All Belong to God: Prophet Amos

Amos 9,7-10 is a theological reflection on the preceding unit in Amos 9,1-4. That unit describe Yahweh’s retributive intervention in Israel. Amos 9,7, which justifies the total destruction in Amos 9,1-4 is separated by the fragment of a hymn in Amos 9,5-6. We can trace three ideas here which Amos seems to communicate.  First, it argues that other nations belong to Yahweh as much as Israel belongs to Yahweh. The surprising thing is that Ethiopia is the principal term of comparison. In other words Amos want to say, Israel belongs to Yahweh as Ethiopia belongs to Yahweh. That means, what Yahweh does for or against one, Yahweh will do for or against the other.[1]

imagesSecond, in the popular mind, the deliverance from Egypt and the exodus were a unique experience of Israel and a unique favour of Yahweh. But Amos says flatly that other peoples had their exodus experience from the same Yahweh. It is significant that Aram and Philistia, the two persistent enemies of Israel in that period, were equally under the active providence of Yahweh. Yahweh has been active in the movements of the various peoples, just as Yahweh has been to Israel (Amos 9,7). If now Yahweh threatens to return the people of Syria to Kir, from which they came (Amos 1,5), then Israel should take notice that Yahweh may as well reverse Israel’s entire history.

 Third, the question of guilt in Amos 9,8. The punishment of total extermination is only for the ‘sinful kingdom.’[2] Sinful kingdom can refer to Israel, and if so, the sense is that the destruction of Israel was for sinfulness. It can also refer that any kingdom that sins must expect extermination from Yahweh.

[1] Cf. D. Stuart, Hosea – Jonah, WBC, Vol. 31, Word Books Publishers, Texas, (1987), 322.

[2] Cf. D. E. Gowan, The Book of Amos: Introduction, Commentary and Reflections, NIB, Vol. VII, Abingdon Press, Nashville, (1996), 424.

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