Amos 4

The Word Made Fresh

1Hear this, you women, you cows of Bashan
who reside on Mount Samaria.
You oppress the poor and crush the needy
and tell your husbands to bring you a strong drink.
2The LORD God, the Holy One, has sworn:
“The time is coming when they will drag you away with hooks;
and any who remain will be dragged away with fishhooks.
3You will leave through gaps in the wall.
Each of you will walk straight ahead
and be thrown into Harmon.
4Come to Bethel and sin. Come to Gilgal and sin even more.
Bring your sacrifices every morning and your tithe every three days.
5Bring an offering of leavened bread as a thanksgiving.
Announce that freewill offerings will be made public,
because that’s what you people of Israel love to do,”
says the LORD God.
6“I gave you nothing to eat in all your cities.
Your teeth were clean, for you had no bread in your homes;
but still you refused to return to me,” says the LORD.
7“I held the rain back from you
even though there were three months until the harvest time.
I would send rain only to one town, but none to the others.
One field would receive rain while other fields dried up.
8Two or three towns send people to another town
for water to drink; but they couldn’t be satisfied.
Even then you wouldn’t return to me,” says the LORD.
9“I sent blight and mildew. I ruined your gardens and your vineyards.
The locusts ate your fig and olive trees,
but you refused to return to me,” says the LORD.
10“I plagued you with problems like those in Egypt.
I killed your young men in battle. I carried off you horses.
I made your camps stink in your nostrils,
but you would not return to me,” says the LORD.
11“I destroyed some of you like Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.
You were like a stick pulled out of the fire,
but you would not return to me,” says the LORD.
12“So, this is what I will do to you, Israel.
Prepare to meet your God!
13See, the One who shapes the mountains and creates the winds;
the One whose thoughts are revealed to men and women,
and sends the darkness before the dawn
and walks on the highest mountains of the earth –
I am that One, the LORD God the Almighty!”


1-5: The “cows of Bashan” is likely a reference to the rich women in the capital city of Samaria. Bashan was a region known for its cattle. The reference is not intended to be insulting, as it would be to women today, but rather to bring attention to their opulence and to their part in oppressing the poor to keep themselves in luxury. Amos says they will be drug out of the city and thrown into Harmon. Here is my claim to fame – my surname is in the Bible! Of course, Harmon is probably a reference to the city dump, but you take whatever recognition you can get, you know. Amos goes on to condemn them for worshiping at the pagan shrines in Bethel and Gilgal.

6-11: Amos says that God was the one who sent drought to them so that they did not have enough to eat. “Your teeth were clean” means they haven’t chewed on anything – they have nothing to eat and are starving. Even with that sign, however, they will not return to God. Indeed, the phrase “you did not return to me” is uttered 5 times from verse 6 to verse 11, as if God just can’t quite get over it. God sent blight, mildew, locusts, plague, and the sword, but they wouldn’t turn back to God. Even the complete destruction of some of them didn’t nudge the others in God’s direction.

12-13: So, says Amos, prepare to meet the LORD, the one who forms the mountains, creates the wind, makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth. You get the distinct feeling the meeting isn’t going to be a pleasant one for Israel.


God allows us to stray only so far before some punishment befalls us. Of course, the godless attribute the punishment to bad luck instead of confessing their sins and seeking forgiveness and guidance.