This is essentially saying that those in question invented their own nonsensical chants and psalms and attributed them to or gave them equal status to the Psalms of king David... Once again this is a chilling indictment on modern Christian worship music which so often claims to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and yet is worded in such a way as to express the nonsensical emotion of the fallen nature.
Amos 6 (Author’s translation)
1 Oiy, woe, alas to those who are at ease feeling secure in Zion, and to those who trust in the mountain of Samaria, and the appointed heads of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes. 2 Pass over to Chalneh from there to Chamat then go down to the great Gath of the Philistines. Are they better than these kingdoms, with greater territory than your territory? 3 Do you put away the day of evil, and draw near a seat of cruelty? 4 Those who lie on beds of ivory, and stretch out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the midst of the fattened cattle, 5 Who make up nonsensical chants upon the face of the pitcher (jug), for David they esteem, and they invent of themselves songs, 6 Who drink in bowls of wine and anoint their heads with oils—yet they have not grieved over the shattering of Joseph. 7 Therefore, they will now go into captivity at the head of the exiles, and the feasting cry of those who stretch out (lounge) will depart. 8 The Lord YHVH has sworn by His soul, YHVH the God/Judge Who goes warring has declared: “I abhor the majesty of Yaakov, and his palaces I hate; and I will deliver up a city and all that is in it.” 9 And it will come to pass, if ten men are left in one house, they will die. 10 And a man’s uncle will lift him up and burn him, and bring out bone substance from the house, and say to the one who is at the sides of the house, “Is anyone else with you?” And that one will say, “None.” Then he will answer, “Hold your tongue!” For the name of YHVH the Lord is not remembered. 11 For behold, now, pay attention YHVH the Lord has commanded and will smite the great house into fragments and the little house to rubble. 12 Do horses run on rocks? Or does one yoke them with oxen for ploughing? Yet you have turned judgement into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood (bitterness), 13 You who rejoice in Lodebar (nothing), and say, “By our strength have we not taken Karnayim?” 14 “For behold, now, pay attention, I am going to raise up upon you, house of Israel,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God/Judge the One Who goes warring, “A nation, and they will oppress you from the entrance of Chamat to the wadi (river bed) of the wilderness.”
Amos 6 (Line Upon Line)
1 Ho Oiy, woe, alas hasha’ananiym to those who are at ease feeling secure betziyon in Zion (parched place), vehabotechiym and to those who trust behar in the mountain of Shomeron Samaria (guardians), and nekuveiy the appointed (to pierce) reishiyt heads of hagoyim the nations, uvau lahem beiyt Yisrael to whom the house of Israel comes.
1 Oiy, woe, alas to those who are at ease feeling secure in Zion, and to those who trust in the mountain of Samaria, and the appointed heads of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes.
Both Judah (Zion being the seat of king David’s power) and Israel (the northern tribes whose kings held court in Samaria) are being warned concerning their idolatrous faith in their own strength.
Zion is used in Scripture to describe both the mountain located in Jerusalem and the entire land and or, people of Israel. Therefore, it is possible that Zion is used here as being synonymous with Israel, however, given that Amos is of Judah and that while the focus of his prophecy has been on the northern kingdoms there has nonetheless been earlier rebuke of Judah, it is most likely that both kingdoms and therefore all twelve tribes are being called out for their idolatrous behaviour, and the sin of trusting in their own strength rather than trusting in God.
Regardless, the latter clause “those who trust in the mountain of Samaria, and the appointed heads of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes.” Is specifically addressed to the northern tribes who gather at the mountain city of Samaria under the northern king and in order to practice apostate worship in an intentional act of defiance against the appointed place of worship, Mt Zion in Jerusalem.
The phrase “appointed heads of the nations” is a reference to the fact that the northern tribes had made agreements with the nations they perceived to be strong and thus trusted not only in their own strength but also in the added strength of alliances with godless nations.
The Targum understands the phrase “appointed heads of the nations” somewhat differently, paraphrasing the text to read:
"put the name of their children, as the name of the children of the nations;''
While this seems an unlikely interpretation, it does nonetheless point to the coming exile by inferring that Israelis will give their children foreign names during the future captivity in order to make their lives easier as strangers in a land not their own.
2 Ivru Pass over to Chalneh (fortress of Anu: Assyrian/Babylonian) misham from there to Chamat (fortress, upper Syria) rabah uredu then go down to the great Gat-Pelishtiym (wine vat of immigrants) Gath of the Philistines. Hatoviym min-hamamlachot haeileh Are they better than these kingdoms, im-rav with greater gevulam territory migevulchem than your territory?
2 Pass over to Chalneh from there to Chamat then go down to the great Gath of the Philistines. Are they better than these kingdoms, with greater territory than your territory?
In short, “Go and take a tour around the region, as far east as Chalneh in Babylon, north to the great city of Chamat located between Damascus and the Mediterranean sea, and finally south to Gath, the pride of the Philistines. Do Chalneh, Chamat, and Gath, exceed the grandeur, wealth and strength that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah have been given?”
The answer is of course “No”. God had given Israel a land rich with produce and grandeur and yet she had looked elsewhere, not satisfied with the gift of YHVH.
3 Hamnadiym Do you put away leyom the day of ra evil, vatagiyshun and draw near shevet a seat of chamas cruelty?
3 Do you put away the day of evil, and draw near a seat of cruelty?
“Do you put away the day of evil” means, “Based on your belief that you are strong of yourselves and the delusional view that the day of the LORD will be one of light for you, you have put the day of the LORD out of your thoughts, a day that for you will be a day of evil in the sense of darkness, torment and destruction.”
“and draw near a seat of cruelty” means, having rejected the warning of the prophets and having chosen to turn their backs on God, they have instead entered into an intimate relationship with vile acts of cruelty, the oppression of the poor, the rape of women, the murder of those who threaten their worldly ambitions and so on.
The translation “seat of violence” is not accurate, given that in and of itself violence is neither good nor evil but is informed by good or evil. Therefore, “cruelty” better conveys the Hebrew “chamas”. A prophetic and poignant translation given the modern terrorist organisation Hamas, whose modus operandi is cruelty even in the treatment of those they claim to be freeing from the so called tyranny of the modern state of Israel.
4 Hashocheviym Those who lie al-mitot on beds shein of ivory, useruchiym and stretch out al-arsotam on their couches, ve’ocheliym and eat kariym lambs mitzon from the flock, va’agaliym and calves mitoch from the midst marbek of the fattened cattle,
4 Those who lie on beds of ivory, and stretch out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the midst of the fattened cattle,
Once again the imagery depicts the rulers, uber rich and uncaring aristocracy of the northern tribes. Ivory was a valuable commodity and the act of lounging on beds made from it accentuates the palpable disregard for matters of justice and right action. This is coupled with gluttony, the consumption of the best of Israel’s cattle, some of which should have been offered in Jerusalem according to Torah, but was nonetheless being eaten by the upper class, who had decided that they themselves were the deities who deserved these offerings.
The phrase “eat the lambs from the flock” contains a remez (hint) at deeper meaning. Israel is the flock of HaShem and the wicked among the rich upper class were devouring the innocent lambs of Israel, both physically and metaphorically as the analogy applies to apostasy and the leading astray of the vulnerable young.
5 Haporetiym Who make up nonsensical chants al-piy upon the face hanavel of the pitcher (jug), kedaviyd for David chashevu they esteem, invent lehem of themselves shiyr songs,
5 Who make up nonsensical chants upon the face of the pitcher (jug), for David they esteem, and they invent of themselves songs,
This is essentially saying that those in question invented their own nonsensical chants and psalms and attributed them to or gave them equal status to the Psalms of king David. This is utterly abhorrent because it not only misappropriates David’s name but more importantly makes the false inference that their words are inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Once again this is a chilling indictment on modern Christian worship music which so often claims to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and yet is worded in such a way as to express the nonsensical emotion of the fallen nature.
6 Hashotiym Who drink bemizrekei in bowls yayin of wine vereishiyt shemaniym yimshachu and anoint their heads with oils— velo yet they have not nechlu grieved al-sheiver over the shattering Yosef (Yah adds) of Joseph.
6 Who drink in bowls of wine and anoint their heads with oils—yet they have not grieved over the shattering of Joseph (Yah adds).
The wine drunk in sacred bowls is an allusion to the worship of deities accredited with the grape harvest, and the oils, in part made from the life sustaining olive oil of the land, are perfumed and hoarded at the expense of the poor. Thus, oil that might have feed the poor is used to adorn the rich for no other reason than to make them smell nice.
We do the same today when we use perfume made in the sweatshops of foreign countries where the poor are kept under a cycle of oppression in order to sustain western demand for perfumed commodities.
“yet they have not grieved over the shattering of Joseph (Yah adds).” The plain meaning regards the sin of the brothers of Joseph in selling him into slavery, this ancient sin being committed in another form against the destitute of the northern kingdom during the time of Amos.
The rulers and wealthy elite have shown a lack of care for the well-being of all Israel, indulgence having given birth to complacency, and a hardening of heart. Joseph (Yah adds) is used here as a synonym for Israel and hints (remez) at the disregard shown for the fact that YHVH has added blessing to Israel.
7 Lachein Therefore, atah they will now yiglu go into captivity berosh at the head goliym of the exiles, vesar mirzach seruchiym and the feasting cry of those who stretch out (lounge) will depart.
7 Therefore, they will now go into captivity at the head of the exiles, and the feasting cry of those who stretch out (lounge) will depart.
Those who have been guilty of the aforementioned oppression of the weak and vulnerable will be the first to go into exile. Just as they share in the guilt of selling Joseph into slavery so too they will be punished by being made slaves.
The text is a type of Hebrew word play which places the roshiym (heads) of Israel at the rosh (head) of the line leading into captivity. This is an ironic twist on the “first shall be last”. Here the “first shall be last by being first”.
8 Nishba Adonay The Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy) has sworn benafsho by His soul, neum YHVH (Mercy) Eloheiy the God/Judge tzevaot Who goes warring has declared: “Metaeiv anochiy I abhor et-ge’on the majesty of Yaakov (follower), ve’armenotayv and his palaces saneitiy I hate; vehisgartiy and I will deliver up iyr a city umeloh and all that is in it.”
8 The Lord YHVH has sworn by His soul, YHVH the God/Judge Who goes warring has declared: “I abhor the majesty of Yaakov, and his palaces I hate; and I will deliver up a city and all that is in it.”
HaShem swears by Himself, His soul, character, essence, being, because there is none greater than He. He swears these things in mercy, which proceeds from His holiness. He swears as God and Judge, and as He Who goes warring to save His people from a fate worse than death, that is the second death (eternal punishment).
To YHVH belongs all majesty, therefore, the majesty which Yaakov (Israel) has manufactured for herself He despises.
The Hebrew text does not say “the city” as many wrongly translate but “a city”. Thus, for the purpose of disciplining His beloved children in order to return them to life everlasting, He will deliver up each and every city of Israel into the hands of the Assyrians, and subsequently into the hands of the Babylonians.
9 Vehayah And it will come to pass, im-yivateru asarah anashiym if ten men are left bevayit echad in one house, vametu they will die.
9 And it will come to pass, if ten men are left in one house, they will die.
Those who are left of the northern kingdom, who are not taken into captivity, will die.
10 Unesa’o dodo umesarefo And a man’s uncle, will lift him up and burn him, lehotziy and bring out atzamiym bone substance min-habayit from the house, veamar and say la’asher beyarketeiy habayit to the one who is at the sides of the house, “ha’od imach Is anyone else with you?” veamar And that one will say, “Afes Zero, none.” Veamar Then he will answer, “Has Hold your tongue!” Kiy lo lehazkiyr besheim YHVH For the name of the Lord is not remembered.
10 And a man’s uncle, will lift him up and burn him, and bring out bone substance from the house, and say to the one who is at the sides of the house, “Is anyone else with you?” And that one will say, “None.” Then he will answer, “Hold your tongue!” For the name of YHVH the Lord is not remembered.
The bodies of Israel’s dead are to be interred in order to await the physical resurrection and Yom haDin (the Day of Judgement: Day of the LORD). The burning of an Israeli body is an abhorrent violation, but it will be the only option for those who remain, because the dead and rotting corpses of Israel will be so prolific and the remnant so few that they will not be able to bury them, thus leaving burning as the only means of preventing the spread of diseases associated with corpses. This is why the “uncle” asks “is anyone else with you?” The answer is “No one”. There is no one to help. The Targum says “they have all perished”.
“Then he will answer, “Hold your tongue!” For the name of YHVH the Lord is not remembered.” This is interpreted in a number of ways. Here are three possibilities:
a.“Be silent, because while the one we are burying was alive he never called on the Name of YHVH.”
b.“Why bother calling on the Name YHVH, He has brought this upon us, He has firmly established this.”
c.“They say ‘Don’t bother crying out to the gods we thought would save us, they can’t save’. They say this because they have long since neglected to remember the One True God YHVH Who is able and willing to save those who repent and call on Him.”
The Targum reads:
"he shall say, remove (the dead), since while they lived they did not pray in the name of the Lord.''
11 Kiy For hineih behold, now, pay attention YHVH (Mercy) the Lord metzaveh has commanded vehikah and will smite habayit hagadol the great house, resiysiym into fragments vehabayit hakaton and the little house beki’iym to rubble.
11 For behold, now, pay attention YHVH the Lord has commanded and will smite the great house into fragments and the little house to rubble.
The judgement of God that will enact justice has been firmly established against the perpetual sin of the northern tribes.
The great house can be understood to refer to the king of the northern tribes and the little house to the common people. It may also be a reference to two distinct houses of apostate worship in the north.
Alternatively, if the Targum’s rendering is correct, it refers to the northern kingdom as the great house (having the majority of tribes) and the southern kingdom of Judah as being the little house (Judah & Benjamin).
“he will smite the great kingdom with a mighty stroke, and the little kingdom with a weak stroke.” – Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E. Aramaic)
12 Hayrutzun basela susiym Do horses run on rocks? Im yacharush babekariym Or does one yoke them with oxen for ploughing? Kiy hafachtem lerosh mishpat Yet you have turned judgement into poison, uferiy and the fruit tzedakah of righteousness lela’anah into wormwood (bitterness),
12 Do horses run on rocks? Or does one yoke them with oxen for ploughing? Yet you have turned judgement into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood (bitterness),
These are of course rhetorical questions. These examples expose the immoral practice of swapping good for evil and vice versa. Israel had made poison of her judicial practices and had polluted the fruit of the righteous with vile acts of debauchery.
13 Hasemeichiym lelo davar You who rejoice in Lodebar (no word, thing), haomeriym and say, “Halo vechazekeinu By our strength have we not lakachnu lanu taken Karnayim (horn, a town of the region of Bashan)?”
13 You who rejoice in Lodebar (nothing), and say, “By our strength have we not taken Karnayim?”
Lo debar was a city southeast of the Kinneret (Galilee) in Gilead not far from Mahanaim, north of the Jabbok river (2 Samuel 9:4–5). Karnayim, also in the territory of Gilead, was directly east of the Kinneret (Galilee). It had been taken by Manasseh and was at the time a badge of honour reflecting their perceived strength.
The meanings of the names of these two locations speaks of how God will turn Israel’s strength into weakness, just as they have sought to turn morality on its head.
Lo Debar literally translates as “No thing (word)” and Karnayim “Horns (strength)”, the message being “There will be no strength in your words”, and “You will reap nothing from your strength!”
14 “Kiy For hin’niy behold, now, pay attention, I am going to meikiym raise up aleiychem upon you, beiyt Yisrael house of Israel,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Eloheiy God/Judge Hatzevaot the One Who goes warring, “Goy A nation velachatzu And they will oppress etchem you milevo from the entrance of Chamat (fortress, upper Syria) ad-nachal to the wadi (river bed) ha’aravah of the wilderness.”
14 “For behold, now, pay attention, I am going to raise up upon you, house of Israel,” declares YHVH the Lord God/Judge the One Who goes warring, “A nation, and they will oppress you from the entrance of Chamat to the wadi (river bed) of the wilderness.”
This is prophetic of the Assyrians and subsequently the Babylonians. Yet again Mercy the Judge goes warring to save His children. He will do so through discipline, sending the invading armies through the entire land of Israel from Chamat (part of the northern border of the land (Numbers 34.1–9), all the way down to the desert stream bed in the south that borders the wilderness of Sinai. This links the coming exile to the ancient captivity of Egypt. It will be a return to bondage which reflects Israel’s turning away from God and His life giving instruction (Torah), and toward the bondage of idolatry, sin and death. However, there is hope of redemption ahead.
Copyright 2022 Yaakov Brown
We note that the Hebrew text does not say “Seek Me and you may live” as is the case in a number of English versions, but “Seek, enquire of Me and you will live”. Repentance does not come with the possibility of life but with the certainty of it.
Amos 5:1-15 (Author’s translation)
1 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey this particular Word, essence, substance this which I carry upon you all, a lament, funeral dirge house of Israel (Overcomes in God). 2 She has fallen, she will rise no more—the bride (virgin) Israel. She is pounded, cast down upon her land (soil). Nothing will raise her from it. 3 For here says the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy): “The city which goes forth a thousand will be left with a hundred, and the one which goes forth a hundred will be left with ten to the house of Yisrael Israel.” 4 For here says YHVH (Mercy) the LORD to the house of Israel: “Seek (enquire of) Me and you will live. 5 And don’t seek (enquire of) Beiyt-El Bethel (House of God, Judge) and the Gilgal (the wheel), nor enter Beersheba (well of sevens, blessing, oath); for the Gilgal will certainly go into captivity and Beiyt-El Bethel will have succumbed to trouble, sorrow, idolatry, wickedness, iniquity. 6 Seek (enquire of) YHVH (Mercy) the Lord and live, beware lest He break out like fire, house of Joseph ([YAH adds] Ephraim & Manasseh), and it will eat up and nothing quench it to Bethel, 7 those who turn to wormwood (bitterness) justice, and righteousness is put to rest on the land.” 8 The One who fashioned the seven stars (Pleiades) and the simpleton (alt. constellation [Orion]), and turns to morning the shadow of death, and day He turns to night, with darkness, Who calls to the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the face of the land, YHVH (Mercy) The Lord is His name. 9 He who makes destruction gleam upon the strong, and havoc upon the fortified city. 10 They hate him who corrects in the gate, and the one who speaks with integrity they despise. 11 Therefore, because you put heavy weights upon the poor and from his burden of grain take tribute (taxes), you have built houses of finished stone, and you will not dwell in them; your beautiful vineyards you planted, and you will not drink their wine. 12 For I know your many rebellions and your numerous sins (missing the mark set by God’s holiness), you bind the righteous and take bribes, and the poor in the gate you push aside. 13 Therefore, the prudent person in a time such as this is silent, because it’s a time of evil. 14 Seek good and not evil, so that you live; YHVH (Mercy) and so that the Lord God Who goes warring will be with you all, for that’s what you all say! 15 Hate evil, and love good, and establish in the gate, justice! Maybe YHVH the Lord God Who goes warring will be gracious to the remnant of Yosef Joseph (Ephraim & Manasseh).
Amos 5:1-15 (Line Upon Line)
1 Shimu Listen, hear, comprehend, obey et-hadavar this particular Word, essence, substance hazeh this asher which Anochiy I nose carry aleiychem upon you all, kiynah a lament, funeral dirge beiyt Yisrael house of Israel (Overcomes in God).
1 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey this particular Word, essence, substance this which I carry upon you all, a lament, funeral dirge house of Israel (Overcomes in God).
“Shimu Listen, hear, comprehend, obey et-hadavar this particular Word, essence, substance”
As is the case in chapter 3 verse 1, the opening word of this chapter “Shimu” (Shema) is well known among the people of Israel. The central prayer of the faith of the Jewish people, which is found in D’varim (Words) Deut. 6:4 begins “Shema Yisrael”, (Listen, hear, comprehend, obey Israel…). The word “shema (shimu)” is both a request and a challenge. Listen, but don’t just listen, hear. Hear, but don’t just hear, obey. Obey, but don’t just obey, walk in obedience. This is a call not only to repentance but to discipleship. It is the very essence of the Good News of our King Messiah.
What follows is the phrase “et-ha’davar”, meaning, “this particular Word, Substance, Essence”. The “et” and “ha” are both determiners, the “ha” being the definite article in Hebrew and the “et” emphasising the “ha”. Thus, in one sense the Hebrew translates as, “Very definitely, The Word”. Put concisely, this is not just any word but the Word (logos: Yeshua [John 1]).
The prophet Amos upon whose tongue God has placed these words is aware that the Word Who places the words, is present. Amos is asking Israel to receive not only the words but also the One Who both births and inhabits them. Imanu-El, With Us God, the King Messiah is manifest in the words of Amos.
This particular word which I carry upon you all
This phrase differs from chapter 3:1 in that it reveals the weight of the Word of indictment upon the prophet, upon Israel and upon the Word Himself (Yeshua).
We shouldn’t misread “this word that I take up against you” as some English versions do. To misread the text this way is to miss the fact that the grief, the weight of the indictment carried by the living Word essence of God within the prophet of God (Amos) is a manifestation of the resurrected and transcendent King Messiah Who took upon Himself our burdens. We note further that the testimony of Yeshua (the Word) is the Spirit of all prophecy, past present and future (Rev. 19:10).
God, in Messiah the Word carries the weight that is upon His people.
A lament, funeral dirge beiyt Yisrael house of Israel (Overcomes in God).
It is a dirge of mourning, a funeral song for Israel, a funeral song for the King Messiah. Israel as Amos knew her would soon pass away, but not completely.
In a similar lament God would later reveal a two-sided scroll of mourning to the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:10).
2 Nafelah She has fallen, lo-tosiyf kum she will rise no more--betulat the bride (virgin) Yisrael Israel. Niteshah She is pounded, cast down al ad’matah upon her land (soil). Eiyn mekiymah nothing will raise her from it.
2 She has fallen, she will rise no more—the bride (virgin) Israel. She is pounded, cast down upon her land (soil). Nothing will raise her from it.
The language identifies Israel as a young bride who has yet to be conquered. Therefore, falling, she will rise no more as an innocent young bride. This also speaks of her loss of purity in seeking false gods and her physical punishment at the hands of the Assyrians. We know both from prophecy and from the subsequent history that Israel does not fall never to rise again, but “never to rise again as a young bride”. The qualifying Hebrew “betulat” (young bride, virgin) informs the phrase “never to rise again”. Israel will survive through remnant and continue to be the wife of HaShem. When the northern tribes return from exile to be reunited with the remnant of Judah they will henceforth become known as Y’hudiym (Jews). History itself is evidence of this, and the prophet Hosea whose ministry preceded and converged with that of Amos prophecies it:
“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said to them, You are not my people, there it shall be said to them, You are the children of the living God.” -Hosea 1:10
The phrase “She has fallen” written in the past tense, establishes the future observed by God, which is in turn spoken into time and space in the mouth of the prophet Amos. From God’s perspective all is eternally present.
She is pounded, cast down al ad’matah upon her land (soil). Eiyn mekiymah nothing will raise her from it.
This is a reference to rape and carries a metaphorical meaning applicable to the entirety of the northern tribes. As I have already noted, Israel, the northern tribes will not recover in the land but will return to it. Nothing will resurrect her from the temporal destruction being prophesied, but God will redeem her and return her from the subsequent exile she suffers.
3 Kiy For koh here amar says Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy): “Haiyr The city hayotzeit which goes forth elef a thousand tashiyr will be left with meiah a hundred, vehayotzeit and the one which goes forth meiah a hundred tashiyr will be left with a’asrah ten leveiyt to the house of Yisrael Israel.”
3 For here says the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy): “The city which goes forth a thousand will be left with a hundred, and the one which goes forth a hundred will be left with ten to the house of Yisrael Israel.”
The meaning here is clear. Large cities will be reduced to the size of small towns and small towns to the size of a minyan (10). This connects the punishment of the northern tribes to the sin of the 10 spies who warned Israel against entering the land. It also reflects the fullness of God’s redemptive plan for Israel, ten being a number of fullness, wholeness, completion.
4 Kiy For koh here amar says YHVH (Mercy) the LORD leveiyt Yisrael to the house of Israel: “Dirshuniy Seek (enquire of) Me v’chyu and you will live.
4 For here says YHVH (Mercy) the LORD to the house of Israel: “Seek (enquire of) Me and you will live.
We note that the Hebrew text does not say “Seek Me and you may live” as is the case in a number of English versions, but “Seek, enquire of Me and you will live”. Repentance does not come with the possibility of life but with the certainty of it.
5 Ve’al-tidreshu And don’t seek (enquire of) Beiyt-El Bethel (House of God, Judge) vehagilgal and the Gilgal (the wheel), lo nor tavo’u enter uve’eir-sheva Beersheba (well of sevens, blessing, oath); kiy for the Gilgal galoh yigleh will certainly go into captivity uveiyt-Eil and Bethel yihyeh will have succumbed le’aven to trouble, sorrow, idolatry, wickedness, iniquity.
5 And don’t seek (enquire of) Beiyt-El Bethel (House of God, Judge) and the Gilgal (the wheel), nor enter Beersheba (well of sevens, blessing, oath); for the Gilgal will certainly go into captivity and Beiyt-El Bethel will have succumbed to trouble, sorrow, idolatry, wickedness, iniquity.
The counterpoint to the admonishment to “seek, enquire” of God is the warning not to “seek, enquire” of false gods (including enquiries that syncretise false gods with the God). This remains a warning to the modern believer. It has become common practice within the body of believers to syncretise our faith in the one true God of Israel with *godless popular philosophy, God denying humanist science, falsely premised Ted talks, moralism, devotional self-help (self-deification) gurus, pagan esoteric mindfulness guides and revisionist theologies. All these things join false beliefs to our Messiah essential true belief, and pollute our worship. Many of the aforementioned false guides utilize part truths which share some commonality with Biblical ideas, but pervert those ideas in much the same way Satan misuses Scripture in an attempt to tempt the King Messiah (Matt. 4:1-11).
*By far the majority of self-help gurus, mindfulness guides, and moralist philosophers of the modern age, pollute the truth by stealing pieces from it and disseminating a perversion of part truths. Part truth itself being a form of lying by omission.
The three locations named in this verse were once locations of blessing and sacred connection to the Patriarchs but have now been defiled, having become centres of idolatry.
These places connect the upper northern kingdom to the southern land that had been taken from Judah and at that point in history was controlled by the tribe of Simeon. This indictment is aimed specifically at the northern kingdom. The allusion to Beersheba relates to what the prophet will say later concerning the idolatrous practices there (8:14).
Where Israel goes up to these places of idolatrous worship they will be found and taken into captivity.
In the last clause God is making an observation of the outcome of Israel’s disobedience. If Israel doesn’t seek God, but instead seeks idolatry at Bethel, she will be overcome by her own depravity. The natural consequences of sin in the fallen world are themselves a form of punishment. “Aven” meaning “trouble” is used here as a word play against the Hebrew “avon” meaning depravity, perversity.
6 Dirshu Seek (enquire of) et YHVH (Mercy) the Lord v’chyu and live, pen-yitzlach beware lest He break out kaeish like fire, beiyt yoseif (YAH adds) house of Joseph (Ephraim & Manasseh), ve’achelah and it will eat up ve’eiyn-mechabeh and nothing quench it le’veiyt-El to Bethel,
6 Seek (enquire of) YHVH (Mercy) the Lord and live, beware lest He break out like fire, house of Joseph ([YAH adds] Ephraim & Manasseh), and it will eat up and nothing quench it to Bethel,
The region of the Bashan mentioned in the previous chapter connects Manasseh and Ephraim. This is the area to the east of the Jordan that the forebears of Manasseh, Gad and Reuven had requested (Num. 32; Josh. 13:15-23). The house of Joseph (Manasseh & Ephraim) in particular are singled out and admonished to seek the LORD. However, both Joseph and Ephraim are used as synonyms terms for Israel, as the ethnic noun relates to the northern tribes in general.
We note that the text reads as a warning. “Seek the LORD and live, beware lest He break out like fire…” This reference uses language usually associated to the LORD breaking out against Israel’s enemies (2 Sam. 5:20; 1 Chron. 14:11). Its use here is intended to sober up its hearers with the reality that they, being God’s chosen, have made themselves enemies not only of God but also of one another.
7 Hahofechiym those who turn lela’anah to wormwood (bitterness) mishpat justice, utzedakah la’aretz hin’yichu and righteousness is put to rest on the land.”
7 those who turn to wormwood (bitterness) justice, and righteousness is put to rest on the land.”
The embitterment of justice and the putting to rest or casting down to the ground of righteousness is an idiom that conveys desecration. It is used in a similar way in Daniel 8:12.
Ephraim and Manasseh were acting unjustly, intentionally withholding justice and turning the practice of justice into something ungodly. Therefore, not only had they brought bitterness on those being oppressed but would also reap bitterness as a result of the demise of society through injustice.
We see something similar today in western democracies where heinous crimes receive inconsequential punishments and victims are further harmed by both the process of law and its outcomes. In our modern societies, through democratic legislation, we have not simply neglected the poor, we have also become intentional oppressors of the victims of crime, often under the guise of grace and forgiveness. Our mistake has been to enact forgiveness toward the unrepentant, something the Scripture does not teach. To the contrary, the Scripture teaches that forgiveness is offered to all but that only the repentant receive it.
It is not secularism but a false gospel that has informed much of our modern law reform (so called). The reformation of something does not necessarily mean the improvement of something.
8 The One who oseih fashioned chiymah the seven stars (Pleiades) uchesiyl and the simpleton (alt. constellation [Orion]), vehofeikh and turns laboker to morning tzalmavet the shadow of death veyom and day He turns laylah to night, hechshiykh with darkness, hakorei Who calls lemeiy-hayam to the waters of the sea vayishpecheim and pours them out al peneiy on the face ha’aretz of the land, YHVH (Mercy) The Lord shemu is His name.
8 The One who fashioned the seven stars (Pleiades) and the simpleton (alt. constellation [Orion]), and turns to morning the shadow of death and day He turns to night, with darkness, Who calls to the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the face of the land, YHVH (Mercy) The Lord is His name.
The standard English translation of this text is usually rendered “The One who fashioned the Pleiades and Orion.” This is acceptable, but the Hebrew literally says “The One who fashioned the seven stars and a constellation,”. Additionally, the Hebrew “kesiyl” (uchesiyl) is a word that means both “constellation” and “simpleton”. Therefore, an equally valid reading is “The One who fashioned the seven stars and the simpleton,” which would convey the idea that God is the Creator of the majestic stars and of the simplest human being, bringing the universe into perspective as that which exists in its entirety within God.
The former reading would simply be understood as a Hebraic poetic coupling of like things “seven stars… and constellations”.
Regardless of how we read the first clause, the verse as a whole conveys the creation and adds to what God has already begun to say in the previous chapter in reference to the creation narrative of Genesis 1. These words are intended to return Israel to repentant awe and away from idolatry. Their tiny false gods are no match for the Creator of all things.
