Amos – Chapter 9

Israel's Not So Special (Or Are They?)

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Amos saw a vision of G-d’s glory standing by the altar of the Temple. G-d told one of the cherubim to strike the lintel above the roof, making the supporting beams tremble. (A lintel is a horizontal beam in a building, such as over a doorway. For more about cherubim, see our synopsis on Ezekiel chapter 10.) The leaders of the nation will be destroyed first. The rest will be slain by the sword; none of those who have been marked for death will escape. If they try to hide deep down in pits or up high in mountain caves, G-d will enable the invaders to find them. Even if they run away to deserted islands, G-d will have them bitten by serpents there. (These serpents may be literal snakes or a metaphor for the enemy forces.) Even giving themselves into the hands of another nation in hopes of sanctuary will not save them.

G-d is the Ruler of Heaven and Earth. If He just touches the ground, it quakes and the people who live there are destroyed (that is, the decree for such things to occur comes from Him). G-d built the levels between the heavenly bodies (their orbits, perhaps?) and He established living things on Earth. He gathered the waters and placed them on the Earth. (Actually, He does this constantly, as water evaporates into clouds then falls back to Earth again as rain.)

G-d says that the Jews are no different from anyone else. He uses the example of the descendants of Cush; we are all descended from the sons of Noah. Sure, G-d took the Jews from Egypt, but He also took the Philistines from Kaftor and the nation of Aram from Kir. We are all G-d’s children and He does things for all of us! Don’t think Israel is so special that their behavior gets a free pass. (Some read it differently, saying “G-d took you from Egypt. Did He do the same for the Philistines or Aram? No. Israel IS special, which is why they will never be completely destroyed, although they are still not exempt from punishment.)

G-d has His eye on the sinful dynasty of the northern kingdom of Israel; He will eradicate them (as opposed to the Davidic dynasty of Judah, which will endure). Even though they will lose their national identity, the Jews will remain a separate people while in exile, distinct from those among whom they dwell. They will be shaken up, scattered throughout all the nations. The people expect they will never have to pay for their sins, but they will.

In the Messianic era, G-d will raise up the fallen dynasty of King David and He will gather up His scattered people, restoring things to as they once were. Israel will inherit the remainder of Edom and the other nations. Days are coming, G-d says, when produce will grow in such abundance that harvest will begin before plowing has finished. Mountains will run with sweet wine and the hills will drip with milk. The restored exiles of Israel will rebuild the ruined cities and plant gardens and vineyards, whose fruits they will enjoy. The people will be firmly planted in their land, which G-d has given them.

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