The sacrifices at Bethel (Am 4:4-4:5)

“‘Come to Bethel!


Go to Gilgal!

Multiply transgressions!

Bring your sacrifices

Every morning!

Bring your tithes

Every three days!

Bring a thank offering

Of leavened bread!

Proclaim freewill offerings!

Publish them!

You love to do this!

O people of Israel!’

Says Yahweh God.”

Amos has another oracle of Yahweh that was an ironic description of the sacrifices at Bethel and Gilgal. Yahweh wanted them to come to either Bethel or Gilgal, so that they could transgress the law of Yahweh many times. Ironically, he wanted them to bring the daily morning sacrifices and pay their tithes every 3 days. They were to bring thanksgiving offerings and proclaim freewill offerings. The people of Israel loved to do this.

The righteous ones (Ezek 33:12-33:13)


Son of man!

Say to your people!

‘The righteousness

Of the righteous

Shall not save them

When they transgress.

As for the wickedness

Of the wicked,

It shall not make them


When they turn

From their wickedness.

The righteous

Shall not be able

To live

By their righteousness

When they sin.

Although I say

To the righteous

That they shall surely live.

Yet if they trust

In their righteousness,

Then commit iniquity,

None of their righteous deeds

Shall be remembered.

But in the iniquity

That they have committed,

They shall die.”

Yahweh told Ezekiel, the son of man, to warn the righteous ones of his people. They cannot save themselves when they transgress the laws of Yahweh. However, if the wicked ones turn from their wickedness, they would not stumble. The righteous ones should not be so self-righteous. If they sin, they will not be able to live by their own righteousness. These righteous ones shall surely live, if they do not commit iniquity. Then they can trust in their righteousness. On the other hand, if they commit iniquity, none of their righteous deeds would be remembered. In fact, the committed iniquity would bring them death, so that they would die.

Words for the kings (Wis 6:9-6:11)

“To you then!

O monarchs!

My words are directed.

Thus you may learn wisdom.

Thus you may not transgress.

They will be made holy

Who observe holy things in holiness.

Those who have been taught them

Will find a defense.

Therefore set your desire

On my words.

Long for them!

You will be instructed.”

God wants the monarchs or tyrants (ὦ τύραννοι) to follow his words (οἱ λόγοι μου) and learn his wisdom (μάθητε σοφία). They should not transgress these words, but be made holy by observing them. They have to desire to be instructed about his word (λόγων μου). You cannot learn anything unless you want to learn.

The prayer of the innocent (Ps 17:3-17:5)

“If you try my heart,

If you visit me by night,

If you test me,

You will find no wickedness in me.

My mouth does not transgress.

As for what others do,

By the word of your lips,

I have avoided the ways of the violent.

My steps have held fast to your paths.

My feet have not slipped.”

David, or the psalmist, proclaims his innocence. His heart is true. Even if you were to visit him at night or test him, no one would find wickedness in him. His mouth does not transgress, even when others do. He has avoided violent ways and held to the path of Yahweh. His feet have not slipped.

The arrest of the seven brothers with their mother (2 Macc 7:1-7:2)

“It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested. They were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and thongs, to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh. One of them, acting as their spokesman, said.

“What do you intend to ask and learn from us?

We are ready to die

Rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.’”

There were 7 brothers with their mother who were arrested. They were being compelled to eat swine flesh that was unlawful for the Jews, much like Eleazar. They would be tortured if they did not eat it. Their response by one of them was that they would rather die than transgress the law of their ancestors. It is clear that eating the unclean pork had become one of the key laws of the Jewish life.