Amos Chapter One


Introduction to Amos


            Amos was called of God to prophesy to Israel even though he was a native of Judah.  He was from the town of Tekoa, located about five or six miles south of Bethlehem.  In modern times a new town has been built in the Judean hills of the West Bank over the ruins of Biblical Tekoa and is occupied by Israeli settlers.  Amos was both a shepherd and a “dresser” or skilled in the tending of sycamore trees.  The sycamore of the Bible is not the huge, white barked tree that we see in the Ozark river valleys today but rather a species of fig tree, commonly called a sycamore fig or fig-mulberry.  This sycamore-fig is native only to the Middle East and Eastern Africa.

            Amos was a contemporary of Joel or prophesied shortly after Joel.  Amos was sent primarily to the northern kingdom of Israel and prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam and Joash in Israel.  One of the better known quotations from the words of Amos is found in:


Amos 7:14Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit:


Amos was not trained in any prophet’s school such as kept by Elijah nor was he a prophet by profession.  Irregardless he was sent by God to bring the message of warning to an apostate nation, warning them to turn and repent.  We studied several times in the past year that indeed:


“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23


And that those who reject and break God’s law will pay a penalty:


Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  Galatians 6:7


And so it shall ever be, for then, for now and forever.


Read Amos 1:1-5 – The Prophecy Against Syria


v.1The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen 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 years before the earthquake.”


            Amos gives us the historical time frame of his prophecy in this verse as we noted during the introduction.  Another time line that he mentions is “THE EARTHQUAKE”.  This was a calamity that befell Israel very shortly after the time of this prophecy and is confirmed by:


Zechariah 14:5And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.


It was significant enough that it was also recorded by the Jewish historian, Josephus, in Antiquities 9, 10:4.


v.2And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.”


            The wrath of God is depicted here as the roar of a raging lion.  Zion, Jerusalem, is depicted as the home of God, as we remember that under Mosaic Law the mercy seat in the most Holy Place in the temple was his symbolic place of being under Mosaic Law.  In Joel we studied the warning of the wrath of God that would be brought against Judah, in Amos, at least in this chapter and part of chapter two, God’s wrath is turned against their neighbors.  The wording is much like that of Isaiah:


Isaiah 42:13The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.”


            The nations who surrounded Israel were as evil and wicked as those that Israel displaced.  While God used them to punish his people when they rebelled against him He also reserved a measure of his wrath for them in their sin and degradation.


v.3Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:”


            Amos begins his pronouncement with the assurance that his words are from God; “THUS SAITH THE LORD”, they are not his own.  Here we also see the patience and long-suffering of God.  He is not punishing Damascus for just one or two transgressions but rather three and four.  They have been given ample time to repent of their wickedness.

            Damascus, a city near the same location as the capital of Syria today, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites on earth.  While not a major city in many generations of man they had risen against Israel, specifically the tribes of Manasseh and Gad, who occupied the area of Gilead, east of Jordan, and devastated them.  The language used here is that they “THRESHED” them with instruments of iron, instruments of war and death.  Their destruction is also prophesied by Isaiah, that they will be destroyed along with Samaria:


Isaiah 8:4  4For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.”


v.4  But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad.”


            Hazael and Benhadad were both kings of Syria at different times.  Hazael was anointed as king over Syria by the prophet Elijah:


I Kings 19:15And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:”


His purpose was to punish Israel with the sword:


I Kings 19:17And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.”


            Benhadad was contemporary with Ahab, king of Israel and made war against the northern kingdom:


And Benhadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it.” I Kings 20:1


v.5I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD.”


            In addition to a destruction by fire of the city of Damascus, the “BAR” or hold that Syria and Damascus had over its neighbors would be broken and they would be carried off into captivity.  The record that we have in scripture indicates that Aven was a location within Israel where they worshipped idols:


Hosea 10:8The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us.”


            The “HOUSE OF EDEN” refers to one of the princes of the tribe of Levi who answered the call of Hezekiah, king of Judah, in his reform of Judah:


II Chronicles 29:12Then the Levites arose, Ma-math the son of A-ma-sai, and Joel the son of A-za-ri-ah, of the sons of the Ko-hath-ites: and of the sons of Me-rar-i, Kish the son of Ab-di, and A-za-ri-ah the son of Je-hal-e-lel: and of the Ger-shon-ites; Joah the son of Zim-mah, and Eden the son of Jo-ah:”


            There are two locations in scripture that were called Kir, both in the country ruled by Moab, one being a walled stronghold in the southern portion of their land east of Israel and most likely the one being referred to here by Amos.


Read Amos 1:6-10 – God’s Judgment Against Philistia and Tyrus


v.6Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom:”


            The area of Gaza, the same Gaza that we see in our television news today and that is still being fought over on a regular basis, was the land of the Philistines.  They plagued Israel throughout the history of their kingdoms and as we have studied at other times, even captured the Ark of the Covenant at one time:


I Samuel 6:17  And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod.”


