Amos (āˈməs) [key], prophetic book of the Bible. The majority of its oracles are chronologically earlier than those of the Bible's other prophetic books. His activity is dated c.760 B.C. The prophet was a shepherd of Tekoa in the southern kingdom of Judah, but he preached in the northern kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam II (c.786–746 B.C.). Israel was at the peak of its political power but was ridden with social injustices. Amos preached especially against hypocritical worship, oppression of the poor, and immorality. Not surprisingly, he was ordered to cease his preaching. The book falls into three parts: God's judgment on various neighboring Gentile nations climaxing with oracles against Judah and Israel, an indictment of Israel, and visions of destruction. The final oracle, an oracle of salvation, is usually regarded as an addition since it presupposes the destruction prophesied in the rest of the book and the restoration of the Jewish state after the exile in the 6th cent. B.C. The chief thought of Amos is that worship of God necessarily entails protection of the poor and the weak in society. Not even God's people can hope to escape the wrath of God if the social responsibilities that go with election are neglected.
See studies by J. L. Mays (1969) and H. W. Wolff (1977); F. I. Andersen, Amos (1989).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.