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The Book of Amos



A.     Author:           

1.        Amos. 

 a.      [The meaning of Amos is "Burden", "Load."] 

 b.      He was a herdsman of Tekoa [Am 1:1], and a gatherer of sycamore fruit [Am 7:10-15]. 

 c.      Tekoa is about six miles SE of Bethlehem.  And Bethlehem is about six miles south of Jerusalem. 

B.      Date Written:

1.        760 - 750 B.C.

C.     During the Reigns of: 

1.        Uzziah [Ahaziah], king of Judah

2.        Jeroboam II, king of Israel

D.     Contemporaries:         

1.        Hosea, Jonah in the northern kingdom of Israel

2.        Micah, Isaiah in the southern kingdom of Judah

E.      To Whom Written:      

1.        Israel, the northern kingdom, and all nations of the world.

F.      Key People:     

1.        Amos

2.        Amaziah

3.        Jeroboam II

G.     Background

Amos was a herdsman and the gatherer of sycamore fruit.  He was a agriculturist, not a prophet by profession.  He lived in the southern kingdom of Judah.  In his days, Jeroboam II was the king of Israel.  It was a time of peace and prosperity [2 Ki 14:23-28].  The situation resulted from a number of factors:

In the past, Syria was a stubborn enemy of Israel.  During the reign of Jehu (841-814 B.C.), king of Israel, and the reign of Jehoahaz (814-798 B.C.), son the Jehu, large parts of the territory of Israel, including almost all of the lands to the east of Jordan River, were captured by Syria [2 Ki 10:32-33; 13:3].  But during the reign of Jeroboam II, the military threat to the northern kingdom of Ben-Hadad III (c. 796-776 B.C.) was removed. Zakir of Hamath, (a usurper from Lu'ash who had seized control of the entire kingdom of Hamath-Lu'ash), and his allies defeated the coalition of Ben-Hadad, thus ending the Aramean dominance of Syria.  Shortly afterward, Damascus came under the sovereignty of Jeroboam II [14:28], and the territory ultimately extended to Hamath . Thus, the lost territories were recovered, extended from Hamath in the north, to the Sea of Arabah (Dead Sea) in the south [2 Ki 14:25]. 

There was also peace between Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam II, king of Israel.  Israel became prosperous, a remarkable cultural, social, and economic revival took place and was reflected to a lesser extent in Judah.  Northern kingdom was free to control the trading caravan routes of the E which passed through as newly acquired territory.  Many farmers changed their occupation to business and people began to move from the countryside to the cities.  The cities became overcrowded.  Rich mercantile class and the nobility shared the wealth of the nation and created new demands for an increasingly wide vanity of luxury items.  [Amos 3:15; 6:4-6].  Greed and oppression  led to the coercion of the poor.  Farmers were forced to sell the lands to enrich the rich. Oftentimes the poor reduced to serfs and the poorest to bondage for trivial considerations [2:6].   Corruption and bribery deteriorated the justice system.  Merchants held double scales.  People became selfish, dishonest.  Immorality, debauchery,  and drunkenness had become the fashion of living [Am 2:6; 4:1; 8:4-6; 5:7, 11-12].

During festal observances, drunkenness, violence, idolatrous worship, and gross sensuality were inevitable concomitant of Canaanite festal observances, and were extremely common in Israelite religion also.   On every side in the northern kingdom there was an avowed interest in cultic worship at the shrines [4:4-5; 5:5].

Upon receiving the call from God, Amos proceeded resolutely from the southern kingdom to the center of pagan worship in the northern kingdom and protested vigorously against the luxurious and lawless living so typical of Samaria.  His denunciation of idolatry included the firm assertions that God exercised a moral jurisdiction over all nations [1:3, 6, 9, 11; 2:1, 4, 6] and that Israel would be severely punished if it failed to repent and renew covenant fellowship with God. (Amos, A Commentary by Gary V. Smith)


1.        [1:1-2:16]  Superscription and the announcing of Judgment upon neighboring nations

 a.      Superscription [1:1-2]

 b.      Announcing of Judgment upon the neighboring nations [1:3-2:3]

(a)     Judgment upon Damascus [1:3-5]

(b)     Judgment upon Gaza [1:6-8]

(c)     Judgment upon Tyre [1:9-10]

(d)     Judgment upon Edom [1:11-12]

(e)     Judgment upon Ammon [1:13-15]            

(f)      Judgment upon Moab [2:1-3]

 c.      Judgment upon the elect [2:4-16]

(a)     Judgment upon Judah [2:4-5]

(b)     Judgment upon Israel [2:6-16]

2.        [Ch 3-6]  Announcing the sins of Israel and God's intended Judgment

 a.      Grace and Judgment [3:1-2]

 b.      The impending calamity on Israel and God's calling of Amos [3:3-8]

 c.      The fate of Samaria [3:9-4:5]

