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Literature / Book of Amos

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One of the books of the Minor Prophets that is part of the Old Testament and The Bible. In this book, Amos is called to be a prophet to speak out against the northern kingdom of Israel for its moral decay.

Structure of the book:

  • Prophecies against the nations (Amos chapters 1 and 2)
  • Three discourses against Israel (Amos chapters 3 to 6)
  • Five symbolic visions of Israel's condition (Amos 7:1-9:10)
  • Promises of Israel's restoration (Amos 9:11-15)

This book provides examples of:

  • Can't Take Criticism: "They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth." (Amos 5:10)
  • The Day of Reckoning: In Amos 5:18-20:
    Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
    For what good is the day of the Lord to you?
    It will be darkness, and not light.
    It will be as though a man fled from a lion,
    And a bear met him!
    Or as though he went into the house,
    Leaned his hand on the wall,
    And a serpent bit him!
    Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light?
    Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?
  • A Family Affair: Amos 2:7 says "Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name." (NIV 2011 edition)
  • The Famine: God speaks in Chapter 8 about bringing a famine in the land of Israel, but not of food or water — rather, of hearing the words of God; that people will seek His Word and not find it.
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  • Get Out!: Amaziah tells Amos to leave, go to Judah, and stop prophesying at Bethel, because it is the king's sanctuary. Amos doesn't take to this kindly and prophesies to Amaziah that his wife will become a harlot, and his sons and daughters will die violently.
  • Oh, My Gods!: God says to Israel in Amos 8:14:
    Those who swear by the shameful guilt of Samaria,
    those who say, “As your god lives, Dan,”
    or, “The way of Beersheba lives —
    they will fall, and they will never rise again. (Evangelical Heritage Version)
  • Out of the Frying Pan: Mentioned above under The Day of Reckoning. Israelites feared lions—but Everything's Worse with Bears.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The book starts off with eight short and specific speeches to eight of the kingdoms God has a problem with — Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah, and Israel — and then the rest of the book focuses primarily on the northern kingdom of Israel for their various injustices and transgressions against God.
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  • Rich Bitch: In the first few verses of Chapter 4, Amos doesn't have any pleasant words to say to the wealthy women of Samaria who through their self-indulgent lifestyles oppress the poor, crush the needy, and demand that their husbands always bring them drinks, referring to those women as "cows of Bashan" and saying that God will bring every last one of them out by fishhooks note  to exile and judgment.
  • Rule of Three: In Chapter 7, God shows Amos three different visions of judgment. The first is a vision of locusts which He will bring unto Israel. Amos pleads with God not to bring that judgment upon them, and God relents. The second is a vision of fire that God will bring upon that kingdom. Again Amos pleads for God not to bring that judgment, and again God relents. The third is a vision of a plumb line that God will set in the middle of Israel, and this time God says that He will not relent.
  • Shameful Strip: In the NET Bible, God tells Israel that "bravehearted warriors will run away naked in that day." (Amos 2:16)
  • Stairway to Heaven: From Amos 9:5-6, International Standard Version:
    “The Lord God of the Heavenly Armies
    who is touching the earth so that it melts
    and all of its inhabitants mourn there—
    the land rises like the Nile River,
    but sinks like the river of Egypt—
    who is building his stairway to heaven
    and setting its foundation on earth;
    who is calling for the waters of the sea
    and pouring them out over the surface of the land—
    the Lord is his name!
  • Stop Worshipping Me: In Amos 5:21-24:
    “I hate, I despise your feast days,
    And I do not savor your sacred assemblies.
    Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
    I will not accept them,
    Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.
    Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
    For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
    But let justice run down like water,
    And righteousness like a mighty stream."
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: God says in Amos 8:9, regarding the fate of Israel: "In that day, I will make the sun set at noon, and make the earth dark in the middle of the day."
  • Traumatic C-Section: In God's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the people of Ammon in Amos 1:13:
    For three transgressions of the Ammonites,
    and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
    because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead,
    in order to enlarge their border.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Cleanness of teeth" in Chapter 4, which is what God gave the people of Israel, is one for famine.