The dark day of Yahweh (Am 5:18-5:20)

“Woe to you!

You who desire

The day of Yahweh!

Why do you want

The day of Yahweh?

It is darkness,

Not light.

It is like

As if someone fled

From a lion,

But a bear met him.

It is like

Someone went into the house.

They then rested

Their hand

Against the wall.

Then a serpent bit him.

Is not

The day of Yahweh

Darkness,

Not light?

It is gloom

With no brightness in it.”

The day of Yahweh meant many different things to the ancient Israelites. For some, it was a favorable intervention of Yahweh. For others, as here, it was a day of Yahweh’s anger. After the exile, it was considered a day of hope that the anger of Yahweh would turn on Israel’s oppressors. Then this day of Yahweh became a day of judgment, as a triumph for the righteous. Finally, there were cosmic signs that would accompany this day of Yahweh. Here, Amos wanted to know why anyone would want the day of Yahweh to come, because it was a time of darkness, not light. In fact, he wanted to curse them for wishing the day of Yahweh to come. This day of Yahweh was more like a person fleeing from a lion, only to run into a bear. It was like going into a house, and then resting your arm on the wall, only to be bit by a snake. For Amos, the day of Yahweh was a time of darkness, not light, a time of gloom and not brightness.

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