OT Encounters: Amos 5:18-24

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament text for this Sunday, November 12, 2017, comes from the prophet Amos in the Book of the Twelve. The text is Amos 5:18-24, which illustrates the common theme in Amos of a complete reversal of what is expected. Thus, The Day of the LORD will not be a bright day, but rather a dark one. This is a result of Israel turning “eschatology into escapism” (R. Lessing; Amos Commentary). Note that this is not unlike the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day. They had specific expectations concerning the coming of the Messiah which would support and allow them to “escape” their current situation, but Jesus turns these expectations on their head, reversing them. Amos’ “Day of the LORD” language (also found in other prophets) is eschatological language which looks beyond the idea of the restoration of Israel. Finally, we see in this text metaphors that link us intimately into the New Testament and the Messiah. The “darkness” of the Day of the LORD can be connected to the Good Friday darkness that descends at Jesus’ death on the cross, and the water motif in verse 24 connected to justice and righteousness points us to the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

5:18 Hoy—“alas; woe” Usually followed by a noun or participle explaining the malady.

       Hamithawim—root: awah—hithpael participle: “to wish for; desire; long for”


Note: They expect light, but it will be darkness (Lessing points to this as reversing creation).

5:19 Haariy—root: ariy—“lion”

         Wuphgao—root: paga—“to confront; to assault someone”

         Wesamak—root: samak—“to lean on; lean against”

         Wunshako—root: nashak—“to bite”

Note the sequence of verbs that indicate movement but also show there is no escaping judgment.

5:20 Weaphel—“gloomy; dark”

         Nogah—“gleam; brightness”

5:21-24 This section targets the worship practices of the Israelites. Even though these practices may be mandated elsewhere in Scripture, when carried out apart from faith, they are worthless and despised by the LORD.

5:21 Maas—“to reject; despise”

         Chageycem—root: chag—“procession; feast; festival”

         Ariycha—root: ruach/riach—hiphil: “to smell; delight in”

5:22 Ertseh— root: ratsah—“to accept with pleasure; with delight”

         Abiyt—root: nabat—hiphil: “to accept favorably; regard”

5:23 Hamon—“noise; din; roar”

         Nevel—“harp; lute”

5:24 Weyigal—root: nalal—niphal: “to roll out; flow forth”

         Aythan—“ever-flowing (waters); always filled with running water”

The idea of “running water” has the understanding of “living water,” or even “water of life.”

“Let justice roll out like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”