9 Hamavliyg shod He who makes destruction gleam al-az upon the strong, veshod and havoc al-mivtzar upon the fortified city.
9 He who makes destruction gleam upon the strong, and havoc upon the fortified city.
God forms destruction from the actions of the wicked making it to shine in place of the gleam of strength. In an ironic turn of phrase the Hebrew is equivalent to saying “destruction will spoil the gleam of strength”. This is to say that God will show Israel just how weak her own strength is. By trusting in her own strength she has weakened herself because her own strength is born of her fallen actions.
10 Sane’u They hate him vasha’ar mochiyakh who corrects in the gate, vedoveir tamiym and the one who speaks with integrity yeta’evu they despise.
10 They hate him who corrects in the gate, and the one who speaks with integrity they despise.
Amos was one of those who corrected the people at the gate. The gate was the ancient location of counsel, city governance, spiritual direction etc. The elders of the community met at the gate of the city to decide maters, hold court, allocate funds, and listen to the counsel of both secular and religious leaders. Had the majority of the elders of Israel’s cities been wise they would have heeded the warning of the prophets and shown respect for the wise counsel of the men of integrity. Sadly they did the opposite.
When we despise the words of men and women of integrity because we are offended based on the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we too become like the wicked of the generation of Amos. God has gifted us teachers and shepherds of integrity for our good. Are we listening to them or are we despising them?
11 Lachein Therefore, ya’an because you boshaschem put heavy weights al-dal upon the poor umasat-bar and from his burden of grain tikchu mimenu take tribute (taxes), bateiy gaziyt beniytem you have built houses of finished stone, velo-teishevu and you will not dwell in them; vam karmeiy-chemed your beautiful vineyards neta’tem you planted, velo and you will not tishtu drink et-yiyinam their wine.
11 Therefore, because you put heavy weights upon the poor and from his burden of grain take tribute (taxes), you have built houses of finished stone, and you will not dwell in them; your beautiful vineyards you planted, and you will not drink their wine.
The strong among the northern tribes have stolen from what little grain the poor person carries home on his shoulder. The houses of the wicked are built using funds gained from the oppression of the poor. However, they will not get to enjoy their opulent stone homes or the wine from their carefully tended vineyards. The God of Israel will bring justice to the poor, weak and oppressed.
12 Kiy For yadatiy I know rabiym pisheiychem your many rebellions va’atzumiym chatoteiychem and your numerous sins (missing the mark set by God’s holiness), tzorereiy tzadiyk you bind the righteous lokecheiy khofer and take bribes, ve’evyoniym and the poor basha’ar in the gate hitu you push aside. 13 Lachein Therefore, hamaskiyl the prudent person ba’eit in a time hahiy such as this yidom is silent, kiy eit ra’ah hiy because it’s a time of evil.
12 For I know your many rebellions and your numerous sins (missing the mark set by God’s holiness), you bind the righteous and take bribes, and the poor in the gate you push aside. 13 Therefore, the prudent person in a time such as this is silent, because it’s a time of evil.
This is a further indictment against wicked governance which is predicated on rebellion and multiplied by the sins that come from rebellion.
The prudent remnant among the people do not participate in the unjust rule of Israel’s cities and towns. They remain silent at this point because the majority have refused to listen to wise counsel. Thus, the wise recognise that the people are unteachable and withhold their pearls (metaphorical). The prophet of course has no such option, he is called by God to proclaim warning and pronounce the coming judgement.
We should not therefore make false judgements between the witness of individual believers related to their unique callings in God. Some are tasked with proclamation, others with silence. The one who does as God instructs him is righteous regardless of the opinions of other believers.
14 Dirshu-tov Seek good ve’al-ra and not evil, lema’an so that tichyu you live; vihiy-chein YHVH (Mercy) Eloheiy-tzevaot and so that the Lord God Who goes warring itechem will be with you all, ka’asher amartem for that’s what you all say!
14 Seek good and not evil, so that you live; YHVH (Mercy) and so that the Lord God Who goes warring will be with you all, for that’s what you all say!
In spite of all the wilful rebellion of Israel God continues to admonish her to seek good. We note that God defines good, and that to seek good is essentially synonymous with seeking God. This is an invitation to right relationship with God. To seek good is to seek the nature of God, whereas to seek evil is to seek the product of the created being who enacted (rebellion) the first idolatry (Satan).
“So that you will live” is an expression of consequence. Those who seek good reap life.
“and so that the Lord God Who goes warring itechem will be with you all, ka’asher amartem for that’s what you all say!”
God is always with Israel. What is meant here is that God will be with the righteous as the Merciful Judge Who goes warring on their behalf.
The tragedy in the text is the observation “for that’s what you say”. This indicates Israel’s lip service to YHVH, Whom they claim is with them and approving of their apostate behaviour. God is saying “Rather than claim that you have my favour while acting wickedly, why not act righteously and actually benefit from My manifest favour?”
15 Sinu-ra Hate evil, ve’ehevu tov and love good, vehatziygu and establish vasha’ar mishpat in the gate, justice! Ulay Maybe yechenan YHVH Eloheiy-tzevaot the Lord God Who goes warring will be gracious to she’eriyt the remnant of Yosef Joseph (Ephraim & Manasseh).
15 Hate evil, and love good, and establish in the gate, justice! Maybe YHVH the Lord God Who goes warring will be gracious to the remnant of Yosef Joseph (Ephraim & Manasseh).
Hate evil, ve’ehevu tov and love good, vehatziygu and establish vasha’ar mishpat in the gate, justice!
Here Israel’s king, her judges and governors, her religious leaders and secular authorities are offered a solution to the injustice at their gates: “Hate evil, and love good, be intentional about establishing justice according to My Torah (Instruction)”!
In his letter to the Roman body of believers Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) makes a drash (comparative application) concerning dedication to the service of God in accordance with the just practice of love. As part of the drash Shaul quotes the prophet Amos, saying:
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Hate that which is evil; cling to that which is good.” -Rav Shaul’s Letter to the Roman Ecclesia 12:9
“Maybe YHVH the Lord God Who goes warring will be gracious to the remnant of Yosef Joseph (Ephraim & Manasseh).”
These words read as a hopeful petition by the prophet Amos on behalf of Israel (synonymous with Ephraim and Joseph). The prophet knows that Israel’s disciplining is firmly established and yet carrying the heart of Messiah Yeshua as Moses and Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) did [Ex. 32:32; Rom. 9:3], Amos nonetheless pleads grace. Of course God is continually offering grace, the outcome for the northern tribes has been made certain not by a lack of grace on God’s part but by the perpetual rebellion of the people. However, redemption lies ahead.
Copyright 2022 Yaakov Brown
Being unprepared when we have been warned is sin. Neither culture nor personality are an excuse for laziness, inaction.
Amos 4 (Author’s translation)
1 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey this particular Word, essence, substance, you cows of the Bashan (a fruitful place) who are on the mountain of Samaria (Guardians), you are the oppressors of the poor, weak, vulnerable, the crushers of the needy; the speech to their lords (masters) is, “Enter, and drink!” 2 This swears Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy) in His holiness, “For behold, now, pay attention, days are coming upon you all, and you will be lifted up on spears (piercing things), and your posterity (issue, children) in fish pots. 3 And bursting forth you will go out, a woman conspicuous, and you will be thrown out to the Harmon (alt. the flat topped mountain),” declares YHVH (Mercy ) the Lord. 4 “Enter Bethel (House of God, Judge) and rebel; at the Gilgal (the wheel) make great your rebellion! And bring to the morning, your blood sacrifices, after three days from tithes (pl. tenth part). 5 And offer a sacrifice of smoke from yeast, a thanksgiving, and proclaim freewill offerings, making them heard. For this you all love, children of Israel,” declares Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy). 6 “And also I gifted to you clean teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord. 7 “And also, I withheld from you the particular rain continually for the three months before harvest. And I caused it to rain upon one city, but on another city I did not cause it to rain; a portion of one was rained on, and another portion not rained on would wither. 8 And staggering, two or three cities go to another city to drink water, and are not sated; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord. 9 “I struck you all with blight and mildew which increases in your orchards, and vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees, which have been devoured by worms/locusts; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord. 10 “I sent among you a plague in the way of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses, and the stench of your camps rose up in your nostrils; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord. 11 “I overturned you all, like when as Elohim as God/Judge I overthrew Sodom (burning) and Gomorrah (submersion), and you were like a log snatched from burning; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.12 “Therefore this I will do to you, Yisrael; as a consequence for it, I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, Yisrael.” 13 For behold, now, pay attention, He who forms mountains and creates breath, spirit, wind, and tells to a person what he is thinking, He who fashions dawn, hovering/covering, and treads upon the high places of earth, YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Elohay God/Judge tzevaot Who goes warring is His name.
Amos 4 (Line Upon Line)
1 Shimu Listen, hear, comprehend, obey hadavar hazeh this particular Word, essence, substance, you parot cows habashan of the Bashan (fruitful) asher who behar are on the mountain Shomeron of Samaria (Guardians), you are ha’oshekot the oppressors daliym of the poor, weak, vulnerable, harotzetzot the crushers evyoniym of the needy; ha’omerot the speech la’adoneiyhem to their lords (masters) is, “Haviyah Enter, venishtah and drink!”
1 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey this particular Word, essence, substance, you cows of the Bashan (a fruitful place) who are on the mountain of Samaria (Guardians), you are the oppressors of the poor, weak, vulnerable, the crushers of the needy; the speech to their lords (masters) is, “Enter, and drink!”
Shimu Listen, hear, comprehend, obey hadavar hazeh this particular Word, essence, substance…
Once again the word “shema (shimu)” is both a request and a challenge. Listen, but don’t just listen, hear. Hear, but don’t just hear, obey. Obey, but don’t just obey, walk in obedience. This is a call not only to repentance but to discipleship. It is the very essence of the Good News of our King Messiah.
What follows is the phrase “hadavar hazeh”, meaning, “the word, this specific thing”. Where the former chapter speaks of “et hadavar” the specific Word of God (Yeshua) in terms of His person, the words that follow here are a specific warning emanating from the specific Word [Person] (logos: Yeshua [John 1]). The Creator of the universe speaks through the essence of creation to the created, and in particular to the unique and chosen people of Israel.
You cows habashan of the Bashan (fruitful) asher who behar are on the mountain Shomeron of Samaria (Guardians)…
Bashan is an area in the north of Israel located east of the Jordan river, and spans the tribal allotments of Gad, Reuven, and the half tribe of Manasheh. Bashan was known for its fertile soil and fruitful pasture land.
The cows (easily enticed wayward people of Gad, Reuven, and the half tribe of Manasheh) had been herded southward to the idolatrous centre in Samaria. The city of Samaria was the capital of Ephraim’s territory (Isa. 7:9), and a centre where all the northern tribes gathered at times. The northern kings held court in Samaria. Ahab is called “King of Samaria” (1 Kings 21:1).
This metaphor speaks to the docile behaviour of the people in allowing themselves to be so easily led into idolatry and the resulting injustice. More specifically the feminine noun “Parot” (cows, not bulls) denotes well feed women, in this case the elite women of the half tribe of Gad, Reuven, and the half tribe of Manasheh, and of the northern tribes in general.
The Targum paraphrases this metaphor to read:
“You rich of substance”
In one of his Messianic Psalms, king David uses a similar metaphor in reference to those rich and powerful men (bulls) who have come against him. He calls them “the strong of Bashan” (Psalm 22:12). Therefore, Bashan is synonymous with fat cattle, who, lacking no good thing, are easily led into making poor decisions.
You are the oppressors daliym of the poor, weak, vulnerable, harotzetzot the crushers evyoniym of the needy…
The upper class women in particular and the people of the north in general, are being indicted for their intentional oppressing of the poor and their cruelty toward the vulnerable. This sin is inflated by the fact that they are harming fellow Israelis. They are not being accused of simply neglecting the poor, rather they are being called out on their intentional abuse of the poor and vulnerable. This kind of social injustice destroys the perpetrator as well as the victim. Failure to strengthen the weakest portion of the community results in weakening the whole community, making it vulnerable to destruction. Therefore, the punishment that is coming upon Israel at this point in her history is the natural outworking of her sin. By her actions she has essentially punished herself. We would do well to consider this in light of our own conduct. God offers to deliver us from self-harm.
“A merciful person does himself good,
But the cruel person does himself harm.” -Mishlei (Proverbs) 11:17 NASB
the speech la’adoneiyhem to their lords (masters) is, “Haviyah Enter, venishtah and drink!”
This is an intentionally ambiguous reference that likens the speech of the elite women to their husbands (adoneiyhem [lords]) to the speech of Israel to her false gods (adoneiyhem [lords]).
The Targum further illuminates the meaning by rendering the speech as:
“give us power, that we may spoil it.”
2 Nishba This swears Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy) bekadesho in His holiness, “Kiy For hineih behold, now, pay attention, yamiym days baiym are coming aleiychem upon you all, venisa etchem and you will be lifted up betzinot on spears (piercing things), ve’acharitechen and your posterity (issue, children) besirot dugah in fish pots.
2 This swears Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy) in His holiness, “For behold, now, pay attention, days are coming upon you all, and you will be lifted up on spears (piercing things), and your posterity (issue, children) in fish pots.
This swears Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy) bekadesho in His holiness,
God is Named Adonay “Lord” over adoneiyhem “their lords”, referred to in the previous verse, and in spite of the fact that He has every right as a jilted Husband to judge without mercy, He is nonetheless Named YHVH, the unpronounceable Name which denotes mercy.
There is no greater expression of a vow than this. When God swears He swears by Himself and His holiness from which His character is expressed. Like the word “hineih” that follows, this is an awesome call to attention.
“Kiy For hineih behold, now, pay attention, yamiym days baiym are coming aleiychem upon you all…
The use of “hineih” following the vow of God emphasises the immediacy of the warning and the certainty of the coming punishment.
The text does not say that the days of discipline might come, but that they are coming.
you will be lifted up betzinot on spears (piercing things), ve’acharitechen and your posterity (issue, children) besirot dugah in fish pots.
There are numerous variations in the English translation of these phrases, however the Hebrew is fairly simple and is using an idiomatic turn of phrase that indicates the impaling of the adults of Israel and the consumption of their progeny and achievements.
It is an allusion to the king of Assyria and his invading force, who by the hand of God will enact the just punishment of God against the people of Israel.
The impaling of captives on tall spears reflects a form of torturous death employed by the ancient Egyptians and thus points back to past oppression and suffering.
There is also a connection to this imagery in the prophecy of Jeremiah recorded later in Israel’s history (Jer. 16:16).
The Targum reads:
“That people shall take you away on their shields, and your daughters in fishermen's boats;”
3 Uferatziym And bursting forth teitzenah you will go out ishah a woman negdah conspicuous, vehishlachtenah and you will be thrown out to haharmonah the Harmon (alt. the flat topped mountain),” neum declares YHVH (Mercy ) the Lord.
3 And bursting forth you will go out, a woman conspicuous, and you will be thrown out to the Harmon (alt. the flat topped mountain),” declares YHVH (Mercy ) the Lord.
This continues the metaphorical language describing the coming exile. Like a woman conspicuously escaping through a breech in a city wall Israel will be exposed while trying to escape the invading Assyrians and will be easily captured and exiled.
We note that it is YHVH, Mercy Who speaks these words of judgement, and are reminded yet again that His Mercy both precedes and is the result of His judgement.
4 “Bo’u Enter Bayt-El Bethel (House of God, Judge) ufishu and rebel; hagilgal at the Gilgal (the wheel) harbu make great lifshoa your rebellion! Vehaviyu And bring laboker to the morning, zivcheiychem your blood sacrifices, lishloshet after three yamiym days ma’seroteiycham from tithes (pl. tenth part).
4 “Enter Bethel (House of God, Judge) and rebel; at the Gilgal (the wheel) make great your rebellion! And bring to the morning, your blood sacrifices, after three days from tithes (pl. tenth part).
Enter Bayt-El Bethel (House of God, Judge) ufishu and rebel; hagilgal at the Gilgal (the wheel) harbu make great lifshoa your rebellion!
Bayt-El (Bethel) had become a centre of idolatrous worship in the north and is named here with palpable irony. The tribes of the north enter a place once honoured by God in connection to the patriarch Jacob and now, at this point in Israel’s history, dishonoured by syncretistic worship and unbiblical sacrifices. Israel enters the “House of God/Judge” with the intention of rebelling. Thus, the northern tribes are judged and found wanting by their own actions. Their apostacy is no accident.
“Ufishu” from “pasha” the Hebrew root meaning rebellion is used again to show the intrinsic connection between idolatry (the root of all sin) and its fruit rebellion. Rebellion being the father of the many subsequent manifestations of sin.
Gilgal was an Israelite camp west of the Jordan river and east of Jericho. It was a location where Samuel the prophet judged Israel and where Saul the first king of Israel was ordained, and It was yet another main centre of idolatrous worship for the northern tribes (5:5, 27; 6:7; 7:11, 17 cf. Hos. 4:15). Israel’s former request for a king like the other nations was itself an act of idolatry and a root for the national sin manifest during the days of the prophecy of Amos.
The doubling up of the word “pasha” rebellion, and the references to multiple locations of idolatrous worship firmly establish the indictment concerning the sin of the people.
And bring laboker to the morning, zivcheiychem your blood sacrifices, lishloshet after three yamiym days ma’seroteiycham from tithes (pl. tenth part).
This is to say:
“Bring your apostate blood sacrifices to your counterfeit altar on high places not approved by God, go about your superstitious three day rituals and bring your tithes, which should have instead been brought to Jerusalem. By all means pretend to follow some small aspect of what’s commanded in the Torah by syncretising it with the practices of idol worship. Go ahead, practice your sin, see what happens…”
“After three days from tithes” can be understood to mean that the tithes that should have been brought to Jerusalem are instead being used in sacrificial rites at an apostate location in the north (Samaria, Bethel etc.).
5 Ve’kateir And offer a sacrifice of smoke mechameitz from yeast todah a thanksgiving, vekiru and proclaim nedavot freewill offerings, hashmiyu making them heard, known. Kiy For kein this ahavtem you all love, beneiy children Yisrael of Israel (Overcome in God, Judge),” neum declares Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy).
5 And offer a sacrifice of smoke from yeast, a thanksgiving, and proclaim freewill offerings, making them heard. For this you all love, children of Israel,” declares Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy).
And offer a sacrifice of smoke mechameitz from yeast todah a thanksgiving…
The sarcasm continues regarding Israel’s apostate practices. God commands in the Torah that yeast not be offered with a burnt offering:
“‘No grain offering, which you bring to YHVH, shall be made with yeast, for you shall not offer up in smoke any yeast or any honey as an offering by fire to YHVH.’” -Vayikra (Leviticus) 2:11 (Author’s translation)
Yeast represents sin. To offer a symbol of sin to God as a gift is abhorrent. Ironically, the actions of the northern tribes in syncretising heathen worship are well represented in an offering of a symbol of sin. They have at this point in history, been repaying God’s love with sin filled rebellion.
Modern Christians are in no position to pass judgement. It has been taught among Christians for millennia that Yeshua’s parable of the yeast permeating the dough likens the Gospel’s spread in relationship to the kingdom of God, to yeast that spreads through the world (Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:20-21). Thus, the message of the Gospel is compared to an established (throughout the TaNaKh [OT]) symbol for sin. Like the offering of yeast by the northern tribes, the comparing of the Gospel to yeast is abhorrent.
and proclaim nedavot freewill offerings, hashmiyu making them heard, known.
Not only are the sacrifices and offerings apostate they are also being practiced as nothing more than a show of piety, an act of spiritual pride performed for others to see.
Yeshua the King Messiah later addresses the hypocrisy of performance based religion:
“5 And they do all their deeds to be noticed by other people; for they broaden their [a]phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6 And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the seats of honor in the synagogues, 7 and personal greetings in the marketplaces, and being called [b]Rabbi by the people.” -Matthew 23:5-7 NASB
Are we guilty of performance based religion? How might we seek the strength of Messiah in order to change our behaviour to meet God’s standard of holiness?
For kein this ahavtem you all love, beneiy children Yisrael of Israel (Overcome in God, Judge),” neum declares Adonay the Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy).
At this time in our history our modus operandi was to seek glory for ourselves at the expense of the vulnerable and in direct opposition to the commandments of God. Ironically the things we loved to do were acts of hatred not only against the poor but also toward ourselves. The same is true today. Only the true love of God can deliver us from our self-destructive behaviours.
6 “Vegam And also Aniy I nataiy lachem gifted to you nikyon clean shinayim teeth behkol in all areiychem your cities, vechoser and lack of lechem bread behkol in all mekomoteiychem your places; velo-shavtem yet you have not continually returned aday to Me,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
6 “And also I gifted to you clean teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
And also Aniy I nataiy lachem gifted to you My nikyon clean shinayim teeth behkol in all areiychem your cities…
The “cleanness of teeth” may be a euphemism for famine as some suggest, or it may refer to God bearing His teeth at Israel in an act of anger. The later seems most likely given the prophesied invasion of the cities. We note that the discipline of famine and physical harm is considered a gift.
and lack of lechem bread behkol in all mekomoteiychem your places…
This is clearly a metaphor for famine (2 kings 8:1). The phrase “in all your places” indicates nationwide famine. Israel is being given these physical warnings of famine and invasion as a call to repentance. Again, famine is “gifted” to Israel. Suffering that leads to repentance is a redemptive gift of God.
velo-shavtem yet you have not continually returned aday to Me,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
This phrase appears five times in this chapter. It is a heart breaking observation that indicates Israel’s constant turning away from God in spite of the many warnings and the physical discipline God has given in order to provide an opportunity for repentance.
The Hebrew does not simply say “you have not returned to me” but “you continually choose not to return to me”. This is a description of a way of life rather than the addressing of a singular act of rebellion. At this point in our history we were wilfully and continually turning our backs on God.
7 “Vegam And also, Anochiy I manatiy withheld mikem from you et-hageshem the particular rain be’od continually for the sheloshah three chadashiym months lakatyir before harvest. Ve’himtartiy And I caused it to rain al-iyr echat upon one city, ve’al-iyr achat lo amtiyr but on another city I did not cause it to rain; chelkah a portion achat of one timateir was rained on, ve’chelkah asher-lo timateir and another portion not rained aleyah on tiyvash would wither.
7 “And also, I withheld from you the particular rain continually for the three months before harvest. And I caused it to rain upon one city, but on another city I did not cause it to rain; a portion of one was rained on, and another portion not rained on would wither.
The withholding of the timely rains that precede the harvest is a kind of shock and awe campaign. Without these rains the harvest would be meagre and famine perpetuated due to poor seed return. We note that as a counterpoint to Israel’s perpetual turning away the rains are perpetually withheld. When one rejects the supplier of water, water is withheld. Therefore, our sinful actions are self-harm.
In addition to this God had brought about erratic rainfall within smaller locations so that on one side of a city rain fell and on the other the land dried up. As a result there would have been in fighting among the inhabitants of the city and a tendency for those who benefited from rainfall to hoard supplies. All of this accentuates the rebellious modus operandi of the people at that time.
8 Ve’nau And staggering shtayim two or shalosh three ariym cities el-iyr achat go to another city lishtot to drink mayim water, ve’lo and are not yisbau sated; ve’lo shavtem yet you have not continually returned aday to Me,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
8 And staggering, two or three cities go to another city to drink water, and are not sated; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
A lack of food from grain and fruiting trees was one thing, but a lack of drinking water is another thing altogether. Water is primary to human survival, without it we die.
In spite of Israel experiencing these hardships she had not turned toward God. This repetition of the phrasing “yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord” becomes weightier when we realise that Israel had sought help during the famine and drought that resulted from God’s discipline, but they had not sought it from God. This means that false deities were being sought and or syncretised worship practices employed in order to invoke demonic spiritual support for Israel’s practical problems.
9 “Hikeiytiy I struck etchem you all bashidafon with blight uvayeirakon and mildew harbot ganoteiychem which increases in your orchards, vecharmeiychem and vineyards ute’eineiychem and your fig trees vezeiyteiychem and your olive trees, yochal which have been devoured hagazam by worms/locusts; ve’lo shavtem yet you have not continually returned aday to Me,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
9 “I struck you all with blight and mildew which increases in your orchards, and vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees, which have been devoured by worms/locusts; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
Every time a discipling action is alluded to the phrase “yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord” follows. And each time the heart condition of the people is exposed.
The fruiting trees described represent prosperity and celebration (wine, figs), healing and spiritual strength (olives). The metaphor exposes the spiritual and physical decay of the souls of the people.
10 “Shilachtiy I sent vachem among you dever a plague bederekh in the way Mitzrayim of Egypt; haragtiy vacherev bachureiychem I killed your young men with the sword, im sheviy suseiychem along with your captured horses, va’a’aleh be’osh machaneiychem and the stench of your camps rose up uveapechem in your nostrils; ve’lo shavtem yet you have not continually returned aday to Me,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
10 “I sent among you a plague in the way of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses, and the stench of your camps rose up in your nostrils; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
I sent vachem among you dever a plague bederekh in the way Mitzrayim of Egypt…
This can be understood to be likening the punishment of God against Israel during the time of Amos to the plagues of Egypt (Ex. 7-12), or to the plague Israel experienced on her way out of Egypt on her journey in the desert (Num. 16:46). The later seems more likely given that the Hebrew reads bederekh “in the way”, rather than “in Egypt”.
11 “Hafachtiy I overturned vachem you all, kemahpeichat like when as Elohim as God/Judge I overthrew et-sidom ve’et-amorah Sodom (burning) and Gomorrah (submersion), vatihyu keod and you were like a log mutzal snatched misereifah from burning; ve’lo shavtem yet you have not continually returned aday to Me,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
11 “I overturned you all, like when as Elohim as God/Judge I overthrew Sodom (burning) and Gomorrah (submersion), and you were like a log snatched from burning; yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
The list of literal and metaphorical calamities reaches its crescendo with this reference to Sodom and Gomorrah. This allusion is multifaceted in that it infers that Israel’s sins have caused her to descend to depths of depravity equal to those of Sodom and Gomorrah. The destruction therefore will be similar, however God in His mercy reached in and grabbed Israel from the burning fire (a reference to the fiery sulphur that rained on Sodom and Gomorrah) like a log pulled out before it can be consumed, charred but in one piece. We note that the metaphor puts the hand of the one who delivers the log at risk of harm. God has given of Himself in order to deliver Israel.
“Yet you have not continually returned to Me,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.”
12 “Lachein Therefore koh this e’eseh-lekha I will do to you, Yisrael; ekev as a consequence kiy for zot it, a’eseh-lakh I will do this to you, hikon likrat-Eloheiykha Yisrael prepare to meet your God, Israel.”
12 “Therefore this I will do to you, Yisrael; as a consequence for it, I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, Yisrael.”
This draws together all the imagery of the previous verses and denotes both terrifying punishment and reconciliatory promise.
Therefore koh this e’eseh-lekha I will do to you, Yisrael; ekev as a consequence kiy for zot it, a’eseh-lakh I will do this to you…
I will punish you in a terrible way as a consequence of your sinful actions.
prepare to meet your God, Israel.
The way the reader receives this phrasing determines the outcome. A refusal to prepare will result in meeting God the Judge of Israel, while choosing to prepare through returning to YHVH (Mercy) in repentance will mean suffering the consequence of sinful actions in the physical world, but also being given an opportunity to meet YHVH in the desert of exile on a journey that returns Israel to the land of promise.
The principle can be applied by all believers. Are we ignoring God’s admonishment of preparation and thus reaping self-destruction, or are we walking in repentance and receiving God in an intimate meeting between Creator and creation.
The repentant prepare and receive mercy from the Judge, while the unprepared are condemned. Being unprepared when we have been warned is sin. Neither culture nor personality are an excuse for laziness, inaction.
13 Kiy For hineih behold, now, pay attention, yotzeir He who forms hariym mountains uvorei and creates ruach breath, spirit, wind, umagiyd and tells leadam to a person mah-sheicho what he is thinking, oseh He who fashions shachar dawn eiyfah, hovering/covering vedorekh and treads al upon bamoteiy aretz the high places of earth, YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Elohay God/Judge tzevaot Who goes warring Shemo is His name.
13 For behold, now, pay attention, He who forms mountains and creates breath, spirit, wind, and tells to a person what he is thinking, He who fashions dawn, hovering/covering and treads upon the high places of earth, YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Elohay God/Judge tzevaot Who goes warring is His name.
For hineih behold, now, pay attention, yotzeir He who forms hariym mountains uvorei and creates ruach breath, spirit, wind…
The Lord reminds Israel that He is the Creator. That He both forms that which is created and creates life, the human spirit (ruach) from nothing.
The ruach (wind), created from nothing, moves the dust of the earth. The ruach (breath) of God gives neshama (eternal convergent existence) to the dust, forming humanity. The ruach (spirit) of human beings is created by HaRuach (The Spirit) Elohiym of God.
and tells leadam to a person mah-sheicho what he is thinking…
The ambiguity seems intentional. God is the nearest subject but the person is the nearest object. Therefore, God both knows every thought of a human being before it is thought and speaks His divine thoughts to human beings according to their ability to receive His Word.
He who fashions shachar dawn eiyfah, hovering/covering vedorekh and treads al upon bamoteiy aretz the high places of earth,
This is an allusion to the creation account of Genesis 1. The Spirit of God hovers over the deep and forms the earth. He is Creator and Ruler over all things.
Additionally and with regard to the apostate worship which was being performed at the time of the prophecy of Amos, God treads on the highest places used by the wicked as shrines to false gods. He grinds all idols to dust beneath His feet. By necessity all that is made has a beginning. The God of Israel has no beginning or end, He is all existing and therefore has no maker.
Throughout Scripture the names of persons are used as a summation of their character attributes. When Israel is lost in rebellion what is the Name of her God?
YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Elohay God/Judge tzevaot Who goes warring Shemo is His name.
His Name is “Mercy the Righteous Judge Who goes warring to save His people”.
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2022
The word “shema” is both a request and a challenge. Listen, but don’t just listen, hear. Hear, but don’t just hear, obey. Obey, but don’t just obey, walk in obedience.
