Here tells Amos, one of the shepherd folk at Thecue, what visions he had concerning Israel. In Juda, Ozias was then reigning, in Israel, Jeroboam son of Joas, and it was two years before the earthquake. Loud as roaring of lion, said he, the Lord will speak in thunder from his citadel at Jerusalem; forlorn they lie, yonder pastures the shepherds loved once, the heights of Carmel all shrivelled away.
A message from the Lord: Thrice forfeit Damascus, and forfeit once again, that rode rough-shod over the men of Galaad; fall fire on Azael's court, to burn down all the strongholds of Benadad! Broken Damascus gate shall be, nor any be left to dwell in Aven's plain, or rule over Eden valley; far off, at Cir, the Syrian folk shall go into banishment, the Lord says.
This, too: Thrice forfeit Gaza, and forfeit once again, that secured for the men of Edom their full toll of captives; fall fire on Gaza's walls, to burn down all its strongholds! None shall dwell in Azotus, none rule over Ascalon; upon Accaron, too, my stroke shall fall; every trace of Philistia vanished and gone, the Lord God says.
This too: Thrice forfeit Tyre, and forfeit once again, that gave Edom its full toll of captives, as though bond there were none between brethren; fall fire on its walls, to burn down its strongholds!
This too: Thrice forfeit Edom, and forfeit once again, that would hunt down his own brother at the sword's point; unnatural cruelty, so to hug his enmity, nor ever let rancour die down; fire fall on Theman, to burn down the strongholds of Bosra!
This, too: Thrice forfeit Ammon, and n forfeit once again, that so coveted Galaad's lands, every mother's womb he would rip open; fire fall on Rabba's walls, to burn down its strongholds! Hark to the bray of battle, blustering of the storm-wind! Into exile Melchom shall go, with all his retinue.
This, too: Thrice forfeit Moab, and forfeit once again, that burned the king of Edom's bones to dust; fall fire on Moab, to burn down all the strongholds of Carioth! With tumult and the bray of trumpets, Moab shall go to his death; ruler of theirs I will strike down in their midst, and all his vassals shall perish with him, the Lord says.
This, too: Thrice forfeit Juda, and forfeit once again, that spurned the Lord's law and left his bidding undone, so mazed were they by the false gods their fathers had gone a-courting; fire fall on Juda, to burn down all the strongholds of Jerusalem!
And this, too: What of Israel? Thrice forfeit Israel like the rest, and forfeit once again, that for a debt, though it were but the price of a pair of shoes, will make slaves of poor, honest folk. Ground in the dust, the poor man's rights, shouldered aside, the claim of the unbefriended! See where father and son, to my name's dishonour, bed with one maid! See where they lie feasting beside the altar, at the very shrine of their God, no cloak there but is some borrower's pledge, no stoup of wine but is some debtor's forfeit!
Was it for such men as these I exterminated the Amorrhites, a race tall as the cedar, hardy as the oak, root and fruit of them doomed to destruction? These are the men I rescued from Egypt, guided them, all those forty years, through the wilderness, to make the domain of the Amorrhites theirs! Tell me, men of Israel, the Lord says, what avails it that I should call sons of yours, from their boyhood's days, to serve me as prophets and Nazirites? Ever you tempt the Nazirites with wine, ever you forbid the prophet to raise his voice in prophecy. Henceforth, you shall seek my help in vain; waggon-axle overladen with sheaves groans not so reluctant as I! Speed shall be no profit to the speedy, strength to the strong; warrior shall not escape, nor bowman stand firm; the fleet of foot, nay, the very horseman shall have no deliverance; a day is coming, the Lord says, when tried valour shall be fain to throw arms away, and take flight.
This, then, is the Lord's message to you, men of Israel, to the whole race I rescued from Egypt: Nation is none I have claimed for my own, save you; and guilt of yours is none that shall go unpunished. Tryst there must be, if friends will meet and journey together; prey there must be, ere lion will roar in the forest, lion's whelp growl in its lair; bird is not pinned to the ground, without fowler to snare it, nor trap released without a catch made. Sounds trumpet in the streets, men do well to be afraid; if peril is afoot in the city, doubt not it is of the Lord's sending. Never does he act, but his servants, the prophets, are in the secret. Roars lion, who but will tremble? Comes the divine warning, who but will prophesy?