(a)     Punishment of Samaria's sins [3:9-15]

(b)     Judgment speech against the Samaria's wealthy women [4:1-3]

 d.      Mock admonitions against futile worship [4:4-5]

 e.      Judgment-history repeated but warning unheeded [4:6-13]

 f.       Lamentation to Israel [5:1-3]

 g.      The prophet's exhortation [5:4-17]

(a)     Admonitions to seek God [5:4-9]

(b)     Admonitions to do justice [5:10-17]

 h.      The Day of Yahweh [5:18-20]

 i.        Denunciation of cultic worship and punishment [5:21-27]

 j.        Warnings to Zion and Samaria [6:1-14]

3.        [Ch 7-9] Five Judgment Visions Against Israel

 a.      Vision of the locusts [7:1-3]

 b.      Vision of the fire [7:3-6]

 c.      Vision of the plumb line [7:7-9]

 d.      Amaziah's complaint [7:10-17]

 e.      Vision of the summer fruit [8:1-3]

 f.       Israel's sins and her punishment [8:4-10]

 g.      Spiritual famine [8:11-14]

 h.      Vision of the Lord above the altar [9:1-10]

 i.        Salvation promises [9:11-15]

(a)     Restoration of David's tabernacle [9:11-12]

(b)     Israel's prosperity will be restored [9:13-15]

II.    The Book of AMOS

A.     [Ch 3-6]  Announcing the sins of Israel and God's intended Judgment

1.        Superscription [1:1-2]

 a.      Amos was a shepherd and a fig grower from the little town, Tekoa, about 12 miles from Jerusalem.  He began his work by prophesying to the northern kingdom two years before the earthquake.  About two hundred years later, Zechariah mentioned about the earthquake [Zec 14:5].    The exact time of the earthquake was not known; but it happened during the reign of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam II, king of  Israel.                 

 b.      Israel was at its peak of prosperity but religiously corrupt.  Idolatry was commonly practiced throughout the land, especially at Bethel.  There was no justice in the land.  The rich became richer and the poor, poorer.  Amos spoke of God's wrath, like a lion's roar, upon the land, and His coming Judgment upon Israel, as well as the surrounding nations.  "And the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither."  Apparently, a drought and a famine would come upon the entire land.

2.        Announcing of Judgment upon the neighboring nations [1:3-2:3]

Amos gives a world view in his speech of Judgments.  It shows God is not just the God of Israel but also a God of the Gentiles.  Amos must have drawn a great cheering crowd when he pronounced Judgment upon the nations.

 a.      Judgment upon Damascus [1:3-5]


Damascus, the capital, represents Syria (Aram).  "For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four" means the repeated sinning of the nations would not hold back God's Judgment. 

"Because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron."  This is the mayhem that the kings of Syria had committed against the tribes in Gilead [2 Ki 10:32-33].


Hazael was the king of Syria and Ben-Hadad was his son [1 Ki 15:18; 2 Ki 10:32; 13:22, 24; 8:11-15].  God would punish Syria for its atrocity.


Valley of Aven [Aven means vanity or evil] is probably the region around Baalbek northwest of Damascus, and Beth Eden [pleasure; delight] is perhaps Bit-Adini, a tiny state on the banks of the Euphrates south of Carchemish.  Kir was a province in the Assyrian empire.  It was suggested that this place was originally Syria's.  Prophesying that the Syrians would be taken captive by the Assyrians to Kir is like saying the Israelites would go back to Egypt as slaves [Amos 9:7].  Pul [Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 B.C.)] the king of Assyria, carried the captives of Damascus and carried them to Kir [Ki 16:9].

 b.      Judgment upon Gaza [1:6-8]

Gaza was one of the five cities [Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, and Gath {Gath was not mentioned here}] of Philistia.  The Philistines had been perpetual enemies of Israel.  They enslaved a certain number of Israelites and sold them into slavery to Edom.  Amos announces the Judgment on Philistia that even the remnants shall perish [:8].  During the reign of Hezekiah, "he [Hezekiah] smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city" [2 Ki 18:8].

 c.      Judgment upon Tyre [1:9-10]

Tyre, signifying Phoenicia, would also be punished for slave-trading with Edom;  but more importantly, for her breach of treaty with Israel.  Hiram, king of Tyre, had been a personal friend of David.  Although there was a treaty made between him and king Solomon [1 Ki 5:12], it came to an unhappy ending [1 Ki 9:12-13]. 

Tyre had suffered under the attacks of the Assyrians and Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.  In 332 B.C. Alexander the Great made a causeway out to the island, he took it, destroyed it, and brought Tyre to an end.

 d.      Judgment upon Edom [1:11-12]

The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob [Ge 25:19-28].  These two brothers were always fighting.

