1Hear this word which I utter concerning you,
this dirge, house of Israel:
2She is fallen, to rise no more,
She lies abandoned on her land,
with no one to raise her up.a
3For thus says the Lord GOD
to the house of Israel:
The city that marched out with a thousand
shall be left with a hundred,
Another that marched out with a hundred
shall be left with ten.
4For thus says the LORD*
to the house of Israel:
Seek me, that you may live,b
5but do not seek Bethel;
Do not come to Gilgal,
and do not cross over to Beer-sheba;
For Gilgal shall be led into exile
and Bethel shall be no more.
6* Seek the LORD, that you may live,
lest he flare up against the house of Joseph* like a fire
that shall consume the house of Israel, with no one to quench it.
8The one who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns darkness into dawn,
and darkens day into night;
Who summons the waters of the sea,
and pours them out on the surface of the earth;c
9Who makes destruction fall suddenly upon the stronghold
and brings ruin upon the fortress,
the LORD is his name.
IV. THREE WOES
7Woe to those who turn justice into wormwood
and cast righteousness to the ground,
10They hate those who reprove at the gate
and abhor those who speak with integrity;
11Therefore, because you tax the destitute
and exact from them levies of grain,
Though you have built houses of hewn stone,
you shall not live in them;
Though you have planted choice vineyards,
you shall not drink their wine.d
12Yes, I know how many are your crimes,
how grievous your sins:
Oppressing the just, accepting bribes,
turning away the needy at the gate.
13(Therefore at this time the wise are struck dumb
for it is an evil time.)
14Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
Then truly the LORD, the God of hosts,
will be with you as you claim.
15Hate evil and love good,
and let justice prevail at the gate;
Then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.e
16Therefore, thus says the LORD,
the God of hosts, the Lord:
In every square there shall be lamentation,
and in every street they shall cry, “Oh, no!”
They shall summon the farmers to wail
and the professional mourners to lament.
17And in every vineyard there shall be lamentation
when I pass through your midst, says the LORD.
18Woe to those who yearn
for the day of the LORD!*
What will the day of the LORD mean for you?
It will be darkness, not light!f
19As if someone fled from a lion
and a bear met him;
Or as if on entering the house
he rested his hand against the wall,
and a snake bit it.
20Truly, the day of the LORD will be darkness, not light,
gloom without any brightness!
I take no pleasure in your solemnities.
22Even though you bring me your burnt offerings and grain offerings
I will not accept them;
Your stall-fed communion offerings,
I will not look upon them.
23Take away from me
your noisy songs;
The melodies of your harps,
I will not listen to them.
24Rather let justice surge like waters,
and righteousness like an unfailing stream.
25h Did you bring me sacrifices and grain offerings
for forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?i
26Yet you will carry away Sukuth,* your king,
and Kaiwan, your star-image,
your gods that you have made for yourselves,j
27As I exile you beyond Damascus,
says the LORD,
whose name is the God of hosts.
* [5:1–17] These verses form a chiastic section beginning and ending with a lament over Israel (vv. 2, 16–17) and containing a double appeal to “seek” the Lord (vv. 4, 14). This editorial arrangement gives the whole section a negative cast, in effect nullifying the only hopeful verse in Amos (v. 15). Israel is as good as dead.
* [5:4–5] For thus says the LORD…Bethel shall be no more: these two verses continue the sarcasm of 4:4–5, verses in which Amos invites the people to come and “sin” at Bethel and Gilgal. The cult cities of Samaria should have been places where God could be “sought” but, because of the sins of the Northern Kingdom, these cities would cease to exist.
* [5:6] These verses have been rearranged to achieve the proper sequence according to the best possible manuscript tradition. Cf. the Textual Notes accompanying the translation.
* [5:18] The day of the LORD: first mentioned in Amos, this refers to a specific time in the future, known to the Lord alone, when God’s enemies would be decisively defeated. The common assumption among Israelites was that the Lord’s foes and Israel’s foes were one and the same. But Amos makes it clear that because the people have become God’s enemies by refusing to heed the prophetic word, they too would experience the divine wrath on that fateful day. However, during the exile this expression comes to mean a time when God would avenge Israel against its oppressors and bring about its restoration (Jer 50:27; Ez 30:3–5).
* [5:21–27] The prophet does not condemn cultic activity as such but rather the people’s attempt to offer worship with hands unclean from oppression of their fellow Israelites (cf. Ps 15:2–5; 24:3–4). But worship from those who disregard justice and righteousness (v. 24) is never acceptable to the God of Israel. Through the Sinai covenant the love of God and the love of neighbor are inextricably bound together.
* [5:26] Sukuth: probably a hebraized form of Assyro-Babylonian Shukudu (“the Arrow”), a name of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. It was associated with the god Ninurta, who was widely worshiped in Mesopotamia. According to 2 Kgs 17:30 the cult of Sirius was introduced into Samaria by deportees from Babylonia. Kaiwan: a hebraized form of an Akkadian name for the planet Saturn, also worshiped as a deity in Mesopotamia.