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Introductory Material

Amos was a shepherd and a sycamore-fig farmer from Tekoa, a village about 10 miles or 16 kilometers south of Jerusalem (Amos 7:14–15). As an “independent layman,” Amos had the freedom to proclaim God’s message unfettered by vested interests or public opinion.


The book is silent on authorship. It is generally assumed that the prophetic word formula (“The words of Amos . . . which he saw,” Amos 1:1), signifies that Amos was responsible in some fashion for the documentation of his own message.

Date and Occasion of Writing

The book of Amos is dated to the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah (c. 792–740 BC) and Jeroboam II, king of Israel (793–753 BC).1 The date of the book of Amos is usually assigned to the middle or later years of the reign of Jeroboam II, sometime between 760 and 750 BC.

Religious apostasy, moral decay, social injustice, and political corruption in the northern kingdom under the rule of Jeroboam II prompted God to send Amos across the border of Judah to preach in Bethel of Israel (cf. Amos 2:6–16). Specifically, the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies had become weary of Israel’s sins of idolatry and oppressive greed (Amos 3:13–4:2). God’s patience had expired, and his decree of judgment and exile signaled “the end” of Israel (Amos 7:2).


The people of the Hebrew kingdoms of Judah (Amos 2:4–5; 3:1) and Israel were the intended audience of Amos’s message (Amos 2:6–16; 3:13; 5:1; 6:1; 7:15). Specific groups or classes of people within the northern kingdom were targeted, including the “wealthy” (Amos 3:15; cf. 4:1; 6:4), along with the “famous and popular” (Amos 6:1). Certain individuals, including Jeroboam II, king of Israel, and Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, were also direct recipients of the prophet’s oracles (cf. Amos 7:10–17).

Literary Structure and Style

Three books are identified in the larger structure of Amos: The Book of Doom (Amos 1:1–4:13); the Book of Woes (Amos 5:1–6:14); and the Book of Visions (Amos 7:1–9:15).2 The Book of Doom and the Book of Woes are composed of eight oracles against the nations (Amos 1:3–2:16) and five prophetic “messages” or sermons against the kingdom of Israel (Amos 3–6). These five prophetic sermons are counterbalanced by five prophetic visions (Amos 7:1–9:10). The book concludes with an epilogue promising blessing and renewal for Israel (Amos 9:11–15).

The force of Amos’s preaching resides in his use of satire. This rhetorical strategy produces a “fragmentation” effect when blended with other subgenres like metaphor, proverb, woe oracle, and doom song. “Satire is a subversive genre,” and when coupled with the sudden shifts in literary technique and topic Amos keeps his audience “disoriented and assaulted.”3



The opening proclamation of the prophet’s message serves as a theme verse for the entire book: “The LORD roars from Zion” (Amos 1:2). The book’s several messages spring logically from the general outline of its content and is closely connected to Amos’s prediction of judgment and exile for Israel. The first message condemns specific acts of social injustice and religious apostasy (Amos 3:1–15). This third message of Amos calls the people to return to God in repentance (Amos 5:1–17). This exhortation to renew covenant obedience with YHWH is the literary and theological centerpiece of the book. The prophet’s closing message is a promise of messianic restoration and blessing—a word of hope reminding the people that God’s judgment is not final (Amos 9:11–15).

Amos in the Scroll of the Twelve Prophets

The twelve books concluding the collection of OT prophetic writings are known as the Minor Prophets. The books are roughly ordered chronologically, moving from the Neo-Assyrian period (with Hosea, Amos, Jonah, and Micah) through the Neo-Babylonian period (with Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Obadiah) down to the Persian period (with Joel, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi).

These Twelve Prophets as a scroll or book are loosely unified by the genre of prophetic literature, with an implied narrative and a central theme, or themes. Several themes linking the Minor Prophets are identified, including: the day of the LORD, God’s covenant election of Israel; Israel’s fidelity/infidelity to God’s covenant; God’s justice and mercy; God’s kingship; the call to repentance; God’s sending activity to the nations; and the universal worship of the God of Israel.4

Amos fits neatly into the thematic unity of the Twelve Prophets with his emphases on: the sending activity of God to the nations (Amos 1–2); Israel’s covenant relationship with God (Amos 2:10; 3:2); God’s justice, mercy, and sovereignty (Amos 5:15, 24; 9:5–6); the call to repentance (Amos 5:4–6); and the theme of worship (Amos 4:4­5; 5:21–­23).


Amos warns Israel of impending destruction and exile as divine judgment for their sins (Amos 3:13–15), and he calls the people to seek the LORD and live by hating evil, loving good, and establishing justice in the gates (Amos 5:4, 14–15).

Key Verse

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

— Amos 5:24 ESV


I. Superscription and Introduction (1:1–2)

II. Book of Doom (1:3–4:13)

A. God’s Judgment on Israel’s Neighbors: Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab (1:3–2:3)

B. God’s Judgment on Judah (2:4–5)

C. God’s Judgment against Israel (2:6–16)

D. Hear, People of Israel (3:1–15)

E. Hear, Cows of Bashan (4:1–13)

III. Book of Woes (5:1–6:14)

A. Hear, House of Israel (5:1–17)

B. Woe for Those Anxious for the Day of the LORD (5:18–27)

C. Woe for Those Who Lounge in Jerusalem and Samaria (6:1–14)

IV. Book of Visions (7:1–9:10)

A. Three Visions: Plague of Locusts, Devouring Fire, and the LORD’s Plumb Line (7:1–9)

B. Historical Interlude: Amaziah Challenges Amos (7:10–17)

C. Fourth Vision: Ripe Fruit (8:1–14)

D. Fifth Vision: God at the Altar (9:1–10)

V. Restoration of Israel (9:11–15)

Superscription and Introduction (1:1–2)

1:1 The superscription is a formal statement that corresponds to the title of a document. It serves to classify literature by genre or literary type, in this case as an oracular or prophetic text. It also identifies the author, audience, date, and sometimes the occasion prompting the divine message. This superscription identifies the author of the book as Amos and includes a brief biographical sketch, describing him as “a shepherd from the town of Tekoa in Judah.” Tekoa was hill-country village allotted to the tribe of Judah located 10 miles or 16 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem (Josh 15:59).

