Avraham ben Yaakov
KNOW YOUR BIBLE
AMOS CHAPTER 9
The closing chapter of Amos prophesies the destruction of the Temple , the exile of Israel , the restoration of the House of David, the final redemption and the Messianic era of prosperity and blessing.
Chapter 9 vv 1-12 make up a single Parshah Sethumah which continues the prophecy that began in Chapter 8 v 11 speaking about the terrible spiritual famine that was to come about because of the idolatry of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes.
Chapter 9 now opens with the fifth and last in the series of prophetic images of the coming doom that started at the beginning of Chapter 7.
Verse 1: "I saw the Lord (ADNY) standing besides the ALTAR, and He said, Smite the capital that the thresholds may shake." As in the previous visions, the divine name used here indicates that Amos saw the aspect of DIN, harsh judgment. In chapter 7 vv 7-9 Amos described the builder's plumb line over the Temple wall - indicating the departure of the Shechinah (Divine Presence) from the Temple building, one of her ten "journeys" away from Israel heralding the coming exile. The present vision was said by the rabbis to prophesy one of the earlier stages or "journeys" of the Shechinah in this process - from the cherubs over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies onto the golden incense ALTAR that stood in the Temple Sanctuary (Rashi ad loc., Talmud Rosh HaShanah 31a). The fact that in this later prophecy Amos saw an earlier stage in the flight of the Shechinah from the Temple , one that was to come sooner, underlines that the day of doom was drawing closer.
Targum Yonasan explains that the blow to the capital - the lintel over the entrance of the Temple - alludes to the death of King Josiah, while the subsequent shaking of the thresholds alludes to the terror that gripped the leaders of the people as a result: Josiah was the last righteous king of Judah and with his death at Meggido at the hands of Pharaoh Necho, the kingdom's doom was sealed.
Vv 2-4 prophesy the terrible carnage and exile that would overtake the people. Targum Yonasan explains the "serpent" that God would send to bite them (v 3) as a metaphor for the nations fierce as a serpent that He would arouse against them.
Vv 5-6 are reminiscent of passages in some of the other prophets, notably Isaiah, and also in the book of Job, majestically evoking the great might of God over the entire universe in order to affirm that He has the power to bring about all that His prophets foretell.
V 7: "Are you not as much mine as the children of the Kushiyim (=Africans).?" This verse until the end of the book (Amos 9:7-15) are read in the synagogue as the Haftara of Parshas Aharey Moth (Leviticus 16:2-18:30) which warns Israel not imitate the immorality of the Egyptians and Canaanites. However, by the time of Amos the people had fallen into the immorality proscribed by the Torah, and in response God says in this verse, "Why should I hold back from punishing you since you do not return to Me? Are you not descended from the sons of Noah just like all the other nations? Indeed you have become like the Kushiyim, of whom it says, 'Can the Kushi change his skin?' (Jer. 13:23) - so you too can improve" (Rashi). Metzudas David explains that the Philistines and Arameans were both destined to be exiled from their lands (Jeremiah 47:4; II Kings 16:9) yet God would not redeem them, whereas He did redeem Israel from slavery in Egypt and thereby acquired them as His - in which case they are duty bound to obey Him.
V 8 foretells the destruction of the KINGDOM of the Ten Tribes but emphatically states that the PEOPLE - the House of Jacob - will never be destroyed.
Vv 9-10 foretell that the people of Israel will be "shaken about" among all the nations just as corn is sifted in a sieve, the purpose being to allow the grit and waste - the sinners - to fall through the sieve and die in order to leave the grain - the righteous - purified and intact (Metzudas David).
V 11: "After all this will have come upon them, the day prepared for redemption will arrive, and on that day I shall raise up the fallen tabernacle of David. This, as explained by Targum Yonasan, refers to the kingship of the House of David" (Rashi).
V 12: This verse prophesies that Israel - upon whom the Name of God is called - shall in future possess the remnant of Edom and of all the nations.
Verses 13-15 are a final Parshah Pethuhah describing the great plenty with which Israel will be blessed after the restoration.
V 13: There will be so much produce in the fields that the harvesters will still be at work when it is time to start plowing for the next growing season, while the grapes will be so plentiful that the wine pressers will still be at work when it is time to sow next year's crops. Amos' blessing is even greater than the blessing in the Torah (Leviticus 26:5) that "the threshing will continue until the grape harvest and the grape harvest until the time of sowing" (RaDaK).
Vv 14-15 foretell the return of the exiled people of Israel to our land. ".and they shall no longer be plucked up out of their land which I have given them says HaShem your God". Here we have God's promise that there will be no further exile from the Land of Israel !!!
* * * Amos 9:7-15 is the Haftara of Parshas Acharey Mos, Leviticus 16:1-18:30 * * *
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By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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