Bible Commentaries
Amos 9

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Amos 9:0


Five Visions of God's Judgment and a Prophecy of Restoration(Amos 7:1-15)The Visions(Amos 7:1-10)
The Destruction of IsraelFifth VisionThe Lord's JudgmentFifth Vision: The Fall of the Sanctuary
Amos 9:1-4Amos 9:1-4Amos 9:1-4Amos 9:1-4
Third DoxologyDoxology
Amos 9:5-6Amos 9:5-6Amos 9:5-6Amos 9:5-6
Israel Has No Claim to Special Privilege in the Moral RealmSinners Will All Perish
Amos 9:7-10Amos 9:7-8Amos 9:7-8Amos 9:7-10
Amos 9:9-10Amos 9:9-10
Israel Will Be RestoredProphecy of the Restoration of the Davidic DynastyThe Future Restoration of IsraelProspects of Restoration and Idyllic Prosperity
Amos 9:11-12Amos 9:11-12Amos 9:11-12Amos 9:11-15
Prophecy of the Glorious Age to Come
Amos 9:13-15Amos 9:13-15Amos 9:13-15

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-4

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Amos 9:1-4 1I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and He said, “Smite the capitals so that the thresholds will shake, And break them on the heads of them all! Then I will slay the rest of them with the sword; They will not have a fugitive who will flee, Or a refugee who will escape. 2Though they dig into Sheol, From there will My hand take them; And though they ascend to heaven, From there will I bring them down. 3Though they hide on the summit of Carmel, I will search them out and take them from there; And though they conceal themselves from My sight on the floor of the sea, From there I will command the serpent and it will bite them. 4And though they go into captivity before their enemies, From there I will command the sword that it slay them, And I will set My eyes against them for evil and not for good.”

Amos 9:1 This refers to the destruction of a sacred worship site (i.e., altar). The mechanism was the earthquake (cf. Amos 1:1; Amos 8:7-10; Amos 9:1, Amos 9:9). The Israelites were trusting in their covenant relationship with YHWH, but God rejected their amalgamated religious worship (cf. Amos 5:21-24; Amos 8:10).

“Smite the capitals” The VERB (BDB 645, KB 697) is a Qal IMPERATIVE. This verse has two IMPERATIVES and a Qal IMPERFECT used as a JUSSIVE (i.e., “quake” BDB 950, KB 1271).

The term “capital” (BDB 499) refers to the carved (decorated) top of the support columns.

“the thresholds” “Thresholds” (BDB 706) refers to the frame in which the door of the temple is mounted (cf. Isaiah 6:4).

“break them on the heads of them all” This is referring to the destruction of the worshipers by supernatural means, similar to Samson destroying the Philistine temple in Judges 16:23-30. Here the mechanism seems to have been a divinely timed and targeted earthquake.

The last three lines of Amos 9:1 assert that no Israelite will ultimately escape God's judgment (cf. Amos 9:2-3). It is similar in meaning to Amos 5:19.

Prophetic literature is characterized by judgment passages being placed beside salvation passages. This chapter is a good example.

Amos 9:1. Amos 9:1-10, judgment

Amos 9:2. Amos 9:11-15, salvation

Both are true, but there are conditions/options based on God's mercy and human faith/repentance. A remnant of Jews will survive to accomplish God's redemptive plan!

Amos 9:2-3 These verses describe the futility of trying to escape from God's judgment (e.g., Job 34:22; Jeremiah 23:24; Isaiah 29:15). The metaphors used are the same as in Psalms 139:8, Psalms 139:9-12 (also note Proverbs 15:11).

Amos 9:2 “Though they dig into Sheol” Sheol (BDB 982, e.g., Isaiah 5:14; Isaiah 14:9; Isaiah 28:15, Isaiah 28:18; Isaiah 38:10) refers to the holding place of the dead. It is described as being in the earth (i.e., dig). This is similar to people trying to hide in the caves in Isaiah 2:10, Isaiah 2:19-21; Luke 23:30; and Revelation 6:15-16.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead?

“though they ascend to heaven” This is the spacial opposite of Sheol. The language of these verses (i.e., Amos 9:1-4) is reminiscent of Psalms 139:8. There is no where to hide from God!

In this verse heaven may refer to the atmosphere above the earth (cf. Genesis 1:1, Genesis 1:14-19, Genesis 1:20) and not God's throne (although Isaiah 14:12-14 seems to merge the Jewish concept of the first heaven and the third heaven).

