notes on 6:13-14

Form

Starting with a two line address (v.13) using participles to describe the targets, this section is like the "woe oracles". It echoes, or is linked to, the series of statements in 6:1-6 (completed by a judgment in v.7).

The judgment in v.14 neatly reverses their bold claims.

Language and imagery

Amos' "quotation" of the Israelites is phrased to make them sound arrogant and boastful, pronouns are stressed:

"Have we not by our own strength taken Karnaim for ourselves." הֲלוֹא בְחָזְקֵנוּ לָקַחְנוּ לָנוּ קַרְנָיִם There is also strong alliteration, which further strengthens the effect.

The response to this bragging is equally stressed. The linking word ki "for" often found in judgment oracles is reinforced by hinneh "look!". The judgment begins, "I am raising up against you", with an echo of their boastful pronouns עֲלֵיכֶם "against you" in place of לָנוּ "for us".

Before even the identity of the entity being "raised up" is revealed a prolonged messenger formula intervenes. (Not as long as that at 3:13, but still striking.)

After the wait, the "naming" is hardly specific "a nation", for Amos' intent here is not to compare Israel's strength with some other nation's, but with Adonai's!

Therefore the anonymous nation will "oppress you" from Lebo-hamath to the Wadi Arabah.

Lebo-hamath is only mentioned as Israel's northern border (Num 13:21; 34:8; Jos 13:5; Jdg 3:3; 1 Kgs 8:65; 1 Chron 13:5; 2 Chron 7:8; Ez 47:15, 20; 48:1). Amos pairs it with the Wadi Arabah elsewhere the "Sea of Arabah" and the "Wadi of Egypt" are mentioned as the southern boundary.

The phrasing of this oracle is strikingly like 2 Kgs 14:25. There speaking of the prophesy of "Jonah son of Amittai" about Jeroboam II it says: "He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah". The similarity is hardly coincidental. The contradiction must be intended.

Historians may try to speculate on who is countering whom, in literary terms the effect is clear: Amos here opposes the nationalist prophecy of Jonah much as Jeremiah does Hananiah (Jer 36).


 

This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos , if you have reached it as a standalone page, to view it in context, go to www.bible.gen.nz
© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.