Amos (prophet)

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An 18th-century Russian icon of the prophet Amos (Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia).
Born Tekoa
Died745 BCE
Venerated in Judaism
Feast June 15 (Orthodox)
Major works Book of Amos

In the Hebrew Bible and Christian Old Testament, Amos (Hebrew : עָמוֹס ʿĀmōs) was one of the Twelve Minor Prophets. An older contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah, Amos was active c. 760–755 BCE during the rule of kings Jeroboam II and Uzziah. [1] He was from the southern Kingdom of Judah but preached in the northern Kingdom of Israel. Amos wrote at a time of relative peace and prosperity but also of neglect of God's laws. He spoke against an increased disparity between the very wealthy and the very poor. His major themes of justice, God's omnipotence, and divine judgment became staples of prophecy. The Book of Amos is attributed to him.



Prophet Amos as depicted by Gustave Dore 136.The Prophet Amos.jpg
Prophet Amos as depicted by Gustave Doré

Before becoming a prophet, Amos was a sheep herder and a sycamore fig farmer. [2] His prior professions and his claim "I am not a prophet nor a son of a prophet" (7:14) indicate that Amos was not from the school of prophets, which Amos claims makes him a true prophet. Amos' declaration marks a turning-point in the development of Old Testament prophecy. It is not mere chance that Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and almost all of the prophets given significant coverage in the Hebrew Bible, give first of all the story of their special calling. All of them seek to protest against the suspicion that they are professional prophets, because the latter discredited themselves by flattering national vanities and ignoring the misdeeds of prominent men. [3]

The Bible speaks of his ministry and prophecies concluding around 762, two years before the earthquake that is spoken of in Amos 1:1, "...two years before the earthquake." [4] The prophet Zechariah was likely alluding to this same earthquake several centuries later: Zechariah 14:5, "And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, King of Judah." [4]

Though he came from the southern kingdom of Judah, Amos aimed his prophetic message at the northern kingdom of Israel, particularly the cities of Samaria and Bethel. [5]

Jeroboam II (c. 781–741 BC), ruler of the Northern kingdom, had rapidly conquered Syria, Moab, and Ammon, and thereby extended his dominions from the source of the Orontes on the north to the Dead Sea on the south. The whole northern empire had enjoyed a long period of peace and security marked by a revival of artistic and commercial development. Social corruption and the oppression of the poor and helpless were prevalent. Others, carried away by the free association with heathen peoples which resulted from conquest or commercial contact, went so far as to fuse with the Lord's worship that of pagan deities. [6]

Amos is the first of the prophets to write down the messages he has received. He has always been admired for the purity of his language, his beauty of diction, and his poetic art. In all these respects he is Isaiah's spiritual progenitor. [3] What we know of Amos derives solely from the book that he himself authored. [7] This makes it hard to know who the historical Amos truly was.

Amos felt himself called to preach in Bethel, where there was a royal sanctuary (7:13), and there to announce the fall of the reigning dynasty and of the northern kingdom. But he is denounced by the head priest Amaziah to King Jeroboam II and is advised to leave the kingdom. There is no reason to doubt that he was actually forced to leave the northern kingdom and to return to his native country. Being thus prevented from bringing his message to an end, and from reaching the ear of those to whom he was sent, he wrote instead. If they could not hear his messages, they could read them, and if his contemporaries refused to do so, following generations might still profit by them. No earlier instance of a literary prophet is known; but the example he gave was followed by others in an almost unbroken succession. It can not be proved that Hosea knew the book of Amos, though there is no reason to doubt that he was acquainted with the latter's work and experiences. It is certain that Isaiah knew his book, for he follows and even imitates him in his early speeches (compare Amos 5:21–24, 4:6ff, 5:18 with Isaiah 1:11–15; Amos 4:7ff with Isaiah 9:7ff, 3:12). Cheyne concludes that Amos wrote the record of his prophetical work at Jerusalem, after his expulsion from the northern kingdom, and that he committed it to a circle of faithful followers residing there. [3]

The apocryphal work The Lives of the Prophets records that Amos was killed by the son of Amaziah, priest of Bethel. It further states that before he died, Amos made his way back to his homeland and was buried there. [8]


God's omnipotence and divine judgment


Some of his main teachings are:


Ancient interpretations

The ancient exhortation towards justice is expressed by the voice of God in Amos' teachings. Amos is told by God that the Israelites are going to face divine intervention as oppression was running rampant in Israel. God expressed this oppression by saying that the Israelites were practicing religiosity without righteousness. By oppressing the poor and failing to practice justice the Israelites were behaving unrighteously; justice was to be enacted as a core of God's message in Amos' prophetic teachings. [12]

Modern interpretations

Influences of or references to Amos' teachings can be found in certain modern political and civil rights speeches. In Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream", King states "we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream", which is an allusion to Amos 5:24: "But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!". [13] Bernie Sanders also referenced Amos 5:24 in a speech during his 2016 presidential campaign. [14] It was used in a sub-tweet by James Comey after Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents during the ongoing Trump Russia scandal. [15]

Feast days/religious veneration

Within Roman, Byzantine, and other high liturgical churches saints are regularly celebrated and venerated on Feast days throughout the calendar year. This practice honors Christian martyrs on the traditional day of their death with facts about their life and insights attributed to them meant to edify the faithful.

