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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Amos 1

Verses 1-2

INTRODUCTION TO AMOS

WHO SPEAKS?

Amos, one of the early writing prophets, a contemporary of Hosea, wrote this book. His name means "bearer" or "burden-bearer." He was born in the village of Tekoa in Judea, some 2,700 feet above sea-level, about six miles south of Bethlehem, and 18 miles west of the Dead Sea. He was a herdsman of sheep and cattle. a gatherer of sycamore fruit, an humble, rugged, independent person, much like John the Baptist. He was not a prophet nor the pupil of a prophet, in attendance at any school of the prophets. He claimed to be a special emissary of God to announce a pending judgment of Divine justice upon Israel, Judah, and the Gentiles round about.

TO WHOM?

Amos addressed his prophetic message to Israel of the northern kingdom, Judah of the southern kingdom, and the six nations of Assyria, Egypt, Syria, Edom, Ammon, and Phoenicia, chapters 1, 2. His judgment prophecies against these nations and their leading cities indicate that he was knowledgeable of civil, social, moral, religious, and political matters, as a thorough student of world affairs.

ABOUT WHAT?

The message of Amos was a message of doom. Though God had led Israel out of Egypt, in mercy and Strength, driven out the inhabitants of Canaan before them, sent His blessings in good rains and good harvests upon them, still they had failed Him. Their rulers and people had turned to a pattern of unrighteousness in thought and deed, in spite of Divine warning, Psalms 9:17; Proverbs 14:34; Proverbs 16:12. Israel needed a forthright prophet to call them to: a) A vision of the true nature and character of God, and b) The relation between Jehovah God, Israel, and the nations. Amos reveals the personality of God as communicating, 3:7; hating, and abhorring sin, Amos 5:21-22; as swearing by Himself, Amos 4:2; Amos 6:8; As He repents, Amos 7:3; and commands, Amos 9:3-4. These attributes affirm and reflect a God of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.

WHEN?

The prophecy was spoken and written about 755 B.C., in the days of Uzziah, King of Judah and Jeroboam II, King of Israel. It was near the end of Jeroboam’s reign that Amos was called to preach this message of just judgment doom; Amos delivered the address of this Book at Bethel, before Amaziah, the priest, before a huge audience at the open air shrine of Israel, where Jeroboam I had set up calf-worship 931 B.C.

WHAT WAS THE OCCASION?

Under Jeroboam II, King of Israel, the nation had experienced a golden era of material prosperity. But it had come to a state of moral decay under grossly embraced idolatry by king, priest, and laymen.

Amos the rugged prophet of doom from Tekoa, walked into the festive open air shrine at Bethel, before the calf-god worship, to interrupt an heathen festival. Loud music rang out, priests chanted weird melodies in a minor key, pilgrims from afar milled about chattering and modeling their fine clothes. Priest’s helpers worked feverishly to kill the sacrifices. Altars reeked with the smell of blood of bulls and goats, and the aroma of burning flesh. Pictures, images, and descriptions are taken from country life.

Into the midst of this worldly-happy, carefree, sinful, meandering group, stalked the country preacher. He lifted his hands and began prophesying as the people drew to him like a magnet. He first made them "Hallelujah happy", as he thundered coming judgment upon heathen nations, then on Judah to the south. Then when Amos had a grip on the masses, who listened in awe, he quickly turned to announce righteous judgment and doom upon Israel because of her false piety, her oppression of the poor, drunkenness, injustice, covetousness, lascivious, sacrilege, usury, unchastity, enslaving her own Hebrew fellows.

Furiously, Amos charged them with debauchery, extortion, reckless cruelty, unjust dealings, corrupt judges and vile thoughts. His message greatly incensed Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, so that he sent Jeroboam word that Amos was prophesying against him, but Amos resisted Amaziah and boldly and courageously pronounced judgment upon him and his family. God called Amos to preach righteous judgment and this he did, Amos 7:10-17.

CHART I

AMOS

JUDGMENT VISITATION

Ch. 1, 2

1. On nations surrounding Israel: (1:3 to 2:1-3)

a) On Damascus for her cruelty in warfare, 1:3-5.

b) On Gaza of Philistia for her slave traffic, 1:6-8.

c) On Tyre, delivered up "brothers," 1:9, 10.

d) On Edom for her hatred of Israel, 1:11, 12.

e) On Ammon for unjustified cruelty, 1:13-15.

f) On Moab, over vengeance on a king’s carcass, 2:1-3.

2. On Judah: (2:4, 5)

a) For religious apostacy.

b) Note difference between charges: 1) Against the nation’s

cruelty, 2) against Judah it was apostacy.

