Chapter: Amos 3 Highlighted Verse: Amos 3:14 “In the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Beth-el: and the honrshorns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground.” Prominent People: Jehovah, Amos Major Concept: The Lord will always try to get us to return to Him by warning us before He brings us back through punishments and justice. Main Themes: Receiving great blessings from God and making covenants with Him makes us more accountable before Him. If we are going to move forward in life with peace, we must reconcile ourselves to the will of God. The only way to escape the justice of God is to repent. Key insights about Jehovah and His covenant: Jehovah especially punishes His covenant people when they sin, but He does so in a way designed to bring them back to Him and the covenant. Jehovah warns us through prophets of those things that will bring justice upon us. Jehovah’s punishments are designed to take us away from our sins, so that He can then take our sins away from us. Graphics suggestion: altar at Tel Dan Overview: Amos tells Israel that the Lord is warning them. Because He delivered them from Egypt and made them His special, chosen people, and yet they still rebel against Him, He will have to punish them. Just as we can know that when a lion roars that he has made a kill, or that when a bird is caught in a snare that someone has set the trap, so we can be sure that when justice comes upon the covenant people, God has been part of it. The Lord does not do these things without first warning us through His prophets. Because Amos is speaking the Lord’s warning, Israel should fear. The Lord calls other nations to assemble and witness what will happen to Israel. Because Israel has done unrighteousness, and because her leaders have wrought violence instead of justice, the Lord will bring enemies upon them and they and their palaces will fall. Israel will be scattered. The Lord will destroy the idolatrous altars that Jeroboam had set up, and the great palaces that the Omrides had built as they worshipped Baal will be torn down. Justice is coming. Introduction to Amos: Amos prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah, and JereboamJeroboam, king of Israel. This makes him contemporary with Hosea, Jonah, and Isaiah. While he is from the Kingdom of Judah, Amos primarily preaches to the Kingdom of Israel. However, neither Judah nor her neighbors escape Amos’s pronouncements of judgment. As we have seen with Jonah, Amos stresses that God is a God of all people. He is also part of the final warnings to Israel before they are destroyed. Language insight: The Hebrew word that we translate at as “evil” often means “bad things.” Thus when the Lord asks if evil will happen in a city without the Lord doing it (vs. 6), He is really asking if the chosen people will have bad things happen to them unless it is because the Lord is punishing them. The point is that If if the covenant people keep the covenant then God will protect them, but if they do not, it is God who will bring destruction upon them. When the King James translators wrote that it was God who did “evil” in a city, it caused confusion and
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Comment [K1]: Optional Oxford comma Comment [K2]: For more on the current Chicago convention (this changes between almost every edition of the style manual), see Chicago 7.15.
made it difficult to understand this point. Most likely the Joseph Smith Translation of this verse was done in order to help correct this problem. Geographic insight: Prophetic writers often use one city to designate an entire area. Thus when the Lord calls nations to witness the destruction of Samaria, He means the Kingdom of Israel, of which Samaria is the capital. When He speaks of cutting off the horns of the altar of Beth-el, He is speaking of all idolatry in the land, but especially the wicked traditions that began in both Beth-el and Dan.
Chapter: Amos 7 Highlighted Verse: Amos 7:9 “And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam.” Prominent People: Jehovah, Amos, Amaziah, Jeroboam II Major Concept: When we refuse to repent we cannot avoid God’s punishment. Main Themes: Though it may seem as if we can escape it justice for a time, justice it inevitably follows wickedness. No matter how much we may plead for punishment to be taken from us, and no matter how much we may pretend that our actions are not wicked, only repentance can turn away punishments. When the Lord calls us to do something, we cannot let anything dissuade us. Sometimes the Lord will ask us to do things that are not what we want to do. Key insights about Jehovah and His covenant: Jehovah will take His covenant people away from their sins as He tries to get them to repent and return to Him. Jehovah chooses His prophets. Jehovah warns us of impending punishments as He tries to get us to turn from wickedness to Him. Graphics suggestion: a flock. Maybe a plumbline? Overview: Amos sees how various phases of the agricultural season in Israel will be destroyed by bugs. He asks the Lord how Israel, a small nation, will survive such calamity. The Lord shows Amos a fire that devours the land, and Amos asks how Israel will survive such calamity. The Lord shows Amos that He will measure out punishment to Israel as with a plumbline, and that He will no longer be with His people, for their high places, sanctuaries, and rulers will be destroyed. The priest of Beth-el, Amaziah, sends word to the king that Amos is making the hearts of the people faint by prophesying of their destruction. Amaziah tries to force Amos to leave Beth-el and return to Judah, warning him that it is folly to prophesy the death of the king in the King’s own religious sites. Amos explains that he had no desire to be a prophet. He was a herdsman and worked orchards, . Bbut the Lord called him from that vocation to be a prophet, and commanded him to prophesy to the Kingdom of Israel. Because God has commanded him to prophesy, Amos cannot heed Amaziah’s warning because he must obey God. God decrees that Amaziah’s family will be killed or raped in the upcoming war, and that Amaziah will lose his property and be taken captive to a foreign land. Israel will surely be taken captive. Textual insight: It is not uncommon for a prophet to plead with the Lord to extend mercy to His people. Amos does so, but unsuccessfully. When the Lord decreed a famine caused by insects devouring crops, Amos pleads for this to be taken from Israel. The Lord complies, but then decrees that Israel will be destroyed by fire instead. When Amos pleads for this to be taken from Israel, the Lord shows that He is still planning on meting out punishment to Israel. By continually yielding to Amos’s pleas but still distributing punishments, the Lord shows that this time He cannot be dissuaded, ; Israel’s punishment is sure. Symbolic insight: A plumbline is a tool used to measure right angles during construction. As a result, it was a symbol that served Israel in a way similar to the scales of justice in our society. When the Lord measured from a wall with a plumbline, He was decreeing that justice would come.
