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Amos 4:1-3


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

You 2  oppress the poor;

you crush the needy.

You say to your 3  husbands,

“Bring us more to drink!” 4 

4:2 The sovereign Lord confirms this oath by his own holy character: 5 

“Certainly the time is approaching 6 

when you will be carried away 7  in baskets, 8 

every last one of you 9  in fishermen’s pots. 10 

4:3 Each of you will go straight through the gaps in the walls; 11 

you will be thrown out 12  toward Harmon.” 13 

The Lord is speaking!

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[4:1]  1 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]  2 tn Heb “the ones who” (three times in this verse).

[4:1]  3 tn Heb “their.”

[4:1]  4 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]  5 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]  6 tn Heb “Look, certainly days are coming upon you”; NRSV “the time is surely coming upon you.”

[4:2]  7 tn Heb “one will carry you away”; NASB “they will take you away.”

[4:2]  8 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]  9 tn Or “your children”; KJV “your posterity.”

[4:2]  10 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]  11 tn Heb “and [through the] breaches you will go out, each straight ahead.”

[4:3]  12 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]  13 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”).

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