Amos 4

Study the Inner Meaning

English: American Standard Version         

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1 Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, that oppress the poor, that crush the needy, that say unto their lords, Bring, and let us drink.

2 The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that they shall take you away with hooks, and your residue with fish-hooks.

3 And ye shall go out at the breaches, every one straight before her; and ye shall cast [yourselves] into Harmon, saith Jehovah.

4 Come to Beth-el, and transgress; to Gilgal, [and] multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, [and] your tithes every three days;

5 and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill-offerings and publish them: for this pleaseth you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah.

6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places; yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

7 And I also have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest; and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.

8 So two or three cities wandered unto one city to drink water, and were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: the multitude of your gardens and your vineyards and your fig-trees and your olive-trees hath the palmer-worm devoured: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have carried away your horses; and I have made the stench of your camp to come up even into your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

11 I have overthrown [cities] among you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a brand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel; [and] because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.

13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought; that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the Earth-jehovah, the God of hosts, is his name.

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   Study the Inner Meaning
Chapter summary

Exploring the Meaning of Amos 4      

By Helen Kennedy

In chapter 4 of the Book of Amos, verses 1-3 talk about people who pervert the truths of the church. They will fall into falsities in outermost things. Fish are lower things, so it follows that fishhooks (verse 2) would mean being caught and held fast in natural or lower things.

Verses 4-6 talk about things of worship such as tithes and sacrifices. These look similar to genuine worship, but are only in outermost things. We can tell because ‘teeth’ (verse 6) represent ultimates or outermost things (Secrets of Heaven 6380), so it follows that “cleanness of teeth” would mean outermost things that look good but only imitate genuine worship. The Lord exhorts, “Yet you have not returned to me.”

Verses 7-8. Some things true will remain, when the rest are false, in consequence of which truths will have no power. This can be seen where the Lord says, “I made it rain on one city; I withheld rain from another city... where it did not rain the part withered.” Again the Lord exhorts, “Yet you have not returned to me.”

Verse 9. Afterward all things of the church are falsified, shown in how blight attacked the gardens, vineyards, fig tree and olive trees. The last three represent spiritual, natural and celestial things, or all the things of spiritual life. “Yet you have not returned to me,” says the Lord.

Verses 10-11. The Lord explains the devastating things he allowed to happen: plague in Egypt, death of young men by swords, stench in the camps, Sodom and Gomorrah. This is because they are profaned by sensual knowledges - profanation meaning the mixing of good and evil together (Secrets of Heaven 1001:2).

This extends to all things of the church, the church being the Lord’s kingdom on earth (Secrets of Heaven 768:3).

With profanation “as soon as any idea of what is holy arises, the idea of what is profane joins immediately to it” (Secrets of Heaven 301).

Now there is hardly anything left. “Yet you have not returned to Me,” says the Lord again.

Verses 12-13. Because people adamantly remain in their profane ways, they are warned, “Prepare to meet your God!”. This is the God powerful and mighty, “who forms mountains, and creates the wind,” and even more close to home, “Who declares to man what his thought is.” As intimately a knowing as that is, the Lord’s love for all humanity is contained in His exhortations for them to turn themselves to Him.

See, for example, Luke 6:44-45, and True Christian Religion 373.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 204


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 382, 1069, 1453, 2165, 2220, 2799, 2842, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 336, 439, 474, 496, 502, 862

The Lord 49


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 403, 405, 513, 532, 556, 560, 608, ...

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 19:24

Exodus 9:3

Leviticus 7:12, 13, 22:18, 26:23

Numbers 21:33, 28:3

Deuteronomy 21, 42

Ruth 1:1

2 Kings 8:1, 13:7

Job 9:7, 24:4

Psalms 89:36

Proverbs 22:7

Isaiah 1:1, 11, 9:12, 28:1, 45:7, 56:12

Jeremiah 3:3, 5:3, 10:13, 14:3, 16:16, 46:18, 50:40

Ezekiel 20:39, 34:16

Hosea 9:15, 11:5, 12:6

Joel 1:4

Amos 2:7, 8, 3:1, 3, 9, 10, 5:5, 8, 11, 27, 6:7, 7:1

Micah 1:3, 2:2, 3:2

Haggai 2:17

Zechariah 3:2

Matthew 23:23

Word/Phrase Explanations

hear
'To hearken to father and mother,' as mentioned in Genesis 28:7, signifies obedience from affection. 'To hearken,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:22, signifies providence. See...

word
'Word,' as in Psalms 119:6-17, stands for doctrine in general. 'The Word,' as in Psalms 147:18, signifies divine good united with divine truth. 'Word,' as...

mountain
'Hills' signify the good of charity.

Samaria
'The woman of Samaria' signifies the church which would be founded among the Gentiles.

Us
Because people are governed by angels and spirits, in Genesis 1:26 it says 'let us make man into our image.' But because the Lord alone...

needy
In most cases, those described as "needy" in the Bible are those who lack true knowledge of the Lord and his teachings, but have a...

lords
Characters in the Bible will often address others using the term “my lord,” and it seems to be no more than an expression of respect....

bring
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “bring” is highly dependent on context, but in general it represents an introduction to a new...

drink
To be drunken without wine (Isa. 29:9), are they who are unconcerned about the Word, and the truths of faith, and thus have no inclination...

