Unit II. Calling of Prophets
Overview of Unit
That’s Not Fair
You Can Do It
Speak the Truth Anyway
Amaziah is identified as “the priest of Bethel.” He probably was the high priest there. His action to send word to Jeroboam implies that he was in charge of the Bethel sanctuary. “Sent” suggests a runner with a written (or verbal) message from the priest to the king. The distance between Bethel and Samaria was approximately twenty-five miles. Assuming that Jeroboam was in Samaria, a response from him would have taken at least two or three days. Amaziah did not claim royal authority for the order and instructions he issued to Amos (vv. 12–13). The text does not indicate that he received a response from Jeroboam. He probably was acting on his own authority as priest of Bethel.
Amaziah charged Amos with treason (cf. Jer 26:7–11; 37:11–38:4). The verb (qāšar) means “tie up,” “be allied together,” or “form a conspiracy.” Nothing in the text of Amos suggests that he was in league with anyone except God in his mission to Israel. But Amaziah accused him of operating on a purely human plane, with human motives and means, assuming perhaps that Amos was a man like himself.
7:14 Amos’s reply in v. 14 has been the source of much discussion and disagreement. In Hebrew it consists of three verbless clauses, for which English translation requires a form of the verb “to be.” What tense is required must be determined by the context. Although the NIV chose the past tense (following the LXX), indicating that Amos had not been a prophet until God called him, a present tense may fit the context better.54 Amos seems to have been disclaiming professional status as a prophet and denying that it was his livelihood. Yet he performed the activity of a prophet when God called him to do so (v. 16).
If the first two verbless clauses should be rendered (literally) in the present tense (“I am not a prophet and I am not a son of a prophet”), then Amos was acknowledging that he had no authority based on professional status as a prophet. “Prophet” and “prophet’s son” are parallel designations of an official office of prophet. If the third verbless clause should be rendered (literally) in the present tense (“but rather I am a cattle breeder and a slitter of figs”), then Amos was giving his occupation or professional status
THE LORD! (7:15–17)
Amos testified that his normal profession had been interrupted by the Lord’s action and commission. The prophet’s only authority in Bethel was his commission from the Lord to go and prophesy to the Lord’s people Israel. By contrast Jeroboam and Amaziah were holding office by their own authority, which was set against God’s.
7:15 “The LORD took me” means the Lord intervened to take Amos away from his normal business of “tending the flock” (cf. 2 Sam 7:8; 1 Kgs 11:37; Ps 78:70–71). Then the Lord ordered him to “go” (lēk, the same term Amaziah used to order him out of Bethel) and “prophesy” (hinnābēʾ, the same verb Amaziah used with a negative particle in v. 13) to Israel. What Amos described was an activity, not an office. His authority was the action and commission of God. “Amos reveals himself as a lone figure, one who is unclassifiable but with a unitary focus and guided by a personal vision.”61 “My people” meant that Amos was to address his audience as God’s covenant people, not as the breakaway kingdom of Israel. They were not Jeroboam’s people or Amaziah’s or even Amos’s. They still owed their allegiance first to God, and Amaziah was wrong to try to stop God’s prophet from preaching to them. Interfering with the word of God proved disastrous for Amaziah and remains today a dangerous activity.