World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts
Editor, Andrew Wilson
Providence And The Mandate Of Heaven
A providence of God may be discerned in the history of the rise and fall of nations and their rulers. Recognition that God is active in history and guiding the course of nations was a first principle of the revelation to the Jews of ancient Israel. They saw God deliver a band of slaves from the yoke of Pharaoh, and later they recognized God's providence in His dispensing blessings and punishments to the nation of Israel according as they were faithful or disobedient to God's will. Similarly, the Classics of Confucianism speak of Heaven's guidance in the affairs of state according to the Mandate of Heaven. Heaven hears the cries of the oppressed and overthrows corrupt regimes, taking the Mandate from them and giving it to new leaders and favoring their revolutions. Comparable notions are also found in the scriptures of Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, and African traditional religions.
The passages in this section describe God's providence in determining the fate of rulers and nations according to two criteria. First, a nation should be obedient to God's covenant and God's messengers, give reverence to Heaven, and present honor and support to sages and religious teachers. Second, a nation should promote the welfare of the people, ruling them with justice and benevolence, for "Heaven hears as our people see and hear."
Every assembly which is for the sake of Heaven will in the end be established, and every assembly which is not for the sake of Heaven will in the end not be established.
Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.14
Abot 4.14: This is similar to the advice which the New Testament records that Rabbi Gamaliel gave the council of Jewish elders regarding the early Christians in Acts 5.38-39, p. 66. Cf. Precious Garland 327, p. 897.
In the land of softly lapping waves, the Heart of the kami has turned hard. Leaving the capital in ruins, which I see, and feel how sad.
Shinto. Man'yoshu I
Have they not travelled in the land to see the nature of the consequence for those who disbelieved before them? They were mightier than those in power [today] and in the traces which they left behind them in the earth. Yet God seized them for their sins, and they had no protector from God.
That was because their messengers kept bringing them clear proofs of God's sovereignty but they disbelieved; so God seized them. Lo! He is Strong, Severe in punishment.
Islam. Qur'an 40.21-22
Dishonesty about spoil has not appeared among a people without God casting terror into their hearts; fornication does not become widespread among a people without death being prevalent among them; people do not give short measure and weight without having their provision cut off; people do not judge unjustly without bloodshed becoming widespread among them; and people are not treacherous about a covenant without the enemy being given authority over them.
Islam. Hadith of Malik
If there is an evil-minded king who practices wrong teachings, interferes with the disciples of the Buddha, slanders them, speaks ill of them, hurts them with sticks and swords, robs them of their daily necessities, and bothers those who support them, the king of Brahma Heaven and Indra will immediately send foreign armies to attack him. And also his evil acts will cause several sufferings: civil wars, famines, unseasonable storms, fightings, and court fights in this country. They will also cause him to lose his country before long.
I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me, "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? says the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O people of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from this evil, I will repent of the evil that I intended to do it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will repent of the good, which I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: 'Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.'"
Judaism and Christianity. Jeremiah 18.3-11
Qur'an 40.21-22: Cf. Nahjul Balagha, Khutba 21, p. 898. Ta-fa-teng-ta-chi-ching: This excerpt was quoted by Nichiren in his treatise on the value of his ministry for the salvation of the nation of Japan. Cf. Precious Garland 237, p. 897. Jeremiah 18.3-11: Cf. 2 Timothy 2.21-22, p. 629; 2 Chronicles 7.14, p. 776; Jonah 3.3-10, pp. 777f.
Ananda, so long as the Vajjians assemble in harmony and disperse in harmony; so long as they do their business in harmony; so long as they introduce no revolutionary ordinance, or break up no established ordinance, but abide by the old-time Vajjian Norm, as ordained; so long as they honor, reverence, esteem, and worship the elders among the Vajjians and deem them worthy of listening to; so long as the women and maidens of the families dwell without being forced or abducted; so long as they honor, revere, esteem, and worship the Vajjian shrines, both the inner and the outer; so long as they allow not the customary offerings, given and per- formed, to be neglected; so long as the customary watch and ward over the arahants that are among them is well kept, so that they may have free access to the realm and having entered may dwell pleasantly therein; just so long as they do these things, Ananda, may the prosperity of the Vajjians be looked for and not their decay.
Buddhism. Digha Nikaya ii.73
When your son asks you in time to come, "What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the ordinances which the Lord our God has commanded you?" then you shall say to your son, "We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes; and he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land which he swore to give our fathers. And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as at this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.
