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Amos 2:6-8

God Will Judge Israel

2:6 This is what the Lord says:

“Because Israel has committed three covenant transgressions 1 

make that four! 2  – I will not revoke my decree of judgment. 3 

They sold the innocent 4  for silver,

the needy for a pair of sandals. 5 

2:7 They trample 6  on the dirt-covered heads of the poor; 7 

they push the destitute away. 8 

A man and his father go to the same girl; 9 

in this way they show disrespect 10  for my moral purity. 11 

2:8 They stretch out on clothing seized as collateral;

they do so right 12  beside every altar!

They drink wine bought with the fines they have levied;

they do so right in the temple 13  of their God! 14 

Amos 4:1-3


4:1 Listen to this message, you cows of Bashan 15  who live on Mount Samaria!

You 16  oppress the poor;

you crush the needy.

You say to your 17  husbands,

“Bring us more to drink!” 18 

4:2 The sovereign Lord confirms this oath by his own holy character: 19 

“Certainly the time is approaching 20 

when you will be carried away 21  in baskets, 22 

every last one of you 23  in fishermen’s pots. 24 

4:3 Each of you will go straight through the gaps in the walls; 25 

you will be thrown out 26  toward Harmon.” 27 

The Lord is speaking!

Amos 5:10-13


5:10 The Israelites 28  hate anyone who arbitrates at the city gate; 29 

they despise anyone who speaks honestly.

5:11 Therefore, because you make the poor pay taxes on their crops 30 

and exact a grain tax from them,

you will not live in the houses you built with chiseled stone,

nor will you drink the wine from the fine 31  vineyards you planted. 32 

5:12 Certainly 33  I am aware of 34  your many rebellious acts 35 

and your numerous sins.

You 36  torment the innocent, you take bribes,

and you deny justice to 37  the needy at the city gate. 38 

5:13 For this reason whoever is smart 39  keeps quiet 40  in such a time,

for it is an evil 41  time.

Amos 6:1-7

The Party is over for the Rich

6:1 Woe 42  to those who live in ease in Zion, 43 

to those who feel secure on Mount Samaria.

They think of themselves as 44  the elite class of the best nation.

The family 45  of Israel looks to them for leadership. 46 

6:2 They say to the people: 47 

“Journey over to Calneh and look at it!

Then go from there to Hamath-Rabbah! 48 

Then go down to Gath of the Philistines!

Are they superior to our two 49  kingdoms?

Is their territory larger than yours?” 50 

6:3 You refuse to believe a day of disaster will come, 51 

but you establish a reign of violence. 52 

6:4 They lie around on beds decorated with ivory, 53 

and sprawl out on their couches.

They eat lambs from the flock,

and calves from the middle of the pen.

6:5 They sing 54  to the tune of 55  stringed instruments; 56 

like David they invent 57  musical instruments.

6:6 They drink wine from sacrificial bowls, 58 

and pour the very best oils on themselves. 59 

Yet they are not concerned over 60  the ruin 61  of Joseph.

6:7 Therefore they will now be the first to go into exile, 62 

and the religious banquets 63  where they sprawl on couches 64  will end.

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[2:6]  1 tn For this translation see the note at 2:4.

[2:6]  2 tn Heb “Because of three violations of Israel, even because of four.”

[2:6]  sn On the three…four style that introduces each of the judgment oracles of chaps. 1-2 see the note on the word “four” in 1:3. Only in this last oracle against Israel does one find the list of four specific violations expected based on the use of a similar formula elsewhere in wisdom literature (see Prov 30:18-19, 29-31). This adaptation of the normal pattern indicates the Lord’s focus on Israel here (he is too bent on judging Israel to dwell very long on her neighbors) and emphasizes Israel’s guilt with respect to the other nations (Israel’s list fills up before the others’ lists do). See R. B. Chisholm, “‘For three sins...even for four’: the numerical sayings in Amos,” BSac 147 (1990) 188-97.

[2:6]  3 tn Heb “I will not bring it [or “him”] back.” The translation understands the pronominal object to refer to the decree of judgment that follows; the referent (the decree) has been specified in the translation for clarity. For another option see the note on the word “judgment” in 1:3.

[2:6]  4 tn Or “honest” (CEV, NLT). The Hebrew word sometimes has a moral-ethical connotation, “righteous, godly,” but the parallelism (note “poor”) suggests a socio-economic or legal sense here. The practice of selling debtors as slaves is in view (Exod 21:2-11; Lev 25:35-55; Deut 15:12-18) See the note at Exod 21:8 and G. C. Chirichigno, Debt-Slavery in Israel and the Ancient Near East (JSOTSup). Probably the only “crime” the victim had committed was being unable to pay back a loan or an exorbitant interest rate on a loan. Some have suggested that this verse refers to bribery in legal proceedings: The innocent are “sold” in the sense that those in power pay off the elders or judges for favorable decisions (5:12; cf. Exod 23:6-7).

