Amos 3:3-8

The opening argument
The prophet’s knowledge
The prophet’s compulsion
Other considerations
   a. Walking together
   b. The lion

These six verses represent an aside from the main prophetic messages of the Book, in which the prophet takes the time to explain the reasons for His pronouncements against the nation of Israel. The passage seems somewhat strange and out of place unless it’s assumed to be as a response to an objection - or, less likely, to a perceived objection - against the messages that have been delivered already, for it hardly seems necessary for Amos to justify his ministry unless it was being questioned or undermined.

The passage appears here as cutting across the overall thrust of God’s message - even to deflect the warning that’s being given to His people. But to challenge the messenger is to undermine the authenticity of the message and it’s not without justification, therefore, that Amos must spend a short while underpinning why he’s delivering the message he does.

Many within the Church attempt to justify their own appointment and position by appeals to various reasoning that are vastly different to that laid down by Amos here - indeed, such a defence is often given even when there’s no attack and the display is simply to elevate themselves over the head and shoulders of any or all who are within the same fellowship or organisation.

In one place where I attended for a very brief time, the leader was very pleased to be able to announce himself from the pulpit as ‘the apostle of this church’ to justify his teaching and authority, coming out with some of the most ridiculous ‘post-death’ teaching about Jesus I’ve ever heard, where the Messiah will actually go to dead relatives (because we don’t have access to them - well, he got this part right) and sort out any bad feelings that have existed on earth, simply because we’ve let the matter go unresolved while they were alive and we need it dealing with.

I think that that theology came from the Gospel of Hezekiah chapter 4 but you couldn’t oppose the message because it was spoken by an apostle and, as every one knows, an apostle is above any contradiction (that theology comes from chapter 5 of the same Book).

It’s very rare for a leader to claim that God has directly spoken to them and that they’re under obligation to speak, delivering His message in His words - the argument to continue doing the things they do normally resides in their appointment by men to the position within the denomination they serve or, often more simply, in the position they hold as if it has inherent God-given authority (see my comments on this phenomenon observed in the Pharisees and now prevalent in the present day Church on my web page dealing with Mtw 7:28-29).

It’s only people like Amos who can claim such Divine authority in the manner they do for they’ve no appointment that comes from man and they operate independently from the accepted religion of their day, speaking that which God has inspired them to speak and calling upon men and women who profess to follow YHWH to wake up to the reality of their situation.

Perhaps this is why so many of man’s appointed leadership in the Church make sure they teach that the function of a prophet died out in the early Church for, should ever one rise up from within their congregations and outside their control and authority (please note that the leader would have to submit himself to the prophet, a frighteningly bizarre scenario if you consider yourself as being the end of all authority and rule in the local fellowship) and having been sent there by God, there has to be some ammunition to be able to refuse to accept the message.

Even though these verses seem to be simply apologetic, they do teach us something about the function of a prophet (Amos 3:8) and the way in which God will precede His work in the midst of His people by announcing it beforehand (Amos 3:7) - something that we’ll need to consider carefully when we deal with those verses.

The opening argument
Amos 3:3-6

NB - I’ve decided not to deal with the intricacies of the text here except where necessary to the overall meaning of the passage. There are questions of the right translation at a few points but I feel that they would detract from the overall reason for the asking of the questions if I were to deal with them. I’ve therefore consigned them to the final section entitled ‘Other considerations’

The structure of the passage is such that each question is meant to be answered ‘no’ - it’s a simple no-brainer once you get into the swing of the questioning and it requires little or no ‘meditation on the premise being offered’. It’s all very similar to a story I heard a few years ago about a kids’ Sunday School that had just received a new teacher who was much more laid back than anyone the kids had ever seen before.

In his first lesson, he avoided the traditional seat at the front of the class and, instead, opted to sit on the desk in a more informal manner, trying to break down any barriers that might be there. His verbal approach was also different - he asked the kids

‘What’s grey, furry and eats hazelnuts?’

which threw them totally. Puzzled, they remained silent as one, thinking about the implications of the answer that they knew was expected of them but which they couldn’t somehow make sense of - after all, every child knew exactly what the answer was to every single question that was ever asked in class.

Eventually, a small boy at the back of the class hesitantly raised his hand while the teacher pointed to him to speak.

