Amos means “one supported” (by the LORD). Among the shepherds, the word translated “shepherds” probably denotes a herder or owner of large flocks rather than a hired worker; the same word
is translated “sheepbreeder” in 2 Kings 3.4
, its only other occurrence in the Bible. See also 7.14–15
. Tekoa was a town in Judah, ca. 16 km (10 mi) south of Jerusalem. He saw,
see Nah 1.1
; visions were common among prophets from Judah (e.g., Isaiah and Ezekiel). Uzziah reigned over the Southern Kingdom 785‐733 BCE. Jeroboam II reigned over the Northern Kingdom 788‐747. The earthquake, mentioned again in Zech 14.5
, cannot be precisely dated.
A common feature of Israelite prophecy was the indictment of foreign nations, which implied the LORD's universal sovereignty. In general, Amos indicts the neighboring peoples for ethical transgressions on the order of war
crimes. Near the end of this section, when Amos addresses Judah and Israel, the ethical standard is more exacting. There is
another way to look at the indictments directed toward these foreign nations. All the nations discussed were either subject
to or allies of the Davidic and Solomonic monarchy, and therefore bound by treaties to which the LORD would have been a witness and now was acting as enforcer of the treaty curses.
This introductory verse occurs in similar form in Joel 3.16
(cf. Jer 25.30
). The LORD roars, Amos uses the image of God as lion again in
. The sequence from Jerusalem … (to) Carmel traces the trajectory of the book as Amos, a southerner from the vicinity of Jerusalem, addresses the Northern Kingdom, whose
northwest boundary was Mt. Carmel (see 9.3n.).
Thus says the LORD
and the conclusion says the LORD
are standard formulas identifying prophetic oracles. The idiom for three … and for four indicates “more than enough” (Prov 30.18; Job 33.14
(cf. Isa 17.1–3; Jer 49.23–27; Zech 9.1–4
). Damascus was the capital of Syria (Aram). They have threshed Gilead, Gilead was Israelite territory in northern Transjordan, particularly vulnerable to Syrian aggression (2 Kings 10.32–33
); threshing was often used to symbolize martial brutality (Isa 41.15; Mic 4.13
). Hazael and Ben‐hadad II were Syrian rulers (2 Kings 13.3
). The Valley of Aven probably refers to the Beqa region between the Lebanon and Anti‐Lebanon ranges. Beth‐eden, known in Assyrian records as Bit‐idini, was a city‐state on the Euphrates, between the Lebanon and Anti‐Lebanon ranges. Kir is the place of Syrian origins (
) and exile (2 Kings 16.9
); its precise location is unknown.
Four cities of the Philistine pentapolis (1 Sam 6.17
) on the southeast coast of the Mediterranean are condemned for their slave traffic with Edom (2 Chr 21.16–17; Joel 3.4–8; Zeph 2.4–7
(see Joel 3.4–8
). Tyre was a Phoenician seaport north of Israel. Covenant of kinship (lit. “covenant of brothers”), cf. 1 Kings 5.12; 9.13
(Isa 34; Joel 3.19; Ezek 25.12
). Edom, located south and east of the Dead Sea, was a perennial rival of neighboring Judah, especially in the exilic and postexilic
era (Ps 137.7
; Obadiah). The term his brother, i.e., Judah (Mal 1.2
), draws on the ancient tradition of kinship between Jacob and Esau (Esau was “the father of Edom,” Gen 36.43
) and also connotes a treaty relationship (see vv. 9–10n.). Teman, a synonym for Edom. Bozrah, modern Buseirah, 40 km (25 mi) south of the Dead Sea.
), which is condemned for atrocities against Israelites to its immediate north, in Gilead. Rabbah, the Ammonite capital (modern Amman).
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