Amos Table of  Contents

Main Table of Contents


Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter Eight of Amos

Amos 8:1

Thus the Lord God showed me: Behold, a basket of summer fruit.

Passages From the Writings


·        “That some new [element] of the church will arise, vers. 1...”

Derived Doctrine

“Thus the Lord showed me... a basket of summer fruit.”

  • We read in AC 9996 that a “basket” has a signification “ being the sensuous because the sensuous is the ultimate of man’s life, and in the ultimate are stored up all the interior things in order....”
  • “Summer” indicates that this is representative of the fullness of the church. (DLW 73)
  • For “fruit,” we need to look at its positive meaning: “...good works are the fruit of faith in the external sense...but that these good works have no life unless they proceed from charity; and that thus the fruit of faith in the proximate interior sense is charity. But as charity or love toward the neighbor ought to proceed from love to the Lord, this love is the fruit of faith in the internal sense; and as all love is from the Lord, it is the Lord Himself.” (AC 1873)

Putting It All Together

1. This verse describes, not so much the fullness of Israel’s potential, but what will come from the establishment of the New Church. It will be a basket of summer fruit. The fruits of the New Church will be beneficial to the neighbor and most importantly to the Lord. How much potential will the New Church have? Its “sensual ultimates” will be full. Its good works and its “summer” will enhance the ripening of all the fruits of faith. It will bring all manner of fruit and the healing of the nations with its leaves.

2. When the Lord told Amos to look and tell Him what he saw, we have a clue that the Lord was about to pronounce or reveal a judgment, an evaluation or accountability to see what they had done with what they had. How would their charity measure up? Would it be a charity proceeding from the influx of the Lord?  Would their charity, or fruit, be sweet, or lifeless and tasteless?

3. “The Lord showed me.”  We will get the answers to all of these questions from the penetrating light of the Lord. There will be no darkened corners were things escape His notice. 

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

Read and Review

Read Amos 8:1.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      How well do we handle evaluations? Do we feel most of our ratings are fair?  Are evaluations necessary?

2.      Don’t we like to hear our strengths lauded but dislike hearing our weaknesses mentioned? Is this also true when we evaluate ourselves?

3.      What about our spiritual baskets? Do we feel they have summer fruits in them?

4.      Some people will have smaller baskets than others. Does the size of the basket matter, or is it what we do with what we have?

5.      While Joseph was in prison, he interpreted the dreams of the butler and the baker. The butler’s life was spared. The baker was hanged. The baker’s dream had birds eating bread out of his “three white baskets” (or “three baskets with holes in them”). The Writings tell us that these two men represent the understanding and the will. The butler represents the understanding and the baker represents the will. The understanding (butler) could have its ways corrected. The perversion of the will (baker) is not as easily corrected. In AC 5077-5078, we read that the baker represents the external sensual, the internals of which did not terminate in use to the Lord or the neighbor. Love of self robbed what was spiritual from the will.

Does any of this story from the Word seem to apply to this prophecy given to Amos?

6.      Our understanding of this verse requires a positive prayer. We need to invite the Lord to show us our baskets so that we can bring the “sensuous” things of life to the higher order of the Lord’s priority.

Amos 8:2-3

And He said, “Amos, what do you see?” So I said, “A basket of summer fruit.”
Then the Lord said to me:

The end has come upon My people Israel;
I will not pass by them anymore.
And the songs of the temple
Shall be wailing in that day,
Says the Lord God
Many dead bodies everywhere,
They shall be thrown out in silence.

Passages From the Writings


·        “...that then will be the end of the old church, vers. 2, 3...”

Doctrine of the Lord 4

·        “...the expressions ‘that day,’ ‘in that day,’ and ‘in that time;’ in which, by ‘day,’ and ‘time,’ is meant the Lord’s advent.” Among the many illustrations of these phrases, Amos 8:3, 9, and 13 are cited. 

