Friday, April 22, 2016

Amos 4

Inasmuch as we try to be understandable, yet we fail. A friend really tried to 'get into' my book on the Psalms, and he said to me, Bob, I have great capacity with numbers, but these words are too difficult for me. Really, I did not know this. I do not intend to be incomprehensible. Another very well educated famous specialist and scientist once said to me, Bob, your grammar is clear, but I haven't a clue what you are saying.

I am not alone in this problem. What is Amos saying here? That God will somehow win our hearts by pommeling us to death? By calling us names? And is it even possible to say that the grammar is clear for it certainly isn't to me sometimes!

But perhaps there is enough sarcasm in this section to show the reversal of meaning that is intended. Who 'really' causes trouble? Sure there are natural disasters, but human damage to the needy, to the created order, is also a disaster. Our capacity is abused by ourselves.

Of course I could put a poster board on for this prophet - Moab is my washpot was one side of the board, and His underparts are like sharp potsherds the other side some 40 years ago on one Halloween costume I wore. My wife wanted me to know what people thought of my preaching. (Me preach? never, well, maybe once.)

The repetition is very clear - 7 oracles, 5 times, and you do not turn to me. I use the simple word turn to be difficult to understand of course. I could have said repent and return as an incendiary speaker might have done. But I didn't say repent to show how easy it is to start. Rather than an inner twisting of the spirit, it is an untwisting. Much easier to do. Impossible to understand.

And I used the present tense. (I have come to the conclusion that translating 'tenses' is a bit of a free for all.)

Does the music (see below) give us additional information on the tone of voice? I have underlined the horned accents. Have I included enough alliteration to suggest that Yahweh is not destroying the people for fun? But for longing for what is right out of love for them. Does the prophet blame God for the disaster? Really, is this how it is to be read? I think it is to be read as an encouragement for the political class in Samaria to stop their oppression of the weak and their damaging of the needy. Is it any different today? I wonder - was Amos contemporary with Amaziah? I haven't read the rest of the book yet. There is a priest of that name, but not the king. Jeroboam appears to be king. Good grief I might even learn some of the history with this reading exercise. I certainly was not effective at this the way I used to read. (But then, I forget everything these days, so it may not make much difference to me, whether I forgot it instantly in my youthful speed reading, or forget it gradually from my aged slowness in Hebrew.)

