Amos 5

Study the Inner Meaning

English: Young's Literal Translation         

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1 Hear this word that I am bearing to you, A lamentation, O house of Israel:

2 `Fallen, not again to rise, hath the virgin of Israel, Left on her land -- she hath no raiser up.'

3 For thus said the Lord Jehovah: The city that is going out a thousand, Doth leave an hundred, And that which is going out an hundred, Doth leave ten to the house of Israel.

4 For thus said Jehovah to the house of Israel: Seek ye Me, and live,

5 And seek not Beth-El, and Gilgal enter not, And Beer-Sheba pass not through, For Gilgal doth utterly remove, And Beth-El doth become vanity.

6 Seek ye Jehovah, and live, Lest He prosper as fire [against] the house of Joseph, And it hath consumed, And there is no quencher for Beth-El.

7 Ye who are turning to wormwood judgment, And righteousness to the earth have put down,

8 The maker of Kimah and Kesil, And the turner to morning of death-shade, And day [as] night He hath made dark, Who is calling to the waters of the sea, And poureth them on the face of the earth, Jehovah [is] His name;

9 Who is brightening up the spoiled against the strong, And the spoiled against a fortress cometh.

10 They have hated a reprover in the gate, And a plain speaker they abominate.

11 Therefore, because of your trampling on the poor, And the tribute of corn ye take from him, Houses of hewn work ye have built, And ye do not dwell in them, Desirable vineyards ye have planted, And ye do not drink their wine.

12 For I have known -- many [are] your transgressions, And mighty your sins, Adversaries of the righteous, taking ransoms, And the needy in the gate ye turned aside.

13 Therefore is the wise at that time silent, For an evil time it [is].

14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live, And it is so; Jehovah, God of Hosts, [is] with you, as ye said.

15 Hate evil, and love good, And set up judgment in the gate, It may be Jehovah, God of Hosts, doth pity the remnant of Joseph.

16 Therefore, thus said Jehovah, God of Hosts, the Lord, In all broad places [is] lamentation, And in all out-places they say, `Alas, alas,' And called the husbandman to mourning, And to lamentation the skilful of wailing.

17 And in all vineyards [is] lamentation, For I pass into thy midst, said Jehovah.

18 Ho, ye who are desiring the day of Jehovah, Why [is] this to you -- the day of Jehovah? It is darkness, and not light,

19 As [when] one fleeth from the face of the lion, And the bear hath met him, And he hath come in to the house, And hath leant his hand on the wall, And the serpent hath bitten him.

20 Is not the day of Jehovah darkness and not light, Even thick darkness that hath no brightness?

21 I have hated -- I have loathed your festivals, And I am not refreshed by your restraints.

22 For though ye cause burnt-offerings and your presents to ascend to Me, I am not pleased, And the peace-offering of your fatlings I behold not.

23 Turn aside from Me the noise of thy songs, Yea, the praise of thy psaltery I hear not.

24 And roll on as waters doth judgment, And righteousness as a perennial stream.

25 Sacrifices and offering did ye bring nigh to Me, In a wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

26 And ye bare Succoth your king, and Chiun your images, The star of your god, that ye made for yourselves.

27 And I removed you beyond Damascus, Said Jehovah, God of Hosts [is] His name.

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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

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...

bearing
Like many verbs, the spiritual meaning of "bearing" something depends greatly on context – what it is that's being borne, and why. It is further...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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."...

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

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...

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...

remove
As with many verbs, the meaning of "remove" in the Bible varies a good bit depending on context. It generally involves a separation of spiritual...

vanity
'Vanity' signifies evil and the falsity of evil. 'Vanities of strangers' signifies falsities of religion.

Prosper
'To be made to prosper' signifies being provided for. Which is why 'Jehovah made it prosper in his hand' means Divine Providence. 

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...

consumed
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...

turning
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...

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

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...

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.

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

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...

calling
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.

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...

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

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

hated
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...

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...

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...

desirable
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...

planted
'To plant' denotes regeneration.

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

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

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...

Transgressions
'Transgressions' or 'trespasses' denote such evils as are done against the truths of faith.

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

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

righteous
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...

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,'...

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...

broad places
Swedenborg tell us that in terms of measurement, height relates to the desire for good and breadth relates to the knowledge of truth. Following that,...

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...

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

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,'...

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

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...

fleeth
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...

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

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.

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...

Offerings
'Offerings' signify worship.

offering
It was customary in the representative Ancient Church, and later in the Jewish Church, when people went to the judges, and at a later time,...

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...

Fatlings
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...

psaltery
'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.

stream
A 'stream' signifies aspects of intelligence.

nigh
'Nigh' denotes truth in affinity with good.

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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