Amos 5

Study the Inner Meaning

English: Basic English Bible         

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1 Give ear to this word, my song of sorrow over you, O children of Israel.

2 The virgin of Israel has been made low, never again to be lifted up: she is stretched out by herself on her land; there is no one to put her on her feet again.

3 For these are the words of the Lord God: The town which was able to send out a thousand, will have only a hundred; and that which sent out a hundred, will have only ten, in Israel.

4 For these are the words of the Lord to the children of Israel: Let your hearts be turned to me, so that you may have life:

5 Do not be looking for help to Beth-el, and do not go to Gilgal, or make your way to Beer-sheba: for Gilgal will certainly be taken prisoner, and Beth-el will come to nothing.

6 Go to the Lord for help so that you may have life; for fear that he may come like fire bursting out in the family of Joseph, causing destruction, and there will be no one to put it out in Beth-el.

7 You who make the work of judging a bitter thing, crushing down righteousness to the earth;

8 Go for help to him who makes Orion and the Pleiades, by whom the deep dark is turned into morning, who makes the day black with night; whose voice goes out to the waters of the sea, sending them out over the face of the earth: the Lord is his name;

9 Who sends sudden destruction on the strong, so that destruction comes on the walled town.

10 They have hate for him who makes protest against evil in the public place, and he whose words are upright is disgusting to them.

11 So because the poor man is crushed under your feet, and you take taxes from him of grain: you have made for yourselves houses of cut stone, but you will not take your rest in them; the fair vine-gardens planted by your hands will not give you wine.

12 For I have seen how your evil-doing is increased and how strong are your sins, you troublers of the upright, who take rewards and do wrong to the cause of the poor in the public place.

13 So the wise will say nothing in that time; for it is an evil time.

14 Go after good and not evil, so that life may be yours: and so the Lord, the God of armies, will be with you, as you say.

15 Be haters of evil and lovers of good, and let right be done in the public place: it may be that the Lord, the God of armies, will have mercy on the rest of Joseph.

16 So these are the words of the Lord, the God of armies, the Lord: There will be weeping in all the open spaces; and in all the streets they will say, Sorrow! sorrow! and they will get in the farmer to the weeping, and the makers of sad songs to give cries of grief.

17 In all the vine-gardens there will be cries of grief: for I will go through among you, says the Lord.

18 Sorrow to you who are looking for the day of the Lord! what is the day of the Lord to you? it is dark and not light.

19 As if a man, running away from a lion, came face to face with a bear; or went into the house and put his hand on the wall and got a bite from a snake.

20 Will not the day of the Lord be dark and not light? even very dark, with no light shining in it?

21 Your feasts are disgusting to me, I will have nothing to do with them; I will take no delight in your holy meetings.

22 Even if you give me your burned offerings and your meal offerings, I will not take pleasure in them: I will have nothing to do with the peace-offerings of your fat beasts.

23 Take away from me the noise of your songs; my ears are shut to the melody of your instruments.

24 But let the right go rolling on like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

25 Did you come to me with offerings of beasts and meal offerings in the waste land for forty years, O Israel?

26 Truly, you will take up Saccuth your king and Kaiwan your images, the star of your god, which you made for yourselves.

27 And I will send you away as prisoners farther than Damascus, says the Lord, whose name is the God of armies.

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   Study the Inner Meaning
Chapter summary

Exploring the Meaning of Amos 5      

1-3 The Lord is sorrowful that the church, the Truth from the Divine flowing into the world, has successively been devastated, as is seen in the previous chapter, Amos 4. Verse 3 says, “The city that goes out by a thousand shall have a hundred left.” So very little truth is left to nourish the people, and this bad state is by their own doing.

4-9 Amid this dying out, the Lord entreats, almost anxiously, “Seek Me and live,” then names traps or states that will turn people from Him: Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba. The first is falsifying knowledges, the second sensuous or external pleasures; and the last “negative attitudes towards everything that constitutes faith and its doctrine (SH 3923:6). The next warning is to those “who turn justice into wormwood,” v. 7 or turn good into evil (SH 1488:2). He wants them to return to him and explains clearly that He is the source of power, the one who, “Made the Pleiades and Orion,” v. 8 and the one who “rains ruin upon the strong” v.9.