[2:6]  5 tn Perhaps the expression “for a pair of sandals” indicates a relatively small price or debt. Some suggest that the sandals may have been an outward token of a more substantial purchase price. Others relate the sandals to a ritual attached to the transfer of property, signifying here that the poor would be losing their inherited family lands because of debt (Ruth 4:7; cf. Deut 25:8-10). Still others emend the Hebrew form slightly to נֶעְלָם (nelam, “hidden thing”; from the root עָלַם, ’alam, “to hide”) and understand this as referring to a bribe.

[2:7]  6 tn Most scholars now understand this verb as derived from the root II שָׁאַף (shaaf, “to crush; to trample”), an alternate form of שׁוּף (shuf), rather than from I שָׁאַף (shaaf, “to pant, to gasp”; cf. KJV, ASV, NASB).

[2:7]  7 tn Heb “those who stomp on the dirt of the ground on the head of the poor.” It is possible to render the line as “they trample the heads of the poor into the dust of the ground,” thereby communicating that the poor are being stepped on in utter contempt (see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 79-80). The participial form הַשֹּׁאֲפִים (hashoafim) is substantival and stands in apposition to the pronominal suffix on מִכְרָם (mikhram, v. 6b).

[2:7]  sn The picture of the poor having dirt-covered heads suggests their humiliation before their oppressors and/or their sorrow (see 2 Sam 1:2; 15:32).

[2:7]  8 tn Heb “they turn aside the way of the destitute.” Many interpreters take “way” to mean “just cause” and understand this as a direct reference to the rights of the destitute being ignored. The injustice done to the poor is certainly in view, but the statement is better taken as a word picture depicting the powerful rich pushing the “way of the poor” (i.e., their attempt to be treated justly) to the side. An even more vivid picture is given in Amos 5:12, where the rich are pictured as turning the poor away from the city gate (where legal decisions were made, and therefore where justice should be done).

[2:7]  9 sn Most interpreters see some type of sexual immorality here (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT), even though the Hebrew phrase הָלַךְ אֶל (halakhel, “go to”) never refers elsewhere to sexual intercourse. (The usual idiom is בוֹא אֶל [bo’ ’el]. However, S. M. Paul (Amos [Hermeneia], 82) attempts to develop a linguistic case for a sexual connotation here.) The precise identification of the “girl” in question is not clear. Some see the referent as a cultic prostitute (cf. NAB; v. 8 suggests a cultic setting), but the term נַעֲרָה (naarah) nowhere else refers to a prostitute. Because of the contextual emphasis on social oppression, some suggest the exploitation of a slave girl is in view. H. Barstad argues that the “girl” is the hostess at a pagan מַרְזֵחַ (marzeakh) banquet (described at some length in 6:4-7). In his view the sin described here is not sexual immorality, but idolatry (see H. Barstad, The Religious Polemics of Amos [VTSup], 33-36). In this case, one might translate, “Father and son go together to a pagan banquet.” In light of this cultic context, F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman argue that this is a reference to a specific female deity (“the Girl”) and correlate this verse with 8:14 (Amos [AB], 318-19).

[2:7]  10 tn Or “pollute”; “desecrate”; “dishonor.”

[2:7]  11 tn Heb “my holy name.” Here “name” is used metonymically for God’s moral character or reputation, while “holy” has a moral and ethical connotation.

[2:8]  12 tn The words “They do so right” are supplied twice in the translation of this verse for clarification.

[2:8]  13 tn Heb “house.”

[2:8]  14 tn Or “gods.” The Hebrew term אֱלֹהֵיהֶם (’elohehem) may be translated “their gods” (referring to pagan gods), “their god” (referring to a pagan god, cf. NAB, NIV, NLT), or “their God” (referring to the God of Israel, cf. NASB, NRSV).

[4:1]  15 sn The expression cows of Bashan is used by the prophet to address the wealthy women of Samaria, who demand that their husbands satisfy their cravings. The derogatory language perhaps suggests that they, like the livestock of Bashan, were well fed, ironically in preparation for the coming slaughter. This phrase is sometimes cited to critique the book’s view of women.

[4:1]  16 tn Heb “the ones who” (three times in this verse).

[4:1]  17 tn Heb “their.”

