The flight from Jerusalem (Zech 14:5-14:5)

“You shall flee

By the valley

Of Yahweh’s mountain.

The valley between the mountains

Shall reach to Azal.

You shall flee,

As you fled

From the earthquake

In the days of King Uzziah

Of Judah.

Then Yahweh,

Your God,

Will come.

All the holy ones

Will be with him.”

The citizens of Jerusalem would flee their town via this valley in the Mount of Olives.  They would reach Azal, probably a small town beside the Mount of Olives.  Apparently, this was the same place where people fled during the reign of King Uzziah of Judah (781-740 BCE).  The Book of Amos in its first chapter mentioned an earthquake that took place at that time sometime around 760-750 BCE.  This must had made a big impact on people, because Zechariah mentioned it some 250 years later.  In the end, Yahweh, their God would come with his holy ones.  Thus, all the fugitives would be with Yahweh.

The bitter wrathful day of Yahweh (Zeph 1:14-1:16)

“The great day of Yahweh

Is near,

Near,

Coming fast.

The sound of

The day of Yahweh

Is bitter.

The warrior

Cries aloud there.

That day will be

A day of wrath,

A day of distress,

A day of anguish,

A day of ruin,

A day of devastation,

A day of darkness,

A day of gloom,

A day of clouds

A day of darkness,

A day of trumpet blast,

A day of battle cry,

Against the fortified cities,

Against the lofty battlements.”

The day of Yahweh was to be a day of wrath and doom, as can be found also in Amos, chapter 5 and Isaiah, chapter 2.  This great day for Yahweh was coming right away, very soon.  This bitter sound was in the air, as the warriors cried out loudly with their battle cry against the fortified cities and their secure fortresses.  This was a day of wrath, distress, anguish, ruin, devastation, darkness, gloom, clouds, and a trumpet blast, certainly not a happy day.  Thus, the natural connection to death formed the inspiration for the medieval funeral hymn, Dies Irae, Latin for the day of wrath.

Justice and sacrificial offerings (Mic 6:6-6:8)

“‘With what shall I come

Before Yahweh?

Shall I bow myself

Before God on high?

Shall I come before him

With burnt offerings?

Shall I come before him

With calves a year old?

Will Yahweh be pleased

With thousands of rams?

Will Yahweh be pleased

With ten thousand rivers of oil?

Shall I give

My first-born

For my transgression?

Shall I give

The fruit of my body

For the sin of my soul?’

O mortal!

He has showed you

What is good!

What does Yahweh

Require of you?

But you are

To do justice,

To love kindness,

To walk humbly

With your God!”

Yahweh, via Micah, once again showed the relationship between worship and justice.  Much like the written prophets, Amos, chapter 5, Hosea, chapter 2, and Isaiah, chapters 7 and 30, the emphasis was on justice over sacrificial gifts.  Micah asked what kind of gifts he should bring to Yahweh, the high God.  Would Yahweh be happy with burnt offerings of one-year old calves?  Would 1,000 rams please him?  Would 10,000 rivers of oil be enough for Yahweh?  Should he offer up his firstborn son to save his soul?  Micah pointed out what Yahweh required.  Yahweh wanted them to do justice and love kindness.  Very simply, they were to walk humbly with their God, Yahweh.

Oracle of Yahweh (Ob 1:1-1:1)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning Edom.

We have heard a report

From Yahweh.

A messenger has been sent

Among my nations.

‘Rise up!

Let us rise against it

For battle.’”

The Israelites had a long history with Edom because they believed that Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, had founded this country.  The Book of Genesis listed the kings of Edom in chapter 36.  The country of Edom was south of the Dead Sea, south of Moab and south of Judah.  It eventually stopped being a country with most of the people drifting into southern Judah.  Many of the prophets had spoken against the Edomites, including Jeremiah, chapter 49, Isaiah, chapter 34, Ezekiel, chapter 25, Amos, chapter 1, and Joel, chapter 3.  This was a report from Yahweh, since he had sent his messengers to the various countries.  They were to rise up and get ready for the battle.

Restoration of the people of Israel (Am 9:13-9:15)

“Says Yahweh.

‘The time is surely coming

When the one who plows

Shall overtake

The one who reaps.

When the one who treads grapes

Shall overtake

The one who sows the seed.

The mountains shall drip

Sweet wine.

All the hills

Shall flow with it.

I will restore

The fortunes

Of my people Israel.

They shall rebuild

The ruined cities.

They shall

Inhabit them.

They shall

Plant vineyards.

They shall

Drink their wine.

They shall

Make gardens.

They shall

Eat their fruit.

I will plant them

Upon their land.

They shall never again

Be plucked up

Out of the land

That I have given them.’

Says Yahweh

Your God.”