10-13 In their self-intelligence they continue to reject the Lord, to “tread down the poor,” rejecting even the little bits of truth coming to them. The people are warned, “Though you have built houses of hewn stone, yet you shall not dwell in them,” stone meaning truths of the natural (AE 745:3). The dictionary meaning of “hewn” means a workman making something, so it can be seen as coming from themselves, or their own intelligence. Anything like that is “devoid of life from the Divine” (SH 9852:2).

14-15 The path is shown for the way the Lord can be with them, “Seek good and not evil, that you may live.” It can’t be any plainer. In that way the Lord can reach out with His mercy, and “be gracious to the remnant of Joseph” v.15. The remnant is the small amount of truth, and Joseph is the spiritual part of us (SH 3921:3).

16-20 Here people are warned of how bad it will be for them when the day of the Lord comes. “Is not the day of the Lord darkness?” for those who are in evil, “with no brightness in it?” v.20. A person’s suffering will be painful, “as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him,” and terrorizing, “As though a man fled from a lion and a bear met him,” v. 19.

21-22 Their worship won’t be accepted, shown by, “I hate, I despise your feast days” v. 21. The strong language of the Lord is the mirror opposite of the depth of the evil the people are in, since only a remnant of the truth is with them, as in v. 3.

23-25 Take away your noisy songs and melodies, the Lord says, take away what sounds beautiful to you but is hurtful to the Divine because of the lack of goodness and truth. In its place he wants people to “Let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mightly stream” v. 24.

26-27 If people don’t return to the Lord, everything good will be taken from them, shown in “Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus” v. 27. Damascus was the furtherest boundary of Canaan, or beyond where spiritual things reside. The “boundary of Damascus” is also used in Ezekiel 47:16-18 (AE 1088).

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 205


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 195, 468, 576, 922, 925, 1071, 1715, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 316, 410, 413, 501, 573, 620, 650, ...

Doctrine of the Lord 4, 38

Sacred Scripture 85

True Christian Religion 51, 82, 689, 761


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 208, 365, 376, 448, 519, 526, 573, ...

Canons of the New Church 27

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 5, 56

Marriage 51, 82

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 9, 56, 75

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 26:23, 33

Exodus 11:4, 23:3, 6

Leviticus 26:16

Deuteronomy 28:30, 62, 63, 32:22

Joshua 5:9

1 Samuel 15:22

1 Kings 14:15, 21:20

2 Kings 15:29, 17:23, 18:36, 20:3, 23:8

2 Chronicles 15:2, 20:3, 4, 24:20, 21, 34:25

Job 9:9, 20:19

Psalms 34:13, 69:33, 97:10, 105:4

Proverbs 15:8, 21:27

Ecclesiastes 10:8

Isaiah 1:14, 5:19, 20, 10:2, 3, 24:18, 46:12, 58:2

Jeremiah 4:4, 9:9, 16, 21, 18:8, 13, 22:3, 33:2, 38:20, 48:13

Ezekiel 20:16, 21:3, 34:21, 45:9

Hosea 4:3, 4, 15, 9:2, 10:12

Joel 2:2

Amos 1:5, 2:7, 3:1, 15, 4:1, 4, 13, 6:7, 12, 7:9, 10, 8:14, 9:6, 14

Jonah 3:9

Micah 2:3, 3:2, 9, 11, 6:15

Habakkuk 1:4

Zephaniah 2:3

Matthew 24:29

Acts of the Apostles 7:42, 43

Romans 12:9

Galatians 4:16

Ephesians 5:16

Hebrews 12:29

James 5:6

Word/Phrase Explanations

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...

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...

virgin
It is because of a celestial and angelic proprium, or selfhood, that the church is called 'a woman,' 'a wife,' 'a bride,' 'a virgin,' and...

Put
'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

lord
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...

thousand
As children, most of us at some point frustrated our mothers into using the phrase “if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand...

hundred
It's a landmark for a young child to count to 100; it sort of covers all the "ordinary" numbers. One hundred is obviously significant for...

ten
Most places in Swedenborg identify “ten” as representing “all,” or in some cases “many” or “much.” The Ten Commandments represent all the guidance we get...

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

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."...

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...