Teman is a city of Edom in the south, and Bozrah, a city in the north.  Because of Edom's revengeful spirit, God promised to destroy Edom completely, from the south to the north of the country.

 e.      Judgment upon Ammon [1:13-15]    

The Ammonites were the descendants of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his younger daughter [Ge 19:30-38].  Ammon's territory is in the east side of the Jordan.  It had been at war with Israel since the days of the Judges [Jdg 10:7ff; 11:4ff; 1 Sa 11:1-11; 2 Sa 12:26-31].  Presumably, they had joined the Syrians in fighting the two and one-half tribes of Israel in Gilead [Amos 1:3, and viciously attacked the women.   They did it to enlarge their territory.

Rabbah was the capital of Ammon.  It is identified with the modern Amman, the capital city of the nation Jordan.  The crime that the Ammonites committed in the south, is similar to the crime done by Hazael in Syria in the north [ref. 2 Ki 8:12-13].  And it was for this crime that God would judge the Ammonites.

 f.       Judgment upon Moab [2:1-3]

Moab was south of Ammon and directly east of the Dead Sea.  The Moabites were the descendants of Lot and his older daughter [Ge 19:30-38].  The indictment against Moab was that it carried a revengeful spirit by burning the bones of the king of Edom into lime.  The ancient world called for respect for the corpse of a royal enemy [cf. 2 Ki 9:34].  The incident might be related to the war God intended to punish Moab for lack of human decency.

Kerioth, a city of Moab [Jer 48:24], may have been singled out for destruction because it housed the shrine of the Moabite deity, Chemosh.  This nation was later brought to extinction at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar [Jos. Antiq. X. ix. 7].

3.        Judgment upon the elect [2:4-16]

During the reign of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, the kingdom was divided into Judah, the southern kingdom, ruled by Rehoboam, and Israel, the northern kingdom, ruled by Jeroboam.

God had pronounced His Judgments upon the other nations for their wickedness and atrocities.  But now God turned His Judgment upon Judah and Israel for religious crimes - they were His chosen people and turned away from His law.  Yet they fell into idolatry and incurred the wrath of God.  Therefore, they were more guilty for their sins than the Gentiles.

 a.      Judgment upon Judah [2:4-5]

God would punish Judah because "they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept His commandments."  Judah had not kept the laws of God, failed to keep the Sabbath, and committed idolatry.  Amos mentions that there would be Judgment by fire.  When Nebuchadnezzar came against the city, he burned the temple, broke down the walls of Jerusalem, and carried captives to Babylon [2 Ch 36:14-21; Jer 17:27].

 b.      Judgment upon Israel [2:6-16]

God condemned the sins of Israel: (1) selling the poor as slaves (see Dt 25:7-11; Amos 8:6); (2) exploiting the poor (see Ex 23:6; Dt 16:19); (3) engaging in perverse sexual sins (see Lv 20:11, 12); (4) taking illegal collateral for loans (see Ex 22:26, 27; Dt 24:6, 12, 13); (5) worshiping false gods (see Ex 20:3-5).


Mistreatment of the poor.  The rich forced the poor to sell their land to pay their debts.  If they were unable to pay the full restitution, they would sell their wives and children as slaves even for the price of the pair of shoes [Ref. 2 Ki 4:1; Ne 5:4-5].  The Judge exacted bribery and perverted justice. [cf Dt 16:19].


"They trampled on the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor."  The Judge was perverting justice.  "A man and his father go in to the same girl to profane My holy name" talks about father and son committed illicit sex with the temple prostitute.  [cf Hos 4:14].


[Dt 24:12-13] "And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight.  You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the Lord your God" [also Ex 22:25-27].  Apparently, the rich were not doing the command and ill-treated the poor. 

"By every altar."   Israel had gone into idolatry and had a multitude of altars.

"And drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god."  God condemns their drunkenness.


Although the Amorites were giants, God destroyed them and gave the land of Canaan to the Israelites.  [Jos 24:8].  And God rehearsed the history of Exodus.


God has raised many prophets and Nazarites to teach the nation to obey His laws.  But they refused to listen and to obey.


"Now then, I will crush you as a cart crushes when loaded with grain [sheaves]" [NIV].  God's Judgment is comparable to what a wagon full of sheaves does.


Some say this passage refers to earthquake.  The cart is seen as crushing, it probably means the Judgment of invasion.   Israel was a strong nation at this time.  Whatever this passage meant, God is telling Israel that she is becoming weak and that He has already begun His Judgment on her.

B.      [Ch 3-6]  Announcing the sins of Israel and God's intended Judgment

1.        A.  Grace and Judgment [3:1-2]


"Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you" - The Israelites were brought out of Egypt of bondage.  Moses had repeatedly reminded the people to remember the grace of God [Dt 5:15; 6:12; 15:15; 16:12; 24:22], but they forgot.

