7

Comparison of Translations

A number of major translations (KJV, NKJV, ESV, NASB, NIV, YLT) of Amos 9:5 have מוג (mûḡ) translated as "melt," "melts," or "melteth," but I will give the KJV translation (for reasons noted next):

And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, And all that dwell therein shall mourn: And it shall rise up wholly like a flood; And shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.

The NET Bible is slightly different, but related:

The sovereign LORD who commands armies will do this. He touches the earth and it dissolves; all who live on it mourn. The whole earth rises like the River Nile, and then grows calm like the Nile in Egypt.

Amos 9:5 has a qal vav imperfect form (תָּמ֔וֹג) of the verb.

However, in Amos 9:13, of the translations I looked at, most do not follow the KJV translation of "melt":

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, That the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; And the mountains shall drop sweet wine, And all the hills shall melt.

Others translate the last part of that verse variously, but under two general categories:

  1. Relating the reference to the juice/wine

The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it (NKJV)

the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it (ESV)

New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills (NIV)

Juice will run down the slopes, it will flow down all the hillsides (NET)

  1. In accord with "melt" or a similar idea

When the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved (NASB)

And the mountains have dropped juice, and all the hills do melt (YLT)

Amos 9:13 has the hithpolel imperfect form of the verb (תִּתְמוֹגַֽגְנָה).

While the forms of the verb may be behind the differences in translation, that is not readily apparent, as there simply appears to be some issues regarding the meaning itself of the root term.

Disagreement on Basic Meaning

According to Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs in Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), the meaning of מוג is "melt," with possible ideas of "agitating, loosening, dissolving" and "soften," depending upon verb form. It does note it may be, in Amos 9:13, hyperbole for "flow." With the exception of this figurative notation at the end, however, the general nature of the word is taken to essentially match the idea of a breaking up of a solid, generally into a liquid (or more liquid) form, hence "melt" or "dissolve."

However, Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson, and Johann Jakob Stamm in The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1999) give a different focus of meaning as primary, namely "waver," and "to wave, sway backwards and forwards, undulate," with a final "to soften, disperse." So the essential idea here is more of a nature of movement, rather than nature of the substance like BDB.

Obvious Parallel

It is apparent that at the least a conceptual parallel is being made (more obvious in the KJV, YLT, or [more importantly] the original Hebrew; here again, the KJV):

    Amos 9:5  —     the land, and it shall melt
    Amos 9:13 — all the hills        shall melt

Not so Obvious Intention of Meaning

What is the intention, however, of the parallel? What is the actual meaning in the two passages (and are the meanings similar)? It seems to me it is likely one of these:

  1. Noting the same event, thus taking what is indicated about the nature of God in v.5 (what He can do) and applying it in time at v.13 (what He will do).
  2. Noting a similar type of event, thus referring in v.5 to some past event in which God did this (demonstrating He is a God who can), and now in v.13 a future event of it.
  3. Noting distinctly different types of events, where the reference is parallel purely for literary purposes, but the nature of the events is far removed from one another.

Of course there may be some other position to take. But related to determining the above is tied to determining the correct meaning of מוג in each place (which also relates to whether it speaks more of a change of substance or a movement), and whether the meaning should be the same or not in both. That is:

  1. If the same event, then is that event a more literal melting of the land (this could still be somewhat figurative), which from v.5 appears to be a judgment aspect, since "all who dwell there mourn," while in v.13, the context around it (v.11-15) is generally more of blessing; or that event more figurative in both places of flowing blessings?

  2. If similar events, again judgement or blessing type events?

  3. If distinctly different types of events, one judgment and one blessing, then why make the parallel appear to relate more closely to being a similar/same event (i.e. why use the term מוג at all in v.13)?

In Short

What is the proper meaning of מוג in both locations, and how (if at all) do the two statements relate to one another?