Amos 3 (Author’s translation)
1 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey this particular Word, essence, substance this which YHVH (Mercy) the Lord has spoken upon you, children of Israel, upon the entire family which I brought up from the land of Egypt: 2 “Only you I know from all families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your depravity.” 3 How can two people walk in unity except if they are in agreement? 4 Will a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Will a young lion employ his voice from his den except if he has caught something? 5 Will a bird fall into a snare on the ground if there is no bait in it? Will a trap rise up from the earth, and seize nothing at all? 6 If a rams horn is blown in a city, will the people not quake with terror? If an evil, distressful disaster occurs in a city, has YHVH (Mercy) the Lord not fashioned it? 7 Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God does not speak a word unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. 8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? Adonay YHVH (Mercy) The Lord God has spoken! Who can stop himself from prophesying? 9 Proclaim on the palaces in Ashdod and on the citadels in the land of Egypt and say, “Gather on the mountains of Samaria and see the great turmoil within her and the oppressions in her midst. 10 And they don’t know how to fashion what is straight,” utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord, “these storers of violence and havoc in their palaces.” 11 Therefore, this is what Adonay YHVH the Lord God says: “An adversary, will circle the land, and take down your might from you, and plunder your citadels.” 12 This is what YHVH (Mercy) the Lord says: “Like when the shepherd snatches from the mouth of the lion two legs or a piece of an ear, so will the children of Israel be snatched away who dwell in Samaria — in a corner of a bed, and in Damascus from a couch! 13 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey and bear witness in the house of Jacob,” utters Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God, Eloheiy the God Who goes warring.14 “For in the day that I number Israel’s rebellions, I will also number upon the altars of Bethel; and cut off the horns of the altar, and they will fall to the ground. 15 And I will slay the harvest house upon the summer house; the houses of ivory will also perish, and the great houses will come to an end,” utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
Amos 3 (Line Upon Line)
1 Shimu Listen, hear, comprehend, obey et-hadavar this particular Word, essence, substance hazeh this asher which diber YHVH (Mercy) the Lord has spoken aleiychem upon you, b’neiy Yisrael children of Israel, al kol-hamishpachah upon the entire family asher which he’eleiytiy I brought up mei’eretz from the land of Mitzrayim (double distress) Egypt:
1 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey et-ha’davar this particular Word, essence, substance this which YHVH (Mercy) the Lord has spoken upon you, children of Yisrael (overcome in God), upon the entire family which I brought up from the land of Egypt (Mitzrayim: double distress):
“Shimu Listen, hear, comprehend, obey et-hadavar this particular Word, essence, substance”
The opening word “Shimu” (Shema) is well known among the people of Israel. The central prayer of the faith of the Jewish people, which is found in D’varim (Words) Deut. 6:4 begins “Shema Yisrael”, (Listen, hear, comprehend, obey Israel…). The word “shema (shimu)” is both a request and a challenge. Listen, but don’t just listen, hear. Hear, but don’t just hear, obey. Obey, but don’t just obey, walk in obedience. This is a call not only to repentance but to discipleship. It is the very essence of the Good News of our King Messiah.
What follows is the phrase “et-ha’davar”, meaning, “this particular Word, Substance, Essence”. The “et” and “ha” are both determiners, the “ha” being the definite article in Hebrew and the “et” emphasising the “ha”. Thus, in one sense the Hebrew translates as, “Very definitely, The Word”. Put concisely, this is not just any word but the Word (logos: Yeshua [John 1]).
The prophet Amos upon whose tongue God has placed these words is aware that the Word Who places the words, is present. Amos is asking Israel to receive not only the words but also the One Who both births and inhabits them. Imanu-El, With Us God, the King Messiah is manifest in the words of Amos.
“this which YHVH (Mercy) the Lord has spoken upon you, b’neiy Yisrael”
It’s a mistake to translate “aleiychem” as “against you [pl.]”. A translation employed by a number of English versions of the text.
Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of Hebrew knows that this common contraction of “al” (upon) and “l’chem” (to you [pl.]) means “upon you”. This is why we respond to the colloquial phrase “Shalom aleiychem” with the words “Aleiychem shalom”. “Peace be upon you”, and the response “Upon you be peace”.
The common English translation “against” misunderstands the Biblical Hebrew worldview. In the same way that Amos carries the burden of God’s Word upon himself, the people of Israel carry the weight of the Word of God’s rebuke upon themselves. God’s Word is not “against” Israel but “upon” her. It is not punitive but instructional. The weight of God’s rebuke is heavy only so long as Israel remains unrepentant. Through repentance that which was heavy becomes light. This is one of the reasons Yeshua says:
“Come to me, all you that labour and are heavy with burden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am gentle and lowly (close to the earth) in heart (core being): and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” -Mattitiyahu (Matthew) 11:28-30 (Author’s translation)
Given that like the prophet’s name Amos (burden), the word he carries is made a burden upon the children of Israel. We should remember that Amos himself is an Israelite of the tribe of Judah. Thus the prophet identifies with the people. He doesn’t see himself as separated from the people in relationship to his ethnic and religious identity, rather he is distinct from those who are walking in disobedience to God’s instructions.
“upon the entire family which I brought up from the land of Mitzrayim (double distress) Egypt:”
This word is clearly indicated as being for all the tribes of Israel including Judah and Benjamin. In the context of Amos when Israel is used of the northern tribes alone a distinction is made by the lack of qualifying terms. Here, Israel is qualified as “the entire family which I brought from the land of Egypt”.
2 “Rak Only etchem you yada’tiy I know mikol from all mishpechot families ha’adamah of the earth, soil, dirt; al-kein therefore efkod I will punish aleichem you eit kol-avonoteiycham for all your depravity.”
2 “Only you I know from all families of ha-adamah the earth (the substance from which humanity is created in union with the breathe of God [neshamah]); therefore I will punish you for all your depravity (avon).”
These are the words of a devoted husband who has eyes only for the wife of his youth. They’re spoken to a wife who has nonetheless slept around on him and welcomed his affection only so far as it serves her lust filled goals.
We note that the Hebrew specifies that God’s choosing of Israel distinguishes her among all human beings. The phrase “ha-adamah” reflects the creation of humanity from the “adamah” dirt of the earth.
This is an intimate reminder of the fact that God’s relationship with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a familial relationship between Father and sons. When Jacob went down to Egypt he was 70 in total (Gen. 46:27; Ex. 1:5; Deut. 10:22), a family numbered according to the symbolism of the fullness of the nations (Gen. 10). God is reminding Israel that even before her trial of slavery and bondage He had set her apart to belong to Him. Like a bride preparing for her wedding in this sin affected world, Israel was proved through her trial and matured in her suffering.
3 Hyeikechu shenayim How can two people walk yachdav in unity biktiy except im if noadu they are in agreement?
This question begins a series of rhetorical questions denoting cause and effect. Ultimately the rhetorical question that sums up the series would be, “How is it possible that you have been clearly warned by God of coming destruction (the just response to your sin,) and have been directed as to how you might escape it, and yet have chosen to ignore Him?”
This first rhetorical metaphor alludes to God and His chosen people, two men who are not walking in unity because they do not agree on the foundational doctrines of morality.
This does not teach that believers must agree on everything, rather it teaches that unless two agree on the foundational premise for the way they walk, they cannot walk together. The context does not address agreement between Israelites (though that too is important), but agreement between God and Israel.
Put simply, if two men arrange to meet at a given point in order to begin a journey (walk), but one of the men later decides of his own fruition that he thinks he should meet his friend at another time and place entirely, and doesn’t inform his friend of the changed plans, the two will neither meet nor begin their journey together.
With regard to God and Israel, the two had agreed together at Sinai on the holy standard set by God in order for their right relationship to continue. However, while they began the journey together, at some point Israel decided that she knew better and left the path. By doing so, Israel had put herself in a position equal to that of those who refuse to agree to God’s moral standard in the first place. Thus, at the time of the prophecy of Amos, Israel was not in agreement with the foundational principle of her relationship with God. Therefore, “How can two people walk in unity except if they are in agreement?”
To walk in unity with God is to agree with Him, that we have fallen short of His moral standard and accept His grace enacted in mercy, so that we can once again walk unashamed with our Creator.
4 Hayishag aryeih Will a lion roar baya’ar in the forest veteref eiyn when he has no prey? Hayitein Kefiyr kolo Will a young lion employ his voice mimeonato from his den biltiy except im if lachad he has caught something?
4 Will a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Will a young lion employ his voice from his den except if he has caught something?
In this metaphor the Lion is HaShem and the prey is Israel. Israel is living in idolatrous comfort believing that the forest is quiet, but the lion is roaring and roaring means He is on the prowl for prey. The right response would be for the prey to cower and seek refuge (refuge is something that according to His nature, God offers perpetually to Israel). However, Israel has numbed herself to the danger (Jer. 5:6; Nahum 2:11), and at this point in her history is perpetually turning away from God (with the exception of the righteous remnant, inclusive of the prophets).
5 Hatipol tzipor Will a bird al pach fall into a snare on ha’aretz the ground umokeish eiyn lah if there is no bait in it? Haya’aleh-pach Will a trap rise up min ha’adamah from the earth, dirt, ground velachod and seize lo yilkod nothing at all?
5 Will a bird fall into a snare on the ground if there is no bait in it? Will a trap rise up from the earth, and seize nothing at all?
While this is another rhetorical question intended to convey the idea that all the coming destruction is inevitable, it is nonetheless also an allusion to the self-destructive behaviour of Israel. Israel has fallen for the bait of sin and death: the false gods, the sexual depravity and the injustice of the neighbouring nations. The snare indeed has been thrown skyward to catch the bird Israel, who has willingly sought out the lure and has become entangled in the fruit of her own sinful choices.
We note that two different words for earth are used: ha-aretz (the land) and ha-adamah (soil). The metaphor speaks of the bait of sin being present in the violated creation, thus “the land”, while also being particularly associated with “Ha-aretz” the Land of Israel. Alongside this are the very building blocks of humanity, “ha-adamah” (the soil) and the “Neshamah” (life breath of God convergent with the soil). These two hold the sin affected human being to account by way of a just snare.
The trap springs up from the beginning of creation and captures the violator of creation, that person who has refused life and invited sin and death. The redemptive solution is always on offer. The offer of salvation being present before the creation of the worlds (1 Peter 1:19-20; Rev. 13:8).
6 Im yitaka shofar If a rams horn is blown beiyr in a city, ve’am will the people lo yecheradu not quake with terror? Im tihyeh ra’ah If an evil, distress, disaster occurs beiyr in a city, has YHVH (Mercy) the Lord lo asah not fashioned it?
6 If a rams horn is blown in a city, will the people not quake with terror? If an evil, distressful disaster occurs in a city, has YHVH (Mercy) the Lord not fashioned it?
Once again it is not a “trumpet” but the shofar (rams horn) which combines the symbolic meanings of warning and substitutionary sacrifice.
The plain meaning (p’shat) being that people in a war torn area who hear the sound of the rams horn become terrified knowing that their city of residence is on the brink of destruction.
“If an evil, distress, disaster occurs in a city, has YHVH (Mercy) the Lord not fashioned it?”
The rhetorical question has an obvious plain meaning. However, some misinterpret it to their detriment.
The foolish notion that God is not in control of evil is silenced here. God is not guilty of evil, nor is He complicit, rather He created the possibility of evil in order that love might be manifest through freewill. Knowing the end from the beginning God also sacrificed Himself in Messiah before the creation of the worlds, thus providing the solution to the problem of evil before the problem of evil existed (1 Peter 1:19-20; Rev. 13:8).
“But he said unto her, ‘You speak in the same way the foolish women speak. What are you saying? Should we receive good at the hand of God, and not receive evil?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” -Job 2:10 (Author’s translation)
The satanic forces are subject to God. He puts in order all things both good and evil for His divine purposes of holiness and redemption. In God all things exist and have their being, nothing exists outside of God, therefore the forces of evil are reliant on God for their continued existence. If evil comes, God has not only allowed it, He has set it in order for the purpose of good. Because evil relies on God, who is good, for its existence, evil is subject to good. Thus, evil cannot overcome good. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.” (John 1:5)
Put simply, the rhetorical question is, “Do you seriously believe God is not in control of the evil that happens?”
Consider the alternative, if evil is not under God’s control, who controls it? If Satan controls evil and that control is not subject to God, is Satan outside of God’s control? A curse on that lie! The false idea that there is balance between good and evil is a lie seeded by Satan.
The reality is this: God is all existing, Satan is created, the created thing is subject to the Creator. Therefore, the battle of good and evil is the battle between a Papermaker and a piece of paper. The Papermaker finds that the paper has been defiled with vile words, so He lights a match and the paper is incinerated. The battle between Good and Evil is like a battle between an ocean of universes and a speck of dust beneath a toenail.
7 Kiy lo ya’aseh For Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God does not davar kiy im galah speak a word unless He reveals sodo His secret el-avadayv to His servants haneviyiym the prophets.
7 Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God does not speak a word unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
This verse qualifies the former verse by explaining that God has both ordered and given warning regarding the destruction (evil) that is to come. He has not quietly arranged the destruction of the people in response to their sin. He has instead given them every opportunity to repent. This has always been his modus operandi with regard to Israel and humanity as a whole. The prophets are like emergency workers sent to give news of the approaching disaster and direct people to shelter (repentance, reconciliation). Fools who disregard the warning of the emergency workers will always reap what they have sown.
“The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him; and He will show them his covenant.” -Psalms 25:14 (Author’s translation)
8 Aryeih sha’ag A lion has roared! Miy lo era Who will not fear? Adonay YHVH (Mercy) The Lord God diber has spoken! Miy lo yinava Who could stop himself from prophesying?
8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? Adonay YHVH (Mercy) The Lord God has spoken! Who can stop himself from prophesying?
The Lion, God Himself has roared fair warning. The prophet Amos is incredulous, the rhetorical question sour on his tongue. By the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) it’s as if Amos were saying:
“I can’t help but prophecy this warning to you because of my devotion to God and the realisation that I need to repent and rely on God’s grace and the manifestation of His mercy. How is it that you [pl.] are not terrified of God? How is it that you are not repenting and prophesying warning to others?”
9 Hashmiyu Proclaim al on armenot the palaces be’ashdod in Ashdod (Violent despoiler) veal-armenot and on the citadels be’eretz in the land of Mitzrayim Egypt (double distress) veimru and say, “Heiasfu Gather al on hareiy the mountains shom’ron of Samaria (Guardians) ureu and see the mehumot rabot great turmoil betochah within her va’ashukiym and the oppressions bekirbah in her midst.
9 Proclaim on the palaces in Ashdod and on the citadels in the land of Egypt and say, “Gather on the mountains of Samaria and see the great turmoil within her and the oppressions in her midst.
Amos, by the Spirit declares that the coming punishment upon Israel is to be made known to Israel’s neighbours. The nations must learn that God shows no partiality. All must know that God is just and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.
Within the historical context of this message, how were Israel and Judah (v.13), and the surrounding nations to hear the prophetic warning?
To make a modern comparison we would say that the ancient prophets of Israel were the equivalent of self-published writers with a very small immediate audience. They travelled, certainly, but in and of themselves they did not have the reach required to ensure that all for whom the message was intended would receive it. Even when the ministries of three or four prophets overlapped their collective resources could not have spread the message nationally or internationally. Therefore, there was an element of great trust in the obedience of the prophets. A trust placed in God for the spread of the message, and the fullness of its redemptive outcome.
So how did the message of the prophets spread and become popular knowledge (as indicated by the prophetic word itself)? It spread by word of mouth from one righteous person to the next and was proclaimed not only by fellow prophets but also by common people of righteous faith, people the Scripture refers to as a righteous remnant.
No prophet could hope to be effective based on his own personal reach, rather the spread of the prophetic word relied on the obedience of the faithful remnant community. Some would travel through dangerous lands to convey the message they had received from the Lord via the prophet, others would share the message with their children who in turn would pass it on to their friends and so on. A farmer, a house wife, a stone mason, a builder, a vine tender, a harvester, from the highest echelons of society to the impoverished street person, those who were of the faithful remnant spread the message of warning throughout Israel and Judah and into the neighbouring nations.
How can I be so certain of this? After all, I don’t live in ancient Israel. My certainty, like the trust of the prophets, is born of and reliant on God, Who is just. Justice demands an accurate indictment, the opportunity for the guilty to face their accuser, and a fair trial. This has always been the modus operandi of the King of Justice, YHVH (Mercy).
“and say, ‘Gather on the mountains shom’ron of Samaria (Guardians) and see the great turmoil within her and the oppressions in her midst.’”
The plain meaning points to the neighbouring nations standing on the high places of Samaria in the territory of the ten northern tribes of Israel in order to witness Israel’s punishment. This of course denotes Israel’s future exile and the desecration of the shrines of idolatrous worship constructed on the high places.
The neighbouring nations are called to bear witness to Israel’s punishment. They are called to gather on the mountains of Shom’ron (Guardians). The remez (hint at deeper meaning) here is that of guardianship. The nations are to gather in the midst of the guardians of Israel and look upon the discipline that the guardians of Israel meet out upon her according to God’s instruction. The malakhiym (angelic guardians) who surround Israel, surround her for her protection. Both her protection from outside threats and protection from the threats within. The greatest of the threats within being idolatry.
10 Velo-yadeu And they don’t know asot-nechochah how to fashion what is straight,” neum utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord, “ha’otzriym these storers chamas of violence vashod and havoc be’armenoteiyham in their palaces.”
10 And they don’t know how to fashion what is straight,” utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord, “these storers of violence and havoc in their palaces.”
The Targum reads, “And they know not how to practice the Torah”.
At this point in our history, we Israelites have so neglected God’s written word that we no longer know how to obey it due to our being devoid of it. Instead we store up sinful violence and practice injustice within our cities and palaces.
11 Lachein Therefore, ko this is what amar Adonay YHVH the Lord God says: “Tzar An adversary, useviyv will circle ha’aretz the land, vehorid and take down mimeich uzeich your might from you, venavozu and plunder armenotayich your citadels.”
11 Therefore, this is what Adonay YHVH the Lord God says: “An adversary, will circle the land, and take down your might from you, and plunder your citadels.”
This refers to the king of Assyria, who invaded the land of Israel in the days of king Hoshea, and conquered Samaria, carrying Israel captive (2 Kings 17:6).
12 Ko This is amar what YHVH (Mercy) the Lord says: “Ka’asher Like when yatziyl haroeh the shepherd snatches mipiy from the mouth ha’ariy of the lion sheteiy two chera’ayim legs or a vedal-ozen piece of an ear, kein so will yinatzelu b’neiy Yisrael the children of Israel be snatched away hayosheviym who dwell beshomeron in Samaria — bif’at mitah in a corner of a bed uvidmeshek and Damascus ares on a couch!
12 This is what YHVH (Mercy) the Lord says: “Like when the shepherd snatches from the mouth of the lion two legs or a piece of an ear, so will the children of Israel be snatched away who dwell in Samaria — in a corner of a bed, and in Damascus from a couch!
The plain meaning is that only a small remnant of the northern tribes will survive the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions.
“Israel are scattered sheep; the lions have driven away: first the king of Assyria has devoured him; and last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has broken his bones.” -Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) 50:17 (Author’s translation)
The phrase “in Samaria in a corner of a bed” can be understood multiple ways. First, it speaks of the very corner of the tribal land and therefore means that all will be affected from the Greatest to the least. Second, it may be a metaphor for cowardice, hiding in the corner of the bed. Third, a metaphor for poverty, having only a corner to lie in.
The phrase “Damascus on a couch” refers to the residents of Damascus, the then capital of the kingdom of Aram, being comfortable, sitting on luxurious couches thinking themselves secure. However, Damascus was taken around the same time Samaria was.
The Targum reads “that dwell in Samaria, in the strength of power, trusting in Damascus.” Inferring that the northern tribes had begun to place their trust in the foreign power Aram. Some Israelites even living in Damascus. Regardless, both Aram and Israel would be conquered.
13 Shimu Listen, hear, comprehend, obey vehaiydu and bear witness beveit Ya’akov in the house of Jacob (follower),” neum utters Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God, Eloheiy the God hatzeva’ot Who goes warring.
13 Listen, hear, comprehend, obey and bear witness in the house of Jacob,” utters Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God, Eloheiy the God Who goes warring.
Once again the Hebrew “Shimu (Shema)” is employed. Listen, but don’t just listen, hear. Hear, but don’t just hear, obey. Obey, but don’t just obey, walk in obedience.
“Bear witness in the house of Jacob” is a declaration to the prophets, and the righteous remnant who live within all Israel (inclusive of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin).
As is the case elsewhere in the TaNaKh (OT), two witnesses of a matter are established by the third witness, God Himself (Deut. 19:15). The first witness being the neighbouring nations (v.9), and the second being the prophets and righteous ones within Israel’s borders (present verse).
“Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God, Eloheiy the God hatzeva’ot Who goes warring.”
Three titles for God are expressed here. “Adonay”, meaning Lord, Master, “YHVH”, the unpronounceable proper noun which denotes mercy*, and “Eloheiy Hatzevaot” meaning, “God Who goes warring”. The Hebrew “tzevaot” is an intense plural form of “tzava”, to go forth in war. Thus, “God Who goes warring.” These three names teach us that God is the Merciful Lord Who goes warring against sin and death. We are not to diminish His character in our own eyes by saying that He is a pacifist, nor that He is devoid of mercy when He disciplines. We accept and hold the mysterious tension of His holiness with awe.
*In Jewish tradition it is written:
"The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to those, You want to know my name? I am called according to my actions. When I judge the creatures I am Elohim, and when I have mercy with My world, I am named YHWH" (Exodus Rabbah 3:6).
In Scripture Elohim is the Name given for God as the Creator of the universe (Gen 1:1-2:4a) and implies strength, power, and justice, whereas YHVH, expresses the idea of God's closeness to humans. For example, YHVH "breathed into his (Adam's) nostrils the breath of life" (Genesis 2:7). Closeness to humanity only continues in the sin affected world and beyond through YHVH's mercy.
14 “Kiy For beyom in the day pakediy that I number fisheiy Yisrael Israel’s rebellions, alayv ufakadtiy I will also number al-mizbechot upon the altars of Beiyt El Bethel (House of God); venigdeu and cut off karnot the horns hamizbeach of the altar, venafelu and they will fall la’aretz to the ground.
14 “For in the day that I number Israel’s rebellions, I will also number upon the altars of Bethel; and cut off the horns of the altar, and they will fall to the ground.
“For beyom in the day pakediy that I number fisheiy Yisrael Israel’s rebellions”
We note that the coming day of numbering is not a possibility but a certainty. “When”, not “if”.
The language of “numbering” is a measure of accountability and a sort of listing, in this case a listing of sins recorded in the indictment against Israel. Specifically, the root “pasha” (rebellion) is addressed. The idolatrous act of rebellion forms the foundation for all other types of sin.
“I will also number al-mizbechot upon the altars of Beiyt El Bethel (House of God)”
Not only does God bring to account the general sins of Israel, He also very specifically numbers the many infractions of idolatrous syncretism performed at the apostate centre of worship in Bethel.
Bethel was the location of one of the calves Jeroboam fashioned in a vile re-enactment of Israel’s idolatry at the foot of Sinai (Choreb)[Ex. 32; 1 Kings 12:28].
God, through the prophet, brings His indictment upon “altars”, meaning multiple altars set up in worship of multiple deities and in connection with the misuse of God’s Name (Hosea 8:11).
“and cut off karnot the horns hamizbeach of the altar, venafelu and they will fall la’aretz to the ground.”
Having mentioned multiple heathen altars He now speaks of the primary apostate altar of Bethel, that being the rosh (head) over all other altars. It had been constructed in direct opposition to the singular altar of Mt Tziyon in Jerusalem. It is likely that the primary altar at Bethel was a replica of the altar in Jerusalem. No matter how detailed a counterfeit is, the maker of the genuine article can always tell the difference.
The phrase “cut off the horns” refers both to the literal cutting off of the horns of the altar where blood was sprinkled in provocation of efficacy, and to the removal of the fourfold strength* of the heathen altar (a horn at each corner).
*Throughout the TaNaKh (OT) horns are seen to represent strength.
15 Vehikeiytiy And I will slay beiyt-hachoref the harvest house al-beiyt hakayitz upon the summer house; veavedu bateiy the houses hashen of ivory will also perish, vesafu batiym rabiym and the great houses will come to an end,” neum utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
15 And I will slay the harvest house upon the summer house; the houses of ivory will also perish, and the great houses will come to an end,” utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
The idiom denotes full destruction from seed time to harvest. Destruction that continues over a period of at least a year.
Additionally, it seems that the king of the northern tribes may have had both a winter and a summer house, each residence serving him according to the seasonal changes. A modern example would be that of a financially stable resident of Canada’s northern regions wintering in Colorado.
In Jewish tradition it is noted that the king of Moab had a chariot (described in the ancient text as a “house”) made from ivory, and 1 Kings 22:39 says that king Ahab built a house of ivory.
The Jewish commentator Radak explains:
“This was the custom of the kings to make themselves a house for the winter and a house for the summer, and it is also said of Jehoiakim ‘the king sits in the winter house in the ninth month’, and concerning the chariot of the king of Moab it is written ‘and the house of the tooth which he built’, the tooth is the tooth of the elephant from which we make certain crafts:” -Radak on Amos 3:15
“the great houses will come to an end,” neum utters YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
This is a reference to the houses of the wealthy and in particular to the many houses of the king of Israel.
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2022
Will He relent? The answer is “Most certainly not!” Because He is holy He is loving, because He is loving He is just, because He is just He cannot allow injustice to go unaccounted for.
This chapter concludes the opening prophetic indictment against the nations with words spoken against Moav (one of Israel’s greatest historic enemies). The last nation to be charged is, Y’hudah and Yisrael. No, this isn’t a grammatical error, Judah and Israel, in spite of their being divided into two separate kingdoms at this point in history, are nonetheless am echad, one people, a complex unity. So complex in fact as to be a divided unity. This in part is what God is addressing through the prophet Amos.
Reconciliation to God means reconciliation to one another. Through destruction and exile (Assyria, Babylon) God will unite and return Israel to the land as a whole people. That people will return to Judea to the remnant of the tribe of Judah and thus from the conclusion of the Babylonian exile onward all the tribes of Israel become known colloquially as “Y’hudiym” (Jews), from their association with Y’hudah (Judea).
Effectively the opening words of indictment expressed in the scroll of Amos (Ch. 1 & 2) have addressed the neighboring enemies of all Israel [all 12 tribes] (many of whom Israel had formerly been charged with eradicating from the land) in descending order, from the then most recently active to that first and perhaps most notorious of enemies Moav, who came against Israel seeking to curse and annihilate her as she wandered out of Egypt toward the land of promise (Num. 22-25).
The litany of charges (Ch. 1 & 2) addresses first the sin of the nations’ regarding universal moral law and then the sin of Judah and Israel regarding their violating of the sacred covenant made between God and their forebears.
The charges against Judah and Israel are more detailed and have far reaching consequences. However, ultimately the final consequences of Israel’s discipline are her redemption, reconciliation, and restoration. This, because YHVH (Mercy) the God of Israel has purposed in the love that radiates from His holiness, to redeem Israel and the nations by His own everlasting blood through the King Messiah Yeshua (Who is fully God and fully man).
Amos Chapter Two (Author’s translation)
1 Here is what YHVH, the Lord says: “Upon three rebellions of Moav, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon his burning bones of a king of Edom to whitewash. 2 And I will send fire in Moav and it will eat the citadels of Keriyot; and death in an uproar will come to Moav amid the sounding of judgement in the voice of a shofar. 3 And I will cut off a judge from her inner part and all her princes will be slain with him,” says YHVH the Lord. 4 Here is what YHVH, the Lord says: “Upon three rebellions of Y’hudah, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon their rejecting the Instructions YHVH of the Lord and the prescribed limits they have not guarded; and astray they wander because of lies which their fathers walked in. 5 And I will send fire upon Y’hudah, and it will eat the citadels of Yerushalayim.” 6 Here is what YHVH, the Lord says: “Upon three rebellions of Yisrael, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon their selling for silver a righteous one and the needy in order to get a pair of sandals. 7 That breathe heavily upon dust of the land on the head of the ones who are low, and the way of the humble they have bent, and a man and his father enter the same servant girl with intent to pollute My Holy Name. 8 And upon clothing bound in pledge stretched out near every altar (of slaughter), and the wine of those condemned, fined, they drink in a house of their God. 9 “And I, indeed I destroyed the Amorite from before their faces, whose height was like cedars height and strong was he, like oaks, yet I destroyed his fruit from higher up still and his roots from beneath. 10 And I, yes I caused you all to ascend from the land of Egypt and you all walked in the desert forty years to take possession of the land from the Amorites. 11 And I raised up from your children some to be prophets, and from your young men some to be Nazirites. Is this not so, children of Israel?” declares YHVH the Lord. 12 “And you forced the Nazarites to drink wine, and you placed upon the prophets, orders saying, ‘You shall not prophesy!’ 13 Behold, now, pay attention! I am making a rut beneath you, like that which is made by the pressing of the cart when it’s filled with sheaves of grain. 14 And escape will perish from the swift, and the strong will not be strengthened because of his power, and the mighty will not deliver his soul. 15 And the one who grasps the bow will not stand, the swift in foot will not slip away, and the rider of the horse will not save his soul. 16 And the mighty of heart among the mighty ones, will flee naked in that day,” declares YHVH the Lord.
Amos Chapter Two: Line Upon Line
1 Here is what amar YHVH (Mercy), the Lord says: “Al Upon sheloshah three pisheiy rebellions of Moav (from his father), ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu I will not turn away, al upon sarfo his burning atzmot bones of Melekh a king of Edom (red: descendants of Esau) lasiyd to lime, whitewash.
A heinous root of sin was established in Moab (a people related to Israel being descended from Lot Abraham’s brother) from conception. Moab being the son born to Lot’s eldest daughter through incest (Gen. 19:30-38).
Moab later became notorious as a people for their hatred of Israel and their calling on the false prophet Bala’am (not of the people) to curse Israel as she journeyed out of Egypt toward the land of promise (Num. 22-25).
Moab’s many sins included horrific idolatrous practices in worship of the false gods Chemosh (Subduer) and Ba’al Peor (husband, master, lord of the cleft/gap [2 Kings 11:7, 33]). Hosea, one of the contemporaries of Amos writes:
“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first ripeness in the fig tree in her first fruiting time: but they went to Baal Peor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according to their love.” -Hosea 9:10
Israel, having been delivered by God from slavery in Egypt and brought out of the desert into the land of promise, had none the less rejected YHVH and gone after the demonic husband Ba’al Peor, God of the Moabites (enemies and haters of Israel).
Jeremiah (48:13) likens the shame of Moab’s worship of Chemosh to Israel’s apostate worship at Bethel. God is indicting Moab while pointing toward Israel’s syncretism. Thus, the indictment of Moab is also the beginning of the indictment against all of Israel.
It’s worth noting that Moav means “from his father”. This is significant because it points to the indictment against Judah in verse 4 which says that Judah has gone astray “because of lies which their fathers walked in.”
“upon his burning bones of a king of Edom to lime, whitewash.”
The Targum (a second century CE Aramaic translation of the Scriptures), and the Jewish commentators Yarchi and Kimkhi say that a ruler of Moab burnt the bones of a king of Edom until they became powder likened to lime, and then used the powder in a recipe for plaster which he used to plaster the walls of his palace in order to show contempt for Edom.* This is consistent with what we know of the ancient practice of using bone ash in formulas for paint and cosmetics.
* Scholia in Targum in loc.
