This chiasmus comes from two sources.
The first source is here - on p. 243. And here’s the writer’s brief description of the book of Amos, followed by his outline of the chiasmus:
Amos opens with eight judgment speeches to the seven nations surrounding Israel before announcing punishment for Israel in the eighth (Amos 1-2). Immediately following is a “hear this word” speech with three parts. Part 1 (3:1-5) explores punishment as an obligation of God’s covenant with Israel. Part 2 (4:1-17) reminds Israel that they ignored the LORD’S past warnings. Part 3 (5:1-17) takes up their death. The third part opens (5:1-3) and closes (5:16-17) with a funeral lament. Sandwiched in between is a description of the behavior that leads to death and that which leads to life, distinctions between what Israel does and what God is capable of doing (5:4-15). There is a symmetrical structure to this section:
First Lamentation (vv. 1-3)
First Admonition (vv. 4-6)
First Accusation (v. 7)
Hymn (v. 8a)
The LORD is His Name
Hymn (v. 9)
Second Accusation (vv. 10-13)
Second Admonition (vv. 14-15)
Second Lamentation (vv. 16-17)
The second source for this chiasmus can be found here.
The first source for this chiasmus presents the chiasmus in 9 parts, while the second source presents the chiasmus in 7 parts. In presenting the chiasmus below, I’ve used the 9-part chiasmus of the first source, while borrowing the 7 descriptors, or titles, of the second source. ( … I’m trying to take the best of both ‘worlds’ .)
Here’s my description of the various matches in the chiasmus:
A and A’ refer to potential judgment on the house of Israel. Funeral language is used: dirge, wailing, mourning.
B and B’ call for repentance. The key phrases in these sections use the word “seek”: B: “Seek Me and live”; “Seek the LORD that you may live”; B’: “Seek good and not evil that you may live”. … There’s an opportunity here to avoid judgment.
C and C’ offer the reasons for God’s judgment. C gives a general description, while C’ fills in the details.
D and D’ present God, the judge, in terms of ‘overwhelming’ power. God is the one who controls all of nature. D refers to the two constellations, the ongoing cycle of night and day, and the destructive force of the seas, while D’ refers to storms – specifically, highlighting lightning. In this context, both the surging seas and the flashing lightning illustrate judgment and destruction.
E centers on the LORD God himself – which is fitting.
Once again, a choice is required. Staying the course leads to judgment. Seeking God allows for salvation.
A warning delivered. Humility required. Action required.
(A nice chiasmus – imo.)
I would also like to point out that there are a number of smaller chiasmi within this larger chiasmus. This time around, I’ve decided to display the smaller chiasmi on there own, following the larger chiasmi. I think, in some ways, it makes for a clearer overall presentation of the varied chiasmi. Some brief comments will be attached to the smaller chiasmi.
But first, the larger chiasmus:
A Description of certain judgment: 1 Hear this word which I take up for you as a dirge, O house of Israel. 2 She has fallen, she will not rise again– The virgin Israel. She lies neglected on her land; There is none to raise her up. 3 For thus says the Lord GOD, “The city which goes forth a thousand strong Will have a hundred left, And the one which goes forth a hundred strong will have ten left to the house of Israel.”
B Call for individual repentance: 4 For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel, “Seek Me that you may live. 5 “But do not resort to Bethel, and do not come to Gilgal, nor cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal will certainly go into captivity, and Bethel will come to trouble. 6 “Seek the LORD that you may live, Lest He break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, And it consume with none to quench it for Bethel,
C Accusation of legal injustice [Me: general description]: 7 For those who turn justice into wormwood And cast righteousness down to the earth.”
D Portrayal of a sovereign God (D, E, D’): 8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion And changes deep darkness into morning, Who also darkens day into night, Who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the surface of the earth,
E The LORD is His name.
D’ 9 It is He who flashes forth with destruction upon the strong, So that destruction comes upon the fortress.
