1 Hear this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel.
2 "The virgin of Israel has fallen. She shall no longer rise. She is forsaken upon her land. There is no one to raise her up."
3 For thus says the Lord GOD: "The city that went out by one thousand shall leave one hundred, and that which went forth by one hundred shall leave ten to the house of Israel."
4 For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: "Seek me and you shall live.
5 But do not seek Beth-el, nor enter into Gilgal, and do not pass to Beer-sheba, for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity and Beth-el shall come to nothing.
6 Seek the LORD and you shall live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph and devour it and there be no one to quench it in Beth-el.
7 You who turn judgment to wormwood and leave off righteousness on the earth,
8 Seek him who makes the seven stars and Orion, turns the shadow of death into the morning, makes the day dark with night, who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the face of the earth. YAHWEH is his name.
9 He causes destruction to flash upon the strong, so that the destruction shall come against the fortress.
10 They hate him who rebukes in the gate and they abhor him who speaks uprightly.
11 Because your treading is upon the poor and you take burdens of wheat from him, therefore you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them. And you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine.
12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins. They afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate.
13 Therefore, the prudent shall keep silence in that time, for it is an evil time.
14 Seek good and not evil, so that you may live. Then the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as you have spoken.
15 Hate the evil and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate. It may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph."
16 Therefore, Yahweh, the God of hosts, the Lord, says thus: "Wailing shall be in all streets, and they shall say in all the highways, 'Alas! Alas!' And they shall call the farmer to mourning and those who are skillful in lamentation to wailing.
17 And in all vineyards there shall be wailing, for I will pass through you," says the LORD.
18 "Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! To what end is it for you? The day of the LORD is darkness and not light,
19 As if a man fled from a lion and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand on the wall and a serpent bit him.
20 Shall the day of the LORD not be darkness rather than light, even very dark and no brightness in it?
21 I hate, I despise your feast days and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
22 Though you offer me burnt-offerings and your food-offerings, I will not accept them, neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your harps.
24 But let judgment run down as waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.
25 "Have you offered to me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? 26 But you have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun, your images, the star of your god, which you made for yourselves. 27 Therefore, I will cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus," says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
In this chapter the prophet exhorts Israel to hear his lamentation over them for their impending ruin (verses 1-3); nevertheless to seek the Lord, and all that is good; to forsake their idols, and repent of their sins, in hopes of finding mercy, and living comfortably; or otherwise they must expect the wrath of God for their iniquities, especially their oppression of the poor (verses 4-15); otherwise it would be a time of weeping and wailing, of darkness and distress, however they might harden or flatter themselves, or make a jest of it (verses 16-20); for all their sacrifices and ceremonial worship would signify nothing, so long as they continued their idolatry with them (verses 21-26); and therefore should surely go into captivity (verse 27).
[v.4] - Reference, Deuteronomy 30:1-8; 1st Chronicles 28:9; 2nd Chronicles 15:2; Psalm 22:26, 69:32, 105:3-4; Isaiah 55:3, 6-7; Jeremiah 29:12-13; Lamentations 3:25-26; Ezekiel 18:32; Zephaniah 2:3; Matthew 7:8.
[v.6a] - "Seek the LORD, and you shall live" - See the references for verse 4.
[v.6b] - "lest he break out like fire, etc." - Reference, Deuteronomy 4:24, 9:3; Hebrews 12:29.
[v.8a] - "Seek him who makes the seven stars and Orion" - This passage may be referring to the changing of the seasons. It mentions the seven stars, also known as Pleiades, which are present in the spring time. Then there is mention of Orion, which appears in the fall and winter. English translations almost always use the Greek names for these stars or constellations. The Hebrew names are Kiymah (kee-maw') and Kciyl (kes-eel') respectively.
[v.8b] - Reference, Job 38:31.
[v.11] - Reference, Isaiah 33:1.
[v.12] - "they take a bribe" - This may also be read as, "they take the ransom." This shows the cruelty of the judges, for they hunted for crimes for the sake of gain, that is, they were only interested in receiving the ransom payment. The ransom payment was a bribe to the judges, which they gladly took.
[v.25] - Quoted in Acts 7:42.
[v.26-27] - Quoted in Acts 7:43.
[v.26] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "This place, we know, is quoted by Stephen in the seventh chapter of the Acts: but he followed the Greek version; and the Greek translator, whoever he was, was mistaken as to the word, Sicuth, and read, Sucoth, and thought the name an appellative of the plural number, and supposed it to be derived from סוך, suk, which means a tabernacle; for he translated it σκηνην as if it was said, 'You bore the tabernacle of your king instead of the ark.' But it was a manifest mistake; for the probability is, that Sicuth was the proper name of an idol."
[v.27] - "Damascus" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Why did the Prophet mention Damascus? This reason ought to be observed. It was because the Israelites thought that all the attacks of enemies would be prevented by having the city Damascus as their defense, which they supposed was impregnable. 'That fortress,' the Lord says, 'will not prevent me from taking you away, and removing you as far as the Assyrians.' We now see what the Prophet means, and why he expressly added the name of Damascus." This also explains why Stephen, in Acts 7:46, mentions Babylon, which at the time of Amos' prophesies was under Assyrian control.