The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday is from the book of the prophet Amos as contained in the Book of the Twelve (The Twelve Minor Prophets). The text is Amos 6:1-7 and is part of Amos’ section calling Israel to repentance (chapters 5-6) as he preaches against the pompous and self-assured of Israel—both Northern and Southern Kingdoms. We note how his message is to both kingdoms already in verse 1 where he references Zion (Jerusalem: Southern Kingdom) and the Mountain of Samaria (Mt. Gerizim: Northern Kingdom). Note also that these are the centers of worship in the respective Kingdoms—the temple mounts. Amos does most of his prophetic work in the Northern Kingdom but he does not leave out his home country of Judah. All the places referenced in verse two will be overrun and conquered by the Assyrian army in about 2-3 decades, although Jerusalem itself will be spared by the LORD’s intervening hand when He sends His Angel to wipe out Sennacherib’s army in the night.
The overall theme is a familiar one in the prophets as they warn both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. Their attitudes of arrogance and entitlement lead to self-indulgence, complacency and self-importance. These are the ones who will be the first to go into exile (vs. 7). The Gospel pericope for this day (Proper 21, Pentecost 16) is quite appropriate as it is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Again, the attitude of arrogance and entitlement leads to destruction. Indeed, the first in riches, luxury and power shall be the first into exile, not because of their riches, but because of their attitude of arrogance which leads them to ignore the poor and follow after the pagan rituals of self-indulgence.
Again, a note of thanks to Reed Lessing and his fine commentary on Amos in the Concordia Commentary Series. It is quite helpful for a more in-depth look at this prophetic writing.
6:1 הוֹי (Ho) “Woe! Alas! Ah!” This word is used only one other place in Amos—5:18.
הַשַּׁאֲנַנִּים (hash-sha-a-nan-Nim) from: שּׁאנן (shah-an-awn) “arrogant; carefree; wanton” This word comes from the verb שּׁאן (shah-an) which is found only five times in the Old Testament meaning, “to be at rest; carefree; self-confident; peaceful”.
וְהַבֹּטְחִים (ve-hab-bo-te-Chim) root: בטח (baw-takh) “to feel secure; to feel safe; to trust in”
This participle used as a noun can be translated as, “the ones who trust in; those who feel secure”
נְקֻבֵי (ne-ku-Vei) root: נקב (naw-kab) Qal, passive participle: “the notable one of; the distinguished one of”
רֵאשִׁית (re-Shit) “first; best; choicest; chief” See also verses 6 and 7 where Amos will use forms of this word to solidify his point—the first will be first… into exile.
6:2 עִבְרוּ (iv-Ru) Qal, imperative: “to cross over”
וּרְאוּ (u-re-U) root: רְאה (raw-aw) Qal, imperative: “to see”
וּלְכוּ (u-le-Chu) root: הלְך (haw-lak) Qal, imperative: “to go”
וּרְדוּ (u-re-Du) root: ירד (yaw-rad) Qal, imperative: “to go down; to descend”
6:3 הַמְנַדִּים (ham-nad-Dim) root: נדה (naw-daw) Piel, participle: “to push out; to postpone; to thrust off”
לְיוֹם רָע. (le-Yom Ra) “the day of evil; the evil day; the day of disaster” This is a significant phrase in Amos. Lessing writes:
“The “evil day” is theologically equivalent to other phrases with “day” in Amos: “a day of war” and “a day of tempest” (1:14); “that day” (2:16; 8:3, 9, 13); “the day when I punish the transgressions of Israel” (3:14); “the day of Yahweh” (5:18, 20; and “a bitter day” (8:10). These expressions for judgement refer initially to the onslaught of the Assyrian army against Samaria, which resulted in Samaria’s fall in 722 BC… Yet Amos also predicts a Gospel “day” and “days” (9:11, 13)” (p. 392).
6:4 הַשֹּׁכְבִים; (hash-sho-che-Vim) root: שּׁכב (shaw-kab) Qal, participle: “to lie down; to recline” “those lying down” In this context, those who are reclining at a feast.
מִטּוֹת (mit-Tot) “couch; bed”
שֵׁן (Shen) “ivory”
~yxirUs.W (u-se-ru-Chim) Qal, passive participle: “to sprawl; to stretch out” “those sprawling upon…”
עַרְשׂוֹתָם (ar-so-Tam) from: עַרְשׂ (eh’res) “couch; divan”
כָּרִים (ka-Rim) “ram; lamb”
וַעֲגָלִים: (va-a-ga-Lim) from: עֲגָלִe (ay-ghel) “young bull; calf; ox”
מַרְבֵּק; (mar-Bek) “stall” This is a place where the animal was fattened up.
6:5 הַפֹּרְטִים; (hap-po-re-Tim) root: פרט (paw-rat) This is a hapax legomenon and in the Qal, participle seems to mean “those who pluck (string instruments); those who drone; those who improvise; those who sing (idle songs).”
הַנָּבֶל (han-Na-vel) “harp; lute; lyre”
כְּדָוִיד. (ke-da-Vid) “like David” This points to their attitude of arrogance. They think they
compare to the great King David in the Psalm department.
6:6 הַשֹּׁתִים; (hash-sho-Tim) root: שּׁתה (shaw-thaw) Qal, participle: “to drink”
בְּמִזְרְקֵי. (be-miz-re-Kei) “ceremonial bowl; basin; sacred bowl”
וְרֵאשִׁית (ve-re-Shit) “choice; best; finest”
יִמְשָׁחוּ (yim-Sha-chu) root: משׁח (maw-shakh) Qal: “to anoint; to smear”
נֶחְלוּ (nech-Lu) root: חלה (khaw-law) Niphal: “to become sick; to grieve; to be made sick”
שֵׁבֶר (She-ver) “collapse; fracture; ruin; affliction”
6:7 יִגְלוּ…גֹּלִים (yig-Lu… go-Lim) root: גלה (gaw-law) Qal, imperfect/Qal, participle: “go into exile”
מִרְזַח (mir-Zach) “marzeach (feast); a cultic celebration; cry of revelry” Jeremiah 16:5 is the only other mention of this feast which has a definite pagan context. It was celebrated by the wealthy and involved excessive drinking.
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Amos 6:1-7.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Amos 6:1-7.