Detailed outline of Amos 7

Detailed outline

I. Two visions of relented punishment

  A. Account of the relented vision of locusts 7:1-3
    1. Introductory formula: "Thus the Lord GOD showed me: behold,"2 7:1a
2. Vision of destruction 7:1b-2aa
      a. Initiation of punishment by God: "he was forming locusts in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and lo, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings."3 7:1b-c
b. Envisioned result of the punishment: "they had finished eating the grass of the land."4 7:2aa
    3.  Prophet and God discuss the vision.5 7:2-3
      a. Amos’ response to the vision 7:2
         (1) Introduction of speaker: "I said" 7:2ab
        (2) Speech 7:2b-d
          (a) Address: "O Lord GOD," 7:2ba
(b) Request: "forgive, I beseech thee!" 7:2bb
(c) Emotive plea: "How can Jacob stand? He is so small!"6
      b.   How God responded to the prophet’s plea 7:3
        (1) Request granted: "The Lord repented concerning this" 7:3a
(2) Confirmation of the relenting by the word of the Lord 7:3b                       
          (a) The Lord’s words: "It shall not be" 7:3ba
(b) Closing formula: "said the Lord." 7:3bb

B.     Account of the relented vision of fire7 7:4-6

    1. Introductory formula: "Thus the Lord GOD showed me: behold," 7:4a
2. Vision of destruction 7:4b-c

a. Initiation of punishment by God: "the Lord GOD was calling for a judgment by fire" 7:4b
b. Envisioned result of the punishment: "it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land." 7:4c

    3.  Prophet and God discuss the vision 7:5-6
      a. Amos’ response to the vision 7:5
        (1) Introduction of speaker: "Then I said" 7:5a
(2) Speech 7:5ba-d
          (a) Address: "O Lord GOD," 7:5ba
(b) Request: "cease, I beseech thee!" 7:5bb
(c) Emotive plea: "How can Jacob stand? He is so small!" 7:5c-d
      b.   How God responded to the prophet’s plea 7:6
        (1) Request granted: "The Lord repented concerning this" 7:6a
(2) Confirmation of the relenting by the word of the Lord 7:6b-c
           (a) The Lord’s words: "This also shall not be" 7:6b
(b) Closing formula: "said the Lord GOD." 7:6c

II.      Two visions of certain punishment and the confrontation with Amaziah
  A. Account of the vision of the plumb line 7:7-9
    1. Vision 7:7

a. Introductory formula: "He showed me: behold," 7:7a
b. Vision of a symbol: "the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand." 7:7b-c

    2.  Discussion of the symbol8 7:8a-c
      a. The Lord asks the prophet about the vision 7:8a-b

(1) Introductory formula noting the speaker: "the Lord said to me" 7:8a
(2) What he said 7:8b
      (a) Address: "Amos" 7:8ba
      (b) Question: "what do you see?" 7:8bb

      b.   The prophet answers 7:8c

(1) Introductory formula: "And I said," 7:8ca
(2) What he said: "A plumb line." 7:8cb

    3.   The Lord pronounces punishment9 7:8d-9

a. Introductory formula: "Then the Lord said," 7:8d
b. pronouncement 7:8e-9

        (1) indication that the punishment will not be relented10 7:8e-f

(a) Comment on the symbol seen in the vision: "Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel" 7:8e
(b) Meaning of the symbol is that he will not relent: "I will never again pass by them"11 7:8f

        (2)  punishment pronounced 7:9

(a) punishment on cult sites: "the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste"12 7:9a-b
(b) punishment on civil leaders: "I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword." 7:9c

  B.     The Amos-Amaziah confrontation 7:10-17

1. Introduction to the confrontation: Amaziah’s report to the king 7:10-11

      a. Introduction to the report 7:10a

(1) The sender: "Amaziah the priest of Bethel" 7:10aa
(2) The action: "sent to" 7:10ab
(3) The recipient: "Jeroboam king of Israel" 7:10ac
(4) formula: "saying" 7:10ad

      b.  Content of the report 7:10b-11
        (1) Amaziah’s conclusions about Amos’ prophecies 7:10b-c

