John T. Willis

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Amos in His Context

With this blog, we take a journey through the Book of Amos. To get a rather broad perspective, first we will attempt to ascertain a perspective of the general setting or context of Amos and his times.

I. According to Amos 1:1, Amos was among the shepherds of Tekoa, a small town approximately 10 miles south of Jerusalem, thus in South Judah. This is significant because Amos did most of his prophetic efforts in North Israel, especially Bethel. At one point in his career, Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, commanded Amos to go back home to his southern town and quick preaching in North Israel. Amos 7:10-13. Tekoa was an observation post in this portion of South Judah (Jeremiah 6:1). One of David's "mighty men" was from Tekoa (2 Samuel 23:26). Joab brought a wise woman from Tekoa to give David a court case to convince David to accept Absalom back into his good stead (2 Samuel 14:1-24). King Rehoboam of Judah designated Tekoa as one of his fortified sites in Judah (2 Chronicles 11:5-12). The village of Tekoa supplied laborers to refortify in the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 3:5, 27). Historically, then, Tekoa played a significant role in Judean life in OT times.

II. Amos 1:1 locates the prophetic preaching of Amos during the reigns of Uzziah king of Judah (783-742 B. C.) and Jeroboam II king of North Israel (786-746 B. C.), adding the phrase "two years before the earthquake," which many scholars think this occurred in approximately 750 B. C. Zechariah 14:4-5 refer to this significant event. Apparently, Amos did his work about this time, given a few years before and/or after.

III. 2 Kings 14:23-29 explain that the territory of Israel was as large and powerful as Israel had been during the reign of Solomon (see 1 Kings 4:21, 24), the only time in Israel's history when this country was this large. 2 Chronicles 26:6-8 says that king of Uzziah of Judah successfully overthrew the Philistines and the Arabs. This allowed the Israelites to have a major trade route extending from Egypt in the south to Assyria in the northeast. People in power became very rich and influential and dominant. This is a major issue addressed by Amos in this book.

IV. Various references throughout the book of Amos indicate a booming economy in this period of time. Archaeological discoveries support this picture. Herding sheep was an important industry. Staples were wheat, barley, olives, dyeing and weaving, minint and metallurgy, the perfume industry, and building impressive houses.

V. As we study the Book of Amos, we find repeatedly that there was a minority class in Israel possessing large land areas. The ruling class, wealthy landowners, rich merchants, and powerful moneylenders dominated the people to the hurt of the poor and disadvantaged. The king and his associates established a strong military force or army. Leisure and luxury were characteristic among the rich.

VI. All of these issues led to a corrupt society, in which there arose a sharp social distinction between those in power and those in poverty. Inevitably, we will address these issues in detail as we work through the Book of Amos.

Like all books of the Bible, the Book of Amos is a very ancient book, but its message is as relevant and up-to-date as the morning newspaper. You will immediately see how our society is very much like the society of Israel in the eighth century B.C., and the corruption and injustices prevalent in the days of Amos also exist today. I hope that all of us can benefit greatly from this study.

Share YOUR insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis



  • You mentioned the names assosciated with Tekoah,but did not do so in your quote "Ira ben Ikesh,the Tekoaite"This is in Samuel Two,Chapter 23 Verse 26.I have not yet found the significance of this man mentioned in this Book.But curiosity has got the better of me, now and I will look up elsewhere to find it.I enjoyed your research very much By the way the Best Olives especially for Temple use came from Tekoah.This was mentioned to me,but I can"t find the source..Very informative and hard work you have put in!
    .Roland Seener (in Jerusalem)

    By Blogger Roland, at 10:16 PM  

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