Amos 6:9-10

If ten people are left in one house, they too will die. 10 And if the relative who comes to carry the bodies out of the house to burn them asks anyone who might be hiding there, “Is anyone else with you?” and he says, “No,” then he will go on to say, “Hush! We must not mention the name of the Lord.”

What is the meaning of the passage “Hush! We must not mention the name of the Lord.” Why would the relative hush his friend from mentioning the name of the Lord?

Also from the context it seems like the other person was about to mention the name of the Lord; the relative knowing that he will do just that interrupts him and hushes thus preventing him from mentioning his name. But why was it likely that he was going to mention the name of the Lord in the house of the dead?

1 Answer 1


The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is especially illuminating here,

It may have been the custom, upon occasion of a death, to offer some prayer or invocation to Jehovah; and the speaker, unmanned by the terrible mortality about him, feels a superstitious dread of mentioning Jehovah’s name, lest He should be moved by it to manifest some fresh token of His displeasure (comp. partly Isaiah 19:17).

Invoking god's name upon the dead was common practice in ancient Israel, the relative and burner knows what's coming and he quickly hushes him from fear of mentioning the Lord's name. If this interpretation is correct, then we have here the earliest reference for the Jewish Mourner's Kaddish in the bible itself (though the subject of the Kaddish is not death, the prayer is nevertheless associated with death).

The IVP Bible Commentary concurs with the idea that it is the fear of invoking his name that brings him to hush,

not mentioning the Lord’s name. God’s wrath is such that the population of the city of Samaria is to be reduced to a tenth, and the survivors will be so frightened by what Yahweh has done that they will be afraid to mention God’s name lest the angry deity take any further notice of them. In that sense then, the command “Hush!” is a sort of warding spell (like “God forbid” in English) to prevent the incautious from invoking God (compare Ex 23:13 and Josh 23:7). Assyrian royal documents from the reign of Enlil-Nirari (1326-1317) provide some light here. In one text the king calls out, “May the god by no means speak!” when the death of a member of the royal family is announced at court. His intent may be to ask that the god not act (speak) against anyone else.

Alternatively, it is not the fear of mentioning god's name that overcomes him. It is rather the stubbornness to recognize the hand of Yahweh that makes his superior interrupt him from mentioning god's name. Amos is here picturing a scene of where the people are in total despair and there is dead people in every house, but the people are still determined to continue in their old corrupt ways.

Here is a similar explanation from Barnes' Notes on the Bible,

The words then, "for not to be mentioned is the Name of the Lord," are very probably the voice of despair. "It is useless to name Him now. We did not name His Name in life. It is not for "us" to name it now, in death."

  • see malbim: mg.alhatorah.org/Full/Amos/6.10#e0n7 I would side with his association to a beracha of sorts, not kaddish.
    – user22655
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 3:11
  • @רבותמחשבות I saw Malbim, he was actually my inspiration.
    – bach
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 14:51
  • Ok, Shabbat shalom!
    – user22655
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 21:04

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