Amos 1: 2b

prophetsThe summit of Carmel stands for the highland, the meadows for the lowlands.[1] In Amos 9,3 the top of Carmel is contrasted with the sea bed as places where the fleeing survivors might find shelter. But here the pastures “mourn” are personification of human mourning[2] that will be the response of the devastating action of Yahweh.

Carmel is famous for evergreen and lush vegetation; so much that it became a symbol for full and luxuriant growth (Isa 35,2). Yet even this Carmel dries up at the thundering voice of Yahweh.[3] The death of vegetation means the death of animals and famine and death for humans. Carmel stands also for the northern kingdom, just as Zion stands for the southern kingdom. When the editor was writing, both lay in ruins, the north destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.E. and the south devastated by the Babylonians in 597 B.C.E. and 587 B.C.E. Hence, at the very outset of the Book of Amos, all Israelites of past, present and future are warned that Yahweh does not sit comfortably with sin and injustice and election is no guarantee against divine retribution (Amos 9,16).


[1] Cf. J. A. Soggin, The Prophet Amos: A Translation and Commentary, SCM Press, London, (1987), 29.

[2] Cf. P. Trible, The Book of Jonah: Introduction, Commentary and Reflections, NIB, Vol. VII, Abingdon Press, Nashville, (1996), 352.

[3] Cf. J. Barton and J. Muddiman (eds.), The Oxford Bible Commentary, Oxford University Press, New York, (2007), 582.

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