"Against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt."  In the eyes of God there was one nation, not two [Israel and Judah].


"You only have I known."  Of all the nations on earth, God only chose Israel to be His people, not that they deserved this special privilege, but because He wanted to [Dt 9:4-6].  He made this promise to Abraham, the father of Israel [Ge 12:1-3; Dt 7:7-8].  Despite the fact, Israel was stiff-necked and broke many of His commandments.  The more grace is given, more will be required of them.  [Lk 12:48].  God wants them to know that He was going to punish them for their iniquities.

2.        The impending calamity on Israel and God's calling of Amos [3:3-8]

 a.      Seven rhetorical questions (cause and effect):

(a)     Two cannot walk together unless they agree;

(b)     A lion will only roar when it catches a prey;

(c)     A lion will not growl if it catches nothing;

(d)     Birds cannot fall it there is no snare;

(e)     A trap will not spring if there is no catch;

(f)      When trumpet sounds people are afraid;

(g)     Disaster comes because the Lord causes it.


"Can two walk together unless they are agreed?"  The cause and effect rhetorical questions. Two cannot agree unless they walk together.  We cannot walk with God unless we agree with Him.


The lion will roar (result) when it captures a prey (cause).  So goes the five-fold repetitive argument that you cannot have the result without the cause.

Amos is telling the people that for every effect there is a cause.  God's Judgment which is coming is not accidental but is a result of the sin of the people.


Despite God's anger, He is merciful: He warns them through His prophets.

3.        The fate of Samaria [3:9-4:5]

 a.      Punishment of Samaria's sins [3:9-15]


Ashdod [in LXX Assyria].  Amos pictured that God calls to witness Israel's great sin by foreigners, Philistia and Egypt.  The people assembled in the surrounding mountains of Samaria could see the violent and lawlessness within Samaria.


 "Adversary."  The adversary, ie, Assyria would plunder and spoil the city a treatment which the rich Israelites had given to the poor.


 After Israel had been plundered, the remaining remnant is likened to a piece of an ear and two legs which are all that are left of a lamb after a lion has devoured it.


"The altars of Bethel" refer to the golden calf worship.  "The horns of the altar" stood for protection [1 Ki 1:49-53].  God intends to remove the polluted religious system of Israel. 


"The houses of ivory."  Ahab and Jezebel had built on the top of the hill in Samaria a place of ivory [1 Ki 22:39].  The wealthy leaders built for themselves summer and winter houses.  All these, God says, will be destroyed and come to desolation.

 b.      Judgment speech against the Samaria's wealthy women [4:1-3]


"You cows of Bashan."  Bashan is a territory on the east of the Jordan River between the mountains of Gilead in the south and Mt.Hermon in the north.  Bashan is noted for its fertile land and fine breed of cattle.  [Ref. Mic 7:14; Dt 32:14; Ek 39:18; Ps 22:12].  The wealthy Israel women pushed their husbands to oppress the poor in order to support their lavish life-style.


These women would be led off as captives by their conquerors.

"Hooks", "fishhooks"  cf 2 Ki 19:28; Is 37:29.


The captors would remove them like removing trash from the broken into the dumping area [Ref. 1 Ki 14:10; Zp 1:17].

Harmon:  The name of a place to which the people of Samaria were to be exiled.  No place with this name is known.

4.        Mock admonitions against futile worship [4:4-5]

Bethel was where God renewed His covenant to Abraham with Jacob [Ge 28:10-12].  It became the religious center of the northern kingdom.  Jeroboam I set a golden calf there to discourage the people from going to Jerusalem to worship [1 Ki 12:26-29]..  Gilgal means circle, or to roll away.  It was the first campground after the Israelites had crossed the River Jordan [Jos 4:19].  At Gilgal Joshua renewed the covenant and the rite of circumcision and the people kept the Passover [Jos 5:2-11].  Later it became the center of idolatry.  Amos sarcastically was inviting the people to transgress in Bethel and Gilgal.  It is equivalent to saying "You come to church to sin, not to worship God."

5.        Judgment-history repeated but warning unheeded [4:6-13]


"Cleanness of teeth" because of the "lack of bread".

[:7, 8] 

Spring rain was absolutely necessary for the barley (May) and wheat (June) crops which provided bread.  God caused rainfall at random that affected some cities and not others.  The drought was so serious that people had to go from one city to another to get some water.  This is to tell them God is in control of rainfall, yet they paid no attention to it.


Blight and mildew are often paired in Scripture [Dt 28:22; 1 Ki 8:37; 2 Ch 6:28; Hg 2:17].  Blight was the scorching east wind from the desert.  Mildew was the excessive drought, not moisture.  Locust (palmerworm) refers to locust plague which devoured what was left. 