Amos 9:3 “the summit of Carmel” This may be a dual metaphor: (1) this site had very thick vegetation (BDB 502 II) with many caves or (2) this was a traditional worship site (cf. 1 Kings 18:0).

“though they conceal themselves from My sight on the floor of the sea” This is obviously metaphorical of sinful mankind's attempt to hide from God (cf. Job 34:21-22; Psalms 139:9-12; Jeremiah 16:16-17).

The Israelites were a desert people. They were afraid of vast, deep water. The last place they would hide is the deep!

“I will command the serpent and it will bite them” This is an allusion to the mythical sea monster, Leviathan (cf. Job 3:8; Job 41:1; Psalms 74:13-14; Psalms 104:26; Isaiah 27:1) or Rahab (cf. Job 9:13; Job 26:12; Psalms 89:10; Isaiah 51:9). Notice God commands (BDB 845, KB 1010, Piel IMPERFECT) the chaos monster.

Amos 9:4 This is a shocking verse. God's anger and judgment will pursue them even into exile. They will be herded like cattle into a foreign land, but even there death will await them! God will show no compassion (cf. Hosea 1:6; Hosea 2:4) because they are no longer His covenant people (cf. Hosea 1:9; Hosea 2:23). This verse reflects the consequences of breaking God's covenant (cf. Leviticus 26:0, esp. Leviticus 26:33).

“I will set My eyes against them for evil and not for good” This is exactly opposite to the covenant promises! This same metaphor and terminology occur several times in Jeremiah (cf. Jeremiah 21:10; Jeremiah 39:16; Jeremiah 44:11, Jeremiah 44:27). It reflects the cursing and blessing sections of Leviticus 26:0 and especially Deuteronomy 27-29.

Notice that God has the power to command actions outside of the Promised Land in the nations supposedly controlled by other gods. These other gods are helpless but to obey. They are non-existent and cannot stop YHWH's wrath!

Verses 5-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Amos 9:5-6 5The Lord GOD of hosts, The One who touches the land so that it melts, And all those who dwell in it mourn, And all of it rises up like the Nile And subsides like the Nile of Egypt; 6The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens And has founded His vaulted dome over the earth, He who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the face of the earth, The LORD is His name.

Amos 9:5-6 This is the last of the three doxologies, hymns, or poems to YHWH as creator (cf. Amos 9:3 and 5:8-9).

Amos 9:5 This may be another reference to the earthquake, Amos 1:1; Amos 8:8-9; Amos 9:1 (i.e., the land, like the Nile River, rises and falls).

“Lord GOD of hosts” This title is found in Amos 3:13; Amos 4:13; Amos 5:14, Amos 5:16, Amos 5:27; Amos 6:8, Amos 6:14. See Special Topic: Lord of Hosts and brief note at Amos 5:14.

Amos 9:6 These are difficult-to-translate creation metaphors. They speak of God as creator of heaven and earth (cf. Genesis 1:0; Psalms 104:0). He is the controller of heavenly bodies and water, both salt and fresh (i.e., forces of nature).

It is possible to translate “vaulted dome” (BDB 8) as “storehouse” and if so, then Amos 9:6a refers to God's dwelling place and Amos 9:6b refers to mankind's dwelling place, both of which are created by YHWH (cf. Amos 9:5a, 6d).

“The LORD is His name” See Special Topic: NAMES FOR DEITY.

Verses 7-10

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Amos 9:7-10 7”Are you not as the sons of Ethiopia to Me, O sons of Israel?” declares the LORD. “Have I not brought up Israel from the land of Egypt, And the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir? 8Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, And I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,” Declares the LORD. 9For behold, I am commanding, And I will shake the house of Israel among all nations As grain is shaken in a sieve, But not a kernel will fall to the ground. 10All the sinners of My people will die by the sword, Those who say, 'The calamity will not overtake or confront us.'

Amos 9:7-8 UBS, A Translator's Handbook on the Book of Amos, makes an interesting observation on the relationship between Amos 9:7 and 8. Verse Amos 9:7 states very emphatically that Israel is not special, unique, or privileged, yet Amos 9:8 shows God's special covenant care for her (cf. p. 181).

This same tension about God's covenant people exists in the New Testament.

SPECIAL TOPIC: “TENSIONS” (Excerpted from “Crucial Introductory Article” to the Book Revelation)

Amos 9:7 Both the questions of Amos 9:7 expect a “yes” answer. Basically God is depreciating the covenantal uniqueness of Israel. The one and only God has led all nations to and from their current geographical locations (cf. Deuteronomy 32:8; and possibly implied in Deuteronomy 29:26). It must have been painful for Israel to be compared to Ethiopia, Philistia, and Syria. This is in sharp contrast to the election theology of Amos 3:2! Israel, like all nations, will answer for their sins!

