Amos 3
Expositor's Bible Commentary
Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying,

Amos 3:1-15 - Amos 4:3WE now enter the Second Section of the Book of Amos: chapters 3-6. It is a collection of various oracles of denunciation, grouped partly by the recurrence of the formula "Hear this word," which stands at the head of our present chapters 3, 4, and 5, which are therefore probably due to it; partly by two cries of "Woe" at Amos 5:18 and Amos 6:1; and also by the fact that each of the groups thus started leads up to an emphatic, though not at first detailed, prediction of the nation’s doom. {Amos 3:13-15; Amos 4:3; Amos 4:12; Amos 5:16-17; Amos 5:26-27; Amos 6:14} Within these divisions lie a number of short indictments, sentences of judgment, and the like, which have no further logical connection than is supplied by their general sameness of subject, and a perceptible increase of articulateness from beginning to end of the Section. The sins of Israel are more detailed, and the judgment of war, coming from the North, advances gradually till we discern the unmistakable ranks of Assyria. But there are various parentheses and interruptions, which cause the student of the text no little difficulty. Some of these, however, may be only apparent: it will always be a question whether their want of immediate connection with what precedes them is not due to the loss of several words from the text rather than to their own intrusion into it. Of others it is true that they are obviously out of place as they lie; their removal brings together verses which evidently belong to each other. Even such parentheses, however, may be from Amos himself. It is only where a verse, besides interrupting the argument, seems to reflect a historical situation later than the prophet’s day, that we can be sure it is not his own. And in all this textual criticism we must keep in mind that the obscurity of the present text of a verse, so far from being an adequate proof of its subsequent insertion, may be the very token of its antiquity, scribes or translators of later date having been unable to understand it. To reject a verse, only because we do not see the connection, would surely be as arbitrary as the opposite habit of those who, missing a connection, invent one, and then exhibit their artificial joint as evidence of the integrity of the whole passage. In fact we must avoid all headstrong surgery, for to a great extent we work in the dark.

The general subject of the Section may be indicated by the title: Religion and Civilization. A vigorous community, wealthy, cultured, and honestly religious, are, at a time of settled peace and growing power, threatened, in the name of the God of justice, with their complete political overthrow. Their civilization is counted for nothing; their religion, on which they base their confidence, is denounced as false and unavailing. These two subjects are not, and could not have been, separated by the prophet in any one of his oracles. But in the first, the briefest, and most summary of these, chapters 3-4:3, it is mainly with the doom of the civil structure of Israel’s life that Amos deals; ‘and it will be more convenient for us to take them first, with all due reference to the echoes of them in later parts of the Section. From Amos 4:4-6. it is the Religion and its false peace which he assaults; and we shall take that in the next chapter. First, then, Civilization and Judgment (Amos 3:1-15; Amos 4:1-3); second, The False Peace of Ritual (Amos 4:4-6).

These few brief oracles open upon the same note as that in which the previous Section closed-that the crimes of Israel are greater than those of the heathen; and that the people’s peculiar relation to God means, not their security, but their greater judgment. It is then affirmed that Israel’s wealth and social life are so sapped by luxury and injustice that the nation must perish. And, as in every luxurious community the women deserve especial blame, the last of the group of oracles is reserved for them. {Amos 4:1-3}

"Hear this word, which Jehovah hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt"

 - Judah as well as North Israel, so that we see the vanity of a criticism which would cast out of the Book of Amos as unauthentic every reference to Judah. "Only you have I known of all the families of the ground"-not world, but "ground," purposely chosen to stamp the meanness and mortality of them all-"therefore will I visit upon you all your iniquities."

This famous text has been called by various writers "the keynote," "the license," and "the charter" of prophecy. But the names are too petty for what is not less than the fulmination of an element. It is a peal of thunder we hear. It is, in a moment, the explosion and discharge of the full storm of prophecy. As when from a burst cloud the streams immediately below rise suddenly and all their banks are overflowed, so the prophecies that follow surge and rise clear of the old limits of Israel’s faith by the unconfined, unmeasured flood of heaven’s justice that breaks forth by this single verse. Now, once for all, are submerged the lines of custom and tradition within which the course of religion has hitherto flowed; and, as it were, the surface of the world is altered. It is a crisis which has happened more than once again in history: when helpless man has felt the absolute relentlessness of the moral issues of life; their renunciation of the past, however much they have helped to form it; their sacrifice of every development however costly, and of every hope however pure; their deafness to prayer, their indifference to penitence; when no faith saves a Church, no courage a people, no culture or prestige even the most exalted order of men; but at the bare hands of a judgment, uncouth of voice and often unconscious of a Divine mission, the results of a great civilization are for its sins swept remorselessly away.

Before the storm bursts, we learn by its lightnings some truths from the old life that is to be destroyed. "You only have I known of all the families of the ground: therefore will I visit your iniquities upon you." Religion is no insurance against judgment, no mere atonement and escape from consequences. Escape! Religion is only opportunity-the greatest moral opportunity which men have, and which if they violate nothing remains for them but a certain fearful looking forward unto judgment. You only have I known; and because you did not take the moral advantage of My intercourse, because you felt it only as privilege and pride, pardon for the past and security for the future, therefore doom the more inexorable awaits you.

Then as if the people had interrupted him with the question, What sign do you give us that this judgment is near?-Amos goes aside into that noble digression (Amos 3:3-8) on the harmony between the prophet’s word and the imminent events of the time, which we have already studied. From this apologia, Amos 3:9 returns to the note of Amos 3:1-2 and develops it. Not only is Israel’s responsibility greater than that of other people’s. Her crimes themselves are more heinous. "Make proclamation over the palaces in Ashdod"-if we are not to read Assyria here, then the name of Ashdod has perhaps been selected from all other heathen names because of its similarity to the Hebrew word for that "violence" with which Amos is charging the people-"and over the palaces of the land of Egypt, and say, Gather upon the Mount of Samaria and see! Confusions manifold in the midst of her; violence to her very core! Yea, they know not how to do uprightness, saith Jehovah, who store up wrong and violence in their palaces."

"To their crimes," said the satirist of the Romans, "they owe their gardens, palaces, stables, and fine old plate." And William Langland declared of the rich English of his day:-"For toke thei on trewly they tymbred not so height Ne boughte non burgages be ye full certayne."

"Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Siege and Blockade of the Land. And they shall bring down from off thee thy fortresses, and plundered shall be thy palaces." Yet this shall be no ordinary, tide of Eastern war, to ebb like the Syrian as it flowed, and leave the nation to rally on their land again. For Assyria devours the peoples. "Thus saith Jehovah: As the shepherd saveth from the mouth of the lion a pair of shinbones or a bit of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be saved-they who sit in Samaria in the corner of the diwan and on a couch." The description, as will be seen from the note below, is obscure. Some think it is intended to satirize a novel and affected fashion of sitting adopted by the rich. Much more probably it means that carnal security in the luxuries of civilization which Amos threatens more than once in similar phrases. The corner of the diwan is in Eastern houses the seat of honor. To this desert shepherd, with only the hard ground to rest on, the couches and ivory-mounted diwans of the rich must have seemed the very symbols of extravagance. But the pampered bodies that loll their lazy lengths upon them shall be left like the crumbs of a lion’s meal-"two shin-bones and the bit of an ear!" Their whole civilization shall perish with them. "Hearken and testify against the house of Israel-oracle of the Lord Jehovah, God of Hosts"-those addressed are still the heathen summoned in Amos 3:14-15. "For on the day when I visit the crimes of Israel upon him, I shall then make visitation upon the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar," which men grasp in their last despair, "shall be smitten and fall to the earth. And I will strike the winter-house upon the summer-house, and the ivory houses Shall perish, yea, swept away shall be houses many-oracle of Jehovah."

But the luxury of no civilization can be measured without its women, and to the women of Samaria Amos now turns with the most scornful of all his words. "Hear this word"-this for you-"kine of Bashan that are in the mount of Samaria, that oppress the poor, that crush the needy, that say to their lords, Bring, and let us drink. Sworn hath the Lord Jehovah by His holiness, lo, days are coming when there shall be a taking away of you with hooks, and of the last of you with fish-hooks." They put hooks in the nostrils of unruly cattle, and the figure is often applied to human captives; but so many should these cattle of Samaria be that for the "last of them fish-hooks" must be used. "Yea, by the breaches" in the wall of the stormed city "shall ye go out, every one headlong, and ye shall be cast oracle of Jehovah." It is a cowherd’s rough picture of women: a troop of kine-heavy, heedless animals, trampling in their anxiety for food upon every frail and lowly object in the way. But there is a prophet’s insight into character. Not of Jezebels, or Messalinas, or Lady Macbeths is it spoken, but of the ordinary matrons of Samaria. Thoughtlessness and luxury are able to make brutes out of women of gentle nurture, with homes and a religion.

Such are these three or four short oracles of Amos. They are probably among his earliest-the first peremptory challenges of prophecy to, that great stronghold which before forty years she is to see thrown down in obedience to her word. As yet, however, there seems to be nothing to justify the menaces of Amos. Fair and stable rises the structure of Israel’s life. A nation, who know themselves elect; who in politics are prosperous and in religion proof to every doubt, build high their palaces, see the skies above them unclouded, and bask in their pride, heaven’s favorites without an ear. This man, solitary and sudden from his desert, springs upon them in the name of God and their poor. Straighter word never came from Deity: "Jehovah hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" The insight of it, the justice of it, are alike convincing. Yet at first it appears as if it were sped on the personal and very human passion of its herald. For Amos not only uses the desert’s cruelties-the lion’s to the sheep-to figure God’s impending judgment upon His people, but he enforces the latter with all a desert-bred man’s horror of cities and civilization. It is their costly furniture, their lavish and complex building, on which he sees the storm break. We seem to hear again that frequent phrase of the previous section: "the fire shall devour the palaces thereof." The palaces, he says, are simply storehouses of oppression; the palaces will be plundered. Here, as throughout his book, couches and diwans draw forth the scorn of a man accustomed to the simple furniture of the tent. But observe his especial hatred of houses. Four times in one verse he smites them: "winter-house on summer-house and the ivory houses shall perish-yea, houses manifold, saith the Lord." So in another oracle of the same section: "Houses of ashlar ye have built, and ye shall not inhabit them; vineyards of delight have ye planted, and ye shall not drink of their wine." {Amos 5:11} And in another: "I loathe the pride of Jacob, and his palaces I hate; and I will give up a city and all that is in it For, lo, the Lord is about to command, and He will smite the great house into ruins and the small house into splinters." {Amos 6:8; Amos 6:11} No wonder that such a prophet found war with its breached walls insufficient, and welcomed, as the full ally of his word, the earthquake itself.

