Amos Intro

The northern kingdom of Israel reached its greatest heights in the first half of the 8


century BC (

2 Kings 14:23-25

), during the forty-one-year reign of the powerful Jeroboam II. Confident in their nation’s victories, their worship, and their heritage, the people adopted the motto, “God is with us!” They were anticipating the

day of theLord,

when God would strike down all their enemies and establish Israel as the undisputed ruler of the region.

Into this atmosphere of overconfident nationalism steps Amos, a shepherd from the southern kingdom of Judah. He stands in the great royal temple at Bethel and announces that God is stirring up a nation to conquer Israel.

The day of theLord,

he insisted,

will be darkness, not light.

God isn’t impressed with Israel’s wealth, military might, or self-indulgent way of life. He is looking for justice, while the rich and powerful are taking advantage of the poor. God is calling Israel to repentance as the only way to avoid destruction.

The message causes an uproar. Amaziah, the high priest at Bethel, accuses Amos of treason. Amos is banished from the kingdom, but his oracles are recorded, creating one of the earliest collections we have from any Hebrew prophet. The book consists of roughly three dozen separate oracles, plus the story of his expulsion. Most of the book is loosely assembled, but it conveys one strong and consistent message:

Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!


Amos 1

1 The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoashwas king of Israel.

2 He said:

“TheLordroars from Zion

and thunders from Jerusalem;

the pastures of the shepherds dry up,

and the top of Carmel withers.”

Judgment on Israel’s Neighbors

3 This is what theLordsays:

“For three sins of Damascus,

even for four, I will not relent.

Because she threshed Gilead

with sledges having iron teeth,

4 I will send fire on the house of Hazael

that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.

5 I will break down the gate of Damascus;

I will destroy the king who is inthe Valley of Aven

and the one who holds the scepter in Beth Eden.

The people of Aram will go into exile to Kir,”

says theLord.

6 This is what theLordsays:

“For three sins of Gaza,

even for four, I will not relent.

Because she took captive whole communities

and sold them to Edom,

7 I will send fire on the walls of Gaza

that will consume her fortresses.

8 I will destroy the kingof Ashdod

and the one who holds the scepter in Ashkelon.

I will turn my hand against Ekron,

till the last of the Philistines are dead,”

says the SovereignLord.

9 This is what theLordsays:

“For three sins of Tyre,

even for four, I will not relent.

Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom,

disregarding a treaty of brotherhood,

10 I will send fire on the walls of Tyre

that will consume her fortresses.”

11 This is what theLordsays:

“For three sins of Edom,

even for four, I will not relent.

Because he pursued his brother with a sword

and slaughtered the women of the land,

because his anger raged continually

and his fury flamed unchecked,

12 I will send fire on Teman

that will consume the fortresses of Bozrah.”

13 This is what theLordsays:

“For three sins of Ammon,

even for four, I will not relent.

Because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead

in order to extend his borders,

14 I will set fire to the walls of Rabbah

that will consume her fortresses

amid war cries on the day of battle,

amid violent winds on a stormy day.

15 Her kingwill go into exile,

he and his officials together,”

says theLord.



Amos 2

1 This is what theLordsays:

“For three sins of Moab,

even for four, I will not relent.

Because he burned to ashes

the bones of Edom’s king,

2 I will send fire on Moab

that will consume the fortresses of Kerioth.

Moab will go down in great tumult

amid war cries and the blast of the trumpet.

3 I will destroy her ruler

and kill all her officials with him,”

says theLord.

4 This is what theLordsays:

“For three sins of Judah,

even for four, I will not relent.

Because they have rejected the law of theLord

and have not kept his decrees,

because they have been led astray by false gods,

the godstheir ancestors followed,

5 I will send fire on Judah

that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.”

Judgment on Israel

6 This is what theLordsays:

“For three sins of Israel,

even for four, I will not relent.

They sell the innocent for silver,

and the needy for a pair of sandals.

7 They trample on the heads of the poor

as on the dust of the ground

and deny justice to the oppressed.

Father and son use the same girl

and so profane my holy name.

8 They lie down beside every altar

on garments taken in pledge.

In the house of their god

they drink wine taken as fines.

9 “Yet I destroyed the Amorites before them,

though they were tall as the cedars

and strong as the oaks.

I destroyed their fruit above

and their roots below.

10 I brought you up out of Egypt

and led you forty years in the wilderness

to give you the land of the Amorites.