‘I know the answer’s Jesus’ he began ‘But it sounds awfully like a squirrel to me’

Such is the function of Amos’ questions - it’s not rocket science. Once they get into the swing of it, the Israelites can follow blindly and accept the simple truth that’s trying to be conveyed in the seventh and final statement.

In a very real sense, one might level Amos’ argument as illogical for it’s normal to ask a question that relates directly into the teaching that you’re trying to bring or, at least, that the questions asked might demonstrate a principle that you’ll apply in the conclusive question. Therefore, Jesus asks His disciples two rhetorical questions (Mtw 7:9-11)

‘…what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?’

so that He might go on to teach them based on the logic of His reasoning and say (Mtw 7:11)

‘If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?’

Amhub sees each of the seven questions as being an argument (my italics)

‘…from an observed result to an assumed cause

(Amstu calls it simply a ‘cause and effect variety’ which, as we’ll see below, is a better phrase because it doesn’t keep strictly to the same format. Ammot speaks of a ‘before and after pattern’) so that, for example, we could paraphrase the first question as stating

‘Two walk together on a journey (result/effect/after) because they’ve met/made an agreement to do so (cause/cause/before)’

but even Amhub notes that this nice observation doesn’t work perfectly, for the first question of verse 6 begins with the ‘cause’ before detailing the ‘result’. Besides, the questions aren’t as easy to summarise as would at first appear, for the third (the second question of verse 4) has a negative ‘cause’ by speaking of the lion catching ‘nothing’ - this, in the strictest sense, is no cause but, rather, a lack of one.

Although 3:3 ends the reasoning in a positive question and is therefore a classic example, the others simply don’t wholly follow the structure defined by him. As Amstu (my italics) concludes more realistically

‘The particular structure of each question, including the order in which the related circumstances are mentioned, is irrelevant to the impact

for we can become too caught up in the literary device and miss out on the importance of the effect on his hearers.

It seems as if the consensus of opinion amongst commentators is that there’s some great truth in the seventh statement that the Israelites would have denied had they not been fooled into answering ‘no’ to the previous six but, if I read the text right, this isn’t Amos’ intention at all.

The question that first needs to be answered is whether the Israelites would have denied that God’s hand was sovereign over man’s destiny even to the point of bringing ‘evil’ (that is, something that is unacceptable and unwelcomed by man) upon either an area or city as here.

In chapters 1 and 2 there’s never been a denial that this truth must be so - indeed, Amos’ message is based largely upon the fact that YHWH will get involved not only in the affairs of His chosen people but in the lives of the nations who don’t profess to know Him.

The offence of the message seems to have been solely that his words of impending judgment upon the nation to whom he’s been sent isn’t what they were expecting to hear - while they would have been positively delighted (or, perhaps better, ‘mildly amused’) that the nations and cities who were their neighbours were to suffer because of their sin (and especially so as the list included their long time rival Judah - see my notes on this subject here), mention of their own punishment was unacceptable.

The point is this - that God got involved in the affairs of the earth even to the point of judgment was widely accepted. That God was willing to punish their own nation wasn’t - and it was this that had caused the major offence against the prophet. Ammot rightly observes that

‘[God] is no absentee landlord in relation to the world He created; He has neither abdicated nor delegated His powers’

Therefore, Amos’ question as to whether evil would befall a city unless YHWH had done it isn’t covering any new ground and is solely reminding them of something they already believed and which would have gone almost without saying.

I don’t accept Amstu’s observation, therefore, that

‘…the cause of disaster…in a city was not self-evident to Amos’ audience…’

because the prophet is arguing on the grounds that they can accept to develop his point. His conclusion, however, that

‘…Amos has answered his opponents’ first protest [in verse 7]: disaster will strike Israel and, when it does, the Lord Himself will have been responsible’

is fully in keeping with this position.

What, then, was the purpose of the seventh and final question of the series? That there’s some relevance to it seems demanded by the structure of Amos’ questioning but, if they already believed the statement, why introduce it into the argument?

It seems to be the ‘hook’ or lead-in line for Amos to be able to announce the truth of 2:7 that

‘…YHWH does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets’

In other words, his defence at proclaiming evil against the nation of Israel (Amos 2:6-16) begins by reminding his listeners that such behaviour by YHWH is fully consistent with His character. Or, to put it another way, God is only acting within the parameters that they themselves believe He will.