3) On Israel: theme of Amos’ prophecy, 2:6-16.

a) Sins of Israel enumerated, v, 6-8.

b) Scornful contempt for divine benefits received, v. 9-12.

c) inescapable consequences of this contempt, v. 13-16.
1) The nations accused of cruelty and barbarism, etc.,
2) Judah and Israel accused of civil and religious oppressions. The latter

becomes the thesis of the remainder of the book.

CHART II

AMOS

ISRAEL’S CRIMES AND INDICTMENTS Ch. 3-6

A. On the wealthy rulers, for civil and religious sins, 3:1-4:5.

1. Because they had known Jehovah, 3:1-8.

2. Because of civil oppressions on the masses, 3:9-4:3.

a) Sins of ruling classes, 3:9-15.

b) Sins and judgments of luxury-loving women, 4:1-3.

3. Condemnation of religious festivities, 4:4, 5.

B. Chastisements Unheeded, Amos Turns to the Nation, 4:6-13.

1. Unheeded chastisements named, v. 6-11. a) General famine, "cleanness of teeth," v. 6.

b) Drought, v. 7, 8.

c) Blasting mildew, locusts, v. 9.

d) Pestilence as the enemy attacked, v. 10.

e) Earthquake, burning, v. 11.

2. Final doom for which to prepare, v. 12, 13.

C. Overthrow of the Northern Ten-tribe Kingdom, chs. 5, 6.

1. Lamentations, denunciations, exhortations, threats, 5:1-17. a) Appeal to forsake idolatry and live, v. 1-6. b) Judgment certain unless Israel turns to righteousness, v. 7-17.

2. First woe, terrors of the day of Jehovah, 5:18-27.

3. Second woe, falls on heads of the nations, ch. 6.

a) Luxury-loving, wealthy rulers, v. 1-6.

b) Both exile and destruction are certain, v. 7-11.

c) It can not be avoided by foolish trust in power, v. 12-14.

CHART III

AMOS

FIVE VISIONS THE PROPHET EXPLAINS Ch. 7:1-9:10

1. Vision of Locusts; God’s mercy turns away catastrophe, v. 7:1-3.

2. Vision of a Consuming Fire: a more severe judgment than that of the locusts also turned away, by Divine mercy of Jehovah, 7:4-6.

3. Vision of the Plumb Line: Destruction measured out to Israel for her idolatry, 7:7-9. Antagonism of Amaziah, priest of Bethel, against.

4) Vision of the Basket of Summer Fruit--meant for Israel was ripe for judgment, ch. 8.

a) Mercy’s day was past, destruction at hand, v. 1-3. b) Final eclipse of Israel, her sunset at high rioon, v. 4-14.

5. Vision of the Smitten Sanctuary--Destruction of the sinful nation, 9:1-10.

THE BLESSED MESSIANIC HOPE

1. Promise of a brighter day, 9:11-15.

2. Doom and gloom fade. This is the first optimistic ray of future glory given by Amos.

3. Note that each of the minor prophets directs a ray of future hope for Judah and Israel, as also certified, Luke 1:31-33; Acts 15:14-18.

AMOS - CHAPTER 1

JUDGMENTS PRONOUNCED ON CITIES SURROUNDING PALESTINE

Verse 1 identifies Amos as an humble herdsman and a gatherer of Sycamore figs in Tekoa, some 12 miles southeast of Jerusalem, as the author of this book. His message was one of judgment concerning Israel, in the days of King Uzziah of Judah and King Jeroboam of Israel, two years after an earthquake in Israel that occurred while Uzziah was stricken with leprosy for intrusion into the priest’s office, Amos 7:14-15; 2 Kings 15:5; 2 Chronicles 26:16-23.

Verse 2 asserts that "The Lord will roar from Zion," in Jerusalem, a phrase always used to describe pending judgment on Gentile dominions, Isaiah 42:13; Jeremiah 25:30; Joel 3:16; Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 24:7-8. God’s judgment from Jerusalem will spread terror like the sudden appearance of a beast of prey. The pastures of shepherds will be full of mournful fear and the summit of Mt Carmel with its green pastures, olives, and vines will wither to desolation.

Verses 3-15

Six Transgressions Judged

Verses 3-5 describe transgressions of Damascus, Isaiah 7:8; Isaiah 17:1. The number three and four denote multiplied sins, unnumbered, indicating ungodliness in its worst forms. The term "turn away" is used in verse 3 to affirm that God will not reverse or withdraw His punishment from Damascus, Numbers 23:20; Isaiah 43:13. Had Israel sinned once or twice, or even ignorantly, God may have turned away His judgment, but not when they willfully sinned for so long a time, Luke 12:47-48; James 4:17.

Verse 4 announces a devouring fire that is to be divinely sent upon the house of Hazael and the palaces of Ben-hadad, his son of Syria, 2 Kings 13:3; Jeremiah 49:27. The fire sent indicates the kind of fire used in "sacking" cities in times of war, Psalms 78:63.