11 “I also raised up prophets from among your children

and Nazirites from among your youths.

Is this not true, people of Israel?”

declares theLord.

12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine

and commanded the prophets not to prophesy.

13 “Now then, I will crush you

as a cart crushes when loaded with grain.

14 The swift will not escape,

the strong will not muster their strength,

and the warrior will not save his life.

15 The archer will not stand his ground,

the fleet-footed soldier will not get away,

and the horseman will not save his life.

16 Even the bravest warriors

will flee naked on that day,”

declares theLord.



Amos 3

Witnesses Summoned Against Israel

1 Hear this word, people of Israel, the word theLordhas spoken against you—against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt:

2 “You only have I chosen

of all the families of the earth;

therefore I will punish you

for all your sins.”

3 Do two walk together

unless they have agreed to do so?

4 Does a lion roar in the thicket

when it has no prey?

Does it growl in its den

when it has caught nothing?

5 Does a bird swoop down to a trap on the ground

when no bait is there?

Does a trap spring up from the ground

if it has not caught anything?

6 When a trumpet sounds in a city,

do not the people tremble?

When disaster comes to a city,

has not theLordcaused it?

7 Surely the SovereignLorddoes nothing

without revealing his plan

to his servants the prophets.

8 The lion has roared—

who will not fear?

The SovereignLordhas spoken—

who can but prophesy?

9 Proclaim to the fortresses of Ashdod

and to the fortresses of Egypt:

“Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria;

see the great unrest within her

and the oppression among her people.”

10 “They do not know how to do right,” declares theLord,

“who store up in their fortresses

what they have plundered and looted.”

11 Therefore this is what the SovereignLordsays:

“An enemy will overrun your land,

pull down your strongholds

and plunder your fortresses.”

12 This is what theLordsays:

“As a shepherd rescues from the lion’s mouth

only two leg bones or a piece of an ear,

so will the Israelites living in Samaria be rescued,

with only the head of a bed

and a piece of fabricfrom a couch.”

13 “Hear this and testify against the descendants of Jacob,” declares the Lord, theLordGod Almighty.

14 “On the day I punish Israel for her sins,

I will destroy the altars of Bethel;

the horns of the altar will be cut off

and fall to the ground.

15 I will tear down the winter house

along with the summer house;

the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed

and the mansions will be demolished,”

declares theLord.



Amos 4

Israel Has Not Returned to God

1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria,

you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy

and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!”

2 The SovereignLordhas sworn by his holiness:

“The time will surely come

when you will be taken away with hooks,

the last of you with fishhooks.

3 You will each go straight out

through breaches in the wall,

and you will be cast out toward Harmon,”

declares theLord.

4 “Go to Bethel and sin;

go to Gilgal and sin yet more.

Bring your sacrifices every morning,

your tithes every three years.

5 Burn leavened bread as a thank offering

and brag about your freewill offerings—

boast about them, you Israelites,

for this is what you love to do,”

declares the SovereignLord.

6 “I gave you empty stomachs in every city

and lack of bread in every town,

yet you have not returned to me,”

declares theLord.

7 “I also withheld rain from you

when the harvest was still three months away.

I sent rain on one town,

but withheld it from another.

One field had rain;

another had none and dried up.

8 People staggered from town to town for water

but did not get enough to drink,

yet you have not returned to me,”

declares theLord.

9 “Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,

destroying them with blight and mildew.

Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees,

yet you have not returned to me,”

declares theLord.

10 “I sent plagues among you

as I did to Egypt.

I killed your young men with the sword,

along with your captured horses.

I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,

yet you have not returned to me,”

declares theLord.

11 “I overthrew some of you

as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire,

yet you have not returned to me,”

declares theLord.

12 “Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel,

and because I will do this to you, Israel,

prepare to meet your God.”

13 He who forms the mountains,

who creates the wind,

and who reveals his thoughts to mankind,

who turns dawn to darkness,

and treads on the heights of the earth—

theLordGod Almighty is his name.



Amos 5

A Lament and Call to Repentance

1 Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:

2 “Fallen is Virgin Israel,

never to rise again,

deserted in her own land,

with no one to lift her up.”

3 This is what the SovereignLordsays to Israel:

“Your city that marches out a thousand strong

will have only a hundred left;

your town that marches out a hundred strong

will have only ten left.”

4 This is what theLordsays to Israel:

“Seek me and live;

5 do not seek Bethel,

do not go to Gilgal,

do not journey to Beersheba.