Yet all this is no mere desert razzia in the name of the Lord, a nomad’s hatred of cities and the culture of settled men. It is not a temper; it is a vision of history. In the only argument which these early oracles contain, Amos claims to have events on the side of his word. "Shall the lion roar and not be catching" something? Neither does the prophet speak till he knows that God is ready to act. History accepted this claim. Amos spoke about 755. In 734 Tiglath-Pileser swept Gilead and Galilee; in 724 Shalmaneser overran the rest of Northern Israel: "siege and blockade of the whole land!" For three years the Mount of Samaria was invested, and then taken; the houses overthrown, the rich and the delicate led away captive. It happened as Amos foretold; for it was not the shepherd’s rage within him that spoke. He had "seen the Lord standing, and He said, Smite."

But this assault of a desert nomad upon the structure of a nation’s life raises many echoes in history and some questions in our own minds today. Again and again have civilizations far more powerful than Israel’s been threatened by the desert in the name of God, and in good faith it has been proclaimed by the prophets of Christianity and other religions that God’s kingdom cannot come on earth till the wealth, the culture, the civil order, which men have taken centuries to build, have been swept away by some great political convulsion. Today Christianity herself suffers the same assaults, and is told by many, the high life and honest intention of whom cannot be doubted, that till the civilization which she has so much helped to create is destroyed, there is no hope for the purity or the progress of the race. And Christianity, too, has doubts within herself. What is the world which our Master refused in the Mount of Temptation, and so often and so sternly told us that it must perish?-how much of our wealth, of our culture, of our politics, of the whole fabric of our society? No thoughtful and religious man, when confronted with civilization, not in its ideal, but in one of those forms which give it its very name, the life of a large city, can fail to ask, How much of this deserves the judgment of God? How much must be overthrown, before His will is done on earth? All these questions rise in the ears and the heart of a generation, which more than any other has been brought face to face with the ruins of empires and civilizations, which have endured longer, and in their day seemed more stable, than her own.

In face of the confused thinking and fanatic speech which have risen on all such topics, it seems to me that the Hebrew prophets supply us with four cardinal rules.

First, of course, they insist that it is the moral question upon which the fate of a civilization is, decided. By what means has the system grown? Is justice observed in essence as well as form? Is there freedom, or is the prophet silenced? Does luxury or self-denial prevail? Do the rich make life hard for the poor? Is childhood sheltered and is innocence respected? By these, claim the prophets, a nation stands or falls; and history has proved the claim on wider worlds than they dreamt of.

But by themselves moral reasons are never enough to justify a prediction of speedy doom upon any system or society. None of the prophets began to foretell the fall of Israel till they read, with keener eyes than their contemporaries, the signs of it in current history. And this, I take it, was the point which made a notable difference between them, and one who like them scourged the social wrongs of his civilization, yet never spoke a word of its fall. Juvenal nowhere calls down judgments, except upon individuals. In his time there were no signs of the decline of the empire, even though, as he marks, there was a flight from the capital of the virtue which was to keep the empire alive. But the prophets had political proof of the nearness of God’s judgment, and they spoke in the power of its coincidence with the moral corruption of their people.

Again, if conscience and history (both of them, to the prophets, being witnesses of God) thus combine to announce the early doom of a civilization, neither the religion that may-have helped to build it, nor any remnant virtue in it, nor its ancient value to God, can avail to save. We are tempted to judge that the long and costly development of ages is cruelly thrown away by the convulsion and collapse of an empire; it feels impious to think that the patience, the providence, the millennial discipline of the Almighty are to be in a moment abandoned to some rude and savage force. But we are wrong. "You only have I known of all the families of the ground," yet I must "visit upon you your iniquities." Nothing is too costly for justice. And God finds some other way of conserving the real results of the past.

Again, it is a corollary of all this, that the sentence upon civilization must often seem to come by voices that are insane, and its execution by means that are criminal. Of course, when civilization is arraigned as a whole, and its overthrow demanded, there may be nothing behind the attack but jealousy or greed, the fanaticism of ignorant men or the madness of disordered lives. But this is not necessarily the case. For God has often in history chosen the outsider as the herald of doom, and sent the barbarian as its instrument. By the statesmen and patriots of Israel, Amos must have been regarded as a mere savage, with a savage’s hate of civilization. But we know what he answered when Amaziah called him rebel. And it was not only for its suddenness that the apostles said the "day of the Lord should come as a thief," but also because of its methods. For over and over again has doom been pronounced, and pronounced truly, by men who in the eyes of civilization were criminals and monsters.

Now apply these four principles to the question of ourselves. It will scarcely be denied that our civilization tolerates, and in part lives by, the existence of vices which, as we all admit, ruined the ancient empires. Are the political possibilities of overthrow also present? That there exist among us means of new historic convulsions is a thing hard for us to admit. But the signs cannot be hid. When we see the jealousies of the Christian peoples, and their enormous preparations for battle; the arsenals of Europe which a few sparks, may blow up; the millions of soldiers one man’s word may mobilize; when we imagine the opportunities which a general war would furnish to the discontented masses of the European proletariat-we must surely acknowledge the existence of forces capable of inflicting calamities, so severe as to affect not merely this nationality or that type of culture, but the very vigor and progress of civilization herself; and all this without our looking beyond Christendom, or taking into account the rise of the yellow races to a consciousness of their approach to equality with ourselves. If, then, in the eyes of the Divine justice Christendom merits judgment, -if life continue to be left so hard to the poor; if innocence be still an impossibility for so much of the childhood of the Christian nations; if with so many of the leaders of civilization prurience be lifted to the level of an art, and licentiousness followed as a cult; if we continue to pour the evils of our civilization upon the barbarian, and "the vices of our young nobles," to paraphrase Juvenal, "are aped in" Hindustan, -then let us know that the means of a judgment more awful than any which has yet scourged a delinquent civilization are extant and actual among us. And if one should reply, that our Christianity makes all the difference, that God cannot undo the development of nineteen centuries, or cannot overthrow the peoples of His Son, -let us remember that God does justice at whatever cost; that as He did not spare Israel at the hands of Assyria, so He did not spare Christianity in the East when the barbarians of the desert found her careless and corrupt. "You only have I known of all the families of the ground, therefore will I visit upon you all your iniquities."


AMOS was a preacher of righteousness almost wholly in its judicial and punitive offices. Exposing the moral conditions of society in his day, emphasizing on the one hand its obduracy and on the other the intolerableness of it, he asserted that nothing could avert the inevitable doom-neither Israel’s devotion to Jehovah nor Jehovah’s interest in Israel. "You alone have I known of all the families of the ground: therefore will I visit upon you all your iniquities." The visitation was to take place in war and in the captivity of the people. This is practically the whole message of the prophet Amos.

That he added to it the promise of restoration which now closes his book, we have seen to be extremely improbable. Yet even if that promise is his own, Amos does not tell us how the restoration is to be brought about. With Wonderful insight and patience he has traced the captivity of Israel to moral causes. But he does not show what moral change in the exiles is to justify their restoration, or by what means such a moral change is to be effected. We are left to infer the conditions and the means of redemption from the principles which Amos enforced while there yet seemed time to pray for the doomed people: "Seek the Lord and ye shall live." (Amos 5:4) According to this, the moral renewal of Israel must precede their restoration; but the prophet seems to make no great effort to effect the renewal. In short Amos illustrates the easily-forgotten truth that a preacher to the conscience is not necessarily a preacher of repentance.

Of the great antitheses between which religion moves, Law and Love, Amos had therefore been the prophet of Law. But we must not imagine that the association of Love with the Deity was strange to him. This could not be to any Israelite who remembered the past of his people-the romance of their origins and early struggles for freedom. Israel had always felt the grace of their God; and unless we be wrong about the date of the great poem in the end of Deuteronomy, they had lately celebrated that grace in lines of exquisite beauty and tenderness:-

"He found him in a desert land, In a waste and a howling wilderness. He compassed him about, cared for him, Kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle stirreth up his nest, Fluttereth over his young, Spreadeth his wings, taketh them, Beareth them up on his pinions-So Jehovah alone led him."

The patience of the Lord with their waywardness and their stubbornness had been the ethical influence on Israel’s life at a time when they had probably neither code of law nor system of doctrine. "Thy gentleness," as an early Psalmist says for his people, "Thy gentleness hath made me great." {Psalm 18:1-50} Amos is not unaware of this ancient grace of Jehovah. But he speaks of it in a fashion which shows that he feels it to be exhausted and without hope for his generation "I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorites. And I raised up of your sons for prophets and of your young men for Nazarites." {Amos 2:10} But this can now only fill the cup of the nation’s sin. "You alone have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore will I visit upon you all your iniquities." {Amos 3:2} Jehovah’s ancient Love but strengthens now the justice and the impetus of His Law.