....For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love upon you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples; but it is because the Lord loves you, and is keeping the oath which he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt....
And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his command- ments, or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out upon you, and your foot did not swell, these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.
Take heed lest you forget the Lord your God, by not keeping his commandments and his ordinances and his statutes, which I command you this day: lest, when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord.... Beware lest you say in your heart, "My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth." You shall remember the Lord your God, that it is he who gives you power to get wealth; that he may confirm his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as at this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you this day that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.
Judaism and Christianity. Deuteronomy 6.20-8.20
Deuteronomy 6.20-8.20: Deuteronomy 6.20-25, 7.6-8, 8.2-14, 17-20. The Exodus is the first instance of God's activity in history to redeem an oppressed people. It has served as a model for subsequent revolutions, both religious and secular. The politics of the Exodus is not utopian; it remains realistic in its estimation of human weakness and finitude. Even after liberation, people who were once slaves may continue to think and act like slaves until they are educated in the ways of freedom. This is the purpose of the Covenant and the forty years of discipline in the wilderness. Israel must become conscious of its vocation as a people holy to God, set apart from other nations, to exalt God by obeying the commandments and ordinances of the Sinai Covenant. Otherwise there is always the possibility of backsliding, of longing for "the fleshpots of Egypt," as in the incident of the Golden Calf, Exodus 32.1-6, pp. 406-7. The Covenant between God and Israel includes blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience: cf. Deuteronomy 11.26-28, p. 675; 2 Samuel 2.4-9, pp. 545-46; Hosea 4.1-3, p. 318.
King Wen is on high; Oh! bright is he in heaven. Although Chou was an old country, The appointment lighted on it recently. Illustrious was the House of Chou, And the appointment of God came at the proper season. King Wen ascends and descends On the left and right of God....
Profound was King Wen; Oh! continuous and bright was his feeling of reverence. Great is the appointment of Heaven! There were the descendants of Shang;-- The descendants of the sovereigns of Shang Were in number more than hundreds of thousands; But when God gave the command, They became subject to Chou.
They became subject to Chou; The appointment of Heaven is not constant. The officers of Yin, admirable and alert, Assist at the libations in our capital;-- They assist at those libations, Always wearing the hatches on their lower garment and their peculiar cap. O ye loyal ministers of the king, Ever think of your ancestor!
Ever think of your ancestor, Cultivating your virtue, Always striving to accord with the will of Heaven. So shall you be seeking for much happiness. Before Yin lost the multitudes, Its kings were the assessors of God. Look to Yin as a beacon; The great appointment is not easily preserved.
The appointment is not easily preserved; Do not cause your own extinction. Display and make bright your righteousness and name, And look at the fate of Yin in the light of Heaven. The doings of High Heaven Have neither sound nor smell. Take your pattern from King Wen, And the myriad regions will repose confidence in you.
Confucianism. Book of Songs, Ode 235
Book of Songs, Ode 235: King Wen was the illustrious founder of the Shang dynasty; he was a righteous king who earned the Mandate of Heaven. But when his descendant King Yin brought corruption and troubles to the land, the Mandate of Heaven was lost and a new dynasty, the House of Chou, came to rule. In this poem the rulers of Chou and their subjects, the former retainers of Yin, are admonished to take a lesson from the fate of the previous dynasty. See the following passage.
The Duke of Chou said, "I make an announcement to all Yin and managers of affairs. Oh, august Heaven, the Lord-on-High, has changed his principal son [the ruler] and this great state Yin's mandate. Now that the king has received the mandate, unbounded is the grace, but also unbounded is the solicitude. Oh, how can he be but careful!
"Heaven has removed and made an end to the great state Yin's mandate. There were many former wise kings of Yin in Heaven, and the later kings and people here managed their mandate. But in the end [under the last king] wise and good men lived in misery so that, leading their wives and carrying their children, wailing and calling to Heaven, they went to where no one could come and seize them. Oh, Heaven had pity on the people of the four quarters, and looking with affection and giving its mandate, it employed the zealous ones [the leaders of the Chou]. May the king now urgently pay careful attention to his virtue.
"Look at the ancient predecessors, the lords of Hsia; Heaven indulged them and cherished and protected them. They strove to comprehend the obedience to Heaven; but in these times they have lost their mandate....
