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Introduction

The following is a record of what Amos prophesied.[a] He[b] was one of the herdsmen from Tekoa. These prophecies about Israel were revealed to him[c] during the time of[d] King Uzziah of Judah and[e] King Jeroboam son of Joash of Israel, two years before the earthquake.[f]

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Footnotes

  1. Amos 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).
  2. Amos 1:1 tn Heb “who.” Here a new sentence has been started in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  3. Amos 1:1 tn Heb “which he saw concerning Israel.”
  4. Amos 1:1 tn Heb “in the days of.”
  5. Amos 1:1 tn The Hebrew text repeats, “and in the days of.” This phrase has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  6. Amos 1:1 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. First, 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). Second, 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.

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