I noticed while reading Amos that the prophet lists the sins of Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Judah, and Israel. Here is my question: Why does God use masculine/feminine pronouns to describe the different places? For instance, God calls Damascus, Gaza, and Tyre "she," while he calls, Edom and Ammon "he." Then we read that Judah and Israel seems to be neither masculine nor feminine. Why? -- Paula C. Smith

The singular pronouns have been selected by the NIV translators! In most of the verses, the actual Hebrew pronouns are plural. It comes down to a matter of style. In some instances, however, the pronoun is masculine singular. In the cases of Edom and Moab, this may be because the pronouns refer not only to the respective eponymous nations, but also to their famous ancestors. No feminine singular verbs are used as far as I can see.

In future, I would suggest you use more than one Bible version when you do your personal study. Keep mind that the looser (often more readable) translations (NIV, NLT...) tend to take certain liberties; the stricter ones (NRS, NKJV, NAS...), which usually require more concentration on our part since they are more challenging to read, mirror more closely the original grammar and vocabulary. A nice blend or balance is found in the Holman Christian Standard Bible. In this very readable version, all the pronouns in Amos 1 match the original Hebrew verbs perfectly.

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