Scripture Confirmations N. IX 4

·        Amos 8:2-3 are quoted in here, referring to how the day of Jehovah shall be upon every one that is proud and haughty.

Derived Doctrine

“The end has come upon My people Israel”

·        These words seem to say that the Israelites had so far removed themselves from the truths and goods of the Lord that they were destroying their vital internals. Their hearts were hardened to the prompting of the Lord. The Lord did not create this ending. This rebellious nation brought about its own end. The Lord constantly wants His children to live, but if they refuse to listen, He has to tell them that their end is here. Amazingly, He tells them without anger. Notice how this verse has a tender phrase, “My people Israel.” Anger would have omitted such tenderness.

·        “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 23:27)

·        And you would not!” That attitude seems to capture the meaning of “the end has come upon My people.” It was this darkness that moved the Lord to make His first advent. If He had delayed any longer, it would have been all over, spiritually, for the human race.

“I will not pass by them anymore.”

  • The Writings offer us several passages where “to pass” represents positive experiences. To “pass by” means to receive Divine influx into the will and understanding. (AC 683) It also signifies to feel, and to have, peace. (AC 3170)  It signifies having the ability to judge things from truth. (AC 6510) In another passage, it means to know and to perceive the quality of things. (AC 3992)
  • Does “I will not pass by them anymore” mean that the Israelites had cut themselves off from the Lord’s influx? Had they lost that inner peace? Were they so blind with ambition that they lost the ability to judge and to sense the inner quality of things? 

“…the songs of the temple shall be wailing in that day.”

  • We cited the following number before in our study, and it is one we need to think more about when we sing in our worship services.
  • This number, AC 8261, tells us that the nature of singing is let the heart pour forth its affection for the Lord’s glorification so that we will be inspired to celebrate His victory over hell so we see and believe how much His liberation frees us from hell’s slavery.
  • That’s the positive side. Israel’s spiritual death took away the joyfulness of such singing. They saw nothing of the Lord’s redemption. They thought only of the moment and had little assurance that there was spiritual life after death. To the ears of the Lord, their songs probably sounded like wailing, morbid, pessimistic, and monotonous tunes.

“Many dead bodies everywhere”

  • Where might we begin with this quote? The body subsists through its soul; wherefore, everything in the body is representative of its soul. See AC 1807[3].
  • Could we take this idea and apply it to our text? The soul of Israel was not in a living and vibrant use for the Lord. “Many dead bodies (souls) everywhere” seems to cry out that the light of truth was flickering, and almost extinguished, in the winds of falsity. The preponderance of indifference ruled for the time being.

“They shall be thrown out in silence.” 

  • AE 687[11] seems to sum up the meaning of this passage when it quotes Isaiah 47:5 “Sit in silence and enter into darkness....” as meaning to be in falsities, and thence in damnation. Israel might have imagined their thinking was well-reasoned and powerful in its philosophical logic. But before the Lord, their best was silence.  How sad for a people who had so much given to them. They were a full basket of summer fruit.

Putting It All Together

I feel we did this in the above section. We had so much to derive from the passages because we didn’t have direct teachings to work with, and therefore the section carried itself in the way of summation throughout our research.

Read and Review

Read Amos 8:2-3.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      Does the Lord still “pass by” in your mind? Do we get a sense that influx flows into our will and understanding?

Do we feel the peace that comes from trusting in His providence?

Do we have the ability to judge “things” from truth?

2.      Are we “singing” songs that sound like wailing or are excited about the Lord’s redemptive work and spiritual liberation?

3.      How can we keep ourselves from being like dead bodies everywhere? How can the soul keep its youth and vitality?

4.      The voice of silence sounds so sad. What can we do to have voices that will be dignified and acceptable to the Lord’s ears?

