1Hear this word, Israelites, that the LORD speaks concerning you,
concerning the whole family I brought up from the land of Egypt:
2You alone I have known,*
among all the families of the earth;a
Therefore I will punish you
for all your iniquities.
3* Do two journey together
unless they have agreed?
4Does a lion roar in the forest
when it has no prey?
Does a young lion cry out from its den
unless it has seized something?
5Does a bird swoop down on a trap on the ground
when there is no lure for it?
Does a snare spring up from the ground
without catching anything?
6Does the ram’s horn sound in a city
without the people becoming frightened?
Does disaster befall a city
unless the LORD has caused it?b
7(Indeed, the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.)
8The lion has roared,
who would not fear?c
The Lord GOD has spoken,
who would not prophesy?
9Proclaim this in the strongholds of Assyria,*
in the strongholds of the land of Egypt:
“Gather on the mount of Samaria,
and see the great disorders within it,
the oppressions within its midst.”*
10They do not know how to do what is right—
oracle of the LORD—
Storing up in their strongholds
violence and destruction.
11Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
An enemy shall surround the land,
tear down your fortresses,
and pillage your strongholds.
12Thus says the LORD:
As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion
a pair of sheep’s legs or the tip of an ear,
So shall the Israelites escape,
those who dwell in Samaria,
With the corner of a couch
or a piece of a cot.*
13Hear and bear witness against the house of Jacob—
an oracle of the Lord GOD, the God of hosts:
14On the day when I punish Israel for its crimes,
I will also punish the altars of Bethel;
The horns of the altar shall be broken off
15I will strike the winter house
and the summer house;
The houses of ivory shall lie in ruin,
and their many rooms shall be no more—
oracle of the LORD.
* [3:2] You alone I have known: precisely because Israel enjoyed a special status among the nations of the world in the eyes of the Lord (but see 9:7) it was called to a high degree of fidelity to God. Because Israel has failed in this expectation, it must experience God’s punishment.
* [3:3–8] The metaphors in these sayings illustrate the principle of cause and effect, and lead up to the conclusion in v. 8.
* [3:9] Assyria: following the Greek version, the Hebrew text has “Ashod.” It is supposed that this was a copyist’s error: “Assyria” seems intended, in order to parallel “Egypt” in the next line.
* [3:9] With a keen sense of irony, Amos invites the most powerful oppressors in Israel’s memory, past and present—Egypt and Assyria—to see and marvel at the great oppression and injustice being wrought within Samaria by the people of Israel.
* [3:12] The “escape” is clearly a disaster, not a deliverance.
* [3:14] On Bethel, see also 4:4; 5:5–6; and 7:13. The prophet is condemning the religiosity and formalism of the worship by Israel’s leaders.
d. [3:14] Am 9:1; 1 Kgs 13:1–5.