Comment [K3]: The pronoun has no referent yet.
Cultural insight: Amos describes his life before his call as being one who followed the flock (vs. 15). Even today it is common for shepherds of the Middle East to follow behind their flocks. A leader sheep usually knows the way they are to go, and will even respond to signals and calls from the shepherd if direction is needed. Typically the flock follows this lead sheep or goat, and the shepherd follows, driving the flock along and making sure that none stray or are lost.
Comment [K4]: Because the following sentence is short (â€œthe shepherd followsâ€? and then its post modifier), the comma is omitted.
Chapter: Amos 8 Highlighted Verse: Amos 8:11 “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” Prominent People: Amos Major Concept: When we do not love God and our fellowman more than anything else, we will find our lives falling apart and will become spiritually malnourished. Main Themes: It is of paramount importance that we take care of the needy. When we do not put God and His children first, even those things that bring us joy will turn to sorrow. Concentration on wealth leads to a multitude of other sins. None of us are strong enough to truly succeed in life without God. Putting anything before the Lord will surely lead to our downfall.
Comment [K5]: This word already implies the concept of importance.
Key insights about Jehovah and His covenant: Jehovah warns us before He brings punishment upon us. When we do not keep the covenant of taking care of the needy, God will punish us. Jehovah will not continue to direct us when we cease to put Him first. Graphics suggestion: figs or fig trees? Overview: God shows Amos a basket of summer fruit and tells him that the end of Israel is nigh. God accuses Israel of not taking care of the poor. Israel is concentrating so much on wealth that they cease to care for religious rituals, stoop to dishonesty, and oppress the poor in their attempts to make a profit. Because of wickedness everything will go wrong for Israel, and they will cease to find spiritual nourishment. Those that worship idols will fall. Language insight: When the Lord showed Amos a basket of summer fruits, such as figs, He drew on a number of elements to convey that the end was at hand for Israel. The vision hearkens back to a commandment first given to Israel as they entered the Promised Land (Deut. 26). They were to gather a basket of the first fruits and present them it to the Lord as an acknowledgment of what He had done for them and how He had fulfilled His covenant. Amos sees that basket filled not with the first fruits of the harvest, but with the very last fruits. Clearly Israel was slow to remember God, His goodness, and His covenant. After harvesting summer fruits, there is no more harvest until the next season. Similarly, Israel has ceased to bring forth good fruits. The Lord highlights this by employing a play on words because the Hebrew word for “summer fruit,” qayits, is based on the word for “the end.” ,” qēts. Summer fruit is qayits, and the word for end is qēts. Thus, as the Lord shows Amos qayits, He says that Israel is qēts, highlighting that just as the summer harvest is the end of the land’s produce, so Israel is at an end of bringing forth good fruit, and thus Israel will end. Textual insight: The Lord employs chaos imagery briefly when He says the songs of the temple shall be howlings (vs. 3). For us, this is akin to saying: “the sacrament hymns will turn into screams of terror.” In other words, the most beautiful and comforting things will be undone. Cultural insight: In ancient Israel it was the duty of all, but especially the leaders of the people, to take care of the poor. Every prophet who speaks of Israel’s wickedness enumerates two sins more than any others: idolatry and not taking care of the poor. These two things are related. For
Comment [K6]: Technically, the fruits are part of a prepositional phrase modifying “basket.” This makes “it” more correct.