Amos 8:4-6

Hear this, you who swallow up the needy,
And make the poor of the land fail,
“When will the new moon be past,
That we may sell grain?
And the Sabbath,
That we may trade wheat?
Making the ephah small and the shekel large,
Falsifying the scales by deceit,
 That we may buy the poor for silver,
And the needy for a pair of sandals-
Even sell the bad wheat?”

Passages From the Writings


·        “...when there is nothing but the adulteration of good and truth, vers. 4-6...”

AC 8540[2]

·        “...‘an ephah’ denotes good...because by it and by an omer were measured dry things that served for food, such as wheat, barley, fine flour; and by things that are used for food are signified goods...” Amos 8:5 is cited. 

AE 373[5]

·        “As a just estimation and exploration of good and truth are signified in the Word by ‘measures,’ it was commanded that the measures should be just, with no fraud about them.... So justice, where it means the estimation and exploration of men in accordance with the quality of good and truth in them, is everywhere in the Word expressed by scales and balances of various kinds, and by ‘ephahs,’ ‘omers,’ ‘homers,’ ‘seas,’ ‘hins’...and injustice is expressed by ‘scales and balances of fraud and deceit’ (as in...Amos viii. 5...).”

Derived Doctrine

“Hear this, you who swallow up the needy”

  • In AC 5217, we find an explanation of the thin ears of corn “swallowing” up the seven fat and full ears in Pharaoh’s dream. “...this signifies that the memory-knowledges of no use banished the good memory-knowledges... the ‘fat and full ears,’ as being memory-knowledges into which the things of faith and charity could be applied....” (Emphasis added)
  • The swallowing up of the needy indicates a diversion of spiritual things away from the soul. Instead of placing a priority on things of the spirit, they had a higher priority for self or the sensual comfort needs.
  • When the quality of the spiritual life is in a state of “no use,” the “poor of the land” will feel the effect of this spiritual apathy. The “land” is representative of the mind. If the soul languishes in a state of need, the mind will fail to discriminate between what “is” and what “is not.”

“When will the new moon be past...” 

  • From research into the meaning of the “new moon,” it appears that the Israelites were involved in the worship of a pagan moon god. Monthly worship was made to a male deity named “Yarah.” The records of antiquity indicate that the followers of this cult were in Palestine and Syria. In spite of the teachings of Deuteronomy 4:19 and 17:3 forbidding worship of the moon, or any other heavenly body, the Israelites practiced these pagan rites, ignoring the warnings.  Some people offered sacrifices to “Yarah” in the midst of the temple when the “new moon” occurred, and no one seemed to object to this obvious disregard of the Lord’s directive.
  • This prophecy uttered by Amos not only exposes their pagan worship, but highlights their superficial devotion to the pagan deity. They couldn’t wait to get the “new moon” sacrifice over with so they could get back to their profitable cheating system of false weight measurements.

Trading Wheat on the Sabbath

  • “Trading” represents the effort to secure knowledges for self and to communicate them. (AC 4453) In the good sense, the “Sabbath” represents a state of peace or rest from temptation. (AC 853)  In Matthew 24:20, we find a reference to someone taking “flight from the Sabbath,” which represents an effort to remove one’s self from the good of love and innocence. (AC 3755[2])
  • Trading “wheat,” in the good sense, represents trying to advance in the state of love and charity. (AC 3941)
  • Might we derive from these teachings that this was representative of how the Israelites traded off the essentials of doctrine and soothed themselves with how “acceptable” their expanded worship of the “new moon” was because others were doing it, too? They sold, or talked, themselves out of the good of love and innocence the Lord offered them, in the true sense of trading on the “Sabbath day.”
  • In the parable of the merchant seeking goodly pearls, when he found the pearl of great value, he “sold” all that he had to purchase the pearl. We are taught that this represents ridding ourselves of the self love that would prevent us from purchasing the pearl. The Israelites were not interested in offering this gift of sacrifice to the Lord. They saw no profit or advancement in such honest measurements. They only wanted to find or hear things that would confirm or affirm what they were doing.

