Amos 5

Study the Inner Meaning

English: Webster's Bible         

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1 Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel.

2 The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise! she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.

3 For thus saith the Lord GOD; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave a hundred, and that which went forth by a hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel.

4 For thus saith the LORD to the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:

5 But seek not Beth-el, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beer-sheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Beth-el shall come to naught.

6 Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Beth-el.

7 Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness on the earth,

8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shades of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: JEHOVAH is his name:

9 That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.

10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.

11 Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them.

12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.

13 Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.

14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.

15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

16 Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skillful in lamentation to wailing.

17 And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD.

18 Woe to you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.

19 As if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.

20 Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?

21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.

22 Though ye offer me burnt-offerings and your meat-offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts.

23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.

24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

25 Have ye offered to me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.

27 Therefore I will cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.

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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

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...

Lamentation
The children of Israel represent 'lamentation' by various things which signified some evil of the church among them for which they were punished. When they...

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...

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
A ‘virgin’ in the Word means those who are in the Lord’s kingdom. –Secrets of Heaven 3081...

fallen
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "fall" is highly dependent on context in regular language, and is highly dependent on context in a spiritual...

rise
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

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

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...

seek
The meaning of "to seek" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but there is a bit of nuance: Swedenborg tells us that in most cases...

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."...

enter
All changes of place in the Bible represent changes in spiritual state. “Entering” – usually used as entering someone’s house or “going in unto” someone...

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

Pass
'To pass,' as in Genesis 31:52, signifies flowing in. 'To pass the night,' as in Genesis 24:54, signifies having peace. 'To pass through,' as in...

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...

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
Joseph, Jacob’s eleventh son, is one of the favorite characters in the Bible, with his troubles, his triumphs over them, and his constant trust in...

turn
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...

judgment
Judgement' pertains to the Lord's divine human and holy proceeding. Judgment' has two sides, a principle of good, and a principle of truth. The faithful...

wormwood
'Wormwood' signifies infernal falsity because of its intense bitterness, which makes meat and drink awful. 'Waters of wormwood' signifies falsities of evil.

righteousness
'Justice' signifies both good and truth.

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

stars
'The learned,' or 'wise,' who 'shall shine as the stars,' are people who are in good.

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

sea
Water generally represents what Swedenborg calls “natural truth,” or true concepts about day-to-day matters and physical things. Since all water ultimately flows into the seas,...

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...

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...

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...

fortress
Fortifications denote truths so far as they defend good. Fortifications signify defense against falsities and evils.

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...

gate
"Gates" in ancient times had a significance that does not hold in the modern world. Cities then were enclosed by walls for protection; gates in...

speaketh
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

built
wrought (also entwined or entwisted) is predicated of the natural scientific principle, and in Isaiah 45:13, of divine natural truth.

dwell
Many people were nomadic in Biblical times, especially the times of the Old Testament, and lived in tents that could be struck, moved and re-raised...

planted
'A shrub' signifies the knowledges of truth.

pleasant
Generally, when the Bible describes something as "pleasant" or "desirable," it is talking about true ideas and concepts, things of the intellect. A good example...

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...

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...

wine
Wine played a key role in the ancient world, where safe, reliable water sources were scarce. It could be stored for long periods of time;...

know
Like so many common verbs, the meaning of "know" in the Bible is varied and dependent on context. And in some cases – when it...

transgressions
In the Word three terms are used to mean bad things that are done. These three are transgression, iniquity, and sin, and they are here...

mighty
'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

Just
He is said to be 'just' in a spiritual sense, who lives according to divine laws. They on the right hand being called 'just,' as...

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...

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...

hosts
A host and an army come from the same Hebrew word and mean the same thing in Bible; when the Children of Israel were numbered...

love
To some degree, there really is no spiritual meaning to the word “love” in the Bible. Why? Because if you truly love another, that is...

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...

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...

Call
To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

husbandman
'A husbandman,' as mentioned in Amos 5:16, signifies the man of the church, because 'field' signifies the church regarding the implantation of truth. 'A husbandman,'...

skillful
'A skilled man' relates to the affection of truth, or people in the affection of truth.

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...

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

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...

met
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...

hand
Scientists believe that one of the most crucial developments in the evolution of humans was bipedalism – walking on two legs. That left our hands...

Wall
'A wall' signifies truth in outer extremes. 'A wall,' as in Revelation 21, signifies the divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and so, the truth...

serpent
Serpents in the Bible represent reasoning that is based on what we know through our senses. This is the lowest and most outward mode of...

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

despise
We tend to think of "despising" something or someone as just a strong way of expressing dislike, but there is a further shade of meaning...

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...

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...

stream
A 'stream' signifies aspects of intelligence.

Wilderness
'Wilderness' signifies something with little life in it, as described in the internal sense in Luke 1:80 'Wilderness' signifies somewhere there is no good because...

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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