For Gilgal will surely go into exile,

and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.”

6 Seek theLordand live,

or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire;

it will devour them,

and Bethel will have no one to quench it.

7 There are those who turn justice into bitterness

and cast righteousness to the ground.

8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,

who turns midnight into dawn

and darkens day into night,

who calls for the waters of the sea

and pours them out over the face of the land—

theLordis his name.

9 With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold

and brings the fortified city to ruin.

10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court

and detest the one who tells the truth.

11 You levy a straw tax on the poor

and impose a tax on their grain.

Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,

you will not live in them;

though you have planted lush vineyards,

you will not drink their wine.

12 For I know how many are your offenses

and how great your sins.

There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes

and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.

13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,

for the times are evil.

14 Seek good, not evil,

that you may live.

Then theLordGod Almighty will be with you,

just as you say he is.

15 Hate evil, love good;

maintain justice in the courts.

Perhaps theLordGod Almighty will have mercy

on the remnant of Joseph.

16 Therefore this is what the Lord, theLordGod Almighty, says:

“There will be wailing in all the streets

and cries of anguish in every public square.

The farmers will be summoned to weep

and the mourners to wail.

17 There will be wailing in all the vineyards,

for I will pass through your midst,”

says theLord.

The Day of the Lord

18 Woe to you who long

for the day of theLord!

Why do you long for the day of theLord?

That day will be darkness, not light.

19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion

only to meet a bear,

as though he entered his house

and rested his hand on the wall

only to have a snake bite him.

20 Will not the day of theLordbe darkness, not light—

pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?

21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;

your assemblies are a stench to me.

22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,

I will not accept them.

Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,

I will have no regard for them.

23 Away with the noise of your songs!

I will not listen to the music of your harps.

24 But let justice roll on like a river,

righteousness like a never-failing stream!

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings

forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?

26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,

the pedestal of your idols,

the star of your god—

which you made for yourselves.

27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,”

says theLord, whose name is God Almighty.



Amos 6

Woe to the Complacent

1 Woe to you who are complacent in Zion,

and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria,

you notable men of the foremost nation,

to whom the people of Israel come!

2 Go to Kalneh and look at it;

go from there to great Hamath,

and then go down to Gath in Philistia.

Are they better off than your two kingdoms?

Is their land larger than yours?

3 You put off the day of disaster

and bring near a reign of terror.

4 You lie on beds adorned with ivory

and lounge on your couches.

You dine on choice lambs

and fattened calves.

5 You strum away on your harps like David

and improvise on musical instruments.

6 You drink wine by the bowlful

and use the finest lotions,

but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.

7 Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile;

your feasting and lounging will end.

The Lord Abhors the Pride of Israel

8 The SovereignLordhas sworn by himself—theLordGod Almighty declares:

“I abhor the pride of Jacob

and detest his fortresses;

I will deliver up the city

and everything in it.”

9 If ten people are left in one house, they too will die.

10 And if the relative who comes to carry the bodies out of the house to burn themasks anyone who might be hiding there, “Is anyone else with you?” and he says, “No,” then he will go on to say, “Hush! We must not mention the name of theLord.”

11 For theLordhas given the command,

and he will smash the great house into pieces

and the small house into bits.

12 Do horses run on the rocky crags?

Does one plow the seawith oxen?

But you have turned justice into poison

and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness—

13 you who rejoice in the conquest of Lo Debar

and say, “Did we not take Karnaimby our own strength?”

14 For theLordGod Almighty declares,

“I will stir up a nation against you, Israel,

that will oppress you all the way

from Lebo Hamath to the valley of the Arabah.”



Amos 7

Locusts, Fire and a Plumb Line

1 This is what the SovereignLordshowed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the late crops were coming up.

2 When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, “SovereignLord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!”

3 So theLordrelented.

“This will not happen,” theLordsaid.

4 This is what the SovereignLordshowed me: The SovereignLordwas calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land.

5 Then I cried out, “SovereignLord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!”

6 So theLordrelented.

“This will not happen either,” the SovereignLordsaid.

7 This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb,with a plumb linein his hand.

8 And theLordasked me, “What do you see, Amos?”

“A plumb line,” I replied.

Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

9 “The high places of Isaac will be destroyed

and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined;

with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam.”

Amos and Amaziah

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words.

