Amos 1 - Outline of Amos (Book Notes menu page)
1. The 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.
2 And 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.
Amos came from Tekoa, a small wilderness crossroads town, about 12 miles south of Jerusalem.
The city was built by king Rehoboam, the son of Solomon (2Chr 11:5,6). About 100 years before the time of Amos, during the reign of king Jehoshaphat, the southern kingdom had come under attack by the allied armies of Moab and Ammon. In the wilderness of Tekoa, the LORD had provided a miraculous victory over these enemies (2Chr 20:20-25). 'Tekoa' means the 'sound of a trumpet.'
The words of Amos... which he saw concerning Israel...
Amos, who lived in the southern kingdom (Judah), was given a message for the northern kingdom (Israel).
His name (which means 'burden') reflects the LORD's care for Israel. See Isa 46:1-4, where the words 'loaden' and 'borne' are from the same root {HB='amas} as the name Amos. The LORD had long borne up under His unfaithful people. But now, His message, through Amos, was heavy with the warning of Israel's impending judgment.
Amos was a 'herdman' {HB=noqed, breeder of sheep}.
Although his humble background and credentials were not acceptable to the religious leaders of Israel, Amos was certain of the LORD's call and commission (7:14,15). the days of Uzziah... and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash...
Amos ministered shortly before the ministry of Isaiah (Isa 6:1), and during the early part of Hosea's ministry (Hos 1:1). Hosea's prophecy balanced God's love for His people against His righteousness to judge and redeem them. Amos focuses on God's righteousness and the necessity that He exercise true justice. Only after justice prevails, at the very end of Amos' prophecy, is the promise of future restoration given.
     Amos ministered during the reigns of Uzziah (Azariah), who was one of the better kings of Judah, and Jeroboam II (a king of Israel), who "did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD" (2Kin 14:23-25; 15:1-5). Because this was a period of prosperity and military dominance for both nations, few took seriously his warning of destruction and dispersion. Yet, Israel would be taken captive by Assyria, less than 50 years later.
...two years before the earthquake...
Perhaps this traumatic event caused some to consider the prophetic message, briefly. If so, there was no national repentance.
The only other scriptural reference to this earthquake is in Zechariah 14:5.
The LORD will roar... the habitations of shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.
The LORD's roar refers to His imminent judgment, which was about to break forth from His throne (in Zion, the Holy Place in Jerusalem), upon the northern kingdom of Israel. Amos' role, as a prophet, was to warn them of this judgment (Amos 3:7,8). This judgment would affect the entire kingdom of Israel, from its regions of Bashan and Gilead on the east side of the Jordan (where the people were famous for their animal husbandry), to its western extremes, marked by Mt. Carmel, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
     But before pronouncing judgment upon Israel, Amos informs them that the LORD will severely judge their enemies (1:3-15; 2:1-5). No doubt, the people of Israel would agree that the surrounding nations were worthy of judgment. Once the LORD had their attention, He turned the spotlight on their own sins, as just cause for Israel's judgment. (From Amos 2:6 onward, the judgment of Israel occupies the remainder of the book, with the exception of the last five verses.)
3. Thus 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:
4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael,
which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad.
5 I 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.
...for three transgressions... and for four...-
This formula is used repeatedly, in ch. 1 - 2. It is an idiomatic expression meaning 'there is enough, and more than enough' reason for the judgment. Although, in each case, many transgressions could have been listed, only one is given for each nation.
Damascus was the capital city of Syria.
Hazael and Benhadad were kings of Syria. 'Benhadad' {meaning 'son of the sun'} is probably a title, rather than an individual's name, since it applied to more than one king of Syria, one of whom was the son of Hazael. About 100 years before the time of Amos, Elisha had wept when he anointed Hazael to be king of Assyria, knowing that he would treat the Israelites with cruelty. Hazael murdered his predecessor (the previous 'Benhadad') and reigned in his stead (2Kin 8:7-15).
I will not turn away the punishment... because they have threshed Gilead...