Bone ash (called “lime” in English translations of the TaNaKh [OT]) “was used in ancient formulas for white paint and cosmetic pigments, and in the cupellation process to separate silver from lead..”*
. Phosphate Minerals. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. 2010. p. 3.
. Charvat, Petr (2003). Mesopotamia Before History. Taylor & Francis.
It appears highly likely that the king in question was the heir to the throne of Edom whom the king of Moab offered as a burnt sacrifice to his gods on the wall of Edom’s defences, as recorded in 2 Kings 3:26-27.
While in many cases the bone ash used to whitewash tombs and that utilized in ancient cosmetics was derived from the calcination of animal bones, the indictment used here infers the use of the ash of the bones of a king of Edom as whitewash. This is a vile desecration of moral law concerning the sanctity of human life and the honouring of human remains. The Torah says that blood guilt remains on the land and cannot be atoned for except by the blood of the one guilty of shedding that innocent blood (Num. 35:33).
This reference to whitewash may also further illuminate the meaning of Yeshua’s words:
“27 Alas, Oiy, a warning to you, scribes and Perushiym (Set apart ones), hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed (limed) tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 In the same way, you appear outwardly righteous to people, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and devoid of law (without Torah).” -Mattitiyahu (Matthew) 23:27-28 (Author’s translation)
2 Veshilachtiy And I will send eish fire bemoav in Moab ve’achlah and it will eat armenot the citadels of ha-Keriyot (literally “cities”: specifically a city in the territory of Moab); umeit and death beshaon in an uproar will come to Moav bit’ruah amid the sounding (teruah: shofar sound of warning and judgement) bekol in the voice shofar of a ram’s horn.
“And I will send fire in Moab and it will eat the citadels of ha-Keriyot”
Ha-Keriyot can be understood as both “all the cities” and as a specific city of Moab (Jer. 48:24). Either way, destruction against the entire people of Moab is denoted.
Just as Moab had offered a king of Edom on the walls of Edom’s defences, as a burnt sacrifice to their false gods (2 Kings 3:26-27), so now God will burn Moab and devour its cities.
“and death in an uproar will come to Moav amid the sounding (teruah: shofar sound of warning and judgement) in the voice of a ram’s horn.”
It’s not a “trumpet” as many English translations mistranslate (a trumpet is usually made of silver, brass etc.), but a shofar (ram’s horn) that is sounded in this verse. The symbolic significance of the ram’s horn finds its origin in Ha-Akeidah (the Binding of Isaac Gen. 22).
The shofar warning of coming judgement through warfare which is sounded from the beginning of the scroll of Amos (in the name of his town), is here reiterated against Moab. In the midst of battle and destruction she will hear again the warning call of the shofar of God, a reminder that she had every opportunity to repent and did not. In like manner the final great shofar blast (Tekiah Gedolah) announcing Yom Ha-Din (the Judgement Day) will strike terror into the hearts of those who have rejected God’s warning and offer of redemption.
3 Vehichratiy And I will cut off (kill) shofeit a judge mikirbah from her inner part vekol-sareyah and all her princes eherog will be slain imo with him,” amar says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
“And I will cut off (kill) a judge from her inner part and all her princes will be slain with him,” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.”
Most scholars agree that the judge in question is probably the king of Moab who acted as judge over the people. This is supported by the following clause which alludes to the princes or sub-rulers of Moab being slain. This took place five years after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem (589-587 BCE).*
* Josephus Antiquities of the Jews l. 10. c. 9. sect. 7.
4 Here is what amar YHVH (Mercy), the Lord says: “Al Upon sheloshah three
pisheiy rebellions of Y’hudah (Praise), ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu
I will not turn away, al upon mo’osam their rejecting et-torat the Instructions YHVH (Mercy) of the Lord vechukayv and the prescribed limits lo shamaru they have not guarded; vayat’um and astray they wander kizveiyhem because of lies asher-halechu avotam achareiyhem which their fathers walked in.
“Upon three pisheiy rebellions of Y’hudah, even upon four”
Having addressed all the neighbours of Israel and Judah, the prophet now speaks the word of the LORD to the chosen people Israel, beginning with the tribe of Judah (including Benjamin) and concluding with the northern tribes, here called Israel as distinct from Judah. We note that God is just, judging Judah with the same formula used in judgement of the heathen nations that neighbour her.
“upon their rejecting the instructions of the Lord and the prescribed limits, they have not guarded;”
The indictment against Judah differs in regard to the specific laws that Judah has broken. Being ignorant of the specific laws of distinction commanded to Israel the nations had nonetheless sinned in regard to the universal laws of morality contained in the Torah as an indictment against all sin. Judah on the other hand had sinned not only in regard to general morality but also in regard to the very specific laws given by God to His chosen, set apart people. Laws relating to identity, purity, cleanliness, worship etc.
Judah has rejected “et-torat” the instructions contained within the wealth of holy Scriptures which were accessible to them at that point. Including, but not limited to the Torah, parts of the record of the kings, the writings of Solomon, the psalms of David, and numerous early prophetic works.
We note that while many claim “torat”, (teachings), refers to the Torah alone, they can’t explain why the text uses “et-torat”, meaning the instructions or teachings, rather than “Ha-Torah”, which refers specifically to the five books of Moses. The Torah is of course part of the greater number of instructions being alluded to, but it is not the only instruction that had been given to Israel by that time in her history.
The Hebrew “vechukayv” translated “and commands” in most English versions of the Bible, does not carry the same meaning as the Hebrew “mitzvot” but is from the root “chok” meaning “limit”, denoting prescribed boundaries, portions, and civil conduct. It is specifically used to point toward the social injustices being committed within the framework of God’s justice.
“and astray they wander because of lies which their fathers walked in.”
Judah hasn’t just wandered, she continues to wander. She has gone astray because of generational sin. Her father’s, forebears, having adopted the idolatry of the inhabitants of the land and syncretised (mixed it into) their worship of YHVH the God of Israel, have passed on their sin to the subsequent generations.
The Jewish commentator Kimkhi notes that the “lies” referred to were those of the false prophets. Regardless of the origin of the lies, the point is that Judah had traded the truth of HaShem for lies.
5 Veshilachtiy And I will send eish fire bey’hudah upon Judah (Praise), ve’achlah and it will eat armenot the citadels of Yerushalayim (Flood of Peace) Jerusalem.”
“And I will send fire upon Judah, and it will eat the citadels of Jerusalem.”
“God is no respecter of persons”, meaning, He shows no partiality. Thus the punishment against Judah mirrors that of her neighbours (Aram [1:4], Gaza [1:7], Tyre [1:10], Edom [1:12], Amon [1:14], Moab [2:2]).
The temple of the most High God (YHVH), and the palaces of the king of Judah and his princes were burned with fire when Jerusalem was taken by the Babylonian army, approximately two hundred years after this prophecy (589-587 BCE).
6 Here is what amar YHVH (Mercy), the Lord says: “Al Upon sheloshah three pisheiy rebellions of Yisrael (overcomes in Elohiym), ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu I will not turn away, al upon, michram their selling bakesef for silver tzadiyk a righteous one ve’evyon and the needy ba’avur, in order to get na’alayim a pair of sandals.
“Upon three rebellions of Yisrael, and upon four”
While Israel in the form of the northern tribes is being delineated as a unique entity, the pursuant allusion to the deliverance from Egypt draws on the united experience of the twelve tribes of Israel. Therefore, in part, the judgement against the northern tribes is also an indictment against Judah. This is of course not the case where specific northern locations and sin practices are referred to.
“upon, their selling for silver a righteous one”
In this context, given that disregard for God’s et-torat (instructions) is the premise for the judgement, it is likely that the plain meaning “selling for silver a righteous one” alludes to the sale of a man who is without debt, this being akin to slavery and contrary to Torah (Deut. 15:7-11; Lev. 25:39-43).
The singular phrasing “a righteous one” seems intentional and looks back to the sinful actions of Joseph’s brothers and forward to the sinful actions of Judah Ish-kariyot. Notice that Judas Iscariot is Judah “ish” a man from “keriyot”, Judas who betrayed Messiah was from the chief city of Moab (which in the first century C.E. was no longer a Moabite city).
The rabbis who arranged Amos 2:6-3:8 as the Haftarah (completion/fulfilment of instruction) portion for Va-yeshev [And dwelt Jacob] (Gen. 37:1-40:23) [the Torah portion that recounts the selling of the righteous man Joseph into slavery] clearly understood this phrase to have prophetic significance.
“and the needy, in order to get a pair of sandals.”
This describes the heinous act of selling on an indentured poor person for a pitiful sum, thus openly devaluing that person. This is also in direct opposition to the command concerning those poor who have no other choice but to sell themselves into indentured service. The Torah requires justice in these circumstances and the release of that person at the end of their term of service (Lev. 25).
7 Hasho’afiym That breathe heavily al upon afar-eretz dust of the land berosh on the head daliym of the ones who are low, vederekh and the way anaviym of the humble yatu they have bent, ve’iysh and a man veaviv and his father yelechu enter el-hana’arah the same servant girl lema’an with intent to chaleil pollute et-sheim kadshiy My Holy Name.
“That breathe heavily upon dust of the land on the head of the ones who are low”
This is a Hebrew idiom that speaks directly to the oppression of those in the community who are suffering. Again, this contradicts the Torah, which states:
“You shall not pervert the justice that is owed to your needy brother in his dispute. 7 Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty.” -Shemot (Exodus) 23:6-7
“and the way of the humble they have bent”
The humble are not synonymous with the poor as some wrongly conclude. This is in fact referring to the righteous remnant who walk humbly before God (Micah 6:8). This particular indictment therefore, regards the intentional harming of the livelihood and future of the righteous ones living among the community.
“a man and his father enter the same servant girl”
Not only is the sharing of the same woman by father and son considered repugnant universally, it is also very specifically outlawed by Torah (Lev. 18:7-8, 15; 20:11-12). Additionally, using any woman in this way, be she a servant or otherwise, was strictly forbidden. According to the Torah, women were to be honoured and cared for in the ancient Israelite community. Where a man received sex from a woman he was obligated to marry and provide for her in a age when survival as an abandoned woman was difficult (Ex. 22:16; Deut. 22:28-29).
“with intent to pollute My Holy Name.”
While many read this phrase as being a separate indictment against idolatry which is unrelated to the sexual sin named in the previous clause, I understand it as being related.
The sexual sin in the previous clause is made more heinous due to the fact that the man and his son in question are performing these acts as part of a syncretised worship practice which names the God of Israel. It is an abhorrent desecration of the Holy Name that unites the immoral sexual sin act with the worship of false gods, and links the entire practice to the worship of the God of Israel.
As modern believing men we may look upon this vile sin retrospectively from our position in history and say, “Thank God that I haven’t done anything that terrible”. And yet, today, believing men and their sons lust after the same actresses, sportswomen and models. Yeshua says:
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 And I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” -Matthew 5:27-28
Rather than smugly tutting our tongues at Israel, we would do well to repent and rely on Messiah’s strength to maintain our walk with integrity.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” -Exodus 20:17 KJV
8 Ve’al-begadiym And upon clothing chavuliym bound in pledge yatu stretched out eitzel near kol-mizbeiach every altar (of slaughter), ve’yiyn and the wine of anushiym those condemned, fined, yishtu they drink in Beit a house Eloheiyham of their God.
We note that this is speaking of the ten northern tribes, so that when the text says “Beit Eloheiyham”, (a house of their God), it is not speaking of the temple in Jerusalem, something that is wrongly inferred by the standard English translation, which reads “in the house of their God”.
The northern tribes were not worshipping God at the appointed place (the temple on Mt Zion in Jerusalem) according to the command of Torah (Deut. 12:5-12; Josh. 21:41-43), but were instead worshipping Him, and or other deities along with Him at various high places in the north, one of the chief locations being Beit-El (Bethel). Therefore, God is commanding punishment upon the northern tribes regarding their practice of syncretism, the assimilation of heathen practices into their worship of the God of Israel. Which is one of the reasons HaShem has said “a man and his father enter the same servant girl with intent to pollute My Holy Name”.
“upon clothing bound in pledge stretched out near every altar”
This refers to withholding the garments taken from poor people in pledge (Deut. 4:17; Job 22:6, 24:3-4, 9) and compounding the sin by laying the garments out in worship of either false gods or in hypocritical worship of the God of Israel in syncretism with false gods (Ex. 22:26). Thus the poor are left shivering in the night while their garments are used as an offering to God by wicked people who have plenty.
“the wine of those fined, they drink in a house of their God.”
The Hebrew allows for the readings “in a house of there god”. In other words, they are not necessarily even worshipping the God of Israel.
The wine can be understood as the wine that should have been given to the poor, suffering and the dying as a means of pain management (Proverbs 31:6-7), or it can be understood as wine gained by fining innocent people. Either way, and whether or not they are drinking the wine in worship of the God of Israel or some other deity, their sin is a vile desecration of the Torah.
9 “Ve’anochiy And I, indeed hishmadtiy I destroyed et-ha’amoriy the Amorite (public speaker) mipeneiyhem from before their faces, asher whose kegovah height was like araziym cedars gaveho height vechason and strong hu was he ka’aloniym like oaks va’ashmiyd yet I destroyed piryo his fruit mi’ma’al from higher up still (above) vesharashayv and his roots mitachat from beneath.
What follows is a summary of Israel’s journey. Throughout God is faithful, and throughout Israel is rebellious, unfaithful, in need of discipline.
We note that this is a reference to Numbers 13 and 14 which record the sending of the spies and the rebellion of Israel, born of a fearful report concerning the inhabitants of the land (Num. 13:33). Therefore, this rebuke likens the rebellion of the northern tribes to that of all Israel in approaching the land of promise, a rebellion that resulted in their wandering for another 40 years.
The metaphor used points to the fact that when a people gives in to the fear of anyone or anything other than YHVH, that people are prone to rebel against Him. Instead of trusting in YHVH, they have trusted in the strength of the false gods of the land, gods which HaShem has and will uproot and remove. We remember that the fear of YHVH is an end to fear and its fruit.
The metaphor of the mighty oaks is meant to show that even something as strong and enduring as the oak is subject to God’s might. Where the Cedars of Lebanon are high, they are nonetheless vulnerable to strong winds, whereas the oak is both high and strong (thick), able to withstand strong winds. However, God is higher and stronger, and His Spirit (wind) can tear up even the strongest tree. Thus, the intimidating Amorites whom Israel feared when told of their stature (Num. 13:28), were uprooted, that is the source of their strength was removed.
10 Ve’anochiy And I, he’eleiytiy etchem I caused you all to ascend mei’eretz from the land mitzrayim (double distress) of Egypt va’oleich etchem and you all walked bamidbar (in and from the Word) in the desert arbaiym shanah forty years lareshet to take possession et-eretz of the land from ha’emoriy Amorites.
This is a reminder of the consequences of Israel’s rebellion, as well as being a reminder of God’s faithfulness. In spite of Israel’s rebellion God made the defeat of the Amorites possible.
11 Va’akiym And I raised up mibeneichem from your children lin’viyiym some to be prophets umibachureiychem and from your young men lin’ziriym some to be Nazirites (consecrated ones). Ha’af eiyn-zot Is this not so, beneiy-Yisrael children of Israel?” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
“And I raised up from your children some to be prophets”
Throughout Israel’s history up to that point in time God had raised up prophets, from Joseph the son of Jacob to Moses, Joshua, Samuel and so on. All Israel is included here. At this point in the indictment Judah and Benjamin are implicitly included in the phrase “beneiy-Yisrael”.
Upon hearing these words from Amos few Israelites would have been able to forget the following words of the Torah:
“15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” 17 The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.” -Deuteronomy 18:15-19 NIV
“from your young men some to be Nazirites”
The Hebrew “nazir” (Nazarite) from the root “nazar”, means “consecrated”. Numbers 6:1-21 explains that the Nazarite vow was one that a person chose as an act of their freewill and out of a desire to set themselves apart as devoted to God (Judges 13:5).
“Is this not so, children of Israel?” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.”
To paraphrase, “Have I not given you ample warning children of Israel?”
12 “Vatashku et-hanezitiym yayin And you forced the Nazirites to drink wine, veal-haneviyiym and you placed upon the prophets, tziviytem orders leimor saying, ‘lo tinaveu You shall not prophesy!’
In spite of the goodness of God in giving Israel righteous ones to direct them toward Him, Israel rebelled by defiling those righteous ones, either by tempting or by forcing violation of their vows upon them. In the case of the prophets Israel had hated what they heard and had told the true prophets of God to be silent while inviting the false prophets to speak.
Ironically, Amaziyah the apostate priest of Bethel would later tell Amos to go away and prophesy to Judah (7:12-13). Following this Amos speaks the word of the LORD which quotes the people of Israel as saying:
“You say, ‘Don’t Prophesy against Israel’, and ‘Don’t drop the Word against the house of Isaac’.” -Amos 7:16b (Author’s translation)
Therefore, for the duration of the ten years of the prophetic ministry of Amos, Israel had wilfully ignored his warning to repent for their having demanded that the prophets of God be silent, and instead, nearing the end of his ministry, they repeated this sin like children with their fingers in their ears yelling “La, la, la…”
13 Hineih Behold, now, pay attention! Anochiy I am mei’iyk making a rut tachteiychem beneath you, ka’asher like that which is made ta’iyk by the pressing ha’agalah of the cart hamleiam lah when it’s filled amiyr with sheaves of grain.
“Hineih” is a wakeup call. “Pay attention now!”, would be a better modern translation than the old English “Behold”.
The metaphor of the heavily laden cart at harvest time is poignant. At this time in history Israel was heavily laden with riches and success, just like the overloaded cart at harvest time. However, her successes would soon weigh her down so as to make a rut beneath her that she will not be able to climb out of. This is essentially a metaphor describing the fruit of the love of worldly wealth (1 Tim. 6:10). The love of worldly wealth being a form of idolatry. Israel had planted the seed of rebellion in the soil of her abundance and would soon reap the fruit of rebellion. Destruction.
14 Veavad manos And escape will perish mikal from the swift, vechazak and the strong lo-ye’ameitz will not be strengthened kocho because of his power, vegibor and the mighty lo-yemaleit will not deliver nafsho his soul.
Although Israel considered herself strong at this point in history, she would nonetheless be unable to escape. Her strong men will be unable to overcome in the coming fire of judgement in spite of their strength, they will not even be able to deliver themselves.
15 Vetofeis And the one who grasps hakeshet the bow lo ya’amod will not stand, vekal the swift beraglayv in foot lo yemaleit will not slip away, verocheiv and the rider of hasus the horse lo yemaleit will not save nafsho his soul.
The bowman will fail to have an effect in the coming battle that will topple the northern kingdom, and the fastest runners will not be able to escape, nor will the rider on the swiftest horse be able to save himself.
16 Veamiytz And the mighty libo of heart bagiboriym among the mighty ones, arom yanus will flee naked bayom-hahu in that day,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
The most courageous of Israel’s warriors will flee naked, meaning “unarmed”, shaking like terrified children in that promised day when God brings the fire of His discipline against the northern tribes. This is something God declares through Amos as a foregone conclusion. Will He relent? The answer is “Most certainly not!” Because He is holy He is loving, because He is loving He is just, because He is just He cannot allow injustice to go unaccounted for.
We know that “God is love”, good! Now let’s go and learn what love is. We don’t define love, God does. Any love founded in the temporal fallen emotion of humanity is false love. We know that “God is love”, good! Now let’s go and learn Who love is.
Copyright 2022 Yaakov Brown
Amos was a lay person and a manual labourer who prophesied in obedience to the call of Hashem. This encourages us to ask, “Have I allowed myself to be defined by my work, or am I owning my identity as a child of God, understanding that my vocation is the outworking of His redemptive purposes?” There is no such thing as an unqualified child of God.
Author (Human Writer):
According to the first verse of the scroll of Amos, Amos whose name means “Burden, load, carry”, prophesied over Israel during the reigns of Uziyah (My strength is YHVH) [king of Judah 792-740 BCE, a.k.a Azariyah 2 Kings 15:1] and Yeroboam II (People of contention) [king of the northern tribes 793-753 BCE].
The text tells us that Amos was a resident of Tekoa (Trumpet blast), a small town situated in the allotment of the tribal land of Judah 15 kilometers south of Beit-Lechem (House of Bread) [Bethlehem], and 27 kilometers from Yerushalaiym (Flood of Peace) [Jerusalem].
Amos, unlike his contemporaries, was not a professional prophet. Answering Amatziyahu the qualified (by way of appointment among the northern tribes), albeit apostate priest of Beiyt-El, Amos says:
“I wasn’t a prophet or the son of a prophet, but I was a sheep herder, and I also took care of fig trees. But Adonay (YHVH) took me from following the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’” -Amos 7:14b-15 (Author’s translation)
Amos was a lay person and a manual labourer who prophesied in obedience to the call of Hashem. This encourages us to ask, “Have I allowed myself to be defined by my work, or am I owning my identity as a child of God, understanding that my vocation is the outworking of His redemptive purposes?” There is no such thing as an unqualified child of God.
Note that Adonay took Amos from following the flock (literal sheep) and positioned him to direct the flock (metaphorical sheep) of Israel.
The main part of the ministry of Amos is presumed by some to have taken place between 760 and 750 BCE, only 30 years before the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom (722-721 BCE). Amos, whose contemporaries were Hoshea (He saves) [Hosea], Yonah (Dove) [Jonah], and Yishayahu (YHVH, He has saved) [Isaiah], ministered to Israel at a time when both kingdoms were enjoying prosperity (2 Kings 14:23-15:7; 2 Chronicles 26). A time when both the northern tribes and, Y’hudah (Praise) [inclusive of Benyamin (Son of my right hand)] were practicing idolatry, immorality, injustice and oppression of the poor.
Rav Avraham Zacut*, and Rav David Ganz**, suggest that the ministry of Amos followed on from that of Hosea, and was prior to that of Isaiah. They say that Amos received (was taught) the Torah from Hosea, and Isaiah received (was taught) the Torah from Amos.
*Yuchasin, fol. 12. 1. **Tzemach David, fol. 13. 1. 2.
Although Amos was from Judah, he was sent by God to pronounce judgement on the northern kingdom (10 tribes) of Israel, and is likely to have ministered primarily out of Beit-El (House of God, Judge) [Bethel] (7:10-13 ref. Genesis 12:8). One of the main centers of apostate worship in the north.
It's interesting to note that three of Israel’s latter prophets, Joel, Jeremiah and Haggai all quote the prophet Amos (Amos 1:2-Joel 3:16; Amos 4:9-Jeremiah 25:30; Amos 9:13-Haggai 2:17 & Joel 3:18).
The scroll of Amos is set during the period of divided monarchy when Bethel was used by the northern kingdom as a central location for cultic worship in direct contradiction to God’s instruction (the instruction to center all worship of Adonay in Jerusalem is found in Deut. 12:10).
The illegitimate worship rites conducted at Bethel are condemned by God through Amos. Thus, the primacy of Jerusalem is implied. Israel’s unique relationship to God and her position among the nations is emphasized (2:6-3:2; 9:7), and as is the case with numerous prophetic works of the Nevi’im (Prophets of Israel), moral living is given primacy over the offering of vain sacrifices.
With regard to modern rabbinical practice as it relates to the yearly Torah cycle, it’s worth noting that Amos 2:6-3:8 is the haftarah (completion/fulfilment of instruction) read alongside parashah (portion) Va-yeshev [And dwelt Jacob] (Gen. 37:1-40:23), and in Ashkenazi tradition Amos 9:7-15 is read as haftarah for parashah Acharei Mot [After the deaths] (Lev. 16:1-18:30). The former passage tells of Joseph being sold into slavery and the latter of the events following the deaths of Aron’s two sons after they had offered foreign fire before the Lord, that is fire of human origin or fire used for idolatrous worship. Both Torah portions have significant thematic connections to the scroll of Amos. However, a comparative study of the portions in question is beyond the scope of this introduction.
As is always the case we remember that the scrolls of Scripture in their original languages do not have chapter and verse divisions. While for scholarship reasons and ease of locational referencing, chapter and verse distinctions are of some value, and while we ourselves have chosen to teach the text using the commonly used divisions, it is nonetheless of great importance that we view the scroll of Amos as a whole document and do not become guilty of de-contextualizing it in order to promote preconceived modern notions based on the use of secular scholarship practices.
One modern example of a popular false conclusion adopted from the scroll of Amos relates to an oversimplification of justice by those who promote secular “social justice”, using it as a means for political gain. This form of “social justice” is based on a misreading and de-contextualizing of chapter 5 verse 24.
Such is the influence of the secular counterfeit of social justice upon both contemporary Jewish and Christian scholars, that some introductions to the book of Amos, citing 5:24 go so far as to say that “social justice” is the primary theme of this work. Frankly, that’s utter nonsense! Amos 5:24 does not diminish justice by confining it to one part of its whole (social justice), rather, within the context of the scroll of Amos justice in its fullness as an attribute of God is being taught. Thus, we read “Let justice roll on like a river…” and not, “Let social justice roll on like a river…” When we qualify the text of Scripture by insisting that it placate our modern political leanings, we disqualify ourselves as teachers of sound doctrine.
Justice is one of the primary themes of the scroll of Amos, alongside repentance, righteousness and reconciliation.
The scroll begins with the pronouncement of God’s judgement against the nations, the last of whom are Judah and Israel God’s chosen people. Through Amos God calls for repentance and warns of the Day of the Lord. However, as is the case with many of the prophetic writings, a rhythm of blessing, rebuke, punishment, repentance and restoration once again shows that God’s mercy both precedes and is the result of His judgement. Thus, the scroll of Amos begins with blessing in the form of a warning (1:1-2) and ends with the promise of Israel’s redemption, reconciliation and restoration (9:11-15).
Names and Their Meanings:
It’s important to note that the people named in the text are historical figures and the towns and cities are historical locations, likewise the peoples named are historical peoples. In addition to this each proper noun has a meaning that denotes the prophetic outcomes being discussed. From before the beginning God saw the end of these people, peoples and places and forenamed them accordingly. God’s foresight does not negate human freewill. Human sight is limited to time and space while God’s sight is unlimited.
Amos 1 (Author’s translation)
1 Words of Amos, who was among the sheep herders from Tekoa, which he saw, perceived, beheld, prophesied upon Israel in the days of UziYah king of Y’hudah, and in the days of Yeroboam son of Yoash, king of Yisrael, two years before the shaking. 2 And he said, “The Lord from Zion will roar, and from Yerushalayim has set in place His voice; and there is mourning in the pastures of the shepherds’, and the head of Ha-Carmel withers, dries up.” 3 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Damascus, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon the threshing in the sledges of the iron specifically Ha-Gilead. 4 And I will send My fire into the house of Hazael and it will devour the citadels of Ben Hadad. 5 I will break the bar of Damascus, and I will cut off the inhabitant from the Valley of Aven, and he who holds a sceptre, from Beiyt Eden; and they will go into captivity, the people of Aram to Kiyrah,” says the Lord. 6 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Gaza, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon them is the removal into captivity of those dwelling in peace to imprisonment to Edom. 7 And I will send My fire on the wall of Gaza and it will devour the citadels. 8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and he who holds a sceptre, from Ashkelon; and I will turn My hand upon Ekron, and the remnant of the Philistines will perish,” says Adonay the LORD. 9 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Tyre, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon the imprisonment of captivity of those dwelling in peace to Edom, and he did not remember a covenant of brothers. 10 And I will send My fire on the wall of Tyre, and it will devour the citadels.” 11 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Edom, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon his pursuit of his brother with the sword and destroying his compassion; his anger also tears apart continually, and his wrath is guarded, kept maintained perpetually. 12 And I will send My fire on Teman and it will devour the citadels of Botzrah.” 13 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of the children of Amon, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon their ripping open the pregnant women of Gilead, in order to enlarge their territories. 14 And I will kindle My fire on the wall of Rabbah, and it will devour the citadels amid soundings of alarm on the day of battle, in a raging storm on the day of gale force winds. 15 Their king will go into captivity, he and his princes together,” says the Lord.
Amos 1. Line Upon Line:
1 Divreiy Words, essences, substances of Amos (Burden, load, carry), who was among va-nokediym the sheep herders (Heb. root. nakod: speckled, marked sheep & goats) from Tekoa (Trumpet blast), which he chazah saw, perceived, beheld, prophesied al upon Israel in the days of UziYah (My strength is YHVH) [Uzziah] king of Y’hudah (Praise) [Judah], and in the days of Yeroboam (People of contention) Jeroboam son of Yoash (YHVH’s fire) [Joash], king of Yisrael (overcome in Elohim/Judge/God) Israel, two years before ha-ra’ash the shaking (earthquake).
1 Words of Amos, who was among the sheep herders from Tekoa, which he saw, perceived, beheld, prophesied upon Israel in the days of UziYah king of Y’hudah, and in the days of Yeroboam son of Yoash, king of Yisrael, two years before the shaking (earthquake).
“Words of Amos”
A number of Jewish commentators suggest that Amos was named “Burden” due to an impediment of the tongue. His tongue being burdened, he stammered*. There are of course other prophetic characters of Scripture who suffered speech difficulties. Moses refers to himself as aral sefatayim “I am a man of impeded lips” (Ex. 6:12), and some of those who despised Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) said of him “His letters are weighty and strong, but in person he is unimpressive and his speech contemptible” (2 Cor. 10:10).
However, in seeking to understand the name of the prophet Amos we look to the context of his scroll which infers that his name relates to the “burden” of the LORD, a weight of God’s living words (divreiy)v.1. Words he could not keep from coming forth, like the fire in the belly of Jeremiah (Jer. 20:9).
*Vayikra Rabbah, sect. 10. fol. 153. 3. Abarbinel Praefat. in Ezek. fol. 253. 3.
“who was among the sheep herders from Tekoa”
Unlike the prophet Yishayahu (YHVH He is my Salvation) [Isaiah] who was a member of the royal court, and the prophet Yeremiyahu (Exalted by YHVH) [Jeremiah] who was a priest, Amos was a lowly herdsman (noked [sheep raiser 1:1, from nakod: speckled, marked], a boker [cattle herdsman 7:14, from bakar: enquire, seek, consider]) and an orchardist (a tender of figs)7:14.
It's possible that Amos was a wealthy man. The Hebrew noked is elsewhere translated “Sheep Master” (2 Kings 3:4), however, its meaning is elevated in 2 Kings by the fact that the person being spoken of is himself a king, Mesha the king of Moab.
Needless to say, Amos was a hardworking member of the am ha’aretz (common people of the land). Amos was called to prophecy, but it was not his profession. Among his contemporaries he was the country hick at the prophets’ guild meetings.
