Against the Temple worship (Am 5:21-5:24)

“I hate your festivals!

I despise your festivals!

I take no delight

In your solemn assemblies!

Even though you offer me

Your burnt offerings,

Your grain offerings,

I will not accept them.

I will not look upon

The peace offerings

Of your fatted animals.

Take away from me

The noise of your songs.

I will not listen

To the melody

Of your harps.

But let justice

Roll down

Like water.

Let righteousness be

Like an ever-flowing stream.”

Amos has Yahweh reject the Temple cultic worship side of Israelite life in very strong terms. Yahweh hated and despised the religious festivals that were part of Temple worship. Neither did Yahweh take any delight in their solemn assemblies. Yahweh was not going to accept their burnt offerings and grain offerings. He was not going to even look at their peace offerings of fat animals. He wanted them to take away the noise of their chants and songs, since he was not going to listen to their melodic harps. Instead, he wanted justice to roll down from the hills like gushing water. He wanted righteousness to be like a continual flowing stream. Justice not worship was his cry, a theme that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, (1929-1968) often mentioned, as he wanted justice to roll down from the hills like running water.

The devastation of the land of Ephraim (Isa 17:4-17:6)

“‘On that day,

The glory of Jacob

Will be brought low.

The fat of his flesh

Will grow lean.

It shall be

As when reapers

Gather standing grain.

Their arms harvest the ears.

It shall be

As when one gleans

The ears of grain

In the Valley of Rephaim.

Gleanings will be left in it,

As when an olive tree is beaten.

Two or three berries

On the top of the highest bough

Will be left.

Four or five on the branches

Of a fruit tree

Will be left.’

Says Yahweh

God of Israel.”

Here is another oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah, but about Ephraim of northern Israel. This rebuke is against Jacob, not Damascus. There is a reference to the Valley of Rephaim, which is northwest of Jerusalem in the Ephraim territory. Thus this land of Ephraim will be devastated. The fat animals will grow lean. All that will be left are the gleanings of left over grain that the pickers left behind. The olive trees will only have a few berries that were too difficult to pick, since all the others would have been shaken out of the trees. There will only be a few branches on any trees. There will not be much left after this day of destruction in northern Israel.