We perceive, then, the problem which Amos left to prophecy. It was not to discover Love in the Deity whom he had so absolutely identified with Law. The Love of God needed no discovery among a people with the Deliverance, the Exodus, the Wilderness, and the Gift of the Land in their memories. But the problem was to prove in God so great and new a mercy as was capable of matching that Law, which the abuse of His millennial gentleness now only the more fully justified. There was needed a prophet to arise with as keen a conscience of Law as Amos himself, and yet affirm that Love was greater still; to admit that Israel were doomed, and yet promise their redemption by processes as reasonable and as ethical as those by which the doom had been rendered inevitable. The prophet of Conscience had to be followed by the prophet of Repentance.

Such a one was found in Hosea, the son of Be’eri, a citizen and probably a priest of Northern Israel, whose very name, Salvation, the synonym of Joshua and of Jesus, breathed the larger hope, which it was his glory to bear to his people. Before we see how for this task Hosea was equipped with the love and sympathy which Amos lacked, let us do two things. Let us appreciate the magnitude of the task itself, set to him first of prophets; and let us remind ourselves that, greatly as he achieved it, the task was not one which could be achieved even by him once for all, but that it presents itself to religion again and again in the course of her development.

For the first of these duties, it is enough to recall how much all subsequent prophecy derives from Hosea. We shall not exaggerate if we say that there is no truth uttered by later prophets about the Divine Grace, which we do not find in germ in him. Isaiah of Jerusalem was a greater statesman and a more powerful writer, but he had not Hosea’s tenderness and insight into motive and character. Hosea’s marvelous sympathy both with the people and with God is sufficient to foreshadow every grief, every hope, every gospel, which make the Books of Jeremiah and the great Prophet of the Exile exhaustless in their spiritual value for mankind. These others explored the kingdom of God: it was Hosea who took it by storm. {Matthew 11:12} He is the first prophet of Grace, Israel’s earliest Evangelist; yet with as keen a sense of law, and of the inevitableness of ethical discipline, as Amos himself.

But the task which Hosea accomplished was not one that could be accomplished once for all. The interest of his book is not merely historical. For so often as a generation is shocked out of its old religious ideals, as Amos shocked Israel, by a realism and a discovery of law, which have no respect for ideals, however ancient and however dear to the human heart, but work their own pitiless way to doom inevitable; so often must the Book of Hosea have a practical value for living men. At such a crisis we stand today. The older Evangelical assurance, the older Evangelical ideals have to some extent been rendered impossible by the realism to which the sciences, both physical and historical, have most healthily recalled us, and by their wonderful revelation of Law working through nature and society without respect to our creeds and pious hopes. The question presses: Is it still possible to believe in repentance and conversion, still possible to preach the power of God to save, whether the individual or society, from the forces of heredity and of habit? We can at least learn how Hosea mastered the very similar problem which Amos left to him, and how, with a moral realism no less stern than his predecessor and a moral standard every whit as high, he proclaimed Love to be the ultimate element in religion; not only because it moves man to a repentance and God to a redemption more sovereign than any law; but because if neglected or abused, whether as love of man or love of God, it enforces a doom still more inexorable than that required by violated truth or by outraged justice. Love our Savior, Love our almighty and unfailing Father, but, just because of this, Love our most awful Judge-we turn to the life and the message in which this eternal theme was first unfolded.

Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
, Amos 3:3-8, Amos 7:14-15THE MAN AND THE PROPHET

THE Book of Amos opens one of the greatest stages in the religious development of mankind. Its originality is due to a few simple ideas, which it propels into religion with an almost unrelieved abruptness. But, like all ideas which ever broke upon the world, these also have flesh and blood behind them. Like every other Reformation this one in Israel began with the conscience and the protest of an individual. Our review of the book has made this plain. We have found in it, not only a personal adventure of a heroic kind, but a progressive series of visions, with some other proofs of a development both of facts and ideas. In short, behind the book there beats a life, and our first duty is to attempt to trace its spiritual history. The attempt is worth the greatest care. "Amos," says a very critical writer, "is one of the most wonderful appearances in the history of the human spirit."


Amos 1:1, Amos 3:3-8, Amos 7:14-15When charged at the crisis of his career with being but a hireling-prophet, Amos disclaimed the official name and took his stand upon his work as a man: "No prophet I, nor prophet’s son; but a herdsman and a dresser of sycamores. Jehovah took me from behind the flock." We shall enhance our appreciation of this manhood, and of the new order of prophecy which it asserted, if we look for a little at the soil on which it was so bravely nourished.

Six miles south from Bethlehem, as Bethlehem is six from Jerusalem, there rises on the edge of the Judaean plateau, towards the desert, a commanding hill, the ruins on which are still known by the name of Tekoa.

In the time of Amos Tekoa was a place without sanctity and almost without tradition. The name suggests that the site may at first have been that of a camp. Its fortification by Rehoboam, and the mission of its wise woman to David, are its only previous appearances in history. Nor had nature been less grudging to it than fame. The men of Tekoa looked out upon a desolate and haggard world. South, west, and north the view is barred by a range of limestone hills, on one of which directly north the grey towers of Jerusalem are hardly to be discerned from the grey mountain lines. Eastward the prospect is still more desolate, but it-is open; the land slopes away for nearly eighteen miles to a depth of four thousand feet. Of this long descent the first step, lying immediately below the hill of Tekoa, is a shelf of stony moorland with the ruins of vineyards. It is the lowest ledge of the settled life of Judaea. The eastern edge drops suddenly by broken rocks to-slopes spotted with bushes of "retem," the broom of the desert, and with patches of poor wheat. From the foot of the slopes the land rolls away in a maze of low hills and shallow dales that flush green in spring, but for the rest of the year are brown with withered grass and, scrub. This is the "Wilderness" or "Pasture-land of Tekoa," {2 Chronicles 20:20} across which by night the wild beasts howl, and by day the blackened sites of deserted camps, with the loose cairns that mark the nomads’ graves, reveal a human life almost as vagabond and nameless as that of the beasts. Beyond the rolling land is Jeshimon, or Devastation-a chaos of hills, none of whose ragged crests are tossed as high as the shelf of Tekoa, while their flanks shudder down some further thousands of feet, by crumbling precipices and corries choked with debris, to the coast of the Dead Sea. The northern half of this is visible, bright blue against the red wall of Moab, and. the level top of the wall, broken only by the valley of the Arnon, constitutes the horizon. Except for the blue water-which shines in its gap between the torn hills like a bit of sky through rifted clouds-it is a very dreary world. Yet the sun breaks over it, perhaps all the more gloriously; mists, rising from the sea simmering in its great vat, drape the nakedness of the desert noon; and through the dry desert night the planets ride with a majesty they cannot assume in our more troubled atmospheres. It is also a very empty and a very silent world, yet every stir of life upon it excites, therefore, the greater vigilance, and man’s faculties, relieved from the rush and confusion of events, form the instinct of marking, and reflecting upon, every single phenomenon. And it is a very savage world. Across it all the towers of Jerusalem give the only signal of the spirit, the one token that man has a history.

Upon this unmitigated wilderness, where life is reduced to poverty and danger; where nature starves the imagination, but excites the faculties. of perception and curiosity; with the mountain tops and the sunrise in his face, but above all with Jerusalem so near, -Amos did the work which made him a man, heard the voice of God calling him to be a prophet, and gathered those symbols and figures in which his prophet’s message still reaches us with so fresh and so austere an air.

Amos was "among the shepherds of Tekoa." The word for "shepherd" is unusual, and means the herdsman of a peculiar breed of desert sheep, still under the same name prized in Arabia for the excellence of their wool. And he was "a dresser of sycamores." The tree, which is not our sycamore, is very easily grown in sandy soil with a little water. It reaches a great height and mass of foliage. The fruit is like a small fig, with a sweet but watery taste, and is eaten only by the poor. Born not of the fresh twigs, but of the trunk and older branches, the sluggish lumps are provoked to ripen by pinching or bruising, which seems to be the literal meaning of the term that Amos uses of himself-"a pincher of sycamores." The sycamore does not grow at so high a level as Tekoa; and this fact, taken along with the limitation of the ministry of Amos to the Northern Kingdom, has been held to prove that he was originally an Ephraimite, a sycamore-dresser, who had migrated and settled down, as the peculiar phrase of the title says, "among the shepherds of Tekoa." We shall presently see, however, that his familiarity with life in Northern Israel may easily have been won in other ways than through citizenship in that kingdom; while the very general nature of the definition, "among the shepherds of Tekoa," does not oblige us to place either him or his sycamores so high as the village itself. The most easterly township of Judea, Tekoa commanded the w, hole of the wilderness beyond, to which indeed it gave its name, "the wilderness of Tekoa." The shepherds of Tekoa were therefore, in all probability, scattered across the whole region down to the oases on the coast of the Dead Sea, which have generally been owned by one or other of the settled communities in the hill-country above, and may at that time have belonged to Tekoa, just as in Crusading times they belonged to the monks of Hebron, or are today cultivated by the Rushaideh Arabs, who pitch their camps not far from Tekoa itself. As you will still find everywhere on the borders of the Syrian desert shepherds nourishing a few fruit-trees round the chief well of their pasture, in order to vary their milk diet, so in some low oasis in the wilderness of Judea Amos cultivated the poorest, but the most easily grown of fruits, the sycamore. All this pushes Amos and his dwarf sheep deeper into the desert, and emphasizes what has been said above, and still remains to be illustrated, of the desert’s influence on his discipline as a men and on his speech as a prophet. We ought to remember that in the same desert another prophet was bred, who was also the pioneer of a new dispensation, and whose ministry, both in its strength and its limitations, is much recalled by the ministry of Amos. John the son of Zacharias "grew and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel." {Luke 1:80} Here, too, our Lord was "with the wild beasts." {Mark 1:18} How much Amos had been with them may be seen from many of his metaphors. "The lion roareth, who shall not fear? As when the shepherd rescueth from the mouth of the lion two shinbones or a bit of an ear It shall be as when one is fleeing from a lion and a bear cometh upon him; and he entereth a house, and leaneth ‘his hand on the wall, and a serpent biteth him."