Making the ephah small...the shekel large…and falsifying the scales by deceit...”

·        AE 373[5] calls our attention to the meaning of this passage. The Israelites’ sense of justice was gone. They were willing to go to any extreme to adulterate the good and truth of the Word. They lived by the “scales and balances of fraud and deceit.”

Weights and Measurements

·        While we are considering weights and measurements, let’s consider this teaching from AC 5658: “Weights and measurements are frequently mentioned in the Word, but, in the internal sense, they do not signify weights and measurements, but...weights signify states of a thing as to good, and measurements, the states of a thing as to truth.”

·        Those who cheated the poor and needy had a code of life that allowed them to buy the “poor” for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and even sell inferior products such as spoiled wheat. Profit took precedence over love of the neighbor.

·        Have you ever heard someone interviewing a famous person, and they ask them, “What words would you like to have on your grave stone?” Certainly, we would not want, “Here lies a person whose scales and balances were measured in fraud and deceit, who sold off truth for profit and the poor for a pair of sandals.”

·        We should not forget as well the interview with the Lord’s angels when we arrive in the spiritual world. What is their first question to the newly arrived? What did you love? Where your heart is, there will your treasure be.

Putting It All Together

We summarized many points in the above section, but it would be valuable to you to engage in some reflection of your own about these verses and what summary you would construct to help you remember key elements of these verses.  Use the space provided to write down at least two summary points you derived from the lesson.



Read and Review

Read Amos 8:2-3.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      In some sense, can we identify with Israel being drawn into a pagan worship of the “new moon”? The moon represents faith. It is supposed to reflect the light of the sun. If the Lord is not the source of our light, what is? There are so many things trying to take the place of the Lord as the way to find an inner peace. It shouldn’t be hard for us to think of a similar issue.

2.      Justice is the means of exploring the quality of good and truth. How often do we try to “tip the scales and balances” in our favor? Facing the intent of our actions is not always easy, and we look for others who are having trouble, too. It gives us comfort and a ready excuse for not taking on the unfair nature of self-love. What do you think about this issue?

3.      What meaning or application can we make with the teachings about selling off the poor, or getting a pair of sandals as an even exchange for the life of the poor?

Remember, the feet represent the natural, that which we walk on all day long. How do we apply true measurements to the practical events of our lives?

The sandal represents what we use to protect the feet from painful injuries. Is there a positive sense to purchasing “sandals”? Is there a negative sense of “sandals” we need to avoid?

4.      It is interesting to note the representation of the weight system: ephahs, omers, homers, seas, and hins. The shekel is also mentioned. Isn’t it awesome to think that in the spiritual world we will have all the “time” we need to study their fuller meaning and application to the spiritual and celestial sense?  Do you think our modern systems of weights and measures have correspondences?                                                                         

5.      “Selling bad wheat” seems to indicate callousness toward good and truth. Is there anything that you can relate this to? Can the food for the soul be tainted with a spoiled quality?                       

Amos 8: 7-10

“The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
‘Surely I will never forget any of their works.
Shall the land not tremble for this,
And everyone mourn who dwells in it?
All of it shall swell like the river,
Heave and subside
Like the River of Egypt.
And it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the Lord God,
That I will make the sun go down at noon,
And I will darken the earth in broad daylight;
I will turn your feasts into mourning,
And all your songs into lamentation;
I will bring sackcloth on every waist,
And baldness on every head;
I will make it like mourning for an only son,
And its end like a bitter day.”

Passages From the Writings


·        “...that therefore they will perish in the day of judgment, vers. 7-10...”

AR 503

·        “Egypt signifies the natural man in conjunction with the spiritual, and thus the affection of truth and thence science and intelligence; but in the opposite sense, it signifies the natural man separated from the spiritual, and then the pride of one’s own intelligence, and thence insanity in spiritual things....[by the plagues of Egypt] hell is signified.... Hence it is evident, what is meant by...‘being drowned by the river of Egypt’ (Amos viii. 8; ix. 5).”

