Amos 4

Study the Inner Meaning

English: World English Bible         

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1 Listen to this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who tell their husbands, "Bring us drinks!"

2 The Lord Yahweh has sworn by his holiness that behold, "The days shall come on you that they will take you away with hooks, and the last of you with fish hooks.

3 You will go out at the breaks in the wall, everyone straight before her; and you will cast yourselves into Harmon," says Yahweh.

4 "Go to Bethel, and sin; to Gilgal, and sin more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days,

5 offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim free will offerings and brag about them: for this pleases you, you children of Israel," says the Lord Yahweh.

6 "I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in every town; yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.

7 "I also have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest; and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city. One place was rained on, and the piece where it didn't rain withered.

8 So two or three cities staggered to one city to drink water, and were not satisfied: yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.

9 "I struck you with blight and mildew many times in your gardens and your vineyards; and your fig trees and your olive trees have the swarming locust devoured: yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.

10 "I sent plagues among you like I did Egypt. I have slain your young men with the sword, and have carried away your horses; and I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camp, yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.

11 "I have overthrown some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a burning stick plucked out of the fire; yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.

12 "Therefore thus will I do to you, Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, Israel.

13 For, behold, he who forms the mountains, and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought; who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the high places of the Earth: Yahweh, the God of Armies, 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

listen
'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...

cows
'The heifer whereby labor has not been done,' as mentioned in Deuteronomy 21:3, signifies the innocence of the external self, which is in ignorance. 'The...

mountain
'Hills' signify the good of charity.

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

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...

us
Angels do give us guidance, but they are mere helpers; the Lord alone governs us, through angels and spirits. Since angels have their assisting role,...

tell
'To tell' signifies perceiving, because in the spiritual world, or in heaven, they do not need to tell what they think because they communicate every...

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...

drinks
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...

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...

sworn
The Lord swearing by himself signifies that divine truth testifies, for He is divine truth itself, and this testifies from itself and means itself. It...

holiness
The Bible describes many things as being holy, or sacred. The Ark of the Covenant is one very holy object. The inmost chamber of the...

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...

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...

says
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...

Bethel
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.

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,' as in tenths, signifies goods and truths stored up from the Lord in a person’s interior self. These goods are called remains. When these...

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...

leavened
Leaven' signifies evil and falsity, which should not be mixed with good and true things. In Leviticus 2:11, it says, 'no meat offering which ye...

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...

given
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

teeth
'Tooth,' as in Exodus 21:24, denotes the exterior understanding, and natural truth.

lack
'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...

Haven
'A haven, port, or harbor,' denotes the point where scientific matters terminate and commence, or where there is a conclusion of truth from scientific things.

returned
Everyone knows the phrase "the natural order of things." It means that everything is in its proper place, occupying the niche it is meant to...

Rain
'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...

months
'A month' has respect to the state of truth in a person. 'A month' signifies a full state. Month,' as in Genesis 29, signifies the...

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.

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.

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

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...

devoured
When we eat, our bodies break down the food and get from it both energy and materials for building and repairing the body. The process...

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...

plagues
'Plagues' signify evils of love, and falsities of faith. 'The plagues of Egypt' signify the falsities and lust which cause the church to perish. In...

egypt
'Mizraim' signifies the same thing as Egypt.

slain
'To slay a man to his wounding,' means extinguishing faith, and 'to slay a young man to his hurt,' signifies extinguishing charity, as in Genesis...

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...

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

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...

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...

Sodom
'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...

declares
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.

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}

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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