AMOS (Heb. עָמוֹס; eighth century b.c.e.), prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel. The Book of Amos is the third book of the 12 Minor Prophets according to the Hebrew order (between Joel and Obadiah) and the second according to the Septuagint (between Hosea and Micah). Amos is considered the earliest of the Latter Prophets and by some is considered the first of the writing prophets.
The Prophet, His Place and Time
According to the superscription of the book, Amos was a herdsman (noqed) from Tekoa who prophesied concerning Israel in the days of *Uzziah, king of Judah, and *Jeroboam, son of Joash, king of Israel, "two years before the earthquake" (1:1). The title noqed is applied again in the Bible to *Mesha, king of Moab, who is said to have been a sheepmaster (ii Kings 3:4). Amos also attributes this employment to himself when he says that he was primarily not a prophet but a noqed (in the masoretic text boker (boqer; "cowherd"), it seems necessary to read the word noqed, with the help of the lxx) and a dresser of sycamore trees who was taken from following the flock to prophesy concerning Israel (7:14–15). The term rb nqdm is cited in the Ugaritic writings along with the title rb khnm, i.e., "chief priest" (C.H. Gordon, Ugaritic Text-Book, 62:54–55), where it is explained as one of the temple functionaries who was responsible for the flocks ("chief herdsman"). Some scholars therefore deduce that noqed, as connected with Amos, also has a sacral meaning and that even before becoming a prophet, Amos was directly concerned with the service at the Temple in Jerusalem (Haldar, Kapelrud, et al.). However, this supposition is far from certain.
Amos' birthplace, *Tekoa, was located to the south of Bethlehem near the Judean Desert, and was known for its wise men (ii Sam. 14:2–21). This has led to the conclusion that Amos' origin was in Judah. But it is striking that there is no hint of denigration of calf worship in his prophecies, despite the fact that he does not refrain from condemning cultic sins (2:7, 12). In his silence on the matter of the calves, he is similar to the northern prophets *Elijah and *Elisha. Furthermore, Tekoa of Judah is not a sycamore-growing locale; sycamores grew in the Shephelah. Therefore, there may be truth in the explanation first suggested by David Kimḥi and since adopted by several modern scholars, such as Graetz, Oort, and Schmidt, that Amos' Tekoa was in fact a northern city. A Galilean Tekoa is known from talmudic literature. The verse, "The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem" (1:2), is a formulaic image (cf. Joel 4:16; Jer. 25:30). The mention of Zion in 6:1 is not decisive, since the prophecy is intended for the northern kingdom. The oracle on the restoration of the house of David (9:11 ff.) is doubtful and perhaps not to be attributed to Amos (see below), while the words of *Amaziah to Amos may not testify to the origin of the prophet, for Amaziah does not tell him to return to Judah, but rather: "… go, flee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread.…" A priest of Beth-El could issue such an order even to a northern prophet, particularly during the period of Jeroboam ii and Uzziah, when peaceful relations between the two kingdoms flourished. Amos' prophetic activity took place within the northern kingdom only. There are several allusions in his prophecies to events concerning the northern kingdom and mention is made of Samaria (3:12; 4:1; 6:1; cf. 3:9), and the northern shrine cities, with Beth-El at their head (3:14; 4:4; 5:5–6; 8:14; cf. 9:1). It appears that Samaria, and especially the sanctuary of Beth-El, were actually the scenes of his activity, as is confirmed by the narrative on his encounter with Amaziah (7:10–17).
His prophetic activity began two years before the earthquake (1:1) and continued for some time afterward. This earthquake, which occurred during the reign of Uzziah, is mentioned again in Zechariah 14:5. Impressions of it were recorded by a number of prophets who were active during that period, including Amos himself (see below). Also reflected in Amos are the great political and military changes that took place during the 41-year reign of Jeroboam son of Joash (ii Kings 14:23); they provide the chronological framework of the prophet's career.
The earliest of Amos' oracles are the "prophecy against the nations," at the beginning of the book (1:2–2:6), and the prophecy of visions (7:1–9; 8:1–3). Both precede the earthquake, impressions of which are not yet recognized therein (except for 1:2, where a formulaic usage serves as the superscription for the first prophecy). The situation reflected in the "prophecy against the nations" is that of the early years of Jeroboam's reign, before Transjordan was returned to Israelite sway. In this instance the prophet cries out against the injustices of Israel's neighbors, reminding them of their acts of violence and oppression, particularly against Israel. In the prophecy of visions he even refers to Jacob as "so small" (7:2, 5), an attribute that would hardly be appropriate after Jeroboam's extensive gains in Syria. Some claimed that the oracle of visions was Amos' inauguration prophecy (Wellhausen, Budde, et al.). There is nothing in its form or content, however, to justify this claim, though the prophecy does belong to an early stage of Amos' career.
In contrast, the moral reprimands (2:7–6:14; 8:4–14) belong to his later prophecies and reflect the later period of Jeroboam's reign, when *Damascus and *Hamath were already under the hegemony of Israel. The conquest of Transjordan is alluded to in these reprimands (6:13), "the kine of Bashan" who are said to dwell on Mount Samaria (4:1), and Israel's territory is described as stretching from Lebo-Hamath to the Brook of the Arabah (6:14; cf. 3:12). Life in Samaria is characterized by luxury, complacency, and frolic (3:12, 15; 5:23; 6:1, 4–6; 8:10). The inflictions of hunger, locust, and drought are mentioned as part of the past (4:6–9; cf. 8:10). Even the earthquake is recalled in these reprimands as a foregone matter (4:11), while the shocking experiences that came in its wake serve to perceive the impending catastrophe (2:13–15; 3:14–15; 4:3; 6:9 ff.). Still another event alluded to in the moral rebukes, and serving to fix their upper chronological limits, is the solar eclipse, which, according to the Assyrian eponym lists, took place in Sivan 763 b.c.e. This event also serves the prophet as a fitting figure of the punishment to come (8:9).
Thus, although the prophecies of Amos that survived and were collected in the book bearing his name are few, they range over a relatively long period. Variations of character and diction among them lend support to the conclusion that Amos' prophetic output was far greater than what has been preserved in his book.
In the narrative section 7:10–17, a conflict between Amos and Amaziah, the priest, is recorded. Amaziah, who apparently had no authority to punish the prophet, complains about him to Jeroboam, the king: "Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel" (7:10). Since there is no royal response the king deemed the matter unimportant. The priest himself tries to drive Amos out of Beth-El by derision (7:12–13), to which Amos responds with emphatic pride about his mission (7:14–15). He ends with a fearful prediction of Amaziah's own future and a renewed pronouncement of Israel's exile (7:16–17). Even in his response Amos says nothing about the king, reinforcing the impression that the quarrel was between him and the priest. Nor are there any further details on the progress or resolution of this clash. This excerpt may pertain only to an extraordinary and provocative event, which did not necessarily occur at the end of Amos' career.
