Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.
2 The Lord God hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.
3 And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is before her; and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the Lord.
4 Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years:
5 And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord God.
6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.
7 And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.
8 So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.
9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.
10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.
11 I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.
12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.
13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.
Amos prophesies against the oppressors of the poor and needy (vv. 1-3); the idolaters who continue in the lust of their heart (vv. 4,5); and the unrepentant who will face God’s judgments (vv. 6-13).
God, who cannot tolerate iniquity forever, pledges to avenge Israel’s unholy practices. The wicked are taken as fish caught with hooks, meaning, helpless before their enemies, which are God’s instruments to punish the rebellious (v.2). Their punishment was painful to them as the hook causes pain to the fish and doubly painful when it resists.
Calling Israel to Bethel, the chief seat of their idol worship, Amos mockingly points out how zealous they are to sin by urging them to come there and sin more. “It is sad but often true that those who shamefully violate the simplest moral duties manifest along with this course a great religious zeal. Religious zeal in itself is no evidence of true piety. Further, this outward religious form and exercise often compensates for lack of real inner righteousness and thus soothes the conscience.” (SDABC 4:966). It is easier to sin and then do penance than to crucify the flesh and separate from sin.
Deepati Vara Prasad
Watchman Publishing House, India