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Amos 5 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Amos 5 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel.

2 The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.

3 For thus saith the Lord GOD; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel.

(5:3-4) "The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten."
God tells the Israelites to seek him or he'll kill 90% of them.
The prophets laments here the future state of the kingdom of Israel. And this was not God's fault. They rejected God, and didn't want nor desire God's laws and protection. They were own their own now, and this would be the result. And history has confirmed this was the result.

4 For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:

5 But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beer-sheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.

6 Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.

(5:6) "Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it." Seek God or he'll burn you to death.
So despite this prophecy, there was still mercy and escape possible. If they only would follow the Lord. In our society, the first conviction is usually not too severe, in the hope the criminal will realise that a much more severe punishment is waiting. But if one continues to disobey the law, punishments will be more and more severe.
So it is with the creator and judge of all. He will punish sin. And this is not cruelty, but deserved punishment.

7 Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,

8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:

9 That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.

10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.

11 Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them.

12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.

(5:12) "They afflict the just."
Has the ever been a just person?
The just are those who do not participate in these deeds: they don't take bribes, and they don't pervert justice. See also Matthew 1:19.

13 Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.

14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.

15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.

16 Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing.

(5:16-17) "Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! "
When there is wailing and mourning, you'll know God's been there.
Why is there this wailing? Because God has punished the sinner, the bribe takers, and the oppressors of the poor, see verse 12. Or does the author of the SAB rather hear the wailing of the oppressed than the wailing of the oppressors?

17 And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD.

18 Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.

(5:18-20) "Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD!"
Many Christians look forward to the "day of the Lord," but according to these verses, they shouldn't.
It is not immediately clear who desires the day of the Lord, and what for. John Gill mentions that it might well be mockers:

or else the day of the Lord's judgments upon them, spoken of by the prophet, and which they were threatened with, but did not believe it would ever come; and therefore in a scoffing jeering manner, expressed their desire of it, to show their disbelief of it, and that they were in no pain or fear about it, like those in Is. 5:19;

And indeed, according to this verse, the day of the Lord should not be desired for in this manner.

19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.

20 Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?

21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.

(5:21-27) "I hate, I despise your feast days."
God rejects the Israelites prayers, songs, and sacrifices because they worshipped other gods and didn't offer enough sacrifices during the Exodus (many centuries ago). To punish them he'll make them all slaves.
The author of the SAB claims that God rejects the Israelites because they didn't offer enough sacrifices during the Exodus (many centuries ago). He is referring to verse 25. It is not that at that time not enough was sacrificed, but Amos is saying that it was offered to idols as well, i.e. to the molten calf (Ex. 32:4). And the current Israelites where the children of those who did so. It is for these sins and others, such as in verse 12, they would be punished.

22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.

23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.

24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

25 Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.

27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.