The Bible
  OT Overview
  NT Overview
  OT Books
  NT Books
  OT History
  NT History
  OT Studies
  Pentateuch Studies
  History Books Studies
  Studies in the Prophets
  NT Studies
  Studies in the Gospels
  Acts and Letters Studies
  Revelation Studies
  Inductive Study
  Types of Literature
  Early Church
  British Museum
  Historical Docs
  Life Questions
  How to Preach
  SBS Staff
Search for page by title (auto-completes)
Advanced search
Translate into
Advanced Search
Search for word or phrase within each page
Search by OT book and chapter
Search by NT book and chapter

Introduction to the Book of Amos

Julian Spriggs M.A.

Related articles

Amos the prophet

Amos’ name probably means 'burden bearer'. His home town was Tekoa, five miles (8 km) south-east of Bethlehem, and twelve miles (20 km) south of Jerusalem. He was a herdsman (1:1, 7:14), and a cultivator of sycamore trees, which were possibly fig trees (7:14). He never had a professional training in one of the schools of the prophets, nor was he a prophets son (7:14).

When called by God, he left his flocks to proclaim the word of the Lord (2:15-16). He had no formal training or official authorization, and was not recognised as a prophet, but faithfully fulfilled his calling in spite of prejudices of the people. He was a man of iron will and convictions, not to be deflected from his purpose.

Date of prophesying

Amos prophesied to the Northern Kingdom (Israel) during the reign of Jeroboam II (782 - 753 BC) (1:1, 7:10). This would make him a contemporary of Jonah, who went to Nineveh; and of Hosea, who also prophesied to the Northern Kingdom. Amos probably prophesied at the end of Jeroboam's reign, possibly between 760 and 755 BC. The book is dated two years before the earthquake, which is mentioned as the earthquake during the days of Uzziah (Zech 14:5). This earthquake must have been a significant one, as it was remembered two hundred years later.

The Jewish historian, Josephus described how Uzziah offered incense as a priest (as 2 Chr 26:16), and was struck down by leprosy, and that an earthquake happened at the same time. This caused damage to the temple, so the sun came in, and half a mountain collapsed (Ant 9:10:4).

Historical background

After Adad-Nirari of Assyria had destroyed Damascus in 805 BC, Syria was left weakened, removing one of the major enemies of Israel. During this time Assyria was quiet, until an army commander called Pul became king in 745 BC, and took the name Tiglath-pileser III, (the name of a earlier powerful king of Assyria) and began to expand the Assyrian empire to the west.

Jeroboam II of Israel ruled from 782 to 753 BC, and took advantage of the weakness of Syria to expand into new territory (Damascus and Hamath), pushing his boundaries back to those of the kingdom of Solomon before 930 BC (2 Kg 14:23-29). The result of this would be that Jeroboam controlled all the main trade routes and Samaria became the meeting place of merchants from Mesopotamia and Egypt. The caravans of the eastern world met and the city became a vast bazaar displaying every type of rich and exotic goods. This increased commercial activity brought Israel enormous gains and enable a powerful merchant nobility to grow, whose prosperity gave rise to the building of 'winter houses', 'summer houses' and 'houses of ivory' (3:15, 7:4a). There was a drift to the cities and demand for luxuries.

The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. The poor were victimised, exploited and abused. Their basic rights were disregarded and their clothes were taken as pledges for debt, and there was no justice for them in the land. With the prosperity, immorality, oppression and injustice had increased. Judges were bribed, truth and integrity fled the land (8:6). Materialism and greed took over (8:4-5, 4:1). The shrines at Bethel and Gilgal were crowded with worshippers, but God was not there. Superstition and immorality had replaced godliness and sincerity. Consciences had become dulled. Israel had ceased to live for God.

Into this scene of materialism, irreligion and immorality came Amos with his prophetic word from God (2:6-12). Amos gave his prophecy during a visit to Bethel (7:10-14), the site of the main sanctuary in the northern kingdom, where the earlier King Jeroboam had first built altars and introduced the worship of golden calves. The high priest Amaziah opposed Amos, reported him to Jeroboam II, and told him to go away.

The sin of affluent ease

Amos speaks out against the luxurious living, and injustice against the poor: Inconsequential things are given a higher value than people (2:6, 8:6). There are unrighteous excesses at the expense of the poor (2:8), and unrighteous oppression (3:9). Getting ahead knows no limit (3:10, 6:3). The lust of the flesh is satisfied by the blood of the poor (4:1). There is a perversion of true justice and righteousness (5:8, 6:12), and unconcern over moral degradation (6:8, 8:7). All this is rooted in and develops pride (6:8, 8:7), and an attitude of self-sufficiency and forgetting God (6:13).

Sin of religious hypocrisy

Amos also addressed the religious hypocrisy. There was no commitment to a specific deity (2:8), a disrespect for institutions which didn't allow a self-centred lifestyle (2:12). The sacrifices were incorrect and unacceptable to God (5:4-5). The people fought against conviction of sin (2:12, 5:10, 7:10-13). He stated that the Lord cannot be sought in Bethel (5:4-5). The people were unable to hear exhortations to commitment (7:10-13). Their rituals were superficial, and they will come to an end with exposing judgement (8:10). The people have no heart for the special days, but are more interested in making money (8:5).

Structure of the book

1:3 - 2:16 Series of oracles against the nations, then Judah and finally Israel
3:1 - 6:14 Series of three sermons: Judgement on wicked Samaria
7:1 - 9:10 Series of five visions
9:11-15 Promise of restoration

Related articles

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

New Testament History

Articles which give additional information about the history and culture of the first century, giving helpful background knowledge for the Gospels and Paul's travels.

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey.

More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Early Church Fathers

These are a series of pages giving biographical information about some of the more significant early church fathers, such as Irenaeus, Origen and Tertullian, as well as some important groups and events in the first centuries of the church.

Artifacts in the British Museum relevant to Biblical studies

These are a series of pages describing artifacts in each gallery of the British Museum, which have a connection with the Bible.

Biblical Archaeology in Museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also page of photographs from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem of important artifacts.

Historical documents

These are a series of pages containing historical documents which give helpful information for Biblical studies. These include Hittite suzerainty treaties with a similar structure to the Book of Deuteronomy, different lists of the New Testament books and quotations from Josephus and other ancient writers.

Life Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.