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Online Text for Amos

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Information on Amos

Philip J. King writes: "The writings of Amos imply a period of prosperity and strong national consciousness, which, coupled with the information contained in the superscription, leads us to assume that Amos' prophetic activity took place shortly after the victory of Jeroboam II over the Arameans of Damascus, late in his reign, probably before 750. This date fits the conditions reflected in the book. Jeroboam II was a capable ruler and a strong military figure. Under his leadership the northern kingdom reached the summit of power; the Assyrian usurper Tiglath-pileser III and the ominous events associated with his reign had not yet appeared. Judah also was enjoying prosperity, and the two states of Israel and Judah were at peace with each other." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 1, p. 245)

Roy F. Melugin writes: "The book of Amos consists of three major sections: an introductory superscription (1:1) and 'motto' (1:2); the main body of the book (1:3-9:6); and a concluding postscript (9:7-15). The first and third sections presuppose Jerusalem as the central focus of divine activity: Uzziah, king of Judah, is listed ahead of Jeroboam, king of Israel (1:1). Yahweh roars from Jerusalem, his dwelling place (1:2). At the end of the book, the concern for the 'falling booth of David' (9:11) centers upon the Jerusalemite royal dynasty; the reestablishment of the Jerusalemite political authority is the center of attention." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 720)

Douglas Stuart writes: "Yahweh's concern for the plight of the poor and the decadence of the rich pervades the book. The misuse and abuse of economically weak people by those with economic power is condemned from the outset—in connection with the slave sales following the border wars mentioned in 1:3-2:16 (esp. 1:6, 9) and quite forcefully in the initial portrayal of oppression within Israel itself (2:6-8). Samaria was obviously a center of economic discrimination (3:9, 10; 4:1), although such practices generally existed throughout the nation as well (5:12; 8:4-6). While idle, rich living virtually depends on the exploitation of others, this fact is not overtly mentioned at several points where high living is condemned. As Jesus taught (Matt 6:24; cf. 1 Tim 6:10), the danger of materialism is not only in its unfairness to others but in the godless self-centeredness that corrupts an individual. It is that very godlessness—without mention of oppression per se—that is depicted in some of the oracles against the idle rich (3:15; 6:1-6; 6:8). Amos portrays Yahweh as offended both by exploitation and by 'conspicuous consumption.'" (Hosea-Jonah, p. 291)

Samuel Sandmel writes: "Nine average-size chapters comprise this earliest of the writings of the pre-exilic prophets. The whole book does not stem from Amos. We must subtract from it, initially, eight verses (7:10-17) which relate an incident about Amos, and were not composed by Amos. Next, there are five 'visions' which we shall consider and which explain how Amos came to speak out. Finally, the original Book of Amos, being of a very early date, has been altered and added to in the process of transmission. Many of the additions serve to soften the book's prevailing tone of denunciation. Other additions were appended to apply to the southern kingdom the message addressed originally to the northern kingdom. Modern liberal scholars are agreed that such additions have been made, and they are generally agreed in identifying certain passages as additions; other passages remain the subject of controversy." (The Hebrew Scriptures, p. 55)

Jay G. Williams writes: "Like most of the other books of prophecy, Amos was compiled and edited by followers who remembered and eventually recorded his words for posterity. Much of the poetry can be attributed to Amos himself, but most scholars question the attribution of 9:11-15 to him. This passage, which strikes about the only note of hope in the whole book, speaks of the rebuilding of Israel and the days of peace and prosperity which will follow the disaster. Apparently, though Amos saw only doom ahead, the editors felt compelled to add this word of promise to mitigate somewhat the sense of awful terror which Amos evokes and to express not only Yahweh's judgments but his unqualified promises as well." (Understanding the Old Testament, p. 242)

J. Alberto Soggin writes: "Before reaching their present form, the prophecies of Amos must have circulated orally, probably in fragmentary form. In ch. 2, as we have seen, there is a passage with Deueteronomistic characteristics; in 9.11-15 we have the interesting oracle about the 'booth of David', an expression unique in the Old Testament, which announces the restoration of the fallen house of David. Until a few years ago the text was usually explained as a late addition, but today there are many authors who argue for its authenticity. In that case we would have a reference to the precarious situation of the house of David after the split in the empire in the tenth century BC and an announcement of its imminent reconstruction. In addition, we then clearly have a polemical position which is taken up against the northern kingdom. Of course, if an oracle of this kind were authentic, it would readily lend itself to amplification at a later date, both at the time of Josiah, when he was effectively regaining from the ruined Assyrian empire the territories which belonged to the kingdom of Israel, and in the post-exilic period, when the passage could be interpreted in terms of a messianic restoration." (Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 244)

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