Comment [K7]: I felt this was a little repetitive, and so integrated it into the previous sentence. Suggested revision.
Comment [K8]: There needs to be a piece of punctuation introducing the quotation marks.
many, the pursuit of wealth becomes a false god, and because of that they do not do what they should for the poor. Israel was destroyed almost as much for their failure to care for the needy as for idolatry. This is similar to what we see in the Book of Mormon. Textual insight: Verses 8-10 portray chaos imagery that sets up the Lord’s choice of symbols in verses 11-12. By noting that a land without major rivers will be flooded as Egypt, and that the sun will not function properly, and that things that usually give comfort will turn to mourning, the Lord highlights how Israel’s wickedness will turn everything against them. In this litany of woes one would expect famine to be listed. It is, but the Lord specifies it is a famine of hearing His word. This shift from the expected highlights what God is emphasizing as the real tragedy, : the loss of revelation for His children due to their choices. He again uses chaos imagery in verse 13 to highlight the reason for it this loss in verse 14. The famine of the word is caused by idolatry. , But but God will take their idolatry away from them.
Comment [K9]: A colon better portrayed the sentiment “which is.” Comment [K10]: I’m unsure what this is referring to: the chaos imagery in verse 14, or the loss of God’s word.
Chapter: Amos 9 Highlighted Verse: Amos 9:11 “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.” Prominent People: God, Amos, David Major Concept: Though we may suffer greatly when we sin, God will still work with us, trying to redeem us. Main Themes: There is no way to hide our sins from God. There is no way to escape punishment from our sins except through God. When we sin we will be scattered from God, but if we repent, He will gather us back to Him. No matter how much we have sinned, if we will repent and obey God, He will bless us more than we can imagine. Key insights about Jehovah and His covenant: If Jehovah is powerful enough to create the earth, He is certainly powerful enough to find us and punish us. If Jehovah is powerful enough to create the earth, He is certainly powerful enough to redeem us from our sins. Jehovah will fulfill His covenant with David, with Israel, and with each of us. Graphics suggestion: grapes or harvest or winepress Overview: God shows Amos a vision of the temple, and wants Amos to smite the doorway. God then says that no matter where Israel hides, He will find them and punish them. God reminds them that He is the creator of the earth, and the God of all people. Because Israel has sinned, they will be destroyed., and God will scatter them everywhere. Eventually God will raise the tabernacle again. He will bless Israel again and give them their land and even more so that . Tthey will have great abundance. Their captivity will end. Israel will receive her land once more, never to leave again. Textual insight: Though the Lord begins the chapter by speaking of the destruction of the temple, he reverses this symbol by saying He will rebuild the tabernacle of David. While the imagery of rebuilding the temple would more directly reverse the original prophecy, the Lord conveys multiple images by using David’s tabernacle instead. By referencing King David, the Lord not only portrays the rebuilding of a fallen temple, but also implies that He will again build up the institution of Davidic kingship and all that goes with it. Symbolic insight: The Lord contrasts chaos imagery with abundance imagery in this chapter to highlight that He will fulfill His covenant and bless Israel again. After speaking of flooding and sifting Israel and of the fall of the temple, He then speaks of rebuilding the temple and of giving Israel not only the land of her inheritance, but also her neighbors’ land. Then he speaks of a plowman overtaking the reaper (meaning that abundance will be so great they will plow for one harvest even as they are reaping from the previous one), and the treader of grapes overtaking him that soweth seed (meaning that they will harvest so soon after planting that those who use the harvest to make wine will be interacting with the people who were planting the harvest). Juxtaposing things going worse than one could imagine with things going better than is truly possible is a way of emphasizing that the Lord will forgive and bless Israel.
Comment [K11]: A lot of this paragraph seems choppy because of the consistent use of simple sentence—your usual writing style is much more complex. This is a stylistic change to help smooth out the flow. Comment [K12]: Another addition of complex structure to avoid a choppy feel.
Comment [K13]: While your original construction is correct (it’s a stylistic device called apostrophe), because of the parenthetical that breaks up this sentence, I would recommend restating the verb here.
Textual insight: This chapter begins by continuing the theme of the last chapter, and really of the entire book. Chapter 8 ended with pronouncements of judgment, and chapter 9 begins with more of that same theme. By stringing these pronouncements of justice and wrath together, and then ending them with the promise that God will bless Israel abundantly, the Lord tempers all the promises of justice given throughout the book. The point for Israel, and for each of us, is that we will certainly sin and turn away from God, and that when we do so He will punish us, but eventually He will bring us back to Him and bless us more than we have ever thought possible. Textually God shows us how He tempers His justice with His love, and how His wrath is aimed at bringing us to His mercy.