As a wool-grower, however, Amos must have had his yearly journeys among the markets of the land; and to such were probably due his opportunities of familiarity with Northern Israel, the originals of his vivid pictures of her town-life, her commerce, and the worship at her great sanctuaries. One hour westward from Tekoa would bring him to the highroad between Hebron and the North, with its troops of pilgrims passing to Beersheba. {Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14} It was but half-an-hour more to the watershed and an open view of the Philistine plain. Bethlehem was only six, Jerusalem twelve, miles from Tekoa. Ten miles farther, across the border of Israel, lay Bethel with its temple, seven miles farther Gilgal, and twenty miles farther still Samaria the capital, in all but two days’ journey from Tekoa. These had markets as well as shrines; their annual festivals would be also great fairs. It is certain that Amos visited them; it is even possible that he went to Damascus, in which the Israelites had at the time their own quarters for trading. By road and market he would meet with men of other lands. Phoenician peddlers, or Canaanites as they were called, came up to buy the homespun for which the housewives of Israel were famed {Proverbs 31:24}-hard-faced men who were also willing to purchase slaves, and haunted even the battle-fields of their neighbors for this sinister purpose. Men of Moab, at the time subject to Israel; Aramean hostages; Philistines who held the export trade to Egypt, -these Amos must have met and may have talked with; their dialects scarcely differed from his own. It is no distant, desert echo of life which we hear in his pages, but the thick and noisy rumor of caravan and market-place: how the plague was marching up from Egypt; {Amos 6:10} ugly stories of the Phoenician slave-trade; {Amos 1:9} rumors of the advance of the awful Power, which men were hardly yet accustomed to name, but which had already twice broken from the North upon Damascus. Or it was the progress of some national mourning-how lamentation sprang up in the capital, rolled along the highways, and was re-echoed from the husbandmen and vinedressers on the hillsides. {Amos 5:16} Or, at closer quarters, we see and hear the bustle of the great festivals and fairs-the "solemn assemblies," the reeking holocausts, the "noise of songs and viols": {Amos 5:21 ff.} the brutish religious zeal kindling into drunkenness and lust on the very steps of the altar, {Amos 2:7-8} "the embezzlement of pledges by the priests, the covetous restlessness of the traders, their false measures, their entanglement of the poor in debt {Amos 8:4 ff.} the careless luxury of the rich, their "banquets, buckets of wine, ivory couches," pretentious, preposterous music. {Amos 6:1; Amos 6:4-7} These things are described as by an eyewitness. Amos was not a citizen of the Northern Kingdom, to which he almost exclusively refers; but it was because he went up and down in it, using those eyes which the desert air had sharpened, that he so thoroughly learned the wickedness of its people, the corruption of Israel’s life in every rank and class of society. But the convictions which he applied to this life Amos learned at home. They came to him over the desert, and without further material signal than was flashed to Tekoa from the towers of Jerusalem. This is placed beyond doubt by the figures in which he describes his call from Jehovah. Contrast his story, so far as he reveals it, with that of another. Some twenty years later, Isaiah of Jerusalem saw the Lord in the Temple, high and lifted up, and all the inaugural vision of this greatest of the prophets was conceived in the figures of the Temple-the altar, the smoke, the burning coals. But to his predecessor "among the shepherds of Tekoa," although revelation also starts from Jerusalem, it reaches him, not in the sacraments of her sanctuary, but across the bare pastures, and as it were in the roar of a lion. "Jehovah from Zion roareth, and uttereth His voice from Jerusalem." {Amos 1:2} We read of no formal process of consecration for this first of the prophets. Through his clear desert air the word of God breaks upon him without medium or sacrament. And the native vigilance of the man is startled, is convinced by it, beyond all argument or question. "The lion hath roared, who shall not fear? Jehovah hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" These words are taken from a passage in which Amos illustrates prophecy from other instances of his shepherd life. We have seen what a school of vigilance the desert is. Upon the bare surface all that stirs is ominous. Every shadow, every noise-the shepherd must know what is behind and be warned. Such a vigilance Amos would have Israel apply to his own message, and to the events of their history. Both of these he compares to certain facts of desert life, behind which his shepherdly instincts have taught him to feel an ominous cause. "Do two men walk together except they have trysted?"-except they have made an appointment. Hardly in the desert; for there men meet and take the same road by chance as seldom as ships at sea. "Doth a lion roar in the jungle and have no prey, or a young lion let out his voice in his den except he be taking something?" The hunting lion is silent till his quarry be in sight; when the lonely shepherd hears the roar across the desert he knows the lion leaps upon his prey, and he shudders as Israel ought to do when they hear God’s voice by the prophet, for this also is never loosened but for some grim fact, some leap of doom. Or "doth a little bird fall on the snare earthwards and there be no noose upon her?" The reading may be doubtful, but the meaning is obvious: no one ever saw a bird pulled roughly down to earth when it tried to fly away without knowing there was the loop of a snare about her. Or "does the snare itself rise up from the ground, except indeed it be capturing something?"-except there be in the trap or net something to flutter, struggle, and so lift it up. Traps do not move without life in them. Or "is the alarm trumpet "blown in a city"-for instance, in high Tekoa up there, when some Arab raid sweeps from the desert on to the fields-"and do the people not tremble?" Or "shall calamity happen in a city and Jehovah not have done it? Yea, the Lord Jehovah doeth nothing but He has revealed His purpose to His servants the prophets." My voice of warning and these events of evil in your midst have the same cause-Jehovah-behind them. "The lion hath roared, who shall not fear? Jehovah hath spoken, who can but prophesy?"

We cannot miss the personal note which rings through this triumph in the reality of things unseen. Not only does it proclaim a man of sincerity and conviction: it is resonant with the discipline by which that conviction was won-were won, too, the freedom from illusion and the power of looking at facts in the face, which Amos alone of his contemporaries possessed.

St. Bernard has described the first stage of the Vision of God as the Vision Distributive, in which the eager mind distributes her attention upon common things and common duties in themselves. It was in this elementary school that the earliest of the new prophets passed his apprenticeship and received his gifts. Others excel Amos in the powers of the imagination and the intellect. But by the incorrupt habits of his shepherd’s life, by daily wakefulness to its alarms and daily faithfulness to its opportunities, he was trained in that simple power of appreciating facts and causes, which, applied to the great phenomena of the spirit and of history, forms his distinction among his peers. In this we find perhaps the reason why he records of himself no solemn hour of cleansing and initiation. "Jehovah took me from following the flock, and Jehovah said unto me, Go, prophesy unto My people Israel." Amos was of them of whom it is written, "Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching." Through all his hard life this shepherd had kept his mind open and his conscience quick, so that when the word of God came to him he knew it, as fast as he knew the roar of the lion across the moor. Certainly there is no habit which, so much as this of watching facts with a single eye and a responsible mind, is indispensable alike in the ‘humblest duties and in the highest speculations of life. When Amos gives those naive illustrations of how real the voice of God is to him, we receive them as the tokens of a man, honest and awake. Little wonder that he refuges to be reckoned among the professional prophets of his day who found their inspiration in excitement and trance. Upon him the impulses of the Deity come in no artificial and morbid ecstasy, removed as far as possible from real life. They come upon him, as it were, in the open air. They appeal to the senses of his healthy and expert manhood. They convince him of their reality with the same force as do the most startling events of his lonely shepherd watches. "The lion hath roared, who shall not fear? Jehovah hath spoken, who can but prophesy?"

The influence of the same discipline is still visible when Amos passes from the facts of his own consciousness to the facts of his people’s life. His day in Israel sweltered with optimism. The glare of wealth, the fulsome love of country, the rank incense of a religion that was without morality-these thickened all the air, and neither the people nor their rulers had any vision. But Amos carried with him his clear desert atmosphere and his desert eyes. He saw the raw facts: the poverty, the cruel negligence of the rich, the injustice of the rulers, the immorality of the priests. The meaning of these things he questioned with as much persistence as he questioned every suspicious sound or sight upon those pastures of Tekoa. He had no illusions: he knew a mirage when he saw one. Neither the military pride of the people, fostered by recent successes over Syria, nor the dogmas of their religion, which asserted Jehovah’s swift triumph upon the heathen, could prevent him from knowing that the immorality of Israel meant Israel’s political downfall. He was one of those recruits from common life, by whom religion and the state have at all times been reformed. Springing from the laity and very often from among the working classes, their freedom from dogmas and routine, as well as from the compromising interests of wealth, rank, and party, renders them experts in life to a degree that almost no professional priest, statesman, or journalist, however honest or sympathetic, can hope to rival. Into politics they bring facts, but into religion they bring vision.

It is of the utmost significance that this reformer, this founder of the highest order of prophecy in Israel, should not only thus begin with facts, but to the very end be occupied with almost nothing else than the vision and record of them. In Amos there is but one prospect of the Ideal. It does not break till the close of his book, and then in such contrast to the plain and final indictments, which constitute nearly all the rest of his prophesying, that many have not unnaturally denied to him the verses which contain it. Throughout the other chapters we have but the exposure of present facts, material and moral, nor the sight of any future more distant than tomorrow and the immediate consequences of today’s deeds. Let us mark this. The new prophecy which Amos started in Israel reached Divine heights of hope, unfolded infinite powers of moral and political regeneration-dared to blot out all the past, dared to believe all things possible in the future. But it started from the truth about the moral situation of the present. Its first prophet not only denied every popular dogma and ideal, but-appears not to have substituted for them any others. He spent his gifts of vision on the discovery and appreciation of facts. Now this is necessary, not only in great reformations of religion, but at almost every stage in her development. We are constantly disposed to abuse even the most just and necessary of religious ideals as substitutes for experience or as escapes from duty, and to boast about the future before we have understood or mastered the present. Hence the need of realists like Amos. Though they are destitute of dogma, of comfort, of hope, of the ideal, let us not doubt that they also stand in the succession of the prophets of the Lord.