The home town of Amos, Tekoa shares its root (taka, “blow, sound”) with the verb tekiyah, the long blast sounded at the beginning and end of the shofar liturgy of Rosh Hashanah. This is a blast of the shofar that calls Israel to listen, hear, and gain understanding from God, and is followed by shevarim the wailing blasts of repentance. Teruah the 9 staccato blasts of alarm are next and precede the final blast of judgement tekiah gedolah (great long blast). Thus, the first tekiah blast points to the tekiah gedolah (great long blast) and final judgement. It is significant that the name of the home town of Amos denotes the calling and judgement of God announced by the tekiyah blast of the shofar. Amos is called of God to proclaim judgement against the nations, and against Judah and Israel. Following the rebuke to the nations he continues his scroll with a detailed rebuke of Israel and a call to repentance. He announces the judgement of God and concludes with a promise of future redemption and restoration.
It's worth noting that the Mishnah mentions Tekoa the home town of Amos as being famous for its olive oil production (Mishnah Menachot, c. 8. sect. 3.). Thus, there is a symbolic connection to the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
“He saw, perceived, beheld, prophesied upon Israel”
What Amos perceived of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is prophesied “upon” Israel as an indictment that must be addressed. The “burden” or weight of the words of Amos will be heavy upon the people of Israel if they remain unrepentant, whereas in repentance the burden becomes light (9:11-15 ref. Matt. 11:28-30).
We note that although the scroll begins by pointing out that these words are spoken upon Israel, the prophet nonetheless starts by pronouncing judgement on the neighbouring nations. Ultimately God is concerned with the redemption of all peoples.
“Israel in the days of UziYah king of Y’hudah, and in the days of Yeroboam son of Yoash, king of Yisrael,”
At the time of his prophesying Jeroboam II (called Jeroboam son of Joash in order to distinguish him from Jeroboam son of Nebat) the northern king had been victorious in conquest and successful in accumulating riches. Thus, those over whom he reigned enjoyed prosperity and as a result of their comfort became inclined toward idolatry and depravity.
Both the kingdom of Judah under Uziyah (a.k.a Azariyah 2 Kings 15:1) and the northern kingdom under Yeroboam II, were idolatrous, prideful, rebellious, complacent, gluttonous, unjust and forgetful people. Through Amos God threatens discipline if they do not repent. In fact, knowing that they won’t repent God promises discipline and as a result of His sacrificial love, deliverance and restoration.
“two years before the shaking (earthquake).”
This earthquake was a memorable one and therefore anchors the prophecy to a certain period in Israel’s history prior to the captivity of the northern kingdom. Zechariah speaks of it many years later (520 BCE), explaining that the earthquake occurred in the days of Uziyah (Zechariah 14:5). Based on the chronology of the kings (2 Kings 14:23; 15:1), the earthquake would have had to have taken place in the earlier half of Uziyah’s reign and not as some suggest in the latter part of his reign when he attempted to enter the Temple and was struck with leprosy.
Interestingly Amos 9:1-6 can be understood as describing an earthquake. Throughout Scripture there is a connection between the shaking of the earth and the judgement of God (Exodus 19:18, Judges 5:4, 2 Samuel 22:8, Psalm 18:7, Psalm 68:8, Isaiah 14:16, Habakkuk 3:6, Matthew 27:51, Hebrews 12:26).
2 And he said, “YHVH (Mercy) The Lord mitziyon from Zion will roar, umiyerushalayim and from Jerusalem yitein has set in place kolu His voice; ve’avelu and there is mourning in the pastures of ha’roiym the shepherds’, and the rosh head (summit) of ha-carmel (garden, orchard) the Carmel veyaveish withers, dries up.” 3 Thus, says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord: “Al Upon sheloshah three pisheiy rebellions of Damesek (Silent sackcloth weaver) Damascus, ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu I will not turn away, al-dusham upon the threshing bacharutzot in the sledges habarzel of the iron et ha-gilead (Witness heap, memorial) specifically the Gilead.
2 And he said, “The Lord from Zion will roar, and from Jerusalem has set in place His voice; and there is mourning in the pastures of the shepherds’, and the head of the Carmel withers, dries up.” 3 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Damascus, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon the threshing in the sledges of the iron specifically the Gilead.
“The Lord from Zion will roar, and from Jerusalem has set in place His voice”
The judgement of God is seen by the nations and the tribes of Israel as being spoken forth from the place where God has made His Name to dwell (Deut. 12:5-12; Josh. 21:41-43). God has firmly established His voice in Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel God’s people. This reads as an instant rebuke to both the neighbouring nations who seek to conquer Jerusalem and to the northern tribes who have turned their backs on the Temple in Jerusalem and have set up apostate worship practices in Samaria, in Dan, and in Bethel.
The roaring imagery may reflect the coming earthquake described in the first verse (Iben Ezra).
We note that the nations mentioned are neighbours Israel rather than distant enemies. Assyria and Egypt for example are not mentioned. The nations are indicted for breaking universally moral law (Noachide), whereas, in the next chapter following the rebuke of Moab, Judah and Israel are charged against the breaking of God’s covenant of distinction specifically made with Israel. This remains the modus operandi of God’s judgement as it is outworked throughout history to this very day. In terms of human allegory, the blood born son is held to a higher standard because it is his example that reflects upon the Father’s character.
“and there is mourning in the pastures of the shepherds’”
Amos is a shepherd but the text of the first chapter uses the Hebrew noked (sheep herder) in referring to his vocation whereas the Hebrew roiym (plural of ra’ah) is used when the Lord’s voice first speaks His judgement against the shepherds of the nations, and of Judah and Israel.
The mourning within the pastures, that is the habitations of the shepherds has obvious significance. Mourning occurs following absence or death. Thus, the absence and death of the shepherds is the intended meaning of the mourning pastures. Additionally, mourning denotes repentance. To use a mashal (parable) In light of the deaths of false shepherds the sheep repent.
“the head of the Carmel withers, dries up”
Carmel simply means “fruitful” and therefore is a fruitful mountain in the land of Israel. There were at least two mountains by this name at that time, one in the tribe of Judah, near where Nabal lived (1 Sam. 25:2), and the more well-known one in the tribe of Asher, near Akko north-west of Tekoa on the west coast of Israel. Some think the former is meant, because it is nearer Tekoa, and therefore more familiar to Amos. However, this seems unlikely given that first of all the Hebrew does not read as “carmel” but as “ha-carmel”, which denotes the primacy of the mountain in question and its significance to all Israel, and secondly because the message of Amos is primarily given to the northern tribes and is meant to indict Israel from top to bottom. The rosh “head” or top of the mountain is said to wither and dry up and thus, signifies the demise of the northern kingdom.
“Upon three rebellions of Damascus, and upon four, I will not turn away,”
We note that the root action that proceeds from idolatry and informs all sin behaviours, pesha from pasha, rebellion is emphasised here. What follows is an indictment against the surrounding nations and ultimately against Israel God’s chosen. The threefold repetition “Upon three rebellions” which points to the wilful and perpetual nature of the sins of the nations is sealed with the fourth indictment “and upon four” which makes their coming punishment a forgone conclusion.
God, Who sees all things and the end from the beginning, Who exists outside of time and space and in Whom all things exist and have their being, speaks into time and space through His servant Amos the things that have already occurred from God’s perspective.
This does not mean that the freewill of the nation’s unto repentance has been revoked, rather, it means that God has already seen the outcome of the chosen actions of the nations.
Put concisely God is saying “I will not allow wonton rebellion to go unpunished!” We should remember with fear and trembling that those who enable the sin of the unrepentant become participants in that sin, and those who have it in their power to punish the unrepentant and fail to do so are guilty of compounding the suffering of their victims. The practice of neglecting justice under the guise of practicing social justice, which has become all too popular in the modern church, is abhorrent to God. “For three examples of rebellion… even for a fourth”, He will not withhold discipline, how much more so against the global rebellions of the modern church.
The indictment begins with Damascus the then capital of Aram (modern Syria), and her continuing attacks against Ramot Gilead in the tribal land of Manasseh. The Jewish commentator Kimkhi understands “Upon three rebellions of Damascus, and upon four”, to refer to specific seasons in which the Arameans (Syrians) oppressed the people of Israel: first in the times of Baasha, then in the times of Ahab, a third time in the days of Jehoahaz the son of Jehu, and the fourth in the times of Ahaz. Thus, the head of Aram (Syria), Damascus, will not escape the certain punishment of God.
“upon the threshing in the sledges of the iron specifically the Gilead.”
This is a description of the threshing of grain which used to be threshed out by iron teeth protruding from a wooden block, the top of which was filled with stones to weight it down. It was drawn over the sheaves in order to beat and separate out the grain on the threshing floor. This is a metaphor for the way Hazael of Aram (Syria) treated the Reubenites and Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh (2 Kings 7:12; 10:32).
4 Veshilachtiy And I will send My eish fire bebeiyt into the house Chazaeil of Hazael (Sees, perceives – God, the Judge) ve’achelah and it will devour armenot the citadels (mountain top fortresses) of Ben (Son of) Hadad (mighty, proper noun of a false deity).
4 And I will send My fire into the house of Hazael and it will devour the citadels of Ben Hadad.
“I will send My fire into the house of Hazael and it will devour the citadels of Ben Hadad.”
As is so often the case in Scripture, the fire of God’s wrath is not pictured here as a warm campfire but as a blazing inferno of wrath. Those within the modern church context who foolishly ask God to consume them with His fire would be wise to repent before the fire comes.
Hazael and Ben Hadad are kings of Aram (Syria) [2 Kings 8:7-15; 13:22-25]. Aram being the nation indicted in the previous verse. The fire of God will destroy the house and kingly succession of Hazael’s progeny and will devour the legacy built by Ben Hadad.
5 Ve’sharvartiy I will break beriyach the bar (of the gate) of Damesek (Silent sackcloth weaver) Damascus, vehichratiy and I will cut off yosheiv the inhabitant mibikat-aven from the Valley of Aven (vanity), vetomeich and he who holds sheivet a sceptre (staff), from Beiyt (House of) Eden (Pleasantness, delight, luxury); vegalu and they will go into captivity, am-Aram (Exalted, fortress) the people of Aram (Syria) to Kiyrah (Wall, a fortress of Moab),” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
5 I will break the bar of Damascus, and I will cut off the inhabitant from the Valley of Aven, and he who holds a sceptre, from Beiyt Eden; and they will go into captivity, the people of Aram to Kiyrah,” says the Lord.
“I will break the bar of Damascus”
This refers to the bar that both locks and strengthens the main gate of the city as protection against invaders.
The gods of the Arameans were gods of the valleys (1 Kings 20:23), thus, Aven may refer to a specific deity.
The wordplay in the Hebrew names Aven (vanity, delusion) and Beiyt Eden (house of pleasantness) is clear. Those within Aram who dwell in the vanity and delusion of idolatry will be cut off and the ruler (sceptre) who enjoys the luxury born of the house of pleasantness (pointing to the east and toward kiyrah the place the Arameans came from) will go into captivity. The Assyrians exiled the Arameans to Kiyrah after they had put an end to the kingdom of Aram (2 Kings 16:9).
6 Thus, says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord: “Al Upon sheloshah three pisheiy rebellions of Aza (Strong) Gaza, ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu I will not turn away, al upon them is haglotam the removal galut into captivity shelemah of those dwelling in peace lehasgiyr to imprisonment le-Edom (Red, of Esau, opposed to Jacob [Israel]) to Edom. 7 And I will send My eish fire bechomat on the wall of Aza (Gaza) ve’achelah and it will devour armenotayah the citadels (high fortresses).
6 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Gaza, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon them is the removal into captivity of those dwelling in peace to imprisonment to Edom. 7 And I will send My fire on the wall of Gaza and it will devour the citadels.
Gaza here is mentioned as the head over all the Philistine cities of that time. The three others mentioned by name are Ashdod, Ashkelon and Ekron. Just as judgement was coming against all of Aram, so too it was coming against all of the Philistines. These same Philistine cities are mentioned in the same order in Zephaniah 2:4
“upon them is the removal into captivity of those dwelling in peace to imprisonment to Edom.”
This refers to the Philistines carrying away all the wealth of the house of Jehoram king of Judah, along with his sons and his wives, leaving behind only one son, the youngest, Jehoahaz, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 21:17.
“7 And I will send My fire on the wall of Gaza and it will devour the citadels.”
The fire of God’s judgement is sent upon “the walls”, that is to tear down the defences of Gaza. This prophecy has multiple historical fulfilments from Uziyah (2 Chronicles 26:5), to Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:8), and on to the secular tyrant Alexander the Great, who, after he had taken Tyre, besieged Gaza.
8 Vehichratiy and I will cut off yosheiv the inhabitant maashdod from Ashdod (Powerful destroyer), vetomeich and he who holds sheivet a sceptre (staff), maashkelon from Ashkelon (Fire weighed out); vahashivotiy and I will turn yadiy My hand al upon Ekron (Torn up by the roots), veavedu she’eiriyt Pelishtiym and the remnant of the Philistines (Immigrants) will perish,” says Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord, the Unpronounceable Name (Mercy).
8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and he who holds a sceptre, from Ashkelon; and I will turn My hand upon Ekron, and the remnant of the Philistines will perish,” says Adonay the Lord.
Ultimately the remnant of the ancient Philistines was wiped out leaving no connection to a modern people group. Some think that this was finally accomplished during the time of the Maccabees (1 Maccabees 10) [167-37 BCE].
9 Thus, says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord: “Al Upon sheloshah three pisheiy rebellions of Tzor (Flint rock) Tyre, ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu I will not turn away, al upon hasgiyram the imprisonment of galut captivity shelemah of those dwelling in peace le-Edom (Red, of Esau, opposed to Jacob [Israel]) to Edom, velo and he did not zacheru remember beriyt a covenant of achiym brothers.
9 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Tyre, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon the imprisonment of captivity of those dwelling in peace to Edom, and he did not remember a covenant of brothers.
Tyre is the ancient coastal Phoenician merchant Island city that was allied to Israel by a treaty “of brotherhood” during the reign of King David (1 Kings 5:1). This relationship continued through the reigns of Solomon (1 Kings 5:12) and Ahab, whose father in law ruled Tyre and Sidon (1 Kings 16:30-31).
The specific sin of the Phoenicians was that they took captives of the northern tribes and sold them to Edom. However, the greater sin was that they had broken a covenant of brotherhood with Israel that had been long established. With regard to covenant, this indictment reflects the indictment that God brings against Israel and Judah.
10 And I will send My eish fire bechomat on the wall of Tzor (Flint rock) Tyre, ve’achelah and it will devour armenotayah the citadels (high fortresses).”
10 And I will send My fire on the wall of Tyre, and it will devour the citadels.”
Tyre was an Island port that was extremely difficult to conquer, and yet God promises to destroy by fire her walls and devour (dismantle) her citadels. Alexander the Great conquered Tyre in 332 BCE by constructing a causeway between the mainland and the Island.
11 Thus, says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord: “Al Upon sheloshah three pisheiy rebellions of Edom (Red, of Esau, opposed to Jacob [Israel]), ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu I will not turn away, al upon radefo his pursuit of his brother va’cherev achiyv with the sword veshichet and destroying rachamayv his compassion; vayitrof la’ad-apo his anger also tears apart continually, ve’evrato and his wrath shemara is guarded, kept netzach maintained perpetually.
11 Thus, says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Edom, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon his pursuit of his brother with the sword and destroying his compassion; his anger also tears apart continually, and his wrath is guarded, kept maintained perpetually.
Edom, the nation descended from Esau (Gen. 25:23-30; 27:39-40; 36) was a brother to Israel (Jacob). In spite of Jacob’s reconciliatory actions toward Esau, Esau never truly forgave Jacob*, nor did his descendants. The nation of Edom was a perpetual thorn in the side of Israel. Thus, God commands punishment against Edom for her unrelenting persecution of His chosen people Israel.
*For further study read my article on Genesis 33: https://www.bethmelekh.com/yaakovs-commentary/genesis-33-jacob-goes-out-to-meet-esau
12 And I will send My eish fire beteiyman on Teman (Southward) ve’achelah and it will devour armenotayah the citadels (high fortresses) of Botzrah (enclosure, sheepfold).”
12 And I will send My fire on Teman (Southward) and it will devour the citadels of Botzrah.”
This denotes a purging fire throughout the kingdom of Edom from the then capital Teman to Botzrah.
13 Thus, says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord: “Al Upon sheloshah three pisheiy rebellions of benay the children of Amon (Peoples), ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu I will not turn away, al upon bikam their ripping open harot the pregnant women of Gilad (Witness heap, memorial) Gilead, lima’an in order to harchiyv enlarge et-gevulam their territories.
13 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of the children of Amon, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon their ripping open the pregnant women of Gilead, in order to enlarge their territories.
Notice that benay “children” are added to the indictment against Amon. The Hebrew benay is not used in the previous indictments against other nations nor in the indictments that follow.
The murder of unborn children was a means for enlarging territory for a period of at least two generations. It was a heinous premeditation, which is why in the “rebellions” three and fourfold the “children” of Amon are added to the indictment. God’s justice meted out against the sin of a single generation of those mentioned previously, will be meted out twofold against the twofold generational sin of Amon. This due to the exalted depravity of the actions of the people of Amon.
14 And I will ve’hitzatiy kindle My eish fire bechomat on the wall of Rabbah (Great) [Rabbah-Ammon], and it will devour armenotayah the citadels (high fortresses) amid bitruah (in teruah) soundings of alarm beyom on the day milchamah of battle, besa’ar in a raging storm beyom on the day of gale force winds. 15 Ve’halach malkam Their king bagolah will go into captivity, hu vesarayv he and his princes yachdav together,” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
14 And I will kindle My fire on the wall of Rabbah, and it will devour the citadels amid soundings of alarm on the day of battle, in a raging storm on the day of gale force winds. 15 Their king will go into captivity, he and his princes together,” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
Rabbah Ammon (2 Sam. 12:26) was the capital of the kingdom of the Ammonites and therefore symbolises the destruction of their rulers, and subsequently the entire kingdom (Jeremiah 49:2).
The use of the Hebrew yatzat “kindle” here in relation to the fire of God’s wrath, rather than the previously used shalach “send”, denotes an act of destruction by fire that the Lord is kindling in their midst as opposed to sending via His hand. This kindling may refer to the raising up of Nebuchadnezzar, who is referred to by Jeremiah as God’s servant (Jeremiah 25:9; 27:6; 43:10).
The Hebrew bit’ruah a contraction meaning “in sounding”, refers specifically to the shofar sound denoting alarm (9 staccato blasts), which is used to draw connection between the prophet’s hometown (Tekoa), and his calling and role*.
*See notes on verse 1.
15 Their king will go into captivity, he and his princes together,” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
This refers to Baalis the last king of Ammon, who was an accessary to the murder of Gedaliah, (Jer. 40:14) whom the king of Babylon had set over the remnant of the Jews left in Judea. This provoked the king of Babylon to send Nebuzaradan his general against Baalis, putting Ammon to fire and sword, destroying the capital city Rabbah Ammon, and carrying Baalis and his nobles into captivity (cf. Jer. 49:3).
Copyright 2022 Yaakov Brown
Those who make Torah the goal, miss the Goal of Torah (Ref. Rom. 10:4).
By way of introduction, we must remind ourselves that the first century Messiah following Jewish recipients of this book continue to work out their faith in the shadow of the yet to be silenced temple and its decaying sacrificial system (the Book to the Hebrews being written prior to the destruction of the temple as evidenced by the present tense verbs used concerning the sacrificial practices of the Levites). At the time (approx. 60 C.E.) both the observant Messiah following Jews of the diaspora and those in the land (Roman occupied Israel) are yet to fully understand how Messiah has revealed the original heavenly temple, proving the earthly copy to be a passing picture of a greater atonement.
The writer of the Book to the Hebrews, inspired by the Holy Spirit, uses the words of Jeremiah (31:31-34) to show that the Torah written on the hearts (inner being) of those redeemed by the New Covenant (a better covenant), is that part of Torah that is everlasting, while those parts of Torah concerning the temporal sacrificial system and the physical earthly tent of meeting are “decaying, becoming old, soon to disappear/be destroyed” (v.13). Becoming, meaning not yet obsolete. As we have already understood, the Torah remains as an indictment against sin until the end of the age, following which only the eternal parts of Torah remain. This is affirmed by the teaching of the King Messiah Yeshua.
Those who manipulate or mis-qualify the meaning of nomos[G]/Torah[H] in the present chapter do so in a desperate attempt to hold on to those parts of Torah which the text clearly says are, “decaying, becoming old, soon to disappear/be destroyed”. In doing so they deceive themselves and their hearers, turning the gaze of Messiah followers away from Yeshua and toward the misuse of Torah, making the written Instruction an object of idolatry.
Torah is good and the mitzvot (commandments) holy (Rom. 7:12), but the misuse of it is wickedness (Gal. 3:10-11).
“So then, the Torah is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” -Romans 7:12 TLV
“For Messiah is the goal of the Torah, the means of righteousness for all who believe.” -Romans 10:4 (YBYP)
“10 …all who rely on the works of Torah instruction are under a curse—for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep doing everything written in the scroll of the Torah.” 11 It is plain to see that no one is justified before God by Torah, for ‘the righteous shall live by faith, trust, belief.’” -Galatians 3:10-11 (Author’s translation)
Those under curse seek to keep Torah, while those set free from curse in Messiah are kept by “the Torah of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua.”
The former covenant made weak by our sin, nonetheless points to the goal Yeshua and a better covenant that cannot be weakened by sin because the outworking of it is entirely reliant on Yeshua, Who was tempted and put on trial in every way that we are but remained sinless (Heb. 4:15), and Who, having conquered death is now seated in the right hand of God the Father ministering as our Great all existing, and everlasting High Priest.
As is the case with all Scripture (scrolls of the original texts), there are no chapter breaks or verse markers (or punctuation for that matter) in the scroll of the Book to the Hebrews. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter, the last verses of chapter 7 being:
27 Who does not need to offer sacrifices daily, like those high priests, first for His own sins [missing the mark set by God’s holiness] and then for the sins of the people, because He did this once for all when He offered up His soul. 28 For the Torah[H] appoints men as high priests who are infirm, weak, but the word, essence, substance of the oath, which came after the Torah[H], appoints a Son, who has been made consecrated forever.
BOOK TO THE HEBREWS Chapter 8 (Author’s translation)
1 Now concerning the things we have spoken of this is the sum, the primary principal, goal: we have such a high priest, Who sits among, in, at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty, Royal Glory in the heavens, 2 a minister, servant in the sanctuary, holy of holies and in the true, original tent of meeting, which the Lord pitched, fastened together, not humanity, man, mankind, a man. 3 For every high priest individually and collectively, is appointed to offer gifts, both freewill offerings and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this one (Yeshua) also have something to bring, offer. 4 Now if He were on earth, in the land, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Torah; 5 who serve an imitation, copy, pattern, warning and shadow, shade of the heavenly things, just as Moshe[H] (drawn out one, resurrected one) was warned when he was about to make the Tent of Meeting; for, “See, heed, perceive,” He says, “that you make all things, individually and collectively by the pattern, shape, print, manner, fashion, figure which was shown to you on the mountain.” [Exodus 25:40] 6 Yet now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, service to the extent that He is also the mediator, go between, reconciler of a better covenant, which has been enacted, made law, established on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been free of grounds for fault, defect, blame no place would have been sought for a second. 8 For in finding fault with the people, He says, “Behold, now, pay attention days are coming, says the Lord, When I will bring about, make, fully fill, bring to its goal a new covenant With the house of Yisrael[H] and the house of Y’hudah[H], [Jeremiah 31:31] 9 Not like, according to the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; For they did not continue in My covenant, And I did not regard them [alt. Hebrew Masoretic text reads “I was their Husband”], says the Lord. [Jeremiah 31:32] 10 For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Yisrael[H] (overcomes in God) After those days, declares the Lord: I will put My instructions into their minds, understanding, inward parts, And write, inscribe them on their hearts, core being, inner person. And I will be their God, And they shall be to Me a people. [Jeremiah 31:33] 11 And they will not teach, each one his neighbour, And each one his brother, saying, ‘Know, understand, learn, comprehend the Lord,’ For they will all, individually and collectively know, see, perceive Me, From the least to the greatest of them. [Jeremiah 31:34a] 12 For I will be merciful, forgiving toward their unrighteousness, iniquity, perversion, And their sins [missing the mark set by God’s holiness], and their iniquities, perversions I will no longer bring to mind, perpetually.” [Jeremiah 31:31-34 LXX] 13 When He said, “new covenant,” He has indicated that the first is old, decaying. Now whatever is decaying and growing old is about to disappear, be destroyed.
HEBREWS 8 (line upon line)
1 Now (de[G]) concerning the things we have spoken (lego[G]) of (epi[G]) this is the sum, the primary principal, goal (kephalaion[G], sof davar hakol nishma[H]): we have (echo[G], yesh lanu[H]) such a high priest (archiereus[G], Kohen gadol[H]), Who sits (kathizō[G]) among, in, at (en[G]) the right (dexios[G], hakavod[H]) hand of the throne (thronos[G]) of the Majesty, Royal Glory (megalōsunē[G], hag’dulah[H]) in the heavens (ho ouranos[G], bashamayiym[H]), 2 a minister, servant (leitourgos[G], meshareit[H]) in the sanctuary, holy of holies (hagion[G], bakodesh[H]) and in the true, original (alēthinos[G], emet[H]) tent of meeting (skēnē[G], uv’mishkan[H]), which the Lord (Ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]) pitched, fastened together (pēgnumi[G]), not (ou[G], ve’lo[H]) humanity, man, mankind, a man (anthrōpos[G], adam[H]).
1 Now concerning the things we have spoken of this is the sum, the primary principal, goal: we have such a high priest, Who sits among, in, at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty, Royal Glory in the heavens,
“Now concerning the things we have spoken of this is the goal” This refers to all the former things alluded to including Yeshua’s superiority to Moses, the Torah, the Levitical priesthood, and Melkiy Tzedek. All of the temporary things that have been expounded on are signs pointing to the goal (Rom. 10:4).
“we have such a high priest, Who sits among, in, at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty, in the heavens” The Hebrew euphemism “hag’dulah[H]” describes YHVH. (Psalms 110:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 10:11-14). There are many thrones (Col. 1:16), but only one “throne of the Majesty”.
The book of the Acts of the Shlichiym (Sent Ones, Apostles) records Yeshua standing at the right hand of God at the point of the Jewish martyr Stephen’s death (Acts 7:55-56). This does not mean that Yeshua is always standing (positionally speaking), rather it indicates His continued concern for and participation in the lives of His followers. Yeshua understood Stephen’s faithfulness unto death, stood to honour Stephen and subsequently (transcendently) met Stephen in Gan Eden (the bosom of Abraham/Paradise). The resurrected King Messiah is transcendent and unbound by time and space, everlasting just as He was from the beginning.
2 a minister, servant in the sanctuary, holy of holies and in the true, original tent of meeting, which the Lord pitched, fastened together, not humanity, man, mankind, a man.
“a minister, servant in the sanctuary, holy of holies” The Greek text uses the plural form for “holy” and thus, conveys the heavenly holy of holies that is the original for the temporary shadow of the earthly holy of holies into which the Levitical high priest would enter once a year during Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).
“in the true, original tent of meeting,” The Mishkan (Tent of Meeting) which Moses was instructed to erect (Exodus 25-31, 35-39), was a copy of the true, authentic, original heavenly Mishkan. Therefore, for the Messiah following Jew of the first century to place his focus on the temporary copy (at that time being the second temple, still in use) is for him to miss the point of that sanctuary (holy signpost) entirely. The Messiah follower is admonished to look to Yeshua and the heavenly Mishkan (Rev. 15:5) which the earthly sanctuary points to. Some seven hundred years prior Isaiah the prophet had a vision of the heavenly temple and prophesied it to Israel (Isaiah 6).
Sadly, the orthodox Jewish focus on rebuilding the temple today, though in line with fulfilment of prophecy regarding the latter days, is nonetheless a practice of focusing on that which is passing away. Either knowingly or unwittingly those Jews today who place their hope in the re-establishment of the temple and sacrificial practices, are in fact hoping in vain. Messiah Yeshua is the means of our redemption and not the temporary blood of animals which were always a sign of the greater atonement of HaShem in Messiah.
“For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” -Hebrews 10:14 NIV
“which the Lord pitched, fastened together, not humanity.” The temporary Mishkan erected in the desert long before there was a temple in Jerusalem, was a visual and kinetic reminder of God’s desire to dwell with His people in perpetuity. Mishkan (Tent of meeting) being related to both shakhen (neighbour) and Sh'khinah (Talmudic Hebrew describing the manifest feminine presence of God [related to Hak’vod HaShem, the manifest Glory of God)]),"
The emphasis here is on the fact that God is the One Who has created and established all things, and He alone is able to save. It is God Who pitched the heavenly Mishkan and God Who instructed Moses to build a copy as a sign pointing to it and its redemptive purpose. Human beings cannot claim to have constructed the holy place, nor can any human being claim to have the ability to save himself. This is especially important when addressing those first century Jewish followers of Yeshua who were returning their focus to the keeping of Torah (Instruction) rather than focusing on Yeshua the King Messiah and allowing God’s Spirit to outwork the Torah (Instruction) of Yeshua in them.
While this is addressed to the Messiah following Jews of the first century, it is nonetheless a teaching applicable to all who believe. The Gospel imperative is self-evident. It is God Who saves through Yeshua and not human beings who save themselves. We receive Yeshua’s finished work and in doing so we acknowledge that our salvation is entirely reliant upon Him. Any gospel that teaches good works as the means of either faith or salvation is in direct contradiction to the Scriptures which teach that good works are the fruit of faith (being in Him precedes doing of Him).
“7 in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, practical love, unmerited favour, expressed in His kindness to us in Messiah Yeshua. 8 For it is by grace, practical love, unmerited favour, that you have been saved, through faith, trust, belief—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” -Ephessians 2:7-9 (Author’s translation)
3 For every (pas[G]) high priest (archiereus[G], Kohen gadol[H]) individually and collectively, is appointed (kathistēmi[G]) to offer gifts, both freewill offerings (dōron[G]) and sacrifices (thusia[G]); so it is necessary that this one (Yeshua) also have something to bring, offer (prospherō[G]). 4 Now if He were on earth, in the land (epi ge[G], ba’aretz[H]), He would not be a priest (hiereus[G], kohein[H]) at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Torah (ho nomos[G]);
3 For every high priest individually and collectively, is appointed to offer gifts, both freewill offerings and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this one (Yeshua) also have something to bring, offer.
Those who claim that “Torah[H]” or “nomos[G]” in and of itself, simply means the specific instructions given to the priests must explain why the text reads “ho nomos[G]” (The Torah), “katorah[H]” (because of, according to The Torah). The instruction the priests follow is part of the Torah. Therefore, when the writer later refers to the Torah as “growing old, passing away”, he is not referring only to those aspects related to the priesthood, but to all of the temporal aspects of Torah. To say otherwise is to misunderstand the text both linguistically and contextually. As I have stated previously, this does not negate the eternal aspects of Torah, rather it means that our explanation of Torah must be qualified to meet the reality of its application. A myopic singular definition of Torah only serves to show how great our lack of understanding is, both as Jews and “Messianics”.