Due to the sins of Israel, the LORD had allowed Hazael and his son, Benhadad, to trouble Israel. However, He would punish Syria for the severity of that trouble (which Elisha had foreseen). See 2Kin 10:32,33; 13:3,7,22-25 (note the references to Gilead and threshing). Syria's punishment would come in the form of invasion by Assyria, which would destroy its cities.
  • ...I will send a fire... - The kings' palaces would be burned in Damascus.
  • ...I will break the bar of Damascus...- ie., the bars that secured the city gates would prove inadequate.
  • ...and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven...- south of Damascus.
  • ...and him that holds the sceptre in Eden... - a kingdom on the northern border of Syria, which would also be overtaken by Assyria.
  • ...Syria shall go into captivity to Kir... - a city of Assyria.
This prophecy was fulfilled several years after the death of King Uzziah, while his grandson, Ahaz, was king in Jerusalem (2Kin 16:9).
6 Thus 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:
7 But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof:
8 And 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.
Gaza was a chief city of the Philistine nation,
which occupied the narrow strip of land, west of Israel along the Mediterranean Sea coast.
...because they carried away captive... to deliver them up to Edom...
When the Syrians 'threshed' Israel (v.3), the Philistines had taken Israelite prisoners of war and sold them into slavery to Edom.
...I will send a fire on... Gaza ... I will cut off... Ashdod... Ashkelon... Ekron...
The Assyrians would also overrun the Philistine nation and capture its cities. (Some of their major cities are mentioned by name.) Shorty before the Assyrian captivity of Israel, the Philistines were also defeated in battle by King Hezekiah of Jerusalem (2Kin 18:8-10).
9 Thus 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:
10 But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus,
which shall devour the palaces thereof.
Tyrus (Tyre) was a major city of the Phoenicians, on the Mediterranean Sea coast, north of Mt. Carmel.
The Phoenicians were seafaring merchants, whose extensive trade included slaves.
Like the Philistines, they also would sell Israelite prisoners of war into slavery.
...and remembered not the brotherly covenant... -
During the reigns of David and Solomon, there was a cordial arrangement with Hiram king of Tyre to provide building materials for the Temple and other buildings in Jerusalem (2Sam 5:11; 1Kin 5:1-11). But during Israel's hard times, subsequent rulers of Tyre had taken advantage of Israel's misfortunes.
...I will send a fire upon the walls of Tyrus...
This region would also be affected by the Assyrian invasion, but it was not completely destroyed. A hundred years after Amos, Ezekiel foretold the city's utter destruction. Its walls were broken down by the Babylonians. The city was rebuilt on an island just off shore. About two hundred years after that, the ruins of the original city were scraped into the sea, to build a causeway, by which Alexander the Great conquered the island city (in perfect fulfillment of Eze 26:2-14).
11 Thus 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:
12 But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.
Edom, a region south of the Dead Sea, was populated by the descendants of Esau, Jacob's brother.
Esau's offspring had fanned the ancient jealousy with their Israelite cousins, from the time of Moses onward (Num 20:14-21). Edom opportunistically joined Israel's enemies in time of war, and were not slow to take their spoils, in goods and persons. Their full destruction would await the Babylonian invasion (Jer 49:7-13). The judgment of Edom is the theme of Obadiah's prophecy (Obad 1:10-14).
13 Thus 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:
14 But 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:
15 And their king shall go into captivity,
he and his princes together, saith the LORD.
Ammon and Gilead are on the east side of the Jordan River, in the modern country of Jordan.
Before Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan, into the promised land, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh settled east of the river, in the region of Gilead, pushing the Ammonites (descendants of Lot) further east. From the time of Joshua onward, Ammon made frequent incursions, attempting to retake territory possessed by Israel. (As noted in the discsussion at v.1-2, above, Ammon was one of the nations which was miraculously defeated in the valley of Tekoa, prior to the time of Amos.)
     The vicious hatred of Ammon for Israel would become most evident around the time of the Babylonian invasion (2Kin 24:1,2). The judgment of Ammon would come at the hands of the Babylonians. Jer 49:1-6

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