The Structure and Editing of the Book
1. The Book of Amos falls into four divisions, in each of which all or most of the prophecies are of one kind: a prophecy against the nations (1:2–2:6), prophecies of the punishment of Israel (2:7–6:14), "stories" about the life experiences of the prophet (7:1–9:6), and a prophecy of comfort for Israel (9:7–15). The remaining prophetic books of the Bible are built upon the same four categories, but they are not necessarily arranged in the same order and not every one has left prophecies in all four categories. The editors of the Book of Amos chose the above-mentioned order so that the "prophecy against the nations" opens the book, and the prophecy of consolation brings it to a close. The beginning and end divisions each contain only a single unit, since the editors did not find any more than that, whereas the remaining divisions have clusters of prophecies that could be considered as small scrolls in their own right.
The classification of the prophecies was not a priori but rather as viewed in retrospect by the editors. There are prophecies that could have been classified in a category other than the one into which they are now placed. The editors, however, found a justification for such placement. The first prophecy (1:2–2:6), for instance, is not really an oracle against the nations, since it concludes with Judah and Israel; but since its greater part deals with the neighbors of Israel, the editors could view it as a prophecy against the nations as well. The larger part of the third division does not contain actual stories but visions spoken by the prophet in the first person. From the point of view of their content they could be considered among the judgment prophecies. In the Book of Jeremiah similar visions are in fact included among the judgment prophecies (cf. Jer. 1:11–14; 24:1–3). However, since they are stamped with an autobiographic and narrative form, they could serve in the hands of the editors as a narrative division. One such fragment has already been established among these visions, the incident in the sanctuary of Beth-El (7:10–17), which heightens the narrative character of the entire division through its biographic style. At the same time, a small group of rebukes, similar to those in division two, has been found here (8:4–14). Yet the editors could not allow themselves to transfer it; neither was it significant enough to alter the character of this division as a whole. Similar instances are to be found elsewhere in the Prophets, where the editors did not smooth over inconsistencies for the sake of absolute uniformity.
2. The scope of the isolated prophecies is a subject of disagreement among critics. According to one theory (Koehler, Weiser, Robinson, et al.) the text is divided into the smallest units, each ranging from two to seven verses, with some even limited to a single verse. According to this theory, it was the redactors who combined the original utterances into small collections, thus giving them a more substantial scope. According to another theory (Driver, Sellin, et al.), the prophecies are themselves integral compositions of sizable scope, sometimes being divided into subsections and secondary parts. It can be said that scholars are in agreement on the size and scope of the smallest, indivisible units. The dispute is over whether the smallest units are prophecies in their own right or are links or segments of larger pericopes (and from here on the question is how the segments join to make up the larger pericopes). The second method seems more likely because many of the tiny segments do not have a unity of thought unless they are attached to the adjacent segments. It appears, then, that the complete prophecies are actually built up by joining the single links together. The single links, which are like strophes of a poem, vary in length, and each one can open with an introductory formula or close with a concluding verse, as if it stood alone. Nonetheless, they are connected to each other by association and continuity of thought. Consequently, the formal structure of the prophecies is rather weak, yet they cannot be understood except as literary wholes. Moreover, within a single prophecy, a prophet sometimes expresses a certain idea in two different ways, without providing real justification for splitting the prophecy in two (for the structure of the single prophecies and the associative connections within their parts, see below.)
3. Verses of a unique type are found in the following places in the Book of Amos: 4:13; 5:8–9; 8:8; 9:5–6. Except where the verses interrupt the continuity (5:8–9), they fit fairly well into the context. Yet, they are distinct in content, language, and literary form. Their subject is words of praise to God and the description of his power as revealed in nature. Since scholars apprehended their specific character as cosmic hymns to God, the term "doxologies" has been applied to these verses. The distinctiveness of these verses in the Book of Amos has caused many scholars to claim that these are later additions (Wellhausen, Nowack, Stade, Driver, Sellin, et al.). Various suppositions have been expressed concerning their function; for example, that they served as conclusions to chapters that were read as cultic liturgy (Weiser, et al.), or conclusions to prophetic collections that were absorbed into the Book of Amos (Fohrer, et al.). After the hymnic character of these verses had been noted, the supposition was raised that these are fragments of one hymn that were scattered throughout the Book of Amos, and some attempts have even been made to reconstruct that hymn in its entirety (Budde, Horst, et al.). On the other hand, there were scholars who never denied the authenticity of these verses, and even after their hymnic quality was determined, assumed that the prophet expressed himself here by means of a formulaic style (Robinson, Hammerschaimb, Botterweck, et al.). There were also scholars who attempted to maintain both assumptions at once, i.e., that these verses are both authentic and fragments of a hymn written by Amos (Kaufmann), or of a hymn which Amos interlaced with his own words (Watts, similarly Farr).
Even though these verses are set in a hymnic die, they differ in the Bible, and some of the praises to God contained in them have no example elsewhere in the Bible. Apparently this hymnic style is not that of psalms. In other words, in contradiction to the psalmodic hymns, these did not serve as prayers, but as mere literary clichés. Hymnic passages which do not belong to the psalmodic genre are also found in the Book of Hosea (12:6, and in a slightly different tone 13:4–5 (in lxx there are additional verses nonexistent in the Masoretic Text)) and intertwined with the speeches of the Book of Job (5:9–16; 9:4–10 (the closest to the hymnic verses of Amos); 12:7–25; 26:6–13), and to a certain degree similar verses are found in the words of Deutero-lsaiah (Isa. 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:18, et al.). But then Amos' verses probably reflect an early phase of this literary type. The fitting of most of these verses in their context makes it not impossible that they are of the prophet's pen and that Amos availed himself of them to conclude some of his oracles, with the exception of one instance where the verses were not inserted in their proper place (Amos 5:8–9). Furthermore, in the descriptions of the trembling of the earth, its rising and sinking "as the river of Egypt," and the pouring out of the sea over the face of the earth (5:8; 8:8; 9:5–6), one may hear an echo of the earthquake, whose impression is recorded in the other prophecies of Amos as well (see above).