As High Priest Yeshua ministers as the original reconciler reflected in the temporal earthly priesthood but offering a better sacrifice (Himself).
4 Now if He were on earth, in the land, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Torah;
“Now if He were on earth, in the land,” At the time of the writing of this work Yeshua had ascended to the right hand of the Father (position of authority). He was not on earth, in the Roman occupied land of Israel. Also, when He was on earth He was not of Leviy and therefore not able to minister before the earthly altar. Simply put, the writer is saying, “If Yeshua were here right now (approx. 60 C.E.) He wouldn’t be offering Torah prescribed gifts because the Levitical priests (albeit some were apostate at that time) are offering those sacrifices and gifts as we speak…”
Those who claim an original date of writing post destruction of the temple (70 C.E.) are left with an untenable argument based on the present tense reference to those who continue to offer the prescribed gifts and sacrifices of the Torah. Meaning, the temple sacrifices were still being performed by the Levitical priesthood (albeit partly apostate) at the time of the writing of this work.
As I explained in my commentary on Hebrews chapter 5 the Aaronic priesthood was conferred onto Yeshua by Yochanan the Immerser. Another way of saying this is that through the immersion of Yeshua the priesthood of Aaron is translated into the priesthood of Yeshua, which is like that of Melkiy Tzedek.
Also, as stated in my commentary on Hebrews 7:
The writer of the Book to the Hebrews is not at any point suggesting that because Messiah Yeshua’s priesthood is in the order or type of that of Melkiy Tzedek (the mortal priest and king of Salem), that the priesthood of Aaron is redundant (this is clearly not the case given that the very acts of Messiah’s life and sacrificial practice, along with the function of intercession before God in the heavenly holy of holies as Kohen Gadol, reflect the Levitical priesthood which unlike Melkiy Tzedek’s priesthood, had the Mishkan [Tent of Meeting] and the Temple as shadows of the heavenlies, in which to approach God according to the order of the universe as He has set it in place).
Therefore, Messiah’s Priesthood is reflected in both the priesthood of Melkiy Tzedek and the priesthood of Aaron (Levitical), and, without the sacrificial death of Messiah, foreshadowed in the Pesach of Israel and the Yom Kippur sacrifice of the Aaronic priesthood, there would be no possibility of another priest like Melkiy Tzedek arising.
We note that there is a convergent nature to the priesthood of Yeshua. He unifies the two priesthoods of Melkiy Tzedek and Aaron, which are both in fact everlasting in Him. Given that Pinchas the grandson of Aaron was promised an everlasting priesthood:
“And he (Pinchas) shall have it (the priesthood), and his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.” -Numbers 25:13 KJV
5 who serve (latreuō[G]) an imitation, copy, pattern, warning (hupodeigma[G]) and shadow, shade (skia[G]) of the heavenly things (epouranios[G]), just as Moshe[H] (drawn out one, resurrected one) was warned (chrēmatizō[G]) when he was about to make (epiteleō[G]) the Tent of Meeting (skēnē[G], hamishkan[H]); for, “See, heed, perceive (horaō[G], re’eih[H]),” He says, “that you make (va’aseih[H]) all things, individually and collectively (pas[G], kol[H]) by the pattern, shape, print, manner, fashion, figure (tupos[G]) which was shown (deiknuō[G], mare’eh[H]) to you on the mountain (ho oros[G], bahar[H]).” [Exodus 25:40]
5 who serve an imitation, copy, pattern, warning and shadow, shade of the heavenly things, just as Moshe[H] (drawn out one, resurrected one) was warned when he was about to make the Tent of Meeting; for, “See, heed, perceive,” He says, “that you make all things, individually and collectively by the pattern, shape, print, manner, fashion, figure which was shown to you on the mountain.” [Exodus 25:9, 40]
“who serve an imitation, copy, pattern, warning and shadow, shade of the heavenly things,” The writer stresses the point that the Levitical priests served, and at that time continued to serve at a sanctuary that was a copy reflecting the true heavenly Sanctuary. Reverent awe and respect for the holiness of the original is the reason Moses was commanded to be careful to precisely render that which God had instructed him to erect as a temporal sign pointing to the original. It was important that the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting) and the sacrificial practices point to the heavenly fullness of God’s redemptive purpose in reconciling humanity to Himself in Messiah Yeshua.
6 Yet now (nuni[G]) He has obtained (tugchanō[G]) a more excellent (diaphoros[G]) ministry, service (leitourgia[G]) to the extent that He is also the mediator, go between, reconciler (mesitēs[G]) of a better (kreittōn[G]) covenant (diathēkē[G], habriyt[H]), which has been enacted, made law, established (nomotheteō[G]) on better (kreittōn[G]) promises (epaggelia[G]). 7 For if that first (prōtos[G], harishonah[H]) covenant had been free of grounds for fault, defect, blame (amemptos[G]) no place (topos[G], makom[H]) would have been sought for a second (deuteros[G]).
6 Yet now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, service to the extent that He is also the mediator, go between, reconciler of a better covenant, which has been enacted, made law, established on better promises.
The emphasis here is on qualifying the differences and not promoting the latter at the expense of the former.
As explained, Messiah’s ministry does not supersede in the sense of doing away with the former, but is superior. It is crucial that the reader understand the continuity of Torah and new covenant in a way that does not do away with or alienate the former things that point to it. Some of those former things remain eternally while others are passing away. Overly simplistic interpretation of these verses has led to numerous false theological constructs at both extremes of the ecclesiastical debate (an unnecessary debate at that).
We note that Messiah’s reconciliation through “a better covenant” has been made Torah (law, instruction), established on better promises, oaths which God vowed against His Own soul (Heb. 6:13).
Yeshua’s mediation of the new covenant is better because it does what the temporary blood of animals could not. It is better because it is established on the oaths of God and not reliant on the ability of human beings to keep godly instruction.
Those Messianic Jewish commentators who claim that the Torah of the new covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31-34 is identical to that of Moses are in grave error. How can a Torah that indicts sin be established eternally (the new covenant is an everlasting covenant [Heb. 13:20])? If as the writer of the Book to the Hebrews says the former covenant is aging “old, decaying” and “soon to pass away” [v.13] (which is not a mistranslation as some falsely claim), how can it be eternal? Messianic Jewish zealots who follow the rabbinical misteaching that Torah (the books of Moses) is eternal in its entirety are with heart-breaking irony, submitting the Torah of the Spirit of Life to the false doctrines of men (Rom. 8:2).
As I have said previously, there is no need for an indictment against sin in a world (olam haba, world to come, eternal life) devoid of sin. Therefore, the Torah of Messiah that is eternal will not (following the judgment) include those parts of the Torah of Moses which are now passing away “old, decaying” (v.13).
Those who claim to be “Shomeir Torah” keeper of Torah, must consider these questions:
1.How are you keeping the mitzvot concerning the sacrificial system?
2.Are you bringing animals for blood atonement concerning your every sinful thought?
3.If you were able to do these things, are you certain that having atoned for every sin with the blood of animals, you will not have a sinful thought at any given point prior to death and therefore be separated from God’s holiness regardless of all your efforts?
If one answers “I’m not able to” or, “no” to any of the above (the only possible answers of a human being speaking truthfully), then for that person to claim to be “Shomeir Torah” a keeper of Torah, is to lie (thus, breaking the command and proving that they are not Shomeir Torah).
7 For if that first covenant had been free of grounds for fault, defect, blame no place would have been sought for a second.
This does not mean that the Torah (which Rav Shaul calls good and its mitzvot righteous and holy Romans 7:12) is at fault, but that fault was found in humanity’s inability to satisfy the requirements of Torah. This is qualified in the following verse.
In both the Greek and Hebrew texts the word “place” is used in reference to the second and better covenant. This is important to the Jewish audience of this work. HaMakom (the Place), is a Hebrew euphemism describing the Temple Mount. The writer is alluding to the fact that the new, better covenant was always intended to be made, not on the temple mount but in that heavenly place (makom) for which the temple mount is an earthly shadow. Therefore, because the temporal sacrificial system of Torah would never fully atone for sin, and because fault was found in humanity’s inability to satisfy the requirements of Torah, another “place” makom (the heavenly holy of holies) was sought upon which to offer the eternal blood atonement of God Himself manifest as Imanu-El (with us God), the King Messiah Yeshua (our Great High Priest).
With relation to HaMakom (the place), our forefather Jacob was given the revelation of Yeshua’s work of reconciliation in “HaMakum” the place, while his head lay on “HaEven” the stone (foundation, stone, location of the binding of Isaac, location of King David’s angelic revelation, and so on). Thus, long before the establishment of the temple, Jacob saw that in order for humanity to be reconciled to God (Jacob’s stairway, stairway from and to the heavens) there was need for atonement to be made in another “place” by a descendant of Jacob, that place being in the heavenlies, and that descendant being Yeshua the King Messiah, our Great High Priest.
For further study regarding HaMakom (the place) please see my commentary on Genesis 28:
8 For in finding fault (memphomai[G]) with the people, He says, “Behold, now, pay attention (idou[G], hineih[H]) days (hēmera[G], yamiym[H]) are coming (erchomai[G]), says the Lord (Ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]), When I will bring about, make, fully fill, bring to its goal (sunteleō[G]) a new covenant (kainos diathēkē[G], briyt chadashah[H]) With the house (oikos[G], beiyt[H]) of Yisrael[H] (overcomes in God) and the house (oikos[G], beiyt[H]) of Y’hudah[H] (praise), [Jeremiah 31:31]
8 For in finding fault with the people, He says, “Behold, now, pay attention days are coming, says the Lord, When I will bring about, make, fully fill, bring to its goal a new covenant With the house of Yisrael[H] and the house of Y’hudah[H], [Jeremiah 31:31]
This begins the writers exposition of Jeremiah 31:31-34
Some Jewish commentators claim that the context of Jeremiah’s prophecy denotes a return to Torah observance following the Babylonian exile, and while this may have happened in part through Ezra and Nehemiah, it did not happen to the extent prophesied by Jeremiah. In fact quite the opposite, the returning Jews did not continue in their initial devotion to Torah observance, and subsequently Israel once again fell short of God’s moral standard. Therefore, given our history as a people and the cyclical nature of Hebrew prophecy (multiple fulfilments), it is at best delusional and at worst desperate to claim that Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled following the Babylonian exile, it certainly was not. In fact, Jeremiah’s prophecy is being outworked in the hearts of all who turn to God through Yeshua by faith through grace, perpetually first in the Jew and also continually for the nations. The ultimate expression of this prophecy finding its fullness in the now and yet fully manifest Kingdom of God (Olam Haba).
“For in finding fault with the people” The grounds for fault with the first covenant was the fault of the people and not any fault of the Torah or the participation of God in that covenant. We must remember that a covenant is entered into by two parties. This is why in the previous verse the more general Greek word amemptos[G] is used, while in the present case the middle voice memphomai[G] points directly at the ones in whom fault was found with regard to their inability to keep the former covenant.
“When I will bring to its goal a new covenant” Like the pattern for the Priesthood of Yeshua, the new covenant precedes the Mosaic covenant, or why is the new covenant being brought to its goal?
“With the house of Yisrael[H] and the house of Y’hudah[H]” We note that the new covenant, like the former covenant, is made with chosen, ethnic, religious, empirical Israel (descendants of Jacob), with all Israel and in the house of Judah through the King Messiah, the Greater Son of David. This covenant is accessible to all through the Jew Yeshua, however, it is made with Israel (the descendants of Jacob) and with Judah (both ethnic designations reflecting the continued redemptive purposes of God regarding His chosen people).
9 Not (ou[G], lo[H]) like, according to (kata[G]) the covenant (ho diathēkē[G], khabriyt[H]) which I made with their fathers (patēr[G], avotam[H]) On the day (hēmera[G], bayom[H]) I took them by the hand (cheir[G], veyadam[H]) To lead (exagō[G]) them out of the land (ho ge[G], me’eretz[H]) of Egypt (Aiguptos[G], Mitzrayim[H]); For they did not continue (emmenō[G]) in My (mou[G], et[H]) covenant (diathēkē[G], be’riytiy[H]), And I did not regard them (ameleo[G]) [alt. Hebrew Masoretic text reads “I was their Husband”], says the Lord (Ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]). [Jeremiah 31:32]
9 Not like, according to the covenant which I made with their fathers On the day I took them by the hand To lead them out of the land of Egypt; For they did not continue in My covenant, And I did not regard them [alt. Hebrew Masoretic text reads “I was their Husband”], says the Lord. [Jeremiah 31:32]
The Mosaic covenant gives grounds for finding fault in those who were tasked with obeying it because it is an indictment against sin that is impossible for a human being devoid of God’s strength, to keep. The new covenant which the former covenant points to is different because it is reliant on God’s strength of will and not on the weak will of human beings. This is why the LORD qualifies Israel’s inability to keep the former covenant by saying “they did not continue in My covenant.”
The differences in the Septuagint and Masoretic texts need not be contentious. If the Septuagint (which predates the Masoretic text) is the better rendering then it is consistent with God turning His face away from those who wilfully reject Him (Isaiah 59:2). On the other hand, if the Masoretic text is the better reading, then the allusion is to the broken heart of God as spurned Husband. Both understandings are consistent with one another. Therefore, it is a false choice that asks as to choose between the two. They are convergent and true, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to Whom all language submits.
10 For this is the covenant (ho diathēkē[G], habriyt[H]) which I will make with the house (oikos[G], beiyt[H]) of Yisrael[H] (overcomes in God) After those days (hēmera[G], yamiym[H]), declares the Lord (Ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]): I will put My instructions (nomos[G], toratiy[H]) into their minds, understanding, inward parts, (dianoia[G], bekirbam[H]) And write, inscribe (epigraphō[G], ekh’tavenah[H]) them on their hearts, core being, inner person (kardia[G], lebam[H]). And I will be their God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]), And they shall be to Me a people (laos[G], liy le’am[H]). [Jeremiah 31:33]
10 For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Yisrael[H] (overcomes in God) After those days, declares the Lord: I will put My instructions into their minds, understanding, inward parts, And write, inscribe them on their hearts, core being, inner person. And I will be their God, And they shall be to Me a people. [Jeremiah 31:33]
“This covenant which I will make with the house of Israel” Having promised to make the new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, which is how Israel as a whole went into Babylonian captivity (as a divided people), God now confirms the reunification of all the tribes subsequent to the exile. The new covenant will be made at some point following the return of all the tribes to the land of Israel. This of course happened in the first century C.E. when Yeshua initiated the new covenant through His sacrificial death and resurrection, being that with few exceptions (and then symbolically) a covenant (related to cutting) is made through blood.
The Hebrew text of Jeremiah 31:33 does not say, “I will put My Torah” in the sense of the entire Torah of Moses but, “I will put toratiy my instructions”. If Jeremiah had intended us to understand “the Torah” (Books of Moses) as a whole he would have written “Ha Torah sheliy” or simply “Ha Torah”. This is significant because the instructions of God written on the core being of the one who receives the new covenant are everlasting (Heb. 13:20) but the Torah of Moses in its entirety is not.
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Yeshua, that great Shepherd of the sheep,” -Hebrews 13:20 (Author’s translation)
To say otherwise (as many “Messianics” are so fond of) is to misrepresent the text of both Jeremiah and the Book to the Hebrews, and the very nature of the Gospel itself (it is Good News because it solves the problem of the bad news). Even if Jeremiah 31:31-34 teaches that the new covenant puts the entire Torah of Moses on the inner being of believers, it must teach it with the knowledge that only those parts of Torah that are eternal will remain following the judgement.
Once again, properly understanding Torah (a feminine word meaning instruction) requires us to properly qualify its use, contextualise its use and confirm its intended meaning in light of the wealth of Scripture. A myopic Torah of Moses view of the word Torah and its implications shows a tragic disregard toward both its ancient Biblical and modern rabbinical usage.
Torah can mean:
a. Books of Moses
b. A specific instruction or set of instructions within the Books of Moses
c. The entire Hebrew Bible d. All Jewish teaching including Mishnah, Gemara, Talmud, Zohar, Shulchan Arukh. And with regard to the New Testament, Torah (nomos[G]) is qualified using words like “spirit”, “sin and death” and so on.
“the Torah of the Spirit of life has set you free in Messiah Yeshua from the Torah of sin and death.” [Rav Shaul's letter to the Roman Believers 8:2]
In Messiah through one sacrifice we have been made perfect (outside of time and space: the eternal aspects of Torah) and are being made holy (within time and space until the judgement: the temporary passing instructions of the Torah indictment against sin) [Heb.10:14]. Ultimately the Torah of the Spirit of life points us to a return to knowing only good, just as Adam and Eve did prior to taking and eating the knowledge of good and evil. One who knows only good need not be instructed to do good, because good is inherent in that one’s nature and is the fruit of every action. Therefore, all parts of the Torah of Moses that concern indictment against sin or admonishment to good deeds will be redundant in the Olam Haba (world to come: a world devoid of sin), and as the text of this chapter goes on to say, “the first covenant is old, decaying” (v.13). Thus, the Torah of the Spirit of Life in Messiah Yeshua carries the eternal aspects of the Torah of Moses (authored by Yeshua) but does not carry the indictment against sin included in the Torah of Moses beyond the judgement seat of Messiah in God.
Those who make Torah the goal, miss the Goal of Torah (Rom. 10:4).
11 And they will not teach (ve’lo yelamdu[H]), each one his neighbour (plēsion[G], rei’eihu[H]), And each one his brother (adelphos[G], achiyv[H]), saying, ‘Know, understand, learn, comprehend (ginōskō[G], de’u[H]) the Lord (Ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]),’ For they will all, individually and collectively (pas[G], kolam[H]) know, see, perceive (eidō[G], yedu[H]) Me, From the least (mikros[G], lemiktanam[H]) to the greatest (megas[G], gedolam[H]) of them. [Jeremiah 31:34a]
11 And they will not teach, each one his neighbour, And each one his brother, saying, ‘Know, understand, learn, comprehend the Lord,’ For they will all, individually and collectively know, see, perceive Me, From the least to the greatest of them. [Jeremiah 31:34a]
This refers to those who enter into the new covenant, and, in context, refers to the redemption of the entire remnant of ethnic-religious Israel (the descendants of Jacob) [Romans 11:25-32]. The order of the giving of the new covenant is important. It is given to the house of Israel and Judah, to all Jews through the Jew Yeshua and the nations have access to it only through the Jew Yeshua.
It follows that if the Torah (Instruction) of God is written on the centre of our being in Messiah Yeshua, that we will have no need of exterior Torah instruction from other new covenant receiving human beings in order to know what is right and wrong, or how we should outwork our faith in Him (Halakhah).
This makes the ludicrous arguments entered into by so called “Messianic” over which parts of Torah should be kept and by whom and which festivals are obligatory and which aren’t, and whether it’s evil to worship God on Sunday or should all believers keep the Shabbat, and do Gentiles have to keep kosher and bla, bla, bla… utterly foolish spiritual masturbation! The text itself is an indictment against such nonsense, it says “And they will not teach, each one his neighbour, And each one his brother, saying, ‘Know, understand, learn, comprehend the Lord,’!!!!!”
On the other hand, this does not apply to non-believers who have either not yet heard or have wilfully rejected the new covenant. The context denotes those who have had past tense, the new covenant Torah written on the centre of their being.
12 For I will be merciful, forgiving (hileōs[G], eslach[H]) toward their unrighteousness, iniquity, perversion (adikia[G], la’avonam[H]), And their sins (hamartia[G], ulchatatam[H]) [missing the mark set by God’s holiness], and their iniquities, perversions (anomia[G]) I will no longer bring to mind, perpetually (mnaomai[G], ezkar-od[H]).” [Jeremiah 31:31-34] 13 When He said, “new covenant, (kainos[G], briyt chadashah[H])” He has indicated that the first is old, decaying (palaioō[G]). Now (de[G]) whatever is decaying (palaioō[G]) and growing old (gēraskō[G]) is about to (eggus[G], karuv[H]) disappear, pass away, be destroyed (aphanismos[G], kitzah[H]).
12 For I will be merciful, forgiving toward their unrighteousness, iniquity, perversion, And their sins [missing the mark set by God’s holiness], and their iniquities, perversions I will no longer bring to mind, perpetually.” [Jeremiah 31:31-34]
Because the blood of animals could not perpetually atone for sin, the sins of Israel were always before God (brought to mind). With regard to the new covenant however, the blood of the King Messiah Yeshua the Son of God atones for sin once for all eternity. Therefore, what God has utterly removed He no longer brings to mind, and this, in Messiah, means we are perpetually right with God in perfect love relationship.
13 When He said, “new covenant,” He has indicated that the first is old, decaying. Now whatever is decaying and growing old is about to disappear, pass away, be destroyed.
Many “Messianics” try to manipulate this text, jumping through semantic hoops they seek to make the text say what it does not. They do what the Scripture warns against, changing the meaning of words to reflect their opposites, teaching the doctrines of men as if they were the Torah of God. All in a desperate attempt to defend a Torah that needs no defence and pursue a shadow that is “old, decaying” and “about to disappear”.
As the Scripture clearly teaches and as I have consistently affirmed, the Torah of Moses, authored by Yeshua in God, serves as an indictment against sin in the present age: it is a sign pointing to its Goal, Yeshua, the King Messiah and Great High Priest of Israel and all peoples. Those parts of it that address the fallen world will cease at the judgement according to the words of Yeshua Himself:
“18 Amen, amen, in truth, in truth, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or mark shall by no means pass away from the Torah until all things come to pass.” -Matthew 5:18 TLV
The key to understanding this correctly is the word “until”, which means that these things will happen and the Torah (that part of it which indicts against sin) will pass away (just as the Book to the Hebrews teaches).
Heaven and earth will pass away, and all things will come to pass (Isa. 34:4; Matt. 24:35; Luke 21:33; Rev. 6:14; 20:11; 21:1). Therefore, Yeshua is saying that the Torah indictment against sin will remain only until the judgement, after which, in the sinless world to come, there will be no need for it.
Ironically many use this same verse to promote a focus on law keeping, when what it actually teaches is that…
“10 …all who rely on the works of Torah instruction are under a curse—for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep doing everything written in the scroll of the Torah.” 11 It is plain to see that no one is justified before God by Torah, for ‘the righteous shall live by faith, trust, belief.’” -Galatians 3:10-11 (Author’s translation)
In Messiah we are set free from the curse of the indictment. Rather than seeking to earn God’s love through Torah observance we are gifted the new covenant in Messiah’s blood which brings us into the eternal security of God’s love through God’s redemptive work. Thus, Messiah in us outworks His Torah. We no longer seek vainly to do for God, rather we walk in Messiah and our doing comes from God.
For further study and deeper understanding please read my book Do Less, Be More:
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
The same fire that warms the righteous consumes the wicked.
As is the case with all of Hebrew Scripture, there are no chapter breaks in the scroll of the 12 Prophets in which Hosea is located. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter:
“Ephraim has provoked bitter anger; and his blood will be left upon him, and his scorn Adonai will return to him.”
1 When Efrayim (doubly fruitful) spoke, reteit trembling. He nasa hu lifted himself up beYisrael in Israel, vayesham and incurred guilt baBa’al in Baal (master, lord, husband, Canaanite fertility deity) vayamot and died.
“When Ephraim spoke, trembling.” This is most likely an allusion to Jeroboam trembling before Solomon in whose court he had served prior to his rebellion and the setting up of the northern kingdom (1 Kings 11:26).
The text speaks of Ephraim (the kings of northern Israel) who exalted himself (pride) in Israel (the 10 northern tribes), in the past tense saying that he has already died as a result of his guilt in worshipping the Canaanite fertility deity Ba’al. In other words, the end of the northern kingship was predetermined by the idolatrous actions of her first king (1 Kings 12:25-33) and the subsequent actions of Ahab, who sinned in worship of Ba’al under the influence of Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31).
With regard to the pride that caused Jeroboam to engage Ba’al Rashi says:
“As soon as he assumed greatness and became guilty with Baal.”
“‘he died’ i.e., Jeroboam’s dynasty was terminated, and so was Ahab’s dynasty. Jonathan renders: When one of the house of Ephraim would speak, fear would seize the nations. They were great among Israel, but when they sinned by worshipping idols, they were slain.” -Rashi
There is strong textual evidence supporting an intrinsic link between the calf deities of Jeroboam, the calf of Sinai and the Ba’aliym (Canaanite deities). Therefore, it is inconsistent to make the claim that the tribes of the north considered the calves to be representations of YHVH. They clearly linked the calves to the false Canaanite deities the Ba’aliym. The fact that there were two calves (1 Kings 12:29) supports this polytheistic understanding, and blatantly contradicts a monotheistic Deity. Both the leaders of Israel (Sinai) [Exodus 32:4] and Jeroboam I [1 Kings 12:28] had appropriated the actions of YHVH and attributed them to other gods (calf deity of Egypt, calf deity representing Baal).
The text teaches us that humble position does not necessarily denote a godly outcome. It is true that the Scripture says “humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up” (Yaakov 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6), however, although Jeroboam was in a humble position before the Lord he had not humbled himself but had been appointed as servant to Solomon (1 Kings 11:26). Additionally Jeroboam lifted himself up (God allowed his kingship in response to Solomon’s disobedience, He did not appoint Jeroboam). His belief in his own strength over that of the Lord’s (in spite of the fact that the prophet Ahijah [1 Kings 11:26-39] had informed him that it was YHVH Who was allowing him to have dominion over the 10 northern tribes) resulted in idolatry.
Note: In this verse “Israel” is used of the 10 tribes and not all of Israel (as some foolish commentators suggest). We know this because the kings of the north beginning with Jeroboam I lifted themselves up over the 10 tribes of the north only. The sin of the southern kingdom under Solomon was the worship of Ashtoret, Molek and Chemosh (1 Kings 11:4-8) and not the worship of Ba’al (who is not mentioned in the indictment against Solomon), as is the case concerning the indictment of Israel in the present verse. Therefore, the resulting death is that of the northern kingship and the exile of the northern tribes, and not, as some erroneously suggest, the death of all Israel (all 12 tribes).
2 And now yosifu they increase lachato their sin (miss the mark of God’s glory), vayasu and they have made lahem for them maseichah cast metal icons, mikasoam from silver, kitvunam skilfully made atzabiym idols ma’aseih charashiym kuloh lahem all from the work of an engraver, to them. Heim They omeriym say zovecheiy adam “sacrifice a man (human sacrifice) agaliym yishakun kiss the calves [alt. they say ‘a man sacrifices to calves he kisses!’]”
This is a description of human sacrifices offered to man-made cast metal and silver plated idols. “They increase their sin” is an allusion to the fact that idolatry diversified and increased under the reign of Ahab and was maintained under the reigns of the pursuant kings of the north. In short the calf idol worship was merely the beginning.
The silver mentioned tells us that idols other than the calves of Bethel and Dan (made of gold ref. 1 Kings 12:28) were being made.
Sadly, human sacrifice to false gods was not alien to Israel (2 Kings 17:17; 23:10; Eze. 20:26; Mic. 6:7).
“Kiss the calves” This is an allusion to worship of the two calf deities of Bethel and Dan. A “kiss” is a symbolic act of intimacy, homage, submission (Psalms 2:12; 1 Kings 19:18).
“Those who sacrifice man may kiss the calves The priests of Molech say to Israel, “Whoever sacrifices his son to the idol is worthy of kissing the calf” for he has offered him a precious gift. So did our Sages explain this in Sanhedrin (63b), and it fits the wording of the verse better than Jonathan’s translation.” -Rashi
“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” -1 Kings 19:18 NIV
3 Lachein Therefore, yihu they have become ka’anan-boker like a morning cloud vechatal and like night mist (dew) mashkiym holeich and leave early, kemotz like chaff yesoeir driven by the storm winds migoren from the threshing floor, ucheashan and like smoke meiarubah from a chimney.
Each of the examples given here are short lived, they appear and are gone soon after. The inference is that the northern kingdom and its kingship, will, historically speaking, be brief.
4 Ve’Anochiy And I Am YHVH the Lord Eloheycha your God/Judge, meieretz mitzrayim from the land of Egypt (double distress); veilohiym zulatiy lo and no gods but Me teida did you know umoshiya nor any other saviour.
YHVH reminds Ephraim (northern tribes) that He is her God and Judge, and has been from before she existed as a people. He has been with Israel from her bondage in Egypt and is the One Who delivered her from her captivity.
“no gods but Me” is in response to the false claim of Jeroboam I, who pointed out the calf idols and said “Behold your gods, Israel, that brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (1 Kings 12:28).
5 Aniy I yedatiycha yes I knew you bamidbar in the desert be’eretz taluvot in the land of drought.
YHVH was present, in the cloud of the presence, in provision of quail and manna, in provision of water, leading Israel through her desert journey, and continuing to do so even after she had rebelled against Him (Numbers 13 & 14).
6 Kemariytam Because of their pasture, vayisbau they became full, shaveu they were satisfied [alt. they became fully filled], vayarom and exalted with pride libam in their inner being (heart); al-kein shecheichuniy Therefore they’ve forgotten Me.
Due to God’s provision and care Israel became comfortable, full, “well grazed”. Rather than give glory to God for their comfort as their forefather Abraham had done, Israel instead turned to other gods and appropriated God’s gifts naming them as evidence of the provision of false gods.
7 Vaehiy And I will become lahem to them kemo like shachal a lion; kenamer like a leopard I al-derech I will lie in wait in the way, ashur observing.
YHVH previously depicted as the Shepherd of Israel (4:16) is now seen as a Lion Who, like a leopard, a bear, and other predatory wild animals, attacks the sheep and rips them apart (cf. Jeremiah 5:6).
God is pictured figuratively as a Lion throughout Hebrew Scripture. YHVH as Lion is both a terrifying and comforting use of imagery. When Israel sins He comes as a Lion of discipline (Hosea 13:7-8), and when Israel repents He comes as a Lion of fierce protection and comfort (Hosea 11:10-11).
“A lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken! Who can do anything but prophesy?” -Amos 3:8 NASB
“I yes, I will lie in wait in the way, (Ashur) observing.” The Lord will not only attack in discipline, He will lie in wait even as Israel is taken into exile. The Hebrew “ashur” observe is identical in spelling to the proper noun of the Empire. Thus, HaShem will ashur (observe) them on the way to Ashur.
“by the way I will lurk Heb. אָשּׁוּר. Every instance of אָשּׁוּר in Scripture is punctuated with a “dagesh,” but this one is “weak,” since it is not a place name but it means, “I will lurk and ambush.” Comp. (Num. 24:17) “I see him (אֲשּׁוּרֶנוּ) but not near.” -Rashi
Both the king of Assyria and Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon are referred to as lions scattering the sheep of Israel:
“Israel is a scattered [a]flock, the lions have driven them away. The first one who devoured him was the king of Assyria, and this last one who has gnawed his bones is Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.” -Jeremiah 50:17 NASB
8 Efgesheim I will encounter them kidov like a bear shakul bereaved of her cubs, ve’ekra and tear open segor the enclosure libam of their inner being (hearts); veocheleim I will eat them sham there kelaviy like a lioness, chayat hasadeh a beast of the land tevake’eim that tears them to pieces.