His message, therefore, shouldn’t be rejected because they don’t like it, and it can’t be rejected on the grounds that it’s a contradiction of who YHWH is - all that Amos has done is to give voice to a message that, had it not been directed at them, would have been fully accepted as being consistent with the ‘will of God’ (Amstu reads into the passage ‘…the assumption that somewhere in an Israelite city some sort of disaster(s) had occurred, known to Amos’ audience…’ but this is to see the prophet almost claiming that what has transpired is the hand of God when he’ll go on in 3:7 to announce that the prophet will announce beforehand the calamity - something that he simply hasn’t done up until this point).

It’s certainly an interesting justification of the message and one that should remind everyone who hears a word purportedly from God that it must be in keeping with His character before it should be considered as possibly being from Him.

This ‘test’ is by no means a new one for Moses recorded a similar scenario in Deut 13:1-5 where he speaks to the congregation concerning a prophet who arose in their midst and who gave them a miraculous sign or wonder that came to pass but who then went on to encourage God’s people

‘Let us go after other gods…and let us serve them’

In such a pronouncement it was obvious that God’s character was being undermined and that the message that was being delivered to them was false. This wasn’t the case with the message that had come from the lips of His prophet Amos, however, for it’s based upon the principle, as we’ve previously discussed, that God will get involved in the affairs of men and women even in a way that’s against what they would have desired for themselves.

The Law, then, doesn’t condemn Amos for the message he brings - even though the Israelites apparently did.

This attack on the message and the messenger is exactly the same sort of thing that happens in the present day Church, however, when a message is delivered that isn’t deemed as ‘acceptable’ by the leadership or congregation. Just because a message isn’t ‘liked’ doesn’t mean it can be ignored - even though this is what can often happen.

While I would note that there are a great amount of messages that are purely the fantasy of a person’s own mind, they aren’t all in this category and the leadership of a fellowship is never meant to accept the nice ones and reject those that speak of a judgment that’s about to fall. Rather, they must primarily know the character of God and whether what’s being said reflects that accurately.

Amos gave the Israelites details of specific sins that were being committed (Amos 2:6-8) - a leadership that receives a similar message would do better determining whether such things are taking place in their midst (and whether, perhaps, it’s them that are doing them) than taking the stance of the people of the prophet’s day who shut their ears to the voice of God and hardened their hearts against His will until the judgment prophesied inevitably came upon them.

The prophet’s knowledge
Amos 3:7

We’ve already partly dealt with this verse in the previous section where we’ve interpreted it as the conclusion towards which the seven questions have been leading. That is, that the message of judgment that has been brought to the Israelites is fully in keeping with the known character of God and, therefore, it’s surely to be expected that YHWH’s prophets will proclaim it.

But how far are we to take Amos’ words as being applicable to all situations and circumstances? For he plainly states that

‘…YHWH does nothing, without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets’

where he seems to be saying that God’s prophets will know everything that YHWH is about to do. Similarly, the conclusion to verse 6 seems to assign everything that happens to a city as being from His hand. Are we meant to take these statements as being as all-inclusive and as far reaching as they seem to make out?

In other words, whenever some ill wind blows against a people or nation, are we to think that God’s hand is inevitably against them? When we consider the events surrounding the destruction of the World Trade Centre on 11th September 2001, for example, or the explosion upon re-entry of NASA’s space shuttle, should we attribute them to the will of God and expect that God must have revealed what He’d planned to do to His people?

Just how far should Amos 3:7 be pushed (and it’s good to see that, in time-honoured fashion, the commentators avoid the issue and speak only in general terms)?

Certainly, after the events of the first of these disasters, believers stepped forward to announce to the Church that God had, indeed, spoken about what was about to happen but, far from any attribution of responsibility, it seemed that it was simply a revealed observation by YHWH without Him being incriminated in it (I’m speaking in purely human terms).

Personally, I always think that a message direct from God should be declared to all the people of God before the event or else I’m extremely sceptical that the message was ever understood to be speaking of those things that are claimed to be a fulfilment.

You can call me cynical if you want, but Amos knew what was going to happen when he prophesied judgment - he didn’t receive a message concerning a world event and not know where it was going to take place. He envisaged an invading army because it was in that language that he spoke (Amos 2:13-16).