Nay, this is a stage of prophecy on which may be fulfilled the prayer of Moses: "Would to God that all the Lord’s people were prophets!" To see the truth and tell it, to be accurate and brave about the moral facts of our day-to this extent the Vision and the Voice are possible for every one of us. Never for us may the doors of heaven open, as they did for him who stood on the threshold of the earthly temple, and he saw the Lord enthroned, while the Seraphim of the Presence sang the glory. Never for us may the skies fill with that tempest of life which Ezekiel beheld from Shinar, and above it the sapphire throne, and on the throne the likeness of a man, the likeness of the glory of the Lord. Yet let us remember that to see facts as they are and to tell the truth about them-this also is prophecy. We may inhabit a sphere which does not prompt the imagination, but is as destitute of the historic and traditional as was the wilderness of Tekoa. All the more may our unglamoured eyes be true to the facts about us. Every common day leads forth her duties as shining as every night leads forth her stars. The deeds and the fortunes of men are in our sight, and spell, to all who will honestly read the very Word of the Lord. If only we be loyal, then by him who made the rude sounds and sights of the desert his sacraments, and whose vigilance of things seen and temporal became the vision of things unseen and eternal, we also shall see God, and be sure of His ways with men.

Before we pass from the desert discipline of the prophet we must notice one of its effects, which, while it greatly enhanced the clearness of his vision, undoubtedly disabled Amos for the highest prophetic rank. He who lives in the desert lives without patriotism-detached and aloof. He may see the throng of men more clearly than those who move among it. He cannot possibly so much feel for them. Unlike Hosea, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Amos was not a citizen of the kingdom against which he prophesied, and indeed no proper citizen of any kingdom, but a nomad herdsman, hovering on the desert borders of Judaea. He saw Israel from the outside. His message to her is achieved with scarcely one sob in his voice. For the sake of the poor and the oppressed among the people he is indignant. But with the erring, staggering nation as a whole he has no real sympathy. His pity for her is exhausted in one elegy and two brief intercessions; hardly more than once does he even call her to repentance.

His sense of justice, in fact, had almost never to contend with his love. This made Amos the better witness, but the worse prophet. He did not rise so high as his great successors, because he did not so feel himself one with the people whom he was forced to condemn, because he did not bear their fate as his own nor travail for their new birth. "Ihm fehlt die Liebe." Love is the element lacking in his prophecy; and therefore the words are true of him which were uttered of his great follower across this same wilderness of Judea, that mighty as were his voice and his message to prepare the way of the Lord, yet "the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he."


Amos 1:2, Amos 3:3-8 and PASSIM

We have seen the preparation of the Man for the Word. We are now to ask, Whence came the Word to the Man?-the Word that made him a prophet. What were its sources and sanctions outside himself? These involve other questions. How much of his message did Amos inherit from the previous religion of his people? And how much did he teach for the first time in Israel? And again, how much of this new element did he owe to the great events of his day? And how much demands some other source of inspiration?

To all these inquiries, outlines of the answers ought by this time to have become visible. We have seen that the contents of the Book of Amos consist almost entirely of two kinds: facts, actual or imminent, in the history of his people; and certain moral principles of the most elementary order. Amos appeals to no dogma nor form of law, nor to any religious or national institution. Still more remarkably, he does not rely upon miracle nor any so-called "supernatural sign." To employ the terms of Mazzini’s famous formula, Amos draws his materials solely from "conscience and history." Within himself he hears certain moral principles speak in the voice of God, and certain events of his day he recognizes as the judicial acts of God. The principles condemn the living generation of Israel as morally corrupt; the events threaten the people with political extinction. From this agreement between inward conviction and outward event Amos draws his full confidence as a prophet, and enforces on the people his message of doom as God’s own word.

The passage in which Amos most explicitly illustrates this harmony between event and conviction is one whose metaphors we have already quoted in proof of the desert’s influence upon the prophet’s life. When Amos asks, "Can two walk together except they have made an appointment?" his figure is drawn, as we have seen, from the wilderness in which two men will hardly meet except they have arranged to do so; but the truth he would illustrate by the figure is that two sets of phenomena which coincide must have sprung from a common purpose. Their conjunction forbids mere chance. What kind of phenomena he means, he lets us see in his next instance: "Doth a lion roar in the jungle and have no prey? Doth a young lion let forth his voice from his den except he be catching something?" That is, those ominous sounds never happen without some fell and terrible deed happening along with them. Amos thus plainly hints that the two phenomena on whose coincidence he insists are an utterance on one side, and on the other side a deed fraught with destruction. The reading of the next metaphor about the bird and the snare is uncertain; at most what it means is that you never see signs of distress or a vain struggle to escape without there being, though out of sight, some real cause for them. But from so general a principle he returns in his fourth metaphor to the special coincidence between utterance and deed. "Is the alarum-trumpet blown in a city and do the people not tremble?" Of course they do; they know such sound is never made without the approach of calamity. But who is the author of every calamity? God Himself: "Shall there be evil in a city and Jehovah not have done it?" Very well then; we have seen that common life has many instances in which, when an ominous sound is heard, it is because it is closely linked with a fatal deed. These happen together, not by mere chance, but because the one is the expression, the warning, or the explanation of the other. And we also know that fatal deeds which happen to any community in Israel are from Jehovah. He is behind them. But they, too, are accompanied by a warning voice from the same source as themselves. This is the voice which the prophet hears in his heart-the moral conviction which he feels as the Word of God. "The Lord Jehovah doeth nothing but He hath revealed His counsel to His servants the prophets." Mark the grammar: the revelation comes first to the prophet’s heart; then he sees and recognizes the event, and is confident to give his message about it. So Amos, repeating his metaphor, sums up his argument. "The Lion hath roared, who shall not fear?"-certain that there is more than sound to happen. "The Lord Jehovah hath spoken, who can but prophesy?"-certain that what Jehovah has spoken to him inwardly is likewise no mere sound, but that deeds of judgment are about to happen, as the ominous voice requires they should.

The prophet then is made sure of his message by the agreement between the inward convictions of his soul and the outward events of the day. When these walk together, it proves that they have come of a common purpose. He who causes the events-it is Jehovah Himself, "for shall there be evil in a city and Jehovah not have done it?"-must be author also of the inner voice or conviction which agrees with them. "Who" then "can but prophesy?" Observe again that no support is here derived from miracle; nor is any claim made for the prophet on the ground of his ability to foretell the event. It is the agreement of the idea with the fact, their evident common origin in the purpose of Jehovah, which makes a man sure that he has in him the Word of God. Both are necessary, and together are enough. Are we then to leave the origin of the Word in this coincidence of fact and thought-as it were an electric flash produced by the contact of conviction with event?

Hardly; there are questions behind this coincidence. For instance, as to how the two react on each other-the event provoking the conviction, the conviction interpreting the event? The argument of Amos seems to imply that the ethical principles are experienced by the prophet prior to the events which justify them. Is this so, or was the shock of the events required to awaken the principles? And if the principles were prior, whence did Amos derive them? These are some questions that will lead us to the very origins of revelation.

The greatest of the events with which Amos and his contemporaries dealt was the Assyrian invasion. In a previous chapter we have tried to estimate the intellectual effects of Assyria on prophecy. Assyria widened the horizon of Israel, put the world to Hebrew eyes into a new perspective, vastly increased the possibilities of history, and set to religion a novel order of problems. We can trace the effects upon Israel’s conceptions of God, of man, and even of nature. Now it might be plausibly argued that the new prophecy in Israel was first stirred and quickened by all this mental shock and strain, and that even the loftier ethics of the prophets were thus due to the advance of Assyria. For, as the most vigilant watchmen of their day, the prophets observed the rise of that empire, and felt its fatality for Israel. Turning then to inquire the Divine reasons for such a destruction, they found these in Israel’s sinfulness, to the full extent of which their hearts were at last awakened. According to such a theory the prophets were politicians first and moralists afterwards: alarmists to begin with, and preachers of repentance only second. Or-to recur to the language employed above-the prophets’ experience of the historical event preceded their conviction of the moral principle which agreed with it.

In support of such a theory it is pointed out that after all the most original element in the prophecy of the eighth century was the announcement of Israel’s fall and exile. The Righteousness of Jehovah had often previously been enforced in Israel, but never had any voice drawn from it this awful conclusion that the nation must perish. The first in Israel to dare this was Amos, and surely what enabled him to do so was the imminence of Assyria upon his people. Again, such a theory might plausibly point to the opening verse of the Book of Amos, with its unprefaced, unexplained pronouncement of doom upon Israel:-

"The Lord roareth from Zion, And giveth voice from Jerusalem; And the pastures of the shepherds mourn, And the summit of Carmel is withered!"

Here, it might be averred, is the earliest prophet’s earliest utterance. Is it not audibly the voice of a man in a panic-such a panic as, ever on the eve of historic convulsions, seizes the more sensitive minds of a doomed people? The distant Assyrian thunder has reached Amos, on his pastures, unprepared-unable to articulate its exact meaning, and with only faith enough to hear in it the voice of his God. He needs reflection to unfold its contents; and the process of this reflection we find through the rest of his book. There he details for us, with increasing clear-mess, both the ethical reasons and the political results of that Assyrian terror, by which he was at first so wildly shocked into prophecy.