AE 654[75]

·        “All this describes how the natural man is vastated, which takes place when he casts away from himself all the truths and goods of the church, and imbibes falsities and evils, until there is no longer any truth or good of the church can be seen what is signified by: -....‘Being drowned by the river of Egypt’ (Amos viii. 8; ix. 5).”

AC 6693[5]

·        “...the ‘earth’ which shall be ‘shaken’ denotes the church...‘to be overwhelmed as by the river of Egypt’ denotes to perish by falsities...” Amos 8:8-9; Amos 9:5 are cited. 

AC 9642[4]

·        “In Amos (viii. 9) ‘I will make the sun go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the day of light’...denotes the extinguishing of all the light of truth from the Word.” 

AR 53

·        “In these passages by ‘sun’ is not meant the sun of this world, but the Sun of the angelic heaven, which is the Divine love and the Divine wisdom of the Lord; those are said to be ‘obscured,’ ‘darkened,’ ‘covered,’ and ‘blackened’ when there are evils and falsities with man. Hence it is evident, that similar things are meant by the Lord’s words, where He speaks of the consummation of the age, which is the last time of the church...” Amos 8:9 is one of the references cited.

AR 476

·        “ and night, morning and evening, summer and winter, constitute time in this world, and when understood in the spiritual sense, they constitute the states of the church; therefore when these states no longer exist, there is no church; and when there is then no church, when there is no longer any good and truth, thus when the light of truth is thick darkness...‘there is time no longer.’”  Amos 8:9 is cited..

AE 401[16]

·        “In Amos:- (viii. 9) ‘It shall come to pass in that day, that I will cause the sun to set at noon, and I will darken the earth in a day of light.’ This signifies that the church, where the Word is from which it might be known what is good and true, there is nevertheless nothing but evil and falsity. ‘To cause the sun to set,’ and ‘to darken the earth,’ signify the evil of life, and the falsity of doctrine in the church; for ‘the rising of the sun’ signifies the good of love, which is the good of the life, and ‘the setting of the sun’ signifies the evil of love, which is the evil of the life; and ‘the darkening of the earth’ signifies the consequent falsity of doctrine, ‘darkness’ signifying falsities, and ‘the earth’ the church; ‘at noon,’ and ‘in the day of light,’ signify when there might be the knowledges of good and truth, because they have the Word, ‘noon’ signifying where there are the knowledges of good, and the ‘day of light’ where there are the knowledges of truth.”

AC 3693[2]

·        “In Amos:-...(viii. 9, 10) ‘to cause the sun to go down at noon’ denotes obscurity as to truth with those who are in the knowledges of good and truth....”

AC 4779[2]

·        “In Amos:-....(viii. 10) where ‘bringing up sackcloth upon all loins’ denotes mourning over destroyed goods; ‘all loins’ denotes all the goods of love.”

AC 7093[5]

·        “That there was to be gladness in the feasts, and thus that ‘to hold a feast’ is to worship from a glad mind...” Amos 8:10 is used as a representative verse.

AC 8261[6]

·        “That the exaltation of Jehovah, that is, of the Lord, was performed by means of songs...” Amos 8:10 is cited.

AC 9960[6]

·        “As mourning represented spiritual mourning, which is mourning on account of the loss of the truth and good of the church, therefore when mourning they made bald their heads...”  Amos 8:10 is cited as one of the examples.

Doctrine of Sacred Scripture 35[2&4]

·        “ was a mark of deep mourning, and also a great disgrace, for any one to make himself bald, or to be seen bald....‘baldness’ signified the Word without its ultimate sense.” Amos 8:10 is quoted as one of the examples from the Word.

AR 47

·        This number has an almost exact quote of the above citation.

AR 166

·        “...on account of transgressions against Divine truths, they put off their garments, and put on sackcloth.... Amos viii. 10...”