"We do not presume to know and say that the lords of Hsia undertook Heaven's mandate so as to have it for so-and-so many years; we do not presume to know and say that it could not have been prolonged. It was that they did not reverently attend to their virtue, and so they prematurely renounced their mandate. We do not presume to know and say that the lords of Yin received Heaven's mandate for so-and-so many years; we do not know and say that it could not have been prolonged. It was that they did not reverently attend to their virtue, and so they prematurely threw away their mandate. Now the king has succeeded to and received their mandate. We should then also remember the mandates of these two states and succeeding to them equal their merits."
Confucianism. Book of History 5.12.2, Announcement of the Duke of Chou
Beware of the plea of the oppressed, for he asks God Most High only for his due, and God does not keep the one who has a right from receiving what is due.
Islam. Hadith of Baihaqi
Heaven hears and sees as our people hear and see; Heaven brightly approves and displays its terrors as our people brightly approve and would fear; such connection is there between the upper and lower worlds. How reverent ought the masters of the earth to be!
Confucianism. Book of History 2.3.3, Counsels of Kao Yao
I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
Judaism and Christianity. Exodus 3.7-8
Book of History 2.3.3: Cf. Book of History 5.1.1, p. 902; Hagiga 5b, p. 902. Exodus 3.7-8: This is from the call of Moses, Exodus 3.1-4.16, pp. 514f.
Whoever vows to tyrannize the humble and the meek The Supreme Lord burns him in flames. The Creator dispenses perfect justice, And preserves His servants. His majesty is manifest from the primal hour to the end of time! The traducer is destroyed, afflicted with a great malady. He is destroyed by Him, against whom no savior exists: Of such here and hereafter, evil is his repute. He cherishes His servants, clasping them to His bosom.
Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri, M.5, p. 199
Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the people of `Ad, With the city of Iram, with lofty pillars, The like of which were not produced in all the land? And with the people of Thamud, who cut out huge rocks in the valley?-- And with Pharaoh, Lord of Stakes? All these transgressed beyond bounds in the lands And heaped therein mischief on mischief. Therefore did your Lord pour on them a scourge of diverse chastisements: For your Lord is as a guardian on a watchtower.
Islam. Qur'an 89.6-14
On us shall descend some awful curse, Like the curse that descended in far-off times. Thus speaks the Creator of men, But the men refuse to listen. On us shall descend some awful curse, Like the curse that descended in far-off times: We have but one word to say: Idle about! Sink in sloth! Men of such kind will gain nothing from the Father, For they know not his voice. He is the one who loves man.
African Traditional Religions. Dinka Prayer (Sudan)
Gauri, M.5: Cf. Gauri Sukhmani 12, M.5, pp. 475f. Qur'an 89.6-14: `Ad and Thamud were civilizations whose extensive ruins could still be seen by the people of Muhammad's day. They were a reminder that God's judgment could doom mighty nations. See Qur'an 14.9-15, p. 880; also Obadiah 3-4, p. 354; Isaiah 2.12-17, p. 354.
Mencius said, "The Three Dynasties won the empire through benevolence and lost it through cruelty. This is true of the rise and fall, survival and collapse, of states as well. An emperor cannot keep the empire within the Four Seas unless he is benevolent; a feudal lord cannot preserve the altars to the gods of earth and grain unless he is benevolent; a minister or a counsellor cannot preserve his ancestral temple unless he is benevolent; a gentleman or a commoner cannot preserve his four limbs unless he is benevolent. To dislike death yet revel in cruelty is no different from drinking beyond your capacity despite your dislike of drunkenness."
Confucianism. Mencius IV.A.3
Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, in the storm which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.
Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 10.1-4
God did not make the kanyinkanyin insect As big as a horse. Had He made it as big, the insect would be stinging people to death. God does not elevate People who would ridicule the unfortunate. God does not give power To those who would be wicked to their fellowmen. No one gains anything through being wicked.
When the wicked are prosperous, And the righteous are not, If the situation continues for long The righteous become frustrated. Like a small needle, That is how one first starts the act of falsehood. The day it becomes as big as a hoe, It kills.
African Traditional Religions Yoruba Song (Nigeria)
Mencius IV.A.3: Cf. Mencius I.A.6, 242; Tao Te Ching 77, p. 475. Isaiah 10.1-4: Cf. 1 Samuel 2.4-9, p. 475.
