Amos – Chapter 3

Rhetorical Questions

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

The Jewish nation is told to listen to what G-d has to say about them. He brought them out of Egypt, saying that He loved them more than all the other nations, but they rebelled against Him and now He must pay them for their sins.

Amos now asks a series of rhetorical questions, leading up to a point:

*If two people are walking along together, wasn’t it pre-arranged?

*Does a lion roar when there’s no prey around?

*Does a young lion rejoice in its lair if it hasn’t captured anything?

*Does a bird just fly into a net on the ground without some lure?

*Does the net jump up from the ground unless there’s something caught in it?

*Can a shofar be blown in a city without alarming the people?

And now, the point:

*Can something “bad” happen unless G-d wills it?

The purpose of these rhetorical questions is to demonstrate cause-and-effect. If a lion is roaring, it has prey. If a net is jumping around, there must be a bird in it. And if the Jews are punished, it’s because of their sins. These things don’t “just happen.”

G-d doesn’t take these steps without first sending a warning through His prophets. Now that the lion (G-d) has roared (sent a prophecy), how can the recipient not be scared? Who could stop a prophet from delivering his message?

Announce to the Philistines and the Egyptians to gather on the mountains of Samaria so that they can observe the chaos in Israel. G-d says that they didn’t know how to act properly – ever! They just stockpiled their ill-gotten gains. This is why G-d is bringing invaders to “cut them down to size.”

When a sheep is mauled by a lion, sometimes the shepherd salvages two legs (a large portion), sometimes a single ear (a small piece). Similarly, the people of Israel will have some remnant survive. In this case, it will be those who are bedridden, either with illness or fear. They will not go to battle and the enemy won’t care about them.

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