Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Messages of the Prophets 1: Amos

I have hunches about the foci of the prophetic writings in the Old Testament. But before I say they're so, I thought I should do some grunt work.  Here's the first bit of spade work in the two prophets to the northern kingdom, 700s BC.



1:3 -- against violence of Damascus toward Gilead (violence)

1:6-10 -- against violence of Gaza and other Philistine cities toward Israel (violence)

1:11 -- against Edom for betraying Israel with Philistines, taking Israelites as slaves, slaughtered the women of the land (violence)

1:13 -- against Ammon, ripping open pregnant women (violence)

2:1 -- against Moab, sided with Edom (violence)

2:4 -- against Judah, did not keep God's decrees, followed other gods (other gods)

2:6 -- against Israel, selling the innocent, needy, poor deny justice to the oppressed, father and son use same temple prostitute to another god

2:12 -- against Israel, faithlessness to Yahweh (other gods)

3:9-10 -- Israel oppresses its people, plunder and loot it (social justice)

3:14 -- other gods

3:15 -- disproportionate luxury of the rich (social justice)

4:1 -- Israel crushes the needy and poor while enjoying drinks (social justice)

4:4 -- who cares about sacrifices

chapter 4 -- faithlessness to Yahweh in general

5:11 -- levy tax on the poor while they are in stone mansions (social justice)

5:12 -- oppress innocent, take bribes, deprive the poor of justice

5:22 -- who cares about sacrifices

5:24 -- "Let justice roll down..."

6:4 -- disproportionate wealth (social justice)

7:9 -- other gods

8:4-6 -- oppression of the poor, dishonest scales (social justice)


Two or three themes dominate the prophecies of Amos. Most of them have to do with the oppression of the ordinary person, the "poor." The wealthy are targeted as oppressors. They use unjust scales. They take bribes. They take advantage of those without power. Meanwhile, the affluent think they're ok because they offer their sacrifices. God doesn't care.

Yes, there is also the theme of serving other gods, but this is not in isolation from the concrete actions of Israelites toward each other. The other gods are associated with the violence of the surrounding peoples. The other gods are associated with temple prostitution, for example.

The theme of the violence of the surrounding peoples, including violence toward women, is also mentioned.