An early contemporary of Isaiah, Amos prophesied in the Northern Kingdom during the rule of its wicked king, Jeroboam II. At the peak of Israel’s expansion, wealth, power, and ease, Amos lambasted its corruption, its treatment of society’s weakest, its hypocritical Divine service, and more; as a result, destruction was imminent.
The Haftarah is Amos’s final prophecy. God declares that He has relationships with, and punishes and redeems, other nations in addition to Israel. God’s closeness to His people, as reflected in His redeeming them from Egypt (as well as in the Parashah’s holiness laws which are rooted in the Exodus; Lev. 19:34,36) will not prevent Him from punishing the Northern Kingdom for its sins. Amos’s words in the Haftarah for Parashat Vayeishev (3:2), explain why: God’s covenant with Israel means He is more, not less, exacting in His demands and punishments of it. Indeed, God will especially punish those who misunderstand this in the Northern Kingdom’s forthcoming destruction. Later, He will restore the Davidic dynasty, which will conquer neighboring lands. God will irrevocably restore Israel to the Land, which it will rebuild and which will yield bounteous produce.
Verse 7: God controls the history of all nations, including Israel’s enemies, moving them from place to place according to His will. Israel’s relationship with God and the Exodus are not unique in this regard.
“Are you not like the Ethiopians unto Me, O children of Israel?” declares the Lord. “Have I not brought Israel up from the land of Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor, and [the nation of] Aram from Kir?”
הֲל֣וֹא כִבְנֵי֩ כֻשִׁיִּ֨ים אַתֶּ֥ם לִ֛י בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל נְאֻם־ה' הֲל֣וֹא אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל הֶעֱלֵ֙יתִי֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם וּפְלִשְׁתִּיִּ֥ים מִכַּפְתּ֖וֹר וַאֲרָ֥ם מִקִּֽיר׃
Verses 8-10: Although God will never destroy the entire Jewish people, He will punish the Northern Kingdom’s corrupt government and exile and kill its people- especially those who think that His relationship with Israel prevents Him from doing so.
“Behold, the Lord God’s eyes are upon the sinful [Northern] kingdom. I [God] will destroy it from the face of the earth- except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says the Lord.
הִנֵּ֞ה עֵינֵ֣י ׀ אֲדֹקי ה' בַּמַּמְלָכָה֙ הַֽחַטָּאָ֔ה וְהִשְׁמַדְתִּ֣י אֹתָ֔הּ מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֣י הָאֲדָמָ֑ה אֶ֗פֶס כִּ֠י לֹ֣א הַשְׁמֵ֥יד אַשְׁמִ֛יד אֶת־בֵּ֥ית יַעֲקֹ֖ב נְאֻם־ה'׃
Verses 11-12: The Southern Kingdom’s Davidic dynasty is now weak but God will eventually restore its ancient strength. Connected to God, it will then conquer Edom and other neighboring nations.
On that day, I [God] will raise up David’s fallen tabernacle, repair its breaches, raise up its ruins, and build it as in ancient days.
בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא אָקִ֛ים אֶת־סֻכַּ֥ת דָּוִ֖יד הַנֹּפֶ֑לֶת וְגָדַרְתִּ֣י אֶת־פִּרְצֵיהֶ֗ן וַהֲרִֽסֹתָיו֙ אָקִ֔ים וּבְנִיתִ֖יהָ כִּימֵ֥י עוֹלָֽם׃
Verses 13-15: God will end His people’s exile, planting them in the Land which they will rebuild and plant. God will bless them with bountiful produce and security for eternity and never banish them again.
I [God] will bring back the captivity of My people, Israel. They shall build wasted cities and dwell [in them]. They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine. They shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
וְשַׁבְתִּי֮ אֶת־שְׁב֣וּת עַמִּ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ וּבָנ֞וּ עָרִ֤ים נְשַׁמּוֹת֙ וְיָשָׁ֔בוּ וְנָטְע֣וּ כְרָמִ֔ים וְשָׁת֖וּ אֶת־יֵינָ֑ם וְעָשׂ֣וּ גַנּ֔וֹת וְאָכְל֖וּ אֶת־פְּרִיהֶֽם׃
Verse 11 is the basis of the special addition to Birkat Hamazon for the holiday of Sukkot.
