The prophet and his message: 7:1-8:3

My understanding of the structure of the book, suggests that this section corresponds to chapter 3, with its rhetoric defending the prophet and his message. Considered in other ways the section contains a strange mix: four from a series of five vision accounts (the fifth comes only in chapter 9) one pair of the four is divided by a biographical narrative.

These two genres, though very different in style and form, are both focused on the person of the prophet. No other element in the book (except the superscription (1:1) shares this focus. So it provides a clue to understanding the section.

Though focused on the person of the prophet neither the vision accounts, nor the biographical story, tells us the sort of information we expect from biography. Details and facts about Amos are as sparse here as elsewhere!

Heard separated in time from the final, fifth, vision we notice that the first four contain two in which Amos intercedes successfully on Israel's behalf. That the next pair are heard separated by the narrative ensures that we notice that in them Adonai refuses further clemency, thus drawing our attention to Amos' previous success. The success of such intercession was one mark of a true prophet.

The narrative places emphasis on messages and messengers, and allows Amos to affirm that God called him to prophecy and defined the message and its target. Thus the section both coheres, and echoes chapter three in stressing that a prophet, like Amos, has no choice but to deliver the message God has given.


 

This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,
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