[4:1]  18 sn Some commentators relate this scene to the description of the marzeah feast of 6:3-6, in which drinking played a prominent part (see the note at 6:6).

[4:2]  19 tn Heb “swears by his holiness.”

[4:2]  sn The message that follows is an unconditional oath, the fulfillment of which is just as certain as the Lord’s own holy character.

[4:2]  20 tn Heb “Look, certainly days are coming upon you”; NRSV “the time is surely coming upon you.”

[4:2]  21 tn Heb “one will carry you away”; NASB “they will take you away.”

[4:2]  22 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word translated “baskets” is uncertain. The translation follows the suggestion of S. M. Paul (Amos [Hermeneia], 128), who discusses the various options (130-32): “shields” (cf. NEB); “ropes”; “thorns,” which leads to the most favored interpretation, “hooks” (cf. NASB “meat hooks”; NIV, NRSV “hooks”); “baskets,” and (derived from “baskets”) “boats.” Against the latter, it is unlikely that Amos envisioned a deportation by boat for the inhabitants of Samaria! See also the note on the expression “fishermen’s pots” later in this verse.

[4:2]  23 tn Or “your children”; KJV “your posterity.”

[4:2]  24 tn The meaning of the Hebrew expression translated “in fishermen’s pots” is uncertain. The translation follows that of S. M. Paul (Amos [Hermeneia], 128), who discusses the various options (132-33): “thorns,” understood by most modern interpreters to mean (by extension) “fishhooks” (cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV); “boats,” but as mentioned in the previous note on the word “baskets,” a deportation of the Samaritans by boat is geographically unlikely; and “pots,” referring to a container used for packing fish (cf. NEB “fish-baskets”). Paul (p. 134) argues that the imagery comes from the ancient fishing industry. When hauled away into exile, the women of Samaria will be like fish packed and transported to market.

[4:2]  sn The imagery of catching fish in connection with the captivity of Israel is also found in Jer 16:16 and Hab 1:14.

[4:3]  25 tn Heb “and [through the] breaches you will go out, each straight ahead.”

[4:3]  26 tn The Hiphil verb form has no object. It may be intransitive (F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Amos [AB], 425), though many emend it to a Hophal.

[4:3]  27 tn The meaning of this word is unclear. Many understand it as a place name, though such a location is not known. Some (e.g., H. W. Wolff, Joel and Amos [Hermeneia[, 204) emend to “Hermon” or to similarly written words, such as “the dung heap” (NEB, NJPS), “the garbage dump” (NCV), or “the fortress” (cf. NLT “your fortresses”).

[5:10]  28 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the Israelites) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[5:10]  29 sn In ancient Israelite culture, legal disputes were resolved in the city gate, where the town elders met.

[5:11]  30 tn Traditionally, “because you trample on the poor” (cf. KJV, ASV, NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT). The traditional view derives the verb from בּוּס (bus, “to trample”; cf. Isa. 14:25), but more likely it is cognate to an Akkadian verb meaning “to exact an agricultural tax” (see H. R. Cohen, Biblical Hapax Legomena [SBLDS], 49; S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 172-73).

[5:11]  31 tn Or “lovely”; KJV, NASB, NRSV “pleasant”; NAB “choice”; NIV “lush.”

[5:11]  32 tn Heb “Houses of chiseled stone you built, but you will not live in them. Fine vineyards you planted, but you will not drink their wine.”

[5:12]  33 tn Or “for.”

[5:12]  34 tn Or “I know” (so most English versions).

[5:12]  35 tn Or “transgressions,” “sins.” See the note on the word “crimes” in 1:3 and on the phrase “covenant violations” in 2:4.

[5:12]  36 tn Heb “Those who.”

[5:12]  37 tn Heb “turn aside.” They “turn aside” the needy by denying them the justice they deserve at the city gate (where legal decisions were made, and therefore where justice should be done).

[5:12]  38 sn Legal disputes were resolved in the city gate, where the town elders met.

[5:13]  39 tn Or “the wise”; or “the prudent.” Another option is to translate “the successful, prosperous” and understand this as a reference to the rich oppressors. See G. V. Smith, Amos, 169-70. In this case the following verb will also have a different nuance, that is, the wealthy remain silent before the abuses they perpetuate. See the note on the verb translated “keeps quiet” later in this verse.

[5:13]  40 tn Or “moans, laments,” from a homonymic verbal root. If the rich oppressors are in view, then the verb (whether translated “will be silenced” or “will lament”) describes the result of God’s judgment upon them. See G. V. Smith, Amos, 170.

