The Meaning of Amos 9:1 Explained

Amos 9:1

KJV: I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.

YLT: I have seen the Lord standing by the altar, and He saith: 'Smite the knob, and the thresholds shake, And cut them off by the head -- all of them, And their posterity with a sword I do slay, Not flee to them doth the fleer, Nor escape to them doth a fugitive.

Darby: I saw the Lord standing upon the altar; and he said, Smite the chapiter that the thresholds may shake; and break all of them in pieces, in the head; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not get away by flight, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.

ASV: I saw the Lord standing beside the altar: and he said, Smite the capitals, that the thresholds may shake; and break them in pieces on the head of all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: there shall not one of them flee away, and there shall not one of them escape.

What does Amos 9:1 Mean?

Study Notes

standing
The position of the Lord (Adonai) is significant. The altar speaks properly of mercy because of judgement executed upon an interposed sacrifice, but when altar and sacrifice are despised the altar becomes a place of judgment. Cf. John 12:31 .

Verse Meaning

In the final vision that Amos recorded, he saw Yahweh standing beside an altar. The altar at Bethel is probably in view since Bethel was the worship site in view in most of this book and since Amos" encounter with Amaziah occurred there ( Amos 7:10-17). Another possibility is that any and every Israelite shrine might be in view. [1] The Lord gave a command that someone (an angel?) would strike the capitals that supported the roof of the temple there with such force that its foundation stones would shake and the whole structure would fall down (cf. Judges 16:29-30; Isaiah 6:4; Ezekiel 40:6). The Lord also said He would slay with the sword the rest of the priests and worshippers who survived being killed by the collapse of the temple. No one would escape with his or her life.
"The temple was not a literal temple, for the collapse of such a building would affect only a few. Rather it represents the religion of the northern kingdom, which, in the end, brought about the destruction of its adherents. The decay of the social structure that resulted from their cold externalism could lead only to national ruin. The gross sin of idolatry could lead only to judgment." [2]

Context Summary

Amos 9:1-15 - The Day Of Restoration
The guilty will certainly be punished. If they enter the sacred place of worship, even that will not shelter them, Amos 9:1. Flight and concealment will be in vain. Let them climb ever so high, or burrow ever so deep; let them scale the loftiest hills, or dive into the deepest seas-the consequences of their sins will overtake them, Amos 9:2-3. How can sinners hope to escape from Him whose chambers are built in the heavens and whose voice governs the tides, Amos 9:6? The great desolations of the past prove the exactness and severity of His judgments, Amos 9:7-8. How remarkably Amos 9:9 has been fulfilled? Notwithstanding their scatterings, the Hebrew people have been preserved as a race.
The final paragraph, Amos 9:11-15, is very reassuring. It is a burst of noble anticipation, quoted by the Apostle James, Acts 15:14-17. The promises made to Abraham and David are yet to be fulfilled. The derision of their foes, of whom Edom was the ringleader, will be silenced. Through the parted curtain, we descry the golden age of the future. There is a divine plan working to its conclusion, and Israel shall yet come again to the land given to their fathers [source]

Chapter Summary: Amos 9

1  The certainty of the desolation
11  The restoring of the tabernacle of David

What do the individual words in Amos 9:1 mean?

I saw - the Lord standing by the altar and He said Strike the doorposts that may shake the thresholds and break them on the heads of them all and the last of them with the sword I will slay not He who flees from them shall get away and not shall be delivered from them he who escapes
רָאִ֨יתִי אֶת־ אֲדֹנָ֜י נִצָּ֣ב עַֽל־ הַמִּזְבֵּ֗חַ וַיֹּאמֶר֩ הַ֨ךְ הַכַּפְתּ֜וֹר וְיִרְעֲשׁ֣וּ הַסִּפִּ֗ים וּבְצַ֙עַם֙ בְּרֹ֣אשׁ כֻּלָּ֔ם וְאַחֲרִיתָ֖ם בַּחֶ֣רֶב אֶהֱרֹ֑ג לֹֽא־ יָנ֤וּס לָהֶם֙ נָ֔ס וְלֹֽא־ יִמָּלֵ֥ט לָהֶ֖ם פָּלִֽיט

רָאִ֨יתִי  I  saw 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, first person common singular
Root: רָאָה 
Sense: to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider.
אֶת־  - 
Parse: Direct object marker
Root: אֹות 
Sense: sign of the definite direct object, not translated in English but generally preceding and indicating the accusative.
אֲדֹנָ֜י  the  Lord 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: אֲדֹנָי  
Sense: my lord, lord.
נִצָּ֣ב  standing 
Parse: Verb, Nifal, Participle, masculine singular
Root: הֻצַּב 
Sense: to stand, take one’s stand, stand upright, be set (over), establish.
הַמִּזְבֵּ֗חַ  the  altar 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: מִזְבֵּחַ  
Sense: altar.
וַיֹּאמֶר֩  and  He  said 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: אָמַר 
Sense: to say, speak, utter.
הַ֨ךְ  Strike 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Imperative, masculine singular
Root: נָכָה  
Sense: to strike, smite, hit, beat, slay, kill.
הַכַּפְתּ֜וֹר  the  doorposts 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: כַּפְתֹּור  
Sense: bulb, knob, capital, capital of a pillar.
וְיִרְעֲשׁ֣וּ  that  may  shake 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Conjunctive imperfect, third person masculine plural
Root: רָעַשׁ 
Sense: to quake, shake.
הַסִּפִּ֗ים  the  thresholds 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine plural
Root: סַף 
Sense: a spreading out, basin, goblet, bowl.
וּבְצַ֙עַם֙  and  break  them 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Imperative, masculine singular, third person masculine plural
Root: בָּצַע  
Sense: to cut off, break off, gain by unrighteous violence, get, finish, be covetous, be greedy.
בְּרֹ֣אשׁ  on  the  heads 
Parse: Preposition-b, Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: רֹאשׁ 
Sense: head, top, summit, upper part, chief, total, sum, height, front, beginning.
כֻּלָּ֔ם  of  them  all 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct, third person masculine plural
Root: כֹּל  
Sense: all, the whole.
וְאַחֲרִיתָ֖ם  and  the  last  of  them 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, feminine singular construct, third person masculine plural
Root: אַחֲרִית  
Sense: after part, end.
בַּחֶ֣רֶב  with  the  sword 
Parse: Preposition-b, Article, Noun, feminine singular
Root: חֶרֶב  
Sense: sword, knife.
אֶהֱרֹ֑ג  I  will  slay 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, first person common singular
Root: הָרַג  
Sense: to kill, slay, murder, destroy, murderer, slayer, out of hand.
יָנ֤וּס  He  who  flees 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: נוּס  
Sense: to flee, escape.
לָהֶם֙  from  them 
Parse: Preposition, third person masculine plural
נָ֔ס  shall  get  away 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine singular
Root: נוּס  
Sense: to flee, escape.
וְלֹֽא־  and  not 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Adverb, Negative particle
Root: הֲלֹא 
Sense: not, no.
יִמָּלֵ֥ט  shall  be  delivered 
Parse: Verb, Nifal, Imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: מָלַט 
Sense: to slip away, escape, deliver, save, be delivered.
לָהֶ֖ם  from  them 
Parse: Preposition, third person masculine plural
פָּלִֽיט  he  who  escapes 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: פָּלִיט 
Sense: refugee, fugitive, escaped one.