The specific genre of prophetic revelation Amos received from the LORD came in the form of a vision (“words that he saw”). The word, “vision,” is a technical expression for one form of divine revelation. Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, identified Amos as a “seer” in their confrontation (7:12). The theological purpose of the superscription is to emphasize that God himself is the source and authority behind the message of Amos (cf. 2Pet 1:20–21).

The opening verse broadly dates the book to the reigns of rival kings of the divided Hebrew monarchies. Uzziah was king of Judah (ca. 792–740 BC) and Jeroboam II was king of Israel (793–753 BC). The incomplete date formula sets the ministry of Amos during the period of the divided Hebrew kingdoms sometime in the mid-eighth century BC, perhaps between 760 and 750 BC (cf. 2Kgs 14:17–15:7).

1:2 The introduction sets both the tone and the theme of the message of Amos. The mood of the book is ominous and threatening, evidenced in the “roaring” and “thundering” of the voice of YHWH. The introduction functions as a motto for the book in the form of a theophany portrayal—the frightening appearance of the holy and just God.5

Book of Doom (1:3–4:13)

The book of Amos opens with a series of eight oracles against the neighboring nations of Judah and Israel (1:3–2:3). Prophecies of doom aimed at the Hebrew kingdoms of Judah (2:4–5) and Israel (2:6–16) complete the series. The Book of Doom closes with two sermons of denouncing the systemic religious apostasy and social injustice in the culture of Israel (3:1–15; 4:1–13).

God’s Judgment on Israel’s Neighbors: Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab (1:3–2:3)

The oracles of doom against the nations are cleverly arranged in such a way that the messages crisscross the borders of the Hebrew kingdoms and effectively climax with the prophet’s “target” audience—the nation of Israel (see the map). Chisholm has likened Amos’s approach to placing a noose around Israel’s neck and slowly tightening it, as divine judgment against each of the surrounding nations is sounded off one by one.6 The standardized literary form of the oracles of doom serves as one indicator of God’s fairness or consistency in the application of divine justice to human affairs.

Map of the nations surrounding Israel in Amos
Map of the nations surrounding Israel in Amos. | Photo Credit: Logan McDaniel (CC BY-SA)

The numerical idiom (n + 1) is a type of synonymous parallelism and is also found in biblical wisdom literature (e.g., Prov 30:15, 18, 21, 29). The formula, “for three transgressions . . . and for four,” can be understood symbolically in the sense of “fullness plus overflow.”7 The numbers add up to seven, a number signifying completion in the Bible. In context, the expression indicates “the transgressions of these nations have reached the maximum that the LORD permits (see Gen 15:16).”8

The indictments against Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab are similar in that all involve crimes against humanity. The word rendered “transgressions” (Amos 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13, 2:1; 3:14) means “to commit a legal offense” and signifies an act of rebellion in the form of social and moral violation. Specifically, these crimes against humanity, included: cruel social oppression and economic exploitation (1:3), human trafficking in slave trade (1:6, 9), kinship betrayal and unrelenting violence (1:11), obscene brutality in the merciless destruction of mother and unborn child (1:13), and desecration of the dead (2:1).

The repetition of the messenger formula, (“Thus says the LORD”), found in the opening verse of each oracle, serves the dual purpose of emphasizing God as the source of the prophet’s message and legitimizing his sovereign rule over the nations.

The repetition of the phrase, “I will not revoke the punishment,” after the messenger formula is a sober reminder that God is holy and will bring just judgment against sinners (cf. Deut 32:4; Nah 1:3).

Implicit in each of the oracles against the neighbors of Judah and Israel is the truth that God sometimes uses other nations to bring judgment against renegade kingdoms to accomplish his purposes of divine retribution on a cosmic scale. The vantage of historical perspective shows this to be the case with the oracles of Amos. The ancient superpowers of Assyria and Babylonia did overthrow the peoples the prophet had targeted for divine wrath, including the Hebrew kingdoms (2Kgs 17:1–6; 25:1–21; cf. Lev 18:24–28; Deut 28:25–26, 36, 49–53).

God’s Judgment on Judah (2:4–5)

2:4a The prophet’s indictment of Judah moves beyond crimes committed against humanity to open rebellion against God by rejecting “the law of the LORD.” Spurning the law of God is a breach of covenant and a rejection of his divine authority. Refusal to listen to the LORD and obey his commands provided grounds to invoke the covenant curses against Judah as YHWH’s treacherous vassal (Deut 28:15, 45; cf. Lev 26:14-35, even punishing sin seven times over). The same language is used to summarize the rationale for the kingdom of Israel’s exile into Assyria (“they rejected his decrees and the covenant . . .” 2Kgs 17:15, NIV). By contrast, God is loyal to his covenant with the Hebrew people, so much so that “faithfulness” is one of the defining attributes of the Godhead (Deut 7:9; 32:4; Ps 111:5; 145:13; Isa 30:18).

2:4b–5 The mention of the same lies that led their ancestors astray may be an oblique reference to idolatry or a recognition that Judah’s crime was a rejection of the prophetic message itself in their reliance on the word of the false prophets (cf. Isa 28:15; 30:9–12). In either case, Judah’s rejection of the laws of the LORD was comparable to the atrocities committed by the nations against humanity and the consequences would be equally similar—the fire of divine judgment.

God’s Judgment against Israel (2:6–16)

2:6–12 The repetition of the pronoun “you” in Amos 2:10 identifies the true “target” audience of the prophet’s message—the nation of Israel (i.e., the northern Hebrew kingdom). Punishment will match the crime whether meted out against the Hebrews or the nations. The catalog of crimes charged against Israel included: selling people into slavery (2:6b), oppressing the poor (2:7a), engaging in illicit sex (2:7b), perverting justice (2:8a), drunkenness (2:8b), and irreverent treatment of Nazirites (2:12). All of these offenses are dealt with in more detail in the subsequent messages proclaimed by the prophet.

The primary sin of Israel is the abuse and oppression of the poor. The nation of Israel was guilty of the same breach of covenant as her sister nation Judah, rejecting the laws of the LORD (cf. 2:4). Amos accused Israel of flagrantly violating covenant stipulations designed to protect the socially disadvantaged (cf. 2:8; cf. Exod 21:22; 22:25–27; Deut 22:19; 24:10–12).

The prophet’s reference to “the house of their god” (Amos 2:8) hints at the sin of idolatry that plagued the northern kingdom of Israel. Amos addresses the issue more explicitly in a later message (5:5, 26). Like his counterparts in prophetic ministry, Amos knew that God is the only true God and that he is a jealous god—he will not give his glory to another (Deut 5:9; Isa 42:8; 45:18, 21; Ezek 39:25).

