Amos seems to have been born in the first half of the Eighth Century BC just before the invasion of Israel by the Assyrian King Tiglath Pileser III in 734 BC. He appears to have lived in a period of relative stability and prosperity so that one of the themes of his concern was social injustice, luxury and hypocrisy. The relative homogeneity of the work is spoiled by a post script of much later date which looks forward to happier times (Amos 9:14-15). He was a contemporary of Jonah.

Although he claims to be a man of a rural background (Amos 1:1; 7:14), he was clearly well known at the court of Jeroboam, uses complex legal terminology, makes reference to events outside Israel and is at least the inspiration for the creation hymns in 4, 5 and 9 and the Lament in 5. He claimed to have seen God () and there are vision reports in 7-8.

The position of Amos was always awkward because he was from Judah but asked to pronounce judgment on Israel. Jeroboam II 781-741 BC, had rapidly conquered Syria, Moab and Ammon, restoring the boundaries of Solomon, Samaria was a rich and beautified city enjoying artistic and commercial prestige and religion, externally at least, was flourishing, so a prophet would not be welcome. It was their very complacency and belief that their prosperity reflected the Lord's benignity which Amos came to preach against.

The book of his writing falls into three parts:

Unlike some other prophets, his work is regarded almost universally as authentic and is thought to be the first record in the Old Testament of the actual words of a real person. His message is uncompromisingly monotheistic.

KC viii/07

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