In the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar, Amos' feast day is celebrated on June 15 [16] (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, June 15 currently falls on June 28 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). He is commemorated along with the other minor prophets in the Calendar of Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church on July 31.

In the Eastern Church the Troparion of Amos is sung:

"Celebrating the memory / Of Your Prophet Amos, O Lord, / For his sake, we entreat You, save our souls."

Reflecting Amos' sense of urgency and social justice, the Kontakion of Amos is sung:

"Purifying your fervent heart by the Spirit, / O glorious Prophet Amos, / And receiving the gift of prophecy from on high, / You cry with a loud voice to the nations: / This is our God, and there is none beside Him." [17]

Related Research Articles

Book of Amos

The Book of Amos is the third of the Twelve Minor Prophets in the Tanakh/Old Testament and the second in the Greek Septuagint tradition. Amos, an older contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah, was active c. 750 BC during the reign of Jeroboam II, making Amos the first prophetic book of the Bible to be written. Amos lived in the kingdom of Judah but preached in the northern kingdom of Israel. His major themes of social justice, God's omnipotence, and divine judgment became staples of prophecy.

Book of Isaiah Book of the Bible

The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the first of the Major Prophets in the Christian Old Testament. It is identified by a superscription as the words of the 8th-century BCE prophet Isaiah ben Amoz, but there is extensive evidence that much of it was composed during the Babylonian captivity and later. After Johann Christoph Döderlein suggested in 1775 that the book contained the works of two prophets separated by more than a century, Bernhard Duhm originated the view, held as a consensus through most of the 20th century, that the book comprises three separate collections of oracles: Proto-Isaiah, containing the words of the 8th century prophet Isaiah; Deutero-Isaiah, the work of an anonymous 6th-century BCE author writing during the Exile; and Trito-Isaiah, composed after the return from Exile. While virtually no scholars today attribute the entire book, or even most of it, to one person, the book's essential unity has become a focus in more recent research. Isaiah 1–33 promises judgment and restoration for Judah, Jerusalem and the nations, and chapters 34–66 presume that judgment has been pronounced and restoration follows soon. It can thus be read as an extended meditation on the destiny of Jerusalem into and after the Exile.

Book of Joel

The Book of Joel is part of the Hebrew Bible and Christian Old Testament, one of twelve prophetic books known as the Twelve Minor Prophets.

Book of Hosea

The Book of Hosea is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible. According to the traditional order of most Hebrew Bibles, it is the first of the twelve Minor Prophets.

Book of Micah

The Book of Micah is the sixth of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible. Ostensibly, it records the sayings of Micah, whose name is Mikayahu, meaning "Who is like Yahweh?", an 8th-century BCE prophet from the village of Moresheth in Judah.

Hosea Biblical character

In the Hebrew Bible, Hosea, son of Beeri, was an 8th-century BC prophet in Israel and the nominal primary author of the Book of Hosea. He is the first of the Twelve Minor Prophets, whose collective writings were aggregated and organized into a single book in the Jewish Tanakh by the Second Temple period, forming the last book of the Nevi'im, but are broken up into individual books in Christianity. Hosea is often seen as a "prophet of doom", but underneath his message of destruction is a promise of restoration. The Talmud claims that he was the greatest prophet of his generation. The period of Hosea's ministry extended to some sixty years, and he was the only prophet of Israel of his time who left any written prophecy.

Isaiah Israelite prophet

Isaiah was the 8th-century BC Israelite prophet after whom the Book of Isaiah is named.

Jeroboam II

Jeroboam II was the son and successor of Jehoash and the thirteenth king of the ancient Kingdom of Israel, over which he ruled for forty-one years in the eighth century BC. His reign was contemporary with those of Amaziah and Uzziah (15:1), kings of Judah.

Prophet Person claiming to speak for a divine being

In religion, a prophet is an individual who is regarded as being in contact with a divine being and is said to speak on that entity's behalf, serving as an intermediary with humanity by delivering messages or teachings from the supernatural source to other people. The message that the prophet conveys is called a prophecy.


Nevi'im is the second main division of the Hebrew Bible, between the Torah (instruction) and Ketuvim (writings). The Nevi'im are divided into two groups. The Former Prophets consists of the narrative books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings; while the Latter Prophets include the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve Minor Prophets.

Bethel Biblical place

Bethel is the name of a place often used in the Hebrew Bible. It is first mentioned in Genesis 12:8 as being near where Abram pitched his tent. Later in Genesis, it is the location where Jacob dreamt of seeing angels and God, and which he therefore named Bethel, "House of God." The name is further used for a border city located between the territory of the Israelite tribe of Benjamin and that of the tribe of Ephraim, which first belonged to the Benjaminites and was later conquered by the Ephraimites.