This later oracle of Yahweh assumed that the Israelites had been taken from their land in captivity.  However, in this restoration, those plowing would be greater than those reaping.  Those who treaded the grapes would be more than those sowing the seeds.  There would be abundance and hope all around.  The mountains and hills would drip and flow with abundant sweet wine.  The Israelites would have their fortunes restored, so that they would rebuild their cities and inhabit them.  They would plant vineyards and drink wine.  They would plant gardens with lots of fruit.  These Israelites would be planted on their own land, never to be plucked away again.

Restoration of the Davidic rule (Am 9:11-9:12)

“On that day,

I will raise up

The booth of David

That is fallen.

I will repair

Its breaches.

I will raise up

Its ruins.

I will rebuild it

As in the days of old.

Thus,

They may possess

The remnant of Edom.

They may possess

All the nations

Who are called

By my name.’

Says Yahweh

Who does this.”

This oracle of Yahweh might be a later addition.  However, it asked for the restoration of the Davidic rule.  Yahweh wanted the fallen booth or tent of David to be restored, since it needed to be repaired.  Yahweh was going to raise up the ruins of that dynasty, so that it would be like the good old days.  Then Israel would possess whatever was left over of Edom.  Just like at the time of David, the other neighbors of Israel would come under the rule of Israel.  Thus, there was an allusion to the other countries who were called by the name of Yahweh.  Yahweh had said this, now he was going to do it.

Sinners will die (Am 9:9-9:10)

“I will command!

I will shake

The house of Israel

Among all the nations,

As one shakes

With a sieve.

But no pebble

Shall fall

To the ground.

All the sinners

Of my people

Shall die

By the sword.

They say.

‘Evil shall not overtake

Or meet us.’”

Yahweh was going to command and shake the house of Israel among all the countries in the world.  He was going to shake them like a sieve.  However, no pebble would fall to the ground.  All the sinners among his people would die by the sword.  Who were these sinners?  These were the ones who said that evil would not overtake or meet them.

The Israelites are not privileged (Am 9:7-9:8)

“‘Are you not

Like the Ethiopians

To me?

O people of Israel!’

Says Yahweh.

‘Did I not bring up

Israel

From the land of Egypt?

Did I not bring up

The Philistines

From Caphtor?

Did I not bring up

The Arameans

From Kir?

The eyes

Of Yahweh God

Are upon

The sinful kingdom.

I will destroy it

From the face

Of the earth.

However,

I will not utterly destroy

The house of Jacob.’

Says Yahweh.”

In this oracle of Yahweh, Amos pointed out that the Israelites were not privileged, since Yahweh had brought other countries from one place to another like Israel came from Egypt.  He had helped the Philistines come from Caphtor, also a part of Egypt.  Yahweh also helped the Arameans from Kir, an area in Mesopotamia.  The Israelites were no better than the Ethiopians.  They had become a sinful nation.  Thus, he was going to destroy them from the face of the earth.  However, Yahweh would not utterly destroy the house of Jacob.  He would leave a remnant.

Praise for the Creator God (Am 9:5-9:6)

“Yahweh!

God of hosts!

He touches the earth,

So that it melts.

All who live in it

Mourn.

All of it rises

Like the Nile.

It sinks again,

Like the Nile of Egypt.

He builds his upper chambers

In the heavens.

He founds his vault

Upon the earth.

He calls for the waters

Of the sea.

He pours them out

Upon the surface

Of the earth.

Yahweh is his name.”

Amos has this praise of Yahweh, the Creator, the God of the heavenly hosts.  Yahweh merely touches the earth and it melts.  Everyone who lives on the earth mourns.  The earth itself rises and sinks like the Nile River in Egypt.  Yahweh has his upper chambers in heaven.  He has put a rounded vault over the earth.  Thus, he calls the waters from the sea and then pours them out on the earth.  He is none other than Yahweh.  Yahweh is his name, the continuing creator of the world.

The punishment for the idol worshippers (Am 9:2-9:4)

“Though they dig

Into Sheol,

From there,

Shall my hand take them.

Though they climb up

To heaven,

From there,

I will bring them down.

Though they hide themselves

On the top of Carmel,

From there,

I will search out.

I will take them.

Though they hide

From my sight

At the bottom of the sea,

From there,

I will command

The sea serpent.

It shall bite them.

Though they go into captivity,

In front of their enemies,

From there,

I will command the sword.

It shall kill them.

I will fix my eyes

Upon them,

For harm,

Not for good.”

The punishment for these northern idol worshippers would be severe.  They might try to hide in Sheol, the afterlife shadowy existence, but Yahweh would find them.  If they tried to get to heaven, he would take them out of there.  If they tried to hide on Mount Carmel, Yahweh would still find them.  If they went to the bottom of the sea, a sea monster would get them.  Even if they went into captivity, their captives would kill them with the sword.  No matter what, Yahweh was going to keep his eyes on them, so that nothing good would happen to them.  Quite the opposite, something harmful would happen to them.