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Exposition of the Old and New Testament, by John Gill, [1746-63], at

Amos Introduction


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This book in the Hebrew Bibles is called "Sepher Amos", the Book of Amos; and, in the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions, the Prophecy of Amos. This is not the same person with the father of Isaiah, as some have ignorantly confounded them; for their names are wrote with different letters; besides, the father of Isaiah is thought to have been of the royal family, and a courtier; whereas this man was a country farmer and herdsman. His name signifies "burdened": the Jews (a) say he was so called, because burdened in his tongue, or had an impediment in his speech, and stammered; but rather because his prophecies were burdens to the people, such as they could not bear, being full of reproofs and threatenings; however, his prophecy in this respect agrees with his name. What time he lived may be learned from Amo 1:1; by which it appears that he was, contemporary with Isaiah and Hosea; but whether he lived and prophesied so long as they did is not certain. The author of Seder Olam Zuta (b) makes him to prophesy in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. R. Abraham Zacut (c), and R. David Ganz (d), place him later than Hosea, and prior to Isaiah; they say that Amos received the law from Hosea, and Isaiah from Amos. Mr. Whiston (e) makes him to begin to prophesy in the year of the world 3231 A.M. or 773 B.C.; and Mr. Bedford (f) earlier, in 802 B.C.; and, from some passages in his prophecy, he appears to be of the land of Judah; see Amo 1:1; though he prophesied in the land of Israel, and against the ten tribes chiefly; the occasion of which was, Jeroboam had been very successful and victorious, and the people under him enjoyed great plenty and prosperity, and upon this grew wanton, luxurious, and very sinful; wherefore this prophet was sent to reprove them for their sins, to exhort them to repentance, and threaten them with captivity, in case of impenitence; and to comfort the truly godly with promises of the Messiah's coming and kingdom. The authenticity of this book is not to be questioned, since many passages out of it were taken by following prophets, as the words in Amo 1:2, by Joel, Joe 3:16, and by Jeremiah, Jer 25:30; Amo 4:9, by Haggai, Hag 2:17; Amo 9:13, by Joel, Joe 3:18; and others are quoted by the writers of the New Testament as divinely inspired, as Amo 5:25, in Act 7:42; nor is there any room to doubt of his being the writer of this book, as is manifest of his speaking of himself as the first person in it; though Hobbes (g) says it does not appear. Some have thought that his language is rustic, suitable to his former character and employment; but certain it is there are masterly strokes and great beauties of eloquence in it; and which shows that it is more than human. According to some writers, he was often beat and buffeted by Amaziah, the priest of Bethel; and at last the son of the priest drove a nail into his temples, upon which he was carried alive into his own country, and there died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his ancestors at Tekoa (h).

(a) Vajikra Rabba, sect. 10. fol. 153. 3. Abarbinel Praefat. in Ezek. fol. 253. 3. (b) P. 104, 105. Ed. Meyer. (c) Juchasin, fol. 12. 1. (d) Tzemach David, fol. 13. 1. 2. (e) Chronological Table, cent. 8. (f) Scripture Chronology, B. 6. c. 2. p. 647. (g) Leviathan, c. 33. (h) Pseudo-Epiphan. de Prophet. Vit. c. 12. Isidor. de Vit. Sanct. c. 43. Jerom. de locis Hebr. in voce Elthei, fol. 91. B.

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