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Amos 1:1-2


1:1 The following is a record of what Amos prophesied. 1  He 2  was one of the herdsmen from Tekoa. These prophecies about Israel were revealed to him 3  during the time of 4  King Uzziah of Judah and 5  King Jeroboam son of Joash of Israel, two years before the earthquake. 6 

God Will Judge the Surrounding Nations

1:2 Amos 7  said:

“The Lord comes roaring 8  out of Zion;

from Jerusalem 9  he comes bellowing! 10 

The shepherds’ pastures wilt; 11 

the summit of Carmel 12  withers.” 13 

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[1:1]  1 tn Heb “The words of Amos.” Among the prophetic books this opening phrase finds a parallel only at Jer 1:1 but is not that uncommon in other genres (note, e.g., Prov 30:1; 31:1; Eccl 1:1; Neh 1:1).

[1:1]  2 tn Heb “who.” Here a new sentence has been started in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[1:1]  3 tn Heb “which he saw concerning Israel.”

[1:1]  4 tn Heb “in the days of.”

[1:1]  5 tn The Hebrew text repeats, “and in the days of.” This phrase has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[1:1]  6 sn This refers to a well-known earthquake that occurred during the first half of the 8th century b.c. According to a generally accepted dating system, Uzziah was a co-regent with his father Amaziah from 792-767 b.c. and ruled independently from 767-740 b.c. Jeroboam II was a co-regent with his father Joash from 793-782 b.c. and ruled independently from 782-753 b.c. Since only Uzziah and Jeroboam are mentioned in the introduction it is likely that Amos’ mission to Israel and the earthquake which followed occurred between 767-753 b.c. The introduction validates the genuine character of Amos’ prophetic ministry in at least two ways: (1) Amos was not a native Israelite or a prophet by trade. Rather he was a herdsman in Tekoa, located in Judah. His mere presence in the northern kingdom as a prophet was evidence that he had been called by God (see 7:14-15). (2) The mighty earthquake shortly after Amos’ ministry would have been interpreted as an omen or signal of approaching judgment. The clearest references to an earthquake are 1:1 and 9:1, 5. It is possible that the verb הָפַךְ (hafakh, “overturn”) at 3:13-15, 4:11, 6:11, and 8:8 also refers to an earthquake, as might the descriptions at 2:13 and 6:9-10. Evidence of a powerful earthquake has been correlated with a destruction layer at Hazor and other sites. Its lasting impact is evident by its mention in Zech 14:5 and 2 Chr 26:16-21. Earthquake imagery appears in later prophets as well (cf. D. N. Freedman and A. Welch, “Amos’s Earthquake and Israelite Prophecy,” Scripture and Other Artifacts, 188-98). On the other hand, some of these verses in Amos could allude to the devastation that would be caused by the imminent military invasion.

[1:2]  7 tn Heb “he;” the referent (Amos) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[1:2]  8 sn The Lord, in his role of warrior-king, is compared to a lion. See 3:4, 8.

[1:2]  9 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

[1:2]  10 tn Heb “gives his voice.”

[1:2]  11 tn Lexicographers debate whether there are two roots אָבַל (’aval), one signifying “mourn” and the other “be dry,” or simply one (“mourn”). The parallel verb (“withers”) might favor the first option and have the meaning “wilt away.” It is interesting to note, however, that the root appears later in the book in the context of lament (5:16; 8:8, 10; 9:5). Either 1:2 is a possible wordplay to alert the reader to the death that will accompany the judgment (the option of two roots), or perhaps the translation “mourns” is appropriate here as well (cf. KJV, NASB, NKJV, NJPS; see also D. J. A. Clines, “Was There an ’BL II ‘Be Dry’ in Classical Hebrew?” VT 42 [1992]: 1-10).

[1:2]  12 sn Carmel was a region known for its abundant plants and trees. See Isa 33:9; 35:2; Jer 50:19.

[1:2]  13 sn Loss of a land’s fertility is frequently associated with judgment in the OT and ancient Near Eastern literature.

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