A “Chariot of Fire” in Amos 7:4: A Text Critical Solution for qōrē’ lārīb bā’ēš

In: Vetus Testamentum

mt Amos 7:4 has a number of difficulties, one of which is the phrase qōrē’ lārīb bā’ēš. Although all ancient versions agree in some way with the Hebrew, differences among them reveal the difficulty that ancient scholars encountered when interpreting the phrase. The difficult Hebrew and the multiple ancient versions together have led many modern scholars to attempt an emendation. The textual corrections suggested by Hendrik Elhorst and Delbert Hillers appear in important English biblical translations, but both are problematic. This study suggests the emendation qōrē’ lǝrekeb ’ēš as a solution to the crux. The initial error was caused by misdivision of words coupled with bet-kaf confusion. Unlike the other suggestions, this correction has three strengths to recommend it: the error was simple, the corrected words appear elsewhere in Hebrew, and the image of a fiery divine chariot has counterparts in cognate ancient Near Eastern literature.

  • 1

    H. W. Wolff, Joel and Amos (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977), p. 292, n. i.

  • 2

    J. Morgenstern, Amos Studies (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1941), p. 63. S. Paul, Amos: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), p. 231.

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  • 3

    Noted by Paul, 1991, pp. 226-227.

  • 4

    Following P. K. McCarter, Textual Criticism (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), p. 72.

  • 5

    Morgenstern, 1941, p. 59, p. 64.

  • 8

    J. Neusner, Amos in Talmud and Midrash (Lanham: University Press of America, 2007).

  • 9

    So noted by Paul, 1991, pp. 226-227. Morgenstern, 1941, p. 59. See also D. Hillers, “Amos 7, 4 and Ancient Parallels,” cbq 26 (1964), pp. 221-225; F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Amos: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (ab 24a; New York: Doubleday, 1989), pp. 746-747; and S. Mittmann, “Der Rufende im Feuer (Amos 7:4),” jnsl 20/1 (1994), p. 167.

  • 11

    Limberg, 1973, p. 349.

  • 12

    U. Rüterswörden, Dominum Terrae (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1993), p. 48.

  • 13

    Rüterswörden, 1993, p. 50.

  • 14

    Rüterswörden, 1993, p. 51.

  • 15

    Mittmann, 1994, p. 167.

  • 16

    Mittmann, 1994, p. 166.

  • 17

    Mittmann, 1994, pp. 167-168.

  • 18

    Mittmann, 1994, p. 168.

  • 19

    Morgenstern, 1941, p. 59.

  • 20

    Morgenstern, 1941, p. 64.

  • 21

    Morgenstern, 1941, p. 65.

  • 22

    Morgenstern, 1941, p. 60, n. 75. H. Elhorst, De Profetie van Amos (Leiden: Brill, 1900), p. 162.

  • 23

    Morgenstern, 1941, p. 59.

  • 24

    Hillers, 1964, pp. 221-225.

  • 25

    Hillers, 1964, p. 221. M. Krenkel, “Zur Kritik und Exegese der kleinen Propheten,” zwt 14 (1866), p. 271.

  • 26

    Hillers, 1964, p. 222.

  • 27

    G. Del Olmo-Lete, “rbb,” Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition (Leiden: Brill, 2003), v. 2, p. 730.

  • 28

    Hillers, 1964, p. 222.

  • 29

    Andersen and Freedman, 1989, p. 747, argue that the lack of an article on the word tǝhôm indicates that this is a fossilized mythic expression, and compare it to the mythic tǝhôm rōbeṣet in Gen 49:25 and Deut 33:13.

  • 30

    Hillers, 1964, p. 224, citing anet, p. 123.

  • 31

    Hillers, 1964, p. 223.

  • 32

    Andersen and Freedman, 1989, p. 746.

  • 33

    Andersen and Freedman, 1989, p. 747.

  • 34

    E. Tov, Text Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (2nd ed.; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), p. 209, p. 234, pp. 252-253. Hillers, 1964, p. 223, offers this explanation in his own hypothesis, basing it on the lack of word division in the eighth-century Sefire treaties.

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  • 35

    D. Garrett, Amos: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2008), p. 209.

  • 36

    Tov, 2001, p. 137. There is strong evidence that the Targum of the Prophets did not achieve its final form until after the translation of the lxx; see Kevin Cathcart and Robert Gordon, The Targum of the Minor Prophets (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 1989), p. 16.

  • 37

    P. K. McCarter, “Hebrew,” Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 321. Tov, 2001, p. 219.

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  • 40

    Discussed by Zimmerli, 1979, p. 251, and Greenberg, 1983, p. 193.

  • 41

    D. Ussishkin, The Renewed Archaeological Excavations at Lachish 1973-1994 (Tel Aviv: Emery and Claire Yass, 2004), p. 736, illustration p. 733.

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  • 44

    Andersen and Freedman, 1989, p. 239, p. 747.

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