Bible Commentaries

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

Amos

Book Overview - Amos

by Joseph Parker

Amos

A"MOS (‏עָמום‎, a burden; ᾿Αμώς; Amos), a native of Tekoah in Judah, about six miles S. of Bethlehem, originally a shepherd and dresser of sycamore-trees, was called by God"s Spirit to be a prophet, although not trained in any of the regular prophetic schools ( Amos 1:1; Amos 7:14-15). He travelled from Judah into the northern kingdom of Israel or Ephraim, and there exercised his ministry, apparently not for any long time. His date cannot be later than the15th year of Uzziah"s reign (b.c808, according to Clinton, F. H, i. p325); for he tells us that he prophesied "in the reigns of Uzziah king of Judah, and Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake." This earthquake (also mentioned Zechariah 14:5) cannot have occurred after the17th year of Uzziah, since Jeroboam II. died in the15th of that king"s reign, which therefore is the latest year fulfilling the three chronological indications furnished by the prophet himself. But his ministry probably took place at an earlier period of Jeroboam"s reign, perhaps about the middle of it, for, on the one hand, Amos speaks of the conquests of this warlike king as completed ( Amos 6:13; cf. 2 Kings 14:25); on the other the Assyrians, who towards the end of his reign were approaching Palestine ( Hosea 10:6; Hosea 11:5), do not seem as yet to have caused any alarm in the country.... The book of the prophecies of Amos seems divided into four principal portions closely connected together. (1) From Amos 1:1 to Amos 2:3 he denounces the sins of the nations bordering on Israel and Judah as a preparation for (2), in which, from Amos 2:4 to Amos 6:14, he describes the state of those two kingdoms, especially the former. This is followed by (3) Amos 7:1 to Amos 9:10, in which, after reflecting on the previous prophecy, he relates his visit to Bethel, and sketches the impending punishment of Israel which he predicted to Amaziah. After this in (4) he rises to a loftier and more evangelical strain, looking forward to the time when the hope of the Messiah"s kingdom will be fulfilled, and his people forgiven and established in the enjoyment of God"s blessings to all eternity. The chief peculiarity of the style consists in the number of allusions to natural objects and agricultural occupations, as might be expected from the early life of the author. See Amos 1:3; Amos 2:13; Amos 3:4-5; Amos 4:2, Amos 4:7, Amos 4:9; Amos 5:8, Amos 5:19; Amos 6:12; Amos 7:1; Amos 9:3, Amos 9:9, Amos 9:13, Amos 9:14. The book presupposes a popular acquaintance with the Pentateuch (see Hengstenberg, Beiträge zur Einleitung ins Alte Testament, i. p83-125), and implies that the ceremonies of religion, except where corrupted by Jeroboam1, were in accordance with the law of Moses. The references to it in the New Testament are two: Amos 5:25-26, Amos 5:27 is quoted by St. Stephen in Acts 7:42, and Acts 9:11 by St. James in Acts 15:16. As the book is evidently not a series of detached prophecies, but logically and artistically connected in its several parts, it was probably written by Amos as we now have it after his return to Tekoah from his mission to Bethel. (See Ewald, Propheten des Alten Bundes, i. p84ff.)—Smith"s Dictionary of the Bible.