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Amos 5:21-27


5:21 “I absolutely despise 1  your festivals!

I get no pleasure 2  from your religious assemblies!

5:22 Even if you offer me burnt and grain offerings, 3  I will not be satisfied;

I will not look with favor on your peace offerings of fattened calves. 4 

5:23 Take away from me your 5  noisy songs;

I don’t want to hear the music of your stringed instruments. 6 

5:24 Justice must flow like torrents of water,

righteous actions 7  like a stream that never dries up.

5:25 You did not bring me 8  sacrifices and grain offerings during the forty years you spent in the wilderness, family 9  of Israel.

5:26 You will pick up your images 10  of Sikkuth, 11  your king, 12 

and Kiyyun, 13  your star god, which you made for yourselves,

5:27 and I will drive you into exile beyond Damascus,” says the Lord.

He is called the God who commands armies!

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[5:21]  1 tn Heb “I hate”; “I despise.”

[5:21]  2 tn Heb “I will not smell.” These verses are full of vivid descriptions of the Lord’s total rejection of Israelite worship. In the first half of this verse two verbs are used together for emphasis. Here the verb alludes to the sense of smell, a fitting observation since offerings would have been burned on the altar ideally to provide a sweet aroma to God (see, e.g., Lev 1:9, 13, 17; Num 29:36). Other senses that are mentioned include sight and hearing in vv. 22-23.

[5:22]  3 tn Heb “burnt offerings and your grain offerings.”

[5:22]  4 tn Heb “Peace offering[s], your fattened calves, I will not look at.”

[5:23]  5 tn In this verse the second person suffixes are singular and not plural like they are in vv. 21-22 and vv. 25-27. Some have suggested that perhaps a specific individual or group within the nation is in view.

[5:23]  6 tn The Hebrew word probably refers to “harps” (NASB, NIV, NRSV) or “lutes” (NEB).

[5:24]  7 tn Traditionally, “righteousness.”

[5:25]  8 tn Heb “Did you bring me…?” This rhetorical question expects a negative answer. The point seems to be this: Since sacrifices did not characterize God’s relationship with Israel during the nation’s formative years, the people should not consider them to be so fundamental. The Lord places a higher priority on justice than he does on empty ritual.

[5:25]  sn Like Jer 7:22-23, this passage seems to contradict the Pentateuchal accounts that indicate Israel did offer sacrifices during the wilderness period. It is likely that both Amos and Jeremiah overstate the case to emphasize the relative insignificance of sacrifices in comparison to weightier matters of the covenant. See R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 428.

[5:25]  9 tn Heb “house.”

[5:26]  10 tn This word appears in an awkward position in the Hebrew, following “Kiyyun.” It is placed here for better sense.

[5:26]  11 tn The Hebrew term סִכּוּת (sikkut) apparently refers to Sakkuth, a Mesopotamian star god identified with Ninurta in an Ugaritic god list. The name is vocalized in the Hebrew text after the pattern of שִׁקוּץ (shiqquts, “detestable thing”). See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 195-96. Some English versions, following the LXX, translate as “tent” or “shrine” (NEB, NIV), pointing the term as סֻכַּת (sukkat; cf. 9:11).

[5:26]  12 tc LXX, Vulgate, and Acts 7:43 read “Moloch” (cf. KJV). The Hebrew consonants are the same for both “king” and “Moloch” (מֹלֶךְ; molekh).

[5:26]  13 tn The Hebrew term כִּיּוּן (kiyyun) apparently refers to the Mesopotamian god Kayamanu, or Saturn. The name, like “Sikkuth” in the previous line, is vocalized in the Hebrew text after the pattern of שִׁקוּץ (shiqquts, “detestable thing”). See S. M. Paul, Amos (Hermeneia), 195-96. Some versions translate as “pedestal” (NEB, NIV), relating the term to the root כּוּן (kun).

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