Grace After Meals
May the Merciful One raise up David’s fallen tabernacle.
הרחמן הוא יקים לנו את סוכת דוד הנופלת
Verse 14 promises a return of the Ten Tribes of Israel which has not yet occurred; Biblical promises of redemption are sometimes partial or delayed. This point caps the reasoning of the Mishnah permitting certain converts to marry native-born Jews despite Biblical verses suggesting otherwise.
Mishnah Yadayim 4:4
On that day Judah, an Ammonite convert, came and stood before them in the house of study. He said to them: “May I enter [by marriage] into the assembly [i.e., the Jewish people]?”
Rabban Gamaliel said to him, “You are forbidden.” Rabbi Joshua replied, “You are permitted.”
R. Gamaliel replied [to R. Joshua], “Scripture (Deut. 23:4) states, ‘An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord even to the tenth generation.’"
R. Joshua replied [to R. Gamaliel], “Are the Ammonites and Moabites in their own territory? Sennacherib, king of Assyria, arose already and mingled all the nations, as Scripture (Isa. 10:1) states, ‘I have removed the borders of peoples, plundered their treasures, and, as a mighty one, humbled [their] inhabitants.’"
R. Gamaliel replied, “Scripture (Jer. 49:6) states, ‘Afterward, I will bring back the captivity of the children of Ammon,’ and they have already returned.”
R. Joshua replied, “Scripture (Amos 9:14) states, ‘I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel and Judah’ yet they [Israel] have not yet returned.”
They permitted [the Ammonite convert] to enter the assembly.
בּוֹ בַיּוֹם בָּא יְהוּדָה, גֵּר עַמּוֹנִי, וְעָמַד לִפְנֵיהֶן בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ. אָמַר לָהֶם, מָה אֲנִי לָבֹא בַקָּהָל.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, אָסוּר אָתָּה. אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, מֻתָּר אָתָּה.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (דברים כג), לֹא יָבֹא עַמּוֹנִי וּמוֹאָבִי בִּקְהַל ה' גַּם דּוֹר עֲשִׂירִי וְגוֹ'.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, וְכִי עַמּוֹנִים וּמוֹאָבִים בִּמְקוֹמָן הֵן. כְּבָר עָלָה סַנְחֵרִיב מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר וּבִלְבֵּל אֶת כָּל הָאֻמּוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה י), וְאָסִיר גְּבוּלֹת עַמִּים וַעֲתוּדוֹתֵיהֶם שׁוֹשֵׂתִי וְאוֹרִיד כַּאבִּיר יוֹשְׁבִים.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (ירמיה מט), וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן אָשִׁיב אֶת שְׁבוּת בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן, וּכְבָר חָזְרוּ.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (עמוס ט), וְשַׁבְתִּי אֶת שְׁבוּת עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל וִיהוּדָה, וַעֲדַיִן לֹא שָׁבוּ.
הִתִּירוּהוּ לָבֹא בַקָּהָל:
With emendations, all translations are from Sefaria.org. To dedicate, comment, or subscribe, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
 In most years, this text is the Haftarah for Parashiyot Acharei Mot or Acharei Mot-Kedoshim. According to Rabbi Moshe Isserlis (SA OC 428:8), Ashkenazim recite it even when Parashat Kedoshim is recited alone.
 At nine verses, this is the shortest Haftarah of the year. Megillah 23a-b rules that the usual minimum length of a Haftarah is 21 verses but also rules that a Haftarah which is a “complete topic”, such as this one, can be any length.
 According to Daat Mikra, Caphtor is the island of Crete in the Aegean Archipelago.
 Prof. Yoel Elitzur argues that the nation of Aram originated in the ancient city of Kir, near the modern town of Hit (Heet) in the Al-Anbar province of Iraq. Our verse references the Arameans’ departure from there as they conquered and ruled Damascus, Syria. The Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser III, later conquered Damascus in 733, exiling the Arameans back to their point of origin. God’s use of Aram was over.
 The Mishnah adds the phrase “and Judah” that is absent in the standard text of the Bible.