In the same manner, the Church should know if the message comes from God and should be prepared to declare it throughout the Church universally that faith might be strengthened and believers might stand in awe of God - I would think that it would have quite a dramatic effect on unbelievers, too.

But the real problem with seeing Amos 3:6 as declaring that all that happens in the world is God’s will is that it seems to be a message that was directly relevant to a word for Israel, God’s people, and not for the nations.

As I’ve said above, the problem with the message of Amos 1:2-2:16 wasn’t that God was about to judge the nations but that He was about to judge His own people - and it’s this that Amos appears to be answering, defending his authority and his message before those who considered that he’d spoken presumptuously.

When God intends to do a work in the midst of His people, therefore, His prophets should know - whether it be something ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it makes no difference, for Amos plainly states that God will do nothing unless He first reveals what He’s about to do to His prophets who are compelled to proclaim His will and intention wherever they find themselves amongst His own (Amos 3:8).

Isaiah also declared God as saying (Is 46:8-11 see also 41:22-23, 44:7, 45:21) that He declares

‘...the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying “My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all My purpose”’

These aren’t ‘predictions of the future’ as many would like to make out, these are ‘intentions of purpose’ where God is seen as doing and bringing about those events that He declares through His prophets.

Far from the leaders in today’s Church declaring that the prophet is obsolete and unnecessary because we’ve come to the fulness of knowledge in Christ and because the Bible is fully complete and needs nothing further to be added to it, they should, rather, be eagerly seeking out the prophets to understand what it is that God wants to do in their midst and how they can walk in step with Him.

Whether good or bad, all believers need to know what it is that God has decided to do - or how else might they walk in step with Him? How can we be pleasing children if we don’t know what the will of our Father is?

We’re here talking about a declaration of God’s will that concerns the people of God rather than a person, of course, but, unless prophets exist, a fellowship will stumble blindly, not knowing whether the good or evil that comes into their midst is from God, the result of the enemy or the result of pure chance.

A congregation, then, who refuses to accept the prophetic is a congregation who refuses to know God’s will - for this is the way that He’s chosen to reveal His will to His followers. Although Ammot tries to undermine this position by stating without any Scriptural justification that

‘...the Word of God will never again come to the Church in the same precise quality as it was preached and written by [Amos, Paul and the apostles]’

that God has never yet closed the need for Him to act in the midst of His people - both in judgment and blessing - should wake us up to the facts of the matter. Prophets are desperately needed in our midst and a person or people who oppose the prophetic are opposing none other than God Himself.

The prophet’s compulsion
Amos 3:8

Concluding, Amos pulls on one of his questions of the introductory 3:3-6 and announces that

‘The lion has roared; who will not fear?’

where the idea is, perhaps, that the ‘lion’ is meant to be none other than YHWH Himself in His declaration through Amos to His people and, therefore, shouldn’t they be standing in fear and trepidation rather than in opposition?

In 3:4, the rhetorical question was speaking of a lion who roars when he pounces to kill for food - here, the imminency of YHWH moving against His people is possibly being declared for the end of attack is in view, the only problem being that His ‘prey’ is none other than the children of Israel.

However, although this has much going for it, it seems, rather, to simply be another question that sets the scene for the expected answer to the following question - but Amstu’s observation that it could have served as a ‘double-entendre’ is worthy of full acceptance.

Here the answer isn’t a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (although Amhub re-translates both questions to demand a negative answer - ‘Can anyone throttle fear in the face of a lion’s unexpected roar?...Can anyone refuse to prophesy after hearing the Lord speak?’) but an affirmation is required that fear is an adequate response to the sound of a lion roaring so that to prophesy God’s message to His people is seen as the only fitting reply now that God has spoken.

Amos is not simply justifying his own message and ministry, he’s actually encouraging the Israelites to hear from God themselves and to carry the same message of judgment throughout the land.

The second question shows the necessity laid upon the prophet for he declares that

‘The Lord YHWH has spoken; who can but prophesy?’

turning the objections on their head for, far be it that Amos is a lone voice crying in the midst of a nation, there should, rather, be a multitude of voices declaring God’s message if they truly are listening to the voice of God.

It isn’t that he’s got the message wrong but that they don’t have their ears open.