  • 1
    Interestingly, Clines's Dictionary of Classical Hebrew has two entries for מוג, corresponding to your two basic ideas about the meaning. (The “waver” entry is considered a “new word” (vis-à-vis BDB), with a different Arabic cognate. Both entries (albeit perhaps “mutually exclusive” per the intro.) include all 17 uses in the HB.) The bibliography. – Susan Sep 25 '15 at 1:31
  • I don't think you can grab three characters from two words in the Bible, and make a theology out of it. It is like asking why the similarity between the words "LET" and "starLET". One is reflexive (תתמוגג) and the other is predictive passive (תמוג). I don't know how you can trust books that are either incapable or would not explain the grammar of the words to you. – Cynthia Avishegnath Sep 27 '15 at 7:54
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    @BlessedGeek You overstate your case to the point of ridiculous. A better parallel would be "LET" and "LETting," as we are not talking about two different words but two forms of the same verb. Now, having cleared that error from your comment, I am open to hearing an answer that sees no relation between the two uses (if you hold that), assuming one explains then why the apparent parallel in concept (the relation of land/hills with the use) in near proximity to each other. I'm not saying I would agree with such a view, but would listen to the argument of one holding no relationship intended. – ScottS Sep 27 '15 at 16:11
2

The qal form in v5 should mean melted. It is something bad. It seems like it should refer to the Assyrian invasion. So "melted" would be figurative.

The reason I say v5 should be the Assyrian captivity is because Amos is written to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. v3 refers to Carmel which is in Northern Israel. Then v4 mentions the captivity:

4 and though they go into captivity before their enemies, there will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel ended when they went into captivity by Assyria.

v8 says He will destroy, but not utterly destroy them.

Then v9 says:

9 For behold, I command, and I will shake the house of Israel to and fro among all the nations, like as one shaketh corn in a sieve; yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.

The return from captivity is then mentioned after v13 in vv14-15

The hithpolel form in v13 is also found in

DBY Psalm 107:26 They mount up to the heavens, they go down to the depths; their soul is melted because of trouble;
DBY Nahum 1:5 The mountains quake before him, and the hills melt, and the earth is upheaved at his presence, and the world, and all that dwell therein.

hithpolel is supposed to be reflexive of the polel, which is intensive. I do not have experience with hithpolel verbs. They are rare.

There are also 2 polel instances:

DBY Job 30:22 Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to be borne away, and dissolvest my substance.
DBY Psalm 65:10 Thou dost satiate its furrows, thou smoothest its clods, thou makest it soft with showers; thou blessest the springing thereof.

As the polel form seems to mean "soften", the hithpolel would theoretically mean "soften itself". In Ps 65:10, it is as preparation to bear fruit, and I think this is the case with Amos 9:13 also.

I think the connection between v5 and 13 is: v5 is Israel being taken away in captivity. The land is figuratively melted by the overflowing flood of an army.

v13 is Israel's return from captivity at the end of the church age in vv 11-12 (using James' text in Acts 15). As when Israel left in captivity, the land mooged (melted) negatively, as a parallel, when Israel returns, the hills moog (soften) to become fruitful. The reason for the hithpolel in v13 may be that Israel softens the hills themselves by irrigation rather than God doing it.

  • 1
    While I'm not convinced that v.5 refers to the Assyrians and Israel's captivity, your plausible interpretation of v.13 in relation to how it might mean a blessing in relation to the soil being prepared for fruit bearing (and your cross references related to that) are very useful, and help me in thinking how the two uses might indeed be more in literary contrast rather than parallel of similar events. – ScottS Apr 24 at 18:45
  • @ScottS, I added support for v5 referring to the Assyrian captivity. – Steve Miller Apr 26 at 2:14
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    I don't see v.5-6 as referring to the Assyrian captivity at all, but rather to the character of God. He is a God who touches the earth and makes it melt (literally) in judgment, so He can send the sword to judge (v.4) or save (v.7). – ScottS Apr 26 at 20:51
  • I see your point. vv5-6 refer to God's omnipotence, not the Assyrian captivity. I agree with you. Thanks. I am revisiting the relationship between v5 and v13. – Steve Miller Apr 26 at 23:06
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There is no such word in the Bible as [מוג], or even in the two verses you quoted, or even in the biblical Hebrew vocab, as you had expressed in your question. I can't find it.

What I can find is a pattern of three consecutive characters from the Hebrew/Aramaic character-set [מוג], found in two different words.

Is [תמוג] the same as [תמוגג] ? Do they even share the same root word?

It is possible that they share the same root word. Like

  • [גל] and [גלל] where [גל] denotes circularity.
  • [שב] and [שבב]

where the last character is reduplicated.

But [שב] and [שבב] are not the same words. One is the reduplicated version of the other. Reduplication can have either relative, emphasis or diminutive effects. Like girl - girlish, human - humanoid.

[גל] (curve) and [גלל] (moving like curves = rolling in waves).

The meanings of many of the words in the Bible is so extinct that we can only understand the meaning by reading it from every of its occurrence in the Bible, rather than restricting understanding the word within the two verses specified in the question.