The Lord protected Khorasan from Babur's invasion And on Hindustan let loose terror. The Lord Himself punishes not: So He sent down the Mughal Babur, dealing death as Yama. As the people wailed in their agony of suffering, Didst Thou feel no compassion for them? Thou who art Creator of all-- Should a powerful foe molest one equally powerful, Little would the mind be grieved; But when a ferocious tiger falls upon a herd of kine, Then must the Master be called to account. These dogs [profligate rulers] that despoiled the jewels [India's resources] and wasted them, Now shameful will be their end. Thou alone dost join and unjoin-- Such is the greatness of Thy might. Whoever arrogates to himself greatness, Tasting all pleasures to satiety, In the eyes of the Lord is only a worm picking grain.
Sikhism. Adi Granth, Asa, M.1, p. 360
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, "Stand in the gate of the Lord's House, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord. Thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words, 'This is the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord.'
"For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.
"Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, 'We are delivered!'--only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, says the Lord.
"Go now to my place that was at Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things, says the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the House which is called by my name, and in which you trust, to the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim."
Judaism and Christianity. Jeremiah 7.1-15
Asa, M.1: This is another of Guru Nanak's meditations on the Mughal invasion of India. He concludes that it was justified by the profligacy and corruption of India's rulers. Cf. Asa Ashtpadi, M.1, p. 909. Jeremiah 7.1-5: In this, the famous Temple Sermon, Jeremiah castigates those who continued breaking God's covenant secure in the belief that God will never allow His Temple to be destroyed. He points to examples of old: the tabernacle at Shiloh which was destroyed by the Philistines, and the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Ephraim), which was conquered and exiled by Assyria. Note how he accuses them of violating the Ten Commandments: cf. Hosea 4.1-3, p. 279; Exodus 20.1-17, pp. 153-54.
God has reversed his usual course of procedure, And the lower people are full of distress. The words which you utter are not right; The plans which you form are not far-reaching. As there are not sages, you think you have no guidance;-- You have no real sincerity. Your plans do not reach far, And I therefore carefully admonish you.
Heaven is now sending down calamities;-- Do not be so complacent. Heaven is now producing such movements;-- Do not be so indifferent. If your words were harmonious, The people would become united. If your words were gentle and kind, The people would be settled.
Though my duties are different than yours, I am your fellow servant. I come to advise with you, And you hear me with contemptuous indifference. My words are about the present urgent affairs;-- Do not think them matter for laughter. The ancients had a saying, "Consult the gatherers of grass and firewood."
Heaven is now exercising oppression;-- Do not in such a way make a mock of things. An old man, I speak with entire sincerity; But you, my juniors, are full of pride. It is not that my words are those of age, But you make a joke of what is said. But the troubles will multiply like flames, Till they are beyond help or remedy.
Heaven is now displaying its anger;-- Do not be either boastful or flattering, Utterly departing from all propriety of demeanor, Till good men are reduced to personators of the dead. The people now sigh and groan, And we dare not examine into the causes of their trouble. The ruin and disorder are exhausting all their means of living, And we show no kindness to our multitudes.
Heaven enlightens the people, As the bamboo flute responds to the earthen whistle; As two half-maces form a whole one; As you take a thing, and bring it away in your hand, Bringing it away, without any more ado. The enlightenment of the people is very easy. They have now so many perversities;-- Do not you set up your perversity before them.
Revere the anger of Heaven, And presume not to make sport or be idle. Revere the changing moods of Heaven, And presume not to drive about at your pleasure. Great Heaven is intelligent, And is with you in all your goings. Great Heaven is clear-seeing, And is with you in your wanderings and indulgences.
Confucianism. Book of Songs, Ode 254
Book of Songs, Ode 254: This poem is an admonition to the court, written by an elder official whose counsel is no longer being taken. He is evidently a former high official, yet he in humility numbers himself among 'the gatherers of grass and firewood.' Such admonitions were a traditional way of offering loyal, constructive criticism; cf. Book of History 4.8.1-3, p. 896. The writer asserts that Heaven is displaying its anger and signaling its removal of the Mandate from a ruler by bringing floods, earthquakes, rebellions and civil strife, and inauspicious signs in the heavens; cf. Hosea 4.1-3, p. 279; Anguttara Nikaya i.50, p. 279.
The Thirty-three great gods assign the fortune of the king. The ruler of men is created as son of all the gods, To put a stop to unrighteousness, to prevent evil deeds, To establish all beings in well-doing, and to show them the way to heaven. Whether man, or god, or fairy, or demon, Or outcaste, he is a true king who prevents evil deeds. Such a king is mother and father to those who do good. He was appointed by the gods to show the results of karma....
But when a king disregards the evil done in his kingdom, And does not inflict just punishment on the criminal, From his neglect of evil, unrighteousness grows apace, And fraud and strife increase in the land.
