Tuesday 08 May 2018

Bible Book:

“they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth…” (v. 7)

Amos 2:1-16 Tuesday 8 May 2018

Psalm: Psalm 55:16-22


Amos, a sheep breeder from Judah, was active as a prophet around 750BC.

During times of war, prophets were regularly called on to curse the enemy. Verses 1-3 are remarkable because Amos condemned the Moabites (Israel’s enemy) for war atrocities against Edom, not Israel, suggesting God’s ethical standards were for all nations, not just Israel.

Even more remarkable is that Amos turned his critique on his own people (verses 5-6). Judah, where Amos lived, came under fire for rejecting the law of the Lord, although in non-specific terms.

Amos was very specific in his condemnation of Israel (Northern Kingdom). They were condemned not for war atrocities but for sins showing neglect for the marginalised in their own society:

  • Justice had been corrupted (verse 6). When land was sold, a sandal was ‘handed over’ in token payment. Amos used the image to mock the ease with which the needy were ‘handed over’.
  • The rights of the poor were trampled (the shoe imagery is continued) into the dust and slave girls sexually exploited (verse 7).
  • Garments taken in pledge were held as surety for debt (verse 8). Exodus 22:26 stipulated that clothing could not be held overnight. The covenant enshrined the idea of God as protector of the poor. It is probable that Amos’ society was not utterly corrupt. Amos had exacting radical standards, believing society was not to be judged by economic prosperity or political influence, but by how it treated its poor.
  • During festivals, the Israelites reminded themselves of God’s mighty act of bringing them out of slavery in Egypt. Although the Amorites had been a powerful people, God had brought them low giving their land to the Israelites. And God could bring the Israelites low handing over their land (verses 9-10).
  • God had raised up prophets and Nazirites (an ascetic group who did not cut their hair or drink alcohol). But the Israelites had suppressed the calling of these groups (verses 11-12).

Amos predicted God’s military punishment on Israel (verses 13-16). And the Northern Kingdom was to fall to the Assyrians in the 720s BC.

To Ponder

  • If you had been a slave girl hearing Amos’ oracle, what would you have said to your friend?
  • What specific sins do you think Amos would have critiqued in our society? Is it possible not to be complicit in these sins ourselves? How?
  • Do you think we have blinkered sight, preventing us seeing how we are trampling creation, and animals into the dust, while only half aware that these rights are being neglected? Or is this too far?
Previous Page Monday 07 May 2018
Next Page Wednesday 09 May 2018