C’ Accusation of legal injustice [Me: detailed description]:
10 They hate him who reproves in the gate, And they abhor him who speaks with integrity. 11 Therefore, because you impose heavy rent on the poor And exact a tribute of grain from them, though you have built houses of well-hewn stone, Yet you will not live in them; You have planted pleasant vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine. 12 For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, You who distress the righteous and accept bribes, And turn aside the poor in the gate. 13 Therefore, at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time.
B’ Call for individual repentance: 14 Seek good and not evil, that you may live; And thus may the LORD God of hosts be with you, Just as you have said! 15 Hate evil, love good, And establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of hosts May be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
A’ Description of certain judgment:
16 Therefore, thus says the LORD God of hosts, the Lord, “There is wailing in all the plazas, And in all the streets they say, ‘Alas! Alas!’ They also call the farmer to mourning, and professional mourners to lamentation. 17 “And in all the vineyards there is wailing, because I shall pass through the midst of you,”says the LORD.
And now, here are 6 smaller chiasmi that can be found within the larger chiasmus:
From section B:
a “Seek Me that you may live.
b 5 “But do not resort to Bethel,
c And do not come to Gilgal,
d Nor cross over to Beersheba;
c’ For Gilgal will certainly go into captivity,
b’ And Bethel will come to trouble.
a’ 6 “Seek the LORD that you may live …
Comment: There’s a contrast here between the outside (a/a’) and the inside (b/c/d/c’/b’) of this chiasmus. Do you trust the LORD, or the cities?
From section D:
a 8 … And changes deep darkness
b into morning,
b’ Who also darkens day
a’ into night …
a 10 They hate him who reproves in the gate,
b And they abhor him who speaks with integrity.
c 11 Therefore, because you impose heavy rent on the poor and exact a tribute of grain from them,
d i though you have built houses of well-hewn stone, ii Yet you will not live in them;
d’ i’ You have planted pleasant vineyards, ii’ yet you will not drink their wine.
c’ 12 For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great,
b’ You who distress the righteous and accept bribes,
a’ And turn aside the poor in the gate.
13 Therefore, at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time.
Comment: I like the parallelism in the center. Because of their transgressions, the oppressors will not be able to enjoy their stone houses and pleasant vineyards. Punishment is incurred.
From section B’:
a 14 Seek good
b and not evil … …
b’ … … 15 Hate evil,
a’ love good
Comment: This is a nice example of a ‘delayed’ chiasmus. There’s actually some words between b and b’, which I’ve left out here.
a 16 Therefore, thus the LORD God of hosts, the Lord,
c “There is wailing [Me: Hebrew: misped] in all the plazas, and in all the streets they say, ‘Alas! Alas!’
d They also call the farmer / to mourning [Me: Hebrew: ebel],
d’ and professional mourners / to lamentation [Me: Hebrew: nehi].
c’ 17 “And in all the vineyards there is wailing [Me: Hebrew: misped] - because I shall pass through the midst of you,”
a’ the LORD.
Comment: The distinction between c/c’ and d/d’ is location (c = plazas and streets / c’ = vineyards) and people (d = farmers / d’ = professional mourners). c/c, d/d’ is also a nice example of how an author can choose between matching words directly (c/c’ = Hebrew: ‘misped’) or indirectly, (using synonyms; d/d’ = Hebrew: ‘ebel’ / ‘nehi’). The use of synonym sometimes offers variety to a text. It spices things up. … It can also add a bit of depth.
From section A’:
a 16 … “There is wailing
b in all the plazas,
b’ And in all the streets
a’ they say, ‘Alas! Alas!’
Comment: The wailing in a is given voice in a’: ‘Alas! Alas!’.
Overall, I think there’s some very nice chiastic work done here by the author. Seven chiasmi in all!!! (In some ways it reminds me of the numerous chiasmi found in Mark 3:20-35.) Nice!
The main message in the overall chiasmus is ”Seek God, that you may live.” It’s matching section adds, “Seek good and not evil, that you may live”.
Repentance and change of course is required.