There’s a compulsion here that Amos only hints at but which is spoken of plainly by the prophet Jeremiah in Jer 20:8-9. He noted that the message that he’d been given to proclaim to the nation was one that was singularly rejected by a people who should have known better but, if he was to run away from God’s calling upon His life and say

‘...“I will not mention Him, or speak any more in His name”, there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in - and I cannot’

Similarly, earlier in the Book, he looks anxiously to find someone who would heed the warning that he was being compelled to proclaim amongst the nation of Judah (Jer 6:10-11) but could find no one because they’d deliberately closed their ears to the voice of God in such a manner that they were now unable to heed the message. Therefore, Jeremiah says

‘...I am full of the wrath of YHWH; I am weary of holding it in’

for the despatch of the message had only caused him to overflow with God’s anger - as God felt at being rejected, so did Jeremiah - and he was unable to contain it, having to declare wrath against the people. It’s this compulsion of which Amos speaks.

If the people hadn’t closed their ears to the things of God, they would have heard and understood the message but, as it was, it was Amos who’d been standing in the counsel of YHWH (the opposite of Jer 23:18) and he could do nothing but declare the message that he’d heard. Amstu (my italics) summarises both questions as saying that

‘The true prophet cannot ignore Yahweh’s voice any more than sensible people can ignore the roar of a lion’

If they take offence at the declaration of the message, they’ve not even got the intelligence to realise the danger that they’ve put themselves in. Far from the prophet being apprehended by the people for his words, he should be amongst them as one approved.

Other considerations

I decided not to deal with the more ‘ordinary’ information that was contained in the first four verses in the above sections so that I wouldn’t break up the train of thought that was needed to interpret the passage - there were also certain different interpretations that were thrown onto the verses that couldn’t be dealt with above.

This section has therefore been added to deal with this deliberate oversight.

a. Walking together
Amos 3:3

This verse is a straightforward observation of life where two people travel together for part of their journey (though, by extension, it could equally be applied to all sorts of situations in life). It needs very little comment except to deal with the Hebrew word that’s translated ‘appointment’ by the RSV (Strongs Hebrew number 3259, M878) for the word means, more correctly in this context, ‘meet’ or ‘gather’ where the idea seems to be the act of joining together rather than, as in the translation quoted, the idea of an appointment that’s made between the two.

TWOTOT points out that the word is used for the idea of an appointment but to keep this translation in the passage seems to make the meaning overly strict for it seems to state that a prior arrangement has to be made before two people are able to travel together on the road.

It’s much better to accept the concept of a ‘meeting’ or ‘coming together’ (used this way in, for example, Ex 25:22, Joshua 11:5 and Neh 6:2) so that the necessary ‘pre-arranged appointment’ doesn’t need the Israelite to consider the matter, reflect and object that no prior agreement needed to be made because it was commonplace for people to meet on the road and fellowship together for no better reason than that they wanted the company.

I’m only objecting to the English translation and how that meaning would or would not have been appropriate to Amos’ hearers, for there certainly appears to be the need for both parties to agree that they want to travel together. The way the RSV has rendered it, however, makes one think that something more formal is in mind.

Perhaps the best translation is the question

‘Do two walk together, unless they are agreed?’

for the reader can at once see that travelling together needs the consent of both parties - and this seems to be the meaning of the verse. Ammot goes further than allowing the verse to stand as a simple question and sees in the prophet’s intention an allusion to the Exodus where Israel and YHWH first ‘agreed’ to walk together, the nation following after the cloud and fire wherever He led them, ultimately into the land of Canaan, the sad indictment being that they’d long since begun to walk out of step because the ‘agreement’ of Sinai was being rejected and trampled in the dirt.

He goes one step further by noting that there’s no second question that follows this sentence (as there are in the following three verses) but he proposes a second part which is wholly unconvincing - it would be better to add the question

‘Can two arrive together at a city, unless it’s the destination towards which they were journeying?’

for it speaks of a time immediately after the event of the first, rather than for the proposal he makes of

‘Can a marriage be restored if the certificate of divorce has been written?’