The imagery of the bear is ambiguous. HaShem comes as a bear bereaved of her cubs. Israel are His cubs, and at the same time are the abductors of His cubs (leading their own children astray) [cf. 2 Sam. 17:8; 2 Kings 2:24; Pr. 17:12].
Rashi rightly observes that HaShem is bereaved in the loss of His children the people of Israel and in the need for the disciplining of them.
“as a bereaving bear Heb. שַׁכּוּל. Like שּׁוֹכֵל, as you say חָנּוּן, gracious, and רַחוּם, merciful, so שַּׁכּוּל, i.e., entirely attired with bereavements and ready to bereave people.” -Rashi
“tear open the enclosure of their inner being (hearts)” This denotes the “heart surgery” that will be required in order to fix Israel’s disobedient heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). The heart is the core being and the centre of consciousness. Note that the Hebrew libam (hearts) is plural and that the text says “their”. Therefore the present text denotes God’s intention to open and convert the heart of rebellion at the centre of His people.
“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” -Ezekiel 11:19 NASB
The Targum Yonatan supports this understanding:
“My word shall meet them as a bear bereaved, and I will break the wickedness of their hearts…'' -Targum Yonatan
9 Shichetcha It is to your own destruction, Yisrael (overcome in God) Israel, kiy-viy ve’ezrecha that you are against Me, against your help.
God would help Israel, but she has turned her back on Him. The northern kingdom will suffer the consequences of their own sin and therefore, “your own destruction”. The destruction that is coming is a direct consequence of Israel’s poor political decisions and abhorrent worship practices (sacrificing children to false gods). Israel has weakened herself. God will simply pull back His hand of protection and Israel’s discipline will be the fruit of her actions. As I have previously stated, sin, among other things, is self-harm.
Now, as always, our help is in YHVH, and not of our own strength.
10 Ehiy Where is malkecha your king, eifo where? Veyoshiyacha And who will save you bechol-areycha in all your cities? Veshofeteycha And your judges/rulers, asher to whom amarta you said, “tenah-liy melech Give me a king vesariym and princes”?
“Where is your king?” This can be understood as a rhetorical question relating to the withdrawing of YHVH’s (King of Israel) hand. It may refer to the death of Israel’s (the northern kingdom) last king. The former is the most likely given the follow up question “And who will save you?” In short, “Without Me (YHVH) Who will save you?”
And where are “your judges?” God is Israel’s Judge. Israel had asked both God and her human judges and rulers for a king like the other nations (1 Sam. 8:5, 20), however, here the text is referring to the request of the northern tribes for a king other than the king of Judah (1 Kings 12:26).
“I will be, where is your king? Heb. אֱהִי מַלְכְּךָ אֵפוֹא. Jonathan renders: Where is your king? But I say that it is unnecessary to interpret it other than its apparent meaning. I will be standing from afar to see where your king is, for I will make Myself see what your end will be, where your saviour is.” -Rashi
11 Eten-lecha I gave you melekh a king beapiy while My nostrils flared (fierce anger), ve’ekach and snatched him away be’evratiy in the excess of My wrath.
The monarchy of the northern kingdom is considered apostate and rebellious by God Who had allowed it in His anger against Solomon’s sin but did not appoint its kings (1 Kings 12:16). Additionally the first king of all 12 tribes of Israel was given as a response to rebellion against God and that same king Saul likewise rebelled and was taken away by God (killed by the Philistines) [1 Sam. 8:7].
12 Tzarur Bound up avon is the perversity of Efrayim; tzefunah chatato His hidden sin (missing the mark of God’s glory).
The sin of Ephraim is more than a simple missing of the mark, it is intentional and perpetual perversity. It is bound up, kept for a time of punishment. Additionally, the depravity of Ephraim has bound him up. Perversity binds the one who practices it. It comes back upon the sinner. The fornicator contracts a deadly sexually transmitted disease, the murderer is killed by the relative of his victim, the liar tells so many lies that when he speaks the truth he is not believed to his hurt and so on.
"the sins of the house of Ephraim are treasured up; they are reserved to punish all their offences;'' -Targum Yonatan
"the sins of the house of Ephraim are treasured up; they are reserved to punish all their offences;'' -Job 14:17 NASB
13 Chevleiy The (umbilical) cord yoledah of childbirth yavou will wrap (come) around (on) lo him; hu-vein lo chacham He is not a wise son (brain oxygen starved at birth), kiy for eit-lo ya’amod it is not the time to remain, bemishbar in the breaking forth baniym of children [alt. the time for hesitation is not at the moment of birth].
First and foremost this is an analogy concerning new birth. Israel has been offered numerous opportunities to repent and be delivered into a new season of favour in right standing with God, but has instead resisted to her own hurt.
The analogy speaks of a child who knows that it’s time to break forth from the womb but instead twists itself into a breech position and in doing so strangles itself on its own umbilical cord, starving itself of oxygen and impairing its cognitive development. In these circumstances the father of ancient Israel must come and forcibly move the baby into birthing position or cut open the mother performing a C-section delivery. In both cases there is great suffering as a consequence but the baby’s life is saved.
Therefore, YHVH is explaining to His wayward people that they have placed themselves in a position where they are unable to see the predicament they have put themselves in, nor are they able to deliver themselves.
"distress and trouble shall come upon them, as pains on a woman with child; he is not wise to know my fear:'' -Targum Yonatan
14 Miyad From the hand of sheol (the place of the departed) efdeim shall I ransom them? Mimavet From death egaleim I will redeem them! Ehiy Where are they? Devareycha Your plagues mavet Death, Ehiy Where are they? katavecha Of your destruction Sheol (the place of the departed), nocham repent! Yisateir It shall be concealed (covered) from mei’eiynay My eyes.
“From the hand of sheol (the place of the departed) shall I ransom them?” The question is rhetorical, the answer is “Of course yes, I will ransom them!”, in fact the answer is given in the proceeding phrase.
Note: Sheol is NOT the grave (kever). Sheol is the holding place of the departed. Nor are Biblical Israelites (Jews) buried under the earth. Therefore, kever (grave) in Biblical Hebrew means an above ground interment in either a tomb or by piling large rocks over the body above ground. Numerous false theologies regarding death and the afterlife can be avoided by this one simple piece of basic Hebrew understanding.
“From death I will redeem them!” This is a promise, the answer to the previous question. YHVH will redeem Israel from death, not natural death (although He has often delivered Israel this way) but from eternal death. We know that at the time of Israel’s exile to Assyria many died, therefore, HaShem is not alluding to the temporal death of the body but to the eternal death of the soul/spirit, the neshama (transcendent consciousness). Hosea is prophesying the redemption that comes through Yeshua the King Messiah, through His atoning/covering blood and His resurrection living. The fullness of this promise culminating in the salvation of all the remnant of Israel (Romans 11:25-27).
“Where are they? Your plagues Death, Where are they? Of your destruction Sheol (the place of the departed), repent! It shall be concealed (covered) from My eyes.”
How does God conceal death? By covering it. Kippur, to cover, atone for. The beginning of the verse explains that the concealing of death will come about through “ransom” and “redemption”. Therefore, the covering and concealment of death from the eyes of HaShem will be made possible through vicarious sacrifice, a kaparah (atonement, sacrifice, reconciliation) that puts death to death permanently. Those who have met Yeshua the King Messiah know that He performed that atoning sacrifice by giving His sinless body into the hands of God and died on the Roman cross, rising again on the third day according to Scripture and thus offering redemption through the ransom He paid, perpetually to the Jew first, and also to the nations in perpetuity unto the judgement and life everlasting (Romans 1:16).
It is this verse that Rav Shaul is quoting in 1 Corinthians 15:55:
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” (NIV)
“I am He Who would ransom them from the clutches of the grave and redeem them from death…” -Rashi
15 Kiy For hu he bein among achiym brothers and sisters yafriy is fruitful, yavo kadiym ruach an east wind will come, YHVH (Mercy) The Lord mimidbar from the wilderness oleh comes up; ve’yeivosh mekoro and his fountain will become dry veyecherav and dried up ma’yano his spring; hu yishseh he will plunder otzar the treasure kol-keliy chemdah of all the precious vessels.
“For he among brothers and sisters is fruitful” This refers to Ephraim and is the literal meaning of his name. Ephraim was prophesied to be fruitful (Gen. 48:10-20), and became a powerful tribe (Judges 8:1-3; 12:1-7; 1 Sam. 1:1-4). Prominent leaders such as Joshua (Josh. 24:30) and Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:26) came from Ephraim and the tribe was subsequently named for the 10 tribes of the north.
“An east wind will come” This refers specifically to the wind of the Assyrian empire wielded by God as a sword of discipline (Hosea 5:13, 7:11, 8:9; 2 Kings 17:3).
The Targum supports this understanding:
"now will I bring against him a king strong as a burning wind;''-Targum Yonatan
The king of Babylon is also referred to as a violent wind in Jeremiah 4:11.
The “east wind” is used as a metaphor for false knowledge (Job 15:2), imminent onslaught (Isaiah 27:21), a scattering force (Jeremiah 18:17), it is a wind of discipline wielded by YHVH for the purpose of returning His people to Himself.
“The Lord from the wilderness comes up;” The Lord is in control of all that is about to happen, He is wielding the winds of Assyria and Babylon.
"by the word of the Lord, through the way of the wilderness shall he come up;'' -Targum Yonatan
“And his fountain will become dry and dried up his spring” This is a metaphor for the drying up of Israel’s access to the living waters of YHVH poured out on the faithful among His people.
The LORD is the fountain of Israel, who have access to His waters through repentance and return.
“Lord, the hope of Israel, All who abandon You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, that is the Lord.” -Jeremiah 17:13 NASB
It is also a metaphor denoting the reduction of progeny over the period of exile (cf. Deut. 33:28). Israel (the sons of Jacob) are called the “fountain of Jacob” in Scripture (Psalms 68:26).
The fear of the Lord is also called a fountain (Prov. 14:27). Therefore, this is an indication that Israel’s fear of God has dried up and resulted in Israel’s discipline.
“He will plunder the treasure of all the precious vessels.” This does not concern the vessels of the Temple which were taken away over 100 years later by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chronicles 36:7). Rather it refers to vessels associated with the worship of false gods, removed by the Assyrians when they invaded the northern territories of Israel.
“he shall destroy the house of his treasures, and shall lay waste the city of his kingdom; he shall spoil the treasuries, all vessels of desire.'' -Targum Yonatan
16 [14:1] Tesham Shomeron (guardian mountain) Samaria will pay for her guilt (offense), kiy Because maretah she rebelled beiloheyah against her God. Bacherev In the sword yipolu they will fall oleleiyhem their infants yerutashu dashed to pieces vehariyotayv and their pregnant women yevukau will be ripped apart.
Samaria was the head/capital of Ephraim (Isaiah 7:9) which was besieged for three years by Shalmaneser king of Assyria (the east wind); and eventually conquered and its inhabitants taken into exile (2 Kings 17:5) [Assyria invaded in 734 BCE then conquered and exiled its residents between 722 and 721 BCE]. Samaria was a hot bed of idolatry and vile sacrificial practices to false deities, a beacon of pagan worship. God would give a foreign idolater the strength to topple it and destroy its altars. Samaria’s guilt would come upon her own head because she rebelled against her God to her own harm.
1  Shuvah Return, Yisrael, ad to YHVH the Lord Eloheycha your God/Judge, kiy for chashalta you have stumbled ba’avonecha in your depravity.
"return to the fear of the Lord.'' -Targum Yonatan
“to the Lord your God One taught in the name of Rabbi Meir: Return, O Israel, while He is still יהוה, with the Divine Attribute of Mercy; otherwise, He is אֶלֹהֶיךָ with the Divine Attribute of Justice, before the defense becomes the prosecution. [from Pesikta d’Rav Kahana, p. 164a]” -Rashi
YHVH continues to offer a hand of mercy and calls Israel to return to Him and turn away from her depravity. The rhythm of Mercy, judgement and the fruit of judgement Mercy, continues just as it does in the words of Hosea’s contemporaries (Isaiah, Amos, Micah).
"great is repentance, for it brings a man to the throne of glory;'' -Talmud Bavliy Yoma, fol. 86. 1.
Rashi understands this as a warning to the southern kingdom of Judah (& Benjamin):
“Return, O Israel You, who are in the land of Judah, lest what happens to Samaria happens to you. Therefore, the topics are juxtaposed. This can be compared to a king against whom a province rebelled. The king sent a general and commanded him to destroy it. That general was expert and deliberate. He said to them, “Take for yourselves days (sic); otherwise, I will do to you as I have done to such-and-such a province and to its allies, and to such-and-such a prefecture and to its allies.” Therefore it says, “Samaria shall be accounted guilty,” and then Scripture says: “Return, O Israel.” As is found in Sifrei in the section commencing. (Num. 25:1), “And Israel abode in Shittim.” -Rashi
2  Kechu Take imachem with you devariym words, essences, things veshuvu and return el-YHVH to the Lord. Imru Say to Him, “Eilayv away kol-tisa avon take all depravity away vekach-tov and receive good uneshalemah and a covenant of peace, wholeness, wellbeing pariym sefateiynu fruit [calves] of our lips.
The text uses “devariym” (words, essence, things) rather than ketuviym (written words) or Torah (Instruction) because God is admonishing Israel to carry and walk in His living Word that is His written Word in action, the Word not only the Torah but of the prophets and writings, the right action of faith in Him, Halakhah (the way we walk). Yeshua the King Messiah is revealed as the Living Word (Davar) Essence of the Universe Who is both Author and Goal of the TaNaKH (Bible) [John 1; Romans 10:4]. We note that only in the Word is Israel able to return to YHVH (Mercy).
“Say to Him, “take all depravity away and receive good and a covenant of peace, wholeness, wellbeing fruit [calves] of our lips.” This is an instruction to the people to ask God to take away all their iniquity through a covenant that brings peace. This is a reference to the blood sacrifice of Yeshua the King Messiah and the covenant of peace that His shed blood establishes. Only by receiving it can Israel be saved from the rightful punishment for her sin. We note that this covenant becomes an act of worship that overflows from her lips, that is, the testimony of salvation through Yeshua the King Messiah. This is why the ambiguity occurs in the Hebrew text. The Hebrew prym can mean either the plural of fruit peri or of calf par. This is because the author of the prophetic work is conveying the Divine Word of God indicating both sacrifice and the testimony of that same sacrifice as it is heard on the lips of those who receive it. The ambiguity therefore, conveys an intended convergent meaning.
“and teach [us the] good [way] Heb. וְקַח-טוֹב. And teach us the good way. Another explanation: The few good deeds in our hands take in Your hand and judge us accordingly. And so does David say (Psalms 17:2): “Let my sentence come forth from before You, may Your eyes behold the right.” Another explanation: And accept good And accept confession from us, as it is said (Psalms 92:2): “It is good to confess to the Lord.
and let us render [for] bulls that we should have sacrificed before you, let us render them with the placation of the words of our lips.” -Rashi
3  Ashur (a step) Assyria lo yoshiyeinu will not save us, al-sus lo nirkav on horses we will not ride; velo-nomar and nor will we say od again, ‘eloheiynu Our god’ lema’aseih To the work yadeiynu of our hands; asher-becha For in You yerucham there is mercy, compassion for yatom the fatherless.”
These words continue the proposed confession of repentant Israel at a future time post exile. Assyria to whom the northern kings had turned would not only not save them but would in fact conquer and subjugate them.
“Assyria shall not save us Say this also before Him, “We no longer seek the aid of man, neither from Assyria nor from Egypt.” -Rashi
“nor will we say again, ‘Our god’ To the work of our hands” Part of Israel’s repentance involves turning their backs on all false idols. I am reminded of the son of a Hindu High Priest who came to faith in our community and was being immersed (tevilah) in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He excitedly answered my question to him, “Do you choose to worship of the God of Israel alone, do you forsake the worship of all other Gods? Do you acknowledge that Yeshua the King Messiah is Imanu with us El God?” his response was a resounding “I do!”
When we turn to God in Messiah we are in one sense taking a wedding vow, “I cleave to You alone, forsaking all others…”
“For in You there is mercy, compassion for the fatherless.” An acknowledgement that only the Greatest of father’s the Creator of the universe can truly understand and gift compassion for the fatherless.
4  Erpa I will heal, repair meshuvatam their turning away, ohaveim I will love them nedavah freely, voluntarily, kiy Because shav afiy turned away is My flaring nostril (anger) mimenu from them.
“I will heal, repair their turning away” This is a certain promise. YHVH will heal, repair, cure Israel of her turning away. In short, turning away from God is an illness that leads to death. Through His Son the King Messiah He has provided the cure for that illness and with it wholeness and eternal life.
“I will love them freely, voluntarily” The Calvinists avoid this verse because it describes free will as an attribute of God and is therefore one of many Scriptures that refute their false supposition. In fact, without free will there is no love, only mindless robotic subjugation.
“Because turned away is My flaring nostril (anger) from them.”
God will yet turn away His wrath from His people because His purpose has always been to discipline them unto repentance and restoration.
“I will remedy their backsliding Said the prophet: So has the Holy Spirit said to me. After they say this before Me, I will remedy their backsliding, and I will love them with My charitable spirit. Although they do not deserve the love, I will love them charitably since My wrath has turned away from them.” -Rashi
5  Eyeh It will be chatal like night mist (dew) leYisrael to Israel; kashoshanah He will blossom like the lily, veyach And he will cast forth sharashayv his roots kalevanon like Lebanon (whiteness from lavan).
“It will be like night mist (dew) to Israel” Here, it’s the wrath of God that will disperse like the dew. This is the counterpoint to Ephraim’s temporal reign and Israel’s (northern tribes) fading prosperity in the land (v.3).
“He will blossom like the lily, and he will cast forth his roots kalevanon like Lebanon (whiteness, from lavan).” Whiteness, purity, is multiplied here (Lilly [white] & Lebanon [whiteness]). This is an allusion to the purity that will blossom and put down roots as a result of the salvation that comes through Yeshua the King Messiah from YHVH the Deliverer of Israel.
"they shall dwell in the strength of their land, as a tree of Lebanon, which sends forth its branch.'' -Targum Yonatan
There is also a picture of strength such as that of the strong well rooted trees of the northern region (not the modern state of Lebanon).
“and it shall strike I.e. the dew shall strike its roots and cause them to prosper like the Lebanon like the roots of the trees of the Lebanon, which are large.” -Rashi
6  Yeilechu And he will send out yonekotayv his young branches, vihiy like chazayit an olive tree hodo in its beauty, vereiyach lo and his aroma kalevanon like Lebanon (whiteness).
"they shall multiply or increase with sons and daughters:'' -Targum Yonatan
When Israel returns to HaShem through the King Messiah, he will send out his branches like an olive tree and his aroma will draw the nations to the purity (Lebanon/whiteness) of Messiah in him. This has a correlation to the olive tree imagery of Rav Shaul (Romans 11).
“Its branches shall go forth Sons and daughters shall increase and it shall be Their beauty shall be like the beauty of the menorah of the Temple, and their fragrance like the fragrance of the incense.” -Rashi
7  Yashuvu yosheveiy They shall return and dwell vetzilo in His shadow yechayu they will revive dagan grain veyifrechu and sprout forth chagafen like a grape vine. Zichro keyeiyn His remembrance, memorial like wine levanon of Lebanon.
“They shall return and dwell in His shadow” This is a reference to God and is also seen by our ancient Jewish forebears as a reference to the King Messiah. Therefore, acknowledging an intrinsic link between the two.
"and they shall be gathered out of the midst of their captivity, they shall dwell under the shadow of their Messiah;'' -Targum Yonatan
“they will revive grain and sprout forth like a grape vine. His remembrance, memorial like wine of Lebanon.” Redeemed Israel (chosen, ethnic, religious, empirical) will be revived in Messiah and produce fruit, the fruit that Ephraim should have produced but did not. The true King will be of Judah and will be the Vine Who breaks forth and spreads in righteousness. His Name/Remembrance will be like whiteness/purity, the strength of the trees of Lebanon (the northern mountain ranges of ancient Israel).
“its fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon Jonathan renders: Like the remembrance of the blasts of the trumpets over the old wine poured for libations in the Temple. For they would blow the trumpets over the libations when the Levites would recite the song.” -Rashi
8  Efrayim, mah-liy od says what more have I to do la’atzabiym with idols? Aniy I aniytiy I answer va’ashurenu and watch over you. Aniy kivrosh I am like a juniper ra’anan luxuriant, green. Mimeniy From Me peryecha your fruit nimtza is attained.
"they of the house of Israel shall say, ‘what is it to us to serve idols anymore?’ ‘I by my Word will receive the prayer of Israel, and will have mercy on him:’'' -Targum Yonatan
Redeemed Ephraim (kings and tribes of the north) who will come under the kingship of Judah over all Israel, will say “What more do I have to do with idols?” In short, “I’m forever done with idolatry!”
“Ephraim will say, ‘What more do I need to follow the images?’ And they will turn away from idolatry. I will answer him I will answer him from his trouble.” -Rashi
“I, yes, I answer and watch over you.” YHVH will answer redeemed Ephraim in her repentance and say “I hear and answer you with mercy and protection!”
“I am like a juniper luxuriant, green. From Me your fruit is attained.” This is the only instance in the Tanakh where God is figuratively compared to a tree and it is not a cedar but a juniper (a fruit bearing evergreen tree). We note that the fruit of redeemed Ephraim is not of Ephraim but of God. Ephraim in her sinful state bore fruit of destruction but through the King Messiah she has been created anew to bear the fruit of God’s character.
“Therefore if anyone be in Messiah, he is a new creation: the old has gone; behold, pay attention, all things have become new.” -2 Corinthians 5:17 (Author’s translation)
Our righteousness is in God and not of ourselves. Our right actions proceed from the Spirit of God in us through the King Messiah Yeshua.
9  Miy Who chacham is wise, veyavein let him understand, discern, consider eileh these things; Navon understand, ve’yeida’eim and they will know, comprehend. Kiy For yeshariym straight, right darcheiy are the ways YHVH of the Lord (Mercy), vetzadikiym and the righteous ones yeilechu will walk vam in them, ufoshe’iym and rebels, transgressors yikashelu shall stumble vam in them.
This final challenge is issued to all who have ears to hear. It is much like the former challenge of HaShem to the tribes of Israel as they entered the land:
15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. 16 What I am commanding you today is to love Adonai your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, statutes and ordinances. Then you will live and multiply, and Adonai your God will bless you in the land you are going in to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not listen, but are drawn away and bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I tell you today that you will certainly perish! You will not prolong your days on the land, where you are about to cross over the Jordan to go in to possess. 19 “I call the heavens and the earth to witness about you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 by loving Adonai your God, listening to His voice, and clinging to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell on the land that Adonai swore to your fathers—to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob—to give them.” -D’varim (Deuteronomy) 30:15-20 TLV
“Who is wise and will understand these Who among you is wise and will ponder to put his heart to all these and return to Me?” -Rashi
“Who is wise, let him understand, discern, consider these things; understand, and they will know, comprehend.” Only those who take the time to pause and consider these things will gain the understanding required to act on the warning of God in repentance. Today many pass on information they have no real knowledge of, spreading rumours and falsehoods on social media, email, message boards and the like without bothering to consider, discern, investigate and learn the truth of a mater. We would do well to take pause here and allow the Spirit of God to expose our hearts, and with sober judgement to access the state of our being and repent.
“For straight, right are the ways YHVH of the Lord (Mercy), and the righteous ones will walk in them, and rebels, transgressors shall stumble in them.” To the wicked the Instruction/Ways of YHVH (the Torah) are an indictment that condemns them to death, but that same Way/Instruction (Torah) points the righteous to its Goal Yeshua (Romans 10:4). How does one know that he is redeemed? The evidence of Messiah in us is seen in our halakhah (the way we walk), “For straight, right are the ways of Mercy (YHVH), and the righteous ones will walk in them!”
The same fire that warms the righteous consumes the wicked.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
The past tense used in reference to God’s love is simply a reference point relative to chronology. The love of God is everlasting, past, present and future, affecting time and space but not limited by them.
As is the case with all of Hebrew Scripture, there are no chapter breaks in the scroll of the 12 Prophets in which Hosea is located. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter:
15 So it will be done to you all at Beiyt-El (house of God/Judge) from the face of your evil, evils. Alt. [of your great wickedness.] In the dawn cut off, destroyed will be a king of Yisrael. -Hosea 10:15
1Kiy When na’ar Yisrael (overcome in God) was young va’ohaveihu I loved him, umimitzrayim and out of Egypt (double distress) karatiy livniy I called to My son.
“When he who overcomes in God was a young boy I loved him and from a place of double distress and bondage I called to My son.” -Author’s paraphrase based on meaning of Hebrew names
This is now the prophet’s third allusion to historical events concerning Israel’s relationship to YHVH (9:10; 10:9). In this case Israel is called a young boy, meaning between the ages of 8 and 30 years. This is an important time in a person’s development, a time when one is still open to being taught and to seeking out a teacher. Iben Ezra in his commentary on this verse likens young Israel in Egypt to a talmid (student of a rabbi). It is also an important time in the development of the relationship between a father and a son who is moving toward adulthood and independence.
This verse is illuminated by the talmid Mattisiyahu as a type for the King Messiah (Matt. 2:15). However, in the context of Hosea’s prophetic work it begins a heart breaking interaction between a good Father and a wayward Son. Mattisiyahu uses it to show the response of the Son of righteousness as being the counterpoint to the action of the rebellious son.
“I loved him” Does not mean “I used to love him” rather, it means “I have loved him” and will continue to. The past tense used in reference to God’s love is simply a reference point relative to chronology. The love of God is everlasting, past, present and future, affecting time and space but not limited by them.
“From afar Adonai appeared to me.”
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” -Jeremiah 31:2  TLV
There is continuity here between the loss of human kingship alluded to in the last verse of chapter 10 and the return to thoughts of a time before Israel demanded her own human king like the other nations had. The Father points back to a time of innocence born of suffering. A time when Israel looked to Him for redemption and freedom from bondage. This of course is starkly contrasted against Israel’s disobedience and rejection of God at this point in history prior to the Assyrian invasion.
2 Kareu lahem They called to them, ken halechu yes they walked mipeneiyhem from their faces. Labealiym To the Ba’als (lords, masters, husbands, gods) yezabeichu they sacrifice velapesiliym and to idols yekateirun they burn incense.
“I sent the prophets to teach them, but they wandered from them;” -Targum Yonatan
“They” refers to Moses and Aaron (Exodus 6:9), and by extension to the prophets sent by God to call His beloved son Israel to Himself and away from the bondage that results from idolatry and sin. However, Israel “walked from their (Moses, Aaron, prophets) faces” and toward “the Ba’aliym (false gods)”.
“As much as the prophets call to teach them the good way, so did they turn their backs to run away from them.” -Rashi
“The prophets to whom I am sending call them early in the morning and in the evening to return to the Lord:” -Radak
“To the husbands (ba’aliym) they sacrificed” Israel, having been trained as a young boy in the way he should go nonetheless rebelled as a teenager and went after lovers who were unequal in faith. Elsewhere we read of God as Husband, here we read of Israel’s direct affront to her true Husband in her chasing after false husbands.
The ba’aliym being masters, were the slave masters Israel chose in place of the slave masters of Egypt. Therefore, from the face of freedom (the prophets of God) Israel turned toward a different kind of bondage.
Metzudat David understand the idols to be synonymous with the calf idols of Dan and Bethel.
3 Ve’anochiy And I tirgaltiy I walked with, taught Efrayim (doubly fruitful), kacham I took them al-zero’otayv upon my arms; velo But they didn’t yadeu learn (know) kiy though refatiym I healed them.
“I, by an angel sent by Me, led Israel in the right way.” -Targum Yonatan
“And I, I walked with, taught Efrayim” This refers to the kings of the north and their dominion and therefore to the northern tribes. The prophet is likening HaShem’s care for them to the care He gave Israel when He lead her from Egypt by His Malakh (Angel, Messenger).
“I took them upon My arms” This is probably a nursing mother metaphor but may also convey the actions of a shepherd or herdsman. It could be seen to represent both personages as a transition to the next verse where Israel is metaphorically cared for as a herd animal.
“And in the wilderness, where you all have seen how the LORD your God bore you all, as a man bears his son, in every way that you all went, until you all came into this place.” -Deuteronomy 1:31
“he took them on his arms This is Moses, concerning whom it is stated (Num. 11:12): “As the nursing father carries the sucking child.” -Rashi
“But they did not learn though I healed them” In spite of God’s care and healing the northern tribes did not learn from their mistakes or the mistakes of the peoples around them whose false gods they had turned to. Further, they didn’t “know”, meaning they didn’t receive the intimate connection YHVH had offered in the nurture of them. The Hebrew “yada” is used euphemistically to refer to sexual intercourse.
“And said, If you all will diligently hear and act in response to the voice of the LORD your God, and will do that which is right in His sight, and will give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon you all, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I the LORD heal you all.” -Exodus 15:26
4 Bechavleiy With cords adam of a man (humanity) emshecheim with dragging ba’avotot in ropes ahavah of love, va’ehyeh I have become lahem to them kimriymeiy like one who lifts the ol yoke al from lecheiyhem their jaws; ve’at and gently eilayv I bent down to ochiyl feed them.
“My word was to them as a good husbandman, who lightens the shoulder of oxen, and loses the bridles on their jaws.’” -Targum Yonatan
Having been compared to a heifer in the previous chapter, Ephraim the son is here likened to a herd animal but is said to be drawn, not by ropes used to pull cattle but by the cords of human love and in the complex bindings of rope made up of the many facets of the immutable love of God. Thus, HaShem is like one who lifts the harness/yoke that prevents the herd animal from eating and with care, bends down to fed them hand to mouth.
"and, even when they were in the wilderness, I multiplied to them good things to eat.'' -Targum Yonatan
“I constantly drew them with tender cords with which a man draws his son… Like the farmers who lift the yoke off the neck of the cow or the ox by lengthening the peg upon which the yoke is placed, to lighten it for the ploughing cow. So was I with them in every trouble to make it lighter for them. So did Jonathan render it: like a good farmer [who makes it lighter for the shoulders of the oxen and lengthens their bridles.]… and I extended to him the ability to bear I extended him the strength to bear the yoke of the torments. Jonathan renders: referring to His supplying them food in the desert.” -Rashi
“The LORD has appeared of old unto me, saying Yes, I have loved you all with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you all.” -Jeremiah 31:2 
5 Lo They will not yashuv return el-eretz to the land Mitzrayim of Egypt (double distress); ve’ashur But Assyria--hu he will be malko his king kiy because mei’anu they refused lashuv to return.
