Amos 5:8
Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:
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(8) Connected by E.V. with Amos 5:6 through the verb “seek ye,” so that it may thus be linked to Amos 5:7. To regard it as a solemn assertion “There is one who maketh, &c.,” is not satisfactory. We prefer to render, As for him who made the Pleiades . . . Jehovah is his name, i.e., The God of the Hebrews is the supreme universal Lord (comp. Amos 4:13). This is profoundly impressive, since the prophets were surrounded by the pompous nature-worship of the East.

The Heb. word for the Pleiades (seven stars) means properly “heap” or “cluster,” and that for Orion signifies “stout, strong one.” The appearance of the Pleiades indicated the “sweet influences” of spring, that of Orion the winter solstice. Observe that Amos the herdsman, and Job the Arabian Emir, accustomed to the naked sky of the desert, make these special references to astronomical facts. The death-shadow suggests the darkest experiences of human life. Jehovah pours His light upon the deepest gloom of our lot. He, too, can make the day dark with night, covering the noonday sky with funereal pall, as at the Crucifixion. God is also made the perennial source of the rain, that “river of God which is full of water,” and which is ever rising at His command from the great sea.

5:7-17 The same almighty power can, for repenting sinners, easily turn affliction and sorrow into prosperity and joy, and as easily turn the prosperity of daring sinners into utter darkness. Evil times will not bear plain dealing; that is, evil men will not. And these men were evil men indeed, when wise and good men thought it in vain even to speak to them. Those who will seek and love that which is good, may help to save the land from ruin. It behoves us to plead God's spiritual promises, to beseech him to create in us a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within us. The Lord is ever ready to be gracious to the souls that seek him; and then piety and every duty will be attended to. But as for sinful Israel, God's judgments had often passed by them, now they shall pass through them.Seek Him that maketh the seven stars - Misbelief effaces the thought of God as He Is. It retains the name God, but means something quite different from the One True God. So people spoke of "the Deity," as a sort of First Cause of all things, and did not perceive that they only meant to own that this fair harmony of things created was not (at least as it now exists,) self-existent, and that they had lost sight of the Personal God who had made known to them His Will, whom they were to believe in, obey, fear, love. "The Deity" was no object of fear or love. It was but a bold confession that they did not mean to be Atheists, or that they meant intellectually to admire the creation. Such confessions, even when not consciously atheistic, become at least the parents of Atheism or Panotheism, and slide insensibly into either. For a First Cause, who is conceived of as no more, is an abstraction, not God. God is the Cause of all causes.

All things are, and have their relations to each other, as cause and effect, because He so created them. A "Great First Cause," who is only thought of as a Cause, is a mere fiction of a man's imagining, an attempt to appear to account for the mysteries of being, without owning that, since our being is from God, we are responsible creatures whom He created for Himself, and who are to yield to Him an account of the use of our being which He gave us. In like way, Israel had probably so mixed up the thought of God with Nature, that it had lost sight of God, as distinct from the creation. And so Amos, after appealing to their consciences, sets forth God to them as the Creator, Disposer of all things, and the Just God, who redresseth man's violence and injustice. The "seven stars," literally, "the heap," are the striking cluster of stars, called by Greeks and Latins the Pleiades, , which consist of seven larger stars, and in all of above forty.

Orion, a constellation in one line with the Pleiades, was conceived by the Arabs and Syrians also, as a gigantic figure. The Chaldee also renders, the "violent" or "the rebel." The Hebrew title "כּסיל Keciyl, fool," adds the idea of an irreligious man, which is also the meaning of Nimrod, "rebel," literally, "let us rebel." Job, in that he speaks of "the bands of Orion Job 38:31, pictures him as "bound," the "belt" being the "band." This falls in with the later tradition, that Nimrod, who, as the founder of Babel, was the first rebel against God , was represented by the easterns in their grouping of the stars, as a giant chained , the same constellation which we call Orion.

