Bible Commentaries
Amos 2

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-16

Oracles Against Eight Nations Amos 1:3 to Amos 2:6 makes up a series of similar eight oracles against Judah, Israel and six adjacent Syro-Palestinian nations. Amos included all of Israel’s bordering neighbours in this list, leaving none out. There appears to be no geographical order to the list of eight oracles found in this opening passage. Several suggestions have been made to identify a logical order. (1) The Degree of Aggression Against Israel - Perhaps it can be said that Syria, which heads this list, was Israel’s worst enemy during the time of the northern kingdom, while Judah, which ends the list of Israel’s neighbours, was least aggressive against the northern kingdom of Israel. However, Stuart says there is no historical documentation that mentions the attacks that these pagan nations inflicted upon Judah and Israel, suggesting they were primarily border skirmishes that took place after Solomon’s reign. (2) The Degree of Blood Kin to Israel - More obvious is the fact that the first three countries (Syria, Philistia, Tyre) are the most distant relatives of the Jews, while Edom, Ammon, and Moab are more closely related by blood. (3) Israel’s Sins are the Climax to a List of Testimonies of Divine Judgment Against All Nations The most logical order suggests that the sins of Israel are deliberately placed at the end of a list of testimonies of divine judgment against all nations, meaning that God’s people are not excluded. Stuart notes that final oracle against Israel is longer, serving as a climax to this collection of oracles. G. A. Smith suggests Amos uses the strategy of declaring the sins of Israel’s surrounding nations before declaring to them similar sins, thus proving their guilt through the prophetic testimonies of divine judgment preceding her list of sins. Smith notes that although the nations have sinned in the areas of war and broken treaties, while Israel’s sins were internal civic violations of the Law, Amos declares a worse doom upon Israel than upon her neighbours. As barbaric as are the sins of the nations, Israel’s sin of pride and backsliding just as evil in God’s eyes. Thus, God judges the nations for violating their conscience, where the law of God is written (Romans 2:12; Romans 2:14-16), but He judges His people for violating their covenant with Him. [14]

[14] George A. Smith, Amos, in The Expositor’s Bible, ed. William R. Nicoll and Oscar L. Joseph (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1956), in Ages Digital Library, v. 1.0 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc., 2001), “Introduction.”

Amos 1:3-5 Oracle against Syria

Amos 1:6-8 Oracle against Philistia

Amos 1:9-10 Oracle against Tyre

Amos 1:11-12 Oracle against Edom

Amos 1:13-15 Oracle against Ammon

Amos 2:1-3 Oracle against Moab

Amos 2:4-5 Oracle against Judah

Amos 2:6-16 Oracle against Israel

These oracles contain similar content. The prophet Amos introduces his message as a word from the Lord, reveals the sins of the nation, pronounces an appropriate judgment, and confirms its certainty with the closing phrase “says the (Sovereign) Lord.”

Stuart says one theological insight to these eight oracles is the fact that God rules over all nations, whether they acknowledge it or not, and He does not put up with sinful deeds from any of them without penalty. He holds each one accountable for their deeds. [15] In Romans 2:12-16 Paul explains that God judges the deeds of the nations by their conscience, in which God has written His divine law. Stuart calls this “a basic sort of international law”.

[15] Douglas Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 31, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), 308.

Romans 2:12-16, “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”

G. A. Smith notes that although Assyria is not mentioned in these eight oracles, these divine judgments reflect this empire’s style of destroying cities and conquering nations. Thus, God will use Assyria to punish these nations in the second half of the eighth century. [16]

[16] George A. Smith, Amos, in The Expositor’s Bible, ed. William R. Nicoll and Oscar L. Joseph (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1956), in Ages Digital Library, v. 1.0 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc., 2001), “Introduction.”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Amos 2". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.