notes on 6:12

This verse poses a problem for translators. Literally the MT reads something like:

Do horses run on rocks?
Does one plow with oxen?
For you have turned justice into poison
and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood

Amos' logic would seem to require the two questions to suppose the answer "no" and to be ridiculous or unthinkable. The commonest solution reads "crags" as operating in the second line as well - a common form of ellipsis in Hebrew. However despite its popularity this will not work, as the picture (right, Clifford), taken near Tekoa, shows that one did indeed plow with oxen, and even plowed "rocks" (a common translation)!

Better to make a small emendation from בבקרים "with oxen" בבקר ים "the sea with an ox".



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

© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.