And turneth the shadow of death into the morning - This is no mere alternation of night and day, no "kindling" of "each day out of night." The "shadow of death" is strictly the darkness of death, or of the grave Job 3:5; Job 10:21-22; Job 34:22; Job 38:17; Psalm 23:4; Jeremiah 13:16. It is used of darkness intense as the darkness of the grave Job 28:3, of gloom Job 24:17, or moral benightening (Isaiah 9:2, (1 Hebrew)) which seems to cast "the shadow of death" over the soul, of distress which is as the forerunner of death Job 16:16; Psalm 44:19; Psalm 107:10, Psalm 107:14; Jeremiah 2:6; Jeremiah 13:16, or of things, hidden as the grave, which God alone can bring to light Job 12:22. The word is united with darkness, physical, moral, mental, but always as intensifying it, beyond any mere darkness. Amos first sets forth the power of God, then His goodness. Out of every extremity of ill, God can, will, does, deliver. He who said, "let there be light and there was light," at once changeth any depth of darkness into light, the death-darkness of sin into the dawn of grace, the hopeless night of ignorance into "the day-star from on high," the night of the grave into the eternal morn of the Resurrection which knoweth no setting. But then on impenitence the contrary follows;

And maketh the day dark with night - Literally, "and darkeneth day into night." As God withdraws "the shadow of death," so that there should be no trace of it left, but all is filled with His light, so, again, when His light is abused or neglected, He so withdraws it, as at times, to leave no trace or gleam of it. Conscience becomes benighted, so as to sin undoubtingly: faith is darkened, so that the soul no more even suspects the truth. Hell has no light.

That calleth for the waters of the sea - This can be no other than a memory of the flood, "when the waters prevailed over the earth Genesis 7:24. The prophet speaks of nothing partial. He speaks of "sea" and "earth," each, as a whole, standing against the other. "God calleth the waters of the sea and poureth them over the face of the earth." They seem ever threatening the land, but for Him "which hath placed the sand for the bound of the sea, that it cannot pass it" Jeremiah 5:22. Now God calls them, and "pours them over the face," that is, the whole surface. The flood, He promised, should not again be. But it is the image of that universal destruction, which shall end man's thousands of years of rebellion against God. The words then of Amos, in their simplest sense, speak of a future universal judgment of the inhabitants of the earth, like, in extent, to that former judgment, when God "brought in the flood upon the world of the ungodly" 2 Peter 2:5.

The words have been thought also to describe that daily marvel of God's Providence, how, from the salt briny sea, which could bring but barrenness, He, by the heat of the Sun, draws up the moisture, and discharges it anew in life-giving showers on the surface of the earth. God's daily care of us, in the workings of His creatures is a witness Acts 14:17 of His relation to us as our Father; it is an earnest also of our relation, and so of our accountableness, to Him.

The Lord is His name - He, the One Self-existent Unchangeable God, who revealed Himself to their forefathers, and forbade them to worship Him under any form of their own device.

8. the seven stars—literally, the heap or cluster of seven larger stars and others smaller (Job 9:9; 38:31). The former whole passage seems to have been in Amos' mind. He names the stars well known to shepherds (to which class Amos belonged), Orion as the precursor of the tempests which are here threatened, and the Pleiades as ushering in spring.

shadow of death—Hebraism for the densest darkness.

calleth for the waters of the sea—both to send deluges in judgment, and the ordinary rain in mercy (1Ki 18:44).

Seek him; though this be not in the Hebrew, it is well supplied by our interpreters.

That maketh the seven stars; a famous constellation, and whose rising about September was usually accompanied with rains and sweet showers, which, as Amos 4:7, had been withholden, whence want of water and bread; now the prophet adviseth to seek the Lord, who can give them rain and corn by the kindly influences of that watery constellation, which as he made, so he guides and manageth. This I take to be the most natural meaning of the place.

Orion; which rising about November brings usually cold rains and frosts, intermixed with much uncertainty, but very seasonable for the earth, to make it fruitful; this mentioned to persuade these people to repent, who were afflicted with such barrenness and unfruitfulness as brought famine with it.

Turneth the shadow of death into the morning; proverbially, that turneth greatest adversity, which is here called the

shadow of death, into as great prosperity, here called the morning, Psalm 23:4.

