Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

"In that day," declares the Sovereign Lord, I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. Amos 8:9

What 'day' is Amos referring to?

share|improve this question
That verse is part of a longer passage. Is there any particular reason you're asking about this one in isolation? Thanks. –  Gone Quiet May 24 '13 at 21:07
It's hard to say if this is pointing to some final judgment or to a more immediate event. I am of the mindset that heavenly disturbances such as eclipses are symbolic in most cases, but even so this could have a dual fulfillment or only a future one. –  Daи May 31 '13 at 3:43
Amos 8:9 will most likely happen on August 2, 2027. A solar eclipse occurs over Jerusalem with the darkest moment precisely at noon Israel Standard Time. A multitude of Biblical prophecies concerning the "Day of the LORD" will occur. A mighty earthquake such as never was, the darkening of the sun and moon, God intervening a heavy Russian led military invasion of Israel, hailstones in the summer, and sudden geologic changes in Israel such as the splitting of the Mount of Olives, to name a few. –  Isaiah16 Nov 1 '13 at 3:55
@Isaiah16 Haha, nice! I like the theory. Except for the time and location of the eclipse and your attempt to predict the exact time of the apocalypse. We need more humor on this site; it's kinda dry. –  Niobius Nov 1 '13 at 15:41
add comment

2 Answers

While I am almost persuaded by the suggestion that the "day" of Amos 8:9 could be 2 August, 2027 -- which I note will be a Bank holiday in Scotland (significant?)1 -- I do believe there is a different, "real" answer to this question, of a sort.

tl;dr : My sense is that the "day" described in Amos 8:9 is the same "day" as described in Amos 5:18 (so, for the moment, simply setting one single verse along side another). That is, (my suggestion): the "Day of the LORD" in Amos is found both in 5:18 and in 8:9.

Why is Amos 8:9 not normally included with "Day of the LORD" texts?

This might seem obvious and underwhelming. In fact, in scholarly discussions of the "Day of the LORD", Amos 8:9 is routinely overlooked, and I think there are two reasons:

  1. The seminal article on the "Day of the LORD" as a sort of "holy war gone wrong" (that is, in which the Lord fights against his people instead of for them) was by Gerhard von Rad. Here is the first page of his article as it appeared in English in 1959:  
    Von Rad had no interest in the Amos 8:9 "day" -- probably because it didn't fit so neatly into the hypothetical scenario he was developing -- and given the influence of his work, subsequent treatments tend to overlook it, too.
  2. That might not have been sufficient (not all scholars are sheep), except for a second factor, and that is the nature of the introductory formula used in 8:9 - וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא = wĕhāyâ bayyôm hahuʾ, literally "and it will happen on that day...". This is widely regarded as a kind of literary "staple" (or paperclip), attaching bits of text as postscripts to earlier existing texts. (The most pronounced example of this phenomenon is probably Isaiah 19, see verses 16, 18, 19, 23, 24.)2 For some interpreters, this puts a text like Amos 8:9 on a different plane, or part of a different horizon, or distances it from Amos 5:18 which is seen to be one of Amos's most important insights and contributions in the Hebrew prophetic tradition.

Put these two factors together, and Amos 8:9 has dropped off the radar for thematic thinking about the "Day of the LORD".

Why should Amos 8:9 be included among the "Day of the LORD" texts?

Not everyone believed von Rad, and even at his time of writing there was an alternative hypothesis: that the "Day of the LORD" was related to the festival life of Israel (rather than, primarily, to "holy war" traditions as von Rad argued). This suggestion is most closely related to the name of the Norwegian scholar, Sigmund Mowinckel.3

One good place to see this conjunction at work (of the "day" with the "festival of the Lord"), is Hosea 9:5 (see context, too):

What will you do in the day of solemn assembly,
    and in the day of the feast of Yahweh?

Add in the (probably later) Joel references to the Day, for example, Joel 1:14-15:

14 Sanctify a fast. Call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders, and all the inhabitants of the land,
to the house of YHWH, your God, and cry to YHWH.
15 Alas for the day! For the day of Yahweh is at hand,
and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.

The context is clearly the harvest here, with its associated festival (see also the wider context in Joel, and 2:1-2; 3:13-15 for the other Joel "Day" passages -- context important in each case).

Once this set of connections begins to register, the resonances between Amos 5:18 and context, and Amos 8:9 and context take on greater signficance:4

|                Amos 5                      |                     Amos 9                         |
| 18 “Woe to you who desire the day of YHWH! | 9 It will happen in that day,” says the Lord YHWH, |
| Why do you long for the day of Yahweh?     | “that I will cause the sun to go down at noon,     |
| It is darkness, and not light. …           | and I will darken the earth in the clear day.      |
| 21 I hate, I despise your feasts,          | 10 I will turn your feasts into mourning,          |
| and I can’t stand your solemn assemblies.  | and all your songs into lamentation;               |
| 22 Yes, though you offer me your           | and I will make you wear sackcloth on all your     |
| burnt offerings and meal offerings, I will | bodies, and baldness on every head.                |
| not accept them; neither will I regard     | I will make it like the mourning for an only son,  |
| the peace offerings of your fat animals.   | and its end like a bitter day.                     |

Putting all this together, I find the this conjunction of themes compelling, and think that Amos's first use of the "Day" motif in ch. 5 was not his last or only use, but that it was re-employed and developed in ch. 8 as well.

This might not be quite the answer the OP was after (and 2 August 2027 might be closer to the mark!). I happen to believe this is the right answer, though, even if it now leads us to pose another one, digging deeper into the nature of "the Day of the LORD" itself. ... But that's a different question.

Hermeneutical Summary

  1. If we attend to Amos's language in context, the parallels between 5:18 and 8:9 are quite striking.
  2. Scholarly constructs can have the power to eliminate "evidence" which should be taken into consideration.
  3. It is important to attend to formulaic language, but its value in any particular context needs to be assessed on its own terms.

I'm sure there is a lot more to be said, but perhaps this is sufficient for a "first draft". If anyone happens to read and comment, some further drafting might be required.


  1. Humour alert!!! (Just in case...)
  2. One standard treatment of this, and related, formulae is S.J. De Vries, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Time and History in the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 1975), and see chapter 4 in particular.
  3. Ralph Klein's helpful, if now dated, article (but it's online!), "The Day of Yahweh", Concordia Theological Monthly 39 (1968): 517-525, sets this out quite well.
  4. This simple ASCII table is intended simply to highlight the resonances - it is not "scientifically" laid out! (The Senseful Solutions table maker is great for this kind of thing.)
share|improve this answer
add comment

It is almost too easy of a question. As Amos "sees" the word of the Lord, there is a chronology throughout the vision. The condemnations pronounced are not only directed toward Israel, but also to her enemies.

In all the judgment statements throughout the prophets, we find this statement, "In that day..." over 100 times. The chronology is simple. 1. God announces the end of His patience is here. 2. You heard my message - Time to repent 3. You did not listen to my message 4. Now Israel and her enemies will feel the full impact of My wrath 5. The in that day statements are for both the good news and the bad news. 6. It is a starting point of either finality or new beginning. 7. Once the wrath of the Lord has been poured out in full, He will renew His relation with those who follow His will. 8. Some of these events can be followed in secular historical accounts (Fall of both Samaria and Jerusalem, for example)

share|improve this answer
Thanks for bringing the broader analysis; this isn't the only occurrence of this phrase by far. Can you say more about what Amos's prediction in particular might refer to? Or are you saying that they're all vague? (You mentioned historical accounts at the end; are they tied to particular prophetic messages?) –  Gone Quiet Jun 27 '13 at 13:09
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.