AR 492

·        This number contains more information on the representations of “mourning” and “sackcloth.”

AE 66[5]

·        This number has more references to the meaning of baldness and how the bald are seen in the world of spirits. The bald there “...are such as have abused the Word, and have applied the sense of the wicked purposes, and therefore have been deprived of all truth. These are most malignant.” Amos 8:10 is cited.          

AE 637[15]

·        “In Amos:- ( viii. 10) ‘Sackcloth upon the loins’ signifies mourning because the good of love is destroyed, for this is signified by the ‘loins;’ and ‘baldness upon the head’ signifies mourning because the understanding of truth is destroyed.”

Derived Doctrine

“The Lord has sworn...” 

·        When the Word says the Lord “swore,” it is to signify an “...irrevocable confirmation from the Divine.... The Divine cannot confirm from any other source than from Itself; and what it confirms is irrevocable, because it is eternal truth.... The Lord never confirms anything by an oath; but when the Divine truth...passes down to a is turned into the semblance of an oath.” (AC 2482)

“The pride of Jacob...”

  • Jacob has many representations. Which of them are we to use?  Looking at the literal sense, it appears that we must choose one that shows a troublesome or shallow external in its representation. Perhaps the description in AC 3548 would come close to the internal meaning. In this number, we read that “Jacob” represented truth that appears in its outward form like good and the truth of good but which is not such internally. Could this be the pride of Jacob that the Lord was going to irrevocably expose and remove from the church?
  • Pride signifies the love of self. (AC 1306) Pride involves a process of false reasoning that seems to favor self-love. Pride wears a face of arrogance and projects self-assurance. (AC 1585[4]) Pride carries with it an attempt to wield the power of domination over the things of the church. (AC 8678)

The Land Trembling

  • In the positive sense, trembling represents a great alternation and change of state when one is regenerating and truth gives place to good. (AC 3593)
  • Holy trembling occurs in the presence of the Lord and prepares the way for the reception of good. (AC 8816)

·        AC 2571 tells us that “land” signifies various things: the internal man of the church; the region where the church is; where the faith of the church is; the doctrine of love and charity where the faith of the church resides.

  • The condition of the church—“the land”—seems to be the thing that needed to tremble before the Lord. The church and its faith had to have a way opened for the Lord to come in. The church needed to return to a state of holy fear to help it prepare and receive the good that it needed to be vibrant in spiritual things.                                                                 

“All of it shall swell like a river, heave and subside....”

  • AE 518[26] has a beautiful promise for all ages. “...although the church and all things thereof perish, still the Word and the Divine truth it contains shall not perish....” Though the falsity of the church swell, heave, and subside, the Word will not suffer injury nor “perish in any respect.”

Losses Experienced by People of a Corrupt Church

The Lord lists what losses the people of a corrupt church will experience:

·        “...the sun (will) go down at noon” represents a loss of love and heaven’s intelligence and wisdom.

·        “...darken the earth in broad daylight...” represents the mind losing its ability to see clearly in spite of the abundance of the knowledges of truth within the Word.

·        “...feasts into mourning...songs into lamentations...” represents the loss of worshiping the Lord from a genuine, spontaneous joyfulness. They would lack the cordial union and felicity that banquets and singing would normally bring to the repentant worshiper of the Lord.

·        “...sackcloth on every waist...” represents a state of sadness because their indifference and falsity was doing harm to the conjugial principle. There would be a loss of the spiritual birth of good and truth because they were severing, or preventing, new life from the Lord.

·        “...mourning for an only son...its end like a bitter day.” Having a son to continue the lineage of the family traditions was important to the Israelites. The Lord touches that nerve. He tells them in the spiritual sense that they have lost their link to the rise of a new church. Indeed, it is an end “like a bitter day.”

  • Their pride, their love of falsity brought about “baldness on every head.”