2:13–16 This initial message against Israel does not end with the judgment formula, “I will send down fire,” like the other oracles against the nations (1:4, 7, 10, 12, 14; 2:2, 5); but it does end with a declaration of judgment. A similar judgment formula does, however, close Amos’s second oracle against Israel (cf. 3:13–15). This change is deliberate in order to heighten the impact of the announcement of divine punishment: “By changing the conclusion from the expected to the unexpected, Amos’s words were heard more clearly than otherwise.”9 The staccato structure of the book, the rapid-fire shifts in topics and subgenres, heightens the prophet’s subversion of the audience’s false perceptions and complacency.10

The ominous tone of the message also signifies that God’s judgment is imminent; the threat of Assyrian exile was only one generation removed from Israel when Amos preached in Bethel. God warns his people of impending doom out of his great compassion—he does not delight in the death of anyone (Ezek 18:23, 32).

Hear, People of Israel (3:1–15)

This is the first of five sermons Amos preached in his crusade to Bethel in Israel. The five speeches form the middle portion of the book (Amos 3–6). Each of the sermons, (3:1–15; 4:1–13; 5:1–17; 6:1–3; 6:4–14), emphasizes God’s impending judgment of the northern kingdom of Israel for their habitual disregard for the practice of social justice showcased in the Mosaic covenant (4:7; 5:14–15, 24; 8:4). The call to repentance (5:1–17) functions as the centerpiece of the book, both literarily and theologically.

The message to Israel (Amos 3) includes two speech acts. The first (3:1–10) declares the guilt of Israel and the second announces the punishment (3:11–15). The first sermon calls attention to the special relationship God has with Israel (3:2). In context, the term, “chosen,” refers to an experiential or relational knowledge and indicates a “special intimacy” that God enjoys with Israel as a result of the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants (Gen 12:3; 28:14; Exod 19:4–6).

3:1–2 The imperative verb, “hear” introduces a formulaic summons to listen (cf. Deut 4:1; 6:4; Hos 4:1; Mic 6:1). In prophetic contexts, the word typically denotes listening by putting into practice what was spoken. The formula signals that “an important message is coming. A principle, an issue, a teaching, or a truth is about to be revealed.”11 Amos used the imperative, “listen,” to open three of his messages in this central section of the book (Amos 3:1; 4:1; 5:1).

3:3–10 Amos poses a series of rhetorical questions to his audience (3:3–6), to which the immediate and obvious answer is “no.” The cause and effect relationships developed in the queries underscore the message of judgment against Israel, their failure to “do right” (3:10) will bring disaster upon them (3:6). The sermon also highlights the role of God’s prophets as his message bearers and the divine authority invested in their prophetic ministries (3:7–8). The courtroom setting of the first message (with heralds announcing a legal proceeding and the summoning of witnesses, 3:9), reminds us that God is the just judge—the God of justice (Mal 2:17).

3:11–15 The second sermon announces the verdict decreed for Israel for the sins of idolatry and false worship and social injustice in the economic exploitation of the poor.

The “couch and bed” (Amos 3:12) are symbols of wealth and ease (6:4; cf. Ezek 23:41). A separate residence for each season marked the height of luxury (Amos 3:15). Such extravagance for these few had come at a high price—namely, the exploitation and oppression of the poor and needy (2:6–7; 4:1; 5:12).

The town of Bethel was located 12 miles or 19 kilometers north of Jerusalem on the Benjamin-Ephraim tribal border. The sites of Dan and Bethel were the locations where King Jeroboam established rival shrines housing golden calves so that the citizens of the northern kingdom would not be making pilgrimages to worship at the Jerusalem Temple (1Kgs 12:25–30). Amos delivered his message in Bethel and condemned the idolatrous worship conducted there (Amos 4:4; 5:5–6; 7:10–13).

The message of Amos to the people of Israel (Amos 3) opened with the acknowledgment that God is a deliverer, as attested by the prophet’s reference to the Hebrew exodus from Egypt (2:10; 3:1). The Old Testament prophets knew only one God, the LORD, who is mighty to save or deliver—there is no other deliverer (Isa 43:3, 11; Jer 14:8; Zeph 3:17). This suggests that deliverance is still possible; Israel had the opportunity to heed the prophet’s warning and “to seek God and live” (Amos 5:4, 6).

Hear, Cows of Bashan (4:1–13)

The Book of Doom (1:3–4:13) is composed of a collection of eight oracles of judgment against the nations (1:3–2:16) and two sermons detailing God’s impending judgment of the nation of Israel (Amos 3–4). The sermon addressed to the “cows of Bashan” closes the Book of Doom. The prophet’s call to Israel, “to “hear” (3:1; 4:1), bridges the messages of doom with the sermon calling Israel to repentance (5:1–17) opening the Book of Woes (Amos 5–6). A series of incriminating speech acts form this second sermon, including: the indictment of the women among the ruling elite (4:1–3), the hypocrisy of Israel’s worship (4:4–5), the nation’s failure to return to God despite the calamities he sent against them (4:6–11), and a warning to make ready to meet God (4:12–13). The repetition of the divine utterance formula (“declares the LORD,” 4:3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11) invests Amos’s message with indisputable divine authority.

4:1 The charge to the “cows of Bashan” is a satirical reference to the self-indulgent women of the ruling class in Israel, “pampered darlings.”12 Bashan was the most fertile part of Gilead along the Yarmuk River in the Transjordan, celebrated for its rich pasture lands. Amos makes reference to women of the royal court who enjoyed luxurious lifestyles by exploiting the poor and needy.

The word, “oppress,” generally describes the intimidation and exploitation (with overtones of extortion and violence) of weaker members of the community by those who are stronger.13 The word, “crush,” means “to pulverize” or “abuse, mistreat.”14 Ironically, the same two root words are used to describe the divine judgment of the Hebrews for disobedience to the Mosaic covenant (Deut 28:33).

4:2–3 The verb “sworn” introduces an oath formula that carries the force of a curse. The certain destruction of Samaria is sealed by YHWH swearing an oath against his own holiness. The expression is known from the context of Psalm 89:35 where it represents divine determination to enforce a covenant. The divine oath formula is repeated in Amos 6:8 and 8:7.

