Critical Note: Another Word-Play in Amos? -- By: Daniel Schmidt
GTJ 8:1 (Spr 87) p. 141
Critical Note: Another Word-Play in Amos?
Commentators agree that the writer of the book of Amos uses a paranomasia involving a basket of summer fruit (קיחּ) and a prediction of the coming end (תקחּ) in 8:1–2 to make a specific point.1 Such word-plays are not uncommon in Scripture; their general function is aptly described by von Rad.2 It is suggested here that the device in 8:1–2 is actually the second of two used by the writer of this book.
The first word-play occurs on the root אמחּ, forms of which occur only three times in this book. In 2:14 a Piel form of the verb is used and in 2:16 an adjectival form. In both cases the prophet is speaking of those who are powerful by human standards but whose power is futile in the face of the harsh judgment of 2:14–16 .
The last instance of the root אמחּ appears in the proper name of the priest of Bethel: Amaziah (7:10, 12, 14). To suggest a word-play here in the conventional sense seems unfounded at first, since the terms are not physically adjacent in the text. But the likelihood that this is such a literary nicety grows once a larger part of this book is considered.
One of the dominant themes of Amos’s prophecy involves his denunciation of Israel. This begins at 2:6, and the prophet’s subsequent words show a repeated emphasis on the people’s refusal to acknowledge God. Because of this attitude, they are subject to judgment. One
GTJ 8:1 (Spr 87) p. 142
aspect of the people’s obduracy is reliance on their own understanding and abilities: they reverse the proper procedure for prophets and Nazirites (2:12), oppress the unfortunate (5:12), worship false gods (5:26), and engage in insouciant lounging (6:4–6). All this contrasts with the acceptable attitude of respect and worship that is characteristic of an overt dependence on God.
Because of this independence, Amos predicts terrible d...
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