Maketh the day dark with night; metaphorically this expresseth a change of prosperity into adversity. Ye house of Israel, think well of it, you are in a dangerous state; be advised to seek him who can turn your morning into night, or your night into morning; who can on a sudden remove all evil from you, and bring all good upon you; seek him therefore, and seek not idols.

Calleth for the waters of the sea; either to raise them to terrible swellings and rage, or rather calls up waters out of the sea, by commanding the vapour to ascend, which he turneth into rain;

and poureth them out upon the face of the earth; and then poureth out from the clouds to make the earth fruitful.

The Lord is his name; he only is God and the Lord. Who doth thus seek him?

Seek him that maketh the seven stars,.... Which some connect with the preceding words, without a supplement, "they leave righteousness on the ground, who maketh the seven stars"; understanding it of Christ, the Lord our righteousness, who is made unto us righteousness, whom the Jews rejected and despised, though the Maker of the heavens and the constellations in them. Some continue, and supply the words thus, and remember not him "that maketh the seven stars", as Kimchi; or forget him, as Japhet in Aben Ezra. The Targum is,

"they cease to fear him that maketh, &c.''

they have no regard unto him, no awe and reverence of him, or they would not act so unjustly as they do. There is but one word for the "seven stars" in the original text, which signifies that constellation called the Pleiades, and so the same word is rendered, Job 9:9; and the Vergiliae, because they appear in the spring of the year, when they yield their sweet influences, which the Scripture ascribes to them, and are desirable; hence they have their name in Hebrew from a word which signifies desire:

and Orion; another constellation; for Aben Ezra says, it is not one star, but many; and as he, with the ancients he mentions, takes the former to be the tail of Aries, and the head of Taurus; so this to be the heart of Scorpio. This constellation appears in winter, and is a sign of bad weather. Virgil calls it Nimbosus Orion; and it has its name in Hebrew from unsettledness and inconstancy, the weather being then very variable. Amos, being a herdsman, had observed the appearances and effects of these constellations, and adored the Maker of them, whom others neglected:

and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: maketh the constant revolution of day and night, and the days longer in the summer, and shorter in winter, as Kimchi interprets it; and also the various changes of prosperity and adversity, turning the one into the other when he pleases:

that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth; as in the time of the universal deluge, to which some Jewish writers apply this, as Jarchi observes; or rather draws up by the heat of the sun the waters of the sea into the air, and forms them into clouds, where they lose their saltness, and become sweet; and then lets them down in plentiful and gentle showers, to water, refresh, and fructify the earth; which is an instance of divine power, wisdom, and goodness. The Targum is,

"who commands many armies to be gathered like the waters of the sea, and scatters them upon the face of the earth.''

Some, who understand these words of Christ our righteousness, interpret the whole mystically of his raising up the twelve apostles, comparable to stars; and of his turning the Gentiles, who were darkness itself, to the light of the Gospel; and of his giving up the Jews, who were formerly light, to judicial blindness and darkness; and of his watering the earth with large showers of the divine word;

the Lord is his name; he is the true Jehovah, that can and does do all this.

Seek him that {e} maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:

(e) He describes the power of God; Job 9:9.

8–9. Two verses, intended (like Amos 4:13) to remind the disobedient Israelites of the power and majesty of Him, whose will they defy, and whose judgements they provoke, the Creator and Ruler of the world. The verses are introduced abruptly, and interrupt somewhat violently the connexion between Amos 5:7 and Amos 5:10 : if the text be sound, we must suppose the participle with which they open to be in apposition with ‘Jehovah,’ implicit in the prophet’s thought (cf. Isaiah 40:22). According to some (see p. 117) the two verses did not form part of the original text of Amos: according to Ewald they should precede Amos 5:7, which, especially if it be assumed to have once begun with הוי Ah! (as Amos 5:18, Amos 6:1), would then open very suitably a new paragraph. (The Hebrew of Amos 5:7; Amos 5:10 will admit equally of the renderings ‘(Ye) who turn …, who hate …, and abhor,’ and “[Ah!] they that turn …, that hate …,” &c.).

the seven stars] an old English name of the Pleiades: see e.g. Shakespeare, 1 Henry IV. i. 2, 6 “We that take purses go by the moon and the seven stars” (W. A. Wright, Bible Word-Book, 1884, p. 533). In Job 9:9; Job 38:31 the same Hebrew word is rendered the Pleiades.

