Amos 5
Turn Back to the Lord
1Listen, nation of Israel,
to my mournful message:
2You, dearest Israel, have fallen,
never to rise again—
you lie deserted in your own land,
with no one to help you up.
3The Lord God has warned,
“From every ten soldiers
only one will be left;
from a thousand troops,
only a hundred will survive.”
4The Lord keeps saying,
“Israel, turn back to me
and you will live!
5Don't go to Gilgal or Bethel
or even to Beersheba.#5.5 Gilgal … Bethel … Beersheba: These were ancient places of worship, but the Lord had warned his people to stay away from them.
Gilgal will be dragged away,
and Bethel will end up
as nothing.”#5.5 Gilgal … nothing: In Hebrew “Gilgal” and “dragged away” sound something alike. Bethel (meaning “house of God”) is sometimes called “house of nothing” or “house of sin” by the prophets (see Hosea 4.15; 5.8; 10.5-8).
6Turn back to the Lord,
you descendants of Joseph,#5.6 descendants of Joseph: Another name for the people of the northern kingdom of Israel.
and you will live.
If you don't, the Lord
will attack like fire.
Bethel will burn to the ground,
and no one can save it.
7You people are doomed!
You twist the truth
and trample on justice.
8 # Job 9.9; 38.31. But the Lord created the stars
and put them in place.#5.8 the stars … place: The Hebrew text mentions two groups of stars, Pleiades and Orion. Since the Lord is the Creator of the stars, he controls the seasons that are signaled by the different positions of the stars. Moreover, the stars are created objects and should not be worshiped.
He turns darkness to dawn
and daylight to darkness;
he scoops up the ocean
and empties it on the earth.
9God destroys mighty soldiers
and strong fortresses.
Choose Good Instead of Evil!
The Lord said:
10You people hate judges
and honest witnesses;
11you abuse the poor and demand
heavy taxes from them.
You have built expensive homes,
but you won't enjoy them;
you have planted vineyards,
but you will get no wine.
12I am the Lord, and I know
your terrible sins.
You cheat honest people
and take bribes;
you rob the poor of justice.
13Times are so evil
that anyone with good sense
will keep quiet.
14If you really want to live,
you must stop doing wrong
and start doing right.
I, the Lord God All-Powerful,
will then be on your side,
just as you claim I am.
15Choose good instead of evil!
See that justice is done.
Maybe I, the Lord All-Powerful,
will be kind to what's left
of your people.#5.15 your people: Hebrew “Joseph's descendants” (see the note at 5.6).
Judgment Is Coming
16This is what the Lord has sworn:
Noisy crying will be heard
in every town and street.
Even farmers will be told
to mourn for the dead,
together with those
who are paid to mourn.#5.16 paid to mourn: In ancient times some people were paid to mourn and make loud cries at funerals.
17Your vineyards will be filled
with crying and weeping,#5.17 Your vineyards … weeping: Instead of happy celebrations that were often held in vineyards after the harvest.
because I will punish you.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
When the Lord Judges
18You look forward to the day
when the Lord comes to judge.
But you are in for trouble!
It won't be a time of sunshine;
all will be darkness.
19You will run from a lion,
only to meet a bear.
You will escape to your house,
rest your hand on the wall,
and be bitten by a snake.
20The day when the Lord judges
will be dark, very dark,
without a ray of light.
What the Lord Demands
21 # Is 1.11-14. I, the Lord, hate and despise
your religious celebrations
and your times of worship.
22I won't accept your offerings
or animal sacrifices—
not even your very best.
23No more of your noisy songs!
I won't listen
when you play your harps.
24But let justice and fairness
flow like a river
that never runs dry.
25 # Ac 7.42,43. Israel, for forty years
you wandered in the desert,
without bringing offerings
or sacrifices to me.
26Now you will have to carry
the two idols you made—
Sakkuth, the one you call king,
and Kaiwan, the one you built
in the shape of a star.#5.26 star: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 26.
27I will force you to march
as captives beyond Damascus.
I, the Lord God All-Powerful,
have spoken!#5.27 I, the Lord … spoken: Israel did not offer sacrifices and gifts to the Lord during the time they wandered through the desert. But now they have made idols to carry during their ceremonies. So the Lord warns that he will make them “march” away as captives beyond Damascus, where Israel had extended its borders by victories in war (see 2 Kings 14.28).

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