notes on 5:19

This verse stands between two that talk of Adonai's Day. It is one of three passages in Amos speaking of the impossibility of escape.

At the beginning of the book (2:14-16) military disaster is so complete that even the elite soldier will fail to escape. At the end (9:2-4) is the vision of Adonai standing on the temple altar striking everyone down - from HIM there can be no escape.

Here in the middle of the book the picture is a more "homely" parable. A man runs away from one dangerous animal - a lion - only to meet another - a bear - and finally reaching home leaning on the wall is bitten by a snake - we presume fatally.

Some commentators (e.g. Andersen & Freedman, 522) claim that there are good grounds to read this as two stories, but I am unconvinced, the sequence of verbs strongly suggests one continuous narrative. They claim three reasons. However, the "practice of making a solemn point twice" is irrelevant as a single story would also make the point twice! It seems difficult to believe that the point of 5:19 is to reveal that absolute disaster affects people indoors as well as out, their second claim. Their third point that two stories reflect two views of Adonai's day, seems to overlook the fact that one of these views (that we impute to Amos hearers) had positive outcomes while all aspects of this story are negative.

 


 

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© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.