4:4–5 The prophet’s mocking command to engage in worship at the shrines of Bethel and Gilgal suggests a parody or caricature of priestly instruction as part of a call to worship for pilgrims gathered at the sanctuary. Paradoxically, in their false worship, the people only multiply their sins.

4:6–11 In contexts expressing a covenant relationship between God and his people Israel, the word “return” signifies a change of loyalty by one of the covenant parties. Typically, the term is understood as the act of “repentance,” a complete change of direction back to God or a total reorientation toward YHWH. The hard-heartedness of Amos’s audience is underscored in the five-fold repetition of recalcitrant Israel’s refusal to “return” to God (4:6, 8, 9, 10, 11).

Here, Amos catalogs seven plagues. The natural disasters and calamities cited by the prophet are past acts of YHWH that were designed to prompt Israel to return to God in covenant obedience. Each of the plagues is mentioned in the curses for treaty violation attached to the stipulations of the Mosaic covenant: famine (Amos 4:6; cf. Lev 26:26), drought (Amos 4:7–8; cf. Lev 26:19; Deut 28:22–24), blight and mildew (Amos 4:9a; cf. Deut 28:22), locusts (Amos 4:9b; cf. Deut 28:38, 42), plagues (Amos 4:10a; cf. Lev 26:25; Deut 28:21–22, 27), war (Amos 4:10b; cf. Lev 26:25, 33), and destruction (Amos 4:11; cf. Deut 29:23). Despite the series of catastrophes used by God to warn and discipline his people, they refused to turn back to him.

4:12 The prophet’s declaration “to prepare to meet your God” was a summons to appear in court before the God of justice for sentencing. The outcome of the divine “visitation” or “inspection” forecast earlier (Amos 3:2, 14), would result in God’s punishment of Israel commensurate with her sins of idolatry and social injustice.

4:13 This compound name, “the LORD, the God of hosts,” is prominent in Old Testament prophetic literature (used nine times, with variations in Amos 3:13; 4:13; 5:14, 15, 16, 27; 6:8, 14; 9:5). The term “hosts” has military connotations and refers to the vast angelic armies at God’s disposal. The epithet emphasizes the invincible power that stands behind the commands of God.

Amos served a God who demands to be heard in all ages and places, whether pre-exilic Israel, the postmodern and post-Christian West, or the unreached regions of the East. Three times in this section (Amos 3–6), the prophet calls the people to attention to “hear” what God has to say (3:1; 4:1; 5:1). What they hear is that they have neglected the privileges inherent in being God’s chosen people. Listening to God, with a view toward obeying his voice, is still the watchword according to the teaching of the New Testament: Those who listen to the voice of the Son of God will live (John 5:24–25; cf. Rom 10:17; Heb 2:1; Jas 1:19).

Book of Woes (5:1–6:14)

Hear, House of Israel (5:1–17)

The oracle addressed to the people of Israel (Amos 5:1–17) is the third of five messages or sermons delivered by Amos that comprise the middle section of the book (3:1–15; 4:1–13; 5:1–17). The gory image of a shepherd rescuing only pieces of a sheep torn by a lion (3:12), and the lesson of a smoldering Sodom and Gomorrah (4:11), set up the prophet’s call to repentance (5:1–17). Wendland identifies this rhetorical unit as “the structural-thematic center of Amos.” He then isolates the hymn fragment (5:8–9) as the centerpiece of section, flanked by speech-acts of lamentation, exhortation, and accusation in an inverted pattern.15

The term, “lamentation” (5:1) describes a song or dirge for the dead; such funeral songs have a distinct meter or cadence. Typically, the dirge or funeral song consists of four discernible movements, including: a description of the tragedy (5:2–3), a summons to respond (5:4–6, 14–15), a direct address to the fallen (5:7–13), and a call to mourning (5:16–17).16

The appeal to “seek” God (5:4) is a summons to respond to the prophet’s funeral song. The repetition of the summons (5:6, 14) with the use of the imperative form of the verb indicates the desperate situation Israel faced for making a decision. Simply stated, seeking God involves both doing good and running from evil (5:14). The chiastic restatement17 of this truth addresses the relationship between motive and action, as the people need to hate evil and love doing good (5:15). Isaiah preached a similar message to the kingdom of Judah (Isa 1:16–17). “The key is in finding not the right place to go, but the right thing to do and the right way to do it. The true search for God, like the search for the true God, begins in the heart.”18

The prophet pairs “justice” and “righteousness” three times in this section (Amos 5:7, 24; 6:12). This is “the best summary available to define the covenant responsibilities of God’s people. Since justice (cf. Isa 30:18) and righteousness (Mic 7:9) are essential activities of the LORD, they must become prime duties of his people.”19

The expression “the God of hosts, will be with you” (Amos 5:14), alludes to the language of the covenant adoption formula—“I will be your God and you will be my people” (cf. Jer 31:33). The reference to God’s presence with his people may be an allusion to the refrain, “the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us,” part of the poetic affirmation that God is Israel’s helper (Ps 46:7, 11).

Amos uses the word for “gracious” (Amos 5:15; “mercy,” NIV) only here. Graciousness is a defining characteristic of God’s nature and character (Exod 34:6–7). He has the capacity to show mercy to anyone he chooses (Exod 33:19). The prophet hoped that perhaps God would show mercy to the people who remained after the onslaught of Israel.

The book of Amos features three ancient hymn fragments (Amos 4:13; 5:8–9; 9:5–6). “They celebrate his limitless, terrifying power, his control of the elements and forces in his creation, and his continued supervision and deployment of these agencies and forces. The most ominous threat of all is that every aspect of creation can be canceled, the work reversed and undone.”20

The hymn fragment in 5:8–9 extols God as Creator by acknowledging the stars as his handiwork (cf. Ps 19:1–6). The reference to the constellations Pileiades and Orion (Amos 5:8) affirms God’s power and wisdom. Amos emphasized the order and rhythm of God’s creation with his appeal to the cycle of constellations crossing the heavens (5:8a), the temporal patterns of day and night (5:8b), and the seasonal rainfalls (5:8c).

By appeal to the ancient hymn Amos understood that it is God who brings order to creation and to life (5:8b and 8c). The biblical creation account depicts a God who brings order out of chaos by his very word (Gen 1–2; cf. Ps 33:6). The unfathomable wisdom behind the design and order of creation is personified as a master architect (Prov 8:30), and his handiwork in the natural world is obvious (Ps 19:1–4).