Orion] also named Job 9:9; Job 38:31, and in the plural (= constellations), Isaiah 13:10. The Heb. is kěsîl, which also signifies ‘fool.’ It is not improbable that the name preserves an allusion to some ancient mythological idea, according to which the brilliant and conspicuous constellation was originally some fool-hardy, heaven-daring rebel, who was chained to the sky for his impiety. In Job 9:9; Job 38:31 f. the Pleiades and Orion (with the Bear) are referred to, as here, as evidence of the creative might of God. They attracted notice at an early period among the Greeks also, partly perhaps, on account of their brilliancy, and partly because their risings and settings with the Sun marked the seasons. Comp. Hom. Il. xviii. 486–9:—Πληϊάδας θʼ Ὑάδας τε τό τε σθένος Ὠρίωνος, Ἄρκτον θʼ ἢν καὶ ἄμαξαν ἐπίκλησιν καλέουσιν, Ἥ τʼ αὐτοῦ στρέφεται καί τʼ Ὠρίωνα δοκεύει, Οἴη δʼ ἄμμορός ἐστι λοετρῶν Ὠκεανοῖο (see also xxii. 26–31; Od. v. 272–275).

turneth blackest darkness into morning] i.e. causes morning to follow night.

shadow of death] (i.e. of the abode of death, Sheol; cf. Job 10:21-22; Job 38:17) is the traditional rendering (found already in LXX.), but it is rejected by most modern scholars (e.g. Kirkpatrick on Psalm 23:4) on the ground (chiefly) that ‘shadow’ is not in the O.T. a figure for gloom, though it has the weighty support of Nöldeke (Z.A.T.W[158] 1897, p. 183 ff.), who points out that the rival explanation darkness (from the Arabic) is also not free from objection. Whatever, however, be the etymology of the term, there is no dispute that deepest, thickest darkness is what it denotes.

[158] .A.T.W.Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft.

maketh the day dark with night] darkeneth the day into night, brings the day to an end in night. The two clauses describe Jehovah as author of the regular alternation of day and night.

that calleth for the waters of the sea, &c.] repeated Amos 9:6. Cf. Job 12:15 b. The reference is either to the extraordinary inundation of low-lying districts, caused, for instance, by high winds (perhaps with an allusion to the Deluge of Noah), or to violent and long-continued rains if (“poureth them out”), which another poet also seems to speak of as drawn up originally from the sea (Job 36:27-28; Job 36:30, R.V. marg.).

calleth] a fine figure; the waters hear His voice, and immediately obey it: cf. Isaiah 48:13; Job 38:34.

Jehovah is his name] So Amos 9:6; Jeremiah 33:2. Cf. the similar close to the enumeration of Jehovah’s powers in Amos 4:13.

