By Jeff Pulse –
The Old Testament text for this Sunday, July 15, 2018, the eighth Sunday after Pentecost, is from the book of the Minor Prophets. The text is Amos 7:7-15 and is from the section of Amos frequently referred to as “The Five Visions.” The first part of this pericope is the third vision, which is the vision of the plumbline.
Contextually it is important to remember that Amos is from the Southern Kingdom of Judah (Tekoa) where he was a herdsman and a tender of sycamore fig trees. However, The LORD sent Amos to the Northern Kingdom to prophesy against both the religious leaders and King Jeroboam. Thus, when Amos has this vision of the plumbline and delivers its message of destruction, the priest of Bethel, Amaziah, sends a message to Jeroboam about Amos’ lack of support for the king’s position. This was in hope that Amos would be frightened and return home to the Southern Kingdom to prophesy there.
The time frame for the prophecy is four decades before the Northern Kingdom is conquered and taken into exile by the Assyrians. In other words, what Amos says comes to pass. Bethel is one of the two sites set aside by Jeroboam for the Northerners to worship and offer sacrifices. The purpose is to keep them from returning to the Jerusalem Temple for worship, which would lead to a weakening of the political status of Jeroboam and perhaps lead to his overthrow.
A special note of thanks to Reed Lessing and his commentary on Amos in the Concordia Commentary Series.
7:7 nitsav—root: natsab—niphal participle “to station oneself; take one’s stand”
anak “lead; plumbline” A wall built with a plumbline would be straight and not vary. Thus it was as the LORD had chosen and established His people, but now they had gone astray—out of plumb.
7:8 roeh—root: raah—participle “to see” “…are you seeing…”
osiyph—root: yasaph—hiphil “to do again” followed by infinitive “avor” Literally: “I will not continue to pass over for him.” Also translated, “I will never again forgive (for) him.” See also 8:2. Notice that in spite of the many issues of unfaithfulness, etc. the LORD still refers to them as “my people Israel,” pointing to the covenantal promise.
7:9 wenashamu—root: shamam–niphal “to desolated; destroyed; to become deserted”
wumiqddeshey “holy place; sacred place; sanctuary”
yecheravu—root: charab “to be in ruins; desolate”
Note the similarities to the covenant curses in Lev. 26:30-33.
7:10 kohen beyth-el “the priest of Bethel” A unique name as the priest is identified with his location, rather than with the one true God or a false deity (Lessing, 469). Faithful priests are never designated by their location.
qashar “to be in league with; conspire”
lehakiyl—root: kul—hiphil “to endure; sustain; bear”
7:11 galoh yigeleh—root: galah—qal infinitive absolute with preceding imperfect form; “surely/certainly go into exile…”
7:12 chozeh “seer”
berach “to flee; run away” The phrase is literally, “go, flee for yourself.” Translated, “flee quickly; flee immediately”
“…eat bread there…” Either the idea to work in that place or to carry out your job as prophet in that place.
7:13 lehinabe—root: naba—niphal infinitive construct “to prophecy more/again”
“The house of the kingdom and the temple of the kingdom” indicates that the worship center in Bethel is “state supported and sanctioned”.
7:14 Amos denies that he is a prophet or a son of a prophet. Perhaps he is saying he has had no training, but the LORD plucked him out of his vocation as herdsman and sycamore fig dressing to carry out the work of prophet. He seems to think he is really still a “farmer” and only a temporary “prophet.” Therefore, when he finishes his prophetic work he returns to his previous occupation.
wuvoles—root: balas “to handle/dress the sycamore fig” Only usage in OT, perhaps related to Arabic, Ethiopian, and Egyptian words.
shiqemiym “sycamore; sycamore-fig tree”
7:15 Amos describes his own “call narrative” or his sending. The LORD took him and sent him.
lek—root: halak—qal imperative “go”