Amos 911 has been a great Bible study for me. The “minor prophets”, only because of length, have amazing stuff in them. I took this time to learn more about Amos and his place in history. Because of a visit to a Bible Museum, I am reminded that chapters and verses were not in many early Bibles. With that said 9:11 starts as a promise to David and his fallen sakkut.
Amos was a shepherd and grew figs for a living; he was sent to the northern kingdom to prophecy. He is from Tekoa and the region of Carmel, which is below Bethlehem and Hebron by the Dead Sea. This is not Mount Carmel in northern Israel where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal. He is from the tribe of Judah but is a distant relative of David. His family line goes from Perez to Hezron, to Ashhur, then to Tekoa (1 Chronicles 2:24).
Carmel-There are two places with this name in the Bible. Amos 1:2 may be referring to the area that overlooks the Dead Sea. I think it is referring to Amos and why he went to Israel, the northern kingdom, his pastureland was in drought. 9: 3 is in the section that promises Israel to be destroyed, so it seems like that should be Mount Carmel. In the NIV the second line refers to “hunting them down and seizing them”, just like Elijah did to the false prophets.
Tekoa and the men and women of the region are mentioned in other places in the history of Judah.
- 2 Samuel 14:22-Joab sends for a wise woman.
- 1 Chronicles 11:28-one of David’s mighty men.
- 1 Chronicles 27:9-a division of David’s army.
- 2 Chronicles 11:6-fortified by King Rehoboam.
- 2 Chronicles 20:20-King Jehoshaphat blessed the people before leaving to go there.
- Jeremiah 6:1-said to sound the trumpet there.
- Nehemiah 3: 5 and 27-the men of the area rebuilt two sections of the wall of Jerusalem (not the leaders).
The conflict in Nehemiah between the people and the leaders opened up a few questions. Ezra does not specify men from that region coming back (good maps to compare cities are few, I may be wrong). Did this region get exported? Were the leaders opposed because they sided with Sanballat?
Amos 1:1 uses an earthquake as part of the timestamp for his ministry. The king of Judah was Uzziah, and the king of Israel (where he ministered) was Jeroboam (the second one). This earthquake may be referenced in Isaiah 29:6. It is definitely talked about in Zechariah 14:5, which is several hundred years later. It must have been quite a quake.
To find Amos’s contemporaries you must use the kings of Judah and Israel. The king of Israel is Jeroboam (II), the grandson of Jehu. Look at 2 Kings 13:1 and 10:30; he was the fourth generation if you start with Jehu, the wild driver. The other prophet with Amos in the north was Jonah, who got a ride in a fish. Uzziah or Azariah is king in Judah, so using the introduction in Isaiah and Hosea makes Amos at the same time. Isaiah shares the warning of “the day” with Amos, and Hosea has a lot to say about Israel/Ephraim. Based on similar topics Joel could have been ministering at the same time.
The day (of God’s judgment) is mentioned 11 times in Amos (2:16; 3:14; 5:18,20; 6:3; 8:3,9,10,11,13; 9:11 NIV). Chapter 8 is the metaphor of Israel being a ripe basket of figs, whose time has come. “Day of the Lord” is found in 5:18 and 20. The “day” in Isaiah covers more “territory”, but 61:2 is clear about a day of vengeance and a year of favor. 2 Kings 17 and 25 are (the first) days of fulfillment for the north and the south kingdoms.
For three sins of…, even for four, I will not relent.
This is an Amos-only statement. There are eight of these in chapters 1 and 2. The first seven are for Israel’s neighbors and the last one is for Israel. God calls out:
- Gaza-selling slaves from Israel to Edom.
- Tyre-selling slaves from Israel to Edom.
- Edom-Judah’s neighbor to the south and “family” members. They were not very friendly.
For numbers 1-7 there is only one sin listed. Okay, this is probably why I have not read Amos very much; what are the first three? Israel*, the northern kingdom, however, seems to have four listed (2:6-12): 1. selling the righteous and needy; 2. trampling the poor and denying justice, while profaning God’s name; 3. lying down by every altar of foreign gods; 4. making Nazirites drink wine and silencing prophets. (*In Amos 3:1 and 2:10, it talks to ALL of the children of Jacob. Most of the time Israel refers to the north.)
Chapters 3 through 9:10
3:2 states that you cannot walk together if can agree, and 3:7 states that God uses His prophets to speak His intentions. For the most part that is a summary of this section. Except for 7:10-17 which is a narrative between Amaziah the priest of Bethel and Amos, and Amos tells him what will happen to him and his family. This section is directed, mostly, at the northern kingdom (Israel), but the Father does call out the southern kingdom also. Please see Psalm 89: 30-37, it is a reference to David and his sons but could be extended to all of Jacob’s children. Psalm 89:20-51 are Messianic in nature and describes Jesus’ time on earth quite well.
God says what He has done to get their attention, how they have ignored Him, and what will happen to them if they continue to ignore Him. Chapter 8 shifts into visions and conversations with/from God. The words, that we tend to skip over, about how God is telling His people may be a study in the future (you will need a concordance like the Zondervan Exhaustive Concordance, that has says/said, declares, etc.).
To take a study of Amos to another level, may I suggest that you use the alternate meanings and metaphors of the names: David (2x) = beloved, Judah (4x) = praise, Jacob (6x) = deceiver, Israel (30+ times) = struggles with God (in the NIV). Israel is the most interesting, frequently it means the north, but at times it may be all of the descendants of the man Jacob, *both north and south (see 6:1). Using “struggles with God” does put a different light on some of these passages. This concept carries both positive and negative connotations.
My Points of Interest
- What we call Chapter 4 starts with a rebuke of the “cows of Bashan” (the east bank of the Jordan River) “on the Mount of Samaria” (the west bank). The end of the chapter (12 +13) is an introduction to Chapter 5; verse thirteen is a reminder to a nation who has forsaken God, who He is, and His abilities.
- Chapter 5 has two “seek and live” verses-6 and 14. The Father is offering them a chance to be saved from the wrath that is coming.
- Justice and righteousness (God loves these) are in 5: 7, 12, 24, and 6:12.
- The poor are mentioned six times in Amos (NIV), especially in 5:11+12. They have been trampled, bought and sold, and oppressed.
- 6:1 has a reference to the south (Zion or Jerusalem) and the north (Mount Samaria).
- 6:8 and 8:7 use the term “pride of Jacob”. The first one references the attitude of the people, while the second one is talking about God. Thank God for translators and the work they do, the word pride is the same in both verses.
- How God interacts with Amos is also worth some time in your study. The words used will vary with the translation you use, but say/said, declares, spoken, sworn, showed and asked, hear and I will, are terms that show changes in how God deals with the message(s) He gives to Amos to deliver to the people.
Extra study- How many minor prophets were divided into nine or more chapters? Find a reference to when the land was divided into two kingdoms?
Because of the length of this post, I placed Amos 9:11-15 in a second post.