Uzziah, also known as Azariah, was the tenth king of the ancient Kingdom of Judah, and one of Amaziah's sons. Uzziah was 16 when he became king of Judah and reigned for 52 years. The first 24 years of his reign were as co-regent with his father, Amaziah.

Apocalyptic literature is a genre of prophetical writing that developed in post-Exilic Jewish culture and was popular among millennialist early Christians. Apocalypse is a Greek word meaning "revelation", "an unveiling or unfolding of things not previously known and which could not be known apart from the unveiling".

Prophetic books

The prophetic books are a division of the Christian Bible, grouping 18 books in the Old Testament. In terms of the Tanakh, it includes the Latter Prophets from the Nevi'im, with the addition of Lamentions and Daniel, both of which are included among the books of the Hebrew Ketuvim. Baruch is also part of the prophetic books, but isn't part of the Hebrew Bible, and is seen by Christians as deuterocanonical, for which reason it is excluded from Protestant Bibles.

The New Testament frequently cites Jewish scripture to support the claim of the Early Christians that Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah, but only a handful of these citations are actual predictions in their original contexts. The majority of these quotations and references are taken from the Book of Isaiah, but they range over the entire corpus of Jewish writings. Orthodox Jews do not regard any of these as having been fulfilled by Jesus, and in some cases do not regard them as messianic prophecies at all. Old Testament prophecies about Jesus are either not thought to be prophecies by critical scholars or do not explicitly refer to the Messiah. According to Jesus Seminar fellow Robert Miller, historical criticism is unable to argue for the fulfillment of prophecy or that Jesus was indeed the Messiah because he fulfilled messianic prophecies—as historical criticism has no way to "construct such an argument" within that academic method.

Micah (prophet) Prophet in Judaism

According to the Hebrew Bible, Micah was a prophet in Judaism and is the author of the Book of Micah. He is considered one of the Twelve Minor Prophets of the Hebrew Bible and was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos and Hosea. Micah was from Moresheth-Gath, in southwest Judah. He prophesied during the reigns of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah.

Hosea 1

Hosea 1 is the first chapter of the Book of Hosea in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book contains the prophecies attributed to the prophet Hosea son of Beeri, and this chapter especially set forth the spiritual whoredom of Israel by symbolical acts. It is a part of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets.

Zechariah 14

Zechariah 14 is the fourteenth chapter in the Book of Zechariah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book contains the prophecies attributed to the prophet Zechariah, and is a part of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets. This chapter is a part of a section consisting of Zechariah 9–14. It continues the theme of chapters 12–13 about the 'war preceding peace for Jerusalem in the eschatological future.' It is written almost entirely in third-person prophetic discourse, with seven times references to the phrase 'that day'.

Amos 1

Amos 1 is the first chapter of the Book of Amos in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book contains the prophecies attributed to the prophet Amos, and is a part of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets. This chapter contains the prophecies of God's judgments on Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, and Ammon.

Hosea 13

Hosea 13 is the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Hosea in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The book contains the prophecies attributed to the prophet Hosea son of Beeri. This chapter and the next one may belong to the troubled times that followed Pekah's murder by Hoshea. The subject is the idolatry of Ephraim, notwithstanding God's past benefits, destined to be his ruin. It is a part of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets.


  1. "For Amos' ministry, then, a date between 760 and 755 BCE seems to have gained almost unanimous support among scholars." Hubbard, David Allan. Joel and Amos.InterVarsity Press, 2015. p. 92
  2. Coogan, Michael. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament. p. 257. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 "Amos", Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906.
  4. 1 2 The Bible, English Standard Version.
  5. Dearman, J Andrew. Amos. Harper Collins Study Bible. Edited by Meeks, Wayne A. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2006.
  6. Gigot, Francis. "Amos." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 11 Feb. 2014
  7. Mays, James Luther (1969). The Old Testament Library Collection. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press. pp. 1–7.
  8. Anderson, Francis I., and David Noel Freedman, Amos, The Anchor Yale Bible, vol. 24A, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. p. 24.
  9. 1 2 3 Waterman, Leroy (September 1945). "The Ethical Clarity of the Prophets". Journal of Biblical Literature. Society of Biblical Literature. JSTOR   3262384.
  10. Escobar, David (September 2011). "Amos & Postmodernity: A Contemporary Critical & Reflective Perspective on the Interdependency of Ethics & Spirituality in the Latino-Hispanic American Reality". Journal of Business Ethics. JSTOR   41476011.
  11. 1 2 Hastings, James (1908). Dictionary of the Bible. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  12. Escobar, Donoso S. (1995). "Social Justice in the Book of Amos". Review and Expsoitor.
  13. Rau, Andy. "Bible References in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech". Bible Getaway Blog.
  14. Taylor, Florence. "How Bernie Sanders used the Bible to try and win over Evangelical students".
  15. "James Comey throws Bible shade after Flynn plea: Let 'justice roll down like waters'". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  16. "Prophet Amos". The Orthodox Church in America. The Orthodox Church in America. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  17. "Prophet Amos – Troparion & Kontakion". Orthodox Church in America. Orthodox Church in America. Retrieved 4 December 2015.


Further reading