Verse 8. - Striking instances are given of God's creative power and omnipotence. Seek him that maketh the seven stars. "Seek him" is not in the Hebrew. "He that maketh," etc., is in direct antithesis to "ye who turn," etc. (ver. 7). The seven stars; Hebrew, kimah, "the heap," the constellation of the Pleiades (Job 9:9; Job 38:31). The Septuagint here has, ὁ ποιῶν πάντα, but in Job has πλειάς. The Vulgate gives, facientem Arcturum. Symmachus and Theodotion give πλειάδα in the present passage. The identification of this term is discussed in the 'Dictionary of the Bible,' 2:891. The observation of this most remarkable cluster among the heavenly bodies would be natural to the pastoral life of Amos. And Orion; Hebrew, kesil, "foolish," a rebel, the name being applied to Nimrod, whose representation was found by the Easterns in this constellation. Some render kesil, "gate;" others connect it with the Arabia sohail, equivalent to Sirius, or Canopus. The Septuagint here has, καὶ μετασκευάζων, "and changing," which looks as if the translator was not familiar with the Hebrew word, and substituted something in its place. It reads Ὠρίωνος in Job 38:31. Turneth the shadow of death into the morning. "The shadow of death," the depth of darkness. This and the following clause do not simply state that the regular interchange of day and night is in God's hands, but rather notify that God is a moral Governor of the world. He saves men from the utmost dangers, from the darkness of sin and from the night of ignorance; and, on the other hand, he sends calamity on those that offend his Law (comp. Amos 4:13). Maketh the day dark with night; literally, as the Septuagint ἡμέραν εἰς νύκτα συσκοτάζων, "darkeneth day into night." That calleth for the waters of the sea, etc. As judgments are the prophet's theme, this expression cannot be an intimation of the working of the natural law by which the moisture taken up from the sea as cloud returns upon the earth as rain (comp. Amos 9:6). Rather it is an allusion to the Flood and similar catastrophes, which are proofs of God's judicial government of the universe, when "he maketh the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enemies" (Wisd. 5:17). The Lord is his Name. Jehovah, the self-existent God, doeth all these marvellous things, and men presume to scout his Law and think to be unpunished (Amos 4:13). Amos 5:8The short, cursory explanation of the reason for the lamentation opened here, is followed in Amos 5:4. by the more elaborate proof, that Israel has deserved to be destroyed, because it has done the very opposite of what God demands of His people. God requires that they should seek Him, and forsake idolatry, in order to live (Amos 5:4-6); but Israel on the contrary, turns right into unrighteousness, without fearing the almighty God and His judgment (Amos 5:7-9). This unrighteousness God must punish (Amos 5:10-12). Amos 5:4. "For thus saith Jehovah to the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and live. Amos 5:5. And seek not Bethel, and come not to Gilgal, and go not over to Beersheba: for Gilgal repays it with captivity, and Bethel comes to nought. Amos 5:6. Seek Jehovah, and live; that He fall not upon the house of Joseph like fire, and it devour, and there be none to quench it for Bethel." The kı̄ in Amos 5:4 is co-ordinate to that in Amos 5:3, "Seek me, and live," for "Seek me, so shall ye live." For this meaning of two imperatives, following directly the one upon the other, see Gesenius, 130, 2, and Ewald, 347, b. חיה, not merely to remain alive, not to perish, but to obtain possession of true life. God can only be sought, however, in His revelation, or in the manner in which He wishes to be sought and worshipped. This explains the antithesis, "Seek not Bethel," etc. In addition to Bethel and Gilgal (see at Amos 4:4), Beersheba, which was in the southern part of Judah, is also mentioned here, being the place where Abraham had called upon the Lord (Genesis 21:33), and where the Lord had appeared to Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 26:24 and Genesis 46:1; see also at Genesis 21:31). These sacred reminiscences from the olden time had caused Beersheba to be made into a place of idolatrous worship, to which the Israelites went on pilgrimage beyond the border of their own kingdom (עבר). But visiting these idolatrous places of worship did no good, for the places themselves would be given up to destruction. Gilgal would wander into captivity (an expression used here on account of the similarity in the ring of גּלגּל and גּלה יגלה). Bethel would become 'âven, that is to say, not "an idol" here, but "nothingness," though there is an allusion to the change of Beth-el (God's house) into Beth-'âven (an idol-house; see at Hosea 4:15). The Judaean Beersheba is passed over in the threat, because the primary intention of Amos is simply to predict the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes. After this warning the prophet repeats the exhortation to seek Jehovah, and adds this threatening, "that Jehovah come not like fire upon the house of Joseph" (tsâlach, generally construed with ‛al or 'el, cf. Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14; 1 Samuel 10:6; here with an accusative, to fall upon a person), "and it (the fire) devour, without there being any to extinguish it for Bethel." Bethel, as the chief place of worship in Israel, is mentioned here for the kingdom itself, which is called the "house of Joseph," from Joseph the father of Ephraim, the most powerful tribe in that kingdom.