11 For this is what Amos is saying:

“ ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword,

and Israel will surely go into exile,

away from their native land.’ ”

12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there.

13 Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.”

14 Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees.

15 But theLordtook me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

16 Now then, hear the word of theLord. You say,

“ ‘Do not prophesy against Israel,

and stop preaching against the descendants of Isaac.’

17 “Therefore this is what theLordsays:

“ ‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city,

and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword.

Your land will be measured and divided up,

and you yourself will die in a pagancountry.

And Israel will surely go into exile,

away from their native land.’ ”



Amos 8

A Basket of Ripe Fruit

1 This is what the SovereignLordshowed me: a basket of ripe fruit.

2 “What do you see, Amos?” he asked.

“A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered.

Then theLordsaid to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

3 “In that day,” declares the SovereignLord, “the songs in the temple will turn to wailing.Many, many bodies—flung everywhere! Silence!”

4 Hear this, you who trample the needy

and do away with the poor of the land,

5 saying,

“When will the New Moon be over

that we may sell grain,

and the Sabbath be ended

that we may market wheat?”—

skimping on the measure,

boosting the price

and cheating with dishonest scales,

6 buying the poor with silver

and the needy for a pair of sandals,

selling even the sweepings with the wheat.

7 TheLordhas sworn by himself, the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done.

8 “Will not the land tremble for this,

and all who live in it mourn?

The whole land will rise like the Nile;

it will be stirred up and then sink

like the river of Egypt.

9 “In that day,” declares the SovereignLord,

“I will make the sun go down at noon

and darken the earth in broad daylight.

10 I will turn your religious festivals into mourning

and all your singing into weeping.

I will make all of you wear sackcloth

and shave your heads.

I will make that time like mourning for an only son

and the end of it like a bitter day.

11 “The days are coming,” declares the SovereignLord,

“when I will send a famine through the land—

not a famine of food or a thirst for water,

but a famine of hearing the words of theLord.

12 People will stagger from sea to sea

and wander from north to east,

searching for the word of theLord,

but they will not find it.

13 “In that day

“the lovely young women and strong young men

will faint because of thirst.

14 Those who swear by the sin of Samaria—

who say, ‘As surely as your god lives, Dan,’

or, ‘As surely as the godof Beersheba lives’—

they will fall, never to rise again.”



Amos 9

Israel to Be Destroyed

1 I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said:

“Strike the tops of the pillars

so that the thresholds shake.

Bring them down on the heads of all the people;

those who are left I will kill with the sword.

Not one will get away,

none will escape.

2 Though they dig down to the depths below,

from there my hand will take them.

Though they climb up to the heavens above,

from there I will bring them down.

3 Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,

there I will hunt them down and seize them.

Though they hide from my eyes at the bottom of the sea,

there I will command the serpent to bite them.

4 Though they are driven into exile by their enemies,

there I will command the sword to slay them.

“I will keep my eye on them

for harm and not for good.”

5 The Lord, theLordAlmighty—

he touches the earth and it melts,

and all who live in it mourn;

the whole land rises like the Nile,

then sinks like the river of Egypt;

6 he builds his lofty palacein the heavens

and sets its foundationon the earth;

he calls for the waters of the sea

and pours them out over the face of the land—

theLordis his name.

7 “Are not you Israelites

the same to me as the Cushites?”

declares theLord.

“Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt,

the Philistines from Caphtor

and the Arameans from Kir?

8 “Surely the eyes of the SovereignLord

are on the sinful kingdom.

I will destroy it

from the face of the earth.

Yet I will not totally destroy

the descendants of Jacob,”

declares theLord.

9 “For I will give the command,

and I will shake the people of Israel

among all the nations

as grain is shaken in a sieve,

and not a pebble will reach the ground.

10 All the sinners among my people

will die by the sword,

all those who say,

‘Disaster will not overtake or meet us.’

Israel’s Restoration

11 “In that day

“I will restore David’s fallen shelter—

I will repair its broken walls

and restore its ruins—

and will rebuild it as it used to be,

12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom

and all the nations that bear my name,”

declares theLord, who will do these things.

13 “The days are coming,” declares theLord,

“when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman

and the planter by the one treading grapes.

New wine will drip from the mountains

and flow from all the hills,

14 and I will bring my people Israel back from exile.

“They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.

They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;

they will make gardens and eat their fruit.

15 I will plant Israel in their own land,

never again to be uprooted

from the land I have given them,”

says theLordyour God.