Jehovah
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

days
The expression 'even to this day' or 'today' sometimes appears in the Word, as in Genesis 19:37-38, 22:14, 26:33, 32:32, 35:20, and 47:26. In a...

come
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

Go out
To go out to meet, as in Genesis 14:17, signifies to submit themselves. To go out, as in Genesis 28:10, signifies to live more remotely....

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

breaches
A breach (Gen. 38:29) signifies the infraction and perversion of truth, by separation from good. A breach signifies falsity of doctrine, and the stroke of...

saith
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

beth-el
When Jacob had his famous dream, of a staircase leading to heaven, he named the place "Bethel," which is Hebrew for "the house of God."...

Gilgal
Gilgal signifies the doctrine of natural truth, serving for introduction into the church.

multiply
'Spreading themselves on the earth,' as in Genesis 8:17, signifies the internal self operating on the external.

morning
Morning comes with the rising of the sun, and the sun – which gives life to the earth with its warmth and light – represents...

Tithes
'Tithes' or 'ten' denotes fullness, and 'a tenth part,' sufficiency.

three
The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

Proclaim
'To proclaim' signifies exploration from influx of the Lord.

Offerings
'Offerings' signify worship.

children
A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

Israel
'Israel,' in Jeremiah 23:8, signifies the spiritual natural church. The children of Israel dispersed all the literal sense of the Word by falsities. 'The children...

teeth
'Teeth' signify the outer edges of the life of the natural self, or the sensory level. This has two kinds, the will, and the understanding....

want
'Want of spiritual nourishment,' denotes a lack of knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom.

bread
Just as natural food feeds the natural body, so spiritual food feeds the spiritual body. And since our spiritual body is the expression of what...

Harvest
'A harvest' symbolizes the state of the church with respect to Divine truth. The reason is that a harvest yields the grain used to make...

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

city
Cities of the mountain and cities of the plain (Jer. 33:13) signify doctrines of charity and faith.

rained
'Rain,' in a positive sense, denotes blessing, but in the opposite sense, damnation Rain,' as in Genesis 2:5-6, Exodus 34:25-27, and Hosea 6:3, signifies the...

withered
In the Bible (and in life), the idea of withering is usually connected to plants, and plants generally wither if they don't get enough water....

two
The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

water
'Waters' signify truths in the natural self, and in the opposite sense, falsities. 'Waters' signify particularly the spiritual parts of a person, or the intellectual...

satisfied
'What satisfies' is what nourishes the soul.

smitten
'The smitten' signify people who are oppressed by the falsities of ignorance.

Blasting
Blasting and mildew (Amos 4:9) signifies evil and falsity in the ex­tremes, or from the sensual corporeal principle.

Mildew
'Mildew' signifies being unreceptive of the good of love and faith.

gardens
'Olive yards,' as in Amos 4:9, signify the celestial aspects of the church.

vineyards
'A vine' signifies spiritual good and truth. 'A vine' or 'vineyard' signifies the church where the Word, and the Lord in it, is known, or...

fig
The Writings tell us that the fig tree represents the "natural human," which is our outward life in the world, and the thoughts and feelings...

Olive
'An olive,' as in Isaiah 17:6, signifies celestial remains. 'An olive' signifies love and charity, because 'the olive tree' signifies the celestial church, and so...

palmer-worm
Canker-worm, caterpillar, and palmer-worm, in Joel 2:25, signify the falsities and evils vastating or consuming the truths and goods of the church.

Sent
'Being sent' everywhere signifies, in an internal sense, going forth, as in John 17:8. In similar manner, it is said of the holy of the...

pestilence
'Pestilence' denotes the vastation of good and truth.

egypt
'Mizraim' signifies the same thing as Egypt.

sword
A 'sword,' in the Word, signifies the truth of faith combating and the vastation of truth. In an opposite sense, it signifies falsity combating and...

horses
'A horse' signifies knowledges or understanding of the Word. In an opposite sense it signifies the understanding of the Word falsified by reasonings, and likewise...

camp
Camps in the Bible represent spiritual order – a person’s (or a church community’s) whole collection of desires for good and true ideas on how...

nostrils
'A blast of the breath of the nostrils' signify the same thing as 'his anger and wrath.'

god
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

Gomorrah
'Sodom' signifies the evil of self-love, and 'Gomorrah,' the falsity derived from it.

meet
In natural language, to "meet" someone can be positive or negative: it can be a welcoming and greeting, or it can be "meeting" them in...

mountains
In Isaiah 40:12 'to weigh the mountains in a balance, and the hills in scales,' signifies that the celestial aspects of love and charity are...

Wind
Because a nearer and stronger divine influx through the heavens disperses truths among the wicked, 'wind' signifies this dispersion of truth and the resulting conjunction...

declareth
To "declare" something means to say it formally, publicly and with emphasis; you might say what you think, but you only declare things you're sure...

high
'Height' signifies what is inward, and also heaven.

earth
'Lands' of different nations are used in the Word to signify the different kinds of love prevalent in the inhabitants.

Hosts
When the divine power of good or omnipotence is being discussed in the Word, then says 'Jehovah Zebaoth,' or 'Jehovah of hosts,' and also 'Lord,'...

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...


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