These verses contain both accusation and judgment, so with the exception of v.13, they are typical of the genre "judgment oracle". Verse 13 is a proverb as discussed below.
The first two words (in Hebrew) of v.11 are both particles indicating logical links:
While these two words both occur in the same verse in 19 places, elsewhere they introduce different phrases. Nowhere else in the Bible are the two coordinated like this to provide a double introduction. By using two particles that draw attention to logical connections the prophet makes two links.
Hatred against those who speak out in the gate is linked to oppression of the poor, which in turn is linked to the punishment proclaimed.
Such linking particles, common in the prophets generally, are unusually frequent in these verses:
10 They hate anyone who reproves in the gate,
and they detest someone who speaks the truth.
11 So since you trample on the poor
and take wheat as a `present' from him,
you have built houses of cut stone,
but you won't live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you won't drink their wine.
12 For I know your numerous rebellions,
and your `mighty' sins-
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate.
13 So, at a time like this a sensible person would keep quiet;
for it is an evil time.
These linking words unite the four verses.
It is typical of Amos to condemn sins like the misuse of power and influence (v.10); injustice (v.12b) and extortion (v.11a). It is also typical that the very proceeds of their sin shall be taken from them (v.11b):
"you have built houses of cut stone"
- that is, expensive and luxurious houses
"but you won't live in them"
- no reason is given
"you have planted pleasant vineyards"
- again an expensive activity
"but you won't drink their wine"
- once again no cause is suggested.
It is clear that the persons addressed will not enjoy the fruits of their extortion and oppression, even if they do succeed in stifling criticism "in the gate".
This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,
© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.