(a) Amos’ reputed political motive: "Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel" 7:10b
(b) Possible serious political results: "the land is not able to bear all his words."13 7:10c

        (2)  Amaziah’s report of Amos’ words — evidence for the accusation of conspiracy 7:11

(a) Formula introducing the words of Amos: "For thus Amos has said" 7:11a
(b) Reputed14 words of Amos 7:11b-c


i) Judgment on the king: "Jeroboam shall die by the sword" 7:11b
ii) Judgment on the people: "Israel must go into exile away from his land." 7:11c

    2.     The actual confrontation with Amos 7:12-17
      a. Amaziah’s orders to Amos 7:12-13

(1) Introductory formula: "Amaziah said to Amos" 7:12a
(2) What he said 7:12b-13


(a) Address: "O seer" 7:12ba
(b) Message 7:12bb-13


i) Command to go to Judah: "go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there."15 7:12bb-c
ii) Command to leave Bethel 7:13
     a) Command: "never again prophesy at Bethel" 7:13a
     b) Reason: "it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom."16 7:13b-c

      b.     Amos’ response17 7:14-17

(1) Introductory formula: "Then Amos answered Amaziah" 7:14a
(2) What Amos said 7:14b-17

          (a) Amos speaks for himself 7:14b-15

i) He corrects Amaziah’s idea about his occupation 7:14b-c
     a) He denies being a professional prophet: "I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son"18 7:14b
     b) He says he is a farmer: "I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees" 7:14c
ii)  He explains how he came to prophesy 7:15
     a) The Lord called him: "the Lord took me from following the flock" 7:15a
     b) The Lord gave him orders 7:15b
     c) Introductory formula: "the Lord said to me" 7:15ba
     d) His orders: "Go, prophesy to my people Israel." 7:15bb

          (b)   Amos speaks for the Lord 7:16-17
            i) Introductory formula: "Now therefore hear the word of the Lord."19 7:16a
ii) Amaziah’s behavior that led to the word of the Lord — reason for the judgment 7:16b-c
     a) Introductory formula to the words of Amaziah: "You say" 7:16ba
     b) Words of Amaziah: "Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac." 7:16bb-c
iii)  Judgment speech 7:17
  a) Introductory formula: "Therefore thus says the Lord" 7:17a
b) The Lord’s judgment 7:17b-f
c) on his wife: "Your wife shall be a harlot in the city" 7:17b
d) on his children: "your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword" 7:17c
e) on his land: "your land shall be parceled out by line" 7:17d
f) on him: "you yourself shall die in an unclean land" 7:17e
g) on his nation: "Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land." 7:17f
C. A Vision of Summer Fruit
  1. Vision 8:1

a. Introductory formula: "Thus the Lord GOD showed me, behold" 8:1a
b. Vision of a symbol: "a basket of summer fruit." 8:1b

  2.  Discussion of the symbol 8:2a-b
    a. The Lord asks the prophet about the vision 8:2a

(1) Introductory formula noting the speaker: "And he said" 8:2aa
(2) What he said 8:2ab


(a) Address: "Amos" 8:2aba
(b) Question: "what do you see?" 8:2abb

    b.   The prophet answers 8:2b

(1) Introductory formula noting the speaker: "And I said," 8:2ba
(2) What he said: "A basket of summer fruit." 8:2bb

  3.   Pronouncement of punishment 8:2c-8:3  

a. Introductory formula: "Then the Lord said to me," 8:2c
b. pronouncement 8:2d-8:3

      (1) indication that the punishment will not be relented 8:2d-e

(a) Comment on the symbol seen in the vision: "The end20 has come upon my people Israel" 8:2d
(b) Meaning of the symbol is that he will not relent: "I will never again pass by them." 8:2e

      (2)  punishment pronounced 8:3

(a) punishment on cult site: "The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day" 8:3a
(b) Prophetic formula: "says the Lord GOD"21 8:3b
(c) punishment on the people: "the dead bodies shall be many; in every place they shall be cast out in silence." 8:3c



1 Since 8:1-3 is so similar to 7:7-9, they are part of the same major section in an outline of the book of Amos. The confrontation with Amaziah is sandwiched between the pronouncements of certain punishment, and an outline should reflect its location. If 8:1-3 is ignored, 7:7-9 might be placed with 7:1-6. But when 8:1-3 is considered, 7:7-9 is seen to be part of 7:10-17 and 8:1-3.