Obviously, it is impossible to depend on English translations to study their meanings, or on opinions that do not perform any etymological and lexical analysis.

[תמוג] is a declension of the word [נמוג]. Therefore your question should ask,

Is there any similarity between the word [נמוג] in Amos 9:5 and [מוגג] in Amos 9:13?

Is [מוגג] the reduplicative version of [נמוג] ? If so, what is their root ?

There is no such word as [מוג], is there? I can't find it anywhere.

How about Gog and Magog?

Can we associate [מוגג] to [גג] (Gog) and [מגג] (Magog) ? To say that [מוגג] is the pual form of [גג] .

Maybe the [גג] Gog are like AlQaeda who hide in the shadows, waging unconventional warfare.

Maybe [גג] Gog means disappear/fade like the fading of snow. And [מגוג] Magog is passive participative verbal noun. Maybe [גוג] (Gog) = fading/disappearing ones and [מגוג] (Magog) = the realm of those who disappeared.

And then maybe [נמוג] is the paleo-derivative of [מוגג] due to nifal prefixing, such that due to pausal conventions [נמוגג] became [נמוג] .

Speculation, speculation, speculation. But my speculations are just as valid as the speculation that [מוגג] is the reduplicative version of [נמוג].

Rather, the speculation that [מוגג] is the reduplicative version of [נמוג] is just as invalid as my speculation of their being paleo-derivation from [גוג].

So they are -isms of each other

Now that we have established that [מוגג] and [נמוג] are the -ish and -esque or -ism of each other due to unknown paleo-linguistic events, bearing the meaning of "disappearing from view".

We know that biblical Hebrew does not have past-present-future tenses but its verbs operate as completed or incomplete modes. Further, biblical Hebrew also has the primitive forms of intensive/participative, causative and reflexive/self-causative, laid over with active/passive declensions.

  • [תמוג] is in predictive incomplete nifal (simple passive) mode
  • [תתמוגג] is in predictive incomplete reflexive mode.

The differences due to deployment of the two modes are also very significant and significantly changes their meanings.

  • [תמוג] shall be made to disappear
  • [תתמוגג] shall disappear-ish/fade on its own accord. Seem to disappear. Seem to fade from view.

One verse says that the LORD would punitively cause a land to disappear and be mourned, as it arose and disappear abruptly like the flooding of the Nile.

The other verse says, the days are coming when the agriculture on the land is so plentiful that the hills seem to fade from view.

  • 4
    BG - I really hate to say it (I really do), but much of this is complete nonsense. Where on earth are you getting "[נמוג] in Amos 9:5 and [מוגג] in Amos 9:13"? For convenience here's the Hebrew text + NASB. It's entirely uncontroversial that a "root" מוג is realized in the Qal in v. 5 and in the Hitpolel in v. 13. The behaviour of these so-called "hollow" roots has been long observed. There is no niphal here at all. Caveat lector. The OP's question is a good one, and Susan's comment drawing attention to the DCH handling bears that out. – Dɑvïd Sep 27 '15 at 20:47
  • [תמוג] is a declension of [נמוג] . The word in Amos 9:13 is [מוגג] not [מוג] - look closely. What is "hitpolel" ? I only know "hitpaal". Do you know what reduplication is ? – Cynthia Avishegnath Sep 27 '15 at 20:56
  • Tell me what is the 3rd person incomplete declension of [נמוג]. Are you familiar with the declension of the nifal ? – Cynthia Avishegnath Sep 27 '15 at 21:01
  • Except some Christian opinions, I can't find the word [מוג] anywhere. Since I am not Christian, I do not trust Christian opinions if they do not provide lexical analysis. Pls find me the evidence for the existence of the word [מוג] . Perhaps, you need to familiarise yourself to the variation of the spelling of Hebrew words due to declension. – Cynthia Avishegnath Sep 27 '15 at 21:06
  • 1
    I agree with @Davïd. Even if a nifal (the imperfect of qal and nifal in 3rd fem. sg. being often identical in non-pointed text), the nifal still testifies to the existence of the qal word, and so to answer "There is no such word as [מוג], is there?"--yes, there is. Amos 9:5 has the imperfect form of it (or the nifal conjugation of it). So to say "I can't find it anywhere" is self-inflicted blindness. It is like knowing the rules of English verbs, but only reading a text using the words lifted, lifting, and lifts, while then denying that a word lift exists in the language. – ScottS Sep 28 '15 at 15:22

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