Imminent Destruction and Intercession
Imminent Destruction and Intercession Imminent destruction and intercession characterize Amos 7:1-14. They are the thread holding the passages together. It is a theme that enhances the claim of authority. It establishes rapport between the prophet and audience. It a more powerful emotional appeal. The report enabled the audience to identify with what Amos reported. Imminent danger always grabs a person’s attention. It brings imminent death meaning into the picture. Amos gave us three visions in chapter seven. These were no hallucinations. He did not daydream. These were real visions coming from Yahweh. He is “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE” (compare Exod. 3:14 with Exod. 3:7), He is the One who is revealed by future action. He is the One who will bring imminent destruction and intercession. Yahweh never brings imminent destruction without intercession and hope. Locust, Drought and A Plumb Locust (Amos 7:1-3), drought (Amos 7:4-6), and a plumb (Amos 7:7-9) characterize imminent destruction and intercession in Amos 7. The four stories about visions are all told in a similar way: each begins with almost the same words (Thus the Lord God showed me (RSV)). Then it describes what Amos saw in the vision (in all cases introduced by behold (RSV)). Each close with a conversation between Amos and the Lord. However, the four stories can be divided into two pairs. In the first pair (7:1–3 and 4–6) Amos sees something happen which represents the destruction of Israel; he immediately prays that the Lord will not destroy the people. The Lord then changes his mind and agrees not to destroy them. The conversations of this first pair are almost the same in their wording. Imminent destruction and intercession loom large in each story. In each of the stories of the second pair (7:7–9 and 8:1–3) Amos sees an object. The meaning of the object is not immediately clear and the Lord starts the conversation in both cases with the question What do you see? (RSV). After Amos describes briefly what he sees, the Lord interprets the meaning of the object (with similar wording in the two cases), using the object as a basis for a picture or a play on words to announce the destruction of Israel. The conclusion of the second pair of visions is exactly the opposite from the conclusion of the first pair of visions; God does not change his mind. He will carry out the punishment. The way in which he states that the punishment must happen (I will not change my mind again) shows that the conclusions here are related to those of the first pair, which in turn makes the unity of this group of stories stronger. Except for 7:9 and 8:3, which have other differences (see below), these stories are not written in verse but in prose. There is no grammatical parallelism (the most distinguishing feature of Hebrew poetry) within each story, although, as we have just pointed out, there is parallelism between the stories. It is hard also to find any metrical form. On the other hand, the prose style of the Hebrew is concise and effective. In translation, these stories should be strong and dignified prose, with real emotional impact. The four visions should be translated together, so that the parallels between them are handled in a stylistically effective way. The translation should not be mechanically parallel but should gain the same effect in its language which the Hebrew parallels give in Hebrew. Section heading. In translations which try to show the structure of Amos using headings, one is needed here for 7:1–9 (see Translating Amos, Section 2.4). Some possible such headings would be “The Prophet’s Experiences,” “What the Prophet Sees,” or “God’s Message Comes to the Prophet.” It could also be useful to have a subheading for each story. In cases where the structure is not being shown in the headings, a heading for each vision would be enough. Imminent destruction and intercession hold all together.