4. In the first prophecy of the book (1:2–2:6) various scholars denied the authenticity of the sections concerning the Philistines (1:6–8), Tyre (1:9–10), Edom (1:11–12), and Judah (2:4–5). However, their claims are not decisive, and the opinion of the commentators who consider these sections an integral part of the body of the prophecy should be preferred. Doubts have also been raised concerning Amos 6:2, which mentions the destruction of Calneh, Greater Hamath, and Philistine Gath – cities which were conquered by *Tiglath-Pileseriii and *Sargon many years after the reign of Jeroboam. But it is possible that the verse refers to earlier catastrophes that overwhelmed these cities. The statement in 1:5 – "the people of Aram shall go into exile to Kir" – appears to correspond too faithfully to reality according to ii Kings 16:9, so that the mentioning of Kir in one of these two passages seemed suspect. In addition, it is not customary for Amos to mention by name the place to which a nation will be exiled. However, the mention of Kir in another passage as the provenance of the Arameans (9:7) is an argument in favor of the authorities in the prophecy of exile, which is comparable to the threat in other books that Israel will return to Egypt (Deut. 28:68; Hos. 8:13).
The prophecy of comfort at the end of the book has also been taken to be late. Indeed, it does contain late expansions (see below). Perhaps in the course of time, some late idioms have found their way into the words of Amos, even in places where there is no reason to deny the authenticity of the passage in general. Of this type seem to be the references to the deities Siccuth, Chiun, and Kokhav (star god) in 5:26, and Ashimah of Samaria in 8:14. Siccuth (Succoth-Benoth) and Ashimah are mentioned in ii Kings 17:30 as deities which were worshipped by the men of Babylon and the men of Hamath who were settled in Samaria after the exile of Israel. However, there are some who think that the cult of these deities had gained a foothold in Israel, even prior to the exile of the northern tribes. Possibly, a few Deuteronomic idioms also became attached to various places in the text of Amos. Such is the idiom "I will set my eyes upon them for evil and not for good" (9:4), to which Jeremiah 21:10; 24:6; 39:16, et al., can be compared. There are those who find Deuteronomic impressions in the section on Judah (2:4–5) as well. But even if this assumption were certain, it would still not be sufficient to invalidate the reliability of the core of this section.
Content of the Prophecies
the first division
The "prophecy against the nations" (Amos 1:2–2:6) begins with a formulaic call (1:2) and contains a series of sections in a stereotyped structure, the subject of which is the neighbors of Israel, concluding with Judah and Israel themselves. To them all, the prophet promises exile and destruction. The utterances to Judah and Israel serve as an apex of this prophecy; hence it appears that this is actually not a prophecy against the nations, though in the main it does speak against Israel's neighbors. Many scholars believe that its conclusion coincides with the end of chapter two (2:16). However, all that is said after 2:6 is already stamped with the mark of the moral reproofs of the second division, and it is doubtful whether it constitutes a suitable continuation to the first prophecy. Probably the section on Israel (2:6), which lacks the typical conclusion, "So I will send a fire… and it shall devour the strongholds of…" has not been preserved in its entirety, but this prophecy was cut short at the end, and the editors then attached to it the scroll of reproofs to Israel. Thus the section on Israel, and thereby all of the "prophecy against the nations," was stitched to the moral reproofs of the second division. This is one of Amos' earliest prophecies; the period of time reflected in it is the beginning of Jeroboam's reign, before Transjordan was recovered by Israel (see above).
the second division
This division is made up exclusively of prophecies of reproof. The first is 2:7–16, the first part of which is probably lost, for it lacks a formal opening (see above). It is divided into three segments: a description of the moral and cultic corruption (7–8), the past grace of God to Israel (9–12), and a description of the impending catastrophe (13–16). 3:1–15 opens with the call "Hear this word." It is divided as follows: a statement about the relation of the election of Israel and the greater responsibility placed upon it (1–2), a proverb on the connection between cause and effect and on the significance of the prophetic word (3–8), descriptions of catastrophes and reminders of sins (9–12), and a statement on the day of punishment and the destruction of Israel for its transgressions (13–15). The prophecy 4:1–13 again begins with the call "Hear this word." It is divided into four segments: a description of the corruption and punishment of the "kine of Bashan which are on the mountain of Samaria" (1–3), a denunciation of the worship in the temples (4–5), a series of afflictions that came upon Israel but were not sufficient to return the people to God (6–11), and a call to the people to prepare to meet their God, concluding with hymnic verse (12–13). The prophecy 5:1–17 also opens with "Hear this word" and is divided into the following segments: a lament on the downfall of Israel (1–2) and a description of calamity (3); an accusation against the worship in temples and a warning of exile and destruction (4–6); a description of the moral corruption and its attendant punishment (7, 10–13), in which two hymnic verses are inserted (8–9); a call to repentance (14–15) and a depiction of mourning as a result of the coming catastrophe (16–17).
The prophecy 5:18–27 opens with the call "Ah!" (Heb. Hoi). It is divided into three segments: a description of the terrors of the Day of the Lord (18–20), a denunciation of the worship in the temples and a call to repentance (21–25), and a promise of exile to Israel (26–27). The following prophecy, 6:1–14, also begins with the exclamation "Ah!" and is divided into four segments: a call to Israel not to be tranquil about its future, since it is no better than other kingdoms that were also destroyed (1–2); a description of the serene and luxurious life and a warning of exile (3–7); God's oath to bring destruction upon Israel and descriptions of calamities (8–11); and a reproof on the moral corruption and a warning of catastrophe (12–14).
the third division
The prophecy of visions (7:1–9; 8:1–3) is divided into two pairs of sections, which are of a similar structure. All the sections begin with the words "Thus has the Lord God shown unto me, and behold…," a specific vision being mentioned in each one. In the first two sections the prophet sees visions of disasters – locusts (7:1–3) and drought (4–6). He begs for mercy until God repents the evil decree and cancels it. In the last two sections the prophet sees symbolic visions: "The Lord stands upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand" (7–9) and "a basket of summer fruit," that is, figs that ripened late (8:1–3). These two visions are explained to him as symbols of the destruction of Israel, and the prophet does not even attempt to void the decision. Both conclude with poetic sentences depicting the destruction. This prophecy belongs to the two years at the beginning of Amos' activity, before the earthquake (cf. above). The opinion of Sellin, Rost, and others that this prophecy should be fixed at the end of Amos' work does not stand to reason.
