The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Amos 1

Amo 1:1

See Lesson, Prophet, the.

See Lesson, Minor prophets, and their messages.

AMOS: Sig "burden-bearer". Altho Amos was pretty much a "nobody" (ie, a shepherd from a small town; cp Amo 7:14) , his messages/burdens were so weighty that the nation was not able to bear them (Amo 7:10). The Book of Amos is practically devoid of the word "love"; he is the prophet of righteous judgment.

TEKOA: A town in Judah (1Ch 2:24; 4:5), six miles south of Bethlehem and ten miles south of Jerusalem, on a hill in the area of the wilderness of Tekoa (2Ch 20:20). "The last outpost overlooking the wilderness of Judea" (Ber 66:19). It was the birthplace of the prophet Amos, and the home of a wise woman for whom Joab sent to turn David's heart back to Absalom (2Sa 14:1-24). Tekoa's elevation of 2,790 feet above sea level led to its development as a station for trumpet-blown signals (Jer 6:1), and it was fortified by King Rehoboam to protect Jerusalem (2Ch 11:6). Tekoites helped to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah (Neh 3:5,27).

THE EARTHQUAKE, WHEN UZZIAH WAS KING OF JUDAH: The other seven historic, literal earthquakes in the Bible were all miraculous: at Sinai (Exo 19:18), with Korah (Num 16:31), Jonathan (1Sa 14:15), Elijah (1Ki 19:11), at Philippi (Act 16:26), Christ's death (Mat 27:51), and resurrection (Mat 28:2). So this one, in the days of Uzziah, was most likely miraculous too (was it the means by which Uzziah was "greatly helped" by God?: 2Ch 26:15). It is remembered by other prophets, as a pattern and "prophecy" (Zech 14:5; cp Isa 6:4; Amo 8:8).

Amo 1:2

THE LORD ROARS: The voice of God as thunder (Psa 18:14; 29:3-9). As a lion roars before it devours its prey or as thunder precedes a severe storm (cf Amo 3:4,8; Jer 25:30; Hos 5:14; 11:10; 13:7).

PASTURES OF THE SHEPHERDS... THE TOP OF CARMEL: Literally, from the far south to the far north of the Land. Figuratively, from the lowly shepherds to the lofty "heights" (the rulers and wealthy of the Land).

Amo 1:3

Amo 1:3--2:15: Judgments upon six Gentile nations, as well as Judah and Israel. All these Gentile nations were related to David's kingdom, and subject to it. Though punished, they all share in the latter-day gathering of blessing of Israel -- when David's tabernacle is rebuilt (Amo 9:11,12).

FOR THREE SINS OF... AND FOR FOUR: The most distinctive feature of Amos' prophecy is the eight-fold repetition of: "This is what the LORD says: 'For three sins of ______ , even for four, I will not turn back my wrath.' " ("Three... and four" does not necessarily mean "seven"! In Hebrew, a three-fold repetition suggests finality: ie "I will overturn, overturn, overturn..." in Eze 21:27. So "three sins" would be the fulness of transgression, and "four sins" would be a wretched excess -- implying the God had waited far too long to exercise His wrath!) This formula introduces divine statements of judgment about Israel (the northern kingdom) in Amos 2:6-8, and Judah (the southern kingdom) in Amos 2:4,5, as well as six Gentile nations surrounding God's people:
1. Damascus, or Syria (Amos 1:3-5);
2. Gaza, or Philistia (Amos 1:6-8);
3. Tyre, in Lebanon (Amos 1:9,10);
4. Edom (Amos 1:11,12);
5. Ammon (Amos 1:13-15); and
6. Moab (Amos 2:1-3).

