem cannot forgive, hence: “But for the fourth, I cannot forgive.”
Chapter 3 is a continuation of chapter 1 and chapter 2.
Having castigated many peoples for a fourth, unforgivable sin of unimaginable cruelty to other humans -- including the Jewish lands of Judah and Israel (the southern and northern kingdoms) Amos again addresses the Jewish people. G-d has singled out the Jews to be a nation of priests, a light to the other nations of the earth. . . thus cruelty by the Jews is worse than it is with other peoples.
Amos says "Hearken to this word which the L-rd spoke about you,
Amos then speaks for G-d "O children of Israel, about the entire family which I (G-d) brought up from the land of Egypt, (out of slavery) saying Only you did I love above all the families of the earth; therefore, I will visit upon you all your iniquities.." Amos 3:1 - 2.
Amos then asks a series of rhetorical questions which show cause-and-effect:
"Will two walk together unless they agreed?
"Will a lion roar in the forest if he has no prey? Will a young lion let out a cry from his den unless he has taken something?
"Will a bird fall on a net upon the ground unless it has a snare? Will a net ascend from the ground and have taken nothing?
"Will a shofar (ram's horn) be sounded in the city and the people not quake? Will there be evil in the city if the L-rd has not done it?" Amos 3:3 - 6.
Having sinned and not reversed their cruelty to others the people must be punished: cause and effect.
Amos then declares that G-d has revealed the message to him as G-d's prophet: "For the L-rd G-d does nothing unless He has revealed His secret to His servants, the prophets." Amos 3:7.
Remember: negative prophecies (in this case the punishment including exile) is a warning. All negative prophecies can be reversed through heeding the words of the prophet to cease the evil and returning to G-d by being Torah observant (which includes being just and humane). . .
Amos warns יְהוּדָה / Y'hudah / Judah (the southern Kingdom). to heed the warning of the destruction of the northern kingdom of יִשְׂרָאֵל / Y'srael / Israel.
"Hearken and warn the house of Jacob, says the L-rd G-d, the G-d of the Hosts. For on the day I visit the transgressions of Israel (the northern kingdom of יִשְׂרָאֵל / Y'srael / Israel) upon them, I will visit upon the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and shall fall to the earth." Amos 3:13-14.
The people of Israel will have some remnant survive. In this case, it will be those who are bedridden, either with illness or fear. They will not go to battle and the enemy won’t care about them. In chapter 5 Amos states that the northern kingdom of יִשְׂרָאֵל / Y'srael / Israel. will fall and they will never have their own king again. Eventually יְהוּדָה / Y'hudah / Judah will also fall for similar reasons. . .
But do not despair.
"I will not destroy the house of Jacob, says the L-rd." Amos 9:8.
"I will scatter the house of Israel among all the nations. . . " Amos 9:9. Exile.
But one day: "I will raise up the fallen Tabernacle of David, and I will close up their breaches, and I will raise up its ruins, and build it up as in the days of yore. . ." Amos 9:11.
Amos is speaking of the messianic age, when the Jewish exiles (did not happen in Jesus' lifetime) will be returned from exile: "And I will return the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall rebuild desolate cities and inhabit [them], and they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their produce. And I will plant them on their land, and they shall no longer be uprooted from upon their land, that I have given them, said the L-rd your G-d." Amos 9:14 - 15.
So ends the prophecies of Amos. The exile and punishment of the Jewish people will end, the Jews will return to their land.