 "The stench of your camps" was the stink of the dead bodies from the pestilence and wars.


The overthrow of some of the cities probably refers to the military assault, rather than the natural disasters.  This is a warning that the whole kingdom might fall some day.


God did not specify what He was going to do.  It was going to be a surprise.  [They were made captives by the Assyrians].  When the Assyrians came down, they took Israel captives; and many slain.  They must meet God in death and be judged by Him.


Amos emphasizes that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.  He is the Creator of the universe.  God knows all.  Prepare to meet Him!

6.        Lamentation to Israel [5:1-3]


Amos sang a dirge lamenting Israel, who was espoused to God as a chaste virgin [cf. 2 Co 11:2].  Her destruction is assured because she plays the harlot.


Amos was saying that many of them will be slain: a thousand will be reduced to a hundred, and a hundred to ten.  The Israel armies will be decimated during the Assyrian invasion.

7.        The prophet's exhortation [5:4-17]

 a.      Admonitions to seek God [5:4-9]


God is calling them to repent and turn to Him.


Bethel and Gilgal were sacred places before but became central to idolatry.  Beersheba - a town in the southern kingdom in the Negeb.  The phrase "from Dan to Beersheba" [Jdg 20:1; 1 Sa 3:20] is used in the Scripture to designate the entire land of Israel from north to south.  A shrine was set up in Beersheba in Amos' time and people from the north made pilgrimages to Beersheba for worship. 

"For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing.  Gilgal and Bethel will be destroyed but Beersheba is not mentioned here because Beersheba is in the southern kingdom.  It goes into captivity with the southern kingdom.


"Seek the Lord and live".  Hope is found in seeking the Lord.


Wormwood means bitter [Rev 8:11].  The courts of law gave no justice or righteousness the poor because they were corrupt.


Pleiades and Orion are constellations.  They were guides for navigation.  "He calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth."  God is the maker of rain.  In effect, God is in control of day and night, drought and rain.  Why not look to the Creator for guidance instead of idols?


God can bring down the strong.

 b.      Admonitions to do justice [5:10-17]


"The one who rebukes in the gate" would be the judge.  Justice is not served.  The judge who upholds justice becomes unpopular.


The poor do not get justice.  Although the rich would build palaces and buy vineyards, they would be brought to desolation.


God took notice that there was no justice in the land.  The rich perverted justice with bribe.  The poor were silence knowing that their appeal would be futile.


Before disaster would befall, Israel still had a slim chance if she would leave her evil ways and establish justice.  Remnant means weakness - the frailty of Joseph's sons and daughters in the northern kingdom.


To honor the dead, mourners, normally women, were hired to cried aloud.  There were so many funerals that there was a shortage of professional mourners, so farmers would be called from the field to help.  [Ref. Jer 9:17-20].  Death will touch everyone; all will mourn.

8.        The Day of Yahweh [5:18-20]


"The day of the Lord."  In the past, God, by His intervention, brought victories to his people [Jdg 7; 2 Sa 5:17-25; Is 9:4; 28:21].  But the hope of deliverance in the future would be a day of woe [the imminent destruction by the Assyrian army] for Israel.


A dramatic, figurative description of inescapable disaster.  It is liken a man in the woods and he met a lion.  He tried to run away from the lion but he met a bear.  Seeing a bear, he takes off and reaches home.  While leaning his hand on the wall panting for breath, a serpent slithers down the wall and bites him.  There is no hope but darkness.

9.        Denunciation of cultic worship and punishment [5:21-27]


God despises rituals and songs when the worship is a false pretense.  Faith without works is dead.  [Ref Jas 2:17].  Israel was living in sin; their show of worship by rituals and songs was disgusting to God.


What does God require?  To do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. [Mic 6:8]. 


In the wilderness for forty years, although the Israelites did not offer sacrifices, God  was with them.  Why not now?  [Ref 1 Sa 15:22].


Israel preferred to worship nature [those are the names of the deities of the stars and planets] over the worshipping of nature's God.  [Cf. 2 Ki 17:28-34; 23:4-5; Ac 7:42].  They will go into captivity "beyond Damascus" (ie. beyond Syria).  God is telling Israel that the Assyrian would take them into captivity.

10.     Warnings to Zion and Samaria [6:1-14]


Zion was in the southern kingdom.  So, both northern and southern kingdoms were addressed here.  Israel trusted in her wealth and power and therefore thought she was well protected. 


Look at these cities (Calneh, Hamath, Gath).  They are all in ruins.  Are you superior to these other nations?  Are their border greater than your border?  What has become of them will also happen to Israel.  {Calneh was one of the cities founded by Nimrod [Ge 10:10].  The location of the city is unknown.  But Calneh here appears in association with Hamath and Gath.  Isaiah 10:9 associates Calno with Carchemish.  Calneh and Calno are identical.  Thus Calneh probably is referred to a city in the North.  Hamath is the chief city in Syria.}


They were not worried about the coming doom and persisted in their wicked ways. 


