Amos was principally a prophet to the nation of Israel during the administrations of Jeroboam II and Joash, rulers of the northern kingdom (1:1). Before addressing Israel, however, he turned his attention to other transgressors nearby.
Mark each of these names and note the besetting sin. Damascus (in Syria) had been cruel to Gilead (vv. 3-5), Gaza (in Philistia) had sold slaves to Edom (vv. 6-8). In Phoenicia, Tyre had broken the brotherly covenant and also traded in slaves (vv. 9, 10). Edom was guilty of un-brotherly conduct (vv. 11, 12).
Ammon had inflicted horrible cruelty upon Gilead, to the extent of destroying pregnant women with their children (vv. 13-15). It is clear that God valued both mother and unborn child. How does this speak to the modern practice of abortion?
Moab is rebuked for her treatment of the king of Edom (2:1-3), and Judah is censured for her rejection of the law of Moses (2:4, 5).
There is an important point that needs to be made with reference to the first six of these peoples. They were strictly pagan — outside of the covenant relationship of the Mosaic economy. In spite of that:
- They were responsible to a divine law which they had violated. Where there is no law, there is no transgression (Romans 4:15).
- Jehovah was interested in their welfare.
- The Lord held them accountable for their conduct.