The hymn fragment concludes with the recognition that no human achievement is beyond God’s destructive power (Amos 5:9). The story of the tower of Babel illustrates this truth in a literary fashion, with God intervening to topple the monument built to exalt “human greatness” (Gen 11:4). This is why the psalmist admonishes us not to trust in puny human strength or flawed human ingenuity (Ps 147:10; cf. Ps 33:16–17) but rather to affirm God as our strength and fortress (Pss 18:1; 46:1; cf. Jer 16:19).

Woe for Those Anxious for the Day of the LORD (5:18–27)

This literary unit is the first of three woes oracles comprising the Book of Woes (Amos 5–6). The trilogy of woe oracles makes the preceding call to repentance all that more urgent. Amos has invited the people of Israel to their own funeral because they are already as good as dead as far as God’s judgment is concerned. The woe oracles or laments serve both to announce the certain doom of the nation as a whole and to warn individuals to heed the prophet’s call to seek God in repentance. “The prophet’s purpose is to convince the nation that things are so bad that God will soon bury its memory, but in the process he persuades a few responsive people to seek God and live.”21

5:18–20 This passage continues the prophet’s pattern of taking prevailing hopes and themes of Israel’s faith and turning them back against the people, confronting them with the unsettling reality that they will experience the exact opposite of their expectations (5:18).22 The nightmarish parables of one who flees from a lion only to find a bear awaiting (5:19a) and a person who seeks haven in a house only to be bitten by a serpent (5:19b) were grim reminders that the coming disaster would be inescapable.

The repetition of the Hebrew interjection, “woe,” in 5:18 and 6:1 mark-out 5:18–27 as a distinct rhetorical unit. Three different sources have been suggested as the background for the literary form of the woe oracle: the curse of the prophetic judgment speech, the funeral lament, and the instruction of the Hebrew wisdom tradition (perhaps as a foil to the term “blessed”). Amos blends the message of doom characterized by the woe oracle with the warning of the judgment-speech calling for repentance. He does this first by announcing the certainty of Israel’s destruction (3:12–15; 4:12; 5:15–16). Then he offers a glimmer of hope for any remnant of Israel who repent and renew covenant relationship with YHWH in the aftermath of divine judgment (5:4, 6, 15). Jesus also used the woe oracle as a form of prophetic judgment-speech against the Pharisees (Matt 23).

The “day of the LORD,” refers to the “eschatological day” of divine intervention in history that brings both judgment of the wicked and deliverance and restoration of the righteous. It is a day of cosmic upheaval and reversal, a day of theophany (an appearance of the LORD) and holy war against the nations. The “day of the LORD” is an indefinite period of time of divine activity, but always an impending event. Amos is first among the Old Testament prophets to use the expression. He cursed those Hebrews who longed for the day of the YHWH because they assumed it was a day of deliverance and blessing for the people of God and a day of judgment for the wicked. It is clear from the teaching of later Hebrew prophets that the day of the LORD was also one of testing and purification for the righteous as well (cf. Joel 2:1–11; Zech 14:1–3; Mal 3:1–5).

5:21–27 The word, “hate,” conveys the sense of “despise” or “reject” in covenantal contexts (cf. Mal 1:2–3). The word is the antonym of the verb “to love.” The two terms are used as a polar word-pair in Old Testament legal and prophetic texts (e.g., Deut 7:9–10; Amos 5:15). The expression “hate” describes the “formal renunciation or severance of a relationship.”23

The terms “justice” and “righteousness” (5:24), “have to do with covenantal responsibilities, and are close to being synonymous . . . justice puts some slight emphasis on establishing and preserving order in society by righting wrongs and punishing wrong-doers, while righteousness emphasizes the relationships that covenantal society entails and insists that each partner in the covenant do all that is necessary to keep the covenant working right.”24 The image of a rushing torrent of justice and righteousness became one of the defining biblical texts for the American civil rights movement, and the healing streams of righteousness are still the heart cry of the oppressed today.25

Sakkuth and Kaiwan (5:26) are astral deities and both represent the same celestial body—the planet Saturn.26 Moses had warned the Israelites against the seductive appeal of such astral worship, prevalent among the people groups of the ancient Near East (Deut 4:19). The passage demonstrates that the idolatry of Mesopotamia had infiltrated the religious life of Israel.

YHWH’s rejection of hypocritical worship (Amos 5:21–23) is not peculiar to the message of Amos. The prophet Isaiah decried Judah’s worship as “meaningless” and “false” (Isa 1:11–17), and Malachi prayed that the Temple doors might be boarded up rather than have the people offer their contemptible sacrifices to God (Mal 1:10). Nor is the message of hypocritical worship restricted to the First Testament. Jesus decried those who honored him in their speech but worshipped in vain because their hearts were far removed from him (Matt 15:8–9). Paul gave stern warning that the Christian “cannot drink from the cup of the LORD and from the cup of demons” (1Cor 10:21).

Woe for Those Who Lounge in Jerusalem and Samaria (6:1–14)

The Book of Woes (Amos 5–6) is comprised of a sermon (5:1–17), and three “woe” oracles (5:18–27; 6:1–3; 6:4–14). Amos’s powerful sermon calling the people to repentance (5:1–17) functions as the centerpiece of the book, both literarily and theologically. The interjection, “Woe,” marks the beginning of three rhetorical units (5:18; 6:1–3; 6:4). The characteristic features associated with the woe-cry are found in Amos, including: the interjection of woe (e.g., 6:1), verbs in participle form describing God’s grievances (e.g., 6:3–4), and the word of divine judgment (e.g., 6:7). The woe-cry is a harsh form of prophetic speech and indicates that although individuals may yet respond to the threat of divine punishment by turning to God in repentance, YHWH’s judgment against the nation is irrevocable.

6:1–3 The interjection, “woe,” continues the series of woe oracles begun in 5:18 with the condemnation of those longing for the day of the LORD. This second woe targets the political complacency of the leadership in Israel. The ruling class was oblivious to the impending disaster, deluded by their false sense of security. Judah and Israel will fare no better than the other city-sates and kingdoms overrun by the Assyrians. Ignoring the imminent threat of Assyrian imperialism will not postpone the divine judgment decreed by Amos. Zion, a cipher for Jerusalem, and Samaria were the capital cities of the Hebrew kingdoms of Judah and Israel respectively. Both the Hebrew kingdoms share the same fate; God will punish his people for their “three sins, even four” (2:4, 6). The prophet offers a list of cities and kingdoms already conquered by the invading Assyrian army as evidence the destruction of Judah and Israel is certain (6:2–3).

