The Book of Amos
Amos 1:2 - The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.
Amos 5:11-12 - Forasmuch
therefore as your treading [is] upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of
wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye
have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them. For I know
your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they
take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate [from their right].
The Old Testament - A Brief OverviewSummary of The Book of Amos
The prophet Amos was a native of Tekoa, a city set on a hill of 2,700 feet overlooking the bleak wilderness of Judah and visible from Bethlehem, five miles to the north. The region still bears its ancient name and is, as in the time of Amos, a pasture area filled with flocks of sheep and goats. Amos was not of the professional class of prophets nor was he a son of a prophet; he was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees when he received his summons from God - "The Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel' " (7:15). Although this type of life was austere and simple, Amos had evidently come in contact with the commercial centers of Palestine, as he displays considerable knowledge of the habits and attitudes of the people to whom his message is directed.
The opening verse of the prophecy places the activity of Amos "in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. . . ." Based on this statement and a description of the prosperity which arose under Jeroboam II, it is probable that Amos preached near 750-740 BC. Since the book seems to be a collection of a series of prophetic addresses delivered on different occasions, there is no way of determining how long Amos' ministry lasted.
Although Amos was a resident of the southern kingdom, his message was directed to Israel, particularly to its leading cities of Bethel and Samaria. As noted above, a high degree of prosperity had been achieved during the reign of Jeroboam (Cf. 2 Kin. 14:23-29). Areas which had been lost were regained and the borders of the kingdom were greatly enlarged. Israel had gained control of the major trade routes and Samaria had established herself as a great commercial center. A rich merchant class had grown up and, as a result of robbery, violence and a general absence of scruples, was enjoying all manner of luxuries, as seen in the sumptuous character of their houses (3:15). The merchants were encouraged to follow this course by their avaricious wives whom Amos describes as "cows of Bashan" (4:1). The whole picture is one of a complete lack of justice, mercy and normal regard for human life.
The condition of religion in Israel was on a level which matched the low moral and social standard. Although the shrines of God were well attended, they were subjected to the grossest sort of immorality and abuse, fornication and drunkenness being practiced in the very presence of the altar. The worship which was carried on was strictly a formal affair, devoid of any spiritual content. The effect of religion on the conduct of the worshippers was negligible. This intolerable situation could do nothing but bring the wrath of God. It was to announce this wrath that Amos came to Israel.
The contents of the book may be analyzed further as follows :
Outline of the Book of Amos
The message of Amos, save for the last chapter, is one of pure condemnation and judgment. In the first two chapters, he announces that the whole area of Israel is to suffer punishment for its evil, naming some of the most heinous crimes of the eight nations included in this jeremiad. The depravity of these nations is seen in the sins with which they are charged. The Ammonites are condemned "because they have ripped up women with child in Gilead that they might enlarge their border" (1:13); doom is promised to the Moabites because their taste for revenge was so strong that they burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom (2:1).
After scoring the neighboring nations, Amos turns his attention to Israel. He
condemns them for the wealth they have gained at the expense of the poor (2:6-7)
and for the other excesses noted above. In chapter 4 he recalls the punishments
which God had formerly used to recall his people from sin and warns that this
generation shall not escape a like trial - "therefore this will I do unto thee,
O Israel and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O
Israel" (4:12). The Israelites were warned that the only course which they can
follow to avert the imminent disaster is to seek the Lord and to "let justice
roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" (5:24).
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