A Sad Song for Israel

Chapter 5 
People of Israel, listen to this song. This funeral song is about you.

2 The virgin[a] of Israel has fallen.
She will not get up anymore.
She was left alone, lying in the dirt.
There is no one to lift her up.

3 This is what the Lord God says:

“Officers leaving the city with 1000 men
will return with only 100 men.
Officers leaving the city with 100 men
will return with only ten men.”
The Lord Encourages Israel to Come Back

4 The Lord says this to the nation[b] of Israel:
“Come looking for me and live.

5 But don’t look in Bethel.
Don’t go to Gilgal.
Don’t cross the border and go down to Beersheba.[c]
The people of Gilgal will be taken away as prisoners,[d]
and Bethel will be destroyed.[e]

6 Come to the Lord and live.
If you don’t go to him, a fire will start at Joseph’s house,[f]
and no one in Bethel[g] can stop it.

7-9 You should go to the Lord for help.
He is the one who made the Pleiades and Orion.[h]
He changes darkness into the morning light.
He changes the day into the dark night.
He calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the earth.
His name is Yahweh!
He keeps one strong city safe,
and he lets another strong city be destroyed.”
The Evil Things That the Israelites Did
You change justice to poison.[i]
You throw away fairness like trash.

10 You hate those prophets, who go to public places and speak against evil,
even though they teach good, simple truths.

11 You take unfair taxes[j] from the poor.
You take loads of wheat from them.
You build fancy houses with cut stone,
but you will not live in them.
You plant beautiful vineyards,
but you will not drink the wine from them.

12 This is because I know about your many sins.
You have done some very bad things:
You hurt people who do right,
you accept money to do wrong,
and you keep the poor from receiving justice in court.

13 At that time wise teachers will be quiet,
because it is a bad time.

14 You say that God is with you,
so you should do good things, not evil.
Then you will live,
and the Lord God All-Powerful will be with you.

15 Hate evil and love goodness.
Bring justice back into the courts.
Maybe then the Lord God All-Powerful
will be kind to the survivors from Joseph’s family.
A Time of Great Sadness Is Coming

16 The Lord, the Lord God All-Powerful says,
“People will be crying in the public places.
They will be crying in the streets.
They will hire the professional criers.[k]

17 People will be crying in the vineyards,
because I will pass through and punish you.”
This is what the Lord said.

18 Some of you want to see
the Lord’s special day of judgment.
Why do you want to see that day of the Lord?
His special day will bring darkness, not light.

19 You will be like someone who escapes from a lion
only to be attacked by a bear,
or like someone who goes into the safety of his house,
leans against the wall,
and is bitten by a snake.

20 The Lord’s special day will be
a day of darkness, not light—a day of gloom, without a ray of light.
The Lord Rejects Israel’s Worship

21 “I hate your festivals;
I will not accept them.
I don’t enjoy your religious meetings.

22 Even if you offer me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
I will not even look at the fat animals
you give as fellowship offerings.

23 Take your noisy songs away from here.
I will not listen to the music from your harps.

24 But let justice flow like a river,
and let goodness flow like a stream that never becomes dry.

25 Israel, you offered me sacrifices
and offerings in the desert for 40 years.[l]

26 But you also carried statues of Sakkuth, your king, and Kaiwan.[m]
There was also that star god[n] that you made for yourselves.

27 So I will send you as captives, far beyond Damascus.”
This is what the Lord says.
His name is God All-Powerful.

Amos 5:2 virgin The Hebrew word can mean “a woman who has not had sexual relations with anyone,” but here, it means the city of Samaria.
Amos 5:4 nation Literally, “house.” This might mean the royal family of that country.
Amos 5:5 Bethel, Gilgal, Beersheba Ancient places of worship. Abraham and Jacob built altars in these places, but God had told the Israelites that they should go to the Temple in Jerusalem to worship him.
Amos 5:5 taken away as prisoners In Hebrew this sounds like the name “Gilgal.”
Amos 5:5 destroyed The Hebrew word is like the name “Beth Aven.” This name means “House of Wickedness.” The prophets often used this name for Bethel.
Amos 5:6 Joseph’s house Here, this means the ten-tribe nation of Israel. Joseph was the ancestor of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh in Israel.
Amos 5:6 Bethel This name means “El’s house” or “the house of God.” There was a temple here where the people from the northern tribes worshiped.
Amos 5:7 Pleiades and Orion Two well-known groups of stars (constellations).
Amos 5:7 poison Literally, “wormwood,” a type of plant with bitter leaves. It could be used as a medicine, or if strong enough, as a poison.
Amos 5:11 take unfair taxes The meaning of the Hebrew word here is uncertain.
Amos 5:16 professional criers People who went to funerals and cried loudly for the dead. Families and friends of the dead person often gave food or money to these people.
Amos 5:25 Or “Israel, did you offer me sacrifices and offerings in the desert for 40 years?”
Amos 5:26 Sakkuth, your king, and Kaiwan Or “Sakkuth, Moloch, and Kaiwan,” names of Assyrian gods.
Amos 5:26 star god This might be to honor a special god or all the stars in the sky. Many people thought the sun, moon, stars, and planets were gods or angels. This verse might also be translated, “You carried the shelter for your king and the footstool for your idols—the star of your gods that you made for yourselves.” The ancient Greek version adds the names of these gods: Moloch and Raphan.