A fragment of a story on an incident that occurred to Amos at the temple of Beth-El (7:10–17) has been inserted into the midst of the prophecy of visions. According to the story, the priest of Beth-El complained to Jeroboam about Amos and even attributed to the prophet intentions of rebellion against the king, quoting from his words: "Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be exiled away from his land" (11). Throughout all of Amos' prophecies Jeroboam is mentioned by name only at the end of the third section of the prophecy of visions (7:9). This was judged a sufficient reason to insert the narrative at this point, thereby separating the two last sections of the prophecy of visions. Also attached to the prophecy of visions is a group of prophetic sayings whose content is close to the prophecies of the second division (8:4–14). It comprises two or three fragments: a prophecy divided into two links, or two pieces that have been joined together – a description of the moral corruption, God's oath not to forget the deeds of Israel, with a hymnic verse (4–8), and a description of the terrors of the Day of the Lord (9–10); and a piece consisting of sayings concerning the future hunger and thirst for the words of God (11–14).
Chapter 9, verses 1–6 is a vision of the destruction of Israel. Similar to the prophecy of visions, this unit is also related in the first person, which caused many scholars to believe that it is a direct continuation and climax of the preceding visions. However, it is more likely that it is a self-contained literary unit. At the same time it is possible that the editors found this vision in the continuation of the scroll of "stories" that contains the prophecy of visions, with the fragments inserted in, and attached to it. The literary structure of this vision differs from that of the former visionary prophecy. At the beginning of this unit the prophet remarks that he saw the Lord standing beside the altar and ordering the execution of the catastrophe. There is no exchange of words between the prophet and the Lord, and from the opening the vision immediately proceeds to depict the catastrophe. The work of destruction begins with Beth-El, and from there it spreads out enveloping the entire people, without leaving them any place of refuge. The vision is concluded by two hymnic verses.
the fourth division
This is a single prophecy of comfort to Israel, divided into four segments (9:7–15): in the eyes of God, Israel is not considered to be more important than other nations (9:7); therefore, God is about to destroy the sinning kingdom, but it will not be completely destroyed – He will scatter Israel among all the nations, and the sinners in its midst who were indifferent to the coming calamity will perish (8–10); afterward God will raise up the fallen tabernacle of David, and His people will inherit the remnants of Edom and other nations (11–12); Israel will return to its land and rebuild it, without being exiled from it again (13–15). Thus, the first two segments essentially express a message of calamity, whereas the last two, a message of salvation. Most scholars are of the opinion that the last two segments are not of Amos, whereas a minority views them as authentic. The opinion of the former appears to be the more plausible. However, the editors of the Book of Amos found this prophecy in its expanded form, i.e., when both last segments were already contained in it and attributed to Amos. Consequently, they took it to be a prophecy of comfort and placed it as a division on its own. Even though the last two segments seem to be later expansions of the words of Amos, it does not imply that he was only a prophet of woe and did not compose prophecies of comfort. Among the extant prophecies in the book bearing his name, however, there is no prophecy of comfort except this one.
His Personality and Prophetic Message
Amos testifies that he "was taken from following the flock" to prophesy to Israel (7:15). Nevertheless, one cannot conceive of him as a common person, whose power lies in spiritual inspiration and insight alone. His writings also demonstrate qualities of education and erudition. His polished and highly artistic style could not be attained without literary training, since such a style serves as an obvious indication of the creativity of a man of letters. Amos is well acquainted with the life of the social elite, has a clear perception of all the military and political occurrences on Israel's perimeter (1:3–2:3; 4:10; 5:27; 6:13–14, et al.), and displays an outlook that encompasses even the fates of nations throughout the Near East (1:3–5; 6:2; 9:7, et al.). Moreover, among his compositions are found a few prophecies explicitly molded in an autobiographic form (see above), as are to be found also in other prophets, and they suffice to verify that Amos, similar to the rest of the Latter Prophets, was also a writer. His other prophecies even though not of an explicit autobiographical mold, are first and foremost literary creations, which he himself, as an artist and poet, shaped. It cannot be told for certain whence this prophet, who was taken from following the flock, received his erudition and literary training. It could have been in his city, Tekoa, which was known for its wise men (cf. above). He could also have attained this stage later on in life.
Amos' prophetic creation is undoubtedly rooted in literary tradition and his compact and superior style may prove that others preceded him in crystallizing words of prophecy in writing. A few formulaic traits are already discernible in his language. Amos surely did not invent these, but received them ready-made. It is even possible that in some places prophetic words prior to those of Amos have found their way into the books in our possession, but the names of their authors are lost. Amos, however, is the first whose name has been preserved on prophetic writings that were collected in a special book and whose prophetic personality transpires from this book.
The major part of his message is devoted to promises of catastrophe to befall Israel, expressed in several ways. Often the terrors of the earthquake serve him to make the coming catastrophe perceptible (2:13–16; 3:14–15; 4:3; 6:11; 9:1). In other places he depicts scenes of siege, the conquering of a city, and the despoiling of palaces (3:9–11; 4:2–3; 6:8). He also promises Israel the tragedy of exile (5:5, 27; 6:7; 9:9). Amos is the first to express the threat of exile in the Bible, just as he is the first to use explicitly in this connection the Hebrew verb galah. Apparently, in this instance his words reflect the Assyrian system, i.e., to uproot and transfer nations from their homelands. In portraying the impending calamity, Amos avails himself of the concept of the *Day of the Lord. This concept primarily denoted a day of salvation for Israel and stringent judgment upon its enemies. This is its significance in the words of several prophets as well as in the passage of consolation appended at the end of the Book of Amos (9:11). Even Amos himself probably fashioned his "prophecy against the nations" after the model of the Day of the Lord oracles (1:3–2:3), though he tacked on to it words of punishment to Judah and Israel. At the same time, Amos reverses the meaning of the Day of the Lord, conceiving it as a day of calamity and judgment upon Israel itself. His usage of this popular concept in reversed fashion is clearly indicated in several verses (see 5:18, 20; also 8:3, 9–10). From the latter passages it can be inferred that in other connections also, when Amos cries out a lamentation and depicts scenes of mourning, a multitude of corpses, and silence everywhere (5:1–2, 15–17; 6:9–10), it is possibly the horrible image of the Day of the Lord that hovers before his eyes.