But the panic-born are always the stillborn; and it is simply impossible that prophecy, in all her ethical and religious vigor, can have been the daughter of so fatal a birth. If we look again at the evidence which is quoted from Amos in favor of such a theory, we shall see how fully it is contradicted by other features of his book.

To begin with, we are not certain that the terror of the opening verse of Amos is the Assyrian terror. Even if it were, the opening of a book does not necessarily represent the writer’s earliest feelings. The rest of the chapters contain visions and oracles which obviously date from a time when Amos was not yet startled by Assyria, but believed that the punishment which Israel required might be accomplished through a series of physical calamities-locusts, drought, and pestilence. Nay, it was not even these earlier judgments, preceding the Assyrian, which stirred the word of God in the prophet. He introduces them with a "now" and a "therefore." That is to say, he treats them only as the consequence of certain facts, the conclusion of certain premises. These facts and premises are moral-they are exclusively moral. They are the sins of Israel’s life, regarded without illusion and without pity. They are certain simple convictions, which fill the prophet’s heart, about the impossibility of the survival of any state which is so perverse and so corrupt.

This origin of prophecy in moral facts and moral intuitions, which are in their beginning independent of political events, may be illustrated by several other points. For instance, the sins which Amos marked in Israel were such as required no "red dawn of judgment" to expose their flagrance and fatality. The abuse of justice, the cruelty of the rich, the shameless immorality of the priests, are not sins which we feel only in the cool of the day, when God Himself draws near to judgment. They are such things as make men shiver in the sunshine. And so the Book of Amos, and not less that of Hosea, tremble with the feeling that Israel’s social corruption is great enough of itself, without the aid of natural convulsions, to shake the very basis of national life. "Shall not the land tremble for this," Amos says after reciting some sins, "and every one that dwelleth therein?" {Amos 8:8} Not drought nor pestilence nor invasion is needed for Israel’s doom, but the elemental force of ruin which lies in the people’s own wickedness. This is enough to create gloom long before the political skies be overcast-or, as Amos himself puts it, this is enough

"To cause the sun to go down at noon, And to darken the earth in the clear day." {Amos 8:9}

And once more-in spite of Assyria the ruin may be averted, if only the people will repent: "Seek good and not evil, and, Jehovah of hosts will be with you, as you say." {Amos 5:14} Assyria, however threatening, becomes irrelevant to Israel’s future from the moment that Israel repents.

Such beliefs, then, are obviously not the results of experience, nor of a keen observation of history. They are the primal convictions of the heart, which are deeper than all experience, and themselves contain the sources of historical foresight. With Amos it was not the outward event which inspired the inward conviction, but the conviction which anticipated and interpreted the event, though when the event came there can be no doubt that it confirmed, deepened, and articulated the conviction.

But when we have thus tracked the stream of prophecy as far back as these elementary convictions we have not reached the fountain-head. Whence did Amos derive his simple and absolute ethics? Were they original to him? Were they new in Israel? Such questions start an argument which touches the very origins of revelation.

It is obvious that Amos not only takes for granted the laws of righteousness which he enforces: he takes for granted also the people’s conscience of them. New, indeed, is the doom which sinful Israel deserves, and original to himself is the proclamation of it; but Amos appeals to the moral principles which justify the doom, as if they were not new, and as if Israel ought always to have known them. This attitude of the prophet to his principles has, in our time, suffered a curious judgment. It has been called an anachronism. So absolute a morality, some say, had never before been taught in Israel; nor had righteousness been so exclusively emphasized as the purpose of Jehovah. Amos and the other prophets of his century were the virtual "creators of ethical monotheism": it could only be by a prophetic license or prophetic fiction that he appealed to his people’s conscience of the standards he promulgated, or condemned his generation to death for not having lived up to them.

Let us see how far this criticism is supported by the facts.

To no sane observer can the religious history of Israel appear as anything but a course of gradual development. Even in the moral standards, in respect to which it is confessedly often most difficult to prove growth, the signs of the nation’s progress are very manifest. Practices come to be forbidden in Israel and tempers to be mitigated, which in earlier ages were sanctioned to their extreme by the explicit decrees of religion. In the nation’s attitude to the outer world sympathies arise, along with ideals of spiritual service, where previously only war and extermination had been enforced in the name of the Deity. Now in such an evolution it is equally indubitable that the longest and most rapid stage was the prophecy of the eighth century. The prophets of that time condemn acts which had been inspired by their immediate predecessors; they abjure, as impeding morality, a ceremonial which the spiritual leaders of earlier generations had felt to be indispensable to religion; and they unfold ideals of the nation’s moral destiny, of which older writings give us only the faintest hints. Yet, while the fact of a religious evolution in Israel is thus certain, we must not fall into the vulgar error which interprets evolution as if it were mere addition, nor forget that even in the most creative periods of religion nothing is brought forth which has not already been promised, and, at some earlier stage, placed, so to speak, within reach of the human mind. After all it is the mind which grows; the moral ideals which become visible to its more matured vision are so Divine that, when they present themselves, the mind cannot but think they were always real and always imperative. If we remember these commonplaces we shall do justice both to Amos and to his critics.

In the first place it is clear that most of the morality which Amos enforced is of that fundamental order which can never have been recognized as the discovery or invention of any prophet. Whatever be their origin, the conscience of justice, the duty of kindness to the poor, the horror of wanton cruelty towards one’s enemies, which form the chief principles of Amos, are discernible in man as far back as history allows us to search for them. Should a generation have lost them, they can be brought back to it, never with the thrill of a new lesson; but only with the shame of an old and an abused memory. To neither man nor people can the righteousness which Amos preached appear as a discovery, but always as a recollection and a remorse. And this is most emphatically true of the people of Moses and of Samuel, of Nathan, of Elijah, and of the Book of the Covenant. Ethical elements had been characteristic of Israel’s religion from the very first. They were not due to a body of written law, but rather to the character of Israel’s God, appreciated by the nation in all the great crises of their history. Jehovah had won for Israel freedom and unity. He had been a spirit of justice to their lawgivers and magistrates. {Isaiah 28:1-29} He had raised up a succession of consecrated personalities, {Amos 2:1-16} who by life and word had purified the ideals of the whole people. The results had appeared in the creation of a strong national conscience, which avenged with horror, as "folly in Israel," the wanton crimes of any person or section of the commonwealth; in the gradual formation of a legal code, founded indeed in the common custom of the Semites, but greatly more moral than that; and even in the attainment of certain profoundly ethical beliefs about God and His relations, beyond Israel, to all mankind. Now, let us understand once for all, that in the ethics of Amos there is nothing which is not rooted in one or other of these achievements of the previous religion of his people. To this religion Amos felt himself attached in the closest possible way. The word of God comes to him across the desert, as we have seen, yet not out of the air. From the first he hears it rise from that one monument of his people’s past which we have found visible on his physical horizon-"from Zion, from Jerusalem," {Amos 1:2} from the city of David, from the Ark, whose ministers were Moses and Samuel, from the repository of the main tradition of Israel’s religion. Amos felt himself in the sacred succession; and his feeling is confirmed by the contents of his book. The details of that civic justice which he demands from his generation are found in the Book of the Covenant-the only one of Israel’s great codes which appears by this time to have been in existence; or in those popular proverbs which almost as certainly were found in early Israel.

Nor does Amos go elsewhere for the religious sanctions of his ethics. It is by the ancient mercies of God towards Israel that he shames and convicts his generation-by the deeds of grace which made them a nation, by the organs of doctrine and reproof which have inspired them, unfailing from age to age. "I destroyed the Amorite before them Yea, I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and I led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorites. And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Was it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith Jehovah." We cannot even say that the belief which Amos expresses in Jehovah as the supreme Providence of the world was a new thing in Israel, for a belief as universal inspires those portions of the Book of Genesis which, like the Book of the Covenant, were already extant.

We see, therefore, what right Amos had to present his ethical truths to Israel, as if they were not new, but had been within reach of his people from of old.

We could not, however, commit a greater mistake than to confine the inspiration of our prophet to the past, and interpret his doctrines as mere inferences from the earlier religious ideas of Israel-inferences forced by his own passionate logic, or more naturally ripened for him by the progress of events. A recent writer has thus summarized the work of the prophets of the eighth century: "In fact they laid hold upon that bias towards the ethical which dwelt in Jahwism from Moses onwards, and they allowed it alone to have value as corresponding to the true religion of Jehovah." But this is too abstract to be an adequate statement of the prophets’ own consciousness. What overcame Amos was a Personal Influence-the Impression of a Character; and it was this not only as it was revealed in the past of his people. The God who stands behind Amos is indeed the ancient Deity of Israel, and the facts which prove Him God are those which made the nation-the Exodus, the guidance through the wilderness, the overthrow of the Amorites, the gift of the land. "Was it not even thus, O ye children of Israel?" But what beats and burns through the pages of Amos is not the memory of those wonderful works, so much as a fresh vision and understanding of the Living God who worked them. Amos has himself met with Jehovah on the conditions of his own time-on the moral situation provided by the living generation of Israel. By an intercourse conducted, not through the distant signals of the past, but here and now, through the events of the prophet’s own day, Amos has received an original and overpowering conviction of his people’s God as absolute righteousness. What prophecy had hitherto felt in part, and applied to one or other of the departments of Israel’s life, Amos is the first to feel in its fullness, and to every extreme of its consequences upon the worship, the conduct, and the fortunes of the nation. To him Jehovah not only commands this and that righteous law but Jehovah and righteousness are absolutely identical. "Seek Jehovah and ye shall live seek good and ye shall live." {Amos 5:6; Amos 5:14} The absoluteness with which Amos conceived this principle, the courage with which he applied it, carry him along those two great lines upon which we most clearly trace his originality as a prophet. In the strength of this principle he does what is really new in Israel: he discards the two elements which had hitherto existed alongside the ethical, and had fettered and warped it.