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

way
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

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

fire
Just as natural fire can be both comforting in keeping you warm or scary in burning down your house, so fire in the spiritual sense...

Joseph
'The tribe of Zebulon' signifies the conjunction of people in the third heaven with the Lord, 'the tribe of Joseph,' the conjunction of people in...

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

turned
Swedenborg says that the Lord is the sun of heaven, and like the natural sun of our world shines on everyone, good or evil. What...

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

day
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...

night
The sun in the Bible represents the Lord, with its heat representing His love and its light representing His wisdom. “Daytime,” then, represents a state...

waters
'Waters,' 'rivers,' and 'depths,' as in Psalm 78:15-16, signify truths from the Lord.

sea
'The sea and the waves roaring' means heresy and controversies in the church and individual.

face
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

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...

comes
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

hate
If you truly hate someone, that means you would kill them and destroy their reputation if you could do so without repercussion – not a...

upright
'Upright' signifies truth originating in charity. Truth may be derived from various origins, but what originates in the good of charity from the Lord is...

Vine
In Zechariah 8:12, 'the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground her increase,' signifies that the spiritual affection of truth produces the good of...

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

planted
'A shrub' signifies the knowledges of truth.

wine
In Revelation 18:13, 'wine, oil, flour, and wheat' signify celestial principles of worship.

seen
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

sins
'Bound up transgressions,' as in Lamentations 1:14, stands for falsities coming up towards interior or rational things.

poor
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...

say
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...

time
Time is an aspect of the physical world, but according to Swedenborg is not an aspect of the spiritual world. The same is true of...

evil
'Wickedness' signifies evil, and 'iniquity' signifies falsities.

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

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...

armies
Armies of the heavens and the sands of the sea ('Jeremiah 33:15-22') signify the knowledges of truth and good in the spiritual and natural ma{ign21}

open
To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

Spaces
in the spiritual world, are appearances arising from the diversity of affection and of thought so derived

streets
The phrase 'in the streets and synagogues' in Matthew 6:2, 5, and Luke 8:26-27, refers to a representative rite amongst the Jews to teach in...

songs
In the ancient and Jewish churches, 'songs' were prophesies about the Lord, especially His coming in the world, subjugation of the diabolical spirits, and liberation...

Grief
Grief is anxiety of heart or will.

day of
'Day of vengeance' signifies a state of damnation.

dark
"Darkness" is a state without light. "Light" is truth from the Lord, so "darkness" is a state where truth is lacking.

light
Nov. 4, 1879: Thomas Edison filed a patent for a long-burning light bulb. Nov. 5, 1879: The light bulb was universally accepted as the symbol...

a
A help-meet for him,' or 'a help as before him,' as mentioned in Genesis 2:18, signifies proprium, or what is one's own. However, whereas the...

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

lion
'A lion' signifies the good of celestial love and the truth from that good.

Face to face
"I have seen God face to face" (Gen. 32:30), signifies to sustain the most grievous temptations.

bear
Bears represent the power of the literal external stories and ideas of Bible, separate from their deeper meanings. Since they are wild carnivores, this is...

house
A "house" is essentially a container - for a person, for a family, for several families or even for a large group with shared interests...

hand
In Genesis 27:22, 'voice' relates to truth, and 'hand,' to good.

wall
In Lamentations 2:8-9, 'wall,' 'rampart,' 'gates,' and 'bars' signify doctrines.

Snake
'The bite of a snake' or 'serpent,' as in Amos. 5:19, signifies falsification of the Word, from the interior dominion of falsity from evil.

Offerings
'Offerings' signify worship.

peace
In ordinary life, we tend to think of "peace" as essentially "a lack of conflict." As a nation, if we're not at war, it's a...

right
'Justice' signifies both good and truth.

stream
A 'stream' signifies aspects of intelligence.

forty
'Forty' means completeness because 'four' means what is complete, as does 'ten.' Forty is the product of four and ten. Compound numbers have a meaning...

Images
'Images' denote things fashioned from man’s own intelligence.

star
'Stars' signify the knowledge of truth and good. 'Stars' are frequently mentioned in the Word, and always signify goods and truths, but in an opposite...

Damascus
Damascus and Aroer (Isaiah 17:1, 2) signify the knowledges of truth and good. See Eliezer of Damascus.


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