Bad behavior (Am 5:10-5:13)

“They hate him

Who reproves

At the gate.

They abhor him

Who speaks the truth.

Therefore,

You trample

On the poor.

You take from them,

Levies of grain.

You have built houses

Of hewn stone.

But you shall not live

In them.

You have planted

Pleasant vineyards.

But you shall not drink

Their wine.

I know how many are

Your transgressions.

I know how great are

Your sins.

You afflict the righteous.

You take a bribe.

You turn aside

The needy

At the gate.

Therefore,

The prudent will keep silent

In such a time.

It is an evil time.”

Next, Amos listed all the bad behavior that the northern Israelites were involved with. They did not like any reprimanding at the city judgment gate. They did not like anyone who told the truth. They trampled the poor people, as they took away their grain. They had built beautiful stone houses, but they were not going to live in them. They had planted wonderful vineyards, but they would not drink the wine from them. Amos and Yahweh knew all about their various transgressions and how great their sins were. They took bribes, mistreated the righteous, and turned away the needy at the gate. The prudent people kept silent during this evil time.

Against Israel (Am 2:6-2:8)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Israel,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they sell

The righteous

For silver.

They sell the needy

For a pair of sandals.

They trample

The head of the poor

Into the dust

Of the earth.

They push the afflicted

Out of the way.

A father

With his son

Goes into the same girl.

So,

My holy name

Is profaned.

They lay themselves down

Beside every altar,

On garments

Taken in pledge.

In the house

Of their god,

They drink

The wine

Bought with fines

They imposed.”

Finally, Yahweh issued a diatribe against Israel itself. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language or literary form as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and Judah. He also used the same non-forgiving numeric formula of 3 and 4, as in Proverbs, chapter 30. The Israelites were, also involved in the slave trade, as they sold the righteous ones for silver. At the same time, they sold the needy for a pair of shoes or sandals. They trampled the heads of the poor into the dust of the earth. Both father and son would have sex with the same temple female prostitute. They profaned the holy name of Yahweh, as they laid down at any altar, with garments that they had taken as interest down payments. They drank wine in the houses of their gods bought with the fines that they had imposed on the poor people. They had committed serious crimes.

The wicked people of the land (Ezek 22:29-22:30)

“The people of the land

Have practiced extortion.

They committed robbery.

They have oppressed

The poor.

They have oppressed

The needy.

They have extorted

From the aliens

Without redress.

I sought

For anyone

Among them

Who would repair

The wall.

I sought

For anyone

To stand

In the breach

Before me

On behalf

Of the land.

Thus I would not

Destroy it.

But I found no one.”

Not only were the officials, leaders, priests, and prophets wicked, but the people of the land themselves also practiced extortion and committed robberies. They oppressed both the poor and the needy. They extorted things from the aliens who had no judicial redress. Yahweh was looking for someone to repair the wall. He wanted someone to stand near the hole in the wall. He wanted to find someone to defend the land, so that he would not destroy it. However, he could not find anyone among the people of the land. He found no one willing to help him.

The unrighteous son (Ezek 18:10-18:13)

“If he has a violent son,

A shedder of blood,

Who does

Any of these things,

Even though the father

Does none of them,

Shall he then live?

This violent son

Eats upon the mountains,

Defiles his neighbor’s wife,

Oppresses the poor,

Oppresses the needy,

Commits robbery,

Does not restore the pledge,

Lifts up his eyes

To the idols,

Commits abominations,

Takes advantage,

Accrues interest.

He shall not live.

He has done

All these abominable things.

He shall surely die.

His blood shall be

Upon himself.”

What happens if a righteous man has a violent son, who sheds blood? Even though the father does not do any of these things. This son eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, and oppresses the poor and the needy. This violent son commits robbery, does not restore the pledge when the debt is paid. He lifts up his eyes to the idols, and commits all kinds of abominations. He takes advantage of others by accruing interest. Shall this son live? No, he shall die. His blood shall be upon himself, not his father.

Your sister Sodom (Ezek 16:48-16:50)

“As I live,

Says Yahweh God.

‘Your sister Sodom,

With her daughters,

Has not done

As you

With your daughters

Have done.

This was the guilt

Of your sister Sodom.

She,

With her daughters,

Had pride,

Excess of food,

A prosperous ease.

But they did not

Aid the poor.

They did not

Aid the needy.

They were haughty.

They did abominable things

Before me.

Therefore I removed them,

When I saw it.”

The story of Sodom was based on Genesis, chapter 19.   Sodom was a city in the plains, south of Jerusalem, near the Dead Sea. Jerusalem was like the city of Sodom because Jerusalem had done the same things as they had done. Sodom with her daughters was guilty of pride, too much food, and too easy of a life style. Sodom did not aid the poor and the needy. There was no explanation here of all the abominable things mentioned in Genesis. However, Yahweh had removed them. He had destroyed them, when he found out about their behavior.

The comparison with his father (Jer 22:15-22:17)

“‘Are you a king

Because you compete in cedar?

Did not your father eat?

Did not your father drink?

Did not your father do justice?

Did not your father do righteousness?

Then it was well with him.

He judged the cause of the poor.

He judged the cause of the needy.

Then it was well.

Is not this to know me?’

Says Yahweh.

‘But your eyes

With your heart

Are only on your dishonest gain,

Are only for shedding innocent blood,

Are only for practicing oppression,

Are only for violence.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, takes on King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE) by making a comparison with his father King Josiah (640-609 BCE). His father rightly judged the cases of the needy and the poor. He never tried to build a great house of cedar. He ate and drank, but was filled with justice and righteousness. Thus, everything went well with him. On the other hand, King Jehoiakim has turned his eyes and heart to dishonest gain, shedding innocent blood, practicing oppression, and doing violence. Which king would you rather have?

Hymn to Yahweh (Jer 20:12-20:13)

“O Yahweh of hosts!

You test the righteous!

You see the heart!

You see the mind!

Let me see your retribution

Upon them!

I have committed my cause

To you!

Sing to Yahweh!

Praise Yahweh!

He has delivered

The lives of the needy

From the hands of evildoers.”

Jeremiah praises Yahweh. He knows that God tests the righteous ones because he sees their hearts and minds. Jeremiah wanted retribution to come upon those who had opposed him. However, he has committed his cause to Yahweh. They were to sing and praise Yahweh, because he has delivered the lives of the needy from the evildoers.