Up till now the ethical spirit of the religion of Jehovah had to struggle with two beliefs which we can trace back to the Semitic origins of the religion-the belief, namely, that, as the national God, Jehovah would always defend their political interests, irrespective of morality; and the belief that a ceremonial of rites and sacrifices was indispensable to religion. These principles were mutual: as the deity was bound to succor the people, so were the people bound to supply the deity with gifts, and the more of these they brought the more they made sure of his favors. Such views were not absolutely devoid of moral benefit. In the formative period of the nation they had contributed both discipline and hope. But of late they had between them engrossed men’s hearts, and crushed out of religion both conscience and common-sense. By the first of them, the belief in Jehovah’s predestined protection of Israel, the people’s eyes were so holden they could not see how threatening were the times; by the other, the confidence in ceremonial, conscience was dulled, and that immorality permitted which they mingled so shamelessly with their religious zeal. Now the conscience of Amos did not merely protest against the predominance of the two, but was so exclusive, so spiritual, that it boldly banished both from religion. Amos denied that Jehovah was bound to save His people; he affirmed that ritual and sacrifice were no part of the service He demands from men. This is the measure of originality in our prophet. The two religious principles which were inherent in the very fiber of Semitic religion, and which till now had gone unchallenged in Israel, Amos cast forth from religion in the name of a pure and absolute righteousness. On the one hand, Jehovah’s peculiar connection with Israel meant no more than jealousy for their holiness: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore will I visit upon you all your iniquities." {Amos 3:2} And, on the other hand, all their ceremonial was abhorrent to Him: "I hate, I despise your festivals. Though ye offer Me burnt offerings and your meal offerings, I will not accept them Take thou away from Me the noise of thy songs; I will not hear the music of thy viols. But let justice run down as waters, and righteousness as a perennial stream." {Amos 5:21 ff.}

It has just been said that emphasis upon morality as the sum of religion, to the exclusion of sacrifice, is the most original element in the prophecies of Amos He himself, however, does not regard this as proclaimed for the first time in Israel, and the precedent he quotes is so illustrative of the sources of his inspiration that we do well to look at it for a little. In the verse next to the one last quoted he reports these words of God: "Did ye offer unto Me sacrifices and gifts in the wilderness, for forty years, O house of Israel?" An extraordinary challenge! From the present blind routine of sacrifice Jehovah appeals to the beginning of His relations with the nation: did they then perform such services to Him? Of course, a negative answer is expected. No other agrees with the main contention of the passage. In the wilderness Israel had not offered sacrifices and gifts to Jehovah. Jeremiah quotes a still more explicit word of Jehovah: "I spake not unto your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices: but this thing I commanded them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be My people." {Jeremiah 7:22 f.}

To these Divine statements we shall not be able to do justice if we hold by the traditional view that the Levitical legislation was proclaimed in the wilderness. Discount that legislation, and the statements become clear. It is true, of course, that Israel must have had a ritual of some kind from the first; and that both in the wilderness and in Canaan their spiritual leaders must have performed sacrifices as if these were acceptable to Jehovah. But even so the Divine words which Amos and Jeremiah quote are historically correct; for while the ethical contents of the religion of Jehovah were its original and essential contents-"I commanded them, saying, Obey My voice"-the ritual was but a modification of the ritual common to all Semites; and ever since the occupation of the land, it had, through the infection of the Canaanite rites on the high places, grown more and more Pagan, both in its functions and in the ideas which these were supposed to express. Amos was right. Sacrifice had never been the Divine, the revealed element in the religion of Jehovah. Nevertheless, before Amos no prophet in Israel appears to have said so. And what enabled this man in the eighth century to offer testimony, so novel but so true, about the far-away beginnings of his people’s religion in the fourteenth, was plainly neither tradition nor historical research, but an overwhelming conviction of the spiritual and moral character of God-of Him who had been Israel’s God both then and now, and whose righteousness had been, just as much then as now, exalted above all purely national interests and all susceptibility to ritual. When we thus see the prophet’s knowledge of the Living God enabling him, not only to proclaim an ideal of religion more spiritual than Israel had yet dreamed, but to perceive that such an ideal had been the essence of the religion of Jehovah from the first, we understand how thoroughly Amos was mastered by that knowledge. If we need any further proof of his "possession" by the character of God, we find it in those phrases in which his own consciousness disappears, and we have no longer the herald’s report of the Lord’s words, but the very accents of the Lord Himself, fraught with personal feeling of the most intense quality. "I" Jehovah "hate, I despise your feast days Take thou away from Me the noise of thy songs; I will not hear the music of thy viols {Amos 5:21-23} I abhor the arrogance of Jacob, and hate his palaces {Amos 6:8} The eyes of the Lord Jehovah are upon the sinful kingdom {Amos 9:8} Jehovah sweareth, I will never forget any of their works." {Amos 8:7} Such sentences reveal a Deity who is not only manifest Character, but is urgent and importunate Feeling. We have traced the prophet’s word to its ultimate source. It springs from the righteousness, the vigilance, the urgency of the Eternal. The intellect, imagination, and heart of Amos-the convictions he has inherited from his people’s past, his conscience of their evil life today, his impressions of current and coming history-are all enforced and illuminated, all made impetuous and radiant, by the Spirit, that is to say the Purpose and the Energy, of the Living God. Therefore, as he says in the title of his book, or as someone says for him, Amos saw his words. They stood out objective to himself. And they were not mere sound. They glowed and burned with God.

When we realize this, we feel how inadequate it is to express prophecy in the terms of evolution. No doubt, as we have seen, the ethics and religion of Amos represent a large and measurable advance upon those of earlier Israel. And yet with Amos we do not seem so much to have arrived at a new stage in a Process, as to have penetrated to the Idea which has been behind the Process from the beginning. The change and growth of Israel’s religion are realities-their fruits can be seen, defined, catalogued-but a greater reality is the unseen purpose which impels them. They have been expressed only now. He has been unchanging from old and forever-from the first absolute righteousness in Himself, and absolute righteousness in His demands from men.


Amos 3:3-8; Amos 4:6-13; Amos 5:8-9; Amos 6:12; Amos 8:8; Amos 9:5; Amos 8:4-6FOOLS, when they face facts, which is seldom, face them one by one, and, as a consequence, either in ignorant contempt or in panic. With this inordinate folly Amos charged the religion of his day. The superstitious people, careful of every point of ritual and very greedy of omens, would not ponder real facts nor set cause-to effect. Amos recalled them to common life. "Does a bird fall upon a snare, except there be a loop on her? Does the trap itself rise from the ground, except it be catching something"-something alive in it that struggles, and so lifts the trap? "Shall the alarum be blown in a city, and the people not tremble?" Daily life is impossible without putting two and two together. But this is just what Israel will not do with the sacred events of their time. To religion they will not add common-sense.

For Amos himself, all things which happen are in sequence and in sympathy. He has seen this in the simple life of the desert; he is sure of it throughout the tangle and hubbub of history. One thing explains another; one makes another inevitable. When he has illustrated the truth in common life, Amos claims it for especially four of the great facts of the time. The sins of society, of which society is careless; the physical calamities, which they survive and forget; the approach of Assyria, which they ignore; the word of the prophet, which they silence, -all these belong to each other. Drought, Pestilence, Earthquake, Invasion conspire-and the Prophet holds their secret.

Now it is true that for the most part Amos describes this sequence of events as the personal action of Jehovah. "Shall evil befall, and Jehovah not have done it? I have smitten you. I will raise up against you a Nation Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel!" {Amos 3:6; Amos 4:9; Amos 6:14; Amos 4:12} Yet even where the personal impulse of the Deity is thus emphasized, we feel equal stress laid upon the order and the inevitable certainty of the process Amos nowhere uses Isaiah’s great phrase: "a God of Mishpat," a "God of Order" or "Law." But he means almost the same thing: God works by methods which irresistibly fulfill themselves. Nay more. Sometimes this sequence sweeps upon the prophet’s mind with such force as to overwhelm all his sense of the Personal within it. The Will and the Word of the God who causes the thing are crushed out by the "Must Be" of the thing itself. Take even the descriptions of those historical crises, which the prophet most explicitly proclaims as the visitations of the Almighty. In some of the verses all thought of God Himself is lost in the roar and foam with which that tide of necessity bursts up through Chem. The fountains of the great deep break loose, and while the universe trembles to the shock, it seems that even the voice of the Deity is overwhelmed. In one passage, immediately after describing Israel’s ruin as due to Jehovah’s word, Amos asks how could it "have happened otherwise":-

"Shall horses run up a cliff, or oxen plough the sea? that ye turn justice into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood." {Amos 6:12} A moral order exists, which it is as impossible to break without disaster as it would be to break the natural order by driving horses upon a precipice. There is an inherent necessity in the sinners’ doom. Again, he says of Israel’s sin: "Shall not the Land tremble for this? Yea, it shall rise up together like the Nile, and heave and sink like the Nile of Egypt." {Amos 8:8} The crimes of Israel are so intolerable, that in its own might the natural frame of things revolts against them. In these great crises, therefore, as in the simple instances adduced from everyday life, Amos had a sense of what we call law, distinct from, and for moments even overwhelming, that sense of the personal purpose of God, admission to the secrets of which had marked his call to be a prophet.

These instincts we must not exaggerate into a system. There is no philosophy in Amos, nor need we wish there were. Far more instructive is what we do find-a virgin sense of the sympathy of all things, the thrill rather than the theory of a universe. And this faith, which is not a philosophy, is especially instructive on these two points: that it springs from the moral sense; and that it embraces, not history only, but nature.

