The book is introduced by two short units that are very different from each other. In 1:1 we have a "superscription" like those found in almost all the other prophetic books. The next verse contains a short poetic piece, that reads like a fragment of some longer psalm of praise. These two items situate the words, visions and story that follow, and prepare readers for the dominant tone of warning in the body of the book.
The superscription (1:1) dates Amos to the last (relatively) peaceful and prosperous reign in Israel (the northern kingdom). After Jeroboam II there were a series of short reigns, most of which ended violently, till the Assyrians overran Israel in 722bce. The poetry (1:2) with its talk of Adonai roaring like a lion and the witrhering of lush pasture, set the tone for what follows. It is only in the conclusion (in 9:7-15) that this grim message of warning is relieved.
So these two very different sections (1:1-2 and 9:7-15) stand like bookends round the body of the work, together they suggest that there was almost no hope for the generation of Israelites Amos addressed, but also that punishment is not God's last word to the chosen people.
This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos , if you have reached it as a standalone page, to view it in context, go to www.bible.gen.nz © Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.