First Vision: The Locust Swarm

1This is what the Lord GOD showed me: He was forming a locust swarm when the late growth began to come up (the late growth after the king’s mowing*). 2When they had finished eating the grass in the land, I said:

Forgive, O Lord GOD!

Who will raise up Jacob?

He is so small!

3The LORD relented concerning this. “This shall not be,” said the Lord GOD.

Second Vision: The Rain of Fire

4This is what the Lord GOD showed me: He was summoning a rain of fire. It had devoured the great abyss and was consuming the fields. 5Then I said:

Cease, O Lord GOD!

Who will raise up Jacob?

He is so small!

6The LORD relented concerning this. “This also shall not be,” said the Lord GOD.

Third Vision: The Plummet

7a This is what the Lord GOD showed me: He was standing, plummet in hand, by a wall built with a plummet.* 8The Lord GOD asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” And I answered, “A plummet.” Then the LORD said:

See, I am laying the plummet

in the midst of my people Israel;

I will forgive them no longer.

9The high places of Isaac shall be laid waste,

and the sanctuaries of Israel made desolate;

and I will attack the house of Jeroboam with the sword.

Biographical Interlude: Amos and Amaziah

10Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam, king of Israel: “Amos has conspired against you within the house of Israel; the country cannot endure all his words. 11For this is what Amos says:

‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,

and Israel shall surely be exiled from its land.’”

12To Amos, Amaziah said: “Off with you, seer, flee to the land of Judah and there earn your bread by prophesying! 13But never again prophesy in Bethel;b for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.” 14Amos answered Amaziah, “I am not a prophet,* nor do I belong to a company of prophets. I am a herdsman and a dresser of sycamores,c 15but the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’d 16Now hear the word of the LORD:

You say: ‘Do not prophesy against Israel,

do not preach against the house of Isaac.’

17Therefore thus says the LORD:

Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city,

and your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword.

Your land shall be parcelled out by measuring line,

and you yourself shall die in an unclean land;

and Israel shall be exiled from its land.”

* [7:1] The king’s mowing: the first harvesting of the crops apparently belonged to the king as a kind of tax.

* [7:7] A plummet: with this vision, the pleas of the prophet (vv. 16) disappear, and disaster is announced. One use of the plummet in ancient times was to see how far out of line a wall or building had become, to determine whether it could be repaired or would have to be torn down. Like a structure that had become architecturally unsound, Israel was unsalvageable and would have to be demolished (cf. 2 Kgs 21:13; Is 34:11; Lam 2:8).

* [7:14] I am not a prophet: Amos reacts strongly to Amaziah’s attempt to classify him as a “prophet-for-hire” who “earns [his] bread” by giving oracles in exchange for payment (cf. 1 Sm 9:310; Mi 3:5). To disassociate himself from this kind of “professional” prophet, Amos rejects outright the title of nabi’ (“prophet”). By profession he is a herdsman/sheepbreeder and a dresser of sycamore trees, but God’s call has commissioned him to prophesy to Israel.

a. [7:78] Jer 1:1114.

b. [7:13] Am 2:12.

c. [7:14] Am 1:1; 2 Sm 7:8.

d. [7:15] Am 3:8.

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