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Posts Tagged ‘Jeroboam II’


Saturday, September 28, 2013

During Schumacher's expedition, a rare seal was found with the inscription: "To Shema slave of Jeroboam". This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

During Schumacher’s expedition, a rare seal was found with the inscription: “To Shema slave of Jeroboam”. This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

Amos 4

Impiety Rebuked . . . Restoration

Amos does not mince his words or couch them in easy metaphors; we can see why he was rejected.  His message struck too quickly and too closely to the heart of those who by their actions did not live out the Mosaic Law of honoring the one true God.  Amos lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.E.) and he pronounced his prophecy at the cult center of Bethel until the priest who was in charge of that royal sanctuary expelled him.

At this time, the northern kingdom of Israel had separated from the southern one of Judea and when we read closely we can see that the priests and the wealthy had succumbed to the lure of the power and control which their office as sacred ministers and leaders afforded them.  Stated bluntly, they abused the gift and power given to them.  They were more concerned about maintaining their control on the temple income derived from the people who brought their offerings as a part of their attempt to seek penance and union with God.  The priests of Israel (the northern kingdom, also Samaria) had separated from Jerusalem (the southern seat of power and worship) and loved their position of wealth, plenty and power.  Amos rebukes these fat, contented people just as Jesus did when he ejected the moneychangers from the temple.

Amos always understands that this perversion of the law is not permanent . . . as much as those in power may wish it to be.  Amos knows that Yahweh will use this harm that the corrupt inflict on those over whom they have control . . . and he knows that Yahweh will turn this harm to good, just as he does with all things that are corrupting.  Yahweh will use these stubborn acts of blindness and perversity to bring about restoration and ultimate union with God.

As with all prophets, Amos is reluctant to speak when called by God . . . yet speak he does . . . and oh, so beautifully.  “His style is blunt and even offensive”.  (Senior RG 362)  He begins chapter 4 by calling the wealthy women cows, the wife of the priest, Amaziah, a harlot.  “He is a prophet in the mold of Elijah, whose denunciations come close to cursing”.   He saw himself as a poor shepherd and farmer with no influence and therefore saw no need to speak softly . . . as he did not expect to be heard.  Amos pronounces doom on those who do not hear and those who are blind to their own actions, and then he goes back to his sheep and sycamores.

Amos’ offer of hope springs not from the idea that this doom and catastrophe for the controlling classes can be avoided, for it is clear that disaster is looming and in fact it does arrive in the form of the Assyrian invasion.  No, the hope that Amos offers lies in the fallen hut of David, the Messiah who is to come . . . Jesus.   Amos tells and foretells those who have ears to listen that we rebuke those who live in flagrant violation of the covenant and then we watch in hopeful waiting for the one who will come to deliver the justice that is so desperately needed.  We wait in joyful expectation the kingdom where compassion and mercy merge with justice and righteousness, where we both rebuke and remain open to wonderful possibilities that can come only with tremendous hope.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 22, 2007.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 362. Print.

To read more about Jeroboam II, click on the image above or go to: http://ramsesii-amaic.blogspot.com/2009/10/jeroboam-ii.html

For more on the Megiddo Seal above, go to: http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/megiddo.html

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

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A Sycamore Tree Bearing Fruit

Investigating Amos

What do we know about the prophet Amos?  When we seek we will find that . . .

  • He described himself as a shepherd and farmer who tended to sycamore trees;
  • His strong verbal skills imply that he was more than an ignorant peasant;
  • He did not consider himself to be a professional prophet; he did not make a living proclaiming oracles to a patron who paid to hear what he wanted to hear;
  • He lived in Tekoa, a town about 11 miles south of Jerusalem;
  • He centered his ministry around Bethel, a major city in the north of Israel where many of the upper classes of the northern kingdom worshiped;
  • He lived during the reigns of Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah of Judah, 760-750 B.C.E., an era of unusual prosperity;
  • He brought a message of warning to the wealthy and powerful that they must come to see that their wealth had lured them into spiritual complacency and ethical laxity;
  • He warned his audience that judgment would be exacted for the actions of the strong against the weak. (Zondervan 1444-1445)

There is heavy emphasis on social justice in this prophecy and those of us today who live in first-world cultures do well to spend time contemplating the words and thoughts of Amos.  What do we who are comfortable do for those who are not?  How do we have much enact God’s Word for those who have little?  Who are the peasants among us who ask for our introspection, our witness, our voices, and our action?

If we spend time today with the words of Amos and a solid commentary or other resource, we will hear God speak to us in our innermost refuge where we go to forget the woes of the world.  If we spend time with the poetry of Amos today, we will experience the message of healing and restoration this prophet still brings to the faithful who seek God’s wisdom, to the faithful who yearn to bear fruit.

Tomorrow, an exhortation to return to God.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1444-1445. Print.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

de-dos-en-dos1[1]

Go and witness for me . . .

Without Constraint

“Amos was a shepherd of Tekoa in Judah, who exercised his ministry during the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.). He prophesied in Israel at the great cult center of Bethel, from which he was finally expelled by the priest in charge of this royal sanctuary.  The poetry of Amos, who denounces the hollow prosperity of the northern kingdom, is filled with imagery and language taken from his own pastoral background.  The book is an anthology of his oracles and was compiled either by the prophet or by some of his disciples”. (Senior 1126)

“Amos is the earliest of prophets who have books in their names.  In fact, his oracles were transmitted orally, and only collected in book form much later . . . We know very little about the career of Amos . . . He was an independent agent.  He was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores (the fruit, resembling a fig, had to be tended in order to prevent insects from destroying it), and so had his own means.  He did not depend on king or priest for support, and so was not beholden to them, and did not require their permission to prophesy.  This independence left him free to speak the truth as he saw it, without political constraint”.  (Senior RG 361-362)

The words and life of Amos charge us to speak without constraint.  What do we do with and in our lives to live in this independence?

The oracles and visions of Amos show us the possibility of a world that delivers justice and mercy without constraint.  How do we act and speak to live in this possibility?

The woes and joys of Amos guide us in the way that Jesus comes to lead us.  How eager are we to follow in the witnessing we are called to perform without constraint?

For a reflection on the Book of Amos, go to the Amos-Accountability page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/amos-accountability/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1126 and RG 361-362. Print.

Tomorrow, Investigating Amos.

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