Amos 8


‘This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. “What do you see, Amos?” he asked. “A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered. Then the LORD said to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer. “In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “the songs in the temple will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies—flung everywhere! Silence!” Amos 8:1-3

A Basket Of Ripe Fruit

In the previous chapter, Amos received three visions. The locusts, fire and a plumb line, Amos 7:1-9. Here, we read of Amos’ fourth vision.

4. The vision of the basket of fruit.

This vision of the basket of summer fruit, suggests ripeness. In fact, the N.I.V. calls it the vision of a basket of ripe fruit. What we have here is a play on words, the Hebrew word for fruit was ‘qayits’.

The N.I.V. says ‘the time is ripe for my people Israel’.

The R.S.V. says, ‘the end, ‘qets’, have come.’ Israel is ripe for judgment’.

The N.I.V. says ‘I will spare them no longer’.

The R.S.V ‘I will never again pass by them’.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Most commentators and translators are greatly impressed with what they see as a kind of pun in the similarities between the Hebrew word for basket and their word for end. But the Hebrew word from which this is translated actually means a receiver and might just as well be translated hook for plucking, or receiving the fruit from the tree.’

The picked fruit would eventually become rotten, and so, be discarded, Jeremiah 8:20. Israel was ripe and ready to be discarded. Their songs in the temple will become wailings because of this judgment. Their dead bodies will be flung everywhere which would result in the land becoming defiled, Deuteronomy 30:17-20.

There is no hope for deliverance, and it would be a complete waste of time to cry out to God for help, hence, why there is silence, Zephaniah 1:7 / Habakkuk 2:20 / Zechariah 2:13.

‘Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, “When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?”—skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.’ Amos 8:4-6

Here we return to the idea of the oppression of the poor and covetousness of the rich. They longed for the New Moon festival to be over, Numbers 28:11, and the Sabbath to be over because as it was a day of rest, they couldn’t make any profit from their workers.

Here, it appears that the greedy merchants didn’t want to give the poor labourers a day off because this meant they couldn’t make any money.

The rich traders want the festivals over quickly so that they can get on with their business of making fat profits.

They are dishonest, they give short measures, overcharge and use false balances, that is, false scales. The poor farmers received little for the goods that they sold to the rich who lived in the cities, as a result, they got richer while the poor get poorer.

They forced the poor to sell themselves into slavery in order to pay back that which they needed for daily sustenance.

‘The LORD has sworn by himself, the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done. “Will not the land tremble for this, and all who live in it mourn? The whole land will rise like the Nile; it will be stirred up and then sink like the river of Egypt. “In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your religious festivals into mourning and all your singing into weeping. I will make all of you wear sackcloth and shave your heads. I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.’ Amos 8:7-10

God reminds them that He will not forget them, He has sworn by Himself, 1 Samuel 15:29, that they will be punished. God will not forget the rich who had been oppressing the poor.

Three things are used here to describe the punishment that is coming.

1. Earthquake. The land will tremble as God brings judgment through earthquakes.

2. River overflowing. Just like the River Nile flooded once a year, God’s judgement would rise up against them, Isaiah 8:5-8.

3. Eclipse of the Sun. The sun will go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight, Romans 13:1-7.

This will be a time of mourning, all of them will wear sackcloth and shave their heads and their singing will turn to weeping. It will be like a bitter day for them when the Assyrians take them into captivity.

‘The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it. “In that day” the lovely young women and strong young men will faint because of thirst. Those who swear by the sin of Samaria—who say, ‘As surely as your god lives, Dan,’ or, ‘As surely as the god of Beersheba lives’—they will fall, never to rise again.” Amos 8:11-14

They had already forgotten the law of God, Hosea 4:6, but here we read that their conditions will be made worse by the famine of the Word of God, Psalm 74:9.

Not a famine of bread or water, but they will not hear the Word of God. They will seek it but will not find it because God’s Word has been withdrawn from them, Acts 20:32 / 1 Timothy 4:6.

Youthfulness and strength are symbolised, if the strong can’t escape thirst, then no one will.

Notice Amos goes beyond the judgment of the Northern Kingdom, he says that Judah would also be judged because they too were involved in idolatry.

Those who trust in false gods, that is, the false gods they worshipped in Samaria, which represents the Northern Kingdom and Dan and Beersheba, which represents the Southern Kingdom of Judah, will fall and never rise again.

Hammershaimb, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The god that they worship and swear by is therefore not the true Yahweh, but a god which they have fashioned to their own desires. Idolatry in the Northern Kingdom had come of age. The people no longer either recognized or honoured the true and Almighty God, but instead, worshipped and swore by their golden idols. Added to that was the licentious and abominable worship they practised there and if that was not apostasy, there never was such a thing.’

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