Ivory was an imported item and very expensive.  They immersed in luxury - wine, women and songs - and had no concern for the poor, or whether the nation sink or swim.


Therefore alludes a quick conclusion.  Because of these great sins, the northern kingdom will go into captivity first.


God abhorred their profligate living, the pride of the northern kingdom and would deliver them to an unnamed foe.


The story highlights two main points:

1.        death and devastating plague follows warfare;

2.        the judgment of God is so grave that the survivors dare not mention His name lest death may befall them.  Cremation was resorted to in order to prevent contagion.  The last survivor in the house also fearfully await the hour when the plague would carry them away. 


Their houses, big or small, shall be destroyed.


Horses do not run on rocks but donkeys.  One does not use an ox to pull a plough through the pounding waves of the sea.  The unreasonableness and injustice of Israel is absurd!


Lo Debar means Nothing.  Karnaim means Horns, a symbol of strength.  These two cities are located in Gilead.  Hamath was the chief city of Syria.  Arabah is on the other side of the Jordan River which flowed into the Dead Sea.  This is probably a reference to the military strength of Jeroboam II in which Israel was trusting.  [2 Ki 13:25; 14:25].   Israel's boasting of her brief military success would be shattered by the invasion of  Assyrians who will come down from the north to the south and take the people of the entire kingdom into captivity.

C.     [Ch 7-9] Five Judgment Visions Against Israel

1.        Vision of the locusts [7:1-3]

Two crops could be harvested from the land during Spring.  The first crop went to the king as taxes on the farmers' lands for cattle-feed [the king's mowings (cf 1 Ki 18:5)].  However, the late spring crop [the late crop] were eaten by the grasshoppers or locusts, leaving Israel destitute.  The April rains would have passed and a six-month long drought of summer usually sustained making it impossible for further growth.

The locusts are an enactment of God's judgment upon the disobedient Israel.  Thus Amos' plea to God for forgiveness.  The Lord relented, but "it shall not be" for He calls for their repentance.

2.        Vision of the fire [7:3-6]

After the drought God proceeds to the judgment of fire.  The fire consumed the great deep.  Deep probably refers to the underground water for irrigation.  The prophet prayed for forgiveness.  God granted the stay of execution of His judgment: this also shall not be.

3.        Vision of the plumb line [7:7-9]

Plumb line is the measuring line [see also Isa 28:17; Zec 2:1-2], signifying judgment [cf Dan 5:27].  Israel had not lived up to God's standard.  Amos did not pray for the people this time.  God will never again pass by them, i.e. never again overlook their sins. The  sword of the Assyrian shall befall the house of Jeroboam.

4.        Amaziah's complaint [7:10-17]

Amaziah was the chief priest of Bethel ministering to the golden calf.  He brought a malicious accusation against Amos.  He lied to Jeroboam that Amos committed a crime of treason "Amos has conspired against you" and that "Jeroboam shall die by the sword [Amos has said, "And I will rise with the sword against the house of Jeroboam"] , and Israel shall surely be led away captive from their own land."  He omitted Amos' intercession for Israel, and by his intercession had turned away first one judgment then another.  He does not tell him that if they would repent the ruins should be prevented. 

He commanded the prophet to return to Judah, earn his living as a prophet there; but never to return to Bethel because he was never welcome.  Amaziah was not concern about hearing God's message but the profits of his position.

Amos answers that he was not a professional prophet.  Never claimed to be one.  He prophesied by divine authority not by prophetical office.  He was a herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruits. 

He also has a personal message for Amaziah.  When the Assyrians would come to take Israel captive, Amaziah's wife shall be made a harlot; his children shall be slain; he  shall be stripped of his estate; he himself shall perish in the heathen country.  Amos reassures his prophecy that Israel would be taken captive from his own land.

5.        Vision of the summer fruit [8:1-3]

Amos saw a basket of summer fruit gathered and ready to be eaten.  This signifies:

 a.      the fruits were ripe and will soon decay;

 b.      the harvest is past;

 c.      Israel is ripe for judgment or was going to be carried into exile.  The end has come upon my people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore. 

The consequence of this will be universal desolation.  The place of praises will turn into a place of wailing.  Dead bodies will be tossed everywhere that "Hush!" [in silence] would be the only proper word to voice.

6.        Israel's sins and her punishment [8:4-10]


"You who swallow up the needy"  -  Amos indicted the rich about their exploitation of the poor.


