Monday 26 May 2014

Bible Book:

"The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of King Uzziah of Judah and in the days of King Jeroboam son of Joash of Israel, two years before the earthquake." (v. 1)

Amos 1:1-15 Monday 26 May 2014


Who was Amos?

The first verse of the book which bear his name seem to give theanswer. He "was among the shepherds of Tekoa". The only otherbiographical information come in Amos7:14-15 where he describes himself as "no prophet, nor aprophet's son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamoretrees".

But what does this mean?

Whilst many take the view that he was a shepherd, verse 1expresses this in a very strange way - "was among the shepherds",rather than "was a shepherd". It is possible that he was some sortof sheep farmer or sheep breeder who sometimes followed the flock(as herdsman (Amos 7:14) would seem to imply). Added to this "as adresser of sycamore trees" (or as the Revised English Bible says "afig grower"), it might be that he was a farmer with some sort ofproperty or land to his name. This in turn may suggest that Amoswas a man of substance and education.

But how much does this matter?

What is evident is that Amos is described in secular terms andis keen to stress that he is neither "a prophet, nor a prophet'sson". In doing so he offers a divine insight of the outsider,proclaiming that God is both righteous and just, in an time ofgreat prosperity and indulgence (with the inevitable corruptionthat goes alongside it).

(This sense of being an outsider is increased as Amos' home wasTekoa - a town about 10 miles south of Jerusalem, in the kingdom ofJudah. Yet the prophecies Amos offers are directed to the northernkingdom of Israel. Although not a foreigner (the kingdom were tooclosely linked for him to be considered as such), he was anoutsider to the Israelites.)

To Ponder

  • When have you heard the words of an outsider speak truths witha clarity that you have not seen before?
  • How important is it to know someone's background when readingor hearing what they are offering?
  • Who are the figures like Amos that you listen to today? What dothey say? And how much attention do you pay to them?

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