This is not a contradiction of Hosea 9:3 but rather refers to the majority of the northern tribes. While a small number will seek refuge in Egypt to no avail, the majority will be taken into exile in Assyria.
“He” refers to the king of Assyria who will subjugate them.
“Because they refused to return” Israel has been given ample opportunity to return to HaShem but has not only refused, she has wilfully turned from Him.
6 Vechalah And the twisting, dancing cherev sword be’arayv against their cities, vechiletah and put an end to vadayv their isolated, separated, (branches) oracle priests, ve’achalah and devour them, mimo’atzoteiyhem because of their counsels, plans, devices, principals.
The Assyrian king besieged the capital Samaria for three years. Thus, “the twisting sword against their cities”, meaning that the Assyrian invaders will be relentless.
“put an end to their branches, and devour them, because of their counsels.” The branches may refer to the diviners and apostate priests. “Branches” may also denote leaders, mighty men, princes etc.
“and it shall slay his mighty men, and destroy his princes;” -Targum Yonatan
We note that HaShem sends the Assyrians to discipline Israel and put an end to the false spiritual guides to whom they had turned.
7 Ve’amiy And My people teluiym cling limshuvatiy to turning away from Me. Ve’el-al And toward the Most High [alt. the heights] yikrauhu they call.
“Cling to turning away” This is a description of deep seeded devotion to rebellion.
“Toward the heights they call” seems the more likely translation given the intentional nature of the rebellion of the people. However, it may also be correct to render “Toward the Most High” as a transition to the next verse.
8 Eiych How etencha can I give you up, Efrayim? How can I amagencha shield, encompass you, Israel? Eiych How etencha can I make you cheadmah like Admah (red earth, city near the dead sea)? How can I asiymecha set you kitzvoyim like Zeboiim (gazelles, one of the 5 cities in the plain of Sodom and Gomorrah)? Nehpach Turned alay within Me libiy is My heart, yachad unified nichmeru with yearning nichumay are My compassions, comforting.
“How can I give you up” God is faithful even when Israel is unfaithful.
“if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot disown himself.” -2 Timothy 2:13
“How can I shield, encompass you” God is just and righteous, a good Father Who disciplines His son. To shield someone who sees the shield as an affirmation of sin behaviour is to hate that one. Thus, HaShem speaks the rhetorical question “How can I enable you?”
“How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim?” In short, given My love for you, “How can I utterly destroy you as I did the cities surrounding Sodom and Gomorrah?”
“Admah” and “Zeboiim” were cities of the plain destroyed when Sodom and Gomorrah were wiped out (Gen. 10:19; 14:2, 8; 19:24-25; Deut. 29:23; Jer. 49:18).
“Turned within Me is My heart, unified with yearning are My compassions.” In spite of Israel’s sin and rejection of HaShem, He is nonetheless incapable of completely abandoning her because of His faithful character, His everlasting love for her. This language conveys the struggle within the heart of a loving Father as He watches His son wilfully rebel against His love.
9 Lo e’eseh I will not execute charon My burning apiy nostrils (anger); lo ashuv I will not return to leshacheit destroy Efrayim. Kiy For El Anochiy I am God/Judge velo-iysh and not a man, bekirbecha in the midst of you (plural) kadosh Holy, velo avo and I will not come beiyr in terror.
“I will not execute My burning nostrils…” Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit born of the character of God. HaShem has every right to outwork his anger but chooses not to utterly destroy His wayward people.
“I will not return to destroy Efrayim…” God will not allow the disciplining of the northern tribes to be multiplied unto their complete destruction. They will eventually return to the land and, yet future, live under the reign of the Greater Son of David the King Messiah Yeshua of Judah.
“For I am God/Judge and not a man, in the midst of you (plural) Holy, and I will not come in terror.” HaShem is patient, just, slow to anger and abounding in love, He is not prone to rash vengeance or punitive reaction, He is Holy and in the midst of Israel, grieving her sin, feeling her pain, set apart and working to set Israel apart in Him.
“I will not come in terror” This means that even while allowing invaders to enact the discipline required by justice, HaShem will nonetheless be in the midst of His disobedient people in order to guide them back to His loving arms.
“I will not return from My good word, which I said (Lev. 26:44) ‘I have not rejected them nor have I abhorred them,’ to destroy Ephraim… for I am God Who keeps His favorable word, and I do not retract the good… I will not enter a city I.e., another city. I have already promised to cause My Shechinah to rest in your midst in Jerusalem, and I will never again cause it to rest on another city. Others explain it as an expression of hatred. Comp. (I Sam. 28:16) “And has become your adversary (וַיְהִי עָרֶךָ).” -Rashi
10 Achareiy After Me YHVH (Mercy) yelechu will they walk, ke’aryah like a lion yishag He will roar; kiy indeed Hu He will yishag roar, veyecherdu and trembling will come vaniym the children miym from the sea.
This is prophetic of the return from exile. The roar is a call to return following the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles. In addition to the return of the eastern exiles this phrasing alludes to the children of Israel returning from the sea (to the west), which infers a later exile that will ultimately end in Israel (all tribes) returning from a world-wide diaspora. This was fulfilled in part prior to and during the formation of the modern state of Israel (1948), and is yet to be fully filled (today more than half the world’s Jewish population still live outside of Israel).
“The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.” -Joel 3:16 KJV
“After Me YHVH (Mercy) will they walk” In the midst of Israel’s disobedience HaShem prophecies her future obedience.
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” -Zechariah 12:10 ESV
“25 For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be ignorant of this mystery—lest you be wise in your own eyes[m]—that a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; [n] 26 and in this way[o] all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer shall come out of Zion.
He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
27 And this is My covenant with them,[p]
when I take away their sins.”[q]” -Romans 11:25-27 TLV
11 Yecherdu chetzipor They will come trembling like birds mimitzrayim from Egypt (double distress), ucheyonah and like doves mei’eretz from the land Ashur (a step) of Assyria; vehoshavtiym and I will place them al-batayhem in their houses, ne’um-YHVH (Mercy) declares the Lord.
“as a bird which comes openly, so shall they come who are carried captive into the land of Egypt; and as a dove that returns to its dove house, so shall they return who are carried into the land of Assyria; and I will return them in peace to their houses, and my word shall be their protection, saith the Lord.” -Targum Yonatan
Unlike the foolish doves (7:11), these bird metaphors indicate an eager return to the nesting ground. Birds kept captive excitedly returning home upon their release.
“I will place them in their houses, YHVH (Mercy) declares the Lord.” The Hebrew “batayhem” (their houses) denotes peaceful civil dwelling in a land devoid of war. In short, they will dwell in everlasting peace within the appointed housing of God as rooms in the greater house of God, the Olam Haba (world to come).
12 Sevavuniy vechachash Efrayim Ephraim turns back from Me with lies uvemirmah and with deceit beiyt Yisrael the house of Israel; and ve’Y’hudah (praise) od continues rad to rule [alt. wander] im-Eil with God, ve’im-kedoshiym and with the holy ones (plural intense) ne’eman is faithful [alt. with the Holy One, is faithful].
“Ephraim turns back from Me with lies and with deceit the house of Israel…” Both the kings and the collective tribes of the north have behaved deceitfully and turned their backs on YHVH. All this in spite of HaShem’s open hand.
“and Judah continues to rule with God, and with the Holy One, is faithful.” This does not mean that Judah will not sin and go into exile but that the kingship will not depart from Judah until Shiloh (the King Messiah) comes (Gen. 49:8-12). Thus, “continues to rule with God”. This describes the rule of the Greater Son of David Yeshua the King Messiah. Once again the rhythm of Mercy, discipline and the fruit of discipline being the product of Mercy, is seen.
8“Judah, so you are--
your brothers will praise you:
Your hand will be on your enemies’ neck.
Your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9 A lion’s cub is Judah--
from the prey, my son,
you have gone up.
He crouches, lies down like a lion,
or like a lioness--
who would rouse him?[a]
10 The scepter will not pass from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[b]
until Shiloh (he to whom it belongs) comes.
To him will be the obedience of the peoples.[c]
11 Binding his foal to the vine,
his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,[d]
he washes his garments in wine,
and in the blood of grapes his robe.[e]
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
and teeth that are whiter than milk.” -Genesis 49:8-12
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
All that we do for God is idolatry (God needs nothing done for Him, nor are we capable of doing anything without Him), all that we do from God is righteousness. Not human righteousness (which God refers to as being like used menstrual cloth [Isaiah 64:6]) but the righteousness of God.
As is the case with all of Hebrew Scripture, there are no chapter breaks in the scroll of the 12 Prophets in which Hosea is located. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter:
“17 He has cast them off, rejected them My Judge/God, they have not listened, received, comprehended Him; And they have become retreating wanderers in the nations.”
1Gefen bokeik A vine is empty, it is Yisrael; periy fruit yeshaveh-lo He produces for himself. Kerov According to the abundance lefiryo of his fruit hirbah he has increased lamizbechot his altars; ketov due to the goodness leartzo of the land heiytiyvu matzeivot the memorial pillars/idols were made better.
This verse emphasises the idolatrous practices of Israel (northern kingdom) in relationship to their successful grape harvests (corresponding to the appointed time of Sukkot [September-October]).
The tribes of the north had, as we have already seen, been giving credit for their successful harvests to false gods of fertility rather than to YHVH their Provider. The common grace of God that allows all human beings to continue to exist in the sin affected creation is extended for a time unto repentance, however, where there is no repentance punishment is applied to provoke it, for the good of creation. In this case punishment will come upon the northern tribes so as to provoke repentance and position all Israel (including Judah and Benjamin) to become a light to the nations through the King Messiah Yeshua.
The vine is often used as a metaphor for the people of Israel, cared for by the Master Vine Dresser HaShem (Deut. 32:32; Psalm. 80:8-11; Isaiah 5:1; Jer. 2:21; John. 15:1).
“You removed a vine from Egypt (Double distress); You drove out the goyim (nations other than Israel) and planted it. You cleared the way before it, and it took deep root and filled the land (of Israel).” -Tehilim (Psalms) 80:8-9 (Authors translation)
“A vine is empty, it is Israel” A vine devoid of fruit is worthless. At the end of the fruiting season it’s severely pruned in order to provoke fruiting in the future. The ground must also be addressed to ensure drainage and rainfall mitigated so as to cause stress to the vine in order to promote fruiting. All this God will enact toward Israel. The irony of this first phrase in 10:1 is palpable as we read of Israel’s fruitfulness toward other gods.
God is conveying in the prophet the reality that fruit alone is not evidence of a healthy vine, rather good fruit is. “You will know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:15-23) refers to the nature of the fruit and not the appearance of it. Yeshua further illuminates this explaining that even acts of “ministry” (fruit) can be camouflage for lawlessness. He teaches that His intimate knowledge (relationship) with us is the defining factor and not the action or fruit in and of itself. This is a sobering challenge to believers. Speaking in His Name is not the same as being in Him. Good fruit is that which is the product of a motivation to glorify God, whereas fruit that appears good but is in fact ungodly, is born of a motivation to glorify self.
“15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns, nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 Therefore, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruit. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Adonay, Adonay’ will enter the kingdom of the heavens, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in the heavens. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Adonay, Adonay, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name cast out demons, and in Your Name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS (PSALMS 6:9).’” -Mattisiyahu 7:15-23
This first clause can also be seen as prophetic of what is to come, that being the Assyrian invasion and the removal of the fruit of Israel by the armies of her enemies so that her vine is left empty.
“Israel resembles a vine that casts off all its good fruit. So did they forsake Me, Who is the good and fitting fruit for them.” -Rashi on Hosea 10:1
“fruit He produces for himself.” Idolatry finds a willing companion in the selfishness of humanity. In fact, all sin is the progeny of self-worship. Satan acted on his self-worship at the inception of sin (which is a decision of the will of a created being). This is why Rav Shaul teaches in the New Testament that “The love of worldly wealth is the root of all evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10). The Greek text uses the definite article “ho” which properly translates “the root” and not “a root” as many misleading English translations convey. What is “the love of worldly wealth”? It is of course the love of something other than God. This by definition is idolatry. We notice of course that the result of self-worship is self-harm.
“According to the abundance of his fruit he has increased his altars; due to the goodness of the land the memorial pillars/idols were made better.” In and of themselves “memorial pillars and altars” are not idolatrous (Exodus 24:4-5). The qualifying aspect of idolatry is the worship of anything or anyone other than YHVH (Exodus 20:5). The only exception is where an object depicts a known deity, in which case it is an idol by nature according to the identity of the one it depicts. In the case of the present text the pillars were erected in memory of false gods and those gods were being credited with the fruitfulness of the harvest.
“When I increased their good, they increased for the altars When I lavished good upon them, they made many calves for the altars. Another explanation Israel is a plundered vine; the produce of their deeds brought it about to them. פְּרִי יְשַׁוֶּה לוֹ means ‘will avail them’ to be plundered, for they made the altars and availed their nation for evil. This is the wording of the Targum.” -Rashi on Hosea 10:1
2 Chalak Divided, slippery, deceitful libam is their inner being (core, heart); now ye’shamu they suffer for their offence. Hu He (The Lord) ya’arof will break the neck of mizbechotam their altars, yeshoded violently ruin matzeivotam their memorial pillars/idols.
“Divided, slippery, deceitful is their inner being (core, heart)” The meaning of the Hebrew “chalak” illuminates the demise of the inner person through sin, and the phrasing addresses the “heart, core being, inner person” of collective Israel (northern tribes) by using the plural “libam”. When our inner being is divided, undecided, self-deceiving, we become the authors of our own demise.
“Now they suffer for their offence.” This can also be understood to mean that “they suffer because of their offense”. Their suffering is a result of their “divided, slippery, deceitful inner being”. A wilful condition.
“He (The Lord) will break the neck of their altars, violently ruin their memorial pillars/idols.” The Hebrew “ya’arof” is used of the breaking of an animals neck for sacrifice. The prophet is saying that HaShem will do to the altars that which has been done to the animals placed upon them.
3 Kiy For now yomeru they say, ‘Eiyn melekh lanu We have no king, Kiy For lo yareinu we do not fear et the particular YHVH (Mercy) Lord. Ve’hamelekh And the king, mah-ya’aseh lanu what does he do for us?’”
“For now they say, ‘We have no king, For we do not fear the particular YHVH (Mercy) Lord. And the king, what does he do for us?’” Although rebellion and the overthrow of kings was prevalent among the northern tribes at this time (2 Kings 15:30), it is not the then king of the north that is being referred to here but YHVH the King of all. The northern kingdom had historically rejected the line of Davidic kingship and had since rejected YHVH as King.
The northern tribes say “We have no king, we do not fear YHVH (Mercy).” Ironically, as a result of their sin they will be left devoid of their human kingship and will suffer under the oppression of foreign kings, so they’re correct in saying “We have no king”.
“And the king, what does he do for us?” This is a further insult aimed at YHVH. These foolish words confirm what the prophet’s indictment denotes, that the northern tribes consider the success of their harvest to be due to their own efforts and the help of false gods (who are not gods at all), and not the work of YHVH.
4 Diberu They speak devariym words, essences, things, alot taking oaths shav falsely karot cutting beriyt covenants; ufarach and sprouting forth karosh venom (because of, like, associated with the head), noxious weeds mishpat as judgment al upon talmeiy the furrows of saday the field.
“They speak words, essences, things, taking oaths falsely cutting covenants;” Both the kings and the people of the north were making oaths in the names of false gods and or in syncretistic rites combining worship of false gods with that of YHVH. Additionally, the kings of the north had cut covenants with foreign powers, paying tribute to them.
“sprouting forth venom, noxious weeds as judgment upon the furrows of the field.” This ambiguous phrasing conveys the ideas of both the false poisonous judgement born of idolatry and the judgement that comes back on the one who made it. In short, their own noxious assertions and actions seeded poison in the furrows of their ploughed fields, physically and metaphorically.
The prophet Amos, a contemporary of Hosea says something similar:
“Do horses run on rocks?
Or does one ]plow with oxen?
Yet you have turned justice into poison,
And the fruit of righteousness into noxious weeds,” -Amos 6:12 (Author’s translation)
“swearing falsely Heb. אָלוֹתשָוְא, swearing falsely. אָלוֹת is, in construction, like כָּרֹת, a present tense. forming a covenant with pagan worship. Therefore, judgment of torments and retribution shall spring up upon them… the furrows Heb. תַּלְמֵי. The furrow of a plowshare is called תֶּלֶם. Another explanation: on the furrows of the field where they erect their altars, as it is said (below 12:12): “like heaps on the furrows of the field.” There the judgment for their iniquity shall spring up on them. Another explanation: swearing falsely Every covenant they form with one another they break. and...shall spring up like hemlock which springs up on the furrows of the field, which is a bitter grass, so do their judgments spring up and bitterness grows for the poor and needy. Amos, too, says: (6:12) “For you have turned judgment into hemlock.” -Rashi on Hosea 10:4
5 Le’eglot For the calves of Beit Aven (Beth-aven, House of vanity, wickedness, sorrow, iniquity) yaguru shechan Shomeron the inhabitants of Samaria will be afraid. Kiy For aval its people will mourn alayv amo over it, uchemarayv and its self-macerated (idolatrous) priests alayv yagilu will tremble over it, al-kevodo over its glory, kiy because galah mimenu it (the glory) has departed from it.
“For the calves of Beth-aven, House of wickedness the inhabitants of Samaria will be afraid.” Invasion is imminent, the day is near when the residents of the northern capital Samaria will tremble in fear as the Assyrians invaders first take the other tribes of the north and then conclude their invasion by taking Samaria and toppling the calf idols. The qualifying phrase “The calves of” confirms the assertion that Beiyt-Aven and Beiyt-El are synonymous, given that the two calf idols of Jeroboam were located at Dan and Bethel (1 Kings 12:26-30).
“Beit-Aven” (House of vanity, wickedness, sorrow, iniquity) is a sarcastic way of referring to Bethel (House of God)[Talmud], and or a place very close to Bethel (Joshua 7:2), it was a main centre of northern apostate worship located in the territory of Ephraim/Benjamin. A place that has a strong connection to both the physical and spiritual journeys of the Patriarchs and in particularly to Jacob, who became Israel. It was on the border of the territories of Ephraim and Benjamin (according to the interpretation that equates it to Bethel it is technically located in the territory of Benjamin to the east of the border between the two territories).
It seems likely, given Hosea 4:15, that Beth Aven was considered to be part of the territory of Ephraim (northern tribes):
“Judah must not become an offender in the Gilgal; and don’t go into to Beth-Aven” -Hosea 4:15
“For its people will mourn over it, and its self-macerated (idolatrous) priests will tremble over it, over its glory, because it has departed from it.” “It” refers to the calf idol. The Hebrew used to describe the priests is not the common term “kohen” but rather a diminished term “kamar” which is essentially an ascetic description of the named party. “Kamar” means tender, shrunken, macerated, hot. In short it is a metaphor denoting an idolatrous priest, an illegitimate spiritual guide.
The glory of the calf god will literally depart from Samaria and be carried away into exile.
Seder Olam Rabba records that Tiglathpileser king of Assyria came and took away the golden calf in Dan in the twentieth year of Pekah king of Israel; and a subsequent king of Assyria (Shalmaneser) came in the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Israel and took away the golden calf at Bethel:” ref. Seder Olam Rabba, c. 22. p. 60, 61.
6 Gam Also oto it will le’ashur be taken to Assyria (a step) yuval carried minchah as an offering lemelekh Yarev to King Jareb (contender) alt. to a king of contention; Efrayim (doubly blessed) yikach will be received veyeivosh and ashamed, Yisrael mei’atzato from his own counsel.
“Also it will be taken to Assyria (a step) carried as an offering to King Jareb (contender) alt. to a king of contention;” Once again “it” refers to the calf idol. It is said to become an offering to a king/ruler of Assyria. This makes a mockery of its deity. Gods are offered to, they are not made an offering of.
Rashi says that “Yareb” is another name for Sennacherib.
“Efrayim (doubly blessed) will be received and ashamed, Yisrael from his own counsel.” The kings of the north will be received into exile and thus the kingship of the northern tribes will be no more. This agrees with traditional rabbinic interpretation.
“Ephraim shall take shame Heb. בָּשְׁנָה. Jeroboam, who was from the tribe of Ephraim, shall take shame for himself, that he erected this calf for a deity… and Israel shall be ashamed of that counsel that they took counsel to make them, as it is said (1 Kings 12:28) “The king took counsel and made two golden calves.” -Rashi on Hosea 10:6
7 Nidmeh Shomeron malcah Cut off, left silent will be Samaria without a kingship, queen, her king, keketzef like a splintered twig (wrath) al-peneiy-mayim on the face of the waters.
Samaria, as capital of the northern tribes, here represents all the tribes and the authority over them. The kingship of the northern tribes is to be ended permanently.
“like a splintered twig on the face of the water” This is a metaphor alluding to the temporal nature of human power born of fallen motivations which manifest idolatry. All that is idolatrous will become like worthless flotsam washed away by the punishing waters of HaShem.
“The king of Samaria is silenced Heb. נִדְמֶה. The king of Samaria is silenced, and he is like foam on the surface of the water, which is eskoume (ecume) in Old French.” -Rashi on Hosea 10:7
8 Venishmedu And destroyed are bamot the high places of aven (wickedness, trouble, idolatry), chatat the sinful, missing the mark of Yisrael; kotz thorn vedardar and thistle ya’aleh will come up al-mizbechotam on their altars; veameru and they will say lehariym to the mountains, “Kasunu Conceal us!” velagevaot And to the hills, “niflu aleiynu Fall on us!”
“And destroyed are the high places of aven (wickedness, trouble, idolatry)” This refers to the high places of Bethel according to Rashi. While Iben Ezra understands this to refer to the deaths of those who “owned” or were responsible for the upkeep of the calf idols.
“the sinful, missing the mark of Yisrael; thorn and thistle will come up on their altars;” The altars will be left destroyed and their remnants will be untouched, thus they will be overgrown by fruitless weeds such as thorns and thistles so that anyone who touches them will be pierced by barbs. This is the counterpoint to the fruitfulness of idolatry described in verse 1. This has a startling correlation to the teaching of Yeshua regarding the fruit of vines and the fruitlessness of thorns:
“16 You will know them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns, nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 Therefore, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” -Matthew 7:16-19
“and they will say to the mountains, “Conceal us!” And to the hills, “Fall on us!” Sadly this is not a cry of repentance but one seeking concealment from God and or a choice of death over exile and suffering. This is the hubris of vulnerability. When this text is quoted by Yeshua as recorded in Luke’s Gospel (23:30) and repeated in the Revelation to John (6:16), it refers to wilfully unrepentant people. People who, even when faced with the reality that it is their sin and rejection of God that has brought their suffering, nonetheless refuse to repent and instead invoke concealment and death, calling on created things to hide and or kill them rather than crying out to the Creator for deliverance.
Ref. Isaiah 2:10; Hosea 10:8; Luke 23:30; Revelation 6:16
9 Miymeiy From the days of ha-Givah the Gibeah (hill) chatata you have sinned, missed the mark Yisrael; sham there amadu they remain! Lo-tasiygeim Will it not reach them bagivah in Gibeah, milchamah the battle al-beneiy alvah against the sons of injustice?
“Gibeah” may refer to Gibeah of Benjamin (Judges 19) and the abhorrent actions of that tribe regarding the concubine/wife of a Levite from Ephraim. Alternatively it may refer to Gibeah of Saul (1 Samuel 15) where Israel rebelled against the words of the prophet Samuel and demanded a king like those who ruled the other nations.
While the rebellion against God’s Kingship is wicked and a root of further rebellion, it seems more likely that Gibeah of Benjamin is meant because a process of descent into deep corruption resulting in vile sin is inferred by the context and qualifying language. It was said of the vile nature of the sin in Gibeah Benjamin, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt.” Some liken the sin of the men of Benjamin (Judges 19) to that of the men of Sodom (Genesis 19). This adds weight to my interpretation.
“there they remain.” Israel has remained in the place (sham), both physical and spiritual, of their missing the mark of God’s Instruction. In short, they have wilfully chosen to remain in their sin.
“Will it not reach them in Gibeah, the battle against the sons of injustice?” The spiritual battle against injustice will come against the sons of injustice, thus the sons of the northern tribes who have sown poison (v. 4) will reap poisoned fruit.
10 Beavatiy In My desire, ve’esoreim I will discipline them; veusefu and gather aleihem upon them amiym the peoples be’aseram in binding lishteiy them twice eiynotam their torture onotam glowing. Alt. punished twofold for their double crime.
HaShem desires to discipline Israel for her good. The twofold punishment of exile (Assyria) upon exile (Babylon). The punishment is just and the outcome is repentance (returning).
The binding of the northern tribes can also be seen as pretext to the ploughing metaphor which follows.
“Since Hosea compares them to a heifer as stated further: “Ephraim is a goaded heifer,” he, therefore, compared their chastisement to a cow, which they tire with plowing and they bind it to the yoke of the plowshare, and the pegs of the yoke penetrate it, [i.e., they penetrate the yoke,] one on this side and one on that side, next to the ox’s two eyes. And so did Jonathan render: as one hinds a “padna” on its two eyes. “Padna” is a yoke of oxen.” -Rashi on Hosea 10:10
11 And Efrayim eglah a heifer melumadah taught, ohavtiy I love ladush to tread out (thresh), va’aniy and I avartiy I passed by al-tov tzavarah upon her good, lovely neck; arkiyv I will harness Efrayim, Y’hudah yacharosh will plough, yesaded-lo Yaakov will break up clods of earth for himself.
The opening phrasing speaks of God’s care for Ephraim (the northern kings and their dominion) teaching her, allowing her to feed while she trampled out the grain on the threshing floor.
“I passed by upon her good, lovely neck; I will harness Efrayim” The “good” neck of Ephraim’s younger days of training is made counterpoint to her stiff necked rebellion in her latter days. Her neck once good is now stiff/rebellious.
“I will harness Epharim, Judah will plow, Yaakov will break up clods of earth for himself.” This trifold naming unites all Israel. The order of the ploughing process is seen in each task associated with each named party. Ephraim (kings of the north, people of the north) are harnessed, Judah (southern kingdom, people of Judah and Benjamin) will plough to cover the seed, then, in the following season (after exile) all Israel together as Jacob will break up the hard ground left fallow by their exile. This is a text of prophetic hope for the soon to be punished people of God.
12 Ziru Sow lachem for yourselves, litzdakah to righteousness; kitzru reap lefiy from My mouth chesed kindness, practical love, faithfulness. Niyru lachem Break up your niyr fallow ground, ve’eit for its time lidrosh to seek, enquire of et-YHVH the particular Lord (Mercy) ad-yavo until He comes veyoreh and rains tzedek righteousness lachem on you all.
Mercy precedes judgement and is the fruit of discipline. Here, once again, YHVH offers an opportunity for true repentance, an opportunity for sowing righteousness and reaping kindness, an opportunity for enquiring of the LORD (Mercy) and receiving the cleansing rains of righteousness. Seeing the end from the beginning HaShem knows that Israel will not receive this until after her exile. This is why the final aspect of the order of ploughing in the previous verse denotes the breaking of hard ground following its many years of being left fallow.
Rashi understands this as an admonishment to turn to Torah observance, however, Torah observance does not bear the seed of righteousness, rather godly righteousness bears the fruit of right action which is approved by the Torah, that is, when measured against Torah righteousness is seen as holy (set apart).
Righteousness sown in God enquires of God and thus reaps righteousness from God. Messiah in us outworks righteousness. Therefore, we are not Torah keepers, rather God keeps us through the righteous One (the King Messiah), Who is the Goal of Torah (Romans 10:4). All that we do for God is idolatry (God needs nothing done for Him, nor are we capable of doing anything without Him), all that we do from God is righteousness. Not human righteousness (which God refers to as being like used menstrual cloth [Isaiah 64:6]) but the righteousness of God.
13 Charashtem-resha You have ploughed, engraved wickedness, avlatah injustice ketzartem you have reaped achaltem, you have eaten periy-chachash fruit of deception. Kiy Because vatachta you trusted vedarkecha in your way, bero in great numbers giboreycha of your mighty men (warriors),
Israel, the northern tribes had engraved their soil, both literal and metaphorical, with wickedness and injustice and had therefore deceived themselves. Knowing that the Torah and Prophets say otherwise, they nonetheless concluded that the strength of their own armies was more trustworthy than God’s strength.
“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord Who goes warring.” -Zechariah 4:6b (Author’s translation)
14 Vekam And raise shaon an uproar be’amecha among your people, vechol-mivtzareycha and all your fortified cities yushad will be ruined, keshod like Shalmaneser (Shalman: fire worshipper) destroyed Beiyt-arbel (house of God’s ambush) beyom in the day milchamah of battle, eim al-baniym mothers upon children rutashah torn to pieces.
The uproar among the people is understood by Yarchi, Rashi and others as an alarm calling out “Flee, flee!”
“Your fortified cities” This means that what is to come will affect both the vulnerable unwalled towns and the fortified cities (like those Judah trusted in). This is a prophecy of all out invasion, one that came soon after at the hand of the Assyrian Empire.
“Beit Arbel” Is a city of the Kinneret (Galilee) region (Antiqu. l. 12. c. 11. sect. 1. & l. 14. c. 15. sect. 4. In Vita sua, sect. 69. p. 922, 934.), situated between Sipphore and Tiberias (Yuchasin, fol. 65. 1.).
“mothers upon children torn to pieces” This horrific language denotes the most heinous of wartime acts which leaves the conquered devoid of their women and children. This imagery is commonly used in Scripture 2 Kings 8:12; Isaiah 13:16; Nahum 3:10; Psalms 137:9; Hosea 14:1.
15 Kachah So asah it will be done lachem to you all at Beiyt-el (house of God/Judge) mipeneiy from the face of your ra’at evil ra’atchem evils. Alt. [of your great wickedness.] Bashachar In the dawn nidmoh nidmah cut off, destroyed will be melekh a king of Yisrael.
This horror will come against all who, at a location named for Jacob’s (Israel) intimate connection with God (Bethel: House of God), had brought evil forth unto evil multiplied. Thus, once again, the self-harming idolatry of evil is emphasised. Bethel (Beth Aven) was home to one of the two calf idols set up by the first king of the northern tribes Jeroboam I.
“The calf in Bethel has brought about all this retribution upon you.” -Rashi on Hosea 10:15
“In the dawn” This makes the destruction of the northern tribes immanent. Both Hoshea (not the prophet) the last king of the northern tribes, and the kingdom itself will be cut off.
As tragic as this is, there is also the future hope in the Greater Son of David, that King of Judah Who will reign over all the tribes of Israel. Therefore, the permanent end of the kingship of the north is a sign pointing to the redemption for all Israel through the King Messiah born of the Davidic line of Judah.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,