Denounces Injustice

At the same time another prophet, Amos, chastised the people of Israel for their sins. He was a shepherd from the village of Tekoa. The full power and impact of his masterly words, however, compare favorably with those of any other great prophet of Israel. Only through King Jeroboam's protection was he saved from the wrath of the people, who were unwilling to bear with his outspoken admonitions. The following are some of his most characteristic utterances.

"Thus speaks G‑d: 'Shall I turn away punishment for the three and the four crimes of Israel? Because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; they pant after the dust of the earth on the heads of the poor, and pervert the cause of the meek... Upon pawned garments they lay themselves down by every altar, and the wine of those whom they condemned they drink in the house of their idols... They hate him who chastises them in the court and abhor him who speaks righteously...'"

Fearlessly the prophet admonished the "King of Bashan, that are in the mountains of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy..." He warned the rich who had amassed their fortunes unjustly that they would not enjoy their riches, but would lose everything when the land went down in doom.

"Thus has said G‑d to the House of Israel: 'Seek for Me, and you shall live. But seek not for Bethel, and enter not into Gilgal; nor to Beersheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into exile, and Bethel shall become naught. Seek for the L-rd, and you shall live!... Seek for the good, and not the evil, in order that you may live, that G‑d, the L-rd of Hosts, be with you. Hate evil and love good; and establish justice firmly in the courts. Then, perhaps, G‑d the L-rd of Hosts will be gracious to the remnants of Joseph.'"

Message in Bethel

Stepping fearlessly into the midst of the celebrating crowds in Bethel, before the temple Jeroboam had built for the worship of the calves, Amos announced the terrible punishment G‑d would bring upon the sinful people of Israel. The boldness of the prophet's speech drew upon him the wrath of the priests, especially of their leader Amaziah. The latter sent word to King Jeroboam II and told him that Amos had conspired against him and that he was telling the people that their king would be killed and that the House of Israel would be exiled. Jeroboam II had too much respect for the prophet to punish him, and G‑d rewarded him for it. But Amaziah the priest did not rest. He incited the people against the prophet and warned him to flee to Judah where people of his kind would be more welcome, adding that he should never return to Bethel. Amos replied to Amaziah that he was no professional prophet, nor prophet disciple, but a simple man from the land who earned his living as a breeder of sheep. He came to Bethel because G‑d had sent him to speak in His name and warn His people of their impending doom. Amos therefore continued to prophesy.