John Elliott Lein

Writer, Artist, Designer and Theology Nerd

The Book of Amos

I've been learning and appreciating more about the Bible in general for the past few years, but last fall I was turned on to the prophet Amos in particular through the work of Marcus Borg in his book "Convictions". This book came into my life at the perfect time, as I was watching my understanding of the Bible as inerrant fall to pieces and wondering what to do next. Through Amos, among others, we can see a vision for the dream of God far beyond individual afterlife theories. God is for justice.

I've been working on a project to pull out many often-unseen details, and make the patterns clearer through a new paraphrase translation and a page layout that contributes to understanding. I started with the ASV, and began editing with the help of various commentaries and comparing other translations:

Here's what I have so far:

The words of Amos,
  come from Judah to prophesy in Israel.

One among the shepherd clans of Tekoa in Judah,
   not of the prophetic guild
a herd owner by trade.

He saw these words concerning the nation of Israel,
   in the reign of King Uzziah of Judah,
   in the reign of Jeroboam the son of King Joash of Israel,
   two years before the great shaking of the earth in 760 BCE,
   one generation before the destruction of Israel by Assyria.

The First Sermon

And he said:

   “Yahweh is roaring from Zion,
      thundering from Jerusalem.

   The pastures of the shepherds wilt in mourning,
      the fertile summit of Mount Carmel withers in judgement.”

Yahweh shouts: 

“For three atrocities of your rival-neighbor Damascus
          — no, four! — I shall not turn away my judgment.

They threshed their neighbor Gilead
          with heavy weight and savage rending teeth of iron.

“Therefore I shall send fire upon the house of Haza’el,
          and it shall devour the palaces of Ben-Hadad.

I shall shatter the bar of the gate of Damascus.

I shall cut off the enthroned king of the Valley of the Wicked,
          the holder of the royal scepter of the House of Pleasure.

The people of Syria shall be forced back to Kir in exile,”

thus spoke Yahweh.

Yahweh proclaims: 

“For three violations of Gaza of the Philistines
          — no, four! — I shall not rescind my judgment.

They carried off an entire people into exile;
          sold them as slaves to Edom.

“Therefore I shall breath fire upon the wall of Gaza,
          and it shall devour her fortresses and lords.

And I shall overthrow the ruler of Ashdod,
          and the one who holds the scepter in Askelon.

I shall strike Ekron with my hand, back and forth,
          and every last one of the Philistines will be lost,”

thus spoke Yahweh the Lord of all.

Yahweh says:

“For three crimes of your wealthy neighbor Tyre of Phoenicia
no, four! — I will not rescind my judgment.

They carried away captive a whole people into exile in Edom,
not remembering the brotherly covenant with Solomon.

“Therefore I will send fire on the walls of Tyre.
It will devour her palaces.”

Yahweh says:

“For three violations of your relative Edom
          — no, four! — I will not rescind my judgment. 

They pursued their relatives with the sword,
          stilled their pity,
          cherished their anger continually,
          retained their fury forever.

“Therefore I will send a fire into Teman.
It will destroy the palaces of Bozrah.”

Yahweh says:

“For three transgressions of your cousin the Ammonites
          — no, four! — I will not rescind my judgment.

They have ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead,
          destroying rightful heirs in their desire for land.

“Therefore I will kindle a fire on the wall of Rabbah. 

It will destroy her palaces,
          with a war-cry in the day of battle,
          with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind.

Their king will go into exile,
          he and his nobles together,”

spoke Yahweh.

Yahweh says: 

“For three crimes of your cousin Moab
          — no, four! — I will not rescind my judgment.

They have burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom,
          to desecrate the dead.

“Therefore I will send a fire into Moab.

It will devour the palaces of Kirioth,
          with a war-cry,
          with the sound of trumpets.

I will kill the ruler,
          all his nobles I will slay with him,”

spoke Yahweh.

Yahweh whispers: 

“For the three crimes of your brother Judah
          — no, four! — I will not rescind my judgment.

They have rejected the law of Yahweh,
          and have not kept his statutes,
          but their false gods their ancestors followed,
          have led them astray.


“Therefore I will send a fire on Judah.
          It will devour the palaces of Jerusalem.”

Yahweh thunders: 

“For the three abominations of you yourself, O Israel
          — no, four! — I will not rescind my judgment.

“They sell judgement against the righteous for money,
          the needy for a pair of shoes.

They trample on the head of the poor,
          push the humble out of the way.

Father and son go to the same temple girl,
          and so profane my holy name.

They stretch themselves on garments taken in pledges beside every altar,
          and they drink the wine of those who have been fined in the house of their God.