His interpretation of the ‘missing’ question is that the next three pairs all speak of a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ (for example, the lion roars against its prey and then roars because it’s taken its prey - 3:4) but this one doesn’t because (my italics) it

‘...leaves the future open and the voice of the prophet...calls the people to renew their “arrangement” with the Lord and to act promptly, for even as he speaks to them the Lion is roaring

It sounds good on the surface but Amos 3:4 speaks of the lion having killed, Amos 3:5 of the bird having been caught and 3:6 of YHWH having brought evil against the city. There’s a finality in these subsequent verses which is more noticeable than the ‘missing’ second question of Amos 3:3 and it, therefore, seems to be reading too much into the question - even though it’s fair to say that there may well have been allusions here that the person might have perceived if they’d been willing to accept the message and think about it.

Amos doesn’t appear to have had too many converts, though.

b. The lion
Amos 3:4

The mention of the lion shows us, at the very least, that the natural world was understood by the Israelites so widely as to make the question easily answerable. While they certainly didn’t learn about the lion from the Natural History programs on their televisions, it would be going too far from this one passage alone to assume that the lion was common in the land and that their threat was something that most Israelites lived with - it could mean no more than there were certain places that were their strongholds (such as in the forests that existed round the Jordan - Jer 49:19, 50:44. Cansdale speaks of the type of woodland that the lion would have inhabited as being ‘dry open forest’ compared to the habitat of the tiger which was ‘dense jungle and closed forest’) and that those who lived nearby were accurate in their recounting of the habits.

But the words ‘lion’ and ‘lioness’ occur 118 times in the RSV, a significant amount of times, being frequently employed in the more poetic, prophetic and reflective passages where the symbolism that the animal stood for is used (some of which is lost to us today because we often transpose our own ideas of what the lion stands for onto the passages in which we read of it).

The lion certainly still seems to have occurred during the eighth century BC in the land of Israel if we accept the logical progression of their mention in the OT and pencil in the gaps. One of the most popular historic accounts of their presence occurs in the life of Samson (Judges 14:5-6) where a lion opposes him near the Philistine village of Timnah, located almost due west of Jerusalem but nearer the Mediterranean than the city.

The next mention occurs in the time of David when he speaks to king Saul regarding his ability to fight Goliath (I Sam 7:34-35) and notes that

‘Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and smote him and delivered it out of his mouth’

We know that David’s family village was Bethlehem, due south of Jerusalem, but where he would take the flocks to graze could have been many miles distant. What we can be sure of, however, is that David speaks of the occurrence as something that happened on more than one occasion and the likelihood is that it took place within the general vicinity of Bethlehem.

Several years later when David was king, one of his ‘mighty men’ (II Samuel 23:20) is recorded as slaying

‘…a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen’

though the location goes unrecorded. In the northern kingdom of Israel, however, when Jeroboam I (not the Jeroboam who ruled over Israel at the time of Amos) ruled the land, another lion is recorded near the temple at Bethel (I Kings 13:11,20,25-28. This is the same place that Amos was speaking against for it was here that one of the official temples of the kingdom stood - I Kings 12:28-29, Amos 3:14, 4:4, 5:5-6, 7:10,13), some ten miles north of Jerusalem in the central hill country.

In the reign of Ahab (which, again, is before the time of Amos), a lion makes a very brief appearance in 1 Kings 20:36 but the location is uncertain. We should, perhaps, surmise that it would have had to have been somewhere in the northern kingdom of Israel but the context lends support to it having to be between the city of Aphek where the battle had taken place (I Kings 20:26), located a couple of miles east of the sea of Galilee, and Samaria (I Kings 20:43) for the prophet is recorded as waiting along the route for the king (I Kings 20:38).

The next mention of lions, however, jumps to after the exile of the Israelites into Assyrian controlled territory when the fulfilment of Amos’ prophecy had taken place (the least amount of time between the writing of the prophecy and this event is somewhere around 35 years) when the new inhabitants of the land (II Kings 17:25-26)

‘…did not fear YHWH; therefore YHWH sent lions among them, which killed some of them’

The existence of lions both resident in the land and visiting the land seems certain throughout the time of the Israelites possession of Canaan - not just that they were ‘heard’ on occasions roaring in the forests but that they were seen on a fairly frequent basis.

Cansdale notes that the lions’ extinction from the land took place probably somewhere during the time of the Crusades, noting that the last recorded animal was one that was killed near Megiddo in the thirteenth century but that they continued to be resident in Syria until at least the middle of the nineteenth.