The life of a Jewish prophet was not easy. No one likes criticism. People prefer praise.
Tradition records Amos, the third of the Trei Asar (12 Prophets), was killed by the son of Amaziah, high priest of Beth-El.
Sheep herder and timber farmer before becoming prophet, Amos lived during the First Temple period when Jeroboam II reigned over the Northern Kingdom (786-741 BCE).
The north was more powerful than the southern Kingdom of Judah – having conquered much of Syria, Moab and Ammon – and had set-up local statues and altars, as alternatives to making the festive pilgrimage.
Born in Tekoa, near Jerusalem, Amos took his reproach to the capital town of Beth-El.
He complained that prosperity had led to institutional corruption and social injustice.
Affluent residents ignored their needy neighbours, engaging in immorality instead.
In Beit-El, Amos announced the collapse of the Jeroboam II dynasty and was forced to flee. Instead, he inventively wrote out his prophesies, creating a record for contemporaries and for successive generations.
In response to his banishment, he wrote, ‘Behold days will come … when there will be famine in the land; not for bread nor for water, but for the word of God.’
Amos preached the Almighty was ever-present in the world for Jews and non-Jews alike.
He asserted that God expected people to act ethically towards their fellow human beings, above offering prayers and sacrifices.
His most controversial vision was that despite being a chosen nation, the Jewish people had a moral contract with God and would face exile and dispersion if they acted immorally.
Despite his warning that many would perish, Amos also predicted ‘the fallen tabernacle of David would be restored’.
Rabbi Jeff Berger serves the Rambam Sephardi Synagogue in Elstree and Borehamwood