It springs from the moral sense. Other races have arrived at a conception of the universe along other lines: some by the observation of physical laws valid to the recesses of space; some by logic and the unity of Reason. But Israel found the universe through the conscience. It is a historical fact that the Unity of God, the Unity of History, and the Unity of the World, did, in this order, break upon Israel, through conviction and experience of the universal sovereignty of righteousness. We see the beginnings of the process in Amos. To him the sequences which work themselves out through history and across nature are moral. Righteousness is the hinge on which the world hangs; loosen it, and history and nature feel the shock. History punishes the sinful nation. But nature, too, groans beneath the guilt of man; and in the Drought, the Pestilence, and the Earthquake provides his scourges. It is a belief which has stamped itself upon the language of mankind. What else is "plague" than "blow" or "Scourge?"

This brings us to the second point-our prophet’s treatment of Nature.

Apart from the disputed passages (which we shall take afterwards by themselves) we have in the Book of Amos few glimpses of nature, and these always under a moral light. There is not in any chapter a landscape visible in its own beauty. Like all desert-dwellers, who when they would praise the works of God lift their eyes to the heavens, Amos gives us but the outlines of the earth-a mountain range, {Amos 1:2; Amos 3:9; Amos 9:3} or the crest of a forest, {Amos 2:9} or the bare back of the land, bent from sea to sea. {Amos 8:12} Nearly all, his figures are drawn from the desert-the torrent, the wild beasts, the wormwood (Amos 5:24; Amos 5:19-20; etc.; Amos 7:12). If he visits the meadows of the shepherds, it is with the terror of the people’s doom; {Amos 1:2} if the vineyards or orchards, it is with the mildew and the locust; {Amos 4:9 ff.} if the towns, it is with drought, eclipse, and earthquake. {Amos 4:6-11; Amos 6:11; Amos 8:8 ff.} To him, unlike his fellows, unlike especially Hosea, the whole land is one theatre of judgment; but it is a theatre trembling to its foundations with the drama enacted upon it. Nay, land and nature are themselves actors in the drama. Physical forces are inspired with moral purpose, and become the ministers of righteousness. This is the converse of Elijah’s vision. To the older prophet the message came that God was not in the fire nor in the earthquake nor in the tempest, but only in the still small voice. But to Amos the fire, the earthquake, and the tempest are all in alliance with the Voice, and execute the doom which it utters. The difference will be appreciated by us, if we remember the respective problems set to prophecy in those two periods. To Elijah, prophet of the elements, wild worker by fire and water, by life and death, the spiritual had to be asserted and enforced by itself. Ecstatic as he was, Elijah had to learn that the Word is more Divine than all physical violence and terror. But Amos understood that for his age the question was very different. Not only was the God of Israel dissociated from the powers of nature, which were assigned by the popular mind to the various Ba’alim of the land, so that there was a divorce between His government of the people and the influences that fed the people’s life; but morality itself was conceived as provincial. It was narrowed to the national interests; it was summed up in mere rules of police, and these were looked upon as not so important as the observances of the ritual. Therefore Amos was driven to show that nature and morality are one. Morality is not a set of conventions. "Morality is the order of things." Righteousness is on the scale of the universe. All things tremble to the shock of sin; all things work together for good to them that fear God.

With this sense of law, of moral necessity, in Amos we must not fail to connect that absence of all appeal to miracle, which is also conspicuous in his book.

We come now to the three disputed passages:-

Amos 4:13 :-"For, lo! He Who formed the hills, and createth the wind, and declareth to man what His mind is; Who maketh the dawn into darkness, and marcheth on the heights of the land-Jehovah, God of Hosts, is His Name."

Amos 5:8-9 :-"Maker of the Pleiades and Orion, turning to morning the murk, and day into night He darkeneth; Who calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them forth on the face of the earth-Jehovah His Name; Who flasheth ruin on the strong, and destruction cometh down on the fortress."

Amos 9:5-6 :-"And the Lord Jehovah of the Hosts, Who toucheth the earth and it rocketh, and all mourn that dwell on it, and it riseth like the Nile together, and sinketh like the Nile of Egypt; Who hath builded in the heavens His ascents, and founded His vault upon the earth; Who calleth to the waters of the sea, and poureth them on the face of the earth-Jehovah His Name."

These sublime passages it is natural to take as the triple climax of the doctrine we have traced through the Book of Amos. Are they not the natural leap of the soul to the stars? The same shepherd’s eye which has marked sequence and effect unfailing on the desert soil, does it not now sweep the clear heavens above the desert, and find there also all things ordered and arrayed? The same mind which traced the Divine processes down history, which foresaw the hosts of Assyria marshaled for Israel’s punishment, which felt the overthrow of justice shock the nation to their ruin, and read the disasters of the husbandman’s year as the vindication of a law higher than the physical-does it not now naturally rise beyond such instances of the Divine order, round which the dust of history rolls, to the lofty, undimmed outlines of the Universe as a Whole, and, in consummation of its message, declare that "all is Law," and Law intelligible to man? But in the way of so attractive a conclusion the literary criticism of the book has interposed. It is maintained that, while none of these sublime verses are indispensable to the argument of Amos, some of them actually interrupt it, so that when they are removed it becomes consistent; that such ejaculations in praise of Jehovah’s creative power are not elsewhere met with in Hebrew prophecy before the time of the Exile; that they sound very like echoes of the Book of Job; and that in the Septuagint version of Hosea we actually find a similar doxology, wedged into the middle of an authentic verse of the prophet. {Hosea 13:4} To these arguments against the genuineness of the three famous passages, other critics, not less able and not less free, like Robertson Smith and Kuenen, have replied that such ejaculations at critical points of the prophet’s discourse "are not surprising under the general conditions of prophetic oratory"; and that, while one of the doxologies does appear to break the argument {Amos 5:8-9} of the context, they are all of them thoroughly in the spirit and the style of Amos. To this point the discussion has been carried; it seems to need a closer examination. We may at once dismiss the argument which has been drawn from that obvious intrusion into the Greek of Hosea 13:4. Not only is this verse not so suited to the doctrine of Hosea as the doxologies are to the doctrine of Amos; but while they are definite and sublime, it is formal and flat-"Who made firm the heavens and founded the earth, Whose hands founded all the host of heaven, and He did not display them that thou shouldest walk after them." The passages in Amos are vision; this is a piece of catechism crumbling into homily. Again-an argument in favor of the authenticity, of these passages may be drawn from the character of their subjects. We have seen the part which the desert played in shaping the temper and the style of Amos. But the works of the Creator, to which these passages lift their praise, are just those most fondly dwelt upon by all the poetry, of the desert. The Arabian nomad, when he magnifies the power of God, finds his subjects not on the bare earth about him, but in the brilliant heavens and the heavenly processes.

Again, the critic who affirms that the passages in Amos "in every case sensibly disturb the connection," exaggerates. In the case of the first of Amos 4:13, the disturbance is not at all "sensible": though it must be admitted that the oracle closes impressively enough without it. The last of them, Amos 9:5-6 -which repeats a clause already found in the book {Cf. Amos 8:8} -is as much in sympathy with its context as most of the oracles in the somewhat scattered discourse of that last section of the book. The real difficulty is the second doxology, Amos 5:8-9, which does break the connection, and in a sudden and violent way. Remove it, and the argument is consistent. We cannot read chapter 5 without feeling that, whether Amos wrote these verses or not, they did not originally stand where they stand at present. Now, taken with this dispensableness of two of the passages and this obvious intrusion of one of them, the following additional fact becomes ominous. "Jehovah is His Name" (which occurs in two of the passages), or "Jehovah of Hosts is His Name" (Which occurs at least in one), is a construction which does not happen elsewhere in the book, except in a verse where it is awkward and where we have already seen reason to doubt its genuineness. But still more, the phrase does not occur in any other prophet, till we come down to the oracles which compose Isaiah 40:1-31; Isaiah 41:1-29; Isaiah 42:1-25; Isaiah 43:1-28; Isaiah 44:1-28; Isaiah 45:1-25; Isaiah 46:1-13; Isaiah 47:1-15; Isaiah 48:1-22; Isaiah 49:1-26; Isaiah 50:1-11; Isaiah 51:1-23; Isaiah 52:1-15; Isaiah 53:1-12; Isaiah 54:1-17; Isaiah 55:1-13; Isaiah 56:1-12. Here it happens thrice-twice in passages dating from the Exile, {Isaiah 47:4 and Isaiah 54:5} and once in a passage suspected by some to be of still later date. In the Book of Jeremiah the phrase is found eight times; but either in passages already on other grounds judged by many critics to be later than Jeremiah, or where by itself it is probably an intrusion into the text. Now is it a mere coincidence that a phrase, which, outside the Book of Amos, occurs only in writing of the time of the Exile and in passages considered for other reasons to be post-exilic insertions-is it a mere coincidence that within the Book of Amos it should again be found only in suspected verses? There appears to be in this more than a coincidence; and the present writer cannot but feel a very strong case against the traditional belief that these doxologies are original and integral portions of the Book of Amos. At the same time a case which has failed to convince critics like Robertson Smith and Kuenen cannot be considered conclusive, and we are so ignorant of many of the conditions of prophetic oratory at this period that dogmatism is impossible. For instance, the use by Amos of the Divine titles is a matter over which uncertainty still lingers; and any further argument on the subject must include a fuller discussion than space here allows of the remarkable distribution of those titles throughout the various sections of the book.

But if it be not given to us to prove this kind of authenticity-a question whose data are so obscure, yet whose answer frequently is of so little significance-let us gladly welcome that greater Authenticity whose undeniable proofs these verses so splendidly exhibit. No one questions their right to the place which some great spirit gave them in this book-their suitableness to its grand and ordered theme, their pure vision and their eternal truth. That common-sense, and that conscience, which, moving among the events of earth and all the tangled processes of history, find everywhere reason and righteousness at work, in these verses claim the Universe for the same powers, and see in stars and clouds and the procession of day and night the One Eternal God Who "declareth to man what His mind is."

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