Amos 8

The Word Made Fresh

1The LORD showed me a basket of summer fruit 2and asked, “Amos, what do you see?” I said, “A basket of fruit.”

Then the LORD replied,
“The time has come for my people Israel
  and I will never again ignore them.
3The songs being sung in the temple
will become dirges on that day,” says the LORD God.
“There will be many dead bodies
scattered around everywhere. Keep silence before them!”
4Now hear this, you who stomp on the poor
and bring them to ruin;
5You who say, “When will the time of the new moon pass
so that we can sell our grain?
When will the sabbath be over
so that we can put our wheat on the market.
We will make the bushel small and the peck large.
We can use false scales.
6We can buy the poor with silver.
We can buy the needy with a pair of sandals.
We can sweep up the remaining wheat and sell it.”
7Because of Jacob’s pride, the LORD has sworn,
“I will not forget everything they have done.
8The land will tremble because of it,
and those who reside there will mourn.
Will it all overflow like the Nile,
and then sink low again like the Nile of Egypt?”
9The LORD God declares, “That day I will make the sun set at noon,
and the earth will be darkened in broad daylight.
10I will turn your parties into mourning
and all your music will be lamentations.
I will wrap sackcloth around every waist
and cause every head to be made bald.
It will be like mourning for an only child
and it will be a bitter day.”
1The LORD says, “The time will come
when I will strike the land with famine;
not a famine of bread or water,
but a famine of not hearing what the LORD has to say.
12The people will wander aimlessly from coast to coast,
from north to east, running here and there seeking the LORD’s word;
but they will not find it.”
13When that time comes the beautiful young women
and handsome young men will faint from thirst.
14Those who pray to Ashimah, the god idol of Samaria,
and declare, “As your god lives, people of Dan,”
and “As the power of the god of Beershebah lives,”
will fall down and never rise again.


1-3: We are reminded of Jeremiah’s vision of the baskets of good and bad figs (Jeremiah 24) which foretold God’s pleasure for the people of Judah and God’s displeasure with King Zedekiah and his officials. In this case there is one basket of summer fruit which God explains is a sign of the end of Israel. The Hebrew has a play on words not carried over into English so that the English translation makes little sense. Why would a basket of summer fruit be such a terrible sign? What we don’t see is that the words for “fruit” and “end,” as in “end of life,” are very much alike in Hebrew.

4-8: The verdict is in: Israel has become the kind of nation that allows and enables the wealthy to prey on the poor, the Sabbath to be ignored, and the use of honest weights and measures cavalierly disregarded.

9-10: Since they will not mourn their iniquity, God will bring mourning upon them.

11-12: The worst sentence of all: God will be absent from the land.

13-14: The worshipers of pagan gods are particularly targeted, represented by the “beautiful young women and the young men,” a reference to the emphasis on sexual prowess and permissiveness.


God will put up with our foolishness only to a point. When it reaches the level where the bulk of the people are worshiping things that are “false gods” – things like wealth, beauty, power, and fame – God will act, and the only good thing left for good people is the hope of heaven and eternal life. May we all be in that number!