The Series of 5 visions

There are five accounts of visions in Amos: 7:1-3; 7:4-6; 7:7-9; 8:1-3; & 9:1-4. They are similar to each other, yet have a sense of movement between them. Compared to other vision accounts in the prophetic books they focus more on words than "pictures".

Genre of prophetic visions

Structure and development

Words and pictures

Genre of prophetic visions

Vision reports in the prophetic books include descriptions of what is seen or heard. The visual component is often introduced by hinneh (as in Am 7:1, 7:4, 7:7; 8:1 but not 9:1). The words are often attributed to Adonai (as in Am 7:3, 6, 8; 8:1; 9:1).

The best known examples occur in the accounts of a prophet's call (Is 6; Jer 1) but there are numerous other examples. One interesting feature of Amos' visions is the lack of visual impact:

"I saw Adonai standing on a plastered wall...
'What do you see, Amos?' ...
'Tin.' "

Structure and development

Each is introduced by an expression indicating the visionary nature of what follows:

7:1, 4, 7; 8:1"This is what he/my lord Adonai showed me. Look!"
9:1"I saw my lord standing..."

There are strong similarities of structure and wording among the five and a sense of progression between them:

The introductions of I, II & IV are identical, III replaces "my lord Adonai" with "he" but continues "Adonai standing..." while V has "I saw Adonai standing..."

The punishment threatened moves from destruction of foliage (7:2) through destruction of the great deep and the promised land (7:4), however in this case the threat is removed; until this grief in Israel (7:7-9), becomes the end of Israel (8:2), with finally Adonai himself wielding the sword and chasing the survivors from the temple (9:1ff.).

Words and pictures

In the first two visions, having 'seen' the punishment Amos intercedes and Adonai agrees to lift the sentence.

In the next two however Adonai refuses such intercession before it is uttered, and the message is revealed through puns (cf. Jer 1:11-12) for Am 7:7-9 as punning see my discussion of Andersen & Freedman's suggestions.

The last picture, Adonai chasing the survivors sword in hand is too terrible for comment other than Adonai's words.


 

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

© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.