These various expressions of the message of catastrophe sometimes contradict each other on certain points. Yet, they should not be measured by principles of harsh logic, for the prophet himself undoubtedly did not mean to express his visions in formal, systematic concepts. The poetic images served him only as a means to portray the terror of the impending crisis. Similarly, he often describes the calamity as decided and absolute, allowing no living remnant to survive (see especially 9:2–4). But on the other hand, he speaks of exiling the people from the country, and sometimes assumes that a remnant will be preserved (3:12; 5:3, 15). Furthermore, those who are destined to die are only the sinners who do not believe that evil will befall them (9:10). Contradictions of this nature can be found even within the same prophecy: from Israel will be preserved remnants (5:3), but even so the people are liable to burn in a fire which no one will be able to extinguish (5:6); they will be exiled from their land (6:7), but even so God will raise up against them a nation who will oppress them from Lebo-Hamath to the Brook of the Arabah (6:14). Thus in the first prophecy to all the nations enumerated there the prophet promises burning by fire and destruction, but to a few of those he adds a promise of exile (1:5, 15). Real contradictions exist in these words for those who conceive of them in the framework of contemplative and methodical thought. But in the agitated images of a prophet their purpose is only to complement and strengthen each other. Likewise, the prophet will often describe the catastrophe as inevitable, as a predetermined decree of fate, but he also calls for repentance, thereby pointing the way to life. This occurs even in the midst of the depictions of catastrophe (5:4–6, 14–15). Hence, in the depictions of the decreed catastrophe, he does not exactly "mean" what he says. His words are rooted in a despair of repentance, or their true meaning is that of a threat only.
The promises of doom are explained by Amos, as well as by other prophets, as the result of the people's social and moral corruption: robbery of the poor, extortion of judgments, cheating in business, acts of plunder and violence by the ruling elite (2:7–8; 3:9–10; 4:1; 5:7, 10–12, 15; 6:4–6). At the same time he denounces the life of luxury and enjoyment (3:12, 15; 4:1; 5:11; 6:4–6; 8:3), and here too he is a partner in the prophetic ideal of simple and innocent life (Isa. 2:12–17; 3:16–23; Hos. 8:14; 13:5–6; Zeph. 3:11–12, et al.). The comforts and great happiness in the lives of the rulers evoke hostility in Amos, for the additional reason that they indicate apparent security and disbelief in the impending calamity (4:1–2; 6:3–7; 9:10). Therefore, he mocks the happiness of the people for their military conquests, which, according to his outlook, will turn to nought (6:13–14). He also defies the worship in the temples, which accompany an abundance of sacrifices, rapturous assemblies, and shouts of joy (4:4–5; 5:5, 21, 23). The people do not sense that all these exhibitions of abundance and pomp will not erase the decree of destruction of the places of worship (5:5; 7:9; 9:1). Rescue will come by seeking the Lord, which is the seeking of the good and is intertwined with a moral and social purification (5:4–6, 14–15, 24). In this connection, the prophet does not hesitate even to state that the Lord despises the cult practiced in His honor in the temples (5:21–23). Furthermore, he claims that even in the desert, Israel did not worship the Lord with sacrifices and offerings (5:25). This claim reflects the view of the early Pentateuchal sources (je), according to which Israel made some sacrifices before they left Egypt (Ex. 12:21–27) and when they were encamped by Mount Sinai (Ex. 3:12; 17:15; 18:12; 24:4–8; 32:5–6), but no mention is made of their sacrifices along the journey from Sinai to Canaan. Similarly Jeremiah asserts that when God brought Israel out of Egypt he neither spoke to Israel nor commanded them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices (Jer. 2:22–23).
Although Amos appears to invalidate the worship in the temples, he does not do it because of the cult as such, but only to accentuate the significance of social ethics. Cultic acts are not important enough to him when they are bound with moral corruption and oppression of the poor (2:7–8). The demand to remove the noise of songs and the melody of harps serves him as an introduction to the positive demand: "and let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream" (5:23–24). Similarly, the call to refrain from coming to the temples is related by him to the call to seek the Lord in order to be saved from the catastrophe and to live (5:5–6). Therefore, one should not attribute to Amos a decisive invalidation of the value of the cult (as, e.g., Weiser tended to do), for this invalidation is decreed by him not for its own sake, but rather serves as a kind of rhetorical-polemic means to a greater emphasis on the value of ethics. However, the very perception that the people's fate is determined solely by its social and moral perfection, found in Amos its first exponent in biblical literature. Afterward, it recurs in various degrees of accentuation in the books of some of the great prophets who succeeded him. But Amos and the other prophets were hardly conscious of the uniqueness of this notion, in which an exceedingly revolutionary idea is hidden. To them it looked like a fundamental principle of the ancient belief in yhwh, in whose name they spoke to the people and by whose authority they made ethical demands. Consequently, it also would not be accurate to say (as did, e.g., Cramer), that in fact Amos did not introduce any new religious idea. The unique innovation of Amos (and of the prophets after him) was in a new apprehension of the inner significance of the Yahwistic belief with its ancient tradition. But this innovation was hardly perceptible to its exponents.
Many scholars assert that Amos is also superior to his contemporaries in his perception of God, for he emphasizes the power of yhwh over the fates of many nations besides Israel (9:7; cf. 6:1). The people of Israel are no more important to yhwh than are the Ethiopians (9:7); their election from among all the families of the earth only burdens them with a greater moral responsibility (3:2). Amos' prophecies were one of the turning points in moving Yahwistic religion in the direction of monotheism. Although this view was challenged by such outstanding scholars as *Albright and *Kaufmann, our increased knowledge of ancient Israelite religion indicates that the road to monotheism was a long one, and that Amos was a significant signpost on that road.