The merchants put on an outward look of godliness by keeping the holy days [New Moon, Sabbath] while, in their mind, they were planning to enrich themselves the next day by cheating


They trampled the poor, forced them into bondage next to nothing.  They sell chaff as wheat at inflated price.


God would not forget their deeds and would hold them accountable for what they had done.

Be generous to the poor [Dt 15:7-11; Pr 17:17].  Mocking the poor is equivalent to reproaching his Maker [Pr 17:5]. 


God would bring judgment upon them like the swelling and ebbing of River Nile which drowned the whole land.  [Some commentators think this has reference to an earthquake].


"That Day" refers to the Lord's judgment.  It also has reference to the eschatological future of the Day of the Lord.  [Cf Isa 13:10; Ek 32:7; Joel 2:31].  Two eclipses occurred in Amos' lifetime: one in 784 B.C., and the other 763 B.C. 


Feasts into mourning, songs into lamentation (cf. 5:1, 16-17); sackcloth on every waist (cf. Gn 37:34); baldness on every head (cf. Isa 22:12; Jer 16:6; Ek 7:18) are expressions of bereavement like a widow lamenting the loss of  an only son.

7.        Spiritual famine [8:11-14]


A spiritual famine would befall the land.  They had great opportunities of hearing the words of God.  But hereafter, God would deprive them of His oracles.  This is the highest token of God's judgment.  They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east, seeking the word of the Lord (all over the world) but shall not find it.   Absence of God's word would mark their end.

  Even the cream of the population, the fair virgins and strong young men, who thrust in their own merit, shall faint from thirst.  Even those who think they are spiritually strong, if without the word of God, their spirit shall become weak and weary [cf Isa 40:30].


"The sin of Samaria" - is Syrian goddess Ashima.  "As your god lives, O Dan" is the other golden calf in Dan.  "As the way of Beersheba lives" refers to the pilgrimage they made in the south to visiting the idolatrous sanctuary.  Their grave idolatrous sins brought upon themselves permanent judgment that they shall fall and never rise again.

8.        Vision of the Lord above the altar [9:1-10]


God is thorough in His judgment.  Amos saw in the vision that God was standing at the altar of Baal's temple in Bethel.  [Some say it is the altar of Jerusalem].  People would seek refuge in the temples during the siege, but God ordered an angel to bring down the temples to break them on the heads.  Those who were able to escape would be killed by the sword.  If they dig into hell [sheol]  to hide, God will seek them out.  If they climb up to heaven, God will bring them down.  If they seek refuge on top of Carmel [where there are numerous caves], He will search them out.  If they conceal themselves at the bottom of the sea, the Lord will send the serpent to bite them.  When they are taken into captivity, their enemies would slay them.

God is omnipresent.  There is no escape from His wrath.   [Ref. Ps 139:7-12; Jer 16:17].


Amos reminded the people that God the Creator is not only omnipresent, He is also omnipotent.  [Cf 4:13; 5:8].

God dictates our destiny [Isa 43:13; 45:7; Jer 10:10].


Israel had lost her peculiarity before God.  They were just the same as the Ethiopians.  God brought them out of Egypt; God also brought the Philistines from Caphtor, or Cappadocia.  In like manner, God also brought the Syrians up from Kir when they had been carried away to there [2 Ki 16:9]. 

Do not think to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father." ..... Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." [Mt 3:9-10].


God would destroy the sinful Israel.  But the house of Israel  will be sifted as grain would be sifted.  He would preserve the pious remnant [Isa 11:16; Ro 11:5]. 

"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, ...; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter ..." [Ro 2:28-29].

9.        Salvation promises [9:11-15]

 a.      Restoration of David's tabernacle [9:11-12]

"On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David which has fallen down."  God covenanted with David that one of his descendants would always sit on his throne [2 Sa 7:12-16].  This is a promise to both Israel and Judah and to be fulfilled spiritually by the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.  James quoted these verses [Ac 15:16-17]:

"After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen down.  I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up, So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things" 

When Christ Jesus has established His spiritual kingdom (His church) through His resurrection for both Jews and Gentiles.

 b.      Israel's prosperity will be restored [9:13-15]

When the time comes, God will restore the kingdom of Israel and they will be blessed with plentiful.  The passage is prophetical about the establishment of the spiritual kingdom by the Messiah, for both Jews and Gentiles.  In the end time, the Holy Spirit will establish permanently His true Church that preaches the gospel and bring the lost ones back to the truth and enjoy the abundant grace of God.


Historical Setting

A.     Historical Period of Amos:

Subscription to the book (1:1) and in the dispute between Amos and Amaziah (7:10-17) allude the period of Jeroboam II, king of Israel and Uzziah, king of Judah.  The reign of these two kings overlapped from about 785-750 B.C.


"two years before the earthquake] is the only guide to an exact date between 765-760 B.C.  Yadin's excavation of Hazor associated severe earthquake damage in stratum VI with Amos 1:1.