Verse 5 threatens the breaking of the bar (gate security) of Damascus, Jeremiah 51:30; 2 Kings 14:18. A sweeping judgment is announced against the subjects or inhabitants with their ruler from the plain of Aven and Eden, meaning pleasantness, between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains, some 40 miles west of Damascus. The people of Syria are to become captives of Kir.

Verses 6-8 charge transgressions of Divine law to Gaza, the southernmost of the five capitals of Philistia. They had left none whom they had not taken as captives, men, women, and children, and delivered them as slaves to the Edomites, Israel’s bitterest enemies, 1 Samuel 6:17; 2 Chronicles 28:17-18; Isaiah 14:29; Isaiah 14:31; Jeremiah 47:4-5; Zechariah 9:5-6; Acts 8:26; 2 Chronicles 21:16.

Verse 7 warns of a fire on the wall of Gaza, a blaze of armed seizure, that will destroy their palaces of pleasure and ease. The flame of war and fire of enemies were instruments of judgment against the Gentiles of Philistia, Numbers 21:28; Isaiah 26:11; 2 Kings 18:8; Isaiah 14:29; Isaiah 14:31; Isaiah 47:1. These fires of judgment were fulfilled through men like Hezekiah, Sennacherib, and Alexander.

Verse 8 warns that Ashdod and the king of Ashkelon and their inhabitants and subjects shall perish. Ekron and the remnant of the Philistines were to be slain or taken as slaves. Only Gath is not mentioned of the five chief cities of the Philistines, perhaps having already been destroyed by David and Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:6; or at least having lost its prominence, under sieges of Tartan and Sargon, of the Assyrians, Isaiah 20:1. The five chief capitals of Philistia were Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, and Gath, the latter alone not here mentioned is believed to have lost its prominence by the time of Amos’ prophecy.

Verses 9, 10. The third group of people spoken against are those of Tyre. Like other nations they also had offended God, engaged in the traffic of human souls, selling them to the Edomites, a mortal enemy of the Jews. They violated the sacred covenant, trust, or pledge into which David and Solomon had entered for friendship with Hiram, King of Tyre, 2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5:15; 1 Kings 9:11. Hiram furnished Solomon timber and carpenters in exchange for oil and corn. Hiram recognized David as chosen of God and "was ever a lover of David," 1 Kings 5:1. But Tyre and Phoenecia had now turned to the slave traffic in the sale of captive Jews to the Edomites, as Gaza before them had done. Because of this God warns that their palaces of Tyre shall be destroyed.

Verses 11, 12 describe the fourth nation to be destroyed. It was Edom. She had pursued her brethren of Jacob’s line (Israel and Judah) with the sword, without pity or mercy, Isaiah 34:5. Her hatred and cruelty had continued against Israel from generation to generation, perpetually, without ceasing, though it should not have, Genesis 25:24-26. Esau’s hatred for Jacob seemed to increase through the Edomites, his offspring, as the years passed, Ezekiel 35:5; Exodus 20:5.

Verse 12 describes a fiery judgment God will send against Edom, upon Teman in particular, so that the palaces (kingly estate) of Bozrah should be destroyed, Genesis 36:11; Genesis 36:15; Obadiah 1:8-9. It was to become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse as described Jeremiah 49:7; Jeremiah 49:13; Isaiah 63:1.

Verses 13-15 describe the guilt of the crimes of the Ammonites, fifth of the Gentile nations on whom God was to send judgment, as here announced by Amos. Verse 13 charges that with inhumane cruelty they had ripped open the belly of women of Gilead who were with child, in order to extend the borders of their own rule, Hosea 13:16. Hazael and Ammon of Syria and the Ammonites, offspring of Lot, were in colleague to exterminate the Israelites, and plunder Judea, v. 3, 13; Hazael perpetrated it, 2 Kings 8:12.

Verse 14 asserts that God would kindle a fire against these of Rabbah, capitol of Ammon, who were engaged in this selfish, covetous, course of cruelty against the people of Israel. He threatened to make Rabbah a "stable for camels" and the Ammonites a "couching place for flocks," preceded by shouting of defeat in the day of battle, irresistible, like a tempest in the day of the whirlwind. Destruction and doom were appointed for them in the day of battle, as due retribution for their willful, wanton sins.

Verse 15 asserts that both the king and princes shall go into captivity together, reaping what they had sown, as hand to hand they had collaborated in wickedness against God and His people, Israel, Isaiah 43:28; Jeremiah 49:3. Neither could their idol god (Moleoh) deliver them, for their sins had found them out, pay day had come, Galatians 6:7-8; Proverbs 1:23-31; Proverbs 11:21; Proverbs 29:1; Psalms 115:4-9.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Amos 1". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/amos-1.html. 1985.