Amos 3.1-8

Hear the word that the Lord has spoken against you, oh People of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt:

“You only have I known
of all the families of the Earth;
therefore I will punish you
for all your iniquities.

Do two walk together
unless they have made and appointment?

Does a lion roar in the forest
when he has no prey?

Does a young lion cry out from his den
if he has taken nothing?

Does a bird fall in a snare
when there is no trap for it?

Does a snare spring up from the ground
if nothing has triggered it?

Is a trumpet blown in a city
and the people are not afraid?

Does evil befall a city
unless the Lord has done it?

Surely the Lord God does nothing
without revealing his secret
to his friends the prophets.

The lion has roared;
who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken;
who can but prophesy?”

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3 responses

  1. This seems to imply that the author is running into a certain amount of opposition, is needing to 'justify' his activities. Saying, 'A person's gotta do what a person's gotta do.' Or rather: 'I have to say this, even though you aren't going to like it, because it really is what's going on now!'

  2. What has the King James version done for me lately? I had to look this up. A phrase or a jingle. I thought I once heard it asked – “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” It felt a little awkward to read here about walking together by appointment. I looked up the Hebrew: “ya`ad.” That settled nothing. I next read this text again several times. And came to understand that maybe I’ve never understood it. I’ve assumed this saying aimed at soliciting agreement between people and righteousness. I assumed a simple and straightforward solicitation. I’m now wondering if this is sarcasm in the form of saying that the only agreement is a unilateral agreement on God’s part (in Amos’s mind) to scold and punish and confront. The litany of destructions here now look like the appointment. And the only mutual agreement (people and God) as the one that failed? Simple stuff, this. But my head’s spinning. I think it’s correct to see opposition fueling the fires of these words. John Adams characterized himself as obnoxious and contentious. Adams knew (as against the refined Jefferson in their early friendship) that his pugnacious style and advocacy both met and created enemies. For not being a member of the schools of the prophets, Amos sprays shotgun shot in every direction. Bound to make enemies.

  3. 'King James' might be keeping a worthwhile sense of things here; Hebrew is often ambiguous– one of the reasons I've found synagogues open to a wider range of interpretations than churches have been, so far!Had there really been a divine/national covenant in effect? Or was this a legendary thing, an assumption of the later religious faction(s) that inherited these words, plus some (possibly earlier) traditions, and then assembled a Bible out of them? I think Amo's assumption is that God has taken the Hebrews on via some such agreement– but that everyone involved was not in accord with it. It was, at this point, more of a customary background to life than any specific legal document. People grew up into this expectation, were told they were locked into their ancestors' religious contract– and they kept finding it very inconvenient. They started, over & over, trying to go some other direction.& hence, Amos has got something to say here…

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