notes on 9:11-15

Form

These verses contain the only salvation oracles in Amos.

There are formulae indicating beginnings at v.11 (בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא) and v.13 (הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים). The two units have different themes, 11-12 concerns political restoration, while 13-15 deals with agriculture and restoration after exile - the two themes are closely linked in the image of "planting them in the land".

Almost each line overturns or reverses a judgment speech made earlier in the book (see next section). For this reason the only setting for reading these words is after the punishment Amos warns of has fallen. Whoever the speeches were composed by (and scholars on the whole are more likely now than 30 years ago to believe they originate with Amos) they should be read against the backdrop of exile.

Language and Imagery

v.11

"David's hut" is a phrase that poses some problems. These words are not placed together anywhere else in the Bible, the only other verse which uses both is 2 Sam 11:11, where David lives in a palace while "Israel and Judah" as well as the ark inhabit makeshift accommodation.

So, do they refer to the kingdom of Judah or to the United Kingdom?

If the reference is to Judah, then Amos has lost his focus on Israel (1:1, 7:15), or the words are not his but come from a later period.

However, if the reference is to the old united monarchy then indeed David's hut has fallen, though again either Amos is being nationalist or the words come from a later period.

This verse begins the systematic reversal of the punishments of the rest of the book:
"I will repair its breaches" cf. 4:3;
"Its ruins I'll raise up" cf. 3:11, 15; 6:6, 11.

"Days of old" is an interesting phrase. It is used of times long past when God blessed his people: Dt 32:7; Is 63:911; Mi 7:14; but is also used (in Ps 21:5) of the Davidic king, and in Mi 5:2 (MT 5:1) in a prophecy usually understood as messianic and of a reunified Israel in Mal 3:4.

v.12

"As a result" לְמַעַן can express purpose or result, here purpose does not seem possible. Therefore this verse is to be regarded as a consequence of the preceding one.

Because of the restoration of unity they will, naturally regain authority over "Edom" and "all the nations who are called by [Adonai's] name". In context this phrase refers to the boundaries of the davidic empire. Usually it is holy objects (or people) who are "called by his name" (particularly the temple and the ark) however in 2 Sam 12:28 a city will be "called by the name" of the general who captures it.

Here as well as verses like 6:14 threatening foreign dominance over Israel, the warning that no-one will be left to call upon Adonai's name (6:10) is completely reversed.

v.13

The formula "days are coming" commonly introduces salvation oracles, the form found here "days are surely coming" is less common, and before Jeremiah is usually used in judgment speeches (cf. 4:2; 8:11), here it introduces a salvation oracle. The focus changes from the national arena to the field.

Harvests will be miraculous. "Reaping" began in April (cf. the Gezer calendar), while "plowing" could not begin till the rains (from mid-October) the six month saving implies two crops.

By contrast if "grape treading" which usually took place as soon as the grapes were picked (June-July cf. the Gezer calendar) is directly followed by "seed sowing" (follows plowing so November at the earliest) the vintage takes five months press - no wonder every hill "flows" with "wine"! עָסִיס suggests good quality wine too.

This promise reverses the warning famine 4:6; whether caused by drought 1:2; 4:7-8; (cf. 8:11-12) or by pests & disease 4:9; 7:2.

v.14

Notice the powerful alliteration in this verse. with שׁ sh, ב b & וּ û sounds repeating.

Amos used the common and flexible verb שׁוּב shub
in the oracles against the nations (1:3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, 4, 6) to say Adonai will not "call back" their punishment
in chapter 4 (4:6. 8, 9, 10, 11) to stress that Israel has not "returned" to God.
Here Adonai's "returns" the "exiles" is highlighted by the use of the root שׁבה shbh- echoing שׁוּב shub - rather than גלה glh which he uses elsewhere 1:5; 6, 9, 15; 3:7; 5:5; 27; 6:7; 7:11, 17.
 
Not only is the exile reversed, but the next lines allude closely to one particular threat to invert it. In 5:11 Amos warned:
you have built... but you won't inhabit...
you have planted... but you won't drink...

v.15

The word pair נטע : נתשׁ ("plant : uproot") is typical of Jeremiah (Jer 1:10; 24:6; 31:28; 42:10; 45:4). Here it marks the movement from nation and politics vv.11-12 through fertility v.13 and return from exile v.14 to the fundamental promise which undergirds the others, a reiteration of the promise to the ancestors to "give" them a "land".

Amos warned of uprooting and loss of land as consequence of an unjust society (5:27; 6:7; 7:11, 17), now the warning is reversed in promise.

The final line roots these reversals in theology, while throughout the book Adonai has often been "my lord Adonai" (1:8; 3:7, 8, 11, 13; 4:2, 5; 5:3, 16; 6:8; 7:1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; 8:1, 3, 11; 9:1, 5, 8) and in 2:8 he was ironically "their God".

 


 

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.