To add force to this warning, Amos (Amos 5:7-9) exhibits the moral corruption of the Israelites, in contrast with the omnipotence of Jehovah as it manifests itself in terrible judgments. Amos 5:7. "They that change right into wormwood, and bring righteousness down to the earth. Amos 5:8. He that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into morning, and darkeneth day to night: that calleth to the waters of the sea, and poureth them over the surface of the earth; Jehovah is His name. Amos 5:9. Who causeth desolation to flash upon the strong, and desolation cometh upon the fortress." The sentences in Amos 5:7 and Amos 5:8 are written without any connecting link. The participle in Amos 5:7 cannot be taken as an address, for it is carried on in the third person (hinnı̄chū), not in the second. And hahōphekhı̄m (who turn) cannot be in apposition to Beth-el, since the latter refers not to the inhabitants, but to the houses. As Amos is generally fond of a participial construction (cf. Amos 2:7; Amos 4:13), so in a spirited address he likes to utter the thoughts one after another without any logical link of connection. As a matter of fact, hahōphekhı̄m is connected with bēth-yōsēph (the house of Joseph), "Seek the Lord, ye of the house of Joseph, who turn right into wrong;" but instead of this connection, he proceeds with a simple description, They are turning," etc. La‛ănâh, wormwood, a bitter plant, is a figurative term denoting bitter wrong (cf. Amos 6:12), the actions of men being regarded, according to Deuteronomy 29:17, as the fruits of their state of mind. Laying righteousness on the ground (hinnı̄ăch from nūăch) answers to our "trampling under feet." Hitzig has correctly explained the train of thought in Amos 5:7 and Amos 5:8 : "They do this, whereas Jehovah is the Almighty, and can bring destruction suddenly upon them." To show this antithesis, the article which takes the place of the relative is omitted from the participles ‛ōsēh and hōphēkh. The description of the divine omnipotence commences with the creation of the brightly shining stars; then follow manifestations of this omnipotence, which are repeated in the government of the world. Kı̄mâh, lit., the crowd, is the group of seven stars, the constellation of the Pleiades. Kesı̄l, the gate, according to the ancient versions the giant, is the constellation of Orion. The two are mentioned together in Job 9:9 and Job 38:31 (see Delitzsch on the latter). And He also turns the darkest night into morning, and darkens the day into night again. These words refer to the regular interchange of day and night; for tsalmâveth, the shadow of death, i.e., thick darkness, never denotes the regularly recurring gloominess of night, but the appalling gloom of night (Job 24:17), more especially of the night of death (Job 3:5; Job 10:21-22; Job 38:17; Psalm 44:20), the unlighted depth of the heart of the earth (Job 28:3), the darkness of the prison (Psalm 107:10, Psalm 107:14), also of wickedness (Job 12:22; Job 34:22), of sufferings (Job 16:16; Jeremiah 13:16; Psalm 23:4), and of spiritual misery (Isaiah 9:1). Consequently the words point to the judicial rule of the Almighty in the world. As the Almighty turns the darkness of death into light, and the deepest misery into prosperity and health,

(Note: Theodoret has given a correct explanation, though he does not quite exhaust the force of the words: "It is easy for Him to turn even the greatest dangers into happiness; for by the shadow of death he means great dangers. And it is also easy to bring calamity upon those who are in prosperity.")

so He darkens the bright day of prosperity into the dark night of adversity, and calls to the waters of the sea to pour themselves over the earth like the flood, and to destroy the ungodly. The idea that by the waters of the sea, which pour themselves out at the call of God over the surface of the earth, we are to understand the moisture which rises from the sea and then falls upon the earth as rain, no more answers to the words themselves, than the idea expressed by Hitzig, that they refer to the water of the rivers and brooks, which flow out of the sea as well as into it (Ecclesiastes 1:7). The words suggest the thought of terrible inundations of the earth by the swelling of the sea, and the allusion to the judgment of the flood can hardly be overlooked. This judicial act of the Almighty, no strong man and no fortress can defy. With the swiftness of lightning He causes desolation to smite the strong man. Bâlag, lit., micare, used in the Arabic to denote the lighting up of the rays of the dawn, hiphil to cause to light up, is applied here to motion with the swiftness of lightning; it is also employed in a purely metaphorical sense for the lighting up of the countenance (Psalm 39:14; Job 9:27; Job 10:20). In Amos 5:9 the address is continued in a descriptive form; יבוא has not a causative meaning. The two clauses of this verse point to the fate which awaits the Israelites who trust in their strength and their fortifications (Amos 6:13). And yet they persist in unrighteousness.

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