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Amos 9:12 (ESV) reads:

"that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name"

Specifically, what does "possess" mean here, and what does it mean to "possess" a certain group of people?

Perhaps breaking my question down:

  • Does it have a similar meaning as in Amos 2:10? (i.e. to conquer, to seize and occupy)

"Also it was I who brought you up out of the land of Egypt and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite."

  • I know Peterson's Message translation can be controversial, but does The Message's translation here capture the right idea of "possess"?

David’s people will be strong again and seize what’s left of enemy Edom, plus everyone else under my sovereign judgment.” (Amos 9:12)

I note there are a quite few other questions on Amos 9

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Let's see the context:

Amos 9:11“In that day I will raise up
the booth of David that is fallen
and repair its breaches,
and raise up its ruins
and rebuild it as in the days of old,
12that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations who are called by my name,”
declares the LORD who does this.

they may possess
יִֽירְשׁ֜וּ (yî·rə·šū)
Verb - Qal - Imperfect - third person masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 3423: To occupy, to seize, to rob, to inherit, to expel, to impoverish, to ruin

the remnant
שְׁאֵרִ֤ית (šə·’ê·rîṯ)
Noun - feminine singular construct

of Edom
אֱדוֹם֙ (’ĕ·ḏō·wm)
Noun - proper - masculine singular

The verb is in Qal Imperfect followed by an accusative case, ie, the direct object of a transitive verb.

Brown-Driver-Briggs

2 inherit, followed by accusative of person = be one's heir Genesis 15:3,4 (twice in verse) (JE); שִׁפְחָה כִּיתִֿירַשׁ גְּבִרְתָּהּ Proverbs 30:23 (or, dispossess?); absolute be heir, followed by עִם person = jointly with Proverbs 21:10 (E); (הַ)יּוֺרֵשׁ (the) heir 2 Samuel 14:7; Jeremiah 49:1 ("" בָּנִים); Micah 1:15 (= possessor, captor), where paronom. with proper name, of a location מָרֵשָׁה; inherit persons, as slaves לָרֶשֶׁת אֲחֻזָּה Leviticus 25:46 (H).

Specifically, what does "possess" mean here, and what does it mean to "possess" a certain group of people?

It means that Israel would inherit the land of Edom, its closest relatives, plus all the gentile nations who believe in God. It is a prophecy of the Messianic Kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

Romans 6:22

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

So that we may work the work of God.

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  • thanks. Just to clarify, when you say "it means Israel would inherit Edom / Gentile nations", do you mean "Israel would inherit Edom / Gentiles as slaves"? (as per the Brown-Driver-Briggs definition quoted) – whiskey92 Jan 23 at 12:05
  • only in the prophetic spiritual sense of the word in this case. – Tony Chan Jan 23 at 14:56
  • Thanks Tony. I personally find the idea that (prophetically) Edom/Gentile nations would be slaves of (spiritual) Israel problematic. But let me think about it. Would you have other scriptural references that could support that idea, please? – whiskey92 Jan 24 at 10:14
  • I amended my answer. – Tony Chan Jan 24 at 15:21
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The meaning of Amos 9:12 can be understood in two ways:

Literally

Ellicott comments as follows:

Amos 9:12. That they may possess the remnant of Edom — This the restored Jews did in the time of Hyrcanus, when they made an entire conquest of Edom, as Josephus relates. And of all the heathen (or nations) which are called by my name — Or rather, which have been called by my name; for so it is rendered in other versions.

Metaphoric Understanding

While the above is "simple" it does not fully realize the significance of what Amos 9 is saying. Specifically V 12 says:

that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear My name,”

While Judah, following the Babylonian captivity, possessed the relics of Edom, "all the nations" have never been called by the name of the Lord!

This is clearly an allusion to the restored kingdom of God when all opposition will have been removed and the wicked destroyed (2 Thess 2:8-10, Rev 20:9). Thus, Jesus kingdom will have grown to encompass the whole world.

Such an explanation is made even clearer in the subsequent verses of V13-15 where we read about the figurative kingdom of God -

I will firmly plant them in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land that I have given them,”

Thus we all look forward to such a time.

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  • Thanks Dottard. Would like to clarify: the literal understanding of a military / political conquest & rule of Edom - does that extend to the metaphoric understanding too? (i.e. Israel will somehow conquer and rule over "all the nations"?) Ozzie (thanks for the response) references Apostle James' interpretation, which seems quite different from a "conquest / occupation / ruling over" interpretation of the word "possess" – whiskey92 Jan 24 at 10:21
  • @whiskey92 - the figurative understanding only occurs when "Judah" become the kingdom of God; that is, if this passage is understood Messianically and Jesus is the king of the kingdom of God. Do not press metaphors too literally else they collapse – Dottard Jan 24 at 10:32
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Meaning of Amos 9:12

Amos 9:11-12 (NRSV)

The Restoration of David’s Kingdom

11 On that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and repair its[a] breaches, and raise up its[b] ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; 12 in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name says the Lord who does this.

Regarding the gathering of non-Israelites into the Christian congregation, James, under inspiration said : (Vs 15) "This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written ": in Amos 9:11-12 this has its fulfillment in the Christian congregation Acts 15: 16-18

Acts 15:13-19 (NRSV)

13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “My brothers,[a] listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. 15 This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written, 16 ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; from its ruins I will rebuild it,and I will set it up,

17 so that all other peoples may seek the Lord— even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called. Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things 18 known from long ago.’ 19 Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God,

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  • Thanks Ozzie. James' interpretation of Amos 9 (on the surface at least) seems quite different from a plain reading of the text. How would you bridge the apparent gap in meaning? i.e. "in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name" VS "so that all other peoples may seek the Lord— even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called" – whiskey92 Jan 26 at 9:14
  • whiskey92: This is so because James quoted the words of Amos 9:11, 12. That book was listed in the part of the Hebrew Scriptures commonly called “the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:40; Acts 15:16-18) You will note that the words quoted by James are somewhat different from those we find in the book of Amos today.. – Ozzie Ozzie Jan 26 at 17:29
  • whiskey92 James quoted the words of Amos 9:11, 12. That book was listed in the part of the Hebrew Scriptures commonly called “the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:40; Acts 15:16-18) You will note that the words quoted by James are somewhat different from those we find in the book of Amos today. The expression "remnant of Edom" refers to all the gentiles that had already became circumcised and took up the Jewish religion-as mentioned in Exodus 12:48-49 and Ester 8:17 – Ozzie Ozzie Jan 26 at 17:52

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