“Israel from the land of Egypt” This is a reference to the Exodus, which was the beginning of Israel as a nation.

“Caphtor” This refers to the island of Crete, which may have been the ancestral home of the Philistines (sea people of the Aegean).

“Kir” This may refer to (1) a part of Mesopotamia near Elam (cf. Isaiah 22:6); (2) a word which means “walls” and stands for Nineveh; (3) a river in northern Armenia; or (4) a mountain range forming the northern boundary of Syria (cf. Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 4, p. 83).

Amos 9:8 Israel will be treated like all other nations that sin, except that YHWH will not totally destroy His people of promise (cf. Amos 5:4-7, Amos 5:14-15; Amos 9:11-15). A righteous remnant of the house of Jacob will be spared! This theme is often repeated in Jeremiah.

1. Judah will survive, Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 5:10, Jeremiah 5:18; Jeremiah 33:16

2. Israel will survive, Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 31:35-36

God's eternal plan of redemption (i.e., the Messiah) depends on it!

“the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful nation” This idiom, “the eyes of the Lord GOD,” refers to His tender watchcare over His covenant people (cf. Deuteronomy 11:12). However, the addition of the phrase, “the sinful nation,” shows the dilemma. Maybe the best way to express this is as a parent's pain at the poor life choices of a child (cf. Hosea 11:0). A truly loving parent must let the consequences of poor choices play out for the long term health, happiness, and maturity of the child, but it is very hurtful to both parties.

“destroy” This term (BDB 1029, KB 1552) is used three times in this verse. It means “to annihilate,” “to destroy,” “to terminate.” This is such a contrast to the use of this same term in Deuteronomy 33:26-29, where it refers to God destroying His people's enemies.

Here they are now the enemy (Hiphil PERFECT). Yet even here there is a glimmer of hope, “I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob” (Hiphil INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and a Hiphil IMPERFECT). Because of Amos 9:11 this could refer to Judah!

Amos 9:9-10 The Hebrew text is uncertain. Apparently this refers to some type of sifting process either for judgment (i.e., pebble) or for salvation (i.e., grain kernels). The context implies the righteous remnant will be spared and not one of them lost (i.e., Amos 9:0:9d). But for the wicked, God will judge Israel like all other idolatrous nations (i.e., Amos 9:10).

The VERB “shake” (BDB 631, KB 681, Hiphil PERFECT) refers to grain which is shaken through a sieve to remove the stones or dirt clods that may be mixed in with the heads of grain. The word translated “kernel” (NASB, NJB, while NKJ has “the smallest grain”) can also mean “pebble” (cf. 2 Samuel 17:13, KB 459; NRSV). This term (BDB 865) is usually translated “bundle,” “parcel,” “pouch,” or “bag.” Here it refers to an object caught in the bundling (reaping) process of stacking and tying grain stalks together in the field.

“Among all nations” probably relates to Amos 9:4, where YHWH sends judgment even on those sinful Israelites who are taken into exile. Even in other nations God's judgment will destroy His faithless covenant people (cf. Amos 9:10b). There is no place to hide from God's wrath (cf. Amos 5:19).

Verses 11-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Amos 9:11-12 11”In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, And wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins And rebuild it as in the days of old; 12That they may possess the remnant of Edom And all the nations who are called by My name,” Declares the LORD who does this.

Amos 9:11-15 The paragraph division is uncertain (all paragraph divisions are opinions, not inspiration). The context shifts unexpectedly from judgment to restoration (and from Samaria to Jerusalem). However, the message of hope is sure!

Amos 9:11 “In that day” This phrase appears several times (cf. Amos 2:16; Amos 8:3, Amos 8:9,18). See note at Amos 2:16. Israel thought “that day” of God's visitation would be a blessing, but Amos prophesied it would be a judgment (e.g., Amos 5:18-20). Now Amos reverses the prophecy. For the righteous remnant “that day” will be a restoration of the covenant promises to David (cf. 2 Samuel 7:0). In Amos 9:13-14 the promises of God to Moses, especially Deuteronomy 28:1-14, are emphasized.

