Amos 9:11-12, Why We Needn’t Circumcise, part II of II

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.

//Yesterday, I pointed out how James, the head of the church in Jerusalem, referenced this passage in the book of Amos to justify his decision that Gentiles need not be circumcised.

But James isn’t reading the same words you are! Not even close. He is reading not the original Hebrew, but the Septuagint, an early Greek translation of the Old Testament. (Let’s ignore for now the question of whether the author of Acts correctly represents James, who probably would have preferred Hebrew scriptures over the Greek version used in the Diaspora.) There are two critical differences between what you see and what James sees:

1. The word Edom became Adam. Thus James interprets the saying to refer to all men, descendants of Adam, presumably excluding the Jews. He thus relates this saying to Gentiles in general, not just to the Edomites … the enemies of Israel.

2. The word “possessing” isn’t in the Septuagint at all. It’s replaced with a clause about Gentiles being able to seek the Lord.

So, Amos wrote about a coming conquering Messiah, when Israel would possess the land belonging to their enemies (Edomites) in the south. Somehow, Amos’s message became completely distorted, and James uses it to say that Gentiles may seek the Lord without respecting the laws of the Jews.

Hence, today we Gentiles need not be circumcised. Thank goodness for the Septuagint.

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