commentaries: J. Wellhausen, Die kleinen Propheten (18932); W.R. Harper (icc, Eng., 1905); S.R. Driver (Eng., 19152); W. Nowack (Ger., 19223); E. Sellin (Ger., 19292, 3); T.H. Robinson (Ger., 19542); N.H. Snaith (Eng., 1956); E. Hammershaimb (Danish, 19582); R.S. Cripps (Eng., 19603); A. Weiser (Ger., 19645); J.L. Mays (Eng., 1969); H.W. Wolf (Ger., 1969, incl. bibl., 139–44). add. bibliography: Idem, Joel and Amos (Hermeneia; 1977); F. Andersen and D.N. Friedman, Amos (ab; 1989); S.M. Paul, Amos: A Commentary (Hermeneia; 1991); G. Jeremias, Amos: A Commentary (1998). selected bibliography: H. Schmidt, in: bzaw, 34 (1920), 158–71; K. Budde, in: jbl, 43 (1924), 46–131; 44 (1925), 63–122; A. Weiser, Die Profetie des Amos (1929); K. Cramer, Amos-Versuch einer theologischen Interpretation (1930); L. Koehler, in: Theologische Rundschau, 4 (1932), 195–213; R. Gordis, in: htr, 33 (1940), 239–51; J. Morgenstern, Amos Studies (1941) = huca, 11 (1936), 19–140; 12–13 (1937–38), 1–53; 15 (1940), 59–305); idem, in: Tribute… Leo Baeck (1954), 106–26; idem, in: huca, 32 (1961), 295–350; H.H. Rowley, in: Festschrift… O. Eissfeldt (1947), 191–8; E. Wuerthwein, in: zaw, 62 (1950), 10–52; A. Neher, Amos. Contribution à l'étude du Prophétisme (1950); M. Bič, in: vt, 1 (1951), 293–6; V. Maag, Text, Wortschatz und Begriffswelt des Buches Amos (1951); J.P. Hyatt, in: zaw, 68 (1956), 17–24; S. Jozaki, in: Kwansei Gakuin University Annual Studies, 4 (1956), 25–100 (Eng.); J.D.W. Watts, Vision and Prophecy in Amos (1958); G. Botterweck, in: bz, 2 (1958), 161–76; Y. Kaufmann, Toledot, 3 (1960), 56–92; A.H.J. Gunneweg, in: ztk, 57 (1960), 1–16; M.J. Dahood, in: Biblica, 42 (1961), 359–66; A.S. Kapelrud, Central Ideas in Amos (19612); idem, in: vt Supplement, 15 (1966), 193–206; S. Terrien, in: Essays… A. Muelenburg (1962), 108–15; G. Farr, in: vt, 12 (1962), 312–24; H. Gese, ibid., 417–38; H. Reventlow, Das Amt des Propheten bei Amos (1962); S. Cohen, in: huca, 32 (1962), 175–8; 36 (1965), 153–60; R. Fey, Amos und Jesaja (1963); H.W. Wolf, Amos' geistige Heimat (1964); M. Weiss, in: Tarbiz, 34 (1965), 107–28, 303–18; W. Schmidt, in: zaw, 77 (1965), 168–92; H. Gottlieb, in: vt, 17 (1967), 430–63; S. Segert, in: Festschrift…W. Baumgartner (1967), 279–83; M. Haran, in: vt, 17 (1967), 266–97; idem, in: iej, 18 (1968), 201–12; idem, in: Tarbiz, 39 (1970) 126–36. on the "doxologies": K. Budde, in: jbl, 44 (1925), 106–8; T.H. Gaster, in: Journal of Manchester Egyptian and Oriental Society, 19 (1935), 23–26; G.R. Driver, in: jts, 4 (1953), 208–12; J.D.W. Watts, in: jnes, 15 (1956), 33–39; F. Horst, Gottes Recht (1961), 155–66; G. Farr, in: vt, 12 (1962), 321–4; W. Brueggemann, ibid., 15 (1965), 1–15; J.L. Grenshaw, in: zaw, 79 (1967), 42–52. add. bibliography: R.F. Melugin, in: Currents in Research, 6 (1998), 65–101; I. Jaruzelska, Amos and the Officialdom in the Kingdom: The Socio-Economic Position of the Officials in the Light of the Biblical, the Epigraphic and Archaeological Evidence (1998); M.D. Carroll Rodas, Amos-the Prophet and his Oracles: Research on the Book of Amos (2002).
AMOS (fl. eighth century bce) is considered the first classical prophet, the first whose words are preserved in writing, the biblical Book of Amos. Whereas other books of the Hebrew Bible such as Samuel and Kings contain numerous indirect prose reports of earlier prophets' activities, the books of the classical prophets, beginning with Amos, focus on the prophets' words, usually recorded in poetic form.
As a rule, the early prophets addressed a specific person, often the king himself, while the classical prophets addressed a wide audience. Hence they were not merely God's messengers but also speakers, or orators. The call for justice, which earlier had been directed primarily toward the king (by Nathan to David, by Elijah to Ahab) was now directed toward the rulers and the social elite and was in the form of a public address. It has been suggested that the development of this prophetic oratorical style is connected with the Assyrians' use of propaganda (see Rabshakeh's speech in 2 Kings 18:28–35 [citations herein follow the English version]).
As the superscription to the Book of Amos (1:1) reveals, Amos prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II (787/6–747/6 bce). The superscription also states that he was active "two years before the earthquake" (see also Zec. 14:5), which, by means of the archaeological evidence at Hazor, has been dated to 760 bce. Jeroboam's forty-year reign was a period of political stability, military success, and economic prosperity. The biblical historiographer (2 Kgs. 14:23–29; cf. 2 Kgs. 13:24–25) reports on Jeroboam's territorial expansions and the strength of his kingdom.
Nevertheless, this period of prosperity had apparently created severe social tensions. Although the social elite, who prospered, were content, the people of the land, the small farmers, suffered greatly from the upper classes' pursuit of luxury (for the social structure, see 2 Kings 24:14). It may be that the sudden increase in the standard of living resulted in greater taxation, which led to further oppression of the poor, who then became even poorer (see Am. 1:6–7a, 3:9, 4:1–2, 5:11, 6:4–6, 8:4–6).
Amos's Background and Message
The social inequities and oppression of the time precipitated Amos's protest and call for justice. The prophet's concern, however, was not merely social injustice but religious practice as well. Amos saw the religious practices of the elite as mirroring their perpetuation of social injustice, as indicated in his accusation in 2:7–8, and he labels the religious behavior of the leaders meaningless (4:4ff., 5:4–6, 5:21–27, 8:10).
The question arises: what does Amos's sharp criticism of the cult and its ritual mean? Does he intend to deny the efficacy of cultic worship? Is he opposed to the cult of specific shrines, such as Bethel and Gilgal? Is he calling for another type of worship (cf. 5:16)? In responding to these questions, scholars have intensively investigated Amos's social background. Who was he? The superscription refers to him as one of the noqdim, "shepherds" (sg. noqed ), and this remark is echoed (though in another term, boqer ) in 7:14. But in the Bible noqed does not refer to a simple shepherd; Mesha, king of Moab, bore the same title (2 Kgs. 3:4). Attention has been called to a Ugaritic text in which nqd is parallel to khn ("priest"), which may suggest that Amos himself was from a priestly family.
Amos definitely does not repudiate the cult, but calls for his audience to approach God. In his vision in 9:1, Amos reports that "I saw my Lord standing by the altar" (JPS). That is, God revealed himself to the prophet in the cultic center that is God's house. Amos's repeated reproach, "yet you did not return to Me" (Am. 4:6, 4:8, 4:10, 4:11) and his demand to "seek Me" (5:4, 5:14), which has a cultic connotation (cf. 1 Sm. 9:9), may be understood as a call for purification of the worship. It can also be argued that Amos felt that the cultic centers of Bethel and Gilgal should cease to function as God's temples because their worshipers had demonstrated their insincerity through their pursuit of luxury and pleasure. Thus, Amos does not call for totally abstract worship and does not oppose the cult in principle. He harshly criticizes, however, the shrines that legitimate social oppression and thus the existence of religious hypocrisy.