The Thirty-three great gods grow angry in their palaces When the king disregards the evil done in his kingdom.
Then the land is afflicted with fierce and terrible crime, And it perishes and falls into the power of the enemy. Then property, families, and hoarded wealth all vanish, And with varied deeds of deceit men ruin one another. Whatever his reasons, if a king does not do his duty He ruins his kingdom, as a great elephant a bed of lotuses.
Harsh winds blow, and rain falls out of season, Planets and stars are unpropitious, as are the moon and sun, Corn, flowers, and fruit and seed do not ripen properly, And there is famine, when the king is negligent...
Then all the kings of the gods say to one another, "This king is unrighteous, he has taken the side of unrighteousness!" Such a king will not for long anger the gods; From the wrath of the gods his kingdom will perish....
He will be bereft of all that he values, whether by brother or son, He will be parted from his beloved wife, his daughter will die. Fire will fall from heaven, and mock-suns also. Fear of the enemy and hunger will grow apace. His beloved counselor will die, and his favorite elephant; His favorite horses will die one by one, and his camels... There will be strife and violence and fraud in all the provinces; Calamity will afflict the land, and terrible plague.... Many ills such as these will befall the land Whose king is partial in justice and disregards evil deeds....
Therefore a king should abandon his own precious life, But not the jewel of Righteousness, whereby the world is gladdened.
Buddhism. Golden Light Sutra 12
Golden Light Sutra 12: This sutra is important for the Nichiren schools of Japanese Buddhism, where the teaching of Buddhism has been understood as defending the security of the nation. The Thirty-three gods are deities of an intermediate heaven who operate in the world of desires; they are therefore far subordinate to Ultimate Reality as manifest in the Buddha and in enlightened beings. They seem to have a role in manifesting the results of karma. Cf. Anguttara Nikaya i.50, p. 279; Precious Garland 327, p. 897.
Thus says the Lord, "For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron. So I will send a fire upon the house of Hazael, and it shall destroy the strongholds of Ben-Hadad. I will break the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitants from the valley of Aven, and him that holds the scepter from Beth-Eden, and the people of Syria shall go into exile to Kir," says the Lord.
Thus says the Lord, "For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they carried into exile a whole people to deliver them up to Edom. So I will send a fire upon the wall of Gaza, and it shall devour her strongholds. I will cut off the inhabitants of Ashdod, and him that holds the scepter from Ashkelon; I will turn my hand against Ekron; and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish," says the Lord God.
Thus says the Lord, "For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they delivered up a whole people to Edom, and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood. So I will send a fire upon the wall of Tyre, and it shall devour her strongholds."
Thus says the Lord, "For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because he pursued his brother with the sword, and cast off all pity, and his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever. So I will send a fire upon Teman, and it shall devour the strongholds of Bozrah."
Thus says the Lord, "For three transgressions of the Ammonites, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have ripped up women with child in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border. So I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour her strongholds, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind; and their king shall go into exile, he and his princes together," says the Lord....
Thus says the Lord, "For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes-- they trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and turn aside the way of the afflicted; a man and his father go in to the same maiden, so that my holy name is profaned; they lay themselves down beside every altar upon garments taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.
"Yet I destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and who was as strong as the oaks; I destroyed his fruit above, and his roots beneath. Also I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. And I raised up some of your sons for prophets, and some of your young men for Nazirites.
Is this not indeed so, O people of Israel?" says the Lord.
"But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and commanded the prophets, saying, 'You shall not prophesy.' "Behold, I will press you down in your place, as a cart full of sheaves presses down. Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not retain his strength, nor shall the mighty save his life; he who handles the bow shall not stand, and he who is swift of foot shall not save himself, nor shall he who rides the horse save his life; and he who is stout of heart among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day," says the Lord.
Judaism and Christianity. Amos 1.3-2.16
Amos 1.3-2.16: Amos preaches that God's providence applies to all nations; each shall be punished for its sins. But his primary aim is to convict his own country of Israel. By beginning his prophecy with a catalogue of the sins of Israel's neighbors and enemies, this prophet could draw in his audience to approve his words, that is, until the final ironic stanzas where Israel herself receives words of judgment. The Amorites were the earlier inhabitants of Canaan who had been dispossessed by the Israelites; God allowed them to be destroyed because of their sins (see Deuteronomy 9.4-5). The Nazirites were those who devoted themselves to God and vowed not to drink wine or cut their hair; the most famous Nazirite was Samson.
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