Almost 200 years before the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, the prophet Amos (776-763 B.C.) wrote about a future raising of the Tabernacle of David.
“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” (Amos 9:11-12).
Amos lived at a time when the nation was divided. The people worshiped at two temples. Following the death of King Solomon, some of the nation’s elders became upset with the policies of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. Under the leadership of Jeroboam, ten northern tribes pulled away from Judah and set up their own government. Furthermore, they built a second temple on Mt. Gerizim. Both temples were active when Amos wrote his prophecy.
During David’s reign, the Tabernacle of David was a tent used to house the Ark of the Covenant, while the Mosaic Tabernacle stood atop Mt. Gibeon, so why should Amos predict a time when the Tabernacle of David would be raised up? One would think that if a Tabernacle should be set up, it would be the Mosaic Tabernacle. And yet, Amos predicted that the Tabernacle of David would be important to the Jews in a future generation.
His prediction about David’s tabernacle implied that something dreadful would happen to Solomon’s Temple — though Amos did not specify what that might be. Amos lived and ministered in the northern kingdom during the reign of Jeroboam II. It was at a time of prosperity that Amos looked into the future and saw God’s judgment ahead. Nothing seemed more improbable than the fulfillment of the prophet’s warnings and yet, within fifty years, the northern kingdom lay in ruins.
The northern ten tribes were carried into Assyrian captivity in 722 B. C., never to return. The southern kingdom survived another century, until 606 B.C., when the Babylonians carried the southern two tribes into captivity for 70 years.
The prophecy of Amos skipped over the various destructions and reconstructions of the Jerusalem temple and predicted a future raising of the Tabernacle of David. The Babylonian army destroyed Solomon’s Temple in 587 B.C. Nearly a century after that, Ezra, Nehemiah and Zerubbabel restored temple liturgy in a structure quite inferior to that of Solomon’s.
In 19 B.C., Herod the Great cleared the hilltop and built the grand Herodian Temple that stood in the days of Jesus. It was during the heyday of this temple, that the group of newly organized Christians met at Jerusalem to consider the conversions of Gentiles into this heretofore all-Jewish congregation. Peter had given the good news of eternal life to Cornelius, a Roman centurion at Caesarea, and Paul had followed up by winning thousands of Gentiles across Asia Minor.
Some Jewish believers were upset that no effort was made to bring these new proselytes under the Mosaic Law, so a council was convened to clear up the controversy. This meeting took place approximately 18 years before Herod’s Temple was destroyed. Those attending did not know that the great Herodian edifice would be destroyed in A.D. 70.
James, the moderator of the meeting, may not have considered the implications of the Amos passage that the temple would be destroyed or that temple liturgy would be suspended for a long period of time, but he quoted the Amos passage to make the point that the Old Testament prophet had predicted that many Gentiles would someday be called by the Lord’s name. Cornelius was only the first of many converts among the Gentiles. Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, has James quoting the prophecy of Amos from the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It varies somewhat from the Hebrew version:
“After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
“That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things” (Acts 15:16,17).
There is a difference in the translation of the Amos passage and its quote in Acts 15. Amos wrote:
“That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name …”
But, when the passage is repeated in Acts 15:17, it becomes: “That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called …”
In the original Amos passage, the King James translation has the remnant possessing Edom. Yet, in the Acts account, the KJV has the residue of men seeking after the Lord. Why? It is evident that James quoted from the Septuagint version — a Greek translation of Amos. When some 70 Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, made their translation (about 330 B.C.), they made a dynamic translation of Hebrew, which changed the passage in two areas.
First, the Hebrew word for Edom is spelled the same as Adam. The Septuagint translators thought of the remnant as being from among Adam’s descendants — “the residue of men.” The Amos passage says, “they may possess the remnant of Edom.” So who are “they”? They are the remnant — the residue of Adam. If so, then what were they seeking to possess? The Hebrew passage appears as:
Secondly, at this point in the Masoretic text, we must take note of an important statement made by Amos, which was beyond translation by the KJV scholars. It was Amos’ use of the aleph/tahv. The word incorporates the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet and is pronounced eht. It has no English translation, but the Septuagint scholars translated it as “Lord.” It is the Lord that the remnant will be seeking to possess — not Edom.
There is no error in the KJV, since the Amos passage provides no translatable word for Lord. But the Jewish scholars who worked on the Septuagint made a dynamic translation and referred to the eht as Lord. This is also correct. It is the Hebrew equivalent of Alpha and Omega and is a definite reference to Jesus Christ. He is the One, Who will be sought after in that day when the Tabernacle of David is set up!
Some might say that one of the KJV translations is incorrect. But we must note that the KJV translators were not at liberty to make a dynamic translation of either passage. Only the Jewish scholars of the Septuagint were given the task of changing the Hebrew into Greek — from which comes the Acts quotation.
We must assume that the KJV is not in error. Only God could have allowed the two translations to stand, while at the same time covering the Hebrew passage with a spiritual veil, which could not be understood by the followers of the Mosaic covenant.
I am convinced that all of the KJV’s so-called errors can be explained, if only men could understand that God has placed a veil over Jewish eyes in certain areas of Scripture. There is a Divine reason for all things in His inerrant, infallible Word.
The prophecy of Amos has only partially been fulfilled. There are, indeed, millions of Gentiles who are called by His name — Christians. We have yet to see the restoration of the Tabernacle of David. However, there is no temple in Jerusalem. And the Chosen People are back in their Promised Land. Implements for temple liturgy have been reconstructed by the Temple Institute since 1984 — awaiting the right time.
Almost all things are ready except for reclaiming the Temple Mount. Will that come this year? Only time will tell.