Who Was Amos? (part 1)

Who was Amos?

Amos was a shepherd (1:1) and a keeper of Sycamore trees (7:14).  He was not the son of a prophet and was not formally trained for the office.  He was a member of the southern kingdom, but prophesied over northern Israel.

What can you say of the city of Tekoa?

Tekoa was a small city 6 miles southeast of Bethlehem.  It is on the edge of a desert area and land was primarily used for feeding flocks rather than agriculture.  The city was built by Rehoboam for the defense of Judah (2 Chr 11:5-6).

What the date of his prophecy?

The prophecy dates from the early 8th century, dueing the reign of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam 2, the king of Israel.  Amos was called to prophecy two years before “the earthquake”.  The details concerning the “great earthquake” are unknown, but Zech 14:5 mentions that the return of Christ will trigger a similar one.

What the occasion of the prophecies?

The prophecy was written during a period of prosperity and peace for both Israel and Judah.  However, the prophecies from this time indicate the poor were poorly treated, and crime, corruption, and immorality was increasing.

What was the outline of his writing?

  1. Judgments Against Israel’s Neighbors (1-2)
  2. Judgments Against Israel (3-6)
  3. Visions of Future Judgment (7-9)

What was the subject of this discourse and what was the meaning of “Jehovah will roar from Zion”?

This is a quote from Joel 3:16 – “The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem…”  There, the LORD is described as the Lion of Judah in His victorious return for His people.  Here, he is roaring in judgment against Israel’s neighbors AND against Israel.

What the meaning of the phrase, “For three transgressions. . . . yea, for four,” introducing the denunciations of the nations?

The LORD is indicting the sinful gentiles in their sins.  He is stating that he has a multitude of witnesses to testify against them.  The statement “three … yea, four…” is used several times in scripture as a poetic device to emphasize a large plurality.

What the meaning of “I will send a fire, etc.” used so frequently in these denunciations?

Fire is often used as a symbol of God’s anger in his judgment (Dt. 32:22).

What is the charge against Syria here denounced and how was it fulfilled?

2 Kings 10:32-33 records how Hazael, King of Syria (capital in Damascus), began conquering the eastern parts of the Israelite Kingdom.  The land east of the Jordan River is called Gilead and was occupied by Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh.  The prophecy is that the Syrians would be exiled (by the Assyrians) to northeast Mesopotamia (2 Ki 16:9).

What the charge preferred against Philistia, what the judgment denounced and when fulfilled?

The charge against the Philistines (4 of 5 major Philistine cities named) was that they carried “a whole people” into captivity – an event lost to history.  The destruction of Philistine cities was conducted by Egyptians, Assyrians, and Greeks.

What the charge against Phoenicia and when was the judgment fulfilled?

Tyre was a city of commerce and participated in the slave trade.  The reference to the “brotherly covenant” may refer to a covenant between Tyre and Soloman (1 Ki 5:12), or it may refer generally to brotherly love.  Tyre eventually became a tributary of Assyria and was later conquered by Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar).  It was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 322 BC.

What was the charge against Edom and when was the judgment fulfilled?

The LORD charges Edom with hatred and lack of pity for his brother Jacob (Israel).  The specific events referred to here are not specified, but were probably well known to Amos’s hearers.  The cities of Edom (Bozrah and Teman) were captured by Nebuchadnezzar on his conquest of Egypt.

What was the charge against Ammon and when was the judgment fulfilled?

Ammon (descendant of Lot) was charged with cruelty to the people of Gilead.  This is perhaps tied to the cruelties of Syrian King Hazael (2 Ki 8:7-13), who afflicted the Israelites that dwelt east of the Jordan (see comments on prophecy against Syria above).  The goal of the Ammonites was to enlarge their borders, and in their cruelty, they did not even spare pregnant women.  The fire on the walls of the capital city will be accompanied by the shouts of a victorious conquering army and the capture of Ammon’s king.  The destruction will be like that left from a whirlwind.  This was, again, accomplished by the conquest of Nebuchadnezzar as he marched toward Egypt.

What the charge preferred against Moab, what the judgment denounced and when was it fulfilled?

The charge against Moab is that he defilled the remains of the king of Edom when the two nations were at war.  Second Kings 3:7-9,26 hints at a ferocious war between the two nations in which Judah and Israel sided with Edom.  The prophecy here is that the people, chief city, and judges will be destroyed in war.  This was accomplished by Nebuchadnezzar in his campaign that stretched to Egypt.

In these prophecies, Amos considers the gross and violent sins of the Israel’s surrounding neighbors.  In the next post, we’ll consider what Amos prophesies against God’s people, beginning with Judah, then considering Israel.


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