notes on 5:1


The introductory formula tells us that here Amos is blending two different genres. "Hear this message..." is a standard introduction to a prophetic utterance, but "funeral songs" have a different setting in Israel's life. Thus a paradox or irony is introduced right at the start. This prophet, who is renowned for his harsh words of judgment (look at the priest's report to the king about him recorded in 7:10), is to be heard here keening and wailing like a professional mourner or one bereaved.

Language & Imagery

"Hear this message that I am raising" is a rare and interesting opening.

"Hear the message of Adonai" occurs over 70 times in the prophets, as messenger formula, for example at Am 7:16.

"Hear this message..." only occurs in Amos where it begins three chapters 3:1; 4:1; 5:1. There is a strange progression in his usage, at 3:1 the message is expressly Adonai's, at 4:1; it is less clear whether the prophet or his God is the author of the message, while in 5:1 the message has become very definitely the prophet's.

It may well be that in these passages the difference in formula marks out the prophet's own words from his speech as a messenger. So, here Adonai's words begin in v.3, with a new formula; as in chapter 4 God's words only begin when his name has been mentioned (4:2).Paul, 159; Soggin, 81 cf. Andersen & Freedman, 472

Strangely, here, the message is a "funeral song". Though Israel lives, and her royal sanctuaries (cf. 7:13) and markets (cf. 8:5)go about their business, the prophet (and Adonai v.3) laments at the funeral.



This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,

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