Why these nations? Because, during the general period of Israel's (and Judah's) expansion and prosperity, the Jews had allowed themselves to become very much like the idolatrous, immoral nations around them (Amos 3:14-4:2; 6:1-6; 8:11-13). And so the time of God's judgments upon the Gentile nations would also see severe chastening of Israel and Judah. But there would be this difference: God's people, or rather a remnant of God's people, would survive the severe judgments and emerge stronger, their faith having been tested so that they learn once again to trust in the Lord their God (Amos 3:1,2; 9:9).

"The prophet began with the distant city of Damascus and, like a hawk circling its prey, moved in ever-tightening circles, from one country to another, till at last he pounced on Israel. One can imagine Amos' hearers approving the denunciation of these heathen nations. They could even applaud God's denunciation of Judah because of the deep-seated hostility between the two kingdoms that went as far back as the dissolution of the united kingdom after Solomon. But Amos played no favorites; he swooped down on the unsuspecting Israelites as well in the severest language and condemned them for their crimes" (McComiskey).

DAMASCUS: Or Syria, the worst of Israel's enemies during recent times, as far as Amos was concerned. Damascus was the capital city of Aram (Syria), and it stands for the whole nation by metonymy. Yahweh promised that He would not turn back the punishment due Aram because the Arameans had proved to be a scourge to the people of Israel.

SHE THRESHED GILEAD WITH SLEDGES HAVING IRON TEETH: Threshing Gilead, a transjordanian part of Israel, with sharp iron implements pictures the plowing up of that part of the nation militarily (cf Isa 41:15; Mic 4:13; Hab 3:12). Israelite citizens and territory had suffered greatly during constant battles with the Arameans, esp in Transjordan (cf 2Ki 8:7-12; 10:32,33; 13:3-7).

Amo 1:4

I WILL SEND FIRE UPON THE HOUSE OF HAZAEL THAT WILL CONSUME THE FORTRESSES OF BEN-HADAD: Yahweh promised to send a consuming fire (judgment) on the house (dynasty) and citadels (fortified towns) of the Arameans. Hazael and Ben-Hadad, dynastic names, probably represent all the Aramean kings. The idea of sending fire on the walls of the main cities of the land recurs throughout these oracles (vv 4,7,10,12,14; Amo 2:2,5). It is a vivid metaphor for consuming destruction.

Amo 1:5

THE GATE OF DAMASCUS: Lit, the "bar" (AV). A bolt securing the main city gate, and thus the defense of the city. See 1Ki 4:13.

I WILL DESTROY THE KING WHO IS IN THE VALLEY OF AVEN: "Aven" in Heb means "nothingness" or "wickedness". This was probably the site of Baalbek.

AND THE ONE WHO HOLDS THE SCEPTER IN BETH EDEN: The "house of pleasure" -- possible ref to the immoral temple practices.

THE PEOPLE OF ARAM WILL GO INTO EXILE TO KIR: "The place from which the Aramaeans migrated to Syria (Amos 9:7)... Its militia is represented as allied with Elam against Judah (Isa 22:6). The place has not yet been attested in ancient Near Eastern records, and remains unidentified" (WyE). It was probably in Mesopotamia. Thus God would send them back where they came from after obliterating all they had achieved. The fulfillment of this prophecy came when Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria took the Arameans captive in 732 BC (2Ki 16:7-9).

Amo 1:6

Vv 6-8: There were 5 major Philistine cities (1Sa 6:17; Josh 13:3), but in later days the prophets carefully leave Gath out of the picture (Amo 1:6-8; Zeph 2:4; Jer 25:20; Zech 9:5,6). Why? Uzziah, in his war against the Philistines, smashed up Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod (2Ch 26:6). The last of these was evidently strategic enough to warrant rebuilding (Isa 20:1), but the other two disappeared from history -- and from prophecy also.

BECAUSE THEY TOOK CAPTIVE WHOLE COMMUNITIES AND SOLD THEM TO EDOM: The particular sin for which God would judge the Philistines was their capture and deportation of whole communities (or "people at peace": Heb "shelema"), possibly Israelites and or Judahites, to Edom as slaves (cp Joel 3:4-8).

