Book of Amos of The Old Testament

The Book of Amos of Tanakh

Book of Amos

photo by Niv Singer

Amos or the Book of Amos is a notable Biblical work that forms a part of the Jewish Bible Tanakh. It is included in the Minor Prophets section of the Nevi’im. Amos was a contemporary of Jeroboam II who ruled Israel from 786 BC to 746 BC and Uzziah who ruled over Judah. He was also contemporary to the prophets Hosea and Isaiah, although it is quite likely that he preceded them.

Amos was a man from Tekoa, a small town located in the kingdom of Judah. Unlike Ezekiel and Jeremiah, who hailed from a priestly background, Amos earned his livings from herding flocks of sheep and growing sycamore-fig groves. Although not belonging to the prophetic guild, his work is considered significant in Biblical history. Coming from Judah, Amos went to the Northern Kingdom to deliver the message of God’s judgment.

The Book of Amos is set at a time when Israeli people have deviated significantly from their devotion to Yahweh, the true God of Israel. People have surrendered to vices such as greed and have stopped from adhering to the commandments of the covenant. The wealthy elite classes were becoming richer at others’ expense. Peasant farmers who practiced subsistence farming at one point of time are now being forced to cultivate what’s needed for foreign trade, such as oil and wine.

In the Book of Amos given the state of affairs, Yahweh speaks to Amos and instructs him to visit Samaria, the capital city of Northern Kingdom. He asks Amos to inform the people of Northern Kingdom that Israel will be judged for their sins, and the judgment will be enacted by a foreign nation. Amos refers to the Day of Judgment as “the Day of the Lord” and says that on this day, the enemies of God will be punished for their sins. The citizens of Israel are also considered guilty in this regard, as they have treated the poor, the innocent and young women with injustice. On “the Day of the Lord”, all guilty men and women will face the judgment of Yahweh.

The Book of Amos consists of 3 main sections as well as an epilogue. The first two chapters of the Book of Amos consider the people of Israel and its surrounding nations and judge their acts from an ethical perspective. The next four chapters of the Book of Amos are comprised of several verses that offer a closer look at Israel’s moral transgressions. The chapters seven, eight and nine of the Book of Amos describe the visions that Amos had of Yahweh. It also includes the incident where Amaziah, a priest, rebuked the prophet and sent a word to the King he needs to be expelled. This is followed by the last section known as Book of Visions.

The Book of Visions describes the various visions Amos has in relation to Yahweh. These include the one with locusts (large number of locusts are about to destroy the agricultural products of the land); a plumb line (a man using a plumb line to measure a wall that’s about to fall); a fruit basket (symbolizing the impermanence of people’s material prosperity); as well as visions of judgment by fire and God beside altar.  The Book of Amos remains an important one as its the first biblical prophetic book ever written.