Amos 4
שִׁמְע֞וּ הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֗ה פָּר֤וֹת הַבָּשָׁן֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ בְּהַ֣ר שֹֽׁמְר֔וֹן הָעֹשְׁק֣וֹת דַּלִּ֔ים הָרֹצְצ֖וֹת אֶבְיוֹנִ֑ים
הָאֹמְרֹ֥ת לַאֲדֹֽנֵיהֶ֖ם הָבִ֥יאָה וְנִשְׁתֶּֽה
1 Hear this word, young bulls of Bashan who are in the hill of Samaria, the oppressors of the weak, who damage the needy,
who say to their masters, Come let's party.
29
14
נִשְׁבַּ֨ע אֲדֹנָ֤י יְהוִה֙ בְּקָדְשׁ֔וֹ כִּ֛י הִנֵּ֥ה יָמִ֖ים בָּאִ֣ים עֲלֵיכֶ֑ם
וְנִשָּׂ֤א אֶתְכֶם֙ בְּצִנּ֔וֹת וְאַחֲרִיתְכֶ֖ן בְּסִיר֥וֹת דּוּגָֽה
2 My lord Yahweh has sworn in his holiness that behold days are coming upon you,
and he will lift you up with grappling hooks and those who come after you with fish-pots.
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18
וּפְרָצִ֥ים תֵּצֶ֖אנָה אִשָּׁ֣ה נֶגְדָּ֑הּ
וְהִשְׁלַכְתֶּ֥נָה הַהַרְמ֖וֹנָה נְאֻם יְהוָֽה
3 And the breaches, you will go forth, each woman announced,
and you will cast them down towards the Harmon. An oracle of Yahweh.
10
13
בֹּ֤אוּ בֵֽית אֵל֙ וּפִשְׁע֔וּ הַגִּלְגָּ֖ל הַרְבּ֣וּ לִפְשֹׁ֑עַ
וְהָבִ֤יאוּ לַבֹּ֙קֶר֙ זִבְחֵיכֶ֔ם לִשְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת יָמִ֖ים מַעְשְׂרֹֽתֵיכֶֽם
4 Enter Bethel and transgress. At the Gilgal increase transgression,
and come to the morning of your offerings for the three days of your tithes.
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20
וְקַטֵּ֤ר מֵֽחָמֵץ֙ תּוֹדָ֔ה וְקִרְא֥וּ נְדָב֖וֹת הַשְׁמִ֑יעוּ
כִּ֣י כֵ֤ן אֲהַבְתֶּם֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל נְאֻ֖ם אֲדֹנָ֥י יְהוִֽה
5 And burn incense. With leaven, give thanks. And proclaim freewill offerings. Broadcast,
for such you love, O children of Israel, an oracle of my Lord Yahweh.
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17
וְגַם אֲנִי֩ נָתַ֨תִּי לָכֶ֜ם נִקְי֤וֹן שִׁנַּ֙יִם֙ בְּכָל עָ֣רֵיכֶ֔ם וְחֹ֣סֶר לֶ֔חֶם בְּכֹ֖ל מְקוֹמֹֽתֵיכֶ֑ם
וְלֹֽא שַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָדַ֖י נְאֻם יְהוָֽה
6 And moreover, I myself have made for you pristine teeth in all your cities and dearth of bread in all your places,
and you do not turn to me. An oracle of Yahweh.
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10
וְגַ֣ם אָנֹכִי֩ מָנַ֨עְתִּי מִכֶּ֜ם אֶת הַגֶּ֗שֶׁם בְּע֨וֹד שְׁלֹשָׁ֤ה חֳדָשִׁים֙ לַקָּצִ֔יר וְהִמְטַרְתִּי֙ עַל עִ֣יר אֶחָ֔ת וְעַל עִ֥יר אַחַ֖ת לֹ֣א אַמְטִ֑יר
חֶלְקָ֤ה אַחַת֙ תִּמָּטֵ֔ר וְחֶלְקָ֛ה אֲשֶֽׁר לֹֽא תַמְטִ֥יר עָלֶ֖יהָ תִּיבָֽשׁ
7 And moreover, I myself withheld from you the showers three months before harvest, and I made it rain over one city and over another city I made it not rain.
One share it rained on, and the share that it rained on did not dry out.
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20
וְנָע֡וּ שְׁתַּיִם֩ שָׁלֹ֨שׁ עָרִ֜ים אֶל עִ֥יר אַחַ֛ת לִשְׁתּ֥וֹת מַ֖יִם וְלֹ֣א יִשְׂבָּ֑עוּ
וְלֹֽא שַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָדַ֖י נְאֻם יְהוָֽה
8 And two, three cities tottered to one city to party with water but they were not satisfied,
and you do not turn to me. An oracle of Yahweh.
21
10
הִכֵּ֣יתִי אֶתְכֶם֮ בַּשִּׁדָּפ֣וֹן וּבַיֵּרָקוֹן֒ הַרְבּ֨וֹת גַּנּוֹתֵיכֶ֧ם וְכַרְמֵיכֶ֛ם וּתְאֵנֵיכֶ֥ם וְזֵיתֵיכֶ֖ם יֹאכַ֣ל הַגָּזָ֑ם
וְלֹֽא שַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָדַ֖י נְאֻם יְהוָֽה
9 I struck you with blight and with mildew. Increased were your gardens and your vineyards, your fig tree and your olive, to be devoured by the nymph,
and you did not turn to me. An oracle of Yahweh.
37
10
שִׁלַּ֨חְתִּי בָכֶ֥ם דֶּ֙בֶר֙ בְּדֶ֣רֶךְ מִצְרַ֔יִם הָרַ֤גְתִּי בַחֶ֙רֶב֙ בַּח֣וּרֵיכֶ֔ם עִ֖ם שְׁבִ֣י סֽוּסֵיכֶ֑ם
וָאַעֲלֶ֞ה בְּאֹ֤שׁ מַחֲנֵיכֶם֙ וּֽבְאַפְּכֶ֔ם וְלֹֽא שַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָדַ֖י נְאֻם יְהוָֽה
10 I sent among you pestilence in the way of Egypt. I have slain by the sword your chosen along with capturing your horses.
And I have made the stink of your camps ascend and into your noses, and you do not turn to me. An oracle of Yahweh.
28
23
הָפַ֣כְתִּי בָכֶ֗ם כְּמַהְפֵּכַ֤ת אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת סְדֹ֣ם וְאֶת עֲמֹרָ֔ה וַתִּהְי֕וּ כְּא֖וּד מֻצָּ֣ל מִשְׂרֵפָ֑ה
וְלֹֽא שַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָדַ֖י נְאֻם יְהוָֽה
11 I have changed in you as God changed Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were as an incendiary emancipated from the incinerator,
and you do not turn to me. An oracle of Yahweh.
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10
לָכֵ֕ן כֹּ֥ה אֶעֱשֶׂה לְּךָ֖ יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל
עֵ֚קֶב כִּֽי זֹ֣את אֶֽעֱשֶׂה לָּ֔ךְ הִכּ֥וֹן לִקְרַאת אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל
12 Therefore thus I will undertake for you, O Israel.
Inasmuch as I will undertake this for you, prepare for the encounter with your God, O Israel.
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19
כִּ֡י הִנֵּה֩ יוֹצֵ֨ר הָרִ֜ים וּבֹרֵ֣א ר֗וּחַ וּמַגִּ֤יד לְאָדָם֙ מַה שֵּׂח֔וֹ עֹשֵׂ֥ה שַׁ֙חַר֙ עֵיפָ֔ה וְדֹרֵ֖ךְ עַל בָּ֣מֳתֵי אָ֑רֶץ
יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵֽי צְבָא֖וֹת שְׁמֽוֹ
13 For behold, he who fashions hills and creates wind and makes clear to the earthling what is his pondering, who makes dawn's faintness, and a way over the high places of the land,
Yahweh God of hosts is his name.
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