Amos 5

Study the Inner Meaning

English: World English Bible         

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1 Listen to this word which I take up for a lamentation over you, O house of Israel.

2 "The virgin of Israel has fallen; She shall rise no more. She is cast down on her land; there is no one to raise her up."

3 For thus says the Lord Yahweh: "The city that went forth a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which went forth one hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel."

4 For thus says Yahweh to the house of Israel: "Seek me, and you will live;

5 but don't seek Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and don't pass to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing.

6 Seek Yahweh, and you will live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, and there be no one to quench it in Bethel.

7 You who turn justice to wormwood, and cast down righteousness to the earth:

8 seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns the shadow of death into the morning, and makes the day dark with night; who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the surface of the earth, Yahweh is his name,

9 who brings sudden destruction on the strong, so that destruction comes on the fortress.

10 They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks blamelessly.

11 Forasmuch therefore as you trample on the poor, and take taxes from him of wheat: You have built houses of cut stone, but you will not dwell in them. You have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine.

12 For I know how many your offenses, and how great are your sins-- you who afflict the just, who take a bribe, and who turn aside the needy in the courts.

13 Therefore a prudent person keeps silent in such a time, for it is an evil time.

14 Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so Yahweh, the God of Armies, will be with you, as you say.

15 Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the courts. It may be that Yahweh, the God of Armies, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph."

16 Therefore thus says Yahweh, the God of Armies, the Lord: "Wailing will be in all the broad ways; and they will say in all the streets, 'Alas! Alas!' and they will call the farmer to mourning, and those who are skillful in lamentation to wailing.

17 In all vineyards there will be wailing; for I will pass through the midst of you," says Yahweh.

18 "Woe to you who desire the day of Yahweh! Why do you long for the day of Yahweh? It is darkness, and not light.

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

20 Won't the day of Yahweh be darkness, and not light? Even very dark, and no brightness in it?

21 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I can't stand your solemn assemblies.

22 Yes, though you offer me your burnt offerings and meal offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat animals.

23 Take away from me the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.

24 But let justice roll on like rivers, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

25 "Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, house of Israel?

26 You also carried the tent of your king and the shrine of your images, the star of your god, which you made for yourselves.

27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus," says Yahweh, 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 Christianity 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

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...

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...

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...

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...

Yahweh
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...

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...

One hundred
'One hundred' signifies a full state of uniting.

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...

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."...

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
'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...

devour
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...

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.

turns
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...

Shadow of death
'The shadow of death' has respect to the states of people in hell, who are in the falsities of evil.

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...

calls
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...

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.

surface
A 'surface' denotes the extreme.

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...

brings
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...

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...

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...

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

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

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

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

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
'To plant' denotes regeneration.

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...

know
In a general sense, men represent things of the intellect – facts, ideas, knowledge, everything from the deepest truths to the most pernicious falsities about...

many
Intellectual things – ideas, knowledge, facts, even insight and understanding – are more separate and free-standing than emotional things, and it’s easier to imagine numbering...

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

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...

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...

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}

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...

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...

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...

ways
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....

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...

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

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

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

long
'Long' and thence to prolong, refer to good.

darkness
"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 –...

fled
Flight, as in Matthew 14:20, signifies removal from a state of the good of love and innocence. Flight, as in Mark 8:18, signifies the last...

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
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.

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...

fat
Fatlings signify celestial goods and the affections thereof, and the delights of those affections. Fatlings of Bashan, as in Ezekiel 39:11, signify goods of the...

noise
'A tumult,' as in Isaiah 8:4, signifies eager desire to combat against truths.

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...

Music
'The sound of musical instruments' corresponds to affections of spiritual and celestial love.

harps
'Psalteries' correspond to spiritual good.

Roll
'To roll away the stone from over the well’s mouth,' as in Genesis 29:10, signifies uncovering the Word's interior contents.

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

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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