Amos . . עמוס

God is gracious & patient, but His justice & righteousness will not let sin go unpunished indefinitely

Claims to be the words of Amos (1:1), a shepherd and fig-grower from Tekoa. Tekoa is in the Southern part of Judah near the Negev desert wilderness--where Abraham originally settled. The word for shepherd implies that he raised a special dwarfish breed of sheep prized for their fine wool and that he owned the sheep he herded, so he wasn't necessarily a poor man, as some commentators assume. His writing is also said to be the purest, most classical Hebrew in the Bible, so he wasn't necessarily an unlearned man, either. But his writing suggests a familiarity with the wilderness: constellations, lions eating sheep, threshing instruments, plowing, reaping, summer fruit, gardens and vineyards.

Amos was not a vocational prophet (7:14ff), but he got up and went to the "Yankees" up North when God told him to go prophecy! He was also the first Bible prophet to put his orations into writing. He probably wrote them down after he had delivered the messages (Note 1:1 "two years before the earthquake"). Some scholars believe (Paige included) that Amos didn't write the epilogue because its tone, wording, and message is so different from the rest of the book.

Amos gives us several significant dating references: 1:1 tells us that it was 2 years before the earthquake, during the reign of Uzziah in the Southern Kingdom and Jereboam II in the Northern Kingdom. 8:8-9 and the first part of Ch. 9 also seem to describe an earthquake and possibly an eclipse. Zecheriah 14:5 also mentions an earthquake about this same time. Astronomers have determined that there was a solar eclipse in 763BC. Bible scholars are not unanimous on the same year, but they all place the date between 765 and 750BC.

This places Amos' prophecy at the Golden Age of the Northern Kingdom (II Ki. 14:21-15:12). The threat of the Syrians had been wiped out by the Assyrians, and Jereboam had taken control of the trans-Jordan all the way down to the Red Sea, dominating all the trade routes so that there was great wealth in Israel. Their prosperity is reflected in Amos' mention of their summer and winter homes furnished with finely-upholstered couches inlaid with ivory, the feasting, and the private orchestras. "Wine, women, and song!" They were big on offering sacrifices and having religious feasts, but their worship was insincere and oppression of poor people was at an all-time high.

Amos was the first to warn the nation of the course it was on. His prologue mentions many nations, but the focus of the book is the Northern Kingdom. He mentions the Northern towns of Dan, Bethel, Samaria, Gilgal, Bashan, Beersheba, as well as Mt. Carmel, the "house of Jacob," and "house of Jereboam." He probably began at Bethel during a religious feast and preached for at least a few months throughout Ephraim.

They didn't heed his warning, so the 25 years following Jereboam's death were to be a time of political turmoil followed by the destruction of the Northern kingdom and the deportation of the people by the Assyrian army under Tiglath-Pileasar.


Different commentators pick up on different themes, but there is a general consensus that Amos focuses on the sovereignty of God, God's relationship with His people, the sins of Israel, and the necessary judgement and ultimate restoration of those people. (Similarity to James 4-5 is interesting.)


I. Judgement of the Nations (Chapters 1-2)

עַל־שְׁלשָׁה פַּשְׁעֵי ... וְעַל־אַרְבָּעָה "For three sins... and for four..."

    1. Intro to Author and Date (1:1-2)
    2. Syria 1:3-5
    3. Philistia 1:6-8
    4. Phoenicia 1:9-10
    5. Edom 1:11-12
    6. Ammon 1:13-15
    7. Moab 2:1-4
    8. Judah 2:4-5
    9. Israel 2:6-8ff

II. Sins of Israel and Judgement (Chapters 3-6 - This section has wide variety in outlining!)

שִׁמְעוּ אֶת־הָדָבָר הַזֶּה "Hear this word..."

    1. Covenant Lawsuit (Israel has defaulted) 2:6-3:10
    2. Destruction by enemy prophesied (3:10-4:3)
    3. Israel has not heeded warnings (4:4-13)
    4. Last call to repent or else get wiped out (5:1-15)
    5. Pronouncement of doom for empty worship and idolatry (5:16-27)
    6. Judgement on wealthy nobles by death and exile 6:1-14

III. Visions of destruction (Chapters 7-9)

כּה הִרְאַנִי אֲדנָי יְהוה וְהִנֵּה "Thus showed-me the Lord Jehovah, & behold..."

    1. Locusts (Averted by Intercession) 7:1-6
    2. Fire (Averted by Intercession) 7:7-9
    3. Plumbline (Israel is out of line) 7:7-9
    4. Narrative Interlude--Amos refuses to obey the order of king and priest to be silent (7:10-17)
    5. Summer Fruit (Israel is ripe for judgement) 8:1-14
    6. Shakeup in the Temple (9:1-4)
    7. The power of God's name; surety of fulfillment (9:5-7)

IV. Epilogue--Hope for the future (9:8-15)

Remnant of Israel preserved and Restored to prosperity and security

Key Passages

Sources Used:

- The Bible: ('nuf said)

- Gilchrist, Paul: Notes from his class on O.T. Prophets

- Kelley, Paige: Amos: Prophet of Social Justice (Written 25 years before our Hebrew Grammar!)

- Robinson, George: The 12 Minor Prophets

- Whitcomb, John: O.T. Kings & Prophets Chart


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