Fifth Vision: The Destruction of the Sanctuary
1I saw the Lord standing beside the altar. And he said:
Strike the capitals
so that the threshold shakes!
Break them off on the heads of them all!
Those who are left I will slay with the sword.
Not one shall get away,
2Though they dig down to Sheol,
even from there my hand shall take them;
Though they climb to the heavens,
even from there I shall bring them down.b
3Though they hide on the summit of Carmel,
there too I will hunt them down and take them;
Though they hide from my gaze at the bottom of the sea,
there I will command the serpent* to bite them.c
4Though they go into captivity before their enemies,
there I will command the sword to slay them.
I will fix my gaze upon them
for evil and not for good.
5The Lord GOD of hosts,
Who melts the earth with his touch,
so that all who dwell on it mourn,
So that it will all rise up like the Nile,
and subside like the river of Egypt;d
6Who has built his upper chamber in heaven,
and established his vault over the earth;
Who summons the waters of the sea
and pours them upon the surface of the earth—
the LORD is his name.e
7Are you not like the Ethiopians to me,
O Israelites?—oracle of the LORD—
Did I not bring the Israelites from the land of Egypt
as I brought the Philistines from Caphtor
and the Arameans* from Kir?
8See, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on this sinful kingdom,
and I will destroy it from the face of the earth—
But I will not destroy the house of Jacob completely—
oracle of the LORD.
9For see, I have given the command
to sift the house of Israel among all the nations,
As one sifts with a sieve,
letting no pebble fall to the ground.
10All sinners among my people shall die by the sword,
those who say, “Disaster will not reach or overtake us.”f
VI. EPILOGUE: RESTORATION UNDER A DAVIDIC KING
11* On that day I will raise up
the fallen hut of David;
I will wall up its breaches,
raise up its ruins,
and rebuild it as in the days of old,g
12That they may possess the remnant of Edom,
and all nations claimed in my name—
oracle of the LORD, the one who does this.
13Yes, days are coming—
oracle of the LORD—
When the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps
and the vintager, the sower of the seed;
The mountains shall drip with the juice of grapes,
and all the hills shall run with it.h
14I will restore my people Israel,
they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities,
Plant vineyards and drink* the wine,
set out gardens and eat the fruits.i
15I will plant them upon their own ground;
never again shall they be plucked
From the land I have given them—
the LORD, your God, has spoken.
* [9:1] This vision may describe the destruction of the temple at Bethel and the fulfillment of the oracle in 3:14, linking God’s judgment upon Israel with the “punishment” of the altars of Bethel. This dramatic event (perhaps to be identified with the earthquake mentioned in 1:1) symbolizes the end of the Northern Kingdom as the Lord’s people, the consequence of their steadfast refusal to heed the prophetic word and return to the God of Israel.
* [9:3] The serpent: a name for the primeval chaos monster, vanquished by God at the time of creation but not annihilated. He was a personification of the sea, another primary archetype of chaos in the ancient Near East.
* [9:7] The Ethiopians…the Philistines…the Arameans: although Israel’s relationship to the Lord was special, even unique in some respects (3:2), Israel was not the only people on earth that God cared for. Striking here is the reference to divine intervention in the history of the Philistines and Arameans, not unlike the Lord’s saving intervention to bring Israel out of Egypt. Caphtor: the island of Crete.
* [9:11–15] These verses are most likely an editorial supplement to Amos, added to bring the book into harmony with the positive thrust of the prophetic books in general, especially those written after the exile, when the final edition of Amos was probably completed. The editors would have seen the destruction of Samaria in 722/721 B.C. as the fulfillment of Amos’s prophecies, but in this epilogue they express the view that destruction was not the Lord’s final word for Israel. In Acts 15:15–17, James interprets this passage in a messianic sense. The fallen hut of David: the Davidic kingdom, which included what later became the divided Northern and Southern Kingdoms. All nations claimed in my name: lit., “all nations over whom my name has been pronounced.” This idiom denotes ownership.
* [9:14] Rebuild…inhabit…plant…drink: in this era of restoration, the Lord nullifies the curse of 5:11, which uses these same four verbs, and turns it into a blessing for Israel.
b. [9:2] Ps 139:7–12; Jb 20:6.
g. [9:11] Acts 15:16–17.