2 The formula is not part of the vision. It could be broken down into subject, verb, and indirect object.

3 In this vision there is an extended note to clarify when the locusts do their damage; the season is an important aspect of the severity of the punishment.

4 Some might perceive this phrase as part of the prophet’s response, indicating timing, but it seems rather to indicate an envisioned completion. Without seeing the completion, why would the prophet intercede? In the parallel vision (7:4), the completed punishment is significant as a part of the vision, not primarily a comment on the timing of the prophet’s reaction.

5 The Lord’s response may be part of the divinely-given vision, but Amos’ response need not be – it is an interactive vision. (Whether Amos’ response is real or envisioned does not seem essential to the account.) Therefore I give the vision and the discussion equal weight.

6 In the RSV, the question and exclamation seem tied together as one thought; the NKJ renders part of it as a hoped-for result of the granted request ("Forgive...[so] that Jacob may stand") with the last part like the RSV, as an emotional exclamation that is an implied plea for compassion. The emotive plea could be subordinated to the request, but so could the address. I give them equal weight.

7 "Fire" may be metaphorical for drought, but it seems better to use the literal word in an outline.

8 The discussion, primarily statements by the Lord, is probably envisioned.

9 The pronouncement might be assumed part of the discussion, but it seems that the discussion is over. The final pronouncement is too important to be subordinated to the preliminary discussion.

10 Some might include this as part of the discussion, since the first part of it deals directly with the envisioned symbol. But discussion seems to be over, having served its purpose of highlighting the symbol, and this section is introducing the punishment.

11 It is this phrase in particular, as well as the general structure of the account, that connects this vision with the vision of summer fruit, forming a framework for the confrontation with Amaziah. The contrast with the relenting of the first two visions highlights the importance of this phrase.

12 Some might wish to separate these punishments, but it seems that the intent is that both high places and sanctuaries will be destroyed and desolate. Since the people will be deported, everything will be desolate. The last half of the couplet is the more emphatic — the sanctuaries at Bethel and Dan are the more important sites, Israel is the more important name, and destruction is more severe than desolation.

13 Meaning: His preaching might erode public confidence so much that the civil government might collapse.

14 The words aren’t actually found on the lips of Amos. Perhaps Amaziah is exaggerating the prophecies for his own purpose. Jeroboam himself did not die by the sword.

15 Amaziah seems to assume that in Judah, Amos would preach against Judah. Otherwise Amaziah would be encouraging the escape of an enemy of Amaziah’s nation. He also assumes that Amos earns his bread by prophesying.

16 These two thoughts seem inseparable. Strictly, they apply only to leaving Bethel, but by implication they also apply to going to Judah, since leaving Bethel and going to Judah were thought of as one action. There also seems to be a play on the word Beth, since Amaziah admits that the Beth (house) is not of El, but of the kingdom.

17 I am including the words of the Lord (7:17) as part of Amos’ response, since he relayed them.

18 Son of a prophet may indicate a disciple of a prophet.

19 This section might be considered a conclusion to the preceding: "God told me to prophesy, so that is why you hear the word of the Lord." But it seems better to consider it an introductory formula for the pronouncement to come.

20 Footnotes in the RSV indicate that "end" is a play on words with "summer fruit."

21 This applies to both (a) and (c) and cannot be subordinated to either. This has a subtle counterpart in 7:9 (the shift in 7:9 from passive to active, and the word "I"); it may be here for emphasis and to balance the parts of the pronouncement.

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