6:4–14 The third woe summarizes vices that characterize unbridled self-indulgence, like laziness, gluttony, distraction, and drunkenness (6:4–5). These people will be the first to go into exile (6:7). The woe oracle concludes with a divine oath (6:8–14), sealing the fate of Israel for destruction.

This divine oath, “the LORD God has sworn by himself” (6:8) is an unusually strong introduction to a judgment oracle. The expression may be rendered “by his own life” and signifies the certainty of YHWH’s judgment—he “will stake his very life on the fulfillment of this deadly promise.”27 It is possible the LORD’s vow serves double-duty, concluding the third woe and introducing the final sermon of the Book of Woes.

Though unnamed, there is little doubt that Amos had the nation of Assyria in mind as Israel’s oppressor (6:14; cf. 5:27). Taken together, the two sites, Lebo-Hamath and the Brook of the Arabah, represented the northern and southern boundaries of the kingdom of Israel (cf. 2Kgs 14:25), thus emphasizing the extent and totality of the Assyrian conquest.

Book of Visions (7:1–9:10)

Three Visions: Plague of Locusts, Devouring Fire, and the LORD’s Plumb Line (7:1–9)

7:1–3 The first vision features a vast swarm of locusts. A locust swarm is a metaphor for divine judgment in prophetic literature (Isa 33:4; Rev 9:7; cf. Exod 10:4). The locust swarm may be understood in the literal sense of a blight of flying or hopping insects that ravage vegetation, or as a symbol for a rapidly growing group or class of people (e.g., Assyrian merchants, Nah 3:17), or as an invading army (e.g., Jer 51:14; Joel 1:4, 6). Since actual locust plagues were one of the curses God threatened to bring against Israel for covenant disobedience, this may be what the LORD showed Amos (Deut 28:38).

7:4–6 The second vision was a great devouring fire. The fire described by Amos may be understood literally, perhaps as ravaging brushfire as a result of extreme drought, or as a symbol for the severe drought itself. Locust swarms and wildfires were the two worst enemies of the agricultural societies in the ancient world.

7:7–9 The third vision pictured the LORD standing by a wall that had been built using a plumb line. Amos saw God symbolically testing or measuring his people against the standard or “plumb” in his hand. The “wall” (Israel) had been built to plumb, implicit in the standard of God’s righteous law framing his covenant relationship with them enacted at Mount Sinai (Exod 19:5–6; cf. Isa 28:17). But the nation was out of plumb when tested due to their violation of God’s covenant stipulations, especially in the idolatry of the false worship associated with the high places and the sanctuaries of Dan and Bethel (Amos 7:9). God’s verdict of judgment is justified.

Twice God relented and suspended his judgment against Israel in response to Amos’s impassioned intercession for the people (7:3, 6). Now, Amos no longer intercedes for Israel. Now he can only bear witness to the outcome of the measurement of the plumb line—“Israel’s life is too crooked to warrant either pardon or relief.”28

The dominant theme of the three visions is the sovereignty of God. His rule of creation and the nations is attested in the divine name that is prominent in the larger literary unit (7:1, 2, 4–6; 8:1, 3, 11; 9:8). The epithet, “Sovereign LORD” could be more literally rendered “My Master YHWH,” thus expressing the intimate connection between YHWH and the acts of judgment threatened in the visions.

Historical Interlude: Amaziah Challenges Amos (7:10–17)

The prose interlude of 7:10–17 is unique in the book and provides us with the only clear details of the historical setting and personal encounters of Amos’s ministry. The exchange between Amos and Amaziah was triggered by the prophet’s tirade against the dynasty of Jeroboam II (7:9). Amaziah, the chief priest of the Bethel shrine, accused Amos of conspiracy and banished him from Bethel. Amos countered by pronouncing a curse on Amaziah and his family (7:17).

King Jeroboam II ruled Israel from c. 793–753 BC. He brought economic prosperity and political stability to the northern Hebrew kingdom and expanded Israel’s borders by means of several successful military campaigns. Amaziah and the people presumed the apparent favor of God in accordance with covenant blessings outlined in Deuteronomy 28. They mistakenly assumed they were in right standing with God and in no need of repentance to stay the threat of divine judgment.

Theologically, the narrative serves to confirm the accuracy of the impending divine judgment seen in Amos’s third vision (the plumb line, Amos 7:7–9). The report explains both the circumstance prompting the oracle against Amaziah (7:16–17), and it anticipates the tone and theme of the fourth vision (the destruction and exile of Israel, 8:1–14). The curse against Amaziah foreshadows the divine judgment in store for the entire nation of Israel.

Fourth Vision: Ripe Fruit (8:1–14)

8:1–3 The fourth vision shown to Amos by the LORD needs little interpretation. Like the summer figs and grapes, the “fruit” is ripe for picking: the fate of Israel is now sealed. The death sentence has been announced and nothing can avert it. Previously, Amos had pleaded with the people to “come back to the LORD and live” (5:6)—to no avail. This tragic message is dramatically underscored in the prophet’s use of wordplay, as the words for “ripe” and “end” sound very similar in the Hebrew language. The songs of the harvest festival have been replaced by wailing and silence in response to the “harvest” of corpses left behind by the “grim reaping” of the foreign invaders (cf. Lev 23:39–41).

8:4–14 The cluster of judgment oracles that follow are distinct speeches or sermons. Depending upon the source consulted, these sermons number anywhere from three to five distinct literary units. They rehearse the earlier indictments levied by the prophet against Israel and further vindicate YHWH’s decision to punish his people (Amos 8:2). Amos previously decried the exploitation of the poor and needy (5:7, 10–12). Now he condemns the perversion of religious holy days for the sake of commerce motivated by greed (8:5–6). Such activity was prohibited according to Mosaic law (Exod 35:1–3; Deut 5:13–14). The prophet condemned wealthy merchants for cheating the poor with dishonest scales, including the trafficking of the poor into debt slavery (Amos 8:5–6; cf. 2:6). All these corrupt business practices were forbidden by Mosaic law because they perverted justice and fairness, aspects of God’s very nature (Lev 19:35–36; Deut 25:13–16; Prov 11:1).

