- The idea that the Hebrew people have been specially selected
and called by God is common in the Bible. It finds expression
already in the stories of the prehistoric period (Gen 1-11) before
the patriarchs are even introduced. Among other things these
chapters describe a process of selection.
- Noah alone is allowed to live at a time of "great wickedness"
- Ham's failure to respect his drunken father leads to the
curse on Canaan (Gen 9:20ff.).
- No reason is given for the selection of Abraham (Gen 12:1ff.)
though his prompt and willing response has often been seen as
indicating his particular fitness.
- However the story of his grandson Jacob, a liar and cheat
(Gen 27:14-24), suggests that "election" is not the
reward for righteousness, since it is he who gave his own new
name, Israel (Gen 32:28), to the nation!
It is clear that the Hebrew people tended to rely on their
election as a promise that God would favor them. Amos
denies such notions (Am 3:2; 9:7,9 and see the discussion of his treatment
of the theology of the exodus).
Election as "chosen people" is closely related to the notion of a
covenant relationship between
Israel and Adonai. Israel seems often to have relied on God's promises while
failing to observe their covenant obligations. They stressed one side of a contract
- Amos stresses the other (esp. 3:1-2).
This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,
© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim
Bulkeley. All rights reserved.