[5:13]  41 tn If this is a judgment announcement against the rich, then the Hebrew phrase עֵת רָעָה (’et raah) must be translated, “[a] disastrous time.” See G. V. Smith, Amos, 170.

[6:1]  42 tn On the Hebrew term הוֹי (hoy; “ah, woe”) as a term of mourning, see the notes in 5:16, 18.

[6:1]  43 sn Zion is a reference to Jerusalem.

[6:1]  44 tn The words “They think of themselves as” are supplied in the translation for clarification. In the Hebrew text the term נְקֻבֵי (nÿquvey; “distinguished ones, elite”) is in apposition to the substantival participles in the first line.

[6:1]  45 tn Heb “house.”

[6:1]  46 tn Heb “comes to them.”

[6:2]  47 tn The words “They say to the people” are interpretive and supplied in the translation for clarification. The translation understands v. 2 as the boastful words, which the leaders (described in v. 1) spoke to those who came to them (v. 1b). Some interpret v. 2 differently, understanding the words as directed to the leaders by the prophet. Verse 2b would then be translated: “Are you (i.e., Israel and Judah) better than these kingdoms (i.e., Calneh, etc.)? Is your border larger than their border?” (This reading requires an emendation of the Hebrew text toward the end of the verse.) In this case the verse is a reminder to Judah/Israel that they are not superior to other nations, which have already fallen victim to military conquest. Consequently Judah/Israel should not expect to escape the same fate. Following this line of interpretation, some take v. 2 as a later addition since the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser III conquered Calneh, Hamath, and Gath after the time of Amos’ ministry. However, this conclusion is not necessary since the kingdoms mentioned here had suffered military setbacks prior to Amos’ time as well. See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 201-4.

[6:2]  48 tn Or “Great Hamath” (cf. NIV); or “Hamath the great” (cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); the word “rabbah” means “great” in Hebrew.

[6:2]  49 tn Heb “to these,” referring to Judah and Israel (see v. 1a).

[6:2]  50 tn Both rhetorical questions in this verse expect the answer “no.” If these words do come from the leaders, then this verse underscores their self-delusion of power (compare 6:13). The prophet had no such mistaken sense of national grandeur (7:2, 5).

[6:3]  51 tn Heb “those who push away a day of disaster.”

[6:3]  52 tn Heb “you bring near a seat of violence.” The precise meaning of the Hebrew term שֶׁבֶת (shevet, “seat, sitting”) is unclear in this context. The translation assumes that it refers to a throne from which violence (in the person of the oppressive leaders) reigns. Another option is that the expression refers not to the leaders’ oppressive rule, but to the coming judgment when violence will overtake the nation in the person of enemy invaders.

[6:4]  53 tn Heb “beds of ivory.”

[6:5]  54 tn The meaning of the Hebrew verb פָּרַט (parat), which occurs only here in the OT, is unclear. Some translate “strum,” “pluck,” or “improvise.”

[6:5]  55 tn Heb “upon the mouth of,” that is, “according to.”

[6:5]  56 sn The stringed instruments mentioned here are probably harps (cf. NIV, NRSV) or lutes (cf. NEB).

[6:5]  57 tn The meaning of the Hebrew phrase חָשְׁבוּ לָהֶם (khoshvu lahem) is uncertain. Various options include: (1) “they think their musical instruments are like David’s”; (2) “they consider themselves musicians like David”; (3) “they esteem musical instruments highly like David”; (4) “they improvise [new songs] for themselves [on] instruments like David”; (5) “they invent musical instruments like David.” However, the most commonly accepted interpretation is that given in the translation (see S. M. Paul, Amos [Hermeneia], 206-7).

[6:6]  58 sn Perhaps some religious rite is in view, or the size of the bowls is emphasized (i.e., bowls as large as sacrificial bowls).

[6:6]  59 tn Heb “with the best of oils they anoint [themselves].”

[6:6]  60 tn Or “not sickened by.”

[6:6]  61 sn The ruin of Joseph may refer to the societal disintegration in Israel, or to the effects of the impending judgment.

[6:7]  62 tn Heb “they will go into exile at the head of the exiles.”

[6:7]  63 sn Religious banquets. This refers to the מַרְזֵחַ (marzeakh), a type of pagan religious banquet popular among the upper class of Israel at this time and apparently associated with mourning. See P. King, Amos, Hosea, Micah, 137-61; J. L. McLaughlin, The “Marzeah” in the Prophetic Literature (VTSup). Scholars debate whether at this banquet the dead were simply remembered or actually venerated in a formal, cultic sense.

[6:7]  64 tn Heb “of the sprawled out.” See v. 4.

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