Furthermore, the leaders toward whom Amos directs his criticism seem to be devoted worshipers (8:5). One may assume that the political and economic success of the state was taken by the ruling class as a sign of God's protection of Israel. In essence, the cult that assured its worshipers of the stability of their way of life served as religious protection for the social elite. Amos attacks this self-serving belief, pointing out that daily deeds and social justice are inseparable from the cult and, in fact, dominate God's demands of his worshipers.
Amos attacks as well the common belief that God's function is merely to save and protect his people. There was an expectation that there would be a sign, by means of revelation, of God's victories over Israel's enemies. Amos rejects this and argues that "the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light" (Am. 5:18–20); the day will be one of punishment, not salvation. Introducing the idea of God's punishment, he connects it with social crimes and the corruption of ritual. Amos is rooted in the sacred traditions of Israel (e.g., Am. 2:9–10, 3:1, 4:10, 4:11, 5:25, 9:7), and mentions them as proof of God's past and continuing involvement with Israel; but he emphasizes that this involvement is only in response to Israel's social and moral behavior.
In his autobiographical account, Amos mentions his occupation as a dresser of sycamore trees (7:14). This is a trade that required travel, especially since Tekoa, Amos's hometown (located about 8 miles [12.9 km] south of Jerusalem), is in an area where the sycamore does not grow (cf. 1 Kgs. 10:27). Amos's travels may shed light on his broad education and deep knowledge of world affairs (see 1:2–2:16), as well as his contacts with the northern kingdom of Israel. It has also been suggested that Amos's Tekoa was somewhere in the north, which might explain his prophetic activity there; however, no evidence of a northern Tekoa has been found.
Sociologically, one must realize that many prophets (e.g., Amos, Micah, Jeremiah) came from the periphery to preach against urban centers. Villages and small towns preserved a traditional, clear view of the world. Cities, such as Samaria, were centers (especially during Amos's time) of prosperity, new developments, and social change. Social research reveals that it is not unusual for a visitor from a traditional area to be incensed by the breaking of traditional conventions in the city. Thus the changes that defied his traditional views kindled in Amos the fire of criticism and the desire to punish the evildoers.
Literary Style and Structure
There have been many discussions of Amos's language. Although he was the first literary prophet, his style is well developed. Does this mean that Amos followed a specific literary tradition, and if so, which? This question should not be of great concern to the modern reader, since in antiquity there was not a significant difference between an oral address and a written speech. Both genres were designed stylistically to be heard, not read silently by an individual reader. Thus Amos did not start a new written tradition but continued a well-developed tradition of oratory.
An analysis of Amos's style reveals impressive literary variations. He employs the conventional prophetic patterns of speech, such as "Thus says the Lord" (e.g., 1:3, 1:6, 1:9, 1:11, etc.); the prophetic formula for a conclusion, "Says the Lord" (2:3, 2:16); and the prophetic verdict, "Therefore" (3:2). He uses specific conventions of the wisdom literature, for example, the formula 3 × 4 (repeated in chaps. 1–2), comparisons, and rhetorical questions (3:3–8), the latter two reflecting secular language. He also employs ritualistic language, such as the hymn (4:13, 5:8–9, 9:5–6) and the lament (e.g., 5:2; see also 5:16–18, 6:1). Amos reveals himself to be a great poet, a master of language with creative skills who knows how to use various modes of speech effectively. His objective is to appeal to his audience. Thus, for instance, in 3:3–6 and 3:8 he utilizes a series of rhetorical questions, a most effective device since its function is to emphasize, and it is stronger than a direct statement. Amos's use of figurative language enables him to describe the disaster he encounters in concrete terms; see, for example, his use of simile in 2:13 and 3:12.
The Book of Amos is divided into four main parts: (1) the superscription plus the chain of oracles against the nations, including Judah and Israel (1:1–2:16); (2) a series of speeches (chaps. 3–6); (3) the vision accounts (7:1–3, 7:4–6, 7:7–9; 8:1ff., 9:1ff.); and (4) a prophecy of salvation (9:11–15). It has been suggested that the first three visions are Amos's call and should be placed at the beginning of the book. In the vision (8:1ff.) of the basket of summer fruit (keluv qayits ), the word summer (qayits ) is a pun on the word for "destruction" (qets ), which symbolizes the end of Israel. This wordplay may shed light on the psychology of prophetic revelation, in which the viewing of an object of daily life is interpreted in a vision or dream as a symbol. The series of vision accounts is interrupted by a biographical account (7:10–17), which reports on the conflict between Amaziah, priest of Bethel, and Amos, in which the priest demands that Amos go to Judah. In response to the question of why this account was inserted among the visions, scholars have suggested that the conclusion of Amos's attack on Amaziah, "Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land" (7:17), corresponds to the vision "The end has come upon my people Israel" (8:2) and that an editor, who some forty years later witnessed the exile of the priest of Bethel and his people by the Assyrians, inserted his account of this event as a sign of prophetic fulfillment.
Nineteenth-century scholarship assigned most of the material in the Book of Amos to Amos himself (except, perhaps, the prophecy of comfort at the end of the book). Current scholarship, however, is more skeptical and suggests a lengthy and complex redactional history. It has long been argued that the book's conclusion (9:11–15), a prophecy of comfort focusing on the house of David (and not on the northern kingdom or its rulers), reflects a later period. The prophecy against Judah in 2:4–5, which is foreign in its context, is also considered to be late. Recent scholarship has been attempting to organize the editorial layers in order according to the occurrence of political developments. Wolff has suggested that six stages of redaction took place, with the first three stages in the eighth century: the collection of the oracles in chapters 3–6 (the words of Amos himself); the incorporation of the oracles directed against the nations at the beginning of the book and the visions at the end of the book; and the insertion of the prose account of the Bethel episode. In the fourth stage, in the time of Josiah, the doxologies (hymns) were added, as well as an elaboration of Amos's critique of Bethel and the local cult corresponding to Josiah's reform (cf. 2 Kgs. 23:15). Later there was a fifth, Deuteronomistic, redaction, which occurred in the exilic period and added the oracles against Tyre (1:9–10), Edom (1:11–12), and Judah (2:4–5). Finally, there was a postexilic redaction that added themes of salvation and eschatology so that the book would conclude on a positive note. Another suggestion, by Coote, is that the Book of Amos is the product of three stages of redaction: (1) the words of judgment by Amos delivered against the ruling class; (2) the period of Judah's reform, which added oracles of reinterpretation concerning the possibility of repentance; and (3) another series of reinterpretations for Judahites who were in exile or who had returned to the homeland.