The prophetic ministry of Amos to the kingdom of Israel was the culmination of a series of warnings sent by God to the divided monarchies by his prophets and seers (2Kgs 17:13). The destruction of Israel had been pre-determined by a long history of idolatry (cf. 2Kgs 17:9–12). God’s covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai gave the Hebrew people the choice of life or death, based upon their love for God and obedience to his laws and decrees (Deut 30:19). Failure to choose life by walking in God’s ways would result in certain destruction (Deut 30:15, 17–18). Hebrew wisdom tradition applies this general principle broadly to all of life: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Prov 14:12).

Fifth Vision: God at the Altar (9:1–10)

9:1–4 Amos’s fifth and final vision is dominated by YHWH’s lengthy first-person monologue (Amos 9:1b-4). The vision report (9:1) contains no formula introducing the visionary experience, no dialogue between God and the prophet, and no symbolic component as a key to interpreting the vision. The themes of God’s sovereignty and divine judgment persist in this climactic vision. The time for judgment has come. Amos can only listen in silence. Tragically, the unrelieved theme of the prophet’s last vision is that there is no escape from divine retribution.

The appearance of the LORD “standing beside the altar,” (9:1), presumably a reference to a sacrificial altar adjoined to the shrine at Bethel, signifies that the time for God’s visitation in judgment has arrived. “The place where God had desired to meet his people in grace was now the site of his fierce and final judgment.”29

9:5–7 The reference to “he who touches the earth” (9:5) introduces “hymnic doxology of judgment” (9:5–6) that glorifies God’s majesty and celebrates his absolute power to carry out his threats of judgment against Israel.30 The temple hymn fragments already identified in Amos 4:13 and 5:8–9 suggest the prophet was familiar with temple liturgy. Amos’s final vision touches on two additional theological truths. First, God cannot be contained; his “home” stretches from the earth to the heavens (9:6). The hymn fragment calls to mind Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the Temple and his acknowledgement that neither earth nor the highest heavens can contain God—much less any conceivable building (1Kgs 8:27; cf. Acts 7:49). This means God is immense or boundless with respect to spatial measures and infinitely beyond any human control or manipulation.

9:8–10 Amos knows God is a promise keeper. Despite his necessary judgment for their covenant trespass of idolatry, YHWH will not “completely destroy the family of Israel” (Amos 9:8). God remembers his everlasting covenant with Abraham forever (Pss 105:8–11; 111:5). Implicit in this declaration is the “remnant” theme, prominent in the Old Testament prophetic literature (e.g., Isa 11:11; Jer 23:3). God will always preserve a remnant of his people (Joel 2:32), and they will ultimately prevail and live in righteousness (Mic 5:7–8; Zeph 3:13). This, too, serves as a reminder that as God’s people we are not to despise “small beginnings” (Zech 4:10),because it is his way to grow “mustard seeds” into “trees” (Matt 13:31–32).

Restoration of Israel (9:11–15)

The two salvation oracles promising deliverance and restoration close the book stand in stark contrast to the judgment pronounced in the previous sermons and visions of Amos (Amos 9:11–12 and Amos 9:13–15). Such juxtapositions are startling, but in keeping with the basic speech patterns found often in Old Testament prophetic literature. This speech pattern commonly includes the following: indictment (a statement of the offense, typically covenant violations related to idolatry and social injustice, Amos 1–3); judgment (a statement of the punishment to be exacted, often including the threat of exile, Amos 4; 6–8); instruction (the expected response to the prophet’s message, usually including a call to repentance, Amos 5); and aftermath (a promise of future deliverance and restoration offering hope to those who persevere during the intervening period of divine judgment, Amos 9).31
The reference to the “booth of David” (9:11) is usually understood as some variation on the theme of prophecy about the messianic age. The rebuilding of the “house of David” is interpreted as the restoration of the Davidic monarchy as a result of God’s reinstatement of the covenant he made with David (2Sam 7). The installation of Zerubbabel, a Davidic descendant, as governor of post-exilic Judah is often cited as the fulfillment of this prediction (Hag 2:20–24; cf. Jer 22:24–30).


The restoration of David’s dynasty is better understood with reference to the greater King David to come—the shepherd of God’s people Israel (Isa 9:7; Jer 33:17; Ezek 37:24): The messianic age will witness the rise of a “new” David who will shepherd the people of Israel and restore their former glory—the glory of God’s people rightly reunited in covenant relationship with him (cf. Jer 23:5–6).


According to the New Testament, Jesus the Messiah is the fulfillment of Amos’s promise of a restored house of David (cf. Acts 2:29–36). Beyond this, James quotes Amos 9:11–12 in his arguments to the Jewish leaders assembled in Jerusalem at the first church council (Acts 15). James considered Israel’s possession of the remnant of Edom and the nations as forecasted by Amos (9:12) fulfilled in the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and their inclusion as the people of God in the church of Jesus Christ (Acts 15:13–18).

For this reason, like Israel of old, the church still shouts,

Hosanna to the Son of David!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!

Hosanna in the highest!

(Matt 21:9; cf. Pss 118:25–26; 148:1)


Online Resources

The Bible Project: Amos

Bible Odyssey: Amos 5–6

BlueLetter Bible Text-Clouds: Amos

Print Resources

Andersen, F. I., and D. N. Freedman. Amos. Anchor Bible 24A. (New York: Doubleday, 1989).

Carroll, R. M. Daniel. Amos, the Prophet and his Oracles. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002).

Carroll, R. M. Daniel. The Book of Amos. NICOT. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2020).

Clements, R. When God’s Patience Runs Out: The Truth of Amos for Today. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1988).

Coggins, R. J. Joel and Amos. New Century Bible. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.

Gowan, D. E. “The Book of Amos.” Pp. 339–431 in The New Interpreter’s Bible. D. L. Peterson, ed. (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996. Vol. 7).

Hubbard, D. A. Joel and Amos. TOTC 22B. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1989).

King, P. J. Amos, Hosea, Micah—An Archaeological Commentary. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1988).

Longman, T. and T. E. McComiskey. “Amos.” Pp. 349–420 in Daniel—Malachi. ExpBibCom 8. T. Longman and D. E. Garland, eds. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008).

Motyer, J. A. The Day of the Lion: The Message of Amos. (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1984).

Niehaus, J. “Amos.” Pp. 315–494 in An Exegetical & Expository Commentary on the Minor Prophets. T. E. McComiskey. ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992).

Patterson, R. D. and A. E. Hill. Minor Prophets: Hosea—Malachi. CBC 10. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2008).