Raise a cry from the house-tops, there in Azotus, there in Egypt's land: To the hills about Samaria betake you, and look deep into the heart of her, what turbulent doings are there, what wrongs men suffer! In yonder palaces, the Lord says, that are store-houses of oppression and rapine, honest doing is all forgot. This doom, then, the Lord God utters: Distress and siege for such a land as this! All your fastnesses shall be dismantled, all your palaces spoiled. will you have lion disgorge his prey? Pleased enough the shepherd, if a pair of legs he recover, a mangled ear! They shall fare no better, the Israelites that lie on a corner of the mattress at Samaria, and have their bed at Damascus. A message for you, says the Lord, the God of hosts, a warning for the sons of Jacob! I will have a reckoning with the rebellions of Israel, a reckoning with those altars of theirs at Bethel, that shall have the horns of them cut off and hurled to the ground; on summer dwelling of yours and winter dwelling my hand shall fall, houses of ivory and houses of the common folk; all shall lie in ruin, the Lord says.
Here is word for you, pampered cattle that dwell at Samaria, the poor wronging, the friendless folk spurning, and ever crying out upon your husbands, Wine, there! We would drink! Never let me be called holy, the Lord God says, if doom does not overtake you for this; see if you be not trussed on spears, and your children given up to feed the cooking-pan! Leave the city walls you must, the Lord says, one by this breach, one by that, and be cast away in Armon.
On with you to Bethel, and defy me, thence to Galgal, and repeat defiance there; morning victims, tithes on the third day, bread, leavened bread, for thank-offering, gifts of devotion publicly proclaimed! Have your will, men of Israel, says the Lord God, have your will.
What would you? Never a city left but men's teeth were idle, never a village but bread lacked there, and you would not come back to me, the Lord says. It was three months to harvest, and rain I denied you; or rain fell on one city, and not on the next, one village had a drenching and the next was dry, till one city must supply water for three neighbours, and none had its fill, and you would not come back to me. You would not come back to me, the Lord says, when sirocco I sent, and mildew, and the locust preyed on garden and vineyard, fig-tree and olive-tree of yours; so you would not come back to me, when with Egypt's pestilence I slew you, when your warriors fell at the sword's point, and your horses were carried off, and never a camp of yours but the stench of it plagued your nostrils; you would not come back to me, when ruin threatened, swift as the divine stroke that ruined Sodom and Gomorrha, and you yourselves were like a brand saved from the burning.
Now I have worse, Israel, in store for you; when that worse comes, prepare you must, Israel, to meet your God. He is here, that fashioned the hills and made the winds; he is here, that gives man warning of his designs, that turns dawn into darkness, and sets his feet on the highest heights of earth; the Lord God of hosts is the name of him.
Please you then listen to the dirge I raise for you, men of Israel: Fallen she is, never to rise again, Israel, the unsubdued; stretched at full length she lies there forsaken! Ay, the Lord God says, but a hundred citizens, but ten villagers left to you, city that marched out a thousand, village a hundred strong!
Yet warning the Lord gave to the race of Israel: On peril of your lives, to my aid betake you! Not to Bethel, not to Galgal's ring-shrine, or Bersabee pilgrimage; a long road yonder circle shall lead you, a road that never returns; house of God shall not avail you, that is home of idols now! On your lives, to the Lord betake you, as you would not see all Joseph ablaze, quenchless fire raging over Bethel! And still you poison the springs of justice, still in the dust fling honour away.
... Creator he of Arcturus and Orion; dawn brings he out of darkness, and turns night to day, beckons to the waters of the sea, and over the surface of earth spreads them, such the power of his name! At his glance falls ruin on the strong, devastation on the fortified.
Ill looks he will earn at yonder city gate, that finds fault; the wise word, there, is a thing abominable. Yet, trust me, it shall nothing avail you, this harrying of the poor, and taking toll of the best they have. Houses of stone you build you shall never dwell in, sunny vineyards you plant you shall drink of never. Your often misdoing, your heinous guilt, never think I am blind to it; innocence hated, the bribe taken, the poor refused their rights at the judgement-seat! And should wisdom keep silence in times like these, ill times like these? Set your minds on right, that now are set on wrong-doing; so you shall find life, so your boast shall come true that the Lord, the God of hosts, is with you. Shun wrong, cherish the right, justice enthrone at your judgement-seat; then there is hope that the Lord, the God of hosts, will have mercy on some remnant of Joseph's line.
