Amos 3:6

From the Differentiator magazine:
Vol. 16 New Series December, 1954 No. 6

"Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?"
Venture into a well filled shop or store and you may pick out and buy any article you care, provided you can pay there for. Everything in the shop you may ignore, except what you desire to acquire.

But in the sacred Scriptures you may not pick out any single verse or text you may find useful, or of which you approve, without examining the surrounding context first.

Here we find a verse which is often isolated, and invested with a meaning which the context denies to it. Those who are infested with the hideous caricature of God which would ascribe to Him every human vice, find in this verse a proof that all the evils for which cities are specially notorious are the direct work of God.

First of all, let us see what other versions say.

Young: Is there affliction in a city, and Jehovah hathnot done (it)?Rotherham : Or calamity happen in a city , andYahweh not have wrought with effect ( margin:not have done it)?Fenton: If there is misfortune to a town, has not theEVER-LIVING produced it?R.S.V.: Does evil befall a city, unless the LORD hasdone it?Septuagint: If there will be evil in a city whichKurios (Jehovah) does not?The Hebrew reads literally, "If there is coming to be evil in a city, and Jehovah does (it) not." Dr. Bullinger's Companion Bible says, "With the true meaning of evil (evil inflicted in judgment) there is no need to do violence to the Hebrew to defend Jehovah's righteous dealings."
What is the general sense of the passage? Is it not that when some calamity falls upon Israel, there must be a definite cause? When the alarm is blown, there must be a reason. When the lion roars in the rocky mountain forest, he is after prey. When Jehovah roars, the people will fear and tremble.

You only of all the families of the earth, brought up from the land of Egypt, have I got to know. Therefore I must visit you for all your iniquities, seeing that you will not walk with Me in harmony.

But Adonay Jehovah will do nothing without first revealing His secret to His servants the Prophets. Therefore Amos warns the disobedient nation. If evil befalls any of the cities, then let them know it has come from Jehovah. It is His voice.

As we have pointed out before, pestilence in Hebrew is deber, which is merely a variety of the word meaning to speak (dabar). God spoke to His ancient people by means of pestilence and calamities.

Amos is not referring to evil done by the dwellers in a city, but to evil inflicted on them by Jehovah. They ought therefore to discover why He has thus made a visitation upon them.
The R.S.V. rendering, "unless the LORD has done it," is very apposite. This well represents the Hebrew "if" (or, "if there should be") combined with the negative "not," just as in Greek the same combination (ei mE, "if not") stands for "unless" or "except."

It may be that some confusion might be caused by the last few words in verse 8, "who can but prophesy?" We would therefore translate, "A lion roars, who will not fear? Adonay Jehovah speaks (dibber), who will not hide?" Instead of "prophesy" (inba), "hide" (ichba) has been suggested, as better suiting the general sense and parallelism. If the Samaritan character for the letter cheth became frayed away, it would look very like the letter nun.

The above facts have been pointed out time after time, but there will always exist some who find it impossible to read through a context with a logical and fair mind.

Alexander Thomson

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Listing of Articles

Who is our God? Chapter 1
Who is our God? Chapter 2
Who is our God? Chapter 3
Who is our God? Chapter 4
Who is our God? Chapter 5
Who is our God? Chapter 6
Who is our God? Chapter 7
Who is our God? Chapter 8
Who is our God? Chapter 9
Who is our God? Chapter 10
Who is our God? Chapter 11
Who is our God? Chapter 12
Who is our God? Chapter 13
Who is our God? Chapter 14
Who is our God? Chapter 15
Who is our God? Chapter 16
Who is our God? Chapter 17
A Female Deity?
Acts 7:15 & 16
All Things
Amos 3:6
An Answer to the Challenge of Hell
Angels & Men One Species?
An Interesting New Version
Are You an Ambassador?
Are You a Pillar?
Are You a Witness for Jehovah?
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 1
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 2
Are You an Israelite? Chapters 3 & 4
A Special Resurrection?
Baptized for the Dead?
"Beloved" or "Loveable"?
Brotherly Love
Book Review
Colossians 1:23
Common or Unclean?
Common Sense
Did Paul Visit Spain?
Did the Lord give up His Flesh?
"Divine" Fire?
Doctoring the Holy Scriptures
Does God know Everything?
Does God will Everything?
Does your Spiritual Life seem Unreal?
Did God hate Esau?
Earth our Future Home?
Emphasis in the Scriptures
English more Archaic than Ancient Hebrew?
Ephesians 1:23
Erroneous Translations
Gleanings from A.T.
Heaven our Homeland
How is Christ God's "Word"?
How many were Crucified?
In the Christ All Shall Be Made Alive
Is Dust the Serpent's Food?
Is the Devil Impersonal?
Isaiah 26:14,19
James 4:5
Jehovah's Theocratic Organization
Jesus the Saviour
John 19:29
The Kingdom of the Hebrews
Leave it with God
Men or Mortals?
Misplaced Ingenuity
New Light on the Second Death
None Other Things
Objective Value of Prayer
Other or Different
Our Advocate
Paul's Chain
Paul the Sensitive
Paul versus James
Prevailing Prayer
Problems of Translation: I Cor. 7:21
Problems of Translation: II Cor. 3:18
Psalm 66:18
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Rogues and Rascals
Rom 9 & 10: Human Freedom & Human Choice
Romans 9:14-24
Romans 9:30 to 10:21
II Corinthians 5:16
II Peter 3:10
Seven Wicked Spirits
Shall We See God?
Sir, We would see Jesus
Should we fear God?
The Bloody Husband
The Cherubim of Glory
The Corinthian Error
The Cunning Manager
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah
The Designation of Jesus as "God"
The Disruption Fallacy
The Disruption Fallacy #2
The Eighth of Proverbs
The Eleven "Generations" of Genesis
The Elohim
The Ends of the Eons
The Eternal Saviour-Judge
The Eternity of Hell Torments
The First Christian Convention
The Four Gospels
The Gentiles in Ephesians
The Greek Definite Article
The Hardening of Pharoah's Heart
The Hebrew Conception of Time
The Hebrews Epistle
The Hebrew Terms Rendered 'For Ever'
The Hope of Israel
The Life of Prayer
The Lord Jesus Revealing the Heart of God
The Lord's Relatives
The Lordly Supper
The Meaning of Ta Panta
The Ministry of Women Parts 1 & 2
The Ministry of Women Parts 3 & 4
The "Penalty of Sin"
The Poor in Spirit
The Primeval Laws
The Primeval Laws #2
The Problem of Evil
The Quality of Divine Love
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Serpent of Genesis 3
The Soul and the Spirit
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 1 & 2
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 3 & 4
The Translation of Acts 28:25
The Trial of the Lord
The Truth of the Bible
The Two Seeds
The Works of Henry Clay Mabie, D.D.
"Three Days and Three Nights"
Translator's Incentive
Truthfulness and Mercy
Try the Spirits
Unto Eternity and Further
We have all been Wrong
What did Peter do?
What does Olethros mean?
What Happened to Jephthah's Daughter?
What is Destruction?
What is the Flesh?
What is the Sin unto Death?
Whence "Eternity"?
Who are the Saints?
Who is Jehovah?
Who Shall Deliver Me?
Why Pray?
Why the "Lake" of Fire?
Will God Punish?
Will the Lord Come for Us?
Will the Man of Lawlessness be Killed?


The Differentiator Revisited 2009