Place Written: Judah
Writing Completed: c. 804 B.C.E.
NOT a prophet nor the son of a prophet but a raiser of sheep and a nipper of figs of sycamore trees—this was Amos when Jehovah called him and sent him to prophesy not only to his own nation of Judah but particularly to the northern kingdom of Israel. He was one of the prophets referred to at 2 Kings 17:13, 22, 23. He came from Tekoa in Judah, about ten miles [16 km] south of Jerusalem and about a day’s journey from the southern border of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel.—Amos 1:1; 7:14, 15.
CONTENTS OF AMOS
7 Judgments against the nations (1:1–2:3). “Jehovah—out of Zion he will roar.” (1:2) Amos proceeds to warn of His fiery judgments against the nations. Damascus (Syria) has threshed Gilead with iron threshing instruments. Gaza (Philistia) and Tyre have handed over Israelite captives to Edom. In Edom itself mercy and brotherly love have been lacking. Ammon has invaded Gilead. Moab has burned the bones of the king of Edom for lime. Jehovah’s hand is against all these nations, and he says: “I shall not turn it back.”—1:3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13; 2:1.
8 Judgment against Judah and Israel (2:4-16). Nor will Jehovah turn his anger back from Judah. They have transgressed by “rejecting the law of Jehovah.” (2:4) And Israel? Jehovah annihilated the formidable Amorites for them and gave them the good land. He raised up Nazirites and prophets among them, but they made the Nazirites break their vow and commanded the prophets: “You must not prophesy.” (2:12) Therefore Jehovah is making their foundations sway like a wagon loaded with newly cut grain. As for their mighty men, they will flee naked.
9 The accounting with Israel (3:1–6:14). By his use of striking illustrations, Amos emphasizes that the fact of his prophesying, in itself, proves that Jehovah has spoken. “For the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets. . . . The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has spoken! Who will not prophesy?” (3:7, 8) Amos does specially prophesy against the luxury-loving despoilers dwelling in Samaria. Jehovah will snatch them off their splendid couches, and their houses of ivory will perish.
10 Jehovah recounts his chastisements and corrections of Israel. Five times he reminds them: “You did not come back to me.” Therefore, O Israel, “get ready to meet your God.” (4:6-12) Amos takes up a prophetic dirge: “The virgin, Israel, has fallen; she cannot get up again. She has been forsaken upon her own ground; there is no one raising her up.” (5:2) However, Jehovah, the Maker of wonderful things in heaven and earth, keeps calling Israel to search for him and keep living. Yes, “search for what is good, and not what is bad, to the end that you people may keep living.” (5:4, 6, 14) But what will the day of Jehovah mean to them? It will be a day of woe. Like a torrent it will sweep them into exile beyond Damascus, and the ivory-decked houses of their sprawling feasts will be turned to rubble and debris.
11 Amos prophesies in spite of opposition (7:1-17). Jehovah shows his prophet a plummet set in the midst of Israel. There will be no further excusing. He will devastate the sanctuaries of Israel and rise up against the house of Jeroboam II with a sword. Amaziah the priest of Bethel sends to Jeroboam, saying: “Amos has conspired against you.” (7:10) Amaziah tells Amos to go to Judah to do his prophesying. Amos makes clear his authority, saying: “Jehovah proceeded to take me from following the flock, and Jehovah went on to say to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’” (7:15) Amos then foretells calamity for Amaziah and his household.
12 Oppression, punishment, and restoration (8:1–9:15). Jehovah shows Amos a basket of summer fruit. He condemns Israel’s oppression of the poor and swears “by the Superiority of Jacob” that they will have to mourn on account of their bad works. “‘Look! There are days coming,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘and I will send a famine into the land, a famine, not for bread, and a thirst, not for water, but for hearing the words of Jehovah.’” (8:7, 11) They will fall to rise up no more. Whether they dig down into Sheol or climb up to the heavens, Jehovah’s own hand will take them. The sinners of his people will die by the sword. Then, a glorious promise! “In that day I shall raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and I shall certainly repair their breaches. . . . I shall certainly build it up as in the days of long ago.” (9:11) So prosperous will the regathered captives become that the plowman will overtake the harvester before he can gather in his bumper crops. Permanent will be these blessings from Jehovah!
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