Shepherd, M. B. A Commentary on the Book of the Twelve. (Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2018).

Smith, B. K., and F. S. Page. Amos, Obadiah, Jonah. NAC 19B. (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1995).

Smith, G. V. Amos: A Commentary. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989).

Smith, G. V. Hosea, Amos, Micah. NIVAC. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001).

Stuart, D. Hosea–Jonah. WBC 31. (Waco: Word, 1987).

Endnotes & Permissions

1. The reigns of both of these kings extended over a period of more than four decades, and the exact dates for the rule of each king vary by some two to seven years depending upon the source consulted. See the discussions in G.A. Smith, Amos: A Commentary, 25; and R. B. Chisholm, Handbook on the Prophets. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 377, 753–67). This leaves some ambiguity as to the exact date of Amos’s prophetic activity.

2. F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Amos. Anchor Bible 24A. (New York: Doubleday, 1989), xxv–xliii.

3. L. Ryken and T. Longman, eds. A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 342.

4. See on the theological themes of the Twelve Prophets: David L. Petersen, “A Book of the Twelve?” In Reading and Hearing the Book of the Twelve (J. D. Nogalski and M. A. Sweeney, eds. Symp 15 (Atlanta: SBL, 2000), 9–10; Terence Collins, “The Scroll of the Twelve.” In The Mantle of Elijah. BibSem 20 (Sheffield: Academic Press, 1993), 65; P. L. Redditt and A. Schart, Thematic Threads in the Book of the Twelve. BZAW 325. (Berlin: de Gruyter,) 2003; M. A. Sweeney, TANAK: A Theological and Critical Introduction to the Jewish Bible. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012), 343; Craig Ott, S. J. Strauss, T. C. Tennet, and A. Moreau, Encountering Theology of Mission: Biblical Foundations, Historical Development, and Contemporary Issues (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010), xv, xvii; J. Hwang, “The Missio Dei as an Integrative Motif in the Book of Jeremiah.” BBR 24:4 (2013): 481.

5. J. D. Nogalski, The Book of the Twelve: Hosea—Jonah. Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 2011), 275.

6. Chisholm, Handbook on the Prophets, 378–86.

7. B. K. Smith and F. S. Page, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah. NAC 19B. (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1995), 47.

8. B. Wintle, gen ed. South Asia Bible Commentary. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 1138.

9. According to Smith and Page, Amos…, 61.

10. Cf. Ryken and Longman, Complete Literary Guide…, 343.

11. D. Stuart, Hosea—Jonah. WBC 31. (Waco: Word, 1987), 321.

12. Smith and Page, Amos…, 85; cf. Ryken and Longman, Complete Literary Guide…, 343–46.

13. NIDOTTE 3:557.

14. NIDOTTE 3:1192.

15. E. R. Wendland, “The Word of the LORD and the Organization of Amos.” Occasional Papers in Translation and Textlinguistics 2.4. (1988), 14.

16. Cf. Stuart, Hosea—Jonah, 344.

17. Chiasm or chiasmus is the arrangement of language in an ABBA format, where an emphasized element is sandwiched between repeated elements.

18. Andersen and Freedman, Amos, 482.

19. D. A. Hubbard, Joel and Amos. TOTC 22B. (Downers Grove: IVP, 1989), 167.

20. Andersen and Freedman, Amos, 490.

21. G. A. Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah. NIVAC. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 312.

22. D. J. Simundson, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah. AOTC. (Nashville: Abingdon, 2005), 199.

23. Andersen and Freedman, Amos, 525.

24. Hubbard, Joel and Amos, 168.

25. More recently, Martin Luther King, Jr. invoked the verse, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream” (Amos 5:24) in his well-known 1963, Letter from Birmingham Jail appealing for racial equality (New York: Penguin Books, 2018, 19).

26. ZIBBCOT 5:74.

27. Hubbard, Joel and Amos, 195.

28. Hubbard, Joel and Amos, 209.

29. Hubbard, Joel and Amos, 229.

30. S. M. Paul, “Amos 1:2–2:3: A Concatenous Literary Pattern.” JBL 90 (1971): 397–403.

31. A. E. Hill and J. H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament. 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 510.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2000; 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Amos 1


1:1 The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds1 of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years2 before the earthquake.

Judgment on Israel’s Neighbors

And he said:

  “The LORD roars from Zion
    and utters his voice from Jerusalem;
  the pastures of the shepherds mourn,
    and the top of Carmel withers.”

Thus says the LORD:

  “For three transgressions of Damascus,
    and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,3
  because they have threshed Gilead
    with threshing sledges of iron.
  So I will send a fire upon the house of Hazael,
    and it shall devour the strongholds of Ben-hadad.
  I will break the gate-bar of Damascus,
    and cut off the inhabitants from the Valley of Aven,4
  and him who holds the scepter from Beth-eden;
    and the people of Syria shall go into exile to Kir,”
      says the LORD.

Thus says the LORD:

  “For three transgressions of Gaza,
    and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
  because they carried into exile a whole people
    to deliver them up to Edom.
  So I will send a fire upon the wall of Gaza,
    and it shall devour her strongholds.
  I will cut off the inhabitants from Ashdod,
    and him who holds the scepter from Ashkelon;
  I will turn my hand against Ekron,
    and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish,”
      says the Lord GOD.

Thus says the LORD:

  “For three transgressions of Tyre,
    and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
  because they delivered up a whole people to Edom,
    and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.
10   So I will send a fire upon the wall of Tyre,
    and it shall devour her strongholds.”

11 Thus says the LORD:

  “For three transgressions of Edom,
    and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
  because he pursued his brother with the sword
    and cast off all pity,
  and his anger tore perpetually,
    and he kept his wrath forever.
12   So I will send a fire upon Teman,
    and it shall devour the strongholds of Bozrah.”

13 Thus says the LORD:

  “For three transgressions of the Ammonites,
    and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
  because they have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead,
    that they might enlarge their border.
14   So I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah,
    and it shall devour her strongholds,
  with shouting on the day of battle,
    with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind;
15   and their king shall go into exile,
    he and his princes5 together,”
      says the LORD.


[1] 1:1 Or sheep breeders

[2] 1:1 Or during two years

[3] 1:3 Hebrew I will not turn it back; also verses 6, 9, 11, 13

[4] 1:5 Or On

[5] 1:15 Or officials