Amo 1:8

I WILL TURN MY HAND AGAINST EKRON, TILL THE LAST OF THE PHILISTINES IS DEAD: God sends complete retribution upon Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron... by successive attacks from Sennacherib of Assyria, Pharaoh Necho of Egypt, and Alexander the Great of Greece. This prophecy was ultimately fulfilled during the Maccabean period (169-134 BC), when the Philistines passed out of existence as a separate and distinct people.

PHILISTINES: See Lesson, Philistia in prophecy.

Amo 1:9

TYRE: The leading city of Phoenicia.

SHE SOLD WHOLE COMMUNITIES OF CAPTIVES TO EDOM: The sin of the Phoenicians was the same as that of the Philistines. They had sold whole communities of people to the Edomites as slaves.

DISREGARDING A TREATY OF BROTHERHOOD: Remembering the time when Hiram of Tyre was a friend of David and Solomon (1Ki 5:12), and an ally of Israel. Hiram called Solomon "brother" (1Ki 9:13).

Amo 1:10

I WILL SEND FIRE UPON THE WALLS OF TYRE THAT WILL CONSUME HER FORTRESSES: Many Tyrians became captives and were sold as slaves when Alexander the Great destroyed Tyre in 332 BC (cf Ezek 26--28).

Amo 1:11

EDOM... HE PURSUED HIS BROTHER WITH A SWORD, STIFLING ALL COMPASSION: Edom's sin that brought divine wrath down on its people was the its treatment of the Israelites. The Edomites had been very hostile to their "brother," Israel (Gen 25:29,30; Num 20:14; Deut 2:4; 23:7; Oba 1:12). This hostility existed throughout the history of these two nations. This animosity even led the Edomites to attack the Israelites with the sword (cf Obad 1:10).

Amo 1:12

I WILL SEND FIRE UPON TEMAN THAT WILL CONSUME THE FORTRESSES OF BOZRAH: Consequently God would send destruction on Edom's chief southern and northern cities (or districts), and thus on the whole land. The Assyrians subjugated Edom in the eighth century BC, and the Nabateans, an Arabian tribe, took it over in the fourth century BC.

Amo 1:13

AMMON: Ammon hired Balaam against israel (Num 22--25; Deu 23:3,4), hated the people of Jabesh-gilead (1Sa 11:2), and hired the Syrians to fight against David (2Sa 10:1-6).

HE RIPPED OPEN THE PREGNANT WOMEN OF GILEAD IN ORDER TO EXTEND HIS BORDERS: This brutal slaughter terrorized and decimated the population of Gilead, which bordered Ammon on the west. The Ammonites did this to enlarge their territory merely for materialistic advantage, not for self-preservation.

Amo 1:14

RABBAH: The chief city of the Ammonites. Lying east of the territory assigned to the tribe of Gad (Jos 13:25), it is frequently known in the OT as "Rabbah of the children of Ammon" to distinguish it from other towns of the same name. Rabbah was the Ammonite capital until the reign of David, and here Uriah the Hittite was killed on David's orders (2Sa 11:1,15). Joab finally captured the city, and David subjected the Ammonites to forced labor (2Sa 12:27-31; 1Ch 20:1-3). The prophets referred to Rabbah as if it were the only important city in the territory describing it as a fertile valley (Jer 49:2; Eze 21:20; 25:5).

In recent years Rabbah has regained its ancient splendor. It is now called Amman, the capital of Jordan. Well-watered in fertile environs, the city's location on the Hejaz railway is strategic.

Amo 1:15

HER KING WILL GO INTO EXILE, HE AND HIS OFFICIALS TOGETHER: This happened when Tiglath-Pileser III invaded Ammon in 734 BC, but Ammon's final defeat came when Nebuchadnezzar sacked Rabbah and took many of Ammon's citizens captive to Babylon around 586 BC.

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