Putting It All Together

1. As sad as this section seems, we must not allow the literal sense to discourage us. We need to focus on every one of these correspondences in their most positive sense regarding the Lord’s New Church.

Let us with a sense of awe have the holy fear that keeps us from bringing any harm to the Lord and His Word. We need to pray that our river of knowledge might swell and heave in such a way as the river Nile spilled over its banks, to bring richness to the crops that the Lord plants within our minds.

We need to pray that our sun will not go down at noon. We need to long for the truths that give us the light to sort through the pitfalls of hell. May our feasts and our songs flow out of us like the joyous outbursts of happy children. We need the spontaneous enthusiasm of one who once was blind but now can see.

May we search for the conjugial principle so that we may have an ardent desire to spiritually procreate and to protect what is procreated. We need those heirs to further the cause of the New Church. May we not do anything to the sacredness of the Word that would bring baldness upon the head of anyone.

Let us sing the song, “This is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it.” We can offer a prayer that, in spite of what hell tries to tell us, we are not going to have this day or any day “end like a bitter day.”

Read and Review

Read Amos 8:7-10.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      Can we turn the darkness of Israel’s failure into a ray of hope? What can we learn that could be useful to our church? Does the Lord always offer a source of hope, no matter how dark His words seem?  How can we find it?

2.      Negative thoughts, if given a chance to get out of control, rob us of our hope. What is dangerous about losing hope? How can we regain lost hope?

3.      The description of “baldness” gives us a challenge not to play games with the Word. Do we need this “picture” as a reminder to be true to the Word and its spiritual sense? What does being true to the Word look like in everyday life?

Amos 8: 11-14

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God,
That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of the Lord.
They shall wander from sea to sea,
And from north to east;
They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
But shall not find it.
In that day the fair virgins
And the strong young men
Shall faint from thirst.
Those who swear by the sin of Samaria,
Who say
As your god lives, O Dan!
And, As the way of Beersheba lives!
They shall fall and never rise again.”

Passages From the Writings


·        “...that then there will be no longer any good and truth, vers. 11-14.”

AR 323

·     “That ‘hunger’ signifies ignorance of the knowledges of truth and good arising from the deficiency of such knowledges in the church, is evident from various passages in the Word....” Amos 8:11-14 is cited as an example.

AE 386[11]

·        “In Amos:-...( viii. 11-13) ‘by famine’ and ‘thirst,’ namely, that a famine for bread is not meant, nor a thirst for water, but for hearing the word of Jehovah, thus that it is a lack of the knowledges of good and truth that is meant; and that these are not in the church or in its doctrine is described by the words, ‘they shall go from sea to sea, and from the north to the sunrise, seeking the word of Jehovah, and shall not find it,’ ‘from sea to sea’ signifying on every side, for the outmost boundaries in the spiritual world, where truths and goods begin and terminate appear like seas; consequently ‘seas’ in the Word signify the cognitions of truth and good, also knowledges ( scientifica) in general; ‘from the north to the sunrise’ signifies also on every side where truth and good are, ‘the north’ meaning where truth is in obscurity, and ‘the sunrise’ where good is. Because ‘famine and thirst’ signify a lack of the knowledges of good and truth, therefore it is also said ‘in that day shall the beautiful virgins’ meaning the affections of truth from good, and “youths’ the truths themselves that are from good, ‘the thirst for which they shall faint’ meaning the lack of these.”

AR 620

·        “...they [who] have loved truths because they are truths...are meant by ‘virgins’...because ‘a virgin’ signifies the church as a bride, who desires to be conjoined with the Lord, and to become a wife; and the church which desires to be conjoined with the Lord, loves truths because they are truths....all they who are such in the Lord’s church, whether they be virgins or young men, wives or husbands, boys or old men, girls or old women, are meant by ‘virgins’...” Amos 8:11, 13 are cited.

AR 956

·        “That by ‘thirst’ and ‘thirsting’ is signified to perish from lack of truth.... But by ‘not thirsting’ is signified not to have a lack of truth...”