God here promises “TO DELIVER THEM UP TO EDOM”, the descendants of Esau who ruled the region east and south of the Dead Sea as we studied in Genesis 36.


v.7-8But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof: 8And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD.”


            The three major cities of the Philistines are listed here and called out specifically for destruction.  Neither the scripture nor secular history gives us a clear picture of when the removal of Philistia as a people was accomplished.  Three other prophets speak of their destruction; Isaiah 14:29-31, Zephaniah 2:4 and Zechariah 9:6.  In scripture we see that during the time of Uzziah, king of Judah, with the help of God he destroyed at least one of these cities replacing them with cities governed by Judah:


II Chronicles 26:6And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about Ashdod, and among the Philistines.”


The secular history sources searched indicate that some remnant of these people existed until the time of the Babylonian captivity and even until the time of the Macabees between the time of Malachi and the birth of Jesus.  After that time they are no longer mentioned in the history of man or in scripture.


v.9-10Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant: 10But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof.”


            Tyrus refers to Tyre, commonly linked with Sidon.  The cities of Tyre and Sidon were principle seaports of this region, known as Lebanon today, and the home of the Phoenicians.  They were both allies of David and Solomon and the source of much of the material and artisanship of the temple that Solomon built.


I Kings 5:1And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David.”


Further details of their agreement and the working together of Israel and Tyre are in the balance of I Kings 5.  Apparently this relationship started to fall apart shortly after the temple was completed because we read in:


I Kings 9:11-12Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. 12And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not.”


Later they sided with various other nations who punished or conquered Israel and Judah, consequently God brings his wrath upon them as well.  Tyre was built on an island just off the shore and had managed to survive attacks, wars and battles for many years.  But we find in the prophecy of Ezekiel:


Ezekiel 26:14And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.


They were subdued and paid tribute to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, further troubled by the Medes who followed the Babylonians in power and finally conquered completely by Alexander the Great.  During the time of the New Testament it was ruled by Rome and the island where the original city stood was indeed used as a place for fishermen to dry their nets.  The city that replaced it was built on the mainland.


Read Amos 1:11-15 – The Punishment of Edom and Ammon


v.11-12Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever: 12But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.”


            As we studied in Genesis 36, Edom is the name given to the people who were descendants of Esau.  At various times during the time of Israel, both in Judges and after they became a kingdom, Edom troubled Israel or made war against her.  Thus the reason for the declaration by Amos that “HE DID PURSUE HIS BROTHER WITH THE SWORD” since the patriarch of Edom and the patriarch of Israel were indeed the two sons of Isaac, Jacob and Esau.

            Also in our study of the generations of Esau in Genesis 36 we found Teman as one of the rulers of Edom and in Genesis 36:33 a location is mentioned called Bozrah.  Secular history tells us that Bozrah was a capital city of Edom located south and east of the Dead Sea.

            God determined to destroy Edom but did not do so until almost at the end of Biblical times.


Ezekiel 25:12-13Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them; 13Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword.”


            God punished them at various times and we read of them even in the prophecy of Malachi as being reserved for further punishment.  A remnant remained through the time of the New Testament as we know Herod the Great and the Herodian family were half Edomite.  They were either included in the rebellion of Israel against Rome or were considered to be by Rome.  Consequently they were destroyed and disappear completely as a people at the same time that Israel is destroyed by Rome about AD 70.


v.13Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border:”


            As we should remember from our study of Genesis 19, Ammon was a descendant of Lot, nephew of Abraham and son of Lot’s younger daughter.  When Israel occupied and conquered Canaan they were specifically instructed not to take the land of the Ammonites as God had made a covenant with them (Deuteronomy 2:19).  But times changed.  Ammon troubled Israel at various times during the time of the Judges and the kingdoms.  Much of their country was destroyed by David during his reign but they remained until this time.

            We find one example of the Ammonites coming against Israel during the time of the Judges:


Judges 10:7-8  And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon. 8And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.”


God had used them to punish Israel but they apparently took advantage of their opportunity and went beyond what God required of them.  Consequently they are to be punished for their cruelty and their taking of land given to Israel.


v.14-15But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind: 15And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the LORD.”


            As we study the time of the punishment of Ammon both the scripture and history becomes somewhat confusing.  Joab under King David destroyed Rabbath (II Samuel 12:26-30), yet we see a prophecy here concerning its destruction.  In addition we find another prophecy regarding its destruction:


Ezekiel 25:5And I will make Rabbah a stable for camels, and the Ammonites a couchingplace for flocks: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.”


The scripture does confirm their cruelty and that they occupied the land given by God to the tribe of Gad east of Jordan.  Both biblical and secular history confirms their destruction and end as a nation and a people.  Whether this occurred after the prophecy of Ezekiel or whether both prophets were speaking of the visit of the wrath of God against Ammon under David even the writings of the Bible commentators do not help us make that determination.  The fact remains that they warred against the people of God and God destroyed them.