This doom he utters, he, the Lord of hosts, he, our Master: Market-place or street is none but shall echo with wailing and cries of woe; country-folk, and such as are skilled in mourning, they shall call in to make dirge and dole; dirge, too, the vineyards shall sing; all this, when I make my way through your midst, the Lord says. Fools, that wait eagerly for the day of the Lord's coming! Think you it shall serve your turn? Nay, it is the Lord's day of triumph, not yours; dawn it must, but in darkness, not in light. Speeds he well, that shuns lion and meets bear? Has he joy of his home-coming, that leans hand on wall, and all at once is bitten by a viper? And for you, that day brings darkness, not the light you craved for; no radiance haunts about it, only gloom.
Oh, but I am sick and tired of them, your solemn feasts; incense that goes up from your assemblies I can breathe no longer! Burnt-sacrifice still? Bloodless offerings still? Nay, I will have none of them; fat be the victims you slay in welcome, I care not. O to be rid of the singing, the harp's music, that dins my ear!
...And like waters rolling in full tide, like a perennial stream, right and justice shall abound...
What, men of Israel, did you spend forty years in the desert, ever for me your burnt-sacrifice, ever for me your offerings; and now would you have Moloch for your king, a star for your god, carry shrine of theirs, idolatrous image you made of them, hither and thither? What wonder if I banish you beyond Damascus far away? Dooms you with his own sign-manual the Lord, the God of hosts.
Poor fools, that in Sion or high Samaria take your ease, and fear nothing! That lord it over the Gentiles, and pass proudly through Israel's domain, bidding us make our way to Chalane, and thence to noble Emath, or go down to Gath, where the Philistines are, and see if land of theirs be fairer, borders of theirs be wider, than these of ours. Poor fools, with the evil day ever at arm's length, wrong enthroned ever close at hand! Sleep they on beds of ivory, sprawl they at table, eating the best lambs flock can provide, calves fattened at the stall; and ever must harp and voice nicely accord, ay, very Davids they think themselves for musical invention! All their drinking is from the bowl, all their ointment of the best, and what care they for Joseph's ruin?
Lead their folk they shall, but into exile; the revel must break up at last. By my divine power I swear it, says the Lord God of hosts, pride of yours shall weary me, great houses of yours shall offend my sight, no longer; city and citizens, I will leave you at the enemy's mercy. Be there ten men left alive in a house, death shall take toll of them...
... Kinsman that comes to take him away must burn him first, and so carry his bones without. Ho, there! cries he to one that lurks in the inner rooms, have you any left? And when he hears the task is over, bids him say no more, unless it be to call the Lord's name to memory...
A word from the Lord, and all shall be a gaping ruin, palace and cottage both. Strange, if yonder mountain-crags men should climb on horseback, or plough with oxen! Stranger still, that people of mine should poison the springs of right and justice, all wormwood now! And still you boast over some conquest of little worth; To what greatness, you say, valour of ours has brought us! Trust me, men of Israel, the Lord God of hosts says, I mean to embroil you with such an enemy as shall crush the life out of you, from Emath pass to the brook that bounds the desert.
This was a vision the Lord God shewed me; here were locusts a-making, just at the time when the after-growth was coming up, after the king's crop had been carried. Short work had these made of all the land yielded; Ah, Lord God, said I, be merciful! How should Jacob survive, the puny creature he is? And with that, the Lord relented; Happen it shall not, said he. And a second vision the Lord God shewed me, how he would summon them to ordeal by fire; fire should devour the waters below the earth, and devoured some part of them were. Ah, Lord God, said I, for pity! How should Jacob survive, the puny creature he is? And with that, the Lord relented again; Happen it shall not, said he.
But now the Lord shewed me a third vision; a plastered wall, and the Lord himself standing by it with a trowel in his hand, asking me if I could see what he had there. Why, Lord, I said, a plasterer's trowel! Ay, he answered, and here, in full view of Israel's folk, that trowel I lay aside; cementing they shall have from me no more. Hill-shrines of Aven shall tumble down, sanctuaries of Israel be laid waste; at the sword's point I will try conclusions with the race of Jeroboam.
Hereupon, a message came to Jeroboam, king of Israel, from Amasias that was priest at Bethel. Here is Amos, said he, raising revolt against you in the realm of Israel; there is no room in all the land for such talk as his; Jeroboam to die at the sword's point, Israel to be banished from its native country! And this was his counsel to Amos, Sir prophet, get you gone; in Juda take refuge if you will, and there earn your living by prophecy. Prophesy here in Bethel you may not, where the king's chapel is, and the king's court.
