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Amos 8:4-8


8:4 Listen to this, you who trample 1  the needy,

and do away with 2  the destitute in the land.

8:5 You say,

“When will the new moon festival 3  be over, 4  so we can sell grain?

When will the Sabbath end, 5  so we can open up the grain bins? 6 

We’re eager 7  to sell less for a higher price, 8 

and to cheat the buyer with rigged scales! 9 

8:6 We’re eager to trade silver for the poor, 10 

a pair of sandals 11  for the needy!

We want to mix in some chaff with the grain!” 12 

8:7 The Lord confirms this oath 13  by the arrogance of Jacob: 14 

“I swear 15  I will never forget all you have done! 16 

8:8 Because of this the earth 17  will quake, 18 

and all who live in it will mourn.

The whole earth 19  will rise like the River Nile, 20 

it will surge upward 21  and then grow calm, 22  like the Nile in Egypt. 23 

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[8:4]  1 tn See the note on the word “trample” in 2:7.

[8:4]  2 tn Or “put an end to”; or “exterminate.”

[8:5]  3 sn Apparently work was prohibited during the new moon festival, just as it was on the Sabbath.

[8:5]  4 tn Heb “pass by.”

[8:5]  5 tn The verb, though omitted in the Hebrew text, is supplied in the translation from the parallel line.

[8:5]  6 tn Heb “sell grain.” Here “grain” could stand by metonymy for the bins where it was stored.

[8:5]  7 tn Here and in v. 6 the words “we’re eager” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

[8:5]  8 tn Heb “to make small the ephah and to make great the shekel.” The “ephah” was a unit of dry measure used to determine the quantity purchased, while the “shekel” was a standard weight used to determine the purchase price. By using a smaller than standard ephah and a heavier than standard shekel, these merchants were able to increase their profit (“sell less for a higher price”) by cheating the buyer.

[8:5]  9 tn Heb “and to cheat with deceptive scales”; NASB, NIV “dishonest scales”; NRSV “false balances.”

[8:5]  sn Rigged scales may refer to bending the crossbar or shifting the center point of the scales to make the amount weighed appear heavier than it actually was, thus cheating the buyer.

[8:6]  10 tn Heb “to buy the poor for silver.”

[8:6]  sn The expression trade silver for the poor refers to the slave trade.

[8:6]  11 tn See the note on the word “sandals” in 2:6.

[8:6]  12 tn Heb “The chaff of the grain we will sell.”

[8:7]  13 tn Or “swears.”

[8:7]  14 sn In an oath one appeals to something permanent to emphasize one’s commitment to the promise. Here the Lord sarcastically swears by the arrogance of Jacob, which he earlier had condemned (6:8), something just as enduring as the Lord’s own life (see 6:8) or unchanging character (see 4:2). Other suggestions include that the Lord is swearing by the land, his most valuable possession (cf. Isa 4:2; Ps 47:4 [47:5 HT]); that this is a divine epithet analogous to “the Glory of Israel” (1 Sam 15:29); or that an ellipsis should be understood here, in which case the meaning is the same as that of 6:8 (“The Lord has sworn [by himself] against the arrogance of Jacob”).

[8:7]  15 tn The words “I swear” are not in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied in the translation because a self-imprecation is assumed in oaths of this type.

[8:7]  16 tn Or “I will never forget all your deeds.”

[8:8]  17 tn Or “land” (also later in this verse).

[8:8]  18 tn It is not clear whether the speaker in this verse is the Lord or the prophet.

[8:8]  19 tn Heb “all of it.”

[8:8]  20 tc The MT reads “like the light” (כָאֹר, khaor; note this term also appears in v. 9), which is commonly understood to be an error for “like the Nile” (כִּיאוֹר, kior). See the parallel line and Amos 9:5. The word “River” is supplied in the translation for clarity. If this emendation is correct, in the Hebrew of Amos “Nile” is actually spelled three slightly different ways.

[8:8]  sn The movement of the quaking earth is here compared to the annual flooding and receding of the River Nile.

[8:8]  21 tn Or “churn.”

[8:8]  22 tn Or “sink back down.” The translation assumes the verb שָׁקַע (shaqa’), following the Qere.

[8:8]  23 tn The entire verse is phrased in a series of rhetorical questions which anticipate the answer, “Of course!” (For example, the first line reads, “Because of this will the earth not quake?”). The rhetorical questions entrap the listener in the logic of the judgment of God (cf. 3:3-6; 9:7). The rhetorical questions have been converted to affirmative statements in the translation for clarity.

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