AC 3081

·        “The ‘fair virgins’ denote the affections of truth; the ‘young men’ truths, or what is the same, those who are in them; concerning these it is said that ‘they shall run to and fro to seek the word of Jehovah, and shall not find it,’ and consequently ‘they shall faint for thirst.’” Amos 8:12, 13 are cited in this number.

AC 7668

·        “...where ‘fair virgins’ denote the affection of truth; ‘young men’ intelligence; ‘to faint for thirst’ denotes to be deprived of truth; therefore it is said, ‘they shall run to and fro to seek the word of Jehovah and not find it.’ That fair virgins are not meant, nor young men, nor faintness by reason of thirst, is plain.” Amos 8:12, 13 are cited in this number.

AC 2723

·        “ ‘Beer-sheba’ are signified the things of human reason...adjoined to the doctrine of faith; and because they are again adjoined...became adapted to human comprehension....and also in the opposite sense, Amos viii. 13, 14.”

AC 3923[6]

·        “That there is signified the denial of all things of faith, is because Dan was the last boundary of the land of Canaan, and Beer-sheba the first, that is, the midst or inmost of the land....” Amos 8:13, 14 are cited in this number.

Derived Doctrine

The Sin of Samaria

·        What is the sin of Samaria? Scholars say that this prophecy refers to the twin “calf altars” at Dan and Bethel. In various other references, the Writings identify the disorderly side of Samaria as various inner sins. For instance, AC 2466[4] says that Samaria had an affection for falsities. AC 10050[2] says it signifies those who are in external worship. AE 193[8] says Samaria signifies evils of the will. AC 223[20] says Samaria signifies the false doctrines of those who reject the Lord. Could any (or all) of these be the sin of Samaria the prophecy alludes to?

“They shall fall and never rise again.”

·        Is this prophecy referring to the fall and demise of a people or to the fall and demise of their false human reasoning that gave birth to the falsities within the church? 

Putting It All Together

1. Several key words seem to draw this section to a summary: ignorance, deficiency, and confusion.

2. When the Word of the Lord is ignored, can there be any other outcome but ignorance and spiritual deficiencies? The virgins and the young men “sense” that they want and need something. Where can we find it? How can we satisfy this great thirst and famine?

They have physical bread and water, but they need a “hearing” of the words of the Lord. From sea to sea, from north to east, they can find no one who can open the words of the Lord for them. There is a sense of loss. They feel a sense of not being conjoined to the Lord.

3. The sins of Samaria, the sins of sensual or external worship, prevail from inmosts to outmosts.  The prophecy tells the Israelites that they have lost what they need most—conjunction with the Lord. Their pursuit of frivolous things will make them faint from a great lack of the “living bread” and the “living waters” that only the Lord could provide.

4. Why must this happen? Is it because Beersheba lives? The Writings tell us that Beersheba represents a human reason that is not adjoined to the doctrine of faith. The Lord lays before us the results of such a ruling love: Human comprehension will not be willing to receive divine guidance. “They shall fall and never rise again.”

Read and Review

Read Amos 8:11-14.

Read the summary from P&P.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1.      Is there any evidence of a longing for good and truth among us today? Where do you see it?

2.      Do you see a searching from sea to sea, from north to east for the word of the Lord? What are the signs of this search?

3.      AR 620 reminds us that “virgins” and “young men” represent anyone desiring to be conjoined to the Lord.  For the sake of discussion, is there a process here that tells us what to do as a parent or church? For instance, are we being taught that the individual must desire to be fed and given water before he or she can be helped? In some passages of the Word, we are taught to not throw our pearls before the swine because they will trample them into the ground. In other places, the “master” or the “king” sent his servants out into the streets and highways to find people to bring them to the banquet. 

Which is it: people must desire to be fed, or people must be found and fed? Or are both true? 

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