Nov 17, 2009

Amos' Parade of Nations

The first part of Amos is a series of oracles against the nations surrounding Israel. My professor asked me this follow-up question on my previous post summarizing Amos: What is the significance of the geographical ordering of the nations mentioned in the prologue of Amos? I've been doing some research, but couldn't find any straight-forward answer in wikipedia's article on Amos, nor the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Amos, nor a lengthy commentary on Amos. So I'm going with my own crazy(?) idea ...

Amos first mentions Aram, a name also given to a grandson of Noah. He then mentions Gaza and Tyre. Next is Edom, a name also given to Esau - Jacob's twin brother. He finally mentions Ammon and Moab which are also names of descendants of Lot - Abraham's newphew. So, with the exception(?) of Gaza and Tyre, all of the nations Amos mentions are etiologically related to Israel. It makes for a powerful rhetoric to draw his audience into the saga and drama of their own "relatives." Or, it might just be a simple effect of writing the patriarchal history from the context of the lands and peoples of Palestine, if that's indeed what happened.

Another idea I couldn't verify from research is that the order of the nations may be the order in which Assyria conquered them? If that's the case, it would support the idea that Amos may have been a post-exilic writing. Although, Assyria conquered Israel before Judah.

Anyone else have an idea? I'm dying to know ...

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