These theories of redactional history are nonetheless speculative, since they consider certain thematic developments or changes in the genre of prophetic speech to be indications of later accretions. They assume that changed historical conditions led to new theological interpretations. This notion of systematic change and reinterpretation may be challenged, however, in light of Amos's intention to appeal to his audience, which required stylistic and emphatic variety as well as sensitivity to the audience's mood. He may sometimes have called for repentance or perhaps delivered an oracle of salvation based upon his overall religious worldview. Still, this does not mean that Amos was the sole author of the entire book. There may have been specific insertions (e.g., 5:13), which, however, do not imply a systematic editorial process.
Coote, R. B. Amos among the Prophets. Philadelphia, 1981.
Kapelrud, Arvid S. Central Ideas in Amos. 2d ed. Oslo, 1961.
Mays, James Luther. Amos: A Commentary. Philadelphia, 1969.
Wolff, Hans Walter. Joel and Amos. Edited by Dean McBride and translated by Waldemar Janzen. Philadelphia, 1977.
Hasel, Gerhard F. Understanding the Book of Amos: Basic Issues in Current Interpretations. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1991.
Hayes, John Haralson. Amos, the Eighth-Century Prophet: His Times and His Preaching. Nashville, 1988.
Polley, Max E. Amos and the Davidic Empire: A Socio-historical Approach. New York, 1989.
Rosenbaum, Stanley Ned. Amos of Israel: A New Interpretation. [Louvain, Belgium] Macon, Ga., 1990.
Watts, John D. W. Vision and Prophecy in Amos. Macon, Ga., 1997.
Yehoshua Gitay (1987)
Amos (active 8th century B.C.), the first of the literary prophets of ancient Israel, was the author of the biblical book bearing his name.
Amos was born in the Judean town of Tekoa, near modern Bethlehem, Israel. His activities probably took place during the reign of Uzziah, also called Azariah, King of Judah (reigned 783-742 B.C.), and Jeroboam II, King of Israel (reigned 786-745).
In his youth Amos was a shepherd. As a young man he tells of having received a divine commandment to go to the Israelite shrine at Bethel. Once there, he proceeded to fulminate against the popular errors of his day and was ousted by the head priest, Amaziah. Apparently, Amos was a prophet for only a short time, and he did not write down his prophetic messages and utterances. At that time, oracles such as those of Amos were preserved in an oral tradition; that is, they were transmitted by spoken word among Temple circles at Jerusalem. Amos's prophecies were probably written down before the kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.
His oracles are preserved in the biblical book of Amos, which is traditionally placed at the beginning of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Chronologically Amos is the earliest of these prophets, and his book offered a pattern for later prophetic books. The nine chapters are written in a poetic style with a prose introduction. They contain three kinds of composition: oracles telling of impending doom against Judah, Israel, and the neighboring peoples; a brief description of the life of the prophet; and a few verses that scholars generally agree are later additions.
Amos was particularly preoccupied with the moral corruption of his generation and their theological misconceptions. He denounced the corrupt aristocracy and its total neglect of the poor. He criticized those who made sacrifices to God but hypocritically neglected the moral law. He inveighed against those who presumed that they need give no accounting to God for their actions because they were His Chosen People. Above all, Amos shocked his contemporaries by dissociating his message and work from the prophets of his day and by foretelling doom and destruction for Israel. As a counterbalance to this apocalyptic message, Amos also predicted the restoration of the Davidic kingdom and the return of the Exiles. It is at this point that one can find a universalism in Amos which appears again for the first time in vivid form in the writings of Deutero-Isaiah. The God of Amos was not limited to one nation.
Amos has always been important in both Jewish and Christian theology and beliefs. The Talmud (Makkot 24a) states that all 613 commandments of Judaism are contained in one admonition of Amos: "Seek Me and live." Amos is quoted in the New Testament and by the early Christian Church Fathers, who interpreted him as prophesying the doom of Judaism and the rise of Christianity.
Discussions of Amos include R. S. Cripps, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Amos (1929; 2d ed. 1955); Julian Morgenstern, Amos Studies, vol. 1 (1941); Arvid S. Kapelrud, Central Ideas in Amos (1956); Norman H. Snaith, Amos, Hosea, and Micah (1956); John D. W. Watts, Vision and Prophecy in Amos (1958); and James M. Ward, Amos and Isaiah: Prophets of the Word of God (1969). Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (1962), devotes a chapter to Amos. Background information is in Bernhard W. Anderson, Understanding the Old Testament (1957; 2d ed. 1966). □
Amos (ā´məs), prophetic book of the Bible. The majority of its oracles are chronologically earlier than those of the Bible's other prophetic books. His activity is dated c.760 BC The prophet was a shepherd of Tekoa in the southern kingdom of Judah, but he preached in the northern kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam II (c.786–746 BC). Israel was at the peak of its political power but was ridden with social injustices. Amos preached especially against hypocritical worship, oppression of the poor, and immorality. Not surprisingly, he was ordered to cease his preaching. The book falls into three parts: God's judgment on various neighboring Gentile nations climaxing with oracles against Judah and Israel, an indictment of Israel, and visions of destruction. The final oracle, an oracle of salvation, is usually regarded as an addition since it presupposes the destruction prophesied in the rest of the book and the restoration of the Jewish state after the exile in the 6th cent. BC The chief thought of Amos is that worship of God necessarily entails protection of the poor and the weak in society. Not even God's people can hope to escape the wrath of God if the social responsibilities that go with election are neglected.
See studies by J. L. Mays (1969) and H. W. Wolff (1977); F. I. Andersen, Amos (1989).
Amos ★★½ 1985
Douglas is Amos, an aging baseball coach confined most reluctantly to a nursing home. He's disturbed by recent suspicious events there, his concern causing him to take on Montgomery, the staunch head nurse. Well-acted drama produced by Douglas's son Peter, offering an echo of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” which Dad starred in on Broadway and son Michael helped produced as a movie classic. 100m/C VHS . Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Montgomery, Dorothy McGuire, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, James Sloyan, Ray Walston; D: Michael Tuchner; M: Georges Delerue.