It is crucial we see that the prophets of the OT always refer to the Mosaic covenant stipulations. Moses knew that the descendants of the Patriarchs could not keep the covenant (cf. Deuteronomy 28:58-63; Deuteronomy 29:25-28), as did Joshua (cf. Joshua 24:19). However, Deuteronomy also holds out hope that a future day of forgiveness and restoration provided by YHWH will come (cf. Deuteronomy 30:5) through God's Messiah (cf. Deuteronomy 18:18). It is this hope that the prophets pick up on and expand into an eschatological day of victory and abundance, not judgment!

“the fallen booth of David” This idiom refers to the kingdom of David, symbolized in Jerusalem as its capital and spiritual center. The golden age of the United Monarchy (i.e., a godly king representing YHWH), with its prosperity, security, and religious faithfulness is restored.

The prediction of a coming Messiah always goes back to Judah (cf. 2 Samuel 7:0; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 33:15, Jeremiah 33:17; Micah 4:1-5; Micah 5:2-5a). See Special Topic: Messiah.

“its breaches” Verse Amos 9:11 is literally a reference to the walls of Jerusalem. It is FEMININE PLURAL, which may be a subtle way of referring to the reunification of Israel and Judah (i.e., one capital and worship center).

Amos 9:12 This verse describes the military restoration of the limits of the Promised Land under David and Solomon. This eschatological promise takes on universal implications in Acts 15:16-17, where “Edom” is changed to “Adam” (i.e., mankind) in the Septuagint, which is quoted by James (also note Paul's use of Hosea 1:10; Hosea 2:23 in Romans 9:24-26)! This universal theme is also reflected in Amos 9:5-6, Amos 9:7 (cf. Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 42:4, Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 42:10-11; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 51:4).

This restoration to the Promised Land (e.g., Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 13:14-17; Genesis 15:7) is in direct contrast to Amos 9:1-4, Amos 9:9-10. God's relation to Abraham and his seed was based on covenant obedience. If they did not:

1. they would “be destroyed,” Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 6:15; Joshua 23:15; 1 Kings 13:34; Amos 9:8

2. they would be “plucked from” the land, Deuteronomy 28:63

3. they would be “uprooted,” Deuteronomy 29:28; 1 Kings 14:15; 2 Chronicles 7:20

4. they would “perish,” Joshua 23:13, Joshua 23:16

5. they would be “cut off,” 1 Kings 9:7

6. they would “be carried away,” 2 Kings 17:6, 2 Kings 17:23; 2 Kings 18:9-11; 2 Kings 25:21 (also 2 Kings 23:27)

But if they obeyed, then they would remain in the land, 2 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 21:8; 2 Chronicles 33:8 (cf. 2 Samuel 7:10).

So often in the Prophets, God's people returning to “their own land” is emphasized (cf. Isaiah 14:1-2; Jeremiah 16:15; Ezekiel 11:17; Ezekiel 34:13, Ezekiel 34:17; Ezekiel 36:24; Ezekiel 37:12, Ezekiel 37:14, Ezekiel 37:21; Amos 9:15).

Verses 13-15

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Amos 9:13-15 13”Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine And all the hills will be dissolved. 14Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit. 15I will also plant them on their land, And they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them,” Says the LORD your God.

Amos 9:13-15 The time element of this verse must be eschatological, for Israel will be subjugated again and again in history. This promise (political peace and agricultural abundance, cf. Deut. 27-29, another eschatological text is Joel 3:18) is still conditional on covenant obedience. This is not specifically stated, but surely implied.

Amos 9:13 “sweet wine” See Special Topic: Biblical Attitudes Toward Alcohol and Alcoholism Abuse.

NASB“all the hills will be dissolved” NKJV, NRSV, TEV, NJB“all the hills shall flow with it

The VERB (BDB 556, KB 555, Hithpolel IMPERFECT) means “melt” (i.e., God's judgment, cf. Micah 1:4; Nahum 1:5), but here it is a hyperbole of flowing grape juice by treading, a symbol of agricultural abundance!

Amos 9:14 This restoration is a reversal of Deuteronomy 28:38-40; Amos 5:11; Micah 6:15; Zephaniah 1:13. God's people will plant vineyards in His land and enjoy their fruit (i.e., a metaphor for security and longevity in the land, e.g., Jeremiah 31:5; Ezekiel 28:26).

Amos 9:15 Even this seemingly unconditional promise must be evaluated in light of the history of the Jewish people. Obviously it has both an eschatological aspect (cf. 2 Samuel 7:10; Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 32:41; Jeremiah 42:10) and a historical aspect.

“the LORD your God” The magnificent reversal (covenant - judgment - covenant) of status; they are covenant people again (cf. Hosea 2:21-23).

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Amos 9". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". 2021.