The prosperity of Israel, its sense of security [6:1-6] and its military victories [6:13] point to a period of the reign of Jeroboam II.

B.      Many political changes during this ancient Near East:

1.        Egypt was fragmented by Libyan and Sudanese kings and was not longer a strong influence in Palestine.

2.        Syrian and Assyrian were more involved with Israel.  Before Amos time, i.e. during the time of Jehu, Jehu paid tribute to Assyrians (ca 841 B.C.).  Assyria was distracted by its northern neighbor Urartu.  Syrians gained power and attacked Israel.  Hazael and Benhadad treated Israel mercilessly [2 Kgs 10:32; 12:17-18; 13:7].

3.        Ca 805 B.C. a new Assyrian king came to power and defeated Syria.  Amos remembered these Syrian atrocities and predicted a further defeat of the Syrian forces [1:3-5].

4.        The next three Assyrian kings were weak, and Syrian had just been defeated, Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah of Judah became strong monarchs during the period of Amos.  Israel recovered the conquered territory from Syria [2 Kgs 13:25] and eventually Jeroboam II extended the border to Israel as far north as Hamath [2 Kgs 14:25; Amos 6:14].

5.        The military success of Jeroboam II made the ministry of Amos very difficult, for few people took his warning of impending doom seriously.  The people were proud and at ease [6:1]; thus Amos' warnings of death, exile, and the end of Israel seemed out of touch with the political realities they saw around them.  Amos faced considerable official opposition [7:10-17].

C.     Trades:

1.        Control of trade routes brought new wealth and access to expensive ivories and furniture [3:15; 6:4].

2.        With new wealth came cultural influences, new patterns of morality, and business ethics which were not consistent with Israel's traditions [2:6-8; 6:4-6; 8:4-6].

3.        New class of wealthy landlords, government officials and merchants emerged.  They built beautiful palaces [5:11] that looked like fortresses [6:8].  These were great houses [3:15; 6:11] and some owned both summer and winter homes [3:15].

4.        Oppression, violence, and a seeming ignorance of the difference between right and wrong characterized life in the nation's palace-fortresses [3:9-10].

5.        Luxurious living with the best wine, oil, music, and meat were a regular part of life for the rich [6:4-7].

6.        The people felt very secure, very proud, and thoroughly unconcerned with the misery allotted to the rest of the population [6:1, 6, 8].

D.     Legal and Illegal Means:

1.        Material good were attained through legal and illegal means.

2.        Amos condemned the wealthy women of Samaria for crushing the needy [4:1], the merchants for shady business practices [8:4-6], the landlords for exacting exorbitant taxes or rents [5:11], and others for bribery in the court [5:10, 12].

3.        The poor, the weak, the debtor and the servant were mistreated, and some were sold into slavery [2:6-8; 8:4, 6].

* Social conditions were soured by sin and greed.  Amos, the shepherd, opposed this evil and predicted the humiliation and captivity of those who ignored God's standards of justice in social relationships.

E.      Religious Situation:

1.        Amos recognized the evil of worshiping other gods [5:26; 8:14].

2.        Amos concentrated on showing the nation how Israelite religious institutions and theology were being perverted, misunderstood, and rejected.  Temple worship, songs, sacrifices, and tithes are not described as non-Israelite but as transgressions and proud demonstrations of piety [4:4-5].  They are unrelated to justice and righteousness [5:21-24] or to a real seeking after God [5:4-6].  The temples at Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba [4:4; 5:5] were full of activity that was religious in nature, but those worshiping did not turn from their sin and return to God [4:6-13].

F.      Opposition to Prophets and Nazarites:

1.        Some people outwardly opposed prophets and Nazarites, who were called by God to warn the nation of their sins [2:11-12; 7:10-17].

2.        This repression of prophetic criticism did not cause the people to reject Israel's past theological traditions.  The nation still remembered God's election of them out of all the families of the earth [3:1-2], God's grace in delivering the nation from Egypt [2:10; 3:1; 9:7], his destruction of the Amorites [2:9] and the giving of the land of Palestine as a possession for Israel [2:10; 9:15].

3.        They knew God's promise was that he would be with them [5:14], protect them from all dangers [9:10], and save them on the great Day of Yahweh [5:18-20].  These theological beliefs and religious practice only gave the people the impression that they were doing all the right things and believing all the right doctrines.  Religion had become the opiate of the people.  the promises of God were proclaimed, but the personal presence of God was unknown.

Amos was sent by God to share the roar of the lion [3:8].  God had spoken out against his people and Amos was the messenger God chose to deliver his words of challenge and rebuke.  Amos was not sent to pagans who had never heard God's word, he was sent to God's own people who failed to recognize sin in their lives.