What, said Amos, I a prophet? Nay, not that, nor a prophet's son neither; I am one that minds cattle, one that nips the sycamore-trees; I was but tending sheep when the Lord took me into his service. It was the Lord bade me go and prophesy to his people of Israel. He has a message for you: you will have no prophesying against Israel, no word dropped against Bethaven? Here, then, is the divine doom pronounced on you: Wife of yours, here in the city streets, shall be dishonoured; sons and daughters of yours shall die at the sword's point; lands of yours shall feel the measuring-rope. And for yourself, on unhallowed soil death awaits you, when Israel is banished, as banished it needs must be, from the land of its birth.
Then the Lord God shewed me another vision, of a hook such as they use for fruit-gathering. And when he asked, could I see what he had there, Why, Lord, I said, a grappling-hook for fruit-trees! Ay, said he, and right autumn it is for my people of Israel; no further chance shall they have of repentance.
Day of doom! How shriek the hinges of yonder temple gates; then, what massacre! Everywhere deep silence falls.
Here is word for you, oppressors of the poor, that bring ruin on your fellow-citizens in their need; you that long for new moon and sabbath to be at an end, for trading to begin and granary to be opened, so you may be at your shifts again, the scant measure, the high price, the false weights! You that for a debt, though it were but the price of a pair of shoes, will make slaves of poor, honest folk; you that sell refuse for wheat! By Jacob's ancient renown the Lord swears it, crimes of yours shall remain for ever unforgotten. Well may the earth quake over such doings, to the hurt of all that dwell in it; everywhere mount up, and shift and sink, like Egypt's river in flood. Day of doom, says the Lord God, when there shall be sunset at noon, and earth shall be overshadowed under the full light! All your feasting turned to lament, all your songs to dirge and dole; not a loin but goes clad in sackcloth, not a head but is shaved bald; never was such mourning made, though it were for an only son; bitter the day, bitter its ending.
A time is coming, says the Lord God, when there shall be great lack in the land, yet neither dearth nor drought. Hunger? Ay, they shall hunger for some message from the Lord, yet go they from eastern to western sea, go they from north to south, making search for it everywhere, message from the Lord they shall have none. Thirst, ay, they shall thirst, fair maid and brave warrior both. Fools, that by the shame of Samaria take their oaths, pin their faith to Dan's worship or Bersabee pilgrimage! Here is fall there is no amending.
And now I saw the Lord standing above the altar; Smite column there, he cried, lintel there dislodge, nest of ill-gotten gains! To the last man, the sword must take its toll; refuge shall be none. Flee they, never a fugitive shall escape; from the pit beneath I will dig them up, from heaven above I will drag them down; hide they on Carmel's heights, I will search and seize them, lurk they in the sea's depths, my writ runs there; maw of monster shall devour them. Let enemy drive them into exile, even there the sword shall be my pursuivant; watch and ward I keep over them, never doubt it, but to their undoing.
... The Lord God of hosts, whose touch melts earth, to the hurt of all that dwell in it, makes it everywhere mount up and sink, like Egypt's river in flood; his the arched stairway of heaven, his the knitted frame of earth; beckons he to the waters of the sea, and over the earth spreads them, such the power of his name!
Ethiop or Israelite, what care I? the Lord says. God that brought you here from Egypt was God that brought the Philistines from Caphtor, brought the Syrians from Cir! Divine regard that watches ever this kingdom, marks ever its guilt; I will blot it out, believe me, from the face of the earth.
And blot out the name of Jacob altogether? Nay, not that, the Lord says. At my command, the whole world shall be a sieve, to sift the race of Israel as corn is sifted in the riddle, and never a grain cast out loose on the bare ground; at the sword's point they shall die, all the guilty that are found among my people; the guilty, who now flatter themselves that evil shall never come next or nigh them. Then, I mean to rebuild the fallen dwelling-place of David, all its breaches made good, all its ruins restored; it shall stand once more as it stood long ago; empire it shall have over the Edomites, and all the Gentile folk I claim for my own. A time is coming, the Lord says, when ploughman shall tread on the heels of reaper, sower's task begin ere vintager's is ended; never a mountain-side but shall run with sweet wine, never a hill but its rugged nature shall be tamed. I will bring back my people of Israel from its exile, to rebuild ruined cities and dwell there, plant vineyards and drink of them, till